Friday, March 17, 2023


Fun, city.

Got a couple of Roy Edroso Break It Down freebies for you. One takes off from the “woke” gibberish that’s sweeping conservative intellectual circles. Since Bethany Mandel’s embarrassment on live TV, you can’t swing a cat on Twitter without hitting a rightwing blowhard workshopping his own tendentious definition of the word. Between this and the campaign to portray wokeness as the cause of the Silicon Valley Bank failure (which is rich in several ways, not the least being that rightwing vampire Peter Thiel had $50 million in the allegedly woke SVB), it’s clear that conservatives have abandoned policy and politics for hermeneutics and its close cousin, bullshit. 

The other freebie is a fun little sketch based on Oklahoma’s apparent puzzlement that big companies don’t want to move there. “There is no reason for us to continuously lose out to another state in this country on major business developments,” the president pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate writes; “…I am determined find the common denominator as to why we aren’t being chosen and figure out how we can become more attractive to businesses looking to expand or relocate.” 

Guy, I don’t mean to be rude, but educated people simply don’t want to live in places that are rapidly adopting the abortion-banning, gay-erasing, anti-education policies of the modern Republican Party. I mean, it’s getting so doctors don’t want to move there – soon enough they’re going to have to go back to letting barbers do operations. 

When red states brag about how so many people are moving from places like California and New York to Bumfuck, they always let you know those people are moving for economic reasons – yet they never seem to grasp what that means: That the emigrants could no longer afford their first choice and had to settle for less. It’s like saying, “Haw, more people are eatin’ margarine instead o’butter – must be because margarine is so much more delicious!”  

There's plenty of beauty and flavor out in the country, but it seems like the people who run those places are less interested in promoting that than in cursing the infernal cities and making their own jurisdictions meaner and dumber out of pure spite. (And because it makes their subjects easier to control, of course.) It's like they're having a race to the bottom and are mad that not everyone wants to compete. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023


 [Oscar announcer voice] Before we get to the Oscar predictions, let us dispense with the last nominee. [/Oav] For my other Best Picture nominee reviews, see the previous post.

Entertainment Weekly did one of those annoying Anonymous Hollywood Insiders Talk Oscar things where the kibitzers are obviously miserable alte kakers who can’t understand why black people are so pushy and the world has passed them by. (The “marketer” who said he liked The Banshees of Inisherin for “the sense of community… Don't we all just want to move there right now?” is my favorite). But one of the oldsters did get me to laugh by calling Top Gun: Maverick a “big beer commercial” and that stayed with me as I was watching it. I kept imagining Spuds McKenzie in Cruise’s role, transmitting not only his aerial combat instructions but also his love talk with Jennifer Connolly via a voiceover by Don LaFontaine

And why not? Maverick was made to be taken unseriously. Look, I’m sorry, I recognize it’s a quality product, and I loved the zoom-zoom and pew-pew, and if the fun macho posturing ain’t Only Angels Have Wings, for our low, mean age it will do. But its emotional content, like the relationship between Maverick and Goose’s son, Pinball or Dipshit or whatever it is (oh, OK, Rooster, guess you caught on pretty quick – what a disagreeable old man I have become), is just cheap – though, like the beer this all seems to be a commercial for, effective to its purpose (which is to make you care about what happens to these guys more than you would, say, the puppets on Fireball XL5) if you get down enough of it. I give director Joseph Kosinski much credit for catching me up on the Top Gun backstory without cluttering up the movie. And if I were invested in that backstory, I guess Maverick’s and Jennifer Connolly’s sub-Hallmark dialogue and Maverick’s and Val Kilmer’s cheesy version of Jack Nicholson’s and William Challee’s scene in Five Easy Pieces (it would be parody material if Kilmer weren’t actually sick, dammit) might be moving. For me, they were carefully planted chokepoints to keep Maverick from becoming Starship Troopers without the self-awareness. OTOH the climactic air battle is a honey and the editing is boss, but Hans Zimmer’s score – ominous and ethereal at the same time -- is the secret weapon.

OK, now my predictions:

Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once. Unlike in previous years, I’m not taking any sucker bets in major categories this year – if I’m to be wrong, let me be wrong with the mob! It’s good, it’s funny and weepy, it’s the magic of the movies. If not: Maverick: Top Gun.

