Conservative Does Not Mean Far-Right

When I use the term “far-right” to describe someone or something in politics, it’s partly as an accurate description of the shift towards nationalism, race-baiting policy and figurehead populism, but partly as a get-out clause to my conservative friends and family.

I have no issues with conservative, centre-right or right-wing ideologies.

Well, that’s not strictly true, I do have issues with them, but ones that deserve debate and discussion because some conservative ideas have merit and are worthy enough of discussion. And we can’t all be the same, because that would be dull.

America is becoming increasingly politically divided, largely due to the ruling party and their pesky nationalistic tendencies. I really shouldn’t use the word “pesky” to describe nationalism. It’s like saying Hitler was a naughty little boy who didn’t play well with others — It just sounds so wrong.

With these divisions I fully understand that people who’re politically centre-right and right-wing exist. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the majority of people who voted for Trump in 2016 belong to one of these two groups.

Only the zaniest group of his supporters actually want immigrant children to be caged, American children to be shot as a “price for freedom”, and innocents to be murdered in the name of their political beliefs. Only his absolute far-right followers want to commit acts of domestic terrorism.

I bet that most of the people who voted for him even understand that the giant wall is a false-promise pipe-dream, of a man who goes all-in on the first solution that comes to his demented mind.

Besides, it’s a totally redundant idea. Construction wouldn’t finish until 2030, and Elon Musk invents teleportation in 2036. So it’s billions of dollars for what? Six years of hard-border security? Come on.

I use the term far-right to describe the people who actively want, and support, the above causes, because those are far-right solutions to very real problems. Maybe the whole “build that wall” policy could be argued as classic right-wing, if it weren’t conceived as an idea in chant-form, that then spread around rallies as a populist slogan for a man to achieve political office.

But allowing the slaughtering of American children in exchange for the illusion of freedom? Threatening news organisations with violence? Taking the commands of your leader and acting without specific instruction? Shooting your fellow American citizens because you believe that’s what your orange god would want? These acts, however bizarrely they may be worded, are acts of the politically far-right.

So I say far-right to describe these acts. I don’t use far-right to describe other Trump policies, because they’re not and that would be reductive.

If you hate Trump for all of the above things, but are still glad you voted for him because he; Provided tax-breaks to the rich, backed-out of climate change agreements, defunded public services, and supported Republican candidates in the midterms. Well then congratulations! You’re a conservative. Classic right-wing all the way.

Of course I have issues with those policies, but I’m a filthy liberal, so of course I do. But right now I would absolutely take a ruling party that’s nothing more than classic conservative. There are issues to be debated, arguments to be proven right or wrong, protests to be had that would fight for the continued existence of our very planet.

There’s barely any debate or discussion to be had with someone who fundamentally thinks that you shouldn’t be in their country because you don’t share their beliefs or skin colour. How do you debate tax policy with someone who genuinely believes that some humans have more of a right to life than others? You can’t.

Politics in a strong democracy should be an eternal balancing act based on the genuine will of the majority of citizens. It shouldn’t be a race to the bottom; A popularity contest to see who can drum up the most support through vague statements and nationalistic slogans.

American politics should be purple — A group of elected officials who argue on behalf of the people who brought them to the dance. Poorer districts should send strong leaders from their own communities, who will fight tooth and nail for funding. Instead, they have historically sent lesser, rich outsiders who will say anything for a shot at power.

Leaders can be charismatic, absolutely. A strong public speaker will presumably then use that voice to fight on behalf of their constituents. But if that charisma is used only to serve an individual ego, that’s when the danger shifts occur.

“Danger shifts”, I used a lot of decent and appropriate terminology and then I go and write something like “danger shifts”. Language is about communicating a point though, and I think “danger shifts” does so effectively.

When the majority of us use the label of far-right, we don’t mean all Trump voters, conservatives or Republicans. Maybe some people do, but they don’t represent centrists, liberals or lefties. Just like the far-right, domestic terrorists and their enablers don’t represent the traditional right-wing.

We don’t have to be who people at the top say we are.

Although a lot of people who sit in the old-school right-wing territory are going to have to ask themselves some questions before 2020, particularly if terror attacks in the name of their president increase during that time.

How long will I stand by and put my name beside the party that encourages this?

How much does winning matter to me? And am I genuinely getting the policy I want from my party?

Should I protest my incumbent president by rooting for a genuine conservative politician to take his place?

I want the old debates back, I want tax-cuts for the rich vs tax-cuts for the poor. I want funding social services vs cutting. I want regulated immigration vs limited immigration.

“Beat the hell out of them”, “Enemy of the people”, “Nazis are good people”, “Proud nationalist”, “Grab ’em by the pussy” — I can’t handle that stuff anymore. I never thought I’d say this but… I really miss George Bush.

