Showing posts with label ben domenech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ben domenech. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


Now that the Republican Presidential front-runner has anted up his bigotry, conservatives are trying harder to disown him. But it really cuts against their grain. When Trump proposed keeping Muslims out of the U.S., David French had just put up a post at National Review all about how dangerous Muslims are -- the title, in fact, is "Dispelling the ‘Few Extremists’ Myth – the Muslim World Is Overcome with Hate." Among the choice bits:
...jihadists represent the natural and inevitable outgrowth of a faith that is given over to hate on a massive scale, with hundreds of millions of believers holding views that Americans would rightly find revolting... 
To understand the Muslim edifice of hate, imagine it as a pyramid — with broadly-shared bigotry at the bottom, followed by stair steps of escalating radicalism... 
The base of the pyramid, the most broadly held hatred in the Islamic world, is anti-Semitism, with staggering numbers of Muslims expressing anti-Jewish views... 
The next level of the pyramid is Muslim commitment to deadly Islamic supremacy. In multiple Muslim nations, overwhelming majorities of Muslims support the death penalty for apostasy or blasphemy...
Etc. To be fair, he stops short of calling them vermin. If you said something like this about Christians, French would file a hate-crime complaint. You can imagine some goon reading this and thinking Shee-it, them Muslims sound awful, I better vote for Trump an' keep 'em all out!

But today French is trying to distance himself from Trump. Not on the grounds of their mutual beliefs, mind you -- French reiterates that "it’s foolish to admit a class of refugees when we know the world’s leading terror army is attempting to infiltrate the displaced masses or recruit from their ranks." But the ones that are here already, they can stay, French says -- and we can let in a small, select group of "good" Muslims, such as "interpreters who’ve laid down their lives to serve our warriors downrange... members of allied militaries who are training to be the Muslim 'boots on the ground,'" et alia. Everyone else can go die in the sea.

Oh, then he talks about what a menace political correctness is. Which is weird, because he and they are really just waiting to put in a nominee who can be as racist as Trump but keep his mouth shut about it.

UPDATE. As has become his habit of late ("We Didn't Start The Fire: Who Created Trump?"), Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller emerges again to tell us that Trump's strong support among Republicans is bad for Republicans, especially when they were getting so pumped up denouncing Obama after his pro-reason terrorism speech:
Yesterday, the media cycle was focused on radical Islamism and President Obama’s inability to counter it. Today, Donald Trump has changed the subject. But it’s not just that. Yesterday, the view that radical Islamism was a serious threat that President Obama has not taken seriously (polling backs this up) was a persuasive mainstream position that evoked sympathy and agreement. Today, it’s marginally harder to make that argument.
Now when Ralph Peters calls Obama a pussy, people will think we're intemperate! At the end Lewis admits Trump will probably get a boost from his statements -- another case of Republicans being unfairly made to look bad by other Republicans!

UPDATE 2. At The Federalist, Ben Domenech:
It is no accident that President Obama’s America has given rise to Donald Trump.
It defies explanation, but I'll try: Everyone thinks Obama's a failure and hates him (never mind showing Domenech polls that suggest otherwise, those are all run by liberals), and "our modern elites respond to that rational distrust by smearing it as vile hatred, which further divides and toxifies our politics." In other words, if you point out that their argument is wrong, that just makes Republicans more insane and racist -- so it's all your fault! "And Trump is a perfect personality to exploit these divides," Domenech goes on, "offering the promise of an authoritarian who represents the people in place of an authoritarian who represented the elites." I hope you're proud of yourself, liberals!

Like the rest of our subjects, Domenech basically agrees with Trump; he, too, thinks Muslims are toxic and "elites" are losing the War on Whatchamacallit with their "tolerance" bullshit ("Republicans have spent much of the past three years wringing their hands over how to win the white working class – Donald Trump is showing them how: by confronting and rejecting the values and authority of the elites..."). But he got the Trump-bad memo, so he portrays Trump as a menace while embracing his message. Look, it's at The Federalist -- it's not like it has to make sense.

