Friday, March 05, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

Pure joy.

Here's the end of yet another week of dumbassery, what with Republicans going to great lengths to sabotage the COVID bill and trying to play off the Capitol attack as harmless patriotic hijinx, and especially with the "cancel culture" guff they're using to make themselves look like victims. (Speaking of that, have some free Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issues on the subject -- one about a boys' adventure series done in by the woke mob, another revealing the talking points for rightwing news outlets covering such stories.)

Even dumber than the Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss bullshit, for my money, was the scandalette these guys tried to cook up about Biden calling the latest anti-masking crazes -- like Greg Abbott's transparent attempt to distract from his Texas power disaster -- "Neanderthal thinking." Wingnuts raised such a stink about it Biden had to sent Jen Psaki out to explain it as if the complaint had been made in good faith rather than as howlingly obvious victimization shtick:

Asked whether it was productive to compare governors to Neanderthals while trying to convince state officials to get on board with the White House public health message, Psaki clarified the president was likening the decision to Neanderthal "behavior." 

"The behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear, the behavior of," she said, adding that it was a "reflection of his frustration and exasperation" over some people flouting COVID-19 guidance to help curb the spread of the virus. 

"Whether is was productive to compare governors to Neanderthals" -- get the fuck out of here, less than two months ago your shock-troops were trying to murder Democratic office-holders in the Capitol;  "Neanderthal" is about the most polite thing one could call these cynical and potentially lethal stunts. Yet, at Forbes

Then candidate Joe Biden ran on a campaign to bring back civility to politics, and in his inauguration speech called for unity and an end to our nation's "uncivil war." Yet, President Biden's tone and more importantly the words he used on Wednesday were in stark contrast.

Author Peter Suciu then reproduces a series of incredibly stupid rightwing reactors, some of whom even attempt to make "Neanderthal" the new "deplorable," an insult in which they take pride, as if it were the name of their prison gang. If only Biden had called them douchebags! 

The worst of the lot is Noah Rothman at Commentary. He starts out with standard-issue So Much For The Tolerant Left ordnance ("But the president was never the 'good cop' he pretended to be"). But then he tries to defend Abbott's mask-free decree:

It would have been foolish if, for example, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told his constituents that “everything’s fine” and Texans should “take off your mask” and “forget” about the pandemic. But that wasn’t what he said, nor is that likely to be the outcome of his state’s policies.

What Abbott announced was that “all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100 percent.” The executive orders put in place during the pandemic, including masking requirements, would be rescinded because “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.” It would have been a premature declaration of victory over the pandemic if Abbott had stopped there. But he didn’t.

Abbott also urged Texans to exercise “personal vigilance.” “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” the governor added. While his orders will foreclose on criminal penalties for people who do not wear masks, businesses can still impose masking requirements on their patrons and deny them service if they do not comply...

I am confident of two things: First, that thanks to COVID-19, most normal people understand (as polls show that they do) that government has to take a major role in combating epidemics; and second, that as soon as the curse is seen to have lifted, conservatives will get busy trying to portray government's role as a total disaster and saying that everything would have been hunky dory in March 2020 if only the Free Market and Trump had been allowed to kill even more people so that the survivors could have instant herd immunity  -- you know, the same way they talk about the New Deal.

In fact the latter half of Rothman's column is devoted to groundwork for such an effort: He cites people who think Abbott's making a big mistake, and shrugs "They might be right, and it would be terrible if they were. But..."

...the way is littered with predictions about how this virus would operate that mercifully failed to materialize. The innumerable “super spreader events” that weren’t and unfounded fears that states without masking mandates, like Florida, would be overrun with pestilence should lead Texas’ critics to be more cautious. Likewise, the suboptimal performance of states with onerous restrictions on individuals and enterprise alike, including New York and California, have led even the most zealous COVID hawks to throw up their hands in confusion. Uncertainty is the lesson here.

How can we really know anything? Like this mask thing -- sure, flu infections are massively down year-over-year, but can you prove it was masks, libs? Maybe Jesus has something to do with it! 

But there is certainty about one thing: Lifting restrictions now undermines what seems to be the Biden administration’s central objective, which is to assume credit for the pandemic’s decline. 

