Thursday, June 29, 2017

TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER.

As has become axiomatic, National Review legacy pledge Jonah Goldberg normally comes up with the stupidest thing ever written all by himself, but in his latest -- yet another wingnut weeper about how accurately describing the lethal consequences of the new health care bill is a death threat against Republicans -- he stoops to phumpher:
Would people die? Despite a host of very specific numbers from people like Senator Bernie Sanders, no one really knows.
[Headdesk, facepalm, pigpoop, Farrrrrrt.]
The data is at best mixed about whether Medicaid improves mortality rates or even health overall (though it’s clear that some people, such as pregnant women, do benefit). Still, it might be true that some people would die earlier than they would have if we kept the status quo. This is not the damning concession it may appear to be.
How can we ever really know anything, except when Mom tells us?
Politicians like to defend some law on the grounds that “if it saves just one life, it’s worth it.” But by that logic we should make the speed limit 5 mph. That would surely save lives. Are you a murderer if you oppose such a move?
I'll be dipped in dogshit -- Goldberg is actually using Megan McArdle's Speed Limits Are Futile argument from her Grenfell Tower column ("To drive a car even at 5 miles per hour is to accept a small risk of killing oneself and others")! This is like the worst The Brave and The Bold teammup ever -- or maybe more like The Inferior Five Minus Three.

Poor Goldberg, Trumpism has been hard on him. Imagine building your career on a book about how liberals are the real fascists, and then having to deal with a president who, in furtherance of his own grifts, is pushing every nightmarishly conservative policy you've ever supported -- and his role models are literally Hitler and Mussolini. Even a consciousness more insulated from irony than Goldberg's (if such a thing can exist) must at least dimly perceive and be tortured by it. That, or he's just gotten lazier. (P.S. Scott has more.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EVEN IF YOU GOT JESUS, YOU'S A EDUCATED FOOL.

Something that's both great and terrible about The Federalist is that it frequently pre-empts parody -- that is, its writers will go to absurd lengths before satirists ever get a chance. For satirists this can be frustrating, but it's on us to be more vigilant and not get caught snoozing next time.

For example, here's one Peter Burfeind on "Why You Can Expect Increased Violence When The Left Is Out Of Power." At this point of course the "Violent Democrats Will Kill Us All" thing is Routine 12 at rightwing poutlets, but Burfeind has given us a plum. I must warn you that he is one of those guilt-and-incense conservatives (Little Douthats we calls 'em 'round here) and runs a blog called Gnostic America; the first graf of his essay includes “loci theologici,” “initiation sacrament,” and “baptism of blood if you will” -- and these are all about Jon Ossoff! Further down we get “psycho-spiritual mechanisms,” “Manichaeism,” “Hermeticism,” “Neoplatonism,” etc. You can imagine what catnip this is to armies of 15-year-olds who smoke Meerschaums and are working on a Hilaire Bell-roc opera and ways of beating off without ejaculating.

But never mind, the poison theology of Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey is breeding violence and something must be done! There's all kinds of nonsense in here, e.g.:
Until we pass through this gnostic moment, and begin seeing each other as our flesh and blood neighbors with names and not through the phantasmic and archetypical lenses of Facebook, the mainstream media, pop music, and any number of other media, the violence will only heighten.  
Abandon false idols, and come ye to our MAGA rallies to be cleansed, pilgrim! But here's the bit that turned my head:
This all reminded me of my favorite quote I discovered while researching for my book, “Gnostic America,” where Donna Minkowitz claims she had sadistic lesbian sex (even calling such sex a gnosis) as a rebellion against marriage norms. On these terms we get insight into the Left’s regard of abortion as a sacred act: it’s a bloody political revolution against traditional systems of oppression created by reproductive biology in cahoots with traditional culture.
I don't know how many years and thousands of family dollars this guy spent in divinity school, but I wonder if anyone will tell him that Pat Robertson already famously came up with the feminist lesbian witch quote, and that it plays a lot better (and brings in more tithes!) when rendered in relatable argot instead of academic bullshit.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about that thing where, if you say Trumpcare will kill people, you're actually inciting violence. This has quickly become a popular favorite, and smart people other than me have noticed this aggressive demand for civility is rich coming from people whose depraved indifference to human life is obvious however temperately it's expressed.

Among the outtakes: A lot of the brethren used the homicidal fantasies of Johnny Depp as proof that liberals want to kill, kill, kill. Why should that be? What if we held them responsible for the yammerings of professional wrestlers? (Besides the ones who run for or hold public office, I mean.)

It was pretty awful that some Nebraska Democratic official said he wished Steve Scalise would die, but number one, he got immediately fired; and number two, it's hard to be solemn about it with Jason Hopkins of The Resurgent intoning, “Let me emphasize that this was not some random individual. He was the technology chairman for the Nebraska Democrat Party.”

Also funny: NewsBusters getting mad that the Lame Stream Media didn't freak out like rightbloggers when Elizabeth Warren referred to the Senate Trumpcare bill as "blood money" (“Sick! No Criticism on Nets for Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Blood Money’ Attack”). Come on, Jake Tapper, that was a foul!

Funnier still: Nikki Haley getting booed during NY Pride, then bitching about it. All because she supported a ban on gay marriage as governor and currently serves a man everyone in New York knows is a scumbag. Heat-kitchen, Haley; if you don't want to take crap for your crap, maybe politics isn't for you.

Friday, June 23, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


We often forget, because Hope made it his signature,
that "Thanks for the Memories" is a sad song.

