Tuesday, April 17, 2018

PUTTING THE "CHRIST!" BACK IN CHRISTIANS.

Rod Dreher doesn't get why other Christians are being such saps about these so-called "refugees":
A journalist asked the two presenters how we determine how many migrants we are to allow into the country. Sister Norma [a nun] responded by saying that she was speaking to a group of kindergarten students at a Catholic school, and asked them what they thought we should do about all the migrants at the border who are fleeing terrible conditions at home. 
The children said, “Let them in,” the nun said. She added, “I don’t know that Jesus would leave anybody out.” 
And that was it. This is not thinking. This is emoting — and it is emoting just as much as the kind of rhetoric that Trump and his ilk use when he discusses immigration. Sister Norma is a vastly more genial person than many of the anti-immigrant hotheads are. But it’s still substituting emotion and sloganeering for hard thought about difficult questions.
Jesus actually said "Shaddap, the little children," and also "Fuck the Samaritans -- they don't vote for us."  Later, in an update:
I’m halfway through approving comments, and it is frustrating how so many readers believe that Sister Norma’s simply telling stories and asserting that Jesus would probably agree with her approach was sufficient.
"Come on, Jesus, what do you mean 'the last will be first, and the first will be last'? I've already written a 9,000-word post explaining why that's not rational. Why won't you engage my argument?"

Maybe Dreher's right to moan about Christian persecution, because real-life followers of the Man from Galilee seem rather thin on the ground.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Chuck McCann in a slightly more restrained role.
I wonder if Albert Brooks ever saw this?

• When I was a kid, there was a ton of children’s shows on TV, and near as I can remember they all had their charms. But my favorite, ever and always, was Chuck McCann, who had a show on WPIX Sunday mornings and who died last weekend. The show seemed long to me — not because it was boring, but because it felt big, like something you could stretch out and live in, with many different things going on and many different characters, nearly all of them played by Chuck. I think even as kids we knew the show was cheap and largely improvised, just as we knew it about Soupy Sales; the music was canned, the sets wobbly, and the costumes obviously pulled out of a musty back room, but that didn’t matter because Chuck poured a lot of energy into it, mugging and flailing as if a single moment of rest would bring the whole thing crashing down. What really hooked me was Chuck reading the Sunday comics, a bit he swiped from Fiorello LaGuardia — but, unlike LaGuardia, he read each strip as one of its characters, and, lemme tell you, talk about committing to a bit: to play Little Orphan Annie he put on a big belted dress and fright wig, and he stuck round pieces of white cardboard in his eye sockets to emulate her pupil-less look, and spoke in a screeching mockery of a little girl’s voice. The white circles kept popping out of his eyes, which he sometimes apologetically acknowledged and sometimes shamelessly ignored, and when the camera cut to the newspaper I assume he removed them to read the text but, at the time, I just imagined him sitting there, squawking away with sightless cardboard eyes. He was childlike and wild and felt like our friend and, if the show wasn’t Peabody Award bait, who cares; Mr. Rogers was a decent human being, too, but Chuck McCann was someone you would want to play with. In a way he showed us how to play -- how to take something simple like a comic strip and make it into an extravaganza. I hope he knew at the end what a gift he gave us all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

OFF TO A GREAT START.

How America's newest top-tier pundit? Smokin', my friends. In the past 24 hours Megan McArdle has offered us not one, but two classic columns. First, anyone who was wondering how McArdle would top all the other rightwing weepers over Kevin Williamson may feast their eyes:
A person of color in a white space spends a great deal of time noticing they are a person of color, and that they are in a white space. The white people are very rarely conscious of the glistening pink skin surrounding them on all sides. Something similar holds for liberals and conservatives in American cultural institutions.
I'm tempted to bold or italicize or bold italicize that last sentence but honestly, only the late lamented blink tag would do.
...conservatives spend the first few decades of their lives in a left-skewed educational system, and the rest consuming cultural products made by liberals, so that liberal cultural hegemony barrages them daily with their “otherness.” Which is how they can sincerely feel powerless despite holding a great deal of political power.
They rule America, but what does it mean if they cannot have love? If only Jimmy Kimmel were nice like Fred Hiatt! But wait, there's more -- the column also contains a I'm Not Saying I'm Just Saying Switchback ("I’m comparing the group dynamics, not proclaiming that bias against conservatives is exactly morally the same," reads her "disclaimer," which she describes as "tiresome-but-necessary" and she's half right) and a This Is Why Trump Wonsie ("If that happened to you, probably you’d be pretty mad... Heck, you might even say ‘to hell with respectability politics,’ and vote for a loudmouthed reality television star..."). And on Twitter, this chef's kiss: "My prediction on this column, by the way, is that at least a few people on the right will say 'Wow. Maybe I should be more sympathetic to complaints about systemic racism.'" (Update, next day: No conservative is saying this.)