UPDATE 3: You see this shit:

"The author advises Marco Rubio’s campaign for president." Presumably he advises on non-sequential thought, because his column is just the usual rightwing froth crowned with an "if it weren't for Joel Grey singing 'Wilkommen' there'd have never been a Hitler" assertion. And actually that's not new either: Conservative factota have been trying to blame Trump on Obama, or draw parallels between the two men, since Trump became the front-runner, and because they've saturated their little world with this false equivalence, there's no longer any reason to even pretend to back it up with evidence.

UPDATE 3. What have I been telling you people.

Thursday, November 05, 2015


You may have noticed the statistical review on white working class mortality covered by the Washington Post:
The mortality rate for white men and women ages 45-54 with less than a college education increased markedly between 1999 and 2013, most likely because of problems with legal and illegal drugs, alcohol and suicide, the researchers concluded. Before then, death rates for that group dropped steadily, and at a faster pace.
And you might have thought, as I did, well, no wonder: the white working class was doing great for decades after World War II, but in this generation it's seen its jobs offshored, then onshored at much lower wages -- and the jobs that stuck around don't pay so well either. Having excavated everything that can be excavated from the poor and the black, our system has taken to chipping at the lower end of the middle class. Between the economic and the emotional toll of this de-privileging, no wonder so many of these people are killing themselves, quickly or slowly.

National Review's David French read the same story, and of course his conclusion is that liberals are to blame:
While the economic challenges of working-class voters are well documented, the cultural challenges are just as notable. 
You may think  trying to raise kids on twenty grand a year is rough, but your lack of culchah is just as much of a problem -- and cheaper for me, so let's tackle that first!
At every turn, the cultural aristocrats cause harm. Mocking poor whites is among the last acceptable forms of bigotry.
You mean like "Li'l Abner"? Or "South Park"? French is unclear -- I assume purposefully, and that the picture he wishes to paint is of callous urban sophisticates laughing at a meth-addled cracker, rather than of salt-of-the-earth middle Americans laughing at "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Even the white working-class voters struggling with declining wages, declining health, and increasing despair are derided as somehow “privileged.” Those who speak for them are labeled bigots.
Like how they treated this fella. Obviously it was class warfare against white people.
Meanwhile, people keep dying, and families fracture. This is more than just mocking suffering, though — it’s celebrating the disease while rejecting the cure. Self-indulgence is the animating force behind the sexual revolution, and the sexual revolution is gutting the working class.
If you callous sophisticates hadn't done so much coke and had so many orgies, right out there where people could see it, Cletus and Brandine would never have took to moonshine and sex with their cousins.
As Murray notes in his book, cultural progressives flood the nation with messages celebrating hedonism and sexual experimentation even as they tend to preserve their own wealth and power through remarkably restrained and disciplined personal lives — getting married, remaining faithful, and investing in their children. They don’t practice the hedonism they so loudly preach.
Make that "if you callous sophisticates hadn't etc. etc. and nevertheless managed to live happy productive lives, etc." Why, it's like having to put up with a cheerful atheist -- it sets a bad example for the proles!

On the one hand you have wingnuts like French crying that the middle class is collapsed or collapsing because of Playboy and rap music; on the other you have wingnuts like David Harsanyi who claim that this shit economy is actually "dynamic" and you should all go get Uber jobs and feel the dynamism of a week-by-week struggle to afford a hovel and slop. Pick your confusion; doesn't matter which, so long as millionaires get all the tax breaks and we zero out welfare.

UPDATE. At The Federalist Ben Domenech gets in on it. He implies -- slightly more gently than other benefit cops like Jonah Goldberg -- that the growing ranks of erstwhile workers on disability are swollen with frauds. And natch, it's about the culchah:
As a cultural matter, the picture is even worse. The surrender to the permanent trap of disability payments is a consequence of a loss of a certain American working class stoicism, which grappled with the tragic nature of life with what was essentially a 19th-century mentality.
We were a stronger, more American America when crips were left to forage or beg.
It was hard enough to deal with such a vision before the disintegration of working class marriage in the country – notice the contrast drawn by Charles Murray between the attitudes toward marriage and the experience of divorce in the white working class versus professionals.
When we've finally turned into the neofeudal hellscape of Lang's Metropolis for real, I expect there'll be a statue of Charles Murray in every town square.

