Wednesday, June 23, 2021

HELTER SKELTER, JANUARY 6 STYLE.

Hey, just last week I was talking about the Tea Party Town Brawls of the Obama era, in which wingnuts sent operatives to the ACA Town Halls to throw bitch fits for freedom, and their similarity to what purveyors of the new “critical race theory” hysteria are trying.  Now the bitch fits are back, as “concerned parents” in Loudon County took over a school board meeting to claim their white children were being indoctrinated with Negro jazz:

After an unruly public comment session was halted by the School Board Tuesday night, chaos and a brawl ensued between members of the public, and Loudoun deputies were called to clear the room leading to two arrests.

Over 300 people packed the board room, many of them objecting to proposed Policy 8040, which protects the rights of transgender students. The board was scheduled discuss the policy, which is required by state law, later in the meeting in anticipation of a vote on Aug. 10.

Oh, yeah, they hate trans kids, too, but that’s not as trendy as CRT, so the room was flooded with anti-critical-race-theory signs and sentiments, and the propagandists spreading the word have focused on that ("The Loudoun County School Board ended debate over the school's critical race theory indoctrination. Parents responded by belting out the National Anthem" -- Dinesh D'Souza).

Since the Republicans are having a hard time getting the rabble roused over Joe Biden, this factota flip-out is pretty obviously meant to stir conservatives in Virginia and elsewhere to rise up and rampage. It’s like Manson hoping the Sharon Tate caper would start up Helter Skelter nationwide. There’s even a race war angle in both cases! 

The similarities to the old Tea Party are obvious, but since the January 6 attempted coup – and the refusal of leading conservatives to investigate or even convincingly renounce it – it’s becoming clearer that just marching around in tricorns and knee-breeches isn’t enough for conservatives now; they want their cosplay to extend to actual violence. I’m sure that’s why some of the shouters struggled with the cops when the school board tried to clear them out – they wanted to send a signal to the brethren: Helter Skelter, she’s coming down fast! 

You see it in the more advanced (read: psycho) perorations of conservatives in journals like The American Mind, where Angelo Codevilla – who has been raving about “revolution” against “the ruling class” (which, in his imagining, is not the ultra-rich who own everything but college professors and black people) since the Tea Party days – stirs up some dark shit

Today’s ruling class leads and even forces Americans to act, speak, and think as if all that they had thought good were bad, and vice versa. Almost as if a vengeful power had conquered the country. At least half the country yearns for some kind of rescue…

Doubtless, rescuing disrespected constitutions has always required and will always require undoing any number of enemies…

In short, America has changed so much from what it had been just a half century ago that any restoration implies some sort of mutual alienation, separation, or secession, whether as a substitute for civil war or as a result of it…

Codevilla paints his liberal enemies as monsters (“The oligarchy lets rapists and robbers walk, and punishes only demonstrations against its regime… America’s Woke side regards worship of the God of the Bible as the source of the White man’s rapacity, racism, and oppression”)  and “resistance” to them as an existential necessity. All that's missing is a cry to take the Hill – but maybe January 6 also taught them to do more prep work before sounding the final trump. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: These people are mad and must be stopped

Thursday, June 17, 2021

IT'S ASTROTURRIFIC!

Here's a HufPost story from the Obamacare Town Halls of 2009:

Congressman Steve Kagen, (D-Wisc.) found himself interrupted during a town hall meeting on health care on Thursday evening which, considering the boisterous protests going on at these events all week, wasn’t much of a surprise.

But towards the end of the Wisconsin Democrat’s health care forum something a bit peculiar happened. A woman who initially identified herself as “just a mom from a few blocks away” who was “not affiliated with a political party” was outed by a reporter as a GOP operative who worked for Kagen’s election opponent John Gard as well as the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee.

Those Town Halls, it turned out, were thick with living astroturf from rightwing PACs and pressure groups who disguised their obstreperous operatives as Just Plain Joes and Janes so people would think their "No Affordable Health Care for Me!" message was genuine Vox Populi. 

