Thursday, October 19, 2017

PUT NOT THY FAITH IN PUTZES.

Remember the National Review "Against Trump" issue? I knew back then it was bullshit, but let us recall, indeed savor, the closing passage of their lead article from January 2016:
Some conservatives have made it their business to make excuses for Trump and duly get pats on the head from him. Count us out. Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.
Flash forward with me now to this week, where we join brave Jonah Goldberg, who likes to advertise himself as tough on Trump (to the credulous applause of dummies: "So tough on Trump"!) in mid homina-homina:
But first I should explain something. As I’ve said before, I do not consider myself a “Never Trumper” any more for the simple reason that the label is inadequate to the times. Never Trump, as I saw it, was about the primaries and the election. Once elected and sworn in, Donald Trump was the president, and to whatever extent “Never Trump” was a movement, it had failed. I call myself a “Trump skeptic,” because, among other reasons, I don’t buy any of the hagiographic explanations and justifications for his behavior. Other former Never Trumpers hold onto the label. Others don’t. This just helps illuminate a point lost on many Trump supporters and left-wingers alike: Never Trump was never some coherent, unified thing. It started as a hashtag on Twitter as far as I can tell and included people of diverse opinions and tactics, some of which I never subscribed to.
Ironically, the people who cling to the term the most are actually Trump’s most ardent supporters...
Yeah, whatever, Tubby. Go change your pants and get back in line.

This is a reminder that these people are all as full of shit as it is possible to be without getting hauled away by Don's Johns. If you, like many good folks (not me, though!), were taken in by Chief of Staff John Kelly ("John Kelly, New Chief of Staff, Is Seen as Beacon of Discipline" -- NYT; "Why John Kelly is President Trump's Last Hope" -- Time), and considered him an Honest Conservative and a True Patriot, and were thus surprised to see him work a Trumpian con (it's all the black lady's fault!) at the behest of his boss today, well, take comfort that you were not alone, and that it's not only difficult to be as icily cynical as me but also probably not healthy. But please, try and take a lesson from the experience: There are no "good ones."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WHY THE OTHER THREE SOLDIERS' FAMILIES DIDN'T GET CALLS.

"Hello?"

"Hi, this is President Trump. This a bad time? If it's a bad time just say so."

"No, sir, it's fine."

"Good. OK, how ya doing? You taking some time off or you still going to work?"

"Excuse me?"

"Either way is okay. I'm not saying anything. What I am saying is, there's lots of jobs out there for people who want to work, that's all. Unemployment's the lowest it's ever been, is all I'm saying. Listen, sweetheart, I'm calling because, uh, I understand your -- boyfriend? Husband. I can't make out these chicken-scratches they give me here, very bad handwriting, the worst. Anyway, your husband had some kind of accident over in -- Niger? I say that right? Niger. Thank God. I guess they told you about it, but it was news to me, and when I heard I said, the President of the United States must call this woman and tell her that, uh, Private, Private what's-his-name died a hero. Captain. General. Private. They told your husband, don't do it, don't do it, what's-your-name, don't be a hero, his friends in the streets and in the NFL, they said this to him, or so I'm told. They don't respect anything, these people, it's disgraceful, and we're going to do something about it. But your husband, he went ahead anyway and enlisted, it's not like he was drafted, because we don't have the draft and I don't think we should have one, but we'll see about it, anyway he went over there and not ten minutes later they shot him dead, they, well maybe he blew up or was in a car crash, whatever it was it killed him, it's terrible what's going on over there. But you know, he didn't have to be in the Green, the Green Forces, he could have, I don't know, he's musical, right? Your husband? Looks like a guy with a lot of musical talent. He could have been a singer or maybe washed cars or, but, phew, he took his shot, you know what I mean, he took his shot and boom, he's gone. What can I tell you... Hello? Look, I can understand it's rough for you, I'm gonna personally send you a little something, okay, just an envelope with some cash in it, think nothing of it, I do this all the time... Hello? [disconnects the call] Well, I'm not doing that again."

UPDATE. National Review's Rich Lowry is always a miserable Trump suckup but on this subject he really outdoes himself. First, he says, "it appears to be correct that Obama didn’t call all the families of the fallen" -- when Trump very obviously implied Obama didn't call those families at all before he got rattled and backed off. (Lowry also gets extra chickenshit points for adding "it doesn’t mean it was right for Trump to use that point as a bludgeon," as if Trump had made a credible accusation but went a little too far by insisting on it.) Also:
Three, Trump’s “knew what he signed up for” statement seems horrible in isolation, but it’s hard to know what to make of it except in context and listening to the conservation. Even the Democrat congresswoman says that Trump said “it hurts anyway.” On the other hand, the family confirms that it was upset by Trump’s call.
We can't really know what went on because on the one hand we have the word of the world's most notorious liar and, on the other, that of a grieving widow and her friends -- how can you figure out which one's telling the truth? Plus the grieving widow is black!
Now, Trump is engaged in a fight over what he really said. Is it too much to ask that everyone back off this one and not to add to anyone’s distress and leave condolence calls — if nothing else — out of our poisonous political debate?
Leave President Trump alone!  You're really just hurting the people he wants you to think are lying about what a piece of shit he is.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THIS WOULD MAKE AN ATHEIST OUT OF MOTHER TERESA.

