Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Language

Before I became an internet pundit, I occasionally wrote letters to the editor. I had a few published but was always annoyed with the end results. I gave it up when the Picayune so twisted my meaning on a long-forgotten subject that a conservative friend asked if I’d defected to his side. He was disappointed to learn that I had not jumped ship.

That was a long way of saying that I’m quoting a letter to the editor by 33 prominent writers. In this case, the meaning is clear. They want the New York Times and their MSM colleagues to use different language to describe the Trump scandals:

Please stop using the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” regarding the impeachment inquiry. Most people don’t understand what it means, and in any case it doesn’t refer only to a crime. Asking for a favor is not a criminal act; we frequently demand things from foreign countries before giving them aid, like asking them to improve their human rights record.

That is not a crime; the crime is President Trump’s demand for something that will benefit him personally. But using this neutral phrase — which means simply “this for that” — as synonymous with criminality is confusing to the public. It makes the case more complicated, more open to question and more difficult to plead.

Please use words that refer only to criminal behavior here. Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime. The more we hear words that carry moral imputations, the more we understand the criminal nature of the act.

As you know, I rarely, if ever, make moral arguments. In this instance, the strongest argument is for clarity. The Trump-Zelensky call reeks of extortion and attempts to bribe the latter with money already allocated to his government by Congress. It’s also called wire fraud. Those are all words that people understand. Latin is for legal eagles and Catholic clerics. It does not soar with the vox populi, I mean, general public.

Words matter. Language is important, especially in this age of obfuscation, truthiness, and newspeak. George Orwell summed it up best 73 years ago in his classic essay, Politics and the English Language. Here are a few pertinent passages. I’m snipping some specific examples to boil Orwell’s argument down to its essence.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. <SNIP> Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

<SNIP>

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

News reporters should keep it simple and leave the lofty language and exaggerated metaphors to the pundits. Above all else, skip the Latin and call a bribe a bribe and extortion extortion. Enough with the quid pro quos.

The last word goes to Kiwi rock demigod Dave Dobbyn:

Name. The. Problem.

No, not racism. For once. Well, kind of racism. Gimme a sec here, Pete. 

Do you wanna know something about partisanship? Partisanship is good. Partisanship is the whole reason we have a democracy. I have no interest in finding common ground with fucking Trump voters or with other assorted white supremacists. I have no interest in making sure those groups don’t feel demonized. I have no interest in making them feel COMFORTABLE when they have made so many Americans, and the world beyond, feel the precise opposite. I’m allowed to be angry at the state of things and I’m sure as hell allowed to loudly call out those responsible for it. I want to vehemently oppose those people, and guess what? I live in a country where I’m free to do that. I don’t like being told I’m out of line for doing so. So you’ll excuse me if I’m not exactly inspired by some South Bend pud who has no stomach for that fight, and doesn’t want me to have it either.

The usual caveats apply here: Pete is not remotely a problem in the way literally any Republican is, and would in fact probably be fine as president, and if he is our nominee I will enthusiastically vote and campaign for him because I’m not a fucking child.

But we are not having problems in this country because we are too partisan. We are not too divided. We do not hate each other too much. This isn’t about our feelings. This is about how we just got laid off and our parents got deported and our health insurance costs $5,000 a month to pay for nothing if we get hit by a bus and we can’t afford to work if we have kids and we can’t afford not to work if we have kids and when are you going to have kids already, you’re not getting any younger, and if you live in the country you’re a dumb hick and if you live in the city you’re a commie and oh, by the way, your street hasn’t been repaired since 1989 because we can’t afford it, vote to cut taxes again please.

Those problems are not “partisanship.” They’re not “division.”

We’ve been told so many times that our society is polarized because polarization just happened, probably because of our phones and social media, as if Facebook magically makes you mean and racist as opposed to exposing you to what your nice Aunt Jean-Marie really thinks. We hear this so many times from so many people we actually think it’s true.

It’s not true.

We’re “more polarized” because for once a whole hell of a lot more of us are being heard and the things we’re hearing about from our fellow Americans fucking suck and we’re feeling the urge to do something about it and the people in charge cannot have that.

So we hear about how bad it is to hear from so many people, about so many things they care about.

We hear that we’re so divided now. But we’ve always been divided and the problems we are having are not because of that that division. They’re because we’re being told any solution to the problem is beyond us and so all that’s left is to get madder and madder. When you let people tell you what’s wrong — and that’s over, cats and kittens, you can’t stop the signal — and then tell them to just, like, sit with that? Because we just, I dunno, can’t, or whatever, you wind up with the kind of rage that we’re seeing now.

And that rage frightens people. I get it, I’m a middle class white chick, I am likely first up against the wall, but my fear isn’t, you know, a thing I get to project on everybody else by telling them to sit down and shut up.

So the next time someone tells you the problem is we’re just too divided, ask them to articulate what that means, what that really means. And if they bring up some cable news asshole or Trump or someone speaking Spanish in the store, or sputter that this is just something everybody knows, then you’ll know you aren’t actually dealing with any kind of problem, and you don’t need to worry about their concerns.

Push on. We’ve got real things to do here. We have a limited amount of time on this planet and spending it worried that the cable news audience is upset is not, shall we say, a good use.

A.

These Things Are Home

You don’t have to do this: 

Herridge’s CBS hire follows the more widely reported departure of Shepard Smith in early October, but the news about her transition over to network was muted by the more alarming development that the news website Deadspin effectively ceased to exist.

That the demise of a news site staffed by around 20 journalists would send out a larger hue and cry than the defection of a long-tenured reporter from Fox News to the news organization that brings us “60 Minutes” tells us something about that state of media as it struggles to exist today. Given the size and reach of Fox News relative to that of Deadspin, one would think the Herridge transition would merit bigger play.

The reason it hasn’t is because of the sheer defiant bravery of what the staff of Deadspin did in reaction to an abrupt, senseless shift in editorial direction imposed by the site’s new parent company G/0 Media.

As of Friday, every single one of its nearly 20 journalists resigned in reaction to the firing of its interim editor-in-chief, Barry Petchesky, when Petchesky refused to follow the mandate imposed by the site’s parent company G/0 Media.

The new owners dictated that culture and politics coverage would be handled by other sites in the G/O Media family, even though content that is not specifically sports-related often outperformed the site’s sports content.

“Programming note: My Kinja access has been revoked. I apologize for any and all spelling and grammar errors, as I cannot fix them,” tweeted former staffer Diana Moskovitz, apparently the one who turned off the lights on her way out. “From here on out, all content published on Deadspin is not us. I hope we sent out Deadspin right. We did our best.”

Look. People have mortgages and people who depend on them, they have scary health conditions, I’m not out here saying GET IN THE STREETS FOR THE REVOLUTION YOU LAZY ASSHOLES. I’ve done things I don’t agree with (I shudder at the thought of some of the hands I’ve shaken at parties) so I won’t get fired because my kid needs to eat and oh hey, so do I.

If you’re at a job where you’re keeping quiet about things you don’t like because you can’t live without the work, that’s between you and whatever god you pray to.

