Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Fuck "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

Wassail, motherfuckers! It's been a rough year, but aren't they all? Our national avatar is corrupt and stupid, true, but at least he's so absurdly corrupt and stupid that we can get a few laughs out of him. F'rinstance, here he is spoiling children's Christmases at NORAD. Imagine his other conversations: "Listen, sweetheart, a piece of advice: lose the lisp and the little-girl act. Grownups respect one thing and that's toughness. Now ask me where Santa is like I better tell you or it's my ass... hm, she hung up. Well, if you can't stand the heat..."

Fuck that guy anyway. Hope you all get everything you need and everything you want. And if it's a choice, pick the latter! Whether it's a piece of pumpkin pie or a crack rock, it ain't gonna be there forever and neither are we.

(And if you have gifts left ungiven and feel like a heel, allow me.)

Friday, December 21, 2018


Martha Davis, ladies and gentlemen.

  I opened up the newsletter to non-subscribers today so you can all peek in at the President in conference with that guy who's raising money to build his wall. It'll all end in tears and lawsuits, no doubt, but I like my version better.

  Maybe you've caught up with this headline from The Federalist--
You’re Not Allowed To Knock Trump For Stormy Daniels If You Watch Porn
-- but not bothered to read the story, and who could blame you? (The author bio says only "John Sweeney writes from New Jersey"; I like to think this is some kind of subtle editorial comment.) But if you're imagining a simple, knuckle-headed hypocrisy argument, you're missing the bigger picture; in fact Sweeney never actually gets around to arguing the Trump point.  He's more interested in defining looking at dirty pictures as adultery:
Presumably, thousands of men engage in adulterous behavior with pornographers and strippers every day.
Culturally we may not believe it, but each time a married man watches pornography, he commits an act of adultery.
Your "culture" may not let you admit it, but my God spits on your heathen culture!
...Although it may be difficult to admit, we cannot continue to ignore that watching pornography while in a relationship is tantamount to cheating. I realize that some will assume this is nothing more than a puritanical, prudish screed. But when considered honestly, my conclusion about porn is unavoidable.
If you guessed Sweeney's "if you're honest, you'll admit these scrawls on my cardboard sign are the revealed truth of the Lord" shtick presages some loony-logic, congratulations. (Sweeney does this kind of bullying throughout -- "I find it hard to believe that anyone would honestly justify this," "No issue can be honestly settled without first establishing some common ground," "let’s start with a common-sense assumption regarding infidelity," "I think most know, whether they want to admit it or not," etc. Well, he shares an audience with Mollie Hemingway, so maybe it works on them.)

The basis is, married men feel guilty about looking at porn ("we don’t wait for our wives to leave the house to watch baseball"), and they feel guilty about adultery, therefore porn is adultery. Similarly, if you surreptitiously turn up the heat when the wife's not around even though she asked you not to, it's basically fraud, so who are you to blame Trump for that, either? Sweeney goes up the ladder: Adultery is wrong, right? And so is "engaging in virtual sex with a woman [you] met online," right? Well, then so is simple porn because "the only real difference is that a typical pornographic video is pre-recorded. But adultery does not have to take place in real time."

I wonder: If you beat off without look at porn, are you cheating on your significant other with yourself? And if so, aren't you doubly sinful, because you are committing both adultery and the sin of homosexuality, since you are the same sex as yourself? You must admit my conclusion is unavoidable!

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Going back to find out what Megan McArdle has been up to is always an unpleasant duty, like checking on an incontinent dog you haven't seen for several hours, and it's exaxctly the shitshow you'd expect. The latest has McArdle, who has opposed Obamacare with hot fury for years and resorted to poignant affirmations to temper her sorrow when the Supreme Court upheld it, now telling Republicans that they better get used to Obamacare. She does not mention that 20 million more Americans are insured since the ACA took effect, but does say it was "fewer people than expected." (Another phrase missing from her column: "pre-existing conditions.")

Apparently McArdle has sniffed the wind and feels she must be part of an imaginary anti-Trump conservative consensus. Hell, some days ago she even worked this angle when writing about the demise of the anti-Trump conservative Weekly Standard, and emitted this concatenation bomb of delusion:
Some of the movement’s stalwarts did turn into Trump boosters, if only half-hearted ones. What was stunning was how many refused, including those at the Weekly Standard.
...Another acknowledgment is also due: The past two years have given the lie to many of the nastiest accusations the left levels against conservative intellectuals — that conservative ideas are little more than veils for personal greed, that conservative institutions are nothing but a grift racket, selling self-justification to the richest bidder.
If that were true, there would be no civil war shattering the movement, and there would certainly be no #NeverTrump conservatives holding firm. I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone in the movement has stood fast against the Trump incursion. What’s impressive is how many did.
!!!!! A civil war shattering the movement! Let's get in the Wayback Machine and see what was going on with conservatives all the way back in... October, when Brett Kavanaugh was before the Senate. Didn't see a lot of breakage with Trump, there. It was all hands on dick!

Let's also take a quick look at National Review, flagship pub of the conservative movement, to see how they've abandoned Trump. There's Kevin Williamson saying "there is not going to be a coast-to-coast [border] wall, nor would such a thing be desirable," but that's okay because Trump sent billions to Mexico so they could beef up enforcement on their *southern* border:
It’s fine to sneer at U.S. foreign aid, much of which is simply a money-laundering operation for U.S.-based military contractors and other politically connected businesses. But progress in Mexico and in Central America is of real, immediate, and lasting interest to the United States: economically, politically, and socially.
In other words, like any good wingnut Williamson disapproves of foreign aid -- it's foreign, and even worse it's aid! -- but when Trump does it, it's bound to work. Wonder how he got that past the NeverTrump NR editors!

(Ha, kidding -- EIC Rich Lowry, onetime NeverTrumper and post-election author of "The NeverTrump Delusion," is represented today at Politico by "The Insufferable James Comey," and if you think he speaks on Hillary's behalf you must be new here -- his defense of Flynn and the President against Comey [who he says, get this, "bent over backward to get to the conclusion that President Barack Obama and his Justice department wanted in the Hillary Clinton email investigation"] would get Rudy Giuliani thinking "ugh, what a suck-up." To keep up the Sorry-Charlie affect of independence, though, he does stick in comments like "A lot of people have been diminished by the Trump years," which I like to think is a rueful reference to himself.)

Meanwhile for readers who are not cool with Williamsonian subtext, there's full-on Trumpkin Victor Davis Hanson, who tells us
Sheer numbers have radically changed electoral politics. Take California. One out of every four residents in California is foreign-born. Not since 2006 has any California Republican been elected to statewide office... 
Salad-bowl multiculturalism, growing tribalism and large numbers of unassimilated immigrants added up to politically advantageous demography for Democrats in the long run... 
Latin American governments and Democratic operatives assume that lax border enforcement facilitates the outflow of billions of dollars in remittances sent south of the border and helps flip red states blue.
In other words, the Democrats are importing Messicans to vote for them, and the only way to thwart their race-treason is a wall, which "would radically change the optics of illegal immigration" and "remind the world that undocumented immigrants are not always noble victims but often selfish young adult males..."