UPDATE 2. Some very fine comments here. e.g., Susan of Texas:
What is it about white culture that is destroying white Americans? 
You vote for politicians who outsource your jobs. Your own crap job, when you can get one, is hard on the body and soul- and dignity-crushing. You go to the doctor for pain-killers to ease the bodily pain and take too many to anesthetize the mental pain. You fatally poison yourself with drug and alcohol anesthetics or get a DWI and lose more jobs or drive away your family. (I'm still waiting for someone to tell us how getting married and not having kids will create factories out of thin air.)...
Worth going in and reading in full. I should add that, especially when you get past a certain age, physical labor is hard on you -- which is something you might miss even if you were a waiter at 20 but never a fry-cook at 55. Go to any actual working-class neighborhood and you'll see some people limping or hobbling from the bus to their homes -- and if they stiffen up they tend not to work it out at the yoga studio. I wonder if French and Domenech have ever seen this, or if they think it's really like the Seven Dwarves whistling to and from the mine.

Monday, July 06, 2015


Was it really just 10 days ago that National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke, attempting to show his range by playing the role of conciliator, claimed that the wiser conservatives understood that the Obergefell "decision is now the law and that it is not going to change" and that sweet reason would prevail? Today at The Federalist, a team effort by Ben Domenech and Robert Tracinski:
Within hours of the Supreme Court’s resolution of the battle over same-sex marriage -- the triumph of a generation of gay-rights activists -- some were...
Ah, some were! Be advised Domenech and Tracinski supply no links to support the following assertions, which should give you some idea of how substantial they are:
....already calling for further steps to take tax exemptions away from churches, use anti-discrimination laws to target religious non-profits, and crack down on religious schools’ access to voucher programs. We learned media entities would no longer publish the views of those opposed to gay marriage or treat it as an issue with two sides...
Let's pause here a moment to note that, on that last bit, Domenech and Tracinski are apparently talking about the Harrisburg Patriot-News' decision to treat letters to the editor and op-eds critical of gay marriage the way it would treat "those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic," an arguable position to which the Patriot-News, being a private enterprise, has a perfect right, but which the brethren, whose thousands of web outlets claim and exercise similar rights every day, nonetheless insist is censorship (e.g., "Post-Obergefell, Dissent Is Now The Highest Form Of Bigotry," "FREE SPEECH TOSSED OUT THE WINDOW AS BIG NEWSPAPER BANS OP-EDS AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE"); they may also be talking about BuzzFeed's forthright support for gay marriage, which (since conservatives think every popular media venue, online or off, owes them a platform as a form of wingnut affirmative action) has similarly shivered their timbers (e.g., "EIC BEN SMITH: BUZZFEED IS PRO-GAY MARRIAGE — NEUTRAL ON SHARIAH").
...and the American Civil Liberties Union announced it would no longer support bipartisan religious-freedom measures it once backed wholeheartedly. A reality TV star pushed the transgender rights movement into the center of the national dialogue even as Barack Obama’s administration used its interpretation of Title IX to push its genderless bathroom policies into public schools. And we learned that pulling Confederate merchandise off the shelves isn’t enough to mitigate the racism of the past—we must bring down statues and street signs, too, destroying reminders of history now deemed inconvenient and unsafe...
I could ask what they mean by "must" -- has a law been passed? Or do they merely assert a right, undetectable in the Constitution, not to be mocked for their racism?  Indeed,  I could go on through every particular of the whole wretched screed -- for instance, "every comment, act, or joke can make you the next target for a ritual of daily attack by outraged Twitter mobs," to which a reasonable person might respond, first, this kind of thing is certainly not the exclusive province of liberals (e.g., "PIERS MORGAN GOT PWNED ON TWITTER OVER GUN CONTROL"), and second, grow the fuck up.

