Saturday, November 26, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN (ON A SATURDAY): 11/26/22.



I'm developing a taste for these
Low-impact Led Zep tunes.

Another Friday ‘Round-the-Horn on a Saturday! If you must know, I was so relaxed by the Thanksgiving break that I absolutely could not rouse myself to perform my usual duties on Friday. Normally I’m a two-fisted, copy-churnin’ machine, but once I lose momentum it’s hard to kick the engine back into gear.

I did fulfill my Roy Edroso Breaks It Down duties, though – how could I not, with paying customers waiting on their shipment! I can let you free-riders can have a little taste – here from Monday is Alex P. Keaton transported to the Trump Age

And, you know what, let’s pull one out of the vault that, thanks to my deathless prose, remains daisy-fresh – a Hallmark movie for the MAGA set. I was reminded of it by the recent contretemps over Candace Cameron Bure, the lady who -- near as I can figure from the reporting, which seems to rely on readers having more knowledge of the Holiday Movie Industry than I can boast – was a star of Hallmark Channel Lessons in Life and Love Machine and is now the centerpiece of Great American Family (formerly Great American Country) Lessons in Life and Love and Jesus Machine. Since Jesus, in this context, means No Gay People, Bure was able to generate some prestige-media controversy on the subject, thus increasing her and GAF’s media attention in time for the holidays. 

Well, it’s all in the game, but it does make me wonder how Ben Shapiro, who keeps promising us his own family-entertainment conglomerate, was taking the increased competition. With homo-hating Christianity dying off in the West, GAF leaves an even smaller slice of the pie for Half-Pint; the MAGAsaurs aren’t going to want more than a few such streaming services, though maybe the “continuing to charge aging customers after they die” strategy may keep such a venture afloat. 

Speaking of which, here’s another old REBID episode on the Shapiro Network! Yet another reason to subscribe: deep content reserves! 

Meanwhile the news is full of dumbness to keep up with, but let us spare a thought for the latest Cancelculture Crybaby, in the Washington Post:

Former surgeon general faces his wife’s cancer — and the ‘Trump Effect’

Jerome Adams, M.D. was SG under Trump and now people don’t seem to want to hire him. It’s so unfair! High-level White House posts are supposed to lead to lavish sinecures! Also, “Adams and his wife, Lacey, want to tell a personal story about melanoma and cancer prevention,” so if you don’t give him six figures at least it’s like you’re pro-cancer.

Former surgeon general Jerome Adams and his wife, Lacey, often find themselves talking about what they have named the “Trump Effect.”

It followed them from Washington to their home in the Indianapolis suburbs. They felt it when he was exploring jobs in academia, where he would receive polite rejections from university officials who worried that someone who served in the administration of the former president would be badly received by their left-leaning student bodies. They felt it when corporations decided he was too tainted to employ.

And all because he chose to work for a famous scumbag. But get this: Adams is also a victim of Trump: 

As Donald Trump announced this month that he will run for president again, [the Adamses] had hoped it all would have faded away by now. 

They would rather talk about public health, in a very personal way... But the stigma of his association with Trump, even though neither of them is a supporter of his political campaign, remains.

Oh wait, it gets better:

Whether indicted or shunned or marginalized, a cavalcade of former Trump World figures have foundered in the aftermath of one of the more chaotic presidencies in modern American history.

Eichmann, Mengele – you know they’re bitching in hell that no one gave them this kind of treatment. Hey, Jerome Adams is kind of a common name – couldn’t this guy just say it was a different Jerome Adams who was Surgeon General, and then claim he was in Switzerland the whole time?

Friday, November 18, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN: 11/18/22.



I see Doja Cat got some Grammy nominations.
'Woman' is a cool tune, but I'll always love this goofy one.

Today’s unlocked Roy Edroso Breaks It Down episode reveals some of what the New! Republican! House! Majority! have planned for their big opening.  Quite a challenge making satire out of that after the incoming leaders basically announced it's going to be Bidenghazi hearings 24/7. (According to CNN they’ll also investigate “alleged ‘politicization’ at the FBI.” About a hundred years late, I’d say!

You might wonder: Even taking into consideration, as one must, that everything they do is for future electoral gain rather than the good of the country, what’s the play here? Do they really expect Mr. and Mrs. America, who were underwhelmed by their offerings in the recent election, to be excited by diagrams on easels showing the connection between Hunter Biden’s foot-jobs and Brandon the Chinese Cat’s-Paw? 

