Friday, May 26, 2017


Hadn't listened to this for decades before yesterday. It's even better than I remembered.
The Stiffs Live version is kinda better, right?
But the 2002 retake may be my favorite. Which do you prefer?

• I worried a bit when Barry Levinson's The Wizard of Lies introduced the TV-movie version of a victim-impact statement, a montage of sad stories from Bernie Madoff's victims -- it seemed at first too much like the sort of thing makers of cheap docudramas stick in to show that they're not glamorizing their wicked subject. After a while, though, I realized that I needed it -- not because the film was having too much fun with Bernie, but because Robert De Niro is so mesmerizing that the human cost of Madoff's fraud is easy to overlook. And that's sort of the point. De Niro's Madoff is outwardly a schlub and a cipher -- a guy who offers his marks "great opportunities" with the same sharklike sangfroid when he's winning as when he's trying to avoid prison; when he loses his temper, he doesn't burst into rage so much as wander into it. (One of the targets of his rages: The "rich bastards" he does business with when they won't give him more money.) You keep watching him, because the outlandish things he's done and is doing make him impossible to ignore. But in the end there's nothing there but the wreckage he's left -- he really was a schlub all along. Near the end, after not only ruining the lives of hundreds of outsiders but also those of his wife and children, Madoff looks back on his high school lifeguard gig and reminisces, "Best job I ever had; I never had to save anybody." There's a constellation of meaning in that line. Credit also the Sam Levinson-John Burnham Schwartz-Samuel Baum script, and the director, who knows when to just let his stunning cast of actors work and also, as he especially shows in one particularly tragic scene, when to do some work himself.

Assailant Greg Gianforte's win in the Montana Congressional race is just another Trump-era joke; nothing about it is as rich as Gianforte's outrageous lie that Mark Jacobs attacked him, less than a day before he apologized for attacking Jacobs. Well, nothing except the emissions of rightbloggers. I'll keep my powder dry, but offer this closing section from a column by William "Those Who Can't Do" Teach as a good example:
In other words, a lot of people really didn’t care. A lot of people have little to no respect for the news media. And for all those Democrats freaking out about Gianforte, there’s something to consider:

[Republishes his own tweet: "For Democrats complaining about election of Greg Gianforte, 4 words: William 'Cold Cash' Jefferson"]

Let’s not forget they had no problem supporting Hillary Clinton, who was being investigated by the FBI.
As I've said more than once, when you're this invested in defying logic, your columns inevitably turn into Mad Libs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


When I found "The Surprising Pro-Life Message In Hulu’s Adaptation Of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,'"
I thought I'd found the craziest possible Federalist column on the subject -- but it's a crowded field, apparently, and Collin Garbarino, "an associate professor of history and the director of graduate programs in humanities at Houston Baptist University," may have surpassed it. His essay starts slowly, as these things go --
How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ May Be Too Close To Reality In California
What if it already has happened here, and we didn’t notice because we focused on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s’ religious hang-ups rather than its comments on the intersection of politics and sexuality?
-- but then you read down and find --
...But what if it already has happened here, and we just didn’t notice because we were too focused on the book’s religious hang-ups rather than what it says about the intersection of politics and sexuality? In reflecting on the themes of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” I began to feel that some of the practices of the Republic of Gilead bear a striking resemblance to California’s laws regarding gestational surrogacy.
[Blink. Blink.]
...Making a child ought to require a very personal interaction between a man and a woman, which is why we’re horrified when we read about sex in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In the novel, three people are involved. The husband has sex with the handmaid while she’s forced to lie between the wife’s legs. Moreover, the wife holds the handmaid’s hands so the handmaid can’t touch the husband. 
This is depersonalized procreation and sex, and it disturbs us when it’s in literature, but when it happens in California, we don’t mind as much. Three people are needed to make a baby—a sperm donor, an anonymous egg donor, and a surrogate—and none of these people need to touch each other, much less have a loving relationship.
Remember when intellectuals comparing intercourse with rape was considered a sign of leftist lunacy? Boy, those were the days.

As usual, the very concept of consent eludes them. I only wonder whether this Blood and Soil cult is online-only, or if Sean Davis has quonset huts full of breeders out in the desert somewhere, squeezing out wei├če Kinder for the New Order.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a very fine speech about the city's decision to remove Confederate monuments from public places, and I commend it to you. Excerpt:
The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.
But we are not usually concerned with good writing here, so let's turn to its opposite, the Mayor's coverage by one John Binder at Breitbart. Here's his lede:
The monument to General Robert E. Lee was removed from its pedestal in Lee Circle at the heart of the city of New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu used the event to claim victory for political correctness.
Some people say they're amazed by the Trump-era paradox of onetime McCarthyites ferociously defending Russia, but their propaganda has been Soviet in nature for quite some time.

