Wednesday, March 29, 2023


I released a little something at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down today based on the proposed force-feeding of Glenn Youngkin’s commencement address to the students of George Mason University. There are many political issues on which I at least see grounds for disagreement, but the idea advanced by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression aka FIRE – one of those rightwing Bizarro-World versions of actual civil liberties organizations, like the ACLJ – that the 6,000-plus students who have petitioned to withdraw the school’s invitation are thereby censoring and cancelculturing the fleece-clad rightwing douchenozzle makes absolutely zero sense:

FIRE encourages @GeorgeMasonU students to resist censorship and instead enter both their commencement ceremony and life after graduation with a willingness to engage ideas with which they may disagree.

It's not a debate, it's a goddamn graduation party. My guess is that the freeze-peach guys are coming down hard because GMU's a pretty conservative school and the fact that even those students are sick of their bullshit is probably very embarrassing for them.

I have been saying for a long time that libertarians are conservatives with social anxieties, but just as the past few years have further depraved conservatism, it has also reduced libertarianism to the point where its few decent erstwhile exemplars like Jane Coaston and Radley Balko have basically walked away from it while its remaining adherents spend their days bitching about AI that won’t say racial slurs and fluffing the Kochs

Friday, March 24, 2023


I love Roy Hamilton's original and most of the covers,
but today let's have it funky.

Only one Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebie this week, folks – times is tough and I need a few more of you to subscribe. (Five days a week for $7/month – you’d be crazy not to subscribe!) As it happens it’s Monday’s action-show episode of The Proud Boys coming to New York to rescue Tubby from Alvin Bragg, and I’d say it hasn’t aged a bit, since here it is Friday and not only the overtly psycho conservatives but also the nominally normal ones have spent the week screaming their loyalty to the former President. 

Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board has felt it necessary to step in and explain to Kevin McCarthy that investigating Bragg for investigating Trump is making them look bad to the normies. Of course they cloak this concern with passive-aggressive bullshit – “Meantime, Democrats couldn’t be happier that House Republicans are helping them in their Trump obsession,” ha ha Murc’s Law strikes again! – but it still reveals the nervousness that the movement’s front men have to be feeling as the Mad King and his vassals pour over the GOP gunwales and threaten to scuttle their preferred candidate, the Florida Fash.

Speaking of the Journal and passive-aggressiveness, Peggy Noonan really breaks the bottle today, warming up first with a ladylike defense of her former meal ticket, recently accused by an eyewitness of tanking the Iran hostages’ chances of rescue to boost his electoral chances in 1980. Her primary argument is, basically, that Reagan was going to win anyway, and genteel witness impeachment (“As for Ben Barnes’s memories, I don’t think he was being untruthful. I think the old man was remembering what he came, in time, to interpret…”). But this bit is particularly rich:

But: Would Ronald Reagan OK a scheme to lengthen the imprisonment of American hostages in Iran to bolster his personal political prospects? He almost killed his own presidency a few years later in an attempt to free an American agent imprisoned by Islamic jihadists in the same place. Reagan’s preoccupation with the suffering of the CIA’s William Buckley resulted in a jerky, far-fetched scheme that would become known as the Iran-Contra affair.

Sure, that’s why he was making payoffs to death squads – he was such a softy he couldn’t stand the thought of a CIA agent squealing, I mean getting hurt. 

The second half of Noonan’s column is devoted to attacking Bragg’s prosecution on the grounds that it actually seems to be happening, as opposed to the many more justifiable prosecutions that are not happening. Get a load:

“But that’s how we got Al Capone—we couldn’t charge him for being a murderous gangster so we got his books and indicted him for tax evasion.” Yes, but Al Capone wasn’t president. We didn’t owe even a small civic courtesy to his supporters. 

Whereas we have to kiss the asses of the insurrectionist crackpots who would flip out if Trump were apprehended in the middle of shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. Good-taste conservatives like Noonan love that the country’s being radically remade by red-state revanchists and the Federalist Society into a rightwing totalitarian state, but when it looks like even ordinary processes of government will discomfit them they always plead for stasis.

Friday, March 17, 2023


Fun, city.

Got a couple of Roy Edroso Break It Down freebies for you. One takes off from the “woke” gibberish that’s sweeping conservative intellectual circles. Since Bethany Mandel’s embarrassment on live TV, you can’t swing a cat on Twitter without hitting a rightwing blowhard workshopping his own tendentious definition of the word. Between this and the campaign to portray wokeness as the cause of the Silicon Valley Bank failure (which is rich in several ways, not the least being that rightwing vampire Peter Thiel had $50 million in the allegedly woke SVB), it’s clear that conservatives have abandoned policy and politics for hermeneutics and its close cousin, bullshit. 

The other freebie is a fun little sketch based on Oklahoma’s apparent puzzlement that big companies don’t want to move there. “There is no reason for us to continuously lose out to another state in this country on major business developments,” the president pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate writes; “…I am determined find the common denominator as to why we aren’t being chosen and figure out how we can become more attractive to businesses looking to expand or relocate.” 

Guy, I don’t mean to be rude, but educated people simply don’t want to live in places that are rapidly adopting the abortion-banning, gay-erasing, anti-education policies of the modern Republican Party. I mean, it’s getting so doctors don’t want to move there – soon enough they’re going to have to go back to letting barbers do operations. 

When red states brag about how so many people are moving from places like California and New York to Bumfuck, they always let you know those people are moving for economic reasons – yet they never seem to grasp what that means: That the emigrants could no longer afford their first choice and had to settle for less. It’s like saying, “Haw, more people are eatin’ margarine instead o’butter – must be because margarine is so much more delicious!”  

There's plenty of beauty and flavor out in the country, but it seems like the people who run those places are less interested in promoting that than in cursing the infernal cities and making their own jurisdictions meaner and dumber out of pure spite. (And because it makes their subjects easier to control, of course.) It's like they're having a race to the bottom and are mad that not everyone wants to compete. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023


 [Oscar announcer voice] Before we get to the Oscar predictions, let us dispense with the last nominee. [/Oav] For my other Best Picture nominee reviews, see the previous post.

Entertainment Weekly did one of those annoying Anonymous Hollywood Insiders Talk Oscar things where the kibitzers are obviously miserable alte kakers who can’t understand why black people are so pushy and the world has passed them by. (The “marketer” who said he liked The Banshees of Inisherin for “the sense of community… Don't we all just want to move there right now?” is my favorite). But one of the oldsters did get me to laugh by calling Top Gun: Maverick a “big beer commercial” and that stayed with me as I was watching it. I kept imagining Spuds McKenzie in Cruise’s role, transmitting not only his aerial combat instructions but also his love talk with Jennifer Connolly via a voiceover by Don LaFontaine

And why not? Maverick was made to be taken unseriously. Look, I’m sorry, I recognize it’s a quality product, and I loved the zoom-zoom and pew-pew, and if the fun macho posturing ain’t Only Angels Have Wings, for our low, mean age it will do. But its emotional content, like the relationship between Maverick and Goose’s son, Pinball or Dipshit or whatever it is (oh, OK, Rooster, guess you caught on pretty quick – what a disagreeable old man I have become), is just cheap – though, like the beer this all seems to be a commercial for, effective to its purpose (which is to make you care about what happens to these guys more than you would, say, the puppets on Fireball XL5) if you get down enough of it. I give director Joseph Kosinski much credit for catching me up on the Top Gun backstory without cluttering up the movie. And if I were invested in that backstory, I guess Maverick’s and Jennifer Connolly’s sub-Hallmark dialogue and Maverick’s and Val Kilmer’s cheesy version of Jack Nicholson’s and William Challee’s scene in Five Easy Pieces (it would be parody material if Kilmer weren’t actually sick, dammit) might be moving. For me, they were carefully planted chokepoints to keep Maverick from becoming Starship Troopers without the self-awareness. OTOH the climactic air battle is a honey and the editing is boss, but Hans Zimmer’s score – ominous and ethereal at the same time -- is the secret weapon.

