Fake News isn’t New: Snow, Anxiety, and Ben Carson

It’s snowing out, which is odd for Oregon and the snow will probably have melted or turned to ice by the time I post this, but as I type this morning it’s snowing. I’ve taken the last couple of days off from typing blog posts, but I’ve been continuing to type for myself. On some level my reluctance to post anything is related to my depression getting darker as it’s gotten colder out, though that’s admittedly probably a coincidence, but it’s also because I’m conflicted on the direction of what I want to write. Maybe this is foolish, but I feel like having a specific purpose or direction behind my writing will help me to continue posting and help me write something that is both internally coherent within posts and within the accumulated posts on the blog. The purpose or direction I identified is showing the banality of day to day life despite the world being so chaotic. I remain committed to that direction, but I think I need to improve my posts in a couple of different ways; first I need to document the banality of my own life more honestly, secondly, I need to not worry about connecting the banal events in my life to the wider world so much. Connecting my banal life to the world is antithetical to the point. The point is that there’s discord between my daily life and the chaos of the world around me. My instinct is to be skeptical of being open and honest with people, especially strangers on the internet, so the question of honestly is really holding me up. Admittedly practically no one is reading this anyway, so on some level the lack of an audience can soothe me, but ultimately the point is for people to read this and my anxiety constantly reminds me that with an audience comes all my fears of people knowing me too well and ultimately not liking what they see. With that said, I do write something every day and I’d like to hone my writing from being a daily slop of depressed and anxious whining and meaningless drivel into something that people can enjoy reading and that means writing with the intention of their being an audience, so I’m going to try and push ahead with the blog.

Spending the last couple days avoiding posting has allowed me to binge on what has been my other hobby of late, making Christmas candy. I made toffee which I dipped in chocolate and then coated in crushed candy canes two days ago, then yesterday I made another batch of fudge and a giant batch of caramels. I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen as planning and making meals is a large portion of my job as a caregiver, but the other reason I spend so much time making sweets and food generally is that I’ve found that cooking allows me to avoid stress eating. In the last year I completely changed my diet and lost a ton of weight, well over a hundred pounds, so finding alternative outlets for my desire to eat when I’m anxious and depressed has been pivotal in that process. I probably could write a post about losing weight, god knows a million other people have, but having read a lot of those posts I find them to generally fall into a series of boring tropes and to be ultimately quite boring and full of spurious advice that is only specifically useful to the person that has already lost the weight. My inclination in the face of that kind of writing is to write a snarky satire of the entire tropey enterprise, but that kind of sarcasm doesn’t seem like it would be any more helpful to anyone and might come across as more mean spirited than I intend it so I’m holding off on writing it.

While I’m in the kitchen making meals or anything else I listen to podcasts. As I’m a political junkie most of those podcasts are news and politics shows, so despite my feeling like I need to escape the news by focusing on something else I never entirely escape; probably the true sign of a junkie. The news continues to be dire, idiotic, and chaotic. And Trump continues to be a rapist, racist, fraudulent, neo-fascist. The latest insult of a decision that Trump has made that I’ve got stuck on is Ben Carson being appointed to run the department of Housing and Urban Development. Besides the fact that he apparently doesn’t think HUD should do anything or probably even exist which would come with anyone a Republican president would nominate to run the department, my issue is that we all seem to be ignoring the fact that Ben Carson is a personification of a right wing Republican that has completely bought into the conspiracies and bullshit spewed by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The media and political establishment are acting as though he’s just a brilliant neurosurgeon who’s maybe an odd pick for HUD. Just look back at his speech during the Republican National Convention in August, “Now, one of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors was Saul Alinsky. And her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone she greatly admired and let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky,” Carson said. “He wrote a book called Rules for Radicals. It acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. Now think about that. This is our nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator, a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are ‘One nation under God.’ This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says, ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.” I found that quote on Politifact, if want to look it up. That is the ranting and raving of crazy uncle liberty, not a man that should be running the department of anything. I, admittedly, have not been closely following the mainstream press, but what I have read and seen clipped on Twitter doesn’t include anyone bringing up that Carson connected Hillary Clinton to Satan literally, so I’m guessing it hasn’t happened. That’s my issue, we’re deeply concerned about fake news now despite the fact that people on the right have been buying deeply untrue bullshit for years and no one is pointing out that we now have man who will soon be running a major department of government who believes completely idiotic bullshit. Jake Tapper did push on Pence, the soothing face of lies for the coming administration, about Michael Flynn Jr, but Carson is actually going to run a government agency that keeps millions of poor and elderly people from being homeless and he’s wading just as deep in the bullshit and no one is acknowledging it disqualifies him.

I’m generally skeptical of the idea that we’re entering a new era of post-truth, I think that era began with the lies about Vietnam and the Nixon administration expanded it to the rest of the political sphere, but ultimately it does seem that we’ve come to a point where being caught in multiple lies and believing obviously untrue things isn’t something the media has a problem getting past. Maybe that’s always been true because really what can you do as the media, but on some level it does feel different. I can’t really put my finger on the difference, it’s not the lies and blatant untruths and absurd conspiracies, but the wider public interpretation of them and those who believe them that seems to have changed. I’ve got to end this post, life is breaking through my flow, the guy I care for is asking me to look up how to paint Nerf guns to look realistic, so I’ve got to look into that and explain it to him despite knowing that probably won’t end up following through on doing it.

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