These days, with Mueller seeming to close in, one does see prominent conservatives hedging their bets a la McArdle. But all that's meant to accomplish is the possible preservation of their jobs once people start hunting Trumpkins down like dogs: Trump correctly assesses that the actual policy danger of pseudo-outrage from Sorry-Charlie Conservatives With Good Taste is meaningless, which is why he just followed his mood-swing and announced America was leaving Syria. I'm for pulling the U.S. out of everywhere, but I must admit I'm almost as pleased by the resulting homina-homina of dopes like Jeff Flake whose Brave Sir Robin act has been spoiled by this. It's one thing to pretend to want to save citizens' health care, but by God this is the permanent war Trump's fucking with! These people have always been useless, and now everyone knows it -- which it why they're running for cover.

Friday, December 14, 2018


Some singers, trying to stay on beat, sound like they're rushing this lyric. 
Not her. 25 years old and totally in charge. RIP.

•  The idea of Jared Kushner as a potential Chief of Staff is so hilarious to me that I am moved to release to non-subscribers two of my recent newsletter issues that feature the big cluck in dramatic colloquy with the President:
"Disappointed Office Seeker": From last week, in which Jared is in distress because Dad sent that blond chick with big tits to the U.N. instead of him; 
"A CoS Line": From today! Jared auditions for the newly vacant role.
I'm prejudiced, but I think these little playlets are pretty funny, plus they have swears. (P.S. If you're stuck for Xmas ideas, my newsletter is cheap and easy to gift!)

•  If you're in the business, you're not supposed to cheer when a magazine closes, and I'm not such a prick that I would laugh at the loss of jobs or even the silencing of the Weekly Standard writers whom I unfailingly found to be idiots* -- even though I have to say now-former Standard film critic John Podhoretz makes it hard not to laugh with his j'accuse against the management, which actually contains the line "That sounds pompous, and I hate sounding pompous, but it’s true." Also funny:
This approach was an immediate success. The Standard was the only successful high-end magazine launch of its time and, I believe, the last important print magazine created in America before the Internet began its search-and-destroy mission against those things published on the pulp products of dead trees.
To be sure, it has never made money.
Maybe you have to have spent your entire life in the for-profit capitalist rat race, as I and most Americans have done, to get the joke. Oh, and Podhoretz's l'envoi as a critic is pretty awful too, but provokes more wuts that lolwuts. Sample: "Out of Africa was perhaps the ur-version of The Beautifully Constructed Big-Budget Middlebrow Picture Made by a Major Studio That Takes on Serious Topics." Podhoretz is the only Jewish cinephile who has never heard of Gentleman's Agreement, apparently. The rest is even worse. So I wouldn't say good riddance -- the worst of this lot will certainly be picked up by other wingnut welfare makework projects anyway; I will instead say thanks for the gift of laughter.

*Addendum: I just realized that Terry Teachout wrote for the Standard, too -- so they weren't all idiots. Here's his last piece for the magazine, like everything he writes thoughtful, well-said and worth your time. He still has his regular gig at the Wall Street Journal if you want to keep up with him.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Ross Douthat is here to run theocon Routine 12 on us -- that you heathens who don't go to his Church are not the free-thinkers you think you are, for you are merely worshiping the Golden Calf of penicillin, soap and toothpaste rather than his True God. At the top he pretends to wonder whether we've all really gone secular rather than alt-religious, and seems to dismiss the idea, because everybody needs a creed:
But the secularization narrative is insufficient, because even with America’s churches in decline, the religious impulse has hardly disappeared. In the early 2000s, over 40 percent of Americans answered with an emphatic “yes” when Gallup asked them if “a profound religious experience or awakening” had redirected their lives; that number had doubled since the 1960s, when institutional religion was more vigorous.
I have not been to an Ivy, but feel nonetheless I can explain: "when institutional religion was more vigorous" you didn't talk about having “a profound religious experience or awakening” because people would think you'd gone nuts. But once Americans started to take more drugs, travel more by camper van, and generally loosen up their sphincters, you had people describing their acid trips or bungee jumps as religious rather than sensual experiences. That did not mean they now considered rubber ropes or purple barrel to be sacraments of a New Church -- they merely had no better language to describe their experiences.  I mean if these hippie effusions were actually religious, Burning Man would have catacombs by now.

Still, Douthat thinks that at least some of the unchurched have drifted into a new pagan religions, and you will know them by their eccentric behaviors:
...ritual and observance, augury and prayer, that do promise that in some form gods or spirits really might exist and might offer succor or help if appropriately invoked. I have in mind the countless New Age practices that promise health and well-being and good fortune, the psychics and mediums who promise communication with the spirit world, and also the world of explicit neo-paganism, Wiccan and otherwise. 
Sounds like someone just got back from the Ren Faire, or Santa Fe! But why should he, I, or anyone care if some sliver of the godless go in for Tarot and Enya? Ahh, but danger and darkness for us all lie in these heresies! Hear Douthat say the sooth:
To get a fully revived paganism in contemporary America... the philosophers of pantheism and civil religion would need to build a religious bridge to the New Agers and neo-pagans, and together they would need to create a more fully realized cult of the immanent divine, an actual way to worship, not just to appreciate, the pantheistic order they discern.
It seems like we’re some distance from that happening — from the intellectuals whom [Steven D.] Smith describes as pagan actually donning druidic robes, or from Jeff Bezos playing pontifex maximus for a post-Christian civic cult. 
You assume, or at least hope, that Douthat finds these images as ridiculous as you do -- but then:
The 1970s, when a D.C. establishment figure like Sally Quinn was hexing her enemies, were a high-water mark for those kinds of experiments among elites. 
Maybe they don't have editors at the Times anymore -- I shouldn't wonder -- but why didn't anyone ask Douthat what evidence he had that Sally Quinn's voodoo dolls were not just proof that Sally Quinn is a daffy as hell old rich lady, but also part of real Satanic activity among the elites? Who else was working the Ouija boards and magic wands? And has it only gotten worse? Maybe after a couple of queries Douthat would have cracked and cried out PIZZAGATE IS REAL!
Now, occasional experiments in woke witchcraft and astrology notwithstanding, there’s a more elite embarrassment about the popular side of post-Christian spirituality. 
That embarrassment may not last forever; perhaps a prophet of a new harmonized paganism is waiting in the wings. 
Until then, those of us who still believe in a divine that made the universe rather than just pervading it — and who have a certain fear of what more immanent spirits have to offer us — should be able to recognize the outlines of a possible successor to our world-picture, while taking comfort that it is not yet fully formed.
The words "certain fear" link to a story about exorcism. Wait -- now I get it -- Douthat finally saw The Exorcist! And he knows that poor little girl wasn't randomly chosen by Pazuzu -- he was guided to her by Sally Quinn and her Georgetown coven! Who knows what other black mischief these harpies have summoned -- why, theirs may be the force that invaded and ruined the Republican Party, causing it to reject Douthat's neo-communitarian ideas and turn into the Trump mob! Finally, an explanation that makes sense!