A lifelong public servant actually getting vaccines into people's arms vs. a thuggish grifter getting his own shot and them making a bunch of everyone else's disappear mysteriously -- sure, let's go with door #2. God, if only our education system taught even a little critical thinking. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

LIVE FROM RICK PERRY'S RANCH "CANCELCULTUREHEAD."

I see the rightwing word of the day is "cancelculture." Erick Erickson:

Last week Hasbro announced it was getting rid of Mr. Potato Head, except not really. Hasbro decided to rebrand as “Potato Head” because they sell a Mr and a Mrs. Potato Head. They have predetermined the genders of the potatoes instead of just sticking all the various genders up the backside of a single potato and letting individuals decide for themselves. Hasbro was trying to balance between the wokes and the non-wokes. 

Yeah I can see why anyone on the planet earth gives a shit, Mr. Ham Face.  

First, they came for Mr. Potato head. Now they're coming for Dr. Seuss.

The actual casus bellow here is that the Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the foundation that maintains Ted Geisel's literary estate, has decided that the portrayals of black people in some of the Doctor's pages are kind of gross and, rather than bowdlerize the deceased author's work, they just won't release new editions of the books

You'd think conservatives, who are usually very it's-mine-I-can-do-what-I-want-with-it when it comes to property, would understand, but what they understand better is that the Cancel Culture Scam is a great way to make themselves look like sympathetic victims rather than the psychopathic Capitol-storming, voter-suppressing monsters they are, so they're all Bari Weiss about it. Ham-Face is dumber than most, so he goes for the stretch: Since Obama said he liked Dr. Seuss books is he racist now HUH LIBS ("Does Barack Obama have to be canceled, for four years ago saying you can learn all of life's lessons on how to treat people well by reading Dr. Seuss?").

But there's plenty of self-embarrassment to go around, as Ted Cruz proved in the middle of a Senate hearing:

We've been over this a million times, guys. If someone doesn't like your portrayal of other human beings, and they decide not to patronize it, you are not being censored; if someone has second thoughts about their own portrayals of other human being, or those found in the properties they're in charge of (like the Disney executors who thought, you know what, maybe put Song of the South back in the vault), they are not violating your (non-existent) right to their work.  Cancel culture crybabies can fuck right off. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

I had heard Carla Bruni had been a songwriter and singer
before she married Sarkozy, but I didn't know she was good.

•   Let's start with some free issues from this week's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (I do five of these every week! I'm an unstoppable content machine!): The one about small-time secessionists and what they say about the conservative movement, and a special sneak preview of the revival of Frasier

•   I'm against the strike on whatever-it-is in Syria for the same reason I'm always against these things no matter who's in charge -- our record in the Middle East is a serial clusterfuck that, it's fair to assume, every new assault will simply painfully prolong. (And at least Obama had the excuse that he was black and if he'd failed to do any war-on-terror and there happened to be any 9/11ness stateside, he would have been lynched.) I could be persuaded by a good argument but one never emerges. 

I see that, as usual when a Democrat is in office, conservatives are also denouncing Biden's attack -- some with a twist: Here's a Twitter thread with video of an Assad speech, purportedly against "neoliberalism" on the grounds that it promotes "degeneracy" like "gay marriage," offered as a defense of Syria against Biden:


My favorite response: "he's right except for the marijuana part.  There is lots of scientific evidence that points to it being very safe for consumption, and even less psychoactive than alcohol." Come let us horseshoe together! I suppose this could all be a hoax (though Assad has in fact used gay marriage as a distraction, so there is some U.S. Republican overlap there), but how would we be able to tell?  

•   Speaking of Rod Dreher, this is great: 

I went somewhere I wasn't wanted and talked a lot of shit, and people had the nerve to complain -- CANCELCULTURE!  

