Showing posts sorted by date for query peggy noonan. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query peggy noonan. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Thursday, July 01, 2021

ACTING OUT.

Jim Geraghty is a pretty down-the-middle rightwing propagandist, the unflashy kind of guy that will never get a Fox News or Sinclair spotlight but has done the devil’s work reliably enough to hold his position for decades. But sometimes someone like Geraghty, even more than obvious nutcakes like Rod Dreher and high-profile marquee grifters like Peggy Noonan, will, in the course of his normally tedious work of justifying whatever absurd and inhumane theme the conservative movement has latched onto at any given moment, get creative – perhaps out of boredom, or because he knows he’s good at his job and wants to show off by going the extra mile. Those episodes can be especially revealing. 

The MacGuffin in this case is the evergreen rightwing sentiment that the Media Is Always To Blame – indeed the title of Geraghty's latest is “The Media’s Warped Incentive Program.” There is something to the premise, borrowed from a strenuously bothsidery Jamie Kirchick piece at Tablet (which, among other weird stretches, blames Al Sharpton’s 2004 Democratic Presidential run for Trump, notwithstanding that Democrats failed to give Sharpton a single primary win), that the media rewards freakish figures like Trump “as if he were the ‘heel’ in a professional wrestling match” because it inflates their readerships (which, I would note, have dwindled in the Biden era, which suggests that Kirchick’s claim to a liberal equivalency in hysteria is itself inflated).

Geraghty gobbles this up, and goes further: another problem with the political media circus, he says, is it distracts from the menace of ordinary, successful government operations. “The work of government is often boring,” he says, not to mention Byzantine – “the Federal Register churns out pages of new regulations in incomprehensible bureaucratese every day.” And people are missing it because it isn’t sexy:

Boring does not attract attention or scrutiny. Appropriations bills are long and stuffed with all kinds of dubious expenditures because very few people read them. The vast majority of presidential executive orders are ignored by the public, as are almost all of the reports from the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Research service, the Defense Department, U.S. State Department, and the various federal inspectors general. Our government generates nearly endless documentation and yet so little accountability.

The more boring something seems to be, the more likely it is that someone is trying to sneak something past you without you noticing.

First, journalists actually do report on the doings of these departments, which are not for the most part opaque (though some have to be aggressively FOIA’d) – here’s a Bloomberg Law story from today, “Visa Backlog at State Department Hinders Biden’s Immigration Goals.” And in fact trade publications, some of which I've done work for, read and analyze federal regs all the time. 

Second, what’s stopping Geraghty and National Review? I realize rightwing media outlets always exempt themselves from their constant media complaints, but obviously these guys have the same wherewithal as any other news org. Yet National Review is much more prone to run stories like (from the current front page) “Wisconsin’s Governor Puts the Public-School Monopoly before Families” and “The Absurdly Misleading Attacks on Anti-CRT Rules" than to investigate federal agencies (unless of course those agencies are helping black people and operatives do the legwork for them).

But the real howler comes next: After warming up the crowd with some obligatory false equivalence between “Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert” and “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad,” Gergahty gets to Jim Walsh, the Washington Republican state rep who went around wearing a yellow Star of David as a protest against vaccine mandates. (“Walsh wrote in [a Facebook] comments section that, ‘[I]t's an echo from history. In the current context, we're all Jews.’”) This is similar to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s COVID-laws-are-The-Holocaust shtick, and like Greene, Walsh has apologized. (One expects the apology has become part of the shtick, to be taken by the punters as something the Deep State forced them to do.)

Here’s what Geraghty thinks about Walsh’s stunt:

We can scoff at Walsh, and we should. But keep in mind, if Walsh had just done his job and stood up for his beliefs in an impassioned and articulate manner and didn’t make ludicrously insane Holocaust comparisons, you and I would never have heard of him. Doing his job the way he’s supposed to do it doesn’t get him any attention. Competence and common sense are rewarded with obscurity and yawns. The social-media and mass-media worlds have created all of the incentives to act like a maniac. This doesn’t make Walsh right. But it does help explain why it seems like you’re always hearing about insane obscure lawmakers.

In other words, Walsh had a "common sense" point – sensible public health measures are fascist – but he was forced to act like a nut, not because he is a nut, but because no one would pay attention to him unless he acted like a nut. And it’s all the media’s fault. 

Now that it looks like we’re getting that House January 6 commission, I look forward to Geraghty’s “An attempted murder of Mike Pence is the voice of the unheard” column. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Local radio was playing a bunch of power-to-the-people tunes.
I know this one's cheese, but I love it.

•   OK, kids, here are the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebies for the week -- this scene at Mar-a-Lago, in which Tubby talks turkey with his least favorite in-law; and today's fresh-as-daisies ripped-from-today's-headlines item on how the wingnut handling of the Lab Leak story fits with their Rigged Election fantasy -- and the part played in it by √©minence Grey Goose Peggy Noonan. Yes, it's not just the Brown Shirts and the von Papens anymore -- even the little von Hindenburgs are getting into the act now. Exciting times!

Precisely why you should subscribe. I actually withdrew one story that had been made public because I'm through being Mr. Goodbar, people. It's not like I'm making Andrew Sullivan money, because unlike Captain Caliper's Substack mine does not flatter the imaginary grievances of honky douchebags, but tells the hard truth to a uncomprehending and contemptuous world with the satire and exegesis it, alas, is too depraved to know it needs. Get in on the ground floor of my lost cause and subscribe!

•   Couldn't we all use a little good news? Of course, that any one of these gruesome specimens will probably be Ohio governor is not good news, but it's nice to see that even Buckeye Republicans can apparently smell the fraudulence of Thiel-backed fascist J.D. Vance:


I've had this guy's number from jump (a Rod Dreher endorsement is usually as much warning as you need). And while I can sort of understand the appeal of some GOP assholes -- I've read enough Nick Fury comics to get why a certain kind of guy would like the insufferable Dan Crenshaw, for example -- so many of the media's favorite rightwing grifters are so obviously repulsive that I can't imagine normal people cottoning to them, whatever their politics. Ron DeSantis, for instance, seems to me a replacement-level 50s B-movie goon whom Lee J. Cobb told to get a manicure and a nice suit and try and look gubernatorial. Mike Pence is a wet sack of nothing and Greg Abbott is a pig-eyed creep. If any of these people tried to sell you an encyclopedia, tell me you wouldn't shut the door in his face! So it's encouraging to know that people see through at least one of these wet noodles.

