Monday, May 01, 2017


...about the two recent science-flavored marches (Science and Climate), the frustration of the brethren over same, and how the New York Times rode to their rescue with a Bret Stephens column.

UPDATE. At National Review, Oren Cass offers what looks like the traditional X is The Real Y argument ("Climate-Change Activists Are the Real Science Deniers") but adds a few wrinkles. For one, he admits climate change skeptics were once "irresponsible or dishonest" about warming, but have since adopted "more reasoned arguments" admitting some warming but concerned that we may be wasting resources trying to combat it. Conveniently, this change in approach coincides with the installation of a government seemingly hell-bent on reversing all federal progress on climate change. No need to act hysterical when Trump's doing all your work for you!

Cass doesn't admit that, though -- instead he asserts that the new line of attack is "a disaster for climate activists, exposing the flabbiness at the core of their position." In other words, to you it may look like a political reversal, but to Cass it's an intellectual triumph -- conservatives are winning because they're right, and only coincidentally because a grifter in the White House is paying off polluter-donors.

Cass also employs the hot new conservative tactic of implying that when you oppose their policies you're actually abridging their free speech rights:
At least one might assume that reasonable minds could be allowed to differ on the ultimate question of how well society is likely to cope with the effects of climate change...

At stake are the boundaries of debate in our democratic society, on an issue that the self-appointed enforcers insist is the most important one facing us. The ad hominem “denier” criticism places arguments and their purveyors beyond the pale, unworthy of response. Appealing to a purported “97 percent consensus” asserts that the question has been scientifically answered and policymakers have no business debating it.
They just got a major rightwing climate-change essay planted in the fucking New York Times yet still bellyache they're not "allowed to differ"  because people say mean things about them when they do. Maybe global warming is a fraud because these snowflakes should have melted long since.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


The New Yorker did an extremely generous profile of Rod Dreher this week. If that profile were the only thing you'd ever read about him, you wouldn't know he was nuts. The profile sympathetically tells Dreher's life story as a metropolis-hopping journalist whose heart is really in the holy boondocks (where for some reason he just can't seem to sink down roots) and his apotheosis as an author of easy-reading religious books. Profiler Joshua Rothman lauds Dreher's in-stores-now Benedict Option as a friend-of-Jesus-in-a-chartreuse-microbus plea for Christians to "consider living in tight-knit, faith-centered communities, in the manner of Modern Orthodox Jews," and seems not to have noticed the apocalyptic lunacy of his long public trail of magazine columns. Speaking of which, here's one from this week, responding to a poll that shows 62% of liberals belong have a religious affiliation, down from about 85% in the 1990s:
There Will Be No Religious Left... 
More broadly, we could say that many of the things liberal Christians believe in and advocate, in contradiction to normative Christian orthodoxy, already exist outside the church, period. Liberal Christianity often appears as a somewhat desperate attempt to sanctify modern beliefs...

There will be no religious left in the long term because the religious left, as it is currently constituted, doesn’t even believe in its own religion.
Considering there are still millions of liberals going to church or shul or whatever, this seems rather hysterical. To the extent Dreher bothers to explain why he thinks liberals are doomed to atheism, rather than spew hot gas and adjectives, he mainly cites sex. His sources rail against "a church unwilling to say that all homosexual genital relations are morally wrong; a church which at least makes some allowance for abortion when necessary to assure a mother’s freedom"; Dreher howls that the lib-godly "futilely try to update their doctrines to accommodate the modern world — especially regarding sexuality..." and are about "the legitimization of homosexual desire and the approbation of sexual permissiveness," etc.

Those of you who've read my criticisms and others' of Dreher will know this is SOP for Dreher, who is obsessed with sex, especially homosex (gay "persecution is coming" and you should "prepare for resistance"; gays are coming to kill him, just like they did black people in the days of Jim Crow) and double-definitely trans sex (the he-shes are taking over the multiplexes, even in Texas!). But those who only know him from The New Yorker will get only the merest hint of this when Rothman delicately broaches the subject -- and boy do I mean delicately:
I told Dreher that his life story seemed very similar to those of many gay men I knew... Surely, I said, he must have sympathy for gay Christians.
Like many orthodox Christian intellectuals, Dreher holds labyrinthine views on homosexuality. He is opposed to same-sex marriage but in favor of civil unions...
Labyrinthine, he says! And in the last ditch Rothman finds a Gay Friend to defend Dreher. Want to guess who that might be?
The writer Andrew Sullivan, who is gay and Catholic, is one of Dreher’s good friends... 
“There is simply no way for an orthodox Catholic to embrace same-sex marriage,” [Sullivan] said. “The attempt to conflate that with homophobia is a sign of the unthinking nature of some liberal responses to religion. I really don’t think that florists who don’t want to contaminate themselves with a gay wedding should in any way be compelled to do so. I think any gay person that wants them to do that is being an asshole, to be honest—an intolerant asshole. Rod forces you to understand what real pluralism is: actually accepting people with completely different world views than your own..."
It's perfect in a way: Sullivan, onetime king of the gay conservatives who made his movement bona fides by pimping The Bell Curve to polite company (and only just recently showed how easy that was for him by wondering aloud why black people can't be more like those nice Asians), now steps up to protect America's cuddliest homophobe by telling us the hundreds dozens couple of gay people who give florists a hard time are the real bigots. He may get that crown back from Milo yet!

Now if someone has the bad taste to notice Dreher raving "We are all Brendan Eich" and predicting gaymageddon unless the Elect mount the battlements,  he can just wave his pass -- in such fancy type, too! -- and go on about his Crusader business.

Soon enough we'll be hearing about Erick Erickson's misunderstood pluralism.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Trump’s threat to defund sanctuary cities just got kicked in the ass by a federal judge, so natch the brethren are doing the Black Robed Masters shit.

“Increasingly I wonder if this Lawfare post from March about a ‘revolt of the judges’ against the Trump White House was correct,” huffs Allahpundit at Hot Air. “On display here is a fair amount of judicial arrogance,” squeals Marc Giller of The Resurgent. “All of this smells far more politically motivated than anything derived from sound legal doctrine,” snarls Kemberlee Kaye at Legal Insurrection.

Well, of course. They hate cities; they hate furriners; and they especially hate the obviousness of the fact that immigrants help make our great cities the economic powerhouses that keep this country’s head above water, while the cracker exurbs mainly generate meth labs, a drain on public funds, and Trump voters.

