Thursday, April 20, 2017

WHO'S NEXT.

The end of O'Reilly's TV show means nearly nothing to me. Big-ticket rightwing rageclowns like him are like blockbuster movies and reality shows, just gargoyles for gawkers, and we who have free souls it touches us not.

I'm more interested in the conservative pseuds who try to explain it all on the internet, and so far their take seems to be that the preferred viewing choice of your aged relatives who send you pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose doesn't have anything to do with conservatism.

"He Was a Centrist, Not a Conservative," claims Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart. But look where Pollak's baseline is, via his approving quote of some wingnut chin-stroker:
What if we could magically remove the metaphoric glass and see, face-to-face, the average American, once his political views are no longer distorted by media bias? What would we see? 
The answer, basically, is Ben Stein.
Tell your aged Obama-hating relatives that their avatar is Ben Stein and they'll smack you. I won't even accept that slander on them! Hell, if the average American were the chinless Stein, we'd have receded into the primordial ooze years ago. (Try to imagine Ben Stein without money. He'd be raving next to an overpass. Or at least whining loudly.)

The others are worse. I include the worthless Chuck Todd who, seeking to impress Hugh Hewitt for some reason, "agreed" with him according to this Daily Caller report that O'Reilly wasn't a real conservative, that is, not a fancy intellectual like Hugh Hewitt:
“He was — to me, what he did — he was the tone-setter,” Todd continued. “He was sort of that anti-political correctness.” 
[facepalm]
“He was the opening act that brought the crowds, but he became almost more fun to watch than the concert itself, sometimes, but he was the entertainer, probably more entertainer than any of the others.”
Similarly, gameshow buffoon Trump isn't conservative either -- he just pumps out rightwing policies self-identified conservatives eat up, but he ain't got good taste so when the smart guys stand around in cigar bars with snifters and talk about the Glooory of the Mooovement & Burke & Hayek &tc they shove Trump into a coatroom and blame the smell on the dog.

Plus there's Mark Judge at Splice Today -- "The left is cheering the demise of O’Reilly, but liberals have nothing to boast about," he says, because someone got raped at Occupy and what about that bitch who said she was raped but wasn't, huh libs? And Scott Lehigh at the Boston Globe: "Bill O’Reilly types aren’t just a conservative problem," because all those liberal TV hosts are sexual harassers too and the only reason we don't have proof like with O'Reilly is because chicks lie to protect libtards to keep their precious abortions.

At National Review Ian Tuttle tries a variation: Sure, the old-fogey conservatives go for O'Reilly, but we youngs are modern and a-go-go and we think O'Reilly's trad, dad:
This rough-and-ready genealogy might even include a third generation, emerging now — one whose world was shaped by September 11, Iraq, economic recession, and the hyper-partisanship of the Obama years. These conservatives are not Bill O’Reilly; they’re Ben Shapiro, Mollie Hemingway, and Mary Katharine Ham. Their media are podcasts and Twitter, and while they’re certainly combative, they are more interested in a savvy, cosmopolitan conservatism that goes toe-to-toe with progressivism on its own turf (consider Shapiro’s popular campus-speaking events) than in the countrified, bigger-government, populism-tinged conservatism embodied by Mike Huckabee.
"Ben Shapiro, Mollie Hemingway, and Mary Katharine Ham??" cry the youth of today. "That's all I needed to hear. Direct me to the scene of their symposia, where I will vape, denounce socialism, and maybe beat up some antifa chicks!"

At least Tuttle's got enough sense to be ashamed, but not enough to see that O'Reilly isn't the problem. You still need someone; that someone could be younger, and maybe even female (sexual harassment is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have for this gig!) or non-white (the murderous psycho Sheriff David Clarke might even do). But you will need someone to summon the clans, and he or she will have to be a scumbag -- and, since this is the age of Trump rather than the age of Reagan, that person also has to let the slavering masses know he or she is a scumbag. Because St. Ronnie wouldn't make it today; they'd see through his unctuousness right away and despise him for thinking them dumb enough to believe he's a nice guy. Shit, even conservatives don't believe in "trickle down" or "law and order" or any of those magic words anymore -- you can imagine what the marks they've been bilking for decades think!

