Tuesday, May 08, 2018


I have been writing for years about the Conservative Mood Swing -- a syndrome whereby conservatives lurch between triumphalism and victimhood: On the one hand, declaring themselves the avatars and theirs the true faith of America -- the current shorthand for this being the paternoster "This is why Trump won," and references to far-right beliefs as "center-right" and moderate-left beliefs as "far left"; on the other, declaring themselves pathetic victims of an all-powerful Left. It's how they manage to simultaneously stroke their yobbo fans, who get pissy and fall off the bandwagon if they're not constantly assured that They Are The Champions, and work the refs in the press with spectacular flops on the pitch.

Speaking of which, here's Bari Weiss at the New York Times about that "Intellectual Dark Web" that all the kids (i.e., none of them) are talking about:
Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we’re in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered “dark.”
Weiss then tells us about "I.D.W." machers like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson who, despite the alleged siege upon their free speech, have enjoyed tons of mainstream attention -- see Shapiro lauded as "the cool kids' philosopher" by yet another Timeswoman, and plenty of Peterson puffery at the Washington Post. The less-well-known, like Christina Hoff Sommers, are equally awful but have yet to find that sure-fire gimmick that will launch them into the stratosphere. (Sommers did work her act in the Milo road show, but that one closed out of town).

Speaking of too-late regrets, near the end of the thing Weiss notes many of these guys actively court the yowling mobs of Alex Jones, Mike Cernovich et alia, and she even seems to dimly perceive that their contrarian shtick is essentially right-wing -- but plays it off as something they probably don't realize they're doing 'cuz it's psychomological:
One risk is what Eric Weinstein has called “audience capture.” Since stories about left-wing-outrage culture — the fact that the University of California, Berkeley, had to spend $600,000 on security for Mr. Shapiro’s speech there, say — take off with their fans, members of the Intellectual Dark Web may have a hard time resisting the urge to deliver that type of story. This probably helps explain why some people in this group talk constantly about the regressive left but far less about the threat from the right.
Sure, that's it -- the crowd liked when I beat up that hippie, so I had to find some more and beat them up too, I'm just givin' 'em what they want. Plus the Dorkwebsters mostly have anti-Trump alibis -- "There are a few people in this network who have gone without saying anything critical about Trump, a person who has assaulted truth more than anyone in human history,” says Sam Harris, in much the same way less refined but similarly duplicitous wingnuts constantly go I'm no Trump voter but [Trump position here].

The whole thing is obviously contrarian cover for bigots who have heretofore been shy about asserting their obnoxious beliefs. But I have to tell them: A dork in a Harry Potter costume is still a dork.

Monday, May 07, 2018


...about the return of Rudy Giuliani as Trump's eminence grease, and the eerie, embarrassed silence of the brethren as he goes about his goombah bullshit. (I do think they're embarrassed, but not for the reason you or I would be embarrassed if, say, Russ Feingold started acting like Nathan Detroit; rather, they're embarrassed because -- with the dumpsters flying open like coffins on Judgment Day and disgorging Rudy, Don Blankenship, incoming NRA President Ollie North, et alia -- the world is getting a good look at who they really are; in fact, maybe also because they're getting a good look at themselves.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2018


A few people have asked me about that Ross Douthat "Redistribution of Sex" column but there's not much to say. His tropes are tedious as usual. For one thing, he tries to hitch a ride on the contrarian zeitgeist by saying that the dull, middle-of-the-road types -- that is, people who found Robin Hanson's "Incels Have a Point" essay to be creepy and misogynist and creepily misogynist -- are old and tired, and that the real truth is only known by "the extremists and radicals and weirdos" -- that is, guys like Hanson.

Then Douthat pulls what he no doubt imagines is a fast one -- another enlightened weirdo, he posits, is Amia Srinivasan, whose thoughtful essay on changing attitudes toward and standards of sexual desirability he (to be polite about it) reinterprets as something about "revolutionary architects" grimly working to ensure that comes the Revolution "sex would be more justly distributed than it is today." That is, he's trying to draw a parallel between the masculinity-poisoned killer virgins and people who are sexually adventuresome -- those who believe "the greatest possible diversity in sexual desires and tastes and identities should be not only accepted but cultivated" -- just so he can say, see, you liberals want sex with fat people and cripples to be sexy because you're into "diversity" sex, well what if my revolution is I want to have sex with robots or prostitutes?  Because all you liberals (Douthat took a poll) believe that "sex work is work," maybe Douthat will dress a prostitute like Less Chunky Reese Witherspoon and do, ugh, whatever Douthat does with women -- and there's nothing you can do about it!

Douthat's upshot, as always, is to suggest we'd all be better off under a theocracy where sex is policed by the Church, while everyone else suggests we'd be better off without Douthat.

But Douthat's the least of  it. Rod Dreher:
I want to share with you the most disturbing thing I have read in a very long time. You need to know about it. 
I learned about it via the Twitter feed of a UK radical feminist. In Britain, radical feminists, including TERFs (Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists) are taking an insane amount of abuse from transgenders and their allies. But on that issue, they’re right. This particular feminist has uncovered something shocking — beyond shocking — about how pedophiles intend to use the same strategy that worked, and is working, for LGBTs, for the sake of legitimizing pederasty.
And then he quotes at length from a document these people purport to be this pedophile group's blueprint for legal kidsex, in which they say things like "In truth, access to the media is what you need most. Without the help of liberal and progressive Hollywood, there will be no campaign." In other words, it's very obviously The Protocols of the Elders of NAMBLA -- bullshit meant to jack up people like Rod Dreher.

