Friday, August 16, 2019


Just because it's nice and musicianly
doesn't mean I can't like it.

• I have released into the wild a new issue of Roy Edroso Break It Down so non-subscribers can see it. It is about some great new candidates the Republican Party is offering for Congress in 2020. It is inspried by all the new Republican candidates who are totally nuts, like this guy, and these guys, and this lady and oh why go on, just read my thing it's fun.

• I was seriously wondering why Noah Rothman, mainly known to me as a typical commentary asshole, was trending on Twitter like he was Cardi B or something, and found to my amusement that he is a frequent guest on Morning Joe and that everyone hates him. Further reading suggests his latest offense was complaining about Democrats invoking Michael Brown and Ferguson because it is now part of wingnut catechism that Brown deserved to be killed by that cop and that the Real Outrage is Democrats "lying" that it wasn't a good clean kill. There are plenty of examples, but see David French's "On Ferguson, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris Told a Terrible Lie" for a particularly repulsive specimen, featuring this humdinger: "The publication of a false accusation of a crime like murder is libelous under American law. In other words, their lies may well have been illegal." That's pretty rich coming from a theocon crackpot like French, who is also the author of "Is It Uncivil to Argue That Abortion Kills a Baby?" (Calling a quarter of all American women murderers is cool, apparently, but calling the killing of an unarmed black kid murder is criminal libel.)

When I was younger I used to worry whether I was being fair even to conservatives, and might have entertained their bad-faith, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussions about shit like this,  but frankly? Them days is gone.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


"Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge." -- Ken Cuccinelli rewrite of the Statue of Liberty poem.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to bust unions, have appointed me, Jeffrey Epstein's buddy, to run the Department of Labor" -- Preamble of the Constitution as rewritten by Alex Acosta.

"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me a cabinet post I'm totally unsuited for, or give my son opportunities to grift -- preferably both!"-- Patrick Henry as rewritten by Ben Carson.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal except spics and bitches, when's lunch?" -- Declaration of Independence as rewritten by Donald Trump.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Famed pedophile, celebrity panderer and Trump buddy Jeffrey Epstein manages to commit suicide despite being under suicide watch in a federal facility run by Trump's Attorney General Bob Barr, son of the man who hired (maybe, see Update) the massively unqualified Epstein to teach at the Dalton School.

The big hashtag on Twitter right now is #ClintonBodyCount, and the notion that Hillary killed Epstein is being pushed by at least one Trump official (that is, under her own name, rather than via bots).

I've written about conservatives' weird idée fixe that Hillary Clinton is a mass murderer* but really there's hardly a point to reexamining it anymore; it's wingnut catechism, and as even more bizarre ideas like Pizzagate enter that catechism the original idée gets more fixe; in fact, since whole new generations of wingnut have come up since the madness began in the 90s, its adherents probably have no clear idea of its origins -- why, they probably don't even know who Wayne DuMond is! And they certainly don't know that the crackpot attribution of Vince Foster's suicide to Clinton was promoted by the Wall Street Journal as a propaganda strategy rather than as investigative reporting.

Outside crazytown, there's still some hope justice may be done; but for a certain dank, small slice of the electorate it's too late to avenge the con job to which they've succumbed -- we just have to write them off, leave them to disappear up the asshole of Q-ism, and rebuild.

* I refer to the vengeance and witness-tampering murders for which she is held liable by nuts, and of course the Benghazi bullshit, not her bombing decisions as Secretary of State, of which she is of course guilty as hell.

UPDATE. To be fair -- yeah, I know, but I'm soft-hearted that way -- Barr Sr. announced his resignation in February '74 and Epstein started teaching that summer, so the Times says it's "unclear" whether Barr okayed the hire or not. Barr did stay on at Dalton for the rest of the year, so it could have gone either way.

Friday, August 09, 2019


As I mentioned to readers of my newsletter (Subscribe! Cheap!) this morning, Rod Dreher is raging that a screenplay for The Hunt, apparently an upcoming The Most Dangerous Game ripoff in which people are kidnapped and hunted as prey, shows the hunters in the film referring to the hunted as "deplorables," which Dreher, following the age-old conservative formula of judging movies they haven't seen by their collateral materials, took as an assault by Hollywood on conservatives. Other rightwingers have picked up the cry, and Fox suggests that Trump was talking about this during his latest brain-fart about Hollywood, even though he didn't mention the movie and in fact referred to Hollywood's "racism," which seems not to be a factor in The Hunt.