But if you’re out here talking about how shitty it all is? If you’re out there wringing your hands and lamenting in blind items about OH WHAT HAVE WE BECOME IF ONLY THERE WAS SOMETHING I COULD DO, um. You’ll pardon me if I speak up and say yes, there is something you can do.

One can understand why reporters on its hard news side may stay where they are despite the flurry of anonymous complaints to media reporters about plummeting morale and the horror at whatever Tucker Carlson said last night about Adam Schiff and bodily fluids. Attempting to practice journalism at Fox News may be a thankless job, but it’s one that pays better than most jobs in journalism or elsewhere.

For those aspiring to do work with journalistic integrity, there must come a point at which the effort to dig up facts and produce data-driven stories feels fruitless when a few hours later the talking heads on the other side of the office are ignoring that work exists. Not merely that, but perpetuating conspiracy theories, questioning the patriotism of decorated veterans, and maligning elected officials who refuse to cater to Donald Trump’s whims.

There’s something you can do about the fascism.

There’s something you can do about the greed.

There’s something you can do about the stupidity.

And it’s quit.

Quit, and go build something better. Quit, and go do literally anything else. Quit, and go work for somebody who doesn’t make you want to tear off your own head and eat it. Quit. Quit quit quit quit quit.

If you’re a relatively high-up executive in TV news these days you have opportunities a bunch of online sports reporters don’t. If what is happening to you is utterly intolerable and you’re saying so to the gossip columnists, you can pack your shit and go.

Or you can shut the fuck up about woe is you. Your choice.

It’s been a while since we had an example of a group of people saying shove your bullshit, the way that the Deadspin staff did. It’s been a while but once they did it, the response from everybody dancing on their graves before dirt was even tamped down was predictable and sad.

“They’re all trust fund babies,” went one argument and “stupid idiots should just do what their bosses told them” went another and under both you could hear the simmering shame that courage often engenders in those smart enough to recognize it but too chickenshit to emulate it.

We are not obligated to be therapists for the poor Fox News journalists just appalled at what is going on, making them and everyone else complicit in this regime feel better by saying “it’s okay that you’re betraying your principles and really, kind of, your country, even though you have enough money saved to tell your company to fuck off.” If they didn’t have an example of what else they could do to handle this, they sure as shit do now.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: All That You Dream

Drawing for Dante’s Divine Comedy by William Blake.

The weather has been wacked out this week in New Orleans. The temperature dropped 40 degrees in 24 hours. Mother Nature decided to skip fall and move on to winter. That means I’m looking for my winter clothes and turning on the heater early this year. That usually happens after Thanksgiving. Mother Nature is a card.

The response on social media to my Paul Barrere tribute has warmed my icy blue heart. Paul deserved no less. This week’s theme song was written by Paul and Billy Payne for Little Feat’s 1975 release, The Last Record Album.

We have three versions of All That You Dream for your listening pleasure: the Little Feat original with Lowell George on lead vox, a 2010 live version with Paul singing lead, and a 1978 cover by Linda Ronstadt.

It’s time to awaken from our collective dream and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Our Politicians and Pundits Know Nothing About Politics

This was dumb:

This was dumber:

This has got to be some kind of peak dumbass but what fresh hell will today bring?

I mean, honest to Cheeto Christ, it is astonishing how many of these people are listened to on politics when they don’t understand politics very well.

Take Pete up there, for whom I will enthusiastically vote should he be our nominee, and who has unquestionably the best spouse in the entire race. He’s just saying what he thinks he needs to say, which is that he likes a moderate, because moderation is good, and middle of the road is good, and nothing too extreme is good, and the things Everybody Knows are true. He’s doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do, because he’s supposed to do it, and he’s not thinking about Kennedy’s actual decisions or what they mean, he’s thinking about how he sounds, which is Reasonable.

The goal of all our politics, and the past 36 hours of civility garbage inspired by the World Series crowd booing the orange motherfucker, is to make us all feel Reasonable and Good. And that involves Two Sides Respecting Each Other, and Listening, and blah blah fucking blah de fuckity blah.

What a fucking stupid puppet show. What a goddamn embarrassment, a parade of supposed adults on TV and at podiums talking about how it’s beneath us all to upset anyone. What a fucking load. We’re adults and if we can’t disagree without getting heated oh, the fucking earth will just cave right in, won’t it? God forbid anyone raises their voice, or our fragile bodies might just utterly collapse.

I mean do we hear ourselves, middle class white people of mine, with our book clubs and our tote bags and our declarations of friendship for war criminals? Do we hear our selfish screaming need for comfort not only in life, not in where or how we live, but in our goddamn CONVERSATIONS? Do we hear how absolutely chickenshit we sound? “Oooh, I don’t want to, like, ARGUE with you.” Well guess fucking what, we live in a democracy, so if you’re gonna open your cakehole and yell “blue lives matter” at me I’m gonna give you the hiding you so richly deserve.

We don’t get to create this society and then get out of defending and justifying it because doing so is really hard. Land hard and roll, motherfuckers, because if you want to live like this you’d better be ready to own it in the face of the strenuous objections of the people you’re stomping on to do so. You don’t like to watch the president get booed at a baseball game, well, there’s a really easy way to get out of that happening and it’s don’t elect a fucking cheeto-faced fascist who everyone hates.

It’s really not hard. Give up civility as a goal. We’re almost to the holidays, hell, make it a resolution. Civility is not the meaning of things. If people are nice to each other and keep dying, how does that help anyone? We have a limited time on this planet and your comfort isn’t our priority, shit is on fire.

And if you’re not loaded for bear, don’t show up for the hunt, because once upon a time you might have been able to get away with this stuff because nobody wanted to argue. We want to argue now, and we should.

A.

A Diversity of Views

Do we? Do we need this? 

I’m asking, because I don’t actually grant that we do.

Do we need the “view” that Bill Kristol, however abominable he may be, is a “renegade Jew?”

Do we need the “view” that there exists in the world something called “Big Trans Hate Machine,” somehow granting vast power and influence to people whose right to exist is being legislated right out of existence?

Do we need the “view” that women “just suck at interviews” for tech jobs? Do we need the “view” that Gabby Giffords is a “human shield?” Do we need the “view” that an aide to Hillary Clinton is a “Saudi spy?” That young Muslims in the West are a “ticking time bomb?”

Forget asking if we need them. Are those “views,” even?

Even if they are, who are “we” in this scenario?

I ask these questions because I see a lot of well-meaning people — along with the usual “I’m not fascist, just fingerbanging fascism after class” disingenuous assholes — taken in by this kind of rhetoric. It’s incredibly dangerous to present virulent racism as something that needs promotion lest we, I dunno, miss out.

Like, miss out on what, exactly, without this diversity of views? What does it cost me to not be Skyped into a Klan rally every single second? What is the harm to me in not mainlining every single crackpot manifesto in doomsday prepper sales site comments? What is the lack that that would remedy? Where is the harm to be addressed?

I am not arguing here if Breitbart has a right to exist on the internet. That’s a given, should they find businesses willing to back them in the form of hosting and support. Nazis have always had the right to go off. I’m arguing about taking on faith the need for a “diversity of basically views,” because the people who say such things are the least likely to be able to tell you what in the unholy cornflake-breaded purple fuck it actually means.

