Culturally Discombobulated

Tag: Fox News

91 long, dark nights for America: Trump as wit

Ninety-one long, dark nights to go.

Trump’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “I am running against the Washington insiders, just like I did in the Republican Primaries. These are the people that have made U.S. a mess!”

Clinton’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “Here’s the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump. This is it.”

Daily election article of interest:  The Polls Aren’t Skewed: Trump Really Is Losing Badly

And as the head hits the pillow, let tonight’s night fever dream center around the comforting truth that a major party’s Presidential candidate is advocating armed insurrection and political assassination should he lose. This is not a candidate whose natural constituency is the Fox News viewer, this is a man who is, at present, impressing InfoWars.com conspiracy theorists.

“… and if she gets to pick—if she gets to pick her judges*, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The spin is that Trump is joking. Perhaps that is true. Who can truly know what is happening underneath that fussily thatched dome of his? So let’s do what Trump would never do for us and give him the benefit of the doubt on this. I’m not convinced, but, hey, let’s indulge on that point. If Trump is merely joking then we discover him (once again) for the asshole that he is. We see that his natural propinquity is with the idiot hauled off for questioning after making a lamebrained bomb joke in the airport security line, that he “gets” the guy who anonymously tweets threats at public figures, that his inner child is the douchey neighborhood kid who has spent his pre-teen years perfecting the flaming bag of dog turds prank.

But the problem with jokes – and particularly the problem with unfunny, angry jokes delivered not by comedians or satirists but by a politician standing at a lectern at their own campaign rally is that not everyone gets in those surrounding that you’re not actually making a political statement. The joke isn’t funny anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Re: Judges. Does anyone know what Merrrick Garland has actually been up to since Obama put his name forward for the Supreme Court? I like to think that he’s in some sort of purgatorial waiting room – a sort of horrid hybrid of a Delta Airline lounge and a DMV office – where he’s just thumbing through old copies of National Geographic wondering if anyone will come to fetch him. Occasionally he hums the melody of American Pie to himself.

Angry and Horny: Middling Tuesday, 8th March 2016

So I have watched far more hours of Fox News in the last four weeks than I have in the previous four years, and what I’ve been finding compelling isn’t so much their confused coverage – although they do seem editorially flummoxed by their cognitive dissonance around Trump’s success – but this commercial which they are constantly airing during their ad breaks. The commercial is for Anastasia Date: a website for American men looking for love – specifically men looking for love with fresh-faced, willowy-limbed women from Eastern Europe.

I assume that the team in charge of marketing for Anastasia Date are smart and did their due diligence before greenlighting national TV spots. Hopefully they selected Fox News after extensive focus groups, all demonstrating that these older angry white men who are watching Fox, men who I can only assume are filled with rage at what they see as the world’s utter stupidity for not behaving as they think it should behave, find their anger makes them feel… well… kind of horny. They’re just angry, divorced men with rage boners – that’s the demographic the Anastasia Date people have targeted. Probably anti-immigrant, too – unless the immigrant is a 22-year-old from the Ukraine. You too can have your own Ivana or Melania is the pitch.

As for the nitty gritty of the election narrative, tonight was Middling Tuesday – the one night we give a shit about what people in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho think. Results as follows (I’m not staying up for the Hawaii caucus)

 
GOP
Trump wins Michigan and Mississippi
Cruz wins Idaho

Dem
Clinton annihilates Sanders in Mississippi.
Sanders wins (surprisingly) in Michigan.

Sanders is the story of the night on the Dem side, but Hillary increases her lead in delegates. The Michigan win was so unexpected for Sanders that he didn’t even have a formal press conference planned. Instead, there was a hastily arranged speech that saw Bernie placed in front of a sad looking wooden trellis and pot plant – not the usual optics of American politics.

Over at Trump International Golf Club, Trump’s victory speech was one-thirds roast of everyone who has pissed the Donald off, two-thirds infomercial. Again, there was not the usual optics of American politics as Trump drew attention to all the raw meat he was sharing the stage with. It was in reference to Romney’s attack of him from last week. Romney had attacked a number of Trump’s business interests. Trump, who seems to have gossamer thin skin, piled the stage with cuts of Trump steak, bottles of Trump water, Trump wine and Trump vodka, and stacks of Trump magazine. I’ll say one thing for Adolf – at least he didn’t use his rallies to try and promote his branded merchandise.

Final Word:

“I’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and by gum it put them on the map!” Donald J. Trump.

Obama Bin Laden Dead … hang on a moment …

[tweetmeme source=”awindram” only_single=false] I don’t know whether it is gross incompetence, mischievousness or a Freudian slip, but this just flashed across my television screen.