Snopes is, as you would expect, more cautious about the alleged connection and more sensible overall:
However, the ideology and political affiliation of the characters who hunt and kill what appear to be working-class people from largely rural areas remains unclear, despite the aforementioned websites’ repeated and emphatic descriptions of them as “liberal” and “left-wing” elites. Notwithstanding the context of a fictional horror movie, it should be unnecessary to point out that hunting human beings for sport has never been a tenet of Enlightenment liberalism or modern-day American progressivism. 
Equally, it should be obvious to any mature consumer of culture that a movie that portrays wealthy psychopaths paying to hunt and kill other human beings is not likely to reflect well on the wealthy psychopaths, despite PJ Media’s claim that “The Hunt” actually “promotes violence against ‘deplorables.'”
(Snopes is referring to this dumb Matt Margolis PJ Media thing, which cites the Steve Scalise shooting as evidence of liberal bloodthist.) "It should be unnecessary to point out" are of course famous last words in the bad-faith festival that is modern conservative discourse. In fact Dreher seems to understand that the film's intentions are as yet unknown, but spreads his paranoia capaciously enough that no matter what it turns out to be, he can still be one outraged JustTheTip Trumper:
If you watch the trailer, it’s clear that the liberal elites — talk about your armed Social Justice Warriors! — are not portrayed as good. Still, what the hell could NBC Universal be thinking? They are treating the hunting down and murdering of white conservatives because they are white conservatives as entertainment. Or, more neutrally, they are presenting political mass murder as sport. For all we know, this movie will make the Red Staters out to be heroes. That’s beside the point. In a time of deep and rage-filled political division in this country, in which unhinged people are committing politically-motivated mass murders, this is insanely irresponsible. You cannot convince me that this isn’t an example of wish fulfillment on the part of the Hollywood executives making this movie. 
Universal is stirring up and exploiting primal hatreds. And these cretins wonder why so many people hate them, and vote for Trump. At least now it’s more out in the open than ever.
We last saw this kind of willful misreading in the wingnut sputterfest over Shakespeare in the Park's Julius Caesar which, against all logic, conservatives claimed was inciting violence against Trump. Lord knows they're always comfortable misinterpreting things, but I think they're even more eager to do so with movies, plays, novels etc. because they realize even the simplest works of art have power they neither possess nor understand, and the only way they can deal with it is by squeezing its meanings into tiny bullet-shaped units of propaganda.

Thursday, August 08, 2019


Longtime readers of alicublog -- not to mention many, many citizens of New York and elsewhere -- know about Lach, the founder of the Anti-Folk scene and compère at its flagship The Fort in all its incarnations.

Well, things are exceedingly tough for Lach right now. I don't want to get too deep into it but it involves a very sick family member and the difficulty of keeping things together under such circumstances, especially for someone who makes a living in music. (Euterpe offers generous benefits but she pays lousy.)

So please pass it around: Thanks.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019


I've been seeing some stupid shit in the news lately but this Joaquin Castro thing -- where wingnuts are flipping out because Castro tweeted the names of top Texas Trump donors, which information is public -- beats all. I'm seeing highly-placed Republicans claiming these donors were doxxed because the names appeared in a tweet (in addition to the Federal Elections Commission website).

Though they're pretending to be developmentally disabled, these people aren't dumb -- merely limited: They know they've fucked up so bad that all they have left is racism and victimhood, and they know right the moment is not a good time to lay on the racism, so any opportunity they get to play the victim, they're taking.

And this person ain't dumb either, but has reasons to pretend to be:

The dangerous trend of publishing FEC data! If you like, go to the thread and be treated to Socratic dialogue like this:

These Republican donors are especially delicate, I guess -- so delicate even the famously liberal Times has to acknowledge it --  and must be protected from scrutiny. Maybe it's time for Citizens United II. That rummy Kavanaugh is all in for the big win!

I think a large part of the appeal of Bernie Sanders is due to a growing awareness among a growing number of people that the people we thought were our friends are most definitely not our friends.

UPDATE. I've unlocked a Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter installment about where this is all going to end up. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 01, 2019


There's always something creepy about Republicans offering what I am accustomed to call Advice From Your Mortal Enemies, but in the wake of the two Democratic Presidential debates this week they've managed to make it creepier with their encomia to weirdos Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard. It's not just the interplay with the rightwing operatives pushing Williamson and Gabbard in online polls, though that's weird enough; it's their passive-aggressive insistence that these fringe candidate could lead the party to sanity and victory if only Democrats weren't such losers.

Since Libertarians Are The Worst let's start with Christian Britschgi at Reason:
While the rest of the candidates at the first Democratic debate tonight have been doing their best to out-socialist each other, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been trying to keep the country out of war.
Save us from those famous neocon-socialist hawks Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi! Ha, kidding, he maybe means these guys:
Gabbard's position contrasts with the positions of other Democratic candidates on stage. Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) was the lone debate participant to say that he would not automatically re-enter the Iran deal worked out by President Obama, suggesting a better deal could be had. 
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) said that, while she favored reentering the deal, she would like to push for stricter terms. Klobuchar also stressed that if a war with Iran were to occur, it would require congressional authorization.
Stricter terms! Better deal! Well, that couldn't possibly be look-tough bullshit for the moderate wing, it has to be socialist bloodlust. But wait -- how do we know Gabbard isn't a socialist? After all, she's standing up there with all those socialists and not wearing a dollar-sign pin nor quoting Ayn Rand. Here's the best Britschgi can do:
That Gabbard was willing to duck a softball, red meat question about raising wages for women to focus on America's war-making abroad was nonetheless a refreshing moment amidst the otherwise dreary, shockingly left-wing rhetoric from the rest of the Democratic field on stage tonight.
Higher wages for women -- that's how Kennedy got us into Vietnam, right?

Meanwhile at The American Conservative, James Antle III, a buffoon, assures that while Bernie Sanders has "mostly failed to recapture his 2016 magic" (cite needed), Gabbard, "perhaps the most interesting Democrat running for president," has the secret sauce:
While reliably progressive, she has occasionally reached across the political divide on issues like religious liberty and Big Tech censorship, a potent combination that could prove more responsive to Trump voters’ concerns than what we’ve heard from her neocon lite interlocutor from Youngstown.
By "religious liberty” I assume Antle means she ragged on Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono for questioning anti-abortion crusader Brian Buescher, now comfortably ensconced on the federal bench, on his Knights of Columbus membership during his Senate hearing, which she called anti-Catholic bigotry; by "Big Tech censorship" I assume he means her lawsuit against Google, a tedious tactic of Republican cry-babies that she has adopted and promoted on Tucker Carlson's show.