Binder also works a waste-of-taxpayer-money angle ("as New Orleans Police Department [NOPD] and New Orleans Fire Department [NOFD] officials were present at each of the removal processes"), and tries to give his Lost Cause a touch of Confederate class by claiming "historians" had been "asking [Landrieu] to add context to the monuments, rather than removing them altogether." Binder gives no supporting link for this claim, so maybe he's talking about "historians" in the same sense that this 2015 PJ Media story talks about "historic preservationists" -- that is, people who offer no credentials but who consider Robert E. Lee "history" they wish to "preserve," i.e. treason in defense of slavery.

Binder climaxes, perhaps literally, by disputing Landrieu's claim that that the statues have "run people out of the city":
Historians have refuted this claim in 2015, when Landrieu first demanded the monuments come down. They argued that the city serves tourists and locals as a public history museum, unlike any other city in the U.S.
Because that's why people come to the Big Easy -- to meditate on the Confederacy. What after all is there about statues of prominent Confederates that would drive people away -- well, white people, anyway?

Man. After 150 years, they're still sore losers.

Monday, May 22, 2017


...about further damage control on Comey and the Saudi adventure. I wanted to show how gutlessly the brethren tergiversated on Trump once things started to look bad for him, since I'm sure as soon as there's a break in the clouds they'll be all AMERICA IS BACK and so forth. But I could have spent the whole thing on the hilarious Saudi visit. And if you thought Toby Keith playing a sharia-compliant show for the occasion was funny, get this perspective from The Washington Feed:
Saudi Arabia rolled out a massive red carpet for President Trump’s visit. As they should...
Because they don’t hate him, in fact, the total opposite. They had been begging Obama to start making smart moves in that region to help contain ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorists. 
To show their appreciation for Trump’s bold decision, and to show America and especially the American media how much they respect Trump they had a huge surprise waiting for him when he got off the plane. 
One of his favorite performers – Toby Keith. The man who courageously played Trump’s inauguration despite all the liberal attempts to destroy his career.
I like to imagine Keith getting a call: "Hey Tobe! It's me, Faisal. How'd you like to pick up a quarter mil easy money? All you have to is change some lyrics -- you know, 'Pellegrino for My Horses, Mango Nectar for My Men.'" Or maybe it's not that kind of relationship, and Keith came wrapped in a rug?

Friday, May 19, 2017


Damn thing's been in my head for days. Here, you have it.

•  I know New Yorker profiles are not endorsements, quite, but I could barely get through the one about Tony Blair. I mean get a load:
Over the weekend, focus groups carried out by HuffPost U.K. brought back news of a “Tony Blair-shaped hole” in the political landscape.
It's called a cloaca.
One of Blair’s defining qualities as a British politician was his indeterminacy: of place, of background, of ideology. And his voice was the ultimate classless artifact... 
Sincerity was Blair’s genius, and we have not forgiven him for it.
Arrgh. It's much easier for me to believe the Brits wanted Brexit than it is to believe they want their Blair-holes re-engorged  -- though I do understand why the trimmers and feebs whom Corbyn annoys want him, and certainly why the moneyed interests who give him millions of Euros worth of their run-off want him as well. And apparently he still believes himself the Savior of Baghdad. If he had a scrap of conscience he'd have long ago fucked off to the woods like the Mayor of Casterbridge. As it is the only interview question anyone should be asking him is "Have you any last requests?"

•  I got in touch with an old high school friend recently and found out he's a digital archivist -- ha, like who isn't these days, right? -- and that he also reviews books, mostly but not exclusively history. You can see his stuff at this site. He's much more a descriptive than prescriptive critic, and pretty meticulous, so if you want to know what's in books like David O. Stewart's Impeached, Robert Strauss' Worst. President. Ever., Holger Hoock's Scars of Independence, et alia, and a bit about what a very astute reader thinks of them, you should take a look.