OK, now my predictions:

Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once. Unlike in previous years, I’m not taking any sucker bets in major categories this year – if I’m to be wrong, let me be wrong with the mob! It’s good, it’s funny and weepy, it’s the magic of the movies. If not: Maverick: Top Gun.

Best Actor: Brendan Fraser, The Whale. I’m not gonna pay twenty bucks to see Fraser’s actual performance at current streaming rates (ditto for Nighy, alas) but the odds are too great and the competition, while brilliant, too thin: I loved Aftersun but Paul Mescal’s is surely the most low-key performance ever nominated, and Austin Butler is too young (and, unlike young’uns like Daniel Day-Lewis at the time of My Left Foot, not convincingly showing more than an uncanny ability to impersonate). That leaves Colin Farrell, whose work I fear is too subtle to distract voters from lobbing a love bomb at the maltreated Fraser. If not: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at OnceLike I said, no sucker bets. Blanchett broke down my resistance to her austere craft with Tár the way Meryl Streep did for me with The Post, but the Yeoh love-fest seems unbeatable. If not: Cate Blanchett, Tár.

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Nope, not fucking with this Tinseltown tidal wave of sentiment for Short Round’s comeback. If not: Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin.

Best Supporting Actress: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin. Like everyone I love Angela Bassett but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a funny-book movie and hers is a funny-book performance, full of brio but unidimensional. And as Heath Ledger showed, you can win an Oscar for that if it’s unexpected – not if it’s General Zod. (Also, way too much screen time.) If not: Bassett.

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once. If not: Todd Field, Tár.

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin. It sure sounds like writing (Irishness helps!). Plus it’s got jokes. The Tár script is downright novelistic in its detail and ambiguities, so it could go Field's way, but look, I'm trying to win here! If not: Todd Field.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley, Women Talking. Making it a chamber drama and making it watchable is a helluva thing. If not: All Quiet on the Western Front. 

Best Editing: Eddie Hamilton, Top Gun: Maverick. Not just for the zoom-zoom, pew-pew, either; the high-intensity conversations really pop, too. If not: Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Best Cinematography: James Friend, All Quiet on the Western Front.  If not: Florian Hoffmeister, Tár.

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, Babylon. If not: John Williams, The Fabelmans. 

Best Production Design: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: Elvis.

Best International Feature Film: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: EO. 

Best Costume Design: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. If not: Babylon.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Elvis. If not: The Whale.

Best Animated Feature: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio. If not: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Best Animated Short: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. I actually saw all five of these! And while I loved the wordless, two-color children’s book feel of Ice Merchants and the innovations of My Year of Dicks, I’m afraid the Apple Films Christopher Robin ripoff will get it. If not: My Year of Dicks. 

Best Live-Action Short: The Red Suitcase. If not: An Irish Goodbye. 

Best Documentary Feature: Navalny. If not: Fire of Love.

Best Documentary Short: The Elephant Whisperers. If not: Haulout. 

Best Sound: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: Top Gun: Maverick.

Best Visual Effects: Avatar: The Way of Water. If not: Top Gun: Maverick.

See ya at the show! (PS I reserve the right to make changes until one hour to air time.)

UPDATE: Oh yeah that thing from RRR will win Best Song! OK, see ya at the show!

FINAL UPDATE: 16 out of 23 -- 70%, a passing score. I'll take it! 

Friday, March 10, 2023


I'm a late 20th-Century guy and this is my jam

Omigod it's almost the Oscars! And, as I have been doing for years now, I'm going to try and guess the winners, and as prep have seen nine of the ten Best Picture nominees (I will dutifully see the Tom Cruise thing this weekend and report on it here, though I regard the prospect much as Pee-Wee regarded the snakes in that pet shop fire.)  As a favor to you, my public, I have brought my reviews of those films out from behind the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down paywall so you can read them:  The Fabelmans, Tár, The Banshees of Inisherin, Women Talking, All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All at Once

As to non-cultural REBID offerings released free of charge for this week, I have just the one, about a National Review author trying to hold aloft that publication’s Conservatives-with-Good-Taste banner while the actual conservatism outside NR’s castle walls grows increasingly vicious and feral. It’s good, of course, but there’s plenty where that came from if you have taste and $7/month (cheap!). 

The week brought more madness in the form of Tucker Carlson’s Selected Shorts from the Jan. 6 Tour-Group Visit to Our Nation’s Capitol. The grift is clear from the lunatic responses to this Dinesh D’Souza tweet: Wingnuts show brief video clips of quiet moments among the mob, then say that proves the hours of mob violence that day – notwithstanding that these are also documented on video – no longer mean anything because “MSM” “lied.”  

If it were an argument it’d be self-refuting -- as it is, it’s just more evidence that conservatism has descended even further: As it has abandoned policy for dumb culture-war stunts, it has also abandoned common sense for magical thinking -- literally looking reality in the face and calling it fantasy, and vice-versa. Which is why our politics now depends on standing up for reason as well as for specific political positions. Fortunately in my case these mostly coincide! 

I did get some encouragement, though, from a new USA Today/IPSOS poll that shows most Americans don’t see what’s so bad about being “woke.” Not sure what other differently-worded or -implemented polls would yield – as we’ve seen from ridiculously loaded polls, like the New York Times one that claimed “some Americans do not speak freely in everyday situations because of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism” as a sign of rampant cancelculture rather than of ordinary good manners, these things can be rigged or willfully misinterpreted. But it’s nice to know that however many bots and creeps pollute social media with claims that everything from M&Ms to the military is killing us with wokeness, some of us still have our heads on straight.

Another bonus: the poll enraged ham-faced pundit Erick Erickson, and sent him sputtering to his fanbase with this doozy:
What I find more telling about the country’s true view on the term woke comes from standup comedians who make a living saying out loud what their audience is thinking. From Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle to Bill Burr to Neal Brennan, almost every progressive comedian is ridiculing woke ideology on progressive platforms like Netflix and Hulu.
Yeah, who cares about a poll of normies when you can get vox populi straight from these rich comedians telling the boomers who paid $200+ a seat to listen to them that something the kids like is bad? 

Friday, March 03, 2023


Hey, it's happy hour and this is just nice.

Another hard week for America, folks, but at least some of us get the weekend off! Not me, though – I’ll be busy on the weekend getting a head start on next week’s Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issuesSpeaking of which, let me unload the freebies for the week just passed – first, the Dilbert Diaries, the next logical step in Scott Adams’ career; I am convinced he’s convinced that the full fascist takeover is imminent, and he wants to be New Hitler's Court Jester. 

He may not be wrong! Ron DeSantis has been tearing it up, declaring himself Lord of Disneyland, and planning his destruction of the press and continuing his persecution of trans, gay, and educated people (the Democratic base!) in his mosquito-gator-and-mortgage-fraud kingdom. I half believe that he and Trump are working together, and the governor’s lunacy is meant to make the ex-president look less dangerous so when they nominate him some of the independent voters (the dumb ones who ruin everything) might say, well, he’s not so bad.  

