Friday, July 22, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Reagan's president elect/ Fascist god in motion

• There are all kinds of things you can say about Trump's speech last night, and pundits are busy saying them.  What I will say is that in terms of policy it was perfectly consonant with 50 years of American conservatism -- by which I mean, there was no policy, except to scare voters out of their wits and then offer to let Daddy take care of them. This has been the traditional appeal of even the more avuncular GOP candidates like Reagan, whose celebrated sunniness was only powerful in contrast to the dark Democratic dystopia he and his henchmen were constantly portraying as the only alternative to himself. If Trump is more frightening to some people than Reagan or any of the others, it's mainly because when he does this routine, he indulges very few of the fake pieties I talked about yesterday with which conservatives traditionally try to make their bait-and-switch look socially acceptable. That's his main innovation. But just because you're scared doesn't mean other people don't find it attractive. Just like Reagan, Trump has a sunny shtick -- those goofy faces he pulls, the snarl-smile with thumbs up, seem wolfish and creepy to me. But then I didn't buy what Reagan was selling either, and I bet a lot of whatever customers of his are still alive are voting for Trump.

What I'm saying is, make sure your passport's renewed.

• And be not deceived about the #NeverTrumps: Many of them are at least Trump-curious already. Jonah Goldberg, for example, still attacks Trump, but in the middle of it says
Many Republicans I’ve talked to find Trump’s willingness to outsource actual policymaking to Mike Pence or Paul Ryan reassuring. And in a sense, it is...

If Trump could be trusted to simply play a ceremonial role, serving as a kind of corporate motivational speaker for the country, I might board the Trump train. But can anyone say with confidence that Trump has the discipline to do anything of the sort?
This is a wussy way of saying, this Hitler's an intemperate fellow but at least he has the sense to delegate important work to von Ribbentrop, perhaps the Nazis can persuade me. Meanwhile at NeverTrump redoubt Erick Erickson's The Resurgent, Steve Berman says of Trump's speech. "It’s honestly the most terrific, finest, greatest speech I’ve read/heard in quite a while (and the crowd reacted very energetically)–and Trump was very well suited to give it. If the speech could run for president, it would win hands down." He does add, "Except there’s no bifurcating Trump from his speeches," and does the usual Trump-is-a-very-bad-man shtick, but finally says, "If the speech wins, and we get Trump along with it, at least it won’t be Hillary." Like I said, Trump is selling standard-issue conservatism with the mask off, and these conservatives, with whatever difficulty their social anxieties cause them in admitting it, are all hoping he'll win.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

CONVENTION NIGHT THREE.

I only watched a little of the proceedings last night. I saw one of those Trump Boys -- Uday or Qusay, I can never remember which; this was the one who really looks like he's telling the Student Council what an outrage it is that his frat's panty raid is being characterized as a sexual assault. The Trumplet is mainly known for murdering jungle animals, which he sought to counter last night by bragging on a charity he runs. Speaking of public-relations ass-covering, he also devoted a significant chunk of his time to extolling his father's repairs on the Wollman Rink in Central Park, offering this as proof that Pop can get things done when Big Gummint fails. This will convince the sort of people who are already convinced, while everyone else will wonder what kind of hair gel he uses and whether he has a collection of Huey Lewis and the News CDs and an axe back at his apartment.

Speaking of hair gel, Ted Cruz left the usual oil slick -- attributing the success of the Apollo moon mission to "freedom," rather than to the Big Gummint that self-evidently achieved it, was among the wetter spots. His Big Nope at the end was amusing but, while one can admire the execution of his trollery, let us not forget that it's just one hustler getting over on another: Donald Trump's only significant differences from Cruz or any of the 327 other unsuccessful candidates for this nomination are 1.) the specific donors and cronies who can expect to benefit if he wins (at least at the top layer; defense contractors, for example, will make out no matter what); and 2.) the baldness of his authoritarian affect. As President, Cruz would be at least as much of a nightmare as Trump, but he would also take time every so often to evince humility, understanding, and all the other Delsarte positions a President has been heretofore expected to display. Trump blows them off because he has cracked the code and knows his minions only want the rooster displays and to hell with any less butch emotions. I mean, in his speech Ted Cruz actually pretended to give a shit about black and gay people! This vestigial arnaqueur oblige seems quaint in the present case, and the NeverTrumps probably don't realize how hard it will be to bring it back into fashion among their increasingly feral constituents.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CONVENTION NIGHT TWO.

