Friday, February 28, 2020


I need some big head hundreds/
To go with these ones and twos

I've opened the newsletter (Get the name right: Roy Edroso Breaks It Down) for today's issue, a peek-in on the President and his coronavirus team. Media reaction to the pandemic is jacked up as one would expect, and factota like Mick Mulvaney are beefing, but the reaction is categorically different from 2014, when the previous President adroitly handled the more deadly Ebola threat -- using now-abandoned methods like employing teams of epidemiologists -- and every wingnut in America went nuts, claiming Democrats were trying to give all the white people Ebola as payback for slavery. Ha, no, literally, that's what Rush Limbaugh said: "they have this attitude, 'Well, if they have it in Africa, by God, we deserve to get it, because they're in Africa because of us and because of slavery.'" Where was Dinesh D'Souza then, to tell him Democrats were pro-slavery? Diana West -- man, I'm almost afraid to say her name, lest she come back -- even had a Trump-style list of African countries she was mad Obama wouldn't seal off:
Common sense and love of country dictate that air travel to the United States from the West African Ebola hot-zone nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone be suspended until the highly contagious, highly lethal Ebola outbreak is over. That's obvious. Thousands of travel visas issued by the U.S. to nationals in these same countries should be canceled. That's obvious, too.

But President Obama isn't taking such obvious measures to safeguard the American people. On the contrary, the administration is doing nothing to prevent Ebola from entering this country, even after the first case erupted on American soil in a Liberian tourist named Thomas Eric Duncan...

The White House response? The Daily Caller's headline says it all: "White House: We Won't Stop People From the Ebola-Stricken Countries from Coming to the U.S."

What explains this presidential cop-out? So far, the left side of the media seems to be taking heart from the unlikelihood that any — or, rather, very many — Americans will become infected with Ebola...
This, speaking of Trump, was one of the poison wellsprings of the Trumpian mania for isolating America from "shithole countries" via the Muslim Ban. And it's the same thinking that's got the Trumpkins yelling that blue cities are full of bum shit and diseases -- because the propagandists who keep stoking their amygdalas know fear of contagion can keep them voting Republican even as the top Republican fucks up the country's coronavirus response. I guess they figure if they're going to die, at least they'll have the comfort and dignity of knowing that the bugs came from a white person.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


I'm releasing another issue of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down to non-subscribers, about the amazing revival of red-baiting launched over Bernie Sanders, particularly his statements about Cuban health care and education policy, which are controversial not because they're untrue (not even his detractors say so) but because they reflect faintly favorably on one of the last sorta-communist countries on earth which is not the one run by Donald Trump's best friend Kim Jong-un.

This is my favorite specimen so far:

This fits beautifully with today's conservative anti-intellectualism, which has gone way beyond what social critics observed about it in the mid-20th Century, when it mainly manifested as a distaste for the high-flown and fancified, and now looks suspiciously on the ability to read and write.

With this kind of McCarthyite horseshit coming back I suppose after our Coronavirus scare we'll have to worry about the return of polio.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


I have a bad cold and many sad and disturbing thoughts lay heavy on my mind, yet I am at peace because I got to see Michael Bloomberg get his ass absolutely kicked to shit last night. You all know I hate the motherfucker; I didn't realize nearly all of the other candidates did, too, or at least made a convincing show of it for political purposes.

It was a thing of beauty. Warren was particularly good; on stop and frisk and especially sexual harassment, I thought she was going to make the little ponce cry, or at least call an UberX to come onstage and carry him away. In fact she was so relentless I though SHE was hoping to make him cry and leave. (And she's still at it!)

As I said on Twitter, one thing could have saved Bloomberg: humility. All he had to do was be actually sorry about the things he said he was sorry about for just a few seconds. Take stop and frisk: he could have just said, "I didn’t even know how racist my assumptions were, so I took bad advice that conformed to my assumptions. I give Bill de Blasio credit: when he stopped stop ‘n’ frisk and crime stayed down, it taught me a lesson. All I can say is I’m sorry and now I know better."

That’s LITERALLY all he had to do. He could have left out de Blasio if that was too much for him. But he just couldn’t do the bare minimum. His ego wouldn't let him. (I like to imagine his flunkies suggesting it and Bloomberg reminding them who's the billionaire around here.) So instead we got one of those “I apologize but I wasn’t wrong” apologies: "It got out of hand," "you have to look at the results” -- all this classic sorry-not-sorry shit. And even the sensible, middle-class, Mom and Dad Democrats who go to these things were audibly not buying it.

The issue wouldn't have gone completely gone away if he hadn't fucked up like that -- it just would have given those Democrats who were willing to give him a chance (where the fuck do these people come from anyway) a little more credibility: See, he's really changed! But instead people saw the same smug little martinet I had to put up with in New York for 12 years -- except, unlike most of his tenure in New York, he was visibly baffled and at bay. And that was great. I loved every closeup of Bloomberg suffering -- well, maybe suffering isn't the right word: maybe "retreating into his ego" is more like it. Look at this fucker under Warren's lash: it's like he's being interrogated by kidnappers, moving from an ah surely they are not serious, this has to be a joke doesn't it look to a My God they are serious I'll just play for time, can't let them know I'm scared look:

And almost as good -- the others got into it! Even Biden took time out of his desperate last-angry-man act to get some licks in. Even Buttigieg -- I know! Pete Buttigieg! -- started acting like maybe billionaires weren't America's greatest accomplishment:
Look, our party has values. We were built around values like making sure we protect working people. But Mayor Bloomberg opposed raising the minimum wage... And if we're going into the election of our lives against a president who rose to power by cynically exploiting the frustration of ordinary Americans feeling like leaders weren't speaking to them, then I think that turning to someone like Mayor Bloomberg, who thinks he can buy this election, is no better a way to succeed than turning to somebody like Senator Sanders who wants to burn the house down.
OK, he's still had to get that shit in about Sanders, but Eddie Haskell Buttigieg going full This Election Is Not For Sale on Bloomberg is like the Simpsons episode where Bart has to shut up about Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabapple and even Martin is scoring off him. Except unlike Bart Bloomberg has no natural gifts to suppress.

Otherwise: I don't know about you but I think Amy Klobuchar is going to be the first candidate to have an actual meltdown onstage -- she seemed close to angry tears at several points and when she said "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," I expected her to stomp off behind the gym and tearfully light up a Salem. It's kind of endearingly human in a way, but not, how you say, presidential. Elizabeth Warren was so good I not only felt inclined to forgive her trimming and bullshitting on M4A, I began to admire it as political provender. Trump isn't going to engage fairly with it anyway -- if he's even stupid enough to debate her, he'll probably just put on a war bonnet and go "woo woo woo" while his claque howls -- so she might as well do some old-fashioned film-flam. I think Biden is taking some variant of The Formula and it's pepped him up, but sometimes the train loses a few passengers on the way to the station if you know what I mean; he's gonna have to do some heavy Luminosity Brain Training if he wants to get in. Buttigieg is still a Wally and Chuck Todd, whose interest in the Culinary Union health care plan was unseemly, should just fuck all the fucking way the fuck off. Vote Sanders!

Friday, February 14, 2020


People laugh about "yazz flute" but Bobbi Humphrey ain't no joke.

