Friday links! Showtime for democracy edition

Plump idiots suggest you are ruled by your emotions.

Supporters of a frothing demagogue suggest you are ruled by your emotions.

Now we come to the late stage of democracy, where we support the political system but feel the urge to save it by eliminating all people involved. The demos is not having its best year. The Republican nominee for president of the United States, Donald Trump, has whittled down his constituency to voters who do not care what he says or does—about 40% of the electorate, it turns out—and is now holding them up like a surgeon who pulls a tumor out of your chest to marvel at how big it is before you die. Hillary Clinton is Plato’s philosopher king compared to this maniac, but she remains the second most-disliked candidate in American history. She also remains the only major-party candidate who is not a groping, racist game show host. Today is Friday, and approximately 60 million people believe that man should be president. Won’t you fuck your feelings with me?

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Missoula safe from clowns at this time

My god, he's WALKING THE DOG!

My god, he’s WALKING THE DOG!

As of press time, Missoula schools no longer live under threat of violence originating from clowns. The ZooTown Klown has been not just apprehended but unmasked, as a 15 year-old boy screwing around on Facebook. It was the thrilling conclusion to a story in three acts—act one, in which the county informs parents of clown-related threats, and act two, in which the police remind residents to please not just attack clowns, many of whom are “reputable professional entertainers.”

Setting aside the question of how many professional clowns Missoula can support, I think we should put the blame for this hysteria squarely where it belongs: the internet teenagers society. Sure, it’s social media’s fault for ushering in a golden age of hoaxes. And it’s teenagers’ fault for simulating clown-themed terrorism on Facebook. But it’s our fault for making that funny.

Over the last 15 years, our culture has become so fixated on safety that it’s no wonder teens are teasing us. We have made identifying and protect ourselves from perceived threats the only sacred element of American life. Teens must overthrow all that is sacred. In this sense they resemble satirists, who exaggerate the foibles of their times. Our time’s most protruding foible is fear. You can read all about this wild, totalizing theory in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which also contains many clown jokes. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!


October 2015: How young we were

2012 Miss USA Contestants Visit Trump Tower

It’s a busy day at the Combat! blog offices today, so I thought I’d take a moment to direct you to this post from one year ago today. Remember when Donald Trump’s speech patterns and fantastic insistence on his own greatness were funny and new, instead of grim warnings of a degenerate future? Me neither. It’s crazy how dated this feels after just one year, like some light satire on the confidence of young Cassius Clay. I guess the difference is that Clay went on to become an icon of forward-thinking greatness, whereas Trump has made more of a circular progression. I’m glad he’s a joke again, but I’m a little scared of what his meteoric rise and vertiginous plummet have done to our senses of what’s normal.


Trump threatens to tell us what he really thinks


Donald Trump seems poised to give us the general-election campaign we wanted all along, in which he goes bananas and tears apart the Republican Party before—this part is really important—losing. Yesterday, Paul Ryan told Republicans on a conference call that he would no longer campaign for Trump and direct his energy toward protecting their majority in Congress instead. Although he did not withdraw his endorsement, the announcement was widely understood to capitulate the presidency, and narrowly understood to betray the nominee. Trump himself took the narrow view. This morning, he used Twitter to issue an ominous…promise? Threat? Status update? You can decide what this is:

It is nice. I assume he means he can finally focus on detailed policy proposals and rebuilding the dignity of the working class. But maybe he’ll just bash Muslims.

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Friday links! Look upon me edition


There is so little Combat! blog today, because I am in the New York Times Magazine doing what I do best: complaining. Check out Letter of Complaint: Cards Against Humanity, the first contribution to a new, recurring feature whose future installments will be written by people more competent than me. Today, though, I am in the Times, and so I must spend all day in a tight reward/conditioning cycle with my phone. While I refresh Twitter, how about you read this rebuttal to my piece by your boy Jeremy Gordon, who is smart and friendly. I mostly agree with him that the social value of the game is great, and that’s what makes it so awful to object. We’ll be back Monday with a top hat and a monocle, probably.