TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2022
And what the Times reported: Over the past how many years, The Crazy has played an increasingly major role in our semi-parodic imitation of a national discourse—in our "imitation of life."
Today, The Crazy or its approximation is back in the news again. For one example, Greg Sargent cites the latest from Elon Musk in this piece for the Washington Post:
SARGENT (12/12/22): Over the weekend, Elon Musk called for the prosecution of Anthony S. Fauci, the leading infectious-disease expert in the Biden administration. “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” Musk tweeted, mocking transgender people for good measure. Musk then endorsed a complicated right-wing conspiracy theory about Fauci’s role in the covid-19 pandemic.
Democrats and other Musk critics reacted with an explosion of outrage...
So went the tweet from Musk, followed by the explosion. For an account of Musk's "complicated right-wing conspiracy theory about Fauci’s role in the covid-19 pandemic," we'll direct you to the rest of Sargent's essay.
Our first question goes like this:
Is it true? Was Fauci "involved in U.S. government funding of controversial early research into covid?" Did he then "lie to Congress about it?"
So goes the complex conspiracy theory, as described by Sargent. What that could have to do with pronouns is pretty much anyone's guess.
Has Musk introduced The Crazy into the discourse through his recent tweet? To a large extent, that would depend on the ability of the public to sort through the facts of the case.
Given the way our discourse currently works, such sorting can never occur. On one cable channel, viewers will be given a highly selective selection of facts designed to make the theory seem true.
On the other cable channels, the charge won't be discussed. As on Morning Joe this morning, Fauci will be thanked for his service, and the matter will end right there.
Within this bifurcated world, The Crazy gets halfway around the world before anything like clarification can even get its pants on. And as it turns out, we humans are highly susceptible to The Crazy, a point we discussed just last week.
We discussed the Taylor family, pere et fille, as described by The Atlantic's Elaina Plott Calabro in a heavily-researched profile. Calbro started by describing The Crazy as believed by the father:
CALABRO (12/5/22): Bob Taylor may not have been overtly partisan, but he rivaled Trump in his tendency to self-mythologize. In 2006, [he] had published a novel with the small publisher Savas Beatie called Paradigm. As best I can tell, this is Taylor’s effort to demonstrate the value of a system he invented called the “Taylor Effect”—which purports to predict the stock market based on the gravitational fluctuations of Earth...
You can read the rest of the passage in last week's report. But much as The Music Man's Professor Hill had once proffered an approach called "The Think System," this father claimed that his "Taylor Effect" was capable of predicting the stock market based on gravitational fluctuations.
There was one major difference between Bob Taylor and Harold Hill. According to Calabro's report, Bob Taylor really believed his apparently crazy claims.
According to Calabro, "He considered his stock-market theory to be 'the Genuine Article.' " Later, in a ghost-written memoir, "he likened himself to da Vinci, Galileo, Edison, Marconi, and the Wright brothers."
(By way of contrast, Professor Hill was a fictional con man in a fictional Broadway musical which later became an Oscar-nominated fictional movie. By the end of the fictional tale, the phony professor was healed by the love of a much younger, conventionally attractive woman.)
According to Calabro, Bob Taylor truly believed in his own Think System! Years later, along came Taylor's daughter, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Once she became involved in politics, she apparently believed such things as these:
CALABRO: QAnon followers subscribe to the sprawling conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by a network of satanic pedophiles funded by Saudi royalty, George Soros, and the Rothschild family...[S]ince its inception, in the fall of 2017, when “Q,” an anonymous figure professing to be a high-level government official, began posting tales from the so-called deep state, no politician has become more synonymous with QAnon than Greene. To an extent, Greene had already signaled her attraction to conspiracy theories, questioning on American Truth Seekers whether the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas was a false-flag operation to eliminate gun rights. But with Q, Greene was all in. She has gone so far as to endorse an unhinged QAnon theory called “frazzledrip,” which claims that Hillary Clinton murdered a child as part of a satanic blood ritual.
For the record: Calabro seems to think that Rep. Greene really does or did believe such things, that it hasn't been simply a ruse.
Over the weekend, Greene was back with her latest contribution to the discourse. If she had been in charge of the events of January 6, she said, the attack would have been successful—and participants would have been armed!
Greene later said, not entirely incorrectly, that her remarks were tongue-in-cheek. But these are the kinds of postures being floated about as The Crazy takes over the discourse—and as "Democrats and other critics react with explosions of outrage."
In his essay for the Post, Sargent suggests that these explosions of outrage may not be especially helpful. We're inclined to agree with that view.
That said, it also isn't especially helpful to respond to The Crazy with selective accounts concerning what has and hasn't been said. It seems to us that that's what happened when Tucker Carlson offered these remarks last Thursday night about the release of Brittany Griner from a Russian labor camp.
It was vintage Tucker! Some of what he said this night was blatantly bogus. But then again, on the other hand, some of what he said somewhat possibly wasn't.
In this subsequent news report, the Times produced a selective account of what the disordered fellow had said. So it may go within our blue tribe's reporting elites, even at the highest levels.
