Category Archives: Donald Trump

Culling The Herd

A lot of us suffered severe post-election anxiety, myself included. More than a few sleepless nights were spent worrying fitfully about what will happen to our most vulnerable citizens. And on a few occasions I even had the thought — fleeting — that in this new America, only the strong will survive. I have a bum knee, I need to lose 20 pounds, I’m middle-aged. Is there a place for me in Trump’s America? No, I decided.

If a gang of Trump thugs attacked me in a parking lot, could I fight back? Nope. My kickboxing days are more than a decade in the past. I haven’t run a marathon in years. I need to go to the gym, work out, diet. I need to give up beer. Trump’s America — Paul Ryan’s America — is for the young and strong. The denizens of Crossfit and SoulCycle.

And then I thought … nah! I mean, look at Steve Bannon: more Baron Vladimir Harkonnen than Master Race, right? If this schlub can get away with an extra 30 pounds, so can I.

But not so fast. Turns out I was onto something:

This budget will make America a lean, mean fighting machine with bulging, rippling muscles and not an ounce of fat. America has been weak and soft for too long. BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.

This excellent piece of satire had me ROFLMAO and is definitely worth spending one of your Washington Post freebies reading (or just go ahead and get a subscription, you cheapskate. Support the goddamn journalism, already.) But after the laughs died down I remembered my November panic attacks about being old and fat and weak and I realized,

Oh my god. Alexandra Petri is right. They are culling the herd.

And it’s not just Trump, it’s the entire Republican Party. It’s the entire ethos of conservatism: if you’re poor or weak or sick, get outta the way. You’re dragging the country down. You are dead weight on American greatness.

Some examples:

Trump Budget Cuts Put Struggling Americans on Edge

[…]

“I have lung cancer and it’s the dead of winter,” she remembers thinking. “What am I going to do?”

Help came in the form of a heating subsidy: money from the federal government, delivered by the Highland County Community Action Organization, a small nonprofit in rural southern Ohio, where Ms. Feltner lives.

Now, that program is on the chopping block. It is one of many cuts in President Trump’s new budget proposal that would inflict the deepest pain on the most vulnerable Americans — a great number of whom voted for him.

Duh, lady. “What am I gonna do?” Die, of course. Don’t you know that? Get with the program, honey. Stop holding the rest of the country back with your lung cancer and your poverty and your lack of winter heat. That’s not American greatness! That’s weak. So either stop being weak and sick and cold, or get the fuck out of the way.

Here’s another one:

Rural Areas Brace for a Shortage of Doctors Due to Visa Policy

[…]

While the Trump administration is fighting, in the courts of justice and public opinion, for its temporary travel ban affecting six countries, the slowdown in the rural doctor pipeline shows how even a small, relatively uncontroversial change can ripple throughout the country.

In Montana, for example, where nine counties do not have a single physician, it means Benefis Health does not know when a Romanian doctor trained in kidney transplants will arrive. The health care company spent months recruiting the doctor and had been expecting her in July.

“Our health system already has nine months invested in her, and now we have no idea when she can start,” said Erica Martin, who recruits doctors for the company.

Sorry, Montana. Kidney transplants are for pussies. Do we have to make it more clear? People who need kidney transplants aren’t great, they are reminders of weakness and failure and THAT CANNOT BE ALLOWED so die already and stop reminding us of what losers you are.

This one is my absolute favorite: a “veterans rights gun bill” that would remove 174,000 mental health records from the background check system. It basically reverses a Bush-era law passed after the Virginia Tech massacre. Keeping PTSD-afflicted veterans from committing suicide sounds like the kind of namby-pamby thing liberals and losers would do. In the Republican Party’s “only the strong deserve Murrica” approach to public policy, Veterans considering suicide need to get on with it already – -and here’s the gun to do it with. Y’all are dragging us down, man! Soldiers traumatized by war are weak! Didn’t you get the memo? America doesn’t do weak anymore! So go and do what you need to do and get the fuck out of the way because we’ve got Greatness to accomplish, you candy-assed wimp.

(I love that the bill was sponsored by Tennessee’s own Rep. Phil Roe, by the way. An alleged “doctor.”)

