…the hits keep coming [DOT 25/4/23]

& low blows abound...

…why do people do the things they do? …it’s hard to say…but often it seems as though the reasons aren’t new

The speed with which Sudan unravelled was the first indication that it had all been building up for a long time. The country’s collapse is the result of a series of failures, complicities and complacencies that have been rumbling away in the background for so long that those living with them assumed they would continue on for ever. That was until a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the country’s army went to war over who runs the country – and trapped the Sudanese people between them.
Sudan’s tragedy is that of a country that dared to ask for more and is now being punished for it. It joins a grim procession of Arab states that, over the past 10 years, overthrew dictators only to see hopes for democracy dashed. If a post-revolution nation was lucky, as happened in Egypt under Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the old regime simply re-established power, except this time becoming even more brutal and paranoid. In the worst-case scenarios that played out in Libya, Yemen and Syria, the state descended into civil war, creating an exodus of refugees making the perilous journey to Europe.

But Sudan’s is also the tragedy of a country where a reckoning has been long overdue. Last week’s events started 20 years ago, in the marginalised western region of Darfur. A rebellion against the government was brutally suppressed by a group of fighters and raiders called the Janjaweed. Bashir, a military man who came to power through an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, was unwilling to send his precious army into the fray, and instead stoked tribal and ethnic differences and supported the Janjaweed to act as his proxy. Hundreds of thousands died, women were systematically raped and millions were displaced.
There are other protagonists, too, who have locked in Sudan’s fate. The international community applied clumsy sanctions that did little but weaken the Sudanese people’s capacity to resist their despotic government; a cynical cohort of undemocratic governments and monarchies in north Africa and the Middle East backed both the army and militia after the 2019 revolution, in order to extinguish the prospect of a democracy flourishing in their back yard; and lately, Russia has partnered with the Sudanese militia to extract gold and forge security interests.

It’s painful to confront, but it’s not all the responsibility of local leaders and international players. At home and among those who are now caught in the crossfire, there was co-option and a shortsighted belief that what happened outside Khartoum didn’t matter. Bashir’s regime created a large class that thrived under his government and his patronage encouraged them to wilfully ignore events. The war that now tears Khartoum apart is just a taster of what several regions across the country reaped for years, as the capital enjoyed peace and times of prosperity. This disconnect fostered bitter resentments, fractured national identity and maintained a vast lawless hinterland in which mercenaries and warlords thrived.


…& it’s easy to say “one of these things is not like the other”

Relationship abuse, which affects 1 in 3 American women, is about more than physical violence. It is a pattern of coercion and control that can include emotional abuse, sexual assault, and efforts to isolate and control a partner not only socially but also financially. In countless testimonies, survivors tell of being financially trapped in abusive relationships.
We looked at relationships that would eventually become physically abusive and result in a police report, then went back in time to see how the abuse unfolded. A clear pattern emerged.
We also compared the women in abusive relationships with others who had similar earnings and education levels to confirm that the abuse, not broader trends in the economy, was the main factor affecting their finances. This comparison revealed that the true cost of economic abuse was even higher than our initial analysis showed: Victims’ employment rates fell 12 percent and their earnings declined 26 percent, when matched against similar women with non-abusive partners.
Control over money is a form of power and, in many cases, an integral part of the abusive dynamic. It must also be an integral part of the solution.


…but…parallels are a thing

Something massive and important has happened in the United States over the past 50 years: Economic wealth has become increasingly concentrated among a small group of ultra-wealthy Americans.
You can see lots of discussion and debate and political fighting over who has wealth in America, and whether that should change. Or, you can look at the the cartoon below to understand how the distribution of wealth has changed in America, and why.
Some say income inequality is a myth. Other say the poor haven’t gotten any poorer, though the rich did get richer, so everything is fine. Another argument is that inflation over time exaggerates the differences.


…now…that’s from way back in the hazy mists of time…or 2016 in old money…& it’s not like anybody gets to divorce the richest slice of society or anything…but…without meaning to be flippant about something that obviously wouldn’t be appropriate to make light of…it’s hard not to see some parallels that would suggest the rest of us are, to a greater or lesser extent, stuck in an abusive relationship with people who…to be blunt about it…& arguably unhelpfully broad of generalization…are rich enough to afford to be assholes

There are always plenty of grounds for cynicism about the state of the news media, but in the last week we seem to have arrived at a new set of low expectations.

Fox News, having settled its defamation case with Dominion in the US and with Lachlan Murdoch withdrawing proceedings against Crikey in Australia, the Murdoch news empire has effectively admitted what was already clear: that it knowingly broadcast untrue information.

Make no mistake, this is new. It is directly contrary to the purposes of journalism, and indeed News Corp Australia’s own code of conduct, which states “Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate and not misleading.”

We have sadly grown used to news reporting that lacks context, that mixes opinion and fact and by doing so distorts, and that makes egregious and careless errors. These faults are not unique to News Corp and Fox News. If only.

But for a mainstream, professional news organisation to lie, and effectively admit to having done so – that is new, and we should stop and think about the implications.

What is the difference between what Fox Media did, and the politically motivated websites and social media channels that exist only to peddle misinformation?

