"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Yes, Of Course

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. Did anyone think anything else was going to happen?

That, and the rest of the news is too depressing to comment on. If you really want a good take on how we're shuffling down the road to fascism -- and I mean that literally -- take a look at the posts at Hullabaloo over the past day or three. This one is key. It's really too intricate for a short quote, but here's the lead-in:

Please read this sobering assessment of our current moment by Christopher R. Browning,  historian of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany and Europe between the two world wars. It's important. He draws some very uncomfortable parallels and also explains some important differences which are unfortunately not at all comforting.

Particularly noteworthy is the role filled by Mitch McConnell:

If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations. Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him in turn to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the “steal” of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.

Even more than Trump, McConnell is the embodiment of what the Republican party has become.

Tristero has an interesting post on Facebook's role in the debacle of November, 2016:

The Autocracy App, a devastating indictment of Facebook and other predatory social media by Jacob Weisberg, also should not be missed (it's behind a paywall, so buy a copy of the print edition, or subscribe). Once again, I'm struck by how incredibly stupid the digital engineers designing the 21st Century are.

Stupid? Yes, about everything that truly matters.

Mastering C++ and other computer "languages" in order to create a social network platform requires merely the ability to master rigid and fairly straightforward logical and mathematical procedures. On the other hand, creating a social network that doesn't directly lead to genocidal horrors — as Facebook's platforms did in Myanmar — now, that's really fucking hard. That takes more than programming ability. That takes a deep understanding of ethics, compassion, empathy, and a willingness to tolerate limits on one's own will to power. That takes genius.

My favorite quote:

Look, I've got nothing against STEM. Like any non-Republican, I admire and respect scientific information and reason. But a culture that worships STEM like ours? A culture where the most highly educated and financially rewarded citizens are so morally stunted they actually mistake libertarianism — a crude rationalization of narcissistic indulgence — for a philosophy?

Best put-down of libertarianism I've seen in a long time. I usually just content myself with noting that it's an ideology that appeals to the morally bankrupt.

Tom Sullivan has this commentary:

"This is exactly what the Kavanaugh nomination has come to represent," writes Gail Collins in the New York Times. "A vote for the nomination became a symbolic vote for a political ethos that thinks grabbing private parts is fun and complaining about sexual assault is a threat to young manhood."

And of course, there's Fox. From Digby, quoting an article at The Daily Beast:

Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative radio host, noted that the scandals and boycotts haven’t hurt Fox because the network understands it will stay in business by “tending to and feeding the tribe.”

“Fox followed their audience into full-on Trumpism, making themselves into a safe space for the right,” Sykes said. “The scandals don't hurt Fox for the same reasons that Trump's scandals and lies don't seem to hurt him. Fox is a reflection of this new political culture as much as they are its creator.”

“The audience/base doesn't care as long as they own the libs.”

That's all they care about -- consciously, at least: they need an enemy to validate themselves, and at this stage of our history, that enemy is you and me.

That's it. There are a couple of other posts worthy looking at, but those above are the ones I think are key to getting a clear picture of how far down the toilet this country is.

If I can manage to get past the Chicago Marathon, I'm going to go down and look at real dinosaurs.

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