Friday, July 21, 2017

The Theory of the Shiny Metal Object

Admittedly, I've been hooked on the whole Russia-collusion narrative from the very beginning. From the first reports of potential Russia-Trump election meddling onward, I've been near obsessed with the story, its many, many, many developments, and its ostensible expansiveness.

Though the story has ebbed and flowed from the start, ranging from the ultra-banal to the rabbit-hole intrigue of geopolitical/financial deception and manipulation, I've been undeniably drawn to it, near the point of choking in its unrelenting grip of death. The slow drip drip drip of detail and development and update has been expertly delivered, keeping the addict salivating and just desperate enough to hang on, perhaps in spite of indications, and the occasional gut feeling, that the tiger had no teeth...that there was nothing really there.

The pace at which this Russia thing has moved along has been, at times, enough to nurture doubt in even the truest of believers, myself included. Even the most feverish of Russian dark-hole conspiracists have had to, at some point, have posed the question "Where is the NUT?" After all, crazy or not, we've all grown accustomed to the tricks of television and marketing, at least on some base level, and most of us have a general sense that those in the media, no matter how professional, ethical or noble, are always trying to sell us something, even if that something is merely the idea that you need to tune in again tomorrow...

Thus the Theory of the Shiny Metal Object.

Our cynicism in regards to the media, messaging and (gulp) the D.C. public relations machine didn't come from nowhere. We were experiencing information overload and fatigue long before this latest incarnation of buffoonery and greed and evil slimed its way into the collective trash heap.

So, when someone so obviously full of sleaze and so apparently absent of shame and morals and intellect, surrounded by those equally full of sleaze and absent of shame and decency and basic intelligence, came into the fold, it wasn't that much of a leap to dismiss what often seemed like poorly-footed (but so believable) narratives, connections and patchwork as mere distraction; a masterful attempt by expert media manipulators to keep the idiotic masses subdued in and consumed by the Shiny Metal Object...just long enough to REALLY screw them over and burn the place down.

It's not hard to believe. The barrage of Russian articles and think-pieces and innuendo begging for attention on your phone and your TV and your radio and your PC on a round-the-clock basis not only creates a general sense of ennui and exhaustion, they BEG for an ulterior motive. The seeming lack of conclusion or endgame in this news is enough to feed the question mark, as well as to ask oneself "Hey, what DON'T they want us to look at?"

Plenty. The bureaucratic inertia that has largely prevented the roll-outs of mega-donor-approved legislation has, for the most part, been unable to stop the White House from rolling back regulations in regards to housing, education, the financial industry, environmental protections, consumer protections and so on, and while executive orders are somewhat limited in scope, there are, potentially at least, long-lasting consequences.

There was also the successful nomination of Garland, as well as any subsequent, consequential Supreme Court decisions, which one could argue have largely slipped and continue to slide past public view.

Yes. The Russian thing, in spite of its exhaustive, depressing and seemingly overwrought nature, continues to keep a nervous nation in its oxygen-depleting death-grip. And by doing so, it has, naturally, stolen the spotlight from issues and events that deserve more attention.

One could also argue that it's glare has been so distracting, so engrossing, that it has effectively diluted efforts to fight the wrongs, real or perceived, being committed daily by the Bad Hombre and his minions. So prevalent is the Russia-Trump-Collusion-Calamity story these days, it could be argued, that efforts to combat the Trump phenomenon continue to be greatly watered down; in some cases, stalled altogether.

Is the story mere distraction? Is The Shiny Metal Object really as powerful as it is claimed to be? Is the Trump Administration specifically, and GOP Money, in general, actually BENEFITTING from its chaotic allure?

Superficially, maybe. Realistically, no.

From my own ignorant perspective, I see several things taking place that are either a result of the Russia story or that are being altered/influenced by its gravity ; none of which I believe have any short or long-term advantages for The Trumpening:

1) Legislative Impotence

The fact that several legislative committees are charged with "investigating" Russia and election collusion have certainly not helped along the effort to pass GOP legislation, nor to help Trump guide his own "agenda" through (though, to be fair, Trump does very little on his end to usher through his own America First policies).

