I took last week off from putting out our newsletter to give us all a break. No last-minute appeals to the spirit of holiday generosity. No sentimental journeys. Not even my esoteric stream-of-consciousness prose that seems to be pretty popular with y’all. Keep Reading
“…we’re in a historic transitional moment and the very foundations of society are now open to question.“― David Brooks
Editorial, by Jason Velázquez
Our nation’s president has put the First Amendment on the block. And, at a mere $110 billion worth of arms deals, we’re talking fire-sale pricing.
You have already heard, in gruesome detail, how a permanent American resident and journalist for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, was allegedly lured to the Saudi consulate in Turkey, abducted, interrogated, and likely tortured, murdered, and hacked into pieces small enough to be smuggled out of the embassy in satchels by 15 assassins. The whereabouts of his remains are still unknown.Keep Reading
The last aster had bloomed. Light came slanting in, low and uncertain and at angles that illuminated patches that had lain in shadow since the vernal equinox. Other spaces would be sun-starved until Gaia herself, impatient with astronomy, cast her radiant heat from within, disrobing of her maiden’s gowns, disavowing a cycle of chastity.Keep Reading
Kayleigh McEnany, rightist political operative, began hosting what I’ll generously call a web series on Facebook this week. Based on the week’s happenings in the Trumpiverse, “Real News” is constructed and delivered in fun-size blurbs for the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of adoring racist and xenophobic proles and bourgeoisie.
Video stills that make people look stupid are really easy to find. Capturing a frame that flatters a speaker is actually wayyy harder. My inner junior high school shithead giggled and snorted as I paused the stream just as McEnany looked wild-eyed and deranged. Or like she was in mid-sneeze. Or when her eyes were closed and her mouth was open in the middle of a long “O” sound, as in the final vowel of the word “fellatiō.”
In my explorations of the minute: thirty runtime of Trump TV’s “News of the Week,” I was hoping to mine a doozy. I was looking for just the right unfortunate countenance to demonstrate the level of idiocy, of insipid schlock being pedaled as journalism by the Trump campaign engine. I found some instant classics, too. Underneath her drugstore blondery, McEnany’s injection-molded cheekbones bob up and down with the veneer of conviction. From deep within her glassy green eyes shines the intense earnestness and zeal of someone whacked on ecstasy, but modulated by exactly the right dosage of valium to pass for sober.
* (The full text of the transcript is below.)
Edmund Zhong (Facebook)
Within the first 6 months in office Trump has accomplished more than what Obama had in 8 years!
Then, the frames in between the comic squints and unattractive sneers began to catch my eye. Glimpses of something that wasn’t abject stupidity at all began to slip out. Something that wasn’t just the predictably pretty, reassuringly vapid face smiling out at America, reading the news. Something colder, more fraught with reptilian purpose. This thing I sensed through her expressions frightens me. This thing is Mission.
** “Who the hell is Kayleigh McEnany?”
After an impressive educational career, capped off with equally notable internships, McEnany found her calling as a conservative columnist and a commentator. She’s been a favorite Trump surrogate punching bag on CNN since early 2016. Media personalities in the center-left have pointed to instances where she has added fuel to conspiracy theories and inflamed hostilities, and the right has slammed her for essentially being an unseasoned avatar of the conservative movement with lip gloss.
This week—August 6, to be exact —after McEnany parted ways with CNN, she appeared as the “anchor” of the Trump media product that debuted on his Facebook page. The next day, the Republican National Committee tapped McEnany to be its national spokesperson for television and radio. I haven’t followed what the pundits on the extremeliest right have to say, but the response from the the center and center-left has been the shrill, self-righteous scorn and contempt you’d expect. Drivel! Propaganda! Americans will see right through it!
Andrew Hinman (YouTube)
It is sad but necessary to have to broadcast President Trump’s achievements in this manner. National news should do there [sic] job with out basis [sic]. It is what it is. Wake up America . You have a President that works.
