Thursday, August 30, 2018


David French is always awful but lately he's really been outdoing himself. First there was his article in The Atlantic (har) about how both the right and the left were giving him and his wife a hard time about the little black girl they picked up in Ethiopia. On the right, there was the kind of neo-Nazi viciousness that we've all come to expect from the conservative avant-garde -- racial slurs, gas chamber imagery, the works.

On the left? Under Obama the IRS audited people like French who took the adoption tax credit -- never mind that the IRS had legitimate fraud concerns with it (refundable tax credits are a particular risk, something conservatives like to point out when the refundable credit is, say, the Earned Income Tax Credit), and French apparently kept his deduction. But that's not all: French also heard what he perceived as unkind words from lefties -- not racial slurs, but scholarship! Kathryn Joyce wrote a "blistering attack on the evangelical adoption movement, claiming that the adoption industry was rife with corruption," which to those of us who've gotten a load of evangelicals lately is like, yeah that makes sense, but to French it just means more persecution: "We quickly discovered that if you’re the white parents of an adopted black child, and you’re in the public eye at all, men and women will viciously criticize you for having the audacity to believe that you can raise your kid."

Joyce has kicked French's ass pretty good on this, but no one will care, as French is taking his The Left Was Mean To My Little Black Child act on the road:

If you want to know what the hell BLM has to do with any of this, you too are being mean to his widdle girl.

Also, French has leapt onto the Impeach Pope Francis bandwagon. (He even demands that the Pope "cooperate fully with impartial investigators," at which anyone with even a glancing acquaintance with the history of the One Holy Catholic & Apostolic will LOL.) Rod Dreher has of late been devoting the full flow of his logorrhea to this cause, obviously because he perceives Francis as insufficiently gay-hating to lead the Church of which he was briefly a member; also I expect Dreher dreams of one day being named both Grand Patriarch of his current religion and Pope, in a sort of SCTV Man Who Would Be King Of The Popes scenario. As for French, his shtick is to compare Francis to Donald Trump. I shit you not:
If a person becomes more powerful, does his character matter less? Or more? Increasingly, it seems, the answer from partisans is resounding and unmistakeable.
It’s less. It’s so much less that it’s doubtful character matters at all. 
You think I’m talking about Donald Trump, don’t you?... 
For more than two years now, progressives have been screaming to conservatives that the truth matters. Character matters. You cannot — must not — turn a blind eye to real wrongdoing, even when the stakes seem high. In other words, after selling out to protect Bill Clinton in 1998...
Oh yeah. Francis is like Bill Clinton, too, because of liberal hypocrisy. (French even uses the line, "Is that the progressive Christian version of 'But Gorsuch'?")

The upshot is, one of the made men of the Church has accused Francis of shielding one of the big pedo Cardinals, and French and all the wingnuts are beating pots and pans for Francis' ouster. Because the big liberal units like the New York Times have not joined them in beating said pots and pans, they are pedo-Pope Francis' enablers ("They’ll even overlook sex abuse — until the cry of the victims is too great to be ignored").

Me, I left the Church long ago, and we who have free souls, it touches us not. Still I marvel that these non-Catholics are so exercised. The clergy were fucking altar boys 24/7 throughout the reigns of Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and back then wingnuts were content to mutter about This Fallen World etc.; now they demand to impeach the Pope. It reminds me that conservatives see everything as a means to their own power; hell, that's why Steve Bannon is waddling around Europe, trying to rev up every local Bund he can get to, and sweetening the deal for credulous reporters with dirt on celebrities. It's also why they oppose doing anything about climate change -- rather than admit any advantage to scientists (who, being intellectuals, they associate with cursed intellectuals and thus with cursed liberals), they'd rather see the Earth fry and rule the cinder. Well, humanity had a good run; I'm nearly out of the game, but leave my sympathies for your poor kids.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


I recently noticed that one of my 2017 tweets -- about a fanciful story by one of my favorite subjects, White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito -- was suddenly getting a lot of play. Then I saw new Twitter threads and old stories suggesting Zito is, how you say, full of shit. People began making fun of her now-infamous gas station anecdotes. Also she's being defended by Bethany Mandel, which, like the appearance of a famous mob mouthpiece at a gangland trial, is not probative but certainly suggestive.

Let me state for the record that, in my coverage of Zito's writing, I've never accused her of fabrication. I have observed that many pronouncements she attributes to her allegedly salt-of-the-earth subjects sound a mite canned ("It took me a while to realize those words weren’t theirs, but skillfully crafted sentences that had been massaged and focus-group tested by a full staff of speechwriters and strategists..."); in fact even her paraphrases sound too good to be true. Also, I noticed her referring to Republicans as Democrats for apparent conversion-narrative purposes back in 2016, a tendency for which the new jacks have found more examples.

Which is hilarious, but kind of beside the point. When I'm not regaling you good people here and at the Voice I work on trade publications ("It's a living" -- bird on The Flintstones), and I can assure you that, in that homely branch of journalism, attributions are taken very seriously. But I know pundits like Zito get a lot more slack -- hence the Alan Bromleys and Friedman cab drivers of the world, dispensing unverifiable swear-to-Gods in the service of verisimilitude. I can't imagine any reader of even normal intelligence will fail to hear the clang of poorly-written dialogue any time one of these writers' simulacra speaks. They'll believe if their need to do so is great enough, in which case no Twitter expose is going to change their minds.

So Zito's alleged journalistic crimes I take in stride. If anything I've been much more amused by her sneakiness -- like using a rich surgeon's family as an example of down-to-earth Trumpiness ("On the wall, she was adamant: 'Build it'") by referring to them as "upper-middle-class suburban voters who live in a blue-collar, upper-middle-class exurb," which is almost adorable, like seeing a melting ice cream cone dripping behind the back of a kid who's trying to pretend he didn't steal it. I'm also impressed by how committed Zito is to her Trumpkin shtick-- even allowing herself to look dumb and incoherent in defense of The Leader's gibberish (and, when the jig is up, she knows how to diminish expectations on his behalf -- this act can travel!). Not to mention the (to me) most important fact: that, even by the slithering standards of rightwing propaganda, she's a God-awful writer. But I'm a terrible cynic; your mileage, and that of the nation's editors, may vary.

