Wednesday, June 10, 2020

TELL THE GOVERNOR I SAID OWWW.

Big companies saying nice things about Black Lives Matter is okay but it doesn't mean a lot. A bunch of businesses on H Street NE here in DC recently covered themselves in particle board to guard against looters -- who never came, by the way; the looting was very limited here -- and the bigger ones wrote inclusive-sounding slogans on the boards, apparently as talismans to ward off vandals. They were all pretty anodyne, but the one on Starbucks was my favorite: "We Stand With You!" I think that speaks for us all, no? (Ben's Chili Bowl, not the original, just put an 8.5" x 11" flyer in the window that said "Black-owned business," LOL.)

So I think of telecoms and grocery chains going "Black Lives Matter" the same way; in the words of George W. Bush, there, you covered your ass.

I do find it encouraging that polls show citizens, despite a lifetime of copaganda and the bluster and bullying of our current authoritarian regime, think the cops don't have the right to beat up whoever they like and that the protestors have a point. And I enjoy the enraged howling response of conservatives who are used to getting all the white people to line up for them when they yell "law and order."

One of the funnier bits is the cop sob story "America, We Are Leaving" that wingnuts are passing around in which Captain Yates from the mean streets of Tulsa, OK has had enough, dammit, and is throwing his badge on the ground. And it's not just the protestors he's mad about; "Kids used to be taught respect and now it’s cool to be disrespectful," laments Yates; "...Parents used to get mad at their kids for getting arrested and now they get mad at us." And the language they use on TV these days! As for George Floyd, Yates says:
Doctors kill 250,000 people a year. They call them “medical mistakes” because society understands that they do a very difficult job under high stress and they must make the best possible decision in the moment.
So can't you spot the cops a certain number of murdered suspects? It’s only fair! Yates says he's been in 27 years, so his pension must be pretty fat. Vaya con Dios!

I shouldn't laugh -- it must be hard for conservatives at the moment, as the walls are closing in: even NASCAR won't fly their beloved Stars and Bars, HBO won't play (on one of its platforms, anyway) Gone With The Wind, and Paramount cancelled Cops. Now that the free market has forsaken their favorite totems, many have gone to the last refuge of a wingnut, cries of censorship and deplatforming. Christian Toto, one of my favorite culture-war clowns, predicts:
What’s next? The following list features films considered deeply “problematic” or sharing messages deemed untenable to the Modern Left. And make no mistake, it’s the Left tearing down statues, rioting nationwide and erasing history wherever it can... 
“Blazing Saddles” -- Cultural observers have had this Mel Brooks classic on their list for some time. The film liberally uses the “n-word,” features stereotypically gay characters and employs slurs now considered taboo. Brooks himself repeatedly tells us he couldn’t make “Blazing Saddles” today, a toxic reality all by itself.
See, if volume dealers decide not to stock works that celebrate the Confederacy, they're gonna "cancel" Mel Brooks! Toto probably doesn't get that the rest of us -- and I don't mean only liberals, I mean normal people -- enjoy Blazing Saddles because it's funny. And a big part of the reason it's funny (apart from pure skill) is not because of its abundance of n-words, but because it makes the racists that conservatives are currently clutching to their bosoms and weeping over like Stephen weeping over the dead Calvin Candie in Django Unchained look like, well...


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

WHY CAN'T WE ALL GET A LINE?

I'm sure we've all heard more than enough "bothsides"  bullshit -- the rhetorical approach that seeks to obscure one's own crimes and idiocies on the grounds that someone else dropped a gum wrapper on the sidewalk so who's to judge. But it never stops coming. While it's annoying enough when it comes from weak-kneed liberals, it's a total stinkbomb coming from conservatives and is a favorite gambit of JustTheTip Trumpers -- here's a classic example by David French. But things have reached the point where even some of the usually loud-and-proud wingnuts are starting to crocodile-weep for comity. Here's Jim Geraghty at National Review:
Our Civil War of Stupidity
The loudest, most dominant voices in American political discourse often are the ones with the least thought-through, least useful perspectives.
For a brief moment, we had a broad, bipartisan national consensus that the police should not kill those in their custody. 
We did? When was that? I and a whoooole lot of black people missed it.
Then, our warring factions of idiots went and ruined it.
Why would anyone do that? What might each of these "factions" been in favor of -- oh why do I bother.
On May 25, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin did something terrible, pressing his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, during which time Floyd’s heart stopped beating and he died. Chauvin’s fellow officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, stood and watched. This angered many Americans, if not almost all Americans.
Then, some residents of Minneapolis chose to respond to Chauvin’s actions by setting fire to the Third Precinct headquarters of the city police.
Boy, as your cousin on Facebook would meme, that escalated quickly. Did something else noteworthy happen between Floyd's killing and the fire, like national protests?
Our national discussion was quickly overrun by those who wanted to use the actions of Chauvin and his fellow officers to define all police across the country, and those who wanted to use the actions of the looters and rioters to define everyone participating in the protests. Anyone with eyes can see that not all police officers are Derek Chauvin, and not everyone who attended a protest, march, or demonstration in response to Floyd’s death was looting and committing acts of violence. 
Anyone with eyes can also see hundreds of videos of police violence against the innocent during the past few weeks of protest, which seems to have caused a massive change in public sentiment -- Americans appear to support the protestors and think the cops went too far, which for the land of Nixon and Agnew and endless Law & Order editions is pretty amazing. But Geraghty doesn't mention it.