I use the term far-right to describe the far-right, and the only way we remove that cancer from our country is by unanimously agreeing that certain things are just too-far. I promise I’ll do the same if a communist leader ever takes office, because I happen to like being able to say whatever I want about the government.


Today is Tuesday, November 13th and I didn’t post anything yesterday and that’s okay.

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Did Jim Acosta?

Like, “accost her” — As in to approach someone aggressively, but also because his surname is Acosta. I know all the tabloids are probably running with that gag, but I read grown-up news (mostly), so I haven’t seen it yet. It’s early, give me a break.

This is the news that the White House has suspended the press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta, due to how he manhandled a white house intern. Live, HD footage shows that he didn’t and that he danced his arm around her to try and avoid unnecessary physical contact. Doctored, pixelated video shows him force his hand down on her arm.

It’s suspected that this footage was created by far-right blogger and Infowars editor-in-chief, Paul Joseph Watson, and shared on his channels. This is typical behaviour from him, a man who makes a living on conspiracy, and who thinks that smoking in a profile picture will make him look like a right, proper badass.

But, get this, the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, then shared the video as evidence in support of the removal of Jim Acosta’s press pass.

There’s a lot of Orwellian nightmare to unpack here, but first I want to clear something up about Jim Acosta and CNN. I don’t watch CNN, I don’t consider it to be an outstanding news source. It’s better than some but worse than others.

My main gripe with them is that they’re too easily baited by Trump, and the interactions between Trump and Acosta that lead to the microphone being taken from his hand by an intern are a prime example of this.

Acosta asked his question and got an answer that was damning for the President, it exposed that he was only really using the migrant caravans as bait for the midterms and now it’s in the past (so we won’t hear anything about them from Mr Trump going forward). Now, if Acosta had left it at that one question, and handed the microphone to the next reporter (who also had a question that exposed the President), then he wouldn’t have found himself in that situation.

<> on November 7, 2018 in Washington, DC.

In an open-forum press conference, the best way to create an accurate view of who Mr Trump is, is for each network to ask a question, and maybe one follow-up if the answer demands it. Acosta was onto his fourth question before the White House intern attempted to remove his microphone, and quite frankly we needed to hear from other news networks.

Despite what he says, Trump loves CNN. They gave him so much air-time during his 2016 campaign, and their outright negative portrayal of him certainly helped to fire-up his diehard supporters. He loves them because “no publicity is bad publicity”.

Covering Trump is obviously an uncharted minefield, but to the majority who can see through his charade of prejudice and projection, all we need is one perfectly worded question to be reminded of who he really is. Sure, with CNN constantly berating him, we see that he’s a bully, but we know he’s a bully — It’s the one established truth about him that even Republican voters have agreed with me on.

The back and forth between Trump and CNN is not healthy, and they share the blame equally. Despite what Trump says, their ratings are strong, and that’s because they cover Trump. Which, again, he loves.

Now, onto the “fake news”, a term that often means “thing I don’t agree with”, especially when it comes from the mouth of Trump. Whatever your definition of this terrifying phenomenon is, we can agree that doctored video would be an example of misinformation.

Well, that means the White House have shared Fake News, all to justify a decision they made. The edited video speeds up a few frames, to make the contact between Acosta and the intern look violent, and they also cut the audio where he says the words “pardon me m’am”.

Sarah Sanders sharing this video means one of two things; Either she knowingly did it, and was aware that this was edited footage, or she had no idea. The second option is, honestly, perfectly reasonable given how many people are falling for it online without viewing the original broadcast.

If she logged on to Twitter after the conference and saw a video that supported her administration’s decision, then of course she’s going to share it — Because it justifies her worldview, it’s evidence that backs-up the words of her and her colleagues.

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And this is the real danger of misinformation, and spreading it so readily, because many of us like being right, we like it when things go our way. This will only become more dangerous as technology advances and we inevitably reach a point where video editing doesn’t look so obvious.

I read websites like the BBC, The Guardian, AP and NPR — Not just because they largely report in ways that I consider ethical and are supported by multiple sources before they run a story, but also because people on both extremes of the spectrum accuse them of being “too liberal/too conservative”. If people are saying both of these things about your news network, then you’re doing your job.

It terrifies me that some people see a doctored video on Twitter, from a non-credible news source (Not even Infowars, just the personal Twitter account of a conspiracy theorist who works there!) and take it as the absolute truth that they’re willing to bet their morals on.

Please, if you’re reading these words — Use multiple and neutral sources for your news. Personal blogs (like this one) are not news sources, and Infowars is just a personal blog with financial backing, presented as the truth.