What is a view? What is a diversity of them? Why are we better off knowing there are people who think Jews will not replace us, for example, I mean aside from as a cautionary tale? Why is everything due a hearing at equal volume? At what point do we, as a society, the preponderance of us, get to decide that nah, fuck that, this “view” is not welcome in our “diversity” of them?

Define that, and maybe I’ll listen about why we need headlines like “It’s time to get back in the closet.”

Don’t throw the slippery slope in my face, either. If I was standing on the corner accusing George W. Bush of colluding with Trump to rape babies in the utility closet of a KFC I would not EXPECT you to include that view in the diversity of them. I would not expect you to make that a main-stage attraction in your production of Life’s Rich Pageant. Time was, you got a letter to the editor written in purple crayon addressed to the lizard people’s Supreme Gecko, you threw it out. I would expect you to do the same with Brietbart’s contention that Pam Gellar is some kind of visionary political leader.

But then, I haven’t spent the last 40 years bitching and whining that your refusal to hang on my every word is evidence of your evil liberal bias, so I didn’t have a standard playbook I could just switch out a few words in.

Part of this clusterfuck is, of course, the decision to treat Facebook as some sort of public entity whose inclusion and appeasement is non-negotiable, instead of treating it as a private company we can nope the hell out of anytime we want. This is without getting into how publishers are falling all over themselves to pivot into this mess, just like they pivoted into everything from paywalls to hyperlocal to video to chat rooms. These aren’t imperatives. Facebook, and going along with whatever it decides to be, is not an imperative.

A diversity of views isn’t an imperative either, if that diversity includes “would you rather your child had feminism or cancer.” They’re offering “views” in much the same way as the fellow opening his trenchcoat on the subway. There’s no inherent virtue in looking, so stop trying to tell me I owe him my attention so that my views remain diverse.

A.

Or, as the kids once called it, the Bush Administration

We fucking warned you: 

“Get over it,” Mulvaney told the assembled journalists.

“Elections have consequences,” he also said.

Allow me to translate: American voters gave Trump the presidency, so it’s his to use and abuse as he wants. If you’re looking for an apology, you might as well be looking for the yeti. What you should really be doing is looking the other way.

We tried to tell everybody who was shocked when Bush didn’t, you know, do anything different when his approval rating dipped below 50, that the real Bush Doctrine was that approval ratings and the howling of the public and the neverending protests (and there were, in fact, protests) didn’t matter. He had the presidency.

He could do what he wanted with it.

But now he’s pals with Ellen, so. I mean, honest to Christ.

We tried to warn you this was leading nowhere good, but you couldn’t begin to reckon with what he’d understood, which is that your “norms” don’t mean shit and your DC rituals don’t mean shit faced with somebody who don’t want none unless you got guns, hon. People forget but this is the kind of thing Bush was faced with on a daily basis:

And if after that Bush didn’t resign in disgrace, honestly could you blame the next guy for thinking he could do whatever he wanted? Including, let’s be fair, drone-bombing however many Pakistani schoolchildren and wedding guests he thought he needed to while Republicans accused his wife of covering the White House Christmas tree in crack pipes?

Those revelations of rottenness that I mentioned before? They’re no longer an inadvertent tic. They’re an advertent tactic. Done with denials of wrongdoing, administration officials are reframing it as right-doing — as a president’s prerogative, even his entitlement, pre-emptively authorized by voters themselves.

If only he’d put such things in the mouths of his admin-adjacent Super PACs, instead of using the sacred White House podium for it. Jesus tits, Bruni, where have you BEEN?

We tried to warn you we were heading right exactly here, and you didn’t listen, and don’t get me wrong, we’ll fight them til we can’t no matter how many of you are late to the party, but come on, you can’t possibly tell me you’re shocked. Bush plugged this destination into the GPS. All the GOP did recently was let Trump drive.

A.

The Leopards Finally Ate Shep Smith’s Face

*headline reference

Just spare me the eulogies for Shepard Smith’s career, please.

Twitter on Friday was full of fawning takes about how he was the best person at Fox, which is like being the least slutty person at Caligula’s last orgy. You’re still there while the watersports and bestial bukkake are happening, my dude, and it’s not like the doors were locked behind you.

Let’s review some of things Fox and its creatures engaged in during Shep’s principled time there, which did not outrage him enough to quit his job.

Bill O’Reilly, all by himself:

  • Said he “didn’t hear a word” Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) was saying because he “was looking at her James Brown wig.”
  • Leered at a female black employee at Fox News and called her “hot chocolate.”
  • Was surprised and amazed when he went to a restaurant in Harlem and found it was a normal restaurant where people weren’t screaming “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”
  • Questioned how Trump would help black people get jobs when most of them “are ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads.”
  • Blamed Freddie Gray’s “lifestyle” for his death.

Here’s Glenn Beck:

Glenn Beck, the host of an eponymous afternoon commentary show, stated in 2009 that he believes President Obama is “a racist” and has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”[155] These remarks drew criticism, and resulted in a boycott promulgated by Color of Change.[156] The boycott resulted in 80 advertisers requesting their ads be removed from his programming, to avoid associating their brands with content that could be considered offensive by potential customers. He later apologized for the remarks, telling Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace that he has a “big fat mouth” and miscast as racism what is actually, as he theorizes, Obama’s belief in black theology.[156][157][158][159][160][161][162][163] Beck left Fox News in June 2011 after 29 months with the network.[164][165]

Here’s a good video review of how even the cooking shows were racist:

These were the actions of a company from which Shepard Smith was just fine cashing checks. These were the actions of his colleagues, his comrades in journalism, his friends. This was the operation to which he was in no way, and at no time, morally opposed.

At least, not enough to tell them to take this job and shove it.

So now Shepard Smith is gonna go write his book about being the Last Honest Man, or start a Twitter feed of all the ways in which the modern conservative movement disappoints him and betrays its high-minded ideals and is just so Very Coarse These Days. He will be lauded for it across Totebag Nation, at academic events and debate venues throughout the land. And anyone who points out that he was in fact for decades a pleasant face of the racist, fascist, GOP-run NRA-banked propaganda operation that has done incalculable damage to what was once our democracy will be derided as some silly, strident, impractical leftist.

I’ll be screaming it outside the Aspen Ideas Festival, nonetheless. I know you’re all good for the bail money.

Much was made of his work after Katrina, his moment of moral clarity calling out the catastrophic failure of Republican-run America to fulfill the promises it made to its citizens.

But I’d like to know. Why wasn’t that enough for him to quit?

Why wasn’t that moment, or a thousand thousand like it, enough for him to say, I will no longer be a part of what is obviously a force for evil? It was obvious, even then, to viewers watching at home that Fox was conservative-run and conservative-backed; why wasn’t the exposure of the ugly underbelly of what conservatism had done to America and would continue to do reason for him to jump ship?

Why wasn’t any of the unhinged nonsense during the Obama years enough to encourage him to bail? The Tea Party and the white nationalism it encouraged? Why did he not look at “terrorist fist jab” or “do you make Kool-Aid” or “Santa Claus is white” and say fuck you guys, man, this isn’t okay? Why did it take Trump for this to come to a head? Where has he BEEN all this time?

