Before everyone forgets, we want to devote just a little space here to memorializing for the record the blessed state of relative calm which has graced this nation in the wake of the “de-platforming”of what had until recently been the nation’s primary source of discordant inanity.
Future generations, presuming that any actually come into existence, may have to think for a moment before they understand just what is meant by the above. We who have just lived through it will have no such problem. Someone ought to crank out some t-shirts: “I survived four years of despotism-by-tweet!”
No, they probably wouldn’t sell—who would want to remember?
Here’s the thing, though, as #46 likes to say: Robert Mueller’s “Individual 1” may be lurking out of earshot in his tacky Florida dungeon, but the conditions which put him in power remain unchanged.
The New Complainants
“Give me your pampered, your rich, yearning to be re-platformed….”
What are these unchanged conditions to which we refer above? Speaking broadly, we could say that a third of the nation appears to have learned language and logic from Lewis Carrol’s Red Queen. Let us take as a concrete example this alleged issue of de-platforming.
We know this is a big issue among right wingers because they’re all yelling about it, here, there, and everywhere, all the time. Members of Congress crab about it, and reporters quote them on the issue in all the big newspapers. They complain about it to TV journalists—“Help! We’re being de-platformed!” For that matter, highly-paid cable TV propagandists with the cognitive abilities of a turnip spend hours driving the topic into the heads of their audiences. It’s a constant, unavoidable din.
De-platforming became a top-shelf grievance when Twitter, a private company, de-platformed the person we’re calling Individual 1 because he was using its services to incite people to riot in an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power; in other words, he tried to overthrow the government.
Twitter was concerned—understandably, we believe—about the possible ramifications of aiding and abetting the violent dissolution of the world’s oldest semi-functioning quasi-democracy.
Ironically, the company might escape any legal consequences if the government fell and the Justice Department ceased to function. On the other hand, corporations are so rarely held to account for their misdeeds that the matter may never have even been broached in the C-suite.
In theory, though, because Twitter is a publicly-traded stock, if the company misbehaved too badly there could still be consequences. It might find itself smote by the Invisible Hand of the market.
None of that matters, though, to those on the right. For them, every day is Festivus, and the airing of grievances never ends.
If we understand their anti-de-platforming theory correctly, a private corporation has no right to withold its services—even free ones like Twitter—from anyone, even if they do try to use it to replace a republic with a hereditary dictatorship.
After all, it’s not as if Individual 1 was asking for something truly offensive—like a gay wedding cake, for example.
Even if Individual 1 continues to stay out of the limelight—we should be so lucky—we expect to see this right wing embrace of post-modernism continue.
After all, what could be more convenient than to believe, or purport to believe, that there is no single truth, existing in an objective reality?
True freedom is the ability to conjure up your own truth, tailored to fit your individual needs.
Fearing that our Furtively Scuttling Photographer had been hunkered down a little too long, we briefly dislodged him from his bunker with a whiff of tear gas. He crept back a little sooner than we’d hoped, proffering this alarming photo. Presuming it’s not a hoax, it seems to indicate that the parking lot on the east side of Daniel Street has gone missing. Humongous machines—for scale, see the tiny person in the lower left of the image, next to the white dingbat—are apparently conducting quite a rigorous search.
The Baldasaro Watch
We checked in recently on Rep. Al Baldasaro. We were concerned about how the Trump National Veterans Coalition Advisor was holding up, now that the Trump administration has come to its ignominious end. Imagine our lack of surprise to discover that he’s largely the same as he ever was. That’s true conservatism, we suppose.
True, he has been a little quieter than usual since the leader of his cult lost on Election Day, and again and again and again since then, in court after court. But there’s still plenty fight in the former Marine.
On November 25, Baldasaro retweeted @MAGAThing: “There’s a Storm coming. Can you feel it?” An accompanying video shows Joe Biden approaching a President Elect podium. As Biden begins to speak, his voice is drowned out by sounds of wind and rain. Biden then morphs into a rising cloud of black shreds, or flakes, like ashes. There’s a flash of lightning, a roll of thunder, and—shazam—Trump magically appears in Biden’s place, with a smug look on his mug.
To reiterate, just so we’re clear: Rep. Baldasaro presents us with the duly-elected President being destroyed, and replaced with the bum we just got rid of. This supernatural transformation is presented in a positive light.
“There’s a Storm coming” is, of course, a fundamental component of the QAnon world view. We would not go so far as to claim, though, that Baldasaro is a QAnon follower. Actually exploring that tortuous rabbit hole would require some thought; the special effects are entertaining, though.
As evidence of his apparent lack of interest in arranging facts into some coherent argument, we submit this tweet, sent by Baldasaro on January 7th, the day after the mob attacked the Capitol:
“A sad day in America on the attack on Capitol Hill. @HouseGOP folded like a cheap suit and let MOB RULE WIN. Shame on you all, as a 8 term N.H. State Representative, I have lost confidence in our Republican U.S. Senators/Congressmen. @POTUS did a great job and is not responsible.”
What does that word salad mean? We have no idea.
Big Disappointment for DeLemus
As one might expect, Rep. Baldasaro was part of the effort to win a pardon for his fellow former Marine and Rochester resident Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus, who now seems destined to serve the rest of his 87-month sentence at Fort Devens, Mass. That does seem a little harsh, considering that DeLemus was just trying to be helpful.
In 2014, federal agents were trying to get Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his family to pay their grazing fees, which, as best we can recall, were a couple of decades past due. Rather than pay, the well-armed Bundys decided to exert their Second Amendment rights, pointing their guns at Federal officers. Other Second Amendment enthusiasts gathered in support, DeLemus among them—bringing his Barrett M82, a .50 caliber semi-automatic sniper rifle, for backup. The feds took a dim view of that and charged him with conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of extortion. He pleaded guilty but then tried to withdraw his plea. The judge was not amused.