The best answer (besides polluted brain chemicals, that is, and the fact that they’ve relied on hearings instead of legislation for so long that they don’t remember how to even try and make laws) is that they don’t care about reaching anyone but their base. They know their policies are repulsive to most Americans, but most Americans don’t vote – they’re just counting on that old toxic Trump stew to sufficiently enrage enough rubes and psychos to sweep them back into real power. So demonization that proceeds to criminalization -- like Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant formulae -- is their best option. 

Meanwhile I’ve been enjoying all the make-believe Trump apostasy among the big-time conservatives – such as (here, have another REBID freebie!) the folks down at National Review who think we won’t remember how, the minute Trump won in 2016, they went from apostate to prostrate, and are practically assured to do it again if Tubby hangs tough. And today's HuffPo has a lulu:

Key Evangelical Figures Turn On Trump: 'He Used Us'...

Evangelical figures who previously supported Donald Trump are backing off now that he’s announced his third bid for the presidency.

“Donald Trump can’t save America,” Mike Evans told The Washington Post. “He can’t even save himself"...

Another onetime faith adviser to Trump, James Robison of Life Outreach International, said in a speech this week that Trump’s ego is getting in the way of the agenda.

“If Mr. Trump can’t stop his little petty issues, how does he expect people to stop major issues?” Robison said, according to The Washington Post.

Y’all gotta be shitting me. Nobody, but nobody, ever showed their ass worse than evangelicals in the Trump era. Remember all those photos of evangelicals praying with their hands glued to him like he was car they might win if they hung on long enough? Remember the snake handler he put in the White House? If you’re wondering why younger people are abandoning religion in droves, consider these alleged worshippers of Jesus Christ glomming onto a famously amoral scumbag for clout. 

And now some of them want a do-over. LOL. What they mean is, they’ll wait to see what happens when Tubby and DeSantis duke it out for King of the Brutes, and then devote their donations and ululations to whoever wins. 


Friday, November 11, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Ever heard a steel drum band play
Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor?

I kicked out a few Roy Edroso Breaks It Down items about the election – here’s the most recent. Maybe that will be a.) of interest to you, or maybe you’re b.) sick of that shit already. Don’t blame you if b.)! 

But there’s still some comedy to be wrung from the situation. Remember back during the primaries, when some Democratic campaign committees ran ads letting Republican voters know how thoroughly MAGA candidates like Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Dan Cox in Maryland, and John Gibbs in Michigan were – the idea being, let such nuts as love that shit nominate these nutjobs in the primaries and the normal voters would reject them in the general? And remember how Conservatives with Good Taste blubbered over it, saying not only that it was dirty politics to which such as they would never sink, but also that it meant when these lunatics won it would be the Democrats’ fault?

My favorite was Megan McArdle. As I described it at the time:

Megan McArdle is first among equals in mendacity here, dudgeoning that Democrats are willfully making it more likely that the worst Republicans (that is, the ones that are 5% worse than the second-worst) might win if the Democrat loses, and that this shows -- say it with me now -- Both Sides Are The Same ("Democrats can stop asking how Republicans could have sold out their principles and their country in a pathetic grab for some evanescent political advantage. Because now they know"). This will come in handy when McArdle inevitably pimps Yang's Forward Party as the Choice of People Who Want Clean Hands When DeSantis Becomes Dictator.

Well, as it happens, all of these and most of the other Trumpy candidates lost, and now all the rightwing big-bugs from Dame Peggy Noonington on down are crying that Trump must be ousted for the good of the party. Even Salena Zito, long the biggest Trump suck-up under cover of journalism, has turned: “The chickens have come home to roost for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania,” she announces, digging up no fewer than three Republican strategists (but no Republican electeds!) to say things like “I see golf courses and a rocking chair in his future.” (This being Zito, there’s also “a Pennsylvania father of two grown men of voting age… who asked not to be named.”)

It is to laugh, but wait’ll it comes time for prominent Republicans to decide whether or not to endorse Trump; then we’ll see who’s got any guts.  I'll bet not many! 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

CRAWLIN' THROUGH THE WRECKAGE.

