Respite for the Rest of Us Open Thread: Drew Magary Is An Excellent Read

If you are a devout member of the Church of the Bleeding-Heart Liberal, it can sometimes be hard to stay single-minded in your choice of target. Maybe they had a difficult childhood! Maybe they’re just too dumb to understand what they’re saying! But then there are people like NYTimes opinionator Bret Stephens, who are richly compensated to say unforgivable things — and, bless him, people like Drew Magary who are (much less richly) compensated to respond:

Bret Stephens went ahead and ruined everyone else’s by scribbling out a bunch of racist bumper sticker slogans in the New York Times. And this time, ol’ Bret did so without the veneer of preciousness that he usually grants to everything he touches…

Nothing bad is gonna happen to Bret Stephens for this, of course. He lives in the same magical fairy-tale land other conservative dudes live in where they receive the largest bullhorn and grandest sum of money possible to cry out to the world that they’ve been sent to the guillotine for daring to speak their precious truths… The Times isn’t gonna fire Bret Stephens. That joint employs some genuinely excellent take havers, such as Charles Blow. But the people in charge over there know that what REALLY drives engagement is letting smug pricks like Stephens and Bari Weiss and four-eyed penis David Brooks scream DEMOCRATS DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO PLEASE ME from inside the battlements of a supposed fortress of impregnable liberalism…

Stephens should apologize for being who he is every fucking day of the week. He’s a repulsive slug of a man. That the Times would let Stephens indulge in the cycle of saying nasty shit and then arrogantly proclaiming that he expects people like Soledad O’Brien—who has had herself quite a week interacting with enormous alt-right shitbags—to apologize to him for daring to question him, is emblematic of the way the paper of record allows itself to get worked over by our least oppressed members of society positing that they are actually history’s greatest victims. Employing Bret Stephens means the Times gets to dodge criticism for being too liberal by going, “Look guys, we even let a shithead like Bret Stephens onto our pages!” Therefore, Stephens gets ample inches of column space to sort out who counts as a real American and who does not, and even makes sure to take an indirect jab at people who seek refuge here and end up dying because of the right wing’s institutional hatred and indifference toward them. And then… THEN… he gets to performatively wallow in the misery he’s sown…

And Stephens, of all people, has the predictable gall to say that everyone ELSE is the reason Trump is gonna win in 2020. It couldn’t possibly be because supposed guardians of democracy have foolishly offered STEPHENS asylum, helping disseminate his garbage into the mainstream and to act as sentry for the entrenched powers that be, and then paying him handsomely for the privilege. Nooooo… couldn’t be. I’d tell this pile of shit to take a look in the mirror. But I already know he’d gladly take me up on the offer, just for all the wrong reasons.

STAY STRONG, MR. MAGARY!








You Say You Want a Resolution

The text of the resolution that the House is voting on today is out [pdf]. It’s a broad condemnation of anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia and racism, carefully crafted to make no Democrat especially happy and no Democrat especially angry (maybe, we’ll see).

My prediction is that a fair number of Republicans will vote against it because it doesn’t defend the real victims: white Evangelical Christians.








What’s the Right Word?

Ilhan Omar is taking some heat from Josh Marshall, Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, among others, for using the term “allegiance” to characterize what’s expected of American politicians towards Israel. And she’s not backing down:


“Allegiance” is, apparently, a loaded term, per Josh:

“Allegiance” has a specific and almost always exclusive meaning. If you look up the biography of a military leader you’ll see the country they serve is referred to as their “allegiance.” It doesn’t means “support” or “consistent support” or even “lockstep support.”

And there’s this:


Part of Josh’s concern is that Omar appears to be saying that it’s American Jews who expect allegiance to Israel, when in fact their attitudes towards Israel are mixed. It’s Evangelical Christians who have been expecting allegiance to Israel.

I think Omar definitely has a point that she’s expected to just put up with attacks that question her allegiance to America without anything like the backlash she’s experienced. She also has a point that Netanyahu (who is going on trial for corruption) is awful. He also tried to influence our election, and arrogantly expects US support no matter what his government does. I don’t know about the rest, but I do know she isn’t backing down, and her long threads on Twitter are much more reasonable that most of the criticism sent her way. What say you?








Yes: You’re Crazy. What? You Want A Second Opinion? OK. You’re Ugly Too*

*Old shrink joke that applies with a depressingly tight fit to Trump’s Republican Party.

Update: I just noticed I bigfooted Anne Laurie below. Ordinarily, I’d delete this and reschedule it. But my reschedule function has been verklempt lately so I don’t trust that, and I’m about to pass out, so I’ll leave this here on the assumption that the jackals can multitask.

———————

So here’s the thing.  I heard that the Trump-Pence folks were fundraising w. a push poll on immigration.