Over the course of the past few weeks, we've seen two of those blue elites possibly gone a bit wild. First, an international assortment of cognoscenti produced the somewhat peculiar claim that an unwatchable film from 1975 was the greatest film ever made.
(According to the Times' Manohla Dargis, it was only the third greatest film of all time. According to Dargis, the greatest film concerns a donkey named Balthazar. Trust us! Most Times subscribers would find that film barely watchable, but also esthetically strange.)
That film elite operates "over the heads" of the illiterate masses. But then, along came the New York Times' major book critics, with their accounts of the books which "stayed with them" this year.
The first elite is off in the clouds. This second elite seems to be wrapped up in "memoirs about erotic obsession," but also in "celebrity memoirs."
More generally, as we read the Times' review of the best books of the past year, we were struck by the various genres which needn't apply!
On the reporting side of the New York Times, two major reporters offered a rather selective account of what Fox's Excitable Boy had said about Griner's release. On the paper's critical side, two of the critics were off in the clouds, while others were way down in the valley.
We'll try to get to all these battles among these elites as our week continues. Spoiler alert:
The Crazy is all around us these days. But so is the "what-us-worry" branch of the High Lofty Undisturbed.
Tomorrow: Best books of the year!
It's impossible to understand what Republican politicians think from the things they say. They have so many lies to keep straight, they have no idea what they think.ReplyDelete
OTOH, we know exactly what two things Republican voters care abut from their actions.
“Prosecute” is a verb. “Fauci” is a noun.ReplyDelete
I have not seen any evidence that Mao is a satanic pedophile.ReplyDelete
...but this: "Is it true? Was Fauci "involved in U.S. government funding of controversial early research into covid?" Did he then "lie to Congress about it?" "
reminds us of a great quit we heard from Jimmy Dore recently. In regards to -- what else? -- the "twitter files"...
Here goes (as we recall):
First they call it a 'reprehensible conspiracy theory', and then, once it's proven, they immediately switch to calling it a 'nothing-burger' and 'everyone does it'.
Sounds about right, dear Bob, nicht wahr?
Shut up you moron.Delete
I assume your two-year old niece was too busy shitting her diapers to provide her insight.
The niece's soiled diaper was where Mao got the idea to find out what Dore (also a piece of shit) thinks.Delete
The “elitist” put down was such an obvious lazy cliche 25 years ago it seemed to fade from common usage. Leave it to Bob to bring it back, the working man’s Harvard grad.ReplyDelete
Anything having to do one way or another
with Musk and Twitter is junk news. As Bob might have once noticed.
Mixing the true with the half true and outright bullshit is nothing new, though the line used to be held on Holocaust denial and perhaps some other things. I find the reaction to Ye to be pretty perfunctory, how would we react to someone claiming slavery in the U.S. never occurred?
Bob is ignoring the story of a traitor President attempting to overthrow our government as a political beef of one of our “tribes” unworthy
of his interest. He will tell you Trump had no friends on the Jan 6 committee, but he won’t tell you why. He tells his readers the Dems seek a criminal solution to a political problem, but won’t tell you if he thinks Trump broke the law.
His own selective agenda is so blatantly obvious it’s impossible to take his critique of anyone else’s seriously.
"Is it true? Was Fauci "involved in U.S. government funding of controversial early research into covid?" Did he then "lie to Congress about it?"ReplyDelete
No, it is not true. And that is why it need not be seriously reported by any mainstream newspaper. It was addressed back when Rand Paul made an issue of it in a hearing at which Fauci testified. Then, the accusation was news. Now it is just another untrue statement circulating on the right. Debunked conspiracy theories are not news, just because Elon Musk tries to revive them.
"There was one major difference between Bob Taylor and Harold Hill. According to Calabro's report, Bob Taylor really believed his apparently crazy claims. "ReplyDelete
Why introduce a poor analogy, only to spend paragraphs explaining why it is inapt? No need to mention Harold Hill at all, unless Somerby wants us to think of someone he is discussing as a con artist? Who does he want us to think that about? The press, Fauci? Not Musk or Carlson, based on the way he has tried to use Harold Hill, even though they are the ones peddling both fictions and cons.
"If she had been in charge of the events of January 6, she said, the attack would have been successful—and participants would have been armed!"ReplyDelete
Participants were armed. That's why cops were injured. And that's why this is not simply a sarcastic quip. Overlooking the armed violence is part of the right-wing attempt to rewrite what happened. The right has tried to explain 1/6 as a protest that got out of hand, a demonstration, but the body armor and bear spray and batons and use of the cops own gear against them show that this was not just a riot. There was preparation and there were weapons, including the guys in the trees with AR-15s (who couldn't get past the metal detectors, so Trump tried to get the secret service to take down the screening equipment and let them in).
Somerhow Somerby doesn't notice the untruth of MTG's statements -- he wants to rehash the accusations against Fauci. Who does that? Not liberals and not the mainstream press, but MAGA Republicans, such as Somerby.