Looks like at least a few of you fuckers voted, and the damage on Tuesday was thankfully limited – though the Morlocks will probably narrowly take a chamber and devote the next two years to political prosecutions and nuisance bills, as I explain in my latest Roy Edroso Breaks It Down essay, unlocked for your pleasure.

One of my sub-topics is how the prestige press and other con men are trying to make the whole thing about Tubby. The idea that the lords and ladies of the Republican Party will throw him over now -- considering they were too weak and gutless to resist him in the first place, and have shown no sign of increased fortitude since -- is hilarious. 

Some of the folks rushing in for a piece of the action are especially ridic. Take the guy the New York Times chose to deliver the concerned-conservative op-ed “Why the Red Wave Didn’t Materialize.” Here’s some of his copy, see if you can guess:

A week before the midterms, a video circulated online of a Starbucks barista crying while explaining the need for a union: “I’m a full-time student. I get scheduled for 25 hours a week, and on weekends they schedule me the entire day — open to close.” The manager is bad, the staffing is inadequate and the stress is overwhelming.

The video should have elicited sympathy from anyone familiar with the lousy wages and grinding conditions that characterize today’s service economy. That was not, though, the response of the full spectrum of conservative media and personalities, from Fox News to The Daily Wire to Sebastian Gorka.

“Boo Hoo!” replied Media Research Center TV, a conservative media site. “This ‘person’” — the barista happens to be transgender, hence, I suppose, the scare quotes around “person” — “was in tears because they had to work eight hours a day on the weekend.”

Episodes like this may be one reason the red wave didn’t materialize, why Republicans failed to usher in a new dawn of prosperity for the multiracial working class that Republican leaders from Senator Ted Cruz to the House policy honcho Jim Banks say they want to champion…

So: Did you think Ruy Teixeira finally switched parties? Nope, it’s Sohrab Ahmari – former op-ed editor of the Murdoch Stürmer aka the New York Post and national(ist) greatness crank. The last time most of us noticed him was in 2019 when he publicly attacked David French – an activity I normally endorse, but instead of attacking French for the fraudulence of his witchfinder-but-really-a-nice-guy act, Ahamri attacked him for not matching his own devotion to hunting witches:

Drag queen story hour, [Ahmari] warned, was a "global movement," since the group that hosts it has 35 chapters. "It is," he said, "a threat." 

This eventually prompted French to ask the obvious question: What would Ahmari do to combat this supposed crisis? "What public power would you use?" he asked. "And how would it be constitutional?"

Ahmari's answer -- and I promise I am not making this up -- was that he would hold a congressional hearing "on what's happening in our libraries," in which sympathetic conservative senators such as Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton would "make the head of the Modern Library Association or whatever sweat." 

Puts kind of a new light on Ahmari’s Republican Workers Party act, huh? Ahmari is cagey about it, too; he leaves the queer-bashing out of his Times essay, and even soft-pedals his Trump-love (Ahmari wrote “He’s Still the One” about the Leader in September), though if you listen closely you can still hear the tune:

Ever since Donald Trump’s rise, there has been much talk, and some evidence, of a realignment in American politics. Breaking with longstanding G.O.P. orthodoxies on free trade, entitlements and health care, Mr. Trump coaxed huge numbers of white voters without college degrees away from the Democrats. Once in office, he delivered on tariffs. But other pieces of his populist agenda fell away, as his aides forged ahead with the old Chamber of Commerce conservatism (tax cuts, deregulation and a profoundly anti-union labor policy).

Yes, Trumpy populism was halting and self-contradictory, but the variety that emerged in Republican circles after Mr. Trump left office was downright fake.

Trumpy populism cannot fail, it can only be failed! What’s wanted is support for the proles plus attacks on minorities – a proven winning combination! 

Like the old saying (incorrectly) goes, the Chinese word for crisis is danger plus opportunity, and we’re bound to see other conservatives besides Ahmari looking for the main chance in this one -- rebranding themselves post-trainwreck as the future of the movement (and hoping nobody remembers what they were in the past).

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

VOTE, YOU FUCKERS, VOTE.

I could give you guys one of those Resistance pep-talks about how you gotta go out there and vote to save the country, the planet, yourself, etc., but what’s more likely to convince you to storm the ballot box is this essay:

Yes, it’s the Doughy Pantload himself, telling you a dumb ol' election’s nothing to get in a sweat over.

