Friday, September 23, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


This guy will be among the many acts at the Sounds of Freedom kickoff
for the Museum of African-American History and Culture this weekend.
Fun, ain't it?

•  You may recall in the column recently I reviewed rightwing distance-diagnosis of Hillary Clinton. There's a new bit, in (get this) The Hill by one John R. Coppedge, a politically-active "general surgeon from Texas" who saw Hitlery on the teevee and has determined that she has a condition known to the medical community as Questions Remain Brain Damage Vote Trump. I have never noticed anything particularly weird about her eyes, myself, but the video freeze-frame at the top of the story looked alarming. Turned out it was from a Conan O'Brien skit.
In 2014 Conan O'Brien did a spoof of Hillary Clinton's interview with Diane Sawyer about her lack of lingering health issues following her 2012 concussion. In an obviously photoshopped version Clinton's eyes are made to oscillate crazily. 
It was a very funny piece. Now, it may not seem so funny.
Then he links to one of those look-at-these-milliseconds-of-speech-in-super-slow-motion videos beloved of internet detectives. Why didn't The Hill put that at the top of the article, given that it was offered as evidence by the good doctor, instead of the skit? I think I can guess: Fronting this very serious analysis with the sort of thing your crazy Uncle Earl posts on Facebook would make it look unserious; a glossy fake is more in line with the appeal they're hoping to achieve -- maybe some viewers will come away thinking Hillary's eyes actually did that in a news interview. And that feller who showed it? He was a doctor! Ha, libtards, now who's anti-science? I tremble when I consider that we may have only the thinking people of America behind us.

•  It has been suggested to me that this thing by The Federalist's Daniel Payne about Hillary Clinton on Zack Galifianakis' Between Two Ferns webshow -- called "Zach Galifianakis Had A Responsibility To Challenge Hillary. He Failed" -- is a satire of the hard time Jimmy Fallon got over Trump. I disagree, for three reasons:
  1. Satire is funny.
  2. Rage at popular entertainers is a Pillar of Conservatism, and the bretrhen have flipped out over Between Two Ferns in the past.
  3. I've read Payne's stuff before -- including his attack on the socialism of school lunches, and "Girl Scout Cookies Prove We Need To End Child Labor Laws" -- and I have to say that if his whole career isn't a satire, none of it is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BY ANY OTHER NAME.

Damon Linker at The Week thinks we social-justice sissies are unfair to Trump voters, imagining them "motivated by bigotry, fear, and selfishness, all of which makes them angry that various outsiders are threatening to take away their abundant 'privileges.'" We've got them all wrong, he says -- what these people are is nationalists, and as Linker explains it they're not so bad:
But the real problem with the way [Vox's Zack] Beauchamp and so many others on the center-left talk about those on the nationalist right is that it displays outright contempt for particularistic instincts that are not and should not be considered morally and politically beyond the pale.
Wait. "Particularistic"? That's a new one.
On the contrary, a very good case can be made that these instincts are natural to human beings and even coeval with political life as such — and that it is the universalistic cosmopolitanism of humanitarian liberalism (or progressivism) that, as much as anything, has provoked the right-wing backlash in the first place.
Linker uses "humanitarian" or "humanitarianism" seven times in the same negative way. So, it would seem, "particularism" is the opposite of "humanitarianism," hence the backlash. But what's wrong with humanitarianism? In my day, a humanitarian was Albert Schweitzer, or the winners of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars like Jerry Lewis, Debbie Reynolds, Danny Kaye, et alia.

Apparently Trump supporters find something obnoxious about humanitarianism, and want particularism instead. But what is it? Let's find out!
Underlying liberal denigration of the new nationalism — the tendency of progressives to describe it as nothing but "racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia" — is the desire to delegitimize any particularistic attachment or form of solidarity, be it national, linguistic, religious, territorial, or ethnic.
Ah, "particularistic"! So, it could be a particular love of country, rather than love of the family of man; love particularly of English-speaking people, rather than non-English-speaking-people; love of your particular vale or holler, rather than anywhere else; and love of your particular ethnicity, rather than... other ethnicities.