Do you retain a sentimental feeling for Christianity, despite the fact that many American Christians actually worship money and Trump and Rod Dreher exists? Here, this article at Reason may cure you:
Are Free Minds and Free Markets Compatible With Christianity?
A baker's dozen Christian libertarians weigh in
If you know libertarians, you may have some idea of the kind of "Christians" they would know. And no, there isn't a single hippie-dippy "Blessed are the poor" pussy in the bunch. Right out of the gate:
"In my mind, capitalism is what happens when you have the absence of initiated force, and that's perfectly compatible—beautifully compatible—with Christianity. Capitalism simply means the freedom of individuals to make contracts and to engage others in a peaceful and voluntary way. That's precisely what Christ taught." —Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus A Socialist?
Reed's book is available online, and it'll make your average pig-eyed Jesus grifter doff his cap in tribute, full of stuff like this:
In his book, Biblical Economics, theologian R. C. Sproul Jr. notes that Jesus “wants the poor to be helped” but not at gunpoint, which is essentially what government force is all about...
This reminds me of the capital punishment bit in Beyond the Fringe, in which a warden argues for it while escorting a prisoner to his doom: [Warden] "You don't want to be cooped up for life." [Condemned prisoner] "Yes, I do want to be cooped up for life." [Warden] "Come along, now, you're playing with words."

Quotes from the other disciples of Ayn Christ include "Who nailed Jesus to the cross? The state!" and this, my favorite:
The more I read, the more I realized that there's nowhere in here where Christ attempts to use the tools of violence to accomplish his objectives. In fact, it was so extreme in the opposite direction that even self-defense wasn't used by Christ and the early Christians. They chose martyrdom.
I can see why he likes that. Blessed are the meek, they're easier to rob and kill! They talk a lot about how they, in the name of Christ, would not countenance government programs to feed the starving and house the homeless because that's violence, and violence is so ungodly it trumps their need to survive; but I bet if you went for their wallets (or even a crumb from their tables) they'd come up with a gun pretty quick.

I will only add that Kevin D. Williamson, one of the most vicious wingnuts going, is listed here as "National Review roving correspondent and a Catholic convert." As the old saying going, Jesus is alright but his friends are a bunch of fucking assholes.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Trump's double-barreled blast at Obamacare and the conservatives assuring an anxious Republic that they're not losing health insurance, they're gaining freedom.

Friday, October 13, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Tweedy maybe leaned minimalist a little too much here, but they still got some funk on it.

•   It would be not only wonderful but also hilarious if the Harvey Weinstein controversy actually did put a crimp in powerful men using their clout to exploit women. I say hilarious because conservatives are betting they can turn it to their political advantage.They're currently using it to beat up on women as hypocrites because they didn't speak up sooner. Their attacks on Clinton for having accepted campaign donations from Weinstein because "everybody" knew about his crimes are already old news; now we have wingnuts doing the same witchfinder-general routine on actresses like Jane Fonda ("‘Found Out About Harvey About A Year Ago’ And Didn’t Say Anything" -- Daily Caller), and Meryl Streep ("Sophie’s choice was between her career and her conscience, and let’s just say she didn’t agonize over her pick" --  Kurt Schlichter). That the actresses who get the most heat are outspoken liberals is no accident; the whole wingnut play is that Hollywood is corrupt because it's lefty, and vice-versa, and this scandal rejuvenates all their old Hollyweird slurs; that's why you have guys like Jim Geraghty at National Review crying "Hollywood, you don’t get to lecture us about anything anymore" -- they have no interest in sparing women workplace indignities, they just want their ancient prejudices and those of their readers validated, and a source of opposition funding neutralized. The fact they can't admit, to their suckers or to themselves, is that it was wealth that insulated Weinstein, not political orthodoxy. That's the part that's most Trumpian about the whole affair -- not so much the simple, shameless hypocrisy of President Pussygrabber's fans decrying Weinstein as the blithe misdirection of outrage from the actual perps onto whomever one needs to smear. However, if the thing blows up like it seems it might, conservatives might find whirlwinds aren't so easily steered. I can understand why they think they're protected; they got their chief predator elected president, and another big one is making his comeback after just a few months offstage. But if their wall of white women voters shifts with this wind, it'll be something, especially since they won't notice (because they don't listen to them) until it's too late.

• As to Trump's gut-stabs to Obamacare, conservatives are of course thrilled. So far the most interesting reaction has been Peter Suderman's at Reason, which may serve as a template for conservatarians who'll need something to shout from the scaffold once Trump's yokels realize they've been had. Written apparently after the association health plan decision was announced but before the subsidies decision was, Suderman's post describes the political difficulty with undermining the ACA:
There is something clever, almost cunning, about Obamacare's policy scheme: It requires unequivocal political support from an administration in order to avoid accusations that the law is being undermined. It is a kind of joint political-policy trap, in which the only solution to the law's failings is to bail it out.
Insidious -- a policy that, like Social Security and Medicare, makes people angry at you if you "reform" it! All Trump's really trying to do, Suderman says, is offer people who've been forced to buy essential health benefit coverage even though they'll never get sick "less regulated, less expensive alternatives" that will cost them little and, if they get hit by a car, send them Mercurochrome and a bill. "The order is less a direct attack on Obamacare and more of an attempt to escape its failings," he says. "Yet the reaction from defenders of Obamacare has been to accuse the president of undermining the health law." By defenders he must mean the American College of Physicians and all the other experts I've seen who say this is an invitation to a tailspin. Suderman admits okay maybe that'll happen, but the important thing is, if it does it's not Trump's fault -- the thing is, we have to do something and anything we do kills it, so I guess the thing is doomed:
This would be true, however, of practically any effort to create more insurance options outside of its regulatory scheme. The law effectively requires total buy in, from market participants and from political overseers, in order to function. The result is situation in which the only way to avoid undermining the law is to prop it up. Obamacare is built to allow no alternative and no escape.
There was an alternative -- a repeal and replace plan, three crap versions of which Republicans threw in with a towel before running off to the woods. They weren't serious about killing Obamacare because they have constituents who would turn them out if they did so; Trump, senile and vicious, can imagine no such outcome for himself, and knows only that the black bastard can't get away with it. Enablers like Suderman have their own motivation -- something they call liberty, which always involves great sacrifice, in this case the sacrifice of even a hint of the decent coverage that Europeans take for granted. They better pray that the hint wasn't taken.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME!

Rod Dreher's back from another of his extended Parisian foodie boondoggles -- I swear, for someone who's always going on about Little Ways and common people he spends an awful lot of time in Yurrup, and not doing missionary work neither -- and has resumed his usual Ben Op/Get-Ready Man routine, supplemented with great lashings of Harvey Weinstein because it fits with his Fallen World scenario. But give him credit -- I looked in because I always expect him to exceed himself, and by God he has delivered.

This post is mostly about how 1.) Mark Lilla would be perfect if only he accepted Christ as his personal savior, and 2.) Ta-Nehisi Coates is a racist. At first I thought this was the plum of the post:
Ta-Nehisi Coates and [neo-Nazi] Richard Spencer are both atheists who have found a strong source of belief in their respective races.
But as loony as it is, it's of a piece with other Dork Right attacks on Coates, like this woo-woo at The Federalist by Dimestore Douthatwith Threenames about how Coates, in his perfectly reasonable prediction that America's inequality might lead to violent confrontation, is "feinting toward violence as a means... of achieving social justice," as if Coates had done the interview bare-chested and bandoliered and simultaneously strangled a white man.  (I can imagine Threenames in 1963 hearing Malcolm X talk about chickens coming home to roost and muttering, "see, what'd I tell you about those people.") No, the plum comes at the end:
Only a strong Christianity can counter this nihilistic tribal religion. But this we do not have today. I am on record as strongly disapproving of some of the antics of Milo Yiannopoulos, but he and I are on the same page here, in this excerpt from an interview with America magazine, which he says they refused to print...
By "on record as strongly disapproving," Dreher means posts about Milo like "CPAC Welcomes Pederasty Advocate." But convinced as Dreher is that gay marriage will destroy America (see his Obergefell essay, "Democracy Is Dying; Persecution Is Coming") unless he and his God Squad can destroy it first, he's nonetheless pimping for this recently-gaymarried aging twink because in the alleged unpublished America excerpt (Milo is a master of persecution-as-self-promotion), he praises in his lubricious way things Dreher loves: the military ("Now the men in uniform are much better men than I"), muscular Christanity ("too many in the Church keep masculinity hidden or the subject of shame"), and Rod Dreher:
I’m with Rod Dreher: Anybody who only preaches a namby-pamby God, and not the highly masculine God of Scripture, is leaving young men vulnerable to the monstrous false gods of race and ideology.
Looks like Milo is eager to be gathered in from the wilderness, and has wisely pegged Rod as among the easier gatekeepers to grease. Hope he at least got a reacharound!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

THE DEATH OF THE PET ROCK.

Y'know, most of the time I occupy myself here by making fun of Jonah Goldberg and other mentally defective sinecure jockeys, and part of the reason for that is I don't want to just come to you good people with my opinions. I understand pure opinion, untainted by close reading or analysis or even evidence that the opinionator has walked a time or two around the block, is the real high-stakes game in today's media, and that's why Chris Cillizza is making, what, eleven million dollars to put out shit like "It took Hillary Clinton five days to issue this statement about Harvey Weinstein" (She has, so now we can go back to waiting for Greg Gutfeld to denounce Roger Ailes, I guess) and "Donald Trump is acting like a fifth-grade bully" -- boy, that'll twirl some tassels in the head office, huh fellas! Get a load:
Lyin' Ted. Lil' Marco. Low Energy Jeb. Crooked Hillary. Little Rocket Man. Pocahontas. 
It worked like a charm in the campaign. Trump's voters loved his lack of political correctness. They loved that he called politicians out. They loved that he refused to apologize for anything. 
The laughs Trump got from his name-calling masked a far darker -- and more toxic -- iteration of Trump's bullying.
"Far darker"! [yells into kitchen] Honey, did you know about this? GTFOOH. Trump has been like Pere Ubu meets Idi Amin for two years and suddenly Cillizza is playing Edward R. Murrow.

So I don't want to be that guy, in general and on principle, but you know what, it's been a long day and the last column was pretty good, so what the hell, I figure I can take five, stretch out and bloviate like the big boys a while. So here's what I think about this latest ooh-Trump-did-bad-this-time shit.

The hundred-dollar haircuts have been telling us for months that all the anger at Trump is coming from overeducated sissies like themselves and is therefore invalid -- that you millions-and-in-fact-majority of voters who hate Trump should just get with the Wisdom of the People and accept that squirrel-gun gomers rule America, lauded by their herald Salena Zito (let's see if she's still at it -- "who in D.C. or New York goes to a 'Gun Bash?' Plenty of people do in the West Newtons of the country..." ugh, guess she is). It may have seemed a lot to ask us, to read this defeatism week after week in their magazines and watch it on their newscasts, but the production values were excellent and besides, $100 Haircuts don't care -- they can afford to be self-abnegating, because their post-broadcast cocaine, hookers, and microneedling always lifts their self-esteem considerably. And anyway there were the funny news shows to indulge our alienation and outrage, so the serious newsies could stay all Questions Remain and This is When Trump Became President.

But all of a sudden now everyone is noticing Trump's approval isn't so hot anywhere -- not even in squirrel gun territory. Previous polls had a pall -- maybe those bad numbers were just all those educated, non-crazy majority voters, and we all know they don't count! Now even Bumfuck was standing down. Suddenly the White Working Class Whisperers aren't get the phone calls; J.D. Vance can't get his circus of star-spangled opioid addicts booked till Christmas.

Are the yokels coming around? I have a hunch on which I would so far lay only small money but, like I said, it's my day off so here goes: I don't think anybody has changed their minds. I think what they changed was the channel.

There have been plenty of people who would roar "hell yeah" every time Trump peed in the pool and a pollster asked about it. But it wasn't because they loved him. What America experienced last November was not so much a groundswell as a shrug: why not, at least it'll be fun. And it might even work.

I still believe a lot (not all!) of them are racist, sexist shitheels -- I believe this because I've seen them. But even shitheels have lives to live, just like the rest of us. And like the commercial fads that used to briefly animate the heartland in the dull years between conflagrations -- disco and boot-scootin' and C.B. radio -- Trump had his moment. I wouldn't say he jumped the shark, if only because "jumped the shark" has jumped the shark. But the numbers are running the wrong way. I mean, heartland Americans are acting sympathetic toward Puerto Ricans even though Trump specifically told them not to -- he even said "Puerto Rico" like it was black dialect at a Young Republican picnic to remind them that he was white and they weren't. Yet they sided with Chico against The Man. What's that tell you?

The thrill is gone. Women's marches and Trevor Noah didn't have much to do with it, and neither did common sense. The guy just wore out his welcome.

That doesn't mean he won't rise again in the polls. He'll kill some people, or applaud their killing, and that'll animate the base; he'll probably start a war, too, and some will always follow the bloody flag. But the cycles will be more normal, more responsive to the usual social and economic fluctuations than the testosterone surges of '16. Trump will golf and blab and tweet and roar just as Hammer had to haul out the parachute pants year after post-glory year. He'll still do a lot of damage, sure, but don't they all?

In short, the battle will be what it always has been, in reality -- against the rapacious, gun-crazed, life-hating, prion-diseased Republicans who need to be marched into the sea if we are to live. Probably a good thing we got the focus back on that.