Thursday, April 23, 2020

THE CORONAVIRUS LIBERATION ARMY.

As someone who covered the first Tea Party wave in early Obama days, I wonder how many people are fooled by the Tea Party II protests demanding the right to spread coronavirus. Republicans are certainly trying hard to bamboozle them. Trump is, in his usual incoherent way, playing both ends against the middle, yelling to LIBERATE states from social distancing while formally supporting social distancing (he even mildly chided Brian Kemp -- well, it's Georgia, what's he got to worry).

In this Atlantic article you can see Congressman Bill Huizenga (R.-Mich.) doing Trump's shtick more smoothly (helped considerably by reporter Russell Berman, who refers to him as a "mainstream conservative" pursuing a "middle ground" and "common sense"):
The Washington Post has reported that the organizers of the Michigan protests included a conservative state lawmaker and a longtime political adviser to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. A family of gun-rights activists with ties to the libertarian former representative Ron Paul is behind similar demonstrations in other states. 
Yet Huizenga, who first won election to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010, dismissed the suggestion that the demonstrations were mere Astroturf and unreflective of public opinion. “I’ve seen Astroturf and I’ve seen organic,” he told me. “Everything I saw was organic. Once it started happening, then certainly people started throwing some fuel on the fire, but I believe the origins of this were just pent-up, frustrated Michiganders going, ‘Wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense with what we are experiencing and living with.’”
How bothsidesy -- with a strong emphasis on one's own side, as it usually is! He's just helping out gosh-darned fed-up friends of Betsy DeVos.

Missing from most of these discussions is the stark fact that opening massage parlors and hair salons during a deadly epidemic is LIBERATION for impatient well-off Republican constituents and the campaign operatives who exploit them, but the literal tens of millions of people unemployed by coronavirus measures need to be LIBERATED from poverty, and that $1200 stimulus check and (barely)-enhanced unemployment insurance that's absurdly hard to get isn't going to do it for most of them. And putting them back in harm's way is not the preferred alternative.

Don't worry, though -- some rightwing conmen are thinking about those meager benefits. And what some like Noah Rothman of Commentary think is, the peons are getting too much of them and won't want to come back to work in the virus hotbeds! Behold his analysis in "Republicans Were Right about Unemployment’s Perverse Incentives":
“If the intention was to get people back to work, they’re not doing it,” restaurant owner and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio said of the expanded unemployment-insurance benefits in the CARES Act. “They’re not going to come back to work because unemployment is too attractive.” Colicchio is not the only restauranteur mourning the likelihood that, when furloughed service industry workers are called back to their places of employment, a simple cost/benefit analysis may lead their former employees to stay home. “They’re getting paid more on unemployment than they would if they were actually working,” Minneapolis-based coffee-chain proprietor Christian Ochsendorf told Politico. “Heck, if they’re making more money sitting at home,” Ohio bar owner Adam Rammel speculated, “I’m fearful that some may not want to come back.”
Who could have possibly foreseen this perverse incentive associated with expanded unemployment benefits? Well, as it happens, a lot of Republicans.
Republicans tried to warn us:  They knew if you gave peons enough money to live on, they wouldn't want to return to their shitty jobs!
“You’re literally incentivizing taking people out of the workforce at a time when we need critical infrastructure supplied with workers,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of the provision that allotted an extra $600 per week beyond state-level unemployment benefits for four months. Sen. Ben Sasse expressed similar dissatisfaction with this measure and its potential to sever employees’ relationships with their current employers. “It’s perverse,” he declared. “It’s against the purposes of the legislation, and it could exacerbate life-threatening shortages in a number of critical sectors.” Sen. Tim Scott outlined a scenario in which someone who makes $30,000 annually in the service sector collects the equivalent of $50,000 per year on unemployment. “So, if you’re on unemployment for 16 weeks,” he noted, “we would give a 50 percent raise under that scenario.” 
Yet instead of being hailed as heroes, these Senators "were caricatured as irredeemable villains, and their objections were pilloried," weeps Rothman. Now people making 30 grand -- which, if they pay the average U.S. rental of $1,405 a month, leaves them the princely sum of $1,095 a month to pay for food, utilities, student loans, etc. -- will get used to a better way of life. True, we were going to kick them off it as fast as possible, but now they'll be discontented!

Rothman's touching concern for the bosses, though, pales in comparison to that of Dan "Baseball Crank" McLaughlin at National Review who not only wants the slackers sent back to work ASAP, but wants their employers held harmless for any contagion that may ensue.
What will it take to reopen the U.S. economy and civil society? One obstacle that may stand in the way is the fear of lawsuits. State legislatures and Congress should act now to limit the threat of lawsuits so as to encourage economically and socially necessary activities that are bound to carry some risks. 
You know, economically and socially necessary activities like serving food from crowded kitchens and waitstations, or handling packages, or looking after children in a day care, or cutting up beef carcasses -- stuff National Review authors don't have to do. McCormack wants employers LIBERATED from the prospect of lawsuits if they force their currently-idle drones back to work and they get sick. Like Bill Huizenga, McLaughlin just wants to be reasonable and common-sensible:
For factories, plants, or shipping hubs, it is not unreasonable for the state to require some enhanced safety procedures during a pandemic. But social distancing will be impossible for a lot of factories without huge, expensive renovations or For factories, plants, or shipping hubs, it is not unreasonable for the state to require some enhanced safety procedures during a pandemic. But social distancing will be impossible for a lot of factories without huge, expensive renovations or massive reductions in the workforce on duty.
You can tell "massive reductions in the workforce on duty" is just a way of repeating "huge, expensive renovations" that makes it sound as if McLaughlin is looking out for the workers rather than the business owners who would profit from their return:  He then names a lot of lawsuits of the sort he'd like to squelch and, surprise! None of them are against workers:
Cruise ships have faced suits for failing to adequately disclose whether previous passengers got sick, or for claims that they contributed to outbreaks by sailing. Nurses have sued hospitals for not providing adequate gear. A wrongful-death suit brought against Walmart by the family of an overnight stock and warehouse employee alleges that the company “failed to clean and sterilize the store [where the employee worked] properly..."
While admitting "some of these types of suits may be justified," McLaghlin's heart clearly is with the moneymen, and he has several plans to protect them, including this beaut:
The strongest protection would be an absolute bar of the sort given to vaccine makers, possibly coupled (as in that case) with a public fund for compensating those who get sick as a result. 
Princess Cruises, vaccine makers -- same diff, really. Oh, and here's lagniappe for law students:
Some would object that this is government interference, but any lawsuit is government action; the only question is whether the rule of law being applied is made by a legislature or by a court.
Why not tease that out and instead propose nationalizing these industries that are so frail they must be protected from simple justice?  Some would object that this is government interference etc.

