Tuesday, November 21, 2017

MORE ME ELSEWHERE.

Another piece by your humble narrator at America's finest literary magazine, The Sherman Oaks Review of Books.

VICTIMLESS CRIME.

We've reached a nadir -- well, a new nadir -- in the Al Franken case with this accusation that screamingly obvious joke photos made by Franken and Arianna Huffington for promo purposes are evidence of Huffington's sexual assault, even after Huffington said that they were not.

Note that the New York Post and Daily Caller stories both refer to Huffington as a "self-described feminist," a usage clearly meant to suggest that Huffington is a hypocrite for not accusing Franken -- in fact, that she is instead collaborating with Franken in her own assault! It'd be neat if they could pull that off: A Democrat sex crime where both the Senator and the woman are bad, and the real victim is the wingnut press.

Any accusation deserves to be taken seriously, but there's serious and then there's just gullible.

UPDATE. Let's Just Give Up On Humanity, A Series: Huffington ran a different photo from that shoot of herself strangling Franken, to make the point that (imagine me speaking very slowly and distinctly now) sometimes people do funny jokes for pictures, see; that's what the funny man was doing before, and that's what the cheapskate publisher is doing here. Here are some of the responses:

This shit makes Idiocracy look like My Dinner with Andre.

Monday, November 20, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the Al Franken imbroglio, as well as the attempts of some liberals to reexamine the Clinton impeachment, and the ways in which conservatives have attempted to weaponize these events for their own ends. I hope you won't think me ungenerous in saying that these guys are not interested in advancing the Believe Women movement. They're just trying to take the post-Weinstein moment, in which abused women are getting a little more attention and credence than usual, and exploit it. You can see it especially clearly in the pissy oh-yeah-you-libs-are-supposed-to-be-feminists routines from conservatives like Laura K Potter at RedState:
We’d at least expect former presidential candidate, Mrs. Hillary Clinton to express some sort of support for Ms. Leeann Tweeden, as a fellow woman and believer of all those who come forward, right?...

Nope. Nothing. Third wave feminism is showing, once again, that women deserve to be heard and respected if they hold they correct (read: progressive) viewpoints.
If you'e thinking, wait a minute, Clinton did make a measured and reasonable statement about Franken -- well, yes, but not at the moment when Potter was looking at her Twitter feed, and when you write for RedState there's no point in updating. (Potter's only subsequent article at this writing is, awesomely, "International Men’s Day Spotlight On Male Suicides.")

The culture warriors got into it, too: You saw here last week how Jonathan V. Last at The Weekly Standard took a journey through the past and ranted about the drugs these damn hippies were using on Saturday Night Live and the soiled honor of Spiro T. Agnew. President Trump himself brought up a sketch Franken and other SNL writers worked on, in drafts of which multiple celebrities get raped by Andy Rooney, as if it proved anything except SNL writers took a lot of drugs -- and, for the millionth time, that conservatives don’t understand the difference between fiction and reality.

But Rod Dreher, as usual, outstripped them all in Fallen World paranoia with a froth of outrage over one of the last really funny things SNL did, the 40-year-old "Uncle Roy" sketch with Buck Henry. What's that got to do with Franken? Get a load:
I tried to find out if Al Franken wrote that skit, but my research indicates it was his frequent writing partner, the late Tom Davis. I was wrong — as two readers who watched the Henry interview till the end point out, it was two women: Rosie Shuster and Ann Beatts. Anyway, the reader sends in this more recent clip of Buck Henry defending the integrity of laughing at pedophilia...
And here's a clip of W.C. Fields laughing at blindness! And what about Mel Brooks laughing at Nazis? All these Hollyweirdos are corrupt!
Again: Al Franken did not write the Uncle Roy skit, though he was part of the team that aired it. I’m not saying that Al Franken is soft of pedophilia! I am saying, however, that the 1970s and those who were at the leading edge of pop culture’s evolution back then are probably going to have a lot to answer for as more and more people come out about being sexually harassed or assaulted. I’m wondering if this purgatory spasm we’re living through is going to consume way more famous Baby Boomer males than we can even imagine.
The whole thing's a pisser but what's most amazing, or what would be amazing if we weren't so used to Dreher shattering the limits of ridic, is that he kept going even after admitting his whole premise was wrong.

Finally, to Andrew Sullivan: Dude, let it go.

UPDATE.
One other thing that's struck me is the way the brethren deal with the lack of contact between Franken’s hands and Tweeden’s breasts in the famous photograph. Like Peter Hasson at the Daily Caller: “Franken’s defenders in the media have also given him credit for, they say, not fully groping Tweeden.”  I guess in sexual assault close counts, like in horseshoes. (I should add it's not only rightbloggers -- MSM types have fallen into it, too, like Nate Silver, who said the photo "appeared to show Franken groping Tweeden’s breasts while she was sleeping — not providing a lot of room for 'if true' statements about Franken’s conduct." If you're not watching that three-card-monte of a sentence closely, you'll come away thinking he's feeling her up.)