Conservatives don’t see the downside, though, and except for a few apostates they’re all in for the full fash. I actually think they’re excited by it – I mean, Trump was a blast for them, but he only shat on Latinos and foreigners – this guy is a literal queer-basher!  (Fun project: Try to find any DeSantis assurance that he’s not attacking LGBTQ people with these programs. He simply doesn’t do it. What does that tell you?) 

I was directed to Hot Air, which had been an unremarkable wingnut site for so long that I hadn’t even looked at it for years. They got a guy there now called David Strom who has a post about gay and trans stuff called “The Hershey Highway to Hell.” OOOH HOW EDGY. Also he calls the trans woman Faye Johnstone “he,” always a sign of moral clarity/dorkism. (Imagine him among normal people; I put the time between his first deliberate misgendering and his ejection while shouting I’M BEING CANCELCULTURED at about two minutes.) At one point Strom gets after the trans lady’s non-profit:  

“Supporting youth-serving organizations across Canada.” Literally, the only phrase that makes sense in the entire business description is about getting access to children. On that point, alone, is the description comprehensible. Access to kids.

Ever notice how it’s always about the kids? These trans folks don’t like HAVING kids, but they apparently like being with them quite a lot. Preferably with as few clothes on as they can get away with.

There is nothing in fact or reason supporting this slur, but yelling groomer is what they do now instead of lectures on limited government. Oh, and elsewhere at the site addressing the DeSantis Don’t Say Gay bill is an old alicublog figure of fun:

This really, really bothers some people.

Most of the bill concerns the rights of parents, which really, really bothers some people, too.

Hint hint. There are all kinds of ways to call your enemies groomers, and Jim Lileks, being an old-fashioned type, really, really prefers the really, really eyebrow-waggle. 

Hey, but let’s lighten up – here’s another REBID bit, this one about movies you saw when you were younger that take on whole new resonances when you see them later in life. I did Night Moves, but you can do your own in the comments. It’s a community, see; you really ought to subscribe (cheap!).

Sunday, February 26, 2023



•  Sure, why can't "Friday 'Round-the-Horn" happen on a Sunday? We had one on a Saturday once, remember? Wasn't that crazy? We're pretty quirky and unpredictable here. Sky's the limit! 

•  Anywho: The major freebie from Roy Edroso Breaks It Down from last week is this one about a Zoom meeting between the GOP leadership and their policy chief. I notice that in recent weeks the alignment of the Republicans with Russia is getting tighter. Maybe you saw Matt Gaetz's House resolution calling for the U.S. to stop helping Ukraine repel its invaders. (It's actually called the "Ukraine Fatigue Resolution," as if their House propagandists didn't bother to change the name from the talking point that inspired it.) And you may have seen that preeminent conservative intellectual CatTurd2 advanced the theory that he Ukraine war is actually some sort of false flag operation ("Biden fake air raid sirens and one famous actor or politician a day happily prancing around Kiev with Zelenskyy with no helmets"), to the approbation of his millions of fans. 

And last week the Head Defenestrator in Charge himself, in announcing his withdrawal from the START Treaty, gave what amounts to a 2023-style U.S. Republican campaign speech:

Look what [Western nations] are doing to their own people. It is all about the destruction of the family, of cultural and national identity, perversion and abuse of children, including pedophilia, all of which are declared normal in their life. They are forcing the priests to bless same-sex marriages...

But here is what I would like to tell them: look at the holy scripture and the main books of other world religions. They say it all, including that family is the union of a man and a woman, but these sacred texts are now being questioned. Reportedly, the Anglican Church is planning, just planning, to explore the idea of a gender-neutral god. What is there to say? Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Ron DeSantis couldn't have done it better! And the rubes are eating it up: the account in the hard-right Trumpist Christian Post, for example, tells the story from the Putinist POV ("Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stark warning over what he called religious attacks from Western culture Tuesday...") I keep making jokes about Putin following Orban to CPAC, but at this point I'm expecting him to speak at their next National Convention. 

•  Whew, that's depressing. So here, here's a straight-up fun thing from REBID, about books you don't read so much as graze. Got any like that? Tell it to the comments box! (And subscribe -- it's cheap!)

•  Finally I want to thank the universe for the gift of laughter, courtesy of Scott Adams telling the world what he thinks about those pesky black people and getting his "Dilbert" thrown out of a bunch of newspapers. Guess he decided 2023 was a good time to go full racist -- the Bund will remember and reward him comes Der Tag

Adding cream to the jest are all the cancelculture crybabies like Thomas Chatterton Williams and Cathy Young rushing to tell us that oh, no, Adams getting chucked for his beliefs isn't cancelculture because race hatred is something we all condemn -- you know, like trans health care. I predict Bari Weiss' next scam will be a guide to which firings and dismissals qualify as cancelculture and which don't -- and no one will realize it's just the Republican national platform. 

Friday, February 17, 2023


While I produce five days a week of high-quality content at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (go over and have a look, subscribe if you like, it’s mighty good eating for the pennies it costs), productivity at the old alicublog plant has been down a while. I regret it, but between REBID and my other editorial work there’s not much room left for bodily functions, let alone the kind of funsies for which this site became known back in 1953, when “blogs” rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line and, due to their tendency to roll rather than locomote, wound up in the dustbin of history, a short distance down the road to oblivion and turn left. 

But sometimes a red flag can get this old bull to charge. Erick Erickson, a longtime figure of fun in the alicublog rep company, has an even more ridiculous than usual item up today. The headline is:

We Cannot Reject Sabotage On Rail Lines Just Yet

Let us tiptoe past Erickson’s long preliminary yammerings about how Joe Biden is trying to blame everything on Donald Trump (though given Trump’s rollback of rail freight safety features he’s certainly blameworthy) and Biden LIED about the CHINESE BALLOONS (“The Administration that lied repeatedly about the Chinese spy balloon wants us to trust them on it not being sabotage, just Trump”), and cut to the 19th graf:

The reality is these incidents are probably not sabotage. Buttigieg, for all his whining, has a point. There are many train derailments every year. We’re more sensitive to them now because of media exposure.

This is the next best thing to “it was all a dream.” 

So why was Erickson going on about sabotage? 

But the point is that this Administration regularly tries to blame Donald Trump for everything, has lied repeatedly in the past few weeks about the Chinese spy balloon, has done such a bad job dealing with these issues too many Americans now know the Transportation Secretary’s name, and we simply cannot believe them.

And if “we” (Erickson and his tapeworm, who I gotta say has his work cut out for him) can’t trust Joe Biden, maybe we’ll trust Erick Erickson’s self-refuting innuendos. Oh, and if you took the side-bet on “Hunter Biden’s laptop” being in the story? Collect your winnings. 

But the real prize this week is Peggy Noonan, who has been on fire (regrettably not literally) with her rambling silver-alert takes. This week’s starts with snipage at Nikki Haley, who recently launched her Vice-Presidential (whoops, I mean air-quotes Presidential) campaign:

On Wednesday Nikki Haley announced her presidential campaign in Charleston, S.C. I found myself thinking not about her candidacy but about the launch itself, which was creepily stuck in the past. A horrible, blaring song from a Sylvester Stallone sequel pumped her in as she strode out in the white suit and there were adoring fans on the rafters behind her, with whom she briefly interacted before turning toward the audience and doing the point—standing there and pointing to individual members of the cheering audience as if she knew them and was being natural. An introducer said she will “lead us into the future”; she added, “America is falling behind.” It was all so tired, clichéd, and phony. It was national politics as it has been done circa 1990-2023.