Antle affects to believes that Democrats' failure to take Gabbard up is because their party "cares more about wokeness than war." Think of all those Social Justice Warriors who want to abolish ICE and invade Iran!

As for Williamson, well, let's just stick with the always good for a laugh Rod Dreher:
Russian Orthodoxy treasures the yurodivy, or “holy fool,” an ascetic who behaves in ways that seem insane to normal people, but who, in so doing, reveal Christian truth. The New Age guru and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is not a holy fool according to the usual definition, but I can’t help thinking that to some extent, she’s playing that role. We all love to laugh at her, because she is something of a kook … but she’s onto something important about us. 
In last night’s Democratic debate, Williamson spoke of the “dark psychic force” of “collectivized hatred” that Donald Trump draws up and exploits. Here’s the clip... 
I know: ha ha, what a ding-dong! But she’s not wrong, except in that she pins this entirely on Trump.
In other words, the holy fool is absolutely right about Trump being evil, except she doesn't realize that evil is also Al Sharpton, and since TV commentator Sharpton is, like President Trump, the leader of his party, it's all the same really, just like the Republicans were really just as bad as the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and we should all unite to persecute homosexuals.

Can they get the suckers to lemming after one or both of these new Jill Steins? Once upon a time I would have said God doesn't hate us that much yet, but now I'd say it's a toss-up.

Friday, July 26, 2019


I am not familiar with early James Brown, so this came as a shock.

•   Christmas in July! I'm gonna be real nice to you guys who haven't taken paid subscriptions yet and unleash two (2) Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter stories from this week: THIS bagatelle in which our president is visited by one old and one new friend, and THIS little essay about the modern tendency to call things "scary," including our current state of malgovernance, and why we shouldn't be scared.

•  One thing that really puts some perspective on the whole conservative "elitism" shtick, lately associated with Republican up-and-dumber Josh Hawley (anti-elitist credentials: Stanford, Yale), is Kevin D. Williamson's latest attack on poor white people at National Review. He goes to Appalachia (mostly Owsley County, Kentucky), interviews some people, and reaches the same conclusion he came to a few years ago with his first big get-a-U-Haul-stupid-hillbillies article: White folks in poor rural counties are shiftless, stupid, and addicted to pills and lotto.
This isn’t the Kentucky of Elmore Leonard’s imagination, and there is nothing romantic about it. These are no sons and daughters of Andrew Jackson, no fiercely independent remnants of the old America clinging to their homes and their traditional ways. Having once been downwind of a plate of biscuits and squirrel gravy does not make you Daniel Boone. This is not the land of moonshine and hill lore, but that of families of four clutching $40 worth of lotto scratchers and crushing the springs on their beaten-down Camry while getting dinner from a Phillips 66 station.
But it's not entirely their fault; globalization took their jobs -- ha ha, kidding! The real culprit is welfare! “The monthly welfare checks" are "poison," says Willamson, that "has made Appalachia into a big and sparsely populated housing project," as even ultra-liberal Nicholas Kristof admits -- case closed! And as one of his better-off and hence more sympathetic subjects tells Williamson, "when you have that many people on the draw, that’s a big majority of voters," which is why they vote for those welfare-loving Democrats -- ha ha, kidding again! Owsley Country went 84% Trump in 2016. These offenses to common sense, however, are not as maddening as the fact that Williamson, whose attitude toward these impoverished Republicans is one long sneer, will never get half the shit about "elitism" as some Democrat who wants to give them health insurance.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Hark -- Jonah Goldberg, lately detached from his sinecure at National Review with full pension, has a new syndicated column. Surely now that he's out from under the infantilizing influence of the wingnut-welfare gravy train, he'll produce more mature and intellectually ambitious material. Let's have a look:
Now before you get all worked up, hear me out. I’m not defending the president against the charge of racism. The [Trump go-back-where-you-came-from] tweets were racist, as well as xenophobic and nativist. 
I asked if he intended to make a racist jab, not whether the jab itself was racist.
bhf[opp[pw[ef p[...
Here’s a less-than-startling insight: Trump often doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and not just on matters of race. This is the guy who said not long ago that windmills cause cancer. In 2017 he told the British prime minister, “You’re our largest trading partner. A lot of people don’t know that. I was surprised.” Our largest trading partner is China. 
He also has a long history of not knowing his history.
So... Trump can't be racist because he's stupid?
So when Trump tells four women of color that they should go back where they came from, it’s possible he had no clue that he was tapping into a rich vein of racist and nativist rhetoric.
Yeah, "go back where you came from" is a pretty obscure reference.
Indeed, it’s possible he didn’t know that three of the women weren’t immigrants at all. The fact that he seemed initially surprised by the controversy bolsters my theory. He just thought he was trolling Democrats.
Which excuses everything, really. That n-word thing? Just a joke, man! Lighten up!
This seems to be lost on a lot of his critics. They cite his attacks on women, blacks, Muslims, while excluding his attacks on white male Christians...
...and connect the dots to make the case that he’s a bigot.
Wait for it...
That’s certainly fair, given his record.
This endless Hadron Collider fart proves that even the free market cannot rescue Goldberg's column from being the stupidest thing ever written until Goldberg writes something else. Selah!

Friday, July 19, 2019


See what happens when you maintain access with the White House? You get great stories like this:
CBS News has learned President Trump took a lot of heat from his family over the racist chants at a campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday. He heard from first lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka and Vice President Mike Pence...
I am loving this idea of Melania registering a complaint.
[TRUMP at desk in Oval Office, fiddling with phone. Enter MELANIA in some kind of ridiculous gown.] 
TRUMP: [not looking up] How'd you slip your collar? 
MELANIA: Donald I am ver' upset wiz you. 
TRUMP: [not looking up] Get a couple grand from Mnuchin and have a nice lunch.

