Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Today's News: Rage-farming

The term "rage farming" was a new term to me when I started to see people talking about it on twitter - here is the Slang Dictionary definition
Rage-farming is a slang term for the political tactic of intentionally provoking political opponents in order to create or increase exposure for one’s group or cause. The tactic is especially associated with conservative and far-right political groups. 
The term rage farming is always used in a critical way. It is typically applied to the act of posting intentionally inflammatory content or otherwise trolling political opponents online with the goal of eliciting a large number of angry responses, thus leading to widespread exposure for the original poster. However, the term may be applied to practices other than online posts, such as making inflammatory comments in interviews or speeches that will be widely covered by the media. 
Similar, I guess, to the practice of sending a bunch of flying monkeys after a blogger or twitter-poster. Except in this case creating more rage itself is the point. 
A recent Tyee article by Edmonton reporter Charles Russnell discusses the Freeland attack as part of the larger rage-farming phenomenon by conservative politicians: 
A political scientist told The Tyee he expects aggressive attacks on politicians to increase in Canada as right-wing politicians continue to engage in “rage farming” by advancing false and misleading conspiracy narratives. 
“They know how to feed those narratives,” said University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley. 
“It is little half-truths, sometimes more blatant lies, that kind of plant the seeds for this rage farming,” he said. 
...[Wesley said] politicians in Canada were stoking resentment of so-called elites. 
“This time around, it’s not just anti-elitism, it’s what we call anti-pluralism,” Wesley said, explaining that United Conservative Party politicians in Alberta in particular advance the narrative that there are “pure people out there, pure Albertans.” 
And so when people like Freeland come to their town, they are targets for abuse because they are not viewed as real Albertans or real Canadians, he said. Freeland is from Peace River, Alberta, north of Grande Prairie. 
All three politicians [Kenney, Poilievre, Smith] have, for example, been pushing the narrative that Trudeau is somehow attempting to punish farmers by searching for ways to lower emissions from fertilizer. 
Smith in particular, has made numerous statements about how vaccine mandates were an unnecessary intrusion on people’s freedoms and she has threatened to fire the board of Alberta Health Services and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. 
She has advanced the idea of an Alberta Sovereignty Act that she says would allow Alberta to opt out of federal laws, including those governing guns. 
“What these narratives do for conspiracy theorists, is that it helps them make sense of, first of all, complex things that don’t otherwise make sense; it’s boiled down into something really simple,” Wesley said. “And secondly, it gives [conspiracy theorists] an out of sorts, where it allows them to see other people as being either the source of their problems or as being less moral or less worthy.” 
Ironically, he said, this extreme behaviour by people like McDavid will make it less likely that politicians will come to hear them out in their communities because they don’t wish to be abused and they legitimately fear for their safety. 
When an incident like the attack on Freeland happens, it takes a politician away from the message they were there to deliver. 
“So this creates a spiral; a populist spiral where people say they are not listening to us.” Wesley said.
“Well, of course, they are not listening to you. Look at what is happening when they try to listen. It is just a self-perpetuating cycle.”...
There appear to be three sections on the Canadian rage-farm right now: 
1. World Economic Forum
2. Covid vaccines (plus related mandate-hate, mask-hate etc)
3. Climate change (plus related fertilizer panic, insect panic etc.)
Here's some stuff on all of these, with a certain amount of cross-over raging, too

This explains the "eating insects" hysteria. It is stunning how anyone would believe something this stupid:

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Today's News: "We have a lot to do"

This pretty well summarizes everything, doesn't it: Across the country, Canadians are worried about the breakdown in hospital services -- because too many health care workers keep on getting sick with Covid, at the same time as the system grapples with the cumulative effect of two years of delayed surgeries and neglected health conditions. 
Premiers seem to think that "privatization" will magically make more services available, and indeed it may prove to be sensible to create stand-alone clinics for some routine surgeries like joint replacements, if it actually frees up hospital beds for more complex cases - rather than just allowing hospitals to cut their staff budgets accordingly.  No provincial politician should ever think that "privatizing" will save money while making people happier with their health care.
This is how Ontario thinks it will solve hospital crowding: Here in Saskatchewan, ERs are in crisis, ambulances are delayed, and rural health care facilities are struggling: Here's a great idea: The website he created is here: Sk Service Disruptions Why Sask Health hasn't done this already, I don't know. 
And PS - Covid is not over!