And oh my brothers and sisters, the updates:
UPDATE: A couple of you have written to say that this document sounds like a right-wing fake. It might well be. But for the sake of argument, how would we respond if some pro-pederasty groups and individuals adopted this proposed strategy? You can’t say, “It will never happen here.” It absolutely could. The sexualization of children and the removal of sexual inhibitions via popular culture is happening...
A few hours later:
UPDATE: Re-reading it, I doubt it’s authenticity. For me, the “tell” is how the author writes about the media. Still, the fact that even some liberal readers here are not sure that it’s real or fake tells us something about the current cultural moment, and what has become plausible...
Very like the Douthat strategy -- some of you liberals (or whatever kind of liberals hang out at Dreher's site) sorta believed this caricature I swallowed hook, line and sinker, so in a way I was onto something! But with more whining.


Kanye West is jackassing like a motherfucker -- telling the world 400 years of black slavery was a choice, then issuing the inevitable of course I didn't mean what I clearly said, how could you think that response.

As a self-promotional strategy it makes sense: West has clearly analyzed the Trump phenomenon and deduced that many Americans wish to identify with winners no matter what -- that's how they got in the habit of denying their own economic problems until it's too late. So West is looking to flatter the guys who like to think that if the slavers had come for them, they'd be too smart and strong to be taken. Just like Kanye!

Attempting to find profit for his cause from this sad case is pint-sized pundit Ben Shapiro but, in order to make it work for his readers, even the least aware of whom will have noticed by now that West is nuts, he has to assure them that he, too, finds his subject a buffoon; and, for more than one reason, this is surely the most convincing part of his essay:
It's easy to dismiss him because he's nutty. This is a fellow who tweets about antique fish tanks and fur pillows. This is the guy who calls himself Yeezus (after Jesus) and suggested that then-President George W. Bush didn't care about black people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He isn't exactly known for his bouts of emotional stability.

And in our celebrity-driven culture, we shouldn't pay too much attention to those who haven't spent a lot of time studying policy. That's how we end up with celebrity politicians, emotion-driven policy and reality television substituting for news.
So, um, what exactly are we doing here?
With that said, Kanye West did something deeply important over the last two weeks: He opened up the debate.
Debate? Apart from the voluntary nature of the Middle Passage, I don't recall any political issues coming up at all.
Stung by the gratuitous censorship of the left, West began tweeting that Americans ought to think for themselves.
Ah, that's the propositon being debated: Can we sell our Liberals are the Real Fascists bullshit to black people? By "thinking for themselves" Shapiro means rejection of "those on the left who suggest that politics must innately follow immutable biological characteristics (i.e. black people have to be Democrats)," and... well, not much else, really:
It may just be that West, like a lot of Americans tired of being told what to think by their industry and racialists on all sides, is getting tired of being told what to do.
So: Having told us that West is a crackpot, Shapiro now tells us we should emulate his bravery. Don't let the Democrats tell you what to do! You want to play on the train tracks, or with downed power lines? Follow your bliss! BTW the Dragon Energy hats cost 49 dollars.

They're desperate to make something of it. National Review evens runs a pic of West over a Jonah Goldberg column and titles it "Vanity Fair’s Hilariously Bad Account of the ‘Red-Pilling’ of Kanye West" -- notwithstanding that West is only a minor part of Goldberg's essay (the major part is about how National Review is, too, relevant, despite the fact that conservatives are abandoning stodgy old Tory destinations like theirs for less carefully disguised wingnut garbage pits). But it's a fool's errand. Like any celebrity endorsement, it might draw a few new troops. But wait'll West finds out the Republicans won't indulge his stated goal of running for President — you’ll see the other side of the mood swing then. For, as good a fit for the Trump template of know-nothing belligerence as West may be, he's missing a credential: for the conservative base, some folks are fit for quarterbacks, and some only for mascots.

Monday, April 30, 2018


‪...about Kanye West exciting the brethren and Michelle Wolf pissing them off. As usual there's an analogy in there somewhere.

The column is packed and I'm sorry I couldn't include the RedState column by Brandon Morse, who not only declares “This Kanye, Kardashian, Trump Episode Could Be One Of The Biggest Turning Points In Our Culture," and insists "if you’re part of the elite left, you’re gripping the arms of your chair. You’re in the river on the edge of the waterfall" -- he also finds special significance in Kim Kardashian's defense of her husband:
...as we’re all woefully aware, Kim Kardashian holds more sway in the media and the minds of many than we like to give her credit for.
News to me. Is she the inspiration for so many rich girls marrying jackasses?
...one of the most mainstream of the mainstream just said it’s okay not to be mainstream. The woman that a good many western first worlder consider a role model, American royalty, or just a flat-out obsession gave her blessing about having right-leaning proclivities.
That’s huge, whether you think of Kim Kardashian as the modern day goddess the media has made her out to be, or you think as I do that she’s a woman who got famous by being famous for silly reasons.
That last bit is so perfect: Morse imagines Kim Kardashian letting her husband suck up to Trump is an epochal, game-changing event, notwithstanding that he also finds her silly. It sums up the rightwing idea of culture war: they have no idea why anything cultural is popular, and indeed seem to find it all ridiculous and unimportant (at least as compared to timeless pursuits such as propaganda and ratfucking) but still want to manipulate it to their advantage. This also explains why they're so bad at it.

