Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

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.

Schmucks.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

Sides

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.

A.

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.

A.

The Bayou Brief

In addition to my “duties” (it’s no duty, it’s a pleasure) here at First Draft, I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining the Bayou Brief as a contributing writer. It’s a brand spanking new progressive news site focusing on the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

My first task will be to write about the New Orleans Mayoral race. Don’t worry: I’ll still be here posting weird pictures, telling jokes, mocking the Insult Comedian, defogging history, and doing what I do. Saturday Odds & Sods and Friday Catblogging will continue. Oscar and Della Street will see to that.

Here’s the official, but not officious, Facebook announcement:

The Fog Of Cosmopolitan History

I wish I were writing about the drink they were obsessed with on Sex and the City or the magazine of that name. Not that I’d drink a cosmopolitan since they contain the demon vodka. I’m referring to comments by made by alt-right nutbar Stephen Miller in response to a question posed by CNN’s Jim Acosta. Acosta is on the verge of becoming the Dan Rather of the current White House press corps. You may recall that Dan the Man was the teevee reporter who really got under Tricky’s skin when the Watergate shit was hitting the fan. Splat. Tom Brokaw was a mere fly to be swatted away. I’m surprised Nixon didn’t make Ron Ziegler his designated fly killer. He was vaguely Priebusian, after all.

Back to the “pride” of Duke University who makes up for his lack of people skills with his use of buzz words:

The conversation went off the rails. At one point, Acosta implied the policy would favor immigrants from English-speaking countries — a logical assumption, if English speaking skills are prioritized in green card applicants.

“Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” he asked.

“No! This is an amazing moment,” Miller said triumphantly. “This is an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.”

“Of course the are people who come — ” Acosta began.

“But that’s not what you said, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias,” Miller said.

“It sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country as policy,” Acosta said.

“Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said,” Miller said. “The notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting”

That part of the exchange was too juicy to cut. I’ve bold-faced the buzz words: cosmopolitan bias. There has been much back and forth as to whether this makes a white dude with a boring name a Nazi neo or otherwise. It think it shows his inclination toward Putinesque neo-Fascism since Putinism is derived from Soviet Communism when it metastasized into kleptocracy.

“Rootless cosmopolitanism” was a Stalinist buzz word deployed during a post-war anti-Semitic campaign waged by the Soviet dictator and his lackeys. Many of the enemies purged by Stalin during the Thirties were Jewish but the post-war campaign had more to do with the Red Tsar’s paranoia and dipsomania. Stalin was a vodka drinker. What more evidence do you need that vodka is Satan’s beverage?

It really doesn’t matter what one calls the likes of Miller be it Nazi or Facisct. He’s a white nationalist aka white supremacist aka racist aka bigot. He’s also known as a malaka, which ends in aka. We have a theme here, which has nothing to do with the Mardi Gras Indian song Aka Aka. Yeah, I know, it’s Iko Iko. Cut a brother some slack, y’all. I have a pun community to tend to.

Miller is also historically illiterate and an obnoxious know-it-all. That makes him the perfect Trumper. I am filled with glee whenever the White House trots him out to alienate everyone who isn’t a fan of Jeff Bo and Bannon. Thanks, Donald.

This is as good a time as any to point y’all at the Vanity Fair profile of Miller that discussed in a Saturday post in a segment called Annals of a Duke Puke. The segment title is as true now as it was two months ago.

I don’t feel like writing a treastise on my views about immigration. I’ve already done that so I’ll point you in the direction of a 2014 post, Pulling Up The Drawbridge. It says it all.

Finally, I feel bad for rock and roll hall of famer Steve Miller for having the same name as the Duke Puke. The Real Steve Miller gets the last word with a song that, despite the title, has nothing to do with MAGA maggots.

“Somebody get me a cheeseburger.”

What’s more American than that?

Your President* Speaks: Boy Scout Bullshit Edition

The Insult Comedian gave a rather chummy interview to the Wall Street Journal the day after the Trumpers Jamboree speech. The WSJ declined to post the transcript so I’m obliged to thank Tiger Beat on the Potomac for doing so.

I call it chummy because of the Arabella colloquy. It turns out that and Princess Ivanka and WSJ editor Gerard Baker both have daughters named Arabella. Perhaps that explains all the softballs lobbed at the Kaiser of Chaos in this interview. Additionally, it’s a Murdoch property. Rupe and Donald have been going steady for quite some time.

Here’s all you need to know about veteran Fleet Stret hack Gerard Baker:

Baker has defended his paper in the past from criticism, both internal and external, that the broadsheet has been too soft on the real estate mogul and reality-television star-turned-45th president of the United States.

In an internal town hall with employees in February, Baker said that anyone who claims the Journal has been soft on Trump is peddling “fake news,” and that employees who are unhappy with the Journal’s objective, as opposed to oppositional, approach to Trump should work somewhere else.

Anyone who uses the term “fake news” plays for Team Trump.

