In Praise of Donald Trump

Hi, Trumpniks! Sick of winning yet?

I was going to go into a follow-up piece on the Michael Wolff book, and whether or not it is true, and whether that even matters when your boy said Obama was a Kenyan and his inaugural crowd was bigger than Obama’s.

But… Christ on a cracker, folks.

Speaking of crackers, it looks like Trump referring to Haiti and El Salvador as “shithole countries” had the desired effect on his base. I saw some of my Republican Facebook friends saying things like “Trump is like the Honey Badger” and “he’s playing the media like a fiddle.”

Too bad he didn’t say that stuff before Darrell Issa announced his retirement. Issa, of course, is a prominent California Congressman and longtime enemy of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. This week (before Thursday) Issa announced he was retiring. That makes 31 House Republicans – so far – that are retiring this year rather than running for re-election. The Democrats only need to take 24 seats to regain the House. These retirements will not guarantee that result, but those Republicans are giving up the critical advantage of incumbency.

It creates the impression that Congressional Republicans aren’t eager to run with Donald Trump as the representative of their party. They used to stick with him when he was riding high, and now they’re stuck to him. Like a tar baby. Look, I can say racially offensive stuff. Apparently it’s back in style.

I mean, I don’t get it. Donald Trump has been saying racist, oblivious shit for years and years, and all of a sudden, he’s not cool.

Representative Mia Love, who is both a black Haitian and a Utah Mormon, gave a statement saying “the president’s comments are unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation’s values.” Otherwise known as “Thursday.”

All this might explain why Trump cancelled an already controversial trip to London next month, ostensibly because Obama made a “bad deal” in moving our embassy. Before he was inaugurated.  And I thought it was because Trump is a cowardly little punk who didn’t want to face hostile crowds in a country where people don’t feel obliged to kiss his ass and treat him like God. I mean, Britain already has a Queen. They don’t need a second one.

And while the Trumpniks are as loyal as ever, the question is how many of them there still are. SurveyMonkey recently did a poll analysis for 2017 over several demographics. Liberals don’t want to admit how much of Trump’s 2016 victory was due to votes from blacks, Hispanics, and white women. But according to this survey, while 23 percent of black men support Trump, only 11 percent of black women do. He also has at least a plurality of Hispanic men (40%) but women in all groups disapprove of him. While he recieved 49% of the vote among college-educated white women, now 66% disapprove of him. In 2016, 66% of whites without a college degree voted for Trump. Now, only 56% overall approve of him. That’s a 10 percent drop compared to the last vote.

So while a lot of them may be putting on a brave face, I suspect the Trumpniks are feeling a little demoralized. Thus, for their sake, and to help explain to the rest of us why so many people support – or supported – Trump, I wanted to make a few points … in praise of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump killed him a b’ar when he was only 3.

The reason Chuck Norris never fought Donald Trump was because he was afraid Trump would kick his ass.

This week, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he was a great athlete as a kid. In fact, when he was in military academy, Trump rode a cougar in the equestrian event. He could pull a tractor 50 yards. He never actually pulled one, because they didn’t have one at the military academy. He could squat over a coconut and crush it with his testicles. That’s right, he could crush nuts with his nuts. This level of physical prowess is all the more remarkable considering those bone spurs.

How many plane crashes did Trump prevent? ALL of them. THAT’s how many.

Donald Trump drove the snakes from Ireland.

(‘Wasn’t that St. Patrick?’ ‘Fake news.’)

Roseanne Conner voted for Trump because he used his holy touch to bring Dan back from the dead.

Donald Trump made the Grand Canyon.

He was vacationing in Arizona and lost his wallet.

While Donald Trump was in Vietnam, his unit was pinned down by enemy machinegun fire. His squad was ordered to attack the machinegun nests from behind. He was the last survivor of the attack. He managed to flank the nearest enemy trench and fired individual rifle shots with such accuracy that all of the Germans surrendered. Then he got their officer to get the men on the adjacent line to surrender, and he ended up returning to camp with 132 prisoners.