Shepard Smith has spent 23 years at the behest of an organization that has made America worse, and now we’re supposed to publicly grieve his leaving it? Because he wasn’t as bad as the rest of them? We’re supposed to feel sorry for him because his boss, a known ratfucker, fucked him, a rat?

Sorry. I’ve got immigrant kids in cages to feel sorry for, fresh out of sympathy around here.

Pope Chunky Reese Witherspoon flaps his mouth again

Reading a Douthat column, my expectations are always low, but every time it’s like looking into the hose of a Shop-Vac after you’ve hoovered up your storm drains. Like just look at this: 

Ask an intelligent Republican staffer what they imagine awaits their party after Donald Trump, and you’ll get an interesting disquisition on the factions and figures that might shape conservatism, the political and policy arguments to come.

Let me simplify for you so you can get back to calling girls on birth control unfuckable: The future of the party is the same as it’s always been.

Racism, racism, and racism.

The divisions you speak of exist within racism. The diversity of views and policies and goals you lionize are the differences between open racism, covert racism, Foghorn Leghorn racism, book club rosé lady racism, just-moved-here-for-the-schools racism, plantation wedding racism, and that guy on the corner screaming about Obama still coming to take his guns racism.

That’s been your party for 50 years and it’s not going anywhere else.

What an interesting disquisition.

Ask that same staffer what happens if Trump is re-elected, and you’ll get a heavy sigh, a thousand-yard stare and then a hopeful “Well, maybe we can just pretend he isn’t there …?”

That would be a real risk if there weren’t thousands of members of our Sacred Fourth Estate ready to hold accountable the system that created, promoted, nominated, elected and enabled Trump.

Wait.

Shit.

Instead Trump will bestride his party like a decaying colossus, and his administration’s accelerative deterioration will be the G.O.P.’s as well.

Your mouth-anus to God’s ears, though I’m sure She’s sick of listening to you by now.

My days of writing high-dudgeon columns demanding that Republicans act in concert against Trump are behind me; cynicism and bemusement define my attitude toward G.O.P. decadence these days.

How nice for you.

Refugee kids at the border have a different view of things, looking out as they do from behind the bars of their cages, but you do you.

Dick.

But in a bored-Roman-aristocrat drawl, I just want to suggest — mildly, dabbling my hands in a convenient finger bowl — that the current impeachment inquiry might, in fact, be that magical remote control: a chance to hit fast-forward and summon the post-Trump future into existence here and now, for the 2020 campaign.

Hitting the button requires only two things: the swift, before-primary-season impeachment schedule House Democrats are entertaining and then 20 Republican votes in the Senate for conviction, if the Trump-Giuliani operation in Ukraine looks as bad in a few months as it does today.

OH MY GOD I TAKE IT BACK THIS IS HYSTERICAL.

You think you just get to get OVER this? You think you just get to get past it? This isn’t like your previous Republican presidents, the four horsemen of the Dorkpocalypse, in order Resignation In Disgrace, Incompetence, Bigotry and War Crimes. Trump has done something none of your previous monsters managed to do, which is make you all look just RIDICULOUS.

People might forget criminals but they remember clowns. Trump will follow you to the end of all your living days and I will be right there beside him ringing a cowbell as loud as I can to make sure everyone knows that here proceeds a clasp of lepers.

You don’t get to have an after. If the dead refugee kids don’t, neither do you, cocksock.

And let’s just take a moment to laugh at the idea that the BRIGHT SIDE for the Republicans right now is this motherfucker getting impeached as quickly as possible. That’s the best case scenario for the ex-pope’s hype man up there.

With Trump gone, everyone from Haley and Carlson to Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley could jump into an accelerated primary campaign against the unloved Republican “incumbent,” Mike Pence.

So Trump crossed with a wine mom, TUCKER FUCKING CARLSON, a guy who couldn’t beat Trump in a pissing contest, and Woody from Toy Story if Woody was racist, would all jump into a primary? Against Mike Pence, who is adored by the evangelical base?

I’m not gonna bag on anyone’s political fantasy life but I have a better chance of convincing John Kerry to make me his Chief of Whatever He Needs These Days than you have of making this kind of fetch happen, Ross.

Call me, John.

You know, time was people got the sense that the Times’s conservative voices had ears within the party. Now Ross is the guy on the corner screaming anti-Semitic shit about FDR, and the soapbox is giving him splinters.

I think these conservatives underestimate, as liberals did with Bill Clinton long ago, the advantages in jettisoning a corrupt leader.

Not to defend Bill here, as he is our gross old perv, but I don’t recall any major Democratic figures skipping his wife’s convention, whereas at Trump’s every ex-president you had alive was on a fucking milk carton.

But I would still ask — swirling my wine and adjusting my NeverTrumper toga — worse than what? Worse than a world where Trump survives impeachment, the Ukraine miasma chokes Biden’s campaign, Warren proves less electable than her supporters hope, we replay 2016 with the Electoral College and enter a second Trump term with the ship of state rudderless, Democrats yet more radicalized, and all those icebergs looming for the country and the G.O.P. alike?

Liz is going to clean you all like a clock and speaking of togas, Dr. Professor Senator Zero Fucks left hers at your mom’s, so when you’re done jerking it to a 97-part history podcast of the fall of Rome maybe you can pick it up and take it to the dry cleaners.

You can’t say that you didn’t have an early exit from the Trump era. You can’t say you didn’t have a choice.

That’s why the  club of the fucking most of us voted for somebody else, and/or jumped ship right around the time he kicked off his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. We all knew we had a choice. Why didn’t you?

Schmuck.

A.

Keep Not Saying It

Can’t be racism. Can’t be: 

Like many people interviewed for this article, Ms. Cerep, who is 35, liked some things about Mr. Trump. But she found his language vulgar, and was tired of the cycle of insults and angry retorts.

“I see the good things he’s done, but he’s done a lot of messed-up things, too,” said Ms. Cerep, who was babysitting a friend’s children.

Ideologically, Ms. Cerep is eclectic. She said she voted for Barack Obama because he “was the type to roll up his sleeves with everybody and was not some Republican that’s going to sit there and say, ‘Pick that shovel up and do this.’”

But she also used to listen to Rush Limbaugh — a habit she’s dropped — and she doesn’t like that “they are taking all our monuments down in the South.”

Our monuments. Our. Monuments.

Okay.

The whole piece is premised on the idea that “America” isn’t polarized, and features interviews with lots of people who are disengaged and think that their kids having matching socks isn’t “political,” which they view as the shouting on TV, as cable news, not as anything that affects those socks or how much time they have to make sure the socks match.

Many people interviewed in Lackawanna County said they were not regular news consumers, but that might actually be a boon in one respect in today’s divided age. Those who are more politically engaged tend to have exaggerated views of their political opponents.

Michael McCorey, a dancer visiting from Philadelphia, said that for him, social media was news and that he looked at it a lot on his phone.

“He’s like Thanos in the Avengers, the evil guy who looks for stones that give him more power,” he said of Mr. Trump. “His supporters are just as small-minded as he is. They are O.K. with others’ suffering.”