I’m going to keep this relatively brief this morning and stick to two segments with the odd annotation. The first one is about the maladministration’s wispy renaissance man, Slumlord Jared. It begins with an exchange between Princess Ivanka and Baker about an editorial that referred to her horrible husband:

MS.: And I liked your editorial today, very nice. (Laughs.)

BAKER: Oh, good, good. Well, you see, you know, my colleagues write those, so they’ll be — they’ll be —

TRUMP: You did a good job.

MS: Yeah, you really did.

BAKER: Thank you very much. Thank you.

TRUMP: You did a good job. He’s a good — he’s a good boy.

MS.: They wrote a very nice editorial, so very good.

BAKER: Thank you.

Slumlord Jared is 36. They’re all good boys to Trump even when they’re not. Ain’t no good boys in his family. Speaking of which, this is the first White House in memory without a First Pet. That tells you all you need to know about the Trumps. I wonder if the ghost of Grace Coolidge’s pet raccoon is haunting the West Wing? That could be Team Trump’s next lame excuse. It would be funny to hear Huck’s awful spawn talkin’ ’bout coons.

Let’s move on to the Insult Comedian’s “reflections” on his Trumpers Jamboree speech.

WSJ: We were in West Virginia yesterday.

TRUMP: Oh, you did? Was that a scene, though? Huh?

WSJ: That was a scene, yes. (Laughter.)

TRUMP: Biggest crowd they’ve ever had. What did you think?

WSJ: I thought it was an interesting speech in the context of the Boy Scouts.

TRUMP: Right.

WSJ: They seemed to get a lot of feedback from former scouts and –

TRUMP: Did they like it?

WSJ: It seemed mixed.

TRUMP: They loved it. [Laughter.] It wasn’t — it was no mix. That was a standing –

WSJ: In the — you got a good — you got a good reaction in –

TRUMP: I mean, you know, he writes mostly negative stuff. But that was a standing ovation –

WSJ: You got a good reaction inside the arena, that’s right.

TRUMP: … from the time I walked out on the stage — because I know. And by the way, I’d be the first to admit mixed. I’m a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.

WSJ: Yeah, there was a lot of supporters in the arena.

TRUMP: And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.

Trump is the crazy mixed-up kid in this instance. The big Boy Scout issued an apology for the speech and the BSA spokesboy said they were “unaware” of a thank you call. It’s a polite way of calling Donald a lying sack of shit.

Unfortunately, the country is getting used to Trump’s casual, unnecessary lying about *everything* even minor subjects like the Trumpers Jamboree speech. It’s why I feel obliged to wade through the muck of the Insult Comedian’s mind to point out *some* of his whoppers. Btw, if you haven’t read Doc’s great piece, An Eagle’s Eye View on Trump and the Jamboree, please check it out. I Who knew he was an Eagle Scout? Ya learn something every day unless, that is, you’re POUTUS. He’s forever stuck in his tabloid glory days, the 1980’s. He hasn’t learned anything since. Believe me.

One more thing. In the Insult Comedian’s pea brain everything about him has to be the biggest, best, and greatest. The world is his oyster even in the months with an R in them. That’s why he cannot stop brooding about Bobby Three Sticks and the Russia investigation. If he and/or his minions does something, it must not only be right, it’s got to be beautiful and tremendous. He is, of course, ugly, petty, and delusional. So it goes.

One more Trumpism caught my eye. His commentary on the house he currently demeans with his presence:

President Donald Trump explained his frequent weekend visits to his own properties by disparaging the White House in no uncertain terms, according to a report published Tuesday by Sports Illustrated.

Sports Illustrated reported that Trump recently explained his frequent weekend visits to his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, by telling members, “That White House is a real dump.”

In contrast, Trump is in the habit of lavishing effusive praise on his own properties, Sports Illustrated reported, citing numerous people who have played golf with Trump: “Is this not the most beautiful asphalt you’ve ever seen in your life?”

Beautiful Asphalt? Sounds like the name of a biker metal band or a Blue Oyster Cult tune.

Back to the “dump” comment. It’s the people’s house and when you insult it, you insult the nation. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

This latest mishigas reminds me of the scene in Beyond The Forest wherein Bette Davis uttered one of her most memorable lines. Make that line. It was three words and it’s the last word.

 

They Knew What Trump Was. They Liked It.

Everybody’s sharing this Kevin Williamson piece and it’s horseshit: 

Trump is the political version of a pickup artist, and Republicans — and America — went to bed with him convinced that he was something other than what he is. Trump inherited his fortune but describes himself as though he were a self-made man.

He has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies’ man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words (“negotiator”) and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, “bigly,” “major,” “world-class,” “top,” and superlatives), but he isn’t much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity.

WE KNEW ALL THAT SHIT. The GOP knew all that shit. They had oppo research on him from the primaries, they had Obama telling them Trump was likely in hock to the Russian mob, and we’re supposed to believe they were taken in by his persona? He spent all of the primaries shit-talking the GOP, telling them how much he’d bought them for, and calling them names. They were in no way unaware that he was a two-bit con man.