UPDATE. There's been stiff competition for the stupidest thing written about this, but I think Jenna Ellis of the Washington Examiner is going to be hard to beat:
Michelle Wolf exposes the true, despicable agenda of the abortion industry...
In part, Wolf said on abortion , "Don’t knock it till you try it — and when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there. And yeah, sure, you can groan all you want. I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion. You know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress." 
Are we really so depraved and desensitized as a culture that we are expected to laugh about “trying” abortion? As if abortion is equivalent to Saturday brunch and hey, if you didn’t like the eggs Benedict, there’s always next weekend. Have a mimosa, chill, and try abortion for fun, girls. Generally, if someone says “don’t knock it till you try it,” it’s something they enjoy and are encouraging you to try to see if you enjoy it too.
Funny how she blew right past anti-abortion men's secret mistresses and their abortions -- especially considering it has become a Republican hallmark, like flag pins and red ties -- to yell at Wolf making a joke about it. Also, I bet Ellis thinks Wolf was really "encouraging you to try" abortion the way the other outraged conservatives think she made fun of Sanders' appearance -- that is, not at all. Most of their propagandists aren't that dumb -- they're just trying to bamboozle a couple more people who are that dumb.

Friday, April 27, 2018


When I was a kid, I thought this was a Buck Owens song
because of the falsetto ba-ba-bapa-bapa-bapa-pa parts.

RedState fired a bunch of writers. Many sore wingnuts -- including former RedStater Erick Erickson --portray this as a "purge" of Trump critics, but there appears to be another factor, one that in America always matters most:
RedState writers work on contract and are paid based on the amount of traffic to their posts. 
"Those who had been under a contract with a higher per-click rate were mostly all tossed, only keeping those who were pro-Trump even if their traffic was comparable," another one of the sources said on condition of anonymity. 
"Of those who make less under their contracts, they mostly tossed those who had been openly critical of the president," the source said. "It seems to have been a cost saving measure, but the deciding factor between any two people seems to have been who liked the president and who didn't." [emphasis added]
If only these poor fellows had unionized! Erickson has invited them over to his site The Resurgent, where they will no doubt be paid in Confederate scrip. I hate to see anyone suffer so from the rapacious capitalism of our age, but I have to laugh at Erickson's huff-n-puffery about when it was all about the music, man:
When RedState started in 2004, it was about collaborating between all sides of the GOP and, after I took over, had a real grassroots focus. Since the Salem purchase of Eagle Publishing, the grassroots focus went away as did the community building aspect in favor of clickbait with analysis... 
They've really stopped driving a conversation among conservatives in the past few years as they turned to clickbait and now will really just be a clickbait site it seems.
Clickbait! LOL, The Resurgent is still mostly Angry Email Grandpa crap ("Are we governed by 535 legislators and an executive? Or by 875 unelected judges?"), and currently features no fewer than four stories about Kanye West, including one by Erickson himself ("Kanye West Thinks For Himself. Liberals Demand He Stop Doing That or Shut Up"). As I have said at length here, the rightwing web was always shit and has been devolving for a while into something even lower -- a sort of quantum shit that increasingly ditches the Great Debate MacGuffin and focuses instead on guttural prompts to stir the deepest fears and hatreds of Trumpkins. There are a few intellectual types (and their pseud equivalents) who are still putting Burkean lipstick on the pig, but Erick Erickson has always been and remains a hog-caller, and that is what animates conservatism today.

UPDATE. I just remembered that, back in his RedState days, Erickson did some purging -- or at least attempted purging -- of his own, running an anti-RINO thing called "Operation Leper" and hollering that "The GOP Establishment Must Be Purged." No doubt he'll return to his purgative roots, too, as soon as he sniffs a market opportunity in it for himself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Fundie wingnuts have a new HobbyLobbyhorse:
Could California Ban The Bible?
California Lawmakers Consider A Bill That Would Ban The Bible 
California Pro-Homosexual Bill Will Ban the Bible
This is, as you will have guessed, bullshit. The bill before the California lege would ban (or, rather, sharpen an existing ban on) the gay-straightening racket by specifying as illegal "any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex."  

It certainly wouldn't make the Holy Bible itself illegal, as fact-checkers like PolitiFact and Snopes (with the weary tone I suppose they can't avoid, the times being what they are) patiently explain -- to which the wingnut response has been to cry, as has become their habit, that fact-checking sites are liberal black magic. About the best example is at (natch) The Federalist, by Robert Gagnon, entitled (and it helps to look at Gagnon's picture and imagine him reading it out loud) "Snopes Is a Sneaky Liar About California’s Bill To Ban Christian LGBT Talk."

His opening is a masterpiece of wingnut logic and I feel I must share:
If you haven’t already lost significant respect for Snopes as an impartial fact-checker, its analysis of a bill that bans all transactions involved in stating Christian beliefs about homosexual behavior should. That bill passed 50-18 on April 19 and is being considered in the state senate. Snopes’ insistence that California Assembly Bill 2943 would not result in the Bible being banned in California is akin to Snopes calling “demonstrably and clearly false” the claim that Joseph Stalin killed everyone around him.
I know, guys, but stay with it:
True, Stalin did not kill “all” around him. Indeed, so far as we know he never personally killed anyone. But he did have a great many people killed (estimates indicate that he was responsible for the deaths of 20 to 25 million people), sent many others to the Gulag, and generally terrorized both his own country and Eastern Europe for decades.
Sure, it is virtually impossible that California will immediately attempt to ban the sale of the Bible itself. Not even the hard Left in California has that kind of chutzpah. But citations of Bible verses in the context of declaring homosexual practice and transgenderism to be morally debased could indeed get one into serious trouble with the law if it comes in the context of selling or advertising a product or service. Here are the problems with Snopes’s case.
So it's "virtually impossible" (that is to say, impossible) that the law would lead to any Bible-banning, but in Gagnon's view that's just nit-picking -- like saying Stalin didn't kill everybody which is just what you liberals would say because you love Stalin. In reality, something close enough to it would happen, says Gagnon -- "you would be violating the law if you advertise that Christ can empower people not to engage in homosexual practice... or if you offer to engage or actually engage in efforts to persuade people of Christ’s power to transform in this area..." I guess Gagnon wants to give the impression that, should nice Mr. Christian innocently say "God bless you" when a sodomite sneezed, the Liberal Fascist Storm-Troopers would take it as conversion therapy and do a Cardinal Mindszenty on his head.