And of course there’s this one:

Trump’s NIH Budget Cuts Threaten a Serious Setback in Medical Research

This makes no sense until you realize that the point is to cull the herd and cures for cancer and other diseases are simply impeding that process. If you are sick, disabled, mentally ill, poor, unemployed, etc., then you should be about one thing: getting the fuck out of the way. By dying. If you aren’t in the business of dying then you are dragging the country down.

Come on, America. Get busy living, or get busy dying. That’s the fucking point.

38 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, Republican Party

Trump In Nashville

You Are My Hero

What a bizarre event.

Trump’s campaign started robo-calling supporters in a four-county area 48 hours ago offering free tickets. The optics they were going for, of course, was, “thousands of people lined up to get in,” which isn’t as hard as it sounds when your venue is the Municipal Auditorium, not exactly the largest rink in town. However, they got the crowd they wanted: thousands of people were, indeed, lined up … all the way down James Robertson Parkway, all the way up to the state capitol, all the way around the building. I’m guessing there were 15-20,000, but I’ve heard other figures that are higher. Let it be said: most if not all of these folks could have fit inside the Titans’ football stadium. But that wouldn’t have provided Trump with the necessary ego-gratification that comes with a “standing room only/thousands turned away” narrative.

Several protesters made it inside the Municipal Auditorium, by the way. Some chanted “no ban, no wall,” and got tossed out. Some turned their backs and left. One, a doctor, unfurled a banner and was ejected (but not arrested). Unfortunately, the coordination of the protest was poor so I’m afraid the message got watered down. Watching the televised speech, you could see something was happening that Dear Leader didn’t like. Maybe other cities can learn from our experience and do a better job of planning and coordinating ahead of time.

As for me, I was out on the street with both supporters and protesters. Any delusions that this wasn’t garden-variety bread-and-circuses were dashed by the dozens of pro-Trump merchandise tables outside (and huge Trump/Pence merchandise BUS, yes, it was a bus.) And from the looks of those selling the merchandise, not everyone submitted a head shot and full body shot.

As for the protest, again, there didn’t appear to be a lot of coordination. Protesters were scattered until around 5:00 or so, when the protest crowd really started to swell. It’s frustrating to me that there were so many different groups doing so many different things — there was the immigrants’s rights group, the #Resist group, the women’s group … people, can we not all talk to each other? Because nothing looks lamer than 30 people in pussy hats carrying Planned Parenthood signs through a crowd of 10,000 Trump supporters — especially when there were a couple hundred other pussy-hatted folks just a few blocks away, unaware of the march. Would have been nice if we all could have marched together, you know?

Also, it seems I must remind people once again that staying home and Tweeting about a protest is not, you know, the same as actually protesting. And here’s a fun fact: you can Tweet from a protest! Really!

So I was a little disappointed in the protest, but I left around 5:45 pm. At that point I’d been walking around in the freezing cold for 2 hours and had a nasty windburn. I understand good vibes were shared later in the evening.

Below are some more pictures from the event:

Some Slogans Never Get Old

Some Slogans Never Get Old v. 2

Great Sign!

Random Shouty Guy

Random shouty guy, religious edition

18 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, Nashville, protests

4 Times In 29 Minutes He Didn’t Mean It

He didn’t mean it, according to Sean Spicer.

Even though he said it again, and again, and again. He still didn’t mean it.

He didn’t mean it in a box. He didn’t mean it with some socks. He didn’t mean it when on Fox. He didn’t mean it, though he Tweeted it.

Not just once but FOUR times:

He didn’t mean this one, either:

And five minutes later, he didn’t mean this one:

… and he still wasn’t over not meaning it, 10 minutes later:

Donald Trump is a liar, an idiot, mentally ill, or all three. How is anyone supposed to trust him on anything when we’ve been repeatedly lied to and then told the problem was OUR fault for listening to him?

This is one sick motherfucker.

14 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump

Principles

I apologize, I’ve been remiss in posting. Believe me, it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve started about a dozen posts over the past six weeks and every time, without fail, I’ve deleted them. They’ve all seemed inadequate to the task when compared to the absurdity of current events.

And not that I would put myself in the same company as our political press, but I do understand why they all fawned over Trump’s address to Congress. It was like this collective sigh of relief that they could write about something normal for a change. Familiar ground at last! Terra firma. Was the speech good or bad? Whew! As opposed to today’s headlines, which went something like,

wiretap

I mean, my God.