And a mere turnin' of the earth later, here comes Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver, We Hardly Knew Ye:
Should he have called out Trump more boldly than he did, refused to pass a tax reform without some reasonable attempt to pay for it, and generally made more of a nuisance of himself to the more irresponsible elements of his party? Perhaps. But holding a divided party, or a divided country together, is a delicate and important task. We shouldn’t be too quick to condemn those who attempt it. And when they go down, we should bury them with honors.
Now that’s The Up Side of Down!
...His replacement is likely to be less reasonable, less broadly liked, and less interested in policy than the sound of their own voice. They’re likely to be someone who is desperately interested in the prestige of the office, rather than someone willing to sacrifice from their own interests to party and country.
Wow, maybe that new, lesser GOP Speaker will help push through an even bigger deficit, with even more tax cuts for the rich and shit for the poor, than Ryan did while pretending to be a deficit hawk! And when he retires Megan McArdle will come tell us that we should be nice to that guy because the GOP Speaker after him might be even worse! (Assuming, perhaps unfairly, that we ever have another GOP Speaker.)

Reaching to top of the heap seems to have inspired her. Can’t wait to see what she does next! In fact I’m kind of sorry we all Twitter-mobbed Williamson off The Atlantic — maybe by now he’d be calling to make contraception a capital crime.

UPDATE. Comments -- always worth your time -- include this insight from our old Spy/SOROB buddy Ellis Weiner:
Don't shoot me--I'm just the messenger--but I can see McMegan bidding fair to become the Peggy Noonan of the still-slightly-new century: The fake concessions to common sense. The finger-wagging lectures on responsibility and maturity. The outright lying on behalf of obvious frauds, thieves, and hypocrites. The tremulous citation of the mood of the nation. The pseudo-wise discourses on human nature and psychology that, once you actually read them, turn out to have exactly nothing to do with real people slugging it out in a world in which the rich would, if they could, bring back feudalism and ask the lower classes to thank them for it.
Well, look. Becoming the Tokyo Rose of American class warfare is a delicate and important task.
I take his point; McArdle's got Noonan's natural talent for passive-aggressive twaddle, and Lord knows they both have similarly bizarre notions of financial struggle.  But McArdle's going to have to pay some heavy dues before she ascends to the Tanqueray Throne: She'll have do time in the chrism-and-gin-scented sepulchre of the Crazy Jesus Lady, prostate before the Reagan effigy until, suffused with the Holy Spirit, she can summon the magic dolphins. That Pulitzer's not a walk in the park!


Monday, April 09, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...putting to rest the Kevin D. Williamson affair.

There were many outtakes, including one involving a visit to our old friend Ace of Spades. Did you know he's turned into the type that yells "cuck" a lot? Get a load:
I despise these cucks for this reason: Many of these people scoff at the notion that the leftwing is out for scalps. They are out to get people fired. They are out to ruin lives. They stand for the proposition that You shall repeat our cult dogmas or we will work as hard as possible to deny you the ability to even earn a living plying your trade in Current Year America.
 Oooo, get her.
Yet these cucks continue to engage in apologism for the left, claiming that only "paranoids" believe this about their Very Good Leftist Cocktail Party Friends.
Cocktail Party! Maybe Mr. Spades is going for a fusionist message -- uniting old-time believers in the Liberal Cocktail/Dinner/Fetal-Samhain Party with the neo-Nazi kids, who probably respond by saying, "huh huh you said cock."

Thursday, April 05, 2018

KEVIN, WE HARDLY KNEW YE.