Best Actor: Brendan Fraser, The Whale. I’m not gonna pay twenty bucks to see Fraser’s actual performance at current streaming rates (ditto for Nighy, alas) but the odds are too great and the competition, while brilliant, too thin: I loved Aftersun but Paul Mescal’s is surely the most low-key performance ever nominated, and Austin Butler is too young (and, unlike young’uns like Daniel Day-Lewis at the time of My Left Foot, not convincingly showing more than an uncanny ability to impersonate). That leaves Colin Farrell, whose work I fear is too subtle to distract voters from lobbing a love bomb at the maltreated Fraser. If not: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at OnceLike I said, no sucker bets. Blanchett broke down my resistance to her austere craft with Tár the way Meryl Streep did for me with The Post, but the Yeoh love-fest seems unbeatable. If not: Cate Blanchett, Tár.

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Nope, not fucking with this Tinseltown tidal wave of sentiment for Short Round’s comeback. If not: Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin.

Best Supporting Actress: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin. Like everyone I love Angela Bassett but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a funny-book movie and hers is a funny-book performance, full of brio but unidimensional. And as Heath Ledger showed, you can win an Oscar for that if it’s unexpected – not if it’s General Zod. (Also, way too much screen time.) If not: Bassett.

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once. If not: Todd Field, Tár.

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin. It sure sounds like writing (Irishness helps!). Plus it’s got jokes. The Tár script is downright novelistic in its detail and ambiguities, so it could go Field's way, but look, I'm trying to win here! If not: Todd Field.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley, Women Talking. Making it a chamber drama and making it watchable is a helluva thing. If not: All Quiet on the Western Front. 

Best Editing: Eddie Hamilton, Top Gun: Maverick. Not just for the zoom-zoom, pew-pew, either; the high-intensity conversations really pop, too. If not: Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Best Cinematography: James Friend, All Quiet on the Western Front.  If not: Florian Hoffmeister, Tár.

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, Babylon. If not: John Williams, The Fabelmans. 

Best Production Design: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: Elvis.

Best International Feature Film: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: EO. 

Best Costume Design: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. If not: Babylon.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Elvis. If not: The Whale.

Best Animated Feature: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio. If not: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Best Animated Short: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. I actually saw all five of these! And while I loved the wordless, two-color children’s book feel of Ice Merchants and the innovations of My Year of Dicks, I’m afraid the Apple Films Christopher Robin ripoff will get it. If not: My Year of Dicks. 

Best Live-Action Short: The Red Suitcase. If not: An Irish Goodbye. 

Best Documentary Feature: Navalny. If not: Fire of Love.

Best Documentary Short: The Elephant Whisperers. If not: Haulout. 

Best Sound: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: Top Gun: Maverick.

Best Visual Effects: Avatar: The Way of Water. If not: Top Gun: Maverick.

See ya at the show! (PS I reserve the right to make changes until one hour to air time.)

UPDATE: Oh yeah that thing from RRR will win Best Song! OK, see ya at the show!

FINAL UPDATE: 16 out of 23 -- 70%, a passing score. I'll take it! 

Friday, March 10, 2023


I'm a late 20th-Century guy and this is my jam

Omigod it's almost the Oscars! And, as I have been doing for years now, I'm going to try and guess the winners, and as prep have seen nine of the ten Best Picture nominees (I will dutifully see the Tom Cruise thing this weekend and report on it here, though I regard the prospect much as Pee-Wee regarded the snakes in that pet shop fire.)  As a favor to you, my public, I have brought my reviews of those films out from behind the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down paywall so you can read them:  The Fabelmans, Tár, The Banshees of Inisherin, Women Talking, All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All at Once

As to non-cultural REBID offerings released free of charge for this week, I have just the one, about a National Review author trying to hold aloft that publication’s Conservatives-with-Good-Taste banner while the actual conservatism outside NR’s castle walls grows increasingly vicious and feral. It’s good, of course, but there’s plenty where that came from if you have taste and $7/month (cheap!). 

The week brought more madness in the form of Tucker Carlson’s Selected Shorts from the Jan. 6 Tour-Group Visit to Our Nation’s Capitol. The grift is clear from the lunatic responses to this Dinesh D’Souza tweet: Wingnuts show brief video clips of quiet moments among the mob, then say that proves the hours of mob violence that day – notwithstanding that these are also documented on video – no longer mean anything because “MSM” “lied.”  