The GOP didn’t care, because they wanted to win. Paul Ryan wanted to repeal Obamacare and take away the benefits that made Paul Ryan possible. Mitch McConnell wanted to hold his caucus of fascists and fools together and keep dining out on his unearned reputation as some kind of master strategist. Half the Internet punditry was plenty happy to go along with Trump because they’re not very bright and TV lights are shiny, and the other half saw an opportunity to burnish their reputations by being showily against Trump without really doing anything.

His voters didn’t care because electing him let them say fuck you. Sure, you can find some Trump supporters to say they thought he was a dealmaker or a businessman, but by and large they will tell you why they voted for him: To say fuck you to a system that didn’t cater to their interests. To stick it to some imaginary liberals in the city that Fox News told them look down on their values. To break everything because breaking things feels powerful and good.

I just … I mean, did anyone in the GOP not know Donald Trump was a fucking clown after his 2012 dance of “I’m not running … but maybe … but maybe not … but BIRTH CERTIFICATE … but no?” They tried to sink him in every way they knew how and after all of that, after he accused Ted Cruz’s dad of killing JFK and called out Marco Rubio’s micropenis, they decided with full knowledge that they’d rather win with him than lose without.

We’re supposed to believe they were, what, dazzled by the flap of dead squirrel on his head? Nobody who likes Trump is under any illusions about who they’re going to bed with. To let them off the hook and cast their willful meanness as some kind of tragicomic self-delusion is more charity than I’m willing to grant after a week of phone calls to save newborn babies who need chemo.

Schmuck.

A.

Your President* Speaks: The Daily Constitutional Crisis

It’s no secret that Donald Trump thrives on conflict, chaos, and crisis. It’s also no secret that normal people find the constant chaos exhausting. I’m only marginally normal but find myself waking up and wondering what shit has hit the fan over night. Some days it’s a crazy tweet, other days it’s an interview. Whenever the Insult Comedian is interviewed by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, the bats in his belfry come flying out.

Haberman wasn’t the only Timesperson involved in the interview but she’s the one with the knack of summoning the demons. Timing is, of course, everything. Even by the standards of the Trump presidency* it’s been a crazy few weeks: things are not going well in Trump World and when that happens, shit meet fan.

This time around there is *some* method in the president’s* madness. Events in the Trump-Russia scandal are moving at warp speed while the attempt to destroy the ACA is creeping along like a slug that’s been stepped on. The White House is issuing empty threats to Senators who are less and less afraid of the Orange Menace every day. It’s not unusual for a real president to want to change the subject but they rarely move on to an even more damaging topic. Ain’t nothing real about the pouty POTUS* on display today. Pouty POTUS*? I feel a new nickname coming on: POUTUS. I’m not sure if it requires an asterisk. The dumb fucker pouts constantly.

We begin with a comment inspired by his Parisian sojourn:

Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?

Uh, POUTUS, it was Louis Bonaparte aka Napoleon III whose government laid out the street grid of which you speak. One would think Trump would like him since he was elected and then became Emperor/Dictator. Of course, he finished “a little bit bad” too. I bet the Insult Comedian has never heard of Napoleon’s nephew Louis. It would involve reading a book.

Next up is a comment about his unsupervised visit with Putin:

We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

Adoption is Putinspeak for sanctions. They talked about something substantive with only Putin’s translator present. Btw, Karl Rove said he wouldn’t have taken that meeting. That’s right, Team Trump is worse than Karl Fucking Rove.

Constitutional crisis, come on down:

TRUMP: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Sessions screwed up and did the right thing by recusing himself. He was following DOJ rules. Imagine that. Second, Trump refers to himself in the third person as the president* The only recent Oval One I can recall doing that was Tricky Dick. You know, the only president to resign in disgrace.

The bit about Rosenstein is classic Trumpian projection. Trump is a New York Republican who lost his home state 59-37 and did even worse in NYC. One would have thought Rosenstein would be his political soul brother. I guess not.

Next up is the part of Your President* Speaks in which American history is misinterpreted.

And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.

The FBI has always been part of the DOJ and its director has always reported to the Attorney General. The president has always had the appointment power. One reason Mark (Deep Throat) Felt insisted on anonymity is that he was bypassed by Nixon to replace Hoover and didn’t want to come off as a disgruntled office seeker.

It’s time for Trump to threaten the Special Counsel:

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?

HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that.

He didn’t definitely say he’d fire Bobby Three Sticks but the implication is clear.  Trump wants Mueller to keep his hands off the Trump crime family. We’ve had some phony Saturday Night Massacres in the past 180 days. Firing Mueller would be the real deal.

In a normal administration, we would have awakened to the news that Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had resigned. To say that this is not a normal administration is a grotesque understatement. Normal presidents care about the appearance of impropriety and would never meet with a Russian president without a sidekick of some kind. Even the Lone Ranger would have brought Tonto along, but not Johnny Depp’s Tonto with the dead bird on his head. Hmm, maybe Trump should try that. Imagine a dead bird atop the dead nutria he has atop his head. It would be a fashion sensation, y’all.