Flash forward to the current "critical race theory" controversy, and surprise, conservatives are trying the same thing with the same kind of ringers, a number of whom have been ID'd in this excellent Matt Gertz and Tyler Monroe story at Media Matters:   

Fox has hosted Ian Prior at least 15 times to discuss various “critical race theory” stories, according to Media Matters’ database of weekday cable news guests. Fox hosts and anchors have given him various introductions including “Loudoun County parent”; a “father” who “has gone from concerned parent, like many of you, to legal activist”; and “a Loudoun County, Virginia, parent and founder of FightForSchools.com"...

What Fox personalities tend not to mention is Prior’s long career as a Republican political operative. He worked in top communications roles during the 2016 election cycle for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Karl Rove-fronted super PAC American Crossroads, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that works to elect Republican senators which was founded by allies of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He then spent a year and a half as a top public affairs aide to Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions...

I especially enjoyed Carrie Lukas being identified as “a Virginia mom of five," a “VA mother,” etc. when I've been following her career as a rightwing nut for years

You may recall that some of us gave columnist Salena Zito a hard time back when she used to identify Republican operatives as simple salt-of-the-earth types with no political affiliation. Since then she seems to have stopped, which goes to show that even in the rough-and-tumble world of journalism there are limits. But in politics anything goes. I can't wait until John Barron steps to the mic

Friday, June 11, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


I'm so past & out of it I didn't even know this was briefly popular, sort of.
Well, I
still like it!

•   I only unleashed one Roy Edroso Breaks It Down joint (the one mentioned last post) out of five this week on the GP.  Come on and sign up for the full subscription -- it's cheap! And I'll still be filling in the blanks over here. For instance, I just did an issue digging through what was at the time the latest offense to reason by ham-faced pundit Erick Erickson, and no sooner did it publish than he posted something at least as dumb. It is facially inspired by Hunter Biden saying "nigga" (aka the soft n-word) to his lawyer.

Erickson claims that a country musician and a high school student (Wallen and Groves, I guess their names are) got in trouble for using that word (which version of the word, alas, is not made clear), but “the major media outlets across the country that condemned Mr. Wallen and Ms. Groves are silent” about Biden fils

First of all, I never heard of the musician or the student before Erickson mentioned them. (I should add that Erickson claims “the New York Times wrote approvingly of Mr. Galligan ruin[in]g Groves’ scholarship,” which is a reductive-to-the-point-of-bullshit characterization of the Times’ actual coverage.)  

Second, at this moment if you look up “hunter biden n-word” on Google News you get, no lie, 91,300 hits. The majority of them seem to be from rightwing news sites yelling WHY WON’T LIB MEDIA HUNTER N-WORD BLARGH, true, but that just goes to show that rightwing media is "major media," and indeed the only source of “news” tens of millions of Americans choose to read or watch, notwithstanding that it’s mostly outrageously shoddy propaganda wearing a filmy g-string of journalism. I'm sure vastly more people have heard about Hunter Biden’s n-word than know, for example, that Trump’s AG seized Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff’s  and Eric Swalwell’s records from Apple for reasons anyone who spent more than a few seconds downwind of the Trump Administration can guess. 

Also, this bears repeating: Who the fuck cares about Hunter Biden? These guys always talk as if he’s a Democratic Senator or something liberals have to defend. (Conversely, Trump’s nitwit, charity-defrauding sons constantly vaunt themselves into the political spotlight by helping their dad lie about the 2020 election.)

But then Erickson gets philosophical about the N-word itself:
The N-word has become the one word, the use of which, can destroy a person’s career. But it is routinely used in popular music that is listened to and enjoyed across racial lines. The word has become weaponized beyond the power any word should have if it can be used to selectively target and destroy.
“How come they can say n***** and we can’t” is a junior-high trope that we must expect, alas, even at the highest levels of conservatism. But it gets worse:
If the double standard cancelations continue, people will begin to use the word more, supposing the double standard is faux outrage at a word so common in parts of popular culture. Put another way, if the press will ignore Hunter Biden for the same sins of Wallen and Groves, many will presume the use of the word is not really a cultural sin and they will be bolder in use of it.
OK, gotta admit: “Liberals are making us say n*****” is a new one. 

