Life without rising inequality is very much like life with socialism

Forbes. Fucking Forbes. They’re doing a great job of painting a smiley face on a dystopia. They have an article up titled Surging Wealth Inequality Is A Happy Sign That Life Is Becoming Much More Convenient. For whom, you might ask? Does it matter? It benefits the rich, so the peons don’t matter.

Crucial about all this is that the commercial seers who get the future right will grow stunningly rich for being right. The more convenient life is, the more unequal are the living. But as opposed to a sign of hardship, the happier truth is that life is truly cruel when the talented aren’t getting rich. That’s when we know that no one is devising ways to make our lives easier, cheaper, healthier, more productive, and everything else good. Life without rising inequality is very much like life with socialism.

“The talented”…who might they be? The examples he gives are a) Pizza Hut is testing self-driving delivery cars and pizza-making robots that will get your pizza to you faster, without the expense of pizza delivery drivers. Yay! No more tipping college students struggling to make ends meet! And b) Walmart is making an app a digital map to find the toy or TV they’re looking for, then make the purchase right in the aisle where they find it. Bravo, capitalism. So the “talented” are a couple of big corporations, not people.

That last line, though…he’s completely oblivious, I can tell. You mean I can have life with socialism, and life without rising inequality, at the same time? Yes, please. And you want the opposite? Well fuck you very much.

Academe is a MAJOR THREAT TO AMERICA

But don’t you worry: Turning Point USA is on it. They made a list. Strangely, most of them seem to be women and minorities, but hey, I made the cut. There is a grand total of SIX (6) dangerous professors in the entire state, which is kind of a tiny group to be responsible for overthrowing the state and destroying capitalism, and we’re rather scattered all over the place — I haven’t met any of my revolutionary cadre.

We should get together and do lunch, Jim Bear Jacobs, Marlon James, Shannon Gibney, Wayne Bendickson, and Barbara Gorski. We could also invite Jack Russell Weinstein, the sole enemy of the state in North Dakota (there is no representative in South Dakota. They’re all running dog lackeys there). It might be difficult since some of us are hundreds of miles away.

This is no way to run a revolution.

I think I’ve spotted the problem

Why does the American media suck? Here’s a hint in an article that is discussing how the press should respond to the farce that the White House press briefings have become. The author is against a walkout or boycott or whatever the media is calling the imaginary response that won’t happen anyway.

The White House is a lousy source of information about itself, but it is also the best available source.

Wait, what? It’s probably the worst available source — the White House is not going to ‘fess up to any perfidy. They’re going to tell you a bunch of lies and cover up any problems. Unless your story is “Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied again today”, the real story, the facts of what is going on, are buried underneath whatever message they’re peddling in the briefings. In stuff like this:

The real story of Trumpism is probably found not in the White House or even in Washington but in Ohio, in Texas, along the Mexican border, in refugee camps the world over, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, and in the Palestinian territories.

Yes. And also in Washington, in the actions the principal actors there take. Not in what they say they’re doing, but what they’re actually doing. The press briefings have become tools of disinformation, where they say what’s happening, and can trust the lackeys of the media to happily echo their story, because digging into the actual facts of what they’re doing is hard work.

But the story of how the Administration functions must still be observed up close. Walking away would give this White House exactly what it wants: less contact with the media, less visibility, ever less transparency and accountability. Walking away would feel good, but it would ultimately be a loss. Would the loss in information be greater than the gain in solidarity? That’s a hard question, but my guess is that the answer is yes.

This is nuts. What Trump wants is more attention. But he also wants to control what the media says about him, and that is what these official White House press briefings are for.

And what information would we lose? “Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied again today” is basically only one bit of information.

The Trump Administration has the media in a vise. On the one hand, most of what comes out of White House mouths is poison to the public conversation: because it’s a lie, or an expression of hate, or both. Simply reporting Trump’s lies and incendiary comments, however critically, serves to entrench his world view as a part of our shared reality. At the same time, he is the President. His Twitter pronouncements find a sympathetic audience among tens of millions of Americans. Refusing to engage with his words would mean refusing to engage with Trump voters and with the Trump Administration itself. It would mean walking away from politics altogether, which, for journalists, would be an abdication of responsibility.

The responsibility is to do more than just report what Donald Trump says — which is pretty much what the media has been doing for the last several years. It’s to analyze and investigate and report critically. What I’ve seen from the press is mostly a refusal to engage with those words already. Maybe if they broke away from their reliance on being spoon-fed talking points and had to actually find out what’s happening, they’d remember their obligations again.

Earlier in the article, the author references an intermediate strategy.

The media scholar Jay Rosen has long argued for downgrading the prestige of the White House assignment proportionately to the quality of information that emerges from the Administration. “Put your most junior people in the White House briefing room,” he has written. “Recognize that the real story is elsewhere, and most likely hidden.”

Exactly. Jim Acosta gets all the attention lately as a martyr, but contrary to usual praise, I have to say I’m not at all impressed. His questions aren’t particularly interesting, and they certainly don’t drill down to the real problems of this administration. He’s paid and rewarded with prestige for asking a crook questions that we all know he won’t answer honestly. He’s part of a hostile claque, nothing more or less.