Monday, August 27, 2018


...about the Manafort and Cohen stuff and conservative desperation to make it look like either a.) no big deal or b.) a gross injustice against some Republicans who are definitely not criminals -- at least not criminal enough to actually face justice for it!

I kept it short and left some popular tropes unexamined -- for example, conservatives' newfound distaste for snitches; my favorite example is Michelle Malkin (now there's a blast from the past!) saying, hey guys you know what, "Let's Join Together to Stop Out-of-Control Prosecutors" because now we've all got a stake in it -- you liberals want to protect the poor and under-represented from being railroaded, and I want to protect Donald Trump! (For an actual good-faith argument against over-reliance on jailhouse snitches, see Popehat.) And then there's Jenna Ellis at the Washington Examiner, giving us the benefit of her penological expertise:
In any other context that wasn’t so politically charged, most juries see right through this. How many crime dramas and movies depict the all-too-common “jailhouse snitch” that is a star witness for the prosecution, and then his story falls apart because he’s doing it just for his own benefit?
Don't worry, when they send Trump to prison he can hide the tunnel he's drilling behind a poster of Rita Hayworth.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

JOHN McCAIN, 1936-2018.

A lot of reactions to the death of John McCain have been bitterly negative -- and even when they speak well of him it comes with demurrers. I understand that: McCain was a great advocate of the senseless Iraq War, and a foreign policy belligerent in general; he also foisted on us Sarah Palin, the progenitor of the trend toward wingnut kabuki GOP candidates that got us Trump. And he left a series of fuck-yous to decent democratic governance that persisted right down to the end.

I would say in his defense that, for a mainstream politician in our low, mean age, he could have been much worse. When George W. Bush smoked McCain in 2000, it wasn't the black baby bullshit that did it; that never would have made a difference if W. hadn't bought off the fundamentalists, and he wouldn't have bought off the fundies if they hadn't tumbled that Bush was as corrupt and vicious as they were. (We see in their current embrace of Trump just how low they've always been.) McCain couldn't even pretend to make that sale. To me that's a big point in his favor.

Also, McCain had strict limitations on what he could get voters to accept, notwithstanding his famous bravery in the face of detention and torture during the Vietnam War. (Americans affect to love their vets, but for the most part haven't given them much advantage at the polls unless they share their principles -- or, as in the case of Tom Cotton, lack of same.) While, for example, I understand why Vox's Jennifer Williams finds McCain's legislative stance on torture "complicated" -- leaving wiggle room as it did for CIA depredations -- I would answer that for any Republican to go as far as he did then was extraordinary, and now that he's gone it's unimaginable.

Picking Palin was a crime, for sure. When I think of that, though, I think of McCain's concession speech on Election Night 2008 -- thumbnail-covered by me here -- and his rueful reference to "the most challenged campaign of modern times." I look back at the crowd for that speech. I referred to them at the time as a "gang of angry honkies," and I remember thinking they wanted more of something a lot more primal and sick than McCain was willing to give them, then or ever. You can see those people now in the slavering crowds at Trump rallies. They were the deluge that came after.

Friday, August 24, 2018


I love how Greil Marcus writes and his most recent item is no exception, 
but let it be said he also makes good music recommendations, 
and Tropical Fuck Storm is a case in point.

Times today:
WASHINGTON — In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details.

But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence.

The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground amid more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent...

Senior intelligence officials, including Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, have warned that Russians are intent on subverting American democratic institutions.

But American intelligence agencies have not been able to say precisely what are Mr. Putin’s intentions: He could be trying to tilt the midterm elections, simply sow chaos or generally undermine trust in the democratic process.
They're going to try and hack voting machines, and the Republicans are making it easy for them. I hope every Democratic election official is on high alert; the rest of us should be paying attention, too.

• The Federalist has been working so hard for Trump I'm surprised they haven't sued him for unpaid labor. (Or many it's not unpaid. Who does fund The Federalist?) "The Massive Lies Of Past Presidents Make Trump Look Honest" is a bothsider classic, but amazingly it's not even their worst toady this week. Robert Tracinski, ladies and germs:
Here Comes That Clinton Impeachment Rerun You Asked For
The Trump sex payoff scandal looks just like 1998, except that the two parties have traded places so everyone can look totally dishonest and hypocritical

...Michael Cohen has ratted out Donald Trump and admitted to paying off porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up her tryst with Trump. The most important thing is that he says the payoff was made at Trump’s “direction” and “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.” That makes it a campaign finance law violation, and it makes Trump complicit. And that has Democrats now howling for impeachment.

If any of this sounds familiar, consider the parallels to the Clinton impeachment, as I laid them out earlier this year. Everything looks pretty much the same as 1998, but with Republican and Democrat partisans on the exact opposite sides from where they were 20 years ago.
Hold up a bit, Bob -- let's go back to that "paying off porn star" bit; I don't remember Clinton doing that. And while "Arkansas mafia" was a figurative term used by crackpots, the Russian and stateside mafia Trump plays with are all too real. Oh, and wait till Pecker opens up the vault, Bob! You're gonna have to fall back on the Dana Loesch defense that it's nothing Al Capone didn't do.

• I understand everyone's experience is different and that interference with a minor is unacceptable no matter which genders are involved. But I have to say I remember 17-year-old me pretty well, and can say with certainty that if Asia Argento had sex with 17-year-old me I would mainly feel bad that I came so quick.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


It's been a while since I looked in on the White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito. I didn't expect her to have changed her shtick -- confirming the WWC's Trump love via quotes from unrevealed Republican operatives and millionaires, and with gibberish -- and I can report she hasn't, but she has gotten lazier.

