Friday, March 23, 2018


I see Kevin D. Williamson has been promoted from National Review to The Atlantic. Here is the alicublog archive on Williamson; I don't have time to get too deep into it, but many people have learned today about Williamson's declaration that women who have abortions should be executed -- which, if you're going to only know one thing about Williamson, is a good choice because it is typically stupid and vicious, the kind of snot-nosed contrarianism in which he specializes. I will only add that Williamson was sneering at victims of gun violence before sneering at victims of gun violence was cool (and his sneer-object actually got shot!); that he has actually compared contemporary American liberals to Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken as an insult, and American public schools to a Communist dictatorship, and Cliven Bundy to Gandhi -- analogies seem not to be his strong suit; and that he first achieved a moment of fame by throwing a fit (and a stranger's cell phone) in public. Check the archive if you like, but the short version is, he sucks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


I've been a bit of a downer lately, interrupting the cheers given Ralph Peters for turning against Fox News by reminding everyone that Peters, like a lot of guys who get crowned with Woke Laurels and taken for a shoulder rides by liberals these days, is still terrible and his conversion is probably a PR stunt. And I'm afraid I have to do that again with these heds and ledes that have given some good folks aid and comfort:
Breitbart’s readership plunges
The onetime voice of the pro-Trump alt-right struggles to find a niche without its driving force, Steve Bannon. 
Breitbart News is experiencing a massive decline in traffic, Politico reports, losing about half its total readership in just six months. 
Breitbart readership is in free fall, report finds
The wingnut web empire's hits have been halved since last October, and pundits are guessing it's because Steve Bannon has been too long away from the bridge ("Without Bannon at the helm, the website has faltered"), or because of "Facebook’s war on fake news," or because of Trump ("it’s no surprise that Breitbart’s influence is waning as the country grapples with the harsh realities of a Trump presidency"), etc.

I started covering Breitbart and his media outlets close to a decade ago;  I have seen their malign influence on our body politic, and it gives me some pleasure to see his successor Fat Goebbels embarrassed, if only for the moment. But even assuming Breitbart does not bounce back -- and that's not a fair assumption; we've heard stories of their numbers "cratering" before -- that doesn't mean that the audience for their rightwing bullshit is lessening. In fact, it may just be finding Breitbart too tame anymore.

Like other web users with loathsome habits, I get creepy promotional emails based on my usage, and lately I've been getting digests from new rightwing sites that make Breitbart look like The London Review of Books. One is called "Fear and Blood," and its headlines sound like they're being screamed by Michelle Malkin while Michael Savage fucks her in the ass: "BRAINWASHED PARKLAND SURVIVOR MAKES A FOOL OF HIMSELF IN DIY COMMERCIAL [VIDEO]," "CLINTON GUTTING HER PARTY FROM THE INSIDE: ANOTHER DEM RUSHES TO SLAM HILLARY [VIDEO]," "TRUMP PROUDLY EXPLAINS WHY HE SUCH A BIG ADVOCATE OF THE MARINES," etc.

There are also the links I get from something called Red Right Videos, which, while it does have a website full of video features padded with shitty written-by-bots copy, such as "MSNBC Anchor Mocks Trump Advisers Christian Faith,“ it also sends me links to different wingnut outlets (often Fear and Blood!) with similar characteristics, offered in the same manner and with the same intent as a guy who, having shown you a bukkake video and gotten even a mildly approving response, will immediately excitedly show you every vom-porn clip in existence. The titles include “It’s Unbelievable What Both Bush JR and SR Said About Trump, Sad,” and “LIBERALS ARE GATHERING FOR AN EVENT THAT YOU WON’T BELIEVE."