…there are a lot of potentially applicable answers to that question…but at least one of them has to do with funneling money from people who don’t have a lot to spare into the coffers of those who do…& when it comes to those carriage fees fox wants to renegotiate even further in their favor…people who feel they can’t sever ties with a source of abusively imbalanced status quo

But can we just pause to take in what has happened? One of the world’s most powerful media organisations, the Australian arm of which has for generations dominated our political dialogue, has lied to its audience.
Now I know the kinds of things that will be being said internally at News about the Crikey case. I have been listening in to the self-justifying dialogue for years, and it is also made visible in the legal filings.

They will be saying that Crikey doesn’t matter. It is an irritating minnow trying to use the mighty conglomerate to get attention and subscriptions. And in any case, the Fox News-Dominion case is of no relevance to Australia.

And there is truth to all of that.
And it is a fair bet that most readers of News Corp publications in Australia don’t know that Crikey exists.

The article involved in the Crikey litigation contained the assertion that the Murdochs were “co-conspirators” in the deadly attack on Washington’s Capitol carried out by the former president Donald Trump’s supporters.

Technically, that allegation was likely to be a problem for Crikey, because it was a factual allegation that went beyond the evidence. Easy to establish that Fox News helped foment the riot. But conspiracy? That is of a different order.

But most defamation cases are not only about the letter of the law. They are usually more about politics and power.

The political cost to the Murdochs was increased when Crikey advanced a defence of contextual truth – meaning, in essence, that the sting of the published material was asserted to be true, even if the finer points were in error.

…ironically enough…I think you could probably concoct a fairly strong argument that the likes of the hilariously de-throned puffy-faced pseudologist & his currently un-fired fellow travelers operate on a similar principle…if what they say pushes the right buttons on the right…then it’s the right line to take…but I’ll swing back to that in due course…provided I don’t manage to distract myself too badly

But what that comforting, self-justifying News Corp internal dialogue obscures is that the longest lasting import of this case is not about Crikey, nor about Dominion, but about journalism and the nature of the Murdoch news empire. Its values, character, and purpose.

For many years, commentators on Murdoch’s role in Australia (including me) have hedged their criticisms by saying that there are many fine journalists employed at News Corp, and much good journalism done. That has always been true, and it remains true.

But what are those journalists thinking and feeling now? And where do we go from here? What happens to our understanding of what journalists are for, and what they do?


…don’t get me wrong…I think it’s fucking hilarious that apparently rupert murdoch himself decided to axe mr 8-o’clock-slot at zero-notice from what he clearly considered to be his personal sinecure…& I have to imagine it’s because rupe has the inside scoop on just how destructive some of the tucker shit in the dominion discovery bonanza is in terms of the liabilities it opens his interests to…as opposed to any national interests that might well consider him & his enterprises to be the abusive side of a relationship they find themselves trapped in…but…that shit didn’t get to be that way overnight

Tucker Carlson huddled in a low-ceilinged dungeon that had served as a holding pen for Africans bound for enslavement in the United States. It was a July day in 2003 in Ghana, and Carlson stood alongside some of America’s most prominent civil rights leaders.

[…]But Carlson seemed strangely detached, according to two of the civil rights leaders who were present.

“When we got to the castle and the dungeon, it had an emotional impact on all of us, as Africans in America,” said the Rev. Albert Sampson, a former associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Then there was what he called “the tragedy of Carlson.”

“He did not cry,” Sampson told The Washington Post in his first interview about the encounter. “He did not have any intellectual response. He didn’t give any verbal response. It was a total detachment from the reality of the event.”
“Sampson was trying to make me feel guilty,” Carlson wrote in an account for Esquire. “It wasn’t obvious to me at the time. The idea that I’d be responsible for the sins (or, for that matter, share in the glory of the accomplishments) of dead people who happened to share my skin tone has always confused me. Racial solidarity wasn’t a working concept in my southern-California hometown.”

…if we give the lying asshole the benefit of the doubt…for rhetorical purposes…then you’d have to assume somewhere in the last 20 years someone managed to un-confuse him about the working principles of racial resentment sufficiently for him to adopt them as a defining characteristic of his whole deal

But Carlson’s assessment of his trip to Ghana nearly two decades ago offered an early sign of sentiments that he had been expressing for years — and that would ultimately help transform him into the preeminent voice of angry White America. It is that role that Carlson, 52, now plays [won’t be playing any more] every weeknight from his prime-time perch on Fox News.

This account of Carlson’s years-long focus on racial grievance, and his rise to the top of the conservative media ecosystem, is based on a review of his books, broadcasts and writings over nearly three decades, as well as interviews with current and former associates, subjects of his on-air attacks and others who have observed his career.