Near the end is Geraghty's most concentrated pellet of motivated bothsiderism:
The president wants to restore order in the streets with soldiers; his opposition declares that the proper alternative is to do away with policing entirely. The president wants to reopen the economy; his critics contend that steps in the direction of reopening are an “experiment in human sacrifice.”
Thus Trump's looter-shooter ravings (and other provocations, including his attack on the Minneapolis senior citizen whose skull was cracked by a cop) are portrayed as a sensible call for order, while the Democrats are portrayed as off-the-pigs lunatics because some leftists want to drastically reduce police budgets; also, Geraghty describes Trump's threats to force states to cram workers who might have coronavirus into their warehouses and offices as a simple desire to "reopen the economy," and if you think that's bad how about this, Democrats interpreted it uncharitably, hmmph!
Where are the sane grown-ups? Isn’t anyone willing to take a break from the usual partisan food fight to spend just a little time trying to solve our actual problems? Or are we just destined to be bystanders in a Civil War of Stupidity indefinitely?
It's all too much -- everybody back to the status quo, where black people got extra-judicially executed on the regular but at least we weren't arguing about it.

Friday, June 05, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Interpretation's a funny thing in music especially. 
This kinda steamrolls the obvious intent of the song. 
But it swings, don't it?

•  Here's another Roy Edroso Breaks It Down item unlocked for non-subscribers: I Claim My Right To Express My Mainstream Conservative Opinion in the New York Times, by Hiram Galligash, Punkin County (S.C.) Tax Assessor. Ha ha surprise it's about that Tom Cotton editorial that has given rightwingers something to blubber over instead of black lives. For some of us the current crisis in policing that not only institutionalizes racist injustice but has led to a nationwide police riot is a big issue; for others, never mind that, someone said bad things about a powerful Republican Senator's op-ed, that's the Real Crime™! From the Bari "All My Colleagues Are Totalitarians" Weiss to the conservatives who like to call themselves libertarians to the usual gang of authoritarian goons, they're turning their full fake outrage resources on a bunch of junior staffers who think their employer shouldn't be amplifying Cotton's call to have the Army train their guns on American citizens to threaten them with violence for the crime of protesting. Go scour their works for anything on George Floyd that isn't "it probably isn't the cops' fault"; Trump does a better job of faking it than they do. Christ Jesus, I'm sick of these people.

•  Oh, speaking of libertarians and how they're full of shit* I'll add that Mike "Freedom" Lee demanding the quartering of troops in DC against the Mayor's wishes is a beautiful example of the general ass-exposure of these people at this moment in history. (*does not apply to Radley Balko.)

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

A SILVER LINING.

I know we're all a little leery of horrible conservative people from the Before Times getting graded on the curve by liberal simps just because they're not Trump -- and I certainly felt that way about George W. Bush and his statement on the protests, which sounds like it was written by his former lackey and con artist Michael Gerson in full treacle mode.

But like the other ex-presidents beating up on Trump, its relatively non-unhinged message was nice not only as a change of pace but because of how it hit Trump loyalists. The best example is from Byron York, late of National Review and now laboring at the malignant Washington Examiner.

York starts with some shit about how, well, whatever the coroner and your lyin' eyes told you, the medical examiner's autopsy "revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation," and York is surprised that Bush, like everyone else who isn't a cop, "appeared to reject the findings," and he must have some nefarious reason for doing so: "Perhaps Bush's writers liked the notion of saying that Floyd was suffocated and injustice and fear are suffocating the country. But the turn of phrase required rejecting the official finding of death."

Just so everybody knows where York's head is at. Then:
More remarkable was the fact that Bush said almost nothing -- literally, almost nothing -- about the riots, violence, and civil disorder following Floyd's death. At one point in the 507-word statement, Bush said, "Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress." Perhaps Bush's writer liked the looting-liberation alliteration. But to devote just nine words out of 507 to the nationwide convulsions after Floyd's death -- the very situation that prompted Bush to speak out in the first place -- seemed more than a little strange.  
What about the people who have died in the rioting? The businesses that have been damaged and destroyed? The fears of people whose homes and businesses were threatened by violent mobs? To say Bush gave them short shrift would be generous.
York's apparently mad because he and the rest of the guys on the payroll are pushing the "Protestors = looters and rioters" thing that's been working for them for decades, but polls show ordinary people are saying fuck that noise, and here's this RINO whose illegal war York and all the rest of them supported coming out against Trump's strongman bit -- just when authoritarianism needed a unified front and the Lawnorder Tinker Bell needed everyone to clap for her!

I'm happy to see citizens standing for equal justice under the law -- despite the fact that conservatives have conspired to make it a radical concept -- and pray for their success. But I confess I'm almost as happy to see this blowdried shit and others like him squirm over it.

UPDATE. Of course, Rod Dreher has to up the ante(bellum) -- here he reacts to former Trump SecDef James Mattis' denunciation of Trump:
Personally, I think it’s undeniably true that Trump does not try to unite the American people, but I find it insupportable to believe that the riots tearing apart America today are the culmination of Trumpism. What’s more, why did Mattis have nothing to say about the rioting? Not even a line? A military veteran friend says Mattis’s statement sounds more like score-settling than anything else.
Dreher's column is called "Trump The Girardian Scapegoat." Don't ask -- it's basically an intellectual way of saying "I'm no Trump fan but," The Oh you like Black Lives Matter well then you must like looting! shtick is all these guys have, now that saying who cares what happens to the darkskins is no longer cool -- thanks to the damn SJWs! I wouldn't be shocked if Dreher got in Black Bloc drag and started smashing Starbucks for the cause.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

BLOOD AND SOILED UNDERWEAR.

Once he got the cops to tear-gas away the protestors, Trump waddled over to St. John's Church (against the wishes of its clergy) and held up a Holy Bible for what his handlers must think is sure-fire rube bait -- The Leader showing those protestors, in front of a church, damaged by fire of unknown origin, who's boss. No doubt for a certain demo it's a Reichstaggering success; we'll see who actually bites. Speaking of bites, Breitbart's Joel Pollak turned his turgid prose toward the cause:
Democrats and the media were aghast, claiming the president had ordered “peaceful” protested tear-gassed merely so that he could hold a “photo-op.” In fact, Trump’s gestures held immense positive significance for the country and will likely be remembered that way.
Translation: It was not a photo op, it was an opportunity for a photograph with "immense positive significance"!
The president, seeking to restore order in cities across the country, could not very well have done so while allowing thugs from Antifa to lob bricks at Secret Service officers, or chase reporters away from the public square outside his own office.
Well, I'd certainly have liked to see him try. Funnier still is the idea that it was protestors who posed the danger to reporters when cops have been shooting and smashing journalists from sea to shining sea. Not sure why Pollak was pretending to give a shit about reporters anyway, given that he also says the "media" is "unable to distinguish between right and wrong, or between assembly and anarchy." Maybe he thinks a few more rubber bullets to the eye will get them to love The Leader. (In a similar spirit, Pollak also cites Martin Luther King.)