Friday, May 14, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


The Hall of Fame fucks left out the Dolls, phooey! 
Here's a song I thought for years was a Dolls original, Good either way.

•   I said last week I was scaling back on the freebies from Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, aka the only Substack that's not just some mope crying cancelculture (plus it has laffs!). But I can't help it, mine is a generous nature -- this week I offer two out of this week's five (5) issues, which is what I give paying customers every week (How does he do it! How long can he last!). The first shows a conference between Bari Weiss and the Kentucky Derby guy who said he was cancelcultured (i.e. caught doping his horse); the second is today's installment, about how, while the Never Trumpers have receded, the Just-The-Tip Trumpers have emerged as the Republican Party's dominant faction, led by Crazy Jesus Lady Peggy Noonan. 

•   Speaking of logrolling, I seldom do the hat-tips that were once the bread and butter of blogdom because no one gives a shit about blogs anymore (even Tubby can't get the rubes stiff with his). But I must mention that Ellis Weiner, an old National Lampoon hand, has a food blog called Learning from Linguine that anyone will appreciate who has gazed in mute horror at the increasingly atrocioius atrocities with which foodies try to wring clicks 'n' cachet out of the ancient art of cookery. This, for example, is from Weiner's response to Eleven Madison Park going meatless:

1. Learning from Linguine will, from today on, not publish any recipes using beef unless they’re really good. That will eliminate some of the beef-based recipes we have already developed and have otherwise intended to publish, which aren’t so great.

2. As for other forms of meat, we will only publish recipes which employ meats from animals that only eat plants. We will immediately shut down our research program investigating the feasibility of employing plants that eat meat, such as the Venus Fly-Trap (Dionaea muscipula)...

Mighty good copy for the pennies it costs. (Actually it's free -- even better!) 

•   Last week I documented the new rightwing craze of denouncing people who wear masks as The Real Virus-Spreaders. Now that the CDC says the vaccinated can go commando, these people are getting completely out of hand, as we can see from the cocaine-encrusted Don Junior's ravings:


Ben Shapiro does something similar ("we have known this for months"), albeit with less gums-rubbing and sniffling. Nearly as bad are the allegedly respectable rightwing outlets like TownHall:

For weeks, everyone knew you didn’t need to wear a mask after you were vaccinated. You also didn’t spread the virus when you got the shot as well; that was atrocious science fiction that Dr. Anthony Fauci and his crew peddled...

Well, it turns [out] Rand [Paul] and the rest of us who knew that mask-wearing after vaccination was idiocy were right. The experts don’t know anything. Well, first, they’re not really experts. They’re DC bureaucrats who are giving their so-called advice while also hoping to get more funding for next year’s budget so ulterior motives abound...

This is sort of a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, only dumber: Because scientists have now decided it's safe for the vaccinated to do without masks, rightwingers think it proves masks were never necessary and WHAT ELSE WERE THEY LYING TO US ABOUT!

Myself, I have a few days of mask-wearing left because my wife's vaccination is not yet fully cooked and I care what happens to people who are not me -- which is not a universal trait in this country, alas, so even after this, I'll be selective about masklessness -- like, definitely masking on buses and trains when that becomes optional, because I know the psychos who spent a year rampaging through stores without masks screaming about their rights will now just sit quietly and contentedly diffusing COVID. 

Meantime let us savor what may be the apotheosis of this nonsense -- Matt Taibbi claiming Biden only kept wearing a mask (until yesterday, that is) because he's a tyrant:

I’d be the last person to ever suggest an unvaccinated person go without a mask — I wore one everywhere since this thing started — but the symbolism of, say, a vaccinated Joe Biden still wearing a mask outdoors in defiance of CDC guidelines, or Kamala Harris releasing pictures of herself wearing a mask for a Zoom call, is increasingly obvious. For a politician, the mask is a symbol of the authority he or she has borrowed from science, and removing one is a symbol that the fear justifying emergency power has subsided. It’s hardly surprising to see a reluctance to take masks off, even when scientists say it’s fine to do so.

That Taibbi stuck this on yet another cancelculture blubberfest is just the shit icing on the crapcake. 

UPDATE on the above -- This is rich: At HotAir, Ed Morrissey is mad at Nancy Pelosi because... she wants all House members to keep wearing masks because the Republican members refuse to get vaccinated.

And … so? As someone who was masking when the CDC advised against it, I’m in better position than most to say that the risk should be transferred to those who refuse to vaccinate. I might still choose to mask up in certain situations, in large part to protect my immune-suppressed wife, but that will be my choice. There is no need to mandate me as a vaccinated person to mask up on the basis that people choose not to vaccinate, a standard that would in essence become a permanent mask mandate and put the burden of irresponsibility on responsible citizens.

Where precisely is the risk here anyway? It’s on those who choose not to get vaccinated. As the CDC finally admitted yesterday and the science has shown for months...

(Funny, I didn't know Morrissey was an epidemiologist as well as a propagandist.)

...the vaccinated have such a surpassingly microscopic risk of symptomatic infection and contagious status that no further protection is necessary. If the unvaccinated feel at risk over unmasked vaccinated people, they can either (a) mask up themselves, or (b) get vaccinated, as the vaccines are now ubiquitously available, especially for members of Congress.

If the Republicans and staffers who choose not to get vaccinated end up with an acute case of COVID-19, that’s on them.

So, even though Morrissey is still masking himself because he has an immunocompromised loved one, he's less angry at the GOP assholes who ain't gonna take no goldurned vaccine than he is at the Democrats who will mask in session to mitigate the risk their maskless colleagues willfully present. 

As I've pointed out, these assholes were bitching a few weeks ago that by staying masked Democrats were discouraging vaccination.  Now we have a perfect closed study of conservatives who won't mask no matter what, and Morrissey is bitching that Democrats are staying masked because...they're being too accommodating toward their more vulnerable colleagues, I guess, which is bad because it's mollycoddling and Republicans are ruff-tuff creampuffs

I expect next Morrissey will start yelling at grocery stores that continue to require masks-- c'mon, the responsible customers are safe, and to hell with the rest of them! And don't talk to me about "variants," I'm a conservative and I know the science was settled months ago in my favor.

