Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments Of Love

Athenae wrote a brilliant piece yesterday about the moral, ethical, and personal aspects of the latest Roy Moore scandal. She nailed it completely so I’m going to focus on the political, legal, and semantic aspects of this shitstorm.

I’m going to try something different and do it in a way the defrocked (derobed?) judge might appreciate if it weren’t aimed at him. Moore came to national attention by placing the Ten Commandments monument seen above at the Alabama Supreme Court. He’s obsessed with the Ten Commandments even if he violates many of them, so I came up with Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments of Love. I know I should put quotes around the word love but I don’t want to come off all air quotey like an Alabama sorority girl: they’re too old for Ole Roy, after all. Besides, love has nothing to do with Roy Moore aka Judge Pervert.

FIRST COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt vote for Doug Jones.

The easiest way to keep Judge Pervert out of the Senate is for Alabamians to vote for his Democratic opponent. Jones is a distinguished lawyer and seems to be squeaky clean. Judge Pervert is neither. Unfortunately, many white Alabamians think voting for a Democrat is akin to supporting a member of the Satanic-Communist party.

Suburban voters should think twice before sending this embarrassment on two legs to represent them in the Senate. It’s a special election: the seat is up again in 2020.

Moore is still the favorite as of now but Doug Jones has a fighting chance,

The next commandment is directed at Senate Republicans if the pervert wins.

SECOND COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not let Judge Pervert keep his seat.

Seating a Senator is a pro forma act and a past supreme court case involving Adam Clayton Powell established that Congress must seat even corrupt members. BUT there is no provision or precedent barring the Senate from expelling an odious solon. I direct you to an excellent op-ed in the failing NYT by a law professor at the University of Alabama.

Senate Democrats should do whatever they can to force a vote on expelling Judge Pervert. It would likely lose BUT it puts GOPers on the record on the Moore issue. Imagine the attack ads: “They voted to seat a pervert. Whatever happened to the party of family values?” Politically, it’s a win-win situation.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Roy Moore was unfit for office *before* the WaPo sexpose.

Roy Moore is a judge who was defrocked for defying SCOTUS. He led an effort to preserve a pro-school segregation clause in the Alabama state constitution. Moore’s rap sheet on important issues is so extensive that I’m not going into details. Suffice it to say that he’s to the right of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. He’s an extremist, not a conservative.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Alabama is a corrupt, one party state.

Alabama Republicans are divided on Roy Moore who is financially, as well as morally, corrupt. The peckerwoods and wool hats are supporting their fellow asshole extremist. Business GOPers are queasy over his candidacy but they supported Luther Strange who was up to his eyeballs in the weird sex scandal involving former Governor Bob Bentley. One party states breed corruption and produce unfit politicians.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT:  Thou shalt honor and believe the victims of perverts, rapists, and sexual harassers.

Our society is programmed to look away from allegations of gross sexual misconduct, especially when the accused is an authority figure. Clarence Thomas is a Supreme despite Anita Hill’s compelling testimony against him. BUT the timing for Roy Moore couldn’t be worse. It comes on the heels of the exposure of so many powerful men as pervy assholes. It will be interesting to see if Moore survives it like Trump or is somehow recast like Kevin Spacey. I doubt if Christopher Plummer would be willing to play Judge Pervert.

I originally planned to go all Slate contrarian on the use of the term pedophile to describe Roy Moore. The word’s clinical definition involves an attraction to pre-pubescent children, which is not Roy Moore’s thing. BUT the correct clinical term for an attraction to mid to late adolescents is ephebophilia. It’s a mouthful and on the unpronounceable side, so I’m not going to be a semantic pedant in this instance. The word pedophile is clear and pronounceable so have at it. Judge Pervert deserves no mercy, semantic or otherwise.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt be prepared for more shoes to drop.

A former colleague of Judge Pervert had this to say yesterday on CNN:

“It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird,” former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Holy Ephebophilia, Batman.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that the publicly pious tend to be hypocrites.

Judge Pervert is the biblebanger’s biblebanger. He’s forever moralizing and sermonizing. Never trust a sanctimonious evangelical. They all have dark secrets and plans for their public redemption. Biblethumpers are big on forgiving those who agree with them. They love repentant sinners as long as they’re against abortion and gay marriage.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt heed the words of Doctor/Governor Dean:

Praise be unto the former party chairman who tweeteth the truth. Moore is already running against the Bezos/Amazon/Washington Post.

Hell, they’d think people from New Orleans were carpetbaggers let alone people from the North. They need scalawags who speak their own language, y’all.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt separate Sean Hannity from his advertisers.

Judge Pervert turned to the Fox News meathead in his time of woe. Hannity seems to have coached him to say the expedient thing and deny that he was interested in  teenyboppers. This has increased the pressure on Hannity’s advertisers. It’s fun to watch the Fox News meathead squirm. Squirm, Sean, squirm.

TENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt give the last word to the pop song that inspired the post title.

There are some swell versions out there. Here are three of them. I suspect Roy Moore thinks this song is blasphemous. Fuck you, Roy.



The News Business Was Always Run By Rotten Bastards

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst walk into a bar.

In hell, of course. What kind of story do you think this is?

Pulitzer and Hearst walk into a bar in hell and order the finest whiskey they have, and proceed to get gloriously, exuberantly, luxuriously shitfaced. Like, undergraduate drunk, the kind of drunk where you not only make out with a co-worker but declare your undying love.

Stumbling back to the cave where they dwell together in torment, they pass a pay phone and, giggling, ask the operator to ring up Joe Ricketts. They leave him a one-word voicemail:



It is worth being clear about exactly what happened here, so that no one gets too smug. DNAinfo was never profitable, but Mr. Ricketts was happy to invest in it for eight years, praising its work all along. Gothamist, on the other hand, was profitable, and a fairly recent addition to the company. One week after the New York team unionized, Mr. Ricketts shut it all down. He did not try to sell the company to someone else. Instead of bargaining with 27 unionized employees in New York City, he chose to lay off 115 people across America. And, as a final thumb in the eye, he initially pulled the entire site’s archives down (they are now back up), so his newly unemployed workers lost access to their published work. Then, presumably, he went to bed in his $29 million apartment.