Chris Cox of the NRA is, unlike his beef-faced senior officer Wayne LaPierre, a bland doughball, head almost perfectly round and face almost uninterrupted by features. But he can yap the party line as well as anyone. He tells us "a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court means your raht to own a fahr-arm is goawn!" Also, Hitlery has Secret Service, which is hypocritical for someone who doesn't want all America to be Westworld. The worst and most typical thing is his reference to the NRA as "the largest and oldest civil rights organization in America” — which I guess is their way of telling white people that they're not racist, but actually advocates for arming all and even black people, under the right circumstances. Ha. Look up Huey P. Newton Gun Club on Google; look at the older articles by National Review gun nut Charles C. W. Cooke, when he was pimping that club as a sign of how Second Amendment activism and wingnuttery was for all the races:
In August, as the outrage over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., dominated the news, an African-American group calling itself the Huey P. Newton Gun Club took to the streets of Dallas, rifles in hand, to protest. Local businesses were supportive, and the city’s police chief confirmed in a statement that his department “supports the constitutional rights of all.” On Twitter, the hashtag #blackopencarry prompted a warm response from conservatives.
Then look at wingnut stories about that Club after the recent Baton Rouge shooting, e.g. this one from Breitbart News: "EXCLUSIVE – MILITANT BLACK GUN CLUB FOUNDER ON BATON ROUGE COP KILLINGS: ‘NATURAL LAW TO TAKE UP AN ARMED APPROACH’..."
According to reports, Micah X. Johnson, who carried out a deadly shooting against police officers two Friday’s ago, “liked” the Huey P. Newton Gun Club on Facebook... 
The past two weeks, armed members of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club have been seen at demonstrations in Dallas and Baton Rouge...
Haven't heard from Charlie Cooke about the Gun Club since then. I bet he's real disappointed that his favored black avatar of Guns Everywhere hasn't passed muster, and hopes he can find another group of black gun nuts that his cracker buddies can endorse, some of these days -- but no need to rush into that until after the election.

UPDATE. Ugh, who doesn’t hate Paul Ryan — that fake-suffering, fake-hopeful face, that lacquered hair, that slightly-too-large jacket meant to make him look younger and slimmer. “I found some other things to keep me busy,” he says fake-humbly about the 2012 election, and laughs at stupid Obama and Biden who’ll be cooling their heels in some big-gummint hellhole while he’s on the dais with Donald Trump

“Have we had our arguments this year?” he says, and there’s a rueful hoot from the crowd. But those are “signs of life,” Ryan says, rather than the garbage fires they appear to everyone else. The “Democratic Part Establishment,” by contrast, offers “a third Obama term offered by another Clinton.”

Ryan also throws in “politically correct” — drink! “Four more years of it?” he says, referring to national leadership without racial slurs. The crowd is agin it! Also, the libtards “look down” on them, etc. “Wages never seem to go up… When it comes to ideas, the advantage goes to us.” Heh, check the 2012 wave of “reformi-cons,” and the Trump-friendly “Cure for Trumpism” by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, and you’ll see “ideas” are something the wonks play with in the back room while the big boys play Ooga Booga and Conan The Republican.

Ryan’s a terrible attack dog, but the 327 people on the convention floor give him a lot of support, especially when he runs sentences together at the end to signal the climax. (He drops “America” from the “God Bless America,” one would like to think out of shame.) So this convention is not a total departure from tradition.

UPDATE 2.  Fuck, ABC’s running that golf chick and not letting me listen to Renfield — I mean Chris Christie! Christie is mad because “we’ve seen the Justice Department refuse to prosecute her… as a former federal prosecutor” — yeah, once upon a time people trusted him with that job! Well, it was Jersey — “I welcome the opportunity to hold Hillary Rodham Clinton accountable…” The crowd chants “Lock her up!” Christie, used to being humiliated by the boss, welcomes this turnaround.

Anyway, as Form Fed Pros, he promises, “I’m gonna present the case now against Hillary Rodham Clinton!” He means for this to be a mock trial, like Night of January 16th, but his argument is more like Libya is a mess, so she’s guilty right? Boko Haram, so she’s guilty, right?  And the crowd screams Guilty! If he asked them to scream Kill the bitch, or The gun is good, the penis is evil, they'd do that too. He even knocks Clinton for sucking up to Putin! Yeah, in defense of Putin's buddy Donald Trump! (In his gilt tower, Trump is laughing his ass off and wondering what he'll do to shame Christie when he gets back -- maybe make him eat a cowflop.)

I can't imagine that, each time the goons chant "lock her up," I'm the only one who thinks that, no matter how debased we've learned Christie to be, this is beneath contempt.

UPDATE 3. There's no need to repeat anything the attractive and poised Tiffany Trump is saying. What's maybe important is: Why is this important? I mean, everyone knows that every single one of the 27 family members whom Trump is having speak at the convention is, in the broader scheme of things, a waste of protoplasm, wealth-holders burning up capital, the effluvia of Trump's ambition. Nothing any of them has said in any venue has ever been noteworthy except as something to attach to a boldface name in a gossip column, or believable even when it's about the patriarch. (The guy at ABC News says he heard some "cute anecdotes" about Donald Trump. Please forward them.)

UPDATE 4. That was a nice "Star-Spangled Banner."