If you see Douthat outside Comet Ping Pong with a long parcel, call the cops.

Sunday, December 09, 2018


It is sometimes observed that conservatives' only real principle is racism. That depends, I say: is looting the public treasury for one's donors a principle? It's a real chicken-and-egg thing, as I was reminded by Howie Carr's latest attack on Elizabeth Warren at the Boston Herald:
Smoke signals say Elizabeth Warren’s presidential dreams are over
Just in case you think this might be some disgruntled editor's prank:
It was just a few weeks ago that the fake Indian sanctimoniously released the results of her alleged DNA test. She thought it was going to be the greatest triumph of Indian arms since the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Within hours, though, her political career had taken a worse pounding than the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend or the Sioux at Wounded Knee... 
Sometimes the Times prints fake news. That was not fake news. I have indeed enjoyed – relished, actually – holding “the DNA issue” over the fake Indian’s war bonnet.
This has been a wingnut talking point since Warren's successful 2012 Senatorial campaign, and they haven't learned a new trick since.

I'm not outraged that Carr is still using this ugh how woo-woo-woo shit throughout his column ("But it’s too late for that – many moons too late"); I'm just confused as to the target audience and intended effect. The median U.S. voter age is 47.5, which suggests very few 2018 voters will have grown up with The Lone Ranger. Some of us may have enjoyed the antics of the Hekawi on F Troop as children but, for reasons that have maybe a little to do with wokeness but certainly have everything to do with elementary good manners, don't think this kind of shit is cool.

What makes it even weirder is Carr's pretense that he finds something gravely offensive about Warren getting and publicizing her DNA test and thus "stealing somebody else’s heritage." Does anyone on God's green earth think people who find Photoshopping a feathered headdress on Warren's head hilarious give a shit what Native Americans think?

The only strategic sense I can see in this is that Carr and his cronies get plenty of support from two sources; first, clueless dopes in the mainstream media desperate to look sensitive -- such as (you knew it had to be) the New York Times, which in October ran several thoughtful and polite comments by Natives about how tribal identity is not the same thing as a genetic trait under the ridiculous headline "Why Many Native Americans Are Angry With Elizabeth Warren."

The other source of support they can count on is rightwing fake-woke trolls on social media who also act like they care about identity and appropriation but only use that affectation to attack liberals. A quick look at their feeds usually reveals this to be the case, but most people aren't going to bother:

I mean:

This elaborate fraud will probably work on the press, but maybe normal people have seen too much of this shit to buy it anymore and will in any case be glad someone like Warren who has actually tried to give them a break against the corporations is running. As to the racism vs. cynicism-in-defense-of-corporate-donors question, I see no reason why it can't be both.

Friday, December 07, 2018


He was good solo, too. RIP.

•  I know it's been quiet here at the old homstead and I do apologize. I've been busy. The Goddamned Job, like just about everyone's Goddamned Job in this low, mean era, ever increases my workload. (This week I was actually sent to a conference. And these people know I'm anti-social! I think they're trying to break me.) Plus which I have had to devote the greater share of my writing time to my paid newsletter, Roy Edroso Breaks It Down. Like Little Boy Blue, I need the money, especially since the Voice shut down. So if you like quantity with your quality, pitch seven bucks a month into my upturned newsboy cap and I'll make it rain -- with the tears of our enemies!

•  If Antifa were involved in direct actions that killed several people, you would see the usual suspects screaming bloody murder about The Violent Left. But at National Review Michael Brendan Dougherty looks at the Paris gas price riots and declares,
Finally, France has a bona fide working-class riot. Rather than the usual, a riot of bourgeois students on behalf of a notional working class.
These people aren't hippies -- it's all good! White riot, I wanna riot, white riot, a riot of my own!
We live in odd times, when many conservatives see working-class people pitching a riot in France and instinctively sympathize with them.
One of those many is evidently Dougherty, who is crafty enough that instead of crying "Helter Skelter, off the pigs," he just suggests the stodgy stand-pat liberals have it coming:
And at the same time, many liberals are tempted to defend the political leader who started the uproar with the imposition of a regressive tax, and who finds his primary support among financial workers in London and the establishment at home.
There's more at work here than riot envy, though. Dougherty refers to the European wave of "populism that combines the grievances out on the peripheries of left and right and advances them against the liberal center." That's great if you're a conservative who doesn't mind playing both ends against the middle -- like the Koch playthings whose idea of free speech advocacy is sending nuts like Milo Yiannopoulos to stir the shit on campus, then acting aggrieved when shit starts to fly. The idea is, after the clash of the KPD and the Nazis -- I mean, the "peripheries of left and right" -- the responsible parties will clean up! This time for sure.

•  I haven't said much about the George Herbert Walker Bush memorials, which have been multiple and ridiculous -- here, for an example let me unlock a newsletter item on the dumb Douthat one -- but I will note that I am gratified by the pushback by folks like Erik Loomis, Joshua Clark Davis, Steven Thrasher, Amanda Marcotte, Corey Robin, et alia. GHWB is painted a "moderate" because he talked about points of light and did the awful things Republicans have been doing since Nixon in a clean-cuffed patrician manner rather than crudely and Trumply. But he sucked. He was a warmonger and a racist who pushed a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw flag-burning, invaded client states and tried to make it look idealistic, and saddled us with Clarence Thomas. And it's nothing but a good thing that at least some people are hearing, perhaps for the first time, the rest of the story.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


I have often asked why conservatives are always blubbering that "the left" controls "the universities," when Bob Jones and Liberty U and Pepperdine and the University of Chicago economics department and The King's College (D'Souza approved!) and many other rightwing institutions of higher learning are sitting right there, willing to indoctrinate their kids the way they want them indoctrinated. My cleverly-disguised suspicion has been that these crybabies are credentials-conscious and want Yale, Harvard, etc. to turn wingnut, so they can at last have children possessing both the fancy branded sheepskins and the faith of their fathers (i.e. tax breaks for the wealthy and persecution of minorities).