News of the shutdowns spread across Chicago Twitter, where Chicagoist and DNAinfo are beloved, in part because they covered urban communities and stories often overlooked by downtown/TV media focused on the suburbs. And we all read a lot of this:

Which approaches, but doesn’t explicitly state, a structural problem. For years we’ve been hearing about how journalism needs a new revenue stream. It doesn’t need a new revenue stream, it needs a whole new ecosystem.

You all reading here know that subscriptions have never paid for news. And back when ads paid for media companies, that money rarely, if ever, made it to the city desk, even before the dastardly internet came along.

Smug business analysts like to chide journalists for not understanding how to run a business, but you tell this clueless journalist something: If you enjoy double-digit profit margins and times of plenty the likes of which even Wal-Mart can only dream, why would you not bank some of that cash in case (I know this is far-fetched) the good times don’t last forever?

Okay, you’re not in the money-warehousing business. Why would you not invest it in marketing your product, expanding and then solidifying your distribution network, shoring up your customer base, rewarding brand loyalty?

(I’m not even bothering to suggest you reward your employees. That’s just crazytalk.)

Why would you, instead and in order: blow all the money you’re not actively stealing on multiple levels of corporate functionaries doing “branding studies,” invest your profits in things that have nothing to do with your core business, weaken your product with acquisitions and load your company up with debt? Why would you make your product worse and shit on customers who object?

All the subscription money in the world, all the new revenue streams in the world, don’t matter if the money goes into the same contaminated sewage plant.

You give a guy like Joe Ricketts a profitable enterprise, he will find a way to fuck it up.You give a guy like Joe Ricketts an unprofitable enterprise that serves the public good, he will find a way to fuck it up. We’re letting the wrong people run this.

There are a lot of models out there that can work, subscription revenue or no. Nonprofit, employee ownership, co-ops, etc. These have existed for years before corporate owners got involved. There are people out there who keep saying they want democracy to live in the light instead of dying in darkness.

Time for them to put their money where their small-d democratic mouths are.


The Grossest Thing About Halperin

Will always be this: 

A team of journalism students will take a page from Halperin and offer analysis of his remarks on Twitter, as well as produce a streaming video feed that will allow people watching on the Web to ask Halperin questions.

Look, let me just stipulate up front that I am a dumb girl who makes dick jokes on the internet, and therefore am not the arbiter of What Is Journalism, especially since I often start sentences with conjunctions. But even I, a dumb girl who makes dick jokes on the internet, think that anyone who thinks Mark Halperin and his merry band of blithering asslicks offer any insight worth listening to is a deluded famefucker.

I am annoyed that he has been exposed as a gigantic pig who rubs his wiener on young girls who work with him, because if that’s the thing that takes him down it’s bad for journalism.

What should take him down is his conflation of being an “insider” and his “must-read status among political junkies” with journalism. We’re parading this guy, and Chris Cillizza, the creature, around like they’re Woodward and Bernstein just because they call themselves journalists and make a shitload of scratch. If Halperin and Heilemann had to cover cops in a middle-class suburb for just one week they’d go bugass crazy nuts by Tuesday afternoon at the latest. The first time the scanner blew up they’d pee themselves.

What they do is write a gossip column for ugly people, and that’s fine, I have nothing against that. Everybody needs a hobby. But we are running around in this industry with our hair on fire screaming about how nobody wants to pay for the news and consumers are in danger of becoming congenitally unable to discern truth from falsehood and there’s no money for anything, yet here comes this asshole. Getting paid millions to not only be a disgusting pig but to be dumb as all hell.

I mean Jesus H. Ranch Dressing Christ.

And if you read the press releases issued by journalism schools they are the fucking arbiters of the future. They’re the molders of young minds and the creators of the journalists of tomorrow, and so they encouraged their students to take a page from this guy’s fucking book, and … tweet.

Sometimes I wonder if this industry deserves to be saved.


Saturday Odds & Sods: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

We finally had a chilly day this week. New Orleanians tend to overdress when it cools off so there were many coats, sweaters, and scarves about town. This cold-ish snap is another example of how extreme the weather has been this year: the first cold weather doesn’t usually arrive until around Thanksgiving. I am opposed to turning on the central heat until November but dragged out the space heaters. It warmed up yesterday, but it’s going to be cold today. We’re back on the autumnal weather yo-yo. So it goes.

The big local story is the precipitous fall of celebrity chef John Besh. Picayune restaurant critic Brett Anderson spent 8 months investigating charges of sexual harassment in Besh’s empire. The story landed last weekend and Besh has resigned from his company and lost two casino based locations. I’d heard that he was a hound and a creep but hadn’t heard how systematic the problem was. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Besh since it followed the Weinstein revelations.  I am trying out a new word to describe the outing of sexual harassers: Beshed. It probably won’t catch on but if it does, you heard it here first.

Another big local news story popped up as I was Oddsing and Sodsing. It’s a flap involving  mayoral frontrunner LaToya Cantrell, her use of city credit cards, and the heavy-handed intervention of District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is supporting her opponent. So much for that campaign being dull. It’s New Orleans politics in all its seedy glory but I’m going to save it for the Bayou Brief. I’ll let y’all know when my column drops. I’m uncertain if it will be Ionic, Doric, or Corinthian. Corinthian leather?

Now that I’ve incited the wrath of Khan, let’s move on to this week’s theme song. It was composed by Charles Mingus in honor of his friend the great jazz sax player, Lester (Prez) Young.

Here are three versions for your enjoyment. First, Charlie’s original instrumental followed by Joni Mitchell who added lyrics for her Mingus album in 1979. Finally, a guitar driven version by Jeff Beck from his Wired album:

Now that we’ve tipped our pork pie hat to the great Lester Young, it’s time to say goodbye and jump to the break or something like that. Sometimes I even confuse myself.

Continue reading


Oh look, someone else with nothing at risk is doing less than nothing and getting all kinds of praise for it! 

Not pictured in CNN’s jerkoff session above: The 48 Democratic Senators who were never under the delusion that Trump was gonna be okay, the 65 million people who were right about him all along and VOTED FOR THE CHICK INSTEAD, or any one of the thousands of people who’d already been fucked over by this guy before he ran for president and tried to warn us.

