Priorities: A Snapshot


As much as people complain about the media, it is occasionally worth attending the self-inflicted wounds. To wit, Huffington Post readers:

"Trending" sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.• “Pro Wrestler Comes Out As Bisexual After Video With Boyfriend Hits The Web”

• “7 Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown”

• “7 Reasons Your Pee Smells Weird”

• “‘Girls’ Is Now Officially Unwatchable”

• “These Will Be The Best Places To Live In America In 2100 A.D.”

So, yeah. Trending. According to HuffPo’s metrics, this is what people are reading and promoting.

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Image note: “Trending” sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.

If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.

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Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

On Death and Hairballs


Detail of FLCL episode 3, "Marquis de Carabas".

“If they really wanted to kill us, don’t you think it would have happened?”

Mikel Delgado

Look, I know it’s (ahem!) just a cat but, really, she’s nineteen years old, and do you think maybe, just maybe there might be a better time to talk about how her age peer’s health declined shortly before death, and how awful that other cat looked right before it died, and how we’re going to change the room we’re sitting in after the cat is dead than while you’re holding the cat in your lap?

Yeah, you know, it might be one of those stupidities of capitalist press, but I really did like the suggestion that cats want us dead. There are, after all, days when we shouldn’t wonder why.

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Image note: Meow ― Detail of frame from FLCL, episode 3, “Marquis de Carabas”.

Hanson, Hilary. “No, A Study Did NOT Find That Your Cat Wants To Kill You”. The Huffington Post. 5 November 2015.

Caption, Please?


To the one, there is such thing as a bad picture, and we all know it. Sometimes the camera just … you know, that’s the way it goes.

To the other, we usually worry about that when we are the subject of the picture, instead of merely a set piece.

Still, we sometimes find an unforgettable moment if only because it was captured in still life.

More the pity, I suppose. Something about that which we cannot unsee goes here.

Gov. Chris Christie addresses members of the Camden County police force, 2 November 2015. (Image credit: Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Image note: Gov. Chris Christie addresses members of the Camden County police force, 2 November 2015. (Image credit: Emma Lee/WHYY)

Something, Something, Burt Ward


A legacy of acrimony between President Putin and the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus came to the fore last week when a female suicide bomber from that area blew herself up on a bus in Volgograd, killing six people. The town where she was from–only a day’s drive from Sochi–had been under counterterrorism surveillance for at least a year . . . .

Emma Margolin

It is not that one cannot be more specific, but, rather, the question of why one needs to Emma Margolin’s report for MSNBC verges on revolutionary language:

ScochiA legacy of acrimony between President Putin and the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus came to the fore last week when a female suicide bomber from that area blew herself up on a bus in Volgograd, killing six people. The town where she was from–only a day’s drive from Sochi–had been under counterterrorism surveillance for at least a year, according to Time magazine.

The bomber’s motives remain unclear, but she appears to have been aligned with an insurgency group whose aim has been to transform the region into an Islamic stronghold and expel Russian forces, whom they view as occupiers. Over the summer, the movement’s self-proclaimed Chechen leader released a video message calling for the use of “maximum force” ahead of the Winter Games.

The attack follows a bloody two months in which over 130 people have been killed in clashes between government forces and militants, sparking nationalist riots this month in southern Moscow. A majority of those deaths took place in Dagestan, where the Boston bombers lived before emigrating to the U.S.

As prime minister, Putin directed the second Chechen war. Over a decade later, those separatist powers remain strong. Experts have warned that last week’s suicide bombing could be the first in a chain of attacks against Russian targets.

Colbert-QUOTE-RealizeLiberalCertes, there are all manner of newsish biscuits and treats to be found in all that, but the narrative is what counts here. To the one, there is something about the liberal bias of reality. But, to the other, there is also the part about recognizing one’s liberal tendencies in making human choices instead of simply cheering the cause.

Something, something, Burt Ward.

This thing writes itself.

At least, I hope, since I can’t explain it otherwise.

The obvious question: What is an ‘honest rape’?


Sometimes it’s the little things. Like Ron Paul’s recent appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight:

Ron Paul, the Rape Arbiter?MORGAN: Here’s the dilemma, and it’s one I put to Rick Santorum very recently. I was surprised by his answer, although I sort of understood from his belief point of view that he would come up with this.

But it’s a dilemma that I am going to put to you. You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped—and I accept it’s a very unlikely thing to happen. But if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?

PAUL: No. If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen or give them—

MORGAN: You would allow them to abort the baby?

PAUL: It is absolutely in limbo, because an hour after intercourse or a day afterwards, there is no legal or medical problem. If you talk about somebody coming in and they say, well, I was raped and I’m seven months pregnant and I don’t want to have anything to do with it, it’s a little bit different story.

But somebody arriving in an emergency room saying, I have just been raped and there is no chemical—there’s no medical and there’s no legal evidence of a pregnancy—

MORGAN: Life doesn’t begin at conception?

PAUL: Life does begin at conception.

So a question arises, and perhaps someone can help me out, here: What is an “honest rape”?

Anyone?

Please?

A picture is worth how many ideas?


Because it’s easier this way ….

On Friday, Glenn Greenwald noted:

So revealing: here's what Time Magazine thinks of its American readership

And just to save you the spare click, this is what he was referring to:

Cover images for Time magazine, Dec 2011

To be fair, maybe it’s not simply about Time holding Americans in contempt as emotionally immature consumerist dolts. It could be something about market dynamics. Maybe Americans just aren’t that into revolutionary politics. I mean, it’s nice to cheer for the underdogs, sure, but what with those weirdos occupying New York and other cities, it is entirely possible that people really are so unsettled that we need to be pepper spraying eighty-four year-old women.

And, you know, maybe the international cover for Time (v.178, n.22) just makes Americans unnecessarily anxious. So, you know, they run a much more appropriate cover explaining why anxiety is good for people. Rather than working to make life more satisfactory, we ought to just learn how to find greater satisfaction in the things that worry us. That way, well … you know … maybe revolutionary ideas won’t occur to Americans as possible solutions for anxiety. Or something.

Even more than raw politics, this could be about marketplace politics. Sure, this might be what Time thinks of Americans, but Greenwald overlooks the question of whether or not there is a reason for that.