None of this is normal.

Recently I was in New York City at a music club. A guy at the table behind me was talking in one of those loud, overheated voices men use when they’re trying to impress their dates. It was hard not to hear him, and when it became clear he had worked for the Trump campaign, you’d better believe I listened in. He said,

“most of us in Andrew’s office are pretty liberal Democrats….”

(Andrew being Cuomo, the governor of New York, I am guessing). But when the Trump campaign came along a bunch of them saw an opportunity because,

“…Stephen (Miller?) came in and said how if the Democrats aren’t going to be the party of working people, we might as well be….”

… as if the Trumpers give a shit about working people? Really? And so all of these folks who worked for the Democratic governor of New York were now finding roles in the Trump administration, principles be damned.

But our Boy Wonder is no dummy, even he could see what a shit show the White House is, so he was going try to find something in the AG’s office. And how you can call yourself a liberal Democrat while working under Jeff Sessions is a complete puzzler to me.

I heard all of this on the earie, as they say, and it was all I could do to keep from turning around and asking Boy Wonder WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? I mean, kids today, amiright?

Folks, this stuff matters. This isn’t just your resume we’re talking about. There are actual, real-life consequences to the policies that Trump is pursuing. Real people are being affected here. There’s the migrant deported to Mexico who committed suicide hours later, the grandmother deported while her son in law is in Afghanistan. Or the trauma inflicted on this family:

Immigration agents tailed a man as he dropped off his daughter at a Los Angeles school last week. They pulled him over and took him away — all while his 13-year-old sobbed in the back seat.

It’s been just six weeks, and this is the kind of stuff happening already. There’s more: I know people who expect to lose their Obamacare coverage who have been forced to make real life changes as a result: career decisions, life partner decisions, you name it. So the idea that someone would be so cynical as to think, “I’m a liberal Democrat but I’m going to work for Trump because I’ve got my career to think about” is repulsive to me.

And it seems to be going around. A lot of people want to know how Stephen Miller became such a horrible person. Friends want to know how the educated, liberal Jewish Julia Hahn came to write for Breitbart News and ultimately get hired by Steve Bannon as a White House staffer. It’s quite a conundrum:

After college, Hahn moved to Washington, D.C., hoping, she told friends, to “get a job in media.” She didn’t seem to care what kind. At around this time, a Chicago classmate who worked at a think tank saw Hahn at a party; Hahn said that she was a producer for Laura Ingraham, a fixture of far-right talk radio. “I asked, ‘Oh, is that what your politics are?’ ” the classmate recalled. “She went, ‘Nah, I’m apolitical.’ I thought, O.K., there are two possibilities. Either she’s dissembling because she doesn’t feel comfortable being outed as a hyperconservative or she actually is just a pure social climber.”

[…]

“Seeing her writing for Breitbart—and writing some of the most aggressive, white-nationalist stuff on the site—was quite a shock,” Eliza Brown, one of Hahn’s Chicago classmates, said. “My friends and I talked about it a lot, along the lines of ‘Was this festering in her all along?’ ‘Can you ever truly know anyone?’ ” She continued, “Not to wax too poetic about academia, but part of the idea of learning the canon is that it will, ultimately, make you a better person.”

Is this some new thing, people not having any principles? Is it some generational thing? And looking at the shit show that the Trump regime has become after just six weeks, who thinks a Trump administration job will be anything but a liability on their resume in coming years?

I don’t get it, I really don’t. But whatever. The important message, if there is one, is that this shit matters. Everything you do matters. Even if you aren’t Boy Wonder, even if you’re a normal person going about your day, what you do matters. Do it with integrity, honesty and humility or don’t bother getting out of bed in the morning.

That is all.

25 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump

This Is Your Periodic Reminder That Trump’s Twitter Is Fake

Looks like the dumb housewife has struck again.