•   Late add here but: There's a lot of good in this year's Pulitzers (besides, of course, my not getting one) but the decision to give no editorial cartooning award despite having three genuinely world-class nominees -- Ruben Bolling (Ken Fisher), Sammy Two Bulls, and Lalo Alcaraz -- stinks to high heaven. The Pulitzer committee has been dickish on drama in years past, usually because some old fart couldn't stand the newfangled young turks like Robert Wilson or Edward Albee, and Tom Tomorrow suggests on his Twitter account this year's fiasco could be even worse than that. Anyway, boo to whoever fucked this up. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

"THERE'S ROSS PEROT. DR. LAURA. MEGAN McARDLE. WAIT A MINUTE -- THEY'RE NOT SO GREAT."

Here’s a link to a free installment of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (Subscribe! Cheap!) about how conservatives rushed to the defense of hypergazillionaires like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett when their taxes were subjected to scrutiny in that ProPublica exposé. Their main argument seems to be that someone leaking the tycoons’ impossibly low tax rates is the Real Scandal, and that you paupers should worry that some evil journalism non-profit will publish your tax rate and forget all about soaking the increasingly soakworthy rich.  

When I wrote it I hadn’t seen Megan McArdle’s entry at the Washington Post. I haven’t been paying much attention to her since she explained why stimulus payments were pointless a few months back, and I should have known better because if anyone can be counted on to fly to the defense of the super-rich it’s her. 

McArdle starts by noticing that both Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are engaged in a literal space race of the sort only national governments could afford to engage in once upon a time, and she understands, really, why you littlebrains would “suspect they’re not paying enough taxes and reporters are eager to prove it,” sigh. But she’ll have you know that the “deductions they were taking seem to be largely legitimate ones you’ve heard of — think charitable donations, not hidden offshore accounts.” You’re not against charity, are you? 

Also, you’re not against fairness, are you? Because taxing the rich more would be unfair, because it’s more. You have to admit Bezos keeping all but <1% of the 99 billion in wealth he accumulated over four years is only fair -- how’d you like to have to pay more than that? Huh? What’s that? You do, in fact, pay a great deal more? Well, how about this: 

Ordinary Americans don’t pay income tax every time our stock portfolios go up or our homes appreciate a bit. We pay the tax when we sell. Why should American billionaires be different?

What do you mean you don’t have a stock portfolio? What do you mean you don’t have a house? Why then is Megan McArdle even talking to you? Actually she’s not – she’s just facing you while her true audience applauds from the Royal Box. But she can’t relax: Anyone can explain why soaking the rich is unfair – to prove her worth McArdle must also tug at the heartstrings with grim pictures of life under a more progressive tax structure:

…while the ultrawealthy wouldn’t be forced out of their family homes, they might be forced to sell off stock of a business they spent decades building. 

Gasp! One pictures Elon Musk, in his ratty fingerless gloves, peeling off shares to hand over to his Socialist Masters while consoling a tearful Grimes, “if things get very bad be can always pawn the blood emeralds.” 

The toffs no doubt are loving it, but McArdle still hasn’t got to her big finish: A show of contempt for the portfolio-less bums who don’t understand the ultrarich must be able to do big things like scout extraterrestrial locations for their post-climate-collapse HQ, and if you hoboes can’t see that maybe you just don’t have enough soul: 

“People should pay taxes on untaxed capital gains” is what you come up with if you just don’t think anyone should have enough money to be able to shoot themselves into space, and you think that the government should tax that money even if it doesn’t benefit anyone else — heck, even if it costs the rest of us something.

By some definitions of fairness, that’s a defensible position. But given a choice between letting billionaires spend fortunes reaching for the stars, or destroying those fortunes so that the rest of us don’t have to look at them, then personally, I’ll take the rockets.

Maybe she means that last bit literally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the rich refugees from our destroyed planet left her at the launchpad – by then they’ll have created robots that can flatter them just as well at an even lower maintenance cost. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, June 03, 2021

THE SIMS 2021: FAUCI AND THE LAB LEAK EDITION.

So -- your hero totally fucked up a pandemic, telling people to take unauthorized treatments and maybe try "disinfectant," and massively lost reelection, and his successor is dishing out the vaccine at a good clip and scoring higher approval ratings than Tubby could ever dream of. 

