Thursday, July 18, 2019

I CAN'T DO THIS TO ME!

There are of course the dead-enders who think Trump's straight-up Hitler impersonation -- telling outrageous lies about Rep. Ilhan Omar supporting Al Qaeda, and goading his goons to chant "Send her back" -- is an unmixed good, a sign that their Leader is finally going full Herrenvolk, but they barely count; they just serve to keep the Q-anon Infowars Pizzagate freak-rump roiled and red-faced. The most offensive reactions are from the mainstream conservatives, or what I have come to call the JustTheTip Trumpers -- those who occasionally admit Trump is gauche or non-U or not quite our kind (or whatever specific demurrers they use in their gated communities) but have heretofore supported virtually everything he does. There are several fine examples of people who will slur Omar and her allies all day long but, now that their ugliness has been mirrored back to them, wonder how such a thing could happen.

It's like, to paraphrase Harlan Ellison, having lain with pigs, they are surprised to get up smelling like garbage, and cast about for someone else to blame.

Worst of all, as usual, is Rod Dreher, who wonders why Trump would do such a thing:
The truly psychotic thing about Trump is that he doesn’t have to do this! It’s easy to fight the radicals of the Squad without resorting to this kind of thing. In fact, he is winning on the politics of Omar & Co. But that’s not enough for him. You’ve got to wonder if he’s some kind of sadist.
Or maybe -- stay with me now -- he leads a conservative movement that relies on racist xenophobia to win, and his goon-squad ravings are only more polite versions of the Save The White People stuff in which Dreher specializes.

Outraged as Dreher pretends to be, he's still doing the pee-dance over Trump 2020:
I have said for some time now that as bad as Trump is, I believe that putting Democrats in power would be worse, solely because of what it would mean for laws and policies that are important to me. But this degrading demagogic behavior is exactly the kind of thing that would flip me to the other side.
So why doesn't he? He could say it right now: It's too much, I quit. But he won't, because he's a pussy as well as a white nationalist.

UPDATE. Here, Trump's making it easier for him:
President Donald on Thursday disavowed the “send her back” chant that broke out at his rally on Wednesday night. 
"I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Trump said to reporters about the chant, which began after the president again went after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as part of his ongoing attack on four progressive freshman congresswomen
If only there had been someone there who could have told the crowd to stop! This is good news for John McCain's reputation.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

MILKING IT.

The latest This Is Good News for Trump story from White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito is "Why America’s tariff-hit farmers still support Trump." The farmers she quotes are eloquent about how hard they work, but not so great at explaining why they love the President ("I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with a lot of the policies and a lot of the actions that he’s taken" is typical). And it's not even clear from Zito's stats that dairy farmers really are hanging in with MAGA:
In 2016, rural Americans, a category that includes all of America’s farmers and ranchers, overwhelmingly voted for Trump; he earned 62 percent of the vote compared to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 34 percent, according to Pew Research analysis... 
Yet, despite a flurry of national stories warning that farmers are moving away from Trump because of his trade policies, a recent Gallup survey showed that 53 percent of rural residents approve of the job the president is doing.
Not sure exactly how 62 percent of "farmers and ranchers" supporting Trump in 2016 correlates to 53 percent of "rural residents" supporting Trump in 2020, but it looks like a drop to me.

That's not even the weirdest part. Zito writes:
The 32-year-old [dairy farmer] also manages the crew of 40 to 50 employees who make sure those of us at home can pick up a bottle of fresh milk, aged cheese or tangy yogurt at our local grocery. 
That is, of course, unless you have bought into the latest dietary fad and don’t consume dairy — a shift that has hit farmers’ bottom line with as much force as weather patterns and President Trump’s trade war with China.
A fad -- like avocado toast! Maybe Millennials are killing the dairy industry, as they have so much else.

Where's Zito getting this idea of fad diets killing the dairy industry from? Not from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, which shows that between 2016 and 2017, the last two years for which it has data, dairy product consumption went down a mere two pounds per capita -- from 645 to 643 pounds -- while over a ten-year period (2007-2017) consumption of dairy products actually went up 30 pounds per person, 613 to 643 pounds.

Zito may be thinking of fluid milk consumption (no cheese, no yogurt, etc.). Sales of fluid milk are down year-on-year, and down over ten years -- and in fact down since the 1980s, which would be a weird definition of "the latest dietary fad."