The headline is -- who could have predicted? --"Why Trump’s supporters won’t care about Cohen and Manafort’s convictions," and Zito gets right to it with quotes from "a woman in her mid-40s who lives in a tidy suburban enclave just outside of Columbus, Ohio," which I will reproduce in their entirety:
“For decades I have been inspired by aspiring politicians and elected officials who took to the podium or the camera and delivered poetic speeches to earn my trust and my support. They would sway me with expressive words and artfully delivered promises... 
“It took me a while to realize those words weren’t theirs, but skillfully crafted sentences that had been massaged and focus-group tested by a full staff of speechwriters and strategists.”
Sounds perfectly natural, don't it? Zito must have been short of quote marks this week, or exhausted her subject's capacity for complex sentences, because thereafter she mostly paraphrases:
Along comes Trump in 2016. She cannot abide anything he tweets, finds his speeches a stream of consciousness that is hard to unscramble and considers his morals in the gutter. She reluctantly voted for him and knows she will vote for him again, something she admits even surprises her. 
Why does he hold her support? 
He delivers results. 
“It’s just that simple.”
She mentions the tax reform bill, the remaking of the judiciary, how he has repealed regulations that have improved the economic conditions in the state, both of his picks for the Supreme Court and his unflinching manner in taking on the establishment wings of both political parties as her reasons.
This tidy Ohio suburbanite sounds fascinating, unusually erudite and very up on her politics! One hopes to hear more about her, but alas:
The woman shudders as she imagines what kind of problems she would encounter if she gave her name, so she declines.
The wrath of her tidy Ohio suburb would descend on her, I guess -- maybe she'd get a bad table at the church bazaar. So we'll just have to take Zito's word for it that she exists as something other than a flak from the local GOP or figment of her imagination. And why wouldn't we? (Hmm, "just outside of Columbus, Ohio" -- maybe it's J.D. Vance in a dress?)

UPDATE: LOL -- "Facebook Censors Articles From Salena Zito, Jenna Lynn Ellis, Saying They 'Look Like Spam.'" Spam is polite word for it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Despite myself, today's news had me the tiniest bit hopeful, until I saw this...

...and then I remembered nothing has really changed. It's not that Stephens is an idiot, though he is -- it's that, as a Times-credentialed wingnut, he has just enough room to take a Brave Moral Stand that looks good through the Mr. Magoo glasses of New York Times readers but will not affect his livelihood or anything else, which is precisely why he's doing it. That is, Bret Stephens calling for impeachment is a clear sign that impeachment isn't a possibility. If it were, imagine him daring to be the one to first push the teetering boulder off the cliff!

Besides, you know if impeachment were to become a possibility -- that is, if we are actually able to head off the epic voter suppression surge that we can expect from the GOP in November and get enough Democrats in Congress with some guts to do it -- Stephens would hem and haw and go back to talking about how Trump is just "Obama squared," so really he supposes they can get rid of him if they want, so long as we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and stray from our flight path to war with Iran.

While Trump caught paying hush money to hide his affairs from the electorate sounds like grounds for impeachment to you and me, especially by the Clinton blowjob metrics, Republicans in Congress are already explaining why it's no big deal. No Stephensonian Brave Moral Stand is going to change them. We just have to beat them, and then plug our ears to their blubbering about civility while we swing the axe.

Monday, August 20, 2018


...about conservative claims that the working press is trying to doxx Manafort jurors. We talk a lot about the wacky Qanon-Pizzagate conspiracy theorizing that's spreading on the right; this Paranoid Style Revival seems to have infected more conservative writers than I previously thought. They've often clustered around ridiculous, unfounded ideas in the past -- remember when the Knockout Game was sweeping the country? -- but the notion that reporters would want the names and addresses of interview-worthy subjects in order to subject them to mob justice has the smell of alt-right lunacy about it.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Been in my head all week, is why.

•  The Pennsylvania Catholic Church abuse scandal is grim indeed, though when I read Rod Dreher on the subject, portraying it as a sort of Day The Music Died ("my friend, a tough-guy lawyer, wrote to tell me that he wept in his office. He said, 'I am at the end'"), I have to ask: In the brief time he spent as a Catholic, did he not read any Church history? The stateside sex abuse has been a live story for decades, but the One Holy & Apostolic has been corrupt as hell for centuries. If you believe in the Church, it must be because God called you to it, not because you think the depravity of Man ceases once he crosses the threshold of a cathedral. Anyway, the silver lining is some of the worst writing Megan McArdle has ever done. Here's a sample, and I hope you have your Bad Analogy filter on:
According to news reports, the church hierarchy in Pennsylvania and beyond has already denied Christ’s gospel three times: once when it sheltered predators in silence; once when it failed to remove everyone who was involved in covering up any crime; and again when two of the six dioceses involved tried to shut down the grand jury investigation that produced the report. Now they face the same choice Peter did.
I should say the comparison with child molesters is a bit hard on Peter, who only let a bit of social anxiety run away with him after a rough night.
They can offer the full record of faithlessness in abject penitence, witnessing for repentance and redemption even at risk of martyrdom. Or they can deny Him a fourth time by minimizing the past and protecting those who helped maintain that grisly silence. Which is to say, they can choose to be a millstone around the neck of the faithful — or the rock on which the church can be rebuilt.
Aaaagh! And people think folk masses are corny.