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. 


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.

Friday, March 12, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

John Lennon was fully within the continuum of mid-20th-century pop.

•   Let's get to this week's Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebies first: A call for patriots to do something positive about the growing shortage of problematic cartoon characters, and a meditation on the days when a worker had a little slack and why he doesn't anymore.  (Subscribe! Cheap!)

•   Peggy Noonan:

That wasn’t just a high-charged celebrity interview that everyone talked about and then it went away. Oprah Winfrey’s conversation last weekend with the duke and duchess of Sussex will reverberate and last. It was history, a full-bore assault on an institution, the British monarchy, that has endured more than 1,000 years.

To me, it was this week's stupid tabloid bullshit, which will be replaced by next week's, but I don't absolutely have to fill this space every week, and my audience is not largely comprised of gossip-addicted fossils for whom the doings of Lord Bollocks and Lady Hammerhead are of intrinsic interest. After some snide cracks (“That must be a comfort to them") to let the punters know she's with the Dear Old Queen on this one, Noonan does some deepthink:

Public life has gotten extremely, unrelentingly performative. Have you noticed you keep hearing that word? It means everyone is always performing—the politician, the news anchor, the angry activist. This gives natural actors an edge, and leaves those who aren’t by nature actors at a disadvantage. 

I would say the Royal Family are actors by training, indeed by heredity, like the Flying Wallendas. They're in the paper and on the telly all the time, and they don't have any function or skills rather than to Play Royal. Maybe Noonan refers instead to her preference of performance style?

Meghan was a professional actress.

Both Meghan and Harry speak a kind of woke-corporate communications language that is smooth and calming but also slippery and opaque. 

Ahhh I see the problem now -- Meghan and Harry are part of the wokemob cancelculture all the senior citizens are snarling over! Noonan is even moved to do some sleuthing on behalf of the House of Windsor: 

Some of what was said beggared belief. Meghan claimed that going in she didn’t really have any idea what the royal family was, didn’t Google or do any research... [Princess Diana's] funeral was watched by 2.5 billion people. Meghan Markle, home in California, was 16, presumably loved media, and went on to study acting. Is it believable she didn’t know this story, follow it, see who had the starring role?

What little girl didn't obsess over the People's Princess? Noonan obviously did, and she was 47 years old when Diana snuffed it. 

Why should an American care about any of this? 

Ugh here it comes.

I suppose we shouldn’t. In a practical way we’re interested in the royal family because we don’t have one, don’t want one, and think it’s great that you do. 

We do?

...But I think there’s something deeper, more mystical in our interest, a sense that however messy the monarchy, it embodies a nation, the one we long ago came from and broke with. The high purpose of monarchy is to lend its mystique and authority to the ideas of stability and continuance.

It's bells and smells for Proddys! 

Henry VIII, Mad King George, Victoria—these names still echo. It is rare and wonderful when you can say of a small old woman entering a large reception area, “England has entered the room.”

I cannot, as the kids say, even. 

Someday Elizabeth II will leave us and the world will honestly mourn, not only because of what she represented but because she was old-style. She performed but wasn’t performative

When my avatar steps out of her castle and does her jar-opening gesture to the crowd, it is performance; when yours does it, it's performative. I really think this is more in the realm of nostalgia and perhaps senile dementia than the realm of politics, but the worship of these living totems whose long-running show only serves to slightly distract from the clownish chaos that is Britain today does seem very conservative.

•   LOL, Andrew Cuomo quoted at The Hill :

“People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed, I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people.”

This is yet another proof point for the position that crying "cancel culture" was always the last refuge of a scoundrel or a Substack (except mine! Subscribe, cheap!).  As in most other much-blubbered-over cancellations, the putative victim is a powerful man accused by liberals of an "unwoke" offense such as molesting subordinates. Cuomo obviously expects some wingnuts to rush to his defense on those grounds -- and he may be right, because if there's one thing conservatives believe, it's that a white man accused of crimes against the lesser breeds should always have the benefit of the doubt. 

That's why conservative propagandists like Bethany Mandel are rushing out the message that "They're Trying to Impeach Andrew Cuomo for the Wrong Thing" -- because getting Cuomo for a nursing-home cover up would further the Republican talking point that Democrats really killed those half-million COVID victims while Tubby heroically held superspreader events to try and protect them with herd immunity. Whereas getting him for groping girls -- now, who does that help, I ask you? 

The difference, of course, is that Democrats have the muscle in New York to bring Cuomo down, and history shows they're willing to expel even one of their own for such offenses -- something you can under no circumstances say about Republicans. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

THE McARDLING CONTINUES.

You may forget over time how awful Megan McArdle is, especially since she took her perch as Peggy-Noonan-successor-in-waiting at the Washington Post and could be safely ignored while she pupates. You scan the column titles and they seem anodyne enough -- for example, "The looming disasters we don’t prepare for." Then you read the thing and you realize it's McArdle defending Texas' decision not to winterize its electrical grid (or make arrangements to share the load with other states during heavy use periods or protect consumers from massive emergency charges) because what if the same thing happened to your liberal states, not winter storms because obviously you do have those and so you plan for them but what if it was something unexpected like "climate change or asteroids or supervolcanoes," aha, then you'd be the laughingstock because your voters don't like to spend money to prepare for these things, that is they don't like to pay taxes because, like McArdle, they haven't changed since Reagan.

Ugh. Then you perversely check more recent columns to see if they, too, stink. The title "I get the indignation. But where are the ideas, Republicans?" suggests a gentle tsk-you-Trumpers thing, but since it's McArdle she starts out beating up a liberal state -- again on behalf of Texas! 

It happened again last week: Blue America unleashed a storm of media attention and righteous fury when Texas and Mississippi announced they were lifting all their COVID-19 restrictions, including their mask mandates — only to be embarrassed when true-blue Connecticut announced that it, too, would be lifting most of its restrictions, though the mask mandates would stay. Connecticut, predictably, got a bit less attention, and a lot fewer epithets like “reckless.”