Last year I had a sneaking suspicion that there was something very phony about Trump’s most active Twitter followers. I’d see people — some of them prominent journalists and public figures — get in weird debates with Trump supporters. But there was something really strange about these supporters. They always had 32 supporters or 32,000 — no middle ground. They universally had “Deplorable” in their names and the #MAGA hashtag in their bios. Their profiles usually represented a minority of some kind — African Americans, Hispanics, women, etc. — i.e., people who were not supposed to be Trump supporters, according to conventional wisdom (and polls). Their bio pics were always extremely physically attractive, not a dog in the litter. And their Twitter feeds were all virtually identical. They all repeated the same pro-Trump lines, and re-Tweeted each other. Many were re-Tweeted by Trump himself. It was all just a little too “straight out of Central Casting” for me, and my bullshit meter went off. I finally wrote about it here.

Since then we’ve learned more about Trump/Russia’s use of social media to spread Trump memes. The goal is to establish the idea that Trump’s agenda and Trumpism in general is more widely accepted among Americans than it actually is. Another goal is to attack opponents — Hillary during the campaign, but post-inauguration, the tactic is deployed against anyone opposing Trump.

Why Twitter? Because our idiotic news media uses Twitter as its assignment editor. There are news shows that literally cover “trending topics” like they’re real things. Last week a WSMV morning news report had the “breaking news” (not making this up) that Trump Tweeted five times overnight. So it’s important to remind everyone that Twitter is often fake, and Trump’s Twitter in particular is super fake. Trump-related Twitter activity does not equate with support for his regime.

For example, a Twitter audit reveals that over one quarter of Trump’s Twitter followers are fakes:

twitteraudit

This isn’t necessarily Trump’s fault, as bots and zombies can attach themselves to anyone without the account holder knowing about it. But when this zombie bot army is Tweeting identical pro-Trump messages, it’s not out of line to question what the hell is going on. For example, see this string of identical Tweets from different pro-Trump accounts. Hmmm …

And there’s this from Facebook (I know I’m talking primarily about Twitter here but the same shit goes on over at Facebook):

c3zdtetweaajsh2-jpg-large-1

Just before the inauguration Forbes did an analysis of Trump’s Twitter following and found not only are there an unusually large percentage of zombies and bots, but the majority of accounts are not U.S.-based:

In Trump’s case, many of those followers come from Moscow or elsewhere in Russia, India, Nigeria and Latin American countries, primarily Venezuela and Mexico.  It’s not surprising that our PEOTUS is followed by people around the world, but those people should not be counted as part of Trump’s electoral base in the U.S.

If you limit the scope of analysis to accounts of users who self-identify as living in the United States, those 20 million total followers worldwide become more like 3 million active domestic Twitter users who included a location setting in their Twitter profile, and thus are likely to represent actual people and businesses. Affinio says they often see large shifts in audience size by applying this kind of geography filter.

So of Trump’s 20 million followers, only 3 million represent actual Americans. That’s … pathetic. Mashable recently noted:

It’s been estimated that up to 80 percent of Trump’s Twitter traffic is perpetuated by bots, singing his praises and hawking Trump-related merchandise. The most famous item they sold was a now-infamous “Liberal Tears” mug.

Tolulope Edionwe at The Outline uncovered that the mugs were a scam, with many customers never receiving their much-desired liberal-shaming swag.

As the Mashable piece explained, a change in Twitter’s mobile app has made the creation of spambots moot. They’re still there, but not as prominent. But of course, whenever technology creates a wall, savvy manipulators figure out how to build ladders.

I have long suspected that a major reason Trump was so enamored with Twitter in the first place is because it’s so easy to manipulate. It’s so easy to create an army of adoring followers on Twitter, which is what Trump craves. And who knows, maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s someone smarter than him — a Steve Bannon type, maybe — who’s figured out how to pull Turmp’s strings by using bots to up the “likes” on whatever asinine thought comes to him at 3 a.m. I don’t know if he’s using Twitter as part of a massive propaganda campaign or an ego gratification campaign or if someone else is using it to manipulate him; regardless, it’s time everyone wised up and started acting accordingly.

So, I don’t want to hear any more “breaking news” about trending topics, or Trump Tweets. If Trump wants to threaten opponents with his Twitter army, bring it on: the “army” is fake. It’s one thing for the news media to cover the latest cute kid viral video, but when this stuff involves our acting leader, and the information affects world events, the news media needs to seriously check itself.

9 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, media, Social Media

Horrible Ideas, Vol. Eleventybillion

The Trump regime actually thinks this is a good idea?