(‘Wait, didn’t Trump get a draft deferment for the bone spurs?’ ‘Forget it, he’s rolling.’)

Donald Trump made pork kosher.

Look, it doesn’t matter if he can make pork kosher. Because it doesn’t matter what his in-laws think, he’s Donald Trump, and he’s going to eat pork.

Donald Trump has advanced the libertarian movement more than anyone in decades. Because now liberals and centrists know why we hate the government.

And Donald Trump says he has done more in one year than any other president. And this is true. After less than one year in office, he has proven to be more racist than FDR, more vulgar than LBJ, more corrupt and authoritarian than Nixon, more incompetent than Carter, more gullible than Reagan, more of a plutocrat than Bush Senior, a bigger liar than Bill Clinton, more clueless than Bush Junior, and more racially polarizing than Barack Obama.

Truly, unpresidented. It is to be hoped that such a record of achievement will never be equaled or exceeded by any future president. Assuming we get to have one.

Steve Bannon, RIP

Steve Bannon’s political career died today. He was fired from his last remaining job as editor of Breitbart News by the site’s owners, who include the billionaire Mercer family that financially supported both Bannon and Russian Viceroy Donald Trump. Steve Bannon is 64 years old. His political career was 14.

Born to a family of working class Irish Democrats, Steve Bannon attended Virginia Tech after graduating high school. During the summers he lived at home and took a job at a local junkyard, often coming home so dirty that his Mom would force him to strip to his underwear and rinse off with a hose before being allowed into the house. This set a standard of personal hygiene that he has maintained to this day.

Bannon ultimately received degrees from multiple universities, and served in the US Navy from the late 1970s to early 80s. After military service, he became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, a resume point that he shares in common with many others in the Trump Administration. Using this position, Bannon and some colleagues started an investment bank that negotiated a sale of Castle Rock Entertainment, Bannon & Co accepting a payment in the form of stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld, for which he still receives cash residuals each time the show is aired. In the mid-2000s, Bannon also, through Goldman Sachs, took over a media company that was renamed Affinity Media. Through his work in media, Bannon was introduced to right-wing publisher, Andrew Breitbart. With him, Steve Bannon founded the Breitbart News site. Bannon helped publish Clinton Cash, an expose’ of the Clinton Foundation, by Breitbart editor-at-large Peter Schweizer. He has also worked as vice president at Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis owned by the Mercer family.

When Andrew Breitbart died in 2012, Bannon became executive chair for the Breitbart company.  Under its namesake founder, Breitbart.com had been famous for its political incorrectness, but under Bannon, the site became much more focused on what Bannon called a “nationalist” agenda including attacks on Muslim immigrants in both Europe and the United States. In 2016 he declared to a reporter that the site was a “platform for the alt-right.”  While Bannon denied specifically being an anti-Semite, he had once referred to himself as “the (Leni) Riefenstahl of the GOP.”  It is also uncertain why Bannon would associate with anti-Semites when he still gets Seinfeld money, but it could be that he is just as tired of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David as the rest of us.

Bannon’s credentials were apparently enough to get him referred to the Donald Trump campaign in 2016, even though in 2015, GAI, a research firm founded by Bannon and Schweitzer had done opposition research on alleged deals between Trump companies and organized crime.  Once Trump received the Republican nomination in 2016, the Mercer family offered monetary support and the assistance of conservative media woman Kellyanne Conway and Bannon (the Mercers are also backers of GAI).  Bannon became Trump’s campaign strategist. His main contribution was perhaps the use of his media platform to endorse a populist agenda that set candidate Trump not only against much of the corporate-friendly Republican Party but also the corporate-friendly Democratic Party. Breitbart.com was also quick to pounce on any negative rumors about Hillary Clinton and her campaign, which ended up being instrumental in her electoral defeat and some of which turned out to be spread by Russian sources.