What do you do? Relitigate on your own terms, pasting a story together from shards of news and your own bitter resentments. 

The COVID "lab leak" theory's a good bet -- it dovetails with the China Menace theme of contemporary conservatism, and there's a great new Vanity Fair article suggesting that authorities were not as thorough in exploring the possibility that COVID-19 spring from a Chinese lab rather than bats as they should have been (in part, reporter Katerhine Eban suggests, because Trump's "crackpots or political hacks hoping to wield COVID-19 as a cudgel against China" made the truth harder to pursue).

The Biden Administration is investigating, but if you're rightwing you know that's just part of the liberal cover-up. So, as Bannon bade, you flood the zone with shit. Jim Geraghty at National Review is on the case, declaring the Vanity Fair story is "evidence that the seemingly hyperbolic conspiracy theories" -- that is, the kind Eban mentioned as an impediment to the search for truth in her article --  "are true." They investigate, we instigate!

Thence follows a round of "You Liberals are the Real [Fill In The Blank]" -- in this case, your vaunted Democratic "follow-the-science" approach is all a lie, and our unconfirmed suspicions prove it! William McGurn at the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Biden has made many such statements (“we are letting science speak again”), but they have little to do with science. They are meant as continued digs at Mr. Trump. All are offered with a confidence, apparently fully justified, that a largely pliant press will run with them, no hard questions asked, unless you count asking the president about the flavor of his ice cream.

Ha ha, you reporters are all propagandists -- whom we're now quoting to prove the Chinese shot us with bug-bombs. (The Liberal Media gets a magic pass from customary conservative contempt the second it intersects with their talking points.)

R ightwing shitposters pick up the message -- the story means the Lab Leak (which I remind you is being investigated, not settled) is proven, and any explanation other than that is a fraud, just like climate change.  Thus your average Republican gets the message: China attacked Trump and America with the Wuhan Flu Bioweapon and the lying MSM (which, as is always the case, has actually provided such evidence as exists) refused to tell us until it was too late.

Also, what about that Fauci, who refused to kiss Tubby's ass and now works for Biden? Thousands of pages of Fauci's COVID-era emails have been published, and contain "at least one alert from a genomic researcher" suggesting “'some of the features look (potentially) engineered,'" says the New York Post, which the Murdoch paper says is "all the more reason for US to get to bottom of COVID origins":

For a year, we’ve been told to “trust the science” — but Fauci, our leading scientist, made declarations that certain theories were “debunked” when they weren’t. Why did he back up Daszak’s self-serving dismissal of the lab theory with no real evidence — when, in fact, he was getting e-mail evidence to the contrary? 

These revelations don’t ease the growing concern that US taxpayer cash might have helped unleash this plague.

Growing unease? Who gives a shit? Like most sane people, I'm much more uneasy about the slow rate of COVID vaccinations in red states (though the tendency of Republican governments to keep their subjects poor and unable to travel may mitigate their effect on the rest of us somewhat). But in wingnut world, a nod's as good as a wink, and the few mentions of possible virus weaponization among the emails to Fauci are now being portrayed as his active cover-up of the Wuhan Flu Bioweapon, inspiring some Q-flavored lunacy in a rash of #FauciLiedPeopleDied Twitter posts, including some calling for the good doctor to be executed

And so the alt-reality in which conservatives live is further developed: The election was stolen by Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters – with the help of the Red Chinese and Anthony Fauci -- so Biden could queer Mr. Potato Head and cancelculture all white people. Not my idea of paradise -- more like my idea of a madhouse, to be honest -- but apparently a third of the nation finds it cozy, and therein dwell dreaming of revenge, perhaps with another march up Capitol Hill. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

HAPPY PRIDE WITH ROD DREHER!

alicublog's favorite Jesus freak Rod Dreher has been in Hungary as a disguised or possibly unwitting Orbán operative for six weeks, and it has mainly just made him more like himself than ever. Here's a recent lulu, in which Dreher looks at this anodyne Kohl's Department Stores Pride Month ad...