I think the brethren should switch tactics and instead insist that, if the law passes, showings of A Different Story will be considered a hate crime. At least that would have the happy side effect of reviving interest in the career of Meg Foster.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


This essay is short by Kevin Williamson standards, but let me boil it down still further for those of you who wish to limit their contact (and I'll keep it short because I'm sick of writing about this asshole):

Williamson, famously fired by The Atlantic for telling its editor he did indeed believe, as he had previously averred, that women who have abortions should be executed, later got space in the Wall Street Journal to declare The Atlantic and everyone else who got mad at him a "mob" and to suggest this his abortion prescription was just rhetorical shtick, though he coyly refrained from saying what his real prescription was.

Ed Kilgore of New York magazine asked Williamson what his real prescription was, and Williamson responded with evasions and, when Kilgore insisted on an answer, insults.

Today at The Weekly Standard, Williamson reveals that he offered New York a full column (free!) in which he would finally give The Full Monty on how he would really deal with abortion sluts, and (he claims) New York's editor told him a few sentences was "as much on the subject of your views on this matter as we want to publish." Williamson denounces New York, calls Kilgore more names, sputters about the "prevention of discourse," etc. But he still doesn’t reveal his view on abortion and execution.

I suppose this crybaby is even now stalking more liberal magazines, demanding they publish his work at length lest he insult them in the rightwing press, then running to the rightwing press to insult them. I suggest he try the Village Voice. There is precedent, after all, and I bet my editor will love his rates.

Monday, April 23, 2018


...about the Starbucks bias incident, and the training the company ordered afterward -- which offended conservatives waaaay more than the bias incident.

Among the outtakes I wished I had room for was this bit from Jonah Goldberg's America's-not-that-racist essay:
In 1958, 44 percent of white Americans said they’d move if a black family moved in next door. Forty years later, that number had dropped to 1 percent… When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, only 18 percent of white Americans said they had a black friend. By 1998, that number was 86 percent.
If you’re wondering why Goldberg picked 1998, twenty years ago, as his ebony 'n' ivory golden dawn (oddly, during the Clinton Administration), it may just be that this Brookings study was easy to find, but there may be more than one reason — for instance, maybe 86 percent of white Americans had a black friend in 1998, but a 2014 PPRI poll showed it was down to 75 percent. Also, the blacks-next-door number in 2017, according to the World Values Survey, was not 1 percent, but 6 percent. (In fact Goldberg actually cites the 6 percent figure later in his essay. Well, when you get really big in his world, you don’t need editors.)

Goldberg's on a tear lately -- his next column is about how people who pretend to be transgressive and whatnot aren’t the real rebels; “a real rebel talks out loud in an Ivy League classroom about how Jesus Christ is his or her personal savior.” If you saw the scene in Where Angels Go Troubles Follows where Rosalind Russell talked down the bikers, you pretty much got the gist.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


How far has National Review come since its days as an explicitly segregationist magazine? Well, they have no fewer than three columns on Starbucks' admirable decision to hold a day of diversity training in response to a well-publicized racist incident in one of its stores. Want to guess how they feel about it? Here's David French:
There is near-universal consensus that the Starbucks employee’s actions were racially motivated. Starbucks apparently agrees, and given that the company knows more about its employees than I do, I’m not going to question its conclusion.
Sounds pretty sulky, doesn't he? Can't blame him -- everyone's bought into this racism-exists madness, even the big corporation -- and they're supposed to be on his side! French is pissed that Starbucks is "forcing more than 175,000 employees to undergo 'racial bias' training" (yeah, I bet those baristas are real upset they have to sit on their ass and get trained for a day) but especially that their training will address "so-called unconscious bias," which French calls "Orwellian junk science." Imagine -- thinking people might be prejudiced without even knowing it! Next you'll be telling him about all that stuff the eggheads say we do without knowing about it, like Freudian shits.
Starbucks is a private company and as such it has a right to make this mistake. It can shutter its stores for a day and re-educate its employees. But to the extent it’s teaching them about unconscious bias, it’s teaching nonsense, and when it comes to the fraught issue of American race relations, nonsense always inflicts a measure of harm.
French doesn't explain, but from his previous writings I guess he means if you try to make people less racist, they just naturally get more bigoted and vote for Trump, so you see it's really your fault for hassling them, you Orwellian junk scientists.

Let's see what NR's Kyle Smith has to say:
At a glance, what happened at that Philadelphia coffee shop last Thursday looks like racism. But there’s little context. Does the manager also routinely call the police on white people who loiter in the shop? If a white manager called the police on two white guys hanging around a coffee shop, it wouldn’t make the news, much less become a national obsession.
This guys are really suspicious about the incident that everyone involved agrees happened. Maybe Starbucks and the liberals are in cahoots to make people think racism exists!
The incident is making people unhinged. When the “racism” circuits in our brain get activated, we stop thinking clearly. We go out looking for someone to chastise, and one low-level staffer isn’t enough. We want a larger target suited to the strength of the frenzy. It affects our judgment the way being drunk does. This is your brain. This is your brain on race.
And you sheeple thought racism was bad! Nothing's as bad as anti-racism, except maybe drinking.