MELANIA: You are tellink ze women to go back and is mehking me look ver' bad.

TRUMP: [not looking up] Know what'd make you look bad? A rap in the mouth.

MELANIA: [Speaking into her two-way wrist TV] Dehncer to Mehstermind. Dehncer to Mehstermind. I hev made ze heat.

TRUMP: [not looking up] Tell Mick I say hi.
This is their outreach to women, I guess. I've mentioned at the newsletter (Subscribe! Cheap!) this new Trump Women Daily thing but I rather doubt it's official. It seems to be in the line of those rightwing ladymags Ole Perfesser Instapundit used to push for (and which briefly found fruition in Acculturated and other outlets, but now seem to have shrunk to occasional items in The Federalist). The Trump Women Daily website is unready but they've been sending me emails. Behold a sample:

That oughta sway swing voters! It's pretty much all like that. And then there's the "earned" media -- like some clever propagandist circulating a clutch of female Trump operatives as Jes' Plain Trump Fans. It's all so shabby one begins to suspect that Trump's only interest is to keep the same rump of racist mouthbreathers agitated for 2020, and to demoralize, intimidate, and suppress enough Democratic voters to make that work. But it's early yet -- maybe Brad Parscale will get Trump to guest-host The View ("You bleed how many days? But for prostitutes it's much less, right?").

Thursday, July 18, 2019


There are of course the dead-enders who think Trump's straight-up Hitler impersonation -- telling outrageous lies about Rep. Ilhan Omar supporting Al Qaeda, and goading his goons to chant "Send her back" -- is an unmixed good, a sign that their Leader is finally going full Herrenvolk, but they barely count; they just serve to keep the Q-anon Infowars Pizzagate freak-rump roiled and red-faced. The most offensive reactions are from the mainstream conservatives, or what I have come to call the JustTheTip Trumpers -- those who occasionally admit Trump is gauche or non-U or not quite our kind (or whatever specific demurrers they use in their gated communities) but have heretofore supported virtually everything he does. There are several fine examples of people who will slur Omar and her allies all day long but, now that their ugliness has been mirrored back to them, wonder how such a thing could happen.

It's like, to paraphrase Harlan Ellison, having lain with pigs, they are surprised to get up smelling like garbage, and cast about for someone else to blame.

Worst of all, as usual, is Rod Dreher, who wonders why Trump would do such a thing:
The truly psychotic thing about Trump is that he doesn’t have to do this! It’s easy to fight the radicals of the Squad without resorting to this kind of thing. In fact, he is winning on the politics of Omar & Co. But that’s not enough for him. You’ve got to wonder if he’s some kind of sadist.
Or maybe -- stay with me now -- he leads a conservative movement that relies on racist xenophobia to win, and his goon-squad ravings are only more polite versions of the Save The White People stuff in which Dreher specializes.

Outraged as Dreher pretends to be, he's still doing the pee-dance over Trump 2020:
I have said for some time now that as bad as Trump is, I believe that putting Democrats in power would be worse, solely because of what it would mean for laws and policies that are important to me. But this degrading demagogic behavior is exactly the kind of thing that would flip me to the other side.
So why doesn't he? He could say it right now: It's too much, I quit. But he won't, because he's a pussy as well as a white nationalist.

UPDATE. Here, Trump's making it easier for him:
President Donald on Thursday disavowed the “send her back” chant that broke out at his rally on Wednesday night. 
"I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Trump said to reporters about the chant, which began after the president again went after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as part of his ongoing attack on four progressive freshman congresswomen
If only there had been someone there who could have told the crowd to stop! This is good news for John McCain's reputation.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


The latest This Is Good News for Trump story from White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito is "Why America’s tariff-hit farmers still support Trump." The farmers she quotes are eloquent about how hard they work, but not so great at explaining why they love the President ("I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with a lot of the policies and a lot of the actions that he’s taken" is typical). And it's not even clear from Zito's stats that dairy farmers really are hanging in with MAGA:
In 2016, rural Americans, a category that includes all of America’s farmers and ranchers, overwhelmingly voted for Trump; he earned 62 percent of the vote compared to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 34 percent, according to Pew Research analysis... 
Yet, despite a flurry of national stories warning that farmers are moving away from Trump because of his trade policies, a recent Gallup survey showed that 53 percent of rural residents approve of the job the president is doing.
Not sure exactly how 62 percent of "farmers and ranchers" supporting Trump in 2016 correlates to 53 percent of "rural residents" supporting Trump in 2020, but it looks like a drop to me.

That's not even the weirdest part. Zito writes:
The 32-year-old [dairy farmer] also manages the crew of 40 to 50 employees who make sure those of us at home can pick up a bottle of fresh milk, aged cheese or tangy yogurt at our local grocery. 
That is, of course, unless you have bought into the latest dietary fad and don’t consume dairy — a shift that has hit farmers’ bottom line with as much force as weather patterns and President Trump’s trade war with China.
A fad -- like avocado toast! Maybe Millennials are killing the dairy industry, as they have so much else.

Where's Zito getting this idea of fad diets killing the dairy industry from? Not from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, which shows that between 2016 and 2017, the last two years for which it has data, dairy product consumption went down a mere two pounds per capita -- from 645 to 643 pounds -- while over a ten-year period (2007-2017) consumption of dairy products actually went up 30 pounds per person, 613 to 643 pounds.