•   If you like comics, and are enough of a connoisseur to know the spectacular work of Danny Hellman, have I got news for you: Hellman's Resurrection Perverts: Hunter's Point is out in hardcover, and it's a corker. It stars the last of the old-fashioned porn kings, Harry Homburg of Harlot magazine, riding high from the biggest celebrity-skin caper of his career when he's suddenly air-lifted into the infinite. It's the first volume in a continuing saga, so there's loads of (I suspect) foreshadowing -- which you'll have time to notice because the graphics are expectedly gaze-worthy and the printing surprisingly rich. Highly recommended, as a gift or for personal use.

•   I see the wingnuts who think modern-dress Shakespeare is a death threat are at it again. Here's the new version of the shtick: if you point out that, by taking away their health care coverage,  the Republican Obamacare replacement basically surrenders thousands of people to untimely deaths, you're shooting Steve Scalise all over again. John Nolte at The Daily Wire:
It has only been 10 days since Rep. Steve Scalise was gravely wounded after a Bernie Bro attempted to massacre two dozen Republican lawmakers guilty of nothing more than practicing baseball. And it has not even been 10 days since shots were fired at a truck flying a "Make America Great Again" flag.
Nevertheless, and although the death threats against the GOP continue to mount, in the wake of two politically-driven murder attempts, the kind of rhetoric the media assures us provokes this kind of violence, has only increased from the mainstream Left.

On Thursday, no less than the political media's very own It-Girl, Senator Elizabeth Warren, accused Republicans of wanting sick grandparents and babies to die, of writing a healthcare bill that amounts to nothing less than "blood money." Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Warren outright accused Republicans of "paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives"...
Mary Katharine Ham tries the same thing at The Federalist: "You want to go that route while one of your colleagues is still in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound?" Why can't Warren do the sensible thing and just mildly criticize the bill as "not very nice" before giving up?

From time immemorial, statesmen have warned about the human cost of legislation -- in fact, I seem to remember some talk of "death panels" a few years back. Yet now opposition is murder. Nolte adds:
Also on Thursday, left-wing actor Johnny Deep openly mused about the idea of assassinating Trump...
Same thing as Liz Warren, right? I mean, they both allude to mortality.
...And where is our objective, unbiased media? Right back to pushing the Trump Is a Dangerously Unstable Traitor Who Pees On Russian Hookers hoax — which is its own kind of clarion call for violence.
Criticism of The Leader is assault! The brethren seem to be on the downside of their traditional mood swing between triumphalism and victimhood, and will be whimpering in their safe spaces by the time the Republicans amend EMTALA to make poor people who go to the ER and are kept overnight in the hospital sleep standing up, and maybe mop up their own blood. Ugh. Would it be assaultive to say that I wouldn't piss on these people if they were on fire?

•   Rather than give it any close reading, I will merely quote you one paragraph --
But here’s the funny part. If Hollywood listened to the writers of Ms. magazine and went all-in on an Andrea Dworkinized Wonder Woman and distributed it globally, you know what the right term for that would be? Imperialism! Specifically, cultural imperialism.
-- which ought to be enough to convince you that Jonah Goldberg is still, as Harry Truman suspected of Joe McCarthy, not mentally complete.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

YOU HAVE NO IDEA.


Avik Roy rejoices in the imminent deaths of thousands, but The Baffler used a curse word so I guess they're the uncivil ones.

Many tender-hearted types are wondering how the Republicans can possibly be going ahead with their absurd Obamacare repeal/Medicaid destruction plan. At the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik seems to think they just don't realize the damage they're doing:
It’s proper to note that there’s a major disconnect between the way the Republicans consider Medicaid, which is as a program that largely benefits the expendable poor, and the reality: It’s the nation’s largest single health insurer. Of its 73 million enrollees, 43% are children and 13% blind and disabled persons. The program covers “more than 60% of all nursing home residents and 40% of costs for long-term care services and supports,” reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The program pays for half of all births in the U.S.--in some states, two-thirds. Plainly, cutting or capping Medicaid benefits will cause pain and suffering across a broad spectrum of Americans.
Is it uncharitable to laugh? I guess the only Republicans Hiltzik knows are sober, housebroken, come-let-us-reason-together types like Michael Bloomberg -- who, in the true spirit of No Labels, recently told everyone to unite behind the man he once called a demagogue and a con artist. (Maybe Trump promised him tickets on a spaceship that, when the time comes, will rescue select rich people from the heat death of this planet. That'll be his last and best grift -- the one that gives him some comfort and pleasure in his death throes, as he imagines his suckers, roasting as he is, but also realizing they've been duped.)

At least Hiltzik knows Republicans don't care about the poor, but he can't allow himself to see the enormity of their cold disdain -- that it isn't just the poor they don't care about. Nor is it just the disabled, the elderly, and children he mentions. Who can explain how their bill is good for any Americans except a small number of extraordinarily wealthy ones who stand to benefit from the defenselessness of the uninsured? No one can and no one bothers. Certainly no one believes Paul Ryan's blather about how voters will appreciate that this crippled Brundle-at-the-end-of-The-Fly monstrosity gives them more "freedom." That he didn't trouble to think of anything less ridiculous than that says a lot. The Republican concern for deficits is a widely-acknowledged fraud; the tax cuts for the rich that are an admitted goal of the legislation already start to roll out in the Senate bill. Their secretive deliberations notwithstanding, they're not even trying to hide it. This is as close to an act of depraved indifference as politics gets.

Some liberals cling to the hope that simple political expediency will deflect them in their course. Don't hold your breath. While the long start times of the new bill somewhat insulate their near-term electoral chances, I don't think they're worried about what will happen even when the punters catch on. In the past, they felt the need to play it cagey -- to pretend to care about bipartisanship, the neediest, morality, etc., because politics is volatile and any sign of disdain for the voter, however small and unconscious, might blow up on election day. But the victory of the id monster Trump has torn away all their pretense of decorum; Russian hacking, gerrymandering, and the simple depravity of the voting base have convinced them that they can do anything they want and get away with it. And while some people are made vicious by restraint, history shows us that politicians are made vicious by the lack of it.