Now, Jim Geraghty:
I suspect you can trace the country’s unexpected path to this mindset on racial controversies by following the twists and turns in the career of Al Sharpton.
Shorter version: This Starbucks thing reminds me of some famous black guy I don't like.

Not content with this trifecta, National Review has chosen also to run this:
Enoch Powell’s Immigration Speech, 50 Years Later
I shit you not -- they do indeed mean the "Rivers of Blood" speech, which I believe was last celebrated in NR's pages by John Derbyshire, not long thereafter defenestrated for Making It Too Obvious. If you're guessing this new review is less obvious but highly sympathetic, collect your prize at the door. There are some mealy-mouthed qualifiers, but nothing the typical NR reader can't see through -- when author Douglas Murray says "some portions of [the speech] cannot but induce an intake of breath and a considerable wince or gulp" -- referring to the more overtly ooga-booga passages about "pickaninnies" and so forth -- you know conservatives for whom "politically incorrect" is the highest possible accolade will take it as a recommendation (and so, I assume, does Murray). And anyway, says Murray, none of these PC drags talk about the good parts -- why, "some of the questions [Powell] addressed are questions that understandably gnaw away at us still" -- f'rinstance:
...some of the issues he raised — however well or poorly — remain so pregnant. 
As I wrote in my latest book, imagine you had been a speechwriter for Enoch Powell in 1968, or an adviser or friend. And imagine if you had said to him then, “I have an idea, Enoch. Why not use your speech to say that if immigration into the U.K. goes on at these rates, then in 2011 the official census will reveal that people who identify as ‘white British’ will be a minority in their capital city of London.” Had this been said, Powell would most likely have dismissed the person as an inflammatory madman. Yet that was indeed one of the things that the 2011 census showed. And the news came and went as though it was just another detail on just another day.
London's full of sooties and wogs; the man was a prophet! Ahem, I mean "questions remain."

Welp, looks like National Review's capitulation to Trumpism and its corollary -- that conservatives can be elected with zero support from black people, so why even bother -- is complete. But then, they never really had that far to go.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Rod Dreher doesn't get why other Christians are being such saps about these so-called "refugees":
A journalist asked the two presenters how we determine how many migrants we are to allow into the country. Sister Norma [a nun] responded by saying that she was speaking to a group of kindergarten students at a Catholic school, and asked them what they thought we should do about all the migrants at the border who are fleeing terrible conditions at home. 
The children said, “Let them in,” the nun said. She added, “I don’t know that Jesus would leave anybody out.” 
And that was it. This is not thinking. This is emoting — and it is emoting just as much as the kind of rhetoric that Trump and his ilk use when he discusses immigration. Sister Norma is a vastly more genial person than many of the anti-immigrant hotheads are. But it’s still substituting emotion and sloganeering for hard thought about difficult questions.
Jesus actually said "Shaddap, the little children," and also "Fuck the Samaritans -- they don't vote for us."  Later, in an update:
I’m halfway through approving comments, and it is frustrating how so many readers believe that Sister Norma’s simply telling stories and asserting that Jesus would probably agree with her approach was sufficient.
"Come on, Jesus, what do you mean 'the last will be first, and the first will be last'? I've already written a 9,000-word post explaining why that's not rational. Why won't you engage my argument?"

Maybe Dreher's right to moan about Christian persecution, because real-life followers of the Man from Galilee seem rather thin on the ground.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Chuck McCann in a slightly more restrained role.
I wonder if Albert Brooks ever saw this?

• When I was a kid, there was a ton of children’s shows on TV, and near as I can remember they all had their charms. But my favorite, ever and always, was Chuck McCann, who had a show on WPIX Sunday mornings and who died last weekend. The show seemed long to me — not because it was boring, but because it felt big, like something you could stretch out and live in, with many different things going on and many different characters, nearly all of them played by Chuck. I think even as kids we knew the show was cheap and largely improvised, just as we knew it about Soupy Sales; the music was canned, the sets wobbly, and the costumes obviously pulled out of a musty back room, but that didn’t matter because Chuck poured a lot of energy into it, mugging and flailing as if a single moment of rest would bring the whole thing crashing down. What really hooked me was Chuck reading the Sunday comics, a bit he swiped from Fiorello LaGuardia — but, unlike LaGuardia, he read each strip as one of its characters, and, lemme tell you, talk about committing to a bit: to play Little Orphan Annie he put on a big belted dress and fright wig, and he stuck round pieces of white cardboard in his eye sockets to emulate her pupil-less look, and spoke in a screeching mockery of a little girl’s voice. The white circles kept popping out of his eyes, which he sometimes apologetically acknowledged and sometimes shamelessly ignored, and when the camera cut to the newspaper I assume he removed them to read the text but, at the time, I just imagined him sitting there, squawking away with sightless cardboard eyes. He was childlike and wild and felt like our friend and, if the show wasn’t Peabody Award bait, who cares; Mr. Rogers was a decent human being, too, but Chuck McCann was someone you would want to play with. In a way he showed us how to play -- how to take something simple like a comic strip and make it into an extravaganza. I hope he knew at the end what a gift he gave us all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


