Friday, July 20, 2018

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


I missed this when it came out in 2014. I heard it sucked. Not so!

• The Federalist having done its part for the "New York, with its record low crime rate and record high population, is collapsing thanks to libs" shtick, National Review sees and raises with Deroy Murdock's and Brett Joshpe's "De Blasio’s Dystopia" -- subtitled, LOL, "This is what a socialist New York looks like." Cue sinister 70s saxophone music! The one thing everyone I know back in the old town is bitching about is the state of the subway, but Murdock and Joshpe don't mention it -- their major concerns are ancient wingnut wouldn't-wanna-live-there tropes from the Lindsay era. For instance, homelessness -- not that the authors are concerned for the welfare of the unhoused, mind; they refer to temporary housing for these poor souls as "homeless-hotel staycations," har har. No, they're worried the bums "can be prone to violence," unlike domiciled criminals, who gently ask to mug you. Then, I swear to God, they complain that they (or somebody -- the authors do not identify a witness; maybe a cab driver told them about it) saw someone shooting up on the street. In broad daylight! I know Murdock's lived in New York a long time, so I assume he lost a bet. As for Joshpe, he appears to be a baby lawyer who doesn't get why his Ivy League education and condo deposit doesn't buy him a blight-free passage down these mean streets. Mamaroneck's calling, buddy!

• Also at National Review, David French has a thing about how Ben Shapiro is the victim of an "online mob" because a lot of people said they don't like him. Regular readers know this is par for the conservative-victimology course, but two things about it are noteworthy. For one thing, in the incident French is describing, the "online mob" yelled at a guy who promoted Shapiro, not Shapiro himself -- apparently conservatives can be Twitter-mobbed in absentia! But more interesting still is the way French kicks off this bad-faith-fest about how progressives are mean to him and his buddies:
I’ve got some questions for my progressive readers. When you think of Colin Kaepernick, do you define him by his quiet kneeling and many thoughtful interviews? Or do you define him by the socks he wore once, dehumanizing cops as pigs
When you think of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, do you define him by his hundreds of thousands of eloquent and meticulously researched words? Or do you define him by his call for violence in Baltimore, or his dehumanizing statements about the heroic cops and firefighters who rushed into the World Trade Center on 9/11? 
Is Samantha Bee defined by the time she accused a cancer patient of having “Nazi hair”? Or when she used a vile epithet to describe Ivanka Trump?
The idea is supposed to be that, just as these alleged offenses should not limit our understanding of these liberal icons, so Ben Shapiro "is the sum total of his work. He is not the isolated hot take or tweet" and should not be judged solely by these gotchas. But wait -- all the stories French links to that beat up on Kaepernick, Coates, and Bee are from National Review -- and three of them are written by French. And they're all ridiculous cavils -- like Kaepernick's pig socks -- that led to wingnut shit-fits online. Where's the National Review story -- or even brief blogpost -- by French telling us we shouldn't judge these liberals by these isolated incidents?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

THIS LEFT-WING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS GETTING OUT OF HAND.

Following last week's rush of enraged conservative misdirection after Sacha Baron Cohen made a bunch of them look stupid, I thought wingnuts would lay off awhile -- how much mileage can there be in attacking a popular comedian for outwitting you? -- but here's Nancy French at National Review with a new angle: "Sacha Baron Cohen’s Sexual Harassment, in the Me Too Era." Now what, I wondered when I saw that headline,  could she mean?

So I read down through French's introductory huffing and puffing ("Apparently calling sexual harassment 'satire' not only gets you a free pass, it sometimes gets you famous") till I got here:
It’s time for [Cohen] to deal honestly with the filmed sexual harassment of Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul during a 2008 interview. If you didn’t see this scene in his Bruno movie, I can assure you it was hard to watch.
Blink. Blink.

She means this:


French didn't embed the YouTube clip -- not because it's "hard to watch," I'll wager, but because a lot of her readers would play it and laugh, as audiences did when the movie was in theaters, especially when Paul runs out of the room screaming "He's a queer!"

French indignantly compares Cohen to "Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, [and] Kevin Spacey."
Part of me hopes Ron Paul will go along with this -- that he'll call out Cohen as a predator, become a victim advocate and start doing #MeToo tweets rather than his, ah, traditional material. As it stands, it'll be interesting how many conservatives who normally moan about political correctness run amok will pretend to buy this nonsense.

UPDATE. Several commenters remind me that Nancy French was the as-told-to author of a Bristol Palin book; since, as my Voice column notes, Sarah Palin was one of Cohen's more recent targets, I assume French's bad-faith attack is a courtesy vendetta on behalf of, or perhaps part of her ongoing service to, La Famiglia.