Also, thanks for Yastreblyansky and Sentient Al from the Future in comments for pointing out that the Menendez underage claims  to which Nolte alluded never panned out; I had something about that in the original but didn't feel the column would bear the time it would take to explain -- which is, come to think of it, how a lot of their shit gets over.



Friday, November 17, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Cranky old David Thomas totally bailed emotionally when the band did this last Thursday in D.C.,
but fortunately we have the artifact.

It may be that I am insufficiently woke, but the story of Al Franken kissing a woman who wasn't into it seems more sad than monstrous to me; as for Franken pretending to grope her, we'll just have to agree to disagree whether that's a criminal matter. I do notice that numerous liberals have rushed to demand Franken's resignation and some Democratic Senate colleagues (and Franken himself) have demanded he be formally investigated. Rightwingers, meanwhile, either accused liberals of covering up for him or laughed at them for being stupid enough to fall for their feigned outrage ("Can you imagine how the left must be twisting up as they are turning on one of their own? Al Franken has been thrown under the bus"). The worst response so far, however, comes from Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard, whose headline, "Al Franken: Even Worse Than You Think," should be actionable under Truth in Advertising laws. Last opens by quoting Franken about his time at Saturday Night Live:
There was not as much cocaine as you would think on the premises. Yeah, a number of people got in trouble. But cocaine was used mainly just to stay up. There was a very undisicplined way of writing the show, which was staying up all night on Tuesday. We didn't have the kind of hours that normal people have. And so there was a lot of waiting until Tuesday night, and then going all night, and at two or three or four in the morning, doing some coke to stay up, as opposed to doing a whole bunch, and doing nitrous oxide, and laughing at stuff. People used to ask me about this and I'd always say, "No, there was no coke. It's impossible to do the kind of show we were doing and do drugs." And that was just a funny lie that I liked to tell. Kind of the opposite was true, unfortunately, for some people, it was impossible to do the show without the drugs.
Here is how Last responds to this mild it-was-the-70s anecdote:
So Franken liked to tell funny lies about not using drugs when he wasn’t writing a book castigating Republicans which was titled -- this is so great -- Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Maybe now when he says that he “doesn’t remember” his encounter with Tweenden the way she describes it, this is a funny lie, too.
He also suggests that Franken was guilty of "distributing" drugs because John Belushi did some of his blow. The "funny lies" bit is perfect enraged-dorkspeak -- sputter, you took drugs and yet didn't turn yourself in, now John Belushi is dead and it's all your fault, so what else are you lying about Mr. Funny Liar??? Speaking of your high school guidance counselor, Last is also mad that Franken slurred Spiro Agnew:
I mean, sure, Agnew fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded a Bronze Star. And yeah, I guess it’s true that as governor of Maryland, Agnew repealed the state’s laws against interracial marriage. But you know, he was a double-plus bad Republican and Franken was a coked-up, 20-something comedian in New York. So he really showed that guy.
You are more likely to know Agnew as a guy who pleaded out of a kickbacks charge and had to resign the Vice-Presidency, but that's probably because you're a damn cokehead.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

IF ANYONE HAD SAID ANYTHING TO ME AT ALL WHEN I FIRST STARTED HERE THAT THAT SORT OF THING WAS FROWNED UPON...

Matthew Yglesias on the Clinton impeachment (yes, the cool kids are talking about that again -- but with a modern twist):
To this line of argument, Republicans offered what was fundamentally the wrong countercharge. They argued that in the effort to spare himself from the personal and marital embarrassment entailed by having the affair exposed, Clinton committed perjury when testifying about the matter in a deposition related to Paula Jones’s lawsuit against him. 
What they should have argued was something simpler: A president who uses the power of the Oval Office to seduce a 20-something subordinate is morally bankrupt and contributing, in a meaningful way, to a serious social problem that disadvantages millions of women throughout their lives.
Yeah, that would have worked. "Perjury is a non-starter -- let's go with my notes from a seminar on power relations!"

Clinton had sex with an adult woman not his wife. Not great, morally, but not Bluebeard either. Yglesias, no doubt borne aloft by the recent wave of sex crimes outrage, wants to revisit the case as one of "men’s abuse of workplace power for sexual gain," worthy of impeachment. The national revulsion at rape and harassment, I can get; the idea that sexual relations are only legitimate if they occur between members of the same caste, not so much -- and certainly not as an impeachable offense.

You can tell Yglesias doesn't really believe in it either, because he brings up the much more serious accusations of Juanita Broaddrick as if they might tip the jury. If he really wanted to stick to the subject, he might have named for us some other consensual relationships he thinks are power-imbalanced in the same way as Clinton's and Lewinsky's. Maybe he could have mentioned David Brooks' marriage to his much-younger former research assistant, for example, or other relationships where one or the other party has more money, a higher profile, more street cred, or whatever, and may thus be judged exploitative. But that might have gotten him in trouble, whereas relitigating the Clinton impeachment is au courant, and a way to signal to your rightwing pals that you take this stuff just as seriously as they do -- which is to say, not at all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

CONSERVATISM CANNOT FAIL, IT CAN ONLY BE FAILED, PART 956,390.