But sure, let’s keep lionizing Republicans who “stand up to” Trump, as if saying mean things about a racist old asshole whose own staff hates him is something brave. You know what would have been brave, Corker? Standing up to the party when it nominated Trump in the first place. Standing up for your constituents when Trump intimated it was okay to deport them, ban them, grab them by the pussy. Standing up for the powerless back when you had power.

All these newly enconscienced Republicans who are so, so scared of Trump (for the cameras) should have stood up to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who seized all the executive power you’re now worried about Trump wielding. Trump has the unlimited capacity to direct the military, spy on Americans, drone-bomb civilians, and do just about anything else he wants without the interference of those pesky checks and balances because you all decided that yelling NATIONAL SECURITY TERRORISM 9/11 was the same as judicial oversight.

For what it’s worth, they might have contested Obama on these issues too, since he was terrible on them. But they were too busy screaming about health care and tax cuts and being a Seekirt Muslin, so spare me the swooning now about the great traditions of our democracy. You assholes slept on it til now. I’ll save my credit for those who were awake.


Stop Publishing Things You Don’t Believe In

I think, aside from the “both sides” fetish, this is my least favorite journalism Thing:

Every newspaper editorial page hauls this out when someone calls the paper out on publishing racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise utterly bullshit: Oh, we’re just contributing to the Great Marketplace of Ideas Where We Debate Everything Civilly. Leaving aside that bullshit isn’t an idea, I could almost let this go at a time before TV and the internet, back when newspaper editorial pages were, you know, the main places ideas were debated.

When it was either the Opinion Section of the Beaver County Tidbit or literally yelling on a street corner to the passing omnibuses, I could see the editors of the Tidbit feeling obligated to present as many views as possible. In the interests of traffic control if nothing else.

Now, though? When there are approximately 31 squillion places ideas get debated, and a medium for every message, and newspapers are struggling to differentiate themselves from every other information source?

Now this is just chickenass and lazy. We publish stuff we don’t agree with. Why? Like why do you?

Do you sincerely believe there’s some kind of enlightened debate happening? Because your own voicemails should have convinced you otherwise like 20 years ago. Do you think publishing one conservative wanker every other week will shield you from criticism in your reporting? Because again in things you should have learned in the past two decades: Nobody gives you points that you can redeem when you trip on your journalistic dick. That’s not how anything works.

Why publish stuff you have to disavow the second it comes out? Why not publish what you DO believe? Why not publish what you do agree with? What, the online frogboys will howl? They’re already doing that no matter how many tired contrarians you run. Do you think the Journalism Police will come take your Cracker Jack badge away if you don’t run One A Conservative and One A Liberal each week? You’re not under any legal obligation, nor any moral one either.

Publish what you think people should know. Publish what you think is important. Publish underrepresented voices, on understudied topics, and celebrate them instead of distancing yourself from your own content. Set an agenda with the limited pages that remain in your august publication, and make the editorial choices you make work for you instead of hoping they shield you from criticism. Put something out there you can be proud of. Quit apologizing.

Stop trying to not suck. Because it ain’t working.


Quote Of The Day: Movie Monsters Edition

I’m not talking about scary clowns, vampires, or reanimated monsters, I’m talking about monsters who make the movies.  One of the best things I’ve read about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, or as I call it Shitstorm Harvey, was written by Lindy West for the failing NYT:

It is unclear what possessed Woody Allen, of all people, to comment on the accusations of sexual predation against Harvey Weinstein, when he could have just not said anything, not expressed sympathy for an alleged serial rapist, not accused long-silenced women who said they were sexually assaulted of contributing to “a witch hunt atmosphere” and not felt compelled to issue a pouty follow-up statement in which he didn’t apologize but, in fact, reiterated how “sad” he feels for Weinstein because Weinstein is “sick.”

I’m kidding! It’s totally clear why Allen would issue such a statement — why he wouldn’t hesitate to include the astonishing confession that “no one ever came to me or told me horror stories with any real seriousness,” implying that people did tell him about Weinstein but he, with that odd omniscience native to the very rich, deemed them insufficiently serious. It’s also totally clear why Allen felt untouchable enough to add that even if he had believed the “horror stories,” he wouldn’t have been interested, let alone concerned, because he is a serious man busy making serious man-art. He said people wouldn’t bother coming to him anyway, because, as he described it: “You’re not interested in it. You are interested in making your movie.” (That last bit is fair, actually. If I’d been sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, literally my last instinct would be to go to Woody Allen for help.)

It’s clear because the cultural malfunction that allows Allen to feel comfortable issuing that statement is the same malfunction that gave us Allen and Weinstein in the first place: the smothering, delusional, galactic entitlement of powerful men.

We already knew that monsters can make great films. Roman Polanski has. Woody Allen has. Harvey Weinstein has. I can still watch Woody Allen’s old movies with *some* enjoyment but I’ll never like them quite as much as I once did. For 25 years, Allen was my favorite film director even though hints of his perviness showed up in movies such as Manhattan. I think he’s made one good film in the 21st Century. At this point it doesn’t matter, his name has quite deservedly been dragged through the mud and I’m inclined to think that a guilty conscience has something to do with his artistic decline. I would hope that a man with his talent would have a conscience but it’s hard to tell as he natters on about witch hunts. STFU, Woody.

As to Harvey Weinstein, he’s a disgusting pig who was widely known as an asshole’s asshole before the shit hit the fan. It’s quite fitting that Ronan Farrow wrote one of the Shitstorm Harvey  exposes. He’s allegedly Woody Allen’s bio-son but, damn, he looks like Mia Farrow’s ex-husband Frank Sinatra. I’d rather have Frank in my gene pool than Woody any day.

The #metoo discussion that has popped up online in the wake of  Shitstorm Harvey has been moving and seems to be leading to a more open discussion of sexual harassment and assault. It seems that most women of my acquaintance have, at the very least, been subjected to unwanted groping.  It’s a sad commentary on the world and it’s been going on long before any of us were around. I hope that the open dialogue sparked by this will lead to improved behavior on the part of many men. I have no illusions that all men will pay attention but if there are fewer Woodys and Harveys out there, the world will be a better place.