Miller also noted on Saturday that Trump administration officials are discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phones. If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry. Sources told CNN that the idea is just in the preliminary discussion level. The social media posts calling for jihad by San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik — made under a pseudonym and with strict privacy settings — are part of this discussion. How such a policy would be implemented remains under discussion.

Jesus ever-loving Christmas Tree, you’d think 9/11 had just happened again. What fresh stupidity is this? And can I point out that Tashfeen Malik was born in Pakistan and spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia — two countries not on Trump’s “target list”? This kinda makes Rand Pau’s hissy fit over getting a TSA pat-down look even more childish.

Who would submit to having their social media posts and cell phone contact lists perused by the U.S. government before being admitted into the country? Not me. How would this even work? Will tourists all have to take pre-emptive screen shots of them “liking” Despot Trump’s latest Tweet in order to get entry into Disney World?

Trump’s Muslim ban has been a disaster. But this is what you get when you put the Celebrity Apprentice in the White House. Someone with no knowledge or respect for how government works is not going to be able to craft or implement logical policies. The result is chaos, confusion, anger, you name it. You thought the TSA lines were awful before, just wait until a TSA agent has to check some hapless visitor’s Twitter feed before allowing him through. God, this is incredible.

Somehow “we told you so” just fails to convey sufficient despair this moment requires.

16 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, immigration, War On Terror

The Alternative Fact That Shook The Nation

[UPDATE]:

I hate it when I’m right about this stuff.

——————————————–

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe…”

I confess, even I have been a little taken aback by this. The lie was so blatant, so obvious, that even people who would no sooner pay attention to a White House press briefing than pick up a copy of Scientific American were stunned by it. I mean, I got texts from completely non-political family members about it, and they were shocked at the chutzpah.

Here is a close-up of Sean Spicer’s eyes as he told his lie:

c2ur480uoaaxdtb

What I see here is panic. The only thing missing is the gun to his head. The entire charade, as both Michael Moore and Mika Brzezinski noted, looked like a hostage tape. He’s saying this because he was forced to, and he knows exactly the pile of shit his boss is making him wade into, and he knows there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. Indeed, the statement sounds like it was written by Trump himself. The hyperbole, the grandiosity, are straight out of Trump’s Twitter feed.

Ari “We know for a fact that there are weapons there” Fleischer, a man who has told his share of bald-faced lies, said this:

“This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching,” Fleischer wrote.

So while a stunned nation hashes and rehashes What It All Means®, I’m particularly hung up on this one fact:

The President of the United States forced his spokesperson to lie to the American people about how many people watched his inaugural.

This stupid, petty, in-the-grand-scheme-of-things meaningless thing was THAT important to him. He is supposed to be the leader of the free world focused on, you know, important stuff. But he forced his spokesbot to tell an obvious, easily checked lie about how many people watched his inaugural. It is that important for Trump. He must have the biggest, the best, the most, the (fill in the blank superlative), and yes, he will die on this hill. What little political capital he had was squandered on something stupid like crowd size because Trump demanded it.

Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s just … astonishing.

I know there’s been a lot of speculation about some deeper strategy here: that this marks the latest salvo in the Trump Administration’s war on the media, that Trump is attempting to delegitimize the national news media and delegitimize the entire concept of truth, that this marks the end of “access journalism,” etc.

While some of this may be true, I really don’t think it’s that complicated. I really think it’s as simple as this:

Donald Trump requires constant and undiminished reinforcement of his greatness.

This is Pathological Narcissism. It’s scary as hell, because this level of neediness is never sated. This is Tyrant 101. This is how wars happen and freedoms are lost. The fact that this weak-minded man has surrounded himself with sycophants and ego-strokers is not surprising (they all do that), but at some point even Spicer and Kellyanne are going to give up, because even the best enablers can’t keep propping up the naked emperor forever.

Traditionally when that happens, the enablers are marched in front of the firing squad. Or, if they’re smart, they’ve figured out how to get the Pathological Narcissist to self-destruct (see the final scenes of “A Face In The Crowd” for an idea of what I’m talking about … a “leak” for the pre-internet age.)