Zito may have been relying on a 2018 Fox News story which talked about the drop in milk sales ("Just three decades ago, America was a milk guzzling nation") and cited "more milk substitutes on the market offering less fat and more flavor" and "the medical debate over milk's health value" as factors. I could see how someone might look at that and say, "sure, fad diets are killing the dairy industry, not verkakte trade policies" -- though I can't imagine that same person thinking for more than a few seconds after that, remembering Mexico's recent 10 percent retaliatory hike in its tariff on American cheese, and not thinking better of the idea. But then, maybe that person would have a reason for portraying a big hit to a major American business as the fault of silly almond-milk-slurping hippies.

UPDATE. A reader suggests that William Tabb -- one of Zito's simple sons of the sod in the story  ("Mississippi has been slammed with wet weather since last fall and William Tabb and his wife, Cala, have certainly felt the brunt of it on the 3,000 acres they farm") -- might also be the current Republican farmer-candidate for the state legislature William "Billy" Tabb. But why wouldn't she mention that relevant detail?

Friday, July 12, 2019

THE REPUBLICAN IDEA OF FREE SPEECH.

Tucker Carlson has been laying the white supremacy on pretty thick lately, focusing on Rep. Ilhan Omar, offering her as proof that "the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country" (i.e., we let in too many darkskins). Even weirder, Carlson got some other creep on his show to pull the old You're the Real Racist bit, claiming that "if she wasn’t a member of Congress, [Omar] would be a member of the KKK."

This is, as we know, based on the aging slur spread by shitheels both low- and high-status, that Omar's opposition to the lobbying group AIPAC is anti-Semitic. Or rather I should say it's not based on it but excused by it, because what obviously animates these guys is not any policy thing (let alone philo-Semitism) but that Omar is -- like their other recent hate-objects such as AOC and Rashida Tlaib, and their more longterm hate objects like Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson -- an elected female Democrat with some added streak of "otherness" that makes her extra-triggering to conservatives (I almost wrote "of a certain kind" but come on, are there any other kind anymore?).

They'll swear to you that they're not racist, and I do believe they would love to have a reactionary former Muslim like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Congress on their side. But let's face it, they can't get even Red State voters to go for such people; South Carolina may send a traditional black Republican like Tim Scott to Washington (and Scott has been very careful not to get too exotically rightwing), but the kind of minority conservatives who are up-and-coming now are simply too crazy to overcome those voters' natural racism. Look at my-people-suck characters like Candace Owens -- Johnny Reb might applaud her as Not Like The Others, but would he phone-bank or canvass for her?

I don't think so, but maybe that'll change over time as the conservative movement promotes more overt psychos, and thereby makes the whole movement more psycho. You may have noticed that the Claremont Institute, one of those piss-elegant rightwing think tanks like Peterson or AEI, just gave fellowships to some folks who would, in a simpler time, be instead remanded to mental health treatment facilities, including Mytheos Holt, a longtime rightwing journalistic grifter, and Jack Posobiec, a full-on Pizzagate crackpot.

And of course there was Trump's crazy alt-media summit at the White House this week, at which conspiracy theorists like Mark Dice and vapid fameballs like Joy Vila were invited and offered as a superior alternative to the "fake news" media that practices the dark arts of interviewing, research, and fact-checking. (Remember when conservatives talked about improving the skillset of their journalistic outfits to match those of the MSM? You don't hear much of that anymore.)

At the event the President made some stupid and frankly fascist comments about what and what does not constitute free speech in the banana republic of his dreams. While it apparently does not include any criticism of himself ("To me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad"), it does include what the nuts he invited were peddling -- and by the way, their speech is, despite appearances, endangered because some social media companies block users for violating their terms of service, for which those companies may get hit with legislation to force them to carry it because that's how conservatism works, now. This sounds extra obnoxious coming from the Trump but is pretty close to the beliefs of more manicured Republicans like Senator Josh Hawley.

Maybe in the end, like so much else coming from this White House, who gets rights previously thought to be universal really comes down to whether conservatives can easily identify the person claiming rights as one of their own. Here's an example: In an incident at a Denny's in Michigan from last October that was only recently revealed, a bunch of bikers called a party of female black diners by familiar and unambiguous racial slurs, and it is alleged that, rather than ask the slur-slingers to leave, the manager, Patrick Fort,
allegedly responded, “'No, I cannot ask them to leave. It’s a freedom of speech.' When [one of the black women] returned to her table, the manager followed her and, in earshot of the bikers, continued to lecture her about their free speech rights."
The social media summit must have Trump really feeling the vibe, because today he too jumped on Ilhan Omar: "If one-half of the things they're saying about her are true," he said, "she shouldn't even be in office." As whether he means the voters shouldn't have elected her, or whether he means it doesn't matter what they thought, we cannot, as with so many of his burbles, be entirely sure; but we can make an educated guess.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

R.I.P. RIP TORN.