I decided to respond, as below:

    • is an astonishingly stupid idea that both won’t work and apes the worst of our adversaries in the Cold War. It’s unAmerican, and idiocy to boot.
  1. A truly responsible immigration bill is one that does not begin from a premise of ethnic cleansing. Hatred of folks who talk funny and don’t look like you is no way to go through life.

I’m not going to suggest that any jackals should swamp such a poll — and in fact, it’s pointless to do for this one, as it’s just another iteration of crappy digital age fundraising.  But if you want to tell some of the worst people on earthy how shitty they are, here’s the link.

File this one under completely futile gestures that are still, somehow satisfying.

And, more seriously, if anyone doubted that the Republicans are going all in as the party of ethnic cleansing, doubt no more.

This thread? It is open.

Image:  Pigsty and Latrines, earthenware, probably Henan Province, Han Dynasty, between 1st c. BCE. and 1st c. CE.



Two Things That Happened And One That Didn’t

I’m going to keep this short (you’ve heard that before from me) because my disdain for punditry extends to my own attempts.

Still, it seems to me that there is one real measure of success or failure (“winning” or “losing”) for any political event: did what just occurred move votes to one side or the other.  Everything else is just noise, or, as our elite bloviators perform it, theater criticism.

william_turner_-_shade_and_darkness_-_the_evening_of_the_deluge

By that criterion there were only two moments that mattered last night, and both did real damage to Team Trump.

The first was obvious from the moment the words left Mike Pence’s mouth: “You whipped out that Mexican thing again.”

I’m sure I’m not alone in my instant reaction:  “He just said WHHHAAAATTTTT!” Latino Twitter was unamused, certainly — and this is key.  There are some constituencies in which Trump cannot fall any further.  The number of Black Trump supporters is hovering around the margin of error — he’s polling between two and six percent nationally.

But there are still Latino votes to lose.  A Univision battleground state poll found Hillary lagging about eight points behind Obama’s numbers in each state, with Florida’s 24 percent gap between the two the narrowest of the lot.  Did Mike Pence help Trump with those voters last night?

The question answers itself.

The other meaningful moment was equally apparent as it happened.  That would be this exchange:

Governor, why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?

That’s what we ought to be doing in public life. Living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day…

PENCE: Because there are…

KAINE: … but on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.

PENCE: Because there is — a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart. And I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with a pro-life candidate in Donald Trump.

One man said that American women are the agents of their own lives.  The other said that they cannot be, that his personal religious commitment pre-empts any decision a woman might choose to make.  All the squid-ink of piety Pence spewed did not obscure the painfully clear: Mike Pence would use the force of law to ensure no woman had more authority over their bodies than the state would.

While abortion remains an issue on which the American electorate is divided, and there are certainly plenty of women who are committed to the anti-abortion cause — and plan to vote accordingly — plenty more voters recoil at the idea of the Trump-Pence punitive approach.  ETA: As valued commentator RaflW notes below , an overwhelming majority of Americans favor at least some abortion rights.  But almost half of  those polled identify as “pro-life.”  And those are the people who seem to me to be the focus of the argument that Kaine advanced against Trump and Pence:  even if you are queasy around the topic of abortion, the reminder of the blunt rejectionism and punishment-centered views of the GOP has some force. Given the significance (we are told) of the suburban woman and millenials in this year’s swing states, there’s no joy for the Trump crowd here either; shoring up the base that’s already enthusiastically committed to you is less important than giving those who might be persuadable to pull the lever for your side.

To me, everything else that occurred in the debate takes second place to those two brief passages.  Kaine did well, I think, to get Pence on record denying his savior thrice before cock-crow — that helps drive the second day narrative, which is certainly useful.  But in terms of actually grabbing votes?

Further alienating the Latino/a vote and making it ever harder for women to cast a GOP ballot — and not just women, but any man who sees women as actual people —  ain’t exactly a royal road to victory.

And as for the moment that never happened?

We’ve had 180 minutes of debates so far.  180 minutest to go.

As I write this, after the hottest half year on record; after devastating drought; after horrific fires; after record floods; with a Category 4/3 hurricane bearing down on Florida, having already wrecked Haiti — with all this, there have been exactly zero questions on climate change.  Tim Kaine managed to slip in a mention in a national security answer, praising Clinton for forging “strong alliances to battle terrorism and climate change.” Clinton did get Trump to deny saying climate change was a Chinese hoax — as he did.  But that’s it.

This is simply disgraceful.  One more piece of evidence that our elite political media if f**king hopeless.

That is all. [Flips Pundit-Mode to “off”]

Image:  J. M. W. Turner, Shade and Darkness — The Evening of the Deluge, 1843.