Friday, August 14, 2020


It's just nice, isn't it?

•   I have released another freebie from the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter (though why you're not subscribing at the low low price of $7/month I can't guess). It's an editorial note from a very serious magazine about how their very serious op-ed wasn't a birther stinkbomb.

Actually, as has been pointed out by many observers, that Eastman essay suggesting Kamala Harris, though born in the U.S.A., isn't eligible for high office on the grounds that her parents were legal immigrants rather than Mayflower descendants, is worse in a way than the birtherism aimed at Obama in the early part of the last decade. Birtherism was just a clumsy conspiracy theory to discredit an elected official, while Eastman uses Harris as a shoehorn for his crackpot blood-and-soil theory that Section 1 of the 14th Amendment doesn't mean what it plainly says about who's a citizen. (To give you some idea of what animates his "scholarship," he finds a way to work in "braceros.")

Newsweek's editorial note is just funny/sad. I'm actually very sympathetic to senior editors at publications because, however much they may have come down in the world, they are still like giant ocean liners that are difficult to pilot even under the best circumstances.  But I assume adding that editorial note was just a raw pitch for more ink and clicks; nobody could possibly believe it's the editors' place to defend this bullshit from the contempt of their own readers.

I don't care about journalism so much, but there's a reason why one of our major parties is so infested with QAnon nutcakes that it has begun nominating them for high office: Because lies that soothe and appeal to enraged honkies who see the world passing them by are no longer peddled on mimeographed sheets or scrawls on a bum's cardboard sign, but on classy-looking websites.

•   The tendency of the mainstream press to sometimes (not always, obviously, and never often enough!) let on when Trump is lying his ass off or delusional can seem weird and pathetic sometimes, like Dangerous Dan McFoo going "Mr. Wefewee, I'm not one to complain but he's got something in his glove." But a moment's reflection should remind anyone with functional medium-to-long-term memory that there's no way back from it, and if anything the press is still too kind to him. Here's a pretty good reminder: a pretend-this-is-normal, remember-who-signs-the-checks account from the New York Post:
Trump says spike in crime, high taxes could help him win New York in 2020 election
The Post regularly covers Republican campaign bullshit as if it's news, and this claim that New York, which went for Clinton 59% to 36% in 2016, will flip because New Yorkers got hit first and hardest by the pandemic and has experienced a concomitant crime surge (and has high taxes! Wow, that's a new one!) is just more of the same, GOP operatives' guff ornamented with Trump's senile ramblings ("I’ll solve the crime problem. I’ll solve their tax problem. I’ll solve all their problems. Who would not vote for me?").

But here's something from it that brought me back:
Trump brandished a map of New York’s 2016 presidential election results. 
The map showed most counties in red, meaning he won them, despite losing the state by 22 points to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 
Trump tossed the paper across the Resolute Desk toward reporters from The Post. Aides also had copies of the map and handed them out too.
Remember? It's the same thing he did after the 2016 election, handing out red-tinged maps to reporters to demonstrate that, though he got a minority of actual votes, it looks like he got a majority on a map if you don't know the difference between people and real estate. The fact that, as Trump plummets in the polls, they're still pulling this routine suggests that they have one hope: That the press, eternally terrified of giving offense to bellicose rightwingers, will help them put it over one more time. And they will. Even the Murdoch employees, who seem to handle the thing with tweezers, are doing their part by circulating it, and that's why the Trumpkins will never stop pitching it, knowing that even if reporters imply or point out that it doesn't make any sense, that will just make some voters -- the kind they depend on -- think, oh that liberal media, spreading lies about our beloved President again! Also too: Lying is all they have.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


Back on August 1, Politico came up with story seeming to predict doom for Ilhan Omar, wingnut-scaring Muslim Congresswoman from Minnesota and one of the so-called "squad" of young firebrand Democratic women: "'We don’t need someone distracted with Twitter': Ilhan Omar fights off tough primary challenge," ran the headline over a picture of Omar looking pissy. Lede:
Rep. Ilhan Omar is one of the best-known Democrats from the class of 2018, a lightning-rod member of the Squad whose outspoken liberal politics have made her an enemy of Donald Trump. 
Back home in Minneapolis, however, her polarizing national profile is complicating her bid to win a second term. 
Polarizing! Complicating! The story intimated grave danger for Omar from who-he challenger Antone Melton-Meaux:
Facing a political newcomer who raised a jaw-dropping $3.2 million last quarter — much of it from pro-Israel donors who oppose Omar’s foreign policy stances — Omar suddenly finds herself on the defensive against claims that she’s too divisive to effectively represent the solidly Democratic district.
You had to go MinnPost to find out that Melton-Meaux's backers, who had built his war chest to six times the size of Omar's by mid-July, tended to be not only "pro-Israel" but also rich -- including, MinnPost reported, big cheeses like "2019 Minneapolis mayoral candidate Tom Hoch, former University of Minnesota presidents Bob Bruininks and Eric Kaler, former U.S. attorney in Minnesota Andrew Luger, Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle... Fairview Health Services CEO James Hereford, Ecolab CEO Douglas Baker, Kelly Doran, of Doran Companies, Vance Opperman, and Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the co-CEO of Carlson Holdings."

Three-quarters of Omar's money, on the other hand, came from small donors who don't have to report their contributions, MinnPost reported. This feature of the race Politico alluded to only briefly, via an Omar ally who "criticized Melton-Meaux for receiving 'big special interest money.'"

In pursuit of their "divisiveness" angle, however, Politico was more effusive:
Yet many constituents have been alienated by her comments about Israel. Omar has been accused of anti-Semitism after suggesting support for Israel was popular due to campaign donations, that pro-Israel lawmakers had dual allegiance to both the U.S. and Israel and Israel had “hypnotized the world.” 
“Rep. Omar's past comments invoked age-old anti-Semitic tropes and rhetoric that echoed and brought about the nightmares of persecution,” said Rabbi Avi Olitzky, who leads a congregation in the district.
I realize criticism of Israel means anti-Semitism to wingnut chuckleheads, but news organizations ought to have higher standards. The "donations" bit is apparently about her "all about the Benjamins" comment -- as described in yet another Politico story: "Omar tweeted, 'It's all about the Benjamins baby,' followed by a music emoji, which suggested that [AIPAC] money was calling the tune for [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy." Politico apparently wasn't listening to rap music in 1997. (And boy, saying a political action committee uses money to influence votes -- that's what Hitler did.)

The "dual allegiance" thing seems to refer to this tsimmis in which Omar remarked on (apparently) Republicans who "push for allegiance to a foreign country," which admittedly is a weird way to describe the GOP's Israel policy, which is only corrupt in the ordinary Republican way, and for which she apologized.

Politico kept it up through Monday -- "Ilhan Omar’s career on the line in tough primary" -- even giving the impression that the whole Squad was hanging on by their fingernails:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez survived her primary. Rashida Tlaib did, too. Now it’s Ilhan Omar’s turn on Tuesday — and the Minnesota congresswoman faces the stiffest challenge of any member of the Squad.
"Survived," did they? Let's look at the results -- Tlaib won 66%-34% and AOC won with 75% of the vote. Well, that was a near thing!

Politico continued:
Omar (D-Minn.), one of the group’s four liberal women of color who were first elected in 2018, has drawn national attention with her repeated clashes with President Donald Trump — as well as accusations of using anti-Semitic tropes in articulating her position on Israel.
Punchline: Omar kicked ass in her primary. "Omar led by about 17 points when The Associated Press called the primary for the safe Democratic seat," reported Politico.