That concludes this epic edition of Your President* Speaks. I haven’t even included Trump’s recent tweet storms. Twitter is ephemeral. The New York Times is the newspaper of record. Maggie Haberman is the Trump whisperer. The poor dear.

Look Who Just Showed Up, Everybody!

It’s the anthropologists of Real America, again, making sure we hear from a guy who carries Grover Norquist’s bags around! 

In 1997, Patterson was riding in a car that was hit by a drunk driver, and the bones of his left arm were shattered into several dozen pieces. After six surgeries, he suffered permanent nerve damage, decreased arm mobility, and no future as a closeup magician. Having acquired his G.E.D., he enrolled in classes at the University of Miami. The quality of Patterson’s writing impressed an instructor, who persuaded him to apply to Columbia. The year that Patterson turned thirty, he became an Ivy League freshman. He majored in classics. Every night, he translated four hundred lines of ancient Greek and Latin. In class, he often argued with professors and students.

“The default view seemed to be that Western civilization is inherently bad,” he told me. In one history seminar, when students discussed the evils of the Western slave trade, Patterson pointed out that many cultures had practiced slavery, but that nobody decided to eradicate it until individuals in the West took up the cause. The class booed him. In Patterson’s opinion, most people at Columbia believed that only liberal views were legitimate, whereas his experiences in Grand Junction, and his textbook lessons from magic, indicated otherwise. (“States of mind are no different than feats of manual dexterity. Both can be learned through patience and diligence.”)

“Look, I’m a high-school dropout who went to an Ivy League school,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen both sides. The people at Columbia are not smarter.” He continued, “I went to Columbia at the height of the Iraq War. There were really legitimate arguments against going into Iraq. But I found that the really good arguments against going were made by William F. Buckley, Bob Novak, and Pat Buchanan. What I saw on the left was all slogans and group thought and clichés.”

Patterson graduated with honors and a reinvigorated sense of political conviction. For the past seven years, he’s worked for conservative nonprofit organizations, most recently in anti-union activism. In 2013, the United Auto Workers tried to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, where Patterson demonstrated a knack for billboards and catchphrases. On one sign, he paired a photograph of a hollowed-out Packard plant with the words “Detroit: Brought to You by the UAW.” Another billboard said “United Auto Workers,” with the word “Auto” crossed out and replaced by “Obama,” written in red.

In Patterson’s opinion, such issues are cultural and emotional as much as economic. He believes that unions once served a critical function in American industry, but that the leadership, like that of the Democratic Party, has drifted too far from its base. Union heads back liberal candidates such as Obama and Clinton while dues-paying members tend to hold very different views. Patterson also thinks that free trade, which he once embraced as a conservative, has damaged American industries, and he now supports some more protectionist measures. His message resonated in Chattanooga, where, in 2014, workers delivered a stinging defeat to the U.A.W. Since then, Patterson has continued his advocacy in communities across the country, under the auspices of Americans for Tax Reform, which was founded by the conservative advocate Grover Norquist. “So now I bust unions for Grover Norquist with a classics degree and as a former magician,” he told me.

He’s a flack. You sent a reporter to the Real America, NewGoddamnYorker, and you found a GOP flack with a funny backstory, and you used him as an example of why Trump won. You let him say a thousand words that all boil down to racism (unions were fine until black people and brown immigrants started to benefit) and this is how Trump is transforming rural America? This asshole lives in Washington DC, no matter where he came from, and he’s paid to push a line you’ve bit on. Nice job.

The entire piece is an exercise in how to let white people avoid saying “racism,” perhaps best exemplified in this paragraph:

Before Trump took office, people I met in Grand Junction emphasized pragmatic reasons for supporting him. The economy was in trouble, and Trump was a businessman who knew how to make rational, profit-oriented decisions. Supporters almost always complained about some aspect of his character, but they also believed that these flaws were likely to help him succeed in Washington. “I’m not voting for him to be my pastor,” Kathy Rehberg, a local real-estate agent, said. “I’m voting for him to be President. If I have rats in my basement, I’m going to try to find the best rat killer out there. I don’t care if he’s ugly or if he’s sociable. All I care about is if he kills rats.”

That’s not loaded language at all when you’re a white lady talking about a candidate who campaigned on promises to boot illegal immigrants from the country.

These people similarly seem really nice:

The calculus seemed to have shifted: Trump’s negative qualities, which once had been described as a means to an end, now had value of their own. The point wasn’t necessarily to get things done; it was to retaliate against the media and other enemies. This had always seemed fundamental to Trump’s appeal, but people had been less likely to express it so starkly before he entered office. “For those of us who believe that the media has been corrupt for a lot of years, it’s a way of poking at the jellyfish,” Karen Kulp told me in late April. “Just to make them mad.”

If you think this is new, you must have slept through the last 40 fucking years. Republican legislators have been making their bones attacking journalists and universities for DECADES. Until recently, they didn’t have a compliant media machine of their own to amplify their resentments, whip them up to turn on their neighbors white and otherwise, and suppress the votes of those they thought were looking down on them.