In my most recent Voice column I mentioned the beef over Kevin D. Williamson, would-be executioner of abortion ladies who was recently hired by The Atlantic. Well, it looks like EIC Jefrey Goldberg changed his mind about that:
Williamson’s hiring last month had already drawn scrutiny over past tweets in which he stated that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and “I have hanging more in mind” for a punishment. Those tweets have since been deleted. 
"The language he used in this podcast — and in my conversations with him in recent days — made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered views,” Goldberg wrote in the memo. 
"The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it. Furthermore, the language used in the podcast was callous and violent. This runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace."
To which all I can say is: LOL. There's no way Goldberg didn't know Williamson meant what he said. If it were such a deal-breaker for him, he might have suggested Williamson start his Atlantic tenure with a column explaining why he didn't really believe it. (Instead Williamson wrote about how Trumpkin Republicans were betraying the conservative movement and -- lest anyone think he was sucking up too much -- how Democrats are just as much an "authoritarian populist" party because they want to "sue or jail people for their views on climate change," which you may remember was a key part of Conor Lamb's and Doug Jones' winning campaigns ha I'm kidding Williamson's full of shit.)

Instead, Goldberg would have us believe Williamson misled him, and the scales fell from his eyes only when a piece of corroborating evidence (inevitably) appeared. If this is really what happened, that would mean Goldberg found all the other nonsense Williamson has published acceptable, but his belief that abortion is murder -- a belief shared by many good, solid American morons -- and that women should be punished for it -- a belief once held, or pretended to be held, by the current President of the United States, if briefly -- beyond the pale.

No doubt as I write this rightwing world is exploding with charges of liberal fascism, but if anyone is protected by Goldberg's curious selectiveness, it's not pro-choice people -- it's anti-abortion people who are, as they were when Trump relented, insulated from the logical conclusion of their beliefs by this anathema. They're just morally serious people who think abortion is the kind of murder for which only accessories should be punished!

Goldberg said he was hiring Williamson because he considered him "an excellent reporter who covers parts of the country, and aspects of American life, that we don’t yet cover comprehensively," which lol wut -- I don't recall any newhounds saying, "say, that caped fellow really made me understand the plight of landlords who evict their tenants." I rather think Goldberg hired Williamson because he's a bomb-thrower and thereby bound to draw clicks -- hate-clicks, perhaps, but clicks nonetheless -- but found to his chagrin that the first bomb went off in his own offices.

As it happens, The Atlantic is the only party that does not see an upside here. People who wanted Williamson gone are celebrating. Williamson should be celebrating, too -- he's probably getting several months' pay, at least, for a single column, not to mention an enormous publicity boost which he can take anywhere else -- maybe to Fox, where he can host horror movies as the new Zacherle. And conservatives have a brand new reason to throw a shit-fit about how private businesses that choose not to work with them are practicing censorship. It's win-whine!

UPDATE. David French, who, like many of the wingnut outrage squadron, was unwilling to mention the specific insane idea Williamson was getting flak for last week, still can't, but alludes to it in -- well, feast your eyes:
Kevin is independent. He’s provocative. Sure, he can troll a little bit, and — no — I don’t agree with everything he says. I’m a moderate, you see. If abortion is ever criminalized in this nation, I think only the abortionist (and not the mother) should face murder charges for poisoning, crushing, or dismembering a living child. So we might differ about the laws in hypothetical-future-America.
He's a moderate, you see, and that's why only the doctor is the BABY KILLER RRRARAGH whom we will STONE MASH KILL JESUS ARRGH and the mother, poor benighted soul, will just live in the Handmaid's Tale hellscape we thus create for her.

INSTEAD OF THROWING MONEY AT THE PROBLEM, LET'S THROW DUMB ANALOGIES!

