Thursday, February 04, 2016

"DIVIDE" AND BONKERS.

The other day Obama went to a mosque and made a nice speech, to which Marco Rubio reacted with non-sequiturs:
“Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque,” Rubio continued. “Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam. And by the way, radical Islam poses a threat to Muslims themselves.” 
“But again, it’s this constant pitting people against each other -- that I can’t stand that. It’s hurting our country badly," Rubio said. "We can disagree on things, right? I’m a Dolphin fan, you’re a Patriot fan."
Rubio is clearly animated by a desire for Muslim-hater votes, and has no need nor perhaps the ability to explain, so it's left for intellectuals like David Harsanyi to tell us why being nice to Americans of all faiths is divisive:
Take this CNN headline: “Obama rebuts anti-Muslim rhetoric in first U.S. mosque visit.” What does it mean? In the piece, we learn that president reacted to “young Muslim parents whose children are worried about being removed from the country.” I know of no Republican candidate — or anyone of note on the Right; or anywhere else for that matter — who has ever suggested any policy resembling this. Not even Donald Trump. 
A president who wanted to bring people together would have dismissed this as a preposterous idea.
A president who wanted to bring people together would look at what Republicans like Trump have actually been saying -- that we need to keep Muslims out of the country because they are special contaminant -- and try to head off the next logical stage of this kind of racism, which our Muslim citizens, who are no dummies, are already worried about. That's why he went to the mosque: To let these Americans know that we are not yet that depraved, and let all Americans know that we need not become that depraved.

One more bit from Harsanyi:
Yesterday, Obama spoke about the evils of Islamophobia to a group that featured women covered, subordinated, and segregated from men. I’m happy he’s open-minded about that sort of thing.
Ha ha.

Well, at least they're not throwing bottles at them anymore. 

I could go on all day like this -- Harsanyi also asks why it's okay for Muslim ladies to be covered but Bob Jones no longer gets tax breaks, for example -- but there's no point: like all his sort, Harsanyi's just vamping with this shit, hoping some Muslim will blow something up between now and Election Day so he can rattle the bins for the GOP's Crusader constituency. There's something else the guys at the mosque have that I can relate to: A constant awareness that your future could be total fucked at any moment by ruthless madmen. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

RAND GOES DOWN BUT THE "LIBERTARIAN MOMENT" STRETCHES ON.

Rand Paul's out of the GOP race, and a bunch of people right and left are saying, hey, whatever happened to that "Libertarian Moment" thing that The New York Times magazine, Time, and others thought Paul represented, anyway?  I always knew that was bullshit, and thought Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and the conservative "war on cops" freakout exposed that sham pretty decisively last year. But apparently not, if people are still yakking about it.

So, again: Most of the people you hear talking about the rise of libertarianism are traditional conservatives trying to get over with a new shtick. They're more interested in restoring the Constitutional right of rich people to take over public resources and make private profit from them, and in otherwise ceding the rich greater rights than the poor, than they are in your window-box of weed or, heaven forfend, your so-called right to abortion -- among libertarian deal-breakers, raw milk beats reproductive rights every time.  Check out Mark Ames' nice preemptive post-mortem on Paul at Pando from October, and scroll down to the 1999 speech Rand's daddy, Ron Paul, made in defense of Microsoft versus the regulators who were sizing up Bill Gates' monopoly practices ("This is a good time for Congress to reassess the antitrust laws"). Hell, check out the Koch brothers. Money talks and hackey-sack walks.

Also check out Veronique de Rugy at National Review, responding to her colleague Ramesh Ponnuru's dismissive take on the LibMo. de Rugy does the routine about how libertarianism is more cultural than political -- a favorite of folks who want obscure the essential conservatism of what passes for libertarian politics -- and then adds:
...I don’t care particularly about getting libertarian candidates elected. I do, however, care about Americans with libertarian instincts electing more pro-freedom and pro-market lawmakers like Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul or Representatives Thomas Massie and Justin Amash. They may not consistently call themselves libertarians but they are clearly putting pressure on their Republican colleagues and pushing them to be more pro-freedom, to adopt more free-market policies, and to be embarrassed by their overspending and big-government tendencies.
These three guys are best known for hollering about Obama tyranny every chance they get, and Amash recently distinguished himself by voting against federal water aid to Flint on the grounds that "the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to intervene in an intrastate matter like this one" -- though maybe he was just trying to get dehydrated citizens to explore raw milk. Plus he's really into the flat tax. Feel the freedom!