Also, the mere stench of Russian collusion, continually grown by and within the national press corps (not without reason or merit), does little to muster up legislative confidence or support in the President and his Cabal of Crooks.

2) Message Erosion

Trump is used to having control over his brand and the message that defines it. This gives him the power to control the narrative, his image, etc.

With the Russian story constantly hanging overhead, and with the constant cross-messaging and power-plays going on in Washington, the only brand control Trump has at this point is keeping his mouth shut. He is incapable of doing this.

The Russian story, however distracting and often overblown, is a constant negative that has effectively etched a scarring stigma into the Trump brand, and it digs in a little further with each new development. The more his brand suffers, the more he and his surrogates have to spend time digging in to defend it, wasting resources and political capital Trump could have been using to usher in the Age of the Idiot, as well as all the destructive little trimmings that decorate it.

For someone who places so much value on optics, the mere refusal of this story to go away is a constant source of erosion, both to the Trump brand and to anything else his name is emblazoned on.

3) Criminal Exposure

The Trump-collusion story and special counsel investigation may end up vindicating President Trump, though not before exposing certain things about how generally awful he is or what he's willing to do to service himself and his family. This goes the same for those in his orbit, who will most likely take the brunt of the blame and fall in an effort to protect Ol' Hairplugs from incrimination.

It's already well-established that Trump & CO have always lived in the high-end gutter, and value nothing more than saving their own collective butt. Though that's not obvious to everyone (stalwart Trump supporters), it is public knowledge; a fact that is hard to deny when you carefully and willingly examine the details.

This is speculation, but I'm guessing that a few low-to-mid staffers, and perhaps a Cabinet Member of two, are gonna regret falling on this least when all is said and done. I do believe that, at the very least, some criminals, both here and abroad, will be exposed as a result of this story/investigation, and it never hurts to get a bit of scum off the streets (per Jeff Sessions).

No Less Than The Future and Integrity of Journalism Are At Stake

Countless individuals, including professional journalists, editors, fact-checkers and more, have staked their reputations and their careers on the Russia story. In doing so, the reputation, future and integrity of not only professional, esteemed news organizations, but also the journalism profession, are hanging in the balance.

The dismissal of the Russia-collusion story as unimportant, a dead-end or simply as distraction, is essentially a no-confidence vote for journalism itself.

Trump has gone out of his way, both during the campaign and throughout his young presidency, to shame, discredit and undermine not only the reputation, but the value, of the journalistic profession. Dismissing the story as cannon fodder helps to fuel his fake news narrative, as well as to help solidify the "they are the enemy" mentality among his supporters.

To label the Russia story a "Shiny Metal Object," something with no real worth that makes for little more than fun water-cooler banter, and that takes attention away from those issues that "really matter", does both the story, and the journalists who have brought it to the forefront, a gross injustice.

This callous assumption not only shows very little faith in the public to be involved and interested in the issues that "really matter" (perhaps deservedly, in some cases); it also smugly and self-righteously dismisses the efforts and integrity of those working tirelessly to hold those in power to account (that ever-so-mysterious 4th branch of gov't).

You NEED this story

If you want to retain any sort of hope of ending "Trumpdom" before any real damage occurs, or of holding any of these corrupt actors accountable, or you simply want to restore any sense of accountability to begin with, you NEED this story.

Without it, we're all screwed.

re ipsa loquitor


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Controlling the Narrative: It Falls Apart Because Your Story is Bullshit

I've always had a distaste for Public Relations, or anything officially labeled "marketing material," for that matter.To me it's always been about selling something, be it a product, a persona or simply an idea, and truth gets polished, tainted and eventually lost in the process...

Public Relations (i.e. marketing) is all about controlling the narrative. And how do you "control the narrative?"

By lying your fucking ass off, over and over and over ad infinitum until the lie sticks and gets reprinted as generally-accepted fact.

I admire those that have such a knack for pulling it off, though I tend to lose that admiration over the course of peeling back each consecutive layer of abject bullshit. You spend enough time pulling back layers and you develop an inclination to just give up. On everything.You give up on one bullshit pie, it becomes easier to give up on the next, and before you know it, you're swimming in soul-killing cynicism.

