He’s Not a Scientist, But His Wife Did Stay in a Feriengasthof Ausdrucken

The NY Times, despite having an op-ed page that already hosts with Brooks, Dowd, Douthat, and Friedman and is a toxic waste dump of Oakeshittian wingnuttia and muddling centrism worthy of Superfund status, has decided to enrage those readers who still remain by hiring away the preternaturally smug Bret Stephens from the WSJ. Stephens has decided it is in his interest to do an “I’m not a science denier or moron, I’m just a fucking asshole” tour to deflect some of the criticism lobbed at him, and sat down for an interview with Vox. Lots of fabulous stuff (including downplaying campus rape by equating it the rape crisis in the Congo), but this is my fucking favorite:

My wife is German, so I know something about German energy policy.

With logic like that, I can see why the Times needed to hire him.

Here are some more excerpts:

“Look, at the risk of being incredibly politically incorrect, but I guess that’s my job — I think that all lives matter,” Stephens said. “Not least black lives.”

***

But if sexual assault rates in, let’s say, east Congo were about 20 percent, most people wouldn’t travel to those places. Because that is in fact — or, that would be, in fact, the risk of being violently sexually assaulted.

I am not for one second denying the reality of campus rape, or sexual assault, or behavior of the sort you saw from that swimmer at Stanford — that’s inexcusable and should be punished.

I’m taking issue with the claim that there is an epidemic based on statistics that, when looked at carefully, seem to have a very slim basis in reality. So what you’re transforming is horrendous, deplorable incidents into an epidemic — and that’s not altogether supported by reliable data.

***

Another example I took issue with is the idea that one in seven Americans are hungry. That’s not true. It’s not. It’s a problem because it’s not true.

Does this mean there aren’t hungry Americans? No. Does this mean we shouldn’t care about hunger in America? No. But when you have a campaign you see on subway billboards and elsewhere saying one in seven Americans is hungry, that’s false.

Here’s the problem with people like Bret Stephens (and I am not defending the stats he is attacking because, get this- I HAVEN’T FUCKING RESEARCHED THEM)- first, he knows full well what he is doing. He’s not plucking these statistics for disdain out of thin air. He attacks these specific statistics to allow breathing room for the deniers of problems that conservatives don’t like, don’t want to deal with, or would lose money if they had to address them.

Second, if you have a problem with statistics, the way you handle it is by demonstrating how the statistics are wrong. You show the flaws in the methodology, you run your own numbers and present them for peer review. What you don’t do is say “those numbers are bullshit because they give me a sad” or “there is not a crisis with sexual assault because the numbers seem too high” or “I see lots of fat people so how can all these people be hungry.”

What Stevens will now be doing, in the allegedly liberal NY Times, is going forward and farting through a megaphone into the public square, drowning out those people who have run the numbers and are trying to make evidence based cases that, unfortunately, are not as succinct as holding up a snowball in the well of the Senate or a bumpersticker that says “Stop Global Warming: Kill Yourself.”



Empowerful

Via TPM, Axios, the landing pad for Politico rejects, transcribed Ivanka Trump’s latest women’s empowerment scheme:

I’m sure this is fine. It’s not like a fund that leverages political connections at the highest levels to buttonhole the rich and powerful worldwide would be seen as problematic during a political campaign — much less when operated from the White House by the president’s daughter, business partner and official adviser.

Crispy Cajun-fried Jeebus, I sure hope Hillary Clinton has a well-developed capacity for ironic amusement.



Surely the Germans have a word for this…

I’ve long thought we’d be better off if the entire Beltway media contingent were summarily converted to Walmart greeters and their papers’ foreign correspondents recalled to replace them, then instructed to cover domestic politics as if still writing dispatches from a foreign capital.