What emerges is a portrait of an ambitious television personality who came of age in privilege — having grown up in an upper-class enclave and attended private schools — but who, by his own telling, is a victim.
Carlson’s rise has, not coincidentally, come about during a time of extraordinary political upheaval. His audience soared as Donald Trump was remaking the Republican Party around “America first” appeals that embraced further restrictions on migration and a turn away from America’s tradition as a land of immigrants. And the show thrived as the murder of George Floyd triggered a visceral debate over systemic racism, and after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Night after night, Carlson stokes [stoked] resentment among his audience of nearly 3 million — which gave him the highest-rated cable news show in the most recent quarter — and the millions more who absorb his viral outbursts on social media. He blasts liberals, throttles Republican leaders whom he sees as insufficiently devoted to battling the “woke” left, and generally sets the parameters for the far-right anti-elitism that defines today’s GOP.
But on many nights, it is[was] Carlson’s White grievance that dominates[dominated] the show.
He has accused Boston University Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” of promoting racism. He called a top military leader a “pig” for saying he wanted to understand the role racism played in the Capitol attack. And he has said Black people and their White supporters are on a mission to spread “race hate,” devoting many of his segments over the past year to bashing the ideas behind critical race theory.

“He has positioned himself as the presentable face of White grievance,” said Joseph M. Azam, who resigned in late 2017 as a senior vice president of News Corp., which, like Fox, was controlled by the Murdoch family, because he objected to the company’s tolerance for what he felt were Carlson’s hateful views and other commentary. “He’s on mainstream media, he’s dressed in a suit, he speaks in a way that people see as eloquent and informed, and he’s super confident in what he’s saying.”
“I’m sure that people who hate my politics will try to discredit them by calling me names, but there is no show that I’m aware of that has made a stronger case for a color-blind meritocracy than ours has,” Carlson told [Variety in August 2020]. “I believe that all American citizens, regardless of how they were born, should be treated equally under the law. As I say on a nightly basis, we should not impugn people for things they cannot control, for their immutable characteristics. That is an argument against racism.”

…this whole piece is a couple of years old, too…but…it had some good points, well made

He attended the elite La Jolla Country Day School, where a woman entered his life whom he grew to detest. It was his first-grade teacher, whom he referred to in his book as Mrs. Raymond. He caricatured her as “a parody of earth-mother liberalism” who “wore long Indian-print skirts. . . . She had little interest in conventional academic topics, like reading and penmanship.” He recalled her sobbing theatrically at her desk, saying, “The world is so unfair! You don’t know that yet. But you’ll find out!”

Carlson said he just wanted liberals to “stop blubbering and teach us to read. . . . Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.” Thus, Carlson says, he began his sojourn as a conservative thinker, questioning the liberals who he said were all around him, exemplified by his first-grade teacher.

Which is all rather shocking to Marianna Raymond, 77, who remembers Carlson as “very precious and very, very polite and sweet,” and said she had no idea, until contacted recently by a Washington Post reporter, that her former student had ridiculed her as a key to understanding him.

Raymond said in an interview that she never sobbed at her desk, didn’t wear an Indian skirt and didn’t advocate her political views. She said that not only did she teach Carlson reading at La Jolla Country Day School — with a student body that was “very affluent and White” — but that she also was then hired to tutor him at his home.

“Oh my God,” she said, when informed of Carlson’s attack against her. “That is the most embellished, crazy thing I ever heard.”
Carlson accepted an invitation from the Rev. Al Sharpton for the 2003 visit to Africa, part of a group that included the philosopher Cornel West and the Rev. Sampson. The trip was billed as an effort to negotiate a peace between warring factions in Liberia, and it included a pilgrimage to sites in Ghana with deep connections to Black history in the United States.

One day, they visited the home of W.E.B. Du Bois, the co-founder of the NAACP who wrote “The Souls of Black Folk” and who lived his final years in Ghana. Then they went to Elmina Castle, where up to 30,000 enslaved Africans each year spent their final moments in a dungeon before being herded onto ships.

When Carlson later wrote about the trip for Esquire, the magazine’s headline said the Black leaders “took the whitest man in America with them.”

Carlson devoted much of the article to his contention that Sampson was trying to make him feel responsible for Whites who enslaved Black people. Carlson, in a paraphrase, wrote that Sampson said that “if you’re looking for a single cause of all the world’s problems . . . look no further than the white race.” He then wrote that Sampson “glanced up and saw me, the physical embodiment of eons of injustice and oppression.”

Carlson wrote that he could barely contain his anger: “I longed for the cathartic release that would come from leaping across the table and smashing his nose.”

Sampson, now 82, said in the interview that he never said the words Carlson attributed to him. “No,” Sampson said. “The other side of it is, why didn’t he embrace the words when I said, ‘I love you.’ He would rather solve a problem with violence than to embrace a man who has given his life to teaching nonviolence.”
Around the time of the Africa trip, the “Crossfire” show on which Carlson argued a Republican point of view against Democrat Paul Begala came under criticism for dividing the country. Jon Stewart, then the anchor of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” famously appeared on the show and urged Carlson and Begala to stop their bickering, which he said was “hurting America. . . . You’re doing theater when you should be doing debate.”

…never gets old

Carlson also complained about feminists. “I don’t like the feminist crap,” Carlson said, on a recording later made public by the liberal group Media Matters for America. “I hate that and that’s one of the reasons I despise the Democrats because they’re always rolling that crap out. ‘Well, you don’t like him because he’s Black. You don’t like her because she’s a woman.’ Oh, shut the f— up.”