Look, I think my record over the last seven years or so of arguing that politics in general, and right-wing politics in particular, is going in a bad direction is pretty solid. Heck, now that I think about it, my record for arguing that left-wing politics is going in a bad direction is pretty stellar. 

But to listen to a lot of folks, the National Guard should go door to door collecting belts and shoelaces from a vast cross section of the commentariat as well as millions of rank-and-file voters.

Some people just shouldn’t try mordancy. It’s one thing when Lee Marvin, smiling mordantly over his cheroot in a boxcar, tells you “Country’s gone ta hell!” in Emperor of the North (14:13), but when fat-ass legacy pledge Jonah Goldberg puts it on it’s like Jacob Rees-Mogg affecting a gangster lean.   

You want to know what I think will happen if Republicans have a really good night on Tuesday? 

Not much. 

First of all, you'll still have the same friends, family, and job you did the day before the election (not counting a few hundred campaign and congressional staffers and the like). That's important because, as much as partisans have convinced themselves otherwise, politics isn't as important in your daily life as politicians and pundits want you to believe.

‘cept if you’re gay or trans or a refugee or need an abortion or give a shit about anyone besides yourself, in which case sucks to be you, haha, fart.

…Broadly speaking, here's what I think will happen if Republicans gain control of Congress. Things will go very badly for Hunter Biden as the GOP dissects his life down to his DNA (and let's face it, he is a sleazy, corrupt dude, even if he isn't the bogeyman some want him to be). 

Political prosecutions don’t matter if you don’t like the guy.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, will quit rather than face impeachment, or maybe he'll stick around and be impeached. Anthony Fauci will be put through the wringer. But we'll also probably get some needed investigations into the origins of COVID and the debacle in Afghanistan. 

Four hours a day of Rand Paul screaming “ADMIT IT FAUCI, YOU AND XI JINPING MADE CCP VIRUS IN THE LAB WITH A CANDLESTICK,” followed by four hours of that godforsaken occupation’s biggest fans shaking their fists at Biden for ending it – that’s Goldberg’s idea of The Way Things Ought To Be.

And yeah, Republicans will waste a lot of time talking about and maybe actually going through with what will likely be a stupid, pointless, and hypocritical effort to impeach Joe Biden.

See, baseless and obviously political prosecutions of the President and his son aren’t symptoms of fast-track fascism, they’re just “stupid, pointless, and hypocritical,” like when the guys at The Dispatch make lame jokes about Jonah’s Asness Chair. Chillax, dood! 

…The GOP crazy caucus will expand as a few more tinfoil hatters join Marjorie Taylor Greene's treehouse of stupid.

Broadening out, there will be some new bad apples at the state level, and they will say and do terrible things. 

Don’t Say Gay becomes Don’t Hire Them Either, Don’t Let Them Adopt etc. No skin off his nose, though. 

But most of their schemes will fall afoul of both the courts and the court of public opinion.

In the actual courts of actual judicial opinion, however, their schemes will not fall afoul, but rather continue to overtly politicize American justice, which could not possible lead to a poor societal and governmental result. 

The whole thing is nightmarishly bad but I ask you to consider just these two bits:

I take a backseat to no one in my contempt for both the grifters and sincere hysterics on the right who take things like Dinesh D'Souza's 2000 Mules seriously. But even Dinesh's carefully crafted crackpottery works on the assumption that democracy is good. Even putsch-peddlers like Michael Flynn argued for rerunning the election, because in America we believe that elections confer legitimacy for elected positions. 

And, get this:

The January 6 riot proves the point. Most of those goons and buffoons storming the Capitol committed the blunder of believing Donald Trump's lies about the election being stolen. That's the weird irony lost on so many people rightly appalled by that day: Most of those in the mob thought they were fighting for democracy.

Not just high-pressure crooks and propagandists like D’Souza and Flynn are pro-democracy, but so are the guys who stormed the fucking Capitol! I’m shocked Goldberg didn’t include the guy who tried to murder Paul Pelosi. Hell, I guess if someone assassinated Biden, it’d be because the assassin just loved democracy so much – further proof of how healthy and not-in-danger our Way of Life is.

Anyway, if all the totalitarian plans these fuckers brag about implementing as soon as they get power don’t motivate you, let Goldberg’s flurry of farts propel you to the polls! God bless us, every one. 

Friday, November 04, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN: 11/4/22.



Another great thing about the internet:
For years I had no idea what this song was called.
Bless you, Shazam.