That view was reinforced this morning by the spectacle of the German media politely covering Ivanka Trump like the presumptuous banana republic princess she is, something American infotainment personalities have repeatedly failed to do. Via Politico:

BERLIN — Ivanka Trump arrived in Berlin Tuesday morning armed with facts and figures to recite at what was expected to be a high-brow international summit to discuss women entrepreneurship, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But on her first international trip as an official representative of the United States, the first daughter was put on the spot about her father’s attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.

“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel, said. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”

“Certainly not the latter,” Ivanka Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well…It has been a little under 100 days and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”

We’re all unfamiliar with the role because it shouldn’t exist, not outside a tin-horn kleptocracy. But while Trump’s sole non-fluff response about her role was to explicitly deny that she represents her business, the only tangible results she’s achieved in “office” have accrued to her brand. She’s done exactly nothing to “moderate” her lunatic father or advance the vague objectives she supposedly champions, i.e., empowering women and families.

Ivanka Trump, who was deeply involved with her father’s campaign and has been instrumental in his administration in the first three months in office, positioned herself as someone who is still in humbling listening tour mode. “I’m striving to think about how best to empower women in the economy,” she said, at one point calling herself a feminist. “I have no doubt that coming out of this trip I’ll be more informed.”

But she was booed and hissed at by the majority-women audience at the conference when she lauded her father for supporting paid leave policies. “I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy,” she said, calling him “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The Politico account overdramatizes the reaction (shocking, I know) — it was more of a collective groan at the absurdity of framing the grotesque orange pussy-grabber as an advocate rather than actual booing and hissing (at least on the audio I heard). When asked to respond to the audience reaction, where the elder Trump would have screeched “FAKE NEWS,” Ivanka replied with a more modulated, polysyllabic version of that non-response:

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, that’s been perpetuated,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience.

Good for them, because laughter is an appropriate response to that ridiculous deflection. But Ivanka, still determined to pass her gross old fart-sack of a father off as pro-woman, barfed up the following treacle:

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level. I grew up in a house where there were no barriers to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do, he provided that for us. There was no difference [between Trump’s treatment of her and her brothers].

Well, Trump didn’t repeatedly imply that he’d like to shag the sons, so that’s at least one difference. But again, the overweening entitlement and self-regard. This isn’t a person who was born on third base and thinks she hit a triple. This is someone who was born in the Diamond Suite in the clubhouse and thinks she won the World Series.

Still, even people who should know better will go on assuming the shitgibbon’s chief enabler is a good influence and deserves credit for curbing the worst of her vile shit-stain of a father’s excesses. Jon Oliver dispatched this myth ably late last week:

The most telling tidbit was a quote from Ivanka’s book, “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life,” which flat-out telegraphs her current role in the Trump shit-show:

Perception is more important that reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.

As Oliver says, the apple didn’t fall very far from the orange. And the word I was looking for up top is “Scheiße,” which I imagine in thought-bubbles over the heads of the accomplished women who had to share a stage with this vapid dilettante. It’s just so embarrassing.



Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Whither Bannon?

(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)

.

Now that Steve Bannon is (theoretically) in eclipse — Vanity Fair even found a handful of former loyalists willing to be quoted denying their dark lord before cockcrow — his true disciples are debating what he might’ve done differently in the civil war against the Kushner/Cohn/Mnuchin globalist oligarchs. Olivia Nuzzi, professional sharpshooter, reports for NYMag: “The Alt-Right Is Debating Whether Bannon Needs a Better Press Strategy“:

Now that Steve Bannon has been temporarily or permanently sidelined by President Donald Trump, his nationalist allies — people who formerly identified as “alt-right,” but now reject that label as it has become synonymous with white supremacy — are debating what their man in the White House did wrong and what he might do to salvage the situation. One of the key questions up for debate is whether Bannon should have made better use of ideologically sympathetic media outlets — when he ran Breitbart News, he described it as “the platform” for the alt-right — to get out his side of the story.

The chief strategist to the president might have done better job of holding onto power, the thinking goes, if he were talking to those who want what he wants and have the benefit of seeing things the way they appear outside of the bubble of his “war room,” the name Bannon’s given his West Wing office…

In some ways, the question of whether Bannon should be cultivating more allies in the press is part of a larger debate over his operating style in the White House — which is to operate in isolation. “I’m not doing this to have friends,” he told me. “I don’t socialize a lot, I don’t bring people into my life. This is like being in the Navy, this is like a duty. I don’t enjoy this every day. This is not living; this is a kind of existence.”

Though he brought into the White House some of his own staff — Julia Hahn from Breitbart; Andrew Surabian from the Tea Party Express and Alexandra Preate, his personal flack — he has spent little political capital fighting for high-level strategists with whom he could align in ideological disputes…

Perhaps coincidentally, questions are being raised about the oft-told tale that Bannon made $32 million on a canny Seinfeld deal. It wouldn’t really matter, at this point, whether he made his grubstake off the Hollywood version of a scratch ticket… except that the alternative would cast his political success as entirely the product of semi-legitimate Robert & Rebekah Mercer money. Not a good look for a self-styled swashbuckling free spirit, at the very least.

But then, Bannon’s expulsion from Mar-a-Lago Eden would be a loss to Media Village Idiots far more “respectable” than the Pepe kkkrew… even those at the Grey Lady…



Babbling Idiot Babbles Unintelligibly

Velveeta Voldemort’s AP interview from last Friday is getting a lot of social media attention. (Transcript here via TPM.) I’m not sure why people find it noteworthy.

It’s a random, incoherent stew of hyper-aggressive posturing, bald-faced lies, butthurt braggadocio and demented ravings. In other words, it’s a typical Trump interview.

Folks have seized on the numerous passages marked “unintelligible,” and indeed it is strange that a grown-ass man who successfully masqueraded as an executive for several decades and managed to accrue tens of millions of votes is so profoundly inarticulate. But while remarkable in a historical sense, that’s hardly news now.

The thing I found most interesting (as a real-time psychological decompensation artifact) was the way Trump ended the interview, by lying about a new trick he claims to have learned over the past year:

TRUMP: OK. The one thing I’ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do. I don’t watch CNN anymore.

AP: You just said you did.

TRUMP: No. No, I, if I’m passing it, what did I just say (inaudible)?

AP: You just said —

TRUMP: Where? Where?

AP: Two minutes ago.

TRUMP: No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch it. Now I heard yesterday that MSNBC, you know, they tell me what’s going on.

AP: Right.

TRUMP: In fact, they also did. I never thought I had the ability to not watch. Like, people think I watch (MSNBC’s) “Morning Joe.” I don’t watch “Morning Joe.” I never thought I had the ability to, and who used to treat me great by the way, when I played the game. I never thought I had the ability to not watch what is unpleasant, if it’s about me. Or pleasant. But when I see it’s such false reporting and such bad reporting and false reporting that I’ve developed an ability that I never thought I had. I don’t watch things that are unpleasant. I just don’t watch them.

AP: And do you feel like that’s, that’s because of the office that you now occupy —

TRUMP: No.

AP: That you’ve made that change?

TRUMP: I don’t know why it is, but I’ve developed that ability, and it’s happened over the last, over the last year.

AP: That’s interesting.

TRUMP: And I don’t watch things that I know are going to be unpleasant. CNN has covered me unfairly and incorrectly and I don’t watch them anymore. A lot of people don’t watch them anymore, they’re now in third place. But I’ve created something where people are watching … but I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC anymore. I don’t watch things, and I never thought I had that ability. I always thought I’d watch.

AP: Sure.

TRUMP: I just don’t. And that’s taken place over the last year. And you know what that is, that’s a great, it’s a great thing because you leave, you leave for work in the morning you know, you’re, you don’t watch this total negativity. I never thought I’d be able to do that and for me, it’s so easy to do now. Just don’t watch.

AP: That’s interesting.