Zito may be thinking of fluid milk consumption (no cheese, no yogurt, etc.). Sales of fluid milk are down year-on-year, and down over ten years -- and in fact down since the 1980s, which would be a weird definition of "the latest dietary fad."

Zito may have been relying on a 2018 Fox News story which talked about the drop in milk sales ("Just three decades ago, America was a milk guzzling nation") and cited "more milk substitutes on the market offering less fat and more flavor" and "the medical debate over milk's health value" as factors. I could see how someone might look at that and say, "sure, fad diets are killing the dairy industry, not verkakte trade policies" -- though I can't imagine that same person thinking for more than a few seconds after that, remembering Mexico's recent 10 percent retaliatory hike in its tariff on American cheese, and not thinking better of the idea. But then, maybe that person would have a reason for portraying a big hit to a major American business as the fault of silly almond-milk-slurping hippies.

UPDATE. A reader suggests that William Tabb -- one of Zito's simple sons of the sod in the story  ("Mississippi has been slammed with wet weather since last fall and William Tabb and his wife, Cala, have certainly felt the brunt of it on the 3,000 acres they farm") -- might also be the current Republican farmer-candidate for the state legislature William "Billy" Tabb. But why wouldn't she mention that relevant detail?

Friday, July 12, 2019


Tucker Carlson has been laying the white supremacy on pretty thick lately, focusing on Rep. Ilhan Omar, offering her as proof that "the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country" (i.e., we let in too many darkskins). Even weirder, Carlson got some other creep on his show to pull the old You're the Real Racist bit, claiming that "if she wasn’t a member of Congress, [Omar] would be a member of the KKK."

This is, as we know, based on the aging slur spread by shitheels both low- and high-status, that Omar's opposition to the lobbying group AIPAC is anti-Semitic. Or rather I should say it's not based on it but excused by it, because what obviously animates these guys is not any policy thing (let alone philo-Semitism) but that Omar is -- like their other recent hate-objects such as AOC and Rashida Tlaib, and their more longterm hate objects like Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson -- an elected female Democrat with some added streak of "otherness" that makes her extra-triggering to conservatives (I almost wrote "of a certain kind" but come on, are there any other kind anymore?).

They'll swear to you that they're not racist, and I do believe they would love to have a reactionary former Muslim like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Congress on their side. But let's face it, they can't get even Red State voters to go for such people; South Carolina may send a traditional black Republican like Tim Scott to Washington (and Scott has been very careful not to get too exotically rightwing), but the kind of minority conservatives who are up-and-coming now are simply too crazy to overcome those voters' natural racism. Look at my-people-suck characters like Candace Owens -- Johnny Reb might applaud her as Not Like The Others, but would he phone-bank or canvass for her?

I don't think so, but maybe that'll change over time as the conservative movement promotes more overt psychos, and thereby makes the whole movement more psycho. You may have noticed that the Claremont Institute, one of those piss-elegant rightwing think tanks like Peterson or AEI, just gave fellowships to some folks who would, in a simpler time, be instead remanded to mental health treatment facilities, including Mytheos Holt, a longtime rightwing journalistic grifter, and Jack Posobiec, a full-on Pizzagate crackpot.

And of course there was Trump's crazy alt-media summit at the White House this week, at which conspiracy theorists like Mark Dice and vapid fameballs like Joy Vila were invited and offered as a superior alternative to the "fake news" media that practices the dark arts of interviewing, research, and fact-checking. (Remember when conservatives talked about improving the skillset of their journalistic outfits to match those of the MSM? You don't hear much of that anymore.)

At the event the President made some stupid and frankly fascist comments about what and what does not constitute free speech in the banana republic of his dreams. While it apparently does not include any criticism of himself ("To me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad"), it does include what the nuts he invited were peddling -- and by the way, their speech is, despite appearances, endangered because some social media companies block users for violating their terms of service, for which those companies may get hit with legislation to force them to carry it because that's how conservatism works, now. This sounds extra obnoxious coming from the Trump but is pretty close to the beliefs of more manicured Republicans like Senator Josh Hawley.

Maybe in the end, like so much else coming from this White House, who gets rights previously thought to be universal really comes down to whether conservatives can easily identify the person claiming rights as one of their own. Here's an example: In an incident at a Denny's in Michigan from last October that was only recently revealed, a bunch of bikers called a party of female black diners by familiar and unambiguous racial slurs, and it is alleged that, rather than ask the slur-slingers to leave, the manager, Patrick Fort,
allegedly responded, “'No, I cannot ask them to leave. It’s a freedom of speech.' When [one of the black women] returned to her table, the manager followed her and, in earshot of the bikers, continued to lecture her about their free speech rights."
The social media summit must have Trump really feeling the vibe, because today he too jumped on Ilhan Omar: "If one-half of the things they're saying about her are true," he said, "she shouldn't even be in office." As whether he means the voters shouldn't have elected her, or whether he means it doesn't matter what they thought, we cannot, as with so many of his burbles, be entirely sure; but we can make an educated guess.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019


Forget that Maidstone shit, hilarious as it may be. The now late Rip Torn was not only Artie, the cut-throat but sentimental producer on The Larry Sanders Show -- so, so many great things about that performance, but this short scene gives you a good idea of the old-school show-biz toughness Torn gave the character -- but he was also a great actor of decades' standing in New York and Hollywood. I remember with special fondness seeing him when I was a teenager doing a pair of comic Chekhov one-acts on PBS with his wife Geraldine Page (their mailbox in the city was labeled "Torn/Page"), "A Marriage Proposal" and "The Bear." In the former he was a wormy suitor, in the latter a rustic boor, and Torn not only put both characters over but made them sexy (having Page to play against helped there, though, and -- it would seem -- for him; it was the first time I'd seen Page act, and I didn't realize for years afterward that she was supposed to be spinsterish).