I'm put in mind of the scene in Reversal of Fortune where Dershowitz tells Von Bulow that he's a very strange man, and Von Bulow responds, "You have no idea." With the Republicans we are starting to get a glimpse into that deep, dark pool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THIS YOUNG MAN WILL GO FAR.

Remember when Megan McArdle was telling a horrified and in some cases grief-stricken audience that the Grenfell Tower inferno was no reason to go all crazy with sprinklers and fireproof cladding and other so-called "safety" features when the money would be better spent on corporate tax cuts? I think one Max Bloom, a National Review "editorial intern," has topped her -- figuratively speaking, of course, though he defends McArdle with great passion, lamenting that she was "savaged on social media" only for her "transparently reasonable sentiments... People don’t, it turns out, particularly appreciate the notion that safety is a trade-off; they particularly don’t appreciate hearing about the importance of such trade-offs in the aftermath of an unbearable tragedy."

That last is true and, if you were unfamiliar with the sort of people who write for National Review, you might expect Bloom next to acknowledge the corollary: that people get angry at "transparently reasonable sentiments" like McArdle's when they're expressed on the heels of a tragedy because that's how normal human beings react to such boorishness. But Bloom seems never to have had such a realization. That is, he knows these humanoids respond in such a way, but he fails to see the sense in it -- why are these littlebrains so sentimental over something as ridiculous as the lives of people who are not Max Bloom? Don't they see how smart guys like him suffer from their unreasonableness?
There is very little that is worse for skeptics of big government than a tragedy. Since people demand action after a tragedy, tragedies tend to lead to greater regulation, and regulation is subject to a ratchet effect: Once regulations are passed, they are hard to reverse and the new regulatory climate becomes normal. The political effects of a tragedy can shape society for decades — it was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan that brought about new regulatory standards in factories, and the Titanic changed maritime safety forever.
I like to think some NR editor suggested he put in the Titanic to show that rich people die in these things, too, not just grubby poors; and Bloom thought, well, it's pandering but I'll be needing his letter of recommendation.

Anyway, Bloom eventually counsels compromise with the weepy regulation-ratcheters, for the good of the cause:
It stands to reason, then, that conservatives and libertarians have an interest in promoting modest, cheap, and popular safety rules and regulations. If the United Kingdom had banned the flammable cladding used in Grenfell, as America and Germany had, no one would be talking today about tearing down low-income housing across London, and the cost would be only a few thousand pounds more per development.
The real Grenfell tragedy is, we could have saved money!
Libertarians in particular will find these preventive regulations difficult to stomach. But most of the world is not libertarian — certainly, not after a trauma of this magnitude — and so, difficult to stomach though they may be, safety rules and regulations, carefully chosen and managed, are a worthwhile investment in a slightly more libertarian future.
As grotesque as it looks when put so baldly, it's really what the tradeoff's been all along -- the rest of us trying to live safer, healthier, more humane lives, and these monsters trying to figure out just how little they can get away with letting us have.

Monday, June 19, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the Julius Caesar nonsense and where it comes from.

As I've mentioned previously, conservatives' whole idea of culture is driven by their will to power. Their oft-repeated mantra about it is "politics is downstream of culture," which is an expression of frustration that the power they've won with politics is incomplete. They see people responding naturally to art, and see that as a kind of power; they jealously want to turn it to their own purposes, but are temperamentally averse to the empathy and patient attention to human nature (as opposed to a vulpine attention to human behavior patterns) that's a precondition of artistry.

So they try in their crippled, ugly way to reverse that power with weird apings of journalism, using things that look like arts criticism as Rupert Murdoch uses splash-smears in his tabloids. You may recall how enraged they were when feminists were claiming the Wonder Woman movie for themselves and even tried to sabotage women-only screenings of it — but when the movie became a huge hit, they spun and insisted feminists didn’t actually like Wonder Woman (cf., “Alt-Left Insanity: Wonder Woman Isn’t LGBTQ Or Black Enough for Libs,” “Run, Wonder Woman! The Feminists Are after You!” etc). After writing endless screeds against The Handmaid’s Tale because of its feminist subtext -- “The Handmaid’s Hysteria” is one ripe example -- National Review, making a concession to the show's ubiquity and popularity, recently  published -- I swear I'm not making this up -- “The Conservative Case for The Handmaid’s Tale." It’s against statism, see, not the patriarchy.

So the controversy over a 400-year-old play is no shock to me, though it is a melancholy thing to see journalists trying to explain to the punters basic artistic conventions as if they were obscure maritime laws. Well, that's what you get when you don't fund arts education. Also when you teach blanket mistust of all data that contradicts one's prejudices as "skepticism": one of my more depressing exchanges this weekend was with one of the many conservatives who refused to accept that an earlier version of the play had been performed with an Obama-like Caesar. When I sent her a review of that production from The American Conservative, she refused to accept it and demanded video. "That's just a picture & an article," she said. Maybe Noah Millman was lying to protect liberals!



Friday, June 16, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Heard about this from Milo Miles at the Voice. Here's the lyrics.
A little of the old pep for lunchtime.