At The American Spectator Daniel McCarthy works that whinge: He laments that "Pew has reported that Americans with higher levels of education have an increasingly pronounced tilt toward the Democratic party" -- which he doesn't take to mean that the more educated you get the less conservative you become, but that higher ed is fixed, like wrestling, with wingnuts cast as the heels:
The trouble with this, for Republicans and cultural conservatives both, is that even success at the ballot box will not check the consolidation of left-wing social power. The opinion elite, educators and the media, shape the environment in which business takes place, and in which business people themselves are formed. Cultural conservatives can home school, they can send their children to Hillsdale or Christendom or Grove City College — but where will they work when they graduate? Even pizza companies must follow the unwritten laws laid down by the opinion police.
I'm trying to imagine the manager of a Papa John's telling some kid, "Your resume is very impressive, son, but I'm afraid your Goucher College degree indicates a level of wrongthink that we cannot tolerate here at Papa John's. What if Bernie Sanders were to come in for a Chicken Margherita?"

Not to mention that pizza companies are a weird choice of example when such companies tend to be owned by right-wingers. (Maybe liberals should trawl for victim points by claiming they can't get jobs as deliverymen.)

But that to one side: What the hell is he talking about? I read most of the Weeping Wingnut Victim-Status Claims that come over the transom and can't call to mind one that, even on the tendentious terms of the genre, suggested that college graduates can't get hired because they're conservative, and must take what menial jobs they can find on the black market and live in a van by the river. Maybe they've been yelling about media bias for so long, they conclude that CBS' failure to put Alex Jones in an anchor slot means there's a national prohibition against employing Republicans.

McCarthy is also sad that some corporations give contributions to Democrats, because "even the welfarist and regulatory policies they prefer today are not too alarming to the most powerful segments of the business community." Well, we're working on it, buddy!

Paranoid as the whole thesis is, there's a whopper hidden in this corner of McCarthy's conclusion:
The Tea Party and Trump succeeded at least in channeling the great popular anger at the new insider left, but the deplorable Americans on whom they’ve relied are scheduled for extinction by opioids and economic euthanasia.
Economic euthanasia? But I thought Trump was bringing jobs, jobs, jobs to the Deplorables, and that the recent large job cuts by companies his tax cuts have lavishly rewarded, like General Motors -- and Nationwide, and Under Armour, and Qualcomm, and Xerox, etc. -- are just bumps in the road that will be made smooth by Trump's incoherent yelling. I'd love to know how Democrats, who have been totally out of power for two years, are impoverishing these poor souls. (The opioid overdoses I assume McCarthy attributes to us because we're all into drugs.) Maybe the answer is subtextual: that conservatives and their policies are actually killing their own supporters, leaving champions of the cause to try and deflect the blame onto the liberal boogiemen they set up decades ago. I begin to get the idea that the conservative problem with education actually starts at the cognitive level.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Usually the holiday that coaxes the most comedy from conservatives is Martin Luther King Day, but in this Year of Our Trump 2018, when noble sentiments ring more hollow than usual, rightwing Thanksgiving is pretty funny too. At National Review Kevin D. Williamson -- whose embittered second tenure at the magazine I recently covered in the newsletter (subscribe now, for yourself or your friends, makes a great gift item!) -- bids us give thanks to capitalism and no thanks to stupid SJWs:
There is a part of the Christian tradition that relates charitable giving to the Seventh Commandment, which is the prohibition on theft. The idea is that the world and all that it contains are God’s gift to corporate mankind — “the universal destination of goods,” in theological jargon — so that the man with two coats holds one of them unjustly when his neighbor shivers in the cold with no coat at all. Private property, in this understanding, is instrumental in promoting the common good, but it does not supersede the primordial gift.
There is great grace and goodness and wisdom in that. But it simply assumes the existence of coats and coat factories, the vast and incomprehensibly complex apparatus of coat-production that incorporates materials, effort, and intelligence from people all over the world...
You see where he's going and yes, there is an actual "thought experiment" along teach-a-man-to-fish lines, except with no teaching because capitalism Knows All: instead of giving the freezing man a coat like a fucking hippie, you imagine "you have ten thousand coats" because like all wingnut heroes you are rich (they used to count military personnel as heroes too but the right's not into that these days), so you invest those coats and presto, farms and factories spring up and your neighbor "is no longer too poor to buy his own coat" -- except of course we are actually living out Williamson's Capitalist Dream today and the results are observably very different: people still need free coats, not as potential investments but because despite the general plenty our great economic system somehow still finds ways to immiserate the poor and deny them the very basics of survival.

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, Williamson then transitions to a skein of slurs on "nice intentions or sanctimonious sentiments," "Senator Warren denouncing the supposed excesses of capitalism and the so-called greed of those who do the actual work of feeding and clothing the world," "the desire of people who produce nothing to exercise power over people they hate and envy," etc. Happy fucking Thanksgiving, snarls Kevin D. Williamson, slamming the door in the beggar's face as he gnaws a drumstick, and get a job!

I'll say this for the miserable bastard: He knows his audience.

If you're into more slow-roiling rightwing rage, there's David French, also at NR, who starts with a nice, mostly anodyne Thanksgiving celebration -- shoot, he even speaks without rancor of "Friendsgiving," which you'd think a family-values type like him would denounce -- but then, about halfway down:
At the same time, however, Thanksgiving is gaining in national hearts in part because Christmas is receding. That’s a shame.
As a fundamental idea, celebrating the birth of the Savior of humanity, of the Word made flesh, the “light of all mankind,” is an event rivaled only by the celebration of His triumph over death in Resurrection weekend. Yet the very social transformation that makes Thanksgiving more unifying is rendering Christmas less universal, and sometimes more divisive.
Is French talking about the War of Christmas his buddies at Wingnut Central have been pushing for almost two decades? Or is there some plan to not celebrate Christmas this year, despite all outward appearances, that I don't know about?
After all, how does a specifically religious holiday endure when fewer Americans believe in the specific religion? According to the Pew Research Center, only 56 percent of Americans believe in the God of the Bible. So, for almost half of all Americans, Christmas truly is just another holiday — but it’s a burst of days off that carry with them some rather specific (and often quite expensive) obligations. Even for Christian Americans, while it carries the religious meaning, it’s also laden with secular tasks.
Wait -- French is complaining that Christmas has been secularized? My dude, where have you been for the past century? I've got some shit to tell you about the Coca-Cola Santa that will turn you white!
...Tomorrow we’ll gather as one nation — united in gratitude — but on Friday a season begins that means very different things to different people. 
The transition is a symbol of our country’s challenge. We are one national people increasingly comprising different faiths, or no faith at all. In any nation, a religious transformation is often a wrenching transformation. How we respond to that challenge will define our nation for generations.
He ends with a short , cheerful oh well, enjoy your feast pagans button, but judging from his other columns, French's way of "responding to the challenge" will probably be to call up a Fourth Great Awakening that will put godly Republicans in charge of everything and establish heaven here on Earth -- wait, what's that? You say they are in charge of everything and everything sucks? Well, Fifth time's the charm!