Anyone attempting to control the narrative is just a salesman who themselves have given up on objectivity and truth and integrity and humanity. It doesn't matter what you're selling, whether that's a cause or a service or political spin; you're as hollow as the calories in a corndog.

Eventually, whether it's an hour or a week or millennia, your story will fall apart. That's because your story is bullshit. People are generally dumb, but they will figure it out eventually.

Yes, I get it. Everything is layered and hidden behind lies. There's no escaping it. The whole Goddamn thing is built on a farce; the whims of a madman with no regard for objective reality.

It makes "everything" more palatable, because when you dig down deep enough, the unbearable-ness of being is too much to swallow.

So why am I writing this? Well, I believe it's because I'm trying to control the know, the one that reads "if you don't write, you'll never write, so write, you sad sack of crap."

Short rant done. Until tomorrow.


Mission Not Accomplished.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

10 Ways to Get Rid of That Annoying Russian Problem

I have to admit...I was beginning to think it wouldn't be a problem.

A self-proclaimed news addict, I've spent countless hours over the past 5-6 months with my head buried in my phone, my laptop and the various 24-hour stations in search of the next Russia-related "scoop." Most of the time the items have been merely filler; countdowns, what-ifs and innuendo designed to satiate the consumer's blood-lust and keep them coming back for more at the beginning of next day's news cycle.

It worked. I was completely hooked--almost to the point of neglecting my nightly dental hygiene routine...

But then my interest began to fade. The combination of circle-jerking punditry, the constant flow of casual, dispassionate denial after denial and so-called "other news items" made it seem as though it didn't, and wouldn't, matter. Regardless of the preponderance of sleaze and the undeniable gut-feeling of Royal Shitbaggery going on, there seemed like no real opening was ever going to present itself.

In other words, no matter how guilty anyone actually is/was, the whole thing began to feel like a fucking hair-pulling, $&*%# dead-end; a gross and unprecedented miscarriage of presidential injustice that would ultimately signal the beginning of the end of the once-fair know, that one that perhaps had potential for doing SOMETHING noble, good or shining-beacony-like for the cause of humanity, maybe someday.

But this somehow seems different.  No longer are pundits and thought-piece pushers trying to connect the dots with shoestring theories and White House hearsay (well, they are, but the gap between smell and source is rapidly narrowing). Now, Hair-plugs Jr., of all people, took a giant Paul Bunyan-type swing at any notion of misunderstanding or innocence or ignorance or shred of plausible deniability left to provide cover for this whole masquerade.

Or so it seems.

Yeah, it definitely seems. And reeks. And blows. And shits all over the carpet. Again and again and again.

The Twit otherwise known as Donny Jr. essentially just confessed to taking action to collude (which I guess is just fine if the attempt didn't allow for any colluding...HA!), implicating both Son-in-Law and ex-campaign scum Manafort of the same in the process. And now he's lawyering up.

Not only that, but the initial source of the story came from a collective of White House advisers (in an apparent effort to get ahead of the story).

Don't worry though. Nothing to see here. Just another out-of-touch brat playing by a different rules...(what rules would those be, again?).

Late at night, deep deep deep in the forest, if you listen VERY CLOSELY, you can hear that last withering piece of Kellyanne Conway's integrity screaming for the sweet release of death, cutting its own throat and disappearing, without a trace, into the backwoods mist of long-forgotten dreams.


Next time--Nothing happens. The whole thing gets buried. We were all fooled into thinking it was something real this time. The rich assholes win, again.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Do You Mean? CNN Has Always Been A Nightmare

Strangely, it's one of my first memories as an adolescent. Eyes glued to the TV, waiting in semi-suspense for the green fireworks show to begin. Rapt, in awe of the technology that enabled not only the off-screen reporters the ability to see and narrate goings-on in the middle of the night, but that illuminated a foreign desert, as well as unfathomably massive, cannon-laden gunships, over a half a world away...

A surreal scene, to be sure. And for someone nearing the precipice of hormonal haywire, the whole alternating visage of gunship missiles and smoky Baghdad hotels was almost too much fun to keep up with.

Voiced-over by the melodramatic monotone of then-relatively unknown Ewok/Future Desk Anchor Wolf Blitzer, the scene unfolded with made-for-TV precision, capturing the attention of a distracted nation and wagging the dog with the efficiency of a Westminster Wiener Dog (terrible, I know).