UPDATE 5. Forgive me, PBS just showed this afternoon's Trump convention manipulations and I thought for a second we had started all over again. In the tape, Reince Priebus is explaining to an uninterested and/or cowed audience that none of the challenges to Trump's candidacy were ever going to get anywhere, and brings in some poor, terrified woman to read some rules about the times, dates, and business of the Convention they're right in the middle of. Priebus is now speaking Parliamentarian super-fast like a tobacco auctioneer, which must look like shit to any normal people listening in -- and I'm sure none were. Wow -- and these are the Constitutionalists?

The really sad (Sad!) thing was, I missed Donald J. Trump Jr.'s speech, which I'm told was exactly what you would expect.

UPDATE 6. Crazy motherfucker Ben Carson is on, raving about the “politically elite” — yes, that's "politically elite," not "political elite"; I guess his brain sagged at the nexus of “politically correct” and “ruling elite,"  caved in on itself and smushed together. He's descrying “the narrative that’s being advanced by some in our own party — that a Hillary Clinton Administration wouldn’t be so bad…” The crowd snarls. “They’re not using their God-given brain,” assures Carson. Because, he warns, Clinton’s Presidency would be something America “may never recover from.” At first I thought he meant she’d make herself dictator for life — he’s capable of that sort of hyperbole  — but no, he meant she’d appoint judges who would have a “deleterious effect for years to come,” which to hear him tell it would be just as bad.

Then he gets into Saul Alinsky — and the crowd boos! They know about Alinsky, unlike most normal Americans, including the Democrats who are allegedly in his thrall. “Let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky," says Carson. "In the dedication page of his book he acknowledges Lucifer…” And guess what — Carson doesn’t get the joke! He goes into a weird tirade about how God is on all our money, yet Alinsky and the Democrats want to worship Satan — which is like saying, “Ellen Burstyn was in The Exorcist, so if you ever go see Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore you’re trying to take God out of our lives!”

Then Carson talks about Thomas Jefferson and the crowd knows immediately without any prompting because he is crazy Ben Carson that this is Tree of Liberty/Blood of Homosexuals time and they go screaming nuts! “He knew," howls Carson, "that we the people would recognize what was going on, and we would rise up…” REBEL YELLS! Perhaps Carson wanted to explain further, but they’ve already shoved him off stage as GE Smith and his Band of Mercenaries plays Shining Star and the old folks shake their butts and a Code Pink demonstrator carrying an anti-racism banner is grabbed and dragged out of the hall.

Monday, July 18, 2016

CONVENTION NIGHT ONE.

The younger guy from Duck Dynasty is on (Willie), and here to pray on Louisiana (“we love you through pain”) and says Trump and he have three things on common — success in business, hit TV shows and good-looking wives. The media don’t know what-all it’s doing and that’s how they missed “the Trump train — they don’t hang out with regular folk like us,” who used to look like A&F models before the rebrand. “They don’t know how to talk to middle America,” he adds, so they talk real slow — Jeff Foxworthy did script-doctoring I hear. “America is in a bad spot, and we need a President who will have your back,” he says. “…if you're looking for a job, or tryin’ to start a business like I have, Donald Trump will have your back.” Just don't ask for money. He’ll do the same for cops — big cheer for cops! And he’ll do the same for “average Americans” abandoned by “faraway leaders.” He does the “not politically correct” thing, but assures us that though Trump spits slurs, he always “tells the truth as he sees it,” which makes it better. And — what, that’s it?

And here’s Chachi! He starts by thanking all the brave men and women of the military, always a good opening — show biz smarts, still! Scott Baio trusts Trump, thinks America “the greatest country God every created. America is an easy place to get to —“ I thought he was going into an immigration riff there, but instead he pivots to “getting free stuff,” like the blahs do. “Sometimes doing the things you don’t wanna do… to get where you wanna be.” Like this speech? Like the Duck guy, Chachi too thinks America’s in a state —so “we need Donald Trump to fix this.” Chachi admits that Trump is not a “messiah,” just someone who wants to “give something back” to America, because that’s the Trump way. He scores the Democrats for “policies that make us unsafe,” whereas Trump is “doing this from the goodness of his heart” — another inside joke? -- whereas “Hillary Clinton wants to be president for Hillary Clinton.” Sure, pitching anyone as more selfish than Donald Trump is a gutsy move, but — wait, he’s done?

UPDATE. Rick Perry and his wife met a "talk-drink-o-water" military man at a base once and invited him to visit them. And he did, and here he is -- "the lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell," an authentic war hero. Luttrell's father was "shamed out of his uniform" -- dunno what that was about, but Marcus makes a positive of it; he became a Navy Seal, and is humbly oblique about his celebrated fighting career. He got to meet "one of the greatest people America has to offer." Doesn't say who it is. Luttrell wants to make sure "the hell the veterans came from is not the hell they come home to." Well, there's a clear difference from the Democrats!  Here's another: "The only way we're gonna keep America safe is to have an elite military, alright?" he says. "...each and every life under the flag is family and needs to be treated that way." Ah, okay, here comes Benghazi. No, a pivot: "In order for any part of life to matter, we all have to matter." As for the next generation, "Your war is here... I was allowed to walk with giants... who among you are gonna step up and take the fight to the enemy, because it's here!" The world outside America is "a scary place," America is the "light," and now Luttrell is worked up, but gets off the stage because there's really nothing else to say.

