Feliz Cinco de Mayo Open Thread

The official triggering began 3 years ago by this fabulous master troll of the universe 😀

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You Know What Day It Is? Open Thread

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What Should We Do About Venezuela?

The Beeb:

Venezuela crisis: Defiant Maduro appears with soldiers

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has appeared flanked by soldiers at an army base in Caracas, in a show of defiance towards his opponents.

Mr Maduro called on the armed forces to defeat “any coup plotter”, following two days of clashes between opposition and pro-government forces.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó tried on Wednesday to spark a military rebellion and force Mr Maduro from office.

Mr Guaidó has urged public employees to strike to undermine the government.

But Mr Maduro praised the army’s loyalty. “No-one dare touch our sacred ground or bring war to Venezuela”, he said.

I am assuming that all of you have at least a general idea what is going on in Venezuela. In answer to the question “What should we do?’ my answer is simple: Little or nothing.

It’s the same answer I would give about Syria, or any other dictatorship. You cannot free oppressed people – they have to free themselves. It’s kinda like sending food to starving people in Africa. You’re not ending hunger, you’re just postponing it. If you send them six months worth of food, in six months they’ll be hungry again.

How many times have we seen a dictator get toppled, only to have the people of that country turn around and elect a new dictator? It should be pointed out that the people of Venezuela freely elected Hugo Chavez in the first place. (Nick Maduro replaced Chavez when Mitt Romney gave Chavez cancer.)

Right here in America, there is a major political party that wants to take our freedom away, and that party has tens of millions of supporters. They even claim they are the majority party.

Imagine the American Revolution if Louis XVI had immediately sent the French Army to America to free us from George III. When the war was over we would have been a vassal of France instead of England.

That doesn’t mean we can’t help. We could take some of the “women and children” refugees fleeing places like Syria, Somalia, Venezuela, and Guatemala and give them training and weapons and then send them back to liberate their home countries. But even that can backfire – we helped the Afghanis fight the Soviets but when the Soviets left some of the people we helped formed the Taliban.

As I learned in algebra – some problems don’t have solutions. Sometimes the best thing we can do is containment – keep the problem from spreading. Containment actions include keeping other nations from making things worse – a “non-interference directive.”

The lesson of Vietnam should be that we should never send American troops to fight and die for any people who are unwilling to fight and die for themselves. We can give them some help, but they have to do the heavy lifting for themselves.

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And you thought YOU had bad luck with men?

It appears that the Lady of Winterfell has tied the knot again. This time around, Sansa Stark gave up on men and married an orc from LOTR in a Las Vegas wedding officiated by an Elvis impersonator. Bad as it is, it’s not the worst guy she ever was involved with.

Orc or Dornishman?

First there was Joffrey Baratheon, the Inbred Prince/King. She was betrothed to Joffrey until her father was executed for treason.

Then there was Tyrion Lannister, the drunken dwarf whoremonger. He actually turned out to be a real stand-up guy.

After leaving Tyrion to deal with charges of regicide by himself (and her fleeing the city making him look guilty) she spent some time palling around with Littlefinger, aka Lord Petyr Baelish. She would eventually have him executed.

Littlefinger pimped her to Ramsey Bolton (aka Ramsey Snow), a sadistic bastard (literally) who made King Joffrey seem like a prince. But that relationship went to the dogs.

Sansa’s heart now seems to belong to her cousin Jon Snow, whose heart belongs to his aunt Daenerys Targaryen. I guess he finally got over the death of Ygritte, his redhaired Wilding woman.

This is an open thread.

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When The Levee Breaks

Crap-filled Nattering Nabobs:

Iowa’s downtown Davenport floods after Mississippi River barrier fails

A portion of Davenport still was flooded Wednesday morning, a day after the swollen Mississippi River broke through a temporary barrier in the Iowa city and rushed into downtown, covering streets and surrounding homes and businesses.