Even worse for them: It’s to an extent one of their favorite wingnut legal precedents that’s keeping them from playing out this particular racist fantasy. Once again stepping in the shit they meant for someone else's shoe! Small wonder that, despite their near-complete rule of the federal government, they’re such miserable sons of bitches.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde, and Trumpelina who puts her name on other people’s clothing designs: One of these things is not like the others and the crowd at the G20 Women's Summit didn’t go for it.

You’ve probably already heard about Chris Cilliza sweetening his own beat by defending Trumpelina from the women who had the effrontery to mutter at her (and after he harshed on Chelsea Clinton, too — man, he’ll never miss a meal!). “It's important to remember,” Cilliza warbles, “that Ivanka is, first and foremost, her father's daughter. As such, she is going to defend him -- as would almost every daughter…” This is pretty much the Washington Examiner’s take as well: “Ivanka Trump booed in Germany while defending her father's record on women." Others in the MSM got in on this angle too -- that Trumpelina was just being a good girl, protecting her soft-headed old daddy from the mean femininimisms who pelted him with mudballs. So much for the toler— well, you know how it goes.

“Ivanka Trump 'Booed' at Women's Forum in Germany,” headlines Newsmax, as if there were some question of the booing’s authenticity. (Well, they did say the booing audience had “a majority of women”; maybe booing is something ladies aren’t supposed to be able to do, like comedy or self-determination.) “That NATO bill just got 10% higher,” says Twitchy, echoing something The Leader is probably bellowing right now in the Lincoln Bedroom while he waits for his buttpad to be warmed.

GOP mouthpiece Amanda Carpenter, looking for some of that sweet Tomi Lahren triangulation from Trump, essays that Trumpelina was “becoming like Hillary Clinton in the worst ways… she’s sort of becoming increasingly unlikable.” Watch your back, Chris Cilliza! There's more than one way to speak "pet me" to power.

Many morons, including Breitbart, accused the audience of behaving “rudely.” “Rude Germans Boo and Hiss Ivanka Trump,” hollered The Gateway Pundit. “So rude Germany, so rude,“ tsked WorldNewsPolitics. “NASTY WOMEN! Ivanka Trump BOOED…HISSED By Unbelievably Rude Crowd,” headlined We’re New But Loud Like Breitbart Come Let Us Slow Up Your Computer With Pop-unders.

And of course they did. Look at how the New York Post pre-emptively fluffed Trumpelina's coming-out:

Because Trumpelina is entitled to this. So what if she has no relevant attainments, let alone enough of them to qualify for such a position? She’s a princess and deserves to be plopped down amongst some of the most accomplished women in the entire world to offer her unqualified views. After all, I assume her father reasoned, it’s just that one, the German, I wouldn’t shake hands with because you have to show 'em who's boss; and that other one, from “Imph” I think they call it, she musta gotten the job by fucking the last guy, DSW or whatever it is, he’s a real hotshot.

Trump sent Jared Kushner to Iraq and let him sit in his bigboy playroom but, brutish as he is, you know he wouldn’t send Jared to address the United Nations or go anywhere else where he had to pretend to actually know something.

But the G20 women's summit — well, that’s just a bunch of chicks, right? What's the big deal?

Sunday, April 23, 2017


...about the firing of Bill O'Reilly and the end of Lena Dunham's Girls and the strange secret they share!

I refer glancingly in the column to two of our favorite terrible writers, who join a few others in running away from the now-toxic O'Reilly as fast as possible. “I have lots of conservative friends in my age cohort who complain about the effect heavy Fox watching has on their parents,” says Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. “The general complaint is that their folks have become a lot more opinionated about political issues, and a lot angrier and more bombastic.” You can see how this puts them out of phase with a conservative movement whose most successful proponent is President Donald Trump. (Dreher adds, "If I had cable TV I would definitely watch Tucker Carlson’s show, because he’s fresh and unpredictable." Yeah, that's some Next-Gen shit right there.)

And at National Review David French laments that O’Reilly was steeped in “a toxic culture of conservative celebrity, where the public elevated personalities more because of their pugnaciousness than anything else,” leading to “a loss of integrity and, crucially, a loss of emphasis on ideas and, more important, ideals” — which, near as I can figure it, means that O'Reilly is no true conservative because true conservatives don’t act like that.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


The end of O'Reilly's TV show means nearly nothing to me. Big-ticket rightwing rageclowns like him are like blockbuster movies and reality shows, just gargoyles for gawkers, and we who have free souls it touches us not.

I'm more interested in the conservative pseuds who try to explain it all on the internet, and so far their take seems to be that the preferred viewing choice of your aged relatives who send you pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose doesn't have anything to do with conservatism.

"He Was a Centrist, Not a Conservative," claims Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart. But look where Pollak's baseline is, via his approving quote of some wingnut chin-stroker:
What if we could magically remove the metaphoric glass and see, face-to-face, the average American, once his political views are no longer distorted by media bias? What would we see? 
The answer, basically, is Ben Stein.
Tell your aged Obama-hating relatives that their avatar is Ben Stein and they'll smack you. I won't even accept that slander on them! Hell, if the average American were the chinless Stein, we'd have receded into the primordial ooze years ago. (Try to imagine Ben Stein without money. He'd be raving next to an overpass. Or at least whining loudly.)

The others are worse. I include the worthless Chuck Todd who, seeking to impress Hugh Hewitt for some reason, "agreed" with him according to this Daily Caller report that O'Reilly wasn't a real conservative, that is, not a fancy intellectual like Hugh Hewitt:
“He was — to me, what he did — he was the tone-setter,” Todd continued. “He was sort of that anti-political correctness.” 
“He was the opening act that brought the crowds, but he became almost more fun to watch than the concert itself, sometimes, but he was the entertainer, probably more entertainer than any of the others.”
Similarly, gameshow buffoon Trump isn't conservative either -- he just pumps out rightwing policies self-identified conservatives eat up, but he ain't got good taste so when the smart guys stand around in cigar bars with snifters and talk about the Glooory of the Mooovement & Burke & Hayek &tc they shove Trump into a coatroom and blame the smell on the dog.

Plus there's Mark Judge at Splice Today -- "The left is cheering the demise of O’Reilly, but liberals have nothing to boast about," he says, because someone got raped at Occupy and what about that bitch who said she was raped but wasn't, huh libs? And Scott Lehigh at the Boston Globe: "Bill O’Reilly types aren’t just a conservative problem," because all those liberal TV hosts are sexual harassers too and the only reason we don't have proof like with O'Reilly is because chicks lie to protect libtards to keep their precious abortions.

