Trump is Not OK

If over the weekend you saw a rambling madman give a frighteningly incoherent, sweaty, two-hour shoutfest of a speech at a right-wing summit while a crowd of feces-flinging howler monkeys wildly applauded, then you viewed the president coming unhinged on national television in a way that has probably never been seen before in United States history.

That is extraordinary cause for alarm.

If, instead, you saw nothing more than a “fiery” Donald Trump give a “zigzagging,” “wide-ranging,” “campaign-like” address where the Republican really “let loose,” then you likely work for the mainstream media, which once again swung and missed when it came to detailing the escalating threat that Donald Trump represents to the country.

From the beginning of Trump’s campaign, there has been legitimate concern that the mainstream media, with its focus on seeming “neutral”, was not up to the task of adequately conveying Trump’s bizarre, authoritarian madness to their audiences. Their response to his CPAC appearance shows that those concerns were well-founded.

There’s no way to accurately describe Trump’s behavior without sounding hysterical or, heaven forbid, “biased.” So most media outlets resorted to euphemistic language or focused on technically true observations (it is accurate that Trump criticized Robert Mueller) while sliding past the more relevant detail, the fact that the president of the United States was babbling like a lunatic who hasn’t slept in days.

Newsrooms nearly uniformly refuse to address the mounting, obvious signs that Trump is a deeply unstable man as the CPAC meltdown demonstrated. Most reporters simply do not want to mention it. As the Daily Beast put it: “In most ways, it was just another campaign rally for the president, in flavor, content, and punchlines.”

Nothing to see here, folks.

But what’s with the hesitation among the press to cover Trump’s speech as a flashing neon-red sign of a man teetering on the edge? Why won’t the media discuss Trump’s, at this point, obvious mental instability?

It’s the same reason large news organizations, to this day, won’t call Trump a liar. Logically it makes no sense, but news outlets don’t want to take heat from conservatives and from the administration for calling Trump a liar. So even though they’ve documented that he lies all the time, reporters opt for timid words like “falsehoods” to soften the blow.

The same is true with regard to Trump’s unstable behavior. There’s not one working member of mainstream media who watched Trump’s unsettling CPAC meltdown and thought, “He’s seems stable. I have no questions about his mental capacity.” They know it’s a pressing issue. But newsrooms don’t want to suffer the backlash, the shouts of “Liberal media bias!” that would rain down on journalists who tackle the story, even though it’s obvious and newsworthy.

After the debacle that was the 2016 election, many hoped that the mainstream media would learn its lesson about favoring “neutrality” over the old-fashioned journalistic concern for truth. It was an election cycle where Hillary Clinton’s (not insignificant) flaws were exaggerated while Trump’s outrageous behavior and obvious unfitness for the office were underplayed. All out of their misplaced sense of fairness.

And when you’re neutral in the face of sanity and insanity, you inherently serve the maniac’s purpose.

It’s probably true that most in the mainstream media didn’t expect Trump to end up winning the election. The surprise outcome however, should have been a wake-up call. It seems that the lesson was not learned.

There is long-established hesitancy on the part of specialists to try to diagnose somebody if they’re not a direct patient. But even on that front, more and more experts are speaking out. This comes from a petition signed by 70,000 mental health professionals:

“We, the undersigned mental health professionals, believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.”

The president is not well, and that puts everyone in serious danger. And that’s a helluva news story if the media will just tell it.

We Have Reached Peak PC

On the internet you can pretty much say whatever you want. Any idiot can get themselves a social media account and some free space on Tumblr and spew empty brain farts out into the ether at will. To read something really crazy on, say, Twitter isn’t a big shock because expressing yourself on Twitter requires no writing skill or social graces. Put simply, there are plenty of places you can go if you want to rage pointlessly or read someone raging pointlessly (this column, for example).

Slate, however, isn’t Tumblr or some other site that exists solely to aggregate the various “feelz” of  melodramatic 19-year-olds. Slate is, for all intents and purposes, a serious politics and culture outlet. True, there have been times over the past couple of years when, along with Salon at its nadir, the site has felt like its goal is to troll sane people. Overall though, Slate still has a stable of excellent writers creating thought-provoking content and taking stands that can’t always be politically pigeonholed. In the past it’s even called out internet outrage, in one of the most sweeping indictments of the phenomenon ever published, and it’s featured highly critical examinations of the campus rape and revived Woody Allen controversies.

You’d think that if you put these two things together (that any idiot can write something stupid online but that Slate isn’t a stupid outlet), that Bryan Lowder’s piece decrying “spooning” as problematically sexist wouldn’t exist. At least not as it was published at Slate.

Lowder, who reportedly writes and edits for “Outward,” the site’s generally good LGBT issues section, posted the column that is without a doubt one of the most painfully absurd descents into self-important cultural criticism and general internet madness ever conceived by a seemingly sentient being. Lowder’s thesis is that spooning, the act of curling up directly against your lover from behind in bed and holding that person or being curled up against and held, is a “terrible idea” that’s “fraught both physically and ideologically.”

At first it seems like Lowder just might, hope against hope, be joking. But then comes this kind of thing:

Big spoons are manly and will take care of you (provided you let them use you to take care of themselves); little spoons are fragile, passive creatures that need to be held and kept safe. This, of course, is fundamentally a sexist arrangement, one that casts the big spoon as ‘the man’ and the little spoon as ‘the woman.’ To say that this power imbalance is built into all acts of spooning — whichever the sexes engaged — is not, I think, an overstatement. Indeed, I would argue that spooning is always already a power play, a perverse strategy by which we nightly enact the unjust relations of ‘big’ and ‘little’ privilege that plague our society on every level.

