[ by Charles Cameron — politics is the straightforward topic, metaphor is the metalanguage we use to describe it, and reveals more than it refers to ].
More chyrons &c from yesterday’s haul:
With regard to that last one:
On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted the headline to a recent Washington Examiner story, which read: “Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.’” As the headline suggests, the story is about a New Mexico rancher who claims to have seen prayer rugs—typically used by observers of Islam—near the U.S.-Mexico border. After the headline, Trump added this: “People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.”
His decision to amplify the Examiner piece has since come under scrutiny. Why? Because the prayer-rug story sounds an awful lot like something that happens in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, as several people have pointed out on Twitter.
The 2018 action film, which revolves around the drug war along the border, opens with border agents chasing after a group of migrants—one of whom turns out to be a Muslim suicide bomber. He kneels, prays, then detonates his bomb. After that, agents come across abandoned prayer rugs along the border; in the next scene, three suicide bombers walk into a store in Kansas City and kill innocent civilians.
A case of Matryoshka realities:
The particular interest here from a formal point of view is that it is Borgesian or Escherian in its flipping of realities — but that only makes the Islamophobia more poisonous, because it’s delivered in what’s effectively a subliminal manner.
More chyrons etc:
And the suggestions Melber’s viewers made for art illustrative of the Mueller probe:
That whole painting series relates back to the Ari Melber conversation I quoted in the previous post, in which his guests suggested the Mueller probe and Giuliani in particular reminded them of Impressionism, Cubism and Jackson Pollock, surrealism, and Salvador Dali with his melting clocks..
Need to slip this in, it’s excerpted from my transcription of a clip of Hakeem Jeffries of the House Judiciary Cttee questioning Whitaker:
Manafort. Gates, Cohen, Papanopoulos, and Stone. All in deep trouble. One by one, All the President’s Men, going down in flames. It’s often said, where there’s smoke there’s fire. There’s a lot of smoke emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue now. Yet. You decided not to recuse yourself, is that right?
And I’m not sure when this exchange took place, but it’s Nicolle Wallace talking with Brennan, and the metaphor here comes from physics (Everett‘s many worlds theory) via science fiction:
What’s it like to live in these parallel worlds, where the President doesn’t just want to have whatever policy he wants, he wants whatever facts he chooses to pursue that policy..
The President. Nicolle says, doesn’t want facts, he wants — let’s call them ficts.
And Nicolle to Brennan again:
You’ve been warning about this sort of lurch towards autocratic behaviors — one of them is bashing the intelligence community, one of them is bashing law enforcement and the rule if low, another one is bashing the media..
Bash, bash, bash.
Here are a few more chyrons from yesterday:
And here’s a first chyron from today — this one continuing the shift of metaphoric emphasis from sports and games to warfare, the metaphor Trump uses is landmines.. metaphorically invoking hidden dangers that suddenly appear to attack you when you least expect it:
[ by Charles Cameron — all the way through to Roger Stone and a clip from Godfather II ]
First, in the place of honor, this brilliant sign protesting the government shutdown. Ouroboric in form, simple, succinct, pithy:
That’s a protest haiku, if ever I saw one, in a detail from the original photo.
And while we’re on the topic of haikus, chyrons — those texts at the foot of TV screens — are the haiku of news media. Here are some I’ve collected recently — I’ll add more here as we go, since adding them in the comments section requires tweeting them so as to have a URL to work with..
As I’ve said elsewhere, that Carter Page, Michael Caputo, Sam Nunberg, Jerome Corsi joint interview by Ari Melber was fantastic television.
I generally pick chyrons to screengrab for their game or war metaphors, but pithy and witty will get me every time.
Kelly O’Donnell (immediately above) said memorably, “It’s a sort of dueling banjos of legislation..”
And now, the Roger Stone indictment, with its movie reference. There have been plenty of pundits an news anchors referencing the Godfather movies, and that “textbook mob tactics” reference from the new chairmen of the Oversight and Intel committees. but AFAIK this is the first such reference from the Mueller team in a court document, and notable as such.
