Pretty cute but will not stop saying “he is coming”
That tremor Montanans felt last night was Norman Maclean rolling over in his grave. The well-intentioned maniacs who voted in this year’s Best of Misssoula poll have selected me as best writer over perennial winner James Lee Burke, strengthening the case that Indy readers are making fun of me. Burke has published more novels than I have visited states. He has received numerous professional awards, justly, and I suspect his being unjustly denied this one will escape his notice. I, on the other hand, am embarrassed. Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll, and thank you to the awesome power of selection bias.
I also got best journalist, which is the same bullshit that happened last year. You know who the best journalist in Missoula is? Derek Brouwer. It’s either him or Erika Fredrickson. Both of those people go out there and gather real information they fashion into news, while I stay home and pretend to be wrong about it. It’s an unjust system. But we must obey the Best of Missoula electoral college, which awarded me the win this year even though I lost the popular vote. You can read all about it in this week’s column, in which I make common cause with the president in our search for evidence to back our claims of fact. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to celebrate. Mark McGwire, Milli Vanilli, and the guy who accepted the Best Picture Oscar for Crash are all waiting for me at Dave & Buster’s.
White House policy adviser and bop bag model Stephen Miller
Donald Trump is the president now, and no amount of controversy or trying to wake up will change that. Yet he continues to insist that voter fraud tainted the election he won. Speaking to senators last week, he said that thousands of illegal voters were bussed in to New Hampshire to swing the state for Hillary Clinton. On Friday, Federal Elections Commissioner Ellen Weintraub called on Trump to provide her office with evidence of this scheme. He did not. Neither did his adviser/mouthpiece Stephen Miller, who appeared on ABC News Sunday morning to produce this masterpiece of dishonesty:
So now we need a term for the converse maneuver to Total Fucking Denial: Total Fucking Assertion. Stephanopoulos keeps returning to the question of whether the Trump administration has any evidence that voter fraud occurred, and Miller keeps insisting that everyone knows it did.
“This issue of bussing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” he says for the first time at :30. Over the next three minutes, he repeats this claim again and again. He also trots out the familiar statistics without substance—the remark that “millions of people are registered in two states” is particularly exasperating, since that doesn’t mean any of them travel to two states to vote on election day—but he keeps returning to his central thesis: everyone in New Hampshire knows this is happening. Everyone knows it so much that Miller doesn’t need to cite evidence. But everyone knows it. It’s very serious. Everyone knows it’s happening.
In Total Fucking Denial, the liar insists that something isn’t true despite overwhelming evidence. The man in this video—which contains swearing, mild violence, and a lot of high-register whining—gets caught going at his neighbor’s doorknob with pliers and a screwdriver but insists he wasn’t breaking in. There was something wrong with his door, he says, and he needed to take apart someone else’s to see how doors work. That’s TFD. There’s no way our burglar is going to convince the man behind the camera that he was only teaching himself locksmithing, but that’s not his objective. He realizes the situation will get worse not when the cameraman realizes he’s lying—since that’s already happened—but only when he admits he’s lying. That’s what TFD is for: situations in which the worst outcome only happens when you acknowledge the lie.
Miller takes a similar tack in the clip above. But his version of Total Fucking Assertion enjoys an advantage over TFD, in that you can’t prove a negative. Stephanopoulos cannot prove that voter fraud in New Hampshire didn’t happen. He can only demand evidence for Miller’s dubious claim that it did. Miller doesn’t have that, but he knows one weak form of evidence is just saying something over and over. He keeps repeating that “everybody knows” thousands of people were bussed in to New Hampshire to vote illegally. Stephanopoulos doesn’t believe him, but some people watching at home probably will.
That’s the other difference between TFD and Total Fucking Assertion: TFA is for an audience. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need evidence to convince a lot of people. You can just keep repeating the same baseless claim, and eventually it will become well-known enough that it stops being a question of true or false and becomes a question of Republican or Democrat, real news or fake news, pro-Trump or anti-. Once people decide that a statement is political, they’re willing to believe anything. That’s what Stephen Miller is exploiting here, because he is a bad person. I hope he runs out of sleep medicine and has to think about it.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of weird Twitter. I do read it occasionally, though. Maybe that’s why I chuckled on Sunday afternoon, when I saw the tweet pictured above. It’s clearly not sincere. For one thing, why would an actual postal worker tweet this? Why would he refer to the town where he works by its first and last name, so to speak? And why would a tweet from someone in Columbus be location-tagged in California, along with almost all other tweets from that account? Even if you don’t recognize the currency of topic and vague irony of tone, these clues are easy to catch. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” reporters say, but you don’t have to be an ace to see through this one. It’s not even a hoax; it’s a joke, with the intentional transparency that jokes employ. But yesterday, conservative outlets including Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh snapped it up and reported it as election fraud.
Here’s how the scale of human intelligence works: anyone dumber than me is an idiot. From your/you’re to minor driving mistakes to this guy, I can’t believe how stupid people are. Conversely, everyone even a little bit smarter than me must be some kind of genius. Can you imagine the sort of mind that knows something you don’t? Of course not. That’s the whole problem. Today is Friday, and the scope of ingenuity is less a spectrum than a binary. Won’t you fill in the ones and zeros with me?
Let’s say you lived in an exceptionally honest town where theft was almost unheard of. After years of almost zero larceny, the Honestburg Police Department announced that a massive crime wave had struck the city. Thieves were thick, according to the HPD, and so the cops went house to house confiscating stolen property. Occasionally they would take the television some old lady had for decades, but they returned it to her eventually and, besides, such mistakes are inevitable when battling a crime wave of this scale. So a question: does Honestburg have a theft problem now? On a completely unrelated note, the Ohio Voter Project filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Board of elections alleging that Theresa Sharp was fraudulently registered at the house where she has been living for 30 years.