Now Pat Smith, whose son was killed at Benghazi. She's very upset, and it's terrible to see. Her son told her the night before the event, "Mom, I am going to die," because security had been pulled and no one could tell him why. She lost a son, and "the American people lost the truth... I blame Hillary Clinton." Blood-red roar from the crowd. "I blame Hillary Clinton personally... Hillary Clinton blamed it on terrorism... she lied to me and then called me a liar... she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible." The crowd is seething, bubbling under. Smith says she has kept after Clinton for a better answer, but "whenever I called the State Department, they refused to speak to me, because I am not a member of the immediate family... How can she do this to me?" People are yelling things from the crowd, snarls, rebel yells. "Donald Trump is everything Hillary Clinton is not," Smith says, and will keep us safe -- "he will not hesitate to kill the terrorists that threaten American lives!" Smith is catching the energy of the crowd. "That's right, Hillary for prison! She deserves to be in stripes!"

And they cut her off with a Swift Boat... I mean, a Benghazi video.

UPDATE 2. Two guys from Benghazi, Mark Geist and John Teigen, up there now, talking into hand mikes, talking about the situation on the ground, comparing it to whack-a-mole — “another guy’d stick his head up and you’d shoot him.” It’s straight reportage, telling about the mortar attacks, the casualties they sustained, with the traditional poetry and humor of war stories (“The debris was so thick you couldn’t see the stars… I don’t want to die [falling off a roof], I wanna go out in a blaze of glory”). I think the idea is to get the folks back home to know something of the warriors before accusing Clinton of murder again.  (Interestingly, they say they got some help from "Gaddafi loyalists" whom, they note, Clinton wanted to get rid of.)

Ah, here it comes: “...opportunities squandered when Hillary failed to protect her people on the ground. Had she done her job that night… Ty, Glenn, and Ambassador Stevens would be alive today. Now we as Americans, we have an opportunity, and that opportunity is to elect someone who will make that country safe again… someone who’ll have our backs… won’t leave anybody behind…” With all due respect: You’re talking about Donald Trump?

“We did our part — now it’s time you do yours,” says the other guy. If you don’t vote Trump, you’re letting down the U.S. military.

UPDATE 3. Ah, now it’s time for the Messicans! They show filmed footage of a couple of folks who lost a loved one thanks to “Obama’s failed Fast and Furious operation.”  The idea, I guess, is to show the human fallout from Obama policy so that they don't just look like angry nuts mad at minorities and foreigners.

And speaking of which — a guy with a Spanish name! Oh, wait, it’s Italian? This is the underwear model, right? Antonio Sabato Jr. lets us know up front he believes in Jesus, and America is “weaker by almost every measure” because of the Democrats. Anyway, Sabato came here legally and others “should follow the same rules… there should be no short-cuts… my mother was born in Communist Prague… I know what socialism looks like, I don’t want that for my children.” Obama and Clinton are socialists, while “Donald Trump is for unity,” a different thing altogether. “None of this is hateful,” Sabato tells us. I guess that’s for anyone who might be wondering, which no one in this crowd is, apparently.

Now, a story about a cop killed by a drunken illegal Mexican. Jeez, Obama's killing everybody! "It's time we had an Administration that cares more about Americans than about illegals," says his mother.  Another woman lost a son to a drunken illegal Guatemalan, who got just 35 days for killing him. Sounds like their beef is with the judicial system, but she's mad at "Crooked Hillary" and considers Trump her "life saver... build the wall, Americans need to come first."  Another fellow, a black man from Los Angeles, had a son shot to death by an illegal Mexican gangster. Since the guy was targeting blacks, "you'd think Obama'd care, because 'Black Lives Matter.' No!" The relief at having a black guy say this is palpable.

And now here's a politician, so who cares.

UPDATE 4. Ah, now they’ve got a black guy who’ll say some crazy shit, and it’s not Ben Carson! “BLUE LIVES MATTER IN AMERICA,” hollers future America’s Sheriff David Clarke. He tells the crowd that yet another Baltimore cop got off on the death of Freddie Gray, which really lights them up. “MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN,” yells Clarke. He says that “many Americans increasingly have an uneasiness” about their safety, which is not the same thing as actually being in danger, but so what, we have a Trump to push so “Americans don’t always feel safe” will have to do. Anyway, we all have to “play by society’s rules… built on a foundation of trust…” Martin Luther King was all about the “network of mutuality” and wanted the law applied equally to everyone. Sounds good to all of us, right? Well, Black Lives Matter is “anarchy” so forget about that. Trump “speaks to the values that are the foundation of the social contract,” and he knows contracts, amirite? “What can make our nation safe again is a recommitment to justice … no elected official, even Hillary Clinton… can claim privilege above the law!” When Trump wins this guy is gonna arrest Clinton for spitting on the sidewalk and by that he means the Constitution!