We're going out for dim sum. Enjoy your turkeys, friends, and I hope these two aren't the only ones you get.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Fans of Rod Dreher's "reader" "mail" (background here) will appreciate his latest:
A reader sent me the following e-mail, which I have edited a bit to protect her privacy, and the privacy of others mentioned here:
I wanted to bring this to your attention. My husband had a conversation with a young friend of ours who is a recent college grad. He has been working at [a major retailer] for the last year. I’m not sure what his title is, but we have encountered him at the store. He is a great worker and has earned a number of company awards for his performance. He related to my husband that he had had a conversation with a friend at work about the use or non-use of transgender pronouns. He took the position that he would not feel comfortable doing this.

He was later called into his manager’s office and reprimanded. The manager told him that someone had overheard his conversation (manager wouldn’t say who), and that he had made this person feel “unsafe”. Our friend was written up for this, transferred to another store a long distance away, and suffered other severe sanctions! He was a bit naive to have engaged in this conversation at work, but good grief!
What do you guys think really happened?
  1. Employee actually said "Trannies gross me out, what do you even call them, 'he' 'she' 'he-she' 'it,' I mean yuk, YEAH I'M TALKING ABOUT YOU 'SERENA'" or words to that effect.
  2. Reader ran into Employee who had been absent from the store for a long while and asked Employee what had happened; rather than admit he had been fired for stealing, and knowing from Reader's in-store rants that she was obsessed with trans people, Employee made up story that he knew would excite Reader, then hit her up for ten bucks.
  3. This story is bullshit from top to bottom.
The follow-up is also choice ("Yes, under communism, the slightest infraction was met with overwhelming punitive force... The reader goes on: 'I am currently reading “The Gulag Archipelago”, and there are some very obvious common threads..."), and ends on a very promising note:
I’m going to start a new category of blog posts: “The Woke Workplace”. Send me your accounts of political correctness run amok in your office. If you want me to edit any details out for privacy’s sake, say so
Start sharpening your pens, folks: "Dear Repenthouse, I never thought it would happen to me..."

Friday, November 16, 2018


Been a long week, 
bring on the body stockings,
solarization, and psychedelic cheese!

In a recent edition of my newsletter (he said, plugging it relentlessly; $7/month cheap!) I went through Salena Zito's post-election columns, in one of which the White Working Class Whisperer actually placed part of the blame for the blue wave on Trump. Granted, her reasoning was hilarious (she thinks Trump misapprehended his own voters as racist), but the really interesting thing about it is that Zito has heretofore done nothing but praise the guy -- hell, normally she defends him from his own voters rather than vice-versa, as now. Along with the Federal Society Conscience Caucus I mentioned on Wednesday, this suggests that at least some conservatives who've been gratefully receiving the benefits of Trumpism are now trying to weasel out.

My favorite so far is National Review editor Rich Lowry who, after running the infamous "Against Trump" issue in 2016, became a thorough Trump suckup. Today he's telling his readers that "Trump's not populist enough" -- meaning, I guess, that his populism's not popular: "For every Trump voter that it lights up," says Lowry, "it reminds a suburban woman why she hates his guts." Actually that suggested one-for-one trade-off would be far better for conservatives than the massive repudiation polls show he got from the suburbs; as to other voter groups that aren't voting Trumpublican, like blacks and young people, I assume Lowry finds them so unwinnable he doesn't even bother.

So what will woo the smallholders back to the GOP? "The midterms suggest that President Donald Trump needs to double down on populism," counter-intuits Lowry, "just not the sort that’s been his signature to this point." It must be "less stylistic and more substantive" -- and get a load of Lowry's lead suggestion:
It’s easy to see a rough outline. One focus should be work. Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute has written a new book, The Once and Future Worker, that is a guide to new conservative thinking on how to support a healthy labor market. The Trump team should crib from it freely.
A rightwing think tank tome lauded by Mitt Romney and J.D. Vance! That'll set the suburbs aflame. I can just see Trump holding it up at the lectern, saying, "Lotta good stuff in this book, work and the future, so great, so here's what we'll do, we're gonna send every man, woman and child a copy and let you figure it out, now when's golf?"

Also, says Lowry, Trump should be "talking about E-Verify" instead of Mexican rapists, and "explore alternative means of training and accreditation besides four-year college," which I'm guessing means vocational school. Oh, and "although you wouldn’t know it from the midterm campaign, conservatives do have proposals to deal with pre-existing conditions." Sure they do -- by exempting insurers from covering them!

But let's be kind, Lowry isn't trying to solve Republicans' problems -- except for those of one particular Republican, himself, and he's doing it by leaving some markers that may confuse some people down the road into thinking he did "Against Trump," then went into a coma, and next thing anyone knew he was recoiling in horror from Trump and offering True Conservative remedies. Ya gotta know when to blow 'em, and know when to scold 'em!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


The rats are regarding the shore and starting to talk exit strategy:
The annual convention of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, has long been a glittering and bustling affair. In the Trump era, though, the group has become more powerful than ever, supplying intellectual energy and judicial candidates to an assertive administration eager to reshape the legal landscape. 
But as the group prepares to gather on Thursday for the start of this year’s convention, more than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers have joined together to sound a note of caution. They are urging their fellow conservatives to speak up about what they say are the Trump administration’s betrayals of bedrock legal norms. 
“Conservative lawyers are not doing enough to protect constitutional principles that are being undermined by the statements and actions of this president,” said John B. Bellinger III, a top State Department and White House lawyer under President George W. Bush. 
The group, called Checks and Balances, was organized by George T. Conway III...
Smell a con yet? Conway, husband of Trump lie generator Kellyanne Conway, is best known for making anti-Trump statements, which makes everyone laugh (how embarrassing for the missus!)  too much to notice what a great ass-covering technique it is for when it all goes south -- see, they'll tell us in the aftermath, Kellyanne had to "do her job" for the sake of the country but George was conveying the Washington power couple's real feelings about that awful man!

And how would this enlightened new FedSoc faction -- "not a rump group... not a disavowal” of the Society,  another member is quick to assure New York Times reporter Adam Liptak -- do things differently than the organization that's been larding our judicial system for years with rightwing operatives who are hostile to legal civil rights protections and government regulation of business? Not at all, really: Like the original-flavor FedSoc, they "generally approved of Mr. Trump’s judicial choices," Liptak tells us, and they don't say boo about society doctrine.

No; like so much other political self-promotion these days, it's All About Trump; after several paragraphs about how much the C&B's love "the country’s commitment to the rule of law and the core values underlying it," we learn that they just don't like the way the President "attacks the Justice Department and the news media." Trump has "a fundamentally wrong and very dangerous view of the criminal justice system," one of the C&Bs tells Liptak, "and people from both parties and across the political spectrum should condemn it."

Well, people from one side of the political spectrum have been condemning it since Trump started muscling Sessions. What took these guys so long?