Yeah, that last bit -- here in the real world (as opposed to punditland), we've all met people who'll explain why they feel that way, and that's pretty much where that form of "particularism," usually known by grosser names, gets its exceedingly bad rap. But Linker can't get why that should be:
If people gave up their particular attachments easily, conceding their moral illegitimacy, that might be a sign that the humanitarian ideal is justified — that human history is indeed oriented toward a universalistic goal beyond nations and other forms of local solidarity. But experience tells us something else entirely. The more that forms of political, moral, economic, and legal universalism spread around the globe, the more they inspire a reaction in the name of the opposite ideals. The Western world is living through just such a reaction right now.
This was much better explained by Lorraine Hansberry in A Raisin in the Sun, when Lindner offers the Youngers a deal to not to move into his similarly particular neighborhood.
LINDNER: Well, I want to give you the exact terms of the financial arrangement—
WALTER: We don't want to hear no exact term of no arrangements. I want to know if you got any more to tell us ‘bout getting together?
LINDNER (taking off his glasses): Well—I don’t suppose that you feel. . .
WALTER: Never mind how I feel—you got any more to say ‘bout how people ought to sit down and talk to each other? . . . Get out of my house, man. (He turns his back and walks to the door.)
LINDNER (looking around at the hostile faces and reaching and assembling his hat and briefcase): Well—I don't understand why you people are reacting this way. What do you think you are going to gain by moving into a neighborhood where you just aren't wanted and where some elements—well—people can get awful worked up when the feel that their whole way of life and everything they've ever worked for is threatened.
WALTER: Get out.
LINDNER (at the door, holding a small card): Well—I'm sorry it went like this.
WALTER Get out.
LINDNER (almost sadly regarding WALTER) You can’t just force people to change their hearts, son.
Call it "particularism" or whatever else you like, guy. We see you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A SOUNDING BRASS AND A TINKLING CYMBAL.

Remember when National Review did that NeverTrump thing and they included Erick Erickson, which was weird because he admitted straight up "I would vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton," but he said some bad things about Trump and was wingnut-famous so okay? At his own site The Resurgent, Erickson now has video of himself talking to some fellow Christians about Trump. In the accompanying text Erickson tells readers,
My position is that if you want to vote for Trump, go for it. But Christians should not be actively, publicly supporting Trump.
In the video, he says:
I do think Christians in America, particularly those of us who have platforms, should not be supporting Donald Trump openly, because I think it’s harmful to our witness... 
If we are in the public square advocating for someone like that, what good are we as Christians to say we believe in the inerrancy of scripture?
Now, me, I look at this and think: So you don't want to be associated with Trump, because it doesn't look good, but you're cool with Trumping on the down-low, and possibly putting your fellow countrymen at the mercy of this yutz? And people wonder why their Jesus Fish bumper stickers aren't getting them so much respect anymore.

I'll leave the rest to djw at LGM, who looks upon that other prominent rightwing Christer Rod Dreher -- who denounced Pope Francis for an attitude toward refugees that, back before the faith got overrun by Ericksons and Drehers, was considered Christian -- and saith the sooth:
As you let that sink in, keep in mind two things. First, this statement is written by a man who has spent much of the last several years trying very hard to convince anyone who’ll listen that it’s contemporary liberals who’ve become an unprecedented threat to religious freedom. Second, as recently as just a few months ago Dreher routinely expressed horror and dismay at the rise of Trump, and what that rise meant for conservatism, and how evangelical acquiescence to Trumpism was evidence of a deep sickness in American Christianity and the Conservative movement. Watching Dreher, predictably, come home, it occurs to me that perhaps Trumpism is best understood not so much a betrayal or failure of politicized evangelicalism, but a return to its 1970’s roots.

Monday, September 19, 2016

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Trump's claim that, birther-wise, it was Hillary all along, and the brethren's rush to go "that's right, boss, I seen it with my own eyes." Give 'em credit: at least they shovel shit snappier than Chris Christie.