TRUMP: Maybe it’s because I’m here. I don’t know.

So that’s how the awesome responsibilities of the office have changed Trump, by his own reckoning: He has developed the ability to refrain from watching media coverage about himself.

We know he’s lying — the AP reporter busted him in real time, and Trump famously live-tweets the shows he claims he doesn’t watch. But I think it’s fascinating that Trump felt this was important enough to put on the record when asked about how his decisions are affected by the 24/7 news cycle. If you wave away the squid-cloud of butthurt and hack through the tangle of self-congratulations, the bottom line is he’s retreated fully into the Fox bubble.

Bear in mind that as a candidate, Trump said he gets his information from “the shows,” and that doesn’t seem to have changed much now that he has access to perhaps the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatuses in human history. Odd pronouncements that seem to be nods to Fox News hysteria-objects continue to appear in official policy documents emanating from the White House, such as the weird Trumpcare fixation on lottery winners on Medicaid.

“The shows” also seemed to have set off the accusations about President Obama “wiretapping” Trump Tower and the subsequent flurry of possibly illegal and certainly unethical actions on the part of Rep. Nunes and White House staff in an attempt to provide cover for Trump’s paranoid Twitter ravings.

So, the key takeaway from this interview (for me, at least) is that, yep, your Fox-addled grandpa is in charge of the nuclear codes. Terrifying? Yes. But there’s nothing new to see here, folks.



Headlines that make me want to gouge out my eyes with a melon baller

What do you get when you cross an inanity with a pathetic attempt to paper over gaping ineptitude and a statement of the blindingly fucking obvious? This headline from your paper of record:

I realize “Hella dangerous clown baffles allies and adversaries, squanders U.S. prestige, endangers planet” might sound a tad partisan or even alarmist, but goddamn it, sometimes it’s more important to tell the truth than maintain your ironic distance.

Open thread!



Splotchy* Pink Slip for O’Reilly? (Open Thread)

All too often in this fallen world, it seems like good people get ground to dust while assholes fail to receive their much-deserved comeuppance. But it looks like raging misogynist, racist, bullying asshole Bill O’Reilly might get shit-canned via the machinations of the Murdoch spawn:

The Murdoch family is reportedly fighting about top Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s future at the network in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment against him, New York Magazine reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

O’Reilly is currently away on vacation, his longest in years, and the family is “leaning toward” announcing he will not be back on air, according to the report. James and Lachlan Murdoch are of the opinion that O’Reilly needs to go, sources apparently told the publication, but their father, Rupert, is not so sure.

“The three are fighting,” an unnamed source told New York Magazine.

Part of the reason Murdoch is resistant is that he doesn’t want it to look like he was “forced into a decision by The New York Times,” the report continued.

This report comes on the heels of dozens of companies pulling out of advertising on O’Reilly’s show after it came to light that several sexual harassment cases against him had been settled. The revenue lost, along with other factors, has made the idea of letting O’Reilly go look better and better, an unnamed source told the publication.

I sure hope this comes to pass. Oh, he’ll still be an obscenely rich motherfucker who is admired by fellow grabby assholes like the orange-tinted pustule currently inflaming the Oval Office. But even though he has not a whit of professional integrity, O’Reilly thinks he does, judging by the sneering hostility and over-the-top dominance displays directed toward anyone who questions his “reporting.”

So getting shit-canned will sting. Good. O’Reilly is an ignorant blowhard who has actively made the world a worse place while enriching himself and taking advantage of others. He deserves far worse than firing, but it’s a start.

*Before he was one of the most awesome US Senators ever, Al Franken dealt with O’Reilly in his 2003 book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.” The title in question was, “Bill O’Reilly: Lying, Splotchy Bully.” IIRC, Franken chose that title because O’Reilly freaked out at a promo photo of himself that made him look splotchy (which he is!). O’Reilly allegedly handled the splotchy photo crisis with the grace and aplomb displayed in the vintage video up top. Asshole!