It should be obvious, but these people clearly hope it's not: One of them assures Liptak that "the timing of the announcement of the group’s formation... was not a coincidence," but suggests the animating event was the upcoming Federalist Society convention -- not the midterm elections that show Trump dragging the GOP down and -- perhaps more importantly -- a lot of reporting on the skunky voter suppression tactics Republicans have been using to stay in office, not to mention the prospect under the new Democratic House majority of Congressional investigation that might begin to stop it.

In other words, if you're of a cynical turn of mind, it seems less likely these conservative bench-stuffers suddenly saw the light on the damage one Republican was doing to the American Way, and more likely that they realized if they want to hold any power in the rapidly approaching post-Trump world they're gonna have to throw up a scrim of plausible deniability but pronto.

Are Times readers dumb enough to buy it? Well, they're dumb enough to subscribe!

Friday, November 09, 2018


Let's get real, real gone for a change.

•  It's pretty clear that Florida Man Rick Scott and his cronies are trying to gank the vote and that the GOP has sent operatives to Broward County to create a Schnooks Brothers Riot and shut down the vote-counting. That the protesters are focusing on the Broward County Supervisor of Elections seems like a page out of the President's playbook of calling black people stupid (he did it to three black female reporters this week). Also, Trump pre-emptively accused Andrew Gillum of theft, which to his supporters probably counts as evidence. We all know how this will go down -- the "liberal media" will (as it already has) credulously give Scott the benefit of the doubt; the case will go to law; SCOTUS will do, as it did in 2000, what it was hired to do and give the Republicans everything. Notwithstanding, the Democrats are doing right and should stick with it to the end -- because if nothing else it will show the country what kind crooked shitheels we're dealing with. And if this country's worth a damn anymore (and I realize that's up for debate), it should have a positive impact down the road.

•  Every so often -- not often enough to dilute shareholder value! -- I'm going to briefly unlock one of my newsletter issues so you guys who aren't subscribers can see it. Here's this week's selection, on hiring decisions at the White House. Enjoy! (And subscribe, I hope! But definitely enjoy!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2018


I got to the polls right after they opened and it was still a 40-minute deal -- longer than ever I'd seen in D.C. I hear it's that way all over. But there's no point in speculating -- it's in your hands now.

As a service to my fellow Ward 6 Washingtonians I've unlocked my newsletter issue on Michael Bekesha, a Judicial Watch wingnut who's running as a "progressive" for council. It's a specific warning to a specific voter base, but take it as a general warning on the trust- and voteworthiness of even "woke" Republicans. (Also take it as yet another invitation to subscribe!)

Now get them votes in. As Captain Shotover says, "Courage will not save you, but it will show that your souls are still alive."

Monday, November 05, 2018


D.C. McAllister, one of The Federalist's awful writers, has decided to make a more overt play for the frustrated rightwing geezers in her audience, and comes out in support of "service sex," which is apparently about women having sex when they don't feel like it because that's just how it's supposed to be. Yes, Dennis Prager has done this bit in the past, but for a lady to do it might just titillate some Fox News producer looking for new on-air talent. (She can always dye her hair!)

McAllister takes off on a column by Wednesday Martin at CNN -- here's a representative Martin passage:
Plenty of us have sex once in a while to make our partners happy. But regular service sex is something else -- an arguably destructive habit fostered by specific social conditions, a symptom that something is amiss in not just our sex lives, but in our larger lives, and the culture more generally.
Later, Martin suggests a "sex strike" a la Lysistrata to level things out; whatever you think of that tactic, her notion that there's something fucked up about women having to make sexual sacrifices that aren't expected of men, and that the phenomenon is related to other sexist assumptions, would strike most of us as perfectly reasonable. I suspected that would be the case when McAllister buried the link to Martin's column deep in her own, and she and her editors offered readers several mendacious descriptions of Martin's POV as an alternative to checking it out themselves -- e.g., "Being Kind to Men Is Actually Evil," Martin is "painting men who want to make love to their wives as sexually entitled" and "instituting a matriarchy," "Men Want Sex, So Don’t Give It to Them," etc.

That sort of thing is par for the course for The Federalist, but it's McAllister's paean to Ugh Alright Can We Leave the TV On sex that stands out:
Service sex is when a woman has sex with her husband or long-term partner even though she’s not in the mood. She does it, not because she gets particular pleasure from it, but because she thinks it’s what she should do to be a good wife.
Most people who have been married more than a couple of years can relate to this.
We can? And here I thought we both had to be in the mood! Wait'll I tell the missus. "Honey, guess what."
The husband comes home from work tired, drained from a day of endless meetings, frustrating assignments, or just the monotony of existing among the gray cubicles of “Joe Versus the Volcano.”
Well, I guess I use a lot of obscure pop cultural references myself.
The wife has been working too. She’s tired. All she wants is a bath and a pillow, but her husband gets that twinkle in his eye.
If the twinkle's too subtle, "Suck my dick!" should do it. And you gotta admit, he's entitled:
He needs reconnection and the calming balm of his wife’s physical presence after a lonely day in his work zone.
And his wife needs to get to work on that hard-on, pronto! She can finish waxing the floor later.
Wanting her husband to be happy because she loves him, she complies. The husband is grateful even if he doesn’t say so.
LOL. "We got any leftover Chinese?"
After all, he loves her too, and having sex is his love language, as it is with many men.
"It's my dick in a box!"
Sometimes the wife fantasizes of more exciting moments—she’d like to be ravished once in a while like that girl in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books—but the daily grind of life saps energy for such novelties.
So, ladies can't be too tired for sex, but their husbands can be too tired for role play. Or is it the wife who's too tired for the role play she desires but just can't summon the strength for -- probably because she's gonna be doing all the work. (Is this what they mean by topping from the bottom?).
She’s a little sad about that, but she has sex anyway.
This relationship sounds great. Be sure to stick around for the end, when McAllister finds support for her paradigm in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville. No wonder conservatism's so popular, at least among a certain demographic.

Friday, November 02, 2018


Is that Dr. Rhythm I hear? And heavily gated?

•  I mentioned Thursday's ridiculous Jacob Wohl-Mark Berkman press conference, in which they strung out their sexual assault accusation against Robert Mueller, in the latest issue of my newsletter. (Normally I just nag you to subscribe to the newsletter, but this time I've unlocked the issue so you non-subscribers can take a look!)  Part of my point in the newsletter is that these guys don't merit even the skeptical attention of reporters, because media attention is something they feed on even when they're making idiots of themselves and, as recent events have shown. that can get out of hand. I still think so, though the boys seem to be testing the limits of the old PR dictum that all publicity is good publicity. One thing I didn't mention was one particular statement by Berkman which gives the game away: When reporters pointed out that Wohl and Berkman were notorious rightwing operatives  and this made them unreliable sources, Berkman chastised "the media" for spreading "this terrible sense of anytime conservative are seeking the truth they're somehow evil." Guy, we have to play the percentages here -- rightwing "investigations" so often turn out to be Benghazi-hearing-level oppo ratfucks that there's literally no reason to take them seriously.