Now it's a couple of reality TV stars, the Campos-Duffys, who make lame jokes about Crooked Hillary and denounce "the corrupt socialist regimes our families left behind."  (Sean Duffy's people are from Ireland.) They're actually shouting so much Sean is getting hoarse,  so they must know we're getting tired out here.

Ah, now another black guy, who makes a joke about "change" but not Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Anyway, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson don't speak for him, and All Lives Matter; if he were running for Senator of this convention instead of Colorado I'd say he had a shot.

I might come back for Giuliani but only if I can find some Pepto-Bismol in the medicine cabinet first.

UPDATE 5. Fucking Giuliani, who has been getting worse every day and covered a few months.  He cheers that Trump is a New Yorker, which the crowd seems divided on. He’s here to tell us about being safe and like Clarke he says people don’t feel safe and that’s what’s important. Also cops have a “target on their back.” He roars thanks to the Cleveland PD! “We know the risk you’re taking,” he roars. “When they come to safe your life, they don’t care if you’re black or white — “ Here his voice becomes keening, like a bagpipe — “THEY JUST COME TO SAVE YOU!” For a twist, Giuliani admits there is such a thing as an unjustified police shooting. BUT! “ONE AMERICA!” The bagpipe again — “THERE IS JUST AMERICA! WHAT HAPPENED TO IT! WHERE DID IT GO! HOW HAS IT FLOWN AWAY!” He tells us he made New York safe — and “what I did for New York Donald Trump will do for America!” (But no gun control this time!) Now the personal touch: He’s known Trump 30 years and he’s accomplished “great things.” And Trump has “a big heart.” He helped fallen cops, but asked not to be mentioned! Despite his famous modesty, Giuliani will out him as a great humanitarian! “I AM TELLING YOU THIS BECAUSE I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE DEFAMATION OF DONALD TRUMP…” Jesus, did he work with a coach? Does he think the mike isn’t on? He’s getting hoarse, which may be the only reason he’s pulled back. Now he’s on the “Islamist terrorist attacks” — yah gotta say it! “ISLAMIC EXTREMIST TERRORISM!… I DID NOT SAY ALL OF ISLAM!” Anyway, for the ones he’s really talking about, “YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! AND WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU!” Rudy throws in “politically incorrect,” which is the theme of the evening, I guess (that and "Hillary kills our families"). He gets nice fat boos for Obama, because the foreigners think we’re weak, we must put them “on defense” — so we must commit ourselves to UNCONDITIONAL VICTORY, which would include, believe it or not, getting rid of the Iran treaty — which is almost totally backwards; he claims Iran is funding the terrorists. Well, Trump will break that up. Hillary’s “dereliction of duty” led to the murders in Benghazi, she and Obama “lied” about it, but Hillary lied more since she’s running for President. Rudy gets apoplectic about “What difference at this point does it make?” which is golden with this crowd, and proves she “should not be allowed to be our Commander in Chief. Who would trust Hillary Clinton to protect them… Donald Trump will change all that.” You have to be drinking the Kool-Aid to buy that one, but these guys are swimming in it. “DONALD TRUMP IS THE AGENT OF CHANGE AND HE WILL BE THE LEADER OF THE CHANGE WE NEED!”

You just know Giuliani's thinking, "And they think Trump is the new Mussolini! I should have tried this screaming shit in 2008."

POST-MORTEM: As Heet Jeer and others have observed, the program is calculated to strike fear into the hearts of viewers because fear is what turns people right-wing (unless we're talking about right-wing writers -- then, the come-on is easy money!). But the out-party always fear-mongers against the in-party; see Joe Biden earnestly telling black voters Republicans would put them-all in chains, one of my favorites. But until Hillary brings Philando Castile's grieving family out, crying and shaking, to accuse Donald Trump of murder and demand he be thrown in prison, I can safely say the Republicans have set a new bar.

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the rightbloggers' status as Trump takes the crown. I've been expecting the #NeverTrump people would come around by election time, and with the exception of the most embittered dead-enders that's the way they're heading, though most hang onto plausible deniability with some prefatory anti-Trump talk before telling us the real priority is beating Hillary Clinton.

