Wednesday, May 05, 2021

BACK ON THE D-LIST, TUBBY.

You could go to Tubby's "new" "social media" site, which Fox News finds very exciting, or you could look at it through the protective glass of my own lens. To each their own. 

As for the ravings of the brethren over Facebook's decision not to let the insurrectionist deposed leader back onto their platform, it is as you expect: Lots of blubbering that Tubby has been "censored," as if he were the Man In The Iron Muzzle trapped in a liberal prison, rather than a vicious blowhard who treated the site's Terms of Service like he treats all other rules and, in a refreshing change of pace, paid for it. 

Among those who believe there's a constitutional right to a Facebook account is Ian Haworth at the Daily Wire, who though pleased that Tubby has (as he always had!) alternative means of reaching his yahoos online, nonetheless laments that "the Left’s 'iron curtain' of speech" prevents him from forcing his ravings onto the social media brand of his choosing:

However, in the long-term it accepts the Left’s premise that conservative voices do not belong in the online public square. By accepting this premise, and shifting to conservative alternatives rather than fighting for our right to participate, we risk effectively endorsing an internet-based form of ideological segregation.

And in this form of ideological segregation, once the systems are in place, it’ll be very hard to reintegrate again.

In other words, without Twitter and Facebook Trump is nothing more than another loudmouth, and most of us will not take the few extra online steps to go to wherever he's still welcome and listen to his bullshit. He (and, by implication, any conservative voice) needs to be parked in the middle of the busiest lanes on the internet or people won't voluntarily pay attention. 

This follows the longstanding theory that without the click-hungry media training their mics and cameras on him -- and even, you'll remember, on empty podiums marked "Trump" waiting for him to arrive -- this grotesque con artist would never have ascended to the highest office in the land. And now that voters have shown this to be a grievous error, some of his enablers are backing off. Well, better late than never, I guess, though I expect once the coast is clear they'll elevate Honey Boo-Boo or some other has-been. In the meantime let us savor the blessed silence.

Friday, April 30, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

Ah, that's the stuff. I miss noise.
(Can you believe they did this in 2003? The ex-kids are alright!) 

•   Biden's speech appears to have gone down a treat among normal people -- naturally, as it was delivered by an avuncular old man who already did a good job of delivering COVID vaccinations and is now promising to similarly fix other fucked-up shit. The brethren are furiously spinning it. Ham-faced pundit Erick Erickson first tried "Republicans Should Be Encouraged By The Biden Speech," on the grounds that it was "a desperate grab for control" that's "going to cause more inflation and that's going to hurt Biden" (Gasp! Not inflation! Someone get out the old WIN pins!) and anyway "the Democrats are headed into disarray... Joe Biden's days are numbered and he knows it."

Erickson must have looked at the polls, because the next day he was claiming "two days after Joe Biden’s first address to Congress, more people are talking about Tim Scott’s response than Joe Biden’s speech." If this were true, since Erickson thinks Biden's speech was a dog I don't see how that's supposed to be bad for Democrats; also, to the extent people are talking about Scott, it's certainly attributable to fascination that there's still a black Republican in Congress, and that he claims liberals called him the n-word. (Didn't say who, though! Maybe he's saving it for his autobiography.) This routine is catnip to Erickson, who praises Scott for "exposing how must [sic] the progressive wokes really hate this country" and "reminding Americans how out of touch the elite tastemakers and opinion setters are." Candace Owens, Sheriff David Clark, and Ali Alexander must be pissed, all their dreams of joining Ron DeSantis on a You're The Real Racist GOP Unity Ticket having crumbled. (I wonder whether Scott's speech moved the 47% of Republicans who think Derek Chauvin is innocent.)

Peggy Noonan does her bit, and it's a chef's casserole of rightwing received opinion. Being smarter than Erickson she knows she'd better acknowledge that Biden seems nice, but then it's Coffee Break Over Everyone Back On Their Heads: After the snottiness that has become the new GOP SOP on Biden's social distancing and masking ("playacting Pandemic Theatre" -- guess she thinks gin kills the germs before they can get to her lungs), and some How Will You Pay for It posturing, it's time to Reacharound Across The Aisle:

The president said again he is eager to negotiate with Republicans. There isn’t much evidence of this, but here are the reasons he should be treating them with respect and as equal partners. It would be good for the country to see the Senate actually working—negotiating, making deals, representing constituencies. It would be good for the Democrats to show they’re not just playing steamroller and flattening the Republicans; they’re reasoning because they’re reasonable. Also they need Republicans to co-own legislative outcomes because whatever they are they’ll be very liberal. Negotiation and compromise...