The problem with the American press…

We can all agree that the video of Jim Acosta was doctored to make it look like he struck a woman. It was a clumsy and stupid move by InfoWars, but we’re used to clumsy and stupid from that source. What I want to know is why journalists continue this farcical White House press conference rigamarole? It’s a mob of suits begging for attention from a guy who loves attention, and who especially loves to lord it over the room. It’s nothing to the news networks but an opportunity for drama and mutual reinforcement of each others’ self-importance.

And now what is completely ignored is the question Acosta was asking. Trumpistanis are only going to talk about how rude Acosta was, the media are only going to talk about how imperious and arrogant Trump was, and the Q&A is totally sidelined. Just for the record, here’s the exchange leading up to the notorious microphone-snatch:

“I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements you made in the tail end of the campaign, that this caravan was an invasion…”

I considered it an invasion.

“As you know, Mr President, the caravan was not an invasion. It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the US…”

Thank you for telling me that.

“Why did you characterize it as such…”

Because I considered it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.

“Do you think that you demonized immigrants…”

No, no, not at all. I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally. You know they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process, and I want people to come in, and we need the people.

“Your campaign…”

Wait, wait, you know why we need the people. Because we have hundreds of companies moving in. We need people.

“But your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls…”

That’s true.

“But they aren’t going to be doing…”

They weren’t actors. They weren’t actors. Did you think they came from Hollywood? These were people…this actually happened a few days ago.

“They’re hundreds of miles away, though. They’re hundreds of miles…that’s not an invasion.”

Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much higher.

And then begins the wild rumpus with an intern trying to take the mic from his hands.

Could we please talk about that conversation? The president of the US simultaneously accuses Central American people of staging an invasion and declares that he’s going to welcome these people as workers, completely avoids the point that they’re nowhere near the border, and tries to pretend that a racist campaign ad was a factual and representative observation of real people.

By hectoring Acosta, he completely short-circuited any news about his inconsistency, his dishonesty, and his demagoguery. As an exercise in lying to a camera, it was brilliant. As an opportunity to gather information, it was a waste, because all those “journalists” aren’t going to call him out in the press, because they want this pretense of access.

I’ve read a few opinion pieces that suggest the principled thing for the press corps to do would be to boycott the whole charade. They won’t. Because a) they aren’t principled, or they wouldn’t be patiently waiting for a source to bless them with knowledge, and b) the whole point of the charade is to dance with the Orange Bully in front of your peers, not to actually learn anything and disseminate it to the public.

Trump knows exactly how to deal with fawning courtiers, which is all those “journalists” are.

That’s not really very many scientists

Oh, look. We’re supposed to be impressed with All the Candidates With Science Backgrounds Who Just Got Elected. I condensed down the list; there are 21 with “science backgrounds” out of the 435 in the US House of Representatives, and when you look closely, the list has been padded quite a bit, mainly because journalists (and the general public) don’t have a very good idea of what science is.

  1. Lauren Underwood (D) Nursing and public health
  2. Joe Cunningham (D) Ocean engineer & attorney
  3. Elaine Luria (D) Nuclear engineer
  4. Chrissy Houlahan (D) Engineering degree
  5. Jacky Rosen (D) Bachelor’s in Psychology
  6. Sean Casten (D) Molecular biology and biochemistry
  7. Kim Schrier (D) Pediatrician
  8. Ami Bera (D) Clinical medicine
  9. Jerry McNerny (D) Mathematics, engineering
  10. Tony Cardenas (D) Electrical engineering
  11. Ted Lieu (D) Computer science
  12. Raul Ruiz (D) Medicine, public health
  13. Dan Lipinski (D) Mechanical engineering
  14. Brad Schneider (D) Industrial engineering
  15. Bill Foster (D) Physics
  16. Steve Watkins (R) Army engineer
  17. Martin Heinrich (D) Mechanical engineering
  18. Jeffrey Van Drew (D) Dentistry
  19. Paul Tonko (D) Mechanical engineering
  20. Chris Collins (R) Mechanical engineering
  21. Kevin Hern (R) Engineering

Not to disrespect them at all, but engineering and medicine are not science. It’s also hard to argue any more that any Republican is actually pro-science, given that the party is a deranged mob of science denialists right now.

So I’d actually say only four (in blue) actually have science backgrounds — the others have backgrounds more in applied science (Again, that’s not a bad thing at all). Foster and Casten in particular have advanced degrees in physics and biology, respectively, and have definitely earned the acknowledgment.

The others, though, are also important, because they’ll at least contribute to a more favorable attitude towards science in congress. But I don’t think it does them any favors to inflate their credentials or misrepresent them. Nursing and medicine and engineering and dentistry are all demanding and credible disciplines without pretending they’re something they’re not.

VOTE! Vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote VOTE!

I’m going to the polls as soon as they open this morning out of a sense of duty and a feeling of futility. Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression, as well as the fact that the electorate is saturated with selfish bigots and the media are bought and owned by the rich, means I don’t expect to see much of that mythical democracy today. It shouldn’t even be close, but it’s going to be close.

But, you see, if we don’t try, if we don’t participate, if we don’t march down and make this tiny effort to oppose unreason and corruption and bigotry, you won’t own a right to protest when the election is stolen. You might be upset, but you won’t possess the righteous fury it’s going to take to right this wrong, which is going to take years of struggle.

As we all know, angry gets shit done.

I’m already pretty angry about century after century of injustice. Keep stoking the rage until we rise up and burn the whole ugly system down.