If you believe the words of people like Paul Joseph Watson, I’d love to have a one on one conversation with you, in order to understand you better. The only way we’re going to reduce the divide in this nation, is by understanding the perspectives of one another.

You’ve read my words, I don’t like Trump or CNN and I think on balance they were both in the wrong, and that the real enemy is misinformation — So now I want to hear from you.

This is all a dangerous situation, and while I don’t agree with the way Jim Acosta handled his allotted time for questioning, he certainly didn’t assault a White House intern. Although maybe he does deserve a time-out from his press-pass for another reason; Simply for being a below-par reporter in an age where we need precise and vigilant journalists who won’t fall for Trump’s Us vs Them bait.


Today is Friday, November 9th and while it has some of the best individual tracks, The White Album shouldn’t be considered as The Beatles’ best offering — It has a lot of guff.

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AMC: The ‘M’ stands for ‘Movie’

With announced TV-movies for both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, it’s as though some new, young executive at AMC has just discovered that long-form series aren’t the only medium for storytelling.

You get a movie, and you get a movie! All our beloved franchises get a movie!

As far as The Walking Dead goes I think this is the right decision for the brand. Robert Kirkman and co have established his world as the zombie fiction universe. We live in the age of franchises, more content is only a good thing. Hardcore fans will watch everything regardless of quality, and word will get out if a specific film or series has a narrative worth watching.

AMC did their usual bait and switch last Sunday, as they had teased the “departure of Rick Grimes”, declaring episode five of season nine as “Rick Grimes’ final episode”. I’d fallen for their tricks before (Glenn, dumpster), so I knew the character wasn’t going to die. But I was curious to see how they would write him out of a show in which death walks on two legs and is around every corner.

Rick has been taken somewhere else in America, so that Andrew Lincoln can star in three films set in The Walking Dead universe. The latest episode was the best written in some time, in fact, this whole series is the strongest the show has felt since season five.

On top of this, they’ve introduced a major time-jump after Rick’s departure, as a way of soft-rebooting the characters and allowing for completely new narratives. This is, presumably, thanks to new show-runner Angela Kang.

I can imagine a world where the old show-runner remained, and we then had a subsequent twelve episodes of our cast crying about Rick. A (minimum) five year time jump allows for the characters to change, and have moved on from the leadership of Rick Grimes. Although I doubt his memory will be at all forgotten.

These movies can be good if they’re kept to small, personal stories — Reminiscent of the first series of the show. Some of the best narratives in modern fiction have been low-concept, character-driven stories, set in high-concept, often post-apocalyptic worlds.

The Walking Dead is a universe filled with sprawling narratives, hundreds of characters, and plenty of comic books to still be adapted. Making TV-movies as spin-offs, that feature the central protagonist of the entire show, makes perfect sense for the franchise. More of those stories can be told, and the world can grow at a faster pace, ultimately pleasing the content-hungry fans.

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But what about Breaking Bad? A show often, and rightly, cited as the best open and close narrative in TV history. Breaking Bad is the very definition of golden-age television. Vince Gilligan took a simplistic, genius premise and allowed both his story and characters to breathe over the course of sixty episodes.

Breaking Bad wouldn’t have the same effect across a two-hour story. There would be room for all of the big scenes, but entire characters, sub-plots and beautiful, small moments would be lost.

Now, rumours are that the film will be about Jesse Pinkman, following the events of Breaking Bad. Even though I think his character’s eventual fate would be best left to speculation, and that more time spent with Jesse would weaken his characterisation, I also didn’t think an entire show about Saul Goodman was necessary, but it remains compelling television.

My main issue here isn’t Gilligan’s need to return to his established universe, but that we’re to only get a couple more hours in it.

If AMC had announced a Breaking Bad sequel, with Aaron Paul as the lead, following the life of Jesse Pinkman ten years after his escapades with Walter White, then I’d be all-in. Gilligan has proven himself a highly competent storyteller, who has a real gift for long-form television narratives.

I’m worried that a TV-movie, two hours of new content, would either feel too rushed OR be kept small-scale, but leave us wanting more. No matter which it is, the Breaking Bad sequel film likely won’t feel as satisfying as a brand new full series, or it not even happening at all.

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Movies based on TV shows rarely work, and a successful transition in the opposite direction is more common. The fact that AMC are slated to be making them as TV-movies work in favour of the projects, as they will be kept on a smaller-scale and hopefully close to the narratives they blossomed from.

I’d like to see Vince Gilligan eventually work on something that isn’t set in the Breaking Bad universe. He can tell a similar story — Character-driven yet still about the deep world of organised crime — with a similar tone, and nobody would complain.