1990? How about the 80s, Peggy, when as Ronald Reagan’s handler you filled his mouth with uplifting bullshit and helped engineer spectacles like Nancy waving at Ronnie on the telescreen at the 1984 Republican Convention? That's when propaganda was propaganda, you young punks! 

Speaking of bullshit, this seems to be about the only thing Noonan likes about Haley: 

In her speech she said some nice things: “Take it from me, the first female minority governor in history: America is not a racist country.” Everyone who scrambles over our border knows that; it is good when elites say it.

…until said scramblers-over-the-border get driven back over by Greg Abbott’s vigilantes or dragged up north to use as pawns in a cruel culture-war stunt. Honestly, I can’t imagine even her Republican readers don’t immediately think this. 

Then there’s a long grumble about those horrible ads on the teevee during the Super Bowl – they made America look like “a nation of morons” (don’t bother waiting for the penny to drop, guys), whereas back in the day they had Mean Joe Greene being all nice and cuddly for Coke and that was the real America, real Ronnie-and-Nancy koochie-koo kitsch, not this nutty, noisy stuff:

I’m here to say I’ve met America and that’s not what they want. What they want is “Help me live, help my kids live, help me feel something true.” 

Sorry, lady, but would you like a new car, soft drink, or diabetes management app? These are the damn ads. I’m convinced Noonan was just turned off by all the rock and rap (“the music shifted, screamed, and the mood became discordance”). It's a miracle the Journal kept her from fulminating on Rihanna. Look, Grandma, they aren’t pitching this shit to me, either, but I know better than to Blame Society.

Oh, but her closing… man; she gets on Will Smith and starts pitching to write his Oscar 2023 speech:

Here is how to turn that moment into something helpful. It doesn’t involve “image rehab.” It involves constructive honesty. Will Smith should walk in and say this:

“It is painful in life when you embarrass yourself. It is horrifying when you do it in front of tens of millions of people. Last year I did something bad to a guy who was just doing his job, and I am here to acknowledge it from the same stage—to admit that in attempting to humiliate him, I humiliated myself. I showed a number of things, including sheer bad judgment…

Two more grafs of this! I give it five barf bags! I doubt Noonan is even expecting the call (though I love imagining her on the phone, pinching her nose, and droning “This is Miss Noonan’s answering service”); I expect the play is to wait for Smith to deliver what promises to be a perfectly anodyne and expected (though less white!) apology-like spew, and then sigh contentedly: “Ahhh, he took my advice!”

Thursday, February 16, 2023


Though baby is in perpetual need of new shoes and I should go easy on the freebies lest paid subscribers feel themselves short-changed, Roy Edroso Breaks It Down must today report that this week’s open letter to the New York Times accusing the paper of an unseemly hard-on for trans people has been answered by the O.G. anti-cancel-culture Harper’s Letter of 2020 crew*. (* is joke, comrades.)

The Times itself has responded to the trans advocates’ letter (“the very news stories criticized in their letter reported deeply and empathetically on issues of care and well-being for trans teens and adults”), but anyone who’s been following the issue will agree that the more important response will be from the Bari Weiss platoon, who will invariably defend the more powerful party as the living embodiment of the First Amendment, against which all criticism must be considered an assault against same. 

The Times clearly doesn’t give a shit and has followed up with a column from Bret Stephens’ ex portraying J.K. Rowling as a victim of vicious trannies. There’s all kinds of hilarity in this; first, since it’s not appearing in the usual overtly conservative outlets, Pamela Paul sugars it with several pro-trans statements Rowling has made over the years (e.g. “Trans people need and deserve protection”). No doubt most American conservatives who support anti-trans legislation and rush to read this will experience a moment of revulsion before deciding, based on their long experience with Republican politicians talking about any minority rights, that she only had to say something like that to get over. 

(BTW it’s interesting to note how much Republicans have pulled back on that strategy; has DeSantis himself, for example, ever couched his assaults on gay and trans people by saying any version of “I have nothing against them personally”? Because I’ve never seen it.)

But the best stuff is the meretricious comparisons – people who criticize Rowling’s trans statements, for example, are the same as Christian fundamentalists who criticized Harry Potter wizardry as Satanic, because “critics have advocated that bookstores pull [Rowling’s] books from the shelves, and some bookstores have done so.” (Paul links to a citation saying one Australian bookstore has done so. I would love to see a tally of books pulled by the anti-trans forces versus those of the pro-.) And get a load of this:

This campaign against Rowling is as dangerous as it is absurd. The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie last summer is a forceful reminder of what can happen when writers are demonized.

A careless reader, and it’s hard to imagine Paul having any other kind (including on the Times copy desk), may come away thinking Rushdie was assaulted by transsexuals rather than by a religious maniac. 

In short, the powerful are persecuted, the powerless are a mob, and the Times is on it (the side of the former, that is). 

(Headline source here.)

Friday, February 10, 2023


RIP Burt Bacharach. I love this one, which for all its
tricky syncopations is fresh and free and swinging.

The State of the Union is seldom intrinsically interesting; I do recall the first of Bill Clinton’s ass-breaking-long SOTUs showing his tendency to bury the opposition under an avalanche of proposals, but I have no memory of which if any of those proposals ever saw life. 

The same is true of the Biden 2023 edition, but it had a couple of amusing outcomes: First, it got the Republicans to scream (literally, in the case of the less well-bred Republicans in attendance) that Biden was lying when he said they wanted to fuck up Social Security and Medicare.  This was the easiest out in the world for Biden because every American, liberal and conservative alike, knows Republicans want to rip open both programs and spill their contents into the pockets of their major donors, and post-SOTU polls suggest they haven’t changed their minds.

Nonetheless conservatives sputtered like the parents in a 90s video that it was a dastardly ruse – “BS,” huffed Byron York at the Washington Examiner – notwithstanding the voluminous documentary evidence of Senators like Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Ron Johnson admitting as much, which the White House cleverly provided in an official “fact sheet.” Mitch McConnell effectively telling Scott to shut the fuck up was a sweet bit of lagniappe. 

But the weirder development, for me, is Peggy Noonan calling Biden’s speech “Trumpian” – which I wrote about in an essay at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down that I’m releasing to non-subscribers today. As it turns out, the Crazy Jesus Lady isn’t the only one trying that one. “Biden’s State of the Union address last night was conspicuously heavy on what could only be described as Trumpian economic themes,” said National Review’s Nate Hochman; Ross Douthat at the Times claims the speech’s “key themes and most enthusiastic riffs could have been lifted — albeit with more Bidenisms and fewer insults — from Trump’s populist campaign.”

These guys are all bought into the idea that Trump is a “populist” despite his never having achieved the support of a majority of voters. To them the term seems to mean “acting like a vicious dumbass and pretending to give a shit about the proles.” Trump was always great at the first part, but I doubt anyone outside the deranged yokels one used to see at his rallies ever believed the second part, and if they did the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with its massive giveaways to the rich, convinced them otherwise. 

Conservatives seem to think that the damage they’ve done to American institutions over the past several years is all to their own benefit – that by ruining faith in education, for example, they’ve brought to life the Florida Golem with his Don’t Say Gay (or Black) Laws that they expect to sweep the nation. They don’t seem to realize that while chaos may inspire the feral types of the Republican base to tear down what’s left of the rubble, most of us -- old folks who remember and young folks who dream – want government to, at the very least, do what it used to and insulate us from the caprices of the rich and the insane. The main difference between Biden and Trump is the former can call up that vision and be believed. 