For as long as there have been public universities and newspapers, there have been assholes attacking them as anti-American. Once upon a time, though, we didn’t mount expeditions into the assholes’ native territory with the aim of understanding the people who wanted us dead.

In Grand Junction, it was often dispiriting to see such enthusiasm for a figure who could become the ultimate political boom-and-bust. There was idealism, too, and so many pro-Trump opinions were the fruit of powerful and legitimate life experiences. “We just assume that if someone voted for Trump that they’re racist and uneducated,” Jeriel Brammeier, the twenty-six-year-old chair of the local Democratic Party, told me. “We can’t think about it like that.” People have reasons for the things that they believe, and the intensity of their experiences can’t be taken for granted; it’s not simply a matter of having Fox News on in the background. But perhaps this is a way to distinguish between the President and his supporters. Almost everybody I met in Grand Junction seemed more complex, more interesting, and more decent than the man who inspires them.

Maybe they did. But if you are truly so dim as to think that they wouldn’t seem more complex, more interesting and more decent TO YOU because YOU’RE A WHITE GUY, I have a membership to Mar-A-Lago to sell you.

They seemed better than the man they voted for? Too bad. They voted for him. I don’t care if they’re racist and uneducated in real life or if they have a bunch of graduate degrees and ten black friends, because they voted for racism and stupidity anyway.

They don’t want people looking down on them? They can fix that really easily by BEING BETTER HUMAN BEINGS.

This whole story is a mess, and the only interesting aspect of it is the idea that voting for Trump is performative, something done not to improve anyone’s life but to make the voter feel powerful and good in a world that tries to snuff such feelings out. I wonder if anyone’s ever made that point before. 

A.

Malaka Of The Week: David Brooks

I am an anomaly among veteran liberal political bloggers. I have never written about David Brooks. The man known as Bobo has long been one of Athenae’s favorite targets. I almost called him her whipping boy but I have sworn off bondage jokes after an incident involving this Zappa song:

In any event, Brooks has written a column so silly that even I have taken notice. And that is why David Brooks is malaka of the week.

I’m late to the whole sammich column debate, but suffice it to say that one of the things Bobo thinks is wrong with America are foreign ingredients:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

We are well and truly through the looking glass. Malaka Bobo thinks that Italian meats that have been eaten for years by his swarthier countrymen are an indicator of decline. Really, Bobo? Trump is president* Mitch McConnell is trying to destroy Medicaid and prosciutto is the problem?

If David Brooks weren’t such a white boy, he’d know that many Americans, including the working class types he’s suddenly so solicitous of, have been eating ethnic foods for years. Sure, yuppies are into it but so is the average Italian Giovanni in Jersey, not to mention Cajun oil rig roughnecks and their demon boudin. Somebody should bop Bobo in the bean with a baguette and knock some sense into him.

The best thing I’ve seen about the sammich mishigas was a meaty post by Charlie Pierce who has been mocking Bobo for years:

Moral Hazard, the Irish setter owned for photo op purposes by New York Times columnist David Brooks, stood dripping and shivering in my foyer. I half-filled his dog bowl with Jameson and he took it down in several big gulps.

 “I had to get out,” he said. “It was starting to get crazy down there. Master’s off the rails and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. He walks around, day and night, mumbling to himself, saying weird stuff about community and prosciutto. People are starting to wonder. Douthat, the former houseboy, jumps into closets now when he sees him coming and Stephens, the new one, hides behind the sofa. Nobody wants to listen to 15 minutes on how Edmund Burke’s Reflections warned us against radicalism and balsamic vinegar. I mean, OK, hear it once and it’s interesting but around the third time, you want to talk about hockey.”
I’ll be doggone if I can top that but I’m glad to hear that Malaka Bobo has a commoner as a pal. It could explain why he’s so down to earth and in touch with white working class Trump voters. #sarcasm. I hope Breakfast for Bobo involves strictly American ingredients although I suspect we’d have to gritsplain a Southern breakfast to this pompous fool who thinks that croissants and cappuccino are ruining the country. And that is why David Brooks is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to the late Warren Zevon who knew a good thing when he tasted it unlike that silly billy Bobo.

UPDATE: It turns out that I wrote about David Brooks in 2014: Bobo’s Weed Screed. It was strictly a one off deal. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

This Entire Story on Jim Acosta is Bullshit

Remember during the heyday of the Daily Show, when reporters would anonymously carp at the supposed freedom Jon Stewart had to call bullshit on bullshit? The stifled contemptuous jealousy with which they talked about him and his team? “Oh, he’s a comedian, not a journalist, and he’s on a cable network, not at an august publication run by someone with a numeral after his name, so he can question authority and we can’t, woe is helpless little us.”

Here we go again. Paul Farhi of the Washington Post is JUST ASKING if maybe Jim Acosta treating the White House with skepticism is rude: 

Acosta’s remarks aren’t just blunt; they’re unusual. Reporters are supposed to report, not opine. Yet Acosta’s disdain has flowed openly, raising a question about how far a reporter — supposedly a neutral arbiter of facts, not a commenter on them — can and should go.