One thing that struck me as I paged through my scrapbook of birtherism bullshit was how closely the Trump of today resembles the Trump of 2011. Get this, from Mediaite five years ago:
 “I always give my credentials," [Trump] told Rivera, "I like to give credentials. I’m a really smart guy. I’ve always been a really smart guy," noting that he had [gone] to "one of the best" schools in the world, apropos of nothing.
We actually thought Trump's reflexive solipsism was weird once upon a time! Ah, young and innocent days.

Among the outtakes: Not wanting to clutter it up too much, I didn't mention that among the "proof" rightbloggers, and the Trump campaign itself, are offering of Hillary's Real Birtherism is the long-available Mark Penn memo to the Clinton 2008 campaign, which mainly portrays Obama’s cosmopolitanism as a Clinton competitive advantage (“not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and his values”), explicitly stipulates that “we are never going to say anything about his background,” and never claims he was born outside the U.S.

For obvious reasons, rightbloggers are trying to portray this slightly sleazy tactic as birtherism. For example, The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro applauds Trump for his “Trolling Master Class” and judged his Hillary birther claim “at least partially true.” In evidence of this, he cites a report by colleague John Nolte, called "Hillary Invented Birtherism: 11 Things the Media Won't Tell You." (Spoiler: "The Media" already told you, and they show no such thing.)

Nolte also alludes to Clinton’s “questioning [Obama] ‘lack of American roots,’ her focusing on Obama's exotic ‘foreignness’” — which is a little closer to the truth. It’s also closer to Ben Shapiro in 2011, when he called Obama “a member of the same global community that despises America and tolerates Islamism, that slams American consumerism and praises Chinese communism, that rips evangelical Christianity while ignoring Muslim-imposed clitorectomy” — which, he said, was why “Americans are desperately seeking an answer to a simple question: why does President Obama appear to be so un-American?"

I guess, by the Hillary standard, Ben Shapiro qualifies as a birther, too -- which is awkward for him, since it's just gone out of fashion!

Friday, September 16, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Luscious Jackson got in my head this week and hasn't left.
Not complaining.

•   The New York Times has a story on Vladimir Putin's drive to make the Russian Orthodox Church into, as one observer puts it, "an instrument of the Russian state." The Church's shock troops are medieval in outlook -- one of its bishops "warned worshipers that new biometric passports, required by the European Union in return for visa-free access to Europe, were 'satanic' because they contained a 13-digit number" -- and of course favor the persecution of homosexuals, as Putin does. This gives Rod Dreher yet another opportunity to tell us how he really feels about secularism and its inferiority to the Every Knee Shall Bend model of governance. While he claims "it troubles me deeply to see the Church become an instrument of State policy," nonetheless...
...as Western societies disintegrate under aggressive secularism, individualism, materialism, and hedonism, it’s hard as a traditional Christian not to sympathize with the general thrust of what Russia is doing, if not in certain particulars... 
The West is losing the idea of marriage and family, and now, even the concepts of male and female — and all this is hailed as progress. Young people are ruining their hearts and minds by dosing themselves heavily with pornography, and there’s nothing in Western culture to stop them. And on and on. How could the West be a positive model? 
Russia does not have the answers, but it is asking necessary questions...
I understand why Glenn Greenwald et alia object to what they see as the revival of a Red Scare in this country, but come on: At least people who sympathized with the old USSR thought they were trying to advance human liberation. Dreher sympathizes with today's Russia for the opposite reason.

•   Donald Trump recently attacked the Food & Drug Administration as the "food police." Who knows why he does what he does anymore, but it gave us a chance to hear some straight-up bull-goose looney libertarianism from Nick Gillespie of Reason:
You get rid of "official" food inspectors and you know what will happen? To the extent that customers demand any sort of certification beyond public reputation, private-sector and nonprofit groups will be created to provide this or that level of inspection. We see that already with kosher and halal food prep, of course, not to mention other sorts of watchdog groups (think Fair Trade coffee and the like). Yelp or some other rating system would likely add some sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval-style process as well.
The yelpification of food poisoning! I can't put it any better than Kia on Twitter: "I would have given these diet pills one star but I am dead."