…it’s…sort of true? …he doesn’t hate those people because of what they are…he hates them because of what they aren’t…which is a living embodiment of white male privilege…or…like him…to put it another way

Carlson said a successful candidate would have to say, in effect, “Look, I’m a bigot. OK. I’m a bigot. I don’t like Islamic extremists. Like if you are really heavily into Islam — I’m sorry, I just don’t — I don’t care for you that much. And I don’t care what that sounds like, you can call me a racist, you can call me whatever the f— you want.” He said, “I’d vote for you if you said that. And I think that most Americans would.”

A radio co-host then said: “So, basically we need a racist president. ‘We need to get these Mexicans out of here, and the Islam. Let’s kill all the Muslims.’ ”

Carlson responded: “I think that you’re onto something. I mean, not someone who’s like a Klansman or anything, but someone who’s totally unbound by [politically correct] rules, who will just say whatever the hell he wants. . . . That guy is going to get elected.”

…basically the guy has always been about being so wrong…knowingly wrong…that he could coast on the currents of those for whom it was profitable to peddle that to people whose prejudices allowed them to think to themselves “he’s not wrong”

Carlson’s show became the most-watched news program on cable television, coinciding with his jeremiads against immigrants and his focus on other issues that appealed to the Trump base.

In June 2017, Carlson tweeted: “#Tucker: Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here? @FoxNews”

Azam, who at the time was a News Corp. senior vice president, decided he could not remain silent. A native of Afghanistan who immigrated to the United States with his refugee family when he was about a year old, he was the embodiment of an immigration success story.

Azam retweeted Carlson’s insult with this comeback: “If you come upstairs to where all the executives who run your company sit and find me I can tell you, Tucker. #Afghanistan.”

Azam oversaw ethics and compliance at the company’s corporate headquarters and properties including the Wall Street Journal; he did not work in the Fox News entity where Carlson was employed. He said he thought to himself: “We’re a media company. We believe in the First Amendment rights. So I’m going to respond to him.” Azam said his boss cautioned him to tread carefully, but he heard little else. “I feel like that [tweet] is more than anybody at Fox had ever said publicly,” Azam said in an interview.

Azam said he decided to leave News Corp. about six months later because he could no longer tolerate what he considered the hatred and bigotry from Carlson and other hosts. He has since discussed his initial concerns during a 2019 NPR interview, and now says his worst fears about the impact of Carlson’s rhetoric have been realized.

“I think what Tucker does that is so corrosive is he makes people think that he’s just putting the question out there,” Azam said, adding later: “And that’s a very effective way of communicating with a segment of the population that doesn’t know what to think, but doesn’t want to be told what to think.”

Azam said Carlson has become so financially important to Fox News that executives are unwilling to reprimand him.

…if he was that much of an asset…it warms the cockles of my heart to contemplate how much of a liability he must have managed to contribute through discovery in order to cancel it out so completely that they cancelled him when rupert woke up to it…or…it would…if I weren’t painfully aware that “they no longer work here” is a curiously effective firewall in terms of legal liabilities for shit corporations are historically guilty of

Indeed, when Carlson was sued for slander by former Playboy model Karen McDougal — who said he falsely claimed in December 2018 that she had sought to extort Trump over an alleged affair — his lawyers did not argue that he had told the truth.

Instead, the lawyers said Carlson’s words were “hyperbolic” and that the segment was not “a natural setting in which a reasonable viewer would conclude that he is hearing actual facts.” A judge dismissed the case. (Trump denied he had an affair with McDougal, who had sold her story for $150,000 to the National Enquirer, which did not publish it under what is called “catch and kill.”)

…weird…that…well…it sounds like the exact argument crikey’s lawyers were aiming to run with…only about something entirely less defensible?

“The judge ruling the way she did was an open door for everybody to keep falsifying things, exaggerating things, throwing things out there, even though they know it’s not the truth,” McDougal told The Post.
One of his targets was Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2015 book, “Between the World and Me,” written as a letter to his teenage son about how to navigate a world full of racial injustice, won the National Book Award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Carlson said it was “intellectually flabby, relentlessly shallow and bigoted.” Coates declined to comment.

…or…as the saying goes…won’t dignify that with a response

Carlson has aimed a particular level of vitriol at Kendi, who won the 2016 National Book Award for “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” His book “How to Be an Antiracist” urges Americans to actively fight racism, not just declare that they aren’t racist. The book was on a reading list recommended by the U.S. Navy for its sailors.
Kendi, who said Carlson has never contacted him or invited him to be on the show, said in an interview that the Fox News host is cynically mischaracterizing his work to divide people along racial lines and portray anti-racism as racist.