...and sees this:

Now you have the biggest department store chain in America doing its part to normalize polygamy as the next step in Love Wins™.

Now, being a simple soul, I looked at the photo and thought, oh what a lot of nice gay-or-possibly-ally models! I didn't realize all the adults were not only fucking but married

One wonders why Dreher didn't assume the little kid was part of the tetrad because Kohl's is into pedophilia. Or would QAnon pedo stuff be a little too déclassé for Dreher -- at least for the moment?  

There's more, including some wonderfully Dreheresque Pennsylvania Dutch sampler copy, e.g.:

We got gay marriage because the Supreme Court ruled that it’s a fundamental right of people to marry those they love. Fundamental rights don’t depend on whether or not it’s good for a society if people have them.

The First Amendment doesn't mean you can say "fuck my ass dry!" in a crowded theater.  And Dreher's investigation of a gay-friendly Blue's Clues episode is -- well, look:

Happy Pride, guys, and remember: If you think Pride's tired and not worth celebrating, remember that it's still capable of raising a fine froth among the Bigot-American community. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


I had this soundtrack as a teenager and loved it -- not just because of the movie 
but also because the eclecticism was very cool to me 
(even though I didn't know what "eclecticism" was.)

•   I am titrating the free access to Roy Edroso Breaks It Down in hopes some of you free-riders will take the hint and subscribe. Today's freebie is an account of my trip back to the homeland last weekend and the deep thoughts it stirred. Go on, live it up. If you want more of my prose stylings, I've started doing short bits on the front of my homepage -- updated at random, not even saved, in a spirit of wanton generosity and as an offering (as Kia liked to say) of cheese and crackers on the altar of the gods. 

•  I can either drink or I can weep, as Art Carney says in that great Twilight Zone episode. No fewer than 24 Republican-run states have blocked the extra federal unemployment payments the Biden administration had extended to their constituents.  And they'll probably suffer no ill electoral effects from it either, because while polls show voters of all kinds approve of stimulus payments, they also show that a lot of voters simply don't know that the Democrats support such payments and that Republicans don't -- per a Rural Objective PAC survey:

Americans have so far received three direct payments from the federal government in response to the coronavirus. The first two were distributed under President Donald Trump’s watch, but while not a single Republican voted in favor of the third round, only half of rural voters in a new poll gave Democrats any credit.

Oh, and remember those power outages in Texas that had residents freezing in the dark because the semi-privatized (that is, private profit/public risk) power companies didn't bother to plow their receipts into winterization? Texas is going to fix it by letting the power cos raise rates:

Most Texans will likely have higher charges on their power bills for years to come to cover gas utilities', electric cooperatives' and electric companies’ financial losses from the storm and prevent customers from having to pay huge bills in a short time.

Lawmakers are close to passing bills that would allow companies to seek billions of dollars in state-approved bonds backed by charges on customers’ bills to stabilize the state’s distressed energy market.  

See, this was a big reason why I always voted for Bernie Sanders -- at least when people listened to him, they weren't confused about whether he wanted to soak the rich or not. 

I keep thinking eventually the honkies in at least a few of these GOP states will figure out that the cheap thrills they get from the GOP's racism-and-culture-war sideshows aren't worth their every-increasing immiseration, but the 2020 Georgia results suggest the only reliable clapback is to get more black people to the polls, which is why the Republican-run states are also trying to stop that

And now the Republicans are also blocking the January 6 commission with the filibuster, that sacred institution Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are too dainty to touch. I tell ya, if Democrats don't start acting like Democrats, even I'm gonna forget what they're supposed to be in favor of. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

STREET HASSLE.

I see that conservatives are having one of their periodic "crime wave" waves, claiming that, in the words of James W. Antle III at the Washington Examiner, "Surging crime rate spells trouble for Democrats in 2022 elections" (with neolibs like Ezra Klein saying pretty much the same thing) and, in the words of the Manhattan Institute's Jason L. Riley, "Shrinking Blue States Have ‘Defund the Police’ to Blame." (Blue states haven't really lost much population, but Riley thinks "lackluster population growth" is just as bad.)