If it were an argument it’d be self-refuting -- as it is, it’s just more evidence that conservatism has descended even further: As it has abandoned policy for dumb culture-war stunts, it has also abandoned common sense for magical thinking -- literally looking reality in the face and calling it fantasy, and vice-versa. Which is why our politics now depends on standing up for reason as well as for specific political positions. Fortunately in my case these mostly coincide! 

I did get some encouragement, though, from a new USA Today/IPSOS poll that shows most Americans don’t see what’s so bad about being “woke.” Not sure what other differently-worded or -implemented polls would yield – as we’ve seen from ridiculously loaded polls, like the New York Times one that claimed “some Americans do not speak freely in everyday situations because of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism” as a sign of rampant cancelculture rather than of ordinary good manners, these things can be rigged or willfully misinterpreted. But it’s nice to know that however many bots and creeps pollute social media with claims that everything from M&Ms to the military is killing us with wokeness, some of us still have our heads on straight.

Another bonus: the poll enraged ham-faced pundit Erick Erickson, and sent him sputtering to his fanbase with this doozy:
What I find more telling about the country’s true view on the term woke comes from standup comedians who make a living saying out loud what their audience is thinking. From Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle to Bill Burr to Neal Brennan, almost every progressive comedian is ridiculing woke ideology on progressive platforms like Netflix and Hulu.
Yeah, who cares about a poll of normies when you can get vox populi straight from these rich comedians telling the boomers who paid $200+ a seat to listen to them that something the kids like is bad? 

Friday, March 03, 2023


Hey, it's happy hour and this is just nice.

Another hard week for America, folks, but at least some of us get the weekend off! Not me, though – I’ll be busy on the weekend getting a head start on next week’s Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issuesSpeaking of which, let me unload the freebies for the week just passed – first, the Dilbert Diaries, the next logical step in Scott Adams’ career; I am convinced he’s convinced that the full fascist takeover is imminent, and he wants to be New Hitler's Court Jester. 

He may not be wrong! Ron DeSantis has been tearing it up, declaring himself Lord of Disneyland, and planning his destruction of the press and continuing his persecution of trans, gay, and educated people (the Democratic base!) in his mosquito-gator-and-mortgage-fraud kingdom. I half believe that he and Trump are working together, and the governor’s lunacy is meant to make the ex-president look less dangerous so when they nominate him some of the independent voters (the dumb ones who ruin everything) might say, well, he’s not so bad.  

Conservatives don’t see the downside, though, and except for a few apostates they’re all in for the full fash. I actually think they’re excited by it – I mean, Trump was a blast for them, but he only shat on Latinos and foreigners – this guy is a literal queer-basher!  (Fun project: Try to find any DeSantis assurance that he’s not attacking LGBTQ people with these programs. He simply doesn’t do it. What does that tell you?) 

I was directed to Hot Air, which had been an unremarkable wingnut site for so long that I hadn’t even looked at it for years. They got a guy there now called David Strom who has a post about gay and trans stuff called “The Hershey Highway to Hell.” OOOH HOW EDGY. Also he calls the trans woman Faye Johnstone “he,” always a sign of moral clarity/dorkism. (Imagine him among normal people; I put the time between his first deliberate misgendering and his ejection while shouting I’M BEING CANCELCULTURED at about two minutes.) At one point Strom gets after the trans lady’s non-profit:  

“Supporting youth-serving organizations across Canada.” Literally, the only phrase that makes sense in the entire business description is about getting access to children. On that point, alone, is the description comprehensible. Access to kids.

Ever notice how it’s always about the kids? These trans folks don’t like HAVING kids, but they apparently like being with them quite a lot. Preferably with as few clothes on as they can get away with.

There is nothing in fact or reason supporting this slur, but yelling groomer is what they do now instead of lectures on limited government. Oh, and elsewhere at the site addressing the DeSantis Don’t Say Gay bill is an old alicublog figure of fun:

This really, really bothers some people.

Most of the bill concerns the rights of parents, which really, really bothers some people, too.