At National Review Ian Tuttle tries a variation: Sure, the old-fogey conservatives go for O'Reilly, but we youngs are modern and a-go-go and we think O'Reilly's trad, dad:
This rough-and-ready genealogy might even include a third generation, emerging now — one whose world was shaped by September 11, Iraq, economic recession, and the hyper-partisanship of the Obama years. These conservatives are not Bill O’Reilly; they’re Ben Shapiro, Mollie Hemingway, and Mary Katharine Ham. Their media are podcasts and Twitter, and while they’re certainly combative, they are more interested in a savvy, cosmopolitan conservatism that goes toe-to-toe with progressivism on its own turf (consider Shapiro’s popular campus-speaking events) than in the countrified, bigger-government, populism-tinged conservatism embodied by Mike Huckabee.
"Ben Shapiro, Mollie Hemingway, and Mary Katharine Ham??" cry the youth of today. "That's all I needed to hear. Direct me to the scene of their symposia, where I will vape, denounce socialism, and maybe beat up some antifa chicks!"

At least Tuttle's got enough sense to be ashamed, but not enough to see that O'Reilly isn't the problem. You still need someone; that someone could be younger, and maybe even female (sexual harassment is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have for this gig!) or non-white (the murderous psycho Sheriff David Clarke might even do). But you will need someone to summon the clans, and he or she will have to be a scumbag -- and, since this is the age of Trump rather than the age of Reagan, that person also has to let the slavering masses know he or she is a scumbag. Because St. Ronnie wouldn't make it today; they'd see through his unctuousness right away and despise him for thinking them dumb enough to believe he's a nice guy. Shit, even conservatives don't believe in "trickle down" or "law and order" or any of those magic words anymore -- you can imagine what the marks they've been bilking for decades think!

No, for them only the Savage Messiah will do. And if the prissier among the Movement Conservatives have to stand off the side, look as innocent as their careers as childhood snitches taught them, and say oh no this is not what we meant at all, well, they can afford to pretend it's strategy instead of self-deception -- after all, they still get paid.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Trump has really taught conservatives to turn on a dime and accept new realities that were once (if you ever believed a word they said) disgusting to them. Remember when it was a wingnut rite of passage to hatewank over Lena Dunham? (My detailed examinations here, here, and here.) Now that her show Girls has ended with her character apparently getting a ridiculously impossible academic job and a kid, the brethren are in love with her.

Well, it's a kind of love. They want to have their cake and eat it too -- and in this their attempt is very like what they do with Trump as well: They say mildly bad things about her, but endorse her policies -- that is, endorse what they think her show's conclusion means in the purely political terms they think apply to every area of human life. Here's Erika Andersen at The Federalist:
Don’t Tell Her, But Lena Dunham Just Made A Pro-Life Season Of ‘Girls'
See, Andersen says, in the real world Dunham's a baby-killer -- "I don’t know for sure if she supports abortion up to 9 months of pregnancy," she says, "but let the record show, she probably does." (Despite the vinyl revival, Andersen doesn't seem to know what the word "record" means.) But the Invisible Hand of the Art-Marketplace forced Dunham to call for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, culture-war-wise, by having her character have a baby:
They could have thrown in a late-term abortion (and wouldn’t the pro-choice media just love the “stigma-reducing” that would showcase?), but they wouldn’t dare go there. 
Why not? It’s her body, right? Because it’s not, and everyone — yes, EVERYONE — knows it. 
Every time a character on TV has a baby, it's a thumbs-up for the Republic of Gilead. (Except Murphy Brown -- she's still a whore.)

Meanwhile Kyle Smith -- National Review's new culture-scold hire, probably enlisted to appease the readers who are confused and angered by Armond White -- praises "Lena Dunham’s Ultimately Conservative Message." Dunham, you see, is the bad Hannah -- "[she] says unconscionable things, just like her narcissistic screen alter ego" -- but "Dunham the writer," ah, she's almost as good as Jonah Goldberg, and "Hannah’s reckless, destructive self-absorption" betrays Dunham the writer's awareness that Dunham the slut is a filthy slut and abortion is murder. Maybe in her next project, Dunham the writer will kill Dunham the slut, like Dr. Jekyll did Mr. Hyde! In the meantime, comrades, let's keep our wits sharp with our guiltily-retained Fappening files!

Of course, the show's not over till Chunky Reese Witherspoon sings, and one can only approach Ross Douthat's contribution with a certain Hell No. Take this:
Tony Soprano pining for the days of Gary Cooper set a tone for all these stories, which then echoed and re-echoed in the Louisiana swamps of “True Detective,” the New Mexican borderlands of “Breaking Bad,” the halls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Again and again the viewer watched a male protagonist trying to be a breadwinner, paterfamilias, a protector and savior, a Leader of Men; again and again these attempts were presented as dangerously alluring, corrupting, untimely and foredoomed...

On “Girls,” though, something very different was going on. The fall of patriarchy had basically happened, the world had irrevocably changed … and nobody knew what to do next.
You young people today -- Destroy! Destroy! When are you going to find time to build! By the time you get to Douthat's fuzzbeard Catholic version of Lena Dunham is Conservative ("True, this was motherhood solo, without a mate or male provider. But the male absence felt more like a signifier of masculine failure than feminine empowerment") you have...

Who am I kidding -- I'm sure nobody ever actually gets to that part; why bother to read that far? (Certainly not for the pleasure of the prose!) In the end, these exegeses are unneeded: the people who liked the show will bid it adieu and go watch something else, and the culture warriors will just scan the headlines and quickly flip ahead to the Ann Coulter column, taking it on faith that their public scribes have properly informed History how everything they like -- TV shows, Clint Eastwood movies, choc-o-mut ice creams -- is further proof that tax breaks for the wealthy and persecution of minorities are God's holy will.

Anyway now they can move on to Emma Watson. She too is a libtard, and hot, and ripe for conversion fantasies. Which of them with be the first to write that Beauty and the Beast shows the good Emma's desire to be done with Pajama Boys and instead enjoy the violation of a true conservative mangoat? My money's on Rod Dreher!


In a district that hasn't gone Democrat since 1979, Dem Jon Ossoff lapped his nearest Republican opponent by nearly 30 points to force a runoff in a special election in fucking Georgia.

At National Review, Alexandra DeSanctis fires up the centrifuge:
For months, this race has been cast by activists and pundits as indicative of the road ahead for the current presidential administration, perhaps illustrating whether Donald Trump’s abrasive personality and controversial agenda have already turned off voters. But as the results rolled in on Tuesday evening, it became clear that the GA-06 special election has been perhaps the best example of the national media making nothing into something...
A look at the district’s history should have been enough to talk progressives out of placing their hopes on Ossoff’s slim shoulders...
Tuesday’s results don’t fully clarify the role that the president has played in the fluctuating dynamics of GA-06. But they do prove that Trump hasn’t enraged so many Americans that a nearly unknown Democrat — even one with significant national funding and attention — could turn a solid GOP district blue overnight.