His ability to create richly unique and compelling characters is enviable, and so, personally, I’d like to see that brain put to use on a new story. However, we live in the age of franchise and bankable property, and unless your name is Stephen King, you aren’t going to get by as a writer on your name alone.

It could be that Gilligan has many ideas for other TV shows or movies, but AMC is throwing enough money at him to continue telling the stories of the people he originally dreamt-up a decade ago.

It’s as though AMC have remembered that the M in their initial stands for Movie, and so now they’ve decide to return to the roots of their original branding without thinking too much about the consequences.

No matter how I feel about them, they’ve peaked my interest enough for me to watch the movies of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad universes, and that’s all that matters from a business standpoint.

People, like me, complain about the over-reliance on established franchises in modern fiction, but we only have ourselves to blame. We’re the ones who’re still shovelling it all down, like the filthy little content goblins we are.


Today is Thursday, November 8th and bigger things have happened in the last twenty-four hours, I just needed to write about something light. Stay safe, hold on to each other.

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Election Day Hangover

I ended up watching a stream of the BBC election night coverage. I gave the American channels a go, but they were either too loud or too dumbed-down. Election night is supposed to be a mix of complex issues, tight races and bright colours, and the BBC provides all of that.

Don’t give me any grief about illegally streaming the BBC News Channel. I paid my licence fee as a student, where many others did not, and so I feel like I’m owed the occasional broadcast in my life overseas.

Don’t worry Tony Hall, I’m not illegally watching your precious Bodyguard. I bet you can’t believe your luck, can you? That the hot-guy-generic-plot formula has worked for you yet again.

bodyguard

I’m feeling sort-of neutral about the mid-terms, because everything happened as expected. You’ll hear both sides claiming victory, and they’re right to do so. Neither party did anything unexpected, but Democrats had to take the House and Republicans had to hold on to the Senate.

Trump is seeing this as a personal victory, due to the fact that the “blue wave” was a mere blue ripple. Only getting covered in a little bit of bird shit is not a victory, it’s just not quite as bad as falling head-first into a cart full of manure.

Although, if you’d been told by the media for months that you are to expect a head-first dive into a steaming pile of horse dung, and all that happens is a seagull craps on your left shoulder — Then I guess you’d be celebrating.

“We have the best, American-made seagulls, okay? I welcome the white substance that is now upon my person. This creamy puddle of waste even says it’ll vote for me! Sean Hannity, get up here and talk to the people!”

Trump says that the candidates who kept to his party-line were re-elected and those who didn’t are now gone. That’s not strictly true, as most Floridian candidates distanced themselves from Trump on issues such as climate change and immigration, and many Republicans found re-election there.

A huge positive for America as a whole is the higher-than-usual voter turnout. It’ll be some time before we see the official figures, but most are predicting that they’re extremely high for midterm elections. A higher voter turnout means a stronger Democracy, and while 50-60% is far from perfect, it’s better than the usual 40%.

There were still huge pockets of eligible voters who didn’t cast a vote this time around, and that’s okay. We have two years to convince them otherwise. Especially as those who support nationalism (he said it, he called himself a nationalist) are already casting their votes.

In theory those who remain are the apathetic middle, who’re sick of the back and forth of American politics — Which is a fair viewpoint to have. What I would say to those people is that you can make all of that go away by voting against the party who is currently trying to divide America in ways we haven’t seen for decades.

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Beto O’Rourke didn’t win in Texas, but he fought the incumbent Ted Cruz to within 250,000 votes. Texas is officially purple. Either that or they recognise that Beto is a good human being regardless of his party affiliation. He had an uphill battle, like most Democratic senate races this time around, but fought respectfully to serve the people of his state.

This certainly won’t be the last we’ll hear of Beto. If you can nearly turn Texas blue in a senate race, then you’ll be making a presidential campaign bid in the future, perhaps as early as 2020.

I wouldn’t be mad at this, what the Democratic party needs more than anything else right now is youth. Every time I hear Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden speak, I can feel how out of touch they are. Their hearts are in the right place, but their time has been and gone. I probably shouldn’t be saying that about the future speaker of the house but, for me, it’s the truth.

Bernie Sanders is about the only member of the old-guard who still sounds like an idealistic thirty-year-old, albeit with the surly undertones of a hippy grandfather who has been through some serious political battles.

I want Bernie to act as the Professor-X to a whole team of young Democrats who’re all under the age of fifty. They can call them the B-Men, or the S-Men, or maybe a more gender-neutral term. Even though I’m fairly certain the term ‘X-Men’ is gender neutral because many of them are women.