During the post-election transition, Donald Trump appointed Bannon to the unique position of Chief Strategist, going to the extent of dropping the Joint Chiefs of Staff from National Security Council meetings with the president in order to allow for Bannon’s presence. During the early days of the Trump Administration, Bannon along with Pee-Wee Herman Lookalike Contest Winner Stephen Miller was involved in the creation of Executive Order 13769, aka the “Muslim ban” that was mostly thrown out by courts. Bannon’s influence over the Administration was such that he was often jokingly referred to as “President Bannon,” raising the ire of the famously touchy Trump. During 2017, Bannon’s other major contribution to politics was to encourage Trump to side with the white nationalists during the Charlottesville protest where one person was killed by a vehicle. Given Bannon’s reputation, the NAACP and other groups called on Trump to fire him. To save face, Bannon said he had planned to resign after his one-year anniversary – as campaign chairman – on August 14. He also said that due to the “tumult” in Charlottesville, Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had agreed to delay the announcement until after the Charlottesville protest.

At this point Bannon returned to his position as Breitbart executive chairman, telling the conservative press, “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons”. Bannon planned to use his position outside the Washington establishment to agitate for what he called “economic nationalism” and the populist social conservatism that worked in the Trump campaign. To do this he planned to support candidates of like mind against the agenda of Washington professionals like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. His main test case was in the Alabama special election when he supported theocratic “Judge” Roy Moore against Luther Strange, the Republican appointed by Alabama’s governor after Senator Jeff Sessions became Trump’s attorney general. Trump, for once towing the party line, endorsed Strange half-heartedly, but Bannon rallied the Tea Party Right and supporters like Sarah Palin on behalf of Moore, who won the Republican primary in September and set up a race against Democrat Doug Jones.
This of course was before the Washington Post reported allegations of Moore dating teenage girls and molesting one when he was in his thirties. Yet Bannon continued to campaign fiercely for Moore, even mocking Ivanka Trump for saying “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.” Even so, the stakes were such that the Republican establishment – now including Trump – joined the offensive for Moore while the negative publicity increased, Jones intensified his campaign and Moore himself retreated from the press, setting up a Jones victory that made him the first Democratic Senator from Alabama to be elected since 1986. Politically, Bannon engineered a screaming catastrofuck that already compares to the Battle of Stalingrad in terms of its strategic damage to the Republican Party, damage that could have been avoided at several points. For this monumental achievement, Bannon was praised by at least one conservative as “the most effective Democratic Party strategist since James Carville”.

The primary short term result of the Alabama race was to destroy what remained of Bannon’s reputation for competency within conservative circles. Bannon was already unpopular with establishment Republicans for both professional and personal reasons, with Rep. Pete King (R.-New York) saying after the Alabama election that “he looks like some disheveled drunk who wandered onto the national stage”. Bannon’s patron, Robert Mercer, was put under scrutiny by the New Yorker magazine largely because of his connections to Bannon and the activities of Cambridge Analytica. As a result he decided in November to end his political activities and sell his stake in Breitbart to his daughters. However, Bannon still retained some clout with Donald Trump himself, as evidenced by Trump’s willingness to campaign for Moore in the first place.

The fatal blow was the now-famous release of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, an expose’ that Wolff compiled with interviews made during the later stages of the Trump campaign through the early part of the Trump Administration. Much of it relies on interviews and accounts with Bannon, which serve to confirm his already-established reputation as one of the White House staff’s primary leakers, mainly at the expense of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (as he called them, ‘Jarvanka’). He also specifically told Wolff that Donald Trump Jr’s June 2016 meeting with Russian nationals (before Bannon was on the campaign) was a bad idea: “”Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.” He added, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” (Bannon also said that the information deal would have been better handled by indirect delivery to Breitbart ‘or maybe some other more legitimate publication’, possibly admitting that it isn’t one.)

For this, Donald Trump gave an official statement to the press pool on January 3 saying “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency”, which of course was only true in the present tense. Trump also paid tribute to him by saying: “Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself” which was the main thing the two men had in common. Back at Breitbart, Bannon tried to maintain his position but Rebekah Mercer, his last patron, withdrew her support and today it was announced on Breitbart.com that he had “stepped down”.

