Rogers Ailes, Hillary Clinton and Me

The Fox News makeup treatment is unlike any other in journalism. It involves false lashes, layers and layers of foundation and heavy applications of come-hither lip gloss.

.. Sexing up female reporters — even those from The New York Times — was part of the Fox News look as conceived by Roger Ailes

.. he had specific ideas about how women should treat him off-camera, as well.

While Mr. Ailes doled out attractive female anchors in revealing outfits as eye candy, his empire thrived partly on its audience’s widespread fear of the only woman who has ever had a real shot at the presidency, the person I was there that day to discuss: Hillary Clinton.

.. Over two decades, Fox News made Mrs. Clinton one of the longest-running villains on TV. Mr. Ailes would rewrite her part over the years:

  • In the 1990s, she was a bra-burning affront to stay-at-home mothers;
  • in her Senate race, she was an entitled wife riding on her husband’s coattails;
  • by the 2008 primary, she was Lady MacBeth, desperate to star in her own production.

.. But Fox News also gave something to Mrs. Clinton: proof of the “vast right-wing conspiracy

.. If there was any poetic justice, it was that a woman caused the downfall of Mr. Ailes in the end.

How French “Intellectuals” Ruined The West: Postmodernism and its Impact, Explained

Postmodernism presents a threat not only to liberal democracy but to modernity itself. That may sound like a bold or even hyperbolic claim, but the reality is that the cluster of ideas and values at the root of postmodernism have broken the bounds of academia and gained great cultural power in western society. The irrational and identitarian “symptoms” of postmodernism are easily recognizable and much criticized, but the ethos underlying them is not well understood. This is partly because postmodernists rarely explain themselves clearly and partly because of the inherent contradictions and inconsistencies of a way of thought which denies a stable reality or reliable knowledge to exist.

.. They underlie the problems we see today in Social Justice Activism, undermine the credibility of the Left and threaten to return us to an irrational and tribal “pre-modern” culture.

.. It drew on avant-garde and surrealist art and earlier philosophical ideas, particularly those of Nietzsche and Heidegger

.. Above all, postmodernists attacked science and its goal of attaining objective knowledge about a reality which exists independently of human perceptions which they saw as merely another form of constructed ideology dominated by bourgeois, western assumptions

.. The modern era is the period of history which saw Renaissance Humanism, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the development of liberal values and human rights; the period when Western societies gradually came to value reason and science over faith and superstition as routes to knowledge, and developed a concept of the person as an individual member of the human race deserving of rights and freedoms rather than as part of various collectives subject to rigid hierarchical roles in society.

.. the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy denies this and says “Rather, its differences lie within modernity itself, and postmodernism is a continuation of modern thinking in another mode

.. If we see the essence of modernity as the development of science and reason as well as humanism and universal liberalism, postmodernists are opposed to it.

.. If we see modernity as the tearing down of structures of power including feudalism, the Church, patriarchy, and Empire, postmodernists are attempting to continue it,

but their targets are now science, reason, humanism and liberalism.

.. postmodernism are inherently political and revolutionary, albeit in a destructive or, as they would term it, deconstructive way.

.. He defined the postmodern condition as “an incredulity towards metanarratives.” A metanarrative is a wide-ranging and cohesive explanation for large phenomena. Religions and other totalizing ideologies are metanarratives in their attempts to explain the meaning of life or all of society’s ills.

.. For Foucault, discourses control what can be “known” and in different periods and places, different systems of institutional power control discourses.

.. “The individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces.”[2]  He leaves almost no room for individual agency or autonomy.

.. He presents medieval feudalism and modern liberal democracy as equally oppressive, and advocates criticizing and attacking institutions to unmask the “political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them.”

.. shared humanity and individuality are almost entirely absent. Instead, people are constructed by their position in relation to dominant cultural ideas either as oppressors or oppressed.