How America's newest top-tier pundit? Smokin', my friends. In the past 24 hours Megan McArdle has offered us not one, but two classic columns. First, anyone who was wondering how McArdle would top all the other rightwing weepers over Kevin Williamson may feast their eyes:
A person of color in a white space spends a great deal of time noticing they are a person of color, and that they are in a white space. The white people are very rarely conscious of the glistening pink skin surrounding them on all sides. Something similar holds for liberals and conservatives in American cultural institutions.
I'm tempted to bold or italicize or bold italicize that last sentence but honestly, only the late lamented blink tag would do.
...conservatives spend the first few decades of their lives in a left-skewed educational system, and the rest consuming cultural products made by liberals, so that liberal cultural hegemony barrages them daily with their “otherness.” Which is how they can sincerely feel powerless despite holding a great deal of political power.
They rule America, but what does it mean if they cannot have love? If only Jimmy Kimmel were nice like Fred Hiatt! But wait, there's more -- the column also contains a I'm Not Saying I'm Just Saying Switchback ("I’m comparing the group dynamics, not proclaiming that bias against conservatives is exactly morally the same," reads her "disclaimer," which she describes as "tiresome-but-necessary" and she's half right) and a This Is Why Trump Wonsie ("If that happened to you, probably you’d be pretty mad... Heck, you might even say ‘to hell with respectability politics,’ and vote for a loudmouthed reality television star..."). And on Twitter, this chef's kiss: "My prediction on this column, by the way, is that at least a few people on the right will say 'Wow. Maybe I should be more sympathetic to complaints about systemic racism.'" (Update, next day: No conservative is saying this.)

And a mere turnin' of the earth later, here comes Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver, We Hardly Knew Ye:
Should he have called out Trump more boldly than he did, refused to pass a tax reform without some reasonable attempt to pay for it, and generally made more of a nuisance of himself to the more irresponsible elements of his party? Perhaps. But holding a divided party, or a divided country together, is a delicate and important task. We shouldn’t be too quick to condemn those who attempt it. And when they go down, we should bury them with honors.
Now that’s The Up Side of Down!
...His replacement is likely to be less reasonable, less broadly liked, and less interested in policy than the sound of their own voice. They’re likely to be someone who is desperately interested in the prestige of the office, rather than someone willing to sacrifice from their own interests to party and country.
Wow, maybe that new, lesser GOP Speaker will help push through an even bigger deficit, with even more tax cuts for the rich and shit for the poor, than Ryan did while pretending to be a deficit hawk! And when he retires Megan McArdle will come tell us that we should be nice to that guy because the GOP Speaker after him might be even worse! (Assuming, perhaps unfairly, that we ever have another GOP Speaker.)

Reaching to top of the heap seems to have inspired her. Can’t wait to see what she does next! In fact I’m kind of sorry we all Twitter-mobbed Williamson off The Atlantic — maybe by now he’d be calling to make contraception a capital crime.

UPDATE. Comments -- always worth your time -- include this insight from our old Spy/SOROB buddy Ellis Weiner:
Don't shoot me--I'm just the messenger--but I can see McMegan bidding fair to become the Peggy Noonan of the still-slightly-new century: The fake concessions to common sense. The finger-wagging lectures on responsibility and maturity. The outright lying on behalf of obvious frauds, thieves, and hypocrites. The tremulous citation of the mood of the nation. The pseudo-wise discourses on human nature and psychology that, once you actually read them, turn out to have exactly nothing to do with real people slugging it out in a world in which the rich would, if they could, bring back feudalism and ask the lower classes to thank them for it.
Well, look. Becoming the Tokyo Rose of American class warfare is a delicate and important task.
I take his point; McArdle's got Noonan's natural talent for passive-aggressive twaddle, and Lord knows they both have similarly bizarre notions of financial struggle.  But McArdle's going to have to pay some heavy dues before she ascends to the Tanqueray Throne: She'll have do time in the chrism-and-gin-scented sepulchre of the Crazy Jesus Lady, prostate before the Reagan effigy until, suffused with the Holy Spirit, she can summon the magic dolphins. That Pulitzer's not a walk in the park!

Monday, April 09, 2018


...putting to rest the Kevin D. Williamson affair.

There were many outtakes, including one involving a visit to our old friend Ace of Spades. Did you know he's turned into the type that yells "cuck" a lot? Get a load:
I despise these cucks for this reason: Many of these people scoff at the notion that the leftwing is out for scalps. They are out to get people fired. They are out to ruin lives. They stand for the proposition that You shall repeat our cult dogmas or we will work as hard as possible to deny you the ability to even earn a living plying your trade in Current Year America.
 Oooo, get her.
Yet these cucks continue to engage in apologism for the left, claiming that only "paranoids" believe this about their Very Good Leftist Cocktail Party Friends.
Cocktail Party! Maybe Mr. Spades is going for a fusionist message -- uniting old-time believers in the Liberal Cocktail/Dinner/Fetal-Samhain Party with the neo-Nazi kids, who probably respond by saying, "huh huh you said cock."

Thursday, April 05, 2018


In my most recent Voice column I mentioned the beef over Kevin D. Williamson, would-be executioner of abortion ladies who was recently hired by The Atlantic. Well, it looks like EIC Jefrey Goldberg changed his mind about that:
Williamson’s hiring last month had already drawn scrutiny over past tweets in which he stated that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and “I have hanging more in mind” for a punishment. Those tweets have since been deleted. 
"The language he used in this podcast — and in my conversations with him in recent days — made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered views,” Goldberg wrote in the memo. 
"The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it. Furthermore, the language used in the podcast was callous and violent. This runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace."
To which all I can say is: LOL. There's no way Goldberg didn't know Williamson meant what he said. If it were such a deal-breaker for him, he might have suggested Williamson start his Atlantic tenure with a column explaining why he didn't really believe it. (Instead Williamson wrote about how Trumpkin Republicans were betraying the conservative movement and -- lest anyone think he was sucking up too much -- how Democrats are just as much an "authoritarian populist" party because they want to "sue or jail people for their views on climate change," which you may remember was a key part of Conor Lamb's and Doug Jones' winning campaigns ha I'm kidding Williamson's full of shit.)