That was my first real introduction to CNN, as well as the idea of round-the-clock news, round-table commentary and the wartime correspondent. Before that, I had little idea what a war actually was, much less how detached and entertainment-starved our culture had become.

The rationale for committing the U.S. to the first Gulf War was almost as dubious as the reasoning for the second.

And CNN salivated at the opportunity.

Itself in adolescence, the network needed a real coming out party; something that would put it on par with the Big 3 and, once-and-for-all, justify it's place as a news-gathering, ratings-gulping juggernaut.

And Bush I needed a distraction from a fledgling presidency; a way to make a name for himself while keeping American eyes focused on anything but a terrible economy and general sense of administrative incompetency.

It was a match; a marriage of criminal and Public Relations. Catching wind of wartime rhetoric, talk of "Crazy Saddam" going after the helpless Kuwaitis, coming from wonks and Pentagon goofs in Washington,. CNN knew it's big break was coming, and coming fast.

The fireworks show began. Critical thinking was dealt yet another blow. And CNN became the awful, awful powerhouse of mind-numbingly mindless ambulance chasing personality and pomp they had always wanted.

Another blow to journalism. Another boost for television.

That was over 25 years ago. And really, what has changed? In between spurts of what could be mistaken for good TV journalism are dimwitted pundits spitting saliva and nonsense at one another for hour-long "debate segments." Personalities, not journalists, anchor these programs, placing egos and waxed smiles above what could be a real opportunity to inform the public on the shit-basket we seem to be sharing a ride in.

Don't get me wrong. CNN does employ good journalists. And every now and then one of them gets it right. Hell, there's even been somewhat of an effort to improve the process since ol' eyebrows has taken over, and many in Atlanta seem to be motivated to get something right this time around...for as long as the producers will allow them, that is...

To add, it's not like President Butternuts McScrewFace is making it difficult to rediscover one's passion for news reporting, The trail of breadcrumbs, sleazebags and social media sludge circling this cocksucker is so thick, how could anyone with a microphone, a tape recorder and a soul possibly be sitting on their hands? Journalistic passion has been undeniably and at long last renewed by this tornado of truthiness, detachment and the shameless, cold-blooded murder of accountability.

However, that doesn't mean CNN doesn't deserve anyone's rancor. Just because Jon Stewart is done deservedly and hilariously lambasting, mocking and eviscerating the 24-hour nonstop shit show on a nightly basis and for the whole nation to re-watch on YouTube doesn't mean they still don't, well, suck.

CNN has learned nothing. Sure, they've taken the brunt of Thump's public "beatings" as of late, and they did act fast on the retraction of a story that was largely unverified (though, in all seriousness, probably true), but they didn't hesitate to turn around and, petulantly, I might add, release a rather ominous statement about refusing to publicly expose some middle-aged Internet ratfucker for posting something a million others post on a daily basis.

That's not to say I hate CNN. Like I said, there are some bright spots in there. But the need to fill 24 hours of space with anything and everything leaves little no room to really care about ANYTHING OR EVERYTHING.

Not that the other round-the-clockers are any better. MSNBC can't find it's footing, and Fox News is and has always been unapologetically thinly-disguised, agenda-driven drivel.

But as the vanguard, the flag-bearer, the innovator, CNN could do a lot better. Right now, it's a marketing platform, not much different form Facebook or Twitter.

"Fill the space with something, ANYTHING, and keep it running constantly. Be sure to fill it up with ads so they don't forget to buy soap."

CNN, in my humble estimation, has always been a nightmare. Nothing has changed since the days of "No New Taxes", Patriot Missiles and those fateful, grunge-soaked 90s. It doesn't take some half-wit in a bad tie to tell me that. It was and has always been fueled by creating and fulfilling a need; a endless marketing ploy, designed to generate the constant need for news by promoting fear and uncertainty 24/7.

Feed the addiction slowly. Drip drip drip. Just make sure they're here tomorrow.

Anti-CNN rant over...for now.

Yours in Journalistic Integrity


Next Time...Hollywood and the Death of Originality, or something