As for Rand Paul himself, he has his good points and his bad points; he's your basic ambitious Republican Senator, which is to say a potentially catastrophic grifter, and when he returns to the national stage in another political season who knows how much libertarianism he'll flash. Maybe he'll call for war against Iran, and be hailed for the bold political jiu-jitsu -- then, back to war with the EPA!

UPDATE. Though I had nowhere to put it in the main post, I'm re-upping this old thing about another popular favorite among conservatarians: Approving social safety nets only so long as they serve as corporations' no-cost health care plan. I mean, you can't have a post like this without some Megan McArdle.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A GLOWING RECOMMENDATION.

I don't have a lot of spare time and hadn't planned on reading Jane Mayer's Dark Money, which apparently treats the Koch Brothers, but as is often the case one review can make a difference:
Those who hate too much become like the people they hate, and so it is with Jane Mayer, whose Dark Money, a 450-page screed of unrelenting venom, portrays a vast right-wing conspiracy controlled by a small number of libertarian donors. Like the John Birch Society of days gone by, Mayer sees a cabal of dark forces that secretly dominates American politics. And like Joe McCarthy, people two or three degrees of separation from her villains are tarred with their brush. Fifty years ago Richard Hofstadter said that the Birchers and McCarthyites exemplified the “paranoid style” of American politics, but now it’s the Mayers who have debased American politics.
There's an inside joke embedded in this skein of spit: the Kochs' old man was actually a Bircher himself. Other than that, it's all rant. The reviewer, George Mason professor F.H. Buckley, tells us that Mayer's book "is politics at the level of Keith Olbermann, a long, unremitting, hate-filled sneer," and Mayer "is evidently a person whose mind has never risen above the arrogance and hatred peddled on the thoroughfares," a "monomaniacal bore," etc. The closest he comes to telling us how she might be wrong, though, is this:
Mayer’s world is one of dark forces and private venality, but what she doesn’t get is just how one seeks donor support. No one ever received a dime by saying they’d do the donor’s bidding. Instead, one tells the donors what one wants to do, and either gets or doesn’t get supported.
I wonder if Buckley's ever heard the one about the blind horse, the nod, and the wink. The best part, though, is this:
In reading her diatribe, I was amused to realize that I would have been dead-center in her sights, had I been important enough to be noticed.
Better luck next time, F. A few days ago the New York Times reported on some risibly faked plagiarism charges against Mayer. It looks as if Buckley's not the only one who doesn't want people to read her work, which suggests that it's very much worth reading.

I wonder if these guys know how obvious they are? Or are they just convinced that there's no point even trying to make it look legit?

UPDATE. In comments, mds: "I mean, sweet, tender Baby Jeebus on toast, they couldn't get some crank at Harvard or Chicago? They actually went with a guy at a university the Kochs have given tens of millions of dollars to?... We're talking Oscar the Grouch being outraged at accusations that the hand up his ass belongs to Caroll Spinney."

Monday, February 01, 2016

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about rightbloggers and the Iowa caucuses. This was interesting to write because, as I sort of mention in the column, while political reporters are by and large just hoping to get reads and keep their jobs, rightbloggers are more hubristic: they really seem to believe they can make a difference in national events by the perfection of their logic, the shrillness of their vituperation, or the capitalization of random words. Look at Erick Erickson, who demands purges at the drop of a hat, and all the political illiterates who talk electoral strategy from their Barcaloungers and make Mark Penn look like Clausewitz. In a way it's touching, and in the last ditch I guess I prefer them to working propagandists like George Will and Peggy Noonan, who may know a little more than the bloggers but use that knowledge to perpetuate ignorance because it pays. But then, some of our worst columnists used to be bloggers (latest installment: If I define "decadence" low enough, maybe someone else will help me obsess over it)...