One could fill several volumes with examples of conservatives pretending to accept liberal moral paradigms, either as trolling or, as French does here, with a straight face. Here's Toby Young, a disintegrated remnant of the Tory literary tradition, doing the former:


Also you libs love Eloise so much, well she's rich 'cause she lives at the Plaza durr hurr! Young's sally is the rhetorical equivalent of flaming poo left on a doorstep; I suspect French actually hopes to rally troops of pseudo-activists, though so far she's just got the dopes at Free Republic ("Sacha will be yucking it up right until the moment one of his victims clubs him like a baby Harp seal"). 

This seems to be more rightwing Alinskyism; as I showed years ago, conservatives claim liberals regularly use Alinsky's Rules for Radicals as a playbook, yet most liberals have never heard of the guy, while it's usually conservatives who get caught calling the plays


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

THE DEATH OF LIBERAL CITIES -- ANY DAY NOW, JUST YOU WAIT.

You'll never go broke in rightwingworld telling the rubes them there big cities is turrible places just like Mr. Trump says -- and it's even better when you're geographically located in one; the rubes never ask why you and the rest of the staff of your conservative publication don't leave Sodom and come join them in the heaven that is Fritters, Alabama, so you never even have to admit to them that you prefer city living, and can instead just pass yourself off as a kind friend who endures the liberals and lakes of bum poo and other horrors of urban life merely as a selfless journalistic mission.  Ellie Bufkin of The Federalist is one such, and she is here to tell you that

The $15 Minimum Wage Is Wreaking Havoc On New York City Dining

None of my friends back in my old hometown report any such thing, but they have no motivation to put anything over on me; so, though New Yorkers are still and as always paying outrageous prices for entree to hot spots, Bufkin wants you to think it's all up with the place: Coffee Shop, a joint that was long in the tooth when I lived in New York, recently closed and the owner told a reporter, "The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees." Hmmm, skyrocketing rents in downtown Manhattan, or waiters get a few hundred extra bucks a month -- which one do you think is more likely to convince a restauranteur it's time to move on to the next big thing? Bufkin, you won't be stunned to learn, picks the latter, calling Coffee Shop "the most recent victim" of the $15 wage, which she claims "has forced several New York City businesses to shutter their doors and will claim many more victims soon." She gives no citation for that claim -- not even some schnorrer blaming his busted venture on the commies' economic warfare -- but consider her audience: they imagine Boss Smith paying Lame Pete $15/hr to sling hash at Lutiebelle's and think these slickers must be plumb crazy.

In closing Bufkin paints this grim picture:
Eventually, minimum wage laws and other prohibitive regulations will cause the world-renowned restaurant life in cities like New York, DC, and San Francisco to cease to exist. The staff skill levels will drop, the number of servers and bartenders will never be enough, and the only survivors will be fast-casual chains with low overhead and deep pockets. 
New York’s new look will be vacant storefronts between an occasional Pret-a-Manger or the public restroom formerly known as Starbucks. But don’t worry. That charming, downtown studio apartment will still run about $5,000 per month for the privilege of proximity to all that culture.
Bufkin seems too young to remember the 70s, so we probably should forgive her for telling such unconvincing urban blight stories -- she only knows them as a trope from the wingnut propaganda manual. Besides, even smarter conservatives have tried this shit -- like Joe Lhota, who told everyone when Bill de Blasio was running for Mayor in 2013 that de Blasio was going to turn the town back into Death Wish meets Escape from New York. Conservatives all agreed that New York was doomed --  and when, four years later, de Blasio's New York reported record low crime rates, they screamed like scalded cats and slunk away. But as soon as people forget, they'll come back and try it again, because there's always someone in some holler, bluff or junction whose self-respect is tied up in believing it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Sacha Baron Cohen pranking the wingnuts, and the wingnuts attacking him for it as if he were running a sleazy journalistic sting rather than doing his usual genius thing of getting people to reveal themselves on camera.

This is another example of why conservatives always wind up making culture war into a war on culture -- they don't understand the elemental appeal of comedy as a way of puncturing pretensions, and can only make it comprehensible to themselves by converting it to something their shriveled imaginations can grasp -- in this case, James O'Keefe.

Among the outtakes was one of the smaller fry caught in Cohen's net: "Utah gun rights activist Janalee Tobias," as the Deseret News reported. Interestingly, Tobias seems to be aping the victimization shtick that Sarah Palin pulled on Cohen: What she did on the show, Tobias swears, "goes against everything she stands for when it comes to gun safety and children." She says she only did that stuff -- "held a .22-caliber pistol cloaked in a stuffed toy puppy — the puppy pistol — and fed it bullets shaped like crayons to kill the bad guys," among other things, the News explains -- because Cohen "made me," though Tobias doesn't say how. Also, "I objected the entire time, but I am sure [Cohen] will not show (that)." Not bad, though it lacks the mad poetry of an actual Palin joint.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

THE HEALING POWER OF LAUGHTER.