After some concerned-face interviews with voters and a hummer for the top Republican candidate ("Across the district, fans of Karen Handel told me time and again that they chose her as the most experienced Republican who was most likely to succeed"), DeSanctis gives us the moral of the story:
Much remains unclear about the political dynamics of the sixth district; this, evidently, was not a normal election. But the unnecessary national frenzy surrounding this race should teach us a few crucial lessons: Among them, that polling in special elections is largely unhelpful and often misleading, and that early voting doesn’t determine the fate of the race. It should teach us, too, that Democrats shouldn’t expect to flip decades-long Republican strongholds overnight — not even with the help of a scapegoat like Donald Trump. Politics moves slowly in America, and it doesn’t take much heed of those constructing narratives.
I don't see how Ossoff can show his face in Georgia after such an embarrassing defeatvictory, do you?

Of course, that's just in the wingnut press -- surely the liberal mainstream media will...

Man -- and I thought wrestling was fixed!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Another shitty, front-loaded-with-received-wisdom internet TV review at The Federalist...
Since first appearing in L.M. Montgomery’s 1908 novel “Anne of Green Gables,” the story has been dramatized multiple times. It is, however, the 1985 television show with Megan Follows that has entered the canon as the movie about Anne. That beloved classic is about to be challenged by a new remake: Netflix’s “Anne” is set for release on May 12. You can view the trailer here.
...but with a record-scratch twist:
While many fans are eager to re-explore their favorite characters, others have been dismayed by footage from the new series. What we see in a released scene is a startling aberration from the spirit of the original story.
I know how she feels. Like when I was a kid and saw the Disney movie of Old Yeller? I thought for sure they'd show the dog's brains blown out in slow-motion, capturing the brutal sadism of the Newberry-medal-winning novel. Or was that Pet Sematary? Anyway, what a rook!
In the new show, Anne talks to her friend Diana about sex via a peculiarly unpleasant analogy. She says men have a “pet mouse” in their front pants pocket and that women have babies after they pet the mouse. This conversation is apparently the beginning of an entire plot thread.
At first glance, fan outrage might seem a little silly. We are, after all, talking about a character who experienced abuse and institutionalization before the Cuthbert siblings adopted her.
...the fuck? Talk about startling aberrations. Now you've ruined the inevitably film version of your review for future generations of extremely sheltered children!
Regardless of whether she lived in the 1890s or the modern world, a real-life Anne would have suffered trauma. Quite likely she would say inappropriate things to her peers.
Just me, maybe, but if all the children who have pet names for pee-pees were abused, the Catholic Church scandal is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Even Anne’s creator must have realized this. Just as anyone nowadays who plans to adopt an unknown older child from foster care becomes fair game for everyone else’s second-hand horror stories, so also Marilla Cuthbert is warned in the book that “foundlings” are liable to set fires and poison wells.
Set fires and poison wells? Damn, are you sure this isn't The Walking Dead you're talking about?
Yet Anne is not the kind of child who does any of those things. She is not realistic. And that is the whole point...

There is a reason children have long been given inspirational, idealized protagonists. When you think about it, is it realistic that Harry Potter is so well-adjusted? That Charlotte, even if she could spell, would care about Wilbur? That Cinderella has such a good work-ethic? There is also a reason it is cruel and perverted to take away those protagonists and replace them with the grit that some adults call reality.
I might agree, in the offhand way one agrees with monomaniacs for the sake of a quiet life, that it's kinda too bad if the show had Anne of Green Gables working a glory hole. But she just has a childish, fanciful name for a penis. Still author Anne Mussmann ("a stay-at-home mom who writes during nap time") goes on and on about the "glimpses of perversion" represented by the mouse thing:
Just as children cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse with an adult, we should recognize that they have a right to be protected from sexual references that are inappropriate for their developmental level. They have a right to sit down to a story marketed as family-friendly without hearing the characters talking about “mice” in men’s trousers.
LOL, again, but also WTF: I thought that was what the Benedict Option was for -- really godly rightwing people who've turned their backs on This Fallen World will only show their broods Veggie Tales episodes from which the Witchfinder General has scrubbed all worldly references. No contact with the godless, no problem!

So what is Goodwife Mussmann complaining about? Probably that This Fallen World is allowed to disappoint her expectations at all. That's why, though I'm inclined to laugh at these freaks, there's always an edge on the humor -- because they're just nuts enough about what you and I see as no big deal that I can imagine them really trying to make us all live up to their fantasies.

Monday, April 17, 2017


...about the Tax Day marches, the violence at Berkeley, and the efforts of the brethren to mash them all up in one melange of doubleplusungood. A worthwhile companion piece is Will Sommer's backgrounder/scene report on the goons who went to Berkeley mainly to beat up hippies and secondarily to portray their aggro disorder as a free speech movement.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Bret Stephens to the Times? Figures; he sucks. Steve M of No More Mister Nice Blog has the goods. This header from one of Stephens' WSJ columns will tell you a lot about his hackery -- and yes, I know authors don't pick them, but this one's perfectly appropriate:

This was the column that made the balloons drop as the millionth time some wingnut said liberalism was like 1984 Farm. I haven't written about Stephens too much here, but in the late campaign he took a Trump-is-the-new-Obama tack beloved of idiots, which probably convinced the Times that he was one of those sensible conservatives like Brooks and Douthat whom, after the Trumpian deluge, they can use like sourdough starter to create a new neoliberalconservatism.

UPDATE. Maybe this is one of those whatchamacallits, "inflection points" I think they call them, where the wingnuts suddenly want to be recognized as anti-Trump, just like in the old days. There was Jonah Goldberg's pathetic effort yesterday, and today, perhaps recognizing what a botch their legacy pledge made of it, National Review has gotten "a politics writer for MTV" to pitch in "What If There Is No Such Thing as ‘Trumpism’?" The article suggests that because Trump "at once could claim a purported allegiance to Evangelical Christianity and wave a rainbow flag at a rally," and other such conundrums, he's not a Real Conservative. The author misses, or pretends not to notice (who knows? Like I could divine the motivations of a "politics writer for MTV" who thinks publishing at National Review is a good move!), that 1.) the Republicans at the Cleveland convention, who were not significantly different from those at previous GOP quadrennials, cheered these alleged contradictions lustily, and 2.) they and 95% of conservatives cheered because they knew Trump would deliver the things they really want: tax breaks for the rich and Muslim-bashing. 