But you know what? For the first time since I took up this loathsome duty, I feel a bit overmatched.* Because since the Obergefell decision, I perceive that not some but most conservatives, from their elected officials and top pundits down to the bottom feeders, have gone barking mad. I do this alicublog thing in my spare time, you know, and most days I get material for posts desultorily, just by idly rifling through conservative sites. It's been kind of fun peeking into their rooms, detecting which of them has gone a little off his feed, and reporting back. But since gay marriage came in it's like every rightwing door I open reveals a shit-smeared, babbling Bedlam, with nearly every inhabitant shrieking his fool head off about the homosexual apocalypse. I could quit my job and report the atrocities day and night, and still not get the scope of the thing.

And it's not as if all of it's about gay marriage. Take this post by -- oh, look, it's Cooke again, and the title is "Repainting the General Lee Won’t Erase What It Symbolizes from History." No, really, Cooke, a British transplant whose pat-riotism apparently includes a fetish for the cheesiest Americana, is outraged that the impeccably Southern Bubba Watson, owner of the car from The Dukes of Hazzard, is replacing the rebel flag on the roof with the Stars and Stripes. Cooke reacts as if Watson planned to draw tits on Whistler's Mother:
There is a clear and necessary answer to Watson’s rather naïve inquiry, “Why not the American flag?” That answer: Because the General Lee is a piece of America’s cultural history, and civilized people do not vandalize their antiques.
The Dukes of Hazzard. He's talking about The Dukes of Hazzard. I was a teenager when that came out and even I knew it sucked. One searches in vain for signs that Cooke is kidding, or at least ironically inflating his own obsession like a nerd ostentatiously sighing over the set of the original Star Trek, but no, Cooke actually thinks this is important:
It is fashionable in our age to seek unity in all things, but the “General Lee” is not a statehouse, responsive to and reflective of the popular will. It is a historical artifact and cultural totem that sums up a particular moment in time. By amending it to suit contemporary fashions Watson is seeking, in effect, to erase that moment from history. This in my view is extraordinarily dangerous...

Must the owners of Monticello take Wite-Out to Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, lest the more egregious passages offend our modern sensibilities?; Must the custodians of vintage Aunt Jemima boxes throw them into the Mississippi to atone for their ugly anachronisms?...
And finally:
Just as to burn an unwanted book is not to kill its author, to paint over the roof of an attitude-laden car is in no way to go back in time and to eradicate that attitude from the record.
If you're wondering why that sentence is even clumsier than we can normally expect from Cooke, my guess is that he really wanted to compare painting over the General Lee with burning books, but something in his soul rebelled and convoluted his sentence structure. Which means there may be hope for him yet.

*UPDATE. Not that I didn't read the whole thing, but I don't recommend it -- it proceeds to a bizarre theory that the Culture War is not just a fucking annoyance for all concerned, but the wellspring of human progress:
The culture wars of the past produced great achievements in art, architecture, literature, and science as the opposing parties strove to demonstrate that they had more to offer and deserved the people’s admiration and loyalty. Those culture wars gave us Michelangelo’s David, Galileo’s science, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” the Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment, and the movement for the abolition of slavery.
I look forward to Ben Shapiro's blueprints for Breitbart Tower. It also contains this amazing sentiment:
The Sad Puppies are just the Salon des Refusés with different players...
It's the rightbloggers' world, we just don't live in it. Meanwhile in comments, which are choice, Another Kiwi points out that The General Lee of legend was actually a series of Dodge Chargers, so if Cooke is seriously about preserving Suthun heh'tage, he's in for a long search of collectible car dealerships and junkyards.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


(Here's the first installment of a year-end bottom-ten of the lowlights of 2014, culled from my archives and elsewhere. Read 'em and weep!)

10. Dunhamania! Culture war, as we call the unpleasant ruckus that ensues when political obsessives blunder among the muses, had another big year, with conservatives shaking their fists at everything from opera to comic books. Rather than survey all these cases, let’s focus on the instructive example of the one cultural artifact that seems most reliably to excite them: That marketing phenomenon known as Lena Dunham.