No, for them only the Savage Messiah will do. And if the prissier among the Movement Conservatives have to stand off the side, look as innocent as their careers as childhood snitches taught them, and say oh no this is not what we meant at all, well, they can afford to pretend it's strategy instead of self-deception -- after all, they still get paid.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.

Trump has really taught conservatives to turn on a dime and accept new realities that were once (if you ever believed a word they said) disgusting to them. Remember when it was a wingnut rite of passage to hatewank over Lena Dunham? (My detailed examinations here, here, and here.) Now that her show Girls has ended with her character apparently getting a ridiculously impossible academic job and a kid, the brethren are in love with her.

Well, it's a kind of love. They want to have their cake and eat it too -- and in this their attempt is very like what they do with Trump as well: They say mildly bad things about her, but endorse her policies -- that is, endorse what they think her show's conclusion means in the purely political terms they think apply to every area of human life. Here's Erika Andersen at The Federalist:
Don’t Tell Her, But Lena Dunham Just Made A Pro-Life Season Of ‘Girls'
See, Andersen says, in the real world Dunham's a baby-killer -- "I don’t know for sure if she supports abortion up to 9 months of pregnancy," she says, "but let the record show, she probably does." (Despite the vinyl revival, Andersen doesn't seem to know what the word "record" means.) But the Invisible Hand of the Art-Marketplace forced Dunham to call for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, culture-war-wise, by having her character have a baby:
They could have thrown in a late-term abortion (and wouldn’t the pro-choice media just love the “stigma-reducing” that would showcase?), but they wouldn’t dare go there. 
Why not? It’s her body, right? Because it’s not, and everyone — yes, EVERYONE — knows it. 
Every time a character on TV has a baby, it's a thumbs-up for the Republic of Gilead. (Except Murphy Brown -- she's still a whore.)

Meanwhile Kyle Smith -- National Review's new culture-scold hire, probably enlisted to appease the readers who are confused and angered by Armond White -- praises "Lena Dunham’s Ultimately Conservative Message." Dunham, you see, is the bad Hannah -- "[she] says unconscionable things, just like her narcissistic screen alter ego" -- but "Dunham the writer," ah, she's almost as good as Jonah Goldberg, and "Hannah’s reckless, destructive self-absorption" betrays Dunham the writer's awareness that Dunham the slut is a filthy slut and abortion is murder. Maybe in her next project, Dunham the writer will kill Dunham the slut, like Dr. Jekyll did Mr. Hyde! In the meantime, comrades, let's keep our wits sharp with our guiltily-retained Fappening files!

Of course, the show's not over till Chunky Reese Witherspoon sings, and one can only approach Ross Douthat's contribution with a certain Hell No. Take this:
Tony Soprano pining for the days of Gary Cooper set a tone for all these stories, which then echoed and re-echoed in the Louisiana swamps of “True Detective,” the New Mexican borderlands of “Breaking Bad,” the halls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Again and again the viewer watched a male protagonist trying to be a breadwinner, paterfamilias, a protector and savior, a Leader of Men; again and again these attempts were presented as dangerously alluring, corrupting, untimely and foredoomed...

On “Girls,” though, something very different was going on. The fall of patriarchy had basically happened, the world had irrevocably changed … and nobody knew what to do next.
You young people today -- Destroy! Destroy! When are you going to find time to build! By the time you get to Douthat's fuzzbeard Catholic version of Lena Dunham is Conservative ("True, this was motherhood solo, without a mate or male provider. But the male absence felt more like a signifier of masculine failure than feminine empowerment") you have...

Who am I kidding -- I'm sure nobody ever actually gets to that part; why bother to read that far? (Certainly not for the pleasure of the prose!) In the end, these exegeses are unneeded: the people who liked the show will bid it adieu and go watch something else, and the culture warriors will just scan the headlines and quickly flip ahead to the Ann Coulter column, taking it on faith that their public scribes have properly informed History how everything they like -- TV shows, Clint Eastwood movies, choc-o-mut ice creams -- is further proof that tax breaks for the wealthy and persecution of minorities are God's holy will.

Anyway now they can move on to Emma Watson. She too is a libtard, and hot, and ripe for conversion fantasies. Which of them with be the first to write that Beauty and the Beast shows the good Emma's desire to be done with Pajama Boys and instead enjoy the violation of a true conservative mangoat? My money's on Rod Dreher!