•   I'm releasing another edition of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down for you non-subscribing folks. In this one I imagine a meeting between Tom Perez and his party's major donor, Michael Bloomberg. As I've been saying for years, Bloomberg sucks. Here's me in 2007 when people were also talking about a Bloomberg presidential run:
When we imagine the archetypical Rich Prick, we generally think of vulgarian clowns like Donald Trump, but Bloomberg is a better example of that breed: he doesn't have to even stir himself to sneer. As we saw during the last Mayoral Debate, he effortlessly radiates contempt for anything that is not his will. When he gives press conferences, his manner is bland, because he knows there's nothing to get excited about: he is right, you are wrong, and he will prevail.

As Mayor he has blithely exercised his will, or his whim, on matters ranging from trans-fats to the razing of neighborhoods for private profit. And nearly everyone rolls over for him. All the major dailies endorsed him in his last Mayoral race. (He spent over $75 million on the campaign.)

No wonder he's interested in the Presidency. Experience has taught him that very little is beyond his grasp. So he will patiently go on accumulating power...
Fortunately a lot of people (including Elizabeth Warren, bless her) are pointing out his shortcomings now -- his erstwhile stop-and-friskiness and the transparent insincerity of his apologies for it, his blaming the 2008 financial crisis on black people, etc. He's clearly hoping his billions and free-spending thereof will do the trick like it did back in New York. I couldn't stop the guy back then, but maybe everyone's gotten a little more wised up in the interval.

•   Readers of this site will know I've long suspected authors of "reader email" to Rod Dreher (or as I like to call them, "Letters to Repenthouse") are pulling his chain, and now I suspect they're sending Sacha Baron Cohen in a variety of disguises to prank him. From his latest:
But I have to tell you about something deeply shocking I learned tonight in conversation with one of the conferees [at a Nashville conference]. There’s nothing funny about this at all. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to write a book called Benedict Option II: Head For The Hills.
Gasp! What a come-on. Gather round, Jesus fish!
I spoke with a man who works with victims of human sex trafficking. This is not a world I have paid attention to. He was telling me that it is much, much worse than people imagine, because of the Internet. Online pornography, he said, is destroying the hearts and minds of so many young people. He told me about a 13 year old girl in his church who came to the pastor and asked innocently if it was worth it to give a boy a blow job in exchange for a meal at McDonalds. She was holding out for Applebees, and wondered if it she was overshooting.
One waits in vain for the rimshot. Apparently Rod is buying this. Emboldened, his interlocutor goes further:
He said that in his line of work, he hears from fertility doctors — not one fertility doctor, but several — that they are having to teach married couples how to have normal sex. Normal, as in penis-in-vagina sex — this, if they want to conceive. These young people have been so saturated in pornography, and have had their imaginations so thoroughly formed by it, that the idea of normal reproductive sex acts are bizarre to them.
“This one doctor told me that she has to prescribe only doing penis-in-vagina sex exclusively for six months, so they can learn to feel normal about it,” he said. He wasn’t joking. He said that the first time a fertility doc told him that, he thought it must be a one-off thing, but he’s heard it from fertility docs from around the country.
I am old and out of it in many, many ways, but I would bet folding money that young people can figure out how to fuck no matter what they see on the internet.

I almost feel sorry for Dreher. Sooner or later his credulousness is going to affect his career trajectory. Imagine him going to some classy conference where someone brings up the declines in teen pregnancy, and Dreher explaining this is because young'uns don't know that the pee-pee goes in the hoo-hoo because porno. Imagine the astonished stares as David Brooks whisks Dreher to a waiting limo!

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Now that Sanders is surging, NeverTrumpers are freaking out. Max Boot:
Jennifer Rubin:
Still better and worse, as Ophelia said, is Megan McArdle. Months ago she declared she would support any Democrat, even Sanders, which was very clever of her -- she probably figures if he's nominated he'll be trounced, so she won't have to either do a last-minute "Save Our Oligarchy" column or pretend the day after he's inaugurated that she suddenly realized what a disastrous mistake America had made.

I'll say this for her: unlike Boot and Rubin, McArdle manages to keep the panic out of her voice. Her method is very close to that of the conservative shero whose manner she has come to adopt, Peggy Noonan: A touch toffee-nosed, civility-insistent, passive-aggressive. Here's the headline:
For good or ill (probably ill), at least Bernie Sanders is sincere
People always say it's unfair to blame columnists for the headlines their editors foist on them, and I agree: McArdle probably would have left off the parenthetical, and allowed her reader to infer it. Maybe her editor is a greenhorn who made the mistake of portraying what she read.
Look, I know that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a socialist. I’m aware that the engine of his campaign is breathtaking hubris well-lubricated with monetary snake oil, and that the ideas it spits out would, if enacted, catapult the United States into a fiscal crisis.
I mean, everybody knows that, right? If someone asks for proof just yell "Venezuela" and start throwing rocks.
And while I doubt it was politically savvy for Hillary Clinton to say so out loud in a new documentary, I understand that Sanders has trouble cooperating with his senatorial colleagues, which means he’s doomed to disappoint even his ardent supporters, should he get elected.
Not sure what "politically savvy" means in reference to someone who will never again hold public office (thank God). The rest of it sounds like some Northeastern office lady imitating bless-your-heartisms she saw in Steel Magnolias: unfortunately, in translation that means sewing organdy to a basic "your friends are stupid to like you" formulation.

But then McArdle decides to pull a fast one!
But darn it, I just like the guy.
Ha ha ha ha, no really, imagine Megan McArdle liking Bernie Sanders. He's everything she hates! He cares about poor people! He's popular despite being messy! If Suderman tried to interest him in his cocktail recipes he would probably not be able to pretend interest! He's the anti-McArdle.

So no one who knows what she's really about believes this shtick. But let's play along a while.
I don’t mean that I like Sanders the way Democrats “liked” Donald Trump in 2016, in the misguided belief that his nomination would allow Hillary Clinton to stroll unhindered into the White House. For one thing, I want the Democrat to win — only, please, let it be a less radical candidate.
Bernie's radical not "rad," people!
Yet even as I wish failure on his campaign, I still like Sanders himself. I’m a sucker for sincerity.
[Not gonna touch that]
And so are a whole lot of New Hampshire voters I’ve talked to, including quite a few who were planning to vote for someone else.
Over and over, nearly word for word, they basically said, “I like him because he’s been saying the same thing for 40 years.” They may disagree with this or that part of Sanders’s agenda, but at least they know he means it.
I wasn't there but I'm willing to bet New Hampshire Bernie Sanders voters were not telling Megan McArdle they liked her candidate because he hadn't changed his patter since the Reagan Administration. Perhaps they said they agreed with what he'd been saying for 40 years? But no, that'd be too much to bear.
Which may explain the strange “Freaky Friday” demographic inversion among supporters of the septuagenarian Sanders and the precocious Pete Buttigieg.
McArdle says the youngs don't like Mayo Pete even though he's young too, whereas they love old Bernie, and the reason is they think Pete is fake while Bernie
appeals to the sincerity caucus, with his undeniably authentic Brooklyn accent, his utterly unpolished speaking style and an unshakable commitment to socialism that could never, even in 1968, have seemed like a good career move.
So, see, it's all personality -- nothing really to do with principles or policies (because who really could want universal health care and a wealth tax? LOL get real, kids!).  Plus which sincerity has a downside, says McArdle:
I suspect that the sincerity appeal may also explain how Trump secured his nomination in 2016.
And you don't want to be like Trump supporters, do you, hipsters?  But wait, how exactly is Trump like Sanders?
The things Trump says are often untrue, sometimes awful and occasionally incoherent. But by that very token, you know his speeches haven’t been carefully focus-grouped...
And Bernie says stuff like "Not me, us!" Which is just as wacky! Not convinced yet? McArdle unsleeves her ace:
Mao Zedong’s Red Guards no doubt were plenty sincere, but I’d still rather be ruled by a used-car salesman from the seediest lot in town. 
[Photoshop of Kate McKinnon as Hillary's last-minute pitch: HE WILL CADRE US ALL.]
Then again, look back over the past two decades of politicians who promised that everything would be different, then delivered more of the same, only somehow worse.
The bottom line: Don't believe in anything, be cynical -- not like those awful hippies who were cynical about the Iraq War, ugh, but like everyone on the Fox Business Network is: Believing in nothing but money, comfortable with anyone who has lots of it, and contemptuous of anyone who has little. That's cynicism you can believe in -- and that wins Pulitzers!