Hint hint. There are all kinds of ways to call your enemies groomers, and Jim Lileks, being an old-fashioned type, really, really prefers the really, really eyebrow-waggle. 

Hey, but let’s lighten up – here’s another REBID bit, this one about movies you saw when you were younger that take on whole new resonances when you see them later in life. I did Night Moves, but you can do your own in the comments. It’s a community, see; you really ought to subscribe (cheap!).

Sunday, February 26, 2023



•  Sure, why can't "Friday 'Round-the-Horn" happen on a Sunday? We had one on a Saturday once, remember? Wasn't that crazy? We're pretty quirky and unpredictable here. Sky's the limit! 

•  Anywho: The major freebie from Roy Edroso Breaks It Down from last week is this one about a Zoom meeting between the GOP leadership and their policy chief. I notice that in recent weeks the alignment of the Republicans with Russia is getting tighter. Maybe you saw Matt Gaetz's House resolution calling for the U.S. to stop helping Ukraine repel its invaders. (It's actually called the "Ukraine Fatigue Resolution," as if their House propagandists didn't bother to change the name from the talking point that inspired it.) And you may have seen that preeminent conservative intellectual CatTurd2 advanced the theory that he Ukraine war is actually some sort of false flag operation ("Biden fake air raid sirens and one famous actor or politician a day happily prancing around Kiev with Zelenskyy with no helmets"), to the approbation of his millions of fans. 

And last week the Head Defenestrator in Charge himself, in announcing his withdrawal from the START Treaty, gave what amounts to a 2023-style U.S. Republican campaign speech:

Look what [Western nations] are doing to their own people. It is all about the destruction of the family, of cultural and national identity, perversion and abuse of children, including pedophilia, all of which are declared normal in their life. They are forcing the priests to bless same-sex marriages...

But here is what I would like to tell them: look at the holy scripture and the main books of other world religions. They say it all, including that family is the union of a man and a woman, but these sacred texts are now being questioned. Reportedly, the Anglican Church is planning, just planning, to explore the idea of a gender-neutral god. What is there to say? Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Ron DeSantis couldn't have done it better! And the rubes are eating it up: the account in the hard-right Trumpist Christian Post, for example, tells the story from the Putinist POV ("Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stark warning over what he called religious attacks from Western culture Tuesday...") I keep making jokes about Putin following Orban to CPAC, but at this point I'm expecting him to speak at their next National Convention. 

•  Whew, that's depressing. So here, here's a straight-up fun thing from REBID, about books you don't read so much as graze. Got any like that? Tell it to the comments box! (And subscribe -- it's cheap!)

•  Finally I want to thank the universe for the gift of laughter, courtesy of Scott Adams telling the world what he thinks about those pesky black people and getting his "Dilbert" thrown out of a bunch of newspapers. Guess he decided 2023 was a good time to go full racist -- the Bund will remember and reward him comes Der Tag

Adding cream to the jest are all the cancelculture crybabies like Thomas Chatterton Williams and Cathy Young rushing to tell us that oh, no, Adams getting chucked for his beliefs isn't cancelculture because race hatred is something we all condemn -- you know, like trans health care. I predict Bari Weiss' next scam will be a guide to which firings and dismissals qualify as cancelculture and which don't -- and no one will realize it's just the Republican national platform. 

Friday, February 17, 2023


While I produce five days a week of high-quality content at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (go over and have a look, subscribe if you like, it’s mighty good eating for the pennies it costs), productivity at the old alicublog plant has been down a while. I regret it, but between REBID and my other editorial work there’s not much room left for bodily functions, let alone the kind of funsies for which this site became known back in 1953, when “blogs” rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line and, due to their tendency to roll rather than locomote, wound up in the dustbin of history, a short distance down the road to oblivion and turn left. 

But sometimes a red flag can get this old bull to charge. Erick Erickson, a longtime figure of fun in the alicublog rep company, has an even more ridiculous than usual item up today. The headline is:

We Cannot Reject Sabotage On Rail Lines Just Yet

Let us tiptoe past Erickson’s long preliminary yammerings about how Joe Biden is trying to blame everything on Donald Trump (though given Trump’s rollback of rail freight safety features he’s certainly blameworthy) and Biden LIED about the CHINESE BALLOONS (“The Administration that lied repeatedly about the Chinese spy balloon wants us to trust them on it not being sabotage, just Trump”), and cut to the 19th graf:

The reality is these incidents are probably not sabotage. Buttigieg, for all his whining, has a point. There are many train derailments every year. We’re more sensitive to them now because of media exposure.