Ah, screw 'em all. Anyway, here's my version of horse-race journalism, and I didn't have to stay at a Motel 6 in Keokuk to write it. My editor took out my joke about Ted Cruz' bad breath -- in fairness, I've probably cost them a fortune in lawsuits already -- but there are still few good ones left.

UPDATE. Just days after their big anti-Trump issue, National Review's Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponurru are already trying to adjust to life in the joint:
Through the Goldwater revolution, the party became newly oriented around limited-government conservatism, and eventually a better politician than Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, came along to represent the new dispensation and get elected president.  
Maybe Trump could serve roughly the same function. 
Sorry, laughed so hard I sprained something.
He could lose badly this year and yet give rise to a future GOP that takes enforcement of the immigration laws seriously, reduces low-skilled immigration, and does more to represent the less-schooled wage earner, while also rejecting fantasies of mass deportation.
I see a conference room session, like the old Erhard Seminars Training except everyone wears Trump clothing and thinks he's in charge and must assert his authority at all times or be crushed. The participants are all hoarse from screaming at each other. The sign outside the locked room reads REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION 2022.
Those gains would, however, come at a fearful cost that conservatives should strive to avoid.
Pssssh. Like they wouldn't take it if it meant more elbow room at the Big Trough.

UPDATE. Looks like Cruz came in first, and National Review is partying like it's November 8; on Twitter Lowry is thanking Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, and (get this) Glenn Beck, and declaring, "My tally of top four finishers in Iowa: Conservatism 60%, Trumpism 24%." If it had been Conservatism 57%, Trumpism 27%, of course, they'd all be hiding under desks while Il Douche goose-stepped up and down Main Street. I think Trump has a few kicks left in him, but as I said last month, he was never going to be the nominee; he is what he has always been, a symptom. When he goes dormant, the sickness will pop out somewhere else.

I'm not going to stay up to see if Bernie Sanders will pull it off; the arc of history bends toward justice, but it's long.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

WHAT TO EXPECT TONIGHT.

Tonight's Trumpless Republican debate will be all about the remaining candidates trying to peel off Trump voters by showing America that, unlike him, they are true conservatives who believe in limited government, a permanent end to the Ex-Im Bank, and just kidding they will actually try to peel off Trump voters by being as offensive at they can without getting bleeped:
BUSH. (reading from card) "Boy, that Hillary, what a bitch, huh?"
PAUL. Was that supposed to be a joke? Try it in Spanish!
CHRISTIE. What Jebby said. I hate that fat bitch.
CRUZ. (murmurs into mike) Speaking of fat bitches.
CHRISTIE. What's that? What'd you say to me? You come over here and say that to my face, mister.
CRUZ. Is that your face? I thought there was a full moon out tonight.
KASICH. Muh muh muh muh muh.
CHRISTIE. No wonder nobody likes you, Ted. Jesus Christ. And you smell too. Folks, you should get a whiff of this guy from up here. It's like ten bums on a bonfire. (RUBIO laughs.) Whatcha laughing at, squirt? (points to him) This guy, you know he cries? Backstage I gave him a little pinch on the arm, like nothin', he went (scrunches up face) "Aiiee! Madre mio, no me gusta!"
RUBIO. Where'd you learn Spanish? Taco Bell?
BUSH. "No wonder her husband Bill is a warmonger." I mean whore! Whoremonger. I -- I have a Right to Rise...
You flip the channel to the Donald Trump Veterans for Something or Other Who Gives a Shit, and find Trump on a glossy 60s-style stage set, his name behind him in big letters like at the end of the Elvis '68 special; he and the audience are doing the call-and-response choruses to "What'd I Say?"; they've been doing it for ten, fifteen minutes, no one cares, a beach ball is bouncing around in the crowd, women have their shirts off, and Mike Huckabee is running around the stage in a loud, checkered suit like some deranged mix of Flavor Flav and Stubby Kaye, honking a Harpo Marx horn and yelling "IN THE END TIMES, TRUMP'S MY FRIEND TIMES, AIN'T WE GOT FUN!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A DANGEROUS GUIDE FOR BOYS.

As a young'un, Marco Rubio got tagged by the cops for drinking beer in a park; when the story recently came to light, he laughed it off. Credit where due: I am in sympathy with anyone who has brownbagged his bottle, even if he later turns out to be a shit, as Rubio has. And though his team's "humorous" response is not actually funny, and implies the Washington Post reported his youthful transgression to attack him rather than to generate a more clickbaity story, at least it's dismissive.