FRONTIERS IN HACKERY.

In a district that hasn't gone Democrat since 1979, Dem Jon Ossoff lapped his nearest Republican opponent by nearly 30 points to force a runoff in a special election in fucking Georgia.

At National Review, Alexandra DeSanctis fires up the centrifuge:
For months, this race has been cast by activists and pundits as indicative of the road ahead for the current presidential administration, perhaps illustrating whether Donald Trump’s abrasive personality and controversial agenda have already turned off voters. But as the results rolled in on Tuesday evening, it became clear that the GA-06 special election has been perhaps the best example of the national media making nothing into something...
A look at the district’s history should have been enough to talk progressives out of placing their hopes on Ossoff’s slim shoulders...
Tuesday’s results don’t fully clarify the role that the president has played in the fluctuating dynamics of GA-06. But they do prove that Trump hasn’t enraged so many Americans that a nearly unknown Democrat — even one with significant national funding and attention — could turn a solid GOP district blue overnight.

After some concerned-face interviews with voters and a hummer for the top Republican candidate ("Across the district, fans of Karen Handel told me time and again that they chose her as the most experienced Republican who was most likely to succeed"), DeSanctis gives us the moral of the story:
Much remains unclear about the political dynamics of the sixth district; this, evidently, was not a normal election. But the unnecessary national frenzy surrounding this race should teach us a few crucial lessons: Among them, that polling in special elections is largely unhelpful and often misleading, and that early voting doesn’t determine the fate of the race. It should teach us, too, that Democrats shouldn’t expect to flip decades-long Republican strongholds overnight — not even with the help of a scapegoat like Donald Trump. Politics moves slowly in America, and it doesn’t take much heed of those constructing narratives.
I don't see how Ossoff can show his face in Georgia after such an embarrassing defeatvictory, do you?

Of course, that's just in the wingnut press -- surely the liberal mainstream media will...


Man -- and I thought wrestling was fixed!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NEXT: HOW LETTING JUGHEAD KISS BETTY CORRUPTS OUR YOUTH.

Another shitty, front-loaded-with-received-wisdom internet TV review at The Federalist...
Since first appearing in L.M. Montgomery’s 1908 novel “Anne of Green Gables,” the story has been dramatized multiple times. It is, however, the 1985 television show with Megan Follows that has entered the canon as the movie about Anne. That beloved classic is about to be challenged by a new remake: Netflix’s “Anne” is set for release on May 12. You can view the trailer here.
...but with a record-scratch twist:
While many fans are eager to re-explore their favorite characters, others have been dismayed by footage from the new series. What we see in a released scene is a startling aberration from the spirit of the original story.
I know how she feels. Like when I was a kid and saw the Disney movie of Old Yeller? I thought for sure they'd show the dog's brains blown out in slow-motion, capturing the brutal sadism of the Newberry-medal-winning novel. Or was that Pet Sematary? Anyway, what a rook!
In the new show, Anne talks to her friend Diana about sex via a peculiarly unpleasant analogy. She says men have a “pet mouse” in their front pants pocket and that women have babies after they pet the mouse. This conversation is apparently the beginning of an entire plot thread.
LOL.
At first glance, fan outrage might seem a little silly. We are, after all, talking about a character who experienced abuse and institutionalization before the Cuthbert siblings adopted her.
...the fuck? Talk about startling aberrations. Now you've ruined the inevitably film version of your review for future generations of extremely sheltered children!
Regardless of whether she lived in the 1890s or the modern world, a real-life Anne would have suffered trauma. Quite likely she would say inappropriate things to her peers.
Just me, maybe, but if all the children who have pet names for pee-pees were abused, the Catholic Church scandal is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Even Anne’s creator must have realized this. Just as anyone nowadays who plans to adopt an unknown older child from foster care becomes fair game for everyone else’s second-hand horror stories, so also Marilla Cuthbert is warned in the book that “foundlings” are liable to set fires and poison wells.
Set fires and poison wells? Damn, are you sure this isn't The Walking Dead you're talking about?
Yet Anne is not the kind of child who does any of those things. She is not realistic. And that is the whole point...