Anyway, as the speed with which they all ran to heel when Trumpy dropped a bomb shows, these cowboys will fall back in line as soon as he shovels big money to the fat cats. That's why he's making them wait for it -- it's his storied showmanship: he knows it'll come off better if he builds up some tension first. (They still know it's coming, but if there's one thing these guys are good at, it's the willing suspension of disbelief.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Jonah Goldberg:
If you’ll forgive the self-indulgence, let me start by sharing a few things about my professional life since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, in no particular order. Every day, on social media, I am attacked, dismissed, or otherwise declared an illegitimate analyst or fake conservative because of my criticisms of President Trump, even if I include praise or beneficial context. During the election season, I lost large sums of money — large to me, anyway — because I had to turn down speeches in which I was expected to be a de facto surrogate for the Republican point of view. My appearances on Fox News have dropped precipitously...
One might wonder what this workshy legacy pledge, whose columns betray an ever-decreasing amount of effort, could possibly have to bitch about. Rick Perlstein, it turns out; Goldberg claims he has been slandered by him at the New York Times Magazine, thus:
National Review devoted an issue to writing Trump out of the conservative movement; an editor there, Jonah Goldberg, even became a leader of the “Never Trump” crusade. But Trump won — and conservative intellectuals quickly embraced a man who exploited the same brutish energies that Buckley had supposedly banished, with Goldberg explaining simply that Never Trump “was about the G.O.P. primary and the general election, not the presidency.”
The quote, BTW, is accurate. Goldberg retorts:
For starters, Perlstein’s insinuation — that my declaration that “Never Trump” is over represents some kind of “embrace” of Trump — isn’t just wrong, it is breathtakingly dishonest. The very article he’s quoting from has the sub-headline: “The Never Trump movement is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop criticizing Trump when he deserves it.”
Which is like saying, "I lost, but that doesn't mean I'll stop complaining about it." Goldberg actually lists several columns where he's been "criticizing Trump." Let's take one at random -- "The False Prophecy of the Presidential Pivot” -- and look at the lede:
It was just last week that Donald Trump had the finest moment of his short presidency — his address to a joint session of Congress. Even many of his harshest critics praised his speech or reluctantly conceded that it was “presidential.”
Really lets him have it, huh? Actually Goldberg does get to criticizing eventually, but it's mainly criticism of Trump's intemperate Tweeting -- that is, his failure to "play the part of a somewhat sober, serious, responsible president — even one with an ambitious populist-outsider agenda" when he's handling his device. And he can't even do that without qualifying it -- for example, talking about Trump accusing Obama of tapping his phones, Goldberg admits it sounds bad but has to stick in that "there is an enormous amount we do not know" and "I think more investigations are in order (including of the leaks plaguing the administration)." And here's his finish:
The pivot stuff was always false prophecy. Being president has a funny way of making people more presidential. And by day, Trump’s White House staff can contain his worst instincts. But all bets are off when he’s alone at Mar-a-Lago and the moon calls forth the beast.
In other words: Trump's got a good staff, so things are going okay, but hoo-boy, those crazy Tweets, am I right? He sounds like a 70s Democrat talking about Billy Beer.

Though Trump directly insulted Goldberg and won the nomination by basically telling the establishment Goldberg represents to fuck off, the fact is Goldberg's always been willing to praise Trump. Why shouldn't he? Trump's viciousness is right in tune with Goldberg's brand of conservatism -- it's just less dainty. Even during the campaign for the Republican campaign, Goldberg's NeverTrumpiness was already beginning to take on water. Here's me last May describing one such column:
Take Jonah Goldberg, dean of the #NeverTrump crew at National Review. Last week, Goldberg taxonomized and reviled several Trump-allied factions: "alt-right" loons, converts "who don’t in fact believe in anything at all beyond their own self-interest," "Closet #NeverTrumpers" without the courage of their convictions, and "Fake Moderates" who, Goldberg claimed, had "urged the GOP to be more inclusive and nice" before endorsing Trump.

But conservatives "who simply think supporting Trump is making the best of a bad situation" — well, that was different. "I understand that position and I have sympathy for it," said Goldberg. It would also be okay if Ted Cruz and this year’s other unsuccessful GOP contenders gave Trump "some grudging, pro-forma support… albeit reluctantly and with grave reservations," said Goldberg. Helping to destroy the country is only bad, in other words, if you seem too cheerful about it; a grim visage redeems you. Sort of like Puritanism!
Or you can read him from August defending Trump's transparently bogus outreach to blacks ("Just because one has cynical motives doesn’t mean one’s actions are objectively bad. Lots of people cynically give to charity to make themselves look good to the public, that doesn’t mean charities should refuse money from anyone not of pure heart..."). Or you can --

Ah, what's the point. I could continue to pick apart his bullshit buffalo stance, but who's left to convince -- no one hears about some Trump outrage and says, "I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg to weigh in on this!" That's because the movement Trump took over is still his home and, like Charley Partanna and the Prizzis, he's got nowhere else to go. Even when he's being pissy, he still inside the tent pissing out; just because he can't quite find the flap and catches splashback every time doesn't mean he was ever even thinking about going outside to piss in.

Friday, April 07, 2017


NEW photo: Kushner/Mnuchin/Ross/TRUMP/Tillerson/Reince/Cohn/Powell/Bannon/Miller in the Mar-a-Lago secure room last night. (via @presssec) -- @SteveKopack

TRUMP: I don't get it. I thought you'd show me things blowing up. This is a bunch of dots and lines.

MATTIS: This is a strategy map, Mr. President. The explosions have already taken place --

TRUMP: How do I know that? You could be bullshitting me. Like when they quote unquote killed Bin Laden. Can't you get someone to bring me back a skeleton? And maybe a certificate of authenticity, you know, like they have for baseball memorabilia.

[Knock on the door.]

PRIEBUS: Sir, you did tell Secret Service to secure this area?

TRUMP: Relax, I recognize that knock. [yells] C'mon in, Rodolfo.

[A waiter enters with a cart.]

TRUMP: Great, now we can eat. Listen, guys, I didn't have time to take orders, but there's some roast beef, turkey and I think vegetable wraps. All kinds of chips. And I think Coke and Diet Coke.

[Waiter hands out food.]

TRUMP: Oh, and we got Bannon a pastrami on rye. Get it? Okay, no one's got a sense of humor.

[As waiter leaves, KUSHNER drops a fifty on his cart.]

ROSS: Say, Mr, President -- What's that sound?

TRUMP: I told you. That's the ice machine.