We hear a lot about "horserace" political journalism, and how reporters try to make every race look like a photo finish to keep readers fascinated. That's certainly true, but in many cases, and I think this is certainly one, it's an artifact of the conservative noise machine that's been yelling "bias" for decades now, causing nervous news orgs to bend over backwards to portray even their stupidest shit as something to be taken seriously.

So since Republicans scream anti-Semite every time they see a Muslim, and have an extra-special hate-on for the attractive young hijab-wearing Somali-American -- remember their eruption over "some people did something," including Bret Stephens' absurd misreading? --  political journos are compelled to portray the district that elected Omar in the first place as they might Fritters, Alabama, and talk about any race involving outspoken liberals, no matter how well-entrenched, as competitive -- something you never see them do in reboubts where Republicans only run against Even More Republicans. Hell, they hardly gave O'Rourke-Cruz 2018 that kind of play, and Cruz won by less than three percent!

Maybe this will change as more QAnon crackpots win Republican primaries -- though given their track record I imagine this will just shift their Overton Window so that Pizzagate Pedonuts represent Principled Conservatism, currently mainstream Republicans (including the most rabid Trumpkins) are moderates, mainstream Democrats are communists, and people like the barely-"surviving," "polarizing" Squad are just de trop. 

Friday, August 07, 2020


Never a bad time for this. 
(Really missing the old town today.)

 •   Unlocked today's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issue for the general public; it's the first-person narrative of a Concerned Citizen who realizes Trump is destroying the country but doesn't know about this Biden guy. As a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 and 2020 I yield to no one in my contempt of weakshit trimmer libs, but like Sanders (and Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky) I also realize that the current administration is a gang of vandals that has to be stopped and our ballot is the only puny weapon we have with any hope of succeeding against them.

My bagatelle is inspired by a recent wave of similar first-person narratives that are, apparently and amazingly, not meant as jokes. Take S.E. Cupp's "My vote for Biden hinges on his veep pick," which actually contains the line, "we’d be remiss not to consider that whomever [Biden] chooses could be running the country without being elected to do so." I know civics education in this country is terrible, but I do recall seeing the names of vice-presidential candidates on presidential ballots, and suspect that awareness of presidential succession law is pretty near universal. Cupp, whom I first saw doing a Tea Party event in Manhattan in 2009 (before she adopted the Google Blonde Conservative Glasses look to get on TV), describes herself as a "staunch conservative" and also as a "moderate," which will give you a pretty good idea of her sincerity here, and claims "I wish there were an actual conservative to vote for — someone who respects the Constitution, the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, national security interests, free speech and a free press," rather than the communist wrecker Joe Biden and whatever scary lady he hires to be the brains of the outfit. (Cupp says she'd be fine with Kamala Harris, and I predict she'd start with the ooga-booga about three days after Harris is announced.) 

Also on the fake reasonableness tip is, who else, Matt Lewis, who announces himself an "outspoken Never Trump conservative" which is in Roget's under "full of shit." (Longtime alicublog readers will already know this about Lewis.) He claims to have entertained voting for Biden, but decided against it: 

Let’s start with my visible (if only in an ultrasound) reason: the unborn child...

Now you, me, and everyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that serious anti-abortion people -- especially those who, like Lewis, say things like "call it a fetus if you like" and "abortion, though, is a moral issue" that "cannot be easily brushed away or bargained over as a lesser-of-two-evils decision" -- are extremely unlikely to vote for any Democrat. But Biden's been pro-Roe since 2007 at least -- why was Lewis even pretending to consider voting for this baby-killer? Apparently his NeverTrumpism made it worthwhile to him -- until he learned Biden had changed his mind on the Hyde Amendment! It was okay that he was a baby killer, but letting poor women kill their babies is a bridge too far! Plus which:

This brings us to the other (unseen) reason Biden’s newfound abortion stance matters: the notion that Biden is susceptible to being pushed leftward.

Not just a baby-killer, but a someone who might move left! On what, Lewis doesn't say; the only issues besides abortion he mentions are fracking and taxes, and he basically says he doesn't care that much about them. So, the big story is "pro-lifer won't vote for Democrat." But with a marquee byline! 

Friday, July 31, 2020


It was 1973 and they wanted Johnny Mathis to be Relevant, dig!
But he's still Johnny Mathis and he sounds great.

•   As a treat for non-subscribers to Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, I'm unlocking two recent items: One that shows where the recent aggressive Trump donor solicitation emails are headed, and another that shows the President visiting a sick friend. Enjoy, if mordantly!

•   You have probably seen at least a few of the literally hundreds of videos of police kettling, beating, and generally shitting on the rights of protestors this summer. And of course what kicked off the protests were videos of cops doing extrajudicial torture and murders of black people. But Megan McArdle says appearances can be deceiving -- remember that dress on Twitter, where people disagreed what color it was? And what about optical illusions, "which simultaneously expose our brain’s hidden subsystems and their mistakes"? And a perceptual study that showed viewers two versions of a video and found -- get this -- "it didn’t matter which video you saw as much as whether your politics agreed with the protesters"? Bet that never occurred to you before.

No, McArdle's not saying the bad stuff didn't happen to the black people and the protestors -- LOL why would you think that, God, people are so negative, this is just, you know, in general -- like hey did you see the one where the cop got hit? After smacking down a protestor, yes, but maybe you didn't get the whole picture:
I saw it via GQ’s Julia Ioffe, who tweeted, “This isn’t the police keeping the peace. This is them treating their fellow citizens as enemy combatants.” Many replies echoed the sentiment. Others saw, with equal conviction, police responding with restraint after being physically attacked. 
Neither was wrong about what was in the video: A police officer was attacked, American citizens were manhandled. But all anyone saw was the element that had commanded their attention — and that was whatever fit the story they were already telling about violent protests or police brutality.
Similarly, the video of a cop smacking 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the pavement and cracking his skull -- was that police overreach, or some commie bastard getting what he deserved? It all depends on your POV.
But because video contains so much rich visual information, we tend to feel as if we’re there instead of receiving a highly selective retelling. That makes video seem more authoritative than other mediums... we still need to remember that what we’re seeing is in some sense an illusion, stripped of vital context by the narrow funnel of a camera lens — and that there can be giant holes in how we integrate what we do see into the rest of what we know.
McArdle clearly hopes you think about that the next time you see a controversial protest video -- which is probably going to be protestors getting beaten up by cops rather than vice-versa. Maybe this will join all the other similar videos you've seen in your consciousness to override, as it has for many Americans, a lifetime of conditioning that once had you reflexively siding with the cops -- but if you remind yourself "It could be a optical illusion, there was a study," maybe you'll return to your original, pre-video feelings about law and order.

•   At National Review, Jim Geraghty has a big pitch:
It’s Time for Conservatives to Take the New Coronavirus Outbreak Seriously
Normally Gergahty's COVID-19 shtick is trying to prove protesters caused the outbreaks. He does a bit of that here, too, but mainly, now that Republican states are starting to experience significant infection and death rates, he wants to get a pro-mask message across to the people his fellow conservatives have been telling for months not to worry because it's all a fraud that a little hydroxychloroquine will fix right up.