Monday, August 29, 2022

Today's News: Funny business!

Tonight here's a bunch of recent tweets that made me laugh: 

 First, here's a great Coyne concept -- hitting for the Conspiracy Theory "cycle": 

Its a funny way to treat the CPC leadership ballots, but you do you:
What a great line, one I must remember -- "It's a mask. We're not asking you to donate a kidney!"

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Today's News: What a week!

Beginning with a wonderful palate cleanser: A short stop at today's Globe and Mail: At this point, Bell Media will have to offer LaFlamme the National News vice-presidency before this controversy will be quelled. And I would be fine with that.
Moving to today's news, first here is a great cartoon illustrating the trolls Canada is dealing with these days:

Which one of these characters would be that guy from Grande Prairie who cursed at Chrystia Freeland yesterday as she was getting into an elevator? 
The portion of the video after he had been kicked out of the hotel shows he was just so very pleased with himself, so absolutely delighted to "own the libs".  Everyone is pointing and laughing at him now, but we're also acknowledging that this kind of behaviour is unhinged and possibly dangerous:
Canadian politicians from all parties are also speaking out against this - even Conservatives, albeit with a little nudging: Canadians were shocked and angry, and thousands tweeted support for Freeland: Class:

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Today's News: CTV News is losing its soul

The very definition of a professional news organization is one that reports news without fear or favour. 
Over the years, news organizations have fired reporters, editors, anchors, editors, publishers, for good reasons and bad, pleasing or angering their audiences. But when a news organization also lets its own corporate actions compromise its objective news judgements, and then starts slanting its news stories to justify or cover up its own unethical behaviour, it has lost its soul. 
That began to happen to CTV News today. 
For the last two weeks, CTV and Bell Media has been embarrassed by the burgeoning corporate Going Grey movement, because corporations across Canada have been reflecting Canadian anger with CTV's unwarranted firing of Lisa LaFlamme. 
Today CTV News finally "covered" this story, but in a threatening way - they picked up a Canadian Press story which had found a "retail analyst" and a marketing professor to provide contrarian "takes" about how companies endorsing Going Grey really needed to watch their steps.  Then Bell Media outlets and CTV stations across the country dutifully "tweeted" the story out, one after the other.
The thuggery couldn't have been clearer - "nice little brand you got here. Be too bad if something were to happen to it"

Friday, August 26, 2022

Today's News: This you?

Its sorta hysterical, really. 
So yesterday Biden announced $10,000 student-loan forgiveness policies, which are a great thing that will help millions of people. 
And predictably, some Republicans went nuts about how irresponsible Biden was to just wipe out indebtedness with the stroke of a pen. 
And, also predictably, Twitter then started checking on whether any of those Republicans had also borrowed money and been forgiven for the loans. 
And, shore nuff, many had. They had  taken hundreds of thousands in Covid salary protection loans which were then also forgiven totally, including the interest. 
So "Republican" can now also be spelled h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e. Even the White House got into the act:

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Six months of war in Ukraine

Here are a few selections from the New York Times collection of Ukraine photos during 6 months of war

Dusk in Kyiv Feb 24 (Brendan Hoffman)

A volunteer fighter at Mykolaiv March 10. (Tyler Hicks)

Sister Diogena Tereshkevych in a bomb shelter in Lviv April 15. (Finbarr O'Reilly)

A family with their dog flees into Kharkiv April 29. (Tyler Hicks)

Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, in ruins on May 2. (David Guttenfelder)

Twin sisters Nika and Miya survey vehicles destroyed in the war near Irpin, May 8 (Daniel Berehulak)

Carpathian Sich Battalion reviews drone footage of an attack against Russia in Kharkiv region on May 11. (Lynsey Addario)

Soldiers going to the frontline near Kramatorsk in eastern Donetsk May 25. (Finbarr O'Reilly)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Random and funny stuff

I've collected some funny tweets so far this week: The Trump documents story gets murkier by the day. I think Nichols is on to something here: History is really just one damn thing after another!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Today's News: Shaking hands with the devil?