I am also super-fond of Torn's "Bob Diamond" celestial defense attorney in Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life -- not only for his blustery early scenes, in which he appears to be just handling the poor dumb earthling put in his care, but also and especially for his last scene with Brooks, in which he suddenly shows the empathy that probably saves him. Good acting is largely about winning the audience -- I think it was Edward Herrmann who said that the audience decides in the first 10 minutes whether an actor is worth watching -- but the great ones find a way to surprise you after they've won you, and Torn really accomplished that here; I recall him saying this with what seemed like genuine regret, after Brooks' character learns to his great sorrow that he's being sent back and can't be with the woman with whom he's fallen in love:
Can I say something? Because they're sending you back, doesn't mean they're right. They can make mistakes. Don't let others get to you. Just follow what's in here [taps chest]. Come on. I'll take you to the station.
I remember the scene, but not how few words (and flimsy!) Torn had. He made it feel like a filibuster -- and made me wonder whether or not this glib heavenly soul-shuffling bureaucrat was really so glib after all. When the scene paid off at the end, it was mostly Brooks' scripting, but Torn really lit it up from inside.

Oh, and shout out to Torn in Larry Cohen's The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, and Torn's description of his lifelong feeling for Hoover to his girlfriend in ripe Texas growl: "Like my old man -- you know, kinda stiff!" RIP to a real one.

Thursday, July 04, 2019


This Fourth of July, let's celebrate the true reason for the season -- Bret Stephens' hurt feelings.

You may recall Stephens was ratio'd into the stratosphere on Twitter last week over a column in which he posited Real Americans as those who neither spoke Spanish nor could stand hearing vile Democrats speak it. Later, claiming he was actually just portraying the sentiments of those ordinary Spanish-disdaining Americans (which, in addition to contradicting the plain meaning of what he actually wrote,  was even more offensive), Stephens Twitter-tantrumed, claiming himself a victim of "moral bullying and progressive demagoguery."

You'd think that'd be enough self-embarrassment for one theme, but Stephens has come back for more, and his editors, who must despise him, allow it.
I was walking through an airport terminal trying to catch a connecting flight last Saturday when I spotted a writer I had never met but whose work I admire. He greeted me with a look of fatherly concern: “Sorry about what’s happening to you on Twitter.”
(Tom Clancy is dead, so I assume it was some old Anglo reactionary stirring Stephens' filial sensibilities.)
An hour or so earlier, before catching my previous flight, I’d spotted a tweet from the author Reza Aslan, who had accused me of jumping “out of the white nationalist closet” for a column that attempted to channel the negative way “ordinary people” might have viewed last week’s Democratic debates. I replied that his accusation would be “shameful if it weren’t so stupid.” 
Within minutes, I was being described as a “full on bigot,” “ghoul,” “racist,” and so on. As the retweets piled up into the thousands, I felt like I had been cast in the role of Emmanuel Goldstein in some digital version of Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate.” 
Yes, a ludicrously overpaid New York Times columnist heard unkind words on Twitter, and in consequence has become a famously victimized character in 1984. (Given that Orwell suggested Goldstein may not even exist, I wonder why Stephens didn't pick Winston Smith; maybe because Smith is broken in the end, while Goldstein remains a figure of awe and fear, and what little whiner doesn't dream of being that!)

On and on Stephens goes, declaring this country (I swear to God) "Robespierre’s America" because Colin Kaepernick won't let America walk on flags and James Damore got fired for insulting his colleagues. Maybe he'll move to Hungary or Brazil, where a rightwing man can speak his mind!

This is a reminder that we are all very lucky to live in the real America, where not only can we make fun of buffoons like Stephens, but also buffoons like Stephens are allowed to make ever-greater fools of themselves for our entertainment. So forget Il Douche's stupid theatrics (readers of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down know what I'm talking about!) and revel in our freedoms and the gift of laughter.

Friday, June 28, 2019



  Boy, I hate to keep saying this to you, but go look at my newsletter, I covered the Democratic debates! I covered them good like a real whatchamacallit, a journamalist! Only I'm not a complete bothsider dummy, so you opinionated types might enjoy it more than the chin-stroking of dweebs like David Brooks:
Dems, Please Don’t Drive Me Away
The balls on this guy. If you lose David Brooks, you'll lose Bret Stephens! This could lead to a domino effect in which the Democrats lose Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin and all hell will break loose.
The progressive narrative is dominating in part because progressives these days have a direct and forceful story to tell and no interest in compromising it. It’s dominating because no moderate wants to bear the brunt of progressive fury by opposing it.
"bear the brunt of progressive fury" -- Jesus, these guys are such whiners. Oooh the mean progressive glared at me!
Democrats have caught the catastrophizing virus that inflicts the Trumpian right. They take a good point — that capitalism needs to be reformed to reduce inequality — and they radicalize it so one gets the impression they want to undermine capitalism altogether.
So one should oppose income inequality, but not in such a way that would actually reduce any income inequality. Very Brooksian -- just like him being sort of a Christian, except for the believing in Christ part.
Finally, Democrats aren’t making the most compelling moral case against Donald Trump. They are good at pointing to Trump’s cruelties, especially toward immigrants. They are good at describing the ways he is homophobic and racist. But the rest of the moral case against Trump means hitting him from the right as well as the left.
The fuck? What's worse than baby jails?
A decent society rests on a bed of manners, habits, traditions and institutions...
OOOOOOH GET THA FUCK OUTTA HERE ARE YOU KIDDING? Listen, guys: All these toffee-nosed NeverTrump and JustTheTipTrump idiots are in effect working for Trump. They claim to be offended by his "manners" and "habits," but they love his policies and would love for Democrats to move as close to those policies as possible -- and then still not vote for them because they'll always be too "progressive." I mean if Biden got the nomination (shudder) I guarantee you Brooks will be telling us loyalty is an excellent quality but Biden's misguided support for his buddy Obama's health care program has yoked him to the dangerously radical "pre-existing conditions coverage" model and that's playing right into Trump's hands etc. Fuck these people. Vote your conscience.