The reasoned opinions of the well-informed don’t really matter, though. The original video alone has already garnered 1.7 million views, and it’s clones on YouTube and elsewhere have racked up another million. Even if half the adoring user comments are posted from fake accounts, that still leaves tens of thousands of legitimate disciples out there drooling out their love for their leader in fawning tweets and posts lacking proper spelling, punctuation, or, indeed, any coherent sentence structure at times. But the status of Trump’s base as an inarticulate orc horde doesn’t matter, either.
It doesn’t matter that she isn’t old enough to possess the context of the Revolution of ’94 (let alone “evil enemy empire”) necessary to understand how we got to this surreal place in American politics. Nor does it matter that whoever is filling up her teleprompter with inane and artless falsehoods mirrors the cartoonish media styles of both 1987’s Robocop and 1997’s Starship Troopers.
Sammy Spaniel (YouTube)
I see nothing wrong with Trump letting the American people know what the crooked mainstream media refuses to tell us. In fact it’s the MSM that forced Trump’s hand in this. Why are they surprised?
No logical criticism of the “News of the Week” from Trump Tower matters, because ultimately, the critics are missing the point. Hours after the video appeared on Facebook, Old guard journalists Jeff Greenfield and Dick Tofel joined Brian Stelter of CNN’s Reliable Sources to debate the merits of the newsish broadcast.
Jeff Greenfield observed that, “Campaigns have been trying to do news-like videos ever since there was video, so in the scheme of things, that doesn’t strike me as a particularly bothersome problem.” He believes that Trump TV is merely just part of a “long tradition, if not entirely noble tradition, of political campaign propaganda.”
Stephen Caldarola (YouTube)
The Mainstream Media still doesn’t realize that we have had it with their fake news and lies about OUR president, still talking about that Russia Nothing-burger and now they have the gall to call Our point of view News “Propaganda”.
Dick Tofel attempted to dilute the segment’s significance further, “If that were being done by the government, it would be enormously troubling. If that were being done by a political campaign, you know, I think as Jeff says, it’s pretty much politics as usual.”
Right here is where the mainstream media needs to pull its head out of its ass. Of course they can call the “reporting” flawed, simplistic, unethical, or whatever they like. Their high minded platitudes don’t matter because:
“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”
So says the original ein führer, anyway.
Millions of Trump supporters don’t just believe that CNN, MSNBC, and the original network Big Three deliver a low-quality news product. They don’t even simply question whether or not the journalists are reporting from a heavy bias. They believe that these media figures are agents of the ENEMY, spreading propaganda designed to make their leader look bad and them stupid. This crowd of mostly upper middle class white voters has understood itself to be at the receiving end of a culture war since Y2K. If believing that climate change is Chinese hoax or that a trillion dollar wall at the border will lower unemployment—if believing the impossible and the absurd—makes them feel better about themselves, tangible proof of the contrary is the last thing they want or will believe. — This is what the Greenfields and the Tofels of the world can’t get their head around.
Josh Lancer (Facebook)
Dear liberal trolls, Trump is making America great again. He won’t stop just because you don’t like him.
Donald Trump is himself an avatar. He is an increasingly holographic incarnation of a set of toxic anti-virtues that fester behind every third door in your neighborhood. With a pornographic instinct for stimulating America’s racism and suspicion and lechery and greed, the Trump cabal pleasures the national id in a way that is both unspeakably torrid, yet completely public. Trump supporters don’t care that there’s almost a zero percent chance that their boy will leave the country in even as good shape as he found it. They know the system screws us all. What they want is to indulge in something they weren’t allowed during the Obama administration—to focus blame and hatred (and maybe a little violence) on irrelevant foes.
Trump, the man, almost doesn’t matter at this point. In seven short months, he has sustained an unending polemic against sanity, restraint, and forethought, in a string of tweets that can be entered into a database for repurposing. Digital President Trump can now respond to all the perils that face the nation effortlessly whenever you click the “Surprise Me” policy app at whitehouse.gov.