“Unfortunately, the irony is people like Tucker Carlson are imagining that my work, which expresses the equality of the racial groups, which is advocating for policies that eliminate inequity between the racial groups, is somehow divisive or harmful to Americans or to any racial group,” Kendi told The Post. He said Carlson had stripped his book of its context “to paint anti-racism as anti-White, as white supremacists have been doing for decades. . . . He’s a demagogue, and he’s a propagandist, and he’s feeding on people’s fears and dividing us.”
As an example, Carlson cited a June 23 appearance by Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before a congressional committee. Milley said he wanted to understand the role that “White rage” played in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

“I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,” Milley said. “So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend, and I personally find it offensive” that members of the military who want to understand racial matters are accused of being “woke or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”

In normal times, a declaration by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he wanted to understand racism would not be controversial. But to Carlson, it was another opportunity for mockery, if not self-awareness of his own role.

After playing the clip, Carlson laughed at the military leader’s words and said: “He’s not just a pig. He’s stupid!”

What, in Carlson’s view, makes Milley stupid? Carlson, who for years has stoked the angry idea that Whites are the ones being discriminated against, told his viewers: “He reads about White rage as if it’s totally real.”

How Tucker Carlson became the voice of White grievance [WaPo Jul ’21]

…but let’s not worry about what else you’d call the frothing state he routinely worked himself up into on camera…after all…good riddance to bad rubbish, right?

Some remained skeptical that Carlson’s departure from Fox would be the end of his career despite critics who called out his show as racist and inaccurate.


…maybe it’s an oversimplification…ok…probably…but all the same…that 8 o’clock fox news crowd…they’re basically addicts…& for all that he fancies himself the kingmaker…he’s barely risen above the kids on the corner if you think about it in the terms of the kind of operation the barksdales run in the wire

Research now shows that addiction doesn’t ‌‌mean either being completely subject to irresistible impulses, or making totally free choices. Addiction’s effects on decision-making are complex. Understanding them can help policymakers, treatment providers and family members aid recovery.

Claims that people with addiction are unable to control themselves are belied by basic facts. Few of us inject drugs in front of the police, which means that most are capable of delaying use. ‌‌Addicted people often make complicated plans over days and months to obtain drugs and hide use from others, again indicating purposeful activity. Those given the option will use clean needles. Moreover, small rewards for drug-free urine tests — used in a treatment called contingency management — are quite successful at helping people quit, which couldn’t be possible if addiction obliterated choice.

However, those who contend that substance use disorder is just a series of self-centered decisions face conflicting evidence, too. The most obvious ‌is the persistence of addiction despite dire losses like being cut off by family members or friends, getting fired, becoming homeless, contracting infectious diseases or being repeatedly ‌incarcerated‌‌.
Brains can be seen as prediction engines, constantly calculating what is most likely to happen next and whether it will be beneficial or harmful. As children grow up, their emotions and desires get calibrated to guide them toward‌ what their brains predict will ‌meet their social and physical needs. Ideally, as we develop, we gain more control and optimize the ability to choose.

‌But there are many ways that these varied processes can ‌go awry in addiction and alter how a person makes choices and responds to consequences.
‌‌During addiction, people also tend to prioritize short-term rewards over long-term gains, which means that they postpone the pain associated with quitting, often indefinitely. This idea, which is known as “delay discounting” further helps explain why people with chaotic childhoods and precarious incomes are at higher risk: When a better future seems unlikely, it is rational to get whatever joy you can in the present.

Chandra Sripada, professor of psychiatry and philosophy at the University of Michigan, argues that distorted thinking is more important in addictive behavior than overwhelming desire, leading to what he calls “unreliable” control over use. He focuses on how addiction affects our stream of consciousness.

During addiction, he contends, despairing thoughts about oneself and the future — not just thoughts about how good the drug is — predominate. At the same time, thoughts about negative consequences of use are minimized, as are those about alternative ways of coping. Drugs are overvalued as a way to mitigate distress; everything else is undervalued. The result is an unstable balance, which, more often than not, tips toward getting high.


…that’s actually a pretty interesting read that deserves better than being misused & abused to make a tenuous comparison based on the limbic rewards to which an audience might be said to be addicted…but…

On June 26, 2018, our family experienced one of the most terrifying nights of our lives. It began with a strange and chilling direct message to our son — an image of three Klan hoods. That was strange enough, but sadly not all that surprising. From the moment that I’d first expressed opposition to Donald Trump and Trumpism, our multiracial family (my youngest daughter, who is adopted, is Black) had faced an avalanche of threats, doxxing and vile racism.

Alt-right trolls had photoshopped images of my daughter into gas chambers and of her face onto old pictures of slaves. They had placed images of dead and mutilated Black Americans in the comments section of my wife’s blog. The threats had not stopped after Trump won. If anything, by 2018 they had escalated once again. So the Klan hoods sent to my son — which would have been chilling under any circumstances — were particularly ominous. What happened next was worse.

Within moments, my son received another message, a picture of a road several miles from our house. Then another picture arrived. A road sign. This one was closer. Someone seemed to be coming to our home.

This was not the first such incident. A few years earlier, a man had driven to our house, positioned his car to block our driveway, confronted my wife and kids and demanded to see me (I wasn’t home). He was later seen driving slowly around the parking lot of my kids’ school.

I was born in Alabama and grew up in Tennessee and Kentucky. As a son of the South, I was no stranger to firearms. We had a gun in our home. I learned to shoot at a young age. So did my wife. After the episode of the man demanding to see me, she not only bought a handgun, she attended multiple classes to train in armed self-defense.