ROSS: No, no, a different sound, next door.

TRUMP: What? Everybody pipe down.

[Room freezes; sound unmistakably of a couple having intercourse in the next room. TRUMP gets up and goes to the wall.]

TRUMP: [knocks on wall] Alright, knock it off in there! [no response] Can you believe these two? What is that, the honeymoon suite? [knocks on wall again; no response] Rex, how about you go over there and tell 'em whats what.

TILLERSON: What? I can't do that!

TRUMP: OK, tell you what you do, you tell those kids we're upgrading their room, penthouse suite, you call down to the desk, Enzio will take care of everything. [fishes out wallet] Here, give 'em a couple of these coupons, they can have a good time in the lounge. Tell 'em it's on the President. That always gets them to cooperate. You should see how the Chinese ate it up. [opens the door for TILLERSON.]

TILLERSON: Mr. President, this, this just doesn't make sense. I'm the Secretary of State!

TRUMP: Alright. [points to lone woman in room] Sweetheart, what's your name?

POWELL: Dina Powell, sir. I'm the deputy national advisor for strategy.

TRUMP: That's nice. Here, take the coupons and get those kids outta there. Attagirl. [POWELL leaves. Room is silent but for the sound from next door] Good thing she left. I'm starting to feel a little horny. [points to the screen] Listen, can we get Pong on that thing?


The greatest of all time, 1926-2017.

•  You could take any Don Rickles long-form appearance, like the one above, and if you really watch it you see that while its savage brio is of a piece with the aggressive attention-hogging that was the hallmark of mid-century American stand-up, it's not just "insult comedy" -- it's a wild, highly energetic and inventive series of riffs, very jazzy, with judicious shifts in timbre and dynamics -- some of them starkly surreal, like the bit that starts around 8:40 about a coxswain from Rickles' U.S. Navy days, where he demands from "the boom man -- the one with the hearing problem" that the boom mike be lowered and, when it doesn't happen fast enough, laments, "40 million boom men and we gotta get Johnny Ray's Uncle." The audience laughs, I laugh -- but what the hell does that even mean? I mean I know who Johnny Ray was, but his uncle? It's like his famous put-down, "hockey puck" -- it makes poetic rather than literal sense; and, even better, it's poetry that makes you laugh. He made me laugh since I was a boy, every time, and while his anarchic hostility had a lot to do with it, so did that mad poetry. He was literally the best.

•  Ah, again with the Syria? Well, I didn't like it in 2013 and I don't like it now. And now would be a good time to review some of my writings from when the Republicans were dead set against Obummer's Syrian adventure -- not for sound non-interventionist reasons, but for hilariously made-up ones. (Special guest star: Megan McArdle!) It's also a good time to note that in 2013 Republicans had a bill before the House to impeach Obama if he started shit with Syria. I have a funny feeling they're not putting in a similar bill now.

•  The New York Post is good (that is to say, evil) at absurd "Is Famous Guy We Regularly Pimp/Revile Running For This Big Office?" stories, like this classic Chris Christie 2012 bullshit ("It would be a dramatic change of heart for the portly, pugnacious pol..."). But this week's "Donald Trump Jr. talks about running for governor of New York" makes Fred Dicker look like H.L. Mencken:
Don Jr. spoke to members of the F6 Labs gun club in Hicksville, NY, and, when asked about his political ambitions, said he would love to follow his father, President Donald Trump, into office.
Oh, I bet the upscale gun nuts who can only dream of going to Africa and killing endangered species like the Trump Boys loved hearing that.
A guest at Tuesday’s meeting told Page Six, “Don Jr. said he is interested in running for office, such as governor of New York, but the position of mayor of New York would be less interesting to him.” 
Don Jr. added that he didn’t want to be one of 100 Senators, nor a member of Congress.
Dream big, Little Donnie! I don't think this is getting even the mamalukes in Gerritsen Beach hard. Trumplet talks a lot about himself and what he'd like out of life ("Do I want to be behind the scenes and be a mouthpiece and fight back against crazy liberal media?") but where does he stand on policy? The Post only finds him saying this much:
...Don Jr. said he would oppose anything that restricts the Second Amendment, and he supports state reciprocity laws, which allow guns to be carried from state to state with a permit.
Well, that's certain to win him all the counties out in Bumfuck where yokels buy the Post and dream of an alternative New York where white people bring the dusky hordes to heel.  But in the actual state, not so much. Besides, we all know Ed Cox and the drooling yahoos of NYGOP will run Carl Paladino again, because he really, how you say, represents their values.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Megan McArdle puts her hands on her hips, sighs forcefully, and wonders why the gosh darn heck Democrats can't cooperate with Trump's accomplices in Congress?
Ah, the joys of doing nothing. Republicans must remember them fondly, as they struggle with the difficulties of actually designing real-world bills that have to get past the Senate, and y’know, not hideously offend large numbers of voters. 
Democrats, meanwhile, are discovering the sweet, toddler-like joys of just saying “no” to everything. Help Republicans repeal Obamacare? Heck no. Quietly stand by while Republicans approve an eminently qualified nominee to the Supreme Court? No, no, no! 
After years of failing at the grown-up business of passing legislation, small wonder the Democrats would like to let the Republicans have a try at being the adults in the room. In politics, saying "no" is a great deal of fun. 
Now the Democrats are investing in "increasingly counterproductive obstructionism," says McArdle, and to her it's just like when the Republicans shut down the government in 2013 -- except the Democrats aren't trying to shut down the government, they're just doing what opposition parties do -- that is, voting against legislation that betrays all their principles. They're saying "heck no," "toddler-like," to the repeal of their biggest single legislative achievement since Medicare.

Also, McArdle complains, the wicked Dems are filibustering Republicans' wingnut nominee for the Supreme Court. Some of my readers with normal memory spans may remember that last year Republicans didn't even allow Merrick Garland's nomination a vote on the Senate floor. There's no record of McArdle calling Republicans toddlers over that -- though in February she did say that "If I were a liberal, I would be filled with the kind of blind, existential rage that... well, that filled conservatives when Democrats passed Obamacare on a straight-line party vote using a parliamentary maneuver." Ha ha, psych, libtards! Sounds like she's in favor of fire-with-fire -- but as longtime readers will know, with McArdle that train only goes one way, and if Democrats has the cheek to filibuster Gorsuch, she then warned, she would be very, very disappointed:
Is the idea that we just won’t nominate anyone to the Supreme Court any more, unless one party happens to hold both the White House and a 60-vote majority in the Senate? It’s one thing to reject nominees individually, on ideological or other grounds. But “only my party gets to select Supreme Court justices” is not really a workable political norm. At least, not if we want a working Supreme Court.
“Only my party gets to select Supreme Court justices” -- that sounds very close to something a Majority Leader has said in living memory. McArdle also talked about what a disgrace it was that Democrats blocked the madman Robert Bork from raving from the high bench, and counseled Democrats "stop, take a careful assessment of their tactical position, and imagine what battles they might need to hoard their ammunition for" -- that is, cave, and lie in a heap waiting for McArdle to pin a gold star on them.