Forget that Maidstone shit, hilarious as it may be. The now late Rip Torn was not only Artie, the cut-throat but sentimental producer on The Larry Sanders Show -- so, so many great things about that performance, but this short scene gives you a good idea of the old-school show-biz toughness Torn gave the character -- but he was also a great actor of decades' standing in New York and Hollywood. I remember with special fondness seeing him when I was a teenager doing a pair of comic Chekhov one-acts on PBS with his wife Geraldine Page (their mailbox in the city was labeled "Torn/Page"), "A Marriage Proposal" and "The Bear." In the former he was a wormy suitor, in the latter a rustic boor, and Torn not only put both characters over but made them sexy (having Page to play against helped there, though, and -- it would seem -- for him; it was the first time I'd seen Page act, and I didn't realize for years afterward that she was supposed to be spinsterish).

I am also super-fond of Torn's "Bob Diamond" celestial defense attorney in Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life -- not only for his blustery early scenes, in which he appears to be just handling the poor dumb earthling put in his care, but also and especially for his last scene with Brooks, in which he suddenly shows the empathy that probably saves him. Good acting is largely about winning the audience -- I think it was Edward Herrmann who said that the audience decides in the first 10 minutes whether an actor is worth watching -- but the great ones find a way to surprise you after they've won you, and Torn really accomplished that here; I recall him saying this with what seemed like genuine regret, after Brooks' character learns to his great sorrow that he's being sent back and can't be with the woman with whom he's fallen in love:
Can I say something? Because they're sending you back, doesn't mean they're right. They can make mistakes. Don't let others get to you. Just follow what's in here [taps chest]. Come on. I'll take you to the station.
I remember the scene, but not how few words (and flimsy!) Torn had. He made it feel like a filibuster -- and made me wonder whether or not this glib heavenly soul-shuffling bureaucrat was really so glib after all. When the scene paid off at the end, it was mostly Brooks' scripting, but Torn really lit it up from inside.

Oh, and shout out to Torn in Larry Cohen's The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, and Torn's description of his lifelong feeling for Hoover to his girlfriend in ripe Texas growl: "Like my old man -- you know, kinda stiff!" RIP to a real one.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

ANOTHER SNOWFLAKE MELTS IN THE ROCKETS' RED GLARE.

This Fourth of July, let's celebrate the true reason for the season -- Bret Stephens' hurt feelings.

You may recall Stephens was ratio'd into the stratosphere on Twitter last week over a column in which he posited Real Americans as those who neither spoke Spanish nor could stand hearing vile Democrats speak it. Later, claiming he was actually just portraying the sentiments of those ordinary Spanish-disdaining Americans (which, in addition to contradicting the plain meaning of what he actually wrote,  was even more offensive), Stephens Twitter-tantrumed, claiming himself a victim of "moral bullying and progressive demagoguery."

You'd think that'd be enough self-embarrassment for one theme, but Stephens has come back for more, and his editors, who must despise him, allow it.
I was walking through an airport terminal trying to catch a connecting flight last Saturday when I spotted a writer I had never met but whose work I admire. He greeted me with a look of fatherly concern: “Sorry about what’s happening to you on Twitter.”
(Tom Clancy is dead, so I assume it was some old Anglo reactionary stirring Stephens' filial sensibilities.)
An hour or so earlier, before catching my previous flight, I’d spotted a tweet from the author Reza Aslan, who had accused me of jumping “out of the white nationalist closet” for a column that attempted to channel the negative way “ordinary people” might have viewed last week’s Democratic debates. I replied that his accusation would be “shameful if it weren’t so stupid.” 
Within minutes, I was being described as a “full on bigot,” “ghoul,” “racist,” and so on. As the retweets piled up into the thousands, I felt like I had been cast in the role of Emmanuel Goldstein in some digital version of Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate.” 
Yes, a ludicrously overpaid New York Times columnist heard unkind words on Twitter, and in consequence has become a famously victimized character in 1984. (Given that Orwell suggested Goldstein may not even exist, I wonder why Stephens didn't pick Winston Smith; maybe because Smith is broken in the end, while Goldstein remains a figure of awe and fear, and what little whiner doesn't dream of being that!)