I'm seriously asking: Does anyone believe this shit anymore? After Tubby paid off Republican donors with his trillion-dollar-plus Tax and Jobs Act, and all the pandemic spending, people have started losing their fear of deficit spending; also, they know economically things are fucked up and bullshit and even Republican voters want a higher minimum wage -- but the Republican Party is still blubbering about deficits and bootstraps, preaching Reaganism to generations who weren't around to be bamboozled by it and who probably look upon the artifacts of the Age of Alex P. Keaton with horror and disgust. How are Democrats supposed to negotiate with that?

Noonan alludes to this shift in the vaguest way possible  -- she sees "a deep reconsideration" and Americans "questioning that oldest American tradition: ambition" and seeking "something new, less driven, more communal." That could mean what the left is proposing with anti-racism and mutual aid -- or it could be evangelical home-school Bible rule. I think she sees a replay of the 1970s, when social and political upheavals led to the Reagan reactionary wave on which she built her career. But it's interesting that she won't say out loud where it will go; a true careerist always leaves the door open for a heel-turn. 

•   This week's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebies include this one about the stupid Biden Bans Red Meat thing that conservatives were spreading a week ago but you know what? Better you should just go in the front door and look at all the stories that don't have locks next to their descriptors. And then subscribe! I know some of you can afford it. 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

BETTER RED THAN WOKE!

Maybe some of you can explain this to me. You'll recall that when last we left Rod Dreher, he had removed to Budapest to study crypto-fascism under Viktor Orbán and John O’Sullivan. Since then he has been frequenting a coffee shop named after Roger Scruton, so maybe he's being surreptitiously microdosed, because some of his effusions have spun even further out of the Dreher Belt than usual. 

Yesterday:

I hope, at the end of the 20th century, when the Chinese masters of the globe write the history of the West’s decline and fall, they note that it was a suicide. Seriously, yesterday I was having a beer with a Hungarian journalist, and mentioned to him that it troubled me that the Hungarian government is going to welcome a Budapest campus of Fudan University, the first foreign outpost of the Shanghai college. Fudan U. is one of the best in China, and best in the world. My Hungarian interlocutor observed that “there won’t be any wokeness at Fudan.” As much as I recoil at the idea of Communist China establishing a beachhead in Hungary, on second thought, it would not be obvious to me that it’s more dangerous to do an academic deal with the Chinese devil than with the Western devil. As we see daily, wokeness is destroying the West. If this insanity takes hold in Hungary, it’s going to tear Hungary to bits. There’s an argument to be made that a country would be better off with ChiCom College than with the University of Baizuo (the Chinese term of derision for “white leftists”). [Emphasis added

I ask my readers who are more tuned into rightwing esoterica: What the fuck? I'm aware that conservatives would rather be ruled by Putin than by Democrats. But the Red Chinese? 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

MASK OF THE RED DERP.

Tucker Carlson's bizarre rant, calling for his followers to report parents whose children wear masks outdoors to call child protective services, has been widely noted. But Carlson is only pushing the current conservative line. For a long while the more prominent conservatives were cowed out of bitching too loudly about social distancing and other rudimentary public health measures because their hero Trump had so disastrously (and, for hundreds of thousands of Americans, fatally) bungled the pandemic, and Biden's return to sane policy and practice was clearing it up quickly: The drop from Jan. 11, when there were over a quarter million new COVID-19 cases, to yesterday, when there were 47,430, has been spectacular.

But paradoxically, that progress is emboldening rightwingers to yell that they're being oppressed by Biden, Fauci, and all you liberal mask-wearers. 

Among other things, Biden has been doing what a leader should be doing, and what Trump most egregiously did not: modeling responsible behavior by wearing a mask in a public. Today the Washington Examiner editorializes "Ditch the mask, Mr. President." You can see with what good faith this is offered in the very first line:

It’s a tough call as to which time President Joe Biden looked more foolish in a mask.

Was it the picture of Biden alone in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery, vaccinated, outdoors, and physically distanced to the extent that nobody else appeared in the intentionally crafted shots showing hundreds of gravestones?