.. We see too the equation of language with violence and coercion and the equation of reason and universal liberalism with oppression.

.. Derrida’s best-known pronouncement “There is no outside-text” relates to his rejection of the idea that words refer to anything straightforwardly. Rather, “there are only contexts without any center of absolute anchoring.” [5]

.. Therefore the author of a text is not the authority on its meaning. The reader or listener makes their own equally valid meaning

.. Man” is positive and ‘woman’ negative. “Occident” is positive and “Orient” negative. He insisted that “We are not dealing with the peaceful co-existence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy.

.. Deconstruction, therefore, involves inverting these perceived hierarchies, making “woman” and “Orient” positive and “man” and “Occident” negative. This is to be done ironically to reveal the culturally constructed and arbitrary nature of these perceived oppositions in unequal conflict.

.. We see in Derrida further relativity, both cultural and epistemic, and further justification for identity politics.

.. There is an explicit denial that differences can be other than oppositional and therefore a rejection of Enlightenment liberalism’s values of overcoming differences and focusing on universal human rights and individual freedom and empowerment.

.. The intention of the speaker is irrelevant. What matters is the impact of speech. This, along with Foucauldian ideas, underlies the current belief in the deeply damaging nature of “microaggressions” and misuse of terminology related to gender, race or sexuality.

.. intense sensitivity to language on the level of the word and a feeling that what the speaker means is less important than how it is received, no matter how radical the interpretation.

.. Morality is culturally relative, as is reality itself.

.. Empirical evidence is suspect and so are any culturally dominant ideas including science, reason, and universal liberalism. These are Enlightenment values which are naïve, totalizing and oppressive, and there is a moral necessity to smash them. Far more important is the lived experience, narratives and beliefs of “marginalized” groups all of which are equally “true” but must now be privileged over Enlightenment values to reverse an oppressive

.. we are at a unique point in history where the status quo is fairly consistently liberal, with a liberalism that upholds the values of freedom, equal rights and opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, race and sexuality. The result is confusion in which life-long liberals wishing to conserve this kind of liberal status quo find themselves considered conservative and those wishing to avoid conservatism at all costs find themselves defending irrationalism and illiberalism.

.. Whilst the first postmodernists mostly challenged discourse with discourse, the activists motivated by their ideas are becoming more authoritarian and following those ideas to their logical conclusion. Freedom of speech is under threat because speech is now dangerous. So dangerous that people considering themselves liberal can now justify responding to it with violence. The need to argue a case persuasively using reasoned argument is now often replaced with references to identity and pure rage.

.. one wonders why Derrida bothered to explain the infinite malleability of texts at such length if I could read his entire body of work and claim it to be a story about bunny rabbits with the same degree of authority.

.. If I judge that tennis balls do not fit into wine bottles, can you show precisely how it is that my gender, historical and spatial location, class, ethnicity, etc., undermine the objectivity of this judgement?” 

.. “When I had occasion to ask her whether or not it was a fact that giraffes are taller than ants, she replied that it was not a fact, but rather an article of religious faith in our culture.”

.. There is something very odd indeed in the belief that in looking, say, for causal laws or a unified theory, or in asking whether atoms really do obey the laws of quantum mechanics, the activities of scientists are somehow inherently ‘bourgeois’ or ‘Eurocentric’ or ‘masculinist’, or even ‘militarist.’”

.. Despite this, science as a methodology is not going anywhere. It cannot be “adapted” to include epistemic relativity and “alternative ways of knowing.”

.. The social sciences and humanities, however, are in danger of changing out of all recognition.

.. Empirical historians are often criticized by the postmodernists among us for claiming to know what really happened in the past

.. Christopher Butler recalls Diane Purkiss’ accusation that Keith Thomas was enabling a myth that grounded men’s historical identity in “the powerlessness and speechlessness of women” when he provided evidence that accused witches were usually powerless beggar women. Presumably, he should have claimed, against the evidence, that they were wealthy women or better still, men.