Steve Bannon’s legacy is primarily in the association of American right-wing politics with reactionary nationalism and racism, thus tarnishing the reputation of Andrew Breitbart’s website and the entire Republican Party. In pushing the badly-drafted “Muslim” immigrant ban, Bannon set an early precedent that helped to undermine American soft power and the trust of the international community, and more directly antagonized a large section of the American civil service against the Administration. He will also be remembered for undermining the prestige of facial hair.

Steve Bannon is survived by three daughters and three ex-wives, the second of whom cited his anti-Semitic remarks at their divorce hearing and who also made domestic violence charges against him that were dropped when she failed to appear in court, an absence that she claims was due to legal threats against her from Bannon’s lawyer. However, Bannon’s proudest and most famous child is the squalling man-baby he helped install in the White House, a student who betrayed and destroyed his teacher once he was powerful enough to survive on his own, thus fulfilling the ancient Rule of Two.

 

You Never Go Full Trump

You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
-Donald Trump, technically speaking in anecdote

Happy New Year…

Of course, January 3rd was the worst and weirdest day of the Trump Administration, breaking the 347 records set by the 347 previous days. But prior to that, much of the buzz in media was set by Viceroy Trump’s latest taunt of Kim Jong Un, with what The Atlantic accurately described as “The Most Irresponsible Tweet in History”  (which is a bit like ‘Most Unmusical Yoko Ono Song’). And about the same time, media were going on about Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who is retiring apparently against the wishes of Donald Trump, because that seems to clear a path for Mitt Romney to run for his seat. And in the center-left Mainstream Media, I kept seeing all these musings about how Romney was supposed to be a Trump-skeptic conservative. Except of course when he was a presidential candidate asking for Trump’s endorsement. Or when he came to Trump after the election petitioning for a Cabinet post.  It’s a testimony to liberal-establishment naivete – or selective amnesia – that journalists were looking for a sign of hope in the prospect of Romney rejoining Republican politics when they were roasting his motives the last time he ran for office.

What I would like “progressives” to admit is that they’re the real conservatives. That is, they want to go back to the glory days of the Great Society and the New Deal. They want to restore a political establishment that was working just fine – for them. They honestly think that their approach to things is the a priori truth, and they seriously seem to think that if you can just bring back the “reasonable” Republicans and get a Democrat back in the White House again, everything will get back to normal.

What they have to accept is that things will NEVER get back to normal again.

And we know why.

On January 3, New York Magazine’s website posted an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s coverage of the Trump campaign transitioning to the Trump Administration: “Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” Flynn assured them.
“Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.
“Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy. ”

This only confirms my personal theory that if anyone was more shocked and horrified by Donald Trump’s win than Hillary Clinton, it was Donald Trump.

This piece is only an excerpt from Wolff’s upcoming book, but almost every paragraph is a new revelation in What The Fuck, from what is already the most WhatTheFuck presidency in our history. For example, when Roger Ailes advised Trump to hire John Boehner as his chief of staff. Trump’s response: “Who’s that?”

As I’ve said, Trump has been spoiled all his life and has never had to pay the consequences for his incompetence and malice, and in the back of his mind, he realizes this. He knows he’s a fraud.

Trump just realized the same thing everybody else did – that our political system is a sick joke. So he figured the best way to get in on the gag was to run for president, knowing better than anyone else how inadequate he was. It was just another stage in his career of branding himself as a success rather than actually being successful at anything other than branding. But then came the punchline to the sick joke: Trump won. And at that point, he realized there was no point in trying to conceal his moral and intellectual inadequacy, since clearly nothing mattered.

That’s why, even if Trump didn’t actively conspire with Russia to win the election, he still compulsively presents the image of being Putin’s bitch, because that’s the way he is, all insecurity and projection. The whole basis of Trump’s political career is a bad-faith argument, so why is that one part any different?

But even that isn’t the issue. As I keep saying: Trump is not the problem. The problem is a political party that would accept being ruled by a Trump.