I think the real test will be whether the old timers can get with the new style laid down by the more enthusiastic, fuh-real Trumpbloggers. Take the guys at Breitbart.com like Matthew Boyle. Boyle's current headline sounds like a typically ominous take on Il Douche: "FEAR AND LOATHING IN CLEVELAND: DONALD TRUMP COMPLETES NATIONALIST POPULIST TAKEOVER OF GOP AT REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION." But read the copy and it turns out he's not saying it as a bad thing --
Lobbyists aren’t welcome around the convention, and typical D.C. power-brokers are running as far away from Trump as possible. Trump, who has campaigned aggressively against these insiders, doesn’t want them here anyway... 
Right now, the world is on fire. Cops are being killed by black liberationists, illegal aliens are pouring across the border, and the government is placing “refugees” with tuberculosis in cities and town across America... 
Trump, a blue collar billionaire who’s made his fortune in real estate with many of the same rough and tumble tactics Americans have seen on the campaign trail, feels that anger...
Sounds like a publicist for The Joker, doesn't he? Pre-Trump, Republicans played their Daddy-Party cards with Nixonian decorum; now it's Helter Skelter, coming down fast. If the George Will types wish to remain viable in this Grand New Party, they'll have to get comfy with chaos. I expect they will; I mean, it's not like they have to believe in it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

THE FIRST THREE DAYS OF THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION.

There are plans to emphasize different themes each night of the convention. Mr. Trump wants to touch on a few of his favorite hot-button issues, like the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, former President Clinton’s infidelities and border security. — New York Times

NIGHT 1

[A soft-rock beat as the corpse of MUAMMAR GADDAFI is dragged around the stage by ARABS wearing dark greasepaint and loose-fitting muslin clothes; as they leave, U.S. MARINES march jauntily in place as AMBASSADOR STEVENS sings to the tune of Toto’s “Rosanna”:]

Thought it was my callin’ after Lib-i-ya had fallen to clean up the place —
Benghazi, Benghazi!
Shoulda known that Hillary the Traitor would get in my face!
Benghazi!
I tried to help the Arabs even though they’re filthy scarabs but they called me a fag —
Benghazi, Benghazi!
Then Hil-la-ry, she sent them after me just to disgrace the flag!

[Music shifts to "Ride of the Valkyries"; a swarm of Cirque du Soleil acrobats identifiable as HILLARY CLINTONS by their fat-butted pantsuits and blonde hair swoop in, with small puppets — also Arabs, on the model of Achmed The Dead Terrorist — strapped to their chests. The HILLARY CLINTONS’ arms and the Arab puppets’ arms are connected, so that whenever an ARAB clubs, stabs, or sodomizes STEVENS — or OTHER LOYAL AMERICANS who wander in at some point — it is clearly a HILLARY CLINTON actually doing the clubbing/ stabbing/ sodomizing. Some HILLARY CLINTONS also restrain the U.S. MARINES to the sides of the stage, where they brandish their weapons impotently.]

[After STEVENS and the LOYAL AMERICANS are all dead the ARABS, gibbering contentedly, drag them offstage. The MARINES sadly march forward. A huge hologram of MUAMMAR GADDAFI appears and laughs derisively, joined by holograms of derisively-laughing HITLER, STALIN, and ELIZABETH WARREN. The MARINES brandish their weapons at the holograms till they fade away, supplanted by a hologram of DONALD TRUMP, whereupon the MARINES cheer, stand at attention, and go “ooh-rah”; then they get in solemn formation as the music changes to "The Ballad of the Green Berets." Far upstage, effigies of HILLARY, BILL, and CHELSEA CLINTON, clearly dead, are borne aloft on halberds by men dressed like REVOLUTIONARY WAR SOLDIERS. MARINES sing to the tune of the Ballad:]

Let their deaths not be in vain!
Shoot each Clinton in the brain!
Throw their bodies in a dump
And go vote for Donald Trump!

[Cheers, gunfire.]

NIGHT 2

[A troupe of dancers enact a series of attempted sexual assaults by chubby white men with white pompadours to the tune of "Midnight Rambler" by The Rolling Stones. BILL CLINTON comes onstage, dragging by her hair over a carpet of dollar bills a dancer who looks like PAULA JONES, whom he drops and leaves comatose before strolling center stage and addressing the audience as the music vamps:]

Hi, y’all. I’m former President Slick Willy Clinton. [pause for boos] Now as y’all know I’m from the South — but not the good South you folks know, where Jesus reigns and certain people [pushes in nose] know their place. [Pause for cheers.] No, no, I’m not from your Bible-beating, fag-bashing South at all — I’m from what them Black Lives Matter types call the Dirty South, the ATL — that stands for “Anti Traditionalvalues Lesbianism” — where people like me learn deviant sexual ways from rapists like Emmett Till. [Pause for boos.] Sure, some people say he was innocent, but they said the same about that “gentle giant” Michael Brown, know what I’m saying? [pause for cheers] Hey, did y’all know my Momma was a whore? [pause for cheers] ‘Scuse me, I meant [finger quotes] “single mother” [pause for laughter]. And between that and my other “dark” influences, I can’t help myself — as the nation’s first black president — sorry, Bah-rack! — and I just gots to force myself on white women! And one of the first white women I forced myself on — though I can’t be sure, there was so many — was Hillary — who warn’t much to look at even then [pause for whoops, cheers, gunfire], but though she was in love with the black stuff, at the same time she was too racist — ain’t that right, Clarence! — [gets “thumbs up” from Clarence Thomas in the gallery, cheers, gunfire] — too racist to have relations with an actual black man! [whispers into the mike] That’s right, America — every fantasy you ever had about liberals being n-word-lovers and racists all at the same time — even when your liberal friends the schoolteachers, federal employees, bookworms and sissy-boys said you was crazy — is proved to be true by me, right here on this stage tonight! [Cheers, gunfire, fistfights, self-pegging. BILL CLINTON sings to the tune of "Midnight Rambler":]

Talkin’ ‘bout the midnight Clinton
I’m havin’ sex ‘most all the time
Talking’ ‘about the midnight Clinton
Unlike your sex, mine is a crime
Your wife submits to your advances
Because her preacher says she must
A gal who goes with me free-lances
It’s totally immoral lust.