This is the next best thing to “it was all a dream.” 

So why was Erickson going on about sabotage? 

But the point is that this Administration regularly tries to blame Donald Trump for everything, has lied repeatedly in the past few weeks about the Chinese spy balloon, has done such a bad job dealing with these issues too many Americans now know the Transportation Secretary’s name, and we simply cannot believe them.

And if “we” (Erickson and his tapeworm, who I gotta say has his work cut out for him) can’t trust Joe Biden, maybe we’ll trust Erick Erickson’s self-refuting innuendos. Oh, and if you took the side-bet on “Hunter Biden’s laptop” being in the story? Collect your winnings. 

But the real prize this week is Peggy Noonan, who has been on fire (regrettably not literally) with her rambling silver-alert takes. This week’s starts with snipage at Nikki Haley, who recently launched her Vice-Presidential (whoops, I mean air-quotes Presidential) campaign:

On Wednesday Nikki Haley announced her presidential campaign in Charleston, S.C. I found myself thinking not about her candidacy but about the launch itself, which was creepily stuck in the past. A horrible, blaring song from a Sylvester Stallone sequel pumped her in as she strode out in the white suit and there were adoring fans on the rafters behind her, with whom she briefly interacted before turning toward the audience and doing the point—standing there and pointing to individual members of the cheering audience as if she knew them and was being natural. An introducer said she will “lead us into the future”; she added, “America is falling behind.” It was all so tired, clichéd, and phony. It was national politics as it has been done circa 1990-2023.

1990? How about the 80s, Peggy, when as Ronald Reagan’s handler you filled his mouth with uplifting bullshit and helped engineer spectacles like Nancy waving at Ronnie on the telescreen at the 1984 Republican Convention? That's when propaganda was propaganda, you young punks! 

Speaking of bullshit, this seems to be about the only thing Noonan likes about Haley: 

In her speech she said some nice things: “Take it from me, the first female minority governor in history: America is not a racist country.” Everyone who scrambles over our border knows that; it is good when elites say it.

…until said scramblers-over-the-border get driven back over by Greg Abbott’s vigilantes or dragged up north to use as pawns in a cruel culture-war stunt. Honestly, I can’t imagine even her Republican readers don’t immediately think this. 

Then there’s a long grumble about those horrible ads on the teevee during the Super Bowl – they made America look like “a nation of morons” (don’t bother waiting for the penny to drop, guys), whereas back in the day they had Mean Joe Greene being all nice and cuddly for Coke and that was the real America, real Ronnie-and-Nancy koochie-koo kitsch, not this nutty, noisy stuff:

I’m here to say I’ve met America and that’s not what they want. What they want is “Help me live, help my kids live, help me feel something true.” 

Sorry, lady, but would you like a new car, soft drink, or diabetes management app? These are the damn ads. I’m convinced Noonan was just turned off by all the rock and rap (“the music shifted, screamed, and the mood became discordance”). It's a miracle the Journal kept her from fulminating on Rihanna. Look, Grandma, they aren’t pitching this shit to me, either, but I know better than to Blame Society.

Oh, but her closing… man; she gets on Will Smith and starts pitching to write his Oscar 2023 speech:

Here is how to turn that moment into something helpful. It doesn’t involve “image rehab.” It involves constructive honesty. Will Smith should walk in and say this:

“It is painful in life when you embarrass yourself. It is horrifying when you do it in front of tens of millions of people. Last year I did something bad to a guy who was just doing his job, and I am here to acknowledge it from the same stage—to admit that in attempting to humiliate him, I humiliated myself. I showed a number of things, including sheer bad judgment…

Two more grafs of this! I give it five barf bags! I doubt Noonan is even expecting the call (though I love imagining her on the phone, pinching her nose, and droning “This is Miss Noonan’s answering service”); I expect the play is to wait for Smith to deliver what promises to be a perfectly anodyne and expected (though less white!) apology-like spew, and then sigh contentedly: “Ahhh, he took my advice!”