Sunday, February 09, 2020


Feel the excitement -- Oscar night! As you may know, I'm in the habit of seeing as many Best Picture contenders each year as I can. Yesterday I finished the cycle with Ford v Ferrari. And what a dumb pleasure it was! Two racing pros, the plain-spoken and practical Texan Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and the explosive, eccentric visionary Brit Ken Miles (Christian Bale), are at loose ends in 1963 when fate hands them a dream project: Make Ford Motor Company a world-class winning race car. Part of the drama is our boys versus the "suits" at FoMoCo who insist on gumming up their bold work with corporate bullshit. This to some extent also pits our boys against one another, as Shelby is more inclined to work with the suits and Miles to blow them off. Ironically, I felt the heavy hand of Movieland suits on Ford v Ferrari itself --  you can almost call out points where someone must have said, for example, "test scores say we really need Shelby to get hot with the Ford asshole around 1:35." But I gotta admit that, aside for a sniffly coda underlining the heroes' man-love, as Hollywood product goes the thing's very well built. I worried how things will go, felt good when they went well, and the racing stuff made a car-crazy little kid out of me and I don't even drive. I could have stood Shelby and Miles to be more, like, characters, but given the context I'm content with Damon and Bale coasting on their considerable base skills and charisma. If you want real acting there's plenty in the supporting cast, including Tracy Letts as pig-eyed honcho Henry Ford II (a world away from his Lady Bird and Little Women characters; his reactions to a report of Enzo Ferrari's insults is a little master class) and Ray McKinnon as a great car engineer who seems to know a little something about how people work, too. (Yeah, that's a cliche, but with a movie like this cliches aren't so bad.)

OK, you've seen my other reviews (links here). Now to my famous predictions! I'm seldom more that 65% right and often do much worse, but I did call Green Book last year.

× Best Picture: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

My big sucker bet right up top! Here's my reasoning: Everyone's saying 1917. It's so well-done, they say, a tour de force, it's a lock. But no one loves 1917. Once its brutal effect passes, it mainly remains in the mind as a series of unpleasant set pieces. You'll notice no major critics' awards named it Best Picture.

Parasite leads the critics' awards, and oddsmakers put it as #2 to 1917. But would Hollywood go so far as to give its crown jewel to a Korean movie so obviously about class warfare -- and with such a downbeat ending? No, they're more likely to pick a movie that flatters themselves -- indeed, flatters a Hollywood era in which many of them came up. And it's fun!

× Best Director: Sam Mendes, 1917

 Best Original Screenplay: Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite

And that's where they'll split the difference.

 Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit 

Had Waititi been nominated for Best Director, too, I'd be liking this movie for Best Picture. I found it not only involving but inspiring -- just the sort of thing Oscar goes for. It's a sign of our times that a movie about the fall of the Third Reich is the sunniest film of the bunch.

 Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
 Best Actress: Renée Zellweger, Judy
 Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
 Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

I'm not a total idiot.

 Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917
× Best Production Design: Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales, 1917
 Best Sound Mixing: Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson, 1917
× Best Sound Editing: Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate, 1917

Tough categories, but 1917 really is too good to refuse in the technical areas.

× Best Score: Alexandre Desplat, Little Women

There's a lot of hype for Hildur Guðnadóttir, understandably. Her Joker score is very good at ratcheting the tension of a film that requires constantly ratcheted tension. (Thomas Newman's 1917 score is similarly effective, but with more musical flourishes.) Randy Newman's Marriage Story score is pretty lush, but at odds with the mumblecore look of the film. Desplat's score is as always very musical and I can even remember snatches of tune from it, plus it brings back pleasurable memories of a film that some people think the Academy undervalued.

 Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran, Little Women

'Cuz it's a costume drama, duh. (If they're ambitious maybe they'll recognize the clever, cartoonish exaggerations of the Nazi uniforms in Jojo Rabbit, not to mention Scarlett Johansson's hat.)

 Best Film Editing: Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland, Ford v Ferrari

I have understood since Bullitt that they like to give this award to movies with cars going fast.

 Best Song: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again," Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Rocketman
 Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker, Bombshell
 Best International Feature Film: Parasite
× Best Animated Feature: Klaus
× Best Short Film (Animated): Kitbull
 Best Short Film (Live): The Neighbors' Window
 Best Short Film (Documentary): Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (If You're a Girl)
× Best Documentary Feature: Honeyland
× Best Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliot Newman, The Lion King

I don't know. What do I know? Kitbull gave me sniffles. Isn't The Lion King one long special effect?

And there we have it!

UPDATE. I'm a winner!
UPDATE 2: I'm a loser!
UPDATE 3: I can't be sore about Parasite -- it's brilliant. Props to the Academy for having the guts.

Friday, February 07, 2020


I'm an idiot, I love this.

•   The Oscars are on Sunday. I've unlocked my newsletter reviews of Best Picture nominees Marriage StoryThe IrishmanOnce Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Parasite, Joker, Jojo Rabbit and (new!) 1917 and Little Women. That leaves Ford vs. Ferrari, which I hope to see even though it's not really a contender because it looks like fun -- and the other nominees, for better or worse, are very stressful, or in any event I found then so (no Little Miss Sunshine in this bunch, let alone Mary Poppins!). I'll do my predictions day-of-show, and then -- magic time!

•   When he's right, our late president is right:
We have both David Brooks and Peggy Noonan going oh those Democrats are blowing it (I know, what a shock); Brooks especially says Democrats ought to capitulate entirely on the economy and make a lame nicey-nicey pitch:
...Democrats should acknowledge that the economy has done well since the Obama recovery in 2009. They should argue that this is the time to take advantage of prosperity to begin a moral and social revival. This is the year to run a values campaign, one that champions policies to make America more socially mobile, caring and interdependent.
In 2020, running on economic gloom or class war probably won’t work. 
I don't remember Brooks offering this advice to Trump in 2016 when the economy was climbing faster than it is now and Trump was still insisting the nation was on the verge of collapse and Trump was the only solution. Then as now, our go-go economy was leaving and continues to leave more people behind every day -- and once you fall off the gig economy merry-go-round, it gets harder and harder to climb back on. And get health care if you're sick. And food if you're hungry. To my way of thinking, when Trump blathers about the economy, Democrats should respond: "Forget what this guy says -- we all know what a liar he is." No stammering equivocation -- ask the people how they'd like not to have to live in terror of losing their jobs to a stupid tariff or their homes to an unregulated bank.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020


I only read the transcripts of these things anymore, but the latest State of the Union looks to me like more gush from the blimp, portraying Trump and America as beloved of everyone in the world -- even Xi Jinping and the Chinese, whom Trump claimed "respect what we’ve done because, quite frankly, they could never really believe that they were able to get away with" -- except immigrants and Democrats. The former were uniformly described as bestial rapist-murderers enabled by their fiendish Sanctuary City liberal friends ("Ah ain't a-goin' to see no Broadway show," cries Ma MAGA, "I might git raped an' murdered by a Guy-aneesi!"), and the latter, the rubes were told, were trying to take their health care away and replace it with socialism. (Meanwhile Trump and his cronies just got the Supreme Court to delay their planned destruction of Obamacare and its pre-existing condition coverage until after the election, lest anyone he may have conned be disabused before it's too late to do anything about it.)

In other words, it was an incoherent vengeance drama like the most recent Rambo movie projected through a kaleidoscope, with numerous holy innocents menaced by The Dark, and only one geezer made-up and photographed to look tough can save them.

Meanwhile, here's how CNN bannered this:
If elections are won by defiant showmanship alone, Donald Trump, the grand political illusionist, will waltz to a second term in November. 
In the most politicized State of the Union address in modern times, the President took the choreography of an annual America ritual to new levels on Tuesday night at a fraught moment in the nation's history. 
And he spelled out a daunting warning to a band of Democrats who couldn't even cobble together a winner in the Iowa caucuses on Monday that he's an effective, relentless political communicator who will stop at nothing to win.
I'm an old man, and remember when we used to make fun of Pravda for coverage like this. The wisdom of age seems a curse, sometimes, but as I have no children at least the brunt of it will fall on others.

Friday, January 31, 2020


I just love it, okay?

•   Hey, it's almost time for the big game -- by which I mean the Oscars, a week from Sunday. Over at the newsletter (it's called Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, if you want to know what to ask for at the newsletter store) I've started my Best Picture nominee reviews. Last year I correctly predicted Green Book to win, so I'm feeling pretty damned cocky (though I only got 61% right overall). For those of you non-subscribers who want to get in on the tinsel and glamour, I've unlocked my reviews of Marriage StoryThe IrishmanOnce Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Parasite, Joker, and Jojo Rabbit; -- the other three are coming soon. Oh, and as long as I'm here: Chiefs by 3!

•    I assume most of you are acquainted with the Rod Dreher "Letters to Repenthouse" shtick, whereby conservative operatives (compensated or not) pass him their "I never dreamed this would happen to me" missives and he posts them as Vox Populi. Here's his latest, in a post called "Actually, There Is A Christian Case For Trump"; Dreher explains that he's still only thinking about voting for Trump (LOL) but if he does it'll be for better reasons than those trashy not-artisanal Evangelicals have, and to back it up he dips into the ol' reader mailbag and finds a fellow who rails against "local, woke Democrats in positions like D.A., city council, etc. in cities." The rubes have a hate-on for cities these days, so you can see why Dreher picked it, notwithstanding its lack of relevance to Trump:
The ideology they are pursuing, of completely ignoring any quality of life related criminal behavior and deconstructing muncipal competence brick by brick, is horrifying. Decriminalization of theft, of open drug crime, vehicle break ins, public urination, etc. is turning our cities, and increasingly exurban towns, into absolute hell holes.
So far it's standard "Them there big cities what gawts fee-cees an' needles in 'em" boob bait, but how did our alleged correspondent come to know the horrors of city life?
These doofuses are bringing the medieval plague back to Los Angeles, where I recently visited my fiancee’s family. The stuff I saw there was shocking, and really sobering. It made me remember why I identify as a centre-right person to begin with, and why despite being a bit more on the Tucker Carlson side of view on markets, I will have no time for woke municipal governance.
I'm guessing the guy is a "centre-right" citizen of the Commonwealth. But couldn't Dreher have at least proofread his copy for Britishisms? They rather spoil the effect. The best part of the post is not from mailbag guy, but from Dreher himself on his big dilemma about voting for Trump:
If Bernie Sanders were a pro-life social conservative, I would strongly consider voting for him, even though I don’t like his economics.
If you don't like his economics, then why the hell would you be interested in voting for him? Maybe Dreher believes that bullshit about Sanders loving George Wallace.

•   One other thing: The Republicans laying down for Trump on impeachment is no shock. (Democrats will make it hurt for them in November, if they're smart, which, yeah, I know.) This is all Republicans are good at anymore. Here's a great example from the Washington Examiner, reporting that a "surge in meth could bring drug overdose death rates back up." This couldn't be good news for the god-emperor, especially coming after the Examiner recently said a 2018 drop in U.S. drug overdoses "offers President Trump a boost during his reelection campaign as Democrats criticize his administration for not going further in fighting the crisis." So here's how they spin it:
A top Trump administration health official is worried that meth-related deaths will counterbalance the progress the United States has made in reducing drug-overdose deaths
See, it's not that Trump isn't doing great against drug overdoses -- it's that his success has been counterbalanced by... failure. (Well, who could have guessed meth was a problem?) I'm going to try this at work: I didn't fuck up, my good work was counterbalanced! If only I had an entire political party willing to cover for me.

Friday, January 24, 2020


What was that thing, I associate it with Marshall Crenshaw --
Nostalgic, seemingly unwild, but tight, something tough inside?
Anyway, glad someone's still doing that.

• I'm opening up one of my Roy Edroso Breaks It down newletter items on the similarities between Trump and Reagan, the senile titans of modern conservatism. I do believe, as every credentialed conservative now goes to the mat for the grifter in chief -- including even the finicky NeverTrumpers -- ordinary people are starting to catch on.

• At National Review, Kyle Smith on how to determine whether your military service means you're a hero and whether it means you're just a careerist:
People join the military for all sorts of different reasons. Many join because it’s the best available job. Our former colleague David French joined, under no obligation whatsoever, at the Methuselan age of 37 (for which a special waiver is required) because he felt a deep moral urgency to aid fellow Americans in Iraq, where he served in 2007 and 2008. I joined to pay for college. Pete Buttigieg apparently joined because he thought it would add a great line to his résumé when he ran for president, which he planned to do from the time he was a zygote.
Surprisingly, it has to do with what party you belong to! Smith also heaps insults on John Kerry, perhaps because he was out of Purple heart band-aids.

We know Smith is shit; his previous nadir was his expression of hand-rubbing glee that "Lefty Actors Are Beginning to Fear Donald Trump" because the controversy over a Shakespeare in the Park peformance of Julius Caesar had stirred the wrath of such prominent conservative thinkers as Laura Loomer. But this is a new low even for him. I admit uncharitable characterizations of David French's late-life enlistment (he went in as a JAG), for example, have crossed my mind, but I wouldn't give them voice to slam him because a.) like sports victories, enlistment and posting to war zones counts no matter what the particulars, b.) there is so much else to criticize French for, and c.) I'm not a total asshole.

The most interesting thing about Smith's garbage post is I haven't seen any conservatives criticizing it. I would say that in an age when senior Republicans can freely slag the war hero Alexander Vindman, it's no surprise. But then when would it have been? I remember when Saxby Chambliss slurred disabled war hero Max Cleland to win the Georgia Senate election, and National Review had headlines like "Max Cleland, liberal victim," arguing that sure, there was "a tough anti-Cleland ad that Chambliss broadcast featuring Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein" but "the ad didn’t morph Cleland into either of these figures or say that he supported them," so no one would make the connection. The fact is -- and I keep telling you -- Republicans are no good and haven't been for a long, long time.

Monday, January 20, 2020


Conservative MLK Day tributes are always hilarious. This year the brethren seem to have coordinated on the theme that King wasn't really as interested in winning rights for black people as he was in helping conservatives defeat social justice warriors.

A few wingnut outlets go old school: "Does Martin Luther King Day Honor a Communist?" asks a thing called Headline Wealth (one of the Senile Rageaholic Grandpa sites I used to cover), and avers that it does, because the ex-communist Stanley Levison gave him money, supporting "FBI claims that King had told Levison that he was a Marxist." They also repeat the FBI claim that King watched a guy commit rape and laughed, which has also been circulated by more prominent conservative outlets, who always act as if the vile charge were undisputed. 

But most of the brethren realize outright demonization of King is no go, and so try to portray him as one of them, or at least the enemy of their enemies. "The woke Left vs. Martin Luther King Jr." editorializes the Washington Examiner:
The cultural Left’s intersectionality crusade has separated the country into different corners: White people are not permitted to address racial issues, and men are forbidden from speaking about women’s matters (i.e. abortion).

This is exactly what King feared.
If a guy can't advocate white and male supremacy without getting yelled at, MLK's Dream is over.'s important also to acknowledge that those who claim to be carrying on King's struggle for justice in modern times have strayed far from his dream..

Instead, they have embraced an identity politics that veers from merely fighting against all forms of discrimination, to carving people up by race, gender, sexual orientation, and placing those distinctions above all else...
Imagine MLK coming back today and seeing people fighting for Latino, immigrant, and gay rights! Boy, would he be mad. The Examiner also says MLK sided with Israel against "Arabs" ("Asked about the argument advanced by a black editor who viewed Arabs as people of color and thus supported them against Israel, King was dismissive"), without noting that, in the very same interview the Examiner cites, King said "peace for the Arabs means the kind of economic security that they so desperately need" and called for a "Marshall Plan for the Middle East, where we lift those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder and bring them into the mainstream of  economic security," which is the opposite of what both the Israeli government and American conservatives endorse for Palestinians.

At GraniteGrok, Steve MacDonald:
Today, equality, when invoked from the left, is about silencing free speech or ideas with which the Democrats disagree.

They empower their quest by calling it hate speech, bullying, bigoted, or even supremacist. As if there were a form of supremacy higher than using the power of the state to deny human beings the right to express ideas of which it disapproves.

Martin Luther King Jr. had plenty to say about that.
There follows an MLK quote in favor of free speech, which MacDonald interprets as a wicked burn on "The Democrat party, some in the media, the white tower, and more than a handful of street thugs" who "work diligently to deny you free association and expression even your right to free press –- as a creator, curators, or consumer." Again, if you have to go on Gab because Twitter won't publish your Nazi propaganda, the Dream is over.

The New York Post:
We suspect [King would] also be distressed by the hypersensitivity and growing political correctness of today’s discussions about race — the near-impossibility of honest dialogue and the insistence by too many to label any who disagree with them as racists...

And, while hailing the beautiful prose of writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, he’d be saddened by their pessimism about the possibilities for true and full racial reconciliation.
Picture King shaking his head at Coates: "Brother Ta-Nehisi, you have to give the white man a break. How can we achieve true equality if Stefan Molyneaux can't use Mailchimp to send his white supremacist newsletter?"

Maybe the best is by Jeremy Lott at The American Spectator:
About 30 years after King delivered his speech, a young white high school student in Tacoma, Washington, delivered fragments of that same speech over the school intercom. He did so by mimicking Reverend King’s great, deep voice, which apparently rubbed a few black students the wrong way. A friend warned him, “Do you want to get your ass kicked?” He was bumped into a few times and nudged up against a locker. He left by a different route than normal to avoid such a conflict.

That naive student was me, of course. It wasn’t the huge deal it could have become. Things didn’t escalate into the Great MLK Day Throwdown, thank God. By the next day, folks had let it go. Looking back, it’s really amusing. Still, it helped to reinforce in my mind an important lesson: dreamy idealism will get you only so far in life.
The message of Martin Luther King is boy, those black people are touchy!

UPDATE. Meanwhile in Richmond at the big gun fetishist flex,
 Won't someone please think of the militias?

UPDATE 2. I thought National Review's MLK tribute would be utterly anodyne, the magazine having been in a confused defensive crouch since the dawn of the Trump era. But Roger Clegg turns in a honey. He spends the first half of it praising Donald Trump, and eventually gets to the black people:
Black Lives Matter and Michelle Alexander’s polemics to the contrary notwithstanding, the reason there are a disproportionate number of African-American prison inmates is not because of racist laws or law-enforcers: It’s simply because a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by African Americans.
Um, Happy MLK Day?  Here's his wow finish:
Now, I said that Americans really aren’t hopelessly divided with respect to foreign policy, capitalism, and our constitutional structure: Am I exaggerating when I assert that there is such a division with respect to law, work, family, patriotism, and God?

Well, no doubt there are plenty of people who voted for Hillary Clinton and like at least a couple of items on that list. But I do think there is more of a division here, and certainly it’s more reasonable for a lot of Americans to perceive it here. In one way or another, the Left derides them all — and one major political party is unwilling to challenge the Left, because its politicians and leadership are afraid to.

I’ll end by saying that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while not blameless in his entire legacy, did not intend to reject any of them.
So King was kind of a shit, just like the Democrats, but at least he did his damage unintentionally. Well, no black people read National Review, so no harm no foul.

Friday, January 17, 2020


In a mellow mood.

•   For grins (grim grins, but still) here's another newsletter Oval Office scene unlocked for your pleasure. Don't thank me, just subscribe!

•   David Fucking Brooks:
There is Donald Trump’s culture-war Theyism: The coastal cultural elites hate genuine Americans, undermining our values and opening our borders. And there is Bernie Sanders’s class-war Theyism: The billionaires have rigged the economy to benefit themselves and impoverish everyone else.

Each of these stories takes a genuine tension in society and blows it up into an all-explaining cartoon in which one part of America is trying to destroy the other part.

The G.O.P. has been swallowed by Trump’s culture war, and many Democrats seem to be rushing to join Sanders’s class war.
Trump convinces rubes that liberals and Messicans stole their good jobs and made their kids gay; Sanders wants health care and income equality. Same diff! And anyway, David Brooks says, capitalism isn't your enemy, it loves you, but it hates your boss and that's why you'll die in penury:
As Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute puts it, capitalism is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s rewarding productivity with pay, and some people and companies are more productive. If you improve worker bargaining power, that may help a bit, but over the long run people can’t earn what they don’t produce.

Third, and most important, most of the increase in earnings inequality has happened between companies, not within them. As John Van Reenen of M.I.T. has found, all over the world superstar businesses are racing ahead of their competitors. As those companies grow more productive, they earn more profit per employee and pay their workers more. Companies that can’t match that productivity don’t, and their workers lag behind.
So if your Uber, housecleaner, and journalist gigs aren't paying enough to feed you and protect you from medical bankruptcy, blame your employer for not working you hard enough. Go to work for a superstar! Use the keyword search on Monster.
Successful executives are doing what’s best for their companies, gathering as much talent as they can. This isn’t evil. It’s not exploitation.
And by "much talent" he means "many stock buybacks." As long as Brooks draws fat paychecks for his bullshit, he'll assume it's because "capitalism is doing what it’s supposed to do." The rest of us can draw our own conclusions.

•   The fuck:

I'm beginning to think Idiocracy undershot. I mean, at least Macho Camacho showed up sober.

Thursday, January 16, 2020


It's always interesting when Rod Dreher goes on a multi-installment tear, as when he melted down over Chick-fil-A's gay reversal and started babbling about Thomas More. LSU's college football championship has had him man-crushing hard on coach Ed Orgeron over several posts. Dreher has talked in the past about how unathletic he was as a kid and how his dad thought he was a sissy ("raised me to be a miniature version of himself... The damage this did to me, and to our relationship, was significant") so you don't have to be Sigmund Freud to figure this one out.

In his latest Orgeron orgasm Dreher scoffs at Binyamin Appelbaum, "an Ivy League graduate who writes editorials for The New York Times" -- haw haw, what a sissy! -- who "did not like the fact that LSU cancelled classes on game day and the day after... You’d think that the media elites would by now have learned the cost to their own credibility of not understanding this country... if you plan to vote for Donald Trump in November, do me a favor, and think of Binyamin Appelbaum and the LSU Tigers when you do." Reg'lar folk don' care 'bout no book-l'arnin' nohow!

Then come more belligerent insults to Appelbaum ("Maybe economics nerd Binyamin Appelbaum gets little endorphin bumps of pleasure when the Fed lowers interest rates, but that doesn’t do much for the folks in south Lafourche"), and this poignant reflection:
I used to be something like Binyamin Appelbaum. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I am an LSU Tigers football fan, because that is our tribal religion here on the bayou. I’m not kidding: I’m sitting here writing this with tears in my eyes at the very though of Ed Orgeron. I love him so much. Here is a rough guy from down the bayou...
Eeeeyikes. The howler is, when he's not butching it up, Dreher is the sort of wispy pseud who claims to appreciate fancy cold cuts better than you grubby commoners because they're "sacramental" to him, and is too exquisitely sensitive to clean up after his dog. He's like a rightwing version of Malcolm of The Modern Parents in Viz.  He even wants to start "a Benedict Option for the traditional humanities... the equivalent of monasteries and monastic communities," he says in a recent post, because, don'tcha know, kids today only study wokeness and are unacquainted with "the philosophical genius of the Greeks," which I assume Benedict Option Distance Learning Academy will teach without the homosex.

But Dreher's other recent obsession is even sillier: The Harry and Meghan royal thing. First he offered "A Yankee Yoko In Queen Elizabeth’s Court," and called the couple "Henpecked Harry" and "the Princess of Goop" for being mean to the richest woman in the world.  Dreher then makes his dumb insults even worse in a second post trying to make them look intellectual, as a response to "a clash of worldviews" between Markle's corrupt Hollywood values and "the great good the monarchy does for Britain simply by existing" (which Dreher never explains, probably assuming his readers are sufficiently monarchist to share the assumption) rather than just gossip.

The post contains this wonderful "no, it's the children who are wrong" bit:
There’s been a lot of attention paid to this Buzzfeed piece comparing and contrasting UK tabloid coverage of Kate Middleton with Meghan Markle. This is prima facie evidence that there is a double standard. But why that double standard? Some say racism, though there’s no proof of that...
I mean come on -- racism? Among British royalty?
I defer to British readers on this point, but it strikes me as plausible that the tabloid editors, with their intuitive grasp of what their readers think, gave Kate the benefit of the doubt not necessarily because she was white, or British, but because as a Briton, she intuitively grasped the monarchy’s role, her own place in it, and what was expected of her. Into this very particular and rarefied world walked an American television actress, who has been accustomed to living out her privilege in a different way, and she rebelled against it. Perhaps the British tabloids sensed that Meghan wanted to set her own rules for how she was going to be a Royal, and they decided to take her down a few pegs to teach her what it meant to be a British Royal.
So, see, it's not because she's a sooty --- it's because she doesn't know her place!  Fortunately those great guardians of morality, the British tabloids, have fulfilled their Constitutional duty by piling slop on her. Ugh -- it's enough to make one wish Dreher would go back to football fantasies.

Monday, January 13, 2020


I see a lot of people complaining in near-apocalyptic terms this morning that their Oscar faves didn't get nominated -- or, in the ridiculous popular term (considering this is a ballot result), were "snubbed" -- and maybe I'm insensitive but really: this is a silly social event where movie people give each other prizes, why you stressin'? The New York Film Critics Circle Award is much more meaningful honor, and Lupita Nyong'o won that; and she shares the distinction of winning a NYFCCA acting award without a concomitant Oscar nomination with Steve Martin, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, and a lot of other geniuses.

If there's anyone who should feel cheated it's Kevin Garnett.

I've just started my way through the big award-season movies, and have written at length about Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Marriage Story, and The Irishman. I'll get to the rest in time. Right now I'll just say I'm surprised that Taika Waititi wasn't nominated for best director, because I thought and still kind of think JoJo Rabbit would be a good Best Picture choice -- weird enough to hit the artiste-voters where they live, and also extremely well-done and even inspirational. It could still win but it'll be more of a stretch.

As it stands, I will say yay Parasite.

Thursday, January 09, 2020


I'm unlocking another newsletter episode of my Oval Office one-acts, this one based on the latest bizarrely out-of-it performance by our Commander in Chief in his Iran speech-thing.

It put me in mind of the previous Republican president. Bush Jr. was widely acknowledged to have been a clumsy speaker. I recall conservatives admitting this, notwithstanding they thought him right. (Peggy Noonan: "Mr. Bush continues to prove that he is not eloquent, and that he does not have to be. People need a plain speaker who'll tell them what he thinks and why.") Eventually, because in our self-referential culture everything has to be endlessly revisited, we had post-presidential arguments over whether or not Bush was dumb. (I would say that he was certainly cunning enough to become president, but not particularly good at -- perhaps because he wasn't interested in -- the ideological and practical details of governance).

But Bush seemed alert and at least emulated the structures of coherent speech. Now we have a president who is not only ineloquent but expresses himself like a brain damage victim, and his supporters pretend not to notice. If audio-visual equipment survives the coming apocalypse, people are going to marvel at that sudden fall-off in basic standards and wonder if there was a gas leak across the entire country.

Friday, January 03, 2020


 Been a while.

•   I finished up my 2019 Ten Worst at the newsletter today, and in a spirit of hell's bells I'm opening these editions to the non-subscribing public for 24 hours. Regale yourself with how bad things were, comfortable in the knowledge that they aren't getting any better!

•   Speaking of that, how about the latest wreckless endangerment in Iraq? Pretty bold for Donald the Dove! And Republicans have already hauled out the Iraq War playbook, claiming we'll be greeted as liberators and anyone who says otherwise is a traitor. Inspired by Olivia Nuzzi's invitation to share what we all said back in March 2003 about this, I dug up this old alicublog chestnut -- I was a lot more polite about my opposition to the war then, before I fully realized the pro-war people were unreachable. (From the preceding year at the ur-alicublog, here's a nice rundown of conservative's jingo fever.) I expect there'll be plenty of reasons to revisit old posts as things progress.

•   I don't say much about Peggy Noonan these days but, along with more quotidian guff about how there are no good jokes anymore because everyone's scared to be racist, holy shit:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi made herself look ridiculous this year when she backed lowering the voting age to 16. This is an idiotic and destructive idea, an epic and hackish pander, and is offensive to the baseline reality that the adults of a great nation have the right to govern its affairs. It will go nowhere, but the coming decade may see some pushback against the 18-year-old vote, passed in 1971. A lot has changed since then. We know the brains of 18-year-olds are not fully developed and haven’t fully knitted. Young people are educated more poorly, and the screens that surround them and through which they learn encourage sensation, not thought. Their experience of the world is limited; most are financially and emotionally supported by others. All this as the questions we face grow more complex. We should raise the voting age, not lower it.
The pseudo-scientific excuse for de-franchising a Democratic voting bloc aside, did it occur to her for a moment that if cognitive issues were a reason for removing the right to vote, it would make more sense to look at the other end of the demographic spectrum? Like, the one she's on?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Seasonal favorite. 

Last year blew, and the new one’s already riding in on a shit-wave. As mobs descend on the American embassy in Baghdad, I imagine John Bolton slamming back Jägermeister and crying “If only I was there to guide Fatso’s tiny finger to the Iran War button!” (Not sure where Stephen Miller is on this; maybe as we speak he’s sifting through a racial analysis of projected invasion casualties, and will decide based on the damage to the Aryan race.)

In New South Wales, Australia, brush fires driving people into the sea give us a terrifying preview of our globally-warmed future. And wingnuts are boasting that Texas allows concealed carry at religious observances because one carrier stopped a shooter (after, eh, a coupla deaths) -- without even considering that maybe a country where our churches and synagogues have to be patrolled by armed guards is actually going backwards, civilization-wise.

But like Hamlet said, we who have free souls, it touches us not. Well, it touches us a little -- even a childless fatalist such as myself finds it concerning and even a little depressing that our nation and indeed much of the world seems bent on self-destruction. But we've been governed by idiots in eras and ages past, and occasionally we've gotten a break because men and women of good will decided to buck the tide, and we've still got a few of those despite the massive pressure our society applies to make them and all of us more idiot-friendly.

We hear and talk a lot about the basest instincts of our fellow countrymen because, duh, look who's president, but also let's look at the elections since -- 2018 made a big difference, as Dems took the House, but remember 2017, when Trump-emboldened Republicans ran Roy Moore for Senate and he got his ass beat? Plus this:

[Republican propaganda] did have some impact: Mainstream media outlets that had been giving us a year of What-Do-Trump-Voters-Think, Let’s-Go-to-a-Diner-and-Ask stories fell as usual under their sway and ran headlines like “Are Democrats blowing it in Virginia?”

What they didn’t affect was the election. Not only did Northam beat Gillespie [for Virginia governor] by nine points (while the Democrats may have taken control of the Virginia House of Delegates), but other election results looked like a liberal revenge fantasy: A trans woman beat an anti-trans bigot; a droopy-drawered BLM protester won a City Council seat; a victim of gun violence beat an NRA shill; a freaking Democratic Socialist defenestrated the Republican Virginia House majority whip.

The rainbow of hits kept coming, climaxing with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose first win in 2013 drove conservatives to predict the Big Apple would immediately revert to Death Wish status, getting re-elected — even after a Manhattan terror attack! — with two-thirds of the vote.

It was so bad for the brethren that Fox News blacked out reports of the election for a while, covering breaking stories like Donna Brazile’s tell-all book instead, then playing the whole thing waaaaaaay down and eventually going with a “Dems in Disarray” shtick.

2019 wasn't bad either, and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are hanging in there looking good despite the driveling of conservatives. Not every hand's a winner, but like Terry Southern said, little man beat a big man every time if the little man's in the right and keeps a'comin'.

Monday, December 30, 2019


[The Oval Office. TRUMP is standing in front of his desk, hands hanging at his sides, chin up, a bland, disengaged look on his face. To one side IVANKA TRUMP is standing with White House Chief of Staff MICK MULVANEY. They are apparently waiting for someone.]

MULVANEY: [Sotto voce] This is a bad idea.

IVANKA: [Brightly] I think it’s important that our people see that their president supports the troops.

MULVANEY: Whatever.

[A door opens and celebrity war criminal EDDIE GALLAGHER enters, smiling in a nice suit.]

TRUMP: Here he is. Man of the hour. 

[GALLAGHER approaches and shakes TRUMP's hand]

TRUMP: How you doin'?

GALLGHER: Fine, sir. Thanks for having me.

IVANKA: [quietly to MULVANEY] Where are the photographers?

MULVANEY: I cancelled.

[IVANKA looks shocked, but recovers as GALLAGHER shakes hands with her and MULVANEY.]

IVANKA: [To GALLAGHER] So nice to see you!


TRUMP: [To GALLAGHER] C'mon, let's have a seat on the couch.

[TRUMP and GALLAGHER sit on a sofa. IVANKA and MULVANEY continue their muted conversation.]

IVANKA: You cancelled the photographers?

MULVANEY: Yeah. Seems a bit much to have grip and grins with a war criminal.

TRUMP: [to GALLAGHER] You want something to drink, some snacks?

GALLAGHER: I'm just fine, sir.

IVANKA: [To MULVANEY] How dare you! I ordered those photographers. 

MULVANEY: [To IVANKA] Maybe you can get up on the couch and take pictures with your iPhone like Kellyanne.

TRUMP: Good, good. You look well.


IVANKA: [To MULVANEY] Well, we'll see about that. [Brightly, to TRUMP] Daddy, I'm going to get a photographer. For publicity purposes.

TRUMP: OK, sweetheart.

[IVANKA leaves. TRUMP speaks in a confidential tone to GALLAGHER.]

Listen, Eddie, hope you don't mind I asked you to leave the wife at home, but I wanted to ask you about your experiences over there in, uh, Afghanistan

GALLAGHER: Sure. Iraq.

TRUMP: What was that?

GALLAGHER: Iraq. I was in Iraq.

TRUMP: Of course you were. Eddie, lemme ask you something: When you killed those girls, did you get a boner?


GALLAGHER: Well, Mr. President, I --

TRUMP: What am I saying -- I'm sure you had a boner, who wouldn't?  I mean when you shot ‘em, did you get off?


TRUMP: I don’t mean “get off” like you got off on the charges, like how I got you off. [Looks around.] Geez, sounds dirty when I say it that way, doesn't it. [To GALLAGHER] No, I mean, did you squirt. I can only imagine it, the power to kill like that, cold blooded, out in the open. I can kill, but it’s not the same. I say to the Chiefs, “let’s wipe out some terrorists,” you know, when I feel blue, and they send a drone or something. It's good but it’s not the same. Right?

GALLAGHER: I'm sure it's very different, sir.

TRUMP: Yeah.


You feel it, right? The life of the other person, going away. Doing it, not ordering someone else to do. Like you feel it inside you, like their spirit enters you?

GALLAGHER: No, sir. It's... it's.. I don't know how to describe it.

TRUMP: That medic who smothered the guy, the guy you stabbed, what was his name?

GALLAGHER: I don't remember his name, sir.

TRUMP: That's a hell of a way to die, huh?

GALLAGHER: I think his name was in the papers, sir. You could look --

TRUMP: You don't need to cover for him, Eddie. In fact I want to do something for him, too. I'm gonna give him a medal. I'm gonna give you a medal, too, on national TV, live. Maybe at Rockefeller Center. You'd like that, right? But you gotta give me his name, he still in the service?

GALLAGHER: I think his name is Scott --

TRUMP: Scott. Good, good, we're gonna find Scott and we're gonna take care of him, I'm gonna bring him in here.

[IVANKA returns with a MARINE in full dress, holding a point-and-shoot.]

IVANKA: Okay, boys, picture time! Dad, Mr. Gallagher -- or should I say Admiral Gallagher?

TRUMP: [Standing up] Oop, she spoiled the surprise. But we can talk about it later. Lotta paperwork! 

[GALLAGHER stands; TRUMP crosses to sit at the Resolute Desk.]

C'mon, Eddie, you stand next to me a little behind the desk. Maybe show 'em your thumbs-up, job well done.

[GALLAGHER does so.]

MARINE: Which button, ma'am.

IVANKA: [Sighs disgustedly] The one on top!

[The MARINE takes a few shots of them with flash. IVANKA snatches the camera.]

IVANKA: Thanks, soldier! [Looking at MULVANEY, waves camera] I'll send these straight to the papers. It's going to be great. [To TRUMP] See you, Daddy. [Calls back to GALLAGHER] Nice to meet you.

[She leaves. GALLAGHER seems confused. He looks at TRUMP, who has taken out his phone and started playing with it. MULVANEY gestures GALLAGHER over to the other side of the Office, near a door. GALLAGHER crosses to him, shooting nervous glances back at TRUMP. MULVANEY waits with his arms folded.]

GALLAGHER [quietly, to MULVANEY] Are they really going to make an Admiral?

MULVANEY: Don't ask, don't tell. There's a car outside. Take the first left and the Marine will take care of you.

GALLAGHER: What about those pictures? This is getting weird, my wife and I want to have kids --

MULVANEY: I wouldn't worry. Last week she tried to get CNN to do a feature on her dog.

[MULVANEY gently kicks the door open with his heel.]

Better hurry before he snaps out of it.

[GALLAGHER looks at TRUMP, then quickly leaves the room. MULVANEY crosses to TRUMP.]

Anything good on there?

TRUMP: [Still looking at the phone] You know something, I don't think he really killed those people.

MULVANEY: Oh, why not?

[TRUMP looks up from his phone.]

TRUMP: He doesn't have it in him. A real killer would have opened up when the women aren't around. Plus when he gave me that present at Mar-a-Lago? It was just some plaque with a lot of Navy stuff on it. I thought it'd be like a skull or a human foot or something like that. Like serial killers do. You know, trophies. Guy's a dud. Plus he smells.

[TRUMP goes back to his phone.]

But let's run down the guy who smothered the prisoner. He has possibilities.


[PS -- Normally we do skits like this at my newsletter, Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, but we're doing our end of the year Top Ten so I figured I'd put this one here. Subscribe, it's cheap!]

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Tidings of comfort and joy. I've unlocked another newsletter issue (my newsletter makes a lovely LAST-MINUTE GIFT HINT HINT) about how Christmas should be good even if you don't believe in or even like Christmas. For one thing it's one day our fuckwad bosses can't squeeze out of us (most of us anyway). And though DC is of course even more stupefyingly dull today than usual, the movie theaters are open! Think I'll go see Cats. It's already given me more pleasure than most pictures through the reviews.

But I do have a more sentimental side. Maybe I'll watch The Only Scrooge That Matters, A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, a movie that makes me cry roughly once every seven minutes. I will certainly spare a thought for Jesus Christ, whose message has been so badly garbled and misused by American God-botherers; what a irony (though not surprising) that it's the allegedly godless liberals who demand America live up to Christian principles while fundies howl for vengeance and authoritarianism! Finally I invite you to raise at least one glass to the best of hymns from old Alex Chilton. Wassail!

Friday, December 20, 2019


 This is just nice. DC inna haus!

•   I've been so frightfully busy! Sorry not to have too much up here. Here's a free newsletter entry (my newsletter makes a great gift, you don't have to wrap it and it's cheap, hint hint!) on impeachment.

•   I couldn't watch every bit of last night's Democratic debate because life's too short, and I would very suprised if it or any debate at this stage had any more effect on the nomination race than, say, a really good campaign ad for any candidate. (I have a sneaking suspicion that Julián Castro is going to play a bigger role in the process than some of the folks on that stage.) But I feel comfortable saying that a few of the candidates stripped, as Lee Atwater would say, the bark off the little bastard Buttigieg. The guy's been pissing me off since David Brooks was pimping him and last night his response to getting smacked around for his wine cave donor spelunking was not so much Presidential as Mayor of Sound Bendy. Frankly when Sanders isn't preaching and Warren's not doing her soft non-socialist sort-of Sanders, I tend to either tune out or laugh -- Joe Biden strikes me as almost comically over the hill, Klobuchar's a trimmer trying to paper over the inadequacies of her policies with biographical details, Steyer's nothing (though it's not bad to have a rich guy up there who doesn't have to worry about alienating people when he says out loud "this president is not against immigration, he's against immigration by non-white people"), and Yang is a buffoon (though thankfully not the malignant kind Republicans worship). I'm voting for whoever they pick and I assume most good people will do the same; I don't make "strategic" decisions based on what I think other people will like, which is the very definition of Too Clever By Half. Here's hoping we can even survive until the fucking election.

•   Christianity Today said Trump should be removed from office? On moral grounds? What's that got to do with Christianity as practiced in America today? Here's Jesus freak Erick Erickson:
Now we have a host of Democrats, each progressively nuttier than the other, and all of whom support the wholesale legal extermination of human beings they deem convenient in addition to other terrible policies. I’ll have to hold my nose to do it and would rather it be Pence at the top, but I’ll vote for Trump in 2020. He’s not the hypothetical President we can’t trust. He’s a deeply flawed, immoral politician who has both surprising managed to keep many of his campaign promises and not squander the lives of our soldiers and sailors for righteous causes that lose their purpose.
And here's Rod Dreher:
I am very sure that I would prefer to have a drink with any of the candidates on the Democratic stage last night than with Donald Trump.  I’ll likely vote for Trump, but only because abortion is very, very important, and so is religious liberty, and so is stopping the laws the Democrats want to roll out on sexual orientation and gender identity. And so is immigration.
These two JustTheTip Trumpers are going full penetration and I doubt either one would piss on Jesus Christ if his cross was on fire.