• One of the things libertarians love to do is find some rightwing nutcake and weep over the "shaming" to which he is subjected by liberals. In 2015 Pax Dickinson got his rubdown from Reason's Cathy Young, who mourned the "career-killing Internet outrage" and "social media outrage wheel" that caused him to leave/get canned by Business Insider. This "raises troubling questions about speech and consequences," said Young. There's plenty I could say about 1.) non-wingnuts who get fired for speech all the time, for whom such as Young never weep; 2.) the richness of a libertarian complaining that a private employer released an at-will employee; and 3.) hilarious clauses like "the Titstare incident, which precipitated Dickinson’s conflict with feminists online." But instead let's just move on to an event announcement that recently popped up online for an event called Unite the Right, at which Dickinson and such other intellectual giants as Baked Alaska and Based Stickman will be "demonstrating in support of the Robert E Lee statue, the right of white people to organize for our interests, and to show that we will not be intimidated by harassment campaigns of the Left." @popehat has reproduced a poster for the event containing the usual Nazi and Confederate insignia -- just for laughs, mind. Again, I'm willing to make a deal with the Right: Make private speech off-limits as grounds for termination in general, and I'll join them in supporting these guys. I'm secure that no one will take that deal.

• One Tiana Lowe:
The Conservative Case for The Handmaid’s Tale
The tale is really an indictment of collectivism.
See, Gilead makes everybody do the same thing, and that's classic Liberal Fascism, not something religious people would ever do. It's a The Federalist joint right down to the shitty writing ("But the visual homogeneity of the handmaids’ dress acts rather as a forceful imposition of a kind of Marxian class consciousness"), but surprise, it's actually at National Review, for which Lowe interns. From Lowe we can expect no better, and in truth I guess that goes for National Review, too; in the Trump Age even the hoity-toity wingnut mags must devote themselves to Kulturkampf for Dummies, which embarassing as it is at least spares them the shame of pimping their actual policies.

• Speaking of wuuuutt:
Beware of Blaming Government for London Tower Fire
Perhaps safety rules could have saved some residents. But at what cost to others' lives? There's always a trade-off
Yes, it's Megan McArdle with the libertarian kill 'em all, let the market sort 'em out POV. Here's one gambit: why bother to try and protect littlebrains with your stupid "safety" regulations when anything might kill them anyway? Like speed limits:
To drive a car even at 5 miles per hour is to accept a small risk of killing oneself and others. To drive at 50 miles per hour is to accept a much higher risk of doing so. It’s a calculation: risk versus reward.
 And most freedom-loving people Can't Drive 55, much less the 5 mph you liberal nannies probably want, so really, what's the point? Also, "automobile transport has also saved a lot of lives, by enabling the economic growth that has made us richer and healthier." Ever think of that, statists?
Back to the case at hand: Maybe sprinkler systems should be required in multifamily dwellings.
 BUT!
...It’s also possible that a sprinkler system would not have saved lives in that Grenfell inferno, as the fire apparently spread outside the building as well as within it.
 Yeah, because the council, in a McArdlean cost-benefit calculation, thought the extra few pounds for fireproof cladding wasn't worth it. Jesus Christ, it's like libertarians are just trying to see how far they can go before people figure out they're actually aliens sent to earth to kill us and steal our resources.

• Oh, and speaking of longtime alicublog favorites, I heard about this bluegrass family band murder -- son kills brother and mother, botches suicide -- and Steve of No More Mr. Nice Blog pointed out the family's homepage...
Children need structure, and there's plenty of structure in this house. Our boys know what they are supposed to be doing from sun-up to sun down. They are busy doing chores, running the farm, doing schoolwork and, of course, practicing for performances. Everything they need is here on the farm with their family...

Processed and fast foods are forbidden. Food is nourishment for the mind as well as the body so it's important to eat right. We mostly only eat foods that we grow or we buy from local farmers, that way we know it's healthy and natural. I give my boys a large spoonful of cod-liver oil after dinner to keep their hearts and minds strong.

TV and video games are banned. They produce redundant minds and lazy children...

We live very traditional roles in this household. I stay at home and take care of the cooking, cleaning, teaching our boys and managing the family band...

Homeschooling the boys means that they are not affected by outside influences and are able to grow up in a safe and wholesome environment...
...and I thought, boy, this Benedict Option thing isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

AIN'T MY CRIME.

As you may have noticed, it seems every wingnut who's blaming the attempted assassination of Steven Scalise on ordinary liberal discourse has expressed a very different view of hard political language in the past -- e.g., "Pastor who demonized Obama as the antichrist calls for end to political demonization of Republicans." It's not just the snake handlers and Newt Gingrich either. Take William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection. In the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting in 2011, he was talking about the "blood libel" that Sarah Palin's violent rhetoric and rifle-sight graphics had something to do with it, and telling David Frum, who suggested Palin reach out to Giffords, that showing too much sympathy would be a waste of time, indeed counterproductive:
Frum wants Palin to play on a the field drawn by vicious liars who never will be satisfied with any response from Palin. Any of the responses Frum suggests, such as going to Giffords’ office to lay flowers, would have ignited even more dishonest fury from the left-blogosphere and mainstream media.
Flash forward to Jacobson today:
While criminal culpability rests with the shooter, there also is no doubt that we are experiencing an unprecedented derangement from establishment Democrats, pro-Democrat media (which is almost all of the mainstream media), the entertainment industry and on campuses. 
We have been documenting the often violent opposition to Trump for over a year, but particularly since the election. The entire concept of “The Resistance” invokes violence...
We're hearing a lot of calls for civility from people who will do anything -- write bills to strip millions of citizens of health coverage under cover of darkness, portray a Shakespeare play as an assassination threat to rile the rabble, and press guns into the hands of every man, woman and child in America at the behest of their donors -- to get and hold power; that is, after all, why they not only tolerate but enable the grifts and grafts of Trump. I understand why six-figure TV news wankmasters have to indulge this hypocrisy, but I'm not having it. I'll go on pushing for a better, fairer deal for all Americans, and anyone who wants to call it incitement can kiss my ass.