Or was it the Zoom meeting?...

You might think it better that Biden overdo it than, as his predecessor did, summon hordes of bugchasers to mob up maskless at rallies and at the White House, spreading contagion. But the Examiner argues -- well, it's not really an argument at all; merely a line of bullshit that a maskless, virus-insouciant Biden would encourage vaccination by "showing the hesitant that vaccination has benefits would help the cause of ending this pandemic." 

Ha! No one on God's green earth believes that. Surveys show most of the vaccine avoiders are Republicans who probably think Biden is Satan and who would take him dropping the mask as Liberal Elitist Hypocrisy Cuomo Newsome Think Yer Too Big To Wear a Mask Well I Ain't A-Gonna Do Nothin' Bleargh. 

Herd immunity is widely considered to be achieved at 70% vaccination/infection (though there are arguments that this may not be sufficient). The most recent partly-or-wholly vaccinated American number is 141.8 million;  32.2 Americans have been infected, and if we remove the 573,000 unfortunates who died of COVID-19, that leaves about 172.6 million. The population of the United States is 328.2 million. Figure it out. We're closing in but we're not there yet. 

So it's really great the CDC has approved masklessness in uncrowded outdoor settings, but the Examiner editors, like all these guys, have no interest in beating the pandemic or even sensibly sliding out of lockdown, and will merely use it as a further excuse to bitch and moan because they're not getting their way.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

OSCAR PREDIX! GUESS ALONG WITH ROY.

Longtime readers know what pleasure I get from this annual Oscar thing, notwithstanding my poor track record. (Mind, I was one of the few who called Green Book in 2019.) So indulge me, please. I reviewed seven of the eight Best Picture nominees at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down; the seventh and the links to the previous six are here, and if you can't access them it's because you haven't subscribed so now's a good time to fix that.  

I just saw my last Best Picture nominee, Minari, and I will say that it's beautiful, warm, and everything people who love it say about it. It's also not my sort of thing. I recall sitting through Olmi's The Tree of Wooden Clogs at its premiere New York engagement at Cinema Studio 1 in 1979 -- by myself, because none of my friends would go -- and thinking: okay, no more three-and-a-half-hour movies about shoemakers for me. To be fair, I was very young and itchy then, and in the decades since have learned more patience with slow movies about families scratching out a living. And though not as long or deliberate as the Olmi (comparatively it zips along), Minari is great at getting the viewer to fall into the rhythms of farm life -- not the "ring the dinner bell, Betty Lou" farm life of old Hollywood, but the mobile-home-on-a-cheap-plot farm life that's Korean emigrant Jacob Yi's gamble for a better future for his family. Material success and failure reveal themselves slowly, seasonally; meanwhile Jacob must succeed not only as an "eldest son" striver but also as a family man, keeping everyone happy and whole -- and it's even less clear that he'll succeed at that. The burden of Jacob's dream wears on his wife Monica, and by bringing over her mother to make her feel more at home and watch the kids, Jacob doesn't solve it -- in fact the mother's presence, for all its charm (she's a fun blend of TV addict and back-country philosopher), actually exacerbates the problem, and finally tests Jacob's ability to succeed not only as a farmer but also as paterfamilias. My synopsis makes it sound like a sitcom, but if it were it would be one directed by Terrence Malick. Thanks in part to stunning photography and music by Lachlan Milneou and Emile Mosseri, you can feel time and nature having their effect. Steven Yeun is leading-man great, and Yuh-Jung Youn as the grandmother brings both humor and something like mystery into the story. I think the fact that people aren't equally celebrating Yeri Han's performance as Monica -- with all its shadings of disgust at this "hillbilly" life, love for her family, perseverence and duty and, finally, finding the end of them -- suggests what's maybe out of balance in the movie, and something besides its genre that bugged me. 

Okay, predictions! Here I stand: 

Best Picture: Nomadland. My folly and glory in the past has been not to follow conventional wisdom. (Last year, I bucked the critics who thought 1917 had it in the bag, but also assumed the Academy would never dare laurel Parasite.)  Well, my feet are flat and I'm tired of running.  Everyone says Nomadland and so say I. Part of me thinks that, as with Roma in 2019, it's a little too much like museum-grade performance art to truly enchant the Academy, but maybe the pandemic year makes this spooky neo-Beckettian slice of life in the bluffs and Badlands the picture of the year.  [My choice: The Father.]