These people are mad and must be stopped.

UPDATE. We got a million of them:

Friday, April 17, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Joe Pass had monster chops, but like all the greats
he knew when to lean on a good melody.



These are rough times, let's let that theme ride.



Same goes for vocalists.

   It is to laugh:
The Age of Coddling Is Over
Learning what hardship has to teach us.
...by -- get this! -- David Brooks! Yes, he actually typed with his soft, manicured fingers (or maybe someone does that for him now) that "over the past decades, a tide of 'safetyism' has crept over American society," a tide that led to (or was caused by, kinda hard to tell) "a wave of overprotective parenting," and this -- not an economy that grinds up and disposes of an increasing percentage of its young citizens -- is what causes their rising depression diagnosis and suicide rates.

But not everyone's a suicidal sissy! In previous incarnations one would have expected Brooks to nominate as America's Toughest Avatar his laughably poorly-drawn "Flyover Guy," but the times demand a new model why-can't-you-be-more-like object: The American Healthcare Provider!
But there has been one sector of American society that has been relatively immune from this culture of overprotection — medical training. It starts on the undergraduate level. While most academic departments slather students with A’s, science departments insist on mastery of the materials. According to one study, the average English class G.P.A. is above 3.3 and the average chemistry class G.P.A. is 2.78.

While most academic departments have become more forgiving, science departments remain rigorous (to a fault). As much as 60 percent of pre-meds never make it through their major.
While you liberal-arts pussies are going bankrupt paying loans on your postwar feminist bullshit, these students are getting their asses toughened up by drill-sergeant grading curves! And that's why they're staying at work now even though they can't get proper protective equipment and are dying at alarming rates -- because they're macho enough to cover for our inept government! Look at them, not the idiots who put them in harm's way! Ain't it heroic?

But have a care -- the limp-wristed ways of the West threaten tough-guy med-school culture:
Med schools are struggling to become more humane and less macho, more relationship-centered and less body-centered. But when you look at what’s happening across the country right now, you see the benefits of their tough training...
I’m hoping this moment launches a change in the way we raise and train all our young, at all ages. I’m hoping it exorcises the tide of “safetyism,” which has gone overboard. 
You gotta get your kids to man up if you want great things from them. Take it from Brooks, who built his intellectual muscles forging sociological insights in the smithies of the University of Chicago and The Weekly Standard; can you imagine Bobos in Paradise and The Third Mountain, with all their tensile strength, emerging from some Oberlin pink-tea? The moral is, if you want heroes, you have to grade tough, so the weak drop out, which means they deserve their banishment into debt slavery, and the winners can take their place on the front lines of medicine and everything else, to be mowed down by whatever gets unleashed on them by the inspired leadership of such statesman as Brooks endorses. Don't change the system, harden the proles!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

THE BLAME GAME BECOMES THE NAME GAME.

I have opened up the latest Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issue, with lyrics from the new Battle Hymn of the Republic, to be sung by the people protesting for their right to spread coronavirus in defiance of the fascist heath inspectors.

Conservatives will do anything to deflect the whole thing onto their traditional enemies. You all know that Trump has been trying hard to shift attention from his disastrous mishandling of coronavirus by blaming China and calling COVID-19 the "China virus" (which is so gross his own CDC director condemned it).

In this Trump has plenty of help from the usual suspects. Josh Hawley role model Tom Cotton has been weaving conspiracy theories about Chinese germ warfare and Jim Geraghty, who was probably sad his junior high career fair didn't have a "propagandist" track, does the Just Asking Questions bit at National Review:
A few people sometimes ask whether it really matters whether this virus originated from someone being less careful than they needed to be with a bat in a laboratory or biological material from the bats. I assume these are good faith questions, and not some sort of effort to preserve the good name of the Chinese government.
LOL fuck you buddy.
...But if we want to ensure nothing like this happens again, we need to know how this virus first got into humans.
The irony is that every possible transmission path paints the Chinese government as incredibly reckless and unconcerned about the risk to human life. 
If it originated from a person eating bat or pangolin at a wet market, then we need to take steps to ensure that bat and pangolin consumption and trade stops everywhere in the world.
See, he's just being thorough.
...The Chinese government is incredibly reckless and unconcerned about the risk to human life because they keep the wet markets open. Put another way, right now in your community, you’ve got to stand in line six feet apart to get into your local supermarket, but Beijing won’t even shut down the exotic animal butchers.
I assume the next wave of nutcakes hollering outside state capitols will be carrying signs denouncing wet markets, illustrated with drawings of slanty-eyed pangolins wearing Red Army hats.