It's like the Cuomo thing: Much if not most of "Blue America" thinks Cuomo's a dick and wanted Cynthia Nixon to kick his ass and not only a bunch of Democrats and even the Democratic state senate majority leader are now demanding his resignation, yet conservatives act as if we all love him and are trying to prop him up. Similarly McArdle thinks we're all fronting for Connecticut, the Shame of the Blue States. Number one, show me anyone who is; number two, unlike Texas, which Abbott opened and unmasked universally and immediately, Connecticut is only opening select facilities (churches, gyms, libraries etc.) on March 19, and is still calling for restaurants to maintain an 8-person table capacity and bars to stay closed, and 25/100-person caps at private/commercial indoor facilities. And everyone's required to wear a mask -- a universal precaution which conservatives still think is better handled by the private sector on a voluntary what-about-my-rights basis rather than by meddlesome public health officials. 

After that cock-up McArdle passive-aggressively tries to reason with the Trumpkins. "Arguments and indignation are starting to define the limits of conservative ideas," she says, "and defiant gestures are increasingly what the party has in place of policy." You don't say! But it turns out she's mainly mad because these guys are devoting energy to culture war that she'd rather they spent on denouncing the Democrats' COVID-19 relief bill -- about the most popular legislation of the past 10 years -- because it  "bails out bankrupt union pension funds, offers blue states a federal piggy bank," and other such offenses to McArdlehood.  Shit, if I were handing out free advice I'd say the GOP might expect better returns from their cancelculture crybaby shtick than from talking down a relief effort with a 70% approval rating. 

But her latest column -- "Stimulus checks are the most indefensible part of the covid relief bill" -- is just classic:

I don’t say, of course, that no one will be helped by getting a $1,400 check. But the same can be said of almost any policy you can imagine, including leaving fully loaded Lamborghinis at randomly selected intersections with the doors unlocked and the keys inside. Giving away sports cars would still be a poor use of government funds; it would cost far more than any conceivable benefit to the car recipients, and the help most likely wouldn’t go to those who need it most.

Tee hee, Lamborghinis are for makers, not takers! (I wonder if she had "Cadillacs" in the first draft.) 

Upshot: The stimulus won't stimulate, because "the people who are out of work are home largely because we want them to be" and "giving money to someone who still has their job doesn’t make them more likely to go out to dinner if the reason they’ve stopped going out is that they’re afraid of the deadly virus." So they're just going to invest those checks in stocks or mutual funds rather than spending it on food, clothing, etc. Finally, she warns, the stimulus "may well do more to seed the next economic crisis than to fix the current one." 

Which is hilarious as McArdle is also the author of "No stimulus makes no sense" from October 2020, when Republicans were offering a gigantic program and she thought "there are good reasons for even a deficit hawk such as myself to support an aggressive stimulus." Looks like the deficit hawk has spread its long-folded wings once more!

Let's check back in a year or when Noonan clears her perch for her, whichever comes first.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

For years I abjured this kind of 70s rock but I'm kinda getting back into it.
Special kudos to Dee Murray; sometimes hyperactive bass is actually cool.

Not only have we had a good laugh about Ted Cruz's Cancun Adventure, it seems the whole world has.  Even conservatives seem to realize it's too perfectly on-brand, for Cruz and their own movement, to defend, and dummies like Dinesh D'Souza and Ben Shapiro have been reduced to bizarre, "Hey, it's not like Ted Cruz is any use at all in a crisis anyway" arguments -- as usual not likely to convince anyone but, unusually, not apparently designed to appease the yahoos who bay at their troughs either, just pro-forma ass-covering bullshit. 


Hell, some rightwing talking heads like Meagan McCain have denounced Cruz, and the Murdoch New York Post is covering him like he's Andrew Cuomo.

I'm not starry-eyed about this apparent consensus on Cruz. First, no one actually likes him; Texans are simply unable to vote for Democrats, lest they question the unreasoning belligerence that passes for manhood there. Cruz was so unloved by national Republicans in 2016 that, despite his muscling to the front of the line, they nominated an ignorant New York grifter rather than let themselves be represented by him. Genital warts aren't a "bipartisan issue" just because no one wants them. And the Cancun story plays to the simplest kind of American resentments -- people who were unmoved by Cruz's many political outrages, including his support for a fascist insurrection, are pissed that he left his poodle home in the cold.   

Also, in the bigger picture, Americans seem unsure about what to do with the Republican conservative creed that Cruz and his contempt for the needful embodies now that they've shaken off Tubby. It's not that I'm optimistic -- if America could turn back to the GOP after Bush Jr., it could do so after Trump, too. But the coup attempt seems to have shaken most of them, and they may have noticed not only that Republicans are largely OK with an attempt to murder their elected officials for Trump, but that the hardcore Republicans are busily trying to minimize the attempt, and even suggesting that the mob didn't actually kill Officer Sicknick and were generally just having a bit of a lark and that Nancy Pelosi was actually to blame for it -- an impression anyone who saw the impeachment insurrection footage would find obscene. 

This tracks with when I'm seeing in the Rush Limbaugh death coverage. I had my say about that at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, and I do believe he'll remain a totem of the rancid misogyny and racism of conservatism, and be honored as such by rancid misogynists and racists. But the brethren aren't exactly mobbing his cortege as if he were some meathead Verdi and singing "Barack the Magic Negro." In fact while they all claim to have loved his "humor," few of them are actually publicly saying, "Remember when he called Chelsea Clinton a dog? Hah? Come on lady, I laughed when you came in!" 

Apart from the outright apparatchiks blubbering over his catafalque, have you noticed how many credentialed conservatives like Michael Brendan Dougherty seem to either want to get past the subject quickly or feel obliged to admit that yes, much of what El Rushbo said went a bit too far? Peggy Noonan today, after briefly praising Limbaugh's influence ("There was a joy to it. His patriotism was real"), said this:

To have a show such as his you had to be The Guy With the View, and knock down others’ views. In the past 15 years my views on important issues diverged from his; he came to see me as an apostate and attacked me for my criticisms of Iraq policy, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. His attacks turned personal: I was an elite fancy person, an establishment character of rarefied background who looked down on honest people like him and his listeners. His criticisms were at odds with the facts of our lives, and he knew it; for one thing he was damning me from his vast Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Like many male conservative media figures he made a game of pretending to class sensitivity and implying he’d had to scrap his way up. The radio station where he got his start was co-owned by his father.