What will happen here, I don’t know. I see in Kellyanne’s eyes their own special brand of cold-as-ice ambition and craven opportunism:

th

She thinks she can manage the Ego In Chief but the thing about Pathological Narcissists is that they are never, ever truly managed. Their emptiness is a bottomless pit. Kellyanne may think she’s smart and has Trump under control but her “alternative facts” flub shows she’s not immune to a screw up herself. She might not be quite smart enough for this situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kellyanne weren’t the first one trotted out before a (metaphorical, let’s hope) firing squad as the Id in charge lashes out those who failed to sell his greatness to the world.

Interesting times, indeed.

25 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, media, media manipulation

Man-Baby

Your weekly reminder that this person will have the nuclear launch codes in two weeks.

trump-1
trump-2

8 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump

Real? Or Not Real?

[UPDATE]:

Samantha Bee is on the case.

Frequently when walking our youngest dog Willie we have to play a game I call “Real? Or not real?”

Willie is the most skittish pup I’ve ever met (especially since he’s a ginormous, scary-looking pit bull/Lab mix). He’s a real marshmallow inside though, and is terrified of new things that appear in his space. Once it was a shopping cart that had somehow landed at the end of our street; he wouldn’t get within 15 feet of it for a week. Another time it was a beat-up VW Bug parked on the street that had never been there before. Balloons in front of an open house are extremely suspect, as are the Halloween decorations my neighbors have put up in their yards: those ghosts and witches hanging from trees that catch the breeze are too real for Willie. He’s sure they’re monsters come to life.

So, on our walks I often have to spend 5 or 10 minutes playing “real, or not real?” We get as close to the offending inanimate object as possible, I touch it, let him sniff my hand, we eventually get closer, repeat the touch and sniff, until finally he feels safe enough to sniff it on his own. Once he realizes it’s not real and not dangerous, he’s okay. Sometimes it takes more than one round of “real or not real” for him to walk past the object without fear. He’s still not convinced those Halloween decorations aren’t real. I understand why he thinks that; some of them look pretty real to me, too.

I bring all of this up because we have our own little version of “real, or not real” playing out on social media, influencing our national discourse and possibly our elections. I’ve noticed it with Donald Trump’s campaign, or at least people supporting his campaign, and if you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably seen it too: hundreds, maybe thousands, of fake Twitter accounts, many of which look and behave impossibly real, spreading the Trump message du jour, ginning up outrage where none probably exists, and driving the news narrative for the next 48 hours, days, or weeks.

How can you tell who is real and who is fake? It’s not easy. I’ve learned to spot a few clues: people with either absurdly few followers (and who aren’t following anyone), or non-famous people with tens of thousands of followers are big giveaways. Bio photos of young women with “Hollywood” looks are another clue: the hair and makeup are professionally done, the pose is staged, the outfit is professionally styled, etc. This tells me the bio photo was skimmed from a stock house or long-defunct ad campaign. Many of them have the word “Deplorable” in their handles now, a way of reinforcing the false outrage that Hillary calling them Deplorable was just the most offensive, terrible thing ever.

I don’t know where these fake people have come from; frankly, I’ve come to suspect a lot are tied to White Nationalists groups, as these folks seem to have figured out how to use social media as a manipulation tool. I find the whole thing absurd, and fascinating, and frightening.

Here’s an example: Meet Melissa, (now called Deplorable Melissa)

deplorable-melissa

Something seemed fishy to me about this lovely young woman; maybe it was the Pinned Tweet (they all have Pinned Tweets). Maybe it was that her Twitter feed consists almost entirely of re-Tweets. Maybe it was the professionally done hair and makeup, the “head-shot” pose. This looked like a photo skimmed from an old Revlon ad. So I did a reverse image search. I didn’t get any hits from ads, but I did get several links to suspended Twitter accounts. And one of the earliest suspended accounts had this photo as its bio image:

april-2016

Notice the background, the type of backdrop typically found at an entertainment industry red carpet event. The logo appears to be for something called “Sassy Sweet,” a name so generic it returned dozens of hits, from a line of hair care products to a franchise for little girl’s parties.

So, is Deplorable Melissa a real person? I don’t know, but I’m going to guess not. Over time her bio pic has been cropped and recropped, lost a background, her account has been suspended, she doesn’t Tweet anything original. I’m going to guess this photo was skimmed from Facebook or an old magazine. I could be wrong. There are people far smarter than me, with far better tools, who could figure this out in 5 minutes.