•  Among the latest clot of help-me-help-you Trump crap from aggrieved wingnuts is Ben Shapiro's. I draw your attention to one particular passage:
Yes, dealing with Congress is like trying to herd cats. But you can’t herd cats if you’re too busy shooting yourself in the foot. Yes, dealing with media is like attempting to feed a pack of hyenas. But you can’t deal with them if you’re too busy providing them red meat to dissect.
[gasface] This calls to mind Twain's jest that an aspiring writer should write until offered pay, and if no one offers after three years, "sawing wood is what he was intended for." We should remember, though, that wingnut welfare did not exist in Twain's time, and that Shapiro makes a handsome living disgorging literary stillbirths such as this. I can see taking the money, but it still surprises me that he signs his name to it. I guess they really are shameless.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Some people think the sudden hiring of Robert Mueller as special counsel means light at the end of the Trump, but let's not get carried away. The enthusiasm, however muted, of Jason Chaffetz is an ominous sign. So is the -- what's the word they like to use? -- virtue signaling of prominent rightwing fatheads. This Bret Stephens column some people think highly of is a classic case. It's full of howlers, e.g.:
“If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America,” Lyndon Johnson is reputed to have said (perhaps it’s apocryphal) after the CBS anchorman said in 1968 that the Vietnam War was unwinnable. 
Just so for Trump: If he’s lost Coulter, he’s lost angry America. That’s not his entire base, but — let’s face it — it’s a critical fraction of it.
Look -- first of all, Ann Coulter is, let us say, highly changeable; secondly, most Trump voters don't know who Ann Coulter is -- the people who take her seriously are the same rageaholics who lost the 2008 and 2012 elections and who this year supplemented, and did not spearhead, a voter mass who mostly spend Sunday mornings either in church, at work, or hungover, not watching Meet The Press. The idea that she means big tidings in today's not-monoculture is as ridiculous as -- well, as the idea that Stephens does. Oh, here's another good one:
John Podhoretz in the New York Post and later The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page each compared Trump to Jimmy Carter — the most damning of all conservative indictments.
These guys remind me of the crazy military dad trying to kiss Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. They have no idea.

It is at least as likely that the villains are convinced the big boys are safe from (and their secrets inviolable by) Mueller as it is that the jig is up. Maybe it's because I just read Laton McCartney's Teapot Dome book, but at present I expect nothing better than a couple of murders, a few minor players to do mild prison time, and for the boss to have a "heart attack" in office.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017



Don't get your hopes up. As I keep saying, he gives them the policies they want, and they let him grift; that's the arrangement. Why would they blow the deal now?

I know, Pence; but the American people -- or at least a near-plurality of them -- didn't vote for Barebones Feargod; most of them find small-smiling Mother-wived Bible creeps like him as repulsive as you do; if they didn't, they'd have nominated Ted Cruz. No, they voted for something juicier, the Smart Bidnessman from The TV Whut Hates P'lit'cal Keereckniss an' Sticks It To Messicans. The idea was that he'd be the fun WWF heel -- you know, just like David French's American Hero was back in his wrestling days -- and after four years of hammerlocks and heart punches all the white people would have good jobs again, hurrah!

The days have been rough, but here's a clue for poll-watchers: They haven't given up that dream. Even the Holy-Shit poll numbers that are coming out are more about policy [AHCA boo!] and Republicans [Congress boo!] than about Trump. Sure, a plurality of respondents want him impeached -- but what's impeachment to these guys? Just another fun TV infotainment that'll come out all right in the end.

And they know just as well as we intellecktuals do that the Republican Congress will never send Trump away. Jason Chaffetz is talking big, but everyone's seen him in action and knows he's a little bitch who remained lashed to his great white Hillary whale long after everyone else abandoned ship because pretending to be a tough guy is all he knows how to do. They could give Chaffetz a piece of foolscap marked in Sharpie, "I did it, pleaze impeach me, signed Donald J. Trump," and he'd spend his hour in the spotlight bitching that liberals weren't showing him enough respect.

Maybe if Trump were caught murdering his wife -- never a distant possibility -- or endorsing single payer for real, they'll turn on him. But not for less. So don't get your hopes up.

Do, however, enjoy the teeth-gnashing, flim-flamming, and fist-shaking wingnut outrage! Bless her, here's counselor Ann Althouse taking it to the jury:
The asking is at most only implicit in what is a declarative statement: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go." That's just Trump revealing what he hopes for. There's no question at all, let alone any pressure or threat.
"Nice store ya got here, be a shame if anything happened to it" was a sincere expression of best wishes! Speaking of blasts from the past, here's Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit (h/t reader Jonathan Miller) fixin' ta in-see-reckt:
Well, I’m still not sure exactly what’s going on — see Stephen’s post below for more — but what is clear is that they hope that if they gin up enough controversy, baseless or not, maybe it’ll give cover to an impeachment or 25 Amendment removal, or something. I don’t think it will happen and if it does — barring something a lot bigger and more uncontrovertible than anything they’ve come up with so far — you will have literal riots in the streets if Trump’s removed, far beyond anything you’ve seen from Democrat constituency groups like Black Lives Matter. Trump supporters have had it with the establishment, and are unlikely to go along quietly with a system they regard as deeply corrupt and devoted to their destruction.
Mount your Hoverounds, boys! The Ole Perfesser's call to arms may inspire a few nutcakes, but these dopes have gotten most of what they wanted these past 30 years without getting off the damn couch, let alone mustering the militia, and I don't see too many of them taking to their survivalist treehouses in defense of Il Douche when they can always change the channel instead. But sound that tocsin, Perfesser, there's still some juice left in that grift!