Emphasis mine. Show me the lie. Other than Trump’s marked lack of any Infinity Stones, show me the exaggeration.

Recent polling has found some darker impulses — an us-versus-them thinking reminiscent of populist movements where there has been a democratic breakdown. About 30 percent of partisans thought the other party was a threat to the nation’s well-being in 2014, according to Pew Research, and that number rose into the 40s in 2016. And between 5 percent and 15 percent endorse political violence or have no sympathy about harm to political opponents. In another poll, 18 percent of Democrats said they thought violence would be justified if the Republicans won the presidential election in 2020, and 14 percent of Republicans said the same (if Democrats won).

BOTH SIDES. BOTH SIDES. BOTH SIDES.

We’ll get to the double digit murders by white supremacists just as soon as we finally find the baby parts Planned Parenthood is selling at the Antia Murder Rally.

Christ.

“Look, I’m not some crazy Republican,” he said. “I don’t have flags in my yard or hit you if you like Hillary. But if Trump doesn’t get it, it’s over. We’ll be pushed to the side. They’ll be letting people in and giving them everything. We’ll get squished against the wall.”

There’s an interesting story in here somewhere about people who don’t think they’re that bad who are actually really horrible, or maybe that’s a case study. I get them mixed up sometimes.

A.

Quote Of The Day: TPM’s Josh Kovensky On Ukraine

Talking Points Memo is the first political news source I check every morning. They’ve been all over the Trump-Ukraine-Rudy-Biden story for months. One reason is Josh Kovensky who worked at the Kyiv Post in Ukraine. That’s right, unlike the NYT’s Ken Vogel, he speaks the language. Imagine that.

This quote comes from a May 20, 2019 article:

It seems to me that their strategy with respect to Biden is less about “getting” him on some specific allegation. Rather, they seem to want to muddy the waters enough so that the constant patter of allegations of Emolument Clause violations and foreign influence over the Trump White House become indistinguishable from a similar cacophony around Biden. The activities of Biden’s son Hunter certainly aren’t doing him any favors. The Trump administration may hope that, for many news consumers, the two candidates will blend into one swampy allegation, diluting the force of any political campaign that presents itself as a real alternative.

Muddying the waters is the only thing Team Trump is good at. Hold on, they’re also good at blowing smoke. Unfortunately, Timesman Ken Vogel seems intent on making the already debunked Ukraine story the “Hillary’s emails” of the next election cycle. He’s not alone in this both-sideristic quest but he has the biggest megaphone.

Have the MSM learned nothing? Anyone with a lick of sense knows where to find the black hole of corruption in 2019. It’s located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a house first occupied by John Adams. Adams had many faults but he was as honest as the day is long. The Current Occupant is the polar opposite. He’s a blackguard with the soul of a mountebank.

The Kovensky article I linked to is for TPM prime members but his work can be found at this link. He’s a jewel. He’s the one to watch as this story unfolds. Ken Vogel and his large bat-like ears can go fuck themselves.

Everything is Racism & Sexism and Nobody Will Say It

Look at these fucking contortions: 

Boston’s North Shore seems as if it should be prime Elizabeth Warren territory. It is home to working-class towns, and it’s a short drive from Warren’s own house.

But ever since she entered electoral politics in 2012, she has struggled on the North Shore. When she defeated Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent senator, that year, she lost in places like Haverhill, Peabody, Saugus and Methuen. Last year, when Warren won re-election easily, she performed worse in those towns than Maura Healey, the Democratic attorney general, who was also on the ballot.

As Warren has risen to the top of the presidential primary field, her North Shore struggles underscore the biggest question about her campaign: If she were the nominee, could she win back working-class voters who swung to Donald Trump in 2016?

I can’t imagine why. Maybe it’s because white people have been mainlining Fox News/Sensible Centrist heroin for two decades now and all they’ve learned is that Democrats want to raise Your Taxes so they can give Secret Great Welfare to undeserving minorities while poor white people get Bad Welfare which is No Help At All.

Let’s go to that notorious whisperer of the Average American Voter, fucking CHAIT:

I’ve argued before that Warren has an excellent overall agenda for combating wage stagnation and helping the working class, but that her support for mandatory Medicare and border decriminalization is a politically damaging mistake.

Jonathan Chait of New York magazine says that Warren’s policy positions are hurting her with swing voters. “She is a compelling orator with a sympathetic life story and a gift for explaining complex ideas in simple terms. Yet she has spent most of the last year positioning herself as if the general election will never happen,” Chait writes.

Warren’s policy positions. Are hurting her. With swing voters.

Well goddamn, if only she’d bake them some cookies and tell them a story! About her personal life! Stop saying things like “we should quit locking up children fleeing violence and persecution” and “maybe you shouldn’t go bankrupt if you get brain cancer,” Lizzie!

Mandatory Medicare. You absolute jackass.

Warren’s working-class issues also matter in the primary. The political journalist Ron Brownstein coined the terms “beer track” and “wine track” to describe two different parts of the Democratic electorate, and the beer candidate (Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale) usually beats the wine candidate (Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart). Barack Obama was the exception because he added black voters to the wine track.

No one wants to have a beer with some chick!

Obama added black voters to the wine track? It’s 2019 now. Everybody fucking drinks wine. This isn’t the 80s when American wine was garbage; even box wine is good now and this metaphor is goddamn embarrassing. Stop quoting people still masturbating to the catchphrase they invented 20 years ago.

Are we genuinely, in the age of Donald Trump, still doing this? If so, I’d like to trademark the Crackpipe Track, whereby we all vote for the candidate least likely to make us want to freebase until we go blind.

Right now, based solely on this opinion piece, that’s Warren.

“Liberal college whites are growing as a share of the Democratic electorate, and Warren, in particular, has shown the potential to become a very strong candidate among them, as demonstrated by the huge crowds she recently drew in the white-collar enclaves of Minneapolis and Seattle,” Brownstein writes for CNN. “But many party strategists remain dubious that Warren — or anyone else — can win by consolidating those voters alone if Biden maintains an edge with the party’s other two biggest blocks: blacks and blue-collar whites.”

Well, Lord knows the party strategists have NEVER been wrong about who was the most electable candidate, given that they were all in the tank for Hillz and she lost to a sentient bag of dogshit because they all missed the fact that this is a racist-ass country full of angry old people posting Facebook memes about pressing 1 for English.

This isn’t about Warren vs. Biden. I’ve said before and I’ll say until we’re done here that if Joey the Shark is our nominee I will vote for him and campaign for him and post pictures of him and B. Barry Bamz looking sexxxxxy on the trail because that’s kind of our thing and because I’m not a fucking child, I know what’s at stake here.

But this constant regurgitation of the conventional wisdom of the Clinton years and the conflation of “working” with “white” and the elevating of those voters over all other voters and the goddamn arsing chickenfried refusal to acknowledge voter suppression and Republican misinformation in order to make the case that somehow the Democrats just don’t manage to “connect” with Chait’s imaginary whiskey tango proto-voters down the trailer park makes me want to tear off my own head and eat it.

We have serious problems and there are, lest we forget, parts of the country goddamn underwater, and other parts where there are immigrant kids in cages, so you’ll pardon me for skipping the part where we ask all the Democrats what kind of cocktail they are.