I'm rarely this proud of my fellow countrymen, but it does my heart good to see so few of them inclined to side with snowflakes Sarah Palin and Roy Moore against Sacha Baron Cohen, who got some laughs out of making them look like morons by appealing to their limitless vanity. True, some mainstream dolts are doing the chin-pulling, has-comedy-gone-too-far shtick --"Comedian faces backlash for high-profile pranks" intones ABC News -- but though Joe Walsh, James Woods and other internet rage queens are fanning the "#BoycottShowtime" hashtag on the grounds that a comedian playing a veteran is "stolen valor" -- boy, I'm glad Jim Nabors isn't alive to see this! -- it's not gaining much traction.

Oh, Breitbart does its bit -- they quote an anonymous "source close to Palin" (wow, what a get for Breitbart!) whom they say "thinks this Cohen prank will 'backfire dramatically' because the fake interview was 'the epitome of a contemptuous Hollywood enclave that hates the ordinary working class Americans who swept Donald Trump into office. This is exactly what the American people voted against in 2016.'" Well done -- the stentorian self-importance of spokesmen for has-beens has always defeated comedy in the past! And The Stream's John Zmirak, who has given alicublog readers seconds of pleasure in the past, tries "Just Another Stale Comedian Attacking Safe Targets" -- ho hum, why would you even think of enjoying a popular jokester's TV show when you could be reading trenchant analysis like this:
But by the time of the movie Borat, Baron Cohen largely abandoned his even-handed satire.
I thought Ali G was funny, but when he started making fun of Kazakhstan and bed-and-breakfasts, that's when I knew I'd reached the limits of my tolerance. Oh, and yes, Lord help us, The Federalist has something about it too:
Comedians Use Trump To Excuse Ugly Comedy Like ‘God Bless Abortions’ And Impersonating Disabled Veterans...
Yes, the Left owns comedy. They have for decades.
Well, of course we do -- you keep giving us such choice material.
But even as recently as ten years ago, the bitter partisanship was restrained in comparison to what we have witnessed since Trump announced his candidacy. What is defined as “comedy” by today’s standards isn’t what’s actually humorous, it’s provocative viciousness that’s exclusively targets conservatives.
And you can take it from author Joseph A. Wulfsohn, because he's an expert on how humor-owning liberals aren't funny, but rather treasonous: See his "Hey Jimmy Kimmel, Where’s Your Emotional Monologue on Sexual Harassment in Hollywood?" He even uses the phrase "so-called 'comedy,'" and closes with the last refuge of a conservative, the Appeal to Civility: "Comedy is supposed to connect us as humans. Now it’s tearing us apart." Nobody tell the poor gink about A Modest Proposal or Lazarillo de Tormes or, hell, any great comic work before Life of Riley; comedy has never been for sissies.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: For conservatives, culture war is war on culture.

UPDATE. Lololololol:
According to [Joe] Arpaio, the production team led him to believe that the host was a Trump supporter. He also noted signing a contract, writing, “I signed some kind of contract before filming, which I have done numerous times, did not read all the info.” 
He said he thought it was unusual that they didn’t offer to powder his face before the interview.
@KrangTNelson has the hot parts ("He said they told him that they were associated with a feature being sold to Showtime and that the show selected him as one of the twenty 'most popular' people in America"), but it's worth reading the whole piece, in which the Breitbart flaktotum seems to have just entirely given up trying to make the loathsome Arpaio seem sympathetic or even to take his grievance seriously. Maybe these people are educable after all!

UPDATE 2. Better and better.

UPDATE 3. Hey, look who let down the side! (Don't worry, nothing unexpected, it's Vox).
Sacha Baron Cohen’s political provocations are exhausting and dangerous
Probably the kind of person who thinks The Simpsons was only good when it had heartwarming conclusions.
On the one hand, all this may seem like the beginning of a glorious sublime parade of politicians owning themselves. But on the other hand, these politicians were tricked into appearing on the record as themselves, in a way that further perpetuates and entrenches not only the cultural ideological divide, but the idea among conservatives that “liberal” media, including entertainment media like Baron Cohen’s production, is a constant and perpetual trap to be distrusted at all costs.
I know they're kinda stupid, but I think even wingnuts know the difference between a comedy show and Meet The Press.
With his old bag of tricks, Cohen is successfully promoting his show not by adding to the conversation, but by gleefully poking at it and watching everyone — politicians and onlookers alike — get upset.
If I'm watching a comedy show, I'm not looking for a "conversation," unless it's something like "'member when that guy fell in a pile of horse poop?" "HA HA HA that was awesome!" God,  can't these fucking nerds ever just relax and have a good time?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

JUDGE DREAD.