Now, Noonan remains utter shit, and her complaint is of course animated by personal grievance. But this is one of those cases where "the personal is the political" really applies: How many American women, or men for that matter, noticed over the years with what cold contempt the yahoos for whom Limbaugh spoke had come to regard them? For a moment at least Noonan grasped that her years of service to The Cause counted for nothing if some other Reaganite goon, one whom she doubtless considered less talented that she, condemned her as a rich bitch, accent on the bitch, and got over with it because he had a penis. (It apparently shook her no much she no longer believes repealing the Fairness Doctrine was a good idea!) 

It's like they all had been insisting since childhood that Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In was the height of sophisticated comedy and then someone made them watch it again.

But do enjoy that Limbaugh bit, as well as my other Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebie from the week, "A Message from the John Bitch Society." We could all use the laffs. 

Friday, January 08, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

Kia's still on a Carol Burnett kick, and we saw one where Gentry did this number.
Pretty cool, no?

Funny thing -- I was on way late Wednesday morning to the Mall to take some pictures, as I am accustomed to do at local protests, when I ran into a disabled neighbor who needed help; by the time I got through with that, I had to go back home to do job-work. Thus I missed the helter-skelter at the Capitol, though like everyone else I had a few hours' worry about how it was going to come out.

I'm still worried. After a wave of bipartisan calls for Tubby to be removed by impeachment or 25th Amendment -- including from Peggy Noonan, of all people! -- the energy seems to be flowing the other way; Nancy Pelosi is holding firm, but Lindsay Graham has tweeted, "As President @realDonaldTrump stated last night, it is time to heal and move on" -- as if Trump's word for anything could be trusted, except when it is employed -- as it has been from “I would like you to do us a favor though" through "We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you... you have to show strength" -- in the commission of a crime.   

I hope not only our electeds but also the FBI and whoever actually countermanded Trump on National Guard deployment are getting busy, because the nuts who rampaged on Wednesday are as accustomed to a lack of consequences as their leader, and unless they see some consequences pronto they'll be back with worse. Count on it. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

 Dunno if the '68 Catch My Soul was any good (anyone see it?)
but Jerry Lee is always worth a listen

•   Hey, don't you wish you knew what Tubby was up to behind the fortifications? Here are some White House scenes from my newsletter, unlocked for non-subscribers: Trump with the vaccine team, and Trump giving Mike Pence some news. Plenty more where that came from, so subscribe: It's one of the few Substacks that aren't about how cancelled the author is! 

•   Conservatives continue their Edgeplay of Trump's attempted coup. At the Examiner Edgelord Byron York explains what's really bad about this straight-up assault on democracy:

Thursday's news conference by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis marked a turning point of sorts in the way some Republicans view the president's challenge to election results around the country. Among those Republicans -- Trump supporters all -- there is concern that the attorneys' sensational theories of election fraud are hurting the president's cause rather than helping it. [Emphasis added]

I mean, it's like Seven Days in May meets the "It's a Good Life" episode of The Twilight Zone, but the main thing for York is, how does this get us to 270+1? The rest of the cabal are only slightly further along the road to "Donald Who?" Rod Dreher feels compelled to tell readers, "if Team Trump can produce meaningful evidence, then we have to take it seriously, no matter how much that ticks off Democrats," before admitting -- convinced, apparently, by his hero Tucker Carlson -- that the Giuliani-Powell stuff is Looney Tunes and Trump lost. But no need for too much soul-searching because bothsides:  

I talk about the Left and its crazy beliefs about the founding of America (e.g., The 1619 Project). But we are seeing the same kind of thing on the Right with this post-election psychodrama. 
Leftists have opinions about historical events; Republicans try to overthrow the will of the people. Same diff! At the Wall Street Journal Peggy Noonan laments what might have been if only Trump had "acted even remotely normal in his first term, if he’d had the intellectual, emotional and spiritual resources to moderate himself, to act respectably." And if my uncle had tits he'd be my aunt. Clearly these guys are hoping everyone will pull themselves together and get back to electing duller, less volatile authoritarians such as Josh Hawley or Tom Cotton -- unless they won't and choose to stick with Trump, in which case they'll get back to forgetting what was dangerous about him in the first place. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

 
 Locals. They're good.

•    I did a thing for the newsletter (this issue free even to non-subscribers! How can I do it? Low overhead!) about last night's debate. The only way you can paint it as a victory for Tubby is if you grade it solely on yelling, posturing, and other alpha-ape displays of dominance. I certainly don't understand all the people saying, as "Access Maggie" Haberman did, that he "heeded the pleas of his advisers to tone it down." As I observed in the newsletter, that lasted maybe ten minutes. Perhaps Haberman means he sometimes resorted his baby-whisper voice between bellows, but on my TV he was mostly his usual self -- and, as I observed much further back than this, his is not an act that wears well over time, let alone during a pandemic. And who on God's green earth thinks hollering "I'm the least racist person here" over and over again is a winning strategy -- except for total racists, and he's already got them locked up? For the election, I am cautiously optimistic, which is to say frightened rather than despairing. 

•   Speaking of white supremacists, Republican golden boy Madison Cawthorn -- Good looking! Young! Disabled, but charismatically so like Greg Abbott! Running for a safe seat in the South! -- keeps outing himself as a Nazi, and the media keeps outing itself as unable to accept the evidence. Candidate Cawthorn first became famous for his effusions over a visit to "the Fuhrer"'s house in Germany. One could have interpreted his remark charitably, and conservatives did: My very favorite of these attempts is National Review's "Madison Cawthorn Is Not a Nazi." There's a headline that doesn't arouse suspicion! Cawthorn's also been accused of prevaricating about his career and military intention, and of sexual harassment, and of still more fash weirdness:

Cawthorn oddly follows precisely 88 people on Twitter. (88 is white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.”) He posed for a photo wearing a gun holster emblazoned with a Spartan soldier’s helmet, a symbol associated with far-right gun culture in general and the Oath Keepers specifically.