Talking’ ‘bout the midnight Clinton
Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones
I held ‘em down and made ‘em take it
Just like with the Obamaphones!
I might have sex with any woman,
Might even have it with your wife
If she sleeps with me because she wants to,
Then what’s that say about your life?

[HILLARY CLINTON emerges from the wings, physically restrains the PAULA JONES dancer while BILL CLINTON simulates intercourse with her; this goes on an uncomfortably long time; URL, 800 number flash at the bottom of the screen, asking for donations to TRUMP.]

NIGHT 3

[PETER THIEL comes out to confused, quiet applause.]

Good evening, I’m Peter Thiel. [Still confused, quiet applause] Come on, you know! I made PayPal! PAYPAL! [Slightly less confused, but still quiet applause] Yeah, well who cares what you stupid littlebrains think. Anyway I made a game for you to play. [Smattering of applause.] Oh, yeah, you like that, don’t you, peasants? And it’s about illegal immigrants! [Applause increases.] Ugh, who needs this! Go play you stupid game, you waste products! I own you!

[THIEL storms off the stage as consoles are distributed to the delegates and a game takes place on stage — the good guys try to build a wall out of bricks, the bad guys try to get their avatars (who all look like Danny Trejo) to hop over it, and when they do hop over it the good guys try to shoot them. The delegates play this excitedly until the fence-hoppers start to win, at which point the delegates take out their real guns and start shooting each other, at which point coverage is suspended and GOP officials blame it all on Islamic terrorism.]

Friday, July 15, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Look, I've been in a middle-late Residents fugue state for weeks,
you're just going to have to roll with it guys.

• I see conservatives are attacking Obama for not keeping France, the 51st State, safe from a truck terror attack. What I often wonder is, what is their plan for stopping such terror -- besides rhetorical muscle-flexing like "peace through strength," I mean, or promising to torture more detainees? Fortunately Newt Gingrich is around to fill us in:
“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity...

Gingrich also said that the attack in Nice is the “fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary,” and suggested that mosques in America need to be monitored.
The Washington Post showed some guts, at least, by pointing out that "Gingrich’s proposal, which made no distinction between U.S. citizens and noncitizens, would violate scores of First Amendment-based Supreme Court rulings as well as civil rights laws..." But since we are not at one of those rare "libertarian moments" right now, I doubt the yahoos care. Maybe a war on Tunisia, where the assailant is from? Or, hell, on Iran, that's a popular favorite. If this becomes the Id Monster Election, Trump has it hands down -- which would be okay, because if we fall for this we're finished as a society anyway.

• I subscribe to a wingnut newsletter that connects me with some of the lesser-known culture war scolds, and today it brought me a lulu: At Standpoint, one of those fancy journal only Ross Douthat impersonators read, Daniel Johnson raves at hyperlength about the usual stuff: for example, how Trump is a betrayal of some much classier True Conservatism, the through line of which Johnson hilariously traces "from Edmund Burke to William Buckley, from Samuel Johnson to Paul Johnson, from Irving Kristol to Bill Kristol" -- a classic culture-war tell of conflating the Great Ancients with one's, er, less exalted buddies. But he really gets churning when he reaches a favorite subject of the chin-pullers, How the West Has Lost Its Way and Only My Scolding Will Save Her. Hark:
There are numerous viruses attacking the Western body politic, but only one medicine. To face the future unflinchingly, we must return to the past: listen to the patriarchs and prophets, the ancestral voices of our literature, break open the arsenal of our intellectual history, and mobilise the resources of righteous indignation against the dominions, principalities and powers of darkness that threaten to overwhelm us. The great books, from Homer to Shakespeare, from Plato to Pascal, from Dante to Bellow, must once again not only be assigned to every student, but learned where possible by heart. The music of the masters, from Gregorian chant to George Gershwin, from Sebastian Bach to James MacMillan, from Palestrina to Arvo Pärt, must not only float across the courts and quads of our colleges, but fill our airwaves and headsets.
From Shakespeare to James McMillan! Yessir, Johnson sure loves that trick. Note how perfectly this expresses the culture warrior's idea of art as ordnance. Not only in Johnson's imagining is it an "arsenal" to use against the Muslims and the Marxists, it's also a scourge with which to drive Western Youth into battle with them; their headsets must be filled with music selected by the Committee, even if they prefer Drake or 2Chains; they must memorize passages from It All Adds Up, et alia. For them art is not pleasure, and you can't expect even your own people to embrace it; it must be pounded into their skulls. Johnson imagines that by this he will save the West, but can a more despairing view of Western culture even be imagined?