Really? It raises a question? All by itself? Nobody raised that question? Nobody who wants to be named, anyway? That’s okay, just put the question in the headline and pretend it came from God himself. No worries.

A curious sidelight to all this has been the relatively tepid support Acosta has received from his fellow White House journalists. Only a few have publicly spoken out in support of him. There have been no walkouts or calls for boycotting the briefings (although Acosta has suggested “collective action” to get the cameras back). The White House Correspondents’ Association has confined its agitation to behind-the-scenes negotiations with Spicer and several short, general statements.

So Acosta put himself out there, calling bullshit when he smelled it, and nobody else in the cowardly White House press corps jumped to his defense, so that automatically makes … Acosta questionable? HOW? What the hell kind of morally bankrupt construction is this? Is someone only right about stuff when everybody validates their point of view? Is he only correct if more than six other reporters back him up? Is that how you determine who’s on the side of the angels and who’s going to hell?

I’m really confused about this, Paul Farhi, because I’m old enough to have gone to journalism school and been taught about a trade that specialized in holding power to account. Nobody mentioned a popularity contest among our peers, and let’s be honest, most reporters fucking hate each other anyway. The good ones always have half a dozen enemies in the business.

Jim Acosta is not proven right or wrong by counting how many of his colleagues like his tone of voice. Even if he was, if you read the entire story, Farhi doesn’t even quote anyone who’s all that mad at Acosta. Farhi quotes Spicer, who of course is going to shit-talk Acosta, and he quotes Fox:

In fact, the pushback against Acosta from some quarters of the media has been more striking. On a recent Fox News segment, for example, former Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry said Acosta’s on-air commentary had “crossed the line” into opinion.

Henry then burst into flames, as is customary when irony flips the switch on the XM42.

How exactly is it striking, Farhi, that a Trump-friendly network thinks bullshit-opposing journalists are just de trop? Wouldn’t you expect Fox to say that anyone not actively licking the president’s boots must be some kind of communist traitor somehow? Isn’t that what they’ve spent the past two Republican administrations saying? Is this NEW for them somehow?

This is my favorite part of the story, though. It’s the SECOND TO LAST PARAGRAPH WHICH DISPROVES THE LEAD.

In fact, Acosta didn’t go easy on Trump and Spicer’s predecessors; his questioning of Obama press secretary Josh Earnest and Obama himself was often highlighted in conservative media accounts and in Republican National Committee emails. During the IRS scandal, for instance, he asked Earnest whether the White House’s claim that it had lost important emails was like saying “the dog ate my homework.” He also pressed Obama on his characterization of the Islamic State as “the J.V. team” and the president’s contention that he hadn’t underestimated the terror organization. “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” Acosta asked.

So … the entire premise of your story is bullshit, then? Acosta has said nothing provably false or even all that inflammatory, Acosta’s boss is really happy with his work, Acosta’s main critics are administration officials and one Fox jackass, so … why didn’t you spike this piece of shit? Why is it out there with a vague … this raises questions and shadows are swirling in the ether of nothingness in which disembodied observers might opine that we can’t ever know the truth?

What’s the good of keeping democracy from dying in darkness if you’re just going to drown it in stupidity?

A.

Want to #Resist, Rich Liberals? Buy Some Fucking Newspapers

This was rightly roasted all over the place this week: 

Bigger government handouts won’t win working-class voters back. This is the fallacy of the left, believing that voters just need to be shown how much they are getting in government benefits. In reality, these voters see themselves as being penalized for maintaining the basic values of hard work, religion and family.

And I made the point myself that “Democrats” like Penn have no idea where the center is in this country and no financial incentive to find out. If they can cash in without providing any kind of data, why would they do the work necessary to prove their (bullshit) hypothesis?

Move to the center, Democrats! Because if you nominate a war hero, he certainly won’t be characterized as a traitor! If you nominate a woman so hawkish she makes Angela Merkel look like a pacifist, she certainly won’t be derided as weak! If you run a biracial constitutional lawyer whose ideas would be right at home in the Eisenhower administration, he’s certainly not going to be called a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizer!

This idea that the appeal of the GOP to the average voter is about substance is just adorable. We could go back in time, nominate Bernie Sanders, he could talk nonstop about manufacturing jobs and Real Americans in the Rust Belt, and by the time wingnut media were done with him he’d be That Socialist Jew and he’d have had to denounce every single black friend he’d ever made.

If the future of the Democratic Party is conversion of Republican voters, nobody is ever going to be good enough.

My biggest problem with that Penn piece and this WTF nonsense is that what Democrats need isn’t another retooling by somebody’s fucking cousin who’s a brand ambassador. They don’t need to call abortion icky or abandon whatever the fuck these rich white tools think is “identity politics” this week. They don’t need a white man with a Southern accent and a picturesque farmer/coal miner background (though if we wanna run Jimmy again, I’m game if he is).