What I do know is, fakery on social media is being used by political campaigns to dupe the media and general public into thinking a message or idea has more support than it actually does.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “So, Beale, basically you’re telling us that stuff on the internet is fake? What next, water is wet?”

Yes, I get that. My point is that in this case, the “not real” is becoming “real,” simply by virtue of its existence. Get enough of these fake Twitter accounts Tweeting and re-Tweeting whatever the VRWC wants people to get hot and bothered about, and it quickly filters from the “not real” to the “real.” Case in point: the “rigged election” meme. It started with Donald Trump repeating “it’s rigged! Rigged, I tell you!” at every campaign event. It was then repeated by hundreds of fake bots and Twitter accounts, ended up on some timelines of real people, and before you know it, they start re-Tweeting it too. Suddenly the idea that election is rigged appears to have substantial support among actual voters.

Did any significant number of people out there seriously believe the election is rigged until the idea was planted in their heads? Doubtful.

And now the news media, which uses socials media as its assignment editor, is reporting on Trump supporters talking about a rigged election. This is the idea which has now been inserted into the national narrative: the process has been tainted, the election now has a pall of illegitimacy surrounding it, you can’t trust the institution. All of these ideas simply weren’t there in any significant way until very recently (hell, I remember the idea of electronic voting machines being hackable was considered a lefty fringe thing a few years ago). Now we have real people like this guy in Cincinnati saying Hillary Clinton “needs to be taken out if she gets in the government” and, “if I have to be a patriot, I will.” Secretaries of State around the country, including Tennessee’s own Trey Hargett — a Republican! — must deny the “rigged” claims.

We now have the news cycle driven by the “rigged election” meme. This is allowed to happen because our political news coverage is almost entirely driven by process stories, with very little time or effort devoted to substance. So the political press can report on the “rigged” story and whose campaign it’s most likely to hurt and what the longterm impacts of such a claim might be, etc. etc. But has anyone bothered to ask if any actual vote rigging has occurred? I read on Twitter that all across the country, “illegal immigrants” are voting and dead people are voting. It’s happening everywhere, you guys! I know ‘cuz I saw it on Facebook!

Except it’s not happening. It’s not even real. Absent any evidence of actual “rigging,” all of this seems to have been cooked up in Donald Trump’s tiny little brain. It’s “not real,” but now Secretaries of State all around the country must prove a negative. And it’s not the first time Trump’s done this, either. Carey Wedler at theAntiMedia.org wrote about Trump’s Twitter fakery during the primary. It’s a fascinating read, all the more interesting because the person who figured it out is an anti-Trump conservative activist. As Wedler wrote then:

Compared to planting pundits and making threats, using fake Twitter followers may seem benign, but the intention remains the same as more extreme forms of media manipulation: to force narratives on the public in the hopes of amassing power and influence.

So, next time a meme picks up steam in the public discourse, it may help to play our little game of “real, or not real?” Where did it originate — before Jake Tapper and Chris Cilizza and Lou Dobbs started talking about it? Was it cooked up in a campaign kitchen and delivered to the public by a bunch of fake bots? If so then it’s not real, you guys.

Unreal.

8 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, media, Social Media

OMG I Knew It

If Trump TV becomes reality I am literally giving up on humanity and moving into a yurt in the desert somewhere:

The Republican presidential nominee’s interest in harnessing his political gains and populist appeal for a slice of the cable TV market has long been rumored. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been in contact with Aryeh Bourkoff, founder of investment bank LionTree, about starting a TV network if he’s defeated in the presidential election in November, the FT reported.

Three days ago I wrote that I didn’t want to see anyone associated with the Trump campaign “falling upwards” after this disgusting campaign. That includes giving anyone associated with it their own TV show or, God forbid, an entire cable TV network. Fuck you, Aryeh Bourkoff and LionTree. I’ve never heard of you but anyone even considering doing business with the Trump organization at this point deserves what’s coming their way. Don’t you know everything Donald Trump touches turns to shit? That he has the original touch of merde?

And what fool thinks there’s a market for a hate channel? TLC didn’t exactly win big with Sarah Palin, did it? We already have WhitePrideTV on the internet, do we really need it on cable? Please.

I’m starting to think this was the grift all along.

Meanwhile, let the parodies begin:

5 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, media, Media