•  Republicans have been acting like even bigger assholes than usual this election cycle; Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State trying to become governor by keeping black voters from getting to the polls, is probably a cinch for Biggest Asshole, but spare some spittle for this guy:
U.S. Representative of Nebraska Jeff Fortenberry recently saw one of his ads vandalized. His face was covered with giant googly eyes, and the ‘o’ in his name was replaced with an ‘a.’ So it now says Jeff Fartenberry. The tagline was also edited to read: “Strong Families, Strong Communities, Strong Odor"... 
Per the Lincoln Journal Star, local professor Ari Kohen saw that same image on Facebook, chuckled, and gave it a like, along with 364 others. He was shocked when Fortenberry’s office called him. 
Fortenberry’s chief of staff, Dr. William Archer III, accused Kohen of endorsing political vandalism, based only on his like of the photo on Facebook. Kohen didn’t pick up, so Archer went over his head. He sent an email to Kohen’s department chair...
After ratting out Kohen for liking a Facebook post, Archer finally got on the phone with him and made threats:
“We have a First Amendment opportunity to put you out there in front of everybody,” Archer says. “We can do that publicly. Would you like that? That’s our First Amendment right.” 
Again, because someone (else!) made a rude joke about his boss, Archer went full Beria on a public employee for liking a Facebook post. Per a National Labor Relations Board ruling in 2014, Kohen would probably have standing to sue if this scumbag got him fired -- though Trump has since then installed most of the NLRB members including the chairman so who knows how they'll rule on such cases in the future. We really, really have to drive these people out of public life.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


I mentioned in a recent edition of my newsletter (to which you should subscribe! It's cheap, I put out a new one every weekday, and it's keeping me and the missus out of the county home!)  that the Republican running for D.C. council in my Ward is a guy named Michael Bekesha who, like many of the NeverTrumpers and QuasiNeverTrumpers and OKJustTheTipTrumpers extant in the GOP, wants you to know he's not like those bad Republicans.

Bekesha says he likes to "mentor local residents" and "work with a local animal rescue organization," that he's "socially progressive and fiscally responsible," and claims he was "not a supporter" of Trump -- you know, all that stuff you'd like to hear from a Republican to prove they aren't all monsters. At his website, Bekesha sort of elides his 9-to-5:
During the day, I work as an attorney for a not-for-profit government, watchdog group.
Turns out the "watchdog group" is Judicial Watch, an insane far-rightwing org that has devoted lots and lots of its Scaife-and-Olin cash to Hillary's emails -- in fact, Bekesha's bio at Judicial Watch says, "Most recently, Michael deposed current and former senior level State Department officials about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a non-state.gov email account to conduct official government business."

Judicial Watch is also strongly against letting dark-skinned refugees into the country, and its President Tom Fitton applauds Trump's ridiculous placement of U.S. troops on the border at The Hill today ("President Trump is right to call it an invasion... The political left would like us to believe there is no national security or public safety threat from these caravans..."). In fact, Fitton even goes further than Trump:
President Trump should also consider asking Guatemala to allow us to deploy American troops to provide logistical and other support to Guatemala, so that country can deploy its resources to its own southern border to interdict the caravans from its south. Mexico also should be offered military assistance to interdict the caravans.
The only local reporter who has pressed Bekesha on his Judicial Watch job is Rob Brunner of Washingtonian. Recently he asked Bekesha about a previous Judicial Watch outrage you may have heard about -- when JW board member Chris Farrell told Lou Dobbs that the vaunted Central American caravan of refugees is getting "money from the Soros-occupied State Department." As Brunner reports, "it didn't go so well":
Bekesha responded to my email by attaching a PDF with a statement:
I want to be entirely clear. I condemn all hate speech, bigoted beliefs, and conspiracy theories. The rhetoric we hear on cable news and on social media does nothing but divide us. As I have said throughout my campaign and I will say again, it must stop. 
As our society becomes more and more divisive...
Blah blah blah. Brunner kept telling Bekesha, yeah, but what about the thing I asked you about -- namely, the guy where you work spreading this crazy Soros conspiracy theory on national TV? Bekesha kept dishing him non-answers ("I refer you to the statement... My statement is in response to your questions. Once again, I condemn all hate speech...") and then stopped responding altogether.

I'm not that interested in this one, horrible candidate -- who, by the way, has actually gone on YouTube for Judicial Watch to denounce "sanctuary cities" and defend ICE. I mean, it would be terrible if he won, or even if he did decently, merely because D.C. voters -- who graced Trump with four percent of their votes in 2016 -- had no idea who and what he was and wanted to register a protest against our less-than-optimal governance by voting for a guy who bullshat them that he was a  "progressive."

No, I'm only telling Bekesha's wormy story as a warning: You may be tempted for psychological reasons to believe that somewhere out there is the Good Republican -- someone you can respect and to whom maybe you could even give your (qualified!) support, because they once said something critical of Trump, and they portray themselves as reasonable and open to differing opinions. Maybe if you're a geezer like me, you recall Lowell Weicker and Charles Goodell and Charles Percy and think maybe there's some of that stuff still left in the GOP, and ours is a truly two-party system rather than a system with one slightly corrupt, weak-willed, mildly humane party and one criminal conspiracy that lies its ass off to con rubes into selling off its democratic patrimony and the wealth of a once-great nation for a mess of MAGA.

Wouldn't it be pretty to think so.

Friday, October 26, 2018


How about something contemporary?
C'mon, greybeards, you gotta admit it's atmospheric.

•  I just caught up with the marker that went on Philip Larkin's spot when he was reinterred in Poet's Corner at Westminister in 2016. The quote from Larkin's "An Arundel Tomb" (Our almost-instinct almost true:/What will survive of us is love) seemed like it had to have been pulled entirely out of context, an absurd attempt to draw puppy-dog eyes on the famously caustic poet like Steven Spielberg talking about Stanley Kubrick's "vision of hope and wonder" at the 1999 Academy Awards. But I could not say because I had not read it, so I went and did. It's the one about the statues holding hands. As Jeremy Axlerod exegetes it at The Guardian, it can be seen in a less romantic light, more about oblivion than immortality (...The stone fidelity/They hardly meant has come to be/Their final blazon...), and the "almost" more important than the "love." But it moves me anyway and maybe even more for that. If awareness of the world's cheats and disappointments were enough to deaden the heart to its beauties and wonders, we would have by now built concentrations camps not only for others but for ourselves. (I know, on bad days it looks as if we have.) I don't think Larkin's intimations of the absurd and futile debunk the "sharp tender shock" of the couple's gesture, I think they enrich it. Oblivion has its own majesty, and Larkin's somewhat courtly rhyme scheme shows a desire to built something beautiful of his own in its shadow, and maybe find immortality in that; else why write at all, sculpt at all, love at all? And now in another cathedral the closing couplet of his tribute lies, catching the dust.

