Late Night Oldies with Poor Sleep Hygiene Open Thread: ‘President’ Trump’s Big Vroom-Vroom TeeVee Show!!!

And he wouldn’t be in the White House if not for all those busy little GOP elves (and their Russian ‘assistants’). THANKS EVER SO FECKIN’ MUCH, REPUBS!

The producers of children’s television know the key to holding a distractible audience’s attention: interactivity…

It turns out you can apply the same formula to morning news. “Fox & Friends,” the three-hour wake-up program on Fox News, is an interactive magic mirror for Donald J. Trump.

President Trump is the show’s subject, its programmer, its publicist and its virtual fourth host. The stars offer him flattery, encouragement and advice. When he tweets, his words and image appear on a giant video wall. It’s the illusion of children’s TV — that your favorite show is as aware of you as you are of it — except that for Mr. Trump, it’s real.

In January the hosts, “Romper Room”–style, even pretended to be watching Potus, showing a video feed of the White House and asking him to flash the lights on and off if he was watching. (Producers added an effect of the lights flickering, a “TV trick” the hosts later acknowledged.)…

Suddenly, for no other reason than its No. 1 fan, it is the most powerful TV show in America. (It’s also easily the most-watched cable news morning show, averaging 1.6 million viewers in the year’s second quarter, following a post-Trump ratings boost.) Mr. Doocy and Mr. Kilmeade now offer strategic advice on health care legislation. Politicians use the show as a kind of virtual Oval Office pitch meeting. In turn, Mr. Trump’s live tweets set and reshape the show’s focus…

TV news has covered and worried presidents for decades, but it has never been as central to the mind-set of a president as it is to Mr. Trump: reality star, producer and cable-news junkie. But since his amour fou with CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has gone bad — he claims not to watch them anymore, yet somehow stays deeply familiar with them — he has favored “Fox & Friends,” which requites his love…

Diagraming the feedback loop between “Fox & Friends” and the president requires a very small bulletin board and maybe six inches of yarn. On July 11, the show aired a segment blaming Democrats for “obstructing” Mr. Trump’s nominees. At 6:42 a.m., it posted the segment on Twitter, and Mr. Trump retweeted it quickly. At 6:59, he tweeted… Ten minutes later, that tweet was on the “Fox & Friends” video wall, prompting the hosts to criticize the Democrats again.

“This is anti-American,” Mr. Kilmeade said.

“Well, it’s anti-Trump, ultimately,” Mr. Doocy said.

“Which is anti-American,” Mr. Kilmeade said…

When George Orwell predicted a 24/7 Big Brother video autocracy, he didn’t know it would be aimed at a four-year-old’s comprehension level. But this is America, land of FreeDUMB!



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Bad Idea TV

Yeah, as the CBC phrases it: “‘Sounds stupid as hell'”.

I am not and probably never will be an HBO subscriber (I explicitly subscribed to Netflix, back when it was just a disc-rental service, to watch cable shows without having to deal with cable companies), so the HBO suits won’t care what I think, but still. Yeah, the pseudo-historical intersection between “But what if the monster… isn’t actually dead?” and “Our chivalric dream shall never die!” can always start an argument, but how many people want to pay money to watch a cosplay version of the one we’re living all too vividly right now?

My prediction is that a Confederate “win,” 150 years after the original arguments, would’ve resulted in a continuing breakdown of the United States — bad ideas have consequences, too, and if one region “escapes” than a lot more states get fractious. Most of New England would’ve departed by the 1870s, possibly ending up as a Canadian province. The breadbasket area from Minnesota to the Rockies would be a bunch of possibly-allied semi-Calvinist networks (immigrant Scandinavian Protestant & Russian Orthodox farmers, Mormons, and versions of all the other fringe cults of the Second Great Awakening). Mexico would’ve successfully reclaimed parts of Aztlan, including most of Texas. Big chunks of the Rockies-adjacent areas would be just as underpopulated as they are today, but there would be more Native American tribal units, not to mention feral refugees from all the adjacent regions. Goddess only knows what northern California/Oregon/Washington would’ve come to, but I suspect the lingua franca would be either Russian or Mandarin. New Orleans would be the center of an ever-fluid “Black Free State”, probably doing better financially than its ‘Confederate’ neighbors. There would be dozens of tiny “free” baronies dotting the Appalachians, with more scattered in the adjacent fringes, wherever a handful of ‘Scots-Irish’ hillbillies or other malcontents felt called to resist the big gubmint encroachment of war-depleted, tax-starved state authorities. And the Mason-Dixon DMZ between the remaining United States (Connecticut through Indiana, approximately) and the Confederation would make the one now separating the Koreas look like a holiday resort.

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Stupid popcult ideas or otherwise, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Chris Cillizza did a Reddit AMA. It Went Precisely How You Would Expect It To Go.

Some highlights:

I am bookmarking it and saving it to re-read when I feel down.



Funhouse Mirror View (Open Thread)

Yesterday evening, I read a few MSM round-up pieces on Trump’s G-20 trip, like this take from NBC. For the thousandth time since 1/20/17, perusing the network hot takes made me wonder who’s taking crazy pills — the U.S. journalists who are watching the bizarre Trump shit-show and presenting recaps as if covering a more or less normal presidency, or me.