Speaking of the ChiComs, nomenclature is an important part of the propaganda. The Epoch Times -- a worthy successor to the Washington (Moonie) Times as America's #1 fucked-up far-East wingnut disinfo disseminator -- actually has a house style (not even kidding, go read their stories and see, though I warn you they'll harvest your email) requiring it be called "the CCP virus" or "the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus." And you'll see cagey locutions at places like Ben Shapiro's Daily Signal ("As the world continues to battle the terrible COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, China...")

But as longtime readers know, the mainstream media outlets that like to class up the ravings of their rightwing pals will always be a bit smoother. At the Washington Post Josh Rogin tells us that Trump saying Chinese virus "is simplistic but technically accurate" but nonetheless he's willing to accommodate you snowflakes. "Accuracy is not the only consideration the president should take into account," Rogin says, and some people might get the wrong idea, so he has a workaround:
Let’s stop saying “Chinese virus” — not because everyone who uses it is racist, but because it needlessly plays into the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to divide us and deflect our attention from their bad actions. Let’s just call it the “CCP virus.” That’s more accurate and offends only those who deserve it..
Rolls right off the tongue, don't it? Definitely using a neologism that has not filtered up through common usage, but has rather been cooked up in a lab by propagandists, will not seem awkward -- and it's an easy way to show patriotism in a time of crisis -- you know, like freedom fries!

(Oh, and of course stage 2 is a Beijing Biden drive -- which has alliteration going for it, I'll grant, though given all the love Trump's shown the Chinese dictator, only his most brain-damaged troops will take it up.)

Friday, April 10, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


We had Perry Henzel's No Place Like Home on 
and this cover came up in a club scene:
In a million years I would not have guessed it was Etta James.

•  This fucking guy:


I think we underestimate how much of Trump's bullshit is based on his public speaking style, which is basically cribbed from Home Shopping Network pitchmen and old-fashioned carney barkers, and demands that one never stop talking and never stop pitching, no matter what. There's also his favored "people say" locution, which means he saw it, or maybe something like it, or maybe the opposite of what he's saying it said, or maybe he's just making it up on the spot but the main thing is you can't pin it on him it's what PEOPLE SAY. These days we're very focused on his criminal neglect and cynical manipulation of the crisis and the deaths attributable to it, but another long-term effect will be that if we ever get a coherent president again (Biden doesn't count, unless they lace him up with The Formula), people won't be able to follow what he or she is saying because formal sentence structure will have become an arcane mystery.

•  Speaking of pitchmen, rather than send you to my newsletter Roy Edroso Breaks It Down I'm going to just pull a relevant section from a recent issue, about David Harsanyi's weird National Review article "The Left’s Ugly Reaction to Hydroxychloroquine," and paste it here:

Harsanyi is talking about liberals noticing that Trump has a small financial interest in the drug — which of course he does, as he has made clear from the beginning that he doesn’t intend to avoid conflicts of interest of any size.

Now, Trump’s direct pharma interest is not the big problem with his hucksterism — which is that MAGA people may be making a run on the stuff, creating a shortage that’s keeping it from the lupus sufferers and others for whom the drug has actually been approved and who need it. In fact some hospitals have been “hoarding” the drug for fear of such a shortage.

But even though big-time MSM outlets such as the Washington Post have been saying that “Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine is almost certainly about politics, not profits,” Harsanyi pretends to be mortally offended not only that liberals would even consider that Trump may have a venal interest, but also that they would question his devotion to the welfare of his subjects:
For one thing, and I realize this might be difficult for some people to comprehend, it’s plausible, even likely, that Trump advocates for chloroquine because he is legitimately optimistic that a therapeutic answer might help Americans. Even if you feel he’s being reckless when speaking about the drug, you can accept that his intentions are good.
I have to admit: the weird weevils of the wingnut demimonde have a lot of crazy ideas, but I doubt any of them seriously believes that the Boss ever does anything out of fellow-feeling.

The funny/saddest thing in Harsanyi’s essay is its conclusion:
You don’t need to send me angry emails detailing all the downsides of championing potential drugs already in use for other diseases. One of my children takes hydroxychloroquine to help mitigate a dangerous autoimmune condition. I’ve already had to work hard to track down hydroxychloroquine because we live in a world with unethical hospitals and doctors who hoard it. Believe it or not, they’d still be doing it if the president hadn’t ever mentioned it, because they believe it holds promise.
See? Despite what you might think, chloroquine is not being hoarded by Trump fans because their God-Emperor has been hawking it like the ShamWow guy at press briefings — it’s because those damn hospitals and doctors have been hoarding it for their so-called patients, just like Trump says states are hoarding the ventilators!

And Harsanyi’s got a kid who needs the stuff. Greater love hath no man! Maybe if the Boss notices how much he’s willing to sacrifice to show fealty to him, he’ll share some his stash with him.

•  Update! Longtime readers especially will appreciate this Victor Davis Maximus Super Hanson sighting, by Muriel Volestrangler (not her real name) in comments:
You'll like this, Roy: after an article about a Stanford medical team doing coronavirus antibody testing, Victor Davis Hanson saw it, thought "Stanford - that's me!!!", and found a gullible reporter to whom he became a "Stanford researcher", and fed his "California got the virus last fall!!!" hallucination. 
This was then picked up by media outlets who ought to know better, such as SFGate - but who have since withdrawn it, realising it's an old man with an ancient Greek fixation trying to pass himself off as a researcher in some vaguely relevant discipline.
The SF Gate story has indeed been withdrawn though the Wayback Machine retains a copy. ("'Something is going on that we haven't quite found out yet,' said Victor Davis Hanson a senior fellow with Stanford's Hoover Institute," LOL). There's a more thorough examination by Jane Hu at Slate:
Hanson’s recent work, published in National Review, suggests he is eager to reopen the American economy. It would be quite convenient, then, to claim that the virus has already torn through the U.S. and granted us immunity. (In that article, Hanson also claims that “much of the virus modeling is nearly worthless” and refers to it as “science,” in scare quotes.) 
Hanson also (incorrectly) suggests that the virus’s spread in California came from “Chinese nationals” visiting California. Looking more closely at his recent work reveals a potential political motive for that claim; in a recent op-ed for Fox News, he argues that we already have too many Chinese nationals visiting, studying, or collaborating in the U.S., and that post-coronavirus America should “wake up” and make changes.
Hanson's Fox story is headlined, "After coronavirus — will America be a roaring giant or crying baby?" so you see he hasn't lost his sense of style. And he's spreading racist bullshit at a higher level than ever! Maybe Trump sent him a big enough reward to replace the chainsaw the Messicans stole from him.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