•  P.J. O'Rourke has a magazine online. Here's something by him about "Why kids are commies":
What’s the matter with kids today? 
Nothing new. The brats, the squirts, the fuzz-faced mooncalves, the sap-green sweet young things, and the wet-behind-the-ears in general have always been “Punks for Progressives.” 
As soon as kids discover that the world isn’t nice, they want to make it nicer. And wouldn’t a world where everybody shares everything be nice? Aw… Kids are so tender-hearted. 
Kids are broke – so they want to make the world nicer with your money...
Marxism puts inarticulate notions of a sharing-caring nicer world into vivid propaganda slogans. 
Slogans such as: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." 
Which may be the most ridiculous political-economic idea that anybody has ever had.
My need is for beluga caviar, a case of Château Haut-Brion 1961, a duplex on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, a bespoke suit from Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row...
At the top of the essay are recent poll citations and references to Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but other than that it could have been written in 1984. Some things persist because they have stood the test of time, and others because they still make a profit, but I think the repetition of the "you-hippies-like-nature-well-my-dick-is-all-natural" routine is a retro thing like Happy Days. What's next, the return of Andrew Dice Clay? The Bell Curve Special Anniversary Edition? A revival of Family Ties starring Ben Shapiro? (He's the right height, anyway.) I was hoping the 80s revival would have more cocaine and Hüsker Dü. Cheats and disappointments indeed! Yet I will not harden my heart so long as hope survives that Baboon Dooley will ride again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Now that we're inside the two-week marker on the midterms, Trump has decided to stop piddling around and go for the Big Lie:

This isn't even a close call. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) that Obama pushed through Congress is why we have pre-existing conditions protections in the first place, and Trump has been attacking it for years. The Trump administration is currently arguing in federal court that the part of the ACA requiring pre-existing conditions to be covered is unconstitutional. A recent Trump adminsitration rule makes it easier for states to get waivers that would allow their ACA coverage to exclude such protections; another makes it easier for citizens to meet their ACA requirements with short-term limited-duration (STLD) plans that also exclude those protections. Hell, start putting "trump" and "pre existing conditions" into Google and you get "trump pre existing conditions unconstitutional." That's like the old "you look up 'ugly' in the dictionary, they got a picture of him" joke.

Pre-existing condition protections are something everyone understands and that even Trumpkins are not stupid enough to oppose just because the Black President supported them. Thus Republicans have heretofore found it necessary to throw up clouds of ink to try and distract from the glaring fact that removing those protections is one of their goals. National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru, for example, is among many conservative pundits dedicated to spinning anti-Obamacare legislation like Trump's and Paul Ryan's AHCA as not-that-bad-really for pre-existing conditions; here you see Ponnuru blaming perfectly accurate perceptions of the GOP approach as "confusion," and here you see him putting lipstick on the inadequate MacArthur-Meadows amendment to the AHCA:
People with preexisting conditions, then, would have a triple safety net even in a state that took maximum use of the waivers: Tax credits, regulatory protection contingent on continuous coverage, and high-risk pools would all benefit them.
Ask your friends with cancer or chronic illnesses how they feel about that "triple safety net." (BTW get a load of the url: www.nationalreview.com/corner/republican-healthcare-preexisting-conditions-waivers-misunderstood-moderates/)

Today, Ponnuru is enraged on behalf of Republican Rep Barbara Comstock because her Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton is making it look like she opposes pre-existing conditions protections. Not so, says Ponnuru, because Comstock was among the few Republicans who voted against the very bill Ponnuru was trying to tell everyone was good on pre-existing conditions! Translation: Of course she's good on pre-existing conditions -- she didn't even buy my bullshit!

So in a way it makes sense that Trump would go straight-up Goebbels on this. Painting the corners a la Ponnuru isn't going to fool anyone, so it's time to brass it out.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


As I've said before (and it's not just me and the leprechaun who tells me to burn things saying so, either, but also credentialed bigbrains at major publications) that the Kavanaugh nomination has basically blown the whole NeverTrump and KindaTrump and JustTheTipInTrump phenomenon, making it obvious that Trumpism is conservatism and vice-versa. And it's had the knock-on effect of making rightwing authors who were previously pitched as prim-and-proper True Conservatives into something more suitable to Trump Time -- that is, trolls.

Take David French, one-time NeverTrump Presidential contender, who has gone on since the dawn of Trump about how real conservatives like him were fighting for the True Cause despite, not enabled by, the vandal Trump; last year he was blubbering over "O’Reilly, Ailes, and the Toxic Conservative-Celebrity Culture," in which he lamented that conservatives' reflexive defense of Fox News "knifework" had "reached its apex in the person and personality of Donald Trump." 

But now French is juiced that Trump has with Kavanaugh brought America one step closer to Gilead, and hardly ever bothers to wring his hands anymore. Just recently he defended Trump calling for his opponents to be jailed. But as the example of his cabinet shows, you're not totally in the tank for Trump until you've humiliated yourself as French does here:
A Conservative’s Guide to the 2018–19 NBA Season
It’s the only sports guide in America that owns the libs.
That's right, French is doing a John Miller "50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs" thing, only for basketball. The thing is mostly dull analysis on the level of sportstalk radio call-ins, but punctuated with breakers like "The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Division. Cheerfully inept"; The Beto O’Rourke Division. Expensive busts"; "The Nikki Haley Division. The future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades"; and "The William F. Buckley Jr. Division. Intellectual juggernauts." 

That last one's about the Celtics because "this team was built from the ground up by basketball geniuses to contend for a decade." I would say this is not so much a reach as a reach-around, except I think that gets the positioning reversed. French has done dumb sports things before -- see "Yes, God Cares about Football" -- but this is the first time one can actually feel him straining and cracking his knees to get himself down to the level of the hoi polloi. Marco Rubio talking about Trump's dick was awkward, but this is just depressing.

Speaking of Buckley, with the re-enrollment of hypertroll Kevin D. Williamson, National Review is looking less and less like a classy-conservative operation and more like any other dumb wingnut site. Lately most of the donation pleas I've gotten from them seem to star the latest rightwing blonde-with-big-glasses, Kat Timpf. Here's the top of one such pitch:

Fox News couldn't have done it better. That leaves only a few NROniks still working an inta-mallectual grift anymore --  Jonah Goldberg has gotten too lazy to even laugh at, so I guess we're talking Ramesh Ponnuru and substitute Dreher Michael Brendan Dougherty. When they can be inveigled to don the clown suit, National Review will have completed its transformation into a Gateway Pundit for people who like a little heritage with their bullshit.