OK, joy-poppers, this week, I was extremely generous with the free Roy Edroso Breaks It Down stories. Do not expect this largesse to continue! Consider it my week-before-election gift, to celebrate the rescue of democracy at the polls. 

(Yes, I know the papers and talking heads favor the Republicans instead, but though I am usually inclined toward pessimism I have decided to look on the bright side, and not only celebrate but encourage voting as Douglas Fairbanks once celebrated and encouraged the sale of War Bonds. Think of it like democracy Lotto – to win it, you got to be in it!)

Speaking of negativity and its role in depressing the vote, here’s today’s number on Peggy Noonan and how, cloistered though she is in her Manhattan aerie, she has picked up and prettified the GOP message that voting and democracy must be stopped for the Greater Good. Always fun to consider her scented, dreamy, pillowy prose and the brutal uses to which it is put.

Then there's the one about the New Birchers, or rather the Retro Birchers: How today’s conservatives are slopping new paint and powder on some very old ideas from the days when people who promulgated such ideas were commonly classified as Right Wing Nuts. A happier time all around! (BTW, you should be digging the work of A.J. Bauer, who knows the Old Right like Preacher knows his Bible; here’s something he wrote for Politico about the roots of rightwing media.)

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Also unlocked is my “Hate Speech IS Free Speech” column, concerning recent trends in the promotion of ancient prejudices. 

A very serious week of political stuff it’s been, without the comedy sketches, arts criticism, and musical interludes that normally leaven the bread; but ‘tis the season – just as you’re gonna see more Santa near Christmas, you’re gonna see more Satan near Election Day. Anyway, my final message to you is “vote,” and also “subscribe” – the country may go to shit, but I’ll probably be handing mimeographed copies of this thing in the concentration camp. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN: 10/28/22.



Friend of mine just reminded me of these guys.
They're contenders and I hope someday they get a title match.

•   I have been generous with the free Roy Edroso Breaks It Down stories, but don’t count on it lasting – baby needs a new pair of shoes, so please subscribe (cheap!)

Meantime here’s one about what’s next for the newly Muskified Twitter. You can take it as a prediction or as a mere bag-o’-shells, but one thing’s for sure: Musk is going to fuck it up, either so’s you notice or so’s you don’t. But like the Bard said, we who have free souls, it touches us not. My attitude is the same as it was the last time the dummies who used to run it suspended me for absurd reasons. I will repeat part of it here:
I do not mention this [suspension] to invite sympathy – no cancelculture crybaby bullshit for me! These morons can do what they like with their own property – but to remind you that Twitter constantly pitches people off for stupid reasons while turning a blind eye to actual hate speech…

One day I expect they’ll toss me forever, perhaps for some equally innocuous comment, so if I go quiet there you should look for me, not in instructions behind a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield, but here at alicublog (or, better still, at REBID – subscribe, cheap!).
That’s how I feel now, too; the place has always sucked, and will continue to suck in a different way. Fortunately the platforms I use are not a significant part of my identity; if I can share Substack with a bunch of a bad-faith cancelculture crybabies without getting cooties I can certainly use, abandon, or be cashiered from Twitter without drama or regret.

It’s certainly a better way to look at it than that of all the rightwing nuts now screaming for Elon Musk to avenge them for their alleged "shadowbanning" (i.e. losing followers whom you have come to believe you own, like Egyptian tomb-slaves) and "censorship" (i.e., suspension after violation of terms of service), as if the fat fraud were Jesus and they were the souls in limbo rather than socially backward shut-ins who couldn’t touch grass it you threw Kid Rock tickets on their lawns. What a way to live! Count your blessings, normies.

•  Also on the free table this week: One on the escalation trajectory of Sam “Everyone’s Out To Get Me” Alito. A few people, including REBID commenters, have noticed that even as conservatives like Alito increasingly get pretty much everything they want – from politics, anyway – they nonetheless bitch harder and louder with each passing day. I may well work up an essay on it sometime, but the short answer to the conundrum is: The same abnormal psychology that informs their politics also informs their private lives, and they’re just acting like other, less famous jerks you probably know personally who’ve fucked over other people to get what they loudly announce they want and deserve and have to have, and still aren’t happy, and they know it’s got to be the fault of someone other than themselves.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN (ON A SATURDAY!): 10/22/22.