With the river at flood stage in several states, Davenport’s flooding could portend what other communities downriver could face in the coming days if barriers don’t hold.
Tuesday afternoon’s breach at Davenport’s riverfront turned some downtown streets into a virtual lake, with water coming up to some vehicles’ hoods and windshields. Water rushed into a few blocks, city official Kurt Allemeier said.

Fire department crews got into boats and helped ferry people from their surrounded homes and businesses, CNN affiliates WQAD and WHBF reported. In some instances they took residents to their homes to gather belongings, and then brought them back to dry land.

No worries – twenty or so Democrat candidates for president are rushing to the scene, where they will hold back nature by the sheer force of their will and they’ll dry everything out with blasts of hot air. They will also promise Iowans billions of dollars in aid if they are elected. All the Democrats agree that Iowa is vital to America because Iowa holds the first caucuses in the nation.

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I bought a new hat!

I was in Walmart buying some new socks when I saw this little beauty and I thought to myself that you can’t own too many clown hats. I want a Captain Spaulding hat, but not like the one in the picture below.

Garden update: Still no plants in the ground, but I got one hole dug. (When I realized I was standing in it I stopped digging.)

This is an open thread.

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The News Media’s Problems Are Self-Inflicted

Bottomfeed Ben blames “new movements” for the news media’s lack of credibility and influence.

If you covered American politics between 1976 and 2012, you developed a sense of the rhythm of a party primary: A big field of candidates would rise and fall for months, as voters — guided by the media — would light upon one, appreciate their strengths, and then discover their weaknesses and move onto the next one. You’d hear talk about the “flavor of the month” and who was “hot” this week. For a manic stretch of 2012, we all believed seriatim that Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain were the likeliest Republican nominee.

And if you were honest about it, you’d admit that the media itself drove much of this process. We got interested in a candidate and inflated their prominence; then challenged them more aggressively and dug hard into their record; then moved on to the next one. We, and the voters who cared what we thought, would sort of sip a candidacy, swirl it around our mouths, and spit it out. The candidate who got our collective attention in March 2003, almost by definition, would not be the nominee — at least, not without a dramatic collapse and rebirth. The candidate who won would be the one who built grassroots support in Iowa and New Hampshire, ignited it in December, and rode a triumphant narrative into quickly locking up the nomination. Those were the 10 presidential campaigns, give or take, dominated by what that era called the mainstream media.

And one of the reasons the political press got Trump so wrong is that his campaign didn’t work like that. When we saw his early polls, we thought he was the flavor of the month. But he was the flavor of every month, of every day. His support grew and grew, and his supporters weren’t just trying the idea out: They cleaved to him more tightly. His support didn’t rise and fall. It snowballed.

There was a reason for that pattern: Trump’s support wasn’t taking its cues from analysts, or taking much interest in the traditional vetting from the mainstream media; they were listening to the man himself, unfiltered on social media and cable news.

That pattern — the straight up-and-to-the-right of A Star Is Born — isn’t how the old Establishment politics worked. But it seems to be a defining feature of the new movement politics. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s trajectory inside her party has been stunningly free of setbacks. These new politics look less like old presidential campaigns than like social-media fandoms: Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Drake, the Marvel Universe don’t come and go. They’re eternal, as long as their protagonists provide a steady stream of content and mutual affirmation to growing groups of supporters. This is a snowball, not a narrative.

The rise to prominence of the news media coincides with the invention and widespread use of radio. Newspapers, newsreels (played before/between movies) and news magazines like Life brought the world to America, but radio brought the world into Americans’ daily lives.

The early days of television news saw radio newsmen switch to the new medium. Guys like Walter Cronkite were shown seated at desks as they somberly read the news to viewers. Live action shots and remote transmissions were rare at first. The reporting format was very much like Detective Joe Friday – “Just the facts, ma’am.”