Plus I guess I’ll need to revisit the Godfather series to keep up with current affairs..
[ by Charles Cameron — Halloween greetings, and a pre-midterm reminder of what demagoguery brings ]
The box is a box of Halloween humor, a slight thing and entirely innocent, designed to delight with a nostaligic frisson on Halloweens past.. Spooky Halloween Feel Boxes for Adults: Put your hand in — preferably with eyes averted or blindfold — and feel, as in touchy-feel..
Among the sensations you are invited to feel.. cold spaghetti.. worms in a fishing box.. you get the idea.
My first association, when I saw a pointer to this article was the Gom Jabbar in Dune — a box containing pain, increasing pain. Should the candidate withdraw his hand from the box, he dies by cyanide needle, and the only means of survival is the ability to overcome instinct, which Paul Atreides manages by recitation of the Litany against Fear:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Here’s the movie version:
The very idea of boxes filled with feelings is, to my mind, a fine one to explore, in humor, as in the New Yorker piece, or in deadly earnest, as in Frank Herbert‘s masterpiece, Dune.
But then, reading Colin Stokes and Ellis Rosen‘s NYorker humor piece, I came inevitably to this image:
I said inevitably, perhaps unavoidably would have been keener to the point. I couldn’t avoid my second association.
On reading her poem itself again after so many years, after reading it aloud to audiences on various occasions, after one miraculous night in the early eighties when I heard her read in LA, after reading her American Poetry Review piece about the experiences inn Al Salvador that lead to this particular poem and others — The Memory of Elena with its unforgettable paella among them — that second and more powerful association was to:
What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
Humor has darkened to tragedy — tragedy does not suffice to speak of this horror — the box of touchy-feelies has become the Colonel’s grocery sack spilled on the floor, dried apricots are dried peach halves — despite the differences, the associative leap was, for me, inevitable.
And far too All Hallows Eve appropriate for comfort..
it was the fact that Lally scrubs lecture halls, offices, and a library at Trinity every morning, rising at 4:45 am, and cleaning from 6 am to 9:30 am, before returning home to care for her infant daughter, that brought her international media attention.
Nota bene: I am not the first to note the parallel between Good Will Hunting‘s plot line and this year’s Rooney Prize story — but the pair of them also make for an exemplary DoubleQuote example, eh?
[ by Charles Cameron — after Sen Jeff Flake’s elevator epiphany and meet-up with his friend Chris Coons ]
What the nation got in the Flake-Coons accord is, at long last, a rare example of principle, empathy, bipartisan comity, seriousness, and leadership that holds at least a chance of preserving fairness and a shred of the Senate’s reputation. Pray that it’s not just a moment. https://t.co/fgA6ue89EQ
A deeply divided Senate Judiciary Committee advanced President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, but final confirmation will depend on a reopened FBI inquiry.
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was all set to move unimpeded through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning.
Then Jeff Flake had a sudden change of heart.
Hours after declaring his support for Kavanaugh, the Arizona Republican simultaneously voted to advance the nomination in committee while warning party leadership that he would oppose President Trump’s nominee in a crucial floor vote unless and until the FBI conducts a further investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high-school party in 1982.
MTP Daily, 9/28/2018:
This is a Republican who’s retiring, this is a Republican who’s more free of the political calculus ..
In the political calculus of the moment ..
“We respect her” is the new “thoughts and prayers” ..
The Beat, with Ari Melber:
Within hours of that confrontation, Senator Flake did something we rarely see in this choreographed, partisanship era ..
In this moment, we are watching Hollywood take the high ground over the United States government. That’s a huge red flag. That’s not how this should work.The government should be holding the higher moral standard, and Hollywood it.
This guy shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car.
That was the Twilight Zone A Few Good Men. It’s like, he thought he had the closing speech in A Few Good Men, but for a lot of the country he was in a different movie ..
Tell me how the sequence worked that led to this overtime in the game, so to speak ..
It does seem they’ve got the fire power, the candle power ..
what kind of pandora’s box ..