JOHN PRINE, 1946-2020.



Goddamnit.

Like a lot of people my age, I got an earful of early John Prine early on, then didn't think about him much for years. When I finally swung my attention back I was shocked, dumbbell that I was, at how much great music had passed me by. Pretty much everyone knows "Hello In There," "Sam Stone," and "Illegal Smile" from that amazing first album, and they're wonderful, but that was Prine just starting to take his surreal, sublime gifts for a walk; over the years he got way out there but without ever (not once!) getting precious or pretentious. Head in the clouds, feet on the ground, as another songwriter put it. I don't believe there is any such a thing as a bad John Prine song.

Here's an example from "Christmas in Prison," a waltz that's as sad as its title but not maudlin because even sad people have poetry and humor, maybe more than happy people:

It was Christmas in prison
And the food was real good
We had turkey and pistols
Carved out of wood
And I dream of her always
Even when I don't dream
Her name's on my tongue
And her blood's in my stream...

The search light in the big yard
Swings round with the gun
And spotlights the snowflakes
Like the dust in the sun
It's Christmas in prison
There'll be music tonight
I'll probably get homesick
I love you
Goodnight

Prine's music not only sounds good, it is good, if you know what I mean; that is, beyond the immediate pleasure of his voice -- a plaintive voice that's so Chicago it sounds like Oklahoma, and that flips quickly (sometimes it takes a moment to catch on) from earnest to sly -- and even beyond the pleasure of his lovely tunes and lyric invention, his songs survive long attention; some of them I've been listening to every week for years and I'm in no way sick of them. They're whimsical, but they're damn sturdy.

I'm crazy about his ragged third album Sweet Revenge, which in addition to the classic "Dear Abby" has the purely joyous breakdowns "Onomatopoeia" ("Bang went the pistol, crash went the window, ouch went the son of a gun") and "Automobile," which is like a Jimmie Rodgers Ramones song:

I held a little bitty baby
I held a woman all night
Whenever I get the hiccups
I hold my breath 'til my head gets light
Then I drive my automobile, drive my automobile...

Later on in "Living in the Future" he wrote one of my all-time favorite choruses; it always feels fresh, like a statement on These Times no matter what times you're living in:

We are living in the future
I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago
We're all riding rocket ships
And talking with our minds
We're wearing turquoise jewelry
And standing in soup lines

We could do this all day. I won't make recommendations as such because anywhere you look in you'll see something great. And he was still writing and playing and singing, and had beat death a few times already in the cancer wards when this fucking thing finally finally got him. I guess he had some idea that the next stage was in the wings (to put it Prinely), and he gave this lovely valedictory you see at the top of this post, at the end of his last album. We could feel cheated, but really we were blessed.

Friday, April 03, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



"We're all ridin' rocket ships and talkin' with our minds/
We're wearin' turquoise jewelry and standin' in soup lines." Get well soon!

•   This grimly hilarious thing of Elon Musk, having promised to get hundreds of "ventilators" to needful New York to treat coronavirus, sending in their place dozens of BPAP sleep apnea devices, has had the added humorous result of showing me how many tech-biz journals out there are dedicated to kissing Musks' ass. Here's one from something called CleanTechnica:
Some critics believe that this whole thing is actually a fiasco and have criticized Elon Musk for helping out. One has even stated that the devices are five years old, when in fact it is the platform that is five years old, not necessarily the machines. It would seem that these critics have focused entirely too much on supposed faults Elon Musk and Tesla, who are trying to help, and not the larger issue at hand here: the coronavirus and the fact that hospitals are running out of supplies. Another critic has claimed that these machines don’t have any functionality in dealing with COVID-19 and questions as to why Tesla would provide them. 
Dr. Jonathon Richards, a member of the Louisiana Tesla Owners and Dreamers Facebook group and an ICU doctor treating COVID-19 patients right here in Baton Rouge...
Yeeeesh. My favorite is from "Teslarati":
Some recognized tesla’s good deeds to donate these machines as just one of his many generous acts during the crisis. However, some critics were quick to point out the fact that the ventilators sent to the hospital in Queens were CPAP/BiPAP machines, speculating that they would not assist patients in need of breathing normally.,, 
Musk clarified that it was “very important to provide C/BiPap devices to *prevent* cases from becoming severe. Once severe (intratracheal intubation), survival rates are low.”
I know I said I was paying for chemotherapy, but this program of diet and exercise I actually gave you is an important way to *prevent* cancer. I'm beginning to think Musk will be President of the United States some day. Sure, he's not a citizen, but the GOP has made clear that our laws mean nothing anyway.

•   Just in case you've been wondering how Rod Dreher is taking it, he's been hysterical for weeks; it's all coronavirus all the time. There's an occasional retreat to the classics ("If Orwell were alive today and writing with his superlative critical pen about [SJWs], he would struggle to find publication in one of our major liberal journals" -- just like Kevin D. Williamson!). And he continues to swell his collection of JustTheTip Trumper essays ("Let me further stipulate that unlike the Never Trumpers, I am glad that the galoot from Queens demolished the old Republican Party, which had grown decadent...") but mostly it's Get Ready The World is a-Comin' To An End.