Best Director: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland. I mean they pushed her hard enough, with a zillion publicity photos of her and America's Sweetheart Frances McDormand, and Nomadland is not a "written" movie so much as a directed one. She really painted this canvas, and made the silence sing, give her that. Also, aren't the "nomads" a bit like the "witnesses" in Warren Beatty's Reds? That won him an Oscar too. [My choice: Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round.]

Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins, The Father. Everyone says Chadwick Boseman, and man was he good -- every bit as young, dumb, and full of cum as he had to be to make that tragedy work. Also, he's dead! But Hopkins reminds me of something Thom Jones said about what one's writing needs to be if it is to succeed: "so good they can't reject it." No one who knows the first thing about acting can deny what Hopkins accomplishes here -- totally in the moment, undeniably believable, but also crafted to the sharpest detail. You can't say no to it. And maybe nearly-dead is good enough. [My choice: Hopkins.]

Best Actress: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holliday. Speaking of so good they can't reject it. I like Diana Ross in Lady Sings The Blues okay, but Day not only has Ross' star power, she's also a completely  believable Billie Holliday -- diva, junkie, street rat -- from jump. (When she asks Jenkins in jail, "what's your game, man," I thought: No one with a star on her dressing room door could possibly look or sound so real saying that. But she does.) Even better, the more you learn about Holliday (admittedly the movie makes it hard to keep track), the more sense her characterization makes. [My choice: Day.]

Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah. Looking back at what I recall and wrote about this performance, I notice the contradictions: a committed radical with an awkward teenage gait, a great public speaker who's shy with the ladies, a Man of the People who's really of the people. That's a 3-D performance, and the character's end makes it especially poignant. [My choice: Paul Raci, Sound of Metal.]

Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari. She's super cute, for one thing, but also when she talks semi-mystical shit like why minari is a good thing to plant and she and her grandson make up a song about it, I buy it, and there's no reason on earth why I should except world-class acting.  [My choice: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.]

Best Original Screenplay:  Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman. [My choice: Fennell.]

Best Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, The Father. [My choice: Hampton and Zeller.]

Best Cinematography: Joshua James Richards, Nomadland. [My choice: Sean Bobbitt, Judas and the Black Messiah.]

Best Original Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, Soul.  [My choice: Emile Mosseri, Minari.]

Best Film Editing: Mikkel Nielsen, Sound of Metal. [My choice: Yorgos Lamprinos, The Father.]

Best Costume Design: Alexandra Byrne, Emma. [My choice: Byrne.]

Best Production Design: Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale, Mank. [My choice: Peter Francis and Cathy Featherstone, The Father.]

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney, Hillbilly Elegy. [My choice: Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.]

Best Song: "Husavik," Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. [My choice: "Husavik."]

Best Sound: Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michellee Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh, Sound of Metal. [My choice: Sound of Metal.]

The rest, ha ha fuck, I'm just guessing:

Best International Film: Another Round.

Best Visual Effects: Tenet.

Best Animated Feature: Soul.

Best Documentary Feature: Collective.

Best Documentary Short: Hunger Ward.

Best Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You.

Best Live Action Short: The Letter Room.

Whew! Wanna put money on it? Kidding, I don't have any money. Watch this space and my Twitter Sunday night for my Oscar show regrets! 

Friday, April 23, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Longtime favorite.

•   I have one free Roy Edroso Breaks It Down item for you this week -- the one on the Chauvin verdict. I recommend a subscription (cheap!) so you get this stuff fresh five days a week. But if you won't spend money on me, and even if you will, maybe throw a few bucks to the family of Lance Mannion, the great internet writer who passed on unexpectedly the other day. Lance (real name David Reilly) was writing at such a high level for so long that I tended to take him for granted, though some of his essays -- like this one unsentimentally explaining Asperger's Syndrome from the perspective of a parent -- have stuck in my memory for years. But it was always a good idea to look in on him, because he was a serious thinker whose considerations of a wide range of topics were just what I would have wished for my own -- attentive, perceptive, and generous. It's terrible to lose a voice like that, and it comes at a disastrously bad time for his family. So, you know, if you can.