Instead, Goldberg would have us believe Williamson misled him, and the scales fell from his eyes only when a piece of corroborating evidence (inevitably) appeared. If this is really what happened, that would mean Goldberg found all the other nonsense Williamson has published acceptable, but his belief that abortion is murder -- a belief shared by many good, solid American morons -- and that women should be punished for it -- a belief once held, or pretended to be held, by the current President of the United States, if briefly -- beyond the pale.

No doubt as I write this rightwing world is exploding with charges of liberal fascism, but if anyone is protected by Goldberg's curious selectiveness, it's not pro-choice people -- it's anti-abortion people who are, as they were when Trump relented, insulated from the logical conclusion of their beliefs by this anathema. They're just morally serious people who think abortion is the kind of murder for which only accessories should be punished!

Goldberg said he was hiring Williamson because he considered him "an excellent reporter who covers parts of the country, and aspects of American life, that we don’t yet cover comprehensively," which lol wut -- I don't recall any newhounds saying, "say, that caped fellow really made me understand the plight of landlords who evict their tenants." I rather think Goldberg hired Williamson because he's a bomb-thrower and thereby bound to draw clicks -- hate-clicks, perhaps, but clicks nonetheless -- but found to his chagrin that the first bomb went off in his own offices.

As it happens, The Atlantic is the only party that does not see an upside here. People who wanted Williamson gone are celebrating. Williamson should be celebrating, too -- he's probably getting several months' pay, at least, for a single column, not to mention an enormous publicity boost which he can take anywhere else -- maybe to Fox, where he can host horror movies as the new Zacherle. And conservatives have a brand new reason to throw a shit-fit about how private businesses that choose not to work with them are practicing censorship. It's win-whine!

UPDATE. David French, who, like many of the wingnut outrage squadron, was unwilling to mention the specific insane idea Williamson was getting flak for last week, still can't, but alludes to it in -- well, feast your eyes:
Kevin is independent. He’s provocative. Sure, he can troll a little bit, and — no — I don’t agree with everything he says. I’m a moderate, you see. If abortion is ever criminalized in this nation, I think only the abortionist (and not the mother) should face murder charges for poisoning, crushing, or dismembering a living child. So we might differ about the laws in hypothetical-future-America.
He's a moderate, you see, and that's why only the doctor is the BABY KILLER RRRARAGH whom we will STONE MASH KILL JESUS ARRGH and the mother, poor benighted soul, will just live in the Handmaid's Tale hellscape we thus create for her.


Hey, Megan McArdle’s at the Washington Post! Let’s see what she’s up to now:
What caused the 1968 riots? A lack of respect.
If this headline had appeared over anyone else’s column, you might think, okay, maybe there's a new editor at the Post who's not so great at condensing the author’s point; but, this being McArdle, we may assume it’s perfectly apt (and we'd be right!), since part of her shtick is to declare that whatever misfortune is suffered by the non-rich in this country, the government has no role in alleviating it except maybe to call in the troops to shoot the looters.
Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, the scars of the riots that followed are only now fully healed in Washington. In other cities, they still aren’t. And we still don’t know exactly why they happened — or for that matter why the 1960s as a whole saw more rioting than the decades before or since.
Yeah, who knows why blacks would riot in the 1960s, particularly after Martin Luther King was murdered (not to mention, after centuries of ill-treatment at the hands of white supremacist society)? It’s a mystery!
What we can say with some confidence is that we can’t simply explain them as a function of unemployment and poverty.
That would be like saying if the ghettos that went up in flames hadn't been ghettos but were instead rich gated communities, their residents wouldn't have torched them, and that just doesn’t make sense! And if you think it does, you know what you are?
Marxism as an ideology was crushed when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but as a method of analysis it still thrives.
Like many rightwing idées fixes, this is projection; McArdle, as previously mentioned here and elsewhere in this space, is averse to all solutions that require government money that should be returned to the Koch Brothers via tax breaks. That’s why she keeps insisting Marriage Makes You Rich — sure, a college degree is more strongly correlated with greater earning power, but scholarships require a wealth transfer to poor people.
What did cause the riots, then? Well, rage and despair and a lot of hard-to-quantify socio-political factors. But taking them all in total, I’d sum them all up with one word: respect. Whatever our economic conditions, we also want — we need — to command a certain minimal amount of admiration from our fellow citizens. 
The great victories of the civil rights movement changed many things. Schools were integrated; funding disparities eased. But that didn’t obliterate the racism that still followed black people around stores, eyed them suspiciously on the street, dogged them in job interviews and caused the police to stop them for “walking while black.”
Generous of McArdle to acknowledge endemic racism, but guess who else suffers from a lack of respect?
There are vast differences, of course, between the race riots of the 1960s and the 2016 election. But when we explain these events, the tendency toward economic reductionism looks very similar, as does its implausibility.
This is good place to mention that the average Trump voter is mainly middle class and makes a shit-ton more than the average black American, even today, never mind in the 1960s. But let's hear how that Trump guy, like your 60s rioter, suffers from disrespect:
Many places that voted for Trump never had many factories to lose to China or Mexico; many factory towns turned to Trump only after decades of decline. What most consistently motivates the Trump supporters I’ve met is not jobs or racism but anger at a culturally powerful elite that veers between ignoring them and disrespecting every facet of their lives.
Thus, the Trump people are sore because them fancy folks in Warshington and Hollyweird look down on them and force them to… live comfortable middle-class lives, but without the fancy folks’ respect. Kinda like a dream deferred, right?