Today's entry is a Lulu:
This pandemic will not finally end, most likely, until there is a coronavirus vaccine. Who knows when that will happen? What kind of America will be left when this pandemic recedes? 
So: I closed the laptop, then went to brush my teeth.
[It's these homey touches that really make his writing.]
I was thinking about the news I had just read, and the movie I had just seen, then I remembered the story of the torn flag. I’ve told it in this space before, but man, in light of this sudden horror that has overtaken our nation, it really stands out in a different light.
I'll spare you: Years before 9/11, someone had an old flag, and on the first 9/11iversary it was suddenly discovered RIPPED IN TWO. Right up there with Peggy Noonan's Face Of The Evil One!
Like I said, make of it what you will. We will never really know if it was a coincidence, or a meaningful coincidence. No question, though, but that the United States has not had a good 21st century — and it just got unimaginably worse.
One of the tragicomic aspects of Dreher is, he doesn't know this difference between a shitty metaphor and a Sign From Above.
Question to the room: have you ever had precognition of the future, or witnessed something you consider to have been a portent, a sign of things to come? If so, tell the story.
It's early yet but I look forward to the Signs and Portents his readers may bring. "When men like bats do fly, the world’s end then is nigh!" Sim sim sala bim! Mayhap it will lead to the world's first online snake-handling service.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

LET'S NOT BICKER AND ARGUE ABOUT WHO KILLED WHO, PART INFINITY.

I've unlocked a newsletter issue on the latest propaganda gambit from the brethren: That it was actually the Democrats (and experts quoted in health stories) who were downplaying the virus at a critical time, probably in an attempt to kill innocent honkies -- look at all clips of de Blasio and Pelosi telling them to go to Chinatown! Chinatown, Mandrake!

This is meant to exonerate Trump, not by an actual comparison with his actual actions (which from the dismissal of the U.S. pandemic team onwards is pretty clearly disastrously inept), but by making it look as if no one was calling for quick, decisive action -- even though Trump was on TV for weeks insulting and bitching about the people who were calling for quick, decisive action.

They've been dishing out the talking points on Reddit, leading to various idiots on Twitter trying to disseminate them. (Many use the "I'm not defending Trump" shtick; you go to their feeds, and they either have four tweets or it's full of rightwing retweets.)

It's always interesting to see them launch a new product, particularly when it's an obvious Edsel. It will be even more interesting to see who falls for it.

UPDATE: Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner: "No institution has failed the public worse than the news media during the COVID-19 pandemic." Unsurprisingly, a huge part of his story is actually about China, with Adams condemning the press for writing about "whether it is racist to use terms such as 'Wuhan virus' and 'Kung flu'" -- as if noticing that Asian-American people are getting physically attacked by racists over the virus somehow impedes the fight against the virus. (It's becoming conservative orthodoxy that racism is actually an important weapon against COVID-19.)

But the smaller part of Adams' story accusing the press of telling people "the virus was not as dangerous or serious as it sounded" (evidence: A Vox tweet in January!) is even dumber. For decades, wingnuts have been telling people not to believe the Lamestream Media, and to listen only to authorities like Fox News and Republican office-holders -- who have been spectacularly stepping on their dicks over this (here's the latest example from Brian Kemp in Georgia). That these hucksters would now turn around and ask the same media why they didn't override conservative propaganda to warn the populace is really in parent-murderer-cries-for-mercy-because-he's-an-orphan territory.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I SHALL KEEP YOU, BORTAI, IN RESPONSE TO MY PASSION. YOUR HATRED WILL KINDLE INTO LOVE.

The latest trend in conservatism: throne 'n' altar fascism! In The Atlantic Adrian Vermeule says that originalism, the rightwing judicial scam that says most of us were never meant to have any more rights than an 18th-century bondservant, has "outlived its utility" and the hip wingnuts are getting into "common-good constitutionalism," which is
based on the principles that government helps direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate.
And the "common good" is what's good for you, as judged by your betters -- "officials (including, but by no means limited to, judges)" who, in opposition to the "relentless expansion of individualistic autonomy" championed by godless libs, will read "principles" into ""the majestic generalities and ambiguities of the written Constitution" and make you live by them:
Finally, unlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being.
Readers of a certain age will remember being taught in school that one of the signal differences between America and Great Britain, and why we kicked them out, was that here we had no "subjects." I guess we don't teach that anymore. I'll go this far with Vermeule: In the interest of the common good, authorities should be permitted to check his basement and crawlspaces for captives.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

IF PIGS HAD WINGS.

The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger, always shit, has surpassed himself today:


I like to think the WSJ art department, if there is one, had some fun putting FDR and Churchill out of scale with Trump. It looks as if the shades of these great men are sharing a laugh -- "Can you believe they're comparing this cheap crook to us?" (Hope the layout people don't get in trouble for this -- WSJ editors can be extremely shitty to the help.)