Hey, Megan McArdle’s at the Washington Post! Let’s see what she’s up to now:
What caused the 1968 riots? A lack of respect.
If this headline had appeared over anyone else’s column, you might think, okay, maybe there's a new editor at the Post who's not so great at condensing the author’s point; but, this being McArdle, we may assume it’s perfectly apt (and we'd be right!), since part of her shtick is to declare that whatever misfortune is suffered by the non-rich in this country, the government has no role in alleviating it except maybe to call in the troops to shoot the looters.
Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, the scars of the riots that followed are only now fully healed in Washington. In other cities, they still aren’t. And we still don’t know exactly why they happened — or for that matter why the 1960s as a whole saw more rioting than the decades before or since.
Yeah, who knows why blacks would riot in the 1960s, particularly after Martin Luther King was murdered (not to mention, after centuries of ill-treatment at the hands of white supremacist society)? It’s a mystery!
What we can say with some confidence is that we can’t simply explain them as a function of unemployment and poverty.
That would be like saying if the ghettos that went up in flames hadn't been ghettos but were instead rich gated communities, their residents wouldn't have torched them, and that just doesn’t make sense! And if you think it does, you know what you are?
Marxism as an ideology was crushed when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but as a method of analysis it still thrives.
Like many rightwing idées fixes, this is projection; McArdle, as previously mentioned here and elsewhere in this space, is averse to all solutions that require government money that should be returned to the Koch Brothers via tax breaks. That’s why she keeps insisting Marriage Makes You Rich — sure, a college degree is more strongly correlated with greater earning power, but scholarships require a wealth transfer to poor people.
What did cause the riots, then? Well, rage and despair and a lot of hard-to-quantify socio-political factors. But taking them all in total, I’d sum them all up with one word: respect. Whatever our economic conditions, we also want — we need — to command a certain minimal amount of admiration from our fellow citizens. 
The great victories of the civil rights movement changed many things. Schools were integrated; funding disparities eased. But that didn’t obliterate the racism that still followed black people around stores, eyed them suspiciously on the street, dogged them in job interviews and caused the police to stop them for “walking while black.”
Generous of McArdle to acknowledge endemic racism, but guess who else suffers from a lack of respect?
There are vast differences, of course, between the race riots of the 1960s and the 2016 election. But when we explain these events, the tendency toward economic reductionism looks very similar, as does its implausibility.
This is good place to mention that the average Trump voter is mainly middle class and makes a shit-ton more than the average black American, even today, never mind in the 1960s. But let's hear how that Trump guy, like your 60s rioter, suffers from disrespect:
Many places that voted for Trump never had many factories to lose to China or Mexico; many factory towns turned to Trump only after decades of decline. What most consistently motivates the Trump supporters I’ve met is not jobs or racism but anger at a culturally powerful elite that veers between ignoring them and disrespecting every facet of their lives.
Thus, the Trump people are sore because them fancy folks in Warshington and Hollyweird look down on them and force them to… live comfortable middle-class lives, but without the fancy folks’ respect. Kinda like a dream deferred, right?

McArdle closes:
We lean on economics because unlike “disaffection,” it’s relatively easy to quantify. And unlike “systemic racism” or “a rural/urban cultural divide,” it feels like something that government policy can address. We are the proverbial drunks looking for our keys under the lamppost, instead of where we dropped them. And somehow, we are perpetually surprised that we never find what we’re looking for.
Actually if we seem drunk, it’s because we’ve been stunned by a 2x4. And as to those allegedly ineffectual economic remedies, we have barely made an effort, as the man whose death 50 years ago spurred so much anger and despair knew and wished to correct.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

NEW FROM ROD DREHER'S "READER" "MAIL."

It's always a treat to see the first-person Dear-Benedict-Option-I-never-thought-it-could-happen-to-me narratives Rod Dreher portrays as reader mail. Yesterday in a unsurprisingly worthless Roseanne post about how homosexuals are defaming America's Sitcom, Rod finished off with such a missive:
You are so right about how Roxanne Gay’s comments typify the rancor and
illiberalness that is tearing apart families. 
I am one of 25 first cousins out of a Scots-Irish “clan” from deep in the mountains of [Appalachia], people like J. D. Vance who made it out into the broader world through hard work and education, mostly conservative Presbyterians. We were doing fine for generations…until the gay lawyer cousin joined a PCUSA church that transformed him into a LGBT bully who publicly shames family members on Facebook for any view they hold contrary to him. 
He has become the family terrorist. 
Now this fine old family gathers for weddings and funerals in little polarized clumps, if they gather at all. I can hardly believe I’ve lived to see a tight-knit family torn apart by political views and ideology. I can’t help wonder how many families are experiencing the same sort of strife. 
You hit on something in your blog that currently plagues scores of American families.
One question: How did this lone "LGBT bully" shatter bonds forged over generations and shared by an apparently large number of godly hill folk? My guess is, he tattled.