Thursday, February 16, 2023


Though baby is in perpetual need of new shoes and I should go easy on the freebies lest paid subscribers feel themselves short-changed, Roy Edroso Breaks It Down must today report that this week’s open letter to the New York Times accusing the paper of an unseemly hard-on for trans people has been answered by the O.G. anti-cancel-culture Harper’s Letter of 2020 crew*. (* is joke, comrades.)

The Times itself has responded to the trans advocates’ letter (“the very news stories criticized in their letter reported deeply and empathetically on issues of care and well-being for trans teens and adults”), but anyone who’s been following the issue will agree that the more important response will be from the Bari Weiss platoon, who will invariably defend the more powerful party as the living embodiment of the First Amendment, against which all criticism must be considered an assault against same. 

The Times clearly doesn’t give a shit and has followed up with a column from Bret Stephens’ ex portraying J.K. Rowling as a victim of vicious trannies. There’s all kinds of hilarity in this; first, since it’s not appearing in the usual overtly conservative outlets, Pamela Paul sugars it with several pro-trans statements Rowling has made over the years (e.g. “Trans people need and deserve protection”). No doubt most American conservatives who support anti-trans legislation and rush to read this will experience a moment of revulsion before deciding, based on their long experience with Republican politicians talking about any minority rights, that she only had to say something like that to get over. 

(BTW it’s interesting to note how much Republicans have pulled back on that strategy; has DeSantis himself, for example, ever couched his assaults on gay and trans people by saying any version of “I have nothing against them personally”? Because I’ve never seen it.)

But the best stuff is the meretricious comparisons – people who criticize Rowling’s trans statements, for example, are the same as Christian fundamentalists who criticized Harry Potter wizardry as Satanic, because “critics have advocated that bookstores pull [Rowling’s] books from the shelves, and some bookstores have done so.” (Paul links to a citation saying one Australian bookstore has done so. I would love to see a tally of books pulled by the anti-trans forces versus those of the pro-.) And get a load of this:

This campaign against Rowling is as dangerous as it is absurd. The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie last summer is a forceful reminder of what can happen when writers are demonized.

A careless reader, and it’s hard to imagine Paul having any other kind (including on the Times copy desk), may come away thinking Rushdie was assaulted by transsexuals rather than by a religious maniac. 

In short, the powerful are persecuted, the powerless are a mob, and the Times is on it (the side of the former, that is). 

(Headline source here.)

Friday, February 10, 2023


RIP Burt Bacharach. I love this one, which for all its
tricky syncopations is fresh and free and swinging.

The State of the Union is seldom intrinsically interesting; I do recall the first of Bill Clinton’s ass-breaking-long SOTUs showing his tendency to bury the opposition under an avalanche of proposals, but I have no memory of which if any of those proposals ever saw life. 

The same is true of the Biden 2023 edition, but it had a couple of amusing outcomes: First, it got the Republicans to scream (literally, in the case of the less well-bred Republicans in attendance) that Biden was lying when he said they wanted to fuck up Social Security and Medicare.  This was the easiest out in the world for Biden because every American, liberal and conservative alike, knows Republicans want to rip open both programs and spill their contents into the pockets of their major donors, and post-SOTU polls suggest they haven’t changed their minds.

Nonetheless conservatives sputtered like the parents in a 90s video that it was a dastardly ruse – “BS,” huffed Byron York at the Washington Examiner – notwithstanding the voluminous documentary evidence of Senators like Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Ron Johnson admitting as much, which the White House cleverly provided in an official “fact sheet.” Mitch McConnell effectively telling Scott to shut the fuck up was a sweet bit of lagniappe. 

But the weirder development, for me, is Peggy Noonan calling Biden’s speech “Trumpian” – which I wrote about in an essay at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down that I’m releasing to non-subscribers today. As it turns out, the Crazy Jesus Lady isn’t the only one trying that one. “Biden’s State of the Union address last night was conspicuously heavy on what could only be described as Trumpian economic themes,” said National Review’s Nate Hochman; Ross Douthat at the Times claims the speech’s “key themes and most enthusiastic riffs could have been lifted — albeit with more Bidenisms and fewer insults — from Trump’s populist campaign.”