Thursday, June 27, 2019


I guess the best endorsement of the first Democrats Half Debate is the heavy scent of desperation in the rightwing headlines that come in its wake. Get a load:

I found this in an email from the Washington Examiner's "Examiner Today, presented by FreedomWorks." I bet next they find bikini pictures. Then accuse her of dyeing that streak. 

From the same email: 

Breibart cries, "MEDIA AGREE: DEMOCRAT DEBATE SHOWS PARTY SHIFT TO FAR LEFT" like they think it's a convincing put-down: Surely the American people will never go for free college, clean water, and universal health care!

You can read my unspooled Twitter commentary, and/or my newsletter post -- which I'm not gonna unlock for nonsubscribers because I do that a lot and I have to save some stuff for the late-night real-people. But I will tell you that I found Bill De Blasio a big deal, not because he has a hope in hell of winning but because he seized the mic and was combative and observably didn't give a shit about the niceties.  I've been saying for months that if Democrats can just use De Blasio's candidacy as a seminar in how well it works to smack Trump around mercilessly, and to bluster back at him when necessary, he will not have run in vain.

Here's lesson one. He needs to fake empathy a little better and not to step on his own climaxes, but this is how to take them to church: DON'T BE AFRAID TO NAME AND SHAME.

Oh, and if you care about racehorse stuff, Booker and Inslee will gain votes and O'Rourke will lose some.

UPDATE. I would be remiss if I did not note that the Examiner's Bufkin is known to this establishment not only for her involvement in the Carroll smear, but also for her work at The Federalist, including the hilarious "The $15 Minimum Wage Is Wreaking Havoc On New York City Dining" and a disquisition as to whether a white lady calling a black lady the n-word is any worse than a white lady calling a white lady the c-word. For a certain kind of writer there are opportunities a-plenty in the rightwing press!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I've unlocked a newsletter story about one of the more egregious smears on E. Jean Carroll, Trump's latest accuser. A few things particularly piss me off about it -- it's sneaky, for one thing, its couriers counting on the wingnut rag's readership to never look past the hed and lede to find out that it's actually bullshit. But, as I mention in the newsletter story, after a while news outlets don't bother to conceal what Carroll really said about Americans' titillation by rape stories -- having already gotten people to think of her as a nut, they can also portray her other, equally sensible observations as crazy. Look at this from RedState: They quote a tweet about her interview -- "E. Jean Carroll tells @Lawrence that she will not seek rape charges against Donald Trump because it would be 'disrespectful' to women at the boarder [sic] 'who are being raped around the clock'" -- and then scoff:
Aside from the general oddity, that answer places current politics on the forefront of her mind, something you wouldn’t expect from someone in the middle of recounting their own rape.
I expect I don't have to explain to you folks why Carroll's ability to put her assault in context is neither "odd" nor evidence that she wasn't really traumatized -- but RedState isn't making an argument; it's just using shit like spackle to firm up its idiot readers' impression that Carroll is, to avail an old usage, a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty. They don't have to make it look good, which, given their native abilities, must come as a great relief to their editors, such as they are.

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Sorry to trouble you lovely people with another "I thought I could no long be outraged" post, but I made the mistake of reading Rod Dreher this morning. He's been on another fact-finding mission/foodie vacation for a while, delectating his sacramental snacks in England and hanging out with pomposeurs like Roger Scruton. After days of pictures of food and tourist attractions, Brother Rod returns to the states fresh and ready to witchfind. A little kid in Texas (a state which has so disappointed Dreher in the past) apparently likes to sing his songs while wearing a dress and makeup. Dreher, who apparently never saw Dee Snider, flips out ("We have completely lost our moral minds") and then starts yelling about how them there he-shes can get their titties chopped off if they've a mind to, all they got to do is call up a doctor, what-all is happening to his beloved heterosexual America, "We are a sick civilization that deserves to be punished," etc.

I guess Dreher felt as if he needed a better button, and veers into this:
UPDATE: Another, very different but still disgusting way we treat children:
And then he quotes a Times story about the Trump baby jails. That's right -- Dreher is willing to stipulate that kiddie koncentration kamps might be sorta as bad as kids allowed to play dress-up. Of course, after years of "I'm no Trump fan but" posts in which he hints that he'll support Trump anyway because he hates homosexuals, that doesn't mean anything except that he's a coward as well as a bigot.