You can read the whole wretched thing if you like but you probably already get the picture -- The Democrats are puny Lilliputians trying to tie down the Orange Colossus, but destiny beckons:
No national leader plans to be in a position like this—not Roosevelt, Lincoln or Churchill. Mr. Trump will emerge from this crisis either as just another president or a president who led his entire country through a great battle. 
Or, option 3: As a sociopathic con man who blundered into a job far too big for his meager talents and yammered on TV about how mean everyone was to him while thousands needlessly died.
If Democrats choose to be the opposition in this battle, voters will judge that choice.
I thought in this "battle" the opposition was the virus. Isn't it a little early to go full Nazi on one's political opponents?
Some will say, from experience, that asking Mr. Trump to rise to presidential greatness is quixotic. He’ll never adjust no matter the circumstance. And yes, on Tuesday he was in a cat fight over ventilators with New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Ironically, Mr. Trump’s path to presidential greatness may begin by doing something small but desired by virtually all Americans: Separate himself from the pettiness of our politics.
If Henninger had an editor and that person didn't flag "Ironically" and ask "Do you mean 'in an alternate universe'?" -- well, who am I kidding, no one edits his stuff.
Mr. Cuomo is a governor with a job to do. Help him. If he wants to kvetch, let him.
This may be the most absurd part of Henninger's column -- between the famously self-pitying Trump and a governor begging for help in an exploding medical crisis, portraying the latter as the kvetch.
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have self-isolated from what the American people want from Washington now. With the rescue package finished, if they choose to stay small, let them.
I take it back. Saying the Democrats "have self-isolated from what the American people want from Washington now" when Mitch McConnell, having done everything he could to poison the Senate coronavirus bill that Bernie Sanders had to come in and unfuck, then actually recessed the Senate for a goddamn month, is bullshit of the lowest ordure.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

TYPHOID MAGA.

I'm unlocking today's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter item, "The Phantom of the GOPera," so non-subscribers can read it. In part it's about how the death-cult craziness of conservatism and its GOP agents has accelerated in the COVID-19 crisis -- not only in their defense of Trump's incredible malfeasance in ignoring and underpreparing for the clear and present danger, but also in their shift to a "kill the weak to save the market" approach.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's ravings are just the best-known example; Fox News waxwork Brit Hume has gotten in on the act, comparing states and cities that are flattening the disease curve by shutting down services to "shut[ting] down the economy to save every single life that's threatened by a wide-spread disease," as if it were a foolish overreaction rather than the considered opinion of every reputable epidemiologist and public health official.

Patrick and Hume are in turn seconded by a bunch of other nuts and Red State Republican officials looking to get in good with the Boss by putting their constituents at risk. The more mainstream conservatives like Yuval Levin are also on board but try to put it more daintily:
Telling the public that face masks don’t work, for instance, makes sense when you’re trying to avoid false confidence and to save masks for health-care workers. But simple masks actually can reduce transmission dramatically, and the language of public-health experts around such measures will need to start changing. 
That's right, "public-health experts," stop being such a drag -- we've got to get back to Dow 30,000!

But we may have reached a real watershed at (where else) the Federalist, where an Oregon dermatologist seen elsewhere blasting Obamacare is now proposing you give your kids the plague to toughen them up:
This type of controlled infection program would be unprecedented, but so is a disease with the unique clinical characteristics of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the status quo itself is hardly a safe, certain, or risk-free course of action. If the Wuhan virus pandemic is the moral and medical equivalent of war, this is exactly the sort of crash project that could save the day for millions of Americans, jobs, and future generations who will bear much of the cost of this disease.
Maybe newly-reopened Liberty University will give us a taste of how well this works. And if that fails, maybe we try nuclear weapons. After all, this is war!

This is the kind of thing one reads about with amazement in history books, but these days I'm not sure we're going to continue to have history books, or history.

Friday, March 20, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND THE HORN.



This is not a vacation.

Here, have a free newsletter issue! This one's set at the Winter White House in Gulchville, Kentucky, where some of our cartoon characters are taking a break from the swamp. (That's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, kids. Tell your friends!)

• How y'all doing? I'm doing the work-from-home thing for the God Damn Job and it does not in any way feel like a vacation from the cares and strife of the Before Time. In fact, playing with buggy and probably overloaded phone conference services and screen-sharing apps has just added to the usual demonic activity level. On the other hand, when I take a break I can go lie down or play with the cat, so that's good. And I am very grateful not to be one of the millions who will be furloughed or just plain laid off in this the Glorified Gig Economy that was bound to collapse at some point even without a national emergency hastening it along.

Anyway there's always music. I know my regular readers will drop some good shutdown tunes in comments, so go have a look.

• I'm glad Bernie Sanders is hanging in there so I can once again proudly vote from him in the DC primary (assuming we have democracy anymore at that point in time) and doing the public-facing work Biden apparently finds too threatening to his fragile my-fellow-Republicrats act. The Biden bros are less pleased, and Jonathan V. Last, one of the holy Tribe of NeverTrump who now fancy themselves the conscience of the Democratic Party, has really come up with a stunner:
The Sanders Campaign Is a Menace to Public Health
Bernie Sanders can't beat Joe Biden. But he can force millions of people to risk being exposed to the coronavirus.
I'm not even gonna get into what calling the first viable Jewish presidential candidate a disease vector looks like. Last's argument, such as it is, is that Bernie has no chance, no hope, no prayer (this point is hammered away at for a third of the essay); one wonders what Last would be saying if Sanders had a few hundred more delegates (probably the same thing with a different grade of bullshit). So it's not worth subjecting our citizens to the peril of representative democracy:
And if Sanders wanted to go on a scorched-earth campaign against Biden designed to make him radioactive for the general election—purely out of spite? No problem. All’s fair. 
But this is not a normal time. We are in the midst of a global pandemic. America is adopting desperate measures—like voluntary quarantines and the elimination of communal events and gatherings—to slow the infection rate of COVID-19. Many of these measures are hurting the broader economy and will create societal pain down the road even if they work. 
Voting is a communal activity...
No, you asshole, it's not a "communal activity" like a maypole dance (in fact if this stupid country had its shit together we could be doing it all by mail) -- it's the difference between us and North Korea. People fought and died so we could keep doing it. I realize when your stock portfolio is the biggest thing in your life, and you only adopt the wounded This Is My Country tone to get some grubby result you think you can con people into giving you, that might be hard to remember.
This would be a risk worth taking if we were talking about a real election with real implications for the future. Our democracy is precious and we should not allow it to be overrun by emergencies.
But since my candidate's ahead let's all shelter in place while Biden sleepwalks into a woodchipper. Oh, Last tries to blame the struggle over the Ohio primary on Sanders, too:
America is very lucky, we will not add a constitutional crisis to our health crisis and our economic crisis. 
But by continuing his dead-end campaign, Bernie Sanders gave us a little preview of what the weeks ahead might look like. If he continues to persist, there may be more instances where governors show that they can do what they will with the timing of elections, the courts be damned. Instances that—I promise you—the biggest chief executive of them all will be watching.
Our democracy looks pretty safe but if someone insists on actually exercising it, the jig will be up and it will be all his fault, Bernie! I imagine Last also blames Hillary Clinton's defeat on women's suffrage -- if they'd never had the vote, she'd never have been in a position to lose.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