Young people voted somewhat this time around, but many still dread the idea of casting a vote for some old guy who doesn’t inspire them. Get Beto on stage with his bass guitar and have him finger-away for seven-minutes straight and I guarantee that’ll get young people to the polls. He might have to stream Fortnight on Twitch for a few weeks to gain some extra credibility, but I’m sure that’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.

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Arizona’s senate race is still officially too close to call, but either way Arizona will be sending their first female senator to DC, and that’s a huge step towards equality. It was a battle billed as activist vs veteran, with the Republicans spending millions on vicious attack-ads against Kyrsten Sinema.

The truth of the race is that both women are ideologically strong, and both are good choices for the state of Arizona. I just always side with the candidate who isn’t launching attack-ads, and is instead stating what they stand for. It’s not my fault they usually happen to be Democrats.

In a way, these midterms have kept everything business as usual. Democrats were expected to take the house and Republicans were expected to hold the senate. These events are typical of the first elections following a new President.

I know many were hoping for a blue wave, but personally all I hoped for was Democratic control of the house. For what it’s worth I read a lot of blogs from people on both sides of the aisle, and it has only been right-wing blogs who have been touting the “laughable idea of a blue wave”, whereas liberal bloggers have remained quietly optimistic at most.

Before I sign-off for the day, I want to warn my fellow filthy lefties about the right-wing controlling our narrative. They think we want communism and so they brand us as communists.

In reality we want someone left of centre who makes most people happy and tries their best, so we can all go back to talking about the politics of Game of Thrones, instead of this impossible Game of Trumps everyone seems to be playing with our lives right now.


Today is Wednesday, November 7th and if anyone rats me out over the licence fee thing I’ll be livid.

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Election Day Anxieties

I’m writing this on the morning of the US midterms, so if you’re reading these words after the results have already been announced, then please excuse my current, probably inaccurate, demeanour. Although I’m always anxious, so there’s probably no change.

I’m a realist, or at least that’s what I’ve come to accept, so I think that Democrats will take the house and Republicans will hang on to the senate. This is fine. Taking back some control from the Republicans is all that matters here, as America is never healthy when one party holds all the cards. Government should be purple.

There’s no senate seat up for grabs in my home state of Colorado, so nothing overly exciting has been happening locally. We’ve had our fair share of attack ads though — I still can’t believe those exist in a country that claims to be a great democracy.

Our Democratic candidate for Governor is Jared Polis, who is a rich (I’m talking two-hundred million dollar rich), white, career politician. Although he is openly gay, so no, he didn’t run for the wrong party by mistake. Currently LGBT people, who make up 5% of American citizens, hold around 1% of elected positions.

I wish I could say that Jared Polis would be helping to balance that figure out, but he is currently an elected member of the house of representatives, so it’s more like he’s moving from one end of the 1% to another.

That’s funny, as a gay man in government and a multi-millionaire, he’s a member of two 1% clubs. Both are depressing for completely different reasons. So good luck Jared, and try to do something ethical and humanitarian with all of that unnecessary wealth you’ve acquired.

It has been interesting to watch the Beto vs Cruz senate race. It’s perhaps the most high-profile election in these mid-terms, due to Cruz’s high-profile status. From an outsider’s perspective it looks like a no-brainer. Beto supports the right to own a firearm, but wants a ban on assault rifles. He wants to encourage business and support entrepreneurs, but still protect the social rights of Texas citizens.

Meanwhile Ted Cruz is…well…Ted Cruz. A man who decided to start saying the word “y’all” as a way to appeal to voters in Texas. How patronising. Here is the data, displayed in a wonderful graph by reddit user mvoviri.

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Also, Beto was a bassist in a punk rock band in the early 90s, which means you can trust him with just about everything, except your girlfriend.

Trump has been holding even more rallies, despite the fact that his name isn’t on the ballot. It makes sense from the Republican perspective, as his was the brand that won them the presidency. The hope from them is that the people who suddenly became Republicans for Trump, will also vote for their candidates if he backs them.

His backing has been the kiss of death in several special elections in the last two years, with many stating that the mid-terms will be seen as a vote of confidence on the walking embarrassment to both America, and our species.

Last night he had Fox “News” host Shaun Hannity appear live on stage and rally for Trump and his candidates. Not that they had any to begin with, but this should eliminate any and all credibility from Fox as a news outlet. Not that it’s really a news outlet, as it isn’t eligible for journalism awards, or recognised as one by anyone other than its viewers. That, my beautiful friends, is propaganda.

Just to be clear, a “journalist” endorsing a political candidate nullifies that persons status as a journalist. They can privately support whoever they want, but if they’re campaigning on behalf of a party then they can no longer accurately perform to the ethical standards of their job description.

Not that Hannity ever had standards, or ethics. You know what, this was actually very on-brand behaviour from the frontman for the ham-faced disenfranchised middle-classes. And no, that wasn’t the name of Beto’s punk band.