Friday, February 03, 2023


Just catching on to this guy,
maybe he's for old people, I dunno, it's good.

This is usually where I drop a freebie from this week’s Roy Edroso Breaks It Down. But I already gave you one of those earlier in the week. Times is tough, son. The paltry $7 subscription rate gets you five issues a week and keeps baby in cakes and ale. 

Oh, alright, here’s another one: Some accomplishments from the first week of the New Model Congress. Surprise, it’s fanciful – even, you might say, satire. (Come back! It’s not Saturday night yet!) But in one sense, anyway, I’m not sure even Swift or Juvenal could keep with this crew – get a load:

Now, I really do mean “in a sense” because satire doesn’t depend so much on “keeping up with” (much less “staying ahead of”) this kind of inanity as it does on getting at the soul of it – which I hope (he says, bowing deeply in his motley and jingling bells) I manage to do at REBID

But as a political rather than an aesthetic matter, it’s a live issue because, as wretched as earlier iterations of Congress have been, and as injurious as they have been to the public’s faith in the democratic process, the current bunch are so openly nihilistic that, at least for younger citizens, the institution may not recover from the damage. I mean, I thought it was pretty goofy when Nancy Pelosi and the gang kneeled in kente cloth, but at least once they got some help from the Senate they managed to pass some pandemic relief; the way the current Republican House is thrashing and straining at the bars of bicameral restraint, we have to assume if they ever get complete power again they’ll go nuts and just spend their mornings rubber-stamping death squad authorizations and donor tax breaks, and their afternoons making fart noises into the mic like Keith Relf

Wednesday, February 01, 2023


Here, have a rare mid-week free issue of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down; this one’s a scene from a future AP African-American Studies class. Pushing the needle from “satire” to “prophecy” is today’s news that the College Board caved to the bullying of Head Florida Man In Charge and scraped all the authors who wouldn’t pass muster with your average moderately-polite white racist out of that AP lesson plan:

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies —  stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.

The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum.

And it added something new: “Black conservatism” is now offered as an idea for a research project.

The black conservatism thing is hilarious – an outright and obvious act of rightwing affirmative action/social promotion (These guys haven’t earned a place in the curriculum on merit? Here’s a carve-out!) Time to pull those dusty Thomas Sowell books out of the remainder bin, though I’m sure the teacher will also accept the dozens of donation-seeking emails Tim Scott has sent out claiming unnamed Democrat(s) called him an Uncle Tom

In the Rules for Rationals I ought to produce one day, one of the aphoristic chapter headings will be: Fascism is a crime of opportunity. One reason we didn’t have so much trouble with would-be Fuhrers a few years ago is because they got treated the way they should be treated – that is, told to fuck right off. But when the fascists took over the Republican Party, they demanded their opinions be afforded the same respect and forbearance that Republicans always get, as if insurrectionism and trans and CRT panic were the equivalent of the Balanced Budget Amendment – and, of course, our dumb-shit prestige media fell for it, and now we have the classic “Nazi bar” situation where they’ve so colonized the discourse that they can’t be dislodged, and the New York Times is writing headlines like “DeSantis Takes On the Education Establishment, and Builds His Brand” rather than “Fash Goomba Muscles Educrats to Gut Curriculum, Thrill Shitheels.” 

Meanwhile I’m sure Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi are hard at work on “Twitter Files XIV: Jan. 6 defendants deprived of Constitutional right to all-access social media pass.” 

Friday, January 27, 2023


The Dean put these Ukrainian guys at #1 on his 2022 List --
Not sure about that, but this one's a kick.

•  Today’s Roy Edroso Breaks It Down – available free now, as a gift to the nation! – is the inaugural column of Hiram P. Galligash at the Washington Post. Hiram is just the latest manifestation of the new direction in the Post’s opinion journalism represented by its recent hire of two National Review alumni, Jim Geraghty and Ramesh Ponnuru.

Both of them suck, but unlike previous, spectacularly absurd prestige media hires like Megan McArdle at the Post, Jonah Goldberg at CNN, David French at the Times, Kevin D. Williamson (briefly!) at the Atlantic, etc., neither is especially noteworthy except as a milestone in the decline of expensive opinion journalism. Geraghty is a hack whose prose is as impoverished as the ideas it promotes, as in this one about how would-be refugees from countries we blew to smithereens should take it somewhere else:

Geraghty was a Just-the-Tip Trumper pioneer -- “Yes, Donald Trump is a flawed messenger for the case against Hillary Clinton,” he wrote when Trump got the 2016 nomination, “but that doesn’t make the message any less true or compelling.” And like many deskbound rightwingers, he likes to cry about the Crisis of Masculinity -- though to his credit, rather than pretend to be a stevedore he pleads for butchness in the sedentary arts:

Even when guys do something that seems sedentary — video games, chess, board games — they’re often bringing a competitive spirit to it, an eagerness to demonstrate that they stand out at a particular activity. You could even argue that arguing on the Internet is a form of competition.

Tiddly-winks is, too, a sport! And there’s the one from 2021 in which Geraghty tries to get you to sympathize with billionaires because, like you, they could be audited: “This morning it’s pretty clear that your tax return is confidential, as long as no one at the IRS thinks it is newsworthy. But if they do, you’re screwed.” (Kind of like the current “87,000 IRS agents” bullshit – Gergahty’s a prophet of hackdom!)

Dems are the Real Racist beat? Check: “Senate Democrats’ Short-Lived Opposition to All White Biden Nominees.” (And yeah, Geraghty was also one of the conservatives who claimed George Floyd protesters were spreading COVID: “New York City has nearly 379,000 cases. Do you think none of those people attended any of the protests across the city in the past week?”) Speaking of wingnut hack protocols, here’s his October 11, 2022 column, “The Red Wave Gathers.”

Ponnuru is a less clumsy writer than Geraghty, though he is capable of great absurdities when animated by his bugbears – like abortion, the subject of his book The Party of Death (guess who!); when Kansas smacked down an anti-abortion referendum last year, for example, Ponnuru consoled his readers by claiming the land of Sam Brownback and Operation Rescue was “by no means a pro-life state” (similarly, Boston is not a big college town).  

But while Ponnuru has many other terrible opinions, his specialty is wonkish “reformcon” conservatism, of the sort evinced in his inaugural Post column about the debt ceiling that Galligash mentions, and which, as I have told you good people time and time and again, is in the post-coherence Trumpian GOP increasingly irrelevant -- except as cover for editors who wish to portray conservatism as an important intellectual movement rather than an elephant-shaped tarp thrown over American fascism.  

Hiram, in my view, represents a new frontier in conservative opinion – though, come to think of it, is he really any worse than Erick Erickson? Opinions vary! 

•  Also free for y’all (all this can be yours five days a week, the Tempter says, if you will only subscribe!): Scenes from the recent investigation of the Supreme Court Dobbs draft decision leak. Well, I laughed. 

•  Just gonna add a little something here: You remember the news earlier this month about the revision in the Missouri legislature dress code requiring women to cover their shoulders? (This is a state, btw, with some of the strictest anti-abortion legislation in the country.)

When I mentioned it to people back then and some of them said, oh don’t be silly, it’s just a little thing and a woman proposed it so don’t make a big deal of it.