LET'S NOT BICKER AND ARGUE ABOUT WHO KILLED WHO.

I see Fatso's really working the Blame the Chinese/Blame the Media angle, with the help of this shill from ONAN Media:
"Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?" Except Burns never blamed his own ineptitude on the Heathen Chinee. Maybe thanks to the moderating influence of Smithers!

Wingnut outlets have incorporated Trump's preferred racist usage into their editorial style guides, eschewing the scientists' COVID-19 and coronavirus for racially-specific nicknames ("Democrat Dark Money Groups To Spend Millions Politicizing Wuhan Flu" -- The Federalist). They're also doing their traditional response to accusations of racism, saying you're the Real Racist for noticing ("The Media’s Appalling Fixation on Trump’s Use of 'Chinese Virus'" -- Daily Signal). And their websites like RedState look like this:


Some of the more slippery ones have tried a bank shot. Take torture enthusiast Andrew C. McCarthy at The Hill, who defends Trump on the grounds that he limited entry to Chinese nationals in January:
The fact that Wuhan province was the source of the virus was the dispositive factor in the president’s decision in late January to restrict entry into the United States by foreigners who had been in China the preceding 14 days. If you had been consuming only the media coverage over the past week, you’d think that was just common sense. But because media coverage prioritizes political spin over information, the first reports conveyed caterwauling about Trump’s purported xenophobia, his knee-jerk overreaction based on a supposedly deep-seated hostility to non-white populations.
Trump's proclamation seems not to have done a fuck of a lot of good, as our COVID-19 cases are blossoming on an Italian pace. And after Trump's many efforts to specifically keep Latinos and Muslims out of the country, I should think his "deep-seated hostility to non-white populations" is beyond debate.
Today, Trump’s decision seems prescient. Indeed, it may even have been insufficiently swift and expansive. (Many other nations since have been included, and now are imposing their own border restrictions.) In any event, the president will not get credit for sound decisiveness. To be sure, some of this is because he is fairly accused of squandering much of the benefit by pooh-poohing the virus in his rhetoric.
Ha ha, "rhetoric" -- not dismantling the pandemic task force, not lying about our preparedness and the availability of tests until it was too late, but that lovable rough-edged gift of gab to which conservatives allude to distract from the fact that the man is not an edgy insult comic but a Leader of the Free World too brain-damaged and venal to properly lead anything but a racism cheering section.

Next step: Demanding chow fun be called "Freedom Noodles."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

KEEPING UP WITH THE VAN JONESES.

You remember CNN's Van Jones announcing, after the first relatively fart-free Trump SOTU, that Trump "became President of the United States in that moment"? Well, after a series of Presidential shit-scapades, in a recent coronavirus presser Trump apparently did not soil himself, so he's getting a new round of attaboys. Stephen Collinson at CNN:
He dispensed unimpeachable information based on fact. He called for national unity and seemed like he meant to help forge it. And he ditched his normal habit of hyping the best possible outcome to a situation with improbable superlatives -- instead communicating the gravity of a fast-worsening crisis. 
"It's bad. It's bad," Trump said as he unveiled a 15-day plan to try to flatten the curve of new infections to alleviate a feared surge of sick patients that could overwhelm the health system.
He said "it's bad" twice -- that's how seriously he's taking it! And later he showed even greater seriousness -- lying about his previous lack thereof ("I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic"). See, he feels shame, or at least knows how to fake it, which when you think about it is even more advanced.

Collinson's colleague Dana Bash:
Trump spoke and took questions at a coronavirus briefing Tuesday afternoon, after which Bash said, “This was remarkable from the president of the United States, this is a non-partisan — this is an important thing to note and to applaud from an American standpoint, from a human standpoint. He is being the kind of leader that people need, at least in tone, today and yesterday… that people need and want and yearn for in times of crisis and uncertainty.”
A guy in a bar at 3:30 a.m. "needs and wants and yearns" for true love, but he'll take what he can get, and so I guess will America.  Oh, and this is just from the allegedly liberal mainstream media -- his usual sycophants go even soppier, like Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner:
His sober comments came as the White House task force issued revised guidance saying Americans should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for at least the next 15 days. And in a stark contrast to his early predictions about the virus going away in April, he warned that it could be into July or August until the virus "washes away." 
Trump also changed his tune when it came to lashing out at his typical enemies or refusing to distance himself from allies.
This is as if a mass murderer paused his shooting spree to get a drink of water and people said, "Note his new tone, there's every indication that he has rediscovered his humanity." Meanwhile his handlers are using the pandemic as an excuse to loot the Social Security fund with a payroll tax cut and shovel our tax dollars to bail out favored industries and corporations including -- get this -- Boeing. In other words, shit has not been magically transmuted into something other than shit by the power of positive thinking.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

WHAT WAS HE ON?