The whole thing's a mess but Pollak's big metaphor reach is extra:
The media, and the crowd, did not realize it, but Trump had seized the moral high ground in that moment. He reached into the mainframe of the American machine and rebooted it with the source code that is the common basis for all we do.
I think he just intuitively knew that "boot" should be involved.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

DREHER IN THE BUNKER.


I'll certainly have more tomorrow morning in my newsletter (Subscribe! Cheap!™), but I got around the DC protests yesterday (though I bailed on the night watch -- I'm an old man, y'know) and first I'm here to set you straight that the crowd was racially mixed and not just white anarchist punks, and it was very young -- in other words, disenfranchised from jump and not here for your "but my lawnorder" concerns. But one sees what one wants to see, and sure enough here's Rod Dreher quoting James Lileks -- talk about double penetration! -- in one of his many pants-wetting posts about "Weimar Minneapolis" etc. --
I encourage everyone to take a look at Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist James Lileks’s melancholic yet powerful blog take on what some of his fellow citizens have done to the city they share. He took a drive through the riot areas, and took pictures. He posts images of gang graffiti. The Bloods have been here (this is their territory in the city). Also a Mexican gang that is heavily involved in human trafficking — they tagged a wall.
What kind of freak looks at nationwide clashes between young Americans and police and his first words are about the Bloods and Mexicans?

Well, now a new generation is introduced to Ol' 9-11 Jim. As for Dreher, he's doing his usual thing, just at even greater length and in a more screechy, panicked voice -- that noise, far outside my compound! Could it be Antifa? Like, for example, "reader" "mail" from "a liberal(ish) white reader" who "writes to say he has been truly shocked by how all his white liberal friends are acting now, at least on social media." Liberal(ish) White Reader tells Rod, "I know on this issue you’ve had the same response as me, which is sympathy for Black people who are the victims of police brutality," so you know he's legit, right? And he's had "substantial conversations" with "Black people (both college educated, one who still very much lives as part of the Black community, the other who is in a mixed-race marriage and from what I can tell travels in a mostly White social circle)," which... is a weird way to qualify his interlocutors; maybe Dreher's readers would be interested in how much exposure to white people the "Black people" had, in order to know how to judge their responses.

Anyway, Liberal(ish) White Reader says the "Black people" were "hot, and all 5 were more sympathetic to the riots than I was," but never mind them because the white liberals (as opposed to liberal[ish]s) accused him of blindness to the situation because of privilege, which is ridiculous because the white liberals were all limp-wristed caricatures:
The perspectives [the black people] had on it came from growing up scared of the cops, knowing people who’d been manhandled or profiled, and just navigating America and all the systemic racism in it (which I 100% believe is real) as Black people. So it was nuanced and grounded in reality. The White liberals, on the other hand, for them it was purely ideology and performance.
In other words, you have to expect the "Black people" to be this way, but it's obnoxious for whites to sympathize. I've seen this shit for decades: guys like Rod (excuse me, Liberal[ish] White Reader) can at least compartmentalize their feelings about "Black people," but what they really hate is "Black people"-lovers.

Also Dreher's customary "I'm no Trump fan" JustTheTip-Trumper construction is taking on many, many more waste-words:
You see that kind of [graffiti] scrawled on the wall of a building in the city that’s in the process of being burned down by Antifa, and you might think differently about Trump’s obnoxious boast about shooting rioters. I wish he had been more statesmanlike, and laid down a hard line without being so provocative, but it’s hard to look at, and listen to, Antifa without believing that Trump is more right than wrong.
And:
The American media (including me) did not see the Donald Trump election coming, and they’re going to miss the political blowback from these riots. I say that as someone who did not vote for Donald Trump, and who wishes we had almost anybody else in the White House right now in this time of grave national crisis, given that his big mouth is likely to make a bad situation much worse. Nevertheless, the fallout from these riots are going to push so very many middle-class and working-class people to the Right. Count on it. As Douthat writes...
Ugh, I'll spare you. (I would also ask: What "middle-class" and "working-class," anymore?) Lately I've been leaning toward the explanation that Dreher's a con man playing his obviously confused readers with his fancied-up Get Ready Man shtick, but this latest wave suggests to me that he's legitimately unhinged, and suffering mightily as he is inevitably driven by fear and hatred into the arms of Spiro T. Trump.

Friday, May 29, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Who knew it had words?


•   From an alternative universe, Megan McArdle:
If you had asked me six months ago to predict which party would display extreme levels of concern about a deadly pandemic and which party would downplay the risk, I’d have thought you were tossing me a softball question. 
A disease that makes China look bad for a hapless initial response that let a new virus get established, followed by a coverup that let it infect the world? 
A disease that exposed the dangers of sourcing essential goods such as medical protective gear from a strategic rival? 
A disease that has restored and hardened borders, halted migration, and demonstrated how toothless and ineffective transnational institutions are at dealing with mortal threats?
A disease that has killed 100,000 Americans — which is approximately 100,000 more than the 2014 Ebola outbreak that Republicans thought President Barack Obama didn’t take seriously enough? 
Republicans, I’d have said, will be the party of total war against the virus. How could it be otherwise? 
Yes, well, I’m still trying to figure that out, too.
You think that's what we're trying to figure out? From my perspective:

A party that's constantly shitting on the findings of scientists to stir up culture war for their anti-intellectual rubes?