My parents were conservative in many ways but my brilliant and accomplished mother was an instinctive feminist.  As a successful professional woman, she taught me by example that women could do anything and should be treated with respect. My father was sexist in some ways BUT he taught me to keep my hands to myself and treat women with respect and old-fashioned courtesy or as he liked to say, “be a gentleman, not a bum.” Bums groped, gentlemen did not.

The Jayhawks get the last word with a song that bids adieu to monsters of all types:

An Apology for the Truth

Fucking fuck Politico and their fucking bullshit priorities: 

Obama aides lash out after Trump claims past presidents didn’t call fallen soldiers’ families

Sure. Obama aides are “lashing out.” That’s what’s notable here. Their “strong response.” An expletive, even! Not what Trump said, which for the record was this:

“So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump alleged. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

But it’s Obama’s aides, who no doubt had to watch or listen or assist while he made those calls on the phone and in person, whose words come up for auditing.

Say what you like about Obama — I have no doubt drone-bombed Pakistani schoolchildren would say many things — but he cared about American lives and believed in adhering to the rules of civilized society. Perhaps to a fault.

With Trump, yet again we see journalism unable to handle a sociopath being a sociopath when he does it behind a nice white mask in a nice blue suit. The president said it, behind the presidential seal, so how can he be a monster? How can the words be what the words were, a self-aggrandizing and cruel attempt to run down the man in office before him, regardless of the cost to others. No, better to make this about what Obama’s aides said in response, lest the actual breathtakingly awful facts intrude.



They Won’t Even Hear It

Keep letting this shit happen and it doesn’t matter what the Democratic message is or who we nominate: 

I worry that as we focus on Russian bots on Twitter influencing elections, we’re ignoring a bigger threat to democracy and the political process right here at home: the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media Company. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that in politics, little things can become big things. The unexpected can become the undoing before you know it, and truth trails behind. In 2000, it didn’t matter Al Gore never actually said that he invented the internet. People came to believe he did. It became a character distorting meme. Impressions are created at a digital pace in politics, often when you’re busy fighting the daily fires of rapid response and feeding the beast of today’s message and tomorrow’s news cycle.

So just think what a Sinclair takeover of local television news could do to the American political process. Democratic voters know not to take anything they see on Fox News without a giant grain of salt. But imagine what happens if your local news broadcasts are hijacked by partisan messages, even subtle acts of political sabotage. It would be handing Donald Trump the ultimate weapon of mass distortion, and with it the power to help choose Democratic nominees and mortally wound electable candidates before they even get out of the gate.

I’m not bashing the idea of partisan media (blogger, mock thyself) but once upon a time we had MORE media, period. You had your local party newsletter but you also had a couple of local papers and the radio station and nobody felt like they had to chase whatever came out of the wingnut puke funnel.

Traditional nonpartisan news should never have let Fox in the door. Maybe it would have happened anyway, with the amount of money being thrown around, but I can’t help thinking legitimizing Fox, going on the defensive, bending over backwards to display some kind of false-equivalence-masquerading objectivity and give Republicans’ hurt fee-fees every consideration hastened the decline. As did stupidity, laziness and greed.

Now we have academic panels on Facebook and fake news that are just as dumb as the academic panels on blogger ethics and Who Is A Real Journalist On the Internet, and it’s monumentally frustrating because we’re still looking at the wrong things. Where is the MONEY? Where does it come from? Where does it go? And most of all, who benefits?

You look at who’s benefitted from the consolidation and right-wing purchasing sprees of the past 20 years — it ain’t the public and it sure as shit isn’t liberals. It’s Republicans, and the farthest right of the Republicans at that, to the detriment of public understanding, civil discourse, and even Republican voters themselves. That should be a bigger story than Russian Twitter bots, or somebody saying fuck online.


Another Day, Another Attack On The First Amendment

We do a lot of media criticism here at First Draft. It’s one of Athenae’s specialities with her takedown of Chuck Todd as the most recent example. Criticism is one thing but threats are altogether a different matter, especially from a president* who puts the bully in bully pulpit.

In his continuing campaign to distract attention from his administration’s failures and scandals, fake he-man Donald Trump is going after the “fake news” media. Along with kneeling jocks, minorities, and uppity women, the media are his go-to boogeyman. We all know what his definition of “fake news” is: stories that are critical of him. How has he retained his reputation in some circles as a tough guy? He’s got a glass jaw: real tough guys can take a licking and keep on ticking as an old Timex ad put it. The Insult Comedian is a whiny, titty baby who cannot handle criticism. What did he think he signed up for? This is the big leagues, not grade school t-ball.

The good news is that Trump’s threat against NBC’s broadcast license is an empty one:

There are a number of reasons Trump’s ideas about punishing NBC are, from a practical matter, unworkable.

First off, NBC itself as a broadcast network isn’t licensed by the FCC. NBC’s potential vulnerability would come as the owner and operator of 28 individual local stations, including its Telemundo station

(There are also dozens of NBC affiliates that NBC does not own and thus does not hold the licenses to.)

Second, the FCC license renewal process Trump suggested could be used to retaliate against NBC occurs every eight years. According to experts, it’s basically a rubber stamp and stations’ licenses are almost always renewed, though citizens in the localities of a station can technically challenge a license, as can a station’s competitors, if the station is doing competitive harm. To challenge NBC’s licenses, someone would have to do so in each of the individual local communities and they would face an uphill battle, legally speaking, especially after the deregulation that occurred starting with the Reagan administration.

“There are a couple of oddball cases involving smaller broadcasters, where they’ve gotten in trouble and not gotten their licenses renewed, but never about programming. No significant broadcaster of any size has ever lost a license renewal,” Schwartzman said

The threat may be empty but the mere fact that he made it is disturbing. The Nixon administration threatened the Washington Post company with revocation of its teevee affiliate licenses. I think you know why: Tricky Dick did not like its coverage of his administration. Nixon, of course, was smart enough to have surrogates do so privately as opposed to spouting off himself in public. That’s why they called him Tricky Dick. It’s one difference between Watergate and Moronogate.