Meanwhile Steve Bannon has been dropped from Mr. 34 Percent's National Security Council -- not too big a deal, as this administration is still full of crooks and crackpots and it isn't as if Bannon has been exiled to Siberia, but a good reminder that pressure from the opposition is neither meaningless nor without effect, And the people who strain their rhetorical muscles trying to convince you it is, well, they do not, despite their passive-aggressive for-your-own-good shtick, have your best interests at heart.

Monday, April 03, 2017


Donald Trump tweets FBI to tell them about Fox News story
Donald Trump has apparently used Twitter to alert the FBI to allegations of "electronic surveillance" against him. 
The President cited reports by Fox News suggesting he and "people close to" him had been monitored before his nomination as Republican candidate, and tagged @FBI... 
Mr Trump said: "Such amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us by @foxandfriends. 'Spied on before nomination.' The real story 
".@FoxNews from multiple sources: 'There was electronic surveillance of Trump, and people close to Trump. This is unprecedented.' @FBI".
On the one hand, in my experience this is very much what crazy people do -- "ah, good, the police are here, now you can arrest the real criminals!" It's Dale Gribble territory.

On the other hand, it's also the stuff of conspiracy thrillers, so maybe that's his play: To convince fans that he's like Will Smith in Enemy of the State, only (bonus!) white.

In a similar vein, I think they'll try to spin Ivanka's and Jared's White House takeover, which looks to sane people like Trump handing off the boring gummint stuff to the kids so he has more time to grift the living shit out of his office, as a mashup of Legally Blonde and Dave. Negotiating with North Koreans is a snap when you have confidence in yourself!

Meanwhile top-shelf conservatives seem to be fretting that, if America is still standing when Trump escapes in a Cessna full of bullion, its people may not think kindly of their movement, which the President has been using the way General Mapache used a gatling gun -- that is, as the weapon of mass destruction his foreign enablers meant it to be, but with less discipline and more collateral damage than they had hoped -- and may not want to hear their shit anymore.

Take Ross Douthat, who announces that he sees the administration's "incompetence and chaos," but will continue "coming up with constructive advice for the Trump White House" as "a useful way of avoiding the depressing subject of the Trump administration’s first 100 days." He's full of shit. His plea for a Trump "think tank" is clearly floated in hopes that one of the drooling loons in the White House will awaken from his cocaine dog-dish inspired to hire him.  But Douthat feels he must play it cagey, so instead of proposing himself he suggests some even less plausible bigbrains -- like Mickey Kaus. I'm almost sorry it can't happen:
TRUMP: So you're Kaus, huh? I thought you wore that fedora everyplace. That was your signature, wasn't it? Like Charlie Chaplin with that bowler, or The Situation with those glasses that hung off his chin. You should stick with it. I gotta say, I didn't recognize you. I was gonna tell these Secret Service guys to mess you up good. 
KAUS: Now, Mr. President, I'm suppose to give you advice. I brought a plan for an infrastructure initiative that-- 
TRUMP: I saw you a couple years back with that Ann Coulter. Always respected her because she never got fat. Some of them, their career goes down the drain and they start packing on the pounds. You banging her? 
KAUS: Ha, that's very flattering. Now, I had these notes put in a lovely leather binder -- 
TRUMP: Feels like a pillow. What'm I supposed to do with this? Let me see: "Infrastructure for America: Bridges and Tunnels to the 21st Century." What is this, an insult, this bridge and tunnel thing? Trying to say something? Fuck you. 
KAUS: No, Mr. President, it's about bridges and tunnels, you said you -- 
TRUMP: [to Secret Service] OK, boys, take care of this guy. [Secret Service, nervous but having been shown a film on war crimes, do not move] Ugh, same shit I get from the Joint Chiefs. Alright, get out of here, Kaus. And hey, I don't want to see you in Maxwell's Plum for the next two years, capisce


...about that Mike Pence sexual self-segregation thing that was going the rounds last week. Among the outtakes, Charles Two Middle Initials Cooke defending Pence's unwillingness to eat alone with women to whom he's not married with an analogy:
I am fairly sure that I could smoke a large number of cigarettes before I became addicted, and, indeed, that I could indulge in them casually without ramping up my habit. As such, I’m not averse to having the occasional smoke. But suppose I were averse to that. Suppose, instead, that I was unwilling to embark on even the first step of that journey. Suppose that, in defense of my health and my wallet, I drew a much harsher line in the sand. Well, why the hell would that matter? What possible failing could that be held to imply? Caution is no vice when the end is so undesirable.
So, women are like cigarettes: Some people just can’t handle them, and by “people” I of course mean men.

Friday, March 31, 2017


Peggy Noonan:
Near the end of the campaign I wrote a column called “Imagine a Sane Donald Trump,” lamenting that I believed he was crazy, and too bad. Too bad because his broad policy assertions, or impulses, suggested he understood that 2008 and the years just after (the crash and the weak recovery) had changed everything in America, and that the country was going to choose, in coming decades, one of two paths—a moderate populism or socialism—and that the former was vastly to be preferred, for reasons of the nation’s health. A gifted politician could make his party the leader toward that path, which includes being supportive and encouraging of business but willing to harness government to alleviate the distress of the abandoned working class and the anxious middle class; strong on defense but neither aggressive nor dreamy in world affairs; realistic and nonradical on social issues while unmistakably committed to protecting the freedoms of the greatest cohering force in America, its churches; and aware that our nation’s immigration reality was a scandal created by both parties, and must be redressed.

You could discern, listening to his interviews and speeches, that this was more or less where Donald Trump stood.
Really? She got that from Trump's belligerent yammerings? I suppose you could also "discern" from them that he was the seventh son of the seventh mother, or Death Destroyer of Worlds, if you had taken enough Diviner's Potion at P.J. Clarke's.

Well, 70 days in, Noonan has decided oh my, this Administration is not going well at all. And you know what the problem is? No, it's not that a pack of cheap grifters seized the White House and, in furtherance of its crimes, allows rightwing psychos to destroy the country -- It's the servants!
His staff has failed to absorb the obvious fact that Mr. Trump was so outsized, colorful, and freakish a character that their primary job, and an easy one it was, was to be the opposite—sober, low-key, reassuring. Instead they seemed to compete with him for outlandishness.
It's sort of like Benson, if the Governor were a vicious psychopath.