To add piquancy, here's a tweet from National Review legacy pledge Jonah Goldberg:

Clearly this little boy's family, like the parents of all little boys in skirts, wants grown-ups to fuck him. Man, drag's been mainstream since Lady Bunny; do we really have to wait for the new millennium for these dopes to chill out about it?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Adam Serwer wrote a terrific essay recently about the absurd crazy-conservatives-versus-really-crazy conservatives debate that's been sweeping the unread rightwing web magazines. In it he pointed out that a lot of right-wingers are getting cozy with neo-fascists because they imagine themselves downtrodden because their positions on abortion and gay/trans rights are rejected not only by high-profile liberals but also by voters, which indignity must be answered with a turn away from liberal democracy, which is not delivering the results they desire. "If this is where Ahmari and his cohort are while the GOP still controls the courts, the Senate, and the presidency," says Serwer, "imagine what they’ll be willing to countenance should they lose them."

There's plenty more trenchant stuff in there, and New York Times theocon Ross Douthat has deigned to address one specific paragraph of it for reasons that will become apparent. Here's the Serwer graf:
Black Americans did not abandon liberal democracy because of slavery, Jim Crow, and the systematic destruction of whatever wealth they managed to accumulate; instead they took up arms in two world wars to defend it. Japanese Americans did not reject liberal democracy because of internment or the racist humiliation of Asian exclusion; they risked life and limb to preserve it. Latinos did not abandon liberal democracy because of “Operation Wetback,” or Proposition 187, or because of a man who won a presidential election on the strength of his hostility toward Latino immigrants. Gay, lesbian, and trans Americans did not abandon liberal democracy over decades of discrimination and abandonment in the face of an epidemic. This is, in part, because doing so would be tantamount to giving the state permission to destroy them, a thought so foreign to these defenders of the supposedly endangered religious right that the possibility has not even occurred to them. But it is also because of a peculiar irony of American history: The American creed has no more devoted adherents than those who have been historically denied its promises, and no more fair-weather friends than those who have taken them for granted.
Douthat accepts that minorities had it rough and nonetheless stuck with the liberal order, but suggests -- in a roundabout, plausibly-deniable way -- that this is not a testament to liberalism but to the occasional harsh necessity of civil wars to win rights for underprivileged groups such as blacks and fetuses:
But it is not really true that the crucial turning point in the African-American relationship to America, the abolition of chattel slavery, was accomplished by activists working painstakingly within a system of liberal constitutionalism.
It is possible that it could have been, and that the Civil War was an avoidable tragedy; this was the pious consensus of 50 years ago, which the current occupant of the White House still expresses — usually to progressive derision...
Ho ho ho.
...[The Civil War] was, relative to the status quo ante, a good and necessary thing — but also a stark reminder that our system has advanced morally through effective re-foundings as well as liberal reforms, and that some moral-religious-cultural chasms can be closed only by extra-constitutional events...
After a long space, Douthat mentions that "liberalism has imposed via the judiciary, the least democratic branch, a constitutional right to abortion, a form of lethal violence that the church opposes for the same reasons it opposes infanticide — and after 50 years of small-d democratic activism by pro-lifers, the pro-choice side seems to be hardening into a view that such activism is as un-American as racism." Helter skelter, she's coming down fast!  The John Browns enlisted so far haven't done the job, but give the flame-fanners a chance and we'll see.

Though it may seem rude to say so -- and Douthat really does some energetic distancing in the final stretch; "I am not a post-liberal," as you will see in my upcoming book! -- all this illiberalism hooey is very clearly meant to either intimidate liberals into giving the far right what they want or else inspire radicals to seize it via "extra-constitutional events."

And this is why Douthat tightened his focus: it would take a reasonably intelligent person thirty seconds to grasp what's going on and disapprove of it, so Douthat characterizes that reality as a "complicated, sometimes baffling debate on the right about the relationship between religious conservatives and libertarianism... or maybe the relationship between religious conservatives and Donald Trump... or maybe" etc. so that they don't get those thirty seconds.

And he lays the notion that "religious conservatives are increasingly illiberal and authoritarian" on Serwer, when it is in fact proven by conservatives' own words, from the "Flight 93 election" gibberish of 2016 to the present ravings of Sohrab Ahmari.  One sees this sort of thing constantly in the feeder streams of modern conservatism. This week at the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse blog, for example, Justin Dyer explains that, contrary to what the heathens think, "the pursuit of happiness" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is actually very narrowly defined:
On the day C.S. Lewis died, his last written work was already in press with the Saturday Evening Post. “We have no ‘right to happiness,’” Lewis declared in the essay, by which he meant that we have no moral right to trample the rules of justice to gratify our impulses.
For a certain godly variety of wingnut, what C.S. Lewis says goes. While "some of the principal Founders... held unorthodox religious beliefs," there's no doubt in Dyer's mind that the Declaration "denies... any right to pursue happiness independent of the natural law." See here for some idea of what conservatives means by "natural law," and think about what would happen if the conservatives -- who already think you have too many rights, and that asking for income equality is the height of insolence -- were to thoroughly absorb the idea that what you want is not only unconstitutional but also blasphemous.

Oh, speaking of which -- from Douthat:
And in its internal life, beneath the post-Protestant tendency I’ve just described, progressive politics is also nurturing a fashionable occultism, whose rituals may be practiced somewhat ironically or performatively but whose anti-Catholicism seems quite sincere.
This links to a loony American Interest story about how Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez published her star chart, thus proving that "progressive millennials have appropriated the rhetoric, imagery, and rituals of what was once called the 'New Age.'" The article mentions "the coven of Brooklyn witches who publicly hexed then-Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh," but not Nancy Reagan, nor the observable fact that even the reddest of Trumpkins may be found reading astrology columns, hoarding crystals, and learning the Real Truth about Roswell. I suppose what these guys are really getting at is, cultism is as American as liberal democracy, and both will have to be swept away before we can get back to the feudal state our Founders really intended for us.