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Automated racist messages have been left on the answering machines of voters in Florida and Georgia. They use slurs in an attempt to undermine candidates and drum-up support from the rising nationalist-core of America.

As a sidenote, I’m glad that Trump outed himself as a nationalist, because now nobody can call me ridiculous for comparing his version of the Republican party to the rise of populist nationalism in 1930s Europe. Nazi is such a reductive term though, so 20th century. I think Trumpist, MAGA-head or Nu-Republican make more sense for our times.

I’m hoping that nobody is influenced by these messages, and they’re seen by all as pathetic attempts at trolling the electorate. It’s typical of racists to hide behind an automated answering machine message, instead of owning their beliefs and values.

Even with a self-proclaimed nationalist in the White House, you still can’t own your backwards opinions? You spineless, snowflake, safe-space, (Gab, Gab is your safe-space, you literally have your own branded safe-space) sycophantic, small-minded shits.

I feel as though I’m going to puke, and I’ll probably feel like this until we get a real sense for how the election has gone. I’m prepared for all eventualities. Especially as during the eight years of my active political participation, the world has taken a gradual shift towards right-wing politics.

America has the opportunity to draw a line in the sand today, to show the world that we don’t have to bend to nationalistic populism anymore. That it’ll take another several years, especially considering who Brazil have just elected, but we can start to fight back from this position.

Rational, free-thinking, empathy-filled citizens are currently being pushed off a cliff by a barrage of vitriolic hatred, backed up by lies and misinformation — And I’m going to level with you, I’m starting to get the sense that our fleshy bodies won’t survive the visceral splatter onto the jagged rocks below.

But what if we all link arms? Just as they did in 1970s Coca-Cola commercials, like the filthy progressives we are. What if we did that, dug or heels in and started to push back against the tide?

We do that by voting, by encouraging others to vote, and by informing each other as best we can. Democracy is beautiful, but only when we all participate.

Look after yourselves and each other. You do that today by voting for the people who will look after the most vulnerable citizens. It’s not my fault they’re usually Democrats.


Today is Tuesday, November 6th and I can’t cope. I’m emotionally crippled by the unknown.

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Crown Jewel: A Night to Forget

I wrote these words (not these ones, but the next one-thousand or so) during the live broadcast of the Crown Jewel PPV in Saudi Arabia. I bit the bullet for you guys. You’re welcome.

When WWE signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to perform exclusive shows over the next decade, they didn’t anticipate that they’d be at the centre of one of the biggest controversies of the year. These shows are to be a part of ‘Saudi Vision 2030’, a campaign by the new royal family to bring their country into the 21st century — A promise we all know that they’re absolutely sticking to…

Recent events called for WWE to pull out of the deal, but last week chairman Vince McMahon decided to go ahead with the show ‘Crown Jewel’ — Choosing millions of dirty dollars and potentially catastrophic PR over the majority of public opinion. On top of all of this, they’ve added Hulk Hogan to the show, a controversial figure in his own right, who (rightfully) hasn’t been in good-graces since he repeatedly used a racial slur on tape.

It should be noted that as far as the match-card is concerned, it’s bizarre even by wrestling standards. Shawn Michaels is coming out of an eight-year retirement to wrestle a legends tag-team match; Ruining what is regarded by fans as the most satisfying ending to a career in wrestling history.

Obviously, none of the women are wrestling. Women are only just able to drive in Saudi Arabia, putting on tights and pretending to fight would be too much of a stretch for 2018.

The former Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, had to pull out of the main event due to a legitimate Leukemia diagnosis, and top stars John Cena and Daniel Bryan have refused to attend the show from a moral standpoint. In the case of John Cena, it’s perhaps to save his blossoming Hollywood career.

As well as all of this, the majority of the show will be a “world-cup” tournament that’s made-up of eight Americans. So the winning country will be America, no matter who wins — A sentence that’s so typically American.

The pre-show match finishes with the line of commentary, “Retained the US title in controversial fashion,” and so before the main show even begins, we’ve heard the C-word from the company themselves. Welcome to the most tone-deaf show in entertainment history, welcome to WWE Crown Jewel.

Hulk Hogan starts the show, and comes out to more cheers than he’d receive in the US in 2018. I start playing a game with myself — Who will accidentally mention the words Saudi Arabia first. Hogan says a few sentences before his music plays once more, my hope is that American audiences won’t forget what he said, and that the world has outgrown men with opinions like his.

We cut to the crown-prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, at ringside. He receives fewer cheers than Hulk Hogan. His expression isn’t as jubilant as it was back in April, during their first visit to his country, so he’s likely well-aware of the controversies. It feels wrong to show him in a positive light on American programming, but here we are.