A party that demonizes Muslims and Mexicans as a contagion and pushes them out, while welcoming the European whites who brought the virus here in the first place?

A party that habitually turns every government function, not excluding public health efforts such as the distribution of emergency equipment, into a grift to enrich donors?

That's a party that will fuck up anything including a pandemic. I mean if these fuckers got us into a nuclear war with Russia I'd expect Republicans to spend half their time blaming it on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other half selling weapons to the enemy.

And part of what makes it like this is that their propagandists will grease the skids for them -- as is demonstrated further down McArdle's column:
For years, conservatives have explained that public health efforts are a legitimate exercise of government power. 
Sure, this was usually a prelude to complaining that public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were neglecting this vital mission in favor of paternalistic nannying. But given the CDC’s many boneheaded errors over the past six months, conservatives were in a position to score some political points by shouting: “CDC, you had one job!”
McArdle is talking about the CDC that had a robust epidemiology team in China -- the country Trump keeps reminding us COVID-19 comes from -- before Trump pulled them out. He has also been generally trying to destroy the CDC, presumably because he couldn't figure out how to make a buck out of them. And even now when CDC does crawl up out of trash-heap to lend a hand, Trump kicks them in the teeth.

McArdle seems to be trying to say that conservatism is a noble tradition and will be again if Republicans can get rid of this embarrassing goon and put in a slick operator like Josh Hawley. But who at this point is she trying to convince? Conservatives today just want to own the libs by acting like COVID-19 doesn't exist -- and they're certainly not going to take no mark-of-the-beast vaccine for it from Ol' Pedi-Bill Gates! As for the rest of us, I can't imagine anyone will buy this shtick now that our country has been reduced to a shambles by application of McArdle's conservatarian principles in their purest form. Maybe her editor is fooled, though, and I guess that's all that matters.

•  Dan McLaughlin aka Baseball Crank has a nightmarishly bad Minneapolis column at National Review that I don't have time to get into, but this is typical:
It is always hazardous to draw sweeping conclusions about society from individual criminal cases. Every individual case involves individual facts, and those facts often turn out to be quite different from the initial media narrative, as happened in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. 
Yeah, you remember how we all decided Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown actually had it coming, don't you? Man, fuck this guy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

SHUT UP AND GET A GUY TO EAT BUGS.

The overthrow of the mainstream media has been a conservative dream for decades, but in recent years it seems the mission has changed: Now it has less to do with pushing rightwing ideas into public discourse and more to do with making that discourse so idiotic that no one who spends time in it will be able to tell a good idea from a bad one -- which, to be fair, is probably a better way to get the electoral results they want than airing think tank assholes to explain for the millionth time why rich people pay too much in taxes.

We've already seen the effect of long immersion in Fox News in recent polls finding Fox fans are likely to believe absurd conspiracy theories, but after a few years of exposure to Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens and their clones I imagine a President promoting bleach as a cure for a new disease will no longer be seen as an absurdity but rather as an arguable point over which intelligent people can disagree.

Which reminds me of the Bari Weiss New York Times column on Joe Rogan, in which she hips her readers to the new podcast thing which is totally taking down moldy ol' mainstream media:
Imagine if I had told you, a dozen years ago, that the former host of “The Fear Factor,” an MMA color commentator who loves cool cars and shooting guns and working out, a guy with a raw interview show featuring comedians, athletes and intellectuals, was more influential than the entire slate of hosts on CNN. 
You’d think I was nuts. But it’s true. His fans are everywhere — I’ve met them working behind the register and wearing loafers at hedge funds.
Wow, lazy signifiers for the high and the low -- he sounds even cooler than Cool Kids' Philosopher Ben Shapiro! I've only seen about 10 minutes of Rogan rappin' with Elon Musk, and he seemed to me not to have advanced much from his days watching people eat bugs. But maybe I'm just prejudiced. Who am I to judge? Maybe --
While GQ puts Pharrell gowned in a yellow sleeping bag on the cover of its “new masculinity” issue (introduced by the editor explaining that the men’s magazine “isn’t really trying to be exclusively for or about men at all”), Joe Rogan swings kettlebells and bow-hunts elk. Men are hungry. He’s serving steak, rare.
-- ugh, forget it, obviously I was right the first time. When Weiss says podcasts like Rogan's are causing a "world-changing, brain-rewiring transformation in how we consume information," she clearly means they are continuing the Great Work of making us all imbeciles.

Making everything worse as always is Rod Dreher, who's not only excited by Rogan's new status as a conservative intellectual, but angry that the snotty, limp-wristed cultural commissars of the MSM are giving jobs to uppities like Nikole Hannah-Jones instead of to Rogan:
Joe Rogan is one of the most popular and influential media figures in America, but he could never be hired at an American newspaper. Seriously, the little Robespierres in the cubicles would raise hell, and the lily-livered managers (like college presidents) would capitulate. Alas for journalism. [boldface in the original]
There are already newspapers with people like Joe Rogan in them. Doesn't Dreher get the Weekly World News? But I hope his column is a harbinger of class-A conservative journalism to come, and that we see the Washington Examiner, for example, running columns by Joe Rogan, Johnny Knoxville, Larry the Cable Guy, and Lee Greenwood. They can even run regular features about how stupid liberals are to take their political cues from celebrities, as an inside joke that no one, alas, will by then have enough brain cells to get.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A MAYOR FROM JAWS OPENING UP THE BEACHES, FOREVER.

I noticed last week that the Washington Examiner, a wingnut talking-point distributor disguised as a newspaper, ran a story called "California doctors say they've seen more deaths from suicide than coronavirus since lockdowns." The plural is interesting, as the story contains quotes from only one actual doctor -- Dr. Michael deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center. The only other California medical personnel quoted is Kacey Hansen, "a trauma center nurse" at the same institution. (Conservatives have a massive hate-on for liberal California, and love to intimate that it is full of people who agree with them but are trapped in a dystopian hell by Gavin Newsom and his homosexual army. "California doctor says" doesn't put that vision over so well.)

