Part 4—"Rosebud," a mogul once said: In this morning's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof says he's worried.
We think his fear is well-placed. More specifically, Kristof says he's worried about the possibility that Donald J. Trump will start or trigger a war.
He may start or trigger a trade war, Kristof says. He may trigger an actual war with Iran.
Then too, of course, there's North Korea. Kristof says this about that:
KRISTOF (3/22/18): The final risk, of course, is a war with North Korea. We may have a reprieve for a couple of months if Trump’s face-to-face with Kim Jong-un goes ahead, but I think Americans are too reassured by the prospect of a summit meeting.Will American president Donald J. Trump start or trigger a nuclear war? Imaginably, is he disordered enough to start or trigger a war to change the equation in November's election? To undermine Robert Mueller?
The basic problem: There’s almost no chance that North Korea will agree to the kind of verifiable denuclearization that Trump talks about. Then the danger is that if a summit collapses, there’s no room to restart the process with lower-level diplomats. At that point, the risk of military conflict soars because all alternatives seem exhausted.
Moreover, Trump’s snap decision to accept Kim’s invitation to meet underscores the risk of a mercurial president leaping into actions—which is one of the reasons we got into the mess in Iraq.
We don't know how to answer those questions, but we think Kristof's fears are well-founded. Then too, there's the nugget we read, this very morning, on the New York Times' reimagined page A3 (print editions only).
This nugget may tell us something about New York Times readers. The nugget goes exactly like this:
The Conversation(Note: "Story" is a childish term major journalists use in place of "news report.")
FOUR OF THE MOST READ, SHARED AND DISCUSSED POSTS FROM ACROSS NYTIMES.COM
1. Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal Sues to Speak On Alleged Trump Affair
Wednesday's top story about the former Playboy model who is suing to break her silence about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump brought in over 31,000 reactions on Facebook and over 5,000 comments. One popular comment on the Times's web site voiced the paradigm shift the story represented. "Two short years ago this would have been unimaginable," the reader wrote.
As presented, that "popular comment" is hard to interpret. That said, incoherence is standard practice on the Times' page A3.
For ourselves, we carry away this point:
Donald J. Trump may be about to start or trigger a war. But so what? Yesterday's "top story" (whatever that means) concerned The Chase—our thrilling pursuit of The Sex.
That's what readers find intriguing! That helps explain why an actual war may occur, just as Kristof says.
For the record, who the heck is Karen McDougal? More specifically, is she another "feminist hero," like Stephanie Clifford before her?
Everything is possible! That said, McDougal is someone who f**ked Donald Trump in 2006, when he had a newborn baby boy, and now, twelve years later, wants to talk all about it.
As far as we know, McDougal is alleging no sexual assault or harassment on the part of the man who may start or trigger that nuclear war. Here's how yesterday's "top story" started:
RUTENBERG AND RUIZ (3/21/18): A former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Donald J. Trump sued on Tuesday to be released from a 2016 legal agreement restricting her ability to speak, becoming the second woman this month to challenge Trump allies’ efforts during the presidential campaign to bury stories about extramarital relationships.If Rutenberg and Ruiz have it right, McDougal says all the f**king was consensual. She just wants to tell us about all the f**king, and we the readers and subscribers very much long to be told.
The model, Karen McDougal, is suing The National Enquirer’s parent company, which paid her $150,000 and whose chief executive is a friend of President Trump’s. The other woman, the adult entertainment star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 to stay quiet by the president’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen. She filed a lawsuit earlier this month.
Both women, who argue that their contracts are invalid, are trying to get around clauses requiring them to resolve disputes in secretive arbitration proceedings rather than in open court. Mr. Trump has denied the affairs, which both women have described as consensual.
If we might borrow from our Eliot, This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a f**kstorm. It resembles something we told you long ago, but also just last week:
Uh-oh! When we let our "journalists" start talking about consensual sex, they'll soon want to talk about nothing else! In this case, it will also be the thing we most want to read about.
In truth, the world could end with a very large bang. But we'll die happy, reading about all the f**king and all the consensual sex.
Back to McDougal. Is Karen McDougal a feminist hero, or is she perhaps just a bit of a jerk? Or is she perhaps an "entrepeneur," someone inclined to monetize her consensual f**king?
We don't know how to answer your many questions. Nor do we think it's important to psychoanalyze, or morally judge, a wayfarer like McDougal, who showed poor judgment in 2006 and now wants to tell us about it.
That said, we think it may be a bad idea to start defining people like this as "feminist heroes." When we liberals and progressives do that, we make others think we're venal, deranged and basically nuts—and it won't be real clear that the others are wrong.
How did it ever get this far? How did we ever reach the point where Donald J. Trump is about to start or trigger a war, but our "top stories" involve his consensual f**king from 2006?
Who did we ever get that small? That stupid, that sad and slimy?
It got to this point over millions of years as our weak brains evolved. Also, it got to this point in recent years as slimeballs began creating ways to sell us tribalized "news."