UPDATE. Top comment from Shakezula: "'The entire concept of “The Resistance” invokes violence...' But the concept of Tea Party Patriots invokes harmless colonial cosplayers sitting down for a nice cuppa and some wafer-thin cucumber sandwiches."

Also, at the Washington Examiner:
Support for Southern Poverty Law Center links Scalise, Family Research Council shooters
...The Southern Poverty Law Center still lists FRC as an "anti-gay" hate group on the "hate map" Corkins used. "The SPLC's reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences," said FRC President Tony Perkins. 
The Family Research Council is, in point of fact, an anti-gay hate group. The SPLC is right to call them out on it; the truth is not an incitement to violence but a defense against it.  It makes sad and perfect sense that as wingnuts weaponize the the Simpson Field shooting, one of their first targets should be a group that labors to prevent hate crimes.

THE LAW IN ITS MAJESTY ALLOWS THE RICH AS WELL AS THE POOR TO SPEND ALL DAY PLAYING MINECRAFT.

Libertarians, man...
The game [Andromeda] boasts an intricate conversation system, and a substantial portion of the playtime is spent talking to in-game characters, quizzing them for information...
At a certain point, it started to feel more than a little familiar. It wasn't just that it was a lot like work. It was that it was a lot like my own work as a journalist: interviewing subjects, attempting to figure out which one of the half-dozen questions they had just answered provided useful information, and then moving on to ask someone else about what I had just been told. 
Eventually I quit playing. I already have a job, and though I enjoy it quite a bit, I didn't feel as if I needed another one. 
But what about those who aren't employed? It's easy to imagine a game like Andromeda taking the place of work.
Unless your work is slaughtering pigs or paving roads. The essay is called "Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That's OK. (For Now.)" It's by Reason's Peter Suderman, who clearly loves gaming and believes the hours he spends at it "have made my life richer and better, more interesting and more tolerable." Nonetheless, he says, "if I had to choose between gaming and work, I know I'd pick the latter."

There are of course millions of young men out there who don't and can't make that choice; Suderman talks to experts about them. Many of them, it turns out, spend their ample free time playing video games. That may seem bleak, even dystopian to you --  The Matrix meets Harlan Ellison.

But Suderman sees the upside: Games "bring order to gamers' lives." Studies are alleged to show that "far higher levels of overall happiness than low-skilled young men from the turn of the 21st century," when games were less prevalent and sophisticated, and jobless youths had to go out to have a good time. Which might almost sound convincing, until you run into this bit:
A whole generation of men obsessively playing video games during their prime decades of life may not be ideal, but most would agree that it is preferable to riots.
Maybe "happiness" is not in this context what we normally think it to be.

Suderman compares the workless gaming life to progressive social benefits -- "video games, you might say, offer a sort of universal basic income for the soul." He seems to like the idea -- it'll prevent riots, after all -- but he doesn't want the government to pay for it -- that "playing video games does not incur a direct burden on taxpayers" is one of its great libertarian benefits. Far better and more cost effective to feed everyone's soul instead, as the long-haired preachers serving Pie in the Sky knew.

By essay's end, when Suderman talks at length about how good gaming has been to him -- an educated, ambitious young man who was a safe bet not to wind up in his parent's basement -- it's clear that the whole detour through the land of the jobless console jockeys was just a feint at relevance, and the reason Young Men Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs is OK is because nobody at Reason, and maybe anywhere else, actually cares about them -- certainly not enough to tell us when or how the "(For Now)" part is supposed to end.

Monday, June 12, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the Comey hearings and the Corbyn election. A little comedy, a little tragedy, though it's hard to tell one from the other.

I was going to get back on the Public Theater's Julius Caesar, which I covered earlier in the week, because the conservative nonsense campaign against it appears to have got some sponsors to withdraw, but the way things are going I suspect I'll have many opportunities to revisit the subject in the near future.

UPDATE. Oh, the international wingnut bitterness over Corbyn is something to behold. Here, from Australia's Spectator: "Thirteen reasons Jeremy Corbyn is a scumbag and a moral midget." That's givin' 'em what they want! My fave: "9 He loves anti-Western propaganda." But the UK Spectator edition's no slouch, either, with a deliciously passive-aggressive-mostly-aggressive "Intolerant liberals have a new target: the DUP" from Brendan O'Neill. Sample: "Look, I know this is inconvenient, and you’d prefer it if everyone in the country was a carbon copy of you and your lovely friends, but some people out there are religious." Also, opposing the Right O'Life Party is, like everything else liberals do, How You Got Trump:
...those people always looking for an outlet for their outsized sense of moral superiority cannot resist the temptation to pontificate against Others. Against ‘deplorables’, in Hillary’s words. Against the backward. Against — let’s not sugar-coat it — the inferior.
Talking smack about assholes: It's like the gas chambers, only with words! Speaking of which, I suppose I should do my part by noting the dumbest bit from the wingnut war on Shakespeare, provided by Legal Insurrection's Leslie Eastman:
I hate to be a stickler for the trivialities of real history, but I would like to remind the cast, crew, and producers of this particular Julius Caesar that the victim was a populist much loved by the citizens of Rome. Furthermore, after a rousing and subtle speech by Caesar’s second-in-command, the “hero” assassins were forced to flee the eternal city and eventually died in shame and ignominy.
That's right -- she thinks the actors and director didn't notice that in Julius Caesar, assassination is a Bad Thing. Or she pretends to think so -- Eastman can apparently write complete if not graceful sentences, so she's probably not dumb enough to believe it. I'd wager most of them aren't that dumb. They just know what works; let the smart guys lose.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

ROD DREHER & GLENN REYNOLDS: A LETHAL COMBINATION.