They need their own fucking printing press and they should go buy one. Plus a few dozen TV stations and some local radio networks. Maybe save some media execs from themselves.

Without those things, it doesn’t matter if Democrats move left, right or center if there’s a 24-7 media machine screaming that all Dems including YOUR SENATOR INSERT NAME HERE is a pinko commie babykilling fairy peacefreak who wants to give secret welfare to black people by raising your taxes.

It doesn’t matter how many “Rust Belt correspondent” anthropologists big papers parachute in to gawk at the rubes and come up with euphemisms for racsim. They’ll never be able to convince people that “the media” aren’t the bad guys when the only media people consume is anti-Democratic, anti-dissent, anti-media media.

It’s not like there aren’t properties for sale. Good, profitable properties (I will NEVER fucking understand shuttering a profitable business, never in my life) that are doing important work in places where Americans desperately need a voice for public education, organized labor, a living wage, alleviation of poverty, universal health care and all the things we claim are so important to us every four years.

So maybe some of the people who will shovel cash at Penn and this WTF bullshit can wheel their barrels full of money just a little farther down the street and buy themselves the message they know isn’t getting out. It didn’t matter in the last half-dozen elections, presidential and otherwise, that Democrats across the board DID have policies and priorities to fix health care, to retrain American workers, to raise the minimum wage, to provide public education. Nobody heard a word they were saying.

You let Republicans do all the talking and people are going to vote for Republicans every time.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Garden Of Earthly Delights

The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

The first week of July is when it really heats up in New Orleans. The air is thick and smacks you upside the head when you venture outside. The pace of life slows to a crawl and Oscar and Della can be found sprawled out on our wood floors hoping to cool themselves. Nice work if you can get it.

Later today, I’m going to the silliest annual event in New Orleans. It’s a non-violent running of the bulls thingamabob. The “bulls” are roller girls wielding soft paddles. I do not run. Dr. A and I hang out with our friend Cait and the child army of darkness whilst her husband Dave runs. We all sweat. It’s minosas and donuts for me, y’all. Perhaps I should take a Spank paddle to liven things up:

This week’s theme song is inspired by our Boschian theme. You may have noticed that Hieronymus Bosch’s prot0-surrealist The Garden of Earthly Delights is the featured image. There will be more Bosching about later but I will never head to the mountains and drink Busch beer. You say Busch, I say Bosch. Let’s call the whole thing off. Stop me before I quote Ira Gershwin again.

Back to the theme song. It comes from XTC’s Oranges and Lemons album whose cover was featured of a Wednesday in 2014. That feature was sidelined this week but will return next Wednesay: bad scout’s honor. Welcome to the garden of earthly delights, y’all.

I have another Boschy song for your listening pleasure. It was written and recorded by that self-described “awful little man,” Graham Parker.

Now that we’ve listened to some late-Eighties alternative rock, you deserve a break today. OMG, I sound like Ronald Fucking McDonald. That simply will not do.

Continue reading

Quote Of The Day: Dahlia Lithwick Edition

Slate’s crack legal writer Dahlia Lithwick has offered the White House press corps some unsolicited advice. She covers a Supreme Court that holds no news conferences and doesn’t allow cameras in the courtroom. She essentially advises the White House press to zip it and stop playing into the administration*’s hands by making demands that they don’t have to agree to.

Dahlia offers some semi-tongue-in-cheek tips to her White House counterparts. This is my favorite:

Sketch artists. Kudos to CNN, which has already sent in longtime SCOTUS sketch artist Bill Hennessy to draw the White House gaggle. Sketches lend a certain dashing aura of criminality and generalized thuggery to the proceedings and have the added benefit of enraging White House spokespeople, who believe they deserve better than line drawings and colored pencils.

That’s bound to result in Gum Spice pounding the podium and Spawn of Huck getting all pouty. Of course, Spicer might *want* to look like the Dapper Don instead of Melissa McCarthy in a bad suit.

The wisest piece of advice offered by Ms. Lithwick is this closing passage in which she urges nerdiness upon the WH press:

Be a nerd. Most Supreme Court correspondents know that if they want careers in television they should shift to covering the weather. For the most part, we are not creatures built of gotcha questions, Sunday morning grandstanding, or good hair. This is a press corps of nerds and wonks, and nobody has ever joined this beat to become famous. As a result, it is the kindest, most ego-free workplace I have ever known. We file our stories, eat dinner, and go home. As competing cults of personality have come to tower over the news in America, ask yourself why you aren’t a charter member of the Cult of Jess Bravin (Wall Street Journal). That guy works harder than anyone, doesn’t expect cameras to follow him around, and never believes he is the story. Unless Supreme Court justices are selling their autobiographies, you are unlikely to see them interviewed on camera, and when they do give lengthy interviews, they never say anything of substance.

This is, in short, an Oliver Twist–style press corps, accustomed to getting nothing and grateful for it. These folks learn to love the footnotes instead of the glamor. At a moment when we are stuck with a president who is solely a creature of celebrity culture, maybe a White House press corps made of anonymous dorks and dusty worker bees could be a breath of fresh air. There’s gold in them there footnotes. Life without TV cameras is still worth living. Life without a dorky, diligent press corps is not.