The new Salon may sometimes seem to be one of the entities which has played this game. When the site began in the 1990s, it was a venue for intelligent liberal writing as defined by the norms of that time.
Over the years, it had dumbed itself way down and tribalized, as have many similar entities. This led to the recent piece describing Clifford as a "feminist hero"—a piece which was written by a younger, less experienced, perhaps less insightful journalist, one who is described this way at the new improved site:
[Name Withheld] is a news writer at Salon. She covers health, science, tech and gender politics.This rather young writer covers pretty much everything for the new Salon! Presumably, she's less expensive than other writers—this lets Salon's owners put cash in their pants—and she considers Clifford to be a "feminist hero," with a "#MeToo story" to tell.
This possible dumbing down has occurred all over our modern "press corps." Sites like Salon have made themselves younger, dumber and much more partisan as their owners seek to make money by pleasing our low-IQ, heavily tribal brains.
This helps explain how people who do a lot of consensual f**king, then want to tell us all about it, get reimagined as "feminists," even as "feminist heroes," with #MeToo stories to tell. This helps explain how people like these take over our national discourse.
The youngish writer at Salon thought Clifford was a feminist hero. In part, she based this judgment on something Clifford's friend Kayla Paige once said while speaking to Rolling Stone.
A few years ago, Rolling Stone established itself as the dumbest magazine in the history of the world. That said, here's the deeply exciting way its impressive new profile began
NICKS (3/9/18): Stormy Daniels answers the door of her Houston hotel room wearing little athletic shorts and a green Pantera tank top over a sports bra, her long blond hair in a loose ponytail. We shake hands and she jumps back onto her bed, sitting up with her legs tucked under her in half lotus. Her assistant and longtime friend Kayla Paige, a retired adult-film actress and wife of Limp Bizkit founding member Sam Rivers, buzzes with aimless energy around the room they're sharing. They'd only just woken up and are in the middle of a discussion about penile implants, which I confess I didn't know is a thing. Then Paige half-jokingly wonders if she needs vaginal lip reduction surgery and drops her pants for reference. She isn't wearing panties.For more of this empowerment, click here for yesterday's post.
Daniels rolls her eyes and laughs.
What did we think when we read that passage? Here's something we wondered about:
When we read accounts like that, we aren't inclined to think we're reading about heroes or feminists. We're inclined to wonder if something is possibly wrong.
We say that for this reason:
Stephanie Clifford is conventionally good-looking. She produces good-looking head shots.
She also seems to be brighter than the average bear. Her IQ doesn't seem to pose a problem in any way. Last night, one lovesick fellow on CNN said she went to a magnet school!
Having said that, we would also say this:
When bright, good-looking people disfigure themselves in the way Clifford seems to have done; when they turn themselves into a version of a female Stepin Fetchit; when they go around f**king people like Donald J. Trump, then try to sell their story for cash; when their assistants can't seem to stop dropping their pants; we wonder if we may be reading about someone who's been abused.
Over the years, we've learned to wonder about such things, in part from reading the works of feminists. We've learned about the amazing extent of childhood abuse—so much so that we even wonder about such things when we observe a disordered man on the scale of a Donald J. Trump, who had the misfortune of being born to a father with terrible values.
Stephanie Clifford? First she f**ked a creepy old man, then she tried to make some cash selling her story.
She tried to sell her story in 2011, then again in 2016. This doesn't strike us as heroic, or as especially feminist.
It doesn't seem like a #MeToo story. When we read the start of that Rolling Stone profile, it felt like something quite different.
Long ago and far away, the story of a fictional figure traced back to a single word. That word is now famous: "Rosebud."
Clifford says her safe word is "penguin." We'll suggest there's another word somewhere which explains how she ended up f**king a creep like Donald Trump, then selling her story for cash.
In the meantime, creeps have long been crawling all over your nation's press corps. They're selling tribalized bullshit to us highly gullible beings, whose brains are just semi-evolved.
They hire young writers to keep their costs down. When these writers say they've spotted a feminist hero, they make the world think we liberals are nuts. This helps Trump maintain power.
Nicholas Kristof is worried today about a possible war. We think his concern is well placed.
Meanwhile, readers of his august newspaper are out chasing The Sex. Here's the way his column nears its end:
KRISTOF: Looking back, the biggest problem 15 years ago was that the administration was stuck in an echo chamber and far too optimistic, and Democrats and the news media alike mostly rolled over. Journalists too often acted as lap dogs, not watchdogs—and today I fear that we may be so busy chasing the latest shiny object that we miss an abyss ahead.Journalists are consumed by The Chase, Kristof says, and by those shiny objects. At present, Stephanie Clifford's slickster lawyer is leading the rest of us off on that low-IQ chase.
The shiniest objects he has are her very large body parts. Viewed from one feminist perspective, they're straight outta Stepin Fetchit.
Disordered men pay money to see them. Her scumbag lawyers keeps showing up with new, more exciting photographs of those body parts. Cable producers—and no, they aren't feminists—flash them on our screens.
Tomorrow: The history of (bogus) threats