Hansen merely expresses regret that her trauma center is seeing "so much intentional injury," while deBoisblanc seems to at least lean toward the obvious point of the Examiner article -- that the stay-at-home orders to protect public health are now counterproductive and should be ended ("originally, this was put in place to flatten the curve... our other community health is suffering").

The story is padded out with references to data showing that the stress of living in the pandemic is bad. One source is what could be generously called a meta-analysis from Just Facts, an organization probably best known for claiming that as many at 5.7 million ineligible voters cast ballots in the 2008 election; its current paper, "Anxiety From Reactions to Covid-19 Will Destroy At Least Seven Times More Years of Life Than Can Be Saved by Lockdowns," has also been promoted in another WashEx story.

There's also a reference to a "letter to President Trump" signed by 600 doctors (featuring, a quick scan reveals, members of the crackpot Association of American Physicians and Surgeons) "referring to the continued lockdowns as a 'mass casualty incident' and urging him to do what he can to ensure they come to an end."

I, too, would love to see an end to the lockdowns, though I would prefer Trump and his government achieve that by extending sufficient financial resources to our citizens that they will not be driven to reenter public spaces and workplaces before it's prudent to do so, and devote sufficient public health efforts to ensure that when we do unlock, we do so without unleashing a deadly second virus wave, as most Western European countries have managed but which we, despite our vaunted wealth, cannot.

Meanwhile the Examiner story has been spread by many other outlets -- some with headlines like the Examiner's that also claim multiple California doctors' input, though some are compiled and edited more attentively. If you're mad at those dummies crowding up the pools and bars over Memorial Day weekend, at least spare a dark thought for the ones who spur them on.

UPDATE, 5/27: Funny thing about Dr. deBoisblanc's claims:
But in an interview with BuzzFeed News, deBoisblanc said his comment about the hospital seeing "a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks" was inaccurate. He added that at the time he didn't know what the true numbers were... 
Numbers provided by the hospital and the coroner's office also show that the "sharp rise" in suicides initially claimed by deBoisblanc, which alarmed political pundits criticizing quarantine orders, were either overblown or outright false. According to the hospital, it has seen five suicide deaths during the county's shelter-in-place order, compared to two suicide deaths during the same period last year. In general, Contra Costa County sees about 100 suicide deaths per year, and officials said that that's remained stable so far in 2020. 
"If you look at it from a contextual standpoint, I think it's accurate," deBoisblanc told BuzzFeed News when asked whether the number of suicide attempts treated at the hospital was actually unprecedented. "If you contextualize in concrete numbers fashion, it's not accurate."
"Contextualize in concrete numbers fashion" is perfect for this era, isn't it? Kudos to Buzzfeed News for running it down; most of us don't have time for that sort of thing, which is how bullshit like deBoisblanc's circulates in the first place.

Friday, May 22, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.




Good show, too.

•   Just wanted to pass along a street scene: Some years back I first noticed in our DC neighborhood an ice cream truck that worked local housing projects and was not a unit from Mr. Softee or Kool Man, as I recall from New York days, but a hard-used delivery van painted brown (not by Earl Scheib but by, apparently, non-professionals using many layers of house paint) that announced its arrival, not with a recorded jingle or chimes, but with an old-fashioned, covered metal burglar alarm mounted on its side. A side window had been cut and fitted with sliding lucite doors and I guess they had a cooler back there for the popsicles and Nutty Buddies. The other side was windowless and decorated with decals of Disney characters. I had not noticed it for a few years, but yesterday as I biked through the alley behind some Pinnacle housing, the truck was parked and serving to a gaggle of kids. I can't say for sure the burglar alarm was still there because I hadn't heard it ring and I was riding past on the blind side, but I noticed for the first time that above the Disney decals the proprietors had stuck colorful, squiggly letters to the van, the kind of letters you see in low-budget child care centers, and the letters read DREAMS OF PARIS.

Oh, here's another local ice cream vendor -- at least I think it's ice cream:


•   As mentioned last week I am very busy with the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter (to which I bid you subscribe, it's cheap and as a Monday-through-Friday publication may add shape to your quarantine-malformed weeks), and this sadly reduces the time I can spend on alicublog. But! From time to time I release one of my issue to non-subscribers. Here's one from this week about the Liberace ladies vs. Alex Jones. Enjoy!

•   On that head, like I said, I don't look in on the cartoon characters that have been alicublog's primary dramatis personae as much as I used to, but I did recently make a quick visit to the land of Rod Dreher. Quarantine has put the zap on his head pretty bad, and it's not getting better. He's had a full-length sputter about Norma McCorvey aka Jane Roe, who apparently revealed at the end of her life that she'd been grifting when she declared herself pro-life, followed by testimony from another wingnut (and fellow culture-warrior) saying McCorvey was "truly pro-life" ("I never heard her say anything about money"), so there. (Any of these people ever see Citizen Ruth?) In the sputter, though, are a few gems, including this:
I’ve seen this kind of thing in all kinds of activists, left and right, over the years. Again, it is possible that some pro-life leaders coldly chose to exploit McCorvey. Again, I think it more likely that it was unconscious. That doesn’t make it right, but I think this kind of thing is common in the world of political activism. I do know, though, of one pretty hardcore pro-life activist, a Christian who had no scruples about deceiving pregnant women about his crisis pregnancy centers. Other CPC workers distanced themselves from him, because they knew he was dishonest, and they were afraid that he would hurt the reputations of all CPCs. This guy believed that the cause justified anything. Eventually he got in trouble over his deceit.
Gasp -- a guy who runs a "crisis pregnancy centers" being dishonest? What's next -- dishonest snake-oil salesmen? Elsewhere Dreher, who sometimes tsk-tsks over egregious racist murders like that of Ahmaud Arbery, actually does the yeah but what about all the black people who kill white people bit, and even throws in some gay-thrill-killer shit, citing the murder of Jesse Dirkhising, which even Andrew Sullivan has stopped using as a distraction. And here's the closer from Dreher's latest post on COVID-19 in Europe:
One thing is for sure: Covid-19 is going to take care of the immigration crisis to Europe. No government will be able to remain in power if it allows more of the Third World poor to flood into their nation under these economic conditions.
This sort of thing is why, when someone identifies themself as a Christian to me, I assume he's a vicious bastard.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

WARD HARKAVY, 1947-2020.