Crime rates are up, but that can hardly be laid to "defunding," since recent big-city PD cuts have been small and sometimes, as with Minneapolis, resulted in zero force reductions. And many other things besides crime are out of whack now, considering we're coming out of a historic pandemic with its various dislocations. Also the increases are -- you will be unsurprised to learn -- not as dire as the professional panic merchants put them -- from my most recent Roy Edroso Breaks It Down newsletter issue*:

From the most recent CompStat crime statistics report, for the week of May 10-16, from the New York Police Department: Murders in New York City are up in 2021 from this time last year by 22%; rapes are up 2%; and felonious assaults are up 5.9%.

Chaos! Death Wish! Etc. But the actual number of murders year-to-date 2021 vs. 2020 are 155 and 127 — meaning there have been 28 more than this time last year. Rapes went from 491 to 501 — 20 more. And there are 7,182 assault in 2021 vs. 6,782 in 2020, or 400 more.

The population of New York is about 8.4 million. Meaning, even if we leave out the tourists and other outlanders, the percentage of the city’s population that has been murdered so far this year is 0.00184%. The raped population is 0.006% and the feloniously assaulted population is 0.08%.

We won’t even speak of the decline in robberies (-9.9%), burglaries (16.1%), and grand larcenies (-9.3%) in the same period...

Nonetheless you'll see the usual suspects at City Journal and elsewhere talking about it like the return of Death Wish. It's been such a long time since those rates actually rose that I'm not sure if the old Ooga-Booga is going to work like it used to -- especially since there are more voters in the system now who have other things to worry about, and conservatives are basically talking about crime the same way they used to scare your grandma with it back in the old days. But it'll be interesting to see.

* I'm not making this issue available to non-subscribers because I'm trying to cut back on the freebies and get more paying customers in the door, hint hint. But here's yesterday's, about the future of Texas education laws -- still fresh, possibly evergreen! 

Friday, May 21, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


This was especially good live. Original's great too!

Not much to say this week that I didn't say at the newsletter, so go on over there and enjoy the two freebies. The first is a follow-up on my previous essay on the super-weird conservative ploy where they act like wearing a mask in public is somehow much, much worse than not wearing one. In the original essay I found their shtick was that just seeing people who wore masks somehow discouraged people from getting vaccinated (har har); by the new one, they had switched to the message that liberals wore masks because they were stupid freaks and if you didn't want to be a freak and stupid you should stop wearing them like a big freaky stupid-head.

You can imagine how they reacted whenever someone just said out loud what this kind of politicized thinking had led to. When David Hogg tweeted, jokingly I assume, "I feel the need to continue wearing my mask outside even though I’m fully vaccinated because the inconvenience of having to wear a mask is more than worth it to have people not think I’m a conservative [yikes emoji]," they rage-gasmed -- after all, Hogg was one of the Parkland kids who objected to the shooting gallery gun nuts had made of their school, and they are sworn to vengeance against him. "Any time the obnoxious Mr. Hogg is inconvenienced is a good time," snarled the Independent Women's Forum's Nan Hayworth; "Even better if he wore three masks to REALLY distance himself from conservatives." Then they'd know who to shoot! "HOGG OFFERS MOST HOGGY REASON FOR COVERING HIS FACE" hyuk-hyuked Steven Crowder; "Havard’s [sic] Pride David Hogg has some super sciency reasoning for KEEPING his mask on and LOL," gibbered Twitchy. It's the terminal stage of "You're The Real [Fill In the Blank]" thinking: Whatever you do is by definition wrong. That's why I always tell these guys not to drink gasoline whenever I see a couple.

Also free for you lovely people: The natural progression of Texas abortion laws.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

ROD DREHER'S ORBÁN RENEWAL, A MONTH IN.

As I have mentioned, Rod Dreher is in Budapest, ostensibly as a visiting fellow at the rightwing Danube Institute but, it would seem from his own accounts, to be turned and lathed by Viktor Orbán's agents for the international fascist movement. Among his many self-embarrassments that I have recorded has been his defense of the Red Chinese vs. the terminally "woke" West ("There’s an argument to be made that a country would be better off with ChiCom College than with the University of Baizuo [the Chinese term of derision for 'white leftists']"). Kinda makes sense -- the American conservative movement and the GOP have been turning hard against democracy; Rod's handlers are just getting him out in front. 