That is how I would leave it, but for the gloss of Mark Judge, the artist formerly known as Mark Gauvreau Judge, at Acculturated, my favorite culture war/wingnut welfare cluster. Judge isn't satisfied with good news for Rubio -- he wants thinkpiece fodder! And so:
Rubio hit back with a fake ad revealing his other crimes—coloring outside the lines, double-dipping potato chips. The episode was a seemingly small political blip, but it inadvertently points to another problem: We need to stop trying to prevent our boys and men from being boys and men.
It's Routine 19 -- the feminaziation of our boys by libtards! But Judge doesn't know when to quit:
We need to let them feel passion and lust and adventurousness and act on it. We need to let them get in trouble, drive fast cars, and chase girls. The dark and dangerous part of them—us—that does these things is also the place that can call forth great leadership....
He seems to have upgraded "teenager drinking beer in the park" to the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The Rubio “story” in the Post reveals how our culture has become uncomfortable with male behavior. On one hand there are the liberals who seem to celebrate any kind of sexual expression except heterosexual manhood, which they aim to deride and ultimately destroy...
Guess Judge would be happier if the Post ran items like "How to Knock a Bitch Up" in the Sunday Comics.
Both left and right attempt to do the same thing: stamp out the shadow. The shadow is an idea from Jungian psychology...
Ugggh I'll spare you -- oh, wait, get this:
The shadow is crucial to psychic health, and particularly powerful in leaders (both male and female). Think of the classic Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk was literally divided into two people, one good and one evil. While the evil Kirk...
Urkel just called Judge a nerd. Eventually:
Rubio’s satirical response was fine, but it would have been better if he had embraced his shadow, freely admitting that as a young man he felt lust, the thirst for danger, anger, and even depression.
Jesus Christ, I would so love it if Rubio read this, felt inspired, flew Judge down for some intensive speechwriting work, and at the next Republican event answered his first question, "Sure, we're all against Obamacare, but what I really want to talk to you about tonight, America, is this: How you ever, when you were young and high on teenage angst and MDMA, made it with a girl who's into superstitions, black cats and voodoo dolls? Who'll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain --  make you live her crazy life but she'll take away your pain? Like a bullet to your brain? Come on!"

YANKEE DOODLE DUMBASS.

I've been coming to this library for years, reading books, using the computers, and sometimes making withdrawals that I never returned. The Feds claim I took hundreds of books and owe thousands of dollars in fines on them, but you know what liars they are. Besides, these books belong to me by right; it says "public" library right on the door, doesn't it? And am I not the public? Also, this land here used to be Indian land, and my ancestors helped kill a lot of those Indians. Surely I should have this library if only as a prize for my great-great-great-great-grandaddy's service.

But these jackboots and lickspittles got a little pushy about the overdue books -- plus the tools I liberated from the department of public works, and that cop car my buddies hot-wired -- so my fellow patriots and I had no choice but to take possession of the library. The ease with which we took it I consider even more proof that this property belongs to us by right. And we thought the Feds must see it that way too, since they treated us respectfully, befitting citizens of a sovereign state.

Nonetheless we convened citizen grand juries to bring the sheriffs and deputies (so-called) and all federal agents to justice once the Rebellion came. But we planned give them a fair trial, notwithstanding their treasons, and if found guilty they would have been permitted access to a preacher and last words before they were hanged. We are not savages.

You may have heard that the people of the towns did not support our occupation. They wanted to use the library themselves, you may have heard, and they wanted the research that was being done here to continue. I am sure not many felt this way, but let me assure you that this library was liberated on their behalf and in their names, and that once the Rebellion came, anyone who swore the Loyalty Oath would have been able to borrow books on even friendlier terms than they had before my fellow patriots and I took it over. They would also have had access to that portion of the library that was already in my home, though on a limited schedule.