That French station again! Wacky versions of classics
like this the missus calls “singer competing with song,”
but for me this one’s pure pleasure.

•  Well, why not Saturday ‘Round-the-Horn, huh? I was busy yesterday, sorry.

We’re in the psycho-nutso phase of the election campaign, with a lot of sketchy polling to rile the rubes. Here’s a MAGA douchebag trying to portray himself as beating Letitia James for New York AG based on a poll from Trafalgar Group – who, as I discussed in June, predicted Trump would win in 2020, and have a weirdly opaque method...

…which includes “proprietary digital methods we don’t share publicly,” nudge nudge, as well as “methods to accommodate the ‘Social Desirability Bias’” which they say “allows us to obtain a poll participant’s true feelings in situations where we believe some individuals are not likely to reveal their actual preferences.” In other words, it corrects results to account for the terror of cancel culture that allegedly animates rightwing nuts nowadays — how, they don’t say, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it involved some “wait a minute, this guy’s white, he can’t possibly mean it when he says he thinks America fought on the right side in World War II, maybe antifa is holding him hostage” judgement calls.

For the usual reasons, things do look bad: Midterms are traditionally poison for the party in power and God knows the Prestige Media are pushing rightwing fuckery especially hard now. I don’t counsel hope, so much, as a continuing insistence on the truth because, if the bad guys win, what you really don’t want is for people to forget where the ensuing unpleasantness came from – because you know conservatives, who rely heavily on bamboozlement, will either try to portray it as Just The Way Things Have Always Been, or blame you.

•  Now for the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebies – which were generous this week, because I’m a hell of a guy: First, a plausible Herschel Walker scenario, given his “I meant to do that” follow-up on his toy sheriff badge thing; second, a shorter and more enjoyable version of Rod Dreher’s latest lengthy blubberfest over why he has to forsake his beloved Dixie (and wife and children) for the Führer of the Moment. I mean, can't you just imagine Jean-Jacques Rousseau telling Dreher, “TMI, buddy"?

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

A HYPE IS NOT A "HOME."

Ross Douthat is a menace on so many levels – to our politics, to English prose and reason, and so on – that one would think if the Times allowed him to bring in a couple of ringers to help they would vitiate his awfulness. No such luck!  Bad as his columns are, their partisan/theocratic intent is at least more or less unconcealed. But in this “roundtable” collaboration with a couple of other nudniks he tries to portray himself as the friend of the “Politically Homeless” -- in fact the thing was titled “Politically Homeless is Not Politically Hopeless” before it got switched it to “The Midterms Look Very Different if You’re Not a Democrat or a Republican” – as if it weren’t just a Republican recruiting tactic dressed up as high-mindedness.  

Maybe someone at the Times realized some readers would notice that “Politically Homeless” is a red flag signifying that rank bothsider fuckery is coming – the sort indulged by Andrew Yang’s ridiculous Forward Party, and by stray dummies who think “the left wants to censor us because they reject creativity” (??) and thus are no better an electoral choice than people who literally compare them to literal Satan. This is bothsiderism with an extra helping of woebegone and winsome: People who apparently can’t deal with the stresses and hard choices of everyday life -- try to imagine them picking an internet service provider or a wedding dress – and, faced with shitty democrats versus stark raving fascists, choose not to vote for the side less likely to kill them, and instead complain that neither side is serving them so they’ll just sit and cry about it. 

But at least those guys seem sincerely childish. Even without the warning label, you can smell the wingnut shtick Douthat and his collaborators – Reason’s Stephanie Slade, and Tablet’s Liel Leibovitz – have concocted a mile away. Leibovitz:

I came to this country, like so many other immigrants, because I care deeply about two things — freedom of religion and individual liberties. And both parties are messing up when it comes to these two fundamental pillars of American life, from cheering on law enforcement spying on Muslim Americans in the wake of 9/11 to cheering on social media networks for curbing free speech.

On the one hand, Republicans using the actual government to spy on Muslim-Americans (and, under Trump, to keep Muslims out of the U.S. entirely – though maybe Leibovitz doesn’t mind that); on the other, Democrats not doing whatever the fuck they’re supposed to do when Twitter (not a branch of the U.S. government) enforces its Terms of Service on users. It’s bothsides bingo because they’re both “cheering”!