Further down the Mariana Trench we find Independent Minute which, while it does feature Trump-worship features like "UNCATEGORIZED TRUMP OFFERS 7 FIGURE REWARD FOR INFORMATION ON ONE OF THE MOST EVIL PEOPLE WALKING THE EARTH," also offers politically indistinct trash-trawls like "She Learns His Vile Secret After 10 Years Of Dating, Has SWAT Team Swarming His Property [VIDEO]" and "Any Chance Of Oprah Running In 2020 DESTROYED With This Leaked Sex Tape." I think the idea here is, if you like Trump, you'll enjoy anything else that, like Trump, includes at any given time violence, guilty sex, and just plain braying stupidity.

And that's where it's going, I think: inchoate rage and depravity linked, maybe even just tangentially, to rightwing politics. It's perfect for the age of our porn-star-fucking, death-penalty-threatening, bellowing asshole president. His connection to conservatism is mainly visceral -- unlike the pipe-puffing, patched-elbowed dopes at National Review and other such places, he doesn't approve screwing the poor because of any abstruse intellectual or moral precept, he approves it because he's a vicious thug and that's what people like him get a thrill out of. So instead of just having ugly political content, his new avatars mix it up with ugly non- or barely-political content -- online equivalents of some no-neck down the corner telling you about some little [insert racial slur] who beat up an old lady and how if he saw a  [insert racial slur] right now he'd fuck him up but good. Every once in a while they might stick "Trump" or "MAGA" to that, but it's not absolutely necessary.

So, in my view, if Breitbart is losing traffic, it's not for any extrinsic reason; it's because as low as they brought things, their audience -- its brains turned to harmless glue by long exposure to Breitbart's crap-- now wants to go lower still.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Someone told me a Fox News dummy had turned and even the New York Times was covering it...
“In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” [he] wrote in his message, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times
“Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association,” he added. “Now I am ashamed.”
...and damned if the dummy didn't turn out to be Col. (Ret.) Ralph Peters -- better known to alicublog fans as Eleventy-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters! His alicublog archive is available for all to see.

I've been following the General since he was an Iraq War cheerleader for the New York Post ("America is, indeed, the modern Rome. And Rome does not ask permission of Thebes or obey the orders of Gaul"). I was late to the General generally: Back in 1996, he was talking about using military invasion tactics on American cities. But it was Iraq that made him a true public buffoon.

Back then he was very concerned that the hippies were going to spoil this war for him -- and as the war got more spoilt, Peters got more mad (as in crazy as well as in angry):
In the War Against Terror, no other power or organization can defeat America. But America remains dangerously capable of defeating itself... 
The terrorists will seek to convince American voters that the War on Terror is failing, paving the way for the electoral victory of a weakling [John Kerry] and allowing them to surge back into vacuums created by an American retreat... 
The media weren't reporting. They were taking sides. With our enemies. And our enemies won. Because, under media assault, we lost our will to fight on...

Make no mistake -- The anti-war voices long for us to lose any war they cannot prevent... 
Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media...

The media are now combatants -- even if we're not allowed to shoot back...
He wasn't sentimental about Iraqi democracy, either: "We're overdue to take a lesson from the Romans and the British before us," barked the General, "and recognize the value of punitive expeditions… we need not feel obliged to rebuild every government we are forced to destroy… Where you cannot be loved, be feared.." (Also: "We didn't even have the common sense to declare martial law. It convinced our enemies that we were naive and weak." And see his tribute to Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf, "who sought the best for his tormented country but never knew how to package himself.")

Oh, and for those of you who are big on stories about how SJWs are the Real Threat to Free Speech, Blood 'n' Guts was there waaaay ahead of you:
It's fashionable in left-wing circles to describe anyone who admires America as a fascist. But the real totalitarian threats of our time come from the left. And no public figure embodies the left's contempt for basic freedoms more perfectly than Howard Dean.
Amazing we have any free speech left after Dr. Dean's reign of terror!