There is a reason children have long been given inspirational, idealized protagonists. When you think about it, is it realistic that Harry Potter is so well-adjusted? That Charlotte, even if she could spell, would care about Wilbur? That Cinderella has such a good work-ethic? There is also a reason it is cruel and perverted to take away those protagonists and replace them with the grit that some adults call reality.
I might agree, in the offhand way one agrees with monomaniacs for the sake of a quiet life, that it's kinda too bad if the show had Anne of Green Gables working a glory hole. But she just has a childish, fanciful name for a penis. Still author Anne Mussmann ("a stay-at-home mom who writes during nap time") goes on and on about the "glimpses of perversion" represented by the mouse thing:
Just as children cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse with an adult, we should recognize that they have a right to be protected from sexual references that are inappropriate for their developmental level. They have a right to sit down to a story marketed as family-friendly without hearing the characters talking about “mice” in men’s trousers.
LOL, again, but also WTF: I thought that was what the Benedict Option was for -- really godly rightwing people who've turned their backs on This Fallen World will only show their broods Veggie Tales episodes from which the Witchfinder General has scrubbed all worldly references. No contact with the godless, no problem!

So what is Goodwife Mussmann complaining about? Probably that This Fallen World is allowed to disappoint her expectations at all. That's why, though I'm inclined to laugh at these freaks, there's always an edge on the humor -- because they're just nuts enough about what you and I see as no big deal that I can imagine them really trying to make us all live up to their fantasies.

Monday, April 17, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the Tax Day marches, the violence at Berkeley, and the efforts of the brethren to mash them all up in one melange of doubleplusungood. A worthwhile companion piece is Will Sommer's backgrounder/scene report on the goons who went to Berkeley mainly to beat up hippies and secondarily to portray their aggro disorder as a free speech movement.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

TODAY IN CAREER ADVANCEMENT.

Bret Stephens to the Times? Figures; he sucks. Steve M of No More Mister Nice Blog has the goods. This header from one of Stephens' WSJ columns will tell you a lot about his hackery -- and yes, I know authors don't pick them, but this one's perfectly appropriate:


This was the column that made the balloons drop as the millionth time some wingnut said liberalism was like 1984 Farm. I haven't written about Stephens too much here, but in the late campaign he took a Trump-is-the-new-Obama tack beloved of idiots, which probably convinced the Times that he was one of those sensible conservatives like Brooks and Douthat whom, after the Trumpian deluge, they can use like sourdough starter to create a new neoliberalconservatism.

UPDATE. Maybe this is one of those whatchamacallits, "inflection points" I think they call them, where the wingnuts suddenly want to be recognized as anti-Trump, just like in the old days. There was Jonah Goldberg's pathetic effort yesterday, and today, perhaps recognizing what a botch their legacy pledge made of it, National Review has gotten "a politics writer for MTV" to pitch in "What If There Is No Such Thing as ‘Trumpism’?" The article suggests that because Trump "at once could claim a purported allegiance to Evangelical Christianity and wave a rainbow flag at a rally," and other such conundrums, he's not a Real Conservative. The author misses, or pretends not to notice (who knows? Like I could divine the motivations of a "politics writer for MTV" who thinks publishing at National Review is a good move!), that 1.) the Republicans at the Cleveland convention, who were not significantly different from those at previous GOP quadrennials, cheered these alleged contradictions lustily, and 2.) they and 95% of conservatives cheered because they knew Trump would deliver the things they really want: tax breaks for the rich and Muslim-bashing. 

Anyway, as the speed with which they all ran to heel when Trumpy dropped a bomb shows, these cowboys will fall back in line as soon as he shovels big money to the fat cats. That's why he's making them wait for it -- it's his storied showmanship: he knows it'll come off better if he builds up some tension first. (They still know it's coming, but if there's one thing these guys are good at, it's the willing suspension of disbelief.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

THE FAMILY IS THE ONLY PLACE I CAN BE.