These guys are all bought into the idea that Trump is a “populist” despite his never having achieved the support of a majority of voters. To them the term seems to mean “acting like a vicious dumbass and pretending to give a shit about the proles.” Trump was always great at the first part, but I doubt anyone outside the deranged yokels one used to see at his rallies ever believed the second part, and if they did the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with its massive giveaways to the rich, convinced them otherwise. 

Conservatives seem to think that the damage they’ve done to American institutions over the past several years is all to their own benefit – that by ruining faith in education, for example, they’ve brought to life the Florida Golem with his Don’t Say Gay (or Black) Laws that they expect to sweep the nation. They don’t seem to realize that while chaos may inspire the feral types of the Republican base to tear down what’s left of the rubble, most of us -- old folks who remember and young folks who dream – want government to, at the very least, do what it used to and insulate us from the caprices of the rich and the insane. The main difference between Biden and Trump is the former can call up that vision and be believed. 

Friday, February 03, 2023


Just catching on to this guy,
maybe he's for old people, I dunno, it's good.

This is usually where I drop a freebie from this week’s Roy Edroso Breaks It Down. But I already gave you one of those earlier in the week. Times is tough, son. The paltry $7 subscription rate gets you five issues a week and keeps baby in cakes and ale. 

Oh, alright, here’s another one: Some accomplishments from the first week of the New Model Congress. Surprise, it’s fanciful – even, you might say, satire. (Come back! It’s not Saturday night yet!) But in one sense, anyway, I’m not sure even Swift or Juvenal could keep with this crew – get a load:

Now, I really do mean “in a sense” because satire doesn’t depend so much on “keeping up with” (much less “staying ahead of”) this kind of inanity as it does on getting at the soul of it – which I hope (he says, bowing deeply in his motley and jingling bells) I manage to do at REBID

But as a political rather than an aesthetic matter, it’s a live issue because, as wretched as earlier iterations of Congress have been, and as injurious as they have been to the public’s faith in the democratic process, the current bunch are so openly nihilistic that, at least for younger citizens, the institution may not recover from the damage. I mean, I thought it was pretty goofy when Nancy Pelosi and the gang kneeled in kente cloth, but at least once they got some help from the Senate they managed to pass some pandemic relief; the way the current Republican House is thrashing and straining at the bars of bicameral restraint, we have to assume if they ever get complete power again they’ll go nuts and just spend their mornings rubber-stamping death squad authorizations and donor tax breaks, and their afternoons making fart noises into the mic like Keith Relf

Wednesday, February 01, 2023


Here, have a rare mid-week free issue of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down; this one’s a scene from a future AP African-American Studies class. Pushing the needle from “satire” to “prophecy” is today’s news that the College Board caved to the bullying of Head Florida Man In Charge and scraped all the authors who wouldn’t pass muster with your average moderately-polite white racist out of that AP lesson plan:

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies —  stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.

The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum.

And it added something new: “Black conservatism” is now offered as an idea for a research project.

The black conservatism thing is hilarious – an outright and obvious act of rightwing affirmative action/social promotion (These guys haven’t earned a place in the curriculum on merit? Here’s a carve-out!) Time to pull those dusty Thomas Sowell books out of the remainder bin, though I’m sure the teacher will also accept the dozens of donation-seeking emails Tim Scott has sent out claiming unnamed Democrat(s) called him an Uncle Tom

In the Rules for Rationals I ought to produce one day, one of the aphoristic chapter headings will be: Fascism is a crime of opportunity. One reason we didn’t have so much trouble with would-be Fuhrers a few years ago is because they got treated the way they should be treated – that is, told to fuck right off. But when the fascists took over the Republican Party, they demanded their opinions be afforded the same respect and forbearance that Republicans always get, as if insurrectionism and trans and CRT panic were the equivalent of the Balanced Budget Amendment – and, of course, our dumb-shit prestige media fell for it, and now we have the classic “Nazi bar” situation where they’ve so colonized the discourse that they can’t be dislodged, and the New York Times is writing headlines like “DeSantis Takes On the Education Establishment, and Builds His Brand” rather than “Fash Goomba Muscles Educrats to Gut Curriculum, Thrill Shitheels.” 

Meanwhile I’m sure Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi are hard at work on “Twitter Files XIV: Jan. 6 defendants deprived of Constitutional right to all-access social media pass.”