“[L]eading New Hampshire conservative Republicans drafted and signed a commutation petition three days before Christmas,” WMUR reported January 7th, “and are optimistic that in the final days of Trump’s presidency, they will finally be successful.” Oh, well.
“‘At no time while in Nevada did Jerry brandish a gun,’ the commutation petition states,” according to WMUR—a statement which seems at odds with the facts. That’s DeLemus at left, playing Iwo Jima, with what looks like his Barrett in the foreground.
The Gazette Gets With the Program
We’ve been fooling around long enough. It’s time for the Gazette to “get with the program” and operate like a “normal” newspaper for a change: 1) pluck a press release out of the incoming torrent, 2) fiddle with it a bit so it’s not too obvious that we’re letting some corporation use our news hole to flog its product, 3) slap the regurgitated result onto the page, 4) rinse and repeat.
Let’s start with this: “[Corporate Name Deleted to Dodge Potential Lawsuits – The Ed.] Unveils Self-Service Population Segmentation Tool.” There’s a headline that would spark anyone’s interest. It did ours, anyway—just one look and we had to ask, “What the hell does that mean?” As if compelled, we read on—well done, PR flack!
“BOSTON, Jan. 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)—Today, January 28th, [Corporate Name Deleted], the leader in health plan member engagement management…”
OK, stop right there. We’ve got problems with this already.
“Today, January 28th”—is it just our imagination, or is this PR flack cribbing from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech, drawing on its portentous tone to flog his or her product? That seems…unseemly; but, perhaps we’re being hypercritical.
Next item: “leader in health plan member engagement management”—uh, what? After a bit of struggle we’ve concluded that our PR flack is bragging that [Corporate Name Deleted] is the top dog in the field of managing “engagement” with “members” of health plans.
“Engagement”—whenever we hear that euphemism, we reach for our pencil. And “member”? Are we talking about people who are trying to see their doctors? We are becoming somewhat troubled, but let us resume this perhaps dubious exercise.
Where were we? Ah, yes: our heroic corporation “…has unveiled [Product Name Deleted,] its health plan member population segmentation tool powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence.”
Jumping Jehosaphat—it’s worse than we’d feared! Already, on those rare occasions when we actually get to sit down with a live doctor, a keyboard and screen get most of the attention. Now we’re dragging in some silicon brain to “help make decisions.”
“[Product Name Deleted] enables payers to build and export customized member lists in minutes to target members that need the most help and that are likely to have undesirable outcomes.” [Emphasis added. — The Ed.]
Yeah—and do what to them?
“[Product Name Deleted] puts the power of member segmentation, identification, and engagement at the fingertips of plan personnel, resulting in improved efficiency and outcomes. …
Yes, that is exactly what we feared. No, wait—member segmentation?—actually, it’s probably worse.
We apologize to our readers. This has all been too horrifying. We are so sorry. We’re going to get without the program, and go back to newspapering all wrong.
“Isle of Shoals Humpbacks” was breathtaking on the day of its dedication, June 14, 1993. It was huge, of course, befitting its subject. Forgotten over the years, though, have been its myriad, once-vivid blues. Those stunning colors were an essential element of artist Robert Wyland’s plan, begun in the early 1980s, “to help children rediscover the wonder of the ocean through art.” Over time, though, those azures, ceruleans and celadons faded. By 2007, local citizens began trying to restore this, the 37th in Wyland’s series of 100 “Whaling Walls.” The building’s owner was less than cooperative. By 2010, the then-Award-Winning Local Daily was advising the citizens to abandon all hope—particularly considering the imminent construction of a parking garage on the Worth lot. Today the mighty whales have nearly disappeared into the side of the Cabot Furniture building. It now appears that, before too long, even this vestige will be lost; the building is going to be renovated. A smaller version of the original image is promised.
Still Pining For the Newsprint
Though the world has been turned upside down by the prevailing pestilence, the editorial end of our operation is surprisingly unaffected—so far, anyway. We just clatter along, filling the same space as ever. The content changes, of course, and we do strive every fortnight to improve it. The form, though, stays the same, creating a welcome sense of continuity. That is little consolation for our distribution and mailing volunteers, though.
In the halcyon days of yore, our enterprise routinely distributed thousands of copies of our actual ink-on-paper paper. Volunteers cheerfully made their rounds each fortnight; soon the paper was within arm’s reach of ten thousand readers or more.
Simultaneously the mailing crew would gather, and hold lively, wide-ranging conversations while they folded and sealed. In short order our friends at the U.S. Postal Service were making sure that hundreds of copies were on their way—First Class—to paying subscribers virtually anywhere on Earth.
Unless they have been lying—which is not in the nature of any of them—they all derived a sense of satisfaction in keeping This Olde Rag going. They certainly weren’t doing it for the money—because there has never been any.
Then came Friday, March 13, 20-#@^$%&$#-20, and all that came to an abrupt halt—largely because a certain dominant political party sold whatever soul it had to an incompetent charlatan, but that’s another Rant.
We’re comforted knowing that our volunteers can’t be missing a paycheck they never had. We do regret, though, that we can’t give them the satisfaction they derived from playing a vital role in this operation.
From time to time a volunteer will check in just to get a sense of when we might return to newsprint. That is always encouraging. It tells us that—presuming we’re spared by this awful pestilence—when we set the cylinders of the mighty web press rolling again, it should be possible to rebuild our revolutionary distribution system. In fact, when we’re not slapping slander together with libel and innuendo, we’re dreaming up ways to expand our distribution network.
At this point our best guess—and it’s only a guess—is some time in late summer.