Also he called his no-work company "SPQR."  But, ho ho, maybe he just doesn't know what he's saying! "It would surprise me if Cawthorn knew that these have become alt-right symbols," tut-tutted Reason's Robby Soave, "just as it would surprise most people to learn that making the OK gesture will get them branded as white nationalists by hate-group watchers." (Not if they're paying attention, it wouldn't.) Regular old newsies cut Cawthorn slack, too; even stories that point out more dumb shit he did refer to him affectionately as a "a 25-year-old in a potentially historic bid for Congress."

Anyway, a few months pass, and now we find Cawthorn's website accused a critical reporter of working "for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.” (Cawthorn took it down but the internet is forever.) Suddenly all Cawthorn's weird fascist tells look a lot harder to excuse away. Not that the Republicans won't try (Ben Shapiro's already covering for him, posting a Cawthorn op-ed that's light on the Nazism) because they want that seat badly. But the next time they and the press back up one of these guys and say, "I can explain everything," we ought to tell them not to bother.  

•   I see Peggy Noonan's making her late push for a Trump comeback ("Did he? Could he?"), claiming he won the debate and achieved the important goal: 

If you wanted or needed an excuse, an out, to vote for Mr. Trump, if you wanted an argument that justified your decision in a conversation in the office, he probably gave you what you need.

First of all, what's with this persistent rightwing theme that Trump can win by giving his followers an excuse rather than a reason? Isn't that a disqualification rather than a recommendation? Secondly, what would "justify your decision in a conversation in the office"? Sheets and pillows? "Russia Russia Russia"? "ACO plus three"? If you're using this gibberish to excuse your vote to your colleagues, you were voting for him already. No leaner, if such a sad creature exists, was waiting for Trump to yell that he was the least racist person in the room to make the leap.

Mr. Trump’s power, recovered Thursday night, is to speak like normal people, so you can understand him without having to translate what he’s saying in your head. 

"Oh, I get it -- he says Blacks Lives Matter is all about killing cops!" 

Trump supporters believe he will win because of his special magic, Trump foes fear he will win because of his dark magic. Pollsters and pundits stare at the data and wonder how to quantify his unfathomable magic.

Pollsters are looking at polls that overwhelmingly show Trump losing and musing upon his "unfathomable magic"?  If it were anyone else I'd say Noonan was counting on Republican election fraud to make her prediction sensible ex post facto (which it could! So defend your vote, people!), but with her I guess it's the leprechaun telling her to burn her credibility.  

•  Oh, I have one more thing to say about this awful Noonan column:

It’s only a poll, but after Gallup, a New York Times/Siena poll asked the same question, and 49% said they were better off.

What’s interesting, though, is that when Siena asked respondents if the country was better off than it was four years ago, only 39% said yes.

What does this mean? No one knows. If the polling is more or less correct, you wonder: Will people vote on their own circumstances or what they perceive to be the country’s?

This is very, very reminiscent of something longtime rightwing buffoon Jeff Godlstein (old-timers will understand why I spelled it that way) claimed in 2006 as a reason why, despite the "good" economy, "the health of the economy has not polled well among the American public." To Godlstein, it started with Paul Krugman telling them (perniciously!) that some people were suffering, and the American public, which was doing great, taking it too much to heart: 

...the result is Americans -- a compassionate people -- are often concerned about this phantom suffering of others in the abstract, and will react less confidently to the current state of the economy based on how they believe others are suffering under it, even while they themselves note (often with some degree of secret shame) that they seem to be doing just fine.

That was January 2006. Remember the 2006 midterms? Kinda like the 2018 midterms. Americans are prey to all kinds of bugbears and prejudices, but most of us know when we're being conned. 

Friday, April 03, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



"We're all ridin' rocket ships and talkin' with our minds/
We're wearin' turquoise jewelry and standin' in soup lines." Get well soon!

•   This grimly hilarious thing of Elon Musk, having promised to get hundreds of "ventilators" to needful New York to treat coronavirus, sending in their place dozens of BPAP sleep apnea devices, has had the added humorous result of showing me how many tech-biz journals out there are dedicated to kissing Musks' ass. Here's one from something called CleanTechnica:
Some critics believe that this whole thing is actually a fiasco and have criticized Elon Musk for helping out. One has even stated that the devices are five years old, when in fact it is the platform that is five years old, not necessarily the machines. It would seem that these critics have focused entirely too much on supposed faults Elon Musk and Tesla, who are trying to help, and not the larger issue at hand here: the coronavirus and the fact that hospitals are running out of supplies. Another critic has claimed that these machines don’t have any functionality in dealing with COVID-19 and questions as to why Tesla would provide them. 
Dr. Jonathon Richards, a member of the Louisiana Tesla Owners and Dreamers Facebook group and an ICU doctor treating COVID-19 patients right here in Baton Rouge...
Yeeeesh. My favorite is from "Teslarati":
Some recognized tesla’s good deeds to donate these machines as just one of his many generous acts during the crisis. However, some critics were quick to point out the fact that the ventilators sent to the hospital in Queens were CPAP/BiPAP machines, speculating that they would not assist patients in need of breathing normally.,, 
Musk clarified that it was “very important to provide C/BiPap devices to *prevent* cases from becoming severe. Once severe (intratracheal intubation), survival rates are low.”
I know I said I was paying for chemotherapy, but this program of diet and exercise I actually gave you is an important way to *prevent* cancer. I'm beginning to think Musk will be President of the United States some day. Sure, he's not a citizen, but the GOP has made clear that our laws mean nothing anyway.

•   Just in case you've been wondering how Rod Dreher is taking it, he's been hysterical for weeks; it's all coronavirus all the time. There's an occasional retreat to the classics ("If Orwell were alive today and writing with his superlative critical pen about [SJWs], he would struggle to find publication in one of our major liberal journals" -- just like Kevin D. Williamson!). And he continues to swell his collection of JustTheTip Trumper essays ("Let me further stipulate that unlike the Never Trumpers, I am glad that the galoot from Queens demolished the old Republican Party, which had grown decadent...") but mostly it's Get Ready The World is a-Comin' To An End.

