Friday, November 17, 2017


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


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


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


...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


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.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


As I watch wingnut bête noire Bill De Blasio cruising and Democrats romping in Jersey and Virginia, it is clear that for conservatives hoping to distract from the disastrous reign of Trump, the strategy of hailing the Sutherland Springs massacre as a feel-good story because only 26 people died, and spreading the David Harsanyi gospel of "Bringing A Gun To Church Is A Pretty Good Idea" and the Hans Feine gospel of "When The Saints Of First Baptist Church Were Murdered, God Was Answering Their Prayers," and accusing people who sensibly found that crazy of "making fun of prayer," turned out not to be the game-changer they may have been expecting.

The game show host is losing in the ratings, and the attention of the electorate has been redirected to the traditional rightwing spokespeople, who are clearly nuts. The result could have been predicted.

Monday, November 06, 2017


[The Sutherland Springs shooting required that I rewrite, as we say in the journalism business, my Village Voice column last night. But a rough version of the original still sits on my laptop and I figure you might get a kick out of it.]

Hear about the big antifa “civil war” last weekend? Kidding, it didn’t actually happen — and when it didn’t, rightbloggers took credit.

Rumors that The Left would go all Helter Skelter on Saturday had apparently been brewing on the right since August, when old-left group Refuse Fascism called for a nationwide “struggle” against Trump, Pence, and The Man, begining with demonstrations on November 4.

I’ve seen these guys as part (a small part) of anti-Trump events before, and their efforts probably wouldn’t have entered public consciousness were it not for rightwing reports by internet randos about a “civil war” that “antifa” — the randos’ generic term, apparently, for all leftist boogiemen — were planning for November 4.

Word spread among other conservative sites. “America is poised for revolution, and a date has been set, November 4, 2017,” warned Catholic Online.

“’Antifa' preps mass uprising to remove 'fascist' Trump,” reported WorldNetDaily. Like many of the story-spreaders, they started out talking about antifa (“The far-left group known as ‘antifa’ has dramatically increased its presence”), then suddenly switched gears to talk about Refuse Fascism (“On Nov. 4, the group Refuse Fascism is calling for gatherings around America to demand ‘the Trump/Pence regime must go’”).

And of course Infowars was all over it (“ALT-LEFT PLANS ANTI-TRUMP RIOTS IN MAJOR CITIES ON NOVEMBER 4”).

The story even got some play at Politico in a Taylor Gee story called “Inside the Left’s Plans to Occupy Trump.” Though Gee did wonder “whether Refuse Fascism can persuade anyone to show up on November 4,” the Politico placement gave rightboggers’ forebodings an air of legitimacy, and it was cited by rightblogger outfits such as Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire (“POLITICO is being generous when it calls the group's message ‘hazy’”).

All this publicity apparently got the Refuse Fascism guys so excited they took out a full-age ad in the New York Times — or as The New American, confused as to the nature of newspaper advertising, reported, “NY Times Promotes Antifa-Communist Coup Effort Against Trump for Nov. 4.”

As conservatives counted down the days to the new civil war, leftwing wiseguys teased them mercilessly; @KrangTNelson goaded, “Can’t wait for November 4th when millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents and small business owners in the town square.” A retweet of this taunt was promptly picked up by the notoriously credulous Gateway Pundit: “ANTIFA Leader: “November 4th […] millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents.”

When informed of their pwnage, Gateway Pundit pretended to be mortally offended (“Imagine for a second if I, or any other conservative with a public voice, tweeted out a ‘joke’ about how we should ‘behead all black parents’”) while other rightbloggers banged the drum even harder:

“Antifa plans massive demonstration for one demand – and it’s about Trump,” cried Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.“Antifa Rallies Planned in at Least 20 U.S. Cities — Won’t ‘Stop Until This Regime Driven from Power,’” announced SGT Report.