I don’t expect to like any Republican president’s policies. And Trump is a person of exceedingly low character, so I expect him to behave in an embarrassing manner. But sometimes I wonder if my antipathy toward the man distorts my view of his performance. Is it possible that, while he routinely fucks up and brings shame upon the country, Trump’s presidency isn’t the unmitigated disaster I think it is?

Then I watch something like this summary from an Australian analyst, and I think, nah, it’s not just me:

A compromised, incompetent, deranged buffoon is the president of the United States. The president is surrounded and enabled by amoral, unpatriotic, power-hungry people who will paper over his gaping deficiencies and corruption to pursue their own agendas. That’s bad, obviously. But the normalization of the situation poses its own dangers.

To pick on NBC for a moment, how could a “top-5 takeaways” piece fail to mention Trump’s insane assertion that “everyone” at the G-20 was talking about John Podesta, which also indicated Trump has no idea what role Podesta played in 2016 or, more alarmingly, the CIA’s role in investigating crimes against U.S. citizens? How could a round-up piece not include the weird and unprecedented insertion of Trump’s knockoff bag and shoe peddler spawn into the conference? Or his capitulation to Putin on an attack on U.S. sovereignty?

My complaint isn’t just about the sorry state of Beltway coverage. We’ve been kvetching about routine hackery for decades and will for decades to come, I suspect. But living in a country run by a madman and his accomplices warps reality for everyone, including the people whose job is to provide facts that help shape our perceptions. It’s probably easier for news sources outside the U.S. to frame the Trump menace accurately. But this interminable national crisis will require all of us to keep a grip on what’s real and what’s an illusion.

Anyhoo, on that happy note, open thread!

UPDATE:

FSM help us, Trump is tweeting again this morning. The capitulation to Putin is now complete — apparently, Trump “strongly pressing” Putin and giving his opinion is sufficient punishment for violating our national sovereignty:

A prediction: “working constructively with Russia” will amount to lifting sanctions. Also, Trump views Putin as a credible partner in cyber security rather than a grave threat to democracy, still doesn’t understand how the CIA works and everything is still Obama’s fault:

In some quarters, this deranged raving will be covered as if it were normal. It’s not.



Triumph of the Swill

Trump’s speech in Poland yesterday hasn’t received much attention because of his other antics, which included slamming the U.S. intel community and American press on foreign soil and blaming President Obama for not responding to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, while simultaneously claiming that it’s impossible to definitively pin the interference on the Russians. Predictably, the MSM hot takes on the speech focused on the fact that Trump read it more or less successfully.

But the speech’s content deserves attention because of the worldview it reveals — a Bannonite dystopia in which white Christian countries are besieged by hordes of brown heretics. That vision flew mostly under the radar because Trump used “the West” as shorthand for white folks, and people interpret the phrase in different ways. But the message was clear and chilling if you’ve paid attention to the garbage ideology white nationalists allied with Bannon have pushed with varying degrees of success worldwide.

One thing that caught my notice in the transcript was Trump’s focus on Poland’s borders, which have been tragically erased again and again by invading armies, and a linkage with broader border security issues today. It was clear (to me, anyway) that despite a nod to NATO, the border-related fear Trump was selling in Poland wasn’t really about Putin’s revanchist ambitions but rather nonwhite, non-Christian invaders. He’s selling a parallel bill of goods here at home about our border, complete with a shameful program to demonize immigrants.

I’m not convinced Trump himself even understands the bamboozle, but it doesn’t matter. The white nationalists at home and abroad damn sure heard and were encouraged by the dog-whistles in that speech. I think the Trump-Putin meeting today will eventually lead to the announcement of a U.S.-Russian alliance to defeat the Muslim hordes, bought at the extremely low bargain-basement price of lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia, probably with Trump giving back the spy houses in the U.S. that President Obama seized to punish Putin for fucking with our election as a down payment.

That will further divide the country. Cult45 will make fap-memes featuring Aragorn’s “Men of the West” speech in Lord of the Rings to celebrate the white Christian alliance against the Muslim menace. Meanwhile, those of us who see the greatest threat to U.S. democracy in the machinations of Putin will view it (rightly) as capitulation.

In conclusion, please hurry, Mr. Mueller!



Open Thread: Garbage “Leader” for A Garbage-Loving Subset

Take the word of an established professional in the Garbage field!


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Meanwhile, the Very Respectable Grey Lady decides to “defend” the worst stereotypes of deer-hunting-wif-Jeebus Trump voters… again…

The people publishing the NYTimes know that Trump voters are in the minority, and the Trump voters wallowing in this kind of revanchism are a minority of that minority. (None of whom are buying the NYTimes, literally or philosophically.) But highlighting the “poor, confused, forgotten” bigots gives the suits in the NYT corner offices an excuse to throw up their hands and assure each other that nothing can be done except to roll over for the Trump Crime Cartel’s every demand. It’s arseholes all the way down!



Late Night Open Thread: Is Our Talking Heads Learning?

Of course not! — No profit in “learning” —