Today's entry is a Lulu:
This pandemic will not finally end, most likely, until there is a coronavirus vaccine. Who knows when that will happen? What kind of America will be left when this pandemic recedes? 
So: I closed the laptop, then went to brush my teeth.
[It's these homey touches that really make his writing.]
I was thinking about the news I had just read, and the movie I had just seen, then I remembered the story of the torn flag. I’ve told it in this space before, but man, in light of this sudden horror that has overtaken our nation, it really stands out in a different light.
I'll spare you: Years before 9/11, someone had an old flag, and on the first 9/11iversary it was suddenly discovered RIPPED IN TWO. Right up there with Peggy Noonan's Face Of The Evil One!
Like I said, make of it what you will. We will never really know if it was a coincidence, or a meaningful coincidence. No question, though, but that the United States has not had a good 21st century — and it just got unimaginably worse.
One of the tragicomic aspects of Dreher is, he doesn't know this difference between a shitty metaphor and a Sign From Above.
Question to the room: have you ever had precognition of the future, or witnessed something you consider to have been a portent, a sign of things to come? If so, tell the story.
It's early yet but I look forward to the Signs and Portents his readers may bring. "When men like bats do fly, the world’s end then is nigh!" Sim sim sala bim! Mayhap it will lead to the world's first online snake-handling service.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

THE PEGGY NOONAN CHAIR FOR APPLIED McARDLE.

Now that Sanders is surging, NeverTrumpers are freaking out. Max Boot:
Jennifer Rubin:
Still better and worse, as Ophelia said, is Megan McArdle. Months ago she declared she would support any Democrat, even Sanders, which was very clever of her -- she probably figures if he's nominated he'll be trounced, so she won't have to either do a last-minute "Save Our Oligarchy" column or pretend the day after he's inaugurated that she suddenly realized what a disastrous mistake America had made.

I'll say this for her: unlike Boot and Rubin, McArdle manages to keep the panic out of her voice. Her method is very close to that of the conservative shero whose manner she has come to adopt, Peggy Noonan: A touch toffee-nosed, civility-insistent, passive-aggressive. Here's the headline:
For good or ill (probably ill), at least Bernie Sanders is sincere
People always say it's unfair to blame columnists for the headlines their editors foist on them, and I agree: McArdle probably would have left off the parenthetical, and allowed her reader to infer it. Maybe her editor is a greenhorn who made the mistake of portraying what she read.
Look, I know that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a socialist. I’m aware that the engine of his campaign is breathtaking hubris well-lubricated with monetary snake oil, and that the ideas it spits out would, if enacted, catapult the United States into a fiscal crisis.
I mean, everybody knows that, right? If someone asks for proof just yell "Venezuela" and start throwing rocks.
And while I doubt it was politically savvy for Hillary Clinton to say so out loud in a new documentary, I understand that Sanders has trouble cooperating with his senatorial colleagues, which means he’s doomed to disappoint even his ardent supporters, should he get elected.
Not sure what "politically savvy" means in reference to someone who will never again hold public office (thank God). The rest of it sounds like some Northeastern office lady imitating bless-your-heartisms she saw in Steel Magnolias: unfortunately, in translation that means sewing organdy to a basic "your friends are stupid to like you" formulation.

But then McArdle decides to pull a fast one!
But darn it, I just like the guy.
Ha ha ha ha, no really, imagine Megan McArdle liking Bernie Sanders. He's everything she hates! He cares about poor people! He's popular despite being messy! If Suderman tried to interest him in his cocktail recipes he would probably not be able to pretend interest! He's the anti-McArdle.

So no one who knows what she's really about believes this shtick. But let's play along a while.
I don’t mean that I like Sanders the way Democrats “liked” Donald Trump in 2016, in the misguided belief that his nomination would allow Hillary Clinton to stroll unhindered into the White House. For one thing, I want the Democrat to win — only, please, let it be a less radical candidate.
Bernie's radical not "rad," people!
Yet even as I wish failure on his campaign, I still like Sanders himself. I’m a sucker for sincerity.
[Not gonna touch that]
And so are a whole lot of New Hampshire voters I’ve talked to, including quite a few who were planning to vote for someone else.
Over and over, nearly word for word, they basically said, “I like him because he’s been saying the same thing for 40 years.” They may disagree with this or that part of Sanders’s agenda, but at least they know he means it.
I wasn't there but I'm willing to bet New Hampshire Bernie Sanders voters were not telling Megan McArdle they liked her candidate because he hadn't changed his patter since the Reagan Administration. Perhaps they said they agreed with what he'd been saying for 40 years? But no, that'd be too much to bear.
Which may explain the strange “Freaky Friday” demographic inversion among supporters of the septuagenarian Sanders and the precocious Pete Buttigieg.
McArdle says the youngs don't like Mayo Pete even though he's young too, whereas they love old Bernie, and the reason is they think Pete is fake while Bernie
appeals to the sincerity caucus, with his undeniably authentic Brooklyn accent, his utterly unpolished speaking style and an unshakable commitment to socialism that could never, even in 1968, have seemed like a good career move.
So, see, it's all personality -- nothing really to do with principles or policies (because who really could want universal health care and a wealth tax? LOL get real, kids!).  Plus which sincerity has a downside, says McArdle:
I suspect that the sincerity appeal may also explain how Trump secured his nomination in 2016.
And you don't want to be like Trump supporters, do you, hipsters?  But wait, how exactly is Trump like Sanders?
The things Trump says are often untrue, sometimes awful and occasionally incoherent. But by that very token, you know his speeches haven’t been carefully focus-grouped...
And Bernie says stuff like "Not me, us!" Which is just as wacky! Not convinced yet? McArdle unsleeves her ace:
Mao Zedong’s Red Guards no doubt were plenty sincere, but I’d still rather be ruled by a used-car salesman from the seediest lot in town. 
[Photoshop of Kate McKinnon as Hillary's last-minute pitch: HE WILL CADRE US ALL.]
Then again, look back over the past two decades of politicians who promised that everything would be different, then delivered more of the same, only somehow worse.
The bottom line: Don't believe in anything, be cynical -- not like those awful hippies who were cynical about the Iraq War, ugh, but like everyone on the Fox Business Network is: Believing in nothing but money, comfortable with anyone who has lots of it, and contemptuous of anyone who has little. That's cynicism you can believe in -- and that wins Pulitzers!