During lockdown I've been remiss about looking in on friends who've dropped off the grid, and didn't know Ward Harkavy had been sick until he was dead -- recovering from an infection when he got hit with COVID-19.

In 2008, I parachuted into the Voice from essentially nowhere (this guy has a blog, you say?) and was suddenly surrounded by people who knew not only more about journalism than I did  -- not excluding the kids who wrote calendar items --  but in many cases knew everything about journalism. The guys who put me at ease were Tony Ortega, whose experiment I was, and Ward, the news editor, who managed to give me the impression that the job was not actually that hard.

For him it wasn't. Ward was a real journeyman. He had banged around Arizona papers and the New Times alt-media conglomerate for years and had done all kinds of reporting, but was especially interested in the politics of our low mean time (still ongoing) and the Voice gave him room to ruminate on it under various column headings -- Morning Report, The Smart Asset, Bush Beat, et alia.  For a while he ran Press Clips, which had become an media-criticism institution under Geoffrey Stokes and Alexander Cockburn, and kept the adversarial posture but also made it fun and breezy -- e.g., "Another rich putz gets bailout money," which turns out to be about newly acquired Mets pitcher J.J. Putz, ha ha. But he also covered the coverage on actual corporate bailouts ("Real motherfuckers: AIG still hands out bonuses") and such shondas as Abu Ghraib, with tags like "PRISONERS (COWERING)" and "PRISONERS (MASTURBATING)," and exposed such newspeak oddities as the "incorporeity damages" that stood for damages assessed by courts when U.S. troops murder civilians.

Also Ward had done heavy background work on the rightwing propaganda movement -- see for example this 1994 Westword article about Paul Weyrich's C-NET cable venture and precursor to Fox News, rich in details about the seminal wingnut. You can see how he and I would get along. We commiserated on the horrible events of the day while trading stupid jokes and sidewalk smokes.

I moved on, he kept on; occasionally the higher-ups let me do my rightbloggers column for the Voice while Ward and a rotating cast tried to keep the show going. When they fired him in 2011, he seemed resigned -- that's how the Voice has always done things -- and more or less content to retire to his Long Island home, take up running, and shoot spitballs on social media. When the Voice itself went under, Ward hoped someone would pick up my column. (No one did, but that's okay; I'm still peddling my papers, so to speak.)

On his Twitter header, Ward wrote, "Every day I try to write part of Trump's obit." I regret to say that it looks like it went the other way. But the great work he was part of goes on, and I expect we'll get some payback. I'll do my bit anyway. Meanwhile stay close to your friends, especially the ones you figured would always be around.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

LET'S GET RE-FARTED IN HERE.

I have reduced the pace of production here at the old plant, not out of laziness but because between my God Damn Job and my daily efforts on the subscription newsletter Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (Subscribe! Cheap!), I'm very short of time anymore. Thus some of the many rightwing writers who have become stock characters in the Droll Satire of Contemporary Mores that is this site go unspanked.

One of the ones that got away is Jonah Goldberg, who has mostly retreated from his much-befouled perch at National Review to occupy the Assness Chair ("No, Asness! Asness!" Potato, potahto) in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute, and to contribute to The Dispatch, a redoubt for JustTheTip- and Never-Trumpers of the old school which is mostly subscription and thus beyond the reach of my self-punishment budget (though I did have a look-in at an early issue, which showed the Old Gasster in good form).

But someone has tipped me to a recent Goldberg white paper from the Ass Chair, and I must report, first, that it is about 4,000 words long -- not as hard a slog as his terrible books, but for readers accustomed to his short NatRev columns that he only made SEEM long an ordeal nonetheless.

It carries the Mark of Goldberg from the very start, with a quote from DeTocqueville (whom conservatives were ruining well before they ruined Orwell) followed by this...
Few students today — or their parents — saw the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger when it premiered. Like many old Bond films, it violates some modern norms, particularly of the #MeToo variety.
Neophytes would already be wondering if it's some sort of joke. But hang in there, aficionados, because Goldberg's about to uncork:
But in one respect, it remains very relevant. Its eponymous villain, Auric Goldfinger, loves only gold. The story climaxes at Fort Knox, the famous gold depository, though Goldfinger's plan is not to steal the treasure there but to irradiate it, making it unusable.This will increase the value of Goldfinger’s hoard of gold. Naturally, because it's a James Bond movie and Goldfinger is the villain, he fails. But his plot is akin to something happening in modern education and our culture, where the largely well intentioned villains are mostly succeeding in irradiating the historical gold reserve of our civic tradition and national narrative.
I assume AEI rejected Goldberg's Star Trek-themed first draft, "The Trouble with Libbles."

Thence proceeds a long, long recounting of one of the rightwing foundation myths: How earlier Bond-villain liberals like Dr. NoNukes and Ernst RainbloParty taught everyone Wrong History. See, kids today don't know their Parson Weems, as is revealed in the latest of several million polls given on the subject since the 1960s, and this is why kids like socialism and speech codes.

Why do kids today cotton to these things when they didn't in the 1980s, when they were also dumb? Because they're all politically correct snowflakes, thanks to "certain social obsessions—physical safety, college admittance, antibullying, self esteem, and so on" -- not like the intellectual hand-to-hand combat on which ruff-tuff contrarians like Jonah Goldberg were raised.

Perhaps sensing this by itself won't do for a think-tank thing, Goldberg lards in more wingnut history: How John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson made "a cultural movement that began to reject America's past" and a New Class of pointy-heads who believed "that they as a class should rule," which begat the G.I. Bill, which "created a mass market for discontent that exploded in the 1960s."