Geraghty settles on that now-common refuge of a wingnut, "reader" "mail." In this case a "reader who is the director of medical research for a top-ten hospital" is delivering the social distancing sermon with a conservative spin:
“Conservatives, we need to talk,” he begins. “I know you’re tired of masks; tired of the restrictions on going to bars, going to the gym, going to church. We’re all tired of it. You’re worried about whether your business will survive more months of restrictions. And above all, you’re furious at the double standards exhibited by Democratic politicians and their media allies; when they invoke holy ‘Science!’ to take away your liberty and then turn around and say ‘nothing to worry about here’ when crowds of thousands gather in cities protesting and rioting.” 
This research director is also irritated with his fellow scientists, “especially the ones who are eager to curry the favor of TV producers and Sunday-show pundits, and of governors and mayors, and so will tailor their conclusions to meet the narrative and talking points of the day." 
But he sees what he characterizes as a growing number of people on the right, even “people associated with establishment organizations and otherwise thoughtful and sensible commentary” who are “reacting to the Left’s effort to turn the pandemic into a political weapon by swinging to the opposite extreme.”
I guess the idea is, if he sticks enough slurs on liberals in there, the dummies who've been saying it's all a liberal hoax and are meeting up maskless in nightclubs and bars will believe him. Well, Dr. Frankenstein didn't think his plan through, either.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Shortly after his last effulgence of fame as the guy The Atlantic hired and then fired when they found out he advocated execution for women who had abortions, Kevin D. Williamson returned to National Review, where he has been honing his performatively nasty style. This week he's applying his method to a couple of rightwing classics. For one, there's the Sissy Liberals Who Are Askeered to Live With Black People. I've had this shtick pulled on me in the past: A troll once asked me why I didn't live with black people if I liked them so much. I was living at the time in Harlem and told him so, whereupon he immediately responded, "Why don't you go live in East New York." If I went to East New York I expect he would have demanded I move to the Central African Republic. Anyway, here's Williamson:
As I have mentioned before, I live in a pretty assertively lefty neighborhood (big cities in Texas are a lot like big cities in the rest of the country) surrounded by diehards who are not going to take the “Beto for Senate” stickers off their Audis. (Forgive me for quoting myself: “We admire our neighborhood for its diversity: There are white people with Audis, black people with Audis, Latino people with Audis, Asian people with Audis, gay people with Audis . . .”) But they are mostly nice people, and we rarely talk about politics. Sure, all that “Black Lives Matter” paraphernalia does sometimes give one the sneaking suspicion that these nice white progressives are trying very, very hard to elide the fact that they all live north of the street that forms a socioeconomic Berlin Wall between our neighborhood and the poor and largely non-white one to the south, that they’re all over here with the nice restaurants with vegan options and the new coffee shop and the National Review guy rather than a few blocks away with The People.
You have to wonder: Are the Audi-driving black people in Williamson's and the liberals' neighborhood also supposed to feel bad that they're not living in the really black part of town? Or maybe it's a Mexican neighborhood, or an Asian one  -- you'd think he'd tell us, so that his black and white neighbors could know before whom to abase themselves.

Come to think of it, why isn't Williamson living in that neighborhood, if he has such contempt for liberals who don't (and, it would seem, nearly all of his current neighbors)? I guess when he avoids it, it's on principled conservative grounds, like the Right of Free Association, whereas when liberals do it it's hypocrisy.

Williamson also does the one about the goddamn liberals who are sissies -- "eye-rolling dopes spilling a fair-trade almond-milk latte on my Kentucky 31" (Williamson names his grasses, that's how butch he is!) -- yet somehow also capable of bullying a Trump supporter. Williamson makes a point of showing us how tough he is, personally, at least in patter:
Random bearded hipster pedestrians passing by pointed out my neighbors’ Trump flag to denounce it. With my mouth I said, “People like what they like,” and with my heart I said, “Keep walking, hippie, and don’t slow down.”
Maybe I should have said "in patter in his heart, such as it is." Anyway, there was also a Trump sign on one of the local lawns that later vanished: "I do not know what happened to it, but it is gone," Williamson testifies. Then the aforementioned Trump flag disappeared. The evidence is clear to Williamson: "I assume somebody stole the flag or that the neighbors were bullied into taking it down."

Assume? You'd think a John Wayne type of guy like Williamson would saunter up to the Trump houses, knock on their doors and ask these salt-of-the-earthers if them-there he-shes and simps was givin' 'em any trouble and cancel-culturin' them into takin' down their Trump tat. But Williamson says:
(I haven’t had a chance to ask and haven’t really gone looking for one. Good emotional fences make good neighbors.) 
I guess the only way to keep the liberals' mind-rays from making one betray one's principles, yard-sign-wise, is by refusing to talk to them. Thereafter he gives us a lecture on neighborliness and anti-racism and ugh.

It just occurred to me what this reminded me of: Victor Davis Hanson's stolen chainsaw and the liberals he blamed for it! He and Williamson are kindred spirits.

Friday, July 24, 2020


Hey, who finally told me abut The Beths?
I want to thank them.

•  David Brooks blubbers again! This week it's about how the mean elitist liberals oppress ruff-tuff conservative he-men such as himself and his buddies.

First, to get it out of the way fast so no one can say he ignored it:
Like other realms, American intellectual life has been marked by a series of exclusions. The oldest and vastest was the exclusion of people of color from the commanding institutions of our culture.
[To be heard in an extremely bored voice and Brooks doing the jerk-off motion.]
Today, there’s the exclusion of conservatives from academic life. Then there’s the exclusion of working-class voices from mainstream media.
Brooks always conflates conservatives with the working class because he came up in an era in which hardhat-and-lunchbucket Joes loved pampered movie star Ronald Reagan, and he thinks it's the natural order of things. (Donald Trump even more preposterously pulling the same hardhat bullshit seems not to have enlightened him as to this racket.) Hence, Brooks' comical 2018 dialogue between "Urban Guy," who sounded like David Brooks pretending to be a snooty liberal, and "Flyover Man," who sounded like David Brooks after a few cocktails and a Glenn Ford movie.
Our profession didn’t used to be all coastal yuppies, but now it mostly is. Then there’s the marginalization of those with radical critiques — from say, the Marxist left and the theological right.
Tell me with a straight face Brooks is sad there are no Marxists on the editorial pages of the Times or the Washington Post. (As for the "theological right," there is no point in running editorials for people who only read the Holy Bible and Chick tracts and think compound sentences are tools of the Devil.) In a truly diverse editorial environment, Brooks would have been crushed into gravel like a five-year-old blundering into a rugby scrum.

And here we get to the real crime in Brooks' eyes: Because they were denied their rightful place in the cultural firmament, conservatives decided they would rather reign in Hell than be cancelled in Heaven:
Conservatives were told their voices didn’t matter, and many reacted in a childish way that seemed to justify that exclusion. A corrosive spirit of resentment and victimhood spread across the American right — an intellectual inferiority complex combined with a moral superiority complex.
For many on the right the purpose of thinking changed. Thinking was no longer for understanding. Thinking was for belonging. Right-wing talk radio is the endless repetition off familiar mantras to reassure listeners that they are all on the same team. Thinking was for conquest: Those liberals think they’re better than us, but we own the libs.
I feel like crying, really -- how could we do this to poor, neglected Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh? They must be rehabilitated with even more attention and riches!

Coddled liberals, on the other hand, are in Brooks' view "blindsided by reality" -- LOL Trump won get over it libs! -- and are all about "fragility," "conformity," and "predictability." Shoot a few rounds of tear gas at middle-aged female protesters and they all act like it's some big thing! [Eyeroll] So expected.

Everyone's focused on this howler:
Christopher Hitchens was one of the great essayists in America. He would be unemployable today because there was no set of priors he wasn’t willing to offend.
Hitchens of course was promoted from Very Limited Use Mortifier of Rightwing Idiots to Major Media Sensation when he decided Bush was right and the wogs needed a damned sound thrashing. That's what made him Mr, Contrarian! I guarantee you that, if Trump announces an October Surprise War on Iran, some other climber will get that same gig. I hear Brooks has been rehearsing his Flyover Man voice in quarantine! (I warn you now, if Thomas Chatterton Williams gets the role expect a lot of Brooks columns on affirmative action.)

But the really funny stuff, to me, is, number one, his examples of brave intellectuals on Substack -- he ignores me, naturally, as well as the actual great journalists like Judd Legum and Luke O'Neil on Substack and focuses on rightwing journos who are bringing their followings to the platform, including Andrew Sullivan and, get this, Jonah Goldberg. (Oh, and he throws in Matt Taibbi for roughage. Maybe he can be the new Hitchens!) And there's this truly extraordinary button:
I’m hoping the definition of a pundit changes — not a foot soldier out for power, but a person who argues in order to come closer to understanding.
This would be funny coming from anyone but from a Times conservative legacy hire who got his job in the interests of perceived bothsider "balance" it's fucking hilarious.

•  And as long as we're talking about the newsletter, here's some access for non-subscribers to a few recent editions: This one about why conservatives are so committed to making everything worse, and this one depicting a meeting of America's top cancel-cultists. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2020


I guess it's time to revive one of my classics:
"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
HAW HAW HAW! AW HAW HAW HAW HAW! Thassa good one! Yee-haaa! 
"I'm from the government, and I'm here to invade your city with secret police despite the express wishes of your citizens and their government, and tear gas your mayor and your mothers." 
That sounds reasonable.
In short, they're Nazis. Whoever gets elected Vice-President with Biden should give the new president a nerve-pinch immediately after the inauguration and get busy sending all these scumbags to Den Haag.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


If it's bullshit you want, what could be a more reliable source than a Washington Examiner "Homeland Security Reporter"? Anna Giaritelli reports from the wingnut pennysaver:
Amid weeks of nightly attempts to destroy a federal courthouse in downtown Portland, the bigger clash between the Trump administration and local city officials is overshadowing the initial issue of restoring peace in the Oregon city.
Giaritelli supports this "destroy a federal courthouse" claim with a link to her previous reporting, which documents no serious threat to the structural integrity of the limestone and steel building, but does contain sentences such as "The protests continued Sunday night as a couch outside the courthouse was torched."
Portland’s Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler has accused the Department of Homeland Security of overstepping its authority by sending in dozens of federal agents and officers amid the riots. The DHS employees have been observed seemingly arresting random people on the street and using tear gas to disperse people outside the Hatfield federal courthouse.
"Seemingly" is an interesting choice, as is the use of "observed" for "recorded for the world to see and admitted by the feds."
DHS data provided exclusively to the Washington Examiner...
...revealed 20 people have been arrested by federal law enforcement in Portland this month for attacking personnel or the courthouse itself. Several federal law enforcement officials have been injured guarding the building, according to a senior administration official. Wheeler claims DHS is overstepping his jurisdiction’s authority and going after protesters, but three administration officials working on the issue told the Washington Examiner that the arrests were legal.
Said they were legal, did they? I can understand taking the Trump Administration's word for all this, given its record of transparency.
While countless people peacefully protested the death of George Floyd in late May, protests in Portland were taken over by fringe groups seeking to overthrow the U.S. political system, including by decimating different types of statues and buildings. 
I'm trying to think of a building that's been decimated by protestors. Any ideas? Also, while I've seen statues either torn down or graffitied, I haven't seen any of those decimated either.

The bullshit and howlers ("In one instance, an agitator who pointed a laser into a federal officer's eyes was tracked down and then snatched from the street later that night") roll on from there. They are not meant to inform, certainly, nor to persuade intelligent observers in good faith, but to give cover to rightwing yahoos who wish to portray these invasions that have been rejected by the citizens and leaders of the invaded cities as good ol' law-n-order rather than fascism.

Friday, July 17, 2020


Extended version!

•   I know it must seem like old news by now but there are still Confederate statue defenders out there in Conservativeland. And I'm not talking about the bullshit variants invented recently, like when someone tears down a non-Confederate statue and they blame liberals. I'm talking about straight-up hell-yeah-Robert E. Lee at National Review by Bruce Westrate, who "teaches history at a prep school in Dallas."

It's got all the hits. First, the usual Harper's-letter bellyaching about being ganged up on: "I find myself consigned by the media to the ranks of would-be Nazis... simply because I’ve always enjoyed such venues [as Civil War memorials], along with the commemorative Civil War art that abounds among them." I can't find any evidence of a Twitter or web kerfuffle over Westrate's love of Civil War stuff, so I assume he means people who know him think he's a jerk.

Westrate goes on about "young people, abetted by the feckless opportunism of politicians, turning to the likes of the Taliban" and decides "it's all about safe spaces," "all complexity is lost, and context is rendered subservient to a cleansing," etc. and similar sentiments set adrift in a river of high-flown gush. Also, "Shall the FDR monument be removed to appease the descendants of interned Nisei Japanese," ha ha shall it not answer me libs. The guy really loves him some Lee; since he's a historian he must know the General was a slaver and not an especially kindly one either, but he never mentions that, and even defends the Jim Crow era vintage of many Confederate monuments as a misunderstanding:
And while the erection of commemorative statues unfortunately coincided with the emergence of the “Jim Crow” South, there are more understandable motivations that, I would argue, took precedence. These were martial creations, after all, intended to commemorate battlefield feats. Historians have long observed that veterans typically (and understandably) avoid public remembrance and consecration of battlefield combat until decades after the event. The erection of these statues coincides with the dedication of most of the larger American battlefield parks and cemeteries. So, they were aimed less at betrayed freedmen then at kindling popular remembrance of the slain, along with the suffering wounded Confederate veterans had endured.
There, now, black folks, now let's have Jeb Stuart back on his pedestal in Richmond so you can see him on your way to work every day. Also, did you know black people were involved in the slave trade?

If you can't imagine anyone who isn't brain-damaged or already a Neo-Confederate going for this, you must remember that the salvation of the statues is a new Lost Cause, something normal people increasingly abhor, which wingnuts lament in the sort of hurt tones with which they also used to lament that America was not Great anymore before they decided to fix that by electing a senile criminal President. And now that the U.S. military has just banned the Stars 'n' Bars, I guess Westrate and his fellow Rebs have a lot more to cry about. 

•   If you haven't subscribed to the newsletter yet, here, have some freebies -- not only the previously cited cancel-culture one but also one on how amid all his crimes and catastrophes Trump is doing one good thing

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


This morning I did a newsletter issue on the galactic dishonesty of the great cancel-culture circle jerk going on among credentialed conservatives and the neoliberals who love them. And now who should enter the news but the eminent cancel-culture blubberer Bari Weiss, who has resigned from the Times and left behind an abusive and hilarious letter. This is my favorite part:
My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in.
It's like Soviet Russia! Wait, let's have some more of that graf:
There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.
It sounds like the problem for Weiss is no one at her job likes her work and feels free to criticize it, whereas she feels she should be spared such insults. Man, I really hate to say it, but: Snooooooowflake! She's a fucking opinion columnist and a fucking public figure. It seems an odd choice of profession for someone so fragile. I learned from a young age that I don't have a right to everyone's approval: how'd she miss it?

The whole thing is laughable and I will return to jeer some more, but for now I'll just say the rightwing press absolutely gets the play here: Fox News, for example, headlines, "Bari Weiss quits New York Times after bullying by colleagues over views: 'They have called me a Nazi and a racist.'" Now, who among their readership, including Donald Trump, could fail to relate? In fact, Weiss' letter is like a longer and more pseudo-literate version of a Trump tweet: A powerful candy-ass whining about how mean people have been to them.

Well, read the newsletter anyway, it's more relevant than ever,

Friday, July 10, 2020


I can't believe the first version of this I ever heard was Derek and the Dominoes'.
And it took me all this time to look this one up!

•  It was a good week at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, my highly successful and attractive newsletter. Open to the general public are my portrayal of a Presidential focus group on the statues to be included in the Garden of Heroes, and a lively discussion on whether the current conservative movement is mainly stupid or evil. Enjoy!

•  This is a pretty good example of rightwing bullshit in action, from Jordan Lancaster at the Daily Caller:
Black Lives Matter Totally Shuts Down Nation’s Capital On Independence Day
Now, I live in the District, and I went walking and biking around most of the day on July 4th, and saw only a little protest action -- a teach-in next to the Supreme Court, and the usual activities at Black Lives Matter Plaza. I know there were other actions throughout the day, but the point is, DC is ten miles square -- if it were "Shut Down" the citizens would notice.

The lede:
Black Lives Matter protests broke out in the nation’s capital on Independence Day resulting in the highway between Washington, D.C. and Virginia being shut down...
Commuters driving from work or from the fireworks event at the National Monument found themselves stuck in the city. Roads were closed off all around the nation’s capital as the protesters took over the highway.
Trapped! Like rats! Except if you used Route 29 or 420 or 650 or Connecticut Avenue or Wisconsin Avenue or etc. etc.  Lancaster cites a tweet ("Does anyone know how to get out of here") showing a map of lockdowns around the west end of the Mall -- without noting that these are not demonstrator-induced; Park Police fenced and blocked off practically everything from the Washington Monument to the Tidal Basin for Trump's fireworks' show.

It's not a shock these guys tried to convey to outlanders -- who are their real audience -- that DC was chaos; they continue to refer to every protest as "riots" and "looting" weeks after any riots or looting took place. The idea is to terrify suburbanites into voting for their increasingly unpopular party. It worked in 1968! Unfortunately most of the people it worked on have died, and Republican policies will probably finish off the rest of them soon.

Thursday, July 09, 2020


More proof that conservatives are devolving to cult status -- Helen Andrews at  The American Conservative:
A Lesson From Robert E. Lee
We can't find a reason to honor the Civil War general because we've forgotten why we needed him in the first place.
What do you mean "we," white woman? Andrews laments all the statues, Confederate as well as Non-, that have been torn down or attacked; we've heard that before. What makes her approach different from others (well, outside League of the South types anyway) is that she isn't drawing the line at Columbus or Founding Fathers, she's drawing it at Robert E. Lee: 
For me, a line was crossed this week when the faculty at Washington & Lee University voted to demand the school drop the second half of its name to erase its affiliation with Robert E. Lee. The moderate conservative’s justification for why it’s good to tear down Confederate statues but not those of the Founding Fathers is that Confederates are honored for defending slavery whereas the Founding Fathers are honored for other things despite their slave-owning. Whatever the general validity of that maneuver, it is obviously wrong here. Lee was president of the university; he gave it its distinctive character. His service as its leader was one of the great public-spirited acts of his late career, the most enduring of his many postwar gestures of patriotism and reconciliation.
If you're thinking Andrews will stick with the narrow claim that, sure, Lee committed treason in the defense of slavery but look at his Other Good Works, you read on and learn that it is Lee's personal honor as evidenced by his fight in that cause that makes him worthy to loom over the black and white citizens of America: He fought for the Confederacy because "his loyalty was to Virginia, and he had to follow his state."

Of course, as Adam Serwer has shown, Lee also believed with his fellow Confederates in the "subjugation" of blacks, which may have made separating from his Northern friends a little easier to bear, and he didn't mind whipping his own slaves for running away or splitting up their families for profit. But what has that to do with honor and virtue? That's just good business and household management, and it's not as if they were white.

In contrast, Andrews tells us, there were villains on other side, like this damned Yankee:
Virtue shines best by contrast, so consider Lee next to someone who was his opposite in every way: Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. Even his defenders must admit that Sumner was a man of deep principle but absolutely no honor. He would break any promise, betray any confidence, reverse any position to serve his liberal causes. 
(The liberal cause he is best known for, by the way, is the end of slavery.)
He once won a Senate vote by persuading a Republican nay, who had paired with a Democratic yea who was deathly ill, to break his vow to abstain. He used the Constitution as a cudgel against his Southern opponents while feeling himself at perfect liberty to ignore any provision he disagreed with, on the grounds that nothing “against the Divine Law,” as he liberally interpreted it, could be binding.
So Sumner, deranged by this liberal notion of emancipation, behaved without honor, suh -- and look where it got us: A lot of black people running around free, and some of them and their scalawag white friends are tearing down statues! If only virtue had been rewarded in 1865! This is why patriots resist.

To my surprise, toward the end Andrews tries to get cute, and says if you don't want a statue of Lee you can pick some other honorable slavemaster:
So choose one. That is my proposal. The monument-destroying left should pick a statue they genuinely hate and say: leave it up.
I know not what course others may take, but my offer is this: Nothing.

Friday, July 03, 2020


Brothers and sisters,
There is always a reason to feel good.

•   I keep hearing conservatives crying over the firing or defenestration from executive positions of people accused of racist or sexist remarks. We heard a lot of this during the alleged persecutions of Brendan Eich and James Damore, and are hearing it now over such removals as that of student journalist Adrianna San Marco for dismissing institutional racism in a column and that of Boeing exec Niel Golightly for disputing the role of women in the military.

Of course, when it goes the other way, the conservative free speech squad goes silent:
Springfield police detective Florissa Fuentes fired over pro-Black Lives Matter social media post 
...The image showed her niece protesting in Atlanta. Flames leap up in the background and her niece holds a sign that reads: “Shoot the F--- Back.” A friend’s sign reads: “Who do we call when the murderer wears the badge?”... 
“After I posted it, I started getting calls and texts from co-workers,” Fuentes said during an interview. “I was initially confused, but then I realized they thought I was being anti-cop. I wasn’t. I was just supporting my niece’s activism. I had no malicious intent, and I wouldn’t put a target on my own back. I’m out there on the streets every day like everyone else.”
Fuentes is probably going to have a harder time bouncing back from her dismissal than the Boeing executive. (As for San Marco, she already has a gig with LifeZette. Wingnut welfare to the rescue!)

The PD probably had the right to fire Fuentes -- but if it does, then so does just about any employer have the right to fire any employee for their speech, even outside working hours -- from The Tampa Bay Times:
It played out several times in Tampa Bay in recent days. 
An employee announced publicly they’d been fired for participating in the widespread protests for racial justice. 
Their former employer, facing a deluge of phone calls, weaponized Yelp reviews and cries for them to be sued under the U.S. Constitution, said the firing had nothing to do with any protests. 
Florida lawyers say it does not matter which side you believe. 
Florida is an “at-will” state. “That means you can be fired for a good reason, for a bad reason, or no reason at all,” said Cynthia Sass, an employment lawyer in Tampa. “When it comes to private employers and your First Amendment rights, they don’t apply.”
Here's my modest proposal: End at-will employment. Let every employer and employee contract, and let their speech rights be protected under law. Then, when on your own time, you can not only support your cause -- whether Black Lives Matter or the Klan -- but you can bitch out your boss, just like the Founders wanted. Everyone shall tweet under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid!

I know to a dead certainty that conservatives will never take that offer. Because the truth is they aren't keen for free speech at all -- they're just keen to protect bigots, because bigotry is all they've got.

•   Been a while since I twigged you good people to freebies at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, my 5-day-a-week subscription newsletter, so here are two: notes from a secret White House meeting, and my address to my fellow honkies. Enjoy!

•   Here's an Independence Day treat: If you feel vaguely guilty looking down on conservatives for their dumb, dishonest arguments, and feel you owe them at least some respectful attention, feast your eyes on this from Paulina Enck at The Federalist:
Why It Might Be Time To Retire ‘Born In The USA’ From Your 4th Of July Barbecue
Not even kidding.
A staple of the holiday for as long as I can remember is Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 classic, “Born in the USA.” However, this song should probably be retired as an Independence Day anthem, due to less-than-patriotic lyrics. 
Play “Born in the USA” at a party and one thing will become abundantly clear: most people only know the eponymous words to the refrain. The lyrical dissonance allows the upbeat tune and instrumentation to mask the darkness of the lyrics. Rather than the patriotic anthem it is perceived to be, Springsteen’s lyrics describe the hardships Vietnam veterans faced returning home after the war. 
The song’s first lines kickstart a song incredibly critical of the country...
It can't be, you think -- even other wingnuts who praise the song, from O.G. wingnut fraud George F. Will to Kyle Smith, usually pretend it's about how great Reagan's America is. Surely this is a Poe, shoved past Ben Domenech's attention by sleeper-cell editors! But Enck is a longtime culture-war crank and she is seriously trying to convince her fellow conservatives not to play the song on the Fourth of July.

Fans of false consciousness theory will note that Enck wants to have it both ways -- if you don't take her advice, she suggests, maybe that's okay too, because if an artifact offends our delicate conservative sensibilities we can just pick a new meaning for it on the grounds that we can't make out what it's saying:
There is something to be said about the song taking on new meaning, lyrics aside. Springsteen’s diction through the verses, while stylistic and enjoyable, leaves much to be desired in terms of clarity. And most people, when they listen, they are left with patriotic fervor, not a desire to upend the American system.
As I've been saying for decades now, conservatives have an obsession with making anything they like -- movies, songs, choc-o-mut ice creams -- into an endorsement of their politics, and now that Trump has made "serious" conservatism into a joke, they're just getting worse.

Thursday, July 02, 2020


Even with the departure of Jonah Goldberg, there remain some spectacularly awful writers at National Review like Victor Davis Hanson and David Harsanyi. But in these days of desperate last-ditch Trump defense, the less spectacular, more shoulder-to-the-wheel propagandist Jim Geraghty deserves more attention.

Geraghty had of late been working the popular conservative trope that protests are causing the COVID-19 spread. He may have tumbled that this line isn't working, because earlier this week he seemed to back off, saying protests "may not be the primary factor spreading the virus around the U.S. in recent weeks, but that doesn’t mean they were not a factor at all," an obvious intermediate step to dropping the claim entirely.

Geraghty's got a lulu today. First he plumps what he calls "Maybe the Most Jaw-Droppingly Good Jobs Report in U.S. History" -- a pitch for the hometeam crowd, certainly, since Americans are starting to look at job reports the same way they look at the stock market: "Good news" that does not seem to reflect the reality they're actually living.

Perhaps sensing this, Geraghty gets right to work on bothsidesing the coronavirus catastrophe:
You can point to no shortage of policy mistakes made by President Trump, or governors such as Andrew Cuomo of New York, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, or New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.
If that doesn't have you convinced that the president who kept telling America the virus was no big deal and stole PPE from the states is no more guilty than three leaders whose COVID curves actually went down (though Michigan's has recently ticked up a little), Geraghty has something else to sell you -- The reason the virus is out of control here is actually America's greatness
Some countries may have responded to this virus better than we did, but they are generally smaller, less populous, had experience with a previous serious virus, and/or have populations that are more trusting of their government and more inclined to obey strict rules and to assent to government monitoring of their movements and activities that Americans are unlikely ever to accept.
We're self-centered assholes who know the leaders we elect will screw us -- that's why we can't perform the simple public health measures that are saving the rest of the civilized world! [Pounds chest] We're "a country literally founded by people who violently rejected the existing legal and political authority when they deemed it unjust or draconian," says Geraghty, and that's why we don't need no stinkin' masks, whattaya say to that, Karen?

Having failed to dispel our Springtime-for-Hitler stare, Geraghty changes tack, seeking to convince us that lockdowns killed George Floyd who you liberals say you care about so much:
If the economy had not been shut down in Minnesota, would George Floyd have been out of work? Would he have allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill and then been in that particular place and time where former police officer Derek Chauvin would arrest him and hold his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes?
In fact, there wouldn't be any protests at all, Geraghty seems to say, if the lockdowns didn't have the kids so darned bored:
I don’t think we fully appreciate how much the still -- ongoing protests are, for young people, the only game in town. Just what else is there to do in still-heavily-locked-down America? They can’t go to the movies. They can’t go to a ballgame... 
In a normal summer, how much of young people’s mental energy is spent on enjoyable leisure, from the NBA to pickup games of sports to Marvel movies and other summer blockbusters?... 
Why are we shocked that young people are flocking to house parties and bars at night and protests during the day? What else have we left them to do?
Ah youth -- when summer is one long roundelay of partying in bars and then yelling "all cops are bastards" out in the warm sun! I expect National Review's geriatric subscribers, whose idea of protests haven't much evolved from Students Wildly Indignant about Everything, will buy it. And isn't that the important thing? At this point it's not like conservatives are trying to convince anyone but themselves.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Speaking as a longtime observer of the conservative movement, let me say this: It has gone off the rails at such hyperspeed that, really, who even thinks of it as a movement anymore? The people who currently write for National Review, RedState, et alia, and columnists like Ross Douthat and Michelle Malkin may call themselves conservatives, but they don't promote anything like a coherent political philosophy -- unless white supremacy and donor service count as such.

And they don't advance ideas -- not even the shitty ones promoted by the "reformicons" in the days before Trump, with his open graft and brutality, made them look ridiculous -- but instead promote memes and conspiracy theories to try and keep their candidates in office and their larders full.

A big one these days is the crackpot idea that the national protests of the past month have caused the COVID-19 spikes we've been seeing in some states. The available evidence says otherwise, as those of us who live in major protest centers like New York City and Washington, D.C. who have seen their COVID-19 numbers go down will recognize; in fact, it's practically an object lesson -- if you shut down big disease vectors like bars, restaurants, and concert halls (as both polities have done until very recently), having protests in which nearly all participants are masked and considerate appears not to make too much of difference.

I mean, DC's just ten miles square and has had demonstrations of one kind or another every day for a month. And look:

Minnesota, where the George Floyd murder kicked it all off, has seen a rise in cases -- but, unlike NYC and DC, their state accelerated its reopening in early June, "allowing movie theaters, bowling alleys, gyms and pools to open to the public" and loosening restrictions on bars and restaurants, per KSTP.

Not dispositive but I have yet to hear a better explanation. Nonetheless trolls on Twitter -- including celebrity trolls like Ari Fleischer -- and elsewhere declare that the incredible vertical spikes in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona are not due to their famous recent surges in bar-cramming and water sports, but due to protests. And it's not just obvious trolls -- Michael Brendan Dougherty, a tradcath National Review writer who usually commiserates with his fellow ecclesiastics about man's fallen state of liberalism (here's a ripe example in which MBD laments that by talking with a "potty-mouth," Kirsten Gillibrand is becoming just like Trump, whereas godly guys like Dougherty merely support Trump's policies, which is blessed in the sight of the Lord), is now putting his shoulder to the protest-COVID wheel.

Dougherty attacks Paul Krugman's assertion that Republican malfeasance has caused America's world-leading COVID wave, which would seem beyond dispute -- considering that the top Republican is Donald Trump, whose grotesque malingering on national COVID-19 policy, promotion of bleach and chloroquine as cures, and finally complete peaceing-out on the process as our numbers shot into oblivion, are the textbook definition of management by depraved indifference.

But Dougherty argues that New York -- which is full of liberals, see! -- is really to blame for "seeding the rest of the nation" with the virus because they let foreigners into the United States, under cover of being some sort of port. Also, "New York’s leadership, addled by partisanship, reacted to Donald Trump’s travel restrictions to and from China (and, later, Iran) by tacking in the opposite direction." In defense of this bizarre idea, Dougherty links to a tweet by a New York City Council member celebrating the  Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown, on... February 9.

(If that vaguely racist bit about associating Chinatown with China -- the country where what Trump calls "Kung-flu" came from -- looks familiar to you, congratulations, you've been paying attention.)

But the meat of Dougherty's argument is that Republican governors yelling "Belly up to the bar, suckers!" doesn't cause virus spikes because protests do.  First of all, "The New York Times reports that it is the youngest cohorts of adults who make up most of the latest cases." And what do young people do? Cram into bars and clubs the second they're open because they think their youth makes them indestructible? No! They all go to protests because they're SJW snowflakes who are "the least likely to be Republicans or to take their health cues from Donald Trump." (I guess that last bit means they're not likely to become morbidly obese and spray on a tan to look healthy.)

Dougherty blames his lack of evidence for this assertion on Democrats failing to have contact tracers ask test subjects if they've been to demonstrations -- and libs say they "are so concerned about science," LOL! The idea that, when you want to get people to volunteer for tests, you try not to act like an FBI front organization surreptitiously identifying protestors seems never to have occurred to Dougherty. Also I guess the COVID charts for New York City and DC aren't loading for him; he should call the IT Department.

Anyway, you're going to be seeing a lot of this bullshit, not only in the fever swamps but also on the loftiest perchs in wingnutdom.

UPDATE. I should also mention Megan McArdle's contribution: Back on June 5 she did her best to pre-denounce the protests as disease vectors, passive-aggressively insisting that if they didn't cause COVID spread, then all that stuff about social distancing was malarkey:
In a few weeks, one of two things will have happened. Either covid-19 cases will abruptly reverse their decline in some of America’s largest cities, and we will know that they were seeded by the days of rage we are living through . . . or they won’t. Either way, social distancing is over. 
In the happy scenario, the protests will have performed an enormous public service, even beyond agitating for justice. They are basically running a natural experiment that scientists could never have ethically undertaken: Do massive outside gatherings — including singing, chanting, screaming and coughing... 
Boy, it's like she was there, huh?
...— spread covid-19, or not? Along with evidence from the Memorial Day weekend parties at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, they may well demonstrate, once and for all, that the risk of spreading covid-19 outdoors is negligible.  
Pretending not to know the difference between marches and demonstrations where nearly everyone is masked and water parks full of people packing their faces with food and booze is why McArdle gets the big bucks. Anyway by her June 19 column she seemed to have abandoned this trope, worrying instead that under DC's upcoming Phase 2 "Washingtonians will soon spend a lot more time indoors with strangers, including in activities, such as exercising at the gym, that seem particularly prone to spreading the coronavirus" -- a concern I share! But if the increase in bar and gym traffic is accompanied by a rise in COVID cases, expect another column about how social justice gave us all a superbug.

UPDATE 2. Noah Rothman tries the same bullshit at Commentary, saying it stands to reasons that "leading young people into the streets to crowd each other and issue spittle-flecked screams of outrage into the air contributed to the virus’s resurgence as much as any other social behavior." He says reports that say otherwise are lying ("'No association was found,' they determined falsely"), though he shows no proof to the contrary, and even says reports that demonstrators tend to be good about masking -- which I have observed myself through a month of DC protests -- are also lies,  because protestors are young and "a May survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found that people age 18-29 were the least likely to 'always' 'wear a cloth face covering when in public.'" And why would the protestors' behavior be any different than that of the kids chilling at The Lake of the Ozarks? Except, of course, more spittle-flecked!

Thursday, June 25, 2020


Byron York, longtime National Review propagandist now working for the malignant Washington Examiner, does a weird update of the old "you love blacks so much well what if they mug and rape you" shtick conservatives used to haul out whenever white liberals tried to be nice to anyone other than themselves:
WOKE DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. One of the most extraordinary stories to come out of the recent national unrest following the death of George Floyd came from a leafy neighborhood in Minneapolis called Powderhorn Park. After the Floyd incident, the residents, who are largely white progressives, decided that they would no longer call police if they needed help or if crime threatened them. "Doing so, they believed, would add to the pain that black residents of Minneapolis were feeling and could put them in danger," the New York Times reported. 
Word got around. Homeless people flooded into the neighborhood park -- there are now about 300 living in tents. Some are mentally ill. Some are addicted to drugs or alcohol. "Their presence has drawn heavy car traffic into the neighborhood, some from drug dealers," the Times reported. "At least two residents have overdosed in the encampment and had to be taken away in ambulances." 
That has made some of the residents a bit nervous. Of course they want to take a stand against the police -- what progressive doesn't these days? -- but it really is a bit scary. So the new neighbors are not quite as welcome as they were just a week or two ago. "I'm not being judgmental," one resident told the Times, explaining why she not longer let her children play alone in the park. "It's not personal. It's just not safe."
Ho ho, silly liberals! And one of them was recently robbed at gunpoint -- the gun suggests to me his assailants were not homeless bums -- and feels bad about getting the cops involved. York has a laugh over this, omitting what the guy said when the Times asked him about that: "Yeah I know and yeah it was scary but the cops didn’t really have much to add after I called them." (Come to think of it, how many of us ever get anything from the cops after a robbery besides a strong sense that nothing can be done?)

But the signal offense in York's column is that he seems to think the homeless people didn't exist before the liberals' "wokeness" summoned them -- like they were spontaneously generated. I can guarantee you they did exist, but were existing elsewhere, almost certainly in a less privileged community. York is ragging on the residents because they didn't have the sense to use their privilege to send the homeless to go bother someone who lacked their civic muscle and thus couldn't force the bums out of their neighborhood.

I guess the idea that, instead of inflicting the misery of our most desperately poor citizens on the next-most-desperately-poor citizens, we might address the homeless problem directly by, for example, giving them homes is too ridiculous for York even too contemplate. You know, like giving everyone health care.

Meanwhile the economy just shit out another million-and-a-half unemployed, many of whom will be swelling the ranks fo the unhoused shortly. I wonder how long blow-dried toffs like York will be able to keep laughing it off.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


When you think of conservative Twitter trolls, what do you envision? Confederate flags, poor spelling and punctuation, tendentious arguments? Yes, I've seen all that, but this guy I met today kind of gave me a new perspective.

You may recognize the similarity of his avatar to an image that is very popular among anti-Semites:

I asked the guy, "Why say 'Estonian conservative' when 'neo-Nazi' is so much shorter?" and he said, ha, isn't that just like a liberal!

When I showed him that I had his avatar figured out, he wondered aloud why I was making a big deal out of it and insisted that I had no grounds to call him a neo-Nazi.

("Happy merchant," btw, is a well-known name for the anti-Semitic thing. Oh, and apparently the "littlepony" thing now has some Nazi provenance as well.)

You can imagine how it went after that -- he slid from professions that he'd been slandered as a neo-Nazi to identifying the outfit in which he dressed his anti-Semitic caricature as that of the Estonian Waffen-SS in World War II, of whom he was very proud ("You have no idea what these men did for their people, families and country. More than you ever will"). Long story short, the guy approves of the SS because they fought for Hitler against the Russians, who he really hates -- though whether he hates them more than Jews, or thinks of them as the same thing, I didn't catch.

I tagged out early but watched in fascination as he kept this routine up with other people, and was struck by the Trumpian approach -- first, the denial of his obvious self-association with repulsive bigotry; then, when discovered, asking what the big deal is and why I was triggered; then, lengthy justifications of his Nazi cosplay. Oh, and "You're the real Nazi [laughing emojis]."

I wouldn't go so far as to say that guys like this and the other Trump fans believe exactly the same things all down the line, but it's something to consider that very, very far right people -- including peek-a-boo Nazis from Eastern Europe -- seem to be picking up the same lingo and style of argument.

UPDATE. @ControlCentral1 reminds me of the Sartre quote on how anti-Semitic arguments work ("Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies..."). Now it all makes sense!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


As an old-fashioned liberal, I really only want what's best for us all, so when conservatives are upset by a rare affirmation of human rights by the Supreme Court I feel morally comfortable laughing at them.

The Bostock v. Clayton County decision, which suggests that transsexual Americans have the same Constitutional protections as the rest of us, has blown conservatives' tiny minds. Rod Dreher is of course writhing in agony and invoking Orwell and the Soviet Union; folks at The Federalist are fanning the flames in their own hair ("SCOTUS’s Transgender Ruling Firebombs The Constitution"); conservatives who cheered the appointment of Neil Gorsuch are mewling like toddlers whose toy no longer pleases. Those with mainstream perches to defend are covering their asses -- Ben Shapiro, for example, denounces the decision ("throws religious liberty, free speech, and employment law into complete turmoil") while telling everyone (falsely) that "I've been libertarian on same-sex marriage" (though one could make the argument that "libertarian" is a synonym for "full of shit"). 

My favorite so far is Dan McLaughlin, née Baseball Crank, doing the riddle-me-this-Batman bit at National Review:
Consider: What if the funeral home also employed a drag queen — a biological male (like Stephens) who identified as male (unlike Stephens) but dressed in women’s clothes (like Stephens)? The funeral home could say — truthfully — that it does not allow men to dress as women, and since the drag queen employee does not identify as a woman, it could argue that the drag queen was treated the same as any other man would be. Under the standard Gorsuch announces, Stephens and the drag queen are both biological men dressed as women. Could only one of them could sue? To reach that result, the Court has to go beyond the simple syllogism and decide the underlying question: Who is a woman? Yet...
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside bullshit! Try to imagine giving a rat's ass about this. Anyway, congrats to my trans friends.

Monday, June 15, 2020


Conservatives have been trying all kinds of anti-protest yak to try and counteract America's sudden realization that cops are out of control and black people bear the brunt -- like the traditional Cop Worship thing, the "boo hoo protestors cancelled Gone With the Wind" thing, etc. But I think their big opportunity will be blaming protests for COVID-19 spikes. This is from a mailer I got from National Review today, a "news editors' roundup" -- Jack Crowe cites the Tom Hanks COVID test results and the NBA season cancellation publicized March 11 as what "turned the disease from a media novelty into a visceral reality," then:
Just as it took one day and two relatively trivial developments to awaken Americans to the scale of the threat, it took the events of one day for them to forget. 
Memorial Day, the day George Floyd was killed by a white Minneapolis Police officer, changed everything. Suddenly, mentions of social distancing and masks, which had dominated news coverage for weeks, disappeared from the big cable shows and the front pages, replaced by coverage of the civil unrest sweeping the country. Gone, too, was the opprobrium meted out to recalcitrant “lockdown protesters,” who selfishly refused to stay home as an act of shared sacrifice. Politicians at the federal and state level, who had been appearing daily to remind their constituents about the importance of social distancing, were suddenly celebrating the open flouting of the rules they had imposed.
Now, normal people reading this might wonder: Didn't something else happen on Memorial Day -- namely, a whole lot of states, many of them red and not really protest hotspots, had opened up bars and beaches for the holiday weekend? Isn't that much more likely to be the cause of COVID spikes -- especially in states (cited in the mailer!) like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and South Carolina?

You're gonna love Crowe's pitch there:
These case spikes may not be directly attributable to the recent protests. But as the NBA cancellation and Tom Hanks’s announcement demonstrates, the public is fickle, responding to high-profile cues rather than CDC announcements about which phase of reopening their state is in. 
If Americans across the country turned on their televisions in recent weeks, they saw virtually every major city awash in protesters, many of whom didn’t bother to wear masks or had them pulled down. Those protesters were allowed to move about freely, and in many cases encouraged to do so by “public health experts.” All of a sudden, the neighborhood barbecue or pool party didn’t seem so dangerous.
So according to Crowe, Mr. and Mrs. America didn't respond to the call of the ancient holiday weekend when they broke social distancing; no, they saw the protests on the TV and thought, "We were just sitting at home watching TV but, since the kids are giving each other COVID at the protests, I might's well take the family down the shore and eat burgers and drink beers and go swimming with a bunch of people I don't know."

Plenty of others are already working the basic theme, but Crowe takes the cake for creativity. So far.

(I should add that in my own personal experience, and that of others, protestors have a greater tendency to keep their masks on than people at bars and restaurants.)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Public Health issued more than a dozen citations to businesses violating COVID-19 Phase Two guidelines this weekend, three of which are bars on Broadway, including Underground and Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk. 
Owners told News 2 it’s a double standard and they’re sick of it. 
“It’s unfair for 5,000 people to march in front of our place yesterday in direct violation of the Phase Two order and then for Mayor Cooper and Dr. Caldwell to come in last night and give us citations,” said Bryan Lewis, attorney for Steve Smith, who owns Kid Rock’s and Honky Tonk Central, both cited this weekend.
Go here to see a picture of the folks crammed in and knockin' 'em back at Kid Rock's. But it's the marches that're making people sick. Well, it's no shock to see motivated reasoning among local merchants who a few months earlier were probably telling the cops "how come you're not out arresting street punks instead of writing me tickets?"