It is not crazy to consider a film about a donkey a fine film. It is a matter of taste and preference and no one is compelling Somerby to watch it or like it. You can lead a donkey to water but you can't make him drink.ReplyDelete
The idea that the quality of a film or the entirety of its meaning should be determined by its subject matter, is ridiculous. Somerby is being excessively literal with his insistence that a donkey cannot be a metaphor for anything else, but is always and only about that donkey. He is also a bit narrow minded, when he says he can never be interested in anything about donkeys (or agrees with the critic who said that).
There are a lot of animals in the recent documentary series about national parks worldwide, narrated by Obama (who won a grammy for his narration). That series is fascinating and well worth watching, even if the animals are symbolic of nothing. I can imagine a donkey film worth watching.
What is wrong with Somerby that he wants to narrow the range of topics that can be the focus of films or news articles to only the things he is interested in?
And he similarly wants to narrow the discussion of topics in the news to only those things he thinks might have merit. He wants to include attacks on Fauci but exclude the ones on MTG or other things the mainstream press has been discussing, because he doesn't know whether Fauci is blameless or not (although he should, if he reads the news) but he does know that MTG didn't mean what she said about bringing guns. Somerby has made himself the arbiter of which statements by Tucker are bogus and which are not -- saying that the mainstream should discuss the ones he, Somerby, has decided may have merit, and not raise issues that he, Somerby, thinks the mainstream press is pursuing out of partisanship, in other words, thinks have no merit. This is Somerby making himself the gatekeeper, but his ideas strike me as tilting to the right and admitting too many right wing lies. And when the press reports lies, it is not doing its job properly.
"Has Musk introduced The Crazy into the discourse through his recent tweet? To a large extent, that would depend on the ability of the public to sort through the facts of the case."ReplyDelete
No, the public doesn't make a lie true by believing it, nor does it make a lie false by recognizing that it is a lie. It is the content of the statement by Musk that stands on its own as true or false depending on its relationship to facts that exist in the world, reality, independent of the beliefs of Musk, Somerby, or the reading public.
Somerby wants to dictate what the press should consider based on his own ideas of what is true or not. It doesn't work that way either. The press must deal with facts and reality, not Somerby's preferences and not the right wings lie machine, and not public consensus about things, whether it is history related to Thanksgiving, or Fauci's actions to combat covid, or whether there were weapons in the 1/6 insurrection. There is an objective reality involved in each of these. There is NOT an objective truth about what the greatest film may be -- there are expert opinions and Somerby's preferences, but nothing objective unless and until the criteria for assessing such films are standardized, which they are not.
Why would Somerby juxtapose film critics with reporters of facts about Fauci? They perform very different roles. They are not doing the same jobs at all. Does Somerby really not understand the difference between facts reported by journalists and opinions held by critics? It seems not, since he regularly confuses the views of opinion writers and editorials, with facts reported by journalists too. Today these are jumbled together, mixing in some Music Man fiction for good measure, leaving the reader to sort them all out. Does Somerby really think this way, and is he that confused about reality? If so, I hope his relatives are keeping an eye on him, to keep him out of the kind of trouble that occurs when an elderly man starts sending money to the wrong causes on the internet.
Somerby keeps trying to introduce the Crazy himself.Delete
"It was vintage Tucker! Some of what he said this night was blatantly bogus. But then again, on the other hand, some of what he said somewhat possibly wasn't. "ReplyDelete
It is much easier to recognize truth when it isn't mixed together with a bunch of bombastic bogus crap. That is why it is better not to watch anything Tucker says. Why run the risk of accidentally believing the bogus part? Why have to go through the extra effort of fact-checking everything Tuckers says (not that I think his regular watchers do that at all)? It makes no sense to watch Tucker at all, given the bogus content. Why would Somerby advocate this, after telling us that Musk's statements are only harmful if the public believes them, a statement as silly as anything said on the right.
A newspaper has a reputation for truth that it has to defend. Tucker Carlson is an entertainer who tells the right what they want to hear, selling outrage and made up stories about Democrat perfidy, with no commitment to the truth at all. Which should someone watch? Hmmmm...
Not only should you not watch what Carlson says - you shouldn't listen to it either. At least our send doesn't sell outrage.Delete
Judicial Watch announced today that it received 1651 pages of records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealing an FBI “inquiry” into the NIH’s controversial bat coronavirus grant tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The records also show National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials were concerned about “gain-of-function” research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2016. The Fauci agency was also concerned about EcoHealth Alliance’s lack of compliance with reporting rules and use of gain-of-function research in the NIH-funded research involving bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.ReplyDelete
The records also show EcoHealth Alliance’s legal team suggesting that a records request for data on their bat coronavirus research in Wuhan be denied because of the January 6 disturbance.
Judicial Watch obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records of communications, contracts and agreements with the Wuhan Institute of Virology
Trump tried to gaslight COVID, like it was some common New York Times political reporter.Delete
What would Fauci be prosecuted for? Telling the truth?ReplyDelete