In the waning days of the Bush Administration the General seemed becalmed and unfocused. In 2008 the specter of Obama sometimes excited that ol' Blood 'n' Guts insanity ("There was a good reason the assassins of 9/11 attacked the targets they did, rather than steering those planes into Columbia University or Harvard Yard: They knew that the potency of the intellectual is illusory, that it dissolves at the first shot"). But after the election the General withered, as if his troops had abandoned him as the enemy breached the perimeter and the enemy wouldn't do him the honor of an execution; he was reduced to complaining that Obama was escalating the war in Afghanistan -- yes, that's how low he fell. The General became a TV clown, occasionally getting ink for calling Obama a pussy. I assumed he'd die in the saddle, slumping into some Fox blonde's lap.

But this new attention-getter shows that the General is at least trying to come back. Peters' current gripe is that Trump is in hock to Putin and Fox has been covering it up ("Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the 'nothing-burger' has been covered with Russian dressing all along" -- now there's some of the old Blood 'n' Guts!), which is interesting, because back in 2004 Peters was soft on Putin himself ("An angel won't replace Putin in the Kremlin. But Putin isn't entirely a devil. The glass is dirty, but it's nearly three-quarters full"). Putin hasn't changed much; has Peters "evolved"?

Ha! Men like RB&GP don't evolve -- evolution's for liberal traitors! What changed is, back then George W. Bush liked Putin and Peters liked Bush; more to the point, Bush was popular. Trump, on the other hand, looks to be destroying the national Republican Party and the nation is turning against him -- which may explain why the General is turning against Trump. There will be a Morning After, and with it a Morning Show After, and the General wants to be on the dais. Let Sean Hannity go down with the ship; the General Shall Return.

UPDATE. Comments, as always are worth a look, particularly those of BigHank53 and glen_tomkins, who have followed Peters' career as a Soviet-watcher in the U.S. military and have intelligent speculations on his motivations that somewhat contradict my cynicism. I accept that the General may have legit feelings about the Bear, but before Trump conservatives generally reacted to Putin's intransigence with tough talk and calls to drill more oil. All these years after the Soviet Union collapsed, they generally treat adversaries as opportunities to enrich their donors, such as the oil and gas industries and the military contractors who will profit when we invade Iran.  It may be Peters is simply responding to a patriotic impulse, but as he's been in the propaganda service almost as long as he was in the armed forces, I'm not inclined to interpret his actions charitably.

Monday, March 19, 2018


...about Conor Lamb's special election victory in PA-18 and how conservatives claimed it had to have been a case of mistaken identity -- i.e., Lamb was mistaken for the actual Republican candidate. Lamb's kinda bluish-doggish, but in the current environment that is still way left of the GOP's Rick Saccone, who closed his campaign by raving that the Left hated God.

Wingnuts console themselves that Democrats aren't putting up DSA firebrands in red zones, but given that, as I said at the time, last Election Day looked like a liberal revenge fantasy in which "A trans woman beat an anti-trans bigot; a droopy-drawered BLM protester won a City Council seat; a victim of gun violence beat an NRA shill; [and] a freaking Democratic Socialist defenestrated the Republican Virginia House majority whip," they should be happy they don't, because given the egregious mismanagement of Trump and the Republicans, the Democrats could nominate undead Lenin and might still win.

Friday, March 16, 2018


You know, some of the new groups aren't bad.

• It takes a fuckton of chutzpah to warn against "Borking" CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, as National Review's Rich Lowry does today. Actually that whole use of Bork's name to imply persecution is ridiculous, since Bork himself was clearly nuts and unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. But Lowry sinks even lower, talking about America's torture of enemy combatants in the Bush years as if it were an unfortunate necessity rather than a straight-up war crime. Haspel has been accused of supervising the torture of Abu Zubaydah; he may not have been part of her portfolio (though she is more credibly accused of destroying evidence of CIA torture, either to preserve herself or her colleagues, or both). But Lowry defends Zubaydah's torture at length nonetheless:
The enhanced interrogations were brutal. Zubaydah was struck, placed in stress positions, confined in small boxes and repeatedly waterboarded. During one session, he became unresponsive. By any standard, this was extreme and right up to the legal line.