Jonah Goldberg complains about the obstreperous black guy who is interfering with his mild interest in football ("entertainment more than passion," Jesus Christ is everything about this guy terrible?). His premise is that "particularly among men, sports talk is a kind of safe space and common tongue all at once" and politics isn't supposed to interfere. He quotes and comments on a 2003 E.J. Dionne column:
And then [Dionne] added: “Politicizing everything from literature to music to painting and sports was once a habit of the left. The Communist Party’s now-defunct newspaper once had a sports column called ‘Out in Left Field.’ Now, it’s the turn of the right to politicize everything.”

I’m not sure that was entirely true then, but it’s definitely not true now.
Oh yeah? We need not get into the wider world of wingnut culture war here -- just remember that from 2011 until someone wised up, National Review ran a sports blog called "Right Field." This is from the inaugural post:
The facts of life are conservative, and in no sphere is that truism more manifest than in the world of sport. In the games we play, the same rules are meant to apply to all — and we are outraged at the injustice when they are not. There are winners and losers, and we don’t agonize over the self-esteem of those who do not prevail: We expect them to learn from defeat and improve...
Yuk. To this day we have conservatives like Matt K. Lewis claiming that sports blogs are "dominated by liberals" because no one wants to hear wingnuts snarling about political correctness instead of keeping their eye on the ball. (Yes, like every other thinking person in America I know about today's David Brooks column and his strange conviction that black people will be moved to reconsider their sports protests because they might make bigots mad and his Thanksgivings harder to enjoy, but by claiming conservatives don't go in for this sort of thing, Goldberg has effectively out-stupided even him. There can be only one!)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

FRENCHIE NEEDS A SAFE SPACE.

With Jonah Goldberg in a parlous state, David French is charging hard in the paint for the honor of being National Review's biggest dumbass. Earlier today I thought he'd outdone himself with this post, in which he discovered a study finding more self-identified conservatives among millennials than heretofore suspected and, despite having written umpteen articles about what little liberal shits Millennials are -- e.g., "Blame Parents for Millennials’ Laughable Fragility," "A Note to Entitled Millennials in the Workplace: Give Humility a Try," "Do Millenials Dislike Capitalism Because It’s Not a Safe Space?" and so on -- suddenly declared the kids are all rightwing; in fact, despite what he'd been writing for years, French claimed he'd been seeing this New Trend for years:
But roughly five years ago, I began to sense a change in the wind. I was encountering not one or two truly counter-cultural students but entire roomfuls of young conservatives who were openly disdainful of the dominant social trends in their peer group. Where their peers demanded participation trophies, these kids threw them in the trash. Where their peers dismissed traditional social conventions, these kids (particularly in the South) were reviving the use of “sir” and “ma’am” in conversations with elders...
And these New Millennials will "sir" and "ma'am" our great country back into its pre-homosexual greatness:  "...this new counter-revolution is ultimately built on devotion to God, enthusiasm for our nation’s founding principles, a healthy respect for tradition and our nation’s most valuable cultural institutions, and hard work. This revolution won’t be televised, but it will be on Snapchat..."

Gag. But I looked again tonight and, amazingly, French has topped himself. Get a load:
Free Speech Is Killing Free Speech
Has he changed his mind about Citizens United? I wondered. Ha, j/k -- that kind of free speech is great. But when the NBA moves the All-Star Game because it doesn't support North Carolina's anti-anti-discrimination laws, that's double plus ungood free speech. It's bullying! It's both micro and macroaggressive!
Increasingly, Americans are using their right to free speech to destroy free speech. Rather than seeking to inform, they intimidate. Rather than seeking to persuade, they publicly shame... 
It seems odd, given the widespread trolling on social media, to assert that America’s culture of free speech is under threat, but the cumulative effect of shame campaigns and intimidation strategies is that millions of people simply flee the field, leaving the battle to the most extreme voices or to those people who’ve slowly developed the thick skins necessary to maintain a public presence...
And God forbid people like French should have to develop thick skins -- that's for libtards like Katie Couric, who should roll with his punches as God intended. Just as French turned on a dime to declare Millennials soldiers of Christ, so he's flipped on the much-derided concept of a safe space; it's great, he's now decided, so long as he's the one safely spaced.

