Thursday, October 27, 2016


You may have seen the recent high-level discussions online of the degenerate state of rightblogger discourse, based on "Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp" by Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post.

If you've been reading alicublog for any length of time, you may have thought: yeah so? Because ugh, I've been covering that mess since 2003 (since 2002, really), and as followers of Max Blumenthal, Rick Perlstein and others know, it's been going on much longer than that. Ur-shitheels like William Buckley, Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, Adolph Coors et alia accelerated the metastasis that has given us the Limbaughs, Savages, Coulters et alia of today, whose poisonous influence has corrupted our policy discussions to point where a large plurality of Americans think climate scientists are con artists trying to steal the honest living of oil company executives, universal healthcare is impossible, and toleration of minorities is contrary to the wishes of the Founding Fathers.

Well, Megan McArdle is here to tell us that this is all the fault of the liberal media -- liberal media, in this case, meaning large media outlets that are not Fox, nor the various rightwing print publications from the Washington Times to the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

Those organizations may have money and readerships, but they have not the cachet of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and McArdle seems to consider that cachet -- despite her long ultra-capitalist bona fides -- to be a public trust, access to which her friends in the Movement -- that is, "serious conservative journalists" -- are entitled.

The media is liberal, McArdle assures, because all the people who go into it are liberal, at least so far as she knows, and she knows everybody. And their liberal bias asserts itself in tricksy ways:
The process mostly operates subconsciously; it is entirely possible to believe that you are being strenuously fair while setting the bar higher for believing “conservative” stories and liking conservative politicians than for “liberal” ones. An unlikeable liberal politician will still be disliked; an irrefutable “conservative” fact will still be accepted. But in the mushy middle, the ground will tilt toward liberalism.
You will not be surprised to hear that McArdle offers no actual examples of mushy middle liberal bias; perhaps that would require a search engine using mushy logic, and it has not yet been developed.

That the media refuses to hire her friends is unfair, because they're really terrific journalists. Her only named example is -- oh, come on, you'll never guess:
I could point out that Rampell is remarkably ungenerous in ignoring the many serious conservative journalists who spoke out early and often against Donald Trump, including an entire “Against Trump” issue of the National Review, the elder statesman of right-wing journalism. (The National Review also printed an editorial unequivocally stating that then-President-Elect Barack Obama was a natural-born U.S. citizen.)
National Review's NeverTrump issue was, as I covered at the Village Voice, ridiculous, a mass knee-jerk by establishment conservatives who'd spent their professional lives building a quasi-journalistic bureaucracy that they suddenly found threatened by the rise of a reactionary who'd stolen their thunder but owed them nothing.  And their grudging editorial defense of Obama's citizenship ("We are used to seeing conspiracy theories from the Left, for instance among the one in three Democrats who believe that 9/11 was an inside job...") was yet followed by crypto-birther essays by such as Andrew C. McCarthy's ("This certification is not the same thing as the certificate").

This bare evidence McArdle stretches into a case that there are "so many of those [conservative] outlets" that "remain committed to careful reporting and debunking things like the Obama birth certificate nonsense, rather than simply pandering to their readers" that we must take them seriously and grant them MSNBC press passes.

But she doesn't name any others. Who are these worthies? Who at National Review qualifies as a serious journalist who might be suitable for promotion? Those few who've had the qualifications already got jobs in the liberal media -- Robert Costa at the Washington PostAlexis Levinson at Buzzfeed, et alia.

In other words, the market seems to be doing a good job of promoting those conservative journalists who can perform actual journalism. Whom else would McArdle promote? Certainly none of her own former interns would do.

If you don't accept that the best conservative journos are being nefariously kept out of the better publications, nor that the lack of such reporters has left important stories unrevealed to the public, then McArdle has another, entirely different angle for you -- this one focusing on the conservative journos who aren't so good, but it's not their fault -- they're depraved on account of they're deprived:
Conservative media, in other words, became an ideological ghetto. And ghettos often develop pathologies...
What would fix the problem is if the folks in the castle made a concerted effort to open the doors and persuade some of the swamp-dwellers to move inside. Not just to move inside, but to help run the place, pushing back on liberal pieties and dubious claims with the same fervor that liberals push back on conservative ones. 
Yes, the former Jane Galt is arguing for affirmative action for wingnuts. If only someone could get her to reverse-engineer her metaphor and apply it to black people.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


It's the home stretch, and the brethren are hauling out the big guns -- like "Hillary has a weird wrinkle in her face."