It's Pride Month, so of course Rod Dreher is flipping out extra-spicy over the Homosexual Menace. (Regular readers of me and others whose eyes are watching Rod will know Dreher believes gay people are murdering Christianity, and so howl ye for the day of judgment is at hand, etc.) Here's one example: The New York City Department of Health encourages local gays to be frank with their doctors about their sexual practices for obvious reasons. Dreher says:
A reader who sent this item in says [emphasis his]:
Many of these legal rights are positive or unobjectionable, but one is highly problematic: “Have your gender identity and gender expression recognized, affirmed, documented and accommodated.”
This, the reader says, will make it much harder to be a traditionally religious doctor in New York City.
"Traditionally religious doctor in New York City" sounds like a fish-out-of-water comedy: Thet there Department o' Health got plumb mad 'cuz when this l'il girl asked for birth control I tole her she's a slut an' wrote her a pre-scription fo' church!

Another one:
A small but telling example: the announcement that the US men’s and women’s national soccer teams will be wearing pro-gay jerseys: 
[Picture of rainbow letters on soccer jerseys
And notice how the Fox Sports journalist described this move: 
U.S. Soccer has dropped some spiffy new rainbow kits to raise money for a good cause, coinciding with LGBTQ Pride month in June.
What if you are a US Soccer player who is Catholic, Evangelical, Muslim, or otherwise religious, and objects morally to celebrating gay pride (even if you have no problem at all with gays and lesbians playing professional soccer)? Too bad for you. If you objected publicly by refusing to wear the jersey, you would put your career at risk.
Or how about if you're a religious hockey player drafted by the Los Angeles Kings and you refuse to wear their jersey because God, Not Man Is King? Your career will suffer too, curse this fallen world! [Scourges self]
So: violate your conscience or suffer professional consequences. This is one example of how coercive political correctness moves throughout the system.
From there Dreher goes into a grand mal tizzy:
The rising Left is bound and determined to crush or at least permanently sideline people it deems heretics — in particular, whites, males, orthodox Christians, and skeptics of the LGBT project...
Yeah whatever ya big Dairy Queen, but here's the punchline -- he's actually outdone by Glenn Reynolds. Yes, Ole Perfesser Instapundit has in his dotage gone full culture-warrior, and he takes off from Bre'r Rod's post thus:
The thing is, you don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers out there. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the liberals are too corrupt and incompetent to maintain a liberal polity.
Put another way: See what you queers did? You made me Hitler! Remember, now, what me and my klavern are doing to you is all your fault.

I'm not sure whether it's more accurate to say Trump has emboldened them or unhinged them. Hmm, why not both?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

ON THEIR KNEES AND AT YOUR THROAT.

Hey, Ross Douthat's writing about Jeremy Corbyn. But he's not sure he did such a good job and wants your help (not yours, actually -- that of the little gabardined, fuzz-whiskered Catholic college shits who want to grow up to be Douthat like Douthat wants to grow up to be Chesterton, and who'll tell him both choices are brilliant in their eyes):


While he fusses over whether "barmy" or "balmy" is right for Corbyn, Douthtat has no similar worries over his other imputations against the Labour leader -- of near-Stalinism-by-association ("Corbyn’s inner circle has a similar minimizing tendency"), terrorism-sympathizing-Peter-King-never-heard-of-him ("Corbyn’s fellow-traveling with the Irish Republican Army"), anti-Semitism-well-anti-Zionism-same-diff ("critiques of Israel or global finance blur into"), etc. 

Oh, and Douthat flatly asserts "nobody exactly thinks he would be a good prime minister" -- though, he remembers,  neither he nor most U.S. voters thought Donald Trump would be a good president, yet here we are. Douthat warms to the analogy:
Now, though, in the imminent British election called by an overconfident Theresa May, a different sort of Trumpian figure is closer to victory than anyone expected. This is Jeremy Corbyn, the radical backbencher turned Labour leader, whose campaign was supposed to be a joke but now finds itself, like Trump’s before it, just a “normal-sized polling error” away from a truly shocking upset.
In other words, Corbyn is like Trump because he's gaining in a close race. You know, like the Donald Trump of 1998, George H.W. Bush. The analogy turns out to be not so good, but it could have been excused had Douthat really stuck with it and allowed as how Corbyn could indeed fool everyone and pull it out -- but with such as Douthat, the propagandist always beats the poet:
...Corbyn probably isn’t a threat to the liberal order, and in this Trump-crazed moment we could use a little less hyperventilating about politics. (Also, he’ll probably still lose.)
America is convulsing under the maladministration of King Shit, but the ruling class ain't paying Douthat the big bucks to make them feel less secure, so he must reassure them that all will be well. That in fulfilling his mission he embarrasses himself even worse than usual suggests that Corbyn's got him, and the rest of his wormy tribe, nervous. Good. Can't wait to see how they feel when the tumbrels really start to roll.


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

WHAT'S NEXT -- A TV PREACHER AS "TARTUFFE"?

The current Shakespeare in the Park production is Julius Caesar and, the play being very adaptable to contemporary politics in every age, Caesar in this case is reportedly very like Donald Trump. Conservatives are enraged because — plot twist! — Caesar gets stabbed.

But Roy, you may be asking, how did they even find out? Conservatives, even the culture-cop type, are more likely to wallow to superhero movies than sit still for stuffy old plays. Heck, their appetite for dumbbell entertainment is so great they’re even forcing themselves to go see the feminist-friendly Wonder Woman movie (though their reviews are full of defensive arguments — e.g., that the movie is really about Jesus, or that it’s feminist but not too feminist ‘cause if it were really feminist Rich Lowry couldn’t have enjoyed it).