Yes, that may be nod to political humorists Firesign Theatre, but I deliver it without a trace of mirth. Science fiction writers such as Bradbury, Le Guin, Clarke, Asimov, Serling, L’Engle, Huxley, and dozens more all have something in common. They all imagined pieces of a future where humans complacently placed their governance into the vice of tyranny. Leadership has taken the form of all-knowing computer AI, alien overlords, infallible bureaucratic systems, but in each case, the masses have given up on the hard work of pluralistic democracy. At the head of George Orwell’s “Inner Party,” the benevolent face of “Big Brother” was ubiquitous in Oceana, the nation comprised of the former United States (did you know that?) and Great Britain in the novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big Brother himself never appears. No one is sure if he was ever a real person. His power, however, as the embodiment and figurehead of the country’s collective oligarchy, he simultaneously instills reassurance and fear. Through propaganda.
Cnn is scared because Trump has more ratings and followers than them.
You know who is spreading the propaganda, MSM? Look in the Mirror!
In the news reports coming out of the Ministry of Truth, productivity is always up, the enemy is always nearly vanquished, and spontaneous demonstrations of patriotism occur daily. That the evidence points to an increasingly coarse existence on fewer and fewer resources doesn’t matter to the masses. They are kept in check by a police state, kept in fear of enemies from without and within, and kept anesthetized with cheap liquor and mindless entertainment. Big Brother’s actual contribution (if he even exists) to the dictatorship is immaterial.
And that may be the course the extreme right is following. Trump was a mythical figure even before taking office. I suspect we will see less and less of him (though the tweets will probably continue) in the coming years. The absence will strengthen his image, rather than call into question his leadership, even though the lack of his captaining should hint at other hands upon the wheel. I suspect, also, that whoever succeeds him, should his party win in 2020, will be even more of a cipher.
The increasingly shadowy nature of the real power behind public neocon figures is what makes the ascendence of Kayleigh McEnany such a terrifying development.
She’s obviously been groomed since she was very young to be in front of exactly the right camera at exactly the right time to derail the last boxcar of fact-based media. At the age of 29, she can boast a viewership of probably 3 million people (by the time you read this) for a stupid one and a half minute collection of innuendo, half-truths, and outright lies. McEnany is pushing the same Trumpologist tangle of illogic that she did on CNN, but this time without a sane person who actually understands national and world affairs sitting next to her to cry “bullshit.” She’s applying her Harvard Law training to cheap political pugilism that should insult any thinking person. But, of course, that’s not who she’s trying to reach. And her handlers don’t want people thinking too hard about to rose-scented sputum coming out of her mouth, or they wouldn’t have loaded up the video with so many flashy and distracting graphics.
To any one that tries to belittle President Trump, you just don’t recognize a real man, one bred in patriotism and core values, a MAN. Sorry for your loss, ask Hillary for the key,.
I am afraid. People believe (or at least are doublethinking) that the “News of the Week” is legitimate journalism. Hundreds of thousands of them, at least. In large part, the mainstream media created her, just as it created Trump. Since at least the ’80’s, real substance has been eroding in both reporting and commentary on the radio, on television, and, to a slightly lesser degree, in print. The media created a pantheon celebrities and made acolytes of anyone with the jawline or the neckline to keep the public mesmerized.
McEnany, the RNC’s pretty spokeswoman with the alluringly bare, tanned shoulders framing an industrial turtleneck collar that screams verboten, sparkly silver cross dangling down, probably as a talisman against Rachel Maddow, is exactly where we’ve been heading for a long, long time. Oh, any newscaster can call black just dark shade of grey, but this gal! She can smile and convince you you’re seeing a rainbow.
The economy is doing great!
Lucrative jobs are everywhere you look!
You are happy! Even more, you’re in the winners’ circle!
We are neutralizing the threat posed by people not like you!
None of it has to be true to be effective once a liberal democracy takes a few steps down the road toward a dystopian, militarized police state. All that really has to exist is a dangerously large number of followers who can be incentivized to invest in the lie. And to make the conscious, voluntary decision to ignore warnings and reporting by a steadily discredited corps of journalists. Once that happens, the mob becomes the censor of public thought. Law enforcement and the military are empowered, even encouraged, to do things most men and women of conscience would never do to their fellow citizens.
