Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Everybody’s got it in for somebody. Trump says Twitter’s got it in for Trump. Facebook’s got it in for ethics. Consumers have it in for the economy. And I’m keeping my back against the wall.

It's getting brutal out there
This is one pissed-off nation. And as in all things, it’s the people at the top who set the mood.

So yes, Trump again. The Huffington Post recently made note, among other Trumpian horrors, of the President's complaint that Twitter’s trending topics are “ridiculous, illegal, and, of course, very unfair." He made note of the unfairness on Twitter, which of course, drove his trend numbers up even higher.

So disgusting to watch Twitter’s so-called “Trending”, where sooo many trends are about me, and never a good one. They look for anything they can find, make it as bad as possible, and blow it up, trying to make it trend. Really ridiculous, illegal, and, of course, very unfair!
Of course, this would have nothing to do with the fact that if you spend your presidency posting on Twitter (when you’re not playing golf or  acting like a shmuck and sending disguised thugs out to beat up peaceful protesters in the streets of Portland) you become a pretty hot topic. 

All the same, it’s hard to tell what’s “illegal” about Trump’s trending. The press could ask, but when Trump knows the answer will make him look bad, he simply walks out of the press conference. Which, of course, leads to more tweets. Which ups his trend still more.

On to another topic.

Values? We don’t need 
no stinking values!

Yes, yes, I know it feels like 100 years ago, but it was only last week that, in response to leadership from the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, major advertisers boycotted Facebook over hate speech, various divisive lies, and trollery that Marc Zuckerberg and his gang have been tolerating. How could anybody who loves money more than humanity blame Facebook? Hatred attracts eyeballs, and eyeballs attract advertisers, and advertisers shell out money to advertise.

The boycott kind of fizzled, because it turns out that big national advertisers are only a drop in Zuckerberg’s bucket. He said his strength was coming from small local advertisers, although I suspect big political organizations on both sides of the aisle are willing to overlook the hate speech in their search for an advertising audience.

The most ancient rule of beastly behavior is, if you’re in it up to your neck, have the intelligence to keep your mouth shut. But not Carolyn Everson, Zuckerberg's VP of global business solutions, whatever the hell that title means.

“The truth is we are not trying to be neutral in the sense that we have no values,” she told an interviewer for Advertising Age. “We have actually very clear values, we have values around voice, around safety, authenticity, privacy, dignity. We have values, but depending which side of the aisle you’re on, depending on a decision we make, you might think we’re one way or the other, but there is no advantage to us to be taking sides.”

What those values specifically are is another question, perhaps for another day. And yes, when there’s money to be made there’s “no advantage” to taking sides on racism, fascism, misinformation, perhaps even lynching or a coup d’état. Not when a buck is a buck, right Zuck?

Consumers lose confidence.
The unconscionable nerve of them!

Late last month, Bloomberg news reported that “U.S. consumer confidence declined in July by more than forecast as Americans became rattled by the recent increase in Covid-19 cases and its impact on the economy and the job market.”

Since then, the Republicans and the Trump Administration have rolled up their sleeves and done whatever they could to drive consumer confidence even lower. As of this writing, they’ve let the $600 weekly supplement to unemployed Americans expire. They’ve taken off from Washington, ignoring a House bill, pushed through by Democrats, that would have restored some stability to the lives of unemployed Americans. 

Liveable income? Protection against eviction and homelessness? Control of the Corona Virus? They’re not only on the chopping block, they’re also getting scooped up and tossed into the paper shredder. But don’t worry, the Republicans fully intend to protect Fortune 500 companies against lawsuits from employees and their families if the employees are forced to work in unhealthy conditions and then contract or die from Covid-19.

Of course corporations will be protected. As Mitt Romney so ably described the concept four years ago, "Corporations are People." So there! Carry that comforting thought through the day with you.

Cross-posted at The New York Crank

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