If you look at Roy Moore's official political positions, you'll see that he's as hardcore a conservative as can be imagined: In favor of "lower taxes, smaller government, and less spending," anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, against "socialized medicine," thinks "homosexuality should be against military policy," etc.

But now he's an embarrassment, so John Daniel Davidson of The Federalist wishes to inform you:
Long Before Assault Allegations, Roy Moore Betrayed Conservatism
Social conservatives embraced Roy Moore because they thought he was fighting for them. In fact, Moore was never a conservative to begin with.
You have probably guessed Davidson's MacGuffin here is Moore's defiance as a judge that got him kicked off the bench -- proof of his "History of Contempt for The Law," which makes him unconservative because real conservatives respect the law. If you look up No True Scotsman in the dictionary, they have a picture of Davidson's column next to it.

Weirdly, when Davidson covered Moore's victory in the Republican primary in September, he didn't denounce his Constitutional crimes, nor weep for the defeat of conservatism in Alabama -- in fact Davidson said Moore's victory was about "the waning influence of the GOP establishment," and it proved that "mainstream Republicans like McConnell haven fallen out of favor with conservative voters." So conservative voters elected this unconservative. They must have been greatly confused!

Once upon a time I'd have given Davidson points for chutzpah, but I've stopped doing that because it appears every conservative in the country is stocked up on chutzpah these days, having no other way to sell their bullshit in the teeth of obviously contradictory reality. The fuckers have even wrecked chutzpah! No wonder Roger Stone is going down.

Monday, November 13, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Roy Moore, the election, and the awkward position into which both have put conservatives -- which may explain why they're not entirely united in defense of their accused kid-diddler. Of course, if the Alabama special election were a true Senate-hangs-in-the-balance scenario, we might get the kind of bad faith and bullshit we got when conservatives were hemming and hawing over Trump's pussy-grabbing tape. But since it's merely important, and still winnable, they're allowed to break ranks.

UPDATE: Man, if he's not fucked after this... 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

FOOD OF THE GOD-BOTHERERS.

Today in What's Rod Dreher On About This Time we find the Get-Ready Man inspired by James Poulos, whose bright idea is that, since America has been ruined for the Godly by atheistic sex freaks, maybe the Godly should leave America and go colonize Europe -- you know, the way religious cults used to take over territories in the American outland and establish monocultural enclaves like Rajneeshpuram and Ave Maria --
...growing numbers in the U.S. may conclude that the only way to retain the essential character of the West is to relocate to Europe...

Not every American will pose that question or act on it. But for those who can match a personal interest in doing so to a more cultural or ideological interest in helping “save” Europe from another traumatizing and turbulent break with its past, returning to the old world for the good of western civilization may hold a unique and powerful appeal.
Poulos briefly acknowledges that "the refusal of large numbers of Americans to seek their fortune outside their country even when it has become effectively impossible for them to live fruitfully at home" may owe in part to the fact that not every Godly-American is a trust fund kid with enough dough to take himself and his quiverful off to Belgium for a Gap Lifetime -- he even brings up drug addiction as an impediment because that's really hot when talking about the poors these days -- but finally realizes paupers don't read shit like this anyway and declares "the primary obstacle to seeking better fortunes overseas is probably a raw lack of imagination — an inability to conceive of a picture of a future outside the new world." So bootstrap your imaginations, Jesus peeps -- maybe run a for-profit education scam like The Leader to fund your travels, or better yet a Kickstarter! Hell, Kim Du Toit did it even before Kickstarter was a thing.

Nutty as that is, Dreher's reaction is ever better. First, he wistfully declares that if he were a younger man, he might do just this:
I don’t want Notre Dame de Paris to become either a mosque or a museum. There’s something in me that wants to resist by loving these things that we Christians in the West have been given, but have for far too long left uncherished.
I assume Dreher's idea of loving Notre Dame is banding together with like-minded morons in front of the place to form a cordon sanitaire against Muslims. Dreher also talks about how he loves all the old things you can see in Europe and "feel[s] at home in Europe in ways that I just don’t in America" -- he's not the only one wearing sandals, for one thing -- and as an unbidden bonus (maybe the old lady walked by, looked over his shoulder, and muttered, "Is it already time for another foodie vacation?"), leaps to a defense of his many gastrotravels:
Yes, it’s true that I love to take vacations to Europe. The food is something I love, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Aside from being delicious, the cuisines of European countries are expressions of deep and abiding traditions. I have a sacramental mentality, which means that I don’t sit down at a table in the Umbrian mountains and eat an antipasti platter of cured meats and experience them as merely delicious. I learn what I can about why cured meats, and cured meats in this particular style, came to be associated with this region, or this village, and what the cooking here says about the local culture and its traditions. I like to eat good local food and drink good local wine or beer. That’s one of life’s great pleasures.
See, when you ignorant peons eat fancy food, you're just gorging, but Rod's sacramental -- meaning, I suppose, that when he says grace he does so in a dreamy voice meant to convey his sacramentality.

No wonder his family didn't want his bouillabaisse; all that sanctimony probably spoiled the flavor.