.. Shakespeare’s audience’s would not have found Desdemona’s attraction to Black Othello, who was Christian and a soldier for Venice, so difficult to understand because prejudice against skin color did not become prevalent until a little later in the seventeenth century when the Atlantic Slave Trade gained steam

.. Postmodernist thought sees the culture as containing a number of perpetually competing stories, whose effectiveness depends not so much on an appeal to an independent standard of judgement, as upon their appeal to the communities in which they circulate.”

.. the far-Right is now using identity politics and epistemic relativism in a very similar way to the postmodern-Left.

..  sections of academia and of the left have in recent decades helped create a culture in which relativized views of facts and knowledge seem untroubling, and hence made it easier for the reactionary right not just to re-appropriate but also to promote reactionary ideas.”

.. making itself harder for reasonable people to support.

.. we need to out-discourse the postmodern-Left. We need to meet their oppositions, divisions and hierarchies with universal principles of freedom, equality and justice.

.. We must address concerns about immigration, globalism and authoritarian identity politics currently empowering the far- Right rather than calling people who express them “racist,” “sexist” or “homophobic” and accusing them of wanting to commit verbal violence. We can do this whilst continuing to oppose authoritarian factions of the Right who genuinely are racist, sexist and homophobic,

Reading Bill O’Reilly’s Old Novel About a TV Newsman Who Murders Several People After Losing His Job

The main character is a violently bitter journalist named Shannon Michaels, who, after being pushed out of two high-profile positions, takes revenge on four of his former colleagues by murdering them one by one.

.. rants about ex-wives, newsroom politics, and the Long Island Expressway

.. a veteran newsman preys upon a younger female co-worker in the very first scene.

.. struggling with a “basic human need, the need for some kind of physical release.” Costello spots a pretty camerawoman at a party, happily notes that she’s had too much vodka, and approaches her with “intense sexual hunger.”

.. Then the vengeful Michaels kills Costello by shoving a silver spoon through the roof of his mouth and into his brain.

.. the feud between Michaels and Costello in “Those Who Trespass” is based on O’Reilly’s experience at CBS, in the eighties, during the Falkland Islands War. O’Reilly and his crew had captured exclusive footage of a riot in Buenos Aires, which CBS spliced into a report delivered by the veteran network correspondent Bob Schieffer, who never mentioned O’Reilly by name.

.. spends the next decade plotting his revenge.

.. O’Reilly’s first avatar within the novel: a horny, aggressive, ambitious Irish-American who delivers monologue after monologue about the “self-obsessed business” of television news. (“People who are greedy for power realize that television is the most influential tool ever created,” he says.

.. Tommy O’Malley, who is also horny, aggressive, ambitious, and Irish. O’Malley is an “intense man, sometimes quick to anger.” He arrests a drug dealer and breaks his thumb out of spite: “That must really hurt, he thought, giving in to a feel of sadistic pleasure.” He really hates inner-city teen-agers. (“These thugs killed with a casualness that O’Malley could not comprehend.”) For the duration of the story, as Michaels goes about murdering colleagues who have slighted him, O’Malley, the good guy, is hot on his trail.

.. Like both Michaels and O’Malley, Van Buren is horny, aggressive, and ambitious. Unlike them, she’s not an avatar for O’Reilly but an object onto which he projects a whole host of suspect qualities. “Ashley Van Buren knew her good looks were partially responsible for her rapid rise,” O’Reilly writes

.. In her first conversation with O’Malley, trying to get information about the murder on Martha’s Vineyard, the blond Van Buren deploys both a “deep, sexy tone” and a “teasing voice.”