“More than 20 cities across the nation fear protest marches on Saturday to demand Trump's removal from office could be hijacked by violent anarchists,” long-breathed the Daily Mail. “USA coast to coast RIOTS planned TODAY as Antifa anarchists hijack anti-Trump protests,” claimed the Sunday Express.

Legit outlets like the Washington Post and Newsweek tried to calm them down, but why should patriots in the Age of Trump listen to the Fake News Lügenpresse — especially since Fox News was out there telling the real story: “Anarchist group's plan to overthrow Trump 'regime' starts Saturday,” Caleb Park told Fox’s audience of terrified elderly shut-ins at their website; the TV station, of course, did the same.

The 4th came and went and only a few small and non-violent rallies materialized. Did the brethren admit at last they’d been conned? On the contrary: They declared victory.

“Antifa Activists Overwhelmed by Huge Trump Supporter Contingent in Austin, Texas — Forced to Slink Away (VIDEO),” announced Gateway Pundit.

“George Soros may want his money back today after Refuse Fascism's mass insurrection failed to materialize on November 4,” laffed Debra Heine at PJ Media.

“Nationwide Soros-Funded, Antifa 'Uprising' To Remove Trump From Office Fails,” reported Zero Hedge, which further reported that the protests fizzled even though they had “received widespread attention in the mainstream media for the last week” — without mentioning the “widespread attention” was mostly from rightbloggers or people revealing it as a fraud.

“ANTIFAIL: LOW TURNOUTS AT NATIONWIDE ‘REFUSE FASCISM’ PROTESTS,” hollered Breitbart. “In contrast to previous Antifa rallies, there haven’t been any reports of violence as of yet,” they reported, “although independent journalist Tim Pool did report being yelled at for asking questions about communism. That’s the thing about commies, they never admit it. Except when they wave Soviet flags in the middle of Seattle. So I guess they sometimes admit it.” Save a vitrine at the Newseum!

It makes sense in a way. For a year liberals have been holding huge anti-Trump rallies while pro-Trump rallies have been more modest — over which conservatives could only fume. How much better, then, to fabricate the specter of a violent leftist mother-of-all-rallies, and then stand in the empty public square, fists balled up, crying "aha -- so you're scared, are ya?"


...about the early, stupid reactions to the Sutherland Springs shooting. The column had to be filed early so I missed such lulus as David French's "In the Face of Evil, Prayer Is the Most Rational and Effective Response" at National Review, in which he yells at the "angry Twitter Left" for dismissing the usual Thoughts 'n' Prayers glurge.
The simple and stupid version of the argument is that “prayer doesn’t work” — either because the critic believes the God of the Bible is no more real than a Flying Spaghetti Monster or because he sees the persistence of evil as refuting the efficacy of prayer.
Did you think the argument was actually that T&P is a distraction, used by conservatives as a way to avoid confronting our national gun problem until the outrage over the latest murderfest cools, to be hauled out again the next time? French responds that gun control doesn't work, notwithstanding the example of several other Western countries. And anyway how dare you interrupt the thoughts and prayers with your heathenish response -- it's too soon:
While I disagree with atheists, my quarrel right now isn’t with their disbelief, it’s with their choosing this moment to not only mock Christians but to also display their ignorance of basic Christian theology.
French counts on his readers not to remember that just days before, right after the Manhattan bike path terror attack, he wrote a post called "Sure, Go Ahead and Politicize Tragic Events," in which he wrote:
I’m just cynical enough to believe that the vast majority of politicians, pundits, and Twitter warriors who demand that we not “politicize” a tragedy are really begging, “Don’t make me talk about my political opinion in an unfavorable environment. Let’s wait until the news cycle passes, and the public moves on.” But perhaps moments when the public is energized and interested are among the best times for politicians to make political arguments. Do it tactfully. Respect the fallen. But make your case.
This rhetorical game of Simon Says can go on forever, which is why they play it every time a white guy shoots a place up.