It's a set-up. In most of the angry Julius Caesar stories, one Laura Shaeffer is cited as the complaining witness — for example, Breitbart.com:
“To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful,” Shaeffer told Mediaite. “If this had happened to any other president — even as recently as Barack Obama or George W. Bush — it would not have flown. People would have been horrified.”
Wondering who Laura Shaeffer is and why you should care? Mediate reports she’s “a sales manager at Salem Media” -- which specializes in targeting audiences interested in "family-themed content and conservative values.” They also own several rightwing sites. That’s right — no prominent wingnut could be inveigled to spend a few hours at the Delacorte, even in pursuit of boob-bait, so they got one of the kids in the sales department to go. Wonder if they gave her a fidget spinner to occupy her during the long talky parts?

Anyway, now the brethren are outraged that the arty-farties are being mean to their Maximum Leader:

“Trump as Caesar Gets Brutally Murdered Onstage — Apparently murdering the president is all the rage among liberals,” screams Truth Revolt. (Yes, they actually put those words in red.) “The center left is gradually convincing themselves that violence is acceptable,” claims Blazing Cat Fur.

“Insane ‘progressives’ are trying to provoke some brainwashed idiot follower into attempting what they themselves are regularly fantasizing about,” yammers The National Sentinel. “…When it happens, they will have blood on their hands and will have earned our enduring ire. And vengeance.” Wow, they’ve already planned out their retaliatory killing spree for the assassination plot they fantasized! That’s insane -- but, you must admit, efficient.

“Move over Kathy Griffin, these actors stabbed President Trump in their rendition of ‘Julius Caesar,’” cries Rare; “First, it was Kathy Griffin's brutal depiction of herself holding a bloody severed head of President Donald Trump; now New York's Shakespeare in the Park” etc., bandwagons Newsmax. “Week After Kathy Griffin ‘Beheads’ Trump, He Is ‘Stabbed To Death’ In NY Play,” scrawls SarahPalin.com. I wonder if their followers even remember who Kathy Griffin is? It's been a whole week.

Some of the brethren attempted to engage the play itself, which was a terrible mistake. Onan Coca of Constitution.com:
Are the people who put on Shakespeare in the Park arguing that if someone were to murder the President they should be hailed for defending the United States, as Marc Antony hailed Brutus for defending Rome?
“Brutus is an honorable man” was our Intro to Irony when I was in middle school, yet Coca seems to have missed it. Maybe she was homeschooled.

Naturally there’s a lot of whataboutism, e.g. Eagle Rising: “If someone had done this with Barack Obama, the Left would have wanted to jail everyone involved.” Well, they have done it, see, but in their own argot -- our art forms are literature, drama, opera, etc. whereas wingnuts' are tractor pulls, roadside stands, and Ted Nugent.

Also, though I haven’t seen this production, I’m gonna take a leap of faith and say that the point Oskar Eustis et alia were trying to make was not “Kill Trump.” But trying to talk actual culture to culture warriors is like trying to teach a dog algebra. Speaking of which, Teressa Monroe-Hamilton at Right Wing News:
I fail to see parallels between the Roman dictator and Trump. Wasn’t it Barack Obama who had the Greek/Roman pillars behind him as he ascended to the Presidency? I think they have their presidents confused.
I can imagine Monroe-Hamilton saying, “How can Nurse Ratched be the villain of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? She’s dressed as a nurse!”

(I hope they have plans for a boycott -- it'll make it easier for my friends back home to get good seats.)

UPDATE. Sorry, the links weren't working earlier -- have just fixed them.

Monday, June 05, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...on, in roundup fashion, Kathy Griffin, the Paris Accord pullout, and the London Bridge attacks. Among the director's-cut bonuses: alt-right dummy Jack Posobiec explaining why terrorists don't bomb Fritters, Alabama:


Yeah, suicide bombers don't go to car races because they're afraid they might get hurt. At this point it's a given that rightwing residents of America's hollers, junctions, falls, bluffs, and whatnot are terrorized by the exceedingly unlikely prospect that jihadis will come to the Father-Daughter Dance and blow them up, while those of who live in actual terror target towns keep calm and carry on. But it's still ridic.

By the way, I hear Wonder Woman broke $100 million at the box office last weekend, despite men being kept out of a few screenings. I notice Stephen Miller, the wingnut who said he was going to force himself on an Alamo Drafthouse all-female showing, hasn't declared victory, but who knows -- maybe he watched through a hole in the wall, like in Porky's.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

THE WIND AND THE LIARS.

Trump heaved America out of the Paris accords, and propagandists are hard at work manufacturing reasons why this isn't plain stupid and belligerent. At National Review Charles Two Initials Cooke argues, like a lot of his fellow conservatives, that it's good because blar har u stupid liberals; but, since he is an British-accented American conservative, he must preserve his snob appeal to remain marketable, so Cooke is never so crude -- he goes ahem like one of them English butlers and quietly suggests maybe this climate business isn't quite a "hoax" but, sadly, liberals make it impossible to solve with "the hysteria that grips this topic":
For far too many environmentalists, disagreement with their coveted remedies – or even their nonbinding accords! — is akin to “denial” of the ailment per se. Thus to oppose, say, a carbon tax is to be accused of “hating science”; to dislike the Paris Accord is to be “pro-coal”; and to propose that we are just as likely to lower emissions sustainably by replacing traditional methods of energy procurement with fracking or nuclear power as to give carte blanche to Tom Steyer is to be a wannabe killer of Indonesian kids...
We conservatives are rather fond of the environment ourselves; though we oppose all legislation associated with it, we demonstrate our affection by sending our children to Africa to kill large animals. Yet you have the audacity, sir, to call us child-murderers -- the citation is around here somewhere, never mind, you know what you did -- so we are obliged to support The Leader's gibberish.
Today we are being told simultaneously that the Paris Accord wasn’t worth leaving because it was non-binding — that, in the words of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, it does “LITERALLY NOTHING” — and that leaving it is a major blow to the survival of our species. When these are the choices, it’s unsurprising that people who have more nuanced views choose instead to go to the pub.
Hayes didn't say it does nothing -- he said it imposes nothing, which is not the same as no agreement, any more than a mission statement means to hell with it, let's all go home. Cooke is disingenuous, but you have to admit he's not hysterical. (Oh, the pub, ha ha! Did I tell you he's British?)