Well, this is new from Florida:

Republican leadership of the Florida House has posted flyers throughout the Capitol showing what to wear — and perhaps more strikingly, what not to wear.

The flyer breaks down a dress code for three different scenarios — when in the chamber, when Members are in the building, and when Members are not in the building. The required attire is, not surprisingly, most formal when in the House chamber.

What sticks out though, is the requirement that women never show their shoulders when House Members are present in the building, whether in the chamber or not. 

I’m sure some people will say this is nothing, really, too. But it’s interesting that, in what under the thuggish wingnut/censor DeSantis has become the most fascism-forward Southern state (and that’s saying something), the Republican legislative leadership is “posting flyers” telling the ladies in the workplace to cover up. 

Friday, January 20, 2023


Joe Tex first came to my attention with "I Gotcha";
It was years before I knew he was also a love man.

•  This week in Roy Edroso Breaks It Down Free Issues we got a couple hot ones based on the adventures of two up-and-coming Republicans who between them pretty well represent their party at this time: Accused political terrorist Solomon Peña, and International Man of Mystery George Santos

Stochastic terror and pathological lying: A good summation of what the GOP stands for! Though perhaps it’s missing that secret ingredient, performative cruelty -- such as is demonstrated by the Iowa House Republicans’ plan for new restrictions for SNAP recipients “that could dramatically limit what foods recipients can get at the store,” as reported by Axios:

No white grains — people can only purchase 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice and 100% whole wheat pasta.

No baked, refried or chili beans — people can purchase black, red and pinto beans.

No fresh meats — people can purchase only canned products like canned tuna or canned salmon.

No sliced, cubed or crumbled cheese. No American cheese.

Why no fresh meat? The only explanation I can think of is, the paupers might get some simple pleasure out of it. Certainly they don’t deserve the luxury of white rice!  I expect these guys will eventually get around to demanding SNAP recipients be fed only on unflavored protein slurry, or maybe slurry engineered to taste bad so as to motivate them to leave the program, or at least steal some decent food for their families so law enforcement can catch them and jail them, making their feeding an asset to the private prison industry and a potential source of donor grift rather than a line item of “wasteful” welfare spending. 

•  I close with one delightful end-of-day news item:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s internal investigation into who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had established a constitutional right to abortion, included interviews with all nine justices, the marshal of the court said in a statement on Friday.

The clarification by the marshal, Gail A. Curley, who oversaw the inquiry, followed widespread speculation over its scope. In a 20-page report on Thursday, Ms. Curley disclosed that the investigation had not turned up the source of the leak while leaving ambiguous whether it had extended to grilling the justices themselves.

But in a statement on Friday, Ms. Curley said she had interviewed them.

Oh, to be a fly on those walls!

CURLEY: Justice Thomas, can you think of anything… 

[A thump is heard; GINNI THOMAS, wearing what looks like a ballgown, pokes her head out of a nearby closet, goes “Psst!” to CLARENCE THOMAS and, when she has his and CURLEY’s attention, taps her lips with her index finger, then withdraws, closing the door with some difficulty.]

THOMAS: Mice. The building has mice. Been trying to fix it for years. Anyway, I think you should ask the Puerto Rican. 

Monday, January 16, 2023


It’s MLK Day, and you know what that means – more rightwing bullshit about how Martin Luther King was basically a conservative Republican. I have already received an email this morning asking “Did the Deep State Kill Martin Luther King, Jr.?” (The premise is actually fairly standard conspiracy-theorizing on the assassination, but author Mike Hambrick apparently thinks the folks who believe a “Deep State” is trying to pump them full of microchips will comprise a significant part of his audience.)

In years past we’ve had bumper crops of such nonsense; the pickings are somewhat slimmer now as many rightwing outlets avoid the subject altogether or express only the most anodyne of sentiments. Maybe that’s because in these economically parlous times folks are getting acquainted with and approving some of King’s more radical ideas like a universal basic income – hell, even trimmers like the editors of Axios are admitting that the plaster-saint version of King conservatives like to push doesn’t tell the whole story (sample: “King repeatedly brought up the legacy of enslavement and the need to address structural racism in 1967 — comments that scholars say were precursors to critical race theory”). 

Still, National Review feels compelled to put its oar in via “ISI Fellow at National Review and a graduate student at Georgetown University” Bobby Miller:

What Reagan Understood About MLK

Doubtless this headline has most of NR’s readers expecting some revelation from heretofore secret Reagan docs in which the Gipper tells us what he really thought about that damned commie, but it’s really just standard-issue trolling:

…While progressives have long excoriated conservatives for having been insufficiently supportive of that movement, the historical record is much more nuanced than the monochromatic narrative they present. Admittedly, the Right has been far from perfect on this critical issue.

Well, Miller’s lost most of his audience there but we’re still here so:

But the notion that conservatives — those genuinely committed to safeguarding the legacy of the American Revolution and the promulgation of liberty and virtue — are somehow responsible for segregation, a cause championed by John C. Calhoun, the “Marx of the Master Class” himself, and other Southern populist miscreants, is absurd.

Yeah, that’s how most Southerners think about Calhoun – an apostle of the redistribution of wealth! 

One of the inconvenient facts confounding the left-wing account of the civil-rights movement is President Ronald Reagan’s establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Those of us who were around know that a veto-proof majority in Congress and public opinion forced it on the old bastard, who found himself getting called a “sleazeball” by Eddie Murphy and losing some of the saintly patina with which his handlers had assiduously coated him. But Miller says that contrary to “conventional wisdom” and the evidence of one’s own eyes, Reagan was a big King fan because he said some nice things about King in 1987 and recognized that “irrespective of his views on how to best organize society, King believed that America is fundamentally good,” which attitude Miller contrasts with that of “contemporary social-justice warriors, who want us to think that the country is immutably racist and rotten to its core,” a not-at-all-tendentious rendering of the liberal position and similar to that of Ben Shapiro today (“group redistributionism and racial discrimination”). As the old saying sort of has it, when you don’t have the law or the facts, pound the strawman. 

I’ll add more later if I get a chance, but for now I’ll leave you with this from Deroy Murdock at the Spectator, who considers black wingnut Byron Donalds getting some Speaker of the House votes from Republicans and white Americans feeling bad about Damar Hamlin’s injury to be signs that racism is over: “If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today and turning 94," he says, "he might survey all of this black success and warmth toward black Americans, smile, and say, ‘We have overcome.’” I’ll go this far: It would indeed be nice to live in that alternate universe where King was not shot to death for what he was trying to do.

Saturday, January 14, 2023


I know there are a lot of great versions;
I just like this one.

Look, you’ve been busy, I’ve been busy – sometimes a Friday ‘Round-the-Horn is out of the question. I have found a moment on Saturday, and it’s all yours! 

There are two free Roy Edroso Breaks It Down stories for you from this past week. (Reminder: Subscribers, who pay an absurdly low $7/month, get this stuff five days a week.) The first is a fanciful meeting of the minds between two of the nation’s worst people, cancelculture crybaby queen Bari Weiss and Florida Minister of Propaganda Christopher Rufo, on the campus of the freshly wingnuttified New College of Florida in the not-distant future.