•  You may have already seen what I expect will become a legendary column by Matt K. Lewis, "Did I Join a Movement That Naturally Attracts Extremists and Kooks?" This soggier-than-most I've Made a Huge Mistake, Trump regrets dreamboard is funny for many reasons: First, because Lewis is a tool in general; second,  because up till recently Lewis was writing columns like "Amy Coney Barrett, the Trump Supreme Court Pick Who’ll Troll Liberals the Hardest" ("Jurisprudence, schmuriprudence. She’s under 50, devoutly Catholic, has seven kids, and she’ll make the libs crazy. Good enough for me"). He's like a dumb hood who, having been cheerfully knocking over liquor stores and joyriding in stolen cars for months, discovers immediately upon arrest that he's been misled by false friends.  But third and most hilariously, get this:
I grew up with (and signed on for) Reagan’s version of conservatism. In recent years, I have become disenchanted—not with the intellectual philosophy of Edmund Burke or the governing philosophy of Ronald Reagan—but with what passes for conservatism today.
I wonder what Lewis would say if you asked him what conservative principles Burke supported -- probably either "He didn't like the French Revolution" or "Jonah Goldberg says he's conservative." As for Reagan, it may be asking a lot of Lewis to connect the Gipper's trickle-down bullshit with the reign of the 1%, but if he's going to pretend to convert he might at least look at the prayerbook. As it stands, his act is like any other NeverTrumper's: to repurpose an aging joke, he and they say they never dreamed the Leopards Eating People's Faces Party would eat anyone's face, and it must be the fault of all the Face-Eating Leopards who inexplicably showed up.

•  Speaking of hot takes on the Church scandal, here's Michael Walsh at American Greatness:
I cannot say for certain when the rot set in, but I can say when my disillusionment first set in: with Vatican II and the papal reigns of John XXIII and Paul VI... some of the outward changes [John] and Paul instituted in the Church -- the abandonment of the Latin rite was one that most affected this altar boy -- seemed arbitrary and superfluous; we would have called them “virtue signaling” today.
The author of Humanae Vitae as a limousine liberal! I can imagine an ancestor of Walsh sighing that it all really went downhill when the Church stopped torturing heretics. Also:
...the French Revolution’s violent destruction of the ancient regime was as much directed against the Church as it was against the monarchy. To this day, laïcité is one of the French Republic’s guiding principles, and it’s no accident that into the Gallic spiritual void left by ostracized Christianity has rushed recrudescent Islam. Satan, like Nature, abhors a vacuum.
To help fight off the pervs and Satanic Muslims, Walsh calls for "a restoration of the Latin rite," which I'm sure goes down a treat with American Greatness' Throne and Altar readership, though I expect the younger set who are abandoning churchgoing in general will find it more evidence they've made the right choice.

ARETHA, 1942-2018.

Nothing like her. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


I guess you heard about "Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle." Said uncle, David S. Glosser, talks about Wolf-Leib Glosser from Belarus -- a mutual ancestor of himself and the xenophobic Trump flunky Miller — and how he came through Ellis Island with no more credentials for entry than have the immigrants of today, and what would have happened to him if someone like Miller had been around to shut them out:
I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family likely would have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.
Stepping up to answer Glosser is rightwing free speech martyr #276 Kevin D. Williamson, who at National Review sniffs Hypocrisy, ha, I put sneer quotes on your "hypocrisy"! and proceeds to tell this sentimental descendant of Holocaust escapees how small the story of Wolf-Leib Glosser is compared to Kevin D. Williamson's expansive view of history:
Miller’s ancestors immigrated to the United States. Every living American is either an immigrant or had immigrant ancestors. For that matter, every human being dwelling in North America, and every one who ever has, is either an immigrant or a child of immigrants, humans not being native to the continent, or to any other continent but Africa, the significance of which ought to be obvious to any Homo even half sapiens. By the Glosser standard, everybody who supports immigration restrictions is a “hypocrite.” (That’s how you know it is kind of a stupid standard.)
See, Glosser, your ancestor and his murdered coevals are not so special -- we're all immigrants, really. (And those coevals' deaths aren't so meaningful either because, hey, everybody dies!) Believe it or not, Williamson decides to gild this lulu:
By the same standard, everybody who thinks that living like a caveman is sub-optimal is a hypocrite, too: What, it was good enough for your ancestors! If it weren’t for grub-eating, head-bonking, and casual cannibalism, you wouldn’t even be here!
Boy, the Atlantic really missed a trick there, huh?

Monday, August 13, 2018


...about the conservative elevation of Alex Jones to a hero of free speech. It is extremely rare for conservatives to defend users of speech rights with whom they do not agree, and I am extremely unconvinced that they all suddenly got religion on behalf of Jones in an ecumenical, Voltairean spirit.

Friday, August 10, 2018


There are some good modern versions of this with better sound,
but I love how wonderfully
sleazy this 1958 original is.

• It's hilarious -- but not surprising -- that conservatives are defending Alex Jones from the private companies that dumped him on free speech grounds. Look at this nav bar from National Review's front page:

Also at NR: "Don't Ban Alex Jones," "Are We to Blame for the Alex Jones Problem?" ("we" being "America," not "rightwingers who benefit from his Overton shifting"), etc. Interestingly, while conservatives used to cry "censorship" in the cases of James Damore and Brendan Eich, they also usually stuck in grumbling asides admitting that of course businesses had a right to associate or disassociate will whomever they liked (usually without mentioning the exception of protected classes -- perhaps reminding themselves that black people made the cut and they didn't was too bitter to bear). But they're less likely to mention it now -- maybe because, as I mentioned at the Voice the other day, conservatives are increasingly comfortable with the idea of regulating internet companies so they can't bounce Nazis and crackpots like Jones.  They would not admit that's why they're doing it, of course  -- nearly every one of their pieces has some blahblah about how awful Jones is, and that this is all about principle. But I haven't seen these guys rush to the defense of alt-right social network Gab, which just got muscled by Microsoft to dump some straight-up Nazi, anti-Semitic shit they had up there if they wanted to keep using their Azure servers to publish. (Gab posted some anti-Semitic shit of their own on Twitter before the Gab poster withdrew his posts.)  Surely conservatives should be denouncing this persecution of the Gab Nazis and their free-speech rights by the evil liberal corporation -- yet I haven't heard a word from them. Maybe they figure they have to work on normalizing Alex Jones for a while before they wrap their protective arms around the Fourth Reich.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018