I recently read an excellent 1982 biography of Mussolini by an Oxford Don, Denis Mack Smith. The parallels are disturbing. Mussolini was a mendacious, narcissistic opportunist who only believed in himself. Like Trump, he manipulated the mass media of his day to obtain power. In his case as a journalist who immediately turned against a free press upon becoming Duce. The good news is that it’s much harder for any American president to suppress free speech. The bad news is that we’re having this discussion at all.

Attempts to shut down a free press are not only unconstitutional, they’re the first step on the path to dictatorship. Trump is so unpopular and incompetent that it’s not going to happen. We need to be concerned about future attempts to do so by a demagogue who is cleverer and more knowledgeable.  It *can* happen here.

Selfish Bias Towards the Status Quo is Not Neutrality

I love it when a headline invites the interview subject to fuck himself: 

Chuck Todd Thinks It’s Important to Stay Neutral

We all have needs, I guess? People in Puerto Rico think it’s important to have electricity. Flint wants clean drinking water. The North Korean people are anxious that our president not start a nuclear war since they’ll all die. But you do you, Chuckles.

In politics, 90 percent of the disagreements are about policy or ideological point of view.

Yet you’re a fucking fashion blogger who thinks it’s a major issue that Hillary Clinton sounded ready to be president. The 10 percent of disagreements that are not about policy, why do you devote 90 percent of your show to them?

This whole interview with Chuck is just an excuse to let him drop this steaming turd:

Do you think you did a good job covering the events of 2016? I’m going to give you a Donald Rumsfeld answer: You cover the campaign that’s in front of you. You don’t get to cover the campaign you want. There are always lessons to be learned, and look, it’ll impact what happens next. Someday, we’ll say that somebody would’ve never been elected had 2016 not happened, right? Barack Obama might not have become president if Hillary Clinton had run in 2004. If Katherine Harris didn’t ever run for secretary of state in 1998, and the Democrat ends up winning that race against a scandal-ridden Republican incumbent at the time, whom Harris beat in the primary, so the Democrats control the certification process in Florida in 2000 — who knows what happens? That’s what I love about politics: that butterfly effect. We don’t try to erase a result; we just move on from it and build from it.

People are dying, you solipsistic prick. People are dying and being deported and every six weeks we need to scream at Congress not to take away our shitty health insurance. An economy that wasn’t really all that great is about to get really, really bad and there will be no help. Everyone in the White House is engaged in actively denying the president’s oncoming dementia, plus even when he’s with it, he’s a racist sexist old asshole.

Oh, and nobody’s asking you to erase the result. You don’t get to do that. This soulless butthole, he will be the 45th president of the United States forever, and you’re dumb but you’re not dumb-dumb, Chuck, you know that. You know that if you call a reasonable request to consider whether the old way of doing things is inadequate a request to nullify the election you get to call your critics unhinged and act like you’re somehow above it all.

Which pose wouldn’t offend me so much if you WEREN’T above it all. You’re not risking a damn thing going out there every Sunday reinforcing the view that Democrats are in disarray and Republicans are basically good and people of color/women always need to prove themselves twice as much and the world is basically the same as it was 20 years ago when we were all in school. You’re not gonna miss a meal because that’s all bullshit, so you go on, pretend there’s something noble in it.

FFS, this is what we think of in the journalism world as smart. This is who we elevate and parade around to our J-schools as some kind of celebrity speaker. This is who we teach the next generation of reporters to emulate. This is what we say has value in the world, this bullshit bias toward the status quo.

BTW, quoting Donald Rumsfeld, who should be in chains in the Hague, like it’s fucking cute is an example of the problem here. Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraq War are not neutral. Were not neutral. Were never neutral but that tells you a lot about where Chuck and his posse think the north-south dividing line really is.

It’s all a big ironic joke to them, and they mistake that for neutrality, and they mistake neutrality for virtue, and they think they’re gonna get out of this alive. Meanwhile Trump calls them the enemy of the American people and they profess shock and dismay at how we got to that point. Next on Meet the Press, Ann Coulter! Is she just a “misunderstood goddess” or what? 


‘Fake News’ Didn’t Do Anything To You

Rich Republicans did: 

The same qualities that bind the townspeople together can, in turn, be alienating to newcomers. The refugee community has begun to experience this effect as its demographic makeup has changed. Over the past decade and a half, as conflict spread across North Africa and the Middle East, Twin Falls started to resettle larger numbers of refugees with darker skin who follow an unfamiliar religion — two things that make it difficult to blend into a town that is 80 percent white.

On a national scale, an ascendant network of anti-Muslim activists and provocateurs has exploited the fears brought on by these changes, finding a platform and a receptive audience online. The narrative they espouse — on blogs with names like Jihad Watch — is that America, currently 1 percent Muslim, is in the midst of an Islamic invasion. Central to the worldview of these bloggers, some of whom have celebrity-size social-media followings, is that Muslims have a propensity toward sexual violence. They seize on any news item that bolsters this notion.

This piece made the rounds and the framing of it makes me insane. This shit isn’t the fault of Facebook (though that company is on top of the Not Helping list right now) and it’s not the fault of the Internet. It’s the fault of rich asshole Republicans who used Facebook and the Internet to spew the same anti-Islam haterade they’ve been pumping out since the Iran hostage crisis to the detriment of literally everyone on earth.

This story delves into what happens when a town believes a bunch of bullshit instead of their generally reasonable authorities, but doesn’t once mention the funders of that bullshit: 

A similarly funded and probably even more conservative nonprofit, Young America’s Foundation, works to direct “public education on the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise [and] traditional values and leadership,” according to its most recent publicly available tax form. YAF spent roughly half of its 2015 budget of $17.7 million on conference and lecture programs including “lectures on college campuses” and student chapters.


A similarly funded and probably even more conservative nonprofit, Young America’s Foundation, works to direct “public education on the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise [and] traditional values and leadership,” according to its most recent publicly available tax form. YAF spent roughly half of its 2015 budget of $17.7 million on conference and lecture programs including “lectures on college campuses” and student chapters.