These Baby Boomers, Goldberg goes on, "turned inward to remake society," leading to Howard Zinn turning American history into "the story of victims" in which "the heroes of previous ages become villains, their ideals villainous," which foul libel on American Exceptionalism has been taken up by their wimpy kids via the New Class, which "now controls American education."

For some reason Goldberg doesn't offer as evidence of this Victim History the most obvious, pertinent and widely-known example -- namely, the toppling of Confederate statues that so distresses his Southron colleagues and neo-Nazis. Of such status anxieties are NeverTrumpers made!

Instead Goldberg gingerly pleads for some still-more-dead victims of revisionism -- "It is fine to argue that Christopher Columbus was terrible, but is that all there is to him?" -- before turning to the last refuge of a rightwing scoundrel, famous black people:
Students could learn much from [Frederick] Douglass's righteous anger. But his anger is not what is most instructive. Its righteousness matters more. For despite America's sins, Frederick Douglass did not seek its destruction. He focused on America's "hypocrisy," demanding that we live up to our ideals, not abandon them.
A century later, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke similarly. Like Douglass, King's anger was righteous...
To the trained ear, this strikes a familiar, wounded and baffled Goldbergian chord -- how is supporting the grievances of King and Douglass a retort to the kids who are also "focused on America's 'hypocrisy'"? And even if this is just an evasive rhetorical maneuver -- admitting an opponent's point to gain an advantage -- what would the advantage be? With Goldberg, we know what the result of such a gambit will be 99 times out of 100, and sure enough:
It would have been better if the founders had never been hypocrites. But we should feel deeply grateful for that hypocrisy, because it was the irritant that created the pearl.
FARRRRRRRT The pearl is FREEDOM you stupid liberals FARRRRRT stop laughing if it weren't for slavery how could you even HAVE the Emancipation Proclamation FARRRRRRRRRT

There's the old Goldberg! You just have to dig for it. Whether it's worth digging for is an open question.

Friday, May 08, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Monk knew: Some melodies are strong enough to do gymnastics on.

•  Just a couple of recent news stories. From KSCB News in Kansas (red state), May 6:
White House Authorizes Additional PPE for Kansas Hot Spots 
After the direct request from Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D., the White House Coronavirus Task Force has responded in-kind with another shipment of two ventilators, 550,000 N95 masks and 13,000 Tyvek suites to Kansas hot spots, including Southwest Kansas as they continue their fight against the Coronavirus. 
“Once again, President Trump has stepped in to ensure those working on the front lines of this pandemic receive the protective equipment they need to remain healthy and safe,” said Dr. Roger Marshall. “The White House task force has continued to respond to the needs of Kansas. While states have been encouraged to procure their PPE through non-governmental sources, President Trump continues to directly track needs and ensure those needs are met.” 
And from the same day, at Loudon Now news from Loudon County, Virginia (blue state):
Feds Intercept Loudoun-bound PPE Shipment 
Loudoun County is among the localities that have ordered personal protective equipment only to see it taken upon arrival by the federal government. 
County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said Loudoun has been bundling its orders with other localities to buy directly from manufacturers. But, he said, that can also attract attention, and he confirmed at a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday that an order headed for Loudoun had been intercepted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  
Upon arrival, the federal agency outbid the localities for the personal protective equipment and took it, he said.
It's obvious what the disparities in Trump's PPE distribution and seizure are about, to the point where we had a governor sending National Guard troops to protect his (blue) state's PPE stash from marauding feds. Why we talk about this administration as anything but a criminal conspiracy -- a homicidal one at that -- is beyond me.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

THE DEATH CULT AND THE DEATH STAR.

I don't buy the popular analysis that Trump and his team as geniuses, evil or otherwise, and that anything they do that looks nuts or counterproductive -- including the recent tweet from his tiny-faced campaign manager associating the Republican Party with the Death Star from Star Wars -- is actually brilliant. For one thing, the only talents and interests Trump himself possesses are entirely devoted to his grift -- his disastrous presidency confirms that outside the arena of self-promotion he is lost. As to his handlers, they have mainly been busy cleaning up after Trump's messes, like the functionaries in M.K. Brown's old "Whistle Stop" cartoon ("Do you suppose actually seeing the candidate eat the rat could cost us the election?"), which is why Trump's numbers have been underwater for the most of the past three and a half years.

But Trump has had a Gallup poll bump in the past few weeks, which gives a clue that the Death Star thing isn't about Brad Parscale misapprehending the point of a popular nerd entertainment, as critics suggest, but about the Trump team consciously pursuing a strategy that most of us thought was just the subconscious force behind their and Trump's clusterfuckery. In other words, they're doing it on purpose and here's why.

All things being equal, we can assume Trump has benefited from the reopening plans in most states, of which he has been a booster, if a passive-aggressive one. Now, it's not that voters can't appreciate good management over bad; high-profile governors of states with lockdown and reopening plans like Andrew Cuomo, Ned Lamont, and Gina Raimondo have had much larger poll boosts than Trump, while bumblers like Florida's DeSantis and Georgia's Kemp have seen large drops. So the voters are clearly favorably impressed by active and apparently competent leadership.

I would guess that the difference is that Trump has so accustomed everyone -- supporters as well as detractors -- to his gross incompetence that no one expects anything else from him. So for his base of idiots, and for a slice of that all-important persuadable constituency, it doesn't matter that he doesn't know what a virus is nor probably what day it is; it is enough, maybe more than enough, that Trump steadfastly expresses his fantasy, and theirs, that the whole thing is ending very soon and that it's okay to relax and get back to normal. We'd all like that to be so, and some of us are less clear on the difference between fantasy and reality than others.