•   Wondering what the intamallectual conservatives are up to? Let's see, here's an article by Jack Fowler at National Review about the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Finally, something about the pre-eminent conservative research and policy institute -- I guess not everything on the Right is about Trumpian chest-beating and culture war. Let's read:  

Stanford Lefties Must Swallow Their Hoover Hate — for Now

It gnaws away at Stanford University’s woke faculty: Harbored in their midst is that nominally conservative outfit, the Hoover Institution, which more than a few professors hold as an infestation of the liberal citadel. It is, after all, named after a Republican president — never mind being home to the likes of Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson and H. R. McMaster (and yes, plenty of establishment GOP types, and even a lefty or two). And there’s this: The campus is visually dominated by the striking eleven-story Hoover Tower, which scrapes the Palo Alto sky like some right-hand middle finger. Housing vast and important archives (much of the contents are about the evils of Marxist-Leninism), the tower is crowned by a 48-bell carillon that no doubt triggers faculty and students with the occasional auditory reminder of Hoover’s confounding and unwelcome presence.

 OK, scratch that, it really is all Owning The Libs, even if it comes in academic robes. 

I mean even J.D. Vance has given up on his  "outreach" pretense -- remember when his "Barack Obama and Me" thing was published by the easy marks at the New York Times? "Here was the president of the United States, a man whose history looked something like mine but whose future contained something I wanted... For at a pivotal time in my life, Barack Obama gave me hope that a boy who grew up like me could still achieve the most important of my dreams..." 

LOL. Here's a Fox News report on Vance's recent appearance on Tucker Carlson: "Identity politics, critical race theory 'destroying our society': J.D. Vance." 

Yep, J.D.'s hitting that cancel-culture-war grift hard. No wonder: There's an Ohio Senate nomination race in the offing and, as NBC News puts it, "Competition for 'Trump lane' heats up" --  to win, Vance will have to beat Jane Timken, who NBC says is "offering herself as a 'conservative disrupter' who helped sweep out moderate allies of Ohio’s anti-Trump former governor, John Kasich," and Josh Mandel, who "tweeted an old photo of [Timken] embracing Kasich, signaling how he will move aggressively to frame her as insufficiently loyal to the Trump cause."  Vance is gonna have to put on a heap of war paint to obscure the stigma of having once spoken warmly of the Kenyan Pretender!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

SPLITTERS.

 I've unlocked a newsletter item on the recent rash of secession stories -- which are a lot like other secession rashes that have flared up since the Obama years, because guess why. 

The example of January 6 at the Capitol has perhaps added salience to these fantasies. While conservatives have been trying to downplay the attempted coup as a celebration of freedom that just got a little out of hand, portraying the violence as insignificant and even suggesting the attackers didn't really kill Officer Sicknick, they're also beginning to use the attack as a warning of how far their goons may be willing to go if they don't get their way. 

At National Review Dan McLaughlin castigates the Supreme Court for kicking out a challenge to Pennsylvania's three-day extension of its citizens' vote-by-mail deadline in 2020. McLaughlin approves of and echoes the fit Justice Clarence Thomas threw over that decision, which in turn mirrors the election-fraud bullshit that Republicans are actively using to keep the Spirit of January 6 alive among its rabble. At the end of his column McLaughlin warns:

But the Court should have decided this case now, if not earlier. This issue will not go away, and it may return next time surrounded by the same sorts of popular rage that led to the Capitol riot. This was the time for cooler heads to say what the law is.

The description of the Capitol coup crew's rage as "popular" may seem weird to you, considering how badly the thing polls, until you realize that it only has to be popular among conservatives for McLaughlin to credit it as such. It's like old-time Southern Democrats and the KKK -- they don't want their prints on it, but they definitely want you scared enough to do what they say.

Friday, February 19, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

For years I abjured this kind of 70s rock but I'm kinda getting back into it.
Special kudos to Dee Murray; sometimes hyperactive bass is actually cool.

Not only have we had a good laugh about Ted Cruz's Cancun Adventure, it seems the whole world has.  Even conservatives seem to realize it's too perfectly on-brand, for Cruz and their own movement, to defend, and dummies like Dinesh D'Souza and Ben Shapiro have been reduced to bizarre, "Hey, it's not like Ted Cruz is any use at all in a crisis anyway" arguments -- as usual not likely to convince anyone but, unusually, not apparently designed to appease the yahoos who bay at their troughs either, just pro-forma ass-covering bullshit. 


Hell, some rightwing talking heads like Meagan McCain have denounced Cruz, and the Murdoch New York Post is covering him like he's Andrew Cuomo.