Hey, remember when it was the liberal position to not concern yourself with what consenting adults do in private? Those were the days. Look, keeping religious fundamentalists out of my bedroom is already a full-time job, I don’t need to also box-out glorified Tumblr snowflakes.

Lowder, needless to say, has an alternative to spooning at the ready that he would rather you do in the privacy of your bedroom:

What we need is conscious cuddling, cuddling that takes into account the realities of our bodies, so easily taxed, and the pressures of a fallen social system that unnecessarily sorts us into limiting categories of big and little. Luckily, there’s a solution at the ready: Cuddle sitting up. It’s bracingly simple, I know, but it is the balm we need. Vertical cuddling—whether with an arm loosely paced around the neck, or a head freely reclined on a shoulder, or just sitting cozily side-by-side—removes much of the risk of physical discomfort and all of the semiotic violence that spooning conveys. It also allows for intimacy we actually experience because we are, you know, awake.

The internet has allowed anybody to post whatever he or she wants, no matter how far up their own ass but Slate has editors, ones you’d hope would be in a higher position than the delicate snowflake that is Bryan Lowder. You would also hope that those editors would read something like this and send it back to Lowder with a series of laughter emojis emblazoned across the top and the words, “No, seriously, what are you writing today?” typed underneath.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that this lunatic nonsense, literally telling people how to sleep, is designed merely to troll, but if that’s the case you get the impression it’s Slate doing it. Bryan Lowder seems pretty sincere in his quixotic fight against the villainy of spooning (between straights, gays, or anything in between or beyond).

If Slate is genuinely trying to cultivate and continue its reputation as a relatively serious site, it has it’s work cut out for it if continues to let Lowder (or anyone) write ridiculous horseshit like this.

As for the rest of us, one day we’ll all look back on this period in our culture and laugh.

Six Degrees of Benghazi

It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that Fox News has an earth-shaking conspiracy theory about the timing of Joe Biden’s announcement yesterday that he won’t be running for president in the 2016 election.

You or I may have watched Biden speak in the Rose Garden and taken it at face value that he did what he thought was best for himself, his family, and the Democratic Party by staying out of the race. You or I may have assumed he meant what he said simply because we’re (mostly) sane individuals.

Andrea Tantaros, however, isn’t having any of that shit:

“But when you look at the two scandals that we’re facing, that all eyes are going to be on tomorrow, Benghazi, and the email scandal — these are administration-wide scandals. All three of them, President Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton were there that night, this is their scandal as well. This email scandal is their email scandal as well. There is no way, there is no chance, that Joe Biden, and President Obama, and their national security team did not know that she was using a private server, breaking the law. There is no way, this is why this is an administration-wide scandal that they are covering up, they are all in on this, and they are circling the wagons, I cannot stress this enough. This goes all the way to the west wing, both Benghazi, and both the email scandal, and you’re watching it play out exactly today. The timing is not a coincidence!”

Fox News must use Benghazi as some kind of party game, like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. “I can connect Alan Cumming in Son of the Mask to Benghazi in just three moves!”

Andrea Tantaros really is the best running gag at Fox News right now. She doesn’t have the practiced finesse of Bill O’Reilly or Megyn Kelly so she comes off as more of a mean troll whenever she uses the couch on Outnumbered as her personal soapbox, which she does with astonishing regularity.

This makes sense given that she seems to be jockeying for a promotion so hard that she may as well move out of her apartment and take up residence in Roger Ailes’s asshole. I doubt the old pervert would mind.

Ben Carson Goes Full Hitler

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, famous for being the first person to give himself a lobotomy, will not stop talking about the Nazis. Pretty much everyone in the political world wants him to shut up about the Nazis and focus on the non-Hitler parts of his campaign platform, but Carson is a man obsessed.

He dropped by CNN last week and tried explaining to Wolf Blizter that the Holocaust might not have happened had someone with a gun had just stood up to Adolf Hitler.

This was an elaboration of an argument Carson laid out in his new book, “A More Perfect Union”:

German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior… Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.

As can be expected coming from a Republican presidential candidate, Carson’s version of history is exactly backwards. Gun access in Germany was tightly restricted by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, however the restrictions were loosened in 1928 and 1938 (for non-Jews). Also,  there  were in fact instances of organized armed resistance to the Nazis, like the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, which was crushed by the better-armed and better-trained forces of the Third Reich.

If there was one thing the Nazis were really good at, it was using violence to their advantage. The fact of the matter is that it took the most powerful armies in the world half a decade to dislodge Hitler and the Nazis from power. And Ben Carson expects us to believe that the German citizenry could have thwarted Hitler and his fanatical, militarized regime with lugers and hunting rifles?

But Carson insists that he is in the right, he keeps returning to the Hitler example because he thinks it provides a powerful cautionary tale that bolsters the increasingly mainstream conservative view that gun ownership serves as the ultimate check against a tyrannical federal government.

Despite his apparent belief to the contrary, all this Nazi talk is bad for Carson. Instead of talking about what Ben Carson plans to do as president, he has us talking about Hitler. He’s the Hitler guy in the 2016 campaign.

Generally speaking you don’t want to be the Hitler guy.