When JFK was killed, Walter Cronkite was there to tell us about it. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, Uncle Walter was there. When Tricky Dick slammed his tricky dicky in the Watergate, Uncle Walter explained it to us. Our faith in him was such that at one point he was dubbed, “The most trusted man in America.” When Cronkite came out against the Vietnam war, Lyndon Johnson allegedly said: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

The news media peaked in influence with Watergate. Americans lost faith in our government and our leaders, but thank God we had the news media to tell us the truth. Right?

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. In 1960 the news departments of the major networks were small and news was seen as a public service. This was because the FCC told them they had to.

In exchange for obtaining a valuable license to operate a broadcast station using the public airwaves, each radio and television licensee is required by law to operate its station in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” Generally, this means it must air programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community of license.

News was not seen as a money-maker, it was seen as more of an obligation. But gradually that changed. By the late Seventies, news and entertainment began to merge, and the lines began to blur. Not everybody was excited about this change.

Not long after Network hit movie screens, a guy named Ted Turner announced the creation of a 24-hour news channel. Nobody noticed “CNN” right away. Then in August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, and President George H.W. Bush announced, “This aggression will not stand.” On January 16, 1991, Operastion “Desert Storm” began and war porn was created.

For the first time in history you could tune in and watch a war live and virtually uncensored. CNN had “Scud Studs” in Baghdad giving us live reports from a hotel rooftop as the city was bombed. It was later learned that Saddam Hussein was watching CNN too.

Unfortunately, that war didn’t last very long.

The problem with 24-hour news is that on most days there just isn’t that much news. So how do you get ratings without news? You hire people to talk about the news, and you stage conflicts. If the big news of the day is a murder trial, you bring in one “expert” to take the prosecution’s side and another to defend the defense. “This proves OJ is guilty!” “No, it only proves that Mark Furman is a racist and a liar!”

The model for these staged conflicts wasn’t Crossfire, it was SNL’s “Point/Counterpoint.”

Meanwhile, there were some other developments.

Remember Watergate? Thousands of young Americans were inspired by Woodward and Bernstein to become investigative journalists. Unfortunately, W & B were just a couple nobody hacks who were chosen by Mark Felt because he knew they would publish his leaks uncritically. He had dirt to dish, and he didn’t want any reporters asking him the wrong questions.

So these thousands of would-be journalists applied for admission to journalism schools, where they would be taught by people who never worked as journalists (for anything besides a school newspaper) before becoming instructors. The students were not trained, they were indoctrinated.

Television news departments could not have cared less about credentials, they wanted people who looked and sounded good on camera. Telegenics trumped education and experience (and still does.) To make matters worse, they were all owned by rich individuals or big corporations, and they were run by business majors.

Last but not least, “dead tree” journalism began to die. Guys like Uncle Walter learned their trade by working a beat at a local newspaper. Anything they wrote was turned over to a copy editor who was typically a grizzled old reporter in his 40’s or 50’s who had an aversion to adjectives and adverbs as well as any flowery prose. As dead tree journalism died, the internet growed like Topsy.

So now we have a news “industry” owned by rich people and managed by business majors. This industry is staffed by telegenic young SJW idiots with meaningless degrees and no practical experience as journalists. The majority of this industry just spent two years trying to prove that the sun rises in the west. This was after they spent a year and one-half totally missing the Trump Train as they stood athwart the train tracks screaming, “Trump is a Nazi!

They thought they were kingmakers queenmakers. They saw themselves as some kind of priesthood. They mistook their duty to report the news as a privilege to decide what is and isn’t news. They manipulated and lied. They decided that they were our intellectual and moral superiors. They stopped reporting and started preaching.

They were so busy leading that they didn’t notice that nobody was following. When they realized that they had lost us, they spent some time in deep reflection and then concluded that we were stupid and/or racist and Trump took advantage of our low intelligence, racism, and venality.

In other words, the news media took careful aim and then shot themselves in both feet, then blamed Trump because their feet hurt.

Boo-fucking-hoo.

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