You get two supreme court nominees in the ideology of your liking, that’s sort of like a pitcher in the major leagues winning over 20 games, i mean that’as a hell of a season, and now that season’s in real jeopardy ..
the tip box is big, and it’s open ..
next up, a hairline fracture in the partisanship that has come to define American politics ..
he’s not intimidated by the 9 out of 10 republicans who back trump in every single thing; the others are hog-tied ..
i was struck by a profile in democracy — here was a guy who held an elevator door. senators have their own elevators in order to keep those people out..
battle of the genders looks like a draw ..
sen klobuchar: the constitution does not say, We the ruling party, she constitution says, We the people..
All In with Chris Hayes 9/28/2018:
Sen Hirono: the FBI investigation has to be complete. It can’t be some cursory kind of investigation that gives cover to some wavering senators. It’s got to be real ..
a lot of people felt like something was wrong and breaking, i mean, wrong in that it felt like there was a kind of torture being imposed on dr blasey ford .. profound legitimacy crisis that we’re watching happen in slow motion ..
it does feel as though something is fundamentally breaking, and I almost appreciate the fact that in the end the republicans took the mask off, and stopped allowing their prosecutor to ask questions, they decided to turn it into a big political show you saw what their endgame was, not really getting to the truth, but doing whatever was necessary to try to jam him through ..
He has fought back viciously by calling his opponents names like “saboteur,” “idiot” and “pedophile.” Now, Tesla chief Elon Musk is embracing the same kind of combative approach to wage the fight of his career against the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Musk is as close to sainthood as one can get in Silicon Valley, a sci-fi virtuoso who has captured imaginations with gambles on soaring rockets, electric supercars and brain-computer links. A critical element of his cult of personality: He rarely backs down from a fight.
That last paragraph has an interesting four-part evaluation of Musk: close to sainthood .. sci-f- virtuoso .. cult of personality — fight. If I was setting that para to music, it would definitely be on a descending arpeggio..
In both the original and the replay, the same Washington D.C. reporter, whose parents were Communist Party members connected to Soviet atomic spies and who were under FBI surveillance for decades, teamed up with the same second D.C. reporter, who was outed as an “FBI asset,” to take down a sitting Republican President of the United States.
In both instances the “unnamed source” leaking information to these two reporters turned out to be the Deputy Director of the FBI.
This is a remake.
Some of the players have even reprised their old roles.
[ .. ]
This is stunning – decades apart in time two separate FBI Deputy Directors leaked information about the then-sitting President of the United States to a pair of reporters, one of whom hails from a family intertwined with the Soviet spy ring that handed America’s nuclear secrets to Joseph Stalin and the other of whom was an “FBI asset.”
Both of these FBI Deputy Directors had to know with whom they were dealing.
A brace of interesting articles, both by John Seabrook:
Captain Daniel Gerard, who took over Vortex in the fall of 2007, didn’t put much stock in their ideas. As he said, “Academia and law enforcement are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They like theories, we like results.”
Kennedy was tall and slim, and in the dark clothes he favored there was something about him of the High Plains Drifter -— the mysterious stranger who blows into town one day and makes the bad guys go away. He wore a grizzled beard and had thick, unbound hair that cascaded halfway down his back. “What’s some guy who looks like Jesus got to tell us about crime in Cincinnati?” was the line around police headquarters.
Kennedy had been approached by Dr. Victor Garcia, the head of the trauma unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who was seeing almost daily the effects of the city’s violent gangs: the stabbings, shootings, and beatings, and the injuries to innocent children caught in the crossfire. “Children with their eyes shot out, children paralyzed,” Garcia told me. “I started to wonder, instead of treating injuries, how can we prevent them from happening in the first place?”
Often, much of the violence is caused by gang dynamics: score settling, vendettas, and turf issues, all played out according to the law of the streets.
Whalen explained to me the C.P.D.’s distinction between social workers and cops: “Social people hug thugs. We kick their butts.”
I particularly appreciate the echo of ““Academia and law enforcement are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They like theories, we like results” in “Whalen explained to me the C.P.D.’s distinction between social workers and cops: “Social people hug thugs. We kick their butts.””
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.