Well, after a month in Viktor's Orbit, Dreher has made great progress, emitting such fash aphorisms as "You cannot have a society in which people feel free to live however they like, and expect that society to thrive," and, as ever, raging against black and gay and trans people. He even turned over an entire blog post -- defending the new Chinese college Orbán brought in to replace the liberal arts college he drove out of the country -- to a more exprienced Orbánist operative to write, in prose even more clunkily propagandistic than his own, which must have really been tough for the logorrheic Dreher to sit for. Still, if he's going to play for the team, he's gotta learn when to warm the bench. 

One of the more bizarre tropes of Dreher's residency has been his obsession with a statue -- a replica of the Statue of Liberty back home in the corrupt West, painted in rainbow colors with "Black Lives Matter" on her plaque. He's mentioned it no fewer than five times - starting with this:

I spoke to a Hungarian man about that recently, and he said, “This is why I stand by Orbán, even though I don’t like some things he’s doing. We can see that our Left is trying to bring the same things here. Did you know that there was a Black Lives Matter statue here in Budapest? The far right tore it down, but it was there for a day, and had Lady Liberty in a rainbow flag. What is that doing in Budapest? We don’t have any black people here, but the Left is trying to import American issues.”

Of course. It’s a globalist left-wing ideology: gender fluidity, racial consciousness, soft totalitarianism. And it’s all being pushed by elites in the media and in institutions...

Then again ("Another Hungarian today brought up in conversation the recent construction of a Black Lives Matter/LGBT Statue of Liberty") and again ("the fact, though, that the left-wing Budapest city government erected a Black Lives Matter/LGBT Statue of Liberty as a protest against the Orbán government is not a good sign") and again ("Did you know that there was a Black Lives Matter statue here in Budapest?") and again ("as I wrote last week, the anti-Orbán Left recently erected a mock-up of the Statue of Liberty").   

You have to wonder why the thing eats at him so much. Maybe it's like Giuliani when he was Mayor and the "Sensations" show at the Brooklyn Museum drove him to sputtering rage back in 1999 -- only, unlike Giuliani, Dreher has no complaisant press (well, besides his high-profile buddies like David Brooks and so far they haven't gone for this one) to amplify his crusade stateside, so he signals madly like a castaway at a distant ship. Or maybe the Orbán agents who keep coming up to him and saying shit like "pardon me, stranger, I'm just a poor shopkeeper who wants everybody to live in peace but the decadent West must be purified by cleansing fire" see some percentage in working him up to mentioning it every week.

BTW, here's an article with some background on that statue from German media outlet Deutsche Welle (h/t @David_Jorgonson at Twitter). Highlights:

As a non-partisan mayor [of Budapest district Ferencváros] supported by the opposition, [Krisztina] Baranyi says she's used to being condemned by the pro-government media. But now she is being insulted on all channels and threatened with rape and acid attacks, she told DW. "All we wanted was to give young Hungarian artists a chance to show their art in public," the district mayor said.

Yeah, that tracks. Also:

Commentators on Hungarian television contributed to fueling the controversy. One of them compared the artwork to erecting a statue for Adolf Hitler. Origo, the largest government-related online news site, described the sculpture as the beginning of "incitement and hatred against whites and Christians" in Hungary. Zsolt Bayer, a notorious right-wing media figure and co-founder of Orban's Fidesz party, even threatened to destroy it.

There was also criticism of the sculpture from the government itself. Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Gergely Gulyas, called the Black Lives Matter movement "fundamentally racist" because it does not see white people as equals. "So it's not the ones who oppose a statue to BLM that are racist but the ones erecting it," Gulyas declared in December. [emphasis added

You're The Real Racists, aka Routine 9! I don't know why the boys in the bund bothered with Dreher -- it looks like he and they were already reading from the same playbook.  

Friday, May 14, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 07, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


James Chance plays James Brown.