As for the President himself, Noonan can only shake her head and wonder what went wrong:
It amazes me that in his dealings with the health-care bill Mr. Trump revealed that he has no deep knowledge of who his base is, who his people are. I’ve never seen that in politics.
Honey, he has no deep knowledge of anything except ways to separate suckers from their money.
...But Mr. Trump’s supporters didn’t like the bill. If they had wanted a Republican president who deals only with the right, to produce a rightist bill, they would have chosen Ted Cruz. Instead they chose someone outside conservatism who backed big-ticket spending on infrastructure and opposed cutting entitlements, which suggested he’d be working with Democrats, too.
As I have noted many times, Noonan is all kinds of disingenuous and will sometimes play dumb to look cute, but these days I'm genuinely beginning to question the arterial flow to her brain. She seems to think voters carefully weigh multiple policy vectors -- "hmm, Trump says 'Ahma gunna kill Obamacare Ahm so great' in such a way that I expect my particular health care needs will be met" -- instead of just going "Big TV Star yell at Messicans, Me hate Messicans, Negro eat T-bone steak, me like way he yell," etc.

But of course Noonan has to pretend that, because to admit that the Trump tide is an id monster would be to admit that the electorate, or at least the new Republican section of it, is beyond her prissy ministrations and passive-aggressive bullshit; they won't be swayed by tea-cakes now they've tasted blood. Being prudent, she now has to prepare for a possible anti-Trump backlash -- but instead of portraying them as a mob turning on its master, she has to suggest they were misled -- by Hollywood!
...Their sense of how a White House works came from news shows and reading, and also from TV shows such as “House of Cards” and “Scandal.” Those are dark, cynical shows that more or less suggest anyone can be president. I don’t mean that in the nice way. Those programs don’t convey how a White House is an organism demanding of true depth, of serious people, real professionals. A president has to be a serious person too, and not only an amusing or stimulating talker, or the object of a dream.
Yes, somewhere along the way the yeoman farmer was corrupted by premium cable. I wonder how she'll react if, whatever happens with this administration, she must confront the fact that her people no longer feel the need to even act as if they care about her good opinion.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Megan McArdle has seen the future and it's Mormons! She has returned from Salt Lake City to tell us that religious and racial homogeneity makes everything better. As does marriage, of course!

Utah is sparsely populated and its government is tightly intertwined with the LDS Church, which (as Chris Lehmann points out on his excellent McArdle reponse at The Baffler) is rich as fuck -- imagine Vatican City as a U.S. state. The Utah government spends big money on getting businesses to relocate to Utah, but, unlike in other theo-Republican states, a lot of money also gets spent on -- record scratch! -- social services, much of it directly by the Church rather than the government, via projects like "Welfare Square," through which Church elders give their pauper charges food that will "sustain human life, not lifestyle" so they don't get too comfortable.

How much is Church and how much is State? McArdle's kind of hazy on that:
Once I got there, I found that it’s hard to even get a complete picture of how Utah combats poverty, because so much of the work is done by the Mormon Church, which does not compile neat stacks of government figures for the perusal of eager reporters.
That's one of the benefits of small-government, big-religion -- no tedious supporting documents! Of course you could, if you were interested, find some government paperwork like the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission 2016 report which would tell you that "the federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary funding source for Utah’s child care system." It also contains nuggets like "It is worth noting that participation in [SNAP, child care subsidies, Medicaid, CHIP, et alia] does not necessarily reveal dependence on public assistance." Big Government on the downlow!

But McArdle doesn't want to get into "sanitary, clinical terms" like economists use to describe this paradise because "these are easier to quantify than a dream, but also less satisfying." And she has found a Dream -- the best kind: The American!-- in Utah. Salt Lake City has more upward mobility than Charlotte, North Carolina -- there a person has a nearly 11% "likelihood of moving from the poorest quintile to the richest" as opposed to 4%. Why, that's almost like getting three lottery tickets for the price of one! And since the Church is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, she doesn't have to give Big Government any props.

But if you know McArdle, you know she can't quite come out and say the solution is to have everyone join this religion -- that would be blasphemous to Mammon. But she does suggest some ways we can replicate Utah's results. Naturally there's a lot of her customary marriage-makes-you-rich guff. And there's an element that's even creepier. McArdle finds the poverty discussions she has with the Utahns don't include any mention of race -- "No proposal was immediately decried as racist. Truly surreal to a Washingtonian and a recovering New Yorker," ha ha, amirite -- and intuits it's because Utah has very few black people, mainly because the Church spent years trying to keep them out.

She could have just moved on from there, but it's like she can't help herself:
This near-absence of racial diversity means that racism is largely left out of Utah’s conversations about economic inequality. That leads to some conversations around inequality that would be unbearably fraught elsewhere. When the poor people are, by and large, the same race as the richer ones, people find it easier to talk about them the way they might talk about, well, family members — as folks who may have made some mistakes and started with some disadvantages, but also as folks who could be self-sufficient after a little help from an uncle or a sister. It’s a very different conversation from “victim”/“oppressor” and “us”/“them”: a conversation that recognizes that poor people often make choices that keep them in poverty, but also that the constraints of poverty, including the social environment of poor neighborhoods, make it very difficult to make another choice.
If only we didn't have to deal with this "victim"/"oppressor" stuff! Then we could really talk, as if these people were members of our family (except, ha ha, come on).

Inevitably we get the Putnam Maneuver, the polite conservative's way of saying stick to your own kind:
It’s not clear that we can have those same sorts of conversations in the places that are still struggling more openly and frequently with the legacy of slavery, or the inevitable clashes that come from throwing a lot of different cultures together in a small space. The many benefits of diversity have been so frequently and thoroughly extolled that I need not rehearse the refrain here.
I mean, diversity blah blah blah, after a while you almost forget you're white.
But there has been a growing disquiet in recent years with diversity’s costs. About 10 years ago, public policy professor Robert Putnam began quietly pointing out that along with enhancing positive qualities like creativity, diversity also created conflict and reduced the level of social trust.

“In more diverse settings,” suggests Putnam, “Americans distrust not merely people who do not look like them, but even people who do.”

Utah’s willingness to help, and its ability to help, may arise from its homogeneity — a trait that won’t be exported to the diverse nation at large.
But that's okay -- soon gentrification will chase all the black people out of Petworth, and then D.C. can finally have better social services!