Friday, February 07, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.



I'm an idiot, I love this.


•   The Oscars are on Sunday. I've unlocked my newsletter reviews of Best Picture nominees Marriage StoryThe IrishmanOnce Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Parasite, Joker, Jojo Rabbit and (new!) 1917 and Little Women. That leaves Ford vs. Ferrari, which I hope to see even though it's not really a contender because it looks like fun -- and the other nominees, for better or worse, are very stressful, or in any event I found then so (no Little Miss Sunshine in this bunch, let alone Mary Poppins!). I'll do my predictions day-of-show, and then -- magic time!

•   When he's right, our late president is right:
We have both David Brooks and Peggy Noonan going oh those Democrats are blowing it (I know, what a shock); Brooks especially says Democrats ought to capitulate entirely on the economy and make a lame nicey-nicey pitch:
...Democrats should acknowledge that the economy has done well since the Obama recovery in 2009. They should argue that this is the time to take advantage of prosperity to begin a moral and social revival. This is the year to run a values campaign, one that champions policies to make America more socially mobile, caring and interdependent.
In 2020, running on economic gloom or class war probably won’t work. 
I don't remember Brooks offering this advice to Trump in 2016 when the economy was climbing faster than it is now and Trump was still insisting the nation was on the verge of collapse and Trump was the only solution. Then as now, our go-go economy was leaving and continues to leave more people behind every day -- and once you fall off the gig economy merry-go-round, it gets harder and harder to climb back on. And get health care if you're sick. And food if you're hungry. To my way of thinking, when Trump blathers about the economy, Democrats should respond: "Forget what this guy says -- we all know what a liar he is." No stammering equivocation -- ask the people how they'd like not to have to live in terror of losing their jobs to a stupid tariff or their homes to an unregulated bank.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

THE SOFT BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS.

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

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

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

Friday, January 03, 2020

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.





 Been a while.

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

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

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

Saturday, May 11, 2019

THE RETURN OF THE CRAZY JESUS LADY, TRUMP EDITION.

It's been a while since we had fun with the Crazy Jesus Lady -- which is what I used to call Peggy Noonan, but that was before she stopped being so Jesusy and just leaned on the received wisdom like a one-legged drunk on a bar rail, which is probably what got her the Pulitzer. Well, I recently snuck behind the Wall Street Journal paywall and got a load:
The Missing Order in American Politics
I grow wistful as I watch the congressional chaos while reading Kissinger’s forthcoming oral history.
If only we were murdering civilians, invading Cambodia, and assassinating leaders we didn't like again! One out of three just isn't good enough.

But even before she gets to the war criminal it's gold. First, no regular reader of my work will be surprised to know that, after some early raised-pinky tut-tuts about Trump's lack of polish, Noonan is fully aboard the JustTheTipTrump express and hell, she might just let him shove in another inch.

First of all, the Democrats are really overstepping with all the "Congressional oversight" nonsense:
But there is such a thing as context, and the Democrats seem to be ignoring it. This is a country divided. 
Almost half the country is for Mr. Trump—truly, madly, deeply. Half is against him—unequivocally, unchangeably. There is no resolving this. Or rather to the extent it can be resolved, it will be resolved at the ballot box. The presidential election is 18 months from now, on Nov. 3, 2020. 
Until then, people are where they are and hold the views they hold, and don’t push them too hard.
Don't push them too hard or what? Support for impeachment has actually gone up since House Democrats started acting like they have some guts -- why, it's almost as if people respect that! Also there is such a thing as acting on principle, but for Noonan that's just something Republicans do, while Democrats just pretend to believe things -- "We’ll see how well Speaker Nancy Pelosi can dance right up to the edge to appease some in her caucus, and not over it," she stage-whispers. Soon Nancy and Donald will be telling each other dirty jokes just like Tip and Ronnie!
[Trump supporters] sometimes tell reporters he’s a man of high character but mostly to drive the reporters crazy. I have never talked to a Trump supporter, and my world is thick with them, who thought he had a high personal character.
Noonan's world is thick with Trump supporters? You mean Republicans? Big shock. But after years of "Character Above All" palaver, you'd think she'd be embarrassed to admit that her party supports scumbags.

Well, turns out Noonan has an escape clause, or at least an escape adjective:
On the other hand they sincerely believe he has a high political character, in that he pursues the issues he campaigned on. They hired him as an insult to the political class, as a Hail Mary pass -- we’ve tried everything else, maybe this will work -- and because he agreed with them on the issues.
"Pursues the issues he campaigned on"? I remember when we were going to be filing our income taxes on postcards. And that the deficit would go down. And so would prices. And... well, to be fair, he still hates brown-skinned people. Noonan doesn't want to get into this, so she talks about how the people -- the same people that loved St. Ronnie! -- love Mr. Trump, and how when they scream obscenities and act like a lynch mob and cheer shooting immigrants, that's just sly American wit:
When they jeer the press during rallies at the president’s direction, they don’t really mean it. They’re having fun and talking back. They’d be happy if their kids became reporters -- an affluent profession, and half of them are famous.
???????????
The president doesn’t really hate the press either, he wants their love and admiration. You don’t need the admiration of people you truly disdain.
If Noonan thinks Trump doesn't disdain his suckers... well, she thought Reagan was on the level, too.

As for her Kissinger tongue-bath, I can't bring myself to touch it, though I will risk vomit damage to my keyboard to mention this bit about Kissinger's hardscrabble, pre-genocide youth:
The tough Italian-American men he worked with teased the German refugee and took him to Yankee Stadium to learn to be an American. There he first saw the man who years later on meeting him struck him dumb: Joe DiMaggio.
I like to imagine these guys telling Li'l Henry, "Remember Joe DiMaggio, and also that you're a white man, and only kill gooks, spades and spics!" [Patriotic music swells] Young Henry Kissinger never forgot. I tell ya, it's kind of a Cassandra curse to see the people you always knew were shit not only proving it over years but actually getting worse.