So Poilievre shook hands with a white supremacist and now he won't apologize. 
And the CPC wants Canada to think this guy and the juvenile sycophants surrounding him are PMO material? Singh knows how important it is for politicians to denounce violent extremists: Conservatives try to "whatabout" the Poilievre handshake. Another Con Fail!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Today's News: Just a little light treason

Just a short one tonight:

Senator Johnson knows a little light treason when he sees it -- he was one of the senators who celebrated July 4 2018 in Moscow: Moving on, this is terrific: The Republicans are going to regret their attempt to characterize Biden as a doddering old man but also some kind of dictator: Actually, if there is anybody who is both a wanna-be dictator AND a doddering old man, it is Trump, isn't it. 

Turns out there really is "Music of the Spheres": Finally, here's another amazing story:

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Weekend funnies

If you ever wondered what happened to Biff... Women's world today:

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Today's News: Lisa Forever

Interesting to continue to watch the uproar over CTV News firing of Lisa LaFlamme -- today, more revelations: First, Bell Media is stressed out because everyone has been so mean to them and nobody UNDERSTANDS how DIFFICULT it is to run a media company these days.... Amazingly, this statement didn't increase anyone's sympathy for Bell Media: One thing BellMedia doesn't seem to understand is just how delighted the rest of Canadian media always are whenever a big media company stumbles and steps in it. The stories will just go on and on: More revelations from Canadaland:

Friday, August 19, 2022

Today's News: "We will stay here together"

When the Ukraine-Russia War started in February, and quickly became so awful for the people living under bombings and occupation, one of the questions I had at the time is why more Ukrainians hadn't evacuated before the war began.
Biden began warning Ukraine in the fall that this time Russia was serious, yet Ukraine seemed oblivious to the danger. They just didn't seem to believe Russia would actually invade.
This week in their major article about the beginnings of the war, "Road to War: US struggled to convince allies, and Zelensky, of risk of invasion" the Washington Post asked Zelenskyy why he had not taken the warnings more seriously. And his response explained to me, for the first time, 
Zelenskyy's reasoning: 
...Zelenskyy resisted calls to relocate his government and was adamant that he not panic the public. Down that path, he thought, lay defeat. 
“You can’t simply say to me, ‘Listen, you should start to prepare people now and tell them they need to put away money, they need to store up food,’ ” Zelensky recalled. “If we had communicated that — and that is what some people wanted, who I will not name — then I would have been losing $7 billion a month since last October, and at the moment when the Russians did attack, they would have taken us in three days. 
... Generally, our inner sense was right: If we sow chaos among people before the invasion, the Russians will devour us. Because during chaos, people flee the country.” 
For Zelenskyy, the decision to keep people in the country, where they could fight to defend their homes, was the key to repelling any invasion. 
“As cynical as it may sound, those are the people who stopped everything,” he said. 