Horse tranks?

The Formula?

Coke heavily cut with Tuinal?

Coronavirus?

Discuss.

UPDATE. Seriously, apart from the parts of the text that are already being revealed as bullshit, the guy is so clearly fucked up that I'm amazed not one of all the network and cable talking heads going harrumph harrumph tonight didn't just stop mid-gabble and start screaming, "I CAN'T LIVE A LIE ANYMORE! THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS FLOATIN' ON SNEAKY PETE WINE!" I have checked it and checked myself and I know I am not projecting -- this man is unwell, and the fact that much of the country is going "It's good what Donald did -- real good!" is at least as frightening as the virus.

UPDATE 2Well, that worked out great:
Trading halted on Wall Street after stock plunge triggers 'circuit breaker'
The Dow fell 2,000 points and the S&P plummeted by 7 percent, marking the second time on Thursday that trading was temporarily suspended...
All three major averages sank after Trump’s Oval Office address Wednesday night failed to satisfy traders who were hoping for more concrete steps to allay any economic slowdown from the viral outbreak. 
Now, as I hope the financial crisis and all that came after has shown us, the Dow is not a good indicator of the health of the economy -- it's just a good indicator of the health of the market. And the folks who run that game don't like the... let us say unsteadiness of the government's approach.

Veep's doin' his part:
Between his disastrous stewardship of the Indiana AIDS crisis and this, I begin to think that Pence's apparent stupidity is actually a ruse to mask the intentional destructiveness of his leadership in any given role.  Almost makes me respect him!

UPDATE 3. Meanwhile, in opposite land:


I shit you not. Attend Lowry's reasoning:
He emphasized best practices for personal hygiene and mentioned social distancing. He didn’t sugarcoat the threat to the elderly, urging them to avoid crowds. He also touted an agreement with the health-insurance industry to eliminate co-pays for treatment and to prevent surprise billing.
Yeah, he "touted" a treatment agreement that doesn't exist.
It was on the rest of the policy that it got fizzy. The headline item was a 30-day travel ban from Europe. That might make sense given the spiraling cases on the continent, although we are obviously beyond being able to keep the virus from our shores.
It "might make sense... although we are obviously beyond [doing the thing the policy is supposed to do]" is the sort of thing you say when you are fully committed to the bit and just hoping the rabble doesn't catch on, storm your McMansion, and tear you to pieces before The Leader can reward you with a golden fortress on the moon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

RABID.

Conservatives who've watched Trump shit the bed, perhaps literally, on coronavrius have found a new angle: That we are underutilizing a powerful weapon against the disease, and that weapon is racism!

The headline of Rich Lowry's National Review column is "It’s not racist to call it ‘the Wuhan virus'" but he seems not at all concerned how Chinese people or people of Chinese descent might feel about it -- his point is more in the time-honored tradition of "How come they can say 'Wuhan' and we can't?"
Such international contention over the name of a virus or disease isn’t new. Syphilis was the Neapolitan disease, the French disease, or the Polish disease, depending on who was naming it. The 1918 influenza came to be known as “the Spanish flu,” although Spaniards called it “the French flu.”
See, liberals, you're denying us the pleasure of making up a fun name for the disease our President is too corrupt and senile to handle, just because it pisses off the Orientals!

Naturally Rod Dreher, who's in a constant state of panic about the bugs these days, is in on this: A New York City science teacher, apparently of Eastern descent, wants to teach her kids not to be racist about it ("Our students have a very limited black-white, and interpersonal, understanding of racism, and I hope the #coronavirus presents an opportunity for us to connect our content to our public health and humanity"), and Dreher suddenly snaps out of his terror to make fun of her:
If there’s one thing teachers should be doing now, it’s using the global pandemic to police the racial thoughts of their students. (But seriously, can you imagine being a grown woman and bursting into tears when one of your middle-school students refers to bat-eaters?)
Of course if someone makes fun of white Southerners around Dreher, he shits his pants.

The best avatar of this nonsense is longtime rightwing crackpot Andrew Klavan, who announced he was calling coronavirus "the yellow peril" because lol libtards. Again, their belief system and representatives in government are revealed by the crisis to be totally inadequate, and their audience includes a lot of people who can't quite choke down another "it's all the liberal media's fault" excuse. So what else do they have but racism? Hope it offers them some comfort when their moms choke on their own phlegm.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

THE SELL-BY DATE ON STRANGE NEW RESPECT.

I've unlocked a newsletter issue for non-subscribers, showing how a more or less typical NeverTrumper pundit might cover candidate Biden on the trail against Trump. The model for our pundit rhymes with Neggy Poonan, but has been passed through a light anonymizing filter. I realize Noonan is more of a stealth NeverTrumper than a pure one, not as hysterical about That Awful Man as, say, Jen Rubin or Max Boot, and thus could, if things roll Trump's way, slide easily into "Well, of course I always wished the President well" bullshit mode; but her passive-aggressive style seems perfect for the result I expect from 99% of NeverTrumpers -- that is, something will remind them that Biden has spoken favorably of (though has not always advocated for) Social Security and Medicare for Some, and they'll lose their ardor for this stealth socialist right quick.

I will say that the Sanders cause is not lost and at this point in 2008 Hillary Clinton was claiming more delegates than Obama, but all always with this stupid party we must plan for the worst; if Biden gets the nomination our only hope is The Formula. The prospect of his presidency gives me Hindenburg vs. Hitler 1932 chills; on the bright side, by that time I may be dead or sufficiently senile to find it amusing. My condolences as usual to those of you with children.

Friday, February 28, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


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

THE READ MENACE.

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

SOLIDARITY FOREVER.

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

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



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!