• Oh, yeah, there's a writer named Tom Block who is looking down the barrel of a very tough diagnosis and he is not so financially secure (I mentioned he's a writer, didn't I) that he can be sure of a safe and comfortable place from which to fight it. If you're looking to drop a mitzvah, you could do worse.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

ALWAYS LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING.

"Comedians in Cars Getting Abortions" with Alice Wetterlund and Nato Green is a mildly amusing web video (the bit where a "crisis center" counselor shows Wetterlund a picture of a 10-year-old and says it's "your baby at 536 weeks" is one of the better ones ) which probably renders its greatest sevice to comedy by turning wingnuts into Margaret Dumont. National Review's Ian Tuttle:
It’s extraordinary that this needs to be said, but: Killing a human being isn’t particularly funny. Imagine if the NRA made a sketch called “Comedians in Cars Invoking ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws,” or the Fraternal Order of Police filmed “Cops in Cars Using Lethal Force against Resisting Suspects.”
Hmm, I think I get the analogy he's making: liberals are pro-abortion, while conservatives are in favor of beating and killing black people.
The folks at NARAL probably wouldn’t be amused. And rightly so.

But there’s a particular moral derangement that accompanies abortion. It’s been observed time and again (including by yours truly) that the days of “safe, legal, and rare” are long gone. “Rare” vanished as an aim years ago, and the dancing in the streets that accompanied last month’s Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’s abortion-clinic regulations should mark the official end of “safe” as a goal.
These bitches refuse to feel bad about it! In fact they're dancing! Quick, pass another funerals-for-fetuses law to soothe my rage!
What remains is the hope of a Cecile Richards-designed utopia in which, like Wetterlund’s character in the film, you can order an abortion like a McChicken. (“One abortion, please!”) And, just as important, enjoy it.
This is an apparent reference to the Abortions at Krispy Kreme and Chipotle Act of 2014, muscled through Congress by Hitlery Benghazi.

National Review is so outraged it gave the video two posts! "Comedians in Cars Getting Abortions video is A) not funny and B) based on a lie," claims Tuttle's comrade Alexandra DeSanctis. In fact, she insists, it's easy to get an abortion in America -- well, outside the woo-woo crazy Christianist hellholes, which DeSanctis doesn't mention; she seems to think the joke is about conscience exemptions for doctors, which suggest she didn't watch the video but instead had her preacher read a summary to her. "...procuring abortions anywhere else isn’t good enough for NARAL," she sputters. "Abortion has to be available everywhere." These guys are really working that abortion-everywhere angle; why they aren't adding WHERE MY KIDS CAN SEE IT! I can't guess.

Other wingnuts are catching the fever, some of them trotting out their film criticism chops: "This is a thing that exists. People made it. Watch what they made... They thought this video was funny and informative, apparently," cracks comedy genius Jim Treacher. "It’s terribly unfunny and riddled with misleading statements," tsks Bre Payton at The Federalist -- just like those banana peel gags; banana peels aren't actually that slippery, you know.

Then there are the deep semiotic analysts like Heather Wilhelm at Real Clear Politics. The video has a throwaway where Wetterland, after explaining why she wants an abortion, says "look at that kid" and gestures to some raging child off-screen. “That kid is slapping his dad in the face,” says a horrified Green. Got the bit? OK, attend Wilhelm's exegesis:
Hold your befuddlement, folks: It gets worse. “Also, I mean, look at that kid,” Alice says, gesturing out the window. We hear the sounds of a crying toddler, off camera. This toddler is, at least according to the latest science, a living human being with a heart and a brain and, depending on where you stand, a soul.

“That kid is slapping his dad in the face,” Nato says, in the manner of a man whose own soul has lost its batteries.

“Yeah, we don’t need more of those in the world!” declares Alice. Yeah, girlfriend! We don’t need any more pesky kids! Let’s get rid of them in a vague and unspecified fashion! Oh, but wait a second: My brain just got in the way, because it is larger than that of a stegosaurus. Why are toddlers related to your problem, Alice? You’re not incubating a person, right, so why worry?
Now that's funny! And I haven't even gotten to Wilhelm's extended denunciation of the 536-weeks bit ("For years, large segments of the pro-choice movement vehemently denied abortion involved a human child, or at least avoided that fact. Now, many no longer even try to hide it"). I suggest Greg Gutfeld snap Wilhelm up for "Comedians Raging About Abortion." That ought to give Fox ratings a bump -- at least until 2018, when the last of its viewership dies off. But I'll still be watching, because YouTube jokes come and go, but agitated wingnuts are a joy forever.