The Social Event Of The Season

On Wednesday, the entire United States Senate will head to the White House to meet with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford.

This little soirée won’t be all hobnobbing and name-dropping, however. It seems there is an issue of some concern the aforementioned individuals wish to entreat senators about. Our inside sources were unusually tight-lipped about the topic of the meeting, but obliquely hinted it had to do with “Korth Norea”, whatever that is.

What an usual gathering of powerful individuals in the same location! There must be some reason they’re making time in their assuredly busy schedules, but what?

(Year Zero/Day Ninety-Six)

The role of satire in troubled times is a debatable one. Historically, the evidence suggests that laughter is the best medicine only if what ails you isn’t very serious. Frederick the Great’s attitude toward the mockery directed his way was telling: After struggling to read a poster that made fun of him, he is said to have remarked that it would have been more effective had it been hung lower. Nazi Germany saw its share of subversive humor, but of course it was bombs delivered by pilots, not comedians, that finally dismantled Adolf Hitler’s regime. The jokes might have even helped him hold on to power, providing ordinary Germans with both catharsis and a distraction from the fact that he was as monstrous as he was.

The Soviet Union saw satire as a societal release valve, worth opening whenever internal pressure began to build. The country’s most prominent satirical publication, Krokodil, was published by the Communist Party itself. A government that could laugh at itself couldn’t be that bad.

In modern America, where we have long taken for granted the idea that our leaders should be able to laugh at themselves, some consumers of satire have become more cynical and perhaps less likely to engage in meaningful action. A 2006 paper called this sense of comedy-fueled apathy the “Daily Show Effect.”

–Chris Jones, Comedy and tragedy in an age of political chaos

We Now Go Live To The PepsiCo Board Of Directors Meeting

[Players: Indra K. Nooyi [CEO), Lloyd G. Trotter, Alberto Weisser, Darren Walker, Daniel Vasella, Robert C. Pohlad, David C. Page, William R. Johnson, Richard W. Fisher, Shona L. Brown, George W. Buckley, Cesar Conde, Ian M. Cook, Dina Dublon, Rona A. Fairhead]

Vasella: –and I said, “That’s not my father, that’s my butler!”

[The room erupts in laughter]

Nooyi: Daniel, you are too much. But seriously, we should address the elephant in the room.

Conde: (sighs) You mean the Jenner thing.

Nooyi: Yes, “the Jenner thing”. We really biffed it with that one, and we’ve been getting flack from all sides. The social justice warriors are still giving us shit, the alt-right is threatening to march against Pepsi, and Kendall’s lawyers keep threatening to sue if we don’t put it back on the air.

Brown: Spoiled brat.

Nooyi: That’s not the point. It’s been a PR nightmare. The idiot who greenlit that commercial has been fired. Still, we need to do something to reclaim the narrative. Any ideas?

Trotter: What if we donate a cent for every 12-pack we sell to Black Lives Matter?

Nooyi: Too controversial. Besides, I don’t like the idea of cutting into our bottom line.

Cook: I say we run the damned thing 24/7. If people are still talking about it, it’s got legs.

Nooyi: …Next.

Dublon: What if we build a time mach–

Fairhead: [Clears throat dramatically] My friends, we don’t need to do anything. We were just given a gift from the almighty! Oh sweet baby Jesus!

Nooyi: What do you mean?

Fairhead: If there was any doubt that God is a Pepsi lover, that doubt has been dispelled!

Nooyi: Well?

Fairhead: My phone lit up about five minutes ago. Even people I haven’t heard anything from in years are texting me! President Trump did an interview with the Associated Press that went completely off the rails, and — here, let me read the important part to you.

TRUMP: Somebody, yeah, somebody put out the concept of a hundred-day plan. But yeah. Well, I’m mostly there on most items. Go over the items, and I’ll talk to you …

(Crosstalk.)

TRUMP: But things change. There has to be flexibility. Let me give you an example. President Xi, we have a, like, a really great relationship. For me to call him a currency manipulator and then say, “By the way, I’d like you to solve the North Korean problem,” doesn’t work. So you have to have a certain flexibility, Number One. Number Two, from the time I took office till now, you know, it’s a very exact thing. It’s not like generalities. Do you want a Coke or anything?

AP: I’m OK, thank you. No. …

Buckley: Oh my God.

Fairhead: Now you get it. Coke couldn’t ask for a worse spokesman! The ghost of Hitler might as well have risen up from Hell, called a press conference and reminded everyone that Fanta used to be a fruit soda for Nazis. Sweet, sweet baby Jesus!

[The room erupts in applause]

Nooyi: Rona, you just saved us a lot of pointless bickering. Meeting adjourned. Let’s go celebrate until we puke. And remember, I don’t want to hear anyone forgetting to order a “Jack and Pepsi” unless you want my boot up your ass…

(Year Zero/Day Ninety-Five)

 

 

Donnie And Marine

Convincing a majority of any nation of the correctness of an argument is difficult. Tedious, even. Outside of one’s own fan club, there will be people who disagree on firm ideological grounds, some who hint they can swayed but never seem to change their minds, and those who stand in opposition for reasons related to personality or identity.

And if, say, one has MacGyvered together a political career using pocket change, bits of string, populism and bullying, lack of persuasive skills will exacerbate the difficultly and tediousness.

That must be why Diable Mandarine is wistful for terror attacks, which could potentially give a boost to fascist cohorts like France’s Marine Le Pen and assist him in maintaining his own power in a pinch.

Not only that, but he all but officially endorsed Marine Le Pen ahead of Sunday’s electionThere’s a very real chance that she will be France’s next president. She’s run an ugly nationalist campaign while eliding the inconvenient “f” word that dogs her party. Her father Jean-Marie Le Pen led France’s National Front from its formation until 2011, and though the modern party would never openly call itself fascist, well

The first obstacle to understanding the French fascist dynamic comes from how the FN has been characterized from the 1990s, but especially in the last six years. Many mainstream analysts assure that the FN has transitioned from neofascism to “populism” (or “national-populism”), moving from the far right to slightly right of center. Some even assert that it has never been truly fascist because the French political culture would be “immune” to fascism, as many French historians have been constantly (and absurdly) contending that there has never been such a thing as an authentic French fascism in the twentieth century.

However, the “National Front for French Unity” (which is its original name) was created in the early 1970s by the party Ordre nouveau, which was rooted in the history of French fascism, and the FN was imagined as a broad organization in which neofascists — renamed “nationalists” — could attract, maneuver, and lead all of the moderate nationalists of the traditional right.

But when one stops thinking of the political trajectory of the FN in terms of changing symbols and words, in order to think it in terms of a strategic project, Marine Le Pen’s break from her father represented no fundamental change in the party’s platform, but rather a new manifestation of the party’s longstanding strategy for gaining political support.

The FN’s bait and switch aligns it closely with classical fascist political strategy. In The Anatomy of Fascism, historian Robert Paxton argues that far-right movements treat ideas as essentially instrumental: their promises contradict each other, and their platforms abruptly and radically change to gain a wider following. For example, fascist parties sometimes reject modernity, industry, and capitalism in the name of more deeply rooted, traditional values. Just as often, however, they defend these ideals in the name of national transformation.

In case the mainstream media’s current flight-of-fancy narrative about the president’s turn toward conventional respectability was holding any sway, let’s remind ourselves: Donald Trump just endorsed a fascist. Donald Trump is a fascist. Donald Trump could be one dramatic terrorist attack on American soil away from making that blindingly obvious.

(Year Zero/Day Ninety-Two)