Some social media companies have finally decided to tell Alex Jones to get stuffed and, wouldn't you know it, prominent conservatives are demanding a mistrial on the grounds of You Didn't Say Simon Says. National Review's David French, in the gaw-damn New York Times:
Apple said it “does not tolerate hate speech.” Facebook accused Mr. Jones of violating policies against “glorifying violence” or using “dehumanizing language..." 
These policies sound good on first reading, but they are extraordinarily vague. We live in times when the slightest deviation from the latest and ever-changing social justice style guide is deemed bigoted and, yes, “dehumanizing"...
French is speaking on behalf of his own buddies who get thrown off other people's internet property from time to time -- like Muslim-hating scream queen Pamela Geller and her Jihad Watch. French's defense of Pammycakes' hate-site: "It’s controversial, to be sure, but it is miles from The Daily Stormer." Oh well then.

Then French runs through the innamalectual dork web's greatest woe-is-me-I'm-a-victim hits ("Just ask Evergreen State College’s Bret Weinstein"), and, get this, tells Facebook et alia to use his own chosen standard when deciding whom to throw out:
The good news is that tech companies don’t have to rely on vague, malleable and hotly contested definitions of hate speech to deal with conspiracy theorists like Mr. Jones. The far better option would be to prohibit libel or slander on their platforms. 
To be sure, this would tie their hands more: Unlike “hate speech,” libel and slander have legal meanings. There is a long history of using libel and slander laws to protect especially private figures from false claims. It’s properly more difficult to use those laws to punish allegations directed at public figures, but even then there are limits on intentionally false factual claims.
This reminds me of a TV variety show sketch I saw as a kid, in which Paul Lynde and Martha Raye played show-biz types. "I'm only willing to do a nude scene," Raye said with her nose in the air, "if it has redeeming artistic qualities." After looking her up and down, Lynde replied, "Who asked ya?"

I mean, this is like if some asshole starts tearing up your house and, as you're pitching him out the door, he starts naming conditions under which he'd be willing to leave quietly. At that point you only hope that when you throw him off the stoop he lands on his head.

Douchebags like French, Glenn Reynolds ("This is absolutely the first stage in a coordinated plan to deplatform everyone on the right") and Ben Shapiro ("Suggest that Caitlyn Jenner is a man, and you might be violating crucial social-media 'hate speech' taboos") come swaggering up making demands like this because they're so accustomed to bullying cowards like the New York Times editorial board that they think, in any situation, all they have to do is yell YOU'RE DEPLATFORMING ME like Rudd yelling "Diplomatic immunity" in Lethal Weapon 2 and they'll get what they want. Guess what, guys: Revoked.

Monday, August 06, 2018


...about the conservative outrage over Sarah Jeong's white-people jokes. There were many contributions cut for lack of space -- as well as events that came too late for it, like alt-right black person Candace Owen's stunt of changing "white" to "Jewish" in Jeong's tweets to get Twitter to briefly suspend her. Victim status: Achieved! (No point explaining to her why it's more offensive to rag on Jews; she'll probably tell you that Hitler killed just as many white people.)

As you might imagine, there was lot of infantile rage over at Ace of Spades, including this lightly-disguised White Pride plaint:
The left's attempt to impose a new "Woke" Jim Crow caste system will result in the same sort of mass civil unrest that the last Jim Crow caste system did-- except that there's a lot more people they're trying to turn into an Untouchable caste, now.
You see a lot of this on Twitter, too:

I can picture these cowboys carefully laundering their Confederate flags in anticipation of the Civil War Rematch. ("Basil" appears to be Canadian, actually, but probably identifies with Worldwide Wypipo.)

They're even worse when they try to explain themselves. After denouncing Jeong's "racist... misandrist and heterophobic" tweets, Daniel Greenfield at FrontPageMag repeats a crime news story about April Epperson, a white lady running a Subway sandwich shop who threw a black guy out of her store and called him n*****, for which she was later fired. Epperson claims the black guy punched her (no evidence of that, though this video reveals a tussle when she grabbed the phone he was recording her with); Greenfield seems to take her at her word, and after he runs it through his grievance-processor it comes out tied to Jeong:
But who has more power, the new writer for the biggest and most influential paper in the country or a Subway manager? And who feels more threatened, a blogger getting nasty tweets or a woman being punched in the face by a man? 
Who has more power, Epperson or Jeong?  
It's easy to tell. Because Jeong will have a job despite tweeting multiple racist things about white people. While Epperson won't. Nor will anyone else hire her.
I don't know why Greenfield didn't just use the knockout game like every other race-obsessed wingnut. Oh, and Jeong's not the only one beating up the white lady:
That's why Obama has never been held accountable for his meeting with Farrakhan. It's why the Congressional Black Caucus, the Women's March leaders and other powerful leftist figures have gotten away with being racist and being anti-Semitic. It's why Sarah Jeong and the New York Times will get away with it too. 
How do these people even live, terrified of and hateful toward half of their fellow citizens?

Friday, August 03, 2018


Put on Lenny Kaye's first "Nuggets" compilation yesterday and, well,
I've been there ever since.