In such an environment, you know the latest James O'Keefe video ratfuck has gotta be big wingnut news -- though, being both old-school and just plain old, and accustomed to stories of political operatives being sent out to beat up their opponents, the whole idea that I should be shocked by stories of guys going out to get beat up is kinda hilarious to me. But John Nolte at the Daily Wire is extremely serious:
Thanks to James O'Keefe's Project Veritas, we now have video proof that high-ranking Democrat operatives directly connected to the highest-ranking Democrats in the land (the Clintons, the DNC, marriage to a sitting congresswoman) have engaged in vote fraud and the orchestration of violence at Donald Trump's campaign events.

And our elite, political media doesn't care.

And this is why, in their infinite wisdom, our Founders gave us the right to self-defense in the Second Amendment.
Wait wut.
...This is no joke. There is nothing these people will not do to obtain power, and the elite media is fully on board.

You are being replaced, disenfranchised, and now the media is giving Democrats permission to commit violence against you.

Take advantage of the Second Amendment while we still have one.

And by all means…

Stay ungovernable, America.
Calling for armed insurrection is something winners do! Expect that last line to wind up on red hats soon. Okay, on the lighter side and according to the rule of three, here's the orginal Sniffles the Clown, Larry Kudlow at National Review:
Finding Strength in Melania Trump
She’s making me take a second look at Donald.
From the front or from the back?
...I’ve only met Melania once, a few months ago at a funeral. For some reason she recognized me.
Maybe you and Donald have the same dealer. The thing's full of gems, but I think this is my favorite individual paragraph:
Under pressure, with great civility, instead of viciously attacking these women, as Hillary once did to her husband’s accusers, Melania simply said, “All the allegations should be handled in a court of law."
I know she's prone to plagiarism -- wasn't that a line from Profiles in Courage?

UPDATE. Attend Master Persuader Scott "Dilbert" Adams:
If there are no sponsored terror attacks before Election Day, it means ISIS prefers Clinton. They have the means. Think about it. #Trump
The Master Persuader has planted the prostate seeds of doubt that will kill the crotch-cancer of Clinton! You know, I think Trump can still win, but with material like this I'll be damned if I'm gonna pass on any opportunities for overconfidence.

Monday, October 24, 2016


....about Trump's charges of a "rigged" election, and the brethren's defense thereof.

Among the bits I had no room to include was the libertarian perspective of Reason’s Sheldon Richman, “The Election Is Rigged, But Not as Trump Would Have Us Believe.” Some of his observations are reasonable enough, if suffused with the rarified air of the ivory tower or perhaps a distant planet where human behavior is an exotic subject ("viewers are more likely to reach for the remote when they hear about transcripts of speeches to Wall Street than when they hear 'locker-room banter' and insults"), but then Richman gets down to the real problem:
But there's another side to the "rigged election" charge that's bound to go unnoticed. The American political system, like all political systems, requires a good deal of peaceful cooperation to operate. This is obviously relevant to the transfer of power, which gets so much attention nowadays. This cooperation goes on in two respects: first, between the government and the subject population—government cannot rule purely through force because the ruled always substantially outnumber their rulers—and second, among the many individuals who constitute the government's branches, agencies, and bureaus...
On and on it goes for hundreds of words and with citations of Hobbes, Locke, and Roderick Long ("Now this of course does not mean that anarchists have achieved their goal of a society based purely on cooperation") till the merciful conclusion: "Finally, I think we can say that the elections are rigged but not as Trump would have us believe. They are rigged in the sense that the outcome is predetermined for power and against liberty. It'll take a change in ideology to change that." Well, with material like this, that's bound to come any day now.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