Though a Fox affiliate, the station (KTXL aka Fox40) is Tribune owned so maybe we should chalk this one down to incompetence. Perhaps realising that news of this stature was clearly too big for them to do proper justice, they decided to let the big boys step in. Now being a Fox affiliate the big boys that they called on were Fox News and a bushy-lipped Geraldo Rivera, and as sure as Al Capone’s vault is a treasure trove, you can trust Geraldo. He’ll do right by you. He’s a smooth mother with a sharp mind. I mean, Fox40 are probably just Sacramento hicks who were out of their depth, it’s amazing that they could find anyone who could actually type out that headline. If anything, we should be applauding them for getting the “Bin Laden” part of the name right rather than critiquing them for getting the President of the United States mixed up with the leader of Al-Qaeda. I mean we’ve all done it at some point, got the President of the United States mixed up with the leader of Al-Qaeda.  It’s easy to do. One is a bearded, Saudi terrorist leader hiding (until recently) in Pakistan while the other is the clean-shaven, Hawaii-born (allegedly) African-American leader of the free world. You can see where the confusion would arise. You might as well just call them Mary-Kate and Ashley. They’re two peas in a pod.  It’s like a really bleak, geo-politically sensitive version of The Prince and the Pauper. So thankfully KTXL were able to move to a Fox News feed. Daddy Geraldo was going to show the kids how a proper journalist reports major news. This is why he earns the big bucks.
Erm …  this one I’m classifying as a Freudian slip.

Edit: Edit to add the Geraldo clip as a You Tube clip as Vimeo doesn’t seem to work on iPhones.

Further Edit: As this seems to be getting a degree of attention, and other shots of Fox40’s boo boo are being disseminated across the internet, it seems only fair to me to reiterate that Fox40 is Tribune owned and not Fox owned. Tribune being the owners of the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and others newspapers. I see that a lot of the web is painting this as being a Fox News mistake (understandable on simply viewing the photograph) but that’s really rather disingenuous as the truth is a little more complex.

UK General Election 2010: a primer for Americans

[tweetmeme source=”awindram” only_single=false]

Curious about the UK’s general election but not entirely sure what’s going on? Want to watch the coverage on C-SPAN but worried you’ll get bamboozled as they cut straight to the BBC’s feed without supplying any context? Well, worry no more. Here’s a noncomprehensive and hastily written guide to Thursday’s election that will allow you to impress  friends and colleagues –  provided they only have very limited knowledge of British politics.    

WHAT’S THE BASIC GIST?   

The UK will be voting for who gets to sit in the House of Commons which is the lower chamber of the Houses of Parliament. If it makes it easier, think of it as being like the House of Representatives though that’s by no means a perfect analogy. The UK’s electoral map is divided into 650 constituencies and each constituency returns one Member of Parliament (MP). So that’s 650 MPs of various different parties being elected to parliament. The magic number for the parties is 326* as whoever has that amount of MPs or above will be able to form a majority government. If no one manages to get 326 MPs then things might get rather interesting.   

The Times has a very handy gizmo-y map showing the odds in each constituency.   

The last four weeks (yeah, you heard me right America. Four weeks, not two sodding years) all the parties have been electioneering around the country. Usually, this involves hiring a big bus that you paint in your party’s colours, christen it the “battle bus” and then pack it full with politicians and journalists before travelling up and down the motorway to places like Ipswich and Dagenham. However, this year we decided to mix it up and have televised leaders debates in the same way you have Presidential debates to help us figure out who should be PM; previously we used to decide this by letting the leaders of the main parties try to ram each others battle buses off the road, last battle bus and leader standing being the winner of the election.     

WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS?   

Labour   

Current governing party who have been in power for the last 13 years with first Tony Blair as Prime Minister (PM) and more lately Gordon Brown.   

A self-described “democratic socialist party” though social democrat better describes the reality. They’re on the centre-left of British politics, which means in US terms they’d be seen by Fox News as worse than Hugo Chavez and denounced by some zealots as a sure sign that the rapture is on its way. Not that this stopped the owner of Fox News from endorsing the Labour party in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections. Murdoch cynically only concerned with his own interests? You don’t say.     

With the financial crisis, two unpopular wars and the electorate just a little bored by them after being in government so long they’re widely expected to lose power.   

Not helped by the public image of their leader Gordon Brown. Seen by many as being a serious, dour Scotsman with an anger management problem, attempts at making him more media friendly have been pretty disastrous. Only recently have they struck upon the notion that being serious rather than telegenic might not be an altogether bad thing in a politician in these serious times. Unfortunately they only decided this after two years of making him smile awkwardly whenever he was put in front of a camera as shown in the video below. I mean, look at that…there’s clearly someone off camera prodding Brown with a stick every 20 seconds when he stops smiling and goes back to his normal bulldog chewing on a wasp appearance.     