•   There are a few unlocked Roy Edroso Breaks It Down stories on the site, but I warn you, I'll be scaling way back on these in the future in order to keep the flow of Soup For My Family going. So subscribe, ya cheap bastards! Meantime here's the newest: An announcement we may expect at any moment from the latest vacant rightwing celebrity candidate, Caitlyn Jenner. I note most of the rightwing news coverage of her absurd candidacy has been heavy on embarrassed silence -- even Rod Dreher, who's been pitching a full-body fit about trans people for years, has yet to weigh in. I see tradcath National Review writer Michael Brendan Dougherty has a paywalled thing up dek'd thus: "Caitlyn Jenner’s campaign has an undeniable, if corrupting, allure that leaves viewers — ahem, voters — wondering what will happen next." You know who else had undeniable if corrupting allure! I won't sully my conscience with a subscription, but if someone sent me the text I'd indulge my morbid curiosity. 

UPDATE -- Ugh I got to see Dougherty's first graf:
When Caitlyn Jenner said to Sean Hannity, “I love California,” I totally bought it. Despite my reservations and curled lip. The words were breathy, nostalgic, and weird, especially in that nerdy voice coming from behind that dishy hairdo. But I believed it in a way I’ve never believed anything that Sean Hannity has said. And if the Wheaties-box-Olympian-turned-reality-TV-star is going to upend California politics — a prospect about which I have my doubts and dreads — it is because, unlike the normal Republican pols, there is a real emotion behind the artificial appearance.
Or to paraphrase the old joke about Moses:  You know it's bullshit, I know it's bullshit, but business is business! NR cuts it off there, but I was actually able to hear the rest via audio version. It's too stupid to call for a thorough, diligent transcription, but here's the "best" line: "With Jenner, the organs may have been misplaced, but the glands are still pumping hormones in there somewhere." Otherwise it's the usual snarls against liberal Cali -- there's "human excrement in the street," plus, Dougherty complains, the houses cost too much! -- and ends with a half-hearted nag about gender activism, but in general he approves because lol, owned much libs. Wait'll he and the rest of them find out Jerry Brown isn't immortal and can't be called back to rebalance the books after Jenner fucks it all up. 

•   One of the most infuriating things I've seen from the alleged "Party of the Working Class" GOP is the draconian measures employed by some of its governors (more on the way, I'm sure) to force their unemployed to fill the shit-paying jobs that have gone begging pronto or get kicked into the street. Apparently the many assholes blubbering that you just can't get a good dishwasher for pocket change anymore have jerked the Republicans' chains and they in turn are putting the whip to their less-fortunate citizens.  

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster and Montana governor Greg Gianforte are actually going to deny their people the extra federal unemployment benefits they've been getting, and Florida's Ron DeSantis -- or as I like to call him, Chunky Scott Walker -- says he's re-instituting work-search documentation requirements for Floridians on the dole, so if they can't prove they hit all the fast-food joints in town looking for a sub-living-wage, they're cut off. 

I'm sure these assholes are also against the $15 federal minimum wage. And all of them sing the same refrain from the wingnut donor-class hymnal: "Employers can't find workers."  The right of their citizens to a decent job doesn't exist, but the right of their donors to an involuntary cheap labor force does.  

Naturally scumbags like Paul Mirengoff at Power Line ("ANOTHER SENSIBLE DECISION FROM RON DESANTIS") are all in favor. I can hardly think of more to say about it, except that if Dante's underworld actually existed they'd need several more circles to handle all the traffic. 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

BACK ON THE D-LIST, TUBBY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, April 29, 2021

BETTER RED THAN WOKE!

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

Yesterday:

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

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

MASK OF THE RED DERP.

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

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

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

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

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

Or was it the Zoom meeting?...

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 25, 2021

OSCAR PREDIX! GUESS ALONG WITH ROY.

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

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

Okay, predictions! Here I stand: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best International Film: Another Round.

Best Visual Effects: Tenet.

Best Animated Feature: Soul.

Best Documentary Feature: Collective.

Best Documentary Short: Hunger Ward.

Best Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You.

Best Live Action Short: The Letter Room.

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

Friday, April 23, 2021

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Longtime favorite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CHAUVINISM.

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

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

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

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

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

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