•  More proof that libertarians are simply the worst: At Reason Jesse Walker has an essay about some books on the Hollywood Blacklist that is somewhat moored to reality -- he accepts it existed, for one thing, and that it was bad, which is more than assholes like Jonah Goldberg can do. But there's a lot of otherhanding -- did you know pro-blacklist Hollywood hands suffered, too? -- and when he talks about the messages screen artists like Dalton Trumbo conveyed in their films before (and, behind fronts, during) the blacklist, he emits lulus like this:
Communism that's been translated into Hollywood terms doesn't always look so red on the screen. As the independent historian Bill Kauffman once commented, when communist filmmakers had to work "within studio straightjackets," they often "channeled their work into 'populist' avenues (the small banker fighting the big banks, the lone man against the crowd) and wound up sounding libertarian." 
When was the last time you saw a libertarian attack a bank?
Take 1958's Terror in a Texas Town, a Western best known today for a gloriously weird showdown that pits a gunman against a man armed with a whaling harpoon. Here the blacklisted Trumbo (working behind a front) wrote a story in which a wealthy businessman used both private violence and a corrupt government to seize property from independent farmers. I can see why a Marxist would like the movie, but a Randian might appreciate it too. Who exactly was subverting whom?
Yeah, if Dalton Trumbo were alive today, he'd be calling for the end of Social Security and letting paupers sell their kidneys for money. Also, Walker's thesis is that the real message of the blacklist is censorship by"public-private partnership," and compares it, naturally enough, to the political muscling of social media companies today. I just wrote a bit about that -- Republicans and alt-rightists coming after Twitter and Facebook to get them to privilege conservatives, with Republicans holding actual hearings on Facebook. Guess what Walker uses as an example, though?
In the Trump era, the target of choice for people worried about foreign subversion—and other disfavored speech, from "fake news" to sex ads—is social media. "You created these platforms, and now they're being misused," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) told representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter during last year's hearings on Russian activities during the 2016 election. "And you have to be the ones who do something about it—or we will." 
As tech companies create ever-more-intrusive rules about what can and can't be said using their products, threats like Feinstein's clearly play a substantial role in their decision making.
Remember, kids: a libertarian is just a Republican with social anxieties.

•  So you go to the New York Times and see this hed and dek...
Need a Politics Cleanse? Go Ahead and Treat Yourself.
Overwhelmed by current events? You can skip a few weeks without losing track of the plot.
...and think, ah, more mush for the toffs and would-bes, okay how bad can it be?
Using “feeling thermometers” — ...
...the quantitative measure of how warmly people feel toward others — the researchers found that we don’t care much for rabid partisans, even if we agree with them. Why? In their words, “Although some Americans are politically polarized, more simply want to avoid talking about politics"...
So feel free to go on about politics all you want — to your cat. Forever.
You don't to elicit the wrong feeling-thermometer temperature and be unpopular, do you? So do the politics-cleanse this guy recommends "for two weeks — maybe over your August vacation" -- because everybody gets two weeks in August, don't they, Times fans? -- and "when you find yourself thinking about politics, distract yourself with something else. (I listen to  Bach cantatas, but that’s not for everybody.)" That's where I really begin to really mistrust this guy. More:
This is hard to do, of course, but not impossible. You just have to plan ahead and stand firm. Think of it as ideological veganism. On the one hand, your friends will think you’re a little wacky. On the other hand, you’ll feel superior to them. 
Haw! He shore knows his libtard audience alright! So filled with gratitude will the Times readers be for this latest life hack -- because, come to think of it, shutting out all that child-stealing and treasury-looting and democracy-destroying might give their skin a nice, healthy glow again -- they won't bother to look at the byline:
by Arthur C. Brooks
Mr. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.
Well, I can imagine why he wants to get Times readers to give up on politics! The chutzpah high-point: Brooks tells us to focus on ideas rather than politics and adds, "They aren’t the same thing. Ideas are like the climate, whereas politics is like the weather." If you don't know why that's funny, take a look at the American Enterprise Institute's "climate change" page. Sample item: "On Earth Day, let’s appreciate fossil fuels." Thanks, pal!

•  Oh, and of course the twitter-sputter over Sarah Jeong is exactly the bad-faith bullshit that The Verge called it out as, and good for them. I am an elderly white man, and I find Jeong's allegedly monstrous tweets amusing, especially when waved as bloody shirts by idiots like Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher. How I wish I could be lionized for my toleration of Jeong, the way black conservatives are always celebrated for approving of white reactionaries! But no one on God's green earth -- including Sullivan, Dreher and the rest of them -- really considers her tweets a genuine threat to white folks. In fact you get the impression that what animates the haters is not Jeong but the white people who aren't going along with the gag by pretending to be offended -- here's Sullivan, agape at the race-traitors (or should I say race-fifth columnists):
Scroll through left-Twitter and you find utter incredulity that demonizing white people could in any way be offensive. That’s the extent to which loathing of and contempt for “white people” is now background noise on the left.
Nobody knows the trouble he's seen. But what is the trouble, really? Are mobs of Korean-Americans going to hunt down honkies for a knockout game? All Sullivan's got is this:
What many don’t seem to understand is that their view of racism isn’t shared by the public at large, and that the defense of it by institutions like the New York Times will only serve to deepen the kind of resentment that gave us Trump.
This Is What Gave Us Trump -- the last refuge of the neo-scoundrel!  The whole thing's got Sullivan retweeting #WalkAway tweets like some Trumpkin rageclown, a position to which he will certainly convert fully by 2020. Even worse (and that takes some doing) is Lord Saletan:
The problem with speaking coarsely about whites or men isn't that they're in danger. They aren't. The problem is that when you talk this way, you corrupt yourself.
You're only hurting yourselves! Somewhere Margaret Dumont is miffed Saletan stole her bit.