.. Van Buren is the only major female character in the novel. (An “unattractive woman” named Hillary appears briefly, before Michaels knocks her out and throws her body out the window into an alley.) It’s almost funny how utterly the character of Van Buren unmasks her author: she is conveniently and perpetually sexually frustrated, and she is happy to be seen as an object of desire while she’s at work. She’s dying for a real man to make real advances upon her. In one entirely unnecessary flashback, she invites a date to her apartment, takes off her bra, licks her lips at the sight of her reflection—“her unrestrained breasts were full and firm . . . and her nipples were clearly outlined”—and then pouts when her date won’t take the hint. Over the course of the investigation, she becomes attracted to both O’Malley and Michaels; when she sleeps with Michaels, she silently marvels at “Shannon’s stamina.”

.. it’s full of recognizable pet ideas. Housing projects are “moral sinkholes”; inner-city children are “unfeeling predators.” A Latino detective succeeds in his department because “his strategy included overlooking petty crap like prejudice.”

.. It’s impossible to take in the steady stream of coldly rendered violence in O’Reilly’s novel without remembering his daughter’s court testimony that he choked his ex-wife and dragged her down the stairs by the neck.

.. Being on TV was like a drug to him and when it was taken away from him, he had to find a substitute drug

What Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale Prefer to Ignore

To picture a near-future United States that is a Christian theocracy with open, systematic, and brutal oppression of women, you have to picture some unbelievable changes occurring very quickly: repealing women’s right to vote; a re-acceptance of slavery; widespread Christian acceptance of government-mandated extramarital sexual intercourse; total repeal of the First Amendment; total bans on any other religious beliefs (there are references to “Baptist rebels”). Perhaps most absurdly, almost all men have accepted a regime where the only sexual outlet of any kind is government-monitored breeding with the fertile “handmaids,” reserved for the most powerful

Do you picture lots of American men signing on for asystem that denies them the freedom to have sex with women? You really have to have your “all men have fascist impulses just under their skin” blinders on tohear that and nod, “Oh, yeah, that could totally happen.”

But Margaret Atwood could have set her tale in other places and made it practically a modern-day documentary: say, Saudi Arabia. Or any corner ofTaliban-controlled Afghanistan.

.. Married women may not obtain a passport or travel outside the country without the written permission of their husbands.

.. Iran

.. The UN Children’s Rights Committee reported in March that the age of marriage for girls is 13, that sexual intercourse with girls as young as nine lunar years was not criminalized, and that judges had discretion torelease some perpetrators of so-called honor killings without any punishment. Child marriage—though not the norm—continues, as the law allows girls to marry at 13 and boys at age 15, as well as at younger ages if authorized by a judge. Authorities continue to prevent girls and women from attending certain sporting events, including men’s soccer and volleyball matches.

.. The world has plenty of awful places that can be fairly compared to Atwood’s fictional dystopian regime of Gilead. They’re just mostly Muslim.

Does This Administration Know What It Doesn’t Know?

.. Take a look at President Trump’s inner circle: Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Senior Counselor Steve Bannon, First Daughter Ivanka, First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner, Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn, and Counselor Kellyanne Conway…

Only Pence has spent any significant time dealing with the federal government from the inside as aCongressman. Most of those figures have been around politics, but haven’t necessarily been around government. And obviously, Trump himself has never worked in government.

.. That’s my best explanation about how the administration could spend weeks trying to figure out how to fund and pass a massive infrastructure bill, while at the same time, at least $20 billion worth of big energy-infrastructure projects — 15 of them in 14 states, all 100 percent privately funded and all holding the potential to create thousands of new construction jobs — are sitting in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, awaiting approval. FERC can’t give approval until it has a quorum, which it has lacked since the beginning of February.

The blame can’t be put on the Senate for taking too long with the nominees; the administration hasn’t nominated anyone yet.

.. The administration has a big, public promise — rebuild America’s infrastructure! — and an easy way to get toit, by staffing up FERC and getting those projects approved. But they’re simply not getting around to it because… they’re just not on top of things.

.. So Trump said his assessment of NATO’s obsolescence was based on not knowing much about it, and now he knows more and feels NATO is improving.