This is just a random ladleful of what Ace of Spades is cooking, post-debate:
Apparently there are a lot of women, including lots of women who don't call themselves liberal feminists -- MeAgain Kelly and half of the online female "conservative" commentariat, for starters -- who actually think that a woman is allowed to insult a man to the accompaniment of a witch's mocking cackle and the man is not allowed to say anything more than "I agree with you, Thee of the Superior Sex."
You can stop there if you're busy -- Mr. Spades is a volume dealer and will always have more of the same -- but those of you with time to kill may want to take in a bit more just to assure yourselves I'm not making him look bad with selective quotation:
Go fuck yourselves, women (and some men) who think this way. You're not superior and you have no special rights and privileges, and men do not have a special requirement to defer to you in all things. 
People who claim these things seem to be trying to vindicate some personal, at-home domestic issue -- "My husband is such a useless cad!" -- through their political agitation. 
You have two choices, ladies: You can either compete in the hard world, or you can keep to the soft world. You cannot go out into the hard world, and in fact employ the tactics of the hard world like insult and mockery, and then demand to be treated by the rules of the soft world.
Comment is largely superfluous, but I will remind you that Mr. Spades was doing this kind of thing way before MRA and red pill and Gamergate and all that stuff. Some of my younger, less experienced readers may think this kind of grotesque and willful sexism is a recent efflorescence in the movement, ignited by Trump, but it's really only a reassertion, one of many since women started insisting on their rights. Believe it or don't, once Mr. Spades was a bright young politically-incorrect thing, celebrated as part of the New Butchitude back in the days when Republican presidents could swagger around in a flight suit and get away with any old shit. The years have not been kind, and sometimes he reveals weariness at holding the old standard aloft, and swears he's turning over a new leaf: "I think human beings are meant to live in the three-dimensional world of air and light and breath and blood and not just reduce themselves to machines in the service of lesser machines," etc. ecch. Then some bitch gets the other bitches cackling and he has to man up again.

What I'm saying is, you may think they're on their last legs because they're so pathetic. But they've hung in longer than reason would suggest were possible; don't be surprised if President Hitlery fails to do them in. In fact, given how they've responded to Obama, I can safely say they'll insist that the first female president has destroyed man-woman relations.

Remember, just because it's stupid doesn't mean they'll stop trying to get away with it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


The whole Trump idea of a "rigged" election is giving mainstream-esque conservatives fits. David French tries to explain to his readers that the American system is so darned robust that even a monster like Hitlery Klintoon cannot damage it -- notwithstanding that just last month he wrote "Hillary Clinton Is Even More Dishonest than You Thought" and that if she were, forbid it almighty God, elected Presient, "Americans will either be exhausted by the drama or so thoroughly hardened to dishonesty and scandal that our politics will be debased for a generation." The "exhausted by the drama" choice seemed strange to me at the time -- we'll either be tired or a lost generation! -- but I now assume French knew he'd eventually need to write, well, what he just wrote, when the election was no longer in doubt and the apocalypse had to be put back in the toy chest till next time.

A betterworse example is Allahpundit at Hot Air. He predicts, in the wake of a Trump defeat, "a splintering on the right on basic questions of the opposition’s legitimacy" -- and I can't guess what he means, since Republicans have been casting doubt on the legitimacy of Democratic Presidents since 1992; I really expect some bright boy on their team to declare that Hillary is "no man that's born of woman," so according to Shakespeare she's illegitimate. But the last paragraph pretty much shows where Allahpundit is at.
I recommend this piece by Joel Pollak of Breitbart...
Yeah I know, but bear with me:
...on the ways in which the election is, and isn’t, rigged. “Rigged” in terms of a deeply slanted media? Most definitely. “Rigged” in terms of Hillary Clinton being let off scot free after committing a felony in mishandling classified information? Absolutely, and it’s worth noting that every day. “Rigged” in terms of vote counts being manipulated next month? Ah, no. Exit question: Since when is Barack Obama a fan of manning up and taking responsibility for one’s own political problems? He’s been whining about Republican obstructionism every day for seven and a half years.
Basically his POV is that of course the election is rigged, just not the way Alex Jones and Trump think -- they're crazy, not like us sensible, mainstream, center-right conspiracy theorists. (And even in the solitude of his writing chamber he's compelled to throw sand in the eyes of an invisible adversary: Oh yeah well what about Obama he complained about things too!)

With these guys, anytime anything doesn't go their way, it's because it was rigged.

Monday, October 17, 2016


...about Trump's week of groping accusations and the brethren's damage control. A dirty job, but someone's -- actually, "a dirty job" just about covers it.