On and on Stephens goes, declaring this country (I swear to God) "Robespierre’s America" because Colin Kaepernick won't let America walk on flags and James Damore got fired for insulting his colleagues. Maybe he'll move to Hungary or Brazil, where a rightwing man can speak his mind!

This is a reminder that we are all very lucky to live in the real America, where not only can we make fun of buffoons like Stephens, but also buffoons like Stephens are allowed to make ever-greater fools of themselves for our entertainment. So forget Il Douche's stupid theatrics (readers of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down know what I'm talking about!) and revel in our freedoms and the gift of laughter.

Friday, June 28, 2019

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



RAWK


  Boy, I hate to keep saying this to you, but go look at my newsletter, I covered the Democratic debates! I covered them good like a real whatchamacallit, a journamalist! Only I'm not a complete bothsider dummy, so you opinionated types might enjoy it more than the chin-stroking of dweebs like David Brooks:
Dems, Please Don’t Drive Me Away
The balls on this guy. If you lose David Brooks, you'll lose Bret Stephens! This could lead to a domino effect in which the Democrats lose Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin and all hell will break loose.
The progressive narrative is dominating in part because progressives these days have a direct and forceful story to tell and no interest in compromising it. It’s dominating because no moderate wants to bear the brunt of progressive fury by opposing it.
"bear the brunt of progressive fury" -- Jesus, these guys are such whiners. Oooh the mean progressive glared at me!
Democrats have caught the catastrophizing virus that inflicts the Trumpian right. They take a good point — that capitalism needs to be reformed to reduce inequality — and they radicalize it so one gets the impression they want to undermine capitalism altogether.
So one should oppose income inequality, but not in such a way that would actually reduce any income inequality. Very Brooksian -- just like him being sort of a Christian, except for the believing in Christ part.
Finally, Democrats aren’t making the most compelling moral case against Donald Trump. They are good at pointing to Trump’s cruelties, especially toward immigrants. They are good at describing the ways he is homophobic and racist. But the rest of the moral case against Trump means hitting him from the right as well as the left.
The fuck? What's worse than baby jails?
A decent society rests on a bed of manners, habits, traditions and institutions...
OOOOOOH GET THA FUCK OUTTA HERE ARE YOU KIDDING? Listen, guys: All these toffee-nosed NeverTrump and JustTheTipTrump idiots are in effect working for Trump. They claim to be offended by his "manners" and "habits," but they love his policies and would love for Democrats to move as close to those policies as possible -- and then still not vote for them because they'll always be too "progressive." I mean if Biden got the nomination (shudder) I guarantee you Brooks will be telling us loyalty is an excellent quality but Biden's misguided support for his buddy Obama's health care program has yoked him to the dangerously radical "pre-existing conditions coverage" model and that's playing right into Trump's hands etc. Fuck these people. Vote your conscience.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A GOOD START.

I guess the best endorsement of the first Democrats Half Debate is the heavy scent of desperation in the rightwing headlines that come in its wake. Get a load:


I found this in an email from the Washington Examiner's "Examiner Today, presented by FreedomWorks." I bet next they find bikini pictures. Then accuse her of dyeing that streak. 

From the same email: 

Breibart cries, "MEDIA AGREE: DEMOCRAT DEBATE SHOWS PARTY SHIFT TO FAR LEFT" like they think it's a convincing put-down: Surely the American people will never go for free college, clean water, and universal health care!

You can read my unspooled Twitter commentary, and/or my newsletter post -- which I'm not gonna unlock for nonsubscribers because I do that a lot and I have to save some stuff for the late-night real-people. But I will tell you that I found Bill De Blasio a big deal, not because he has a hope in hell of winning but because he seized the mic and was combative and observably didn't give a shit about the niceties.  I've been saying for months that if Democrats can just use De Blasio's candidacy as a seminar in how well it works to smack Trump around mercilessly, and to bluster back at him when necessary, he will not have run in vain.

Here's lesson one. He needs to fake empathy a little better and not to step on his own climaxes, but this is how to take them to church: DON'T BE AFRAID TO NAME AND SHAME.



Oh, and if you care about racehorse stuff, Booker and Inslee will gain votes and O'Rourke will lose some.

UPDATE. I would be remiss if I did not note that the Examiner's Bufkin is known to this establishment not only for her involvement in the Carroll smear, but also for her work at The Federalist, including the hilarious "The $15 Minimum Wage Is Wreaking Havoc On New York City Dining" and a disquisition as to whether a white lady calling a black lady the n-word is any worse than a white lady calling a white lady the c-word. For a certain kind of writer there are opportunities a-plenty in the rightwing press!