When I read this, I could understand Zelensky's reasoning - but I could also imagine how difficult it would be to explain this reasoning now to the people in Mariopol, in Bucha, in Kherson, who crawled out of the rubble of apartment buildings, who slept in basement shelters for weeks, who had to 
abandon their animals on farms in the Donbas, who fled to Poland with nothing. 
So its not surprising that now people in Ukraine are also speaking out in anger at Zelenskyy: 
Comments he made to The Washington Post justifying his failure to share with Ukrainians details of repeated U.S. warnings that Russia planned to invade [triggered] a cascade of public criticism unprecedented since the war began. 
Ordinary people tweeted their experiences of chaos and dislocation after an invasion for which they were unprepared, and described how they might have made different choices had they known what was coming. 
Public figures and academics wrote harsh critiques on Facebook of his decision to downplay the risk of an invasion, saying he bears at least some responsibility for the atrocities that followed. 
 ...Many Ukrainians took exception to the implication that Zelensky had prioritized the health of the economy over their well-being, and suggested that many lives might have been saved had the government adequately prepared the population for war. 
...The lack of warning for civilians living in the threatened areas, and especially those with children, the elderly and those with impaired mobility, was “not a glitch, not a mistake, not an unfortunate misunderstanding, not a strategic miscalculation — it is a crime,” said Ukrainian author Kateryna Babkina. 
 ...Even those who said they understood why Zelenskyy didn’t want to provoke panic said they nonetheless wondered whether there were steps that could have been taken to alleviate the impact of the invasion — from preparing blood banks to digging trenches along the northern border to prevent Russian troops from overrunning many towns and villages before they were halted outside Kyiv.
...“My biggest question is about the level of atrocities we saw, and I think about whether they could have been prevented,” said Oksana, who did not vote for Zelenskyy but now supports him wholeheartedly as the leader Ukraine needs to win the war. 
“It will damage us to discuss this now,” she said. “Ukraine is winning because of our belief in the president and our armed forces. So I’m ready to wait for the explanation until after we win the war.”
And then? 
“Then we start asking questions,” she said. “There are questions that need answers because this is the society we are fighting for — a society of accountability.” 
Yes, there will be a reckoning, undoubtedly. 
One of the comments about this article mentioned the decision Churchill made during World War 2, when he did not warn Coventry about a devastating bombing raid because he did not want to alert Germany that England had broken the Enigma code. 
I was also thinking of that decision while I was reading this article. It was years after WW2 before anyone knew of this, and history may now agree that Churchill's decision to protect such a secret was worth the lives lost during that bombing raid. Even so, by the time the war ended, the British public were tired of Churchill and he lost the first election after the war.
I don't know if Ukraine will ultimately agree that Zelenskyy's decision to maintain Ukraine's capacity and willingness to fight was worth the lives of the thousands who did not evacuate or prepare for occupation. Zelenskyy did not evacuate his own family either, even when the US wanted him to; his courage is undisputed, and his patriotism for his country. As he said in the Washington Post interview linked to above, "Our land is the only thing we have. We will stay here together."
August 24 is Ukraine Independence Day. I hope these dire predictions do not come true!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Today's News: Night and day

I don't have a lot to talk about tonight, but I read a couple of articles today and I was struck by the contrast in these descriptions - the leadership Biden shows in dealing with Russia's war against Ukraine, compared to the ridiculous, childish ineptitude of Trump.
Here is Biden developing the complicated strategy of defending Ukraine without starting World War 3, as described by the Washington Post:
Using mounted maps on easels in front of the Resolute Desk, Milley showed Russian troop positions and the Ukrainian terrain they intended to conquer. It was a plan of staggering audacity, one that could pose a direct threat to NATO’s eastern flank, or even destroy the post-World War II security architecture of Europe.
...As he absorbed the briefing, Biden, who had taken office promising to keep the country out of new wars, was determined that Putin must either be deterred or confronted, and that the United States must not act alone. Yet NATO was far from unified on how to deal with Moscow, and U.S. credibility was weak. 
....Months later, Milley still carried in his briefcase note cards encapsulating the U.S. interests and strategic objectives discussed at the October briefing. He could recite them off the top of his head.
Problem: “How do you underwrite and enforce the rules-based international order” against a country with extraordinary nuclear capability, “without going to World War III?” 
No. 1: “Don’t have a kinetic conflict between the U.S. military and NATO with Russia.” 
No. 2: “Contain war inside the geographical boundaries of Ukraine.” 
No. 3: “Strengthen and maintain NATO unity.” 
No. 4: “Empower Ukraine and give them the means to fight.” 
Biden’s advisers were confident Ukraine would put up a fight. 
Compare Biden's articulate, thoughtful and courageous approach with how Trump acts, as described by David Roth:
By this point in our national relationship with Donald Trump, everyone who is not paid to pretend otherwise pretty much knows what he does and why. 
...[Trump] does everything he does for one reason, which is that he wants to do it at the moment it occurs to him to want it; that simple flash of want, which chirps out at periodic intervals like the sounds a smoke detector makes when its battery is dying, justifies anything that he takes or tries simply by virtue of its existence. ...raw spite and aimless resentment and relentless self-centered entitlement... 
Without Biden, Ukraine would have had no chance. It is terrible to contemplate.
Here's a ridiculous "take" on Biden's success:
Here's a little more fun: And in response to CBC pearl-clutching: They're back, baby!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Today's News: Updates from all over

Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act today -- and Biden is no dummy, unexpectedly handing Manchin the pen even though Schumer and Pelosi are right there too. In spite of how the Dems are hopeful that the 2022 elections will give Dems a larger Senate majority, there's always a chance that Manchin will again hold the balance of power so this could be a gesture that he will remember. I love the relationship between Biden and Obama: (I assume everyone is up on the memes for "Big Fucking Deal" and "Thanks Obama".) As with Trudeau, the American media also search for something, ANYTHING, to rag on Biden about. The New York Times is now entranced by Biden's sunglasses - maybe because they help him emit too much Dark Brandon energy? Who knows, but let's try to make it into a scandal somehow: And speaking of politicians, here's a statement from the mayor of Petterborough about the yahoos this weekend who wanted to arrest the police force:

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Today's News: May you live in interesting times

"May you live in interesting times" is the apocryphal curse that threatens trouble, war and chaos -- and our times are getting a little too interesting now, aren't they?  
In his The Atlantic newsletter tonight, Tom Nichols writes: 
Compared with the bizarre ideas and half-baked wackiness that now infest American political life, the arguments between the North and the South [in the Civil War] look like a deep treatise on government.
The United States now faces a different kind of violence, from people who believe in nothing—or at least, in nothing real. 
...[we face] random threats and unpredictable dangers from people among us who spend too much time watching television and plunging down internet rabbit holes. These people, acting individually or in small groups, will be led not by rebel generals but by narcissistic wannabe heroes, and they will be egged on by cowards and instigators who will inflame them from the safety of a television or radio studio—or from behind the shield of elected office. Occasionally, they will congeal into a mob, as they did on January 6, 2021. 
...They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives...their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots. 
What makes this situation worse is that there is no remedy for it. When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them. 
Nichols goes on to talk about what Trump means to these people. 
Now, I have been saying for years that Trump is really just a Golden Calf -- without any philosophy or principle himself, he can just reflect the greed, anger, fear and hatred of his followers, and they love him for it.  But Nichols writing today helps me understand how the Trump phenomenon in the US also relates to what Maxime Bernier is doing with the People's Party, and where Pierre Poilievre intends to take the Conservatives when he becomes their leader:
Donald Trump is central to this fraying of public sanity, because he has done one thing for such people that no one else could do: He has made their lives interesting. 
He has made them feel important. He has taken their itching frustrations about the unfairness of life and created a morality play around them, and cast himself as the central character. 
Trump, to his supporters, is the avenging angel who is going to lay waste to the “elites,” the smarty-pantses and do-gooders, the godless and the smug, the satisfied and the comfortable. 
I spoke with one of the original Never Trumpers over the weekend, a man who has lost friends and family because of his opposition to Trump, and he told me that one of the most unsettling things to him is that these same pro-Trump family and friends now say that they believe that Trump broke the law — but that they don’t care. They see Trump and his crusade — their crusade against evil, the drama that gives their lives meaning — as more important than the law. 
I have heard similar sentiments among people I know. 
Some of these people are ready to snap and to resort to violence. A Navy veteran in Ohio was killed in a standoff last week after he attacked the Cincinnati FBI office; a man in Pennsylvania was arrested and charged today for threatening to “slaughter” federal agents, whom he called “police state scum.” But that doesn’t stop charlatans and con artists from throwing matches at the fuses every day, because those hucksters, too, have decided that living a normal life and working a straight job is for saps. They will gladly risk the occasional explosion here and there if it means living the good life off of donations and purchases from their marks. 
When enough Americans decide that a cult of personality matters more than a commitment to democracy, we risk becoming a lawless autocracy. 
Finally, Nichols writes about what must happen with the Justice Department investigations, and how important it is to bring charges against Trump and his gang - not to quell the violence that he thinks will just get worse anyway, but to hold the line of what is right:
This is why we must continue to demand that Trump and his enablers face the consequences of their actions: To cave in the face of threats means the end of democracy. And it would not, in any event, mollify those among our fellow citizens who have chosen to discard the Constitution so that they can keep mainlining jolts of drama from morning ’til night. 
We are going to be living in this era of political violence for the foreseeable future. All any of us can do is continue, among our friends and family and neighbors, to say and defend what is right in the face of lies and delusions.
I have read a number of comments on twitter recently about how people are trying to push back against the fantasies they hear from former friends or families. Its not easy - there is a QAnon Casualties reddit group with 241K members who talk about how to deprogram family members sucked into conspiracy theories. I wish everyone could see Trump this way: