Thursday, January 16, 2020

PLAYING FOR THE COACH.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 13, 2020

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

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

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

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

As it stands, I will say yay Parasite.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

THE SOFT BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS.

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

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

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

Friday, January 03, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.





 Been a while.

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I JUST CAN'T WAIT, DEAR, UNTIL TOMORROW.



Seasonal favorite. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

HERO'S WELCOME.

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

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

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

MULVANEY: Whatever.

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

TRUMP: Here he is. Man of the hour. 

[GALLAGHER approaches and shakes TRUMP's hand]

TRUMP: How you doin'?

GALLGHER: Fine, sir. Thanks for having me.

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

MULVANEY: I cancelled.

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

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

MULVANEY: [To GALLAGHER] Hey.

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

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

IVANKA: You cancelled the photographers?

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

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

GALLAGHER: I'm just fine, sir.

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

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

TRUMP: Good, good. You look well.

GALLAGHER: You too!

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

TRUMP: OK, sweetheart.

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

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

GALLAGHER: Sure. Iraq.

TRUMP: What was that?

GALLAGHER: Iraq. I was in Iraq.

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

[Pause.]

GALLAGHER: Well, Mr. President, I --

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

GALLAGHER: Sir, I --

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

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

TRUMP: Yeah.

[Pause.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GALLAGHER: I think his name is Scott --

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

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

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

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

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

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

[GALLAGHER does so.]

MARINE: Which button, ma'am.

IVANKA: [Sighs disgustedly] The one on top!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Better hurry before he snaps out of it.

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

Anything good on there?

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

MULVANEY: Oh, why not?

[TRUMP looks up from his phone.]

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

[TRUMP goes back to his phone.]

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

[CURTAIN.]



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

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

MERRY WEDNESDAY!

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

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