I'm not starry-eyed about this apparent consensus on Cruz. First, no one actually likes him; Texans are simply unable to vote for Democrats, lest they question the unreasoning belligerence that passes for manhood there. Cruz was so unloved by national Republicans in 2016 that, despite his muscling to the front of the line, they nominated an ignorant New York grifter rather than let themselves be represented by him. Genital warts aren't a "bipartisan issue" just because no one wants them. And the Cancun story plays to the simplest kind of American resentments -- people who were unmoved by Cruz's many political outrages, including his support for a fascist insurrection, are pissed that he left his poodle home in the cold.   

Also, in the bigger picture, Americans seem unsure about what to do with the Republican conservative creed that Cruz and his contempt for the needful embodies now that they've shaken off Tubby. It's not that I'm optimistic -- if America could turn back to the GOP after Bush Jr., it could do so after Trump, too. But the coup attempt seems to have shaken most of them, and they may have noticed not only that Republicans are largely OK with an attempt to murder their elected officials for Trump, but that the hardcore Republicans are busily trying to minimize the attempt, and even suggesting that the mob didn't actually kill Officer Sicknick and were generally just having a bit of a lark and that Nancy Pelosi was actually to blame for it -- an impression anyone who saw the impeachment insurrection footage would find obscene. 

This tracks with when I'm seeing in the Rush Limbaugh death coverage. I had my say about that at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, and I do believe he'll remain a totem of the rancid misogyny and racism of conservatism, and be honored as such by rancid misogynists and racists. But the brethren aren't exactly mobbing his cortege as if he were some meathead Verdi and singing "Barack the Magic Negro." In fact while they all claim to have loved his "humor," few of them are actually publicly saying, "Remember when he called Chelsea Clinton a dog? Hah? Come on lady, I laughed when you came in!" 

Apart from the outright apparatchiks blubbering over his catafalque, have you noticed how many credentialed conservatives like Michael Brendan Dougherty seem to either want to get past the subject quickly or feel obliged to admit that yes, much of what El Rushbo said went a bit too far? Peggy Noonan today, after briefly praising Limbaugh's influence ("There was a joy to it. His patriotism was real"), said this:

To have a show such as his you had to be The Guy With the View, and knock down others’ views. In the past 15 years my views on important issues diverged from his; he came to see me as an apostate and attacked me for my criticisms of Iraq policy, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. His attacks turned personal: I was an elite fancy person, an establishment character of rarefied background who looked down on honest people like him and his listeners. His criticisms were at odds with the facts of our lives, and he knew it; for one thing he was damning me from his vast Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Like many male conservative media figures he made a game of pretending to class sensitivity and implying he’d had to scrap his way up. The radio station where he got his start was co-owned by his father.

Now, Noonan remains utter shit, and her complaint is of course animated by personal grievance. But this is one of those cases where "the personal is the political" really applies: How many American women, or men for that matter, noticed over the years with what cold contempt the yahoos for whom Limbaugh spoke had come to regard them? For a moment at least Noonan grasped that her years of service to The Cause counted for nothing if some other Reaganite goon, one whom she doubtless considered less talented that she, condemned her as a rich bitch, accent on the bitch, and got over with it because he had a penis. (It apparently shook her no much she no longer believes repealing the Fairness Doctrine was a good idea!) 

It's like they all had been insisting since childhood that Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In was the height of sophisticated comedy and then someone made them watch it again.

But do enjoy that Limbaugh bit, as well as my other Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebie from the week, "A Message from the John Bitch Society." We could all use the laffs. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

Christgau steered me right again with this soundtrack.

There are already so many Substack newsletters devoted to cancelculture crybabies blubbering that someone changed the name of a high school or some shit, yet here comes ham-faced Jesus freak Erick Erickson – who refers to himself as “Erick-Woods Erickson” for some reason; maybe it’s a Puritan thing, like Praise-God Barebone – who today shook his fist on the subject in not one but two newsletter issues. In the first he declares “The Union is fraying and cancel culture is radicalizing otherwise reasonable people… One bad word choice, one misunderstanding, and often one false accusation can lead the mob to your employer or even to your door.” Wow, I just checked my door – all clear so far! So how’s this cancelculture thing work? 

We see this with Black Lives Matter, the organization, declaring itself against the traditional nuclear family. We see it with its activists attacking anyone who points out that Black Lives Matter maintains this position.

Erickson offers no examples, but when I think of Black Lives Matter and cancellation, I think of Colin Kaepernick, and I doubt that was what Erickson intended. Maybe he meant all the cops who were briefly subject to disapprobation when videos showed them beating up BLM protestors, before they were cleared of all charges. What else?

The Christian baker must bake the cake, but the cultural, secular left gets to opt-out when it disagrees. One side gets to impose its will on the other. 

Bake the cake? But the Supreme Court backed the gay-hating baker. He and his ilk can say "we don't make cakes for fags here" and get away with it, which is freedom! Erickson’s actually citing examples that disprove his case, sparing me the effort. But let me add another:

Jeep trots out a rabid partisan with a history of disparaging remarks towards the right and they place him in a church declaring we need the middle. If anyone objects, they’re the bad person.

Oh brother. As with most of these yahoos, the most realistic concern is that people will criticize their opinions, which colicky conservatives cannot abide. And no such rant is complete without the obligatory Look What You Made Me Do bit:

The disparity in cancellations is going to boil over to violence. We are, frankly, getting our first early tastes of this…

The seething over the disparity caused a lot of people to support Donald Trump and a great many of them were and are willing to turn a blind eye to what people did on January 6th because they know what much of the left and the press won’t admit — that side really does want to silence Trump supporters…

If the right cannot voice its views and people of the right can be punished for things the left is spared from, there will come greater antagonism that will ultimately lead to violence.

“Will ultimately lead to violence,” then, means “kiss our ass or we’ll kill you.” In newsletter two Erickson rattles the begging bowl:

As cancel culture is a thing and the Woke-o Haram terrorists continue to silence the right, your subscription to my daily emails makes it harder for them to cancel my voice, both in print and on radio.

I assume there are enough people who think “Woke-o Haram” is hilarious to keep his fat ass in clover. You good people, I'm sure, would prefer Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, the only Substack newsletter devoid of boo-hooing over big bad cancelculture, offering instead five (5) days a week of quality content – here, free to non-subscribers, are two recent examples: my transcript of a Trump impeachment lawyer’s opening statement, and my reaction to the prosecution’s new video of the insurrectionists’ depredations. Go on, have a subscription – they make great Valentine’s Day gifts! 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

ANYONE WHO CAN MAKE YOU COMMIT ATROCITIES CAN MAKE YOU BELIEVE ABSURDITIES.

Andrew C. McCarthy, former Bush AUSA, National Review author and torture enthusiast, wonders whether Capitol insurrection victim Officer Sicknick actually died at all:

Adding to the serious but vague accusation in the impeachment article, the Democratic House impeachment managers, who are the prosecutors in the Senate trial, elaborated in their publicly filed pretrial memo (at p. 28): “The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

It is noteworthy that the Democrats’ pretrial memo was filed on February 2, nearly four weeks after Officer Sicknick’s death. Yet, during those four weeks, significant questions about the impeachment managers’ murder allegation have arisen. It has been a bedrock principle of American due process for over half a century that if prosecutors are aware of evidence that would tend to show an allegation they made is false, inaccurate, or at least incapable of being proved, they have an obligation to disclose that fact to the accused.

So what is the Democrats’ proof that Trump supporters murdered Officer Sicknick by bashing him over the head with a fire extinguisher?

I mean he could have just keeled over -- he was 43 years old, practically at death's door. Or maybe Antifa killed him -- an Antifa operative could have been hiding in a closet or a big vase or something and, as the Trump insurrectionists were assaulting cops (non-lethally, Your Honor! You can't pin that on them), might have popped out, el-Kabonged Sicknick, and gone back into hiding, like in a Three Stooges two-reeler, leaving the Trump fans to take the rap! 

Or maybe Sicknick is still alive, held incommunicado on George Soros' private island, and his alleged coffin actually contains Kyle Rittenhouse. Anything's possible.

This is in National Review, folks -- once the most respected magazine in American conservatism. Aw, who am I kidding -- it's still the most respected; it's just that it doesn't take a lot of respect to qualify anymore.

Tomorrow I expect Tucker Carlson will tell us Sicknick died of a fentanyl overdose