One other thing:
That this [liberal strawman] is a farcical way of looking at the question becomes obvious if we transpose the setting of the debate. Imagine, by way of example, if anyone who agreed that ISIS was a threat was informed that they had therefore to acquiesce to an invasion of Syria. Would they not laugh? And imagine if that person, having expressed opposition to the idea of an invasion, was then told that they “didn’t care” about ISIS. How, I wonder, would we expect them to react?
Those of us who were called traitors for opposing the ridiculous Iraq invasion will find this rather rich, but we don't have to go back even that far: Here's that old neocon Fred Kagan just last March,  insisting that "The U.S. must therefore shift the focus of its efforts to southeastern Syria... we must send troops to fight alongside the tribes, first against ISIS, then ultimately against Al Qaeda, Assad, and the Iranians." Think the guys at National Review or at any other rightwing coven laugh at that? Indeed, if they could get up a party in Congress for a Syrian/Iran invasion, they'd be enlarging their flag pins and calling us all traitors for opposing them once again.

But that wouldn't be hysteria -- only liberals do that. It'd be patriotism. Similarly, the current brutish reaction by Trump to something about which he probably only knows 1.) sissy tree-huggers like it, 2.) the Republicans whose consent he needs to grift don't mind if he kills it, and 3.) most importantly, it was done by Obama and therefore must be destroyed -- that isn't hysteria, either. It's -- what is it, David French? Ah, here: "Trump Defends the Constitution and the Economy." Trump surely doesn't know what's in the Constitution, and would probably cite the No Fat Chicks Clause if asked what part applies here, but if he does anything opposed by liberals, even that Old NeverTrump Gang will put up a statue of him clutching a copy of The Federalist Papers. In the age of Trump, heedless, belligerent opposition is their only remaining standard for virtuous conduct.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

UP TO A POINT, LORD FARTER.

I've been laughing at the collapse of conservative NeverTrumpism for a while now, and it never gets any less funny. Check out Jonah Goldberg trying to reason with Dennis Prager -- I know! Funny already, right? -- because Prager accused NeverTrumpers of purity policing. Talk about the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible! Prager barks at the wets that "Trump, with all his flaws, is our general. If this general is going to win, he needs the best fighters"; Goldberg clears his throat and pipes up, finger aloft, "Donald Trump is literally no one’s general, because the president isn’t a general." Aaaagh! It's like Pee-Wee and Francis. And we haven't even got to Goldberg's objection to "another problematic turn of phrase" by Prager (and try to imagine any of Prager's yak qualifying as a 'turn of phrase' rather than as, say, a spume of stupid) -- that is, that NTs have a "utopian streak," to which Goldberg rejoins, basically, nuh-uh (and of course farrrrrt).

Vanitas, vanitas: This is just the rightwing version of virtue-signaling. As I've shown in the past, Goldberg is only NeverTrump up to a point -- the point where it becomes obvious that Trump is doing everything conservatives want and the only worry for such as Goldberg is that he isn't making it look nice and patty-cake, like something he can be House Intellectual of. When Goldberg gets too close to that point, he farts and stammers out gibberish like "What worries me about the nascent Trump administration is that he is making it difficult to defend Trump on the merits." Similarly he has to treat Prager like a misguided comrade ("If Dennis had used the phrase 'culture war' or some such, I think he’d be entirely right") in order to maintain the fiction that they are still united in a "movement" rather than competing for whatever rich donors and brutish Snopeses they can bamboozle into entering their pigeon coop.

Another up-to-a-point man is Jay Caruso, who sometimes says mean things about Trump but still has to make excuses. Today Trump continued paying off his Moscow enablers by starting to return two spy compounds Obama had seized from them. Everyone sees and everyone knows, but here's Caruso:
Trump Administration May Return Seized Russian Compounds Proving Nobody Over There Understands Optics

Almost anybody with a cursory familiarity with politics understands the value of optics. When something looks bad, people are going to think it’s bad.
If only the Trump people knew how this would look! Cut to Sergei Lavrov sneering at reporters about the firing of James Comey, then going backstage to laugh his ass off with Trump and Kislyak. Champ, these people don't care how it looks. If anything, they want people to see how little they care how it looks, so they'll get discouraged and stop caring themselves.

Their little tut-tuts ain't doing shit. But then, they don't want them to.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the conservative male rage over female-only Wonder Women shows.  It's a small thing but very typical of the new conservatism which, as I mention in the column, appears to eschew normal conservative politics (which Trump has rendered embarrassing) in favor of culture-war bullshit.

Monday, May 29, 2017

HELP WITH A TROLL, PLEASE.

After a blessed interval, we've been getting more offensive (and quickly removed) comments from a particularly persistent, foul-mouthed and stupid troll who for years has had it in for someone named "Frank" or "Francis," presumably a reader of this blog. I'm preparing to have this piece of shit taken care of once and for all, and need some background data. Please leave in comments or email/PM me. Thanks.

Friday, May 26, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


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

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

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

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

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