It’s hard to imagine the preening popinjays of teevee news with empty bowl in hand asking for “more sir.” It is, however, a helluva good image. I’ve been known to sling the odd Dickensian reference myself.  Team Trump lends itself rather well to Oliver Twist: Trump is an orange variation on Fagin, Slumlord Jared is an inartful take on the Artful Dodger, and Steve Bannon is perfect casting as the thuggish Bill Sikes. It’s bound to be a bigger hit than the show they’re staging right now, which is bombing mightily. I guess I shouldn’t say bomb with North Korean missiles in the news.

That is all.

 

Back To The Nineties

There’s so much news going on that it’s hard to prioritize. We all need to learn how to multi-task. The Russia scandal and health care are at the top of my list but Trump’s attack on the press, the election commission farce, and his delusional foreign policy *are* important too. It’s like a teevee drama with an A story and B story; only in this case we’re up to E and counting. So it goes.

Today’s focus is on the big story about Russia broken by the Wall Street Journal last week. It takes us back to the Nineties because it involves one of the creeps behind the so-called Arkansas project, Peter Smith. If the fucker were still alive, I’d demand he give me back my name.

I’m quoting TPM’s account of the story because I’m not about to give any money to Rupert Fucking Murdoch:

In the midst of the 2016 campaign, a veteran GOP opposition researcher who said he had ties to ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn contacted hackers hoping to obtain emails that he believed Russian operatives had hacked from Hillary Clinton’s personal server, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Peter W. Smith reached out to computer security experts in the hopes of gaining access to the email trove and explicitly outlined his connection with Flynn in his recruiting emails, according to the report.

Smith was one of the dickheads who spent most of the Nineties in what Charlie Pierce calls “the pursuit of the President’s penis.” He was a close associate of David Bossie who, in turn, is a close associate of Steve Bannon. That’s right, there’s a B3 taint to the whole enterprise. Here’s Josh Marshall quoting a follow-up story:

As you may have heard, this evening The Wall Street Journal published a major follow-up to its story from Thursday which described the work of a GOP money man and oppo research guy, the late Peter W. Smith, who was trying to get hacked emails from Russia and held himself out to be in contact with disgraced Trump advisor Michael Flynn. On its face, the big new break in this follow-up story is a new document from Smith. The document is from what is described as a package of recruiting materials Smith was using to enlist cybersecurity talent in his operation. The document listed key officials in the Trump campaign. These were apparently people Smith claimed he was in touch with or working with, though precisely how or why they were mentioned is not entirely clear.

Here’s the key passage from the Journal article

Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.

Notice the name Kellyanne Conway. Her husband, George, was also neck-deep in the Arkansas Project shit: he served as offstage counsel to Paula Jones. Things keep circling back to the Nineties, y’all.

I’m not sure how the Peter Smith angle will play out. He’s done his final smear: he died shortly after speaking to the WSJ for their blockbuster story. If true, the story ties freelance shitbirds like Smith to the shitbirds who were at the center of the Trump campaign and now have offices in the West Wing. Btw, the WSJ story was partially based on the account of a British cyber security maven named Matt Tait who wrote about his dealings with Smith. The plot continues to thicken. Stay tuned.

In other Nineties throwback news, the president* tweeted a video of him taking down CNN, pro rassling-style. The source was a notorious Reddit bigot. You’ve all seen it but here we go:

The video was edited from an appearance Trump made at Wrestlemania XXIII. Who knew the wrestling malakas did the whole pretentious Roman numeral thing?

The mind reels at the notion of the president* tweeting a fake video of fake wrestling to attack what he likes to call fake news. This, however, is bait the MSM should NOT take. It’s part of Trump’s dominance and submission world view: if one takes the bait, one is playing in the Insult Comedian’s house. Just say no, y’all.

The wrangle over press pressings is another way Trump demeans the media as a way of asserting his alpha-malakatude. They should ignore it. Very little news has ever been made when the press secretary of the day spins the media on behalf of their boss. In fact, some of the best recent White House reporting has been done by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman who mostly works out of the New York office. She works her sources instead of attending Gum Spice and Huckabee’s awful spawn’s press briefings. It’s called reporting, y’all.

There’s a fresh outrage every day, so it’s hard to know how to deal with them. I like what Charles Blow said in the NYT this morning about the hijacking of the presidency by Trump and his wrecking crew. Here’s Blow on the blowhard:

Every now and then we are going to have to do this: Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.

There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity. Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him — against all he or she has ever claimed to champion — to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.

We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.

Everything about Trump is horrible: his policies and his persona. It’s the world we’ve been plunged into by his electoral college victory*, which is looking more suspect every day. He’s dragged us kicking and screaming back to the Nineties with his crazy rhetoric and WWE-style braggadocio. Everyone needs to exercise editorial control and decide which of his outrages merit attention and which should be allowed to shrivel and die in the shadows.