Thursday, August 02, 2018


If you see less of me here than previously, overwork at my cott-damn job and sloth are only part of the reason. So many of the conservative tantrums I see in print or online these days are dull beyond imagining and it's often hard to get inspired. Trumpism has made many of the brethren lazy; remember when they felt obliged to construct elaborate fantasies to defend their stupid ideas -- for instance, that marriage makes you rich? I sort of miss those days. I recall they used to even promote actual policies that were almost as funny as their rages against Lena Dunham. but why bother to try and make it look good when the most overt rightwing grifting and racism are now national policy, and your comrades in the Q miasma are coming up with ever more outlandish conspiracy theories for you to believe in? In this environment even my usual punching bags like Jonah Goldberg have lost quite a bit of sawdust; I mean, look at this shit. You see my dilemma.

But there are some Trumpkins\ tropes that are worth recording if only for the historical record (though I suspect future generations will remember us mainly from Leibowitzian memorabilia). A major example is the I'm No Trump Voter But shtick. I normally refer to this in the context of Rod Dreher, who is constantly using it in "I'm no Trump fan, but"/ "I'm no Trump supporter, but"/ "I didn't vote for Trump, but" locutions. Here's a recent example:
Politically speaking, religious liberty is the most important issue to me. I wouldn’t rule out voting against Donald Trump in 2020, because some other issue was so urgent, and so important, that it justified voting against my religious liberty interests. But every time I start to think that, some progressive organizations will come out with statements that portray ordinary First Amendment backers like me as some sort of unique and horrible threat to decency.
Dreher's column starts out as a defense of Jeff Sessions' obviously anti-gay God Squad, which he starts defending by quoting sympathetic lefty milquetoasts. But when he runs out of those, he seems to realize all that's left for him is to defend it himself, which would make him look ridiculous; so he flips the table by talking about how libtards are making him, A Reasonable Conservative, vote for Trump, so there.

(For extra entertainment catch Dreher's update: "If your a liberal who can’t come up with anything more serious than, 'Christians are just mad that they can’t discriminate against blacks anymore' — seriously, this was one comment — then you shouldn’t waste your time commenting, because I’m not going to publish it." Sheesh, what a snowflake.)

Another fine example is John Kass' recent column at the Chicago Tribune, the news hook for which is Paul Manafort's trial. Kass takes Manafort's side, believe it or not ("Democrats are lathered up with the trial of this B-movie villain, this Manafort, whose alleged crimes took place long before he worked a few months for Trump"), and even quotes Mollie Hemningway, a hi-sign for Trump dead-enders. But, probably realizing (like Dreher) this tack will make him look stupid if he doesn't gussy it up somehow, Kass devotes most of his real estate to how the Media -- from which wingnut columnists always exempt themselves -- are dissing The Little People, and (everybody say it with me) This Is Why Trump Won. Kass declares himself Not A Trump Fan, of course -- "he wasn't my choice for president" -- but he kicks it up a notch by suggesting that even Trump's voters aren't Trump fans, either:
Many were shocked by Trump’s manner, by his bragging, his rude behavior, reference to his hand size, his boorishness, the way he treated women.

And still they voted for him. Why? Because they loathed the other side more. They loathed the establishment. They loathed the media. And their reservations about Trump were washed away by the laughter following Clinton’s “deplorables” line.
No wonder people seem so grumpy these days -- they all have a president that nobody wanted!

I've been trying to come up with a name for this line of guff. "Tsk-Tsk Trumpism" is one I like; @TelegramSam100 has offered "Trumpism Private Reserve (Not that yucky stuff the peasants drink)" ; @txoffender says "Trump Goggles." Any other ideas?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


I read that Washington Post "White, and In The Minority" story. Excerpt:
She went to him. They kissed and sat side by side, legs touching. Flipping through Facebook, she told him about the meeting, how uncomfortable it had been. 
“They don’t give a rat’s ass about people with white skin,” he said. 
She nodded, feeling better. This was exactly what she had needed. Someone who understood, and Venson always did. She first met him last July. For months, she had called over any mechanic — most of whom were white on her shift — repairing a nearby machine, just to have someone to talk to, and then one day it was Venson. He told her he’d gone to the same high school she had, and it felt so good to connect that they soon had a relationship going, one whose core was their shared experience at Bell & Evans.
“Half of them know English and they just don’t show it,” Venson continued, pulling on a cigarette. 
“They do,” she agreed, smoking her own. 
“You get pretty much overlooked,” he said. 
She sighed and leaned her head against his shoulder, feeling tired, and then the two of them were quiet as the trucks carting away the chicken rumbled off and the final minutes of their break ticked down to nothing.
Like many of you I've had it up to here with mainstream papers obsessing over the feelings of racist white Trumpkins.  Maybe in this instance I was just more responsive to reporter Terrence McCoy's craft, or to the specific literary pedigree markings of his story, but I really think his empathy for the disgruntled white folks working at Bell & Evans Plant #2 in Fredericksburg, Pennsyltucky, is humane and appropriate, and that he's not championing Heaven's and Venson's sad white-minority resentment as a serious point of view we're supposed to nod sagely over and try to make accommodations with for the sake of national unity -- you know, that way that idiot Margaret Renki did at the Times -- but simply showing us what's going on with these people, the way real writers can.

Nonetheless, as I expected, white supremacists have seized on the story on message boards --
If you are white,then YEP! You aren't allowed to be among your own people because that's RACIST! The government will FORCE DIEversity down your throat or force it with the barrel of a gun but you WILL obey their dictates! Fight back or settle for this.
-- and at straight-up, not-even-kidding Nazi sites like Stormfront:
This is just sad, but read it carefully, for this is the future in a land where the Whites who built it are a small minority... 
That article is just propaganda designed to demoralize whites and boost the morale of any (((liberals))) reading it... 
It's nothing more than Jew/Marxist gloating, and I for one can't wait to see these "journalists" proven wrong. Whites will rise up against this perpetual onslaught of anti-White BS, and we're eventually going to WIN! Sink that into your demonic skulls, Washington Post...
The problem is not that the Post portrayed, apparently accurately,  the bitter lives of American racists; real journalism, like real art, is never the problem, in fact we're ever in need of more of it. The actual problem is, as I see it, twofold.