When Romney lost to President Obama in 2012, Republicans came up with their famous “autopsy”  review of what happened in that election and how the Republican Party could turn around. The overall recommendation was to make the Republican Party more, well, democratic:

“AMERICA LOOKS DIFFERENT – If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity. … We recommend the formation of a new Growth and Opportunity Inclusion Council within the RNC … Women are not a ‘coalition.’ They represent more than half the voting population in the country, and our inability to win their votes is losing us elections. Female voters want to hear the facts; many of them run the economies of their homes and understand economics better than the men in their families. But they are also the caregivers for their families. Women need to hear what our motive is — why it is that we want to create a better future for our families and how our policies will affect the lives of their loved ones. Those are things that cannot be communicated well in graphs and charts … the RNC must design, fund, and implement an agressive early voting and absentee effort for target races … GROUPTHINK IS A LOSER – Our friends and allies must realize that the Party is at its best as the Party of ideas, and healthy debate of those ideas is fundamentally good for the Republican Party.”

Well, so much for that idea. The “Growth and Opportunity Project” was a bit too much like the Democratic mentality (especially in using a spiffy communique of graphs and charts to say that you can’t convert people with graphs and charts) but it addressed the fundamental reality of representative government, especially in our “first past the post” election system: To win, you need a majority of votes. If you don’t attract a majority of voters – or actually alienate the people who are out there – you doom yourself to minority status. Thus a party that appeals to only whites, especially white men, will doom itself to minority status even before this country officially becomes white-plurality.

But while this theory seems inescapable, in practice the theoretical majority (of liberal whites, women and minorities) is often not a majority in elections (because even when voting is not made inconvenient by local government, voters often fail to show up). Whereas the core demographic for Republicans – older, middle-to-upper-class whites – are far more prone to show up to the polls. In many cases, they have more free time. But often, the difference is motivation. Not only because of Fox News, but talk radio before it, “conservatism” is now less an intellectual movement than a grievance industry that profits from stoking resentment and a siege mentality mindset among said demographic. The kind of conservatives who vote for “Christians” like Roy Moore, or rationalize voting for Trump, really do believe America’s core values are under direct assault by the party in power. (A feeling that most liberals weren’t familiar with until recently.)

And as I said, if Republicans strung those people along and didn’t follow through on their promises, what difference did it make if they followed a known liar as long as he put up a good fight with the hated establishment? Indeed, Trump was far better than other Republicans or even many Democrats at appealing to as wide a base as possible. He was in that respect the genuinely best candidate Republicans had in 2016. He had serious potential as a president, apart from the minor detail of being a racist, power-lusting, gullible idiot. Of course that was also a big part of the appeal. It’s not as though the Republican establishment were blind to his dangers, and they tried to express their displeasure.
But certain real billionaires, such as the Mercer family, liked the cut of Trump’s jib. They decided, like a certain television executive,  that Trump may not have been good for the country, but he was good for their business. So they financed and publicized an outright joke for president, because nobody seriously considered the responsibility of the act. Because nobody thought that Trump would win. Including Trump.

And ironically, the fact that Trump and his base shared the same commitment to consensus “reality” in defiance of evidence is what gave Trump just enough votes to get over.

They went full retard.
You never go full retard.

Liberals scorn Orrin Hatch because he was one of many Senators who seemed to have intelligence and dignity but spent last December gushing with praise for a president that even many Mormon conservatives disdain. But Orrin Hatch is just like the rest of his party. Orrin Hatch sucks up to Trump because in a certain sense, he is Trump. That is, privileged, old, and scared, because his time is almost up.

But even that isn’t the bad part. One wonders after all this why Republicans, who know that Trump is a threat to them as long as he has a mouth to yell and two hands to tweet with, don’t go along with impeachment proceedings and get Mike Pence as President, since he is more conservative and would be much less embarrassing. Of course the fact that the “base” identifies with an embarrassing dingbat is one thing. But it comes down to the reason why Trump the candidate was appealingly unorthodox but as a president has gone along with the hardcore Republican agenda. And that’s because he doesn’t grasp ideology, even to the half-baked extent that Steve Bannon does. So Trump lets Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell set policy, since he doesn’t know enough to be proactive. Or as McConnell allegedly told Michael Wolff in another book excerpt: “He’ll sign anything we put in front of him.”