As for the so-called research, I hope our friends and neighbors know that it was never of any use to them. We went through that research and saw it was just a lot of gobbledegook, dead languages and so on, and Big Lies like global warming. Actually these so-called scholars were being used by the federal government as an excuse to keep the people from having full access to the facility. This is why we had commenced clearing out this research area, and planned to outfit these rooms with sofas and wide-screen TV as soon as our next shipment of provender came in, when the trouble came.

Already we see the Feds and their lapdog press trying to make out that our fallen comrade Crazy Zeke was responsible for his own death, just because he was fond of saying that the Feds would never take him alive and that he would kill anyone who tried. But I am sure the people know what he was really saying: Don't tread on me. I am also sure those of my comrades the press claim have run away are already busy arranging for my bail. Stay strong, brothers and sisters, and work for the Rebellion. The library is yours.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

OTHER THAN THAT, PRETTY MUCH THE SAME THING!

The current New Yorker cover, showing some prominent American presidents of years past agog at a Donald Trump speech, is gentle anachronistic satire, like the radio playing "Shoo Shoo Baby" in A Matter of Life and Death. Yet some media folks think they have to debunk it. At Mediaite, Joe Concha says:
In other words, if presidents like Franklin or Teddy Roosevelt or George Washington witnessed the kind of rhetoric offered up by Trump, the reaction would be horror, disgust, shame. To that end, wouldn’t it be interesting to see the cover reversed with Trump on the outside looking in at Washington, who was a slave owner since the age of 11? And just how well did our first president treat the 318 slaves he owned at his estate in Mount Vernon (Virginia)?
The Founders were hypocrites, see; at least Trump doesn't have slaves (and if he does they're probably in Qatar), so who are we to look down on him? I won't bore you good people by explaining what's wrong with this analysis -- instead, I'll mildly divert you with an even worse one by David Harsanyi at The Federalist. He begins:
It is not exactly surprising that The New Yorker offers us a pristine example of the smugness that permeates the Left these days...
I put a funny picture of Obama with a Hitler mustache on my Facebook page and nobody paid any attention, but let some elitists put their funny president pictures on fancy glossy paper in front of a bunch of boring "journalism" and suddenly it's a big deal!

As you might expect, Harsanyi isn't worried about Washington's slaves, and uses The Father of Our Country merely as a stick to beat his own enemies:
In a Politico podcast this week, Obama claimed that, “[The] Republican vision has moved not just to the right, but has moved to a place that is unrecognizable.” Funny, I felt the same way when I heard this State of the Union Address. But since we’re on the topic: What would George Washington have to say about a leading Democrat candidate who deploys calculated class war and diluted Marxist economic theories?
I imagine he would say, "What is class war and Marxism? Away with this strangely-dressed person, lest I forget my own Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior."

Harsanyi is particularly incensed by the Big Gummint sins of the Roosevelts  -- "[FDR] brandished executive power in ways that would almost certainly make a President Trump look like a piker," "[TR] embraced some of the ugliest pseudoscientific aspects of progressive racism and chauvinism," etc. But he is outdone, and at the same website, by one Julian Adorney. Adorney's essay is called "The Uncanny Parallels Between Donald Trump And FDR," but he's really frying bigger fish:
FDR may not have been Hitler or Mussolini. But the difference was one of degree, not of kind.
And it's hard to say which one's worse, as Adorney goes on to tell us about the Japanese-American internment camps and the S.S. St. Louis, but not about the Second World War, in which FDR unaccountably endeavored to destroy his fellow fascist Adolf Hitler. Maybe he was jealous!

I notice this FDR-as-Hitler shtick is getting popular with conservatives. Looks like Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism has trained a generation of wingnuts to spread the story of Adolf Roosevelt, in hopes of attracting swing voters. Good thing for these guys there aren't that many WWII vets left to beat the shit out of them.

UPDATE. Many spectacular comments, e.g.: Jay B: "I'm sure that conservatives were against Japanese internment at the time, when it mattered." (Find Yastreblyansky's comment on how Robert Taft wanted to deal with them, too.) Megalovanian: "Antifascism is the fascism of liberal fascism." And Gromet, on Adorney's "difference of degree, not of kind" thing: "FDR gassed my grandparents with Zyklon-W. Same kind of thing as Zyklon-B, just 20-something letters less in degree, so instead of killing them it employed them, fed them, and freed the world of fascism for them."