•   No conservative I've seen so far has had the grace to say yes, the people have spoken and the Chauvin verdict seems just, and leave it at that, the way smart conservatives used to do. Many take the Tucker Carlson position that Chauvin was railroaded by a Woke Mob, notwithstanding the extraordinary video evidence of his crime. Some, like Andrew C. McCarthy, try to have it both ways but essentially take the same position. 

Others said, yes, okay, maybe Chauvin's guilty but how dare you blacks and liberals question the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, she had a knife, that was a clean kill and proves that You're the Real Racist. The apotheosis of this is Peggy Noonan's column, which starts out congratulating America for the verdict, proceeds as per current rightwing protocol to Bryant, and then swerves into this: 

If you are a cop you know that in the current atmosphere you are going to be assumed by the press and others to be guilty whatever you do, because the police are the Official Foe now. Everyone talks about the blue wall of silence, but do police officers think anyone reliably has their back?

There are people who looked at last summer's protests and saw hundreds of incidents where the cops beat the hell out of people for nothing and wondered if perhaps reform were needed, and others who looked at it as ARGH NEGRO RIOT BURN. Noonan appears to be in the latter camp, and to believe we're all thinking too many bad thoughts about Mr. Policeman.

We aren’t being sufficiently sensitive to the position of the police after decades of being accused of reflexive brutality and racism. We should be concerned about demoralization—about officers who will leave, about young people who could have become great cops never joining the force, about early retirements of good men and women. We should be concerned that more policemen will come to see their only priority as protecting the job, the benefits, the pensions for their family, so they’ll quietly slow down, do nothing when they should do something.

Imagine thinking this isn't happening already, in cities where the cops don't even live in the jurisdictions they police and come to think of their inhabitants as skels and saps. And if you're thinking of defunding the police, Noonan has a comeback:

If I ran the world, we wouldn’t be diverting funds from the police...

[Which we aren't, but it's rightwing protocol to talk as if we were.]

...we’d be spending more to expand and deepen their training—literally lengthen it by a year or two, deepen their patience, their sense of proportion, their knowledge. Because they are so important to us.

A year or two! No doubt she means give them more money and call it "training" or whatever, just so they know whose skulls not to crack when the time comes. Later she trails off into gibberish about how "hypermedia and videogames" have ruined society. It almost makes the more straightforward white supremacist articles feel refreshing for their honesty.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CHAUVINISM.

I have some observations on the Derek Chauvin/George Floyd verdict reaction at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, opened to non-subscribers today as a public service. As more rightwing reaction rolls in, it becomes even clearer that the official conservative position is that Chauvin was, if technically guilty in some trivial murdered-a-black-guy sense, nonetheless a lamb sacrificed to the Woke Mob of Ooga Booga. The only conservatives who seem satisfied with the verdict are the never-Trumpy outcasts, while all the official poobahs like Tucker Carlson are convinced a terrible injustice has been done. 

The reliably awful Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review, for example, obviously had a column all written about how Maxine Watters and Joe Biden scared the jury into a guilty verdict (notwithstanding McCarthy finds their judgment "defensible" -- keep that ass covered, Andy). But, rushed by the "stunningly quick verdict," he had no time to smooth it out and just jammed that material into the middle of what National Review published, resulting in a "Chauvin Guilty" bulletin python-bellied with what McCarthy considers evidence that "there is a serious question about whether Derek Chauvin got a fair trial":

As [defense counsel Eric] Nelson predicted, the judge’s denial of sequestration meant the jurors would be marinated for the crucial days right before deliberations in intense publicity, street violence, and unhinged demands that Chauvin be convicted of murder, no matter what.

That was the powder keg into which Waters and, hours before the verdict, President Biden lobbed their rhetorical bombs — though the president’s remarks were made after the jury already began deliberating behind closed doors, unlike Waters’s.

It's a wonder those poor people didn't merely proffer their verdict through a cracked jury-room door with a trembling hand and a white flag! McCarthy is also sore the case wasn't routed out of Hennepin County, where "the defendant plausibly argued from the start that he could not get a fair trial" because, well, you know [pushes in nose].

It's like they know about Jim Crow days and trials rigged against black folks, and think of that, not as a cautionary tale, but as a propaganda template, and are using it to portray Chauvin as their own, white Scottsboro Boy.  I believe among their rabble there are plenty of white supremacists who will go for it -- the same ones for whom Ashli Bobbitt is Horst Wessel. Whether it's enough by itself to sustain the conservative movement as currently constituted is an open question.