I’m getting real damn tired of looking at the landscape of “fake news” and inciteful social media movements and shaking our heads like it’s just all so terrible and sad when we never even once acknowledge that A POLITICAL MOVEMENT DID THIS FOR ITS OWN GAIN. They did this on purpose and they paid for it, and they’re not even all that secretive about it:

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation is by far the biggest donor to YAF, and the Donors Capital Fund and its affiliate, Donors Trust, are also big contributors. The Bradley Foundation, three Koch family foundations and a foundation of the wealthy Mercer family have also given large donations.

It’s almost like nothing happens in the world without somebody getting paid so maybe instead of pretending this is just the world we live in now and it’s too bad — the optimist who jumped off a building, saying “so far, so good” every floor down — we start exploring where the money goes.

Or — AND THIS IS A CRAZY IDEA — using our own to build something that works like this, but isn’t terrible, and serves the ends of community and strength instead of hate and fear and greed.


Malaka of The Week: Florida Man Ryon Edwards

Hurricane Irma is still chugging along but the threat from its powerful winds has diminished. There’s always malakatude associated with hurricanes including the reporters who insist on standing outdoors and getting blown about. Apparently, they want to be the next Dan Rather but there’s more to Dan than hurricane tomfoolery. At a lower level, there are people like Florida Man Ryon Edwards who did the most Florida Man thing ever and created a Facebook event to greet the storm: Shoot At Hurricane Irma. And that is why Florida Man Ryon Edwards is malaka of the week.

Malaka Florida Man claims that the Facebook page is cracker humor aimed at outraging city slickers. (My words, not his. I’m funnier.) The story, however, has changed several times. In its first phase it was a “shoot the hurricane because you’ll be bored” event. It *is* true that riding out a storm is alternately tedious and terrifying but I don’t get the entertainment value of shooting in the air, especially since the bullet could be blown back in one’s damn fool face.

Hurricane shooting is a bastard first cousin of shooting guns to celebrate New Year’s. That’s a problem in many parts of the country even in my ostensibly sophisticated home state of California. There was also the time that a guy was killed in New Orleans on New Year’s by a “celebratory” gunshot. So much for harmlessly firing into the air for fun.

The other problem with Malaka Florida Man’s feeble firearms folly is that there are stupid and humorless people who took it literally. That led to some wasted time at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office north of Tampa:

The bros behind the Shoot at Hurricane Irma page are enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame right now. They had a good laugh over something that isn’t funny. I haven’t laughed at shotgun humor since the days of Elmer Fudd being outwitted by Bugs and Daffy. Gunshots aren’t funny, these Florida Men look as idiotic as Edward G. Robinson as Johnny Rocco in John Huston’s Key Largo:

Don’t be like Johnny Rocco. Don’t be a Florida Man either, it could be deadly. And that is why Florida Man Ryon Edwards is malaka of the week.

An Op-Ed Isn’t An Apology

If one more fucking person tweets Charlie Fucking Sykes into my timeline I’m gonna go full Bundy Ranch.

I mean it. I’m on day three of what I had been hoping was a three-day migraine, and someone just reminded me Andrew Sullivan is still employed. Andrew “the left after 9/11 is a fifth column” Sullivan.

The Hill published an opinion on the still-unfolding Hurricane Harvey from MICHAEL FUCKING BROWN pretending to have learned Important Lessons.

Allahpundit, who I chiefly remember cheering on Michelle Malkin’s roiling pit of orcs as they tore apart anyone insufficiently subservient to George W. Bush, just got blocked because apparently he’s NeverTrump now and that’s enough for someone to put him in front of me. I haven’t forgiven Little Green Footballs for what they did to John Kerry and Jill Carroll and I never will, I don’t care how pro-Dem they seem to be today.

Ditto Jennifer Rubin, Ana Navarro, Bill Kristol, the whole lot of them. Most of them AREN’T EVEN SORRY about all the years they spent with their tongues in the GOP’s mouth while the GOP paved the way for Trump and the Tea Party. I can take some of the turnarounds because they seem to have genuinely repented but most of ’em are like, “this isn’t the cool party anymore, can I hang with you guys?”

No. No, you can’t hang with us. You can’t sit here. That seat is reserved for a hundred thousand dead Iraqis and every French shopkeeper whose windows got smashed in 2003.

There have got to be some consequences for hurting people. I’m not asking for consequences for being wrong. That’s too much to ask of the modern political pundit class, blogger or bestseller. But if you’ve spent a week speculating if a kidnapped reporter was carrying her terrorist abductor’s baby, if you told your readers to pour French wine down the sewers because they refused to join our dumb war, if you’ve hyped up Scott Walker’s wholesale destruction of the state of Wisconsin and fellated him while he shit on schoolteachers, if you, you know, LET AN ENTIRE CITY DROWN, you don’t get a do-over.

Why should any of these sucking ulcers get a medal, just for saying Donald Trump is a comprehensive nightmare?

Sixty-three million people knew that, because they voted for Hillary Clinton, and I have yet to see them get a parade. Or her, to be honest. Dems are an endangered spieces on TV, Krugman’s practically in WitSec and liberal bloggers are dialing for dollars, but conservatives grow half a neuron and they’re 100 feet tall in Times Square. Apparently you can only cash in on Anti-GOP Mania if you had Pro-GOP Mania first. Apparently that’s the only thing that gives you cred.

I know this is me being a Bad Smug Liberal and This Is Why Trump Won, and I no longer fucking care. These people aren’t apologizing, so stop approvingly posting the op-eds THEY GOT PAID FOR. That’s not apologizing, it’s ass-covering and at least around these parts we’re not having it. Your Never-Trump T-shirt isn’t getting you out of hell when I know you have a Rope.Tree.Journalist one in the back of your closet from CPAC 2003.



Tell Me Again About Those Kids Not Reading

The stupid’s now gotten bad enough that everybody’s mocking it, and “pivot to video” has become almost as much of a joke as “longform” and “hyperlocal” ever were (good stories don’t need nicknames) and maybe, just maybe, some facts can break through the nonsense: 

When it comes to technology’s influence on America’s young adults, reading is not dead – at least not the news. When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web.

Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. Among those under 50, on the other hand, roughly equal portions – about four-in-ten of those ages 18-29 and ages 30-49 – opt to read their news as opt to watch it.

Young people read news more than older folks, it’s just that we Olds don’t often give them credit for it being “reading” because they’re doing it on their phones or tablets. Quelle surprise. I have quarrels with the survey, namely that my definition of “news” and yours can be vastly different (as can my definition and CNN’s), but let’s talk about the good news because there’s been precious little of it lately.

Basically, shut up, Grandpa, why don’t you get off MY lawn for once?

This was my favorite tweet about the survey:

I don’t know why it’s a revelation, that if you want people to buy your product, your product should not suck. Most TV news sucks, audibly and unashamedly, the efforts of individual journalists notwithstanding. The clichéd format on a local level forces bad journalism as often as it produces good TV, and a brilliant piece of footage isn’t the rarity it was before camera phones and YouTube. Most TV news SITES are bloated, heaving messes with borked search engines, loud auto-play and no coherent tagging system.

When the reckoning for this era’s journalistic missteps comes (please Santa Jesus, let it be soon), and we make the list of grievances to be redressed, it’s going to look something like this:

  1. Political talk radio
  2. Talk radio generally
  3. Cable news generally
  4. Cable news Sunday shows full of Republicans
  5. Cable news crime coverage
  6. Panel shows that pretend a debate between a Republican and a Republican is a debate
  7. Cable news taking viewers’ calls live on the air
  8. TV news reading people’s tweets live on the air instead of interviewing them
  9. Nancy Grace

It’s really no wonder younger folks tune this shit out. Between paying off student loans and fighting fascism and their four side hustles they don’t really have a lot of time, so sitting through all of that to learn what’s actually happening when they could pull up the WaPo app and get it all just seems silly.


Are We Still Feeding Content Into a Funnel or …

How is the rebranding going? 

Coming off poor second-quarter financials – down 8.6% in overall revenue and 15% in advertising – Tronc managed to turn in numbers that compared unfavorably even with some of its ever-struggling peers. Its digital revenue results hurt the most for a company renamed last spring on a promised digital transformation: “Total revenues for troncX [the company’s digital division] for the second quarter of 2017 were $58.2 million, down 5% from prior-year quarter. Advertising revenues for troncX declined by 9%.” The one encouraging ray: digital-only subscriptions increased nicely, as Tronc’s game of catch-up showed it most results there.

The poor performance even forced Dearborn to acknowledge that the company was still playing catch-up. With these moves, then, the company aims to do two things: 1) jumpstart the lagging digital business; 2) further streamline management and cut costs.

The answer is always short-term cost cuts. It somehow never seems to be NOT GIVING UPPER MANAGEMENT MASSIVE ESCAPE CLAUSES. I swear to you, if I made an entire year’s salary for fucking up at my job, I would get really, really fired.

I don’t understand the impulse to pay people to get shitcanned. I know the JUSTIFICATION, that they’ll feel more empowered to take risks etc, but come on, these people have more money than God already. They don’t feel like doing the office equivalent of skydiving, that’s a character weakness, not a checkbook one.

Fuckin’ 23-year-olds living three to a studio take more professional risks than the hardest CEO in town. Give THEM the exit packages.


Endless Chances

I would say you’ve got to be fucking kidding me but I know you’re not fucking kidding me:

They’ll keep giving him room to be the president they need him to be — one who operates within normal (monstrous) parameters, whose racism stays polite and whose language reflects prevailing sentiment on the editorial pages of our nation’s suburban newspapers — so that they can keep being who they are.

Trump openly supports white supremacist movements? We all stand shocked for a moment, then move on to stories about how his voters still love owning libtards. Trump reads a speech competently, a speech that might have been given by Ted Cruz or John Kasich or Chris Christie, the creatures, and the relief in the room is palpable: We can do what we know. We can slide back into the groove on which we run.

The biases of the press are endlessly discussed on both right and left, and what neither side discusses is the fundamental laziness of the political press corps and how that affects the entire process.

Forget Trump for a moment. If political commentators and “thought leaders” need politicians of both parties to say certain things, in certain ways, for them to declare things Normal, then it’s no wonder politicians will say those things. It’s no wonder both parties have become addicted to this mealy-mouthed horseshit of deploring “partisanship” and wanting to come together to cut taxes for the hardworking Real American.

It’s human to want affirmation, and our political press affirms whatever lets them use the words they already know by heart. At this stage of Chris Cillizza’s career do you really think he’s gonna pull out the dictionary?

This is not, by the way, letting politicians off the hook. The Wall Street Journal editorial board does not elect you. Find your fucking spines.

It does, however, explain the blatant neediness with which the national narrative-driving media approach Trump. PLEASE BE OKAY, they seem to say with every tweet or story, BECAUSE THEN WE CAN BE OKAY TOO.

As if the world turns on what lets you leave the office early. As if that’s something real.


What To Do, What To Do

While DC’s political venture capitalists are flinging money at yet another fashion blog pretending to do news and yet another centrist jerk-off party pretending to recruit candidates, people are actually out there working: 

Kelly Sullivan, a 30-year-old restaurant server in Sioux Falls and member of LEAD, noted that rural America has long been politically diverse, but the recent surge of political activism has made it more noticeable.

“People like us in smaller places and people that are in the rural communities, we’re just the same as the big city slickers,” Sullivan said of her fellow rural activists. “The feeling that we’re not being represented, or the feeling that the current administration is doing things that we disagree with, we’re on the same page as the people who are in the big cities.”

It’s almost like there are views out there beyond “this poor white woman sitting on a porch while her kids scrabble in the dirt like chickens loves Trump because fuck you.”

If these people got Axios/Win the Future/Politico attention and money every state in the union would be bluer than Bannon’s balls right now.



I’ve been reading about them for months now.

Trump supporters. Trump voters. Most of them in rural areas, lots of them poor.

All of them white.

I’ve been reading lots of stories about why they voted for Trump. Sympathetic stories.

And all these stories say the same thing.

I never heard anybody blame Hispanics for local crime, or make racist remarks about them; it was much more common to encounter Islamophobia, although the nearest mosque is about four hours away.