So, yes, we had guns. And when my son received the Klan hood messages — as well as in other similar situations — we were glad we did. While we scrambled to determine whether the Klan hoods and street sign images were truly threatening or intended to be merely harassing, and while we considered whether to call the police (we did), I knew that we would not be defenseless if the threat were real and if our stalkers arrived before the police.

[…]I share this story to make two disclosures: Yes, we own guns. And yes, I support gun rights, not just for hunting or shooting sports, but for the purpose of self-defense. I’ve written in support of gun rights for years. I grew up in a culture that approached firearms responsibly, safely and with a sober mind. They were a tool — a dangerous tool, to be sure — but nothing more. In a fallen and dangerous world, a responsible, trained gun owner could help keep his or her family safe.

But the gun rights movement is changing. In many quarters of America, respect for firearms has turned into a form of reverence. As I wrote in 2022, there is now widespread gun idolatry. “Guns” have joined “God” and “Trump” in the hierarchy of right-wing values. At the edges, gun owners have gone from defending the rights of people to own semiautomatic rifles like AR-15s to openly brandishing them in protests, even to the point of, for example, staging an armed occupation of parts of the Michigan Capitol during anti-lockdown protests.

But we’re now facing something worse than gun idolatry. Too many armed citizens are jittery at best, spoiling for a fight at worst. In recent days we’ve seen a rash of terrible shootings by nervous, fearful or angry citizens. A young kid rings the bell on the wrong door and is shot. A young woman drives into the wrong driveway and is shot. A cheerleader accidentally tries to get in the wrong car and is pursued and shot, along with her friend. A basketball rolls into a man’s yard, and a neighboring 6-year-old girl and her father are shot.

All of these episodes occurred over the course of just six days.

…& it’s not even a complete list, at that

Yet even worse than such shootings, which occurred because of fear or sudden rage, is the phenomenon that begins with a person who seems to want to fight, who deliberately places himself in harm’s way, uses deadly force and then is celebrated for his bloody recklessness. Take Kyle Rittenhouse. At age 17, Rittenhouse took an AR-15-style weapon to a riot in Kenosha, Wis., to, he said, “protect” a Kenosha business.

When you travel, armed, to a riot, you’re courting violent conflict, and he found it. He used his semiautomatic weapon to kill two people who attacked him at the protest, and a jury acquitted him on grounds of self-defense. But the jury’s narrow inquiry into the moment of the shooting doesn’t excuse the young man’s eagerness to deliberately place himself in a situation where he might have cause to use lethal violence.

I shared the account at the beginning of this piece to help explain to opponents of gun rights that there are times when a firearm can be the only thing that stands between profound evil and the people you love. I also share it to tell my gun-owning friends that I get it. I understand. I’ve faced more threats in the last few years than they might experience in 10 lifetimes.

But this I also know: Gun rights carry with them grave responsibilities. They do not liberate you to intimidate. They must not empower your hate. They are certainly not objects of love or reverence. Every hair-trigger use, every angry or fearful or foolish decision, is likely to spill innocent blood.

Moreover, every one of these acts increases public revulsion over gun ownership generally. The cry for legal and moral reform will sweep the land. America will change and gun rights will diminish. And the gun owners and advocates who fail to grasp the moral weight of their responsibility will be to blame.


…&…since you can’t stop me further torturing this analogy…that’s all tucker was…a hired gun who liked to talk about folks getting triggered

Speculation on Carlson’s next move begins. [NYT]

…I loathe the man…but…murdoch picked it up & let it spray harm at the masses…& he’s still coining it in

Our Way of Life Is Poisoning Us [NYT]

SpaceX Starship explosion spread particulate matter for miles [NBC]

Twitter Gave a Fake Disney Junior Account That Uses Racial Slurs a Gold Checkmark Verification [Variety]


Elon Musk appears to have accidentally revealed his burner Twitter account in a screenshot the billionaire shared on Monday night.

The Twitter account, which Motherboard has not confirmed is Musk’s but several points of evidence strongly suggest it is, is full of bizarre tweets like, “Do you like Japanese girls?” in response to a tweet from a Bitcoin influencer, praise for Tesla, and replies to Elon Musk tweets.

On Monday evening, Musk tweeted a screenshot of him logged into his own profile. The purpose of the screenshot was to show content creators how to enable subscriptions on Twitter.

As well as the well known profile picture for his main account @elonmusk, the screenshot also showed a second profile photo. This is how Twitter displays secondary profiles so people can switch between them more easily. The image is of a young child.

Using that profile photo, people quickly found what appears to be the respective account, one with the username “Elon Test” and @ErmnMusk.

A member of 4chan appears to be among the first people to identify Musk’s potential burner account. “LMAOOO,” the user wrote, along with a screenshot of the profile. The profile picture matches that of the one in Musk’s original screenshot. Motherboard searched for the image using the TinEye service and it returned no results, meaning that the image may not have been used elsewhere on the internet.