Conservatives first developed a hard-on for the Girls auteur during the 2012 Presidential campaign, when she made a pro-Obama ad, and they have yet to detumesce. The brethren hate other entertainment professionals, of course, but Dunham pulls so many of their triggers — she’s liberal, she’s a tattooed hipster, she has the nerve to act sexy despite not having a nice build like Ann Coulter — that she has remained their #1 groovy hate fuck, the Jane Fonda of the Obama age, at whom they rage for her sexuality as well as her politics.

This reached critical mass late in the year when Dunham released a celebrity memoir containing (as tell-all tradition demands) salacious details, including the news that, when Dunham was seven, she looked inside her one-year-old sister Grace’s vagina and found she had stuffed pebbles in there. Truth Revolt reported that Dunham was seventeen years old at the time (later correcting this “typo”) under the headline “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.”

National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson dug in -- “Grace’s satisfaction with her prank suggest that Grace was expecting her older sister to go poking around in her genitals and inserted the pebbles in expectation of it… There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode” -- even though he found the story “especially suspicious” — which just made it worse; imagine, lying in a celebrity memoir! When Dunham complained of this rough treatment — ensuring more press — the investigators of her celebrity memoir high-fived each other. “Lena Dunham is learning the power of the right,” gurgled Don Surber while strangling a pillow.

Then investigated another Dunham story about a college Republican named Barry who took advantage of her, and found that -- get this! -- some details were not verifiable (“A longtime employee at the Oberlin library could not recall working with any student with a flamboyant mustache”). A guy from Dunham’s college claimed the memoir defamed him because his name is Barry, too. “Sue the bastards,” cried professional scold Rod Dreher. “That’s the only way they will learn. Make the publisher withdraw the whole damn book…” The publisher instead agreed to add “a disclaimer that explains that the Barry described by Dunham was not really named Barry” and pay court costs, per Fox News.

There followed much popping of rightwing corks. "LENA DUNHAM WALKS BACK FABRICATED RAPE CLAIM" unh-unh-unhed John Hinderaker at Power Line. RedState called Dunham part of a “Rape Accusation-Industrial Complex” of women who habitually lie about sexual assault in order to advance a “victimization narrative.” The American Spectator’s Ross Kaminsky went further, tying the case to what he called the “lie” that Michael Brown didn’t deserve to be gunned down, and declaring that the “true motivation” of “too many” feminists is “hatred of men.” Ann Coulter added that Dunham, like all women who disclosed sexual assault after an interval, was just “trying to get attention.”

Despite their best efforts, or perhaps partly due to them, Dunham remains on the best seller list — without resorting to bulk sales to think tanks, imagine that! — and in the celebrity pantheon. Conservatives, for their part, maintain their place at the wrong side of a peephole, banging on the fence with one hand and doing God knows what with the other. Between the sexual rage, the rolling-out of big guns to prosecute a flimsy piece of pop-art crap, and the ultimate, flaccid ineffectuality of their efforts, could there be a more perfect example of culture war?

9. The right comes out for income inequality. The term is relatively new to common discourse, and in years past was mainly engaged by wingnut think-tankers to explain why such a thing didn’t exist. But Piketty’s big book and Obama’s mention of income inequality in his 2014 State of the Union led lumpen conservatives to modify their argument to: income inequality doesn’t exist, and so what if it does.

When rich guys complained the poor were giving them stink-eye, conservatives rushed to comfort them the best way they knew how: By associating their opponents with Nazis. At the Wall Street Journal, venture capitalist Tom Peters compared resentment of the rich to Kristallnacht; in the same venue, Ruth R. Wisse asked, “Two phenomena: anti-Semitism and American class conflict. Is there any connection between them?” and answered yes, because anti-Semites often complain about wealthy Jews, which makes any complaint against American oligarchs, despite the impressive number of goyim among them, a veritable Blood Libel.