So along with being a habitual liar who turned himself into a jackass, Trump has one more thing in common with Pinocchio: He’s a puppet.

Trump was installed via the Electoral College – a device the Founders intended to stop “bad” democracy (mob rule) from subverting “good” republicanism (rule of law) and became the device for bad republicanism (rule by rent-seeking elites) to justify itself by means of “good” democracy (‘the public has spoken!’). That fact, the overall Republican tendency to use voter ID laws and other pretexts to discourage voting (or select the voters they want rather than vice versa), and the turn of Republican legislative strategy since winning the White House indicates not simply a desire to enact conservative ideas that might be unpopular. In Reagan’s day, or even Dubya’s, there would be some attempt to make those ideas popular. What we are seeing is a complete disregard for any public support at all, even acting against popular will in favor of Republican elites’ priorities. You do not push a bill like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through the Senate with no review, no debate, and no consultation with the opposition or the CBO if you think that your proposal can withstand scrutiny. Indeed, the more feedback Republicans get against their proposals, the more determined they are to carry them out over public demand. And as they go further down the spiral of rejecting accommodation with the voting public, and as their Leader becomes more blatant in his contempt for (small r) republicanism, the Party becomes more and more prone to ignoring his power grabs, to making excuses for why they can’t stop him, and finally, to openly agitating for strongman rule.

Of course the reactionary social experiment isn’t going to go as smoothly as it did in interwar Germany. Even now, Germany isn’t as multiracial and multicultural as the US was even in the 1930s. And that was before the Sexual Revolution and the Gay Rights movement. There are a whole bunch of threatened communities who were not mobilized the way they are now.

But you don’t have to make comparisons to Nazis. Just look at Venezuela. Or Iran. People are protesting against an evil government, frequently getting violent pushback, and the mainstream media here is saying that the protests are for “economic reasons”, blanking out the point that the economy is screwed because the political elite have fixed the system to hoard all the wealth for themselves. But it doesn’t matter how unpopular they are, how many protests there are or how much bloodshed there is. The thugs stay in power because they control all the country’s institutions.

Which is why, as long as Democrats still have some control over those institutions, they need to make the most of that and win the Congress this year, to cut Trump off at the knees. I am not optimistic. After all, the Democrats are the party that couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse. But do not underestimate how pissed off the voters are at the establishment. After all, in 2016, they were pissed off enough to vote for Trump. So if they were pissed off enough at the Democrats to kick them out despite Republican backwardness, they ought to be pissed off enough by now to kick out Republicans despite Democratic fecklessness. Because whatever else I might think about Democrats, they weren’t actively TRYING to alienate their base the way Republicans did last year.

For example, the Miami Herald this week has a story about retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s House seat, saying:
The GOP’s inability to find top-shelf candidates to run for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s U.S. House seat has some Republicans ready to write off the race and shift money and attention to more winnable contests.
“The seat that encompasses Little Havana, most of downtown Miami and Miami Beach is now considered unwinnable by some Republicans in Congress and fundraisers who could infuse millions into a competitive congressional race, according to interviews with high-ranking GOP officials and potential donors. … ‘The seat is now going to go to the Democrats,’ said Raquel Regalado, a former Miami-Dade school board member and candidate for Miami-Dade mayor who recently announced she was dropping out of the Republican race to replace Ros-Lehtinen. ‘I think I was the only moderate who could have fought that fight for a bunch of different reasons. I don’t think you’re going to see a large GOP financial investment. They’re looking for a moderate candidate, but I don’t think they’re going to find one.

If you’re losing Cuban Miami… that is NOT good.