One problem is that America is as suffused with racism as it's ever been, but also more aware of it than it has been in a long time -- and the more some of us own up to it, the more others of us just own it, convinced that, if the liberals they've been trained to despise are against it, then they're by God for it.

The other problem is that our nation suffers from shitty education and shitty politics. If we were where we were at in the 1960s on both counts, we'd still have racists, but we'd be able to recognize them as such, and we'd be able to recognize a story like McCoy's as being an examination of racists, and maybe a glimpse into our own sick souls. As it is, our crap politics tells us that racism isn't racism, but Heritage, or the White Working Class, or This Is Why Trump Won, or some shit; and our miseducation tells us that anything that makes you better understand and even empathize with anyone -- including the racists in McCoy's story -- is a piece of propaganda for them and what they stand for; if you feel for them, you have to stan for them, and if you won't stan for them, then you can't feel for them.

This literally infantile way of relating to the world is killing us just as surely as the whole miasma of insane, ignorant policies is killing us. In fact I am convinced that it's where our troubles begin. Which is why, instead of just shaking my fist, I take the time to try and think these things through and explain them.

Monday, July 30, 2018


...about the latest conservative fit over social media, and how, by crying censorship, they parlay their victim status into unearned advantages from corporate suckers. Gotta hand it to them -- they've actually found ways to be simultaneously at your feet and at your throat!

UPDATE. On the delusions-on-grandeur end of the mood swing, conservatives like Ridiculous Pseudonym at Red State are claiming that Twitter and Facebook have taken a bath on the market lately, not because they've run out of suckers, but because Mr. and Mrs. Average American are really mad that some neo-Nazis claim their names didn't come up fast enough in search results:
Facebook portrays itself as an open platform – on which anyone can freely participate. But they have demonstrated time and again – they are a platform closed to conservatives.
And it appears average people – are beginning to not like the inherent unfairness of it all.
"They call me mad, but one day when the history of France is written, they will mark my name well... Sidney Applebaum!" (Meanwhile I see Amazon -- run by Trump's nemesis Jeff Bezos -- is showing record profits; I guess by Sidney Applebaum's law, this must presage a blue wave.)

Friday, July 27, 2018


One of my favorite cover versions. What's yours?

• I saw a mean, funny David Klion tweet about Bari Weiss, showing the crowd at Chautauqua, N.Y. to whom she presented her "New Seven Dirty Words" speech to be mostly hella old, with the caption "The voice of a generation." Weiss, promoter of the Dark Interweb or whatever it was called (boy, if we have movies in the future about life in the late-'10s, won't that be a lazy signifier!), is a nightmare, of course, but when Klion's commenters pointed out that Chautauqua audiences tend to be older (though I see they have the Gin Blossoms coming in -- celebrating their 25th anniversary, eek!), I felt maybe it had been unfair of me to laugh. But then I saw a description of her speech in The Chautauquan Daily:
So while Carlin’s “7 Dirty Words” have lost their luster and invaded the mainstream, Weiss proposed a new set: the I-word, H-word, the other P-word, E-word, J-word, R-word and D-word.
Imagination, humility, proportion, empathy, judgment, reason and doubt.
Being an American only requires a commitment to a set of ideas, she said. In other parts of the world, these factors (race, gender, ethnicity) confine people, but not in America.
“The antidote to identity politics is imagination,” Weiss said, “a moral and political imagination that allows us to feel the spark of that electric cord, even today.”
Be black and get on the wrong side of a cop and you may well feel the spark of an electric cord, motherfucker! Then she brings in Laura Ingalls Wilder -- a big fave among libertarians -- and what a shame it is that someone took her name off a children's book award just because she said things like "There were no people, only Indians lived there" and "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." "The arbiters of culture," mourns Weiss, "are convinced that she deserves to be censored for 19th-century morals based on morals we hold dear today." I guess it's beyond hopeless to explain to wingnut grievance-mongers like Weiss that someone deciding not to associate with someone else (particularly a dead someone else) isn't censorship. Thereafter comes the Greatest Hits -- Evergreen College, Halloween at Yale, "no guardrails," "Weiss said she was uncomfortable by the euphemisms her pro-choice, feminist cohorts spread — that abortion is 'like a hip-replacement' or an appendectomy," etc. Well, suffice to say I no longer feel bad about laughing at Weiss -- in fact, I think mockery is far too good for her.

• Rightwing tantrums over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have practically become a convention, and Meghan McCain's conniption was a lovely example of the form. While we have no similar tape of Roger Kimball's voice growing increasingly hysterical, and though, unlike McCain, he has access to a thesaurus, his rant at the American Spectator seems to boil up from a similar well of ancient enmities. He, too, professes to believe all social democracy results in Venezuela and people who want a more equitable distribution of America's plentiful resources are "children of all ages" who "whine and rant," and even resorts to a cryptic daddy-spank threat: "the fact that calls for socialism are once again crowding the airwaves reminds us that folly is a noxious hardy perennial that prudent gardeners need to be eternally vigilant to spot and extirpate." I can see Kimball proposing Prudent Gardeners to a perplexed Trump mob as a name for the new Brownshirts. But the surest sign that Kimball is letting the little lady get to him is this primordial splurt:
There are, after all, many salubrious processes that produce unpleasant by-products as part of their activity. You see it in manufacturing, you see it in biology. You eat the steak, it nourishes you and makes you strong, but it also results in odiferous and potentially toxic by-products.

Capitalism is the greatest engine for the production of wealth that the ingenuity of man has ever devised. But after it achieves a certain level of prosperity, it regularly excretes characters like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, beneficiaries of capitalism whose contempt for its strictures is equaled only by their ignorance of its tenets.
I predict this dive into Kimball's dreamlife will do little to stop her rise, though it may get him some fan letters from conservatives who are into scat.