Michelle Goldberg recently interviewed Rufo and he’s even more inclined to say the quiet parts out loud than most conservatives these days – probably because he’s not elected, and so doesn't have to pretend that the consent of the governed, not to mention common sense, means shit anymore. Rufo expresses an intention, in his political-correcting of New College and whatever other schools his confederates can get their hands on, to “steal the strategies and the principles of the Gramscian left, and then to organize a kind of counterrevolutionary response to the long march through the institutions.” I remember when conservatives thought there was a marketplace of ideas, and were pretty triumphalist about conservative capitalism’s victory therein (in part because they had a well-funded marketing campaign). But when it became apparent people were no longer buying their bullshit, they decided outside agitators led by long-dead boogeymen like Antonio Gramsci had made that marketplace obsolete and that it was now time for a command economy of ideas instead. As Adam Serwer has pointed out, this tracks with their current conception of democracy in general: it's OK to be free so long as their preferred result wins; otherwise it's time for the boot and truncheon. 

The second freebie is straight from the Congressional Record (in my mind!): Marjorie Taylor Greene, now a respectable elder stateswoman of the GOP, demanding an investigation into an ancient menace and this time it’s not The Jews (not directly, anyway). The House GOP has gotten crazier quicker than even I predicted – they’ve even jumped directly on the “Joe Biden Try’n Steal Mah Gas Stove” bandwagon with – this I am not making up – “H.R. 263, the Stop Trying to Obsessively Vilify Energy (STOVE) Act.” 

Again pointing back to former conservative talking points,  I remember when they all chortled along with P.J. O’Rourke that Congress was a “Parliament of Whores” because Dan Rostenkowski got free stamps; now, as we have seen from the spreading George Santos tsimmis, the House is even more corrupt than before but, unlike in the old days, its members can’t even serve the nation’s interests properly and indeed seem hell-bent on sabotaging them even as they play at culture war. It’s still funny but this ringside seat on the Death of the Republic is getting a tad uncomfortable. 

Friday, January 06, 2023


These guys were nice and scuzzy, but they don't get the critical cred
that the Seeds and such like get. 
Too big for Nuggets, but alright by me!

•  I am being more generous than usual with the Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebies, but history demands it! Here are two, related to the high weirdness in the House of Representatives: a comic sketch featuring some of the principals, and a more serious one -- more like all preachy talking, as little Alex would say – about What It All Means.

With regard to the former, I got some flak from readers because Jim Jordan and Marge Greene, portrayed therein as insurgents, are putatively pro-McCarthy; but I think the fluidity of the situation since I wrote it Tuesday night supports my portrayal. I note that Jordan got some Speaker votes of his own, and I can’t imagine he wouldn’t pop if a groundswell appeared; Greene is holding the line, but with her, who knows. She refers to the resistance as “nothing but drama,” and she’s more right than she knows -- which brings me to the point of the second piece: there is not, as the old saying goes, a dime’s worth of difference between McCarthy and his harriers, and you should not let all the internet Who’s-Hot-Who’s-Not palaver convince you otherwise. It’s all crabs in a barrel. 


Looks like the allegedly irreconcilable combatants are coalescing! Like I said: Principles ain't in it.

• Oh yeah, it’s also the second anniversary of the first in a planned series of insurrections. (That the metal detectors have been removed from the entrance to the House chamber is particularly ominous; at least the House Dems saw what was coming with the incoming GOP majority and sent the J6 files to the Government Printing Office before they could be meddled with.) 

I said my say about that event last year and I stand by it. Excerpt:

So I could sort of see it coming, just as could anyone who knew how thoroughly Trump lacked any feeling for democracy or due process or anything else that got in his way. I knew he was a gangster who had blundered into the presidency; I had never expected, as had fools like Van Jones, that the office would or could elevate him. For four years I had watched Trump crudely paw the levers of power and bawl his bigot spiels, and from the moment his defeat was declared I saw him work the courts, work his rubes, work anything that could keep him in power…

But I never thought America, sweet land of liberty, would come to this. And yet we did. We have. And to this day most of the goon squadders think it was a great idea…

I think it’s all worth reading but if you know you know. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2023


Boy, Rod Dreher must be bummed:

Writing about politics and current affairs in the era of Donald Trump ideally requires a variety of traits that do not always, or even often, go together: factual and intellectual clarity, moral seriousness, and a spirit of generosity toward others and humility toward oneself.

Happily for Times Opinion, those traits are embodied to an exceptional degree by David French, who is joining us as our newest columnist, beginning January 30. We are delighted to welcome him.

I’m frankly surprised they picked French over Dreher – they could have had a twofer: Yet another God-bothering rightwing editorial writer, and an “Ask the Exorcist” columnist

I’ve been over French’s awfulness many times in this space, Substack and elsewhere. The most egregious and amusing examples, like the one pictured above, go back a few years, before French began to cultivate the Reasonable Right persona that the prestige press really goes for. But he can still come up with some corkers, as when, oh-so-regretfully approving of Trump’s first impeachment, French felt obliged to bring up The Clenis (“Yet, in both circumstances, the president was clearly guilty of serious misconduct. Partisanship saved Bill Clinton. Partisanship will save Donald Trump”). Sure, to you, trying to blackmail a foreign government for personal gain seems worse that getting your dick sucked, but to Jesus and French they're equally sinful.

French remains a theocrat who not only wants abortion treated like murder but also actively works (with what the Times calls “an emphasis on the First Amendment”) for the Masterpiece Bakery/Little Sisters of the Poor agenda of sabotaging national health care and minority rights. And his civility act is not merely obnoxious, it’s a cover and a con for American conservatism in all its hegemonic viciousness – the pretense that you can guiltlessly maintain society’s savage inequities if you drop some coins in the poor box. He’s got the Times snowed, but I think at this point most people who can read know better. 

Friday, December 30, 2022


This tune's getting to be an alicublog New Year's tradition!
Tell me about your favorite NYE songs in comments.

•  Announcing a big year-end treat for those of you haven’t subscribed to Roy Edroso Breaks It Down – my entire week-long, five-issue, Year In Review series, The Year In Suck, is FREE and unloosed upon an unsuspecting public. This set includes stories about:

Why the experts predicted a red wave in the 2022 midterms (short version: In their minds it’s always the 1990s).

The ridiculous “People’s Convoy” and what happens to cancelculture crybullying when conservatives try it on regular people;

The GOP’s return to out-and-proud homophobia;

How the mean and dirty ol’ internet was cool for everyone, right and left, until conservatives realized they couldn’t control it; and

The widely-denied but still deathlike stranglehold Trump has on the GOP (and why they can't quit him).

I will add this much on the Trump stranglehold thing and the general theme of Republicans getting weirder every day: There are all kinds of well-known reasons why this is terrible for democracy and all that, but we should also acknowledge that it keeps the Democratic Party from ever getting any better. American politics is pretty corrupt and neither party wants to give its adherents everything (or frankly much of anything) they want – otherwise what would they use for a come-on? “Republicans are nuts” has been a good enough reason to keep sane people voting Democrat since 2018, and thank God a plurality still feels that way, but the dotards who run the works are even less inclined to come across with policies we desperately need because, really, why bother? 

Worse, this lets them use the rightwing judiciary as part of their rope-a-dope, and feint at, for example, immigration and student loan reforms that they can reasonably expect the courts to deny. I know about and approve Biden’s energetic judicial appointment schedule but speaking for myself I don’t have decades to wait for those to bear fruit. Maybe the party could get serious about rightsizing SCOTUS, at least through term limits – with court-packing as an implied threat? Anyway: A less-mad GOP might encourage the Democratic Party to offer shoppers a better deal. Sadly it looks like we’re going to have to wait for them to either try another coup (and, if Merrick Garland is still in, yet another, and then another etc.) or Whig out.  