Brown is also responsible  for one of the most memorable or cringe-worthy moments of this campaign – bigot-gate.   

Though in fairness, Labour has previous form in having something of a heavy handed approach with the public while campaigning.   

Their candidates will be the one with nifty red rosettes.      

Labour: Odds on winning most seats 7/1. Odds on winning majority 25/1   

Conservatives    

The main opposition party and as the party responsible for 11 years of Thatcher it’ll come as no surprise that they’re on the right of UK politics. Unlike in the US where politicians on the right seem to be constantly invoking Regan’s name in an effort to get themselves elected, in the UK any mention of Thatcher is a sure way of damping any enthusiasm undecided voters may have for you.   

After going through a number of ineffective party leaders during Blair’s premiership, they decided to fight fire with fire and go with their own Blair-esque clone – David Cameron. Cameron was specially bred in a lab for the task of running the Conservative party. Seen as out of touch with the ordinary person on account of his privileged Eton (the UK’s top private school) education and his blue-blood connections  (he’s  a direct descendant of William IV) this makes him an easy figure for class-obssessed Britain to mock. Despite all this, the odds are in his favour that following the election it he’ll be he who is invited by the Queen, his distant relative, to form a new government.   

Some see Cameron as a social conservative who is making strides to bring his party towards the political centre while others see this his claim of compassionate conservatism as being disingenuous in the extreme.   

My absolute favourite description of Cameron is from the satirist Charlie Brooker in this article:   

“Cameron is 100% something. He isn’t even a man; more a texture-mapped character model. There’s a different kind of software at work here, some advanced alien technology projecting a passable simulation of affability; a straight-to-DVD retread of the Blair ascendancy re-enacted by androids.”   

David Cameron

However, British tabloid The Sun makes a compelling case on why people should vote Conservative. It’s not concerning the economy or our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, rather it’s only by voting for Cameron that we can ensure that that great British institution, the page 3 girl, continues its proud tradition. The Sun warns us that both Harriet Harman of Labour and Lynne Featherstone of the Lib-Dems want to change the law and ban page 3 girls. Only the Tories will be able to protect us from a Nanny state intent on taking away all those boobie pictures. Poppy, a page 3 “stunna” argues that such a ban would be against the Lockean principles that underpin our constitutional settlement…erm, at least, I think that’s the point she’s trying to get across.   

The basis of Lockean thought is his theory of the Contract of Government, under which all political power is a trust for the benefit of the people. His thinking underpins our ideas of national identity and society. Please don’t let those who seek to ban our beauty win. Vote to save Page 3!”  Poppy, 19, 32D

Where a Conservative victory would leave a far greater British institution, the BBC, is another question altogether. They are fears that they’ll be extensive cuts to the corporation should the Conservatives win.    

The Conservatives will be the ones in blue rosettes. Often referred to as the Tories.   

Conservatives: Odds on winning most seats 1/16. Odds on winning majority 5/4   

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS   

For so long the after-thought of UK politics, the sudden upswing of popularity in its leader Nick Clegg following his strong showings in the televised leadership debates should lead to the Liberal Democrats (Lib-Dems) making their best showing in a general election. For a while, everything went a little silly with Cleggmania with some making comparisons to Obama. That seems to have thankfully calmed down when the lunacy of such a comparison was pointed out.   

Nick Clegg

You may be interested to know, as way of comparison to US politics, that Nick Clegg is an atheist and that this is absolutely and unequivocally a non-issue for the vast majority of the UK electorate. I’m sorry to say, a US Presidential candidate, regardless of competence, would be pilloried for such non-belief.     

What’s most exciting about the Liberal Democrats this time around is that they are well placed to show up our current first-past-the-post electoral system as no longer being fit for purpose. The Lib-Dems are on course for receiving around 30% of the popular vote. Don’t, however, expect that will result in them taking 30% of the seats in the Commons; in fact, they’d be lucky to get 12% of the MPs with such a result. Indeed, it could well be the case that they receive more votes than Labour on Thursday, but Labour could and should easily up with well over a 100 more MPs than the Lib-Dems. What the Lib-Dems will be hoping for is neither Conservatives or Labour being in a position to form a majority government (remember that that magic number is 326 MPs) so they’ll have to form a coalition government with them. As a condition for forming a coalition, Clegg would be in a position to argue that the current system needs to be changed with electoral reform, perhaps some form of  proportional representation, which given the circumstances the Lib-Dems have always been keen on. Hitchens (Christopher) has described our current parliamentary system as a corseted duopoly, that could well be about to change.   

