URLs du Jour

2018-01-23

Fascism is so 1930s.

Yes, I noticed the spelling error in the Pic du Jour. Or is it a spelling error? Maybe she's trying to make some sort of point by holding the sign in front of her face?

Proverbs 16:14 continues its mediocre monarchical musings.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
    but the wise will appease it.

Sure, if they know what's good for them. On the other hand, there's the Neville Chamberlain counterargument to that.


■ We try to avoid the pitfalls of schadenfreude here at Pun Salad, but this CNN report is fine reading for those who want to wallow in it: Progressives fume after vote to end government shutdown. Because mainly of this gem:

"Today's cave by Senate Democrats -- led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats -- is why people don't believe the Democratic Party stands for anything. These weak Democrats hurt the party brand for everyone and make it harder to elect Democrats everywhere in 2018," said Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which represents what it calls the "Elizabeth Warren wing" of the party.

According to CNN's tally, 15 Democrats voted against stopping the shutdown, which means, according to Stephanie, 32 Senate Democrats are "weak-kneed, right-of-center". Gee, I wonder exactly where Stephanie thinks the center is?

Republicans voting against: Rand Paul and Mike Lee. For (I'm pretty sure) one very good reason: the bill continues irresponsible Federal spending.


@kevinNR asks the musical question: Who Was Steve Bannon? For me, the answer is pretty simple: he's the guy who turned the Breitbart website into unreadable hackery. But let's see what Kevin has to say:

Who is Steve Bannon? That’s a question that is of less and less interest with each passing hour. He’s the guy who got out in front of the guy who got out in front of the parade. The right-wing populist fervor that swept Donald J. Trump into the White House predates the Trump campaign. In its most recent iteration, it began with the financial crisis of 2008–09, which drove a wedge between the big-business/free-market wing of the conservative movement and those elements of the Right that are less enthusiastic about what we call “capitalism” and the rest of the world calls “liberalism.” The first fruits of that division was the tea-party movement, the Right’s version of Occupy Wall Street. Barack Obama’s sneering and lordly style of politics — “I won!” — helped to amplify the Right’s angry populist voices, and the coincident weakness of the economy, especially the stagnation of wages and employment, helped those anti-capitalist voices to find wider resonance. The ongoing problem of uncontrolled illegal immigration fed cultural anxiety, as did a series of terrorist incidents perpetrated by immigrants from the Islamic world and Americans connected to Islamic groups at home and abroad. The woeful failure to assimilate Somali immigrants drove resentments, but so did the successful integration of thriving immigrants from poor countries ranging from Nigeria to India, the success of whom provides an unflattering point of comparison for struggling and downwardly mobile native-born communities ravaged by opioid addiction and elusive socioeconomic mobility.

Maybe the right answer to the question is "I don't care any more, if I ever did."


■ I haven't even received the latest dead-trees issue of Wired, but the Condé Nast powers-that-be have already put one of its essays online, by one Zeynep Tufekci of the University of North Carolina: It's the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech. Sample, with the usual key word embiggened:

The freedom of speech is an important democratic value, but it’s not the only one. In the liberal tradition, free speech is usually understood as a vehicle—a necessary condition for achieving certain other societal ideals: for creating a knowledgeable public; for engendering healthy, rational, and informed debate; for holding powerful people and institutions accountable; for keeping communities lively and vibrant. What we are seeing now is that when free speech is treated as an end and not a means, it is all too possible to thwart and distort everything it is supposed to deliver.

And (good news, everyone), there's already a rebuttal in place at Reason, by A. Barton Hinkle: Your Social Media Post Does Not Have To Be Socially Useful.

This invites some obvious questions.

For instance, who gets to regulate social media for the public good—Donald Trump? Ted Cruz? An elite cadre of social-justice warriors? Who gets to decide what constitutes fake news—the man in the Oval Office who screams "Fake news!" at any story about him that is less than fawning?

Also: Which "societal ideals" should government foster? How about virtue? Plenty of religious conservatives—and not just Christian ones, either—think government should teach people to be good, as they define good.

I encourage you to read both pieces, and bemoan the demise of Wired.


■ Or if you can't get enough bemoaning, you can always check out Conor Freidersdorf at the Atlantic as he shakes his head in wondering disbelief at Cathy Newman's interview with Jordan B. Peterson: Why Can't People Hear What Jordan Peterson Is Saying?

First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.

Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various Fox News hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. And the Peterson interview has so many moments of this kind that each successive example calls attention to itself until the attentive viewer can’t help but wonder what drives the interviewer to keep inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims, instead of addressing what he actually said.

Freidersdorf puts his finger on it. Newman's side of the interview contains:

"So you’re saying that…"

"So you're saying…."

"But you’re saying, basically, …"

"So you’re saying by and large …"

and

"That's what you're really saying."

I will never be asked for an interview by a Progressive journalist. But if I am, I hope I have the good sense to decline.