During their April show, The Greatest Royal Rumble, WWE aired plenty of propaganda packages, encouraging people to visit the “progressive” Saudi Arabia. There’s none of that this time around. It’s as though both WWE and Saudi Arabia are just trying to get through this show, hoping that everything will have blown over six months from now.

In the opening four matches, Rey Mysterio, The Miz, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler advance in the tournament. It’s during these matches that I start to notice the fans. Seeing all of the children in the crowd getting excited whilst witnessing their favourite WWE Superstars makes me loathe the royal family even more.

Most citizens of Saudi Arabia are just trying to enjoy mindless entertainment like the rest of us, on this shared home we call Earth, and a smile on the face of a five-year-old in a John Cena t-shirt makes that clear.

Popular tag-team The New Day ride down to the ring on a mechanical magic carpet for their match, with the commentary team mentioning magical blue genies. WWE has always been about stereotypes, but maybe it would’ve been for the best to avoid them at a show like this. I guess when you’ve already got Hulk Hogan appearing in Saudi Arabia, nothing seems too controversial.

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Dolph Ziggler and The Miz qualify for the finals of the World Cup. Interestingly, both of these men are from Ohio. So not only is this “global tournament” limited to one nation, but now it has all come down to who is the best from the Buckeye State.

Samoa Joe, who is a last-minute replacement for Daniel Bryan, faces AJ Styles for the WWE Championship next. I’m two hours into the show and it’s important to point out that nobody has mentioned the words ‘Saudi’ or ‘Arabia’. Crown Jewel is a ‘Global Event’ that constantly has the feeling of Simpsons-esq, worried collar-pulling.

Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar fight for the vacant Universal championship. As much as WWE would like to sweep this show under the rug, this is the one match they’ll have to reference in the future, as a new champion has to be crowned. It’s heartwarming to see half the crowd watching the show via the camera app on their phones, just like we do in the West; We’d all be the same if it weren’t for our respective murderous oppressors.

Paige, the Smackdown General Manager, can’t be here tonight due to her status as a woman. So Shane McMahon steps in to play the role of authority figure on behalf of the blue brand. It’s time for the World Cup final. Smackdown vs Raw. Blue vs Red. Cleveland, Ohio vs just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

Miz is fake-injured and carried away to the back. So Shane McMahon steps in and takes his place. This is stupid, so therefore this is wrestling. For the first time at Crown Jewel I forget that the controversy exists, because it’s over-the-top storytelling without any offense intended.

Shane McMahon wins the tournament, which legitimises how bizarre and nonsensical this entire show has been. Perhaps Vince McMahon took some nepaitistc advice from the Saudi royal family, and decided that this was the best direction to take the story of Crown Jewel.

It’s time for your main event, DX vs The Brothers of Destruction — Four men who have a combined age of two-hundred and six. This match is disheartening to watch, as one man’s legacy is tarnished in exchange for a large paycheck.

The realisation that this whole show is meaningless happens, as the Saudi royal family film Shawn Michaels’ return to the ring through their cell phones, in a match they’ve paid millions of dollars to be shot professionally in their own country. They don’t care about legacy, they care about looking progressive. And apparently the way to do that is to pay fifty-year-olds to choreograph a fight.

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After decades of trying to push professional wrestling out of the dirty bingo halls and into mainstream entertainment, Vince McMahon has surely set his company back a few years by performing in Saudi Arabia today. However, it’s hard to believe that anything can topple the giant that dwarves any company within its niche industry.

WWE will walk away with a lot of dirty money, but at least Crown Jewel wasn’t the propaganda-fest that Greatest Royal Rumble was. Although it’s a little alarming that the crown prince was still shown live on air in a featured moment, in behaviour akin to any other alarming dictator.

Commentator Michael Cole closes the show by describing the main event performance as one that “we will never, ever forget.” Cole, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests that we do.


Today is Monday, November 5th and America should set off fireworks today as well as July 4th, because it’s actually dark on an evening.

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Jacob Wohl, and Should We Be Talking About Him?

Has anyone else read about the Jacob Wohl story?

This is the guy who tried to fake accusations against Robert Mueller, but was found out due to the most inept faked-conspiracy theory in recent memory. He made hundreds of fake social media profiles, that he used to attempt to corroborate information relayed from his fake “consultancy firm”. Only, most of the profile photos were registered models, and one was actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

I know Superbad was a long time ago, but people don’t forget the Mintz-Plasse. Not with a name like Mintz-Plasse, and a face like McLovin.