Politics-wise, the Lib Dems are  a social liberal party that flits between both sides of the political centre depending on individuals and policies. They were formed in 1988 when the Liberal party (the party of Gladstone and Lloyd George but rendered third-party status with the emergence of the Labour party in the 1920s) merged with the Social Democratic Party (a party formed in the early 80s by moderate Labour politicians who felt Labour of that time had become too left-wing).  The Lib-Dems were the only one of the three main parties to oppose the Iraq war, they are pro-European and strong on civil liberties.   

They’ll be the ones wearing yellow rosettes.     

Liberal Democrats: Odds on winning most seats 40/1. Odds on winning majority 66/1   

 OTHER PARTIES   

A very quick run-down on the other parties you might hear about during the night.   

Green party: Focused on the environment and all that jazz.   

United Kingdom Independence Party: Right-wing party that wants to see the UK withdraw from the European Union.   

Scottish National Party (SNP): Exactly what you’d think from their name, the SNP wants Scottish independence. But they’re not just a single issue party, they have a minority administration in the Scottish parliament and for many in Scotland a viable alternative to voting Labour. Their politics is centre-left.   

Plaid Cymru: Centre-left party that wants Welsh independence.   

British National Party (BNP): Very much the knuckle-dragging David Duke-esque morons of British politics. A far-right party that would seek to repatriate immigrants. Best either scorned or ignored.   

Monster Raving Loony Party: A sort of British version of the Libertarian party in that you’re not meant to take them seriously – it’s just all about the shits and giggles with these guys.   

Mebyon Kernow : Cornwall-based political party that wants greater autonomy for the Cornish.   

English Democrats: Political party that wants a devolved English parliament similar to the Scottish parliament.   

ERM, YOU’VE MADE NO MENTION OF NORTHERN IRELAND   

Yeah, you noticed. The main parties in Northern Ireland are different to those in Great Britain. Please, bear in mind that I’m no expert when it comes to Northern Irish politics, but it would be absolutely erroneous of me not to mention them – even though when following the BBC’s election night coverage, which seems to treat Northern Ireland’s elections as a side-show to the main event, you could be forgiven for forgetting that elections are also taking place there too:   

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): Founded in the 70s by controversial Protestant firebrand Ian Paisley, this is currently the fourth largest party in the Commons. The DUP is, as their name suggests, a Unionist party, which means they’re strongly in favour of the political union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.   

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP): Seen as the more moderate of the two Unionist parties. The UUP have close ties with the Conservative party and indeed have an electoral alliance with them for this election.   

Sinn Féin: An Irish Nationalist party led by Gerry Adams. Historically it has close links with the IRA but recent years have seen it make electoral breakthroughs to become the largest Nationalist party.   

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): Northern Ireland’s other Nationalist party. While the UUP have an alliance with the Conservatives, the SDLP have in the Commons an unspoken alliance with the British Labour party.   

WHAT’S THIS HUNG PARLIAMENT I KEEP HEARING ABOUT?   

We’ve sort of already gone over it in passing. Remember that you need 326 MPs to have a majority in Parliament. 326 or above and you’ll have more MPs than all the other parties combined. If no party reaches that magic number of 326*, we’ve got ourselves a hung parliament, something that hasn’t happened in the UK since 1974. In the event of a hung parliament there’s three likely outcomes. 1) The formation of a coalition government. So theoretically, the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems team up. 2) A minority government is formed. Some argue that this leads to an unstable government as it’s more difficult for the government to press on with the legislation it wants and it’s more vulnerable to a vote of no confidence. Others would argue that it forces the government to compromise with other parties on issues and this can only be a good thing. 3) Dissoloution of parliament. If the election results in no party able to realistically form a workable government the request could be made to the Monarch to dissolve the parliament, which isn’t as bad it sounds, it’s just a very fancy way of saying we’re going to do it all over again and have another election.   

Also, don’t get a hung parliament mixed up with the rump parliament. And you don’t want to get either of them mixed up with the Duke of Portland’s rumpy pumpy parliament of 1807-1809 or Gladstone’s well hung parliament of 1880-1885.    

The Well Hung Parliament

The Well Hung Parliament

Odds of a hung parliament: 4/6 

Odds of a well hung parliament: 350/1 

*Actually, an important point, while I keep bleating on about 326 because that is the mathematical number needed for a majority, in real terms the Conservatives could govern with a little under that and have almost a de facto majority as explained here.

IS THAT IT? 

Yep, although now I’ve got your attention perhaps I could finally explain the laws of cricket to you. Been meaning to do that for a while now. 

ERM, YOU’RE OKAY…THANKS. TO BE HONEST, I’M MORE CONFUSED THAN WHEN I STARTED READING. 

  Then my job here is done.