The account was created in November, with its first tweet being on the 13th, just weeks after Musk completed his purchase of Twitter. The account’s first like is of an Elon Musk tweet containing the tombstone emoji and the bot emoji, alluding to Musk’s commitment to stamping out Twitter’s bot problem. In one tweet, @ErmnMusk replied “Wow!” to a CNBC tweet about a test of Tesla’s self-driving capabilities, and in another case replied to an Elon Musk tweet sharing a meme about former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

On Monday evening, the account tweeted “I will finally turn 3 on May 4th!” Musk’s and Grimes’ child X Æ A-12 was born on May 4. In another tweet, seemingly tweeting in character as Musk’s child, the account wrote, “I wish I was old enough to go to nightclubs. They sound so fun.”

Twitter accounts followed by @ErmnMusk include: Bari Weiss’s website The Free Press, Matthew Yglesias, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Stephen King (recently involved in a public beef with Musk), Donald Trump, several Bitcoin accounts, tech investors, a handful of pop stars, MrBeast, NASA, Khloe and Kim Kardashian, and a Twitter troll who famously posed as a fired Twitter employee, among others.

Again, the @ErmnMusk account has not been confirmed as Musk’s alt, but a good amount of evidence points that way. Regardless, it’s already had an impact: Over 10,000 people follow the account, and there’s already a new cryptocurrency named after it with 159 holders.

Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


…well…not directly, anyway


…incidentally…these also aren’t especially new…but might be worth a read if anyone wants to better understand which bits of the purchase price are/aren’t “unsecured” & just how much more remunerative the $3billion collection of unsecured scraps banks gave him…while they had him over a barrel on account of the court that would have forced him to complete the transaction…& which they hedged with a much larger chunk of very-much-secured debt…potentially are than the other sort…premiums come in a variety of shapes & sizes & that shit costs him more than it could lose the banks that provided it

Looming Twitter interest payment leaves Elon Musk with unpalatable options [FT Jan ’23]

Elon Musk Explores Raising Up to $3 Billion to Help Pay Off Twitter Debt [WSJ Jan ’23]

…the links are courtesy of archive.ph…so…athwart the paywall, so to speak…but…much like murdoch & carlson…that pair serve to reinforce the point that people who make a lot of money off assholes don’t need to like or respect them to bank on them…or bankroll them…they just need to get what they want out of the deal…like tucker’s audience…& I’m not seeing a lot of daylight between their need for their next fix & the kind of junkies they rather ironically deplore…but then…I suppose the irony is in the eye of the beholder…& at least where tucker getting fired is concerned…that shit is certainly addictive

…will try to come back with some tunes…but the technical difficulties have been kicking my ass for longer than the hour or so this is late going up…so…that mileage may be more variable than I’d like today?



  1. I saw a bumper sticker on a van the other day — one specialized for handicapped access, no less — that said “Pro God, Pro Gun, Pro Life” and the mind boggles at how one squares that circle, exactly. I’m sure that person is very sad to lose Tucker Carlson in their life, though.

    • …that NYT piece had a header image of folks with that emblazoned on the t-shirts they were wearing…so that’d be a big ol’ yep

      …but now I’ve noticed the header image is borked on this for some reason…so I’m off to see if I can remonstrate with that, I guess?

    • …apologies for the preponderance of rhymes-with-fucker…but…sinecure is a good word…& I’d argue applicable to a great many people who similarly sit in safely-entrenched positions from which they mostly profit by ratcheting up the ways they can compound problems they overwhelmingly exemplify…so in my defence…I mostly had in that particular asshole in mind as a placeholder for a much longer list of people who deserve similar amounts of disdain?

  2. The whole Carlson thing is weird in how it’s all gone down like a gold medal winner in platform diving who slices into the water and somehow leaves only the tiniest ripples possible.

    Nobody leaked the firing ahead of time. It just went down. Nobody leaked after, either.

    In contrast, with the Don Lemon firing there was a ton of noise beforehand, including a major expose in Variety, and he quickly went public with his version which CNN rushed to contradict in public. When Jeff Zucker and Matt Lauer got the boot, it was like floodgates were opened when the news hit. When the Crow-Thomas Nazi corruption story hit, rightwingers started flooding the zone with gushing love for the duo and attacks on their enemies. Not here.

    We’ve gotten little hints and speculation, but it all seems insufficient. It’s true that stories of Carlson being a weirdo creep have been repeated, but they’re stale news. Fox hasn’t come up with a public story or a background whisper campaign, and Carlson hasn’t mobilized his own counteroffensive. And presumably there are third parties in the plague on both your houses camp, but they’re not even getting traction with major misinformation either.

    Usually people involved in something this big feel the clock is ticking and they rush to get something out, especially when they think the other side has dirt of its own. But this all feels incredibly controlled.

    I’m sure Murdoch offered Carlson a big pile of money to shut up, and may have legal threats to back it up. But that normally doesn’t stop third party rumors from flying. And Carlson is notorious in the business for working the phones behind the scenes and trading gossip and threats. Multiple reports say he went silent ASAP.

    This level of quiet is spooky. But it also points out that the reporters who habitually traded with Carlson and PR folks at Fox for tidbits over the years predictably got the short end of the stick. All of those beat sweeteners and reflexive treatment of Fox as a legitimate news source, and when they really needed something in return, they get nothing.