UPDATE. Comments are (as always) well worth your time, Mr. and Mrs. Blog Consumer. trex does us the favor of noticing that back in 2015, before he got the PC bug, French was all for offensive speech that cut a certain way, e.g.:
In 2007 San Francisco State University put its chapter of the College Republicans on trial for desecrating the name of Allah. At an anti-terrorism rally, members of the College Republicans stomped on paper representations of the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, which contain the name “Allah” written in Arabic script. Bear in mind, this is a school where activists routinely burn or otherwise desecrate the American flag. Students charged the College Republicans with “attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment” and “actions of incivility.” 
At the time, I worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom, and we filed suit, seeking an injunction against California State University–system policies that mandated “civility” and prohibited conduct that was “inconsistent” with the university’s “goals, principles, and policies.”
Which would be fine, albeit assholish, if French weren't now bitching that the spectacle of liberals boycotting Chick-fil-a is "progressive bullying" and diving into his den of coloring books and videos of frolicking puppies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

TODAY IN CAREER ADVANCEMENT.

I saw this Yahoo headline...
Trump campaign brings on A.J. Delgado as a senior adviser
...and thought, oh no -- not our A.J. Delgado! I first noticed her in 2012 when Breitbart.com pimped her culture-war book called, I swear to Christ, "Hip to Be Square: Why It's Cool to Be a Conservative." This repurposed press release tipped us to some of Delgado's hipsquare proof points: "An analysis of three 'South Park' episodes blasting the Left," "'The Lord of the Rings' and its conservative message," "Johnny Rotten, Siouxsie Sioux, and Bob Dylan defending Israel," etc. When I made fun of her about it, she came to alicublog to say I'd proven her point "about the general nasty tone of liberals these days."

I should have known then that Delgado was a rising star of her movement. She got picked up by National Review, for which she produced a bunch of Kulturkampf crap -- for example, a review of a film about Jim Jones and the People's Temple in which she asked the crucial question, "Does the film represent the truth — i.e., Jones’s leftism?" and decided it had because in some scenes Jones "bemoans issues at the top of any leftist’s top-gripes list: 'poverty, violence, greed, and racism.'" And what conservative would think those were bad things?

For National Review Delgado also did a screed against Nicki Minaj with lines like "gents might need a cigarette after watching the video," "How is this even sexy, rather than sad, desperate, and repulsive?" "This openly sexual, anything-goes mentality may have taken off several years ago, with Katy Perry’s 'I Kissed a Girl,'" "Beyonce, who once profited off her good-girl image, buried that persona last year under half-naked magazine covers," etc. Pitchfork really missed the boat on this one.

Delgado tried her hand at bullshit libertarianism, too, with "It’s Time for Conservatives to Stop Defending Police," presumably to give herself plausible deniability in case that Libertarian Moment thing that was going around took off. It didn't, of course, and now Delgado is with Trumpbart, where she is peddled as Trump's "Latina" advisor, e.g. "A.J. Delgado: Why this Latina is for Trump." She's also involved with Trump's female-voter outreach and was front-and-center for the unveiling of Trump's maternity-leave scheme -- which would be awkward if anyone knew what she was saying about maternity leave a few years ago.

But it doesn't really matter -- Trump's plan is just another grift, as is Delgado's support for it. And Trumpbart is just another place for for junior wingnuts to earn their stripes. Well, as those stressed-out-looking birds on The Flintstones used to say, it's a living.