All the stories say the same thing. “Trump’s voters didn’t mention race.”

They did, though.

They are talking about race.

They don’t use the word “black” or “Hispanic.” They don’t use the epithets. They don’t say that, so we say they’re not talking about race.

When they talk about people taking from the system, though?

They’re talking about race.

When they talk about undocumented immigrants swarming over the borders taking American jobs?

They’re talking about race.

When they talk about crime, they’re talking about race. When they talk about schools, they’re talking about race. When they talk about culture, about parenting, about music, they’re talking about race.

You can almost see it, the black or brown person they imagine in their heads, the pre-arranged exception to the sweetly stated rule that of course all of us are equals before our God. You can hear it in their voices when the picture shifts and if you say you can’t you’re a liar.

White people like me go to church with white people like them. We have dinner with white people like them. We work with white people like them and you can hear it, the nastiness underlying their assumptions when they’re among people who look like them.

Every single one of them is talking about race, and every single one of them who hates Obama (not talking about disliking or criticizing Obama, talking about hating) is talking about race and we have to stop letting them off the hook, like this is some kind of big mystery.

Where did it come from? We wonder.

We have to stop acting like there are only two sides, good upstanding citizens who’d never in a million years ride in a rally like the one in Charlottesville, and the motherfucking grand wizards. We have to stop acting like this is the dichotomy: 

Sometimes I worry that I am going to end up working on a plantation, or behind a wall or in a camp, the way things are going. I have to ask about race. “People try to make us out as crazy rednecks or hood-wearing Klansmen,” a man from rural Ohio told me.

Because if that’s the dichotomy, of course the light is winning, and Hillary Clinton (or shit, even Ben Carson) is president, and when this bullshit went down yesterday the president came out and said, “Fuck this shit, wave a Confederate flag and get hanged for treason, you garbage slobs.” If the bar we’re holding people to is “not a torch-bearing Nazi,” well, lots of us pass that test.


Passing that test shouldn’t be enough to get you into heaven. It shouldn’t be enough to buy you sympathetic profiles in every publication imaginable. It shouldn’t get you excused from racism. Racism doesn’t have two faces. It has a thousand, including the ones in Charlottesville, but also including all those nice people who just voted for Trump because they were mad at the world, and all those nice people who just think political correctness is out of control, and all those nice people who just moved here for the schools.

Racism has a thousand sides (including the one in the mirror, let’s not kid ourselves, crackers). You’re not lighting up a tiki torch? Good for you, I guess, but don’t come over here looking for a medal when you pulled a GOP lever because Obama gave too many people extra welfare.

You didn’t have to say the n-word to talk about race. Those people in Charlottesville heard you loud and clear.


Confederates or, Who You Are in the War

Ta-Nehisi Coates: 

Storytellers have the right to answer any question they choose. But we do not need to wait to examine all the questions that are not being chosen: What if John Brown had succeeded? What if the Haitian Revolution had spread to the rest of the Americas? What if black soldiers had been enlisted at the onset of the Civil War? What if Native Americans had halted the advance of whites at the Mississippi? And we need not wait to note that more interesting than asking what the world would be like if the white South had won is asking why so many white people are enthralled with a world where the dreams of Harriet Tubman were destroyed by the ambitions of Robert E. Lee.

The problem of Confederate can’t be redeemed by production values, crisp writing, or even complicated characters. That is not because its conceivers are personally racist, or seek to create a show that endorses slavery. Far from it, I suspect. Indeed, the creators have said that their hope is to use science fiction to “show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could.” And that really is the problem. African Americans do not need science-fiction, or really any fiction, to tell them that that “history is still with us.” It’s right outside our door. It’s in our politics. It’s on our networks. And Confederate is not immune. The show’s very operating premise, the fact that it roots itself in a long white tradition of imagining away emancipation, leaves one wondering how “lost” the Lost Cause really was.

Others with more at stake have said much of what needs saying about this garbage (we get THIS but have to wait forever for the next David Milch project) but I’d like to talk about it in the context of the reimagining of history generally and the dystopian stories of the past decade. The earth caves in, there’s a nuclear devastation or famine or a plague, and then what?

There’s always an element of wish-fulfillment in these stories, that the last-millennium skills you’ve been nurturing would come to be of value after all, that your foresight in stockpiling liquor and ammo would attract fertile females and fierce warriors to your side, that everyone who thought you were a loser in the old world would value you in the new. So many people go through life thinking they don’t matter, or can’t matter, without some fanfare and a smoking crater where their home used to be.

But in walking that line, the best of our TV stories — 12 Monkeys, Galactica, The Expanse — come back around to the point that if you say you know who you’re gonna be in the war, if you long for the war so that you can be a certain person, you’re a bankrupt idiot who has no idea about anything. You think you know who you’re going to be? You have no idea.

You think that there’s some moment, where history hinges, at which you could rise up a hero and what, prove yourself worthy of mighty deeds?

As if you don’t have those moments every single day.

Jesus tits, look around you. Are you seeing a shortage of people to save? In the past WEEK the political party leading this country in every way that matters has tried to take away chemo from sick kids, ban refugees and asylum seekers based on religion, make legal immigrants tally up their virtues to prove they need to be here, close clinics that provide breast exams to poor people, and that’s just the stuff I remember off the top of my head after two glasses of wine at the end of a very long day.

You think you need a fantasy about the South winning the Civil War in order to overthrow slavery? Every political issue group on earth is offering free blowjobs to anyone who’ll campaign for them on a dozen issues that would impact racial equality in the United States, you don’t need this fanfic. Hell, buy and donate half a dozen books by young writers of color to your local library and you’ll have done more work than you would have in front of your TV every week. I know it’s not as sexy as imagining yourself part of the super-underground Underground Railroad, but it’s necessary and good nonetheless.

If your heroic fantasy just will not be satisfied without a firefight it’s not like the local recruiting station turns people away.

We think there’s some point at which we had more at stake. Than today?

If that’s truly the case, then you already know who you are in the war you’re imagining. You’re the guy sitting on the sidelines, telling himself he’ll fight when another conflict — one worthy of his magnificent gifts — comes along.