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Wohl’s new head of PR

Yesterday he (Jacob Wohl, not McLovin) held a press conference, before which he said he would pay any woman $20,000 to come forward with information about Robert Mueller in regards to sexual assault. Obviously, nobody came forward. It appears as though women won’t just come forward about sexual assault in exchange for money and fame, as some Republicans seem to believe.

Turns out they’re people who’ve been through harrowing experiences seeking to tell the truth, who would have guessed?

His conspiracy and fake network started to unravel when one of his “associates” office phones lead back to his own mother’s cell phone voicemail! I kid you not, HBO will have a TV movie about this guy out by next summer. Probably starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Jacob Wohl, for no reason other than the delicious irony.

Wohl’s associate/maybe lawyer, Jack Burkman, even co-led the entire press conference with his fly down. That’s not as relevant, but it really ads to the colour of the situation. I think it might be a metaphor for the entire attempt at fraud that, in a just world, would land Wohl with a couple of years in prison.

Wohl, who looks like a seventy-year-old man who made a deal with the devil to be young again, has been on the fringes of the far-right movement for the last two years. He has been a vocal Trump supporter who peddles the grossest of conspiracy theories, hoping that the President will one day recognise him as a reputable news source.

Which in 2018, that’s the most obvious symptom of unresolved daddy-issues.

Just yesterday he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke is financially supporting the migrant caravan. He made this claim without a source and just threw it out into the world in the form of a selectively edited video. Most of us know this to be ridiculous, but some will buy into it, as we’ve seen with other conspiracy theories in recent years.

At aged twenty, he has already been blacklisted from almost all financial institutions in New York, for lying and claiming to be a hedge-fund manager. He still claims to be a businessman, but the only business he is currently in is misinformation. One that, unfortunately, in 2018 is rather lucrative.

He’s sort-of a cross between Steve Bannon now and Donald Trump at age twenty. He’s a living example of the Trump effect on young people, and surprise surprise it’s in the form of an upper-class brat with delusions of grandeur.

The way he delivered his press conference was even in the style of the Trump administration’s upper rank. He pushed questions away like Sanders, had all the slime-ball anti-charm of a Trump Jr, and the train-of-thought arrogance of the satsuma God-King himself.

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The Trump Presidency has given people like Wohl a platform of legitimacy, because even though we’re laughing at him, we’re still talking about him.

And that’s the recurring problem, isn’t it? Many people argue that left-wing and centrist media continually covering the Trump campaign is what ultimately lead to his victory in 2016, and it’s a perfectly valid argument.

Even though we, the public majority, were stood on the sidelines and laughing at the ridiculous claims of “build that wall” and “lock her up”, we helped to perpetuate these slogans by participating in the mocking. Which, in turn, made his supporters double-down, because they didn’t like being laughed at.

So should the media even be talking about Wohl? Should I even be writing these words? Does it do him more good than it does harm? And is the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” actually true?

These are a lot of big questions considering the fact that I’ll only be writing for another three-hundred words. And perhaps I’ve done that intentionally, because it’s a complex issue with no correct answer.

Good journalism, true journalism, will try to best inform citizens on the current events of the world. Their job is to present the facts, the data, and to let the crazy speak for itself. I think if these things (Trump campaign, conspiracy theories) are going to happen, then the people need to be made aware of them. It would be even more terrifying if they operated in the dark, and if we couldn’t explain how or why Trump happened.

They definitely need to shift their approach, however. I was impressed by the level of questioning directed at Jacob Wohl at his “press conference”, as they asked about his credentials, his experience as either an investigator or prosecutor (the roles he’s attempting to take on), as well as calling into question the credibility of his claims.

One reporter closed the conference by asking if Wohl and Burkman were ready for federal prison. Which may seem like a flippant question, but fraud and attempting to defame using self-created conspiracy, well, that can land you some serious jail time. You know, if you weren’t a rich white man from New York.

If reporters managed to ask these questions to Sarah Sanders, and if they demanded that she back up the President’s claims with data, facts and statistics, then maybe it wouldn’t be an us vs them shouting match that serves no purpose beyond fuelling Trump’s long-held media mandate.

Maybe it’s because I grew up on him, but I always refer to documentarian Louis Theroux when it comes to getting the truth of a situation from someone. Point a camera, let the crazy speak for itself, spend time with the crazy to show the motives, and then ask questions that reveal just how deep the crazy goes.

I don’t think a continued mocking coverage of situations like Wohl, or the Trump administration are the right answer, but to not cover them at all would also be a mistake. Insects work best when they’re under a rock, and nobody is shining a spotlight on them. Although lately, these cockroaches have appeared immune to rays of truth.


Today is Friday, November 2nd and I’d love to talk, in person, to the sorts of people who blindly believe the words of people like Wohl. I bet they need a hug.

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