There are lots of law-smart people making great cases against putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court but to me, a simple lad, the best reason to oppose him is that the worst people on earth want him on there.

First, Donald Trump -- I could rest my case right there. Second, the Federalist Society, not only a creep cluster of committed world-ruiners run by an Opus Dei freak, but also applauded by Jonah Goldberg in his typically lazy late-Goldberg style. First, there's his now-traditional explanation of why as a Trump "skeptic" he applauds this as he does everything else Trump does:
One of the odd things about the triumphalism over the Kavanaugh pick — which is a great pick as far as I’m concerned — is that the wrong people are taking the most credit for it. People seem to forget that the list Trump committed to was a constraint on him.
Get the fuck out of here. Trump's deal with Republicans, as I have said repeatedly, is that he'll give them everything they want so long as they let him grift; they don't serve him as a snaffle and curb or screen and bank but as accomplices. Later Goldberg refers to the Fed Soc guys as "Conservative Legal Beagles" -- much as a 50s movie goon might refer to a priest as "padre" or an intellectual as "professor" -- and says there's "nothing nefarious" about them worming their way onto the court because "liberals have their own vetting process. It’s less formalized than the Right’s, but that’s probably because it can be." Goldberg certainly doesn't know how much he's admitting there, and there's nobody at National Review -- certainly not an editor! -- inclined to tell him.

Elsewhere we have Ross Douthat slo-mo ejaculating over the imminent end of Roe v. Wade; "abortion opponents will have [their] trust vindicated" with Kavanaugh, and the Court will "legislate freely on abortion once again," Douthat declares, stabbing his thigh with a penknife in hopes Jesus will call it square and his emissions will be, in the greater sense, wiped clean.

And leave it to Megan McArdle (* see update) to think of an angle I wasn't expecting -- the possibility that Kavanaugh will make colleges stop trying to bring in more black people, or, as McArdle and her colleagues still call it (in hopes of animating the Louise Day Hicks-era prejudices of their readers), "affirmative action." "The Constitution forbids discriminating by race," McArdle says, as if rehearsing for whatever test case the Becket Fund sends against Brown v. Board of Education;  besides, John McWhorter is black and he doesn't like it either, hmmph!

McArdle throws in just enough references to "trying to right past and present wrongs" and "rectifying the effects of past discrimination" to convince her dumber readers that she's sincere about that stuff, but nonetheless racial preferences have to go because we're living in a "more diverse United States where at least some groups outperform their privileged white neighbors in educational attainment" -- and if you're missing her point, she says, "racial balancing encourages anti-Asian discrimination" and "a broader racial-balancing regime... might put Asian American students at a disadvantage" and "pursuing racial balance zealously" will lead to "continued discrimination against Asian American students." Also, did she mention John McWhorter is black?

Anyway, McArdle says, all this "will leave our new justice with an uneasy choice as the court steers us into an America where race is no longer a simple matter of black and white," though from everything else we've heard about this vat-bred wingnut automaton there'll be nothing uneasy about his choice at all.

Oh, and then there's Kavanaugh's apparent conviction that Presidents (at least since Clinton) can't be indicted. The brethren are pretending he meant no such thing -- and for my money there's no clearer sign that he did than than David French insisting he didn't, and using words like "barmy" in his argument ("he was brainstorming policy proposals, not suggesting future legal rulings" -- can't you people take a joke?). These people see Trump as the promised land for their lunatic ideas, and the extraordinary feebleness of their arguments shows how little they care whether they make it look good.

*UPDATE. McArdle says she's in favor of affirmative action -- her explanation here. You tell me, guys.

Monday, July 09, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...on the socialist menance conservatives are seeing in the recent primary victory of DSA endorsee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez'. Actually this has been building awhile, with citizens increasingly telling pollsters hell yeah, we want universal health care and while we're at it, capitalism blows, but Ocasio-Cortez' charisma seems to have jolted conservatives into a higher level of awareness and got them trying to answer back, however feebly.

Which reminds me: Back in 2010, some of the brethren were trying to link the DSA (which they called "The Socialist Party of America") to the Democratic Progressive Caucus. There was no evidence that anyone gave a shit then, either; I expect what conservatives actually wanted was to rattle neoliberals and The New York Times so they'd put pressure on the Obama people to move even further back from genuinely progressive policies. (Mission Accomplished!)  But now there's no Obama Administration to pressure -- just powerless old Congressional Dems like Chuck Schumer who have increasingly lost the plot. Conservatives describe this as the party "being destroyed by their millennial base," but I don't recall them saying anything like that about the Tea Party back when they were blasting the RINOs, and millennials have a lot more energy and time to influence their party than the geriatric TP people have to influence theirs.