McArdle closes:
We lean on economics because unlike “disaffection,” it’s relatively easy to quantify. And unlike “systemic racism” or “a rural/urban cultural divide,” it feels like something that government policy can address. We are the proverbial drunks looking for our keys under the lamppost, instead of where we dropped them. And somehow, we are perpetually surprised that we never find what we’re looking for.
Actually if we seem drunk, it’s because we’ve been stunned by a 2x4. And as to those allegedly ineffectual economic remedies, we have barely made an effort, as the man whose death 50 years ago spurred so much anger and despair knew and wished to correct.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


It's always a treat to see the first-person Dear-Benedict-Option-I-never-thought-it-could-happen-to-me narratives Rod Dreher portrays as reader mail. Yesterday in a unsurprisingly worthless Roseanne post about how homosexuals are defaming America's Sitcom, Rod finished off with such a missive:
You are so right about how Roxanne Gay’s comments typify the rancor and
illiberalness that is tearing apart families. 
I am one of 25 first cousins out of a Scots-Irish “clan” from deep in the mountains of [Appalachia], people like J. D. Vance who made it out into the broader world through hard work and education, mostly conservative Presbyterians. We were doing fine for generations…until the gay lawyer cousin joined a PCUSA church that transformed him into a LGBT bully who publicly shames family members on Facebook for any view they hold contrary to him. 
He has become the family terrorist. 
Now this fine old family gathers for weddings and funerals in little polarized clumps, if they gather at all. I can hardly believe I’ve lived to see a tight-knit family torn apart by political views and ideology. I can’t help wonder how many families are experiencing the same sort of strife. 
You hit on something in your blog that currently plagues scores of American families.
One question: How did this lone "LGBT bully" shatter bonds forged over generations and shared by an apparently large number of godly hill folk? My guess is, he tattled.

Monday, April 02, 2018


...a three-rail shot about Kevin D. Williamson’s elevation, Roseanne Barr’s revival, and Laura Ingraham’s persecution by a high school student, and what they say about conservatives’ victim complex and — it must be said, out of tough-love! — their lack of personal responsibility.

Friday, March 30, 2018


Well here's a rabbit-hole for the weekend.
• I know I've spent a lot of time on Dreher already this week but the guy's just been so awful. It's like he came back from the week or two he spent in Hungary pimping his book crazier than ever. While he was there he seemed happy enough and mostly posted gush about how great the Saving Remnant in godless Eastern Europe are (and of course how great the food is -- when this Benedict Option thing blows over he can be the new Jeff Smith). But something put a burr up his ass -- maybe he found out fellow theocon Michael Brendan Dougherty said mean things about Viktor Orbán just as Dreher was ready to come out for him, and it spoiled his high. Since then he's been raging on the usual stuff like the Trans Menace, but also displayed a particular hard-on for Pope Francis, who is the head of one of the many religions Dreher has belonged to, albeit not the current one. All wingnuts hate Francis, of course, but Dreher's goes above and beyond; he seems especially mad now that Francis did not strongly refute a reporter who said Francis does not believe in hell ("Francis is winking"). Example:
Think back to 2013, when he made his famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about gays in that press conference. A reader of this blog who teaches religion at a Catholic high school wrote to say that in a single stroke, Francis destroyed all the work that he (the teacher) has done with the kids in his classes. The students all concluded from that remark that they could believe anything they wanted to about sexuality, because even the Pope said, “Who am I to judge?”

This is Francis’s way. Remember his drawn-out answer when a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man asked why she couldn’t receive communion in a Catholic church?
In other words, Francis refuses to stress hell, gays, and intermarriage -- that is, the parts of Catholicism that nobody, including Catholics, likes. I assume Dreher's mainly mad that his ex-religion has, as Jack puts it in The Ruling Class, forgotten how to punish -- what's the fun in being godly if you can't feel confident that your opponents will burn for all eternity? It perhaps also stirs Dreher's dreams of being himself the first modern-era cross-cult Pope -- I bet he daydreams about a scenario like that West Wing episode where John Goodman was President for a couple of days. Then again, maybe he's just logrolling a fellow God-botherer's book. In any case, I look forward to his next conversion, hopefully to Sufism so he can work off his nervous energy by whirling.

• Remember when brave National Review editor Rich Lowry got all the conservative stalwarts to contribute to an "Against Trump" issue in 2016? And how most of them started going over the side before Trump was inaugurated? Today Lowry makes it official in "The Never Trump Delusion":
A realistic attitude to Trump would acknowledge both his flaws and how he usefully points the way beyond a tired Reagan nostalgia.
Goodbye "Reagan" macro; hello MAGA macro!
...The hold that Trump has on the GOP has a lot to do with his mesmerizing circus act, but it’s more than that. He’s been loyal to his coalition on judges, social-conservative causes and gun rights. His desperation to get a border wall speaks to his genuine desire to deliver on a signature promise. The same is true of his tariffs this year.

The last two items underline Trump’s heterodoxy, although he isn’t as ideologically aberrant as Never Trumpers would have it.
Liberals have known this all along, of course -- Trumpism is just conservatism with the gloves off and a screw loose. It's about conning the rubes by beating up their perceived inferiors and promising windfalls that never come. Some of Trump's con games eschew wingnut orthodoxy -- you won't hear him giving lip service to the magic of the market -- but the end result is the same: tax cuts for the rich and the poor get screwed, with a new war a short-odds favorite before 2020. As I've been saying since this started, the deal is he signs their bills and they let him grift. With few exceptions, the conservatives who have been wringing their hands over Trump's bad manners have been as sincere as Noah Cross' show of sorrow over Evelyn's death in Chinatown, and now they're skulking away with their prize.