A.

Pity the Border Patrol

Jesus Christ. Between this tweet and the ongoing defensive freakout over the mildest of online criticism, the New York Times is having almost as bad a time as, say, CHILDREN IN CAGES:

The Border Patrol, whose agents have gone from having one of the most obscure jobs in law enforcement to one of the most hated, is suffering a crisis in both mission and morale. Earlier this year, the disclosure of a private Facebook group where agents posted sexist and callous references to migrants and the politicians who support them reinforced the perception that agents often view the vulnerable people in their care with frustration and contempt.

It’s not that, you know, I’m in favor of yelling at people doing a job over the people ordering them to do it but at a certain point you decide what you’re willing to do as a job and if it’s “enforcing Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell’s fascist orders” maybe you look for other work.

But let’s talk about the decision to give A1 top story status to the plight of the poor border patrol, because that WAS a decision. Someone assigned “poor border patrol, they’re hated so much” over, you know, literally any other story including what the Kardashians are up to.

I mean, let’s look at just that nut graf up there:

The Border Patrol, whose agents have gone from having one of the most obscure jobs in law enforcement to one of the most hated, is suffering a crisis in both mission and morale.

They sure as shit weren’t “obscure” to the migrants they were chasing, but I suppose something only exists if they’ve heard about it in Greenwich.

Earlier this year, the disclosure of a private Facebook group where agents posted sexist and callous references to migrants and the politicians who support them reinforced the perception that agents often view the vulnerable people in their care with frustration and contempt.

Um, it demonstrated the reality that agents viewed the most vulnerable people in their care with frustration and contempt. The head of the goddamn agency was a member of that racist hate group. It’s not like this was five people and it was blown out of proportion.

Let’s continue:

Overwhelmed through the spring and early summer by desperate migrants, many agents have grown defensive, insular and bitter.

Overwhelmed by migrants deliberately putting this terrible pressure on them by — checks notes —  fleeing violence and persecution, many agents have given in to their inner brownshirts, confident that the nation’s largest newspaper will describe their deliberate actions as the weather.

Let’s ask the agents why their job has become so awful:

The difference between doing the job now and when I started is like night and day. Before, it was a rush of adrenaline when you caught people with drugs. You were doing more police stuff. Now it’s humanitarian work. If you ask anybody about being in Border Patrol, they’re playing a movie scene in their head, jumping into a burning building and saving people. Now, it means taking care of kids and giving them baby formula.

Reality of job at odds with childish fantasy! Also, agents horrified by having to feed hungry babies. STOP THE PRESSES.

Some of those who worked at the agency in earlier years said that it had changed over the past decade, and that an attitude of contempt toward migrants — the view that they are opportunists who brought on their own troubles and are undeserving of a warm welcome — is now the rule, not the exception.

Again with the passivity.

It had changed. Not “it had been weaponized by a racist GOP that saw an opportunity to turn the American Southwest into the new antebellum South by whipping up loathing toward poor frightened women and children.” It just, all by itself, changed.

The way we talk about these things matters. Prioritizing the agency’s pain and suffering over those who’ve suffered under that agency and obscuring the fault involved when selfish politicians demand police action where humanitarian work is needed, is an editorial choice, and the New York Times is making it.

A.

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Do the Job Right

Adrastos pointed this out to me last week and I love every word of it: 

What has happened to media revenues in general has happened worst, fastest, and hardest to local publications, newspapers most of all.

This is part of the reason Deb Fallows and I have been reporting on local-journalism innovations (and successes) we’ve seen, such as the Report for America initiative I mentioned in June, and the business model behind the last family-owned daily in MississippiThe Commercial Dispatch in Columbus (and, long before that, the former alt-weekly that has become a leading statewide news source in Vermont, Seven Days, of Burlington).

There’s a few key points here. First, don’t ever give up ownership or control to some outside conglomerate chain bullshit:

Also, like The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi, the paper’s family ownership means that it can spend its modest resources as it chooses. It is not under external-ownership pressure to meet regular profitability targets, which has sent so many small papers into cycles of cutback and decline.

Yup. It’s not so much that being part of a chain will give you more or less money, it’s that it will give you more or less control over what constitutes enough resources to do your job. Shutting down successful profitable operations because they miss quarterly revenue targets, for example, or some other such arbitrary trash.

Quit cutting:

“I think it’s important for newspapers not to keep cutting,”Edward told me at The QT’s office. “If you keep cutting, there’s less and less reason for people to buy the paper. If you want to keep a healthy circulation, you have to make the investment in reporters and providing the news that people can’t find anywhere else.” If there is a “secret” of the paper’s success, he said, it is “that you’re providing information that people can’t find any other place.”

And cover the stuff you need to cover, not the stuff you see other people covering:

“I believe that daily newspapers struggle because they’re so often repeating what’s already been presented, either in social media or on the television news,” Edward said. “But when you have a local newspaper that is presenting news people aren’t going to find anywhere else, I think there will always be a need for that. I think that will allow local newspapers to survive very well.”

You wouldn’t think these would be genius-level insights but you know what I don’t read in here? Any customer-blaming, paradigm-shifting, content-funneling nonsense that implies that what’s working for this small paper isn’t what they should keep doing.

A.

Fine, Let’s Talk About Despair

Ross, like Brooks, always opens his enormous yawp when it’s my turn to blog and I PROTEST, ADRASTOS, HE CAN BE YOURS FROM NOW ON: 

Now a new report from the Senate’s Joint Economic Committee charts the scale of this increase — a doubling from 22.7 deaths of despair per 100,000 American in 2000 to 45.8 per 100,000 in 2017, easily eclipsing all prior 20th-century highs.

By way of comparison to climate change, this summer’s National Climate Assessment estimated that rising temperatures could cause between 4,000 and 10,000 additional heat-related deaths annually by the end of the 21st century. But had deaths of despair remained at 2000-era levels, approximately 70,000 fewer Americans would have died this year alone.

Okay, so clearly “despair” here is designated as “bummed-out feelings” and not “my house is underwater and the insurance won’t pay for it because it was categorized as ‘flood damage’ and I didn’t have a flood rider, and also a hurricane wiped out my hospital and I can’t get my chemo by just like walking into the 7-Eleven and the company I work for doesn’t exist anymore because the goddamn peninsula it sat on washed away last year so yes, I fucking despair.”

Ross’s column is the equivalent of that asshole who, when you mention you are undergoing treatment for depression, tells you he was once a little down because his second cousin died but then he got over it without the help of “pills.”

Let’s dig further into his toolery:

Despite the absence of a CNN marathon on the issue, it’s possible to discern several working theories of the crisis, and to imagine roughly how a “deaths of despair” debate might go:

The Technocrat (voice of Pete Buttigieg): “This is primarily a drug abuse and mental-health crisis, and the only way to solve it is with more and better drug treatment programs, more and better psychiatric care. We’ll save these lives one patient, one addict, one treatment center at a time.”

HAHAHA WHAT A LOSER NO ONE NEEDS MORE MENTAL HEALTH CARE.