The CIA didn’t learn of any planned attack in the U.S.; it did become confident that Zubaydah wasn’t holding back anything about one. From his capture to his transfer to the Department of Defense on September 5, 2006, information from him produced 766 intelligence reports.

In the cold light of day, we would have handled all of this differently. The Bush administration shouldn’t have been as aggressive in its legal interpretations. We should have realized that we had more time to play with, and that the program itself would become a black mark on our reputation overseas and such a domestic flashpoint that we would basically lose all ability to interrogate detainees (droning became the preferred alternative).
"Right up to the legal line"; "become confident that Zubaydah wasn't holding anything back"; "aggressive in its legal interpretations." This is the language of manicured depravities -- euphemisms common in the Abu Ghraib era and, apparently, primed for a comeback. It's odd that, a while back, some people were saying Trump is so bad he made them miss Bush. They'll get a chance to test that theory soon!

James Hohmann:
Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing Fox News contributor John Bolton as a potential successor.

A leading contender to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is Pete Hegseth, the co-host of “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

The president named CNBC analyst and former host Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser on Wednesday.

Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox and Friends,” got promoted on Monday from being a spokeswoman for the State Department to acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs

...Trump’s plot to poach from green rooms is an additional proof point that validates two important themes I’ve written about: Trump has debased the value of expertise and supercharged the celebrification of American politics.
Trump's grift in general is like a monkey-see reflection of conservative values, true to their horrible essence but dumbed down for mass appeal, so I take this as his distillation of the Right's endless culture-war caterwauling that liberals have all the artsy people to make their values look good, and it's no fair and conservatives have to "take back the culture" to redress the balance, even if they have to tell fart jokes to do it. It makes sense that their debased idea of "culture" would be asshole TV presenters appointed to top government offices.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


So when Putin poisoned his latest victim in the UK, I thought I was making a joke:

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles appeared on his “TruNews” program on Friday to suggest that the recent mysterious poisoning of a former Russian spy was carried out by someone with ties to Hillary Clinton in order to cover up information about the Trump-Russia dossier.
There are also several rightwing/Russian front sites peddling the Hillary-did-Skripal story, and your senile Aunt in Pennsyltucky, your burnout friend in Oregon, and your old school buddy who's been living in a survivalist treehouse since election day 2008 have probably told everybody on their mailing lists. That's why Trump has been so reticent to acknowledge even the possibility Putin did it -- - he doesn't want to upset the crackpots; they are, after all, his base.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Looks like Conor Lamb took what had been a 20-point-Trump-victory district in 2016 and turned it into a Democratic victory in PA-18. The spin from the brethren: This is good news for John McCain Donald Trump!

The idea is, since Lamb ran as a moderate and talked smack about Nancy Pelosi, he was the actual "not anti-Trump" Republican in the race -- notwithstanding that there was a Republican running named Rick Saccone, and his party and their conservative cat's-paws dumped over $10 million into his cause and sent Trump to campaign for him just to (fail to) hold a "safe" district.

You knew the White Working Class Whisperer herself had to get in on this action:

Zito laid the groundwork when the jig was clearly up, not only pumping the moderate-Democrat angle -- praising the "older, white" Dem party operatives who picked Lamb and prevented "primary voters, who tend to be to the most ideologically extreme wing of their party" from nominating Vladimir Lenin IV -- but also, and I gotta say I'm impressed by this, declaring Saccone a victim of the elites:
And fourth, the establishment Republicans have embarrassed themselves with public hissy fits about Lamb's challenger, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone — his lack of fundraising polish and his panache. You have to wonder if their bitterness towards this Western Pennsylvania candidate — whose military and diplomatic experience are impressive on paper and manifest in person — is deeply rooted in their persistent resentment of Trumpism.
Yeah, it had to be that the polished-and-panachey, chardonnay-swilling Republican elite stabbed Saccone in the back -- not that voters nationwide have proven themselves sick to death of Trump and are throwing off whatever vestiges of it they can lay their hands on.