It won’t matter which capricious, narcissistic demagogue with ties to some extremely dodgy bastards is in the Oval Office. Because Kayleigh—or Kaitlyn or Kaiden or Kelly or Kerry or Kyrie or Tina—will be up there on the screen. Telling us that things are okay. Telling us that America is loved and feared, just like God, your boss, and your dad should be. Telling us that anyone who says that the ship is leaking, that it’s taking on water in a really troubling way is possibly misguided, but probably treasonous. Telling us that it’s okay to tune out the truth.
Nancy Crider (Facebook)
Thank you for positive news instead of the usual depressing news on the network channels.
The only antidote to the vapid Gorgiasms of Trump, delivered in the mouth of McEnany and her ilk, is a relentless demand for better, more intelligent news. The American public deserves more balanced coverage not just of the two dominant political ideologies, but of the entire spectrum of political thought. Stories need be better-sourced. Analysis needs to focus on substantive rather than personality clashes. Journalists themselves need to reclaim their dignity, stop thinking the job is a popularity contest, and remember their fighting, working class roots. Until news consumers demand that the fourth estate starts acting like the protector of democracy it’s charged with being, news outlets will continue to succumb to the gravitational pull of nationalistic propaganda.
* complete transcript of “News of the Week,” courtesy Real Clear Politics
Hi everybody I’m Kayleigh McEnany, thank you for joining us as we provide you the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York!
More great economic news on Friday, the July jobs report added a better than expected 209,000 jobs. Overall since the president took office, he has created more than 1 million jobs. The unemployment rate is at a 16 year low, and consumer confidence is at a 16 year high. All while the Dow Jones continued to break records. President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.
On Wednesday, the president introduced the RAISE Act. For decades, a steady rise in immigration has depressed the wages of American workers. The RAISE Act will increase wages, decrease poverty, and save the taxpayers billions.
Americans deserve a raise, and President Trump is finally putting the American worker first.
Also on Wednesday, President Trump awarded the medal of honor to one of our Vietnam War heroes… James McCloughan. McCloughan risked his life on nine separate occasions, saving many of his wounded peers.
President Trump also honored veterans as a whole with yet another VA reform package that could enable millions of veterans to receive better access to care. President Trump is dedicated to honoring these men and women who fought valiantly for their country, and ensuring they get the care they deserve.
Thank you for joining us everybody, I’m Kayleigh McEnany and that is the real news.
** Recall the intraparty pundit catfight between McEnany and Dana Loesch.
So, I’m kind of in a weird place. As a one-time newspaperman trying to work my way back into journalism, I read yesterday’s piece from Harvard University’s Nieman Lab with guarded enthusiasm:
The idea that seems to be catching on for metro papers is to place the news that readers want in front of their faces wherever they are and all the time. And I get that. These storied journals have finally accepted the fact that, eventually, the last buggy was going to break down, and no one was going to want their whips ever again.
The understandable, though misguided, tendency to put encryption front and center in the battle over data security
Like so many privacy advocates, I cheered as Apple, Inc. unzipped and laid its set of big brass corporate disobedience on the table last week. Despite some convincing analysis both on Medium and over at Slate.com to the effect that an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, a shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino massacre, probably contains no useful evidence, the Federal Bureau of Investigations insists that Apple create access for investigators to the phone’s contents. Keep Reading
Peter Paul Rubens – Abundance (Abundantia)
I cruised southward alone along a curving, coastal dream road in central Maine. I suppose it might have been on the North Shore. It might have been in the Maritimes, though never having been to that region of Canada, I wouldn’t know. The sky was inhabited by a diverse population of cloud styles. In the foreground, dense, grey, self-important tufts sailed along with me at a low altitude. Above them, frivolous wisps formed and dissipated, sometimes gathering into excited groups before being dispelled by the insistent breeze. Higher still, the remainder of atmospheric bodies, dingy, off-white pedestrian slabs, lumbered at an almost imperceptible velocity, occasionally colliding with other members of their number.