Jonah Goldberg:
If you’ll forgive the self-indulgence, let me start by sharing a few things about my professional life since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, in no particular order. Every day, on social media, I am attacked, dismissed, or otherwise declared an illegitimate analyst or fake conservative because of my criticisms of President Trump, even if I include praise or beneficial context. During the election season, I lost large sums of money — large to me, anyway — because I had to turn down speeches in which I was expected to be a de facto surrogate for the Republican point of view. My appearances on Fox News have dropped precipitously...
One might wonder what this workshy legacy pledge, whose columns betray an ever-decreasing amount of effort, could possibly have to bitch about. Rick Perlstein, it turns out; Goldberg claims he has been slandered by him at the New York Times Magazine, thus:
National Review devoted an issue to writing Trump out of the conservative movement; an editor there, Jonah Goldberg, even became a leader of the “Never Trump” crusade. But Trump won — and conservative intellectuals quickly embraced a man who exploited the same brutish energies that Buckley had supposedly banished, with Goldberg explaining simply that Never Trump “was about the G.O.P. primary and the general election, not the presidency.”
The quote, BTW, is accurate. Goldberg retorts:
For starters, Perlstein’s insinuation — that my declaration that “Never Trump” is over represents some kind of “embrace” of Trump — isn’t just wrong, it is breathtakingly dishonest. The very article he’s quoting from has the sub-headline: “The Never Trump movement is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop criticizing Trump when he deserves it.”
Which is like saying, "I lost, but that doesn't mean I'll stop complaining about it." Goldberg actually lists several columns where he's been "criticizing Trump." Let's take one at random -- "The False Prophecy of the Presidential Pivot” -- and look at the lede:
It was just last week that Donald Trump had the finest moment of his short presidency — his address to a joint session of Congress. Even many of his harshest critics praised his speech or reluctantly conceded that it was “presidential.”
Really lets him have it, huh? Actually Goldberg does get to criticizing eventually, but it's mainly criticism of Trump's intemperate Tweeting -- that is, his failure to "play the part of a somewhat sober, serious, responsible president — even one with an ambitious populist-outsider agenda" when he's handling his device. And he can't even do that without qualifying it -- for example, talking about Trump accusing Obama of tapping his phones, Goldberg admits it sounds bad but has to stick in that "there is an enormous amount we do not know" and "I think more investigations are in order (including of the leaks plaguing the administration)." And here's his finish:
The pivot stuff was always false prophecy. Being president has a funny way of making people more presidential. And by day, Trump’s White House staff can contain his worst instincts. But all bets are off when he’s alone at Mar-a-Lago and the moon calls forth the beast.
In other words: Trump's got a good staff, so things are going okay, but hoo-boy, those crazy Tweets, am I right? He sounds like a 70s Democrat talking about Billy Beer.

Though Trump directly insulted Goldberg and won the nomination by basically telling the establishment Goldberg represents to fuck off, the fact is Goldberg's always been willing to praise Trump. Why shouldn't he? Trump's viciousness is right in tune with Goldberg's brand of conservatism -- it's just less dainty. Even during the campaign for the Republican campaign, Goldberg's NeverTrumpiness was already beginning to take on water. Here's me last May describing one such column:
Take Jonah Goldberg, dean of the #NeverTrump crew at National Review. Last week, Goldberg taxonomized and reviled several Trump-allied factions: "alt-right" loons, converts "who don’t in fact believe in anything at all beyond their own self-interest," "Closet #NeverTrumpers" without the courage of their convictions, and "Fake Moderates" who, Goldberg claimed, had "urged the GOP to be more inclusive and nice" before endorsing Trump.

But conservatives "who simply think supporting Trump is making the best of a bad situation" — well, that was different. "I understand that position and I have sympathy for it," said Goldberg. It would also be okay if Ted Cruz and this year’s other unsuccessful GOP contenders gave Trump "some grudging, pro-forma support… albeit reluctantly and with grave reservations," said Goldberg. Helping to destroy the country is only bad, in other words, if you seem too cheerful about it; a grim visage redeems you. Sort of like Puritanism!
Or you can read him from August defending Trump's transparently bogus outreach to blacks ("Just because one has cynical motives doesn’t mean one’s actions are objectively bad. Lots of people cynically give to charity to make themselves look good to the public, that doesn’t mean charities should refuse money from anyone not of pure heart..."). Or you can --

Ah, what's the point. I could continue to pick apart his bullshit buffalo stance, but who's left to convince -- no one hears about some Trump outrage and says, "I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg to weigh in on this!" That's because the movement Trump took over is still his home and, like Charley Partanna and the Prizzis, he's got nowhere else to go. Even when he's being pissy, he still inside the tent pissing out; just because he can't quite find the flap and catches splashback every time doesn't mean he was ever even thinking about going outside to piss in.