But not even American voters, not even Republicans, are dumb enough to really believe Trump's insane assertion that the virus is "just going to disappear." What I think they do take seriously is what previously looked like subtext: That they can go back to normal only by passing through a deadly gauntlet, for the reopening of America after its mostly half-assed and thoroughly underfunded shutdown will come with, as Trump has been saying for weeks, "death... a lot of death."

Death has become a big part of Trump's palaver lately. At his bizarre Honeywell appearance the other day, the sound system played "Live and Let Die"; in an ABC News interview Trump said "there'll be more death." At his Lincoln Memorial stunt, he said "We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people," casually as if he were talking about average rainfall or crop yields.

A lot of people have remarked on his apparent lack of empathy when he mentions the people who, thanks to the quick reopening, will drown in their own phlegm, but he doesn't seem to lose much support for it. Have you noticed?

At the same time, Trump's operatives are playing down the death count, even saying it's all a big conspiracy of the biased media and the so-called scientists to make Trump look bad. We know that, under Trump, their reality has become, let us say, fluid and changes with the Leader's whims. But there's something about death that's pretty inescapable and, based on my experience of human beings, while it brings these guys pleasure and comfort to sneer at the libtards who try to bum them out with epidemiology tables, in their heart of hearts they know that a lot of people will die -- maybe even their loved ones, maybe even themselves. But at this point, if that's the price they have to pay for this wonderful fantasy Trump has given them -- where their diminishing job prospects and earning power are fake news because the stock market roars, where they'll get even better health care once Trump lets insurers do what they like with what they have now (the same way landlords are presumed to lower rents once freed of the burden of rent control), where their own lives gain meaning and purpose and dignity when Mexicans and Muslims are made to suffer -- then it's worth every sacrifice, including the ultimate.

If you watched the old Mad Men series -- which, I am told, is enjoying a kind of revival -- you may recall the subplot about tobacco advertising and the famous Surgeon General's report and the idea that consumers could be encouraged to make peace with the idea of death and the addictions that bring it to them more quickly. You probably don't need Mad Men to tell you that, as the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel already told everybody. We could spend all day talking about the way death is threaded into our culture, and how we embrace and deny it at the same time. We can even imagine a political cause that does that, and that advertises itself with an emblem of mass destruction. It's cool, to many people, to be associated with something of such enormous, deadly power -- even when it's likely to be turned on them.

I've been saying this is a death cult and I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

RETURN OF THE WHITE WORKING CLASS WHISPERER!

I've unlocked a few recent issues of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, a wonderful newsletter to which all you good people should subscribe (especially at my low, low COVID-era prices, which conscience compels me to state are the same as pre-COVID prices but still damn low). Today's freebie is loosely about a recent column by White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito. I confess I haven't been following her lately; there's low-hanging fruit, and then there's rotten apples lying in the tall grass, and after a spot of controversy about the, how shall I say, integrity of her sources back in 2018, she seemed to be making an effort to hack in a more traditional rightwing journalistic manner, which made her less interesting to me.

More the fool I; there are no small subjects in the view of the mature satirist, and I was alerted to a great new Zito column by the intercession of longtime Zito advocate and rightwing buffoon Bethany Mandel, who in a recent, increasingly deranged stream shook her Twitter fist at unnamed "doxxers" who felt "entitled to destroy the life, reputation and career of a good woman from behind a keyboard... while remaining anonymous," and suggested Jim Swift of the Bulwark was the Soros behind it. (Mandel gets so worked up she even does the "[Zito's] not a Trump supporter BUT she gives voice to those who are" bit, as if anyone who didn't know any better would be paying attention.)

The Bulwark is hilarious, like all NeverTrump integrity shtick, but to me the really interesting thing is Mandel not being more specific -- what doxxers did she mean? And what Zito column had set all this off? It's difficult to tell and I'm practically a Kremlinologist when it comes to these guys. Following the bread crumbs, however, I ascertained that they probably meant this thing, which is hilarious from jump:
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania—Charlie Gerow has lived and worked in Pennsylvania’s state capitol for a very long time. “I've seen a lot of rallies and protests over the decades, and generally they're relatively small.” On Monday, when he walked up to the state capitol steps to observe the demonstration, urging Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, to reopen the economy, Gerow was blown away at the number of people in attendance.' 
For a man who has long given up on being blown away by anything in politics, that says a lot. 
“The parade of cars alone was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed..."
Bliss it was to be alive then, but to be the Republican media consultant/single source in a Salena Zito column was very heaven! Anyway enjoy my trenchant analysis.

Friday, April 24, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



Yeah, I like cheesy pop music. What's it to ya?

•  At a press conference, after Bill Bryan of DHS talked about how sunlight and bleach can kill the COVID-19 virus, Trump gibbered this:
So, I’m going to ask Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing when we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.
You read that and, if you're a sane person, think, why am I living in this hellworld where the President of the United States is asking about using "disinfectant" to cure coronavirus victims by "injection inside or almost a cleaning"?

But if you're Ryan Saavedra, working for Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire, you think this is the headline the circumstances demand:
FACT CHECK: No, Trump Did Not Tell People To ‘Inject Themselves With Disinfectant’ Or ‘Drink Bleach’
Then he goes on to quote the ENTIRE THING I JUST QUOTED, and then portrays some other Trump gibberish he gibbered later about something else ("It wouldn’t be through injections, you’re talking about almost a cleaning and sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work, but it certainly has a big affect if it’s on a stationary object") as "Trump then clarified his remarks."

But he certainly didn't say the word "bleach."

We can talk about Orwell and all that but it gets boring. Even people who don't know Orwell from an oil well will look at this and, if they have all their marbles, recognize someone is trying to pull the old flim-flam on them. The issue isn't whether they can see that -- only whether they can be convinced that they'll stand out like sore thumbs if they say they do, because everyone around them is a devoted Trumpkin, and they don't want to make waves, which helps convince all the others that it's not a good idea, certainly not neighborly, to question the President even when he says things that everyone would agree is insane if, say, Nancy Pelosi said it. Clearly guys like Saavedra are hoping that's the case.

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.)