Daniel Henninger (also at WSJ — these guys know their audience!) suggested that Putin was getting belligerent because he “surely noticed” that “the nations of the civilized world have decided their most pressing concern is income inequality,” and were too busy coddling paupers to trouble with the Ukraine. Ace of Spades protested the real problem was “social inequality” — that is, the alleged contempt of Democrats for rich people who are rightwing and folksy, such as the Palins or the Duck Dynasty guys.

And forget about trying to level the field with a higher minimum wage — that’s socialism. If you asked why the current minimum wage isn't already socialism, the brighter bulbs would tell you, you’re right, it is — let’s get rid of it altogether! Libertarian Virginia Postrel wept over all the folks out there with multiple jobs — not because they had the work multiple jobs, but because “employers can’t offer, and workers can’t take, lower wages in exchange for better hours. The minimum wage sets a legal floor.” The injustice of it! In fact, if you complained about getting your tiny wages ripped off by your boss, that too was socialism, or at least rather petty of you.

The simplest pro-inequality argument was advanced by Ben Domenech, who attributed any concerns over the ginormous 99%-1% gap to “jealousy… in real life, the money doesn’t stay in Scrooge McDuck’s vault, it goes into investments which pay more people to do more things.” Scrooge McDuck may someday build a condo, and you may get to clean its hallways, which along with your others job(s) may permit you to rent a hovel. Now stop complaining, anti-Richite!

8. Conservatives fall in love with Vladimir Putin. When Putin muscled Ukraine in March, very few conservatives called for the U.S. to intervene militarily. Nonetheless they blamed the Commander in Chief because, in the words of Rand Paul, he “hasn't projected enough strength and hasn't shown a priority to the national defense” — that is, he hadn’t rattled a saber that no one expected or wanted him to unsheathe.

But never mind those details -- the real issue for conservatives was less geopolitical than psychographic — rightwing pundits, however pencil-necked, worship butchness and reflexively attribute it to their heroes, such as former cheerleader George “he’s got two of ‘em” W. Bush, while portraying their opponents as sissies.

Judging from conservatives’ previous investigations of Obama’s wearing of mom jeans while pretend-shooting and bike-riding, not mention his unwillingness to punch down on the poor, clearly the President fits their definition of a sissy. But it’s hard to identify a domestic conservative with whose roughness they can creditably contrast Obama’s affect. Mike Huckabee? Newt Gingrich? Chris Christie, being a bully, might do, but he betrayed the brethren by accepting Federal help on Hurricane Sandy.

With such a weak bench, it was perhaps inevitable that conservatives would find a foreign dictator to embrace. Putin is ruthless, rugged, and hates homosexuals — really, their dream candidate if they could get the citizenship thing sorted. They’d been contrasting bare-chested manly man Putin with metrosexual Obama on flimsy pretexts for years (“IT LOOKS LIKE OBAMA IS PUTIN'S BITCH,” etc), but Ukraine really brought it out of them. They were especially fond of funny pictures, but employed wordcraft, too, e.g. “Putin Treating Obama Like Half a Fag.”

Putin received perhaps his most eminent conservative blessing from Sarah Palin, who sneered at Obama as “as one who wears Mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates” and sighed over Putin as “one who wrestles bears and drills for oil.” But the most grandiloquent paean may have been that of National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson, who found “value for us” — meaning for the American People, I guess — in “Putin’s confidence in his unabashedly thuggish means, the brutal fashion in which a modern state so unapologetically embraces the premodern mind to go after its critics… Putin speaks power to truth — an unpredictable, unapologetic brute force of nature.” Hanson did put in some mild admissions that Putin was not really a role model, in much the same way that the Shangri-Las told us their guy was good-bad, but he's not evil.

Months later, with the ruble crashing, Putin’s cowboy diplomacy doesn’t look like such a winner, and Obama’s restraint looks rather better. Since Kim Jong Un doesn’t look so hot with his shirt off, conservatives may have to wait for a coup to rekindle their dictator-love.

(More later.)