•  I will also note that I am represented in the annual Jon Swift Roundup, conducted as usual by Batocchio (not his real name!). This is a compendium of some invited bloggers’ favorites among their own posts in 2022. You may know some of these guys – including old-timers like his vorpal sword, Tengrain, Yastreblyansky, The Rude Pundit, driftglass, Self-Styled Siren, and our host; the ones that may be news to you, though, are at least as good, so stretch your horizons! Who knows, in the coming info-dystopia maybe blogs will make a comeback and you’ll already know what the hot ones are.  Happy new year! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


I haven’t been too attentive to recent developments at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down because I’m doing my usual year-end review series, in keeping with the Auld Lang Syne spirit. But there are two things I want to address right quick:

First, George “Catch Me If You Can” Santos. Before his grift blew completely wide open I had a bit of fun with the idea of the guy at House Freshman orientation:

[KEVIN] McCARTHY: Well, Walter, we may have to finesse that one a little bit. For one thing, we want to be absolutely clear that while the Party is against the corruption of children it is not against gay people. In fact I see we have a gay freshman here today — George Santos from New York. Stand up, George. [Pause] George, stand up please.

[Necks crane toward GEORGE SANTOS, who looks bewildered.]

SANTOS: There must be some mistake. My name is Henry White.

McCARTHY: George, I met you at the Vanderbilt Room last week, come on.

ANOTHER FRESHMAN: Hey, George, I saw you at S.O.B’s last week! Eu sou Brasileiro, dude!

SANTOS: What is that? Is that some Brazilian thing? Because I’m not Brazilian and I’m certainly not gay! And I don’t represent New York, I represent the 2nd District in Oklahoma as a proud Cherokee! My parents were in the Trail of Tears —

McCARTHY: Alright, alright, all that to one side, let’s see what else we can think of that will capture the imagination of ordinary Americans…

But that was before more details on the scope of his fraud became known, elevating the situation from “haw haw” to “damn.” One thing the prestige press ain’t saying much about, even when they express mystification by Santos’ unexplained (given his work status) wealth, is Santos’ Russian oligarch connections, as described by Daily Beast reporter William Bredderman on November 30:

But unreported until now is that by the time Devolder-Santos [as he was then known] made these statements, his congressional ambitions had already received a $32,800 boost from a controversial figure linked to the uppermost echelons of the Russian regime—and that support would more than double in size during the months ahead.

The cash came from Andrew Intrater and his wife, who variously listed her occupation as “homemaker” and “analyst” for Falcon AI, one of her husband’s subsidiary firms.

Intrater’s main venture is today called Sparrow Capital, but it previously used the name Columbus Nova—and its primary function has long been to manage the investments of Intrater’s cousin, Viktor Vekselberg, one of Putin’s wealthiest and most influential courtiers.

So tightly intertwined is Intrater’s business with that of his relative, who snatched up swaths of Russia’s aluminum and fuel industries during the post-Soviet period…

Etc. The “statements” to which Bredderman refers are Santos’ pimping for Putin as the injured party in the Ukraine war, which as you know is one of the hallmarks of the MAGA new breed and which makes his Russkie cash connection even more piquant – as it does the well-covered Tulsi Gabbard throwdown against Santos. Could it be that Gabbard, who went full feral wingnut a ways back and has her own unseemly Russian connections and affiliations, was dispatched to take down a former asset who had become a liability? Or was it a throwback to her anti-gay past (and, I should add, present)?

Anyway, like I always say: Your Republican Party, ladies and gentlemen! (I should also note the attempt by many conservatives to whatabout this by referring to Elizabeth Warren as Hashtag Pocahontas, the stupidity of which should be apparent even before you consider that while our Native American tribes also have good reason to want to overthrow the U.S. government, they have not the means that Vladimir Putin and his many not-even-sleeper agents have.)

Second: Rod Dreher’s latest stinkbomb. Having learned (or simply being unable to ignore any longer) that his father was a Klansman – which adds an interesting sidelight on Dreher’s obvious racism – Holy Rod has unleashed another instant TL;DR (exhaustion of the critic is part of his arsenal). It’s all awful, but two things are especially noteworthy. First, Dreher admits his old man was racist but also says he got along better with black people than he did. I know, when you put it like that it’s very funny, but it also sets up Dreher’s shtick about how being a conscious anti-racist white person is worse than being a racist because it ain’t natural:

Specifically, as much as I hated to admit it, my dad, who had grown up in rural Louisiana, and who had spent his career as the chief public health officer for our parish, knew more about actual existing black people and their culture than I did -- because he had lived among them all his life! For me, black people were mostly an abstraction. I had allowed the living, breathing human beings to be assimilated into an idea of Blackness -- specifically, of black people as the eternal victims of white people.

Then he talks about reading a Flannery O’Connor story about some jacked-up young Southerner who turns his back of his patrimony, which brings a blush to his cheeks. 

I also knew from reading that story that my dad understood things about black folks -- at least in the rural South -- that I did not, despite the fact that he was blinded by his own unconscious prejudice. The point is that I too was blind, but my blindness carried with it the taint of moral superiority. O'Connor showed me that both my father and I were guilty of making abstractions of black people to suit our own conflicting senses of moral order. She also showed me that this is the way it is with us human creatures. We are all at risk of assimilating our fellow creatures into ideas.

So, you see, Daddy was a Klansman, but his son had erred, too, by trying to be something he wasn’t (namely an anti-racist). Both sides! It appears to have never occurred to Dreher that trying to overcome a negative. indeed damaging, heritage might involve some work, some mistakes, and some embarrassment – or maybe the embarrassment was just more painful to him than the racism.

Further down Dreher gets into how “the Left” has turned his back on Martin Luther King (unlike Daddy, who’d never let one o’ them get the drop on him like that), and the obligatory Dreher Black Crime Chronicle:

This past summer, I met a young South African white man, a Christian, who told me the story of how his grandmother and his younger brother back home had been stripped, beaten, and held hostage by black robbers who were sure they knew the combination to the safe (they did not). This young man was under no illusions about the evil of apartheid. But he was also under no illusions that black South Africans were somehow collectively innocent, and free from sin, because his white ancestors had collectively benefited from an evil system.

But then, the world today, which correctly paid so much attention when it was white South Africans brutalizing black ones, prefers not to know what is being done to white South Africans in the post-apartheid period…

His father’s son, alright. Also obligatory is a cameo from Dreher’s exorcist – but it comes with a wrinkle that, so far as I know, is new to Dreher: a warning on the deviltry of Freemasons! 

There's something eerie here too. Just last week, in conversation with an Orthodox priest back in America, a cleric who is also an exorcist, the priest told me how he had discovered in his exorcism work how wicked Freemasonry is. He has seen people become possessed through it. I told him about my Catholic friend in New York whose grandfather was a high-level Freemason in Italy, and who had become possessed through the curse he brought onto the family (which destroyed her father and his generation within the family, and had wreaked havoc on hers). In this conversation, I mentioned to the exorcist my belief that my late father, a 32nd-degree Mason, had been involved with the Klan in the Sixties, and how I suspected that had a lot to do with his prior involvement with Freemasonry. The exorcist told me that I must pray for my father's soul every day for the rest of my life. I agreed to do this.

The problem isn't racism, it’s masonism! Time for Dreher to storm the Vatican to petition his former religion to bestow sainthood on William Wirt.