The Socialist (voice of Bernie Sanders): “This is obviously an economic crisis! People are despairing because their jobs have been outsourced, their wages are stagnant, the rich have hijacked the economy. Tax the plutocrats, raise the minimum wage, give everybody health insurance, and you’ll see this trend reverse.”

I would never say money solves everything. I know lots of fucking miserable rich people who have no life coping skills. But you know, two thirds of the fights people have with their kids and each other are about money and not having those fights is some kind of solution to despair.

The Cultural Healer (voice of Marianne Williamson): “You can’t just medicate this away or solve the problem with wonkery alone. There’s a spiritual void in America, a loss of meaning and metaphysical horizon. The problem is cultural, spiritual, holistic; the solution has to be all three as well.”

She’s an anti-science crackpot who in no way will be president but she ain’t WRONG, in that people are constantly told the only meaning they can possibly find is in jobs that don’t pay them enough, family that hates them, or a punishing God who tells them they’re sinners.

We don’t validate joy and from the top of this country to the goddamn bottom we’re told all our problems are unsolvable and this column is no exception.

I have written this for the voices of Democratic candidates, but there is an equivalent for Republicans: Instead of the Technocrat, imagine the Enforcer, talking about drug interdiction and border security; instead of the Socialist, the Populist, talking about China and wage subsidies and industrial policy; instead of the Cultural Healer, the Preacher talking about the need for a religious revival while the Online Nietzschean bellows from backstage about restoring masculinity.

Well, honey, at least you know.

This conclusion fits with an earlier argument from The Washington Free Beacon’s Charles Fain Lehman that we should subdivide the “despair” problem into distinct categories: A drug crisis driven by the spread of heroin and fentanyl which requires a drug policy solution; a surge in suicides and depression and heavy drinking among middle-aged working-class whites to which economic policy might offer answers; and an increase in depression and suicide generally, and among young people especially, that has more mysterious causes (social media? secularization?) and might only yield to a psychological and spiritual response.

As advice to policymakers this disaggregation makes a lot of sense, not least because the next president is more likely to improve drug policy than to ban iPhones or usher in religious renewal.

Ban iPhones. You fucking idiot. Young people aren’t upset because they have iPhones, they’re upset because *gestures broadly at everything including the nonstop drumbeat from the pages of our august publications that they’re stupid and doomed to fail.*

Following the link Douthat puts in instead of doing research, we find that OH GOSH BIG SURPRISE the study he’s so obsessed with here is primarily concerned with the “despair deaths” of … white people:

For decades, mortality rates had been falling across the developed world. But in the paper, Case and Deaton identified something odd: Mortality among middle-aged, non-Hispanic whites actually began to rise in the late 1990s, upending the popular assumption rates would decline indefinitely.

Once again, the Times is only concerned with the problems of the suburban mommy and the white coal miner. The rest of us can get fucked.

But at the same time the simultaneity of the different self-destroying trends is a brute fact of American life. And that simultaneity does not feel like just a coincidence, just correlation without entanglement — especially when you include other indicators, collapsing birthrates and declining marriage rates and decaying social trust, that all suggest a society suffering a meaning deficit, a loss of purpose and optimism and direction, a gently dehumanizing drift.

The solution is always for white people to have more babies. Amazing.

A.

Why Does Brooks Always Flap His Mouth When It’s My Day to Blog?

WHY:

The most important campaign news of the summer was Elizabeth Warren’s surge. Early in the year, her campaign was foundering. She was in fifth place, with a mere 6 percent support.

We gave this guy a ton of money to read the Quinnipac poll for us. Great use of what we’re being told is journalism’s scarce resources.

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs,” they continued. This is exactly the argument that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos uses to support school choice.

No, the argument Betsy uses is that we should put money into religious schools to further the Christian agenda in the U.S. and better racist whites on the backs of desperate poor people, most of them people of color.

And giving everybody a voucher is literally what public school does, only that voucher is your residency, and that’s what Dr. Professor President Warren was saying, you numpty. 

That is, if you read her entire book, and not this excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, but then we can’t expect David’s assistant to do any research when she’s busy being his wife.

Professor Warren also supported proposals to help families afford day care, but she opposed the approach that candidate Warren now advocates. Back then, she called taxpayer-funded day care a liberal “sacred cow”: “Any subsidy that benefits working parents without providing a similar benefit to single-income families pushes the stay-at-home mother and her family further down the economic ladder.”

Literally the next sentence in the book: 

“Does that mean that publicly supported day care is a bad idea? Not necessarily.”

I mean, honestly, just read one paragraph beyond what supports your (and Betsy’s) ideological point, you garden weasel.

 She opposed more government regulations on housing, because such regulations reduce the incentive to build more housing.

Pretty sure they weren’t the ones that allowed a landlord to kick you out if you were gay, but go off, Dave.

In 2016 Warren and Tyagi wrote a new introduction to their book. It’s hard to believe this introduction was written by the same people. The 2003 book is intellectually unpredictable and alive.

The 2003 book, as cherrypicked by Brooks, agrees with him, and is thus GOOD! That policy proposals can change over time or be influenced by actual reality or the results of practice is not of a concern to our August American Columnists.

This is the problem with politics in a dogmatic age. Everything conforms to rigid ideology. Independent, evidence-based thinking? That goes out the window.

Apparently.

Schmuck.

A.

My Wife and Kids

Of all the horrible things I’ve seen about the Bret Stephens debacle, a real-time implosion of ego and stupidity combined with an almost pathological need to step on one’s own dick in public, by far the worst to me is this:

“I would welcome the opportunity for you to come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face,” he continued. “That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part. I promise to be courteous no matter what you have to say.”

I mean, Bret is terrible for throwing this tantrum in the first place, let’s not forget that. The abuse of power, the staggering overreaction to a mild metaphoric insect joke, the Streisand effect, the subtweeting in the pages of the Times, it’s all sad. Particularly coming on the heels of the Jacob Weisman nonsense, which was exactly the same goddamn thing.

Lest we think this is unusual, a blogpal of mine once got an angry phone call, then an e-mail, from a columnist at the paper that hosted her blog. Her crime? She had dared disagree with him about architecture, and he felt the need to slap his great big Pulitzer on her desk and yell various iterations of DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM. This particular species of man is on every goddamn masthead. He thinks because he was smart once he can never be wrong ever, and his fear of losing an argument, any argument, is pathetic and sad and he gets paid six figures for it.

But for some reason what itches me about Stephens’ ongoing self-owning is the “my wife and kids” routine. Like, leave them out of this, pal. I doubt they crawled into your rattrap psyche and begged you to task them with defending you. Did you really need to throw them in front of Dr. Karpf like some kind of fucked up human shield? TELL IT TO MY WIFE AND KIDS WHY DON’T YOU? What a load.

(I don’t know about you, but the very last thing I would do is invite someone I believed had malicious intent toward me to come meet with my offspring in person. But then, my spouse and child are real people, and not extensions of the public persona I perform each week on Meet the Press.)

It’s a very White Christian Male of a Certain Class move, to invoke the sanctity of one’s homelife in order to prove you’re not a choad. Men since the days of Homer have been hauling out their virtuous helpmeets and pure-of-heart scions to escape criticism, as if the presence of sproglets precludes assdickery.