    • If he’s planning to sue Fox — which sounds at least possible if not likely — he’s not going to say anything until his laywers say he should.

      It’s also been just about 24 hours now, and given that it sounds like this was a sudden and unexpected decision, he might really have been stunned into silence at first. But I don’t expect it to last forever!

      • Yeah, I can understand Carlson getting the wind knocked out of him, and that tracks with other cases where the affected party keeps their mouth shut. But I was struck by the contrast to other cases where people on the edges start squawking or else rushing unbidden to play defense.

        Relative to the scope of what happened, it’s been oddly quiet. People who are fairly plugged in like Brian Stelter are openly talking about the void, and fringe outlets like TMZ don’t seem to be running much either.

        It’s a weird dynamic. You could see there being a lack of defenders because maybe everybody hates Carlson, sort of like the Harvey Weinstein case. But in cases like that there is usually a reaction the other way, with an outpouring of enemies rushing to get their knives in.

        Sometimes Omerta descends, but that’s usually in cases where leadership has been prepping everyone to expect an axe to fall somewhere, even if the specific neck is unknown. One thing people seem united about is that this really came without a hint that it was happening anywhere in the organization.

        Maybe Carlson knew well in advance and this was just really well choreographed? Maybe Murdoch’s iron fist is more like some kind of Adamantium fist coated in Vibranium and a healthy dose of whatever Thor’s hammer is made of? I don’t know, but it’s odd how it’s been pulled off.

    • …to say rupe-the-droop has taken pains to keep those cards close to his chest is stunningly obvious…even within fox news…hence, if you’ll forgive me quoting myself

      I have to imagine it’s because rupe has the inside scoop on just how destructive some of the tucker shit in the dominion discovery bonanza is in terms of the liabilities it opens his interests to

      …but negative space is a thing…& between what we do know about the disclosures in the dominion discovery haul & the fact they cut carlson out of his work email before he knew which way was up…if I were the gambling sort my money would be on there being a shoe we haven’t heard drop yet that would put the boot in more painfully than that particular robber baron thinks he could walk off…one he would appear to think he can hold at bay thanks to that firing-firewall effect I alluded to…though presumably still potentially damaging enough to outweigh the failson’s usefulness to the whole faux news project’s place on the asset side of the ledger

      …&…again given the fact it outweighed leaving what’s been widely considered one of its greatest assets in place…& just how bad the stuff we have heard about is in terms of things the fatuous flinger of fabricated falsehoods fired off in various directions he clearly never expected to become public knowledge

      …it’s extremely tempting to assume it might have the potential to hole the whole murdoch empire below the waterline

      …why else go to such extreme lengths not let that cat out of the bag he’s still holding?

      • Also, even though Fox is having some issues at the moment, I can see a solid case that having the time slot makes the star and not the other way round. Lest we forget, Bill O’Reilly was the all-conquering Fox avatar until he wasn’t; he’s sold a bunch of books about dumb shit to morons since but his voice is barely a part of the media firmament now.

        There could be some grand empire-shaking stuff below the surface. Certainly my hope is that Tucker knows where the bodies are buried and it goes from ugly to oooogly to butt fugly, but this could just as much be a Murdoch growing tired of his quarrelsome lawsuit-targeted star and moving on with the idea that in 3 years they’ll have someone else more controllable to be just as popular.

        • …I’d be similarly happy to wager you’re right about that, too…his schtick hasn’t changed over the years so much as been…I dunno…refined sounds wrong…distilled, maybe?

          …it’s the timeslot that force-multiplied his supposed influence rather than the other way around…more or less for sure…& he’ll keep flogging his stable of dead horses wherever he can get someone to pay him to hang his hat

          …while murdoch (&/or the c-suite at fox news if there’s a meaningful distinction between the two) will find another blowhard mouthpiece & get right back to “playing the game”

          …so maybe the extent of that liability I’d speculate the news corp kingpin is at the very least presenting as running scared of isn’t nearly as potentially damaging as I wistfully imagine

          …but until it’s proven otherwise I aim to take what little solace the thought provides me while I can…which might be an addiction of my own not so very different from the audience I’m calling junkies

          …but if so my fix runs on a vastly less regular schedule & I can think of plenty of worse vices I could succumb to without it?

      • There could be something really bad they’re working really hard to keep quiet, and multiple parties have multiple motives to join up despite normally contradictory interests.

        I can’t help but be reminded of Chernobyl, though, where the staff kept spinning the dials more and more to keep the reaction contained until a fatal flaw cracked the whole thing open, and it turned out that the normal safeguards only made the situation much worse.

        It turned out there were indicators in plain sight, but people ignored them because they just couldn’t believe they were happening.

        Maybe another example is the FBI under the last days of J. Edgar Hoover, who was completely falling apart mentally. The loyalists in the FBI leadership kept things buttoned up, and even LBJ and Nixon who wanted Hoover out kept the situation quiet. And even when Hoover was gone everyone tried to keep the situation quiet, until the #2 guy Mark Felt finally cracked. Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes?

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