Though Liebowitz is supposed to represent the “left,” he gives no positive defense or endorsement for any liberal or left principle – he just makes the same scared noises about Trump as any Republican milquetoast might. Also he says he’s going to vote for GOP New York governor candidate Lee Zeldin, who’s a literal 2020 election denier – but that, too, is cool with Liebowitz, who actually finds it a reason for a “very big dose of – dare I say it? -- hope”:

Voters are gravitating toward candidates who are telling them coherent stories that make sense. To the political classes, these stories sometimes sound conspiratorial or crazy or way removed from the Beltway reality. But to normal Americans, they resonate.

I guess Big Lie bullshit is OK because it's resonant, and shows independence from the reality-based beliefs of the Beltway elite.

As for Slade, she’s a libertarian, and (as I long ago observed) that means a conservative with social anxieties so, sure enough, while she professes an “almost unimaginable abhorrence… toward some of the Republicans who would have to win in order for the G.O.P. to retake the Senate,” she nonetheless favors them to win the House because

… the sheer economic insanity of the Biden years — amounting to approving more than $4 trillion of new borrowing, to say nothing of the unconstitutional eviction moratorium and student loan forgiveness — is mind-boggling to me, so almost anything that could put the brakes on some of this stuff seems worth trying.

So, she’s mad that the Democrats gave people trillions in COVID financial aid, and hopes to return to power the other party that gave them trillions in COVID financial aid. (Douthat says this makes her sound “like a swing voter”; I’d give him points if I thought he actually knew what that meant.)

The whole thing’s preposterous, but craziest thing is this from Liebowitz:

…I look at the Democratic Party and see a lot of energy I love — particularly the old Bernie Sanders spirit, before it was consumed by the apparatus. I look at the Republican Party and see people like Ted Cruz, who are very good at kicking up against some of the party’s worst ideas. There’s hope here and energy, just not if you keep on seeing this game as red versus blue.

Douthat professes interest in this “Bernie-Cruz” coalition. I would pay a few dollars to see this roundtable reconvened so that the participants could explain what that coalition would be like. Democratic Socilaism without the Democracy and Socialism, but Owning the Libs? Hey, maybe that’s Tulsi Gabbard’s plan! 

Long story short, you should always be suspicious of crypto-non-partisan come-ons, and when it's peddled by post office wall fixtures like Douthat definitely hold onto your wallet.

Friday, October 14, 2022

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN: 10/14/22.



The missus found a French internet station
that plays odd jazz and pop vocal tracks.
This one tickles me, and I think it shows 
how strong the song's underpinnings are.

•  I'm releasing unto the world today's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issue, which is more cultural than political -- it's about how the arts and entertainment press talks a lot more about movie box office standings than they used to. This is an observable phenomenon for interested people over a certain age, but I seldom see it brought up. 

Commenters are drawing parallels with other areas of life and media coverage thereof -- for example, the "horserace" approach to politics that predominates among our prestige press outlets. I think it also distorts audience expectations of what movies are about. I don't think it's just nostalgia to lament the vanished film culture where people went into movies not much knowing or caring about the business end of them. Now so much film news is basically business news that I think it must have an effect on audiences -- and they approach movies more as social phenomena, that is, things with which to identify, rather than to just enjoy. 

You can also see its effect in the way movies are used as political props. I’ve written about the weird hate-on rightwingers had for the Toy Story spin-off Lightyear, owing to a miniscule amount of gay-friendly content in it, and how they tried to convince readers the film was a flop because it finished second rather than first in opening grosses. Insane politics aside, the whole idea of a film being a flop because it was only the second most popular release in the country seems to be, among other things, a product of the weird, zero-sum, hypercompetitive way we're encouraged to look at -- well, everything. 

•  Oh, also freed from the mothership: An Alex Jones intervention. The whole billion-dollar thing is pleasing to some people, but more bemusing to me, because first, like a lot of other rich assholes under fire, Jones seems not only unconcerned with but OxyContin-numb to the judgement  -- since it happened he's continued to rave as if he's a big winner. And who knows whether they'll ever be able to extract enough of his money to make any difference in the way he lives? 

As is always the case with the law, I want to see the guilty punished, not for the joy of retribution, but so that those who would do likewise may be discouraged -- and as it stands I'm sure Jones' millions of followers think his is a positive example because he has, even at this moment, gotten away with it. Which guarantees that we'll get more of it. This lesson can be applied to other areas of pubic life as well.