As if some of history’s greatest motherfuckers weren’t parents who cared about their children.

You would think Stephens, a professional opinion-haver, would be able to have his own opinions without pulling his family into this. Like either come at the guy on your own, or just ignore it like a grownup (or a chick on the internet) but don’t throw them in front of the bedbug-ridden bus that was heading your way. They didn’t ask to be your enemies’ exterminators.

A.

Bedbugging Out

The bedbug is perhaps the perfect metaphor for the Trump era. The word has certainly been tossed around a lot lately. Failing New York Times columnist Brett Stephens took umbrage over a tweet by a college professor describing him as a bedbug. Stephens famously wrote the George Washington University and ratted out the bedbug guy. They swatted him away like, well, a bedbug.

The Stephens story is bizarre: he’s an anti-Trump right-winger so he’s surely been called worse. His whole “this is language they use in totalitarian regimes” defense rings hollow. Does the NYT require their writers to be easily offended? Stephens is not the only one to have his feelings hurt on the tweeter tube. It’s just twitter, y’all. Nothing that happens there matters.

The bedbug infestation spread to the G-7 where President* Pennywise was hard selling his Miami resort as a site for the next global confab:

The bedbug rumors are bad for the business Trump is trying to drum up:

The bedbug controversy did not discourage Trump from promoting his property for the next G7 even in an apparent violation of rules against profiteering from the presidency.

But the president claimed he won’t profit off the event. “In my opinion I’m not going to make any money,” Trump said. “I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money.”

That may be the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages. The Kaiser of Chaos doesn’t care about making money? Was he under anesthetic after his Doral surgery? Come on, admit it, you knew that pun was coming.

The whole notion of any president profiting off an international summit is obscene. It’s crazy corrupt even for this crazy crooked administration. Holy emoluments clause, Batman.

Trump decided to flip the bedbug thing on its buggy head by turning on Brett Stephens this morning:

I’ve been trying my damnedest not to post the Insult Comedian’s tweets BUT it was necessary to capture the sixth-grader-ness of it all. As always, Trump sounds like a schoolyard bully who’s ready to bolt at the sign of any resistance. Not nice. Believe me.

The White House is going to need fumigation after the Trumpian bedbug infestation ends. They should burn all the mattresses in a dumpster fire worthy of this administration.

I used Trump tossing paper towels in Puerto Rico as the featured image as a reminder that Tropical Storm Dorian is heading in that direction. And that Team Trump stripped money from the  FEMA  budget to pay for their detention/concentration camps. I suspect Puerto Ricans wish Trump had traded their island for Greenland. They could be Danish right now and Denmark would give a toss about their fate unlike the Tosser-In-Chief.

That concludes this edition of Your President* Speaks. Nite, nite, don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Private Equity is Doing to Digital What They Did to Newspapers

This is a familiar tune: 

This man is not the adult in the room at the former Gawker Media, just as Kendall Roy was not the adult in the room at Vaulter and Alden Global Capital executives are not the adult in the room at any of the 100 newspapers they are destroying. Sending a copied-and-pasted company handbook, issuing vague edicts about becoming sites for “enthusiasts,” and making inexplicable changes for the sake of making changes are the professional equivalent of a small boy dressing up in his father’s suit: He is role-playing, deluding himself but no one else.

The editors and writers and video producers and artists and sales reps and product managers and so on—the people who made this a successful company while also making it the best place I can imagine working—are its actual leaders, and the reason that, despite it all, these websites will continue writing things the rest of us want to read. But none of those people are the richest person here, which means they will keep succeeding despite—not because of—the man who is. He doesn’t know what they know; he doesn’t have to know. No one like him does.

It’s almost like the problem isn’t the format or the “business model” but the idiots running the things. It’s almost like you can send your news out on the internet or publish it on someone else’s platform or print it out on pulped-up dead trees but either way if you take all the money you make and give it to anything but the news you’re screwed in the end.

If you spend a bazillion dollars on real estate. If you rob the place blind. If you care more about double-digit profit margins than getting the paper on the porch or making the site good. If you refuse to pay for journalism, if you spend all your time screwing with journalists, you’re not going to be successful and there’s only so long you can get away with blaming your customers for not liking the thing you made suck on purpose.

I’m not happy that we’re finally paying attention to this shit 20 years too late to save the institutions that could have saved us. There’s a direct line between the ongoing decimation of local news and the rise of what all our thought leaders are calling “post-truth America” and everybody acted like it was just the weather, like it just happened to us. Like it wasn’t done on purpose to immense profit for the worst people in America and like the only people screaming about it 15 years ago were steadily ignored until the pattern repeated itself online.

And lest anyone think I’m letting my own generation of newspaper journos off the hook for missing the real story about their own demise, far, far too many of us took management’s subtle encouragement to hate the internet and Kids Today and journos younger than we were for destroying the industry that management was gleefully skullfucking in the boardroom while we fought amongst ourselves.

Far too many of us spent our days grumbling about younger reporters just out of college “taking” jobs from veterans, as if that 23-year-old Mizzou grad is the one who refused to give Howie a decent raise or offered Cheryl a buyout after her health insurance got too pricey.

Meanwhile, they blew all their money on sex offenders and rebranding. 

It shouldn’t have taken another generation of journalists having their careers destroyed for us to finally notice it wasn’t the Kids or the Internet or the “digital paradigm” or the union distribution drivers who were the problem with news. It was always the people running the thing being total idiots because failure is just as profitable for them as success and has zero consequences.

They could fuck up a baked potato and we gave them the keys to half of Idaho after they told us that famine in Ireland was just some kind of fluke.

A.

 

The Completely Predictable Podcast ‘Revolution’

What a load, but then this is how it always works: 

It’s that sort of flawed logic that drives the podcast community up a wall. To whatever degree this medium ever enjoyed a meritocracy, increased monetization strips it away by default and by design. O’Brien was offered seven figures on the assumption that he’d produce a strong podcast—a correct assumption, but in sharp contrast with even the heaviest hitters of the medium, who must always work twice as hard to prove what they’ve done for us lately.

I remember when Politico launched, and everyone acted like these two plucky boys from nowhere were going to pool their milk money and start them up a gol-darn blog! They were going to make a news “site” on the “internets” and it would report on politics, which was something no one had ever heard of in the year of our Lord Jesus Tits 2007.

That there were thousands of political blogs online by then didn’t stop everyone from being like POLITICO INVENTED A BLOG and I’m not surprised to see the same dynamic at work with podcasting, which underpaid/volunteer workers have been doing for free for years only to see money and promotion lavished upon someone who doesn’t need either. Conan seems fine and people really seem to like podcasts and whatever, honestly, but acting like a successful rich person is some kind of self-made man with a microphone in his basement talkin’ hard is not helpful to the media conversation right now.

This isn’t how stuff gets done. This is why everyone’s mad all the time. Because the idea was you work hard and build something and you get rewarded for it, and instead you work had and build something and then somebody who already has a squillion dollars comes along and does the same thing and everyone is like GET A LOAD OF EINSTEIN OVER HERE WITH THE PODCAST, no one ever thought of one of those before.

A.