Among the outtakes:  There are some rightbloggers who can't approve of Trump but still think their fellow shitheels should elect him President. One of these, Ace of Spades, offered this literary explanation: While both Trump and Clinton are “jackals,” he said, Trump is merely “a jackal being released into a swamp full of alligators looking to devour him,” while Clinton is “a jackal being set loose in a field full of sheep with no defenses…” He further explained that the sheep in his metaphor are “any Republican or Christian unprotected by the elite power structure” and that Clinton Jackal also has “a pack of ravening jackal minions who will gladly join her in hunting and tearing apart the sheep." Close reading suggests these minion-jackals are the “political establishment of Washington DC.” But who, then, are the alligators? The establishment, again? Seems redundant. Maybe the jackals are working with the alligators, with the help of Dr. Doolittle. Spades' mysterious fable will long occupy historians, or at least forensic psychologists.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Well, no one can say they don't know this Laureate's work. (Actually I'm sure there are some bowtied Roger Kimball motherfuckers for whom it might as well be Onyx or Kevin Gates.) But what might the Nobel Committee mean?

From the beginning (well, near the beginning -- it's strange to think that songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" are essentially Dylan's juvenilia) he had an unfair advantage over other poets as a rock 'n' roller; not only did he have the poet's traditional advantage -- relief from the burden of explanations -- he also didn't have to sound serious, either. Part of the joy of Dylan is the extent to which he just seems to wing it in the time-honored, whimsical tradition of close-enough-for-rock-'n'-roll. (You might say Little Richard got there first, and Dylan might agree with you.) I think this looseness is where a lot of his lyrics come from -- like this, my very favorite Dylan couplet ever, from "Million Dollar Bash":
I looked at my watch, I looked at my wrist
I punched myself in my face with my fist
That is so stupid it's sublime. And that's just my particular favorite -- bear in mind, millions of allegedly half-literate teens were in 1965 singing aloud, "You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal," probably as in love with keening sound of CEE-ullllllllll as with the words. Some of them were even singing, "But the second mother was with the seventh son." Mind, that was the same summer as I Got You, Babe and I'm Henry VIII, I Am.

But Dylan wasn't just fooling around. If you take the time to think about that line about being invisible with no secrets, it turns out the metaphor is even more vivid and effective. (I'm still not sure about that seventh son, though.) I'm convinced Dylan saw from early on that hipster obscurantism was not only fun and profitable but also something with which he could go hunting for the Real Thing. Some go after it thundering and blundering, but Dylan chose to sneak up, casual-like, looking like he didn't care till it was time to throw the knife. Just because you didn't want to seem serious didn't mean you couldn't be serious.

Maybe he read and took the point of Ellen Willis' 1967 critique of his "silly metaphors, embarrassing cliches, muddled thought; at times he seems to believe one good image deserves five others," etc. Maybe he figured that out himself. Maybe the motorcycle crash had something to do with it, or the bad scene after Woodstock, but his imagery and inventiveness became muted, prematurely autumnal. It took me years to figure out that he wasn't just filling measures on "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"; I didn't get why Judas was laying out tens for Frankie to pick from, and why Frankie was unable to choose -- they're all ten dollar bills! -- until I started to have dreams like that too, and to think more seriously about death. Dylan was 26 when he wrote it.

Over time Dylan has come to seem much less weird, partly because we've gotten used to him and because he's been festooned with honors and become a Cultural Figure, but also because the more mastery he got over his songwriting, the more it came to resemble the work of the other masters in his field -- good American Songbook stuff, love songs and stories. (He sees that too, hence Shadows in the Night.)

But he didn't shave himself to fit that mold. Rather he pushed it out, gently, to suit himself. I remember how shocked and thrilled I was by "either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft" -- holy shit, it's quarter to three and there's no one in the place except Bob Dylan! If his love songs didn't have the economy of a Jimmy Van Heusen song, that was okay; one of the benefits top being of the New Breed was that you were expected to be undisciplined, a little shaggy and bloated like a fat couch at a hippie house. ("If You See Her, Say Hello" = 234 words. "All the Way" = 130.)

Dylan took advantage of his allowance; some of his songs feel like director's cuts avant la lettre. "Idiot Wind" (639 words!) is like a scenario for a Sam Peckinpah movie no one could possibly finance. But along the way he learned to be sparing when needed, too, as in "Make You Feel My Love," one of the Dylan songs closest to the old tradition. The song is a plea; the lines are spare with short words, to carry the plaintive feel; the emotions are raw to the point of embarrassment.  And it sneaks up on you like Dylan sneaking on the muse. See how it goes from something almost mundane to something majestic in just the first two verses:
When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love 
When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love
 I'm not sure if this is what the Swedes meant by "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," but it does the trick for me.