Remember, the reason establishment Republicans got scared in 2012 is because they had previous experience to look back on. California was the home of Nixon and Reagan. But business interests eagerly sought under-the-table labor from Mexico for their industries and lawns, and then acted surprised when those people, in combination with the pre-existing Latin community, started to become a cultural force. So when Governor Pete Wilson pushed Proposition 187 in 1994 as an anti-illegal immigrant measure, that force started pushing back. Since then California has been one of the most Democrat-dominant states in the nation.

(The fact that there is now an independent commission to determine district boundaries and curb gerrymandering didn’t help.)

The Florida Cuban community, descended from anti-Castro exiles, was evidence along with other groups that Republican conservatism isn’t necessarily the same as Anglo-white nationalism. But now Republicans are moving away from diversity, even away from previous core groups. What happens to Republicans’ national chances if Florida goes the way of California?

They’re fucked, that’s what happens.

Republicans are ultimately pack animals. They slavishly follow a strong leader only as long as he appears strong. Once they admit that Trump is more liability than asset, the people who were lining up to take a photo with him will be fighting each other for the privilege of ripping his guts out. Indeed, that already seems to be starting. I don’t know if that will be enough to save their reputation, or their party, but that will be their instinct.

What then happens to the true believers? What happens to the poor little Trumpniks who actually thought their spray-painted charalatan took anything seriously? Well, they’ll be orphaned yet again. Their revolution will be over before it really started. And they won’t have much longer to kick ass and lord it over the weaker people. If their party loses the majority, they won’t go down in history like the brownshirt bullyboys who kicked Jews in the streets and manned the concentration camps. No- they’ll end up worse.

They’ll be this generation’s equivalent of the last guy on the dance floor wearing gold lame’ pants while all his neighbors were burning their Donna Summer records and chanting “DISCO SUCKS!”

Second Most Awesome Wikipedia Article of All Time

The article in question is for the “low budget comedy-horror” film I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle.  “Michael Elphick plays Inspector Cleaver and Anthony Daniels plays the eccentric priest who attempts to exorcise the bike’s evil spirit.”

I recommend reading the entire plot summary, but this part is particularly meaningful:
“It is revealed to the audience that the vehicle has become a bloodthirsty monster. Noddy goes to the scene of the crime where he meets an inspector who smells like garlic. Later, Noddy has a bad dream that the inspector gives him Buzzer’s head in a bag and it talks at him but then he wakes up. Then he goes back to sleep and dreams Buzzer is a poo that jumps in his mouth and starts asking how he is. Noddy wakes up again and is chewing his duvet. Noddy and Kim go to the pub and order a large vodka tonic and a pint of cider. Then ten of the bikers from the beginning come in and shoot the bar with the crossbow. One then offers to show Kim his “chopper” while she is playing pool. She declines, claiming not to have brought her magnifying glass. He then proceeds to unsheathe an axe and attack the pool table and moving onto plates, starting a bar wide brawl of 10 bikers against our protagonists. Kim manages to slip out the front and drive the bike round the back of the pub where Noddy jumps on it from the first floor and then gets shot with a crossbow bolt.
“Then they have Chinese.”

The most awesome Wikipedia article of all time is of course, this.

REVIEW: Bright

The latest Will Smith vehicle, the “buddy-cop movie with a twist” Bright, is produced by Netflix for their streaming service. It got a lot of critical attention, mostly for the wrong reasons. Karen Han at The Daily Beast memorably referred to the LAPD-meets-monsters film as “a $90 Million Steaming Pile of Orc Sh*t“. Even more memorably, IndieWire critic David Ehrlich started his review by saying the movie was “so profoundly awful that Republicans will probably try to pass it into law over Christmas break.”

The idea of mixing Tolkien-style fantasy with the modern world seems to be a weird idea to a lot of this movie’s critics, but it’s already a well-established literary genre called Urban Fantasy. In fact one of the older manifestations of this in media was the role-playing game Shadowrun,  which not only had Urban Fantasy but combined it with the then-popular genre of Cyberpunk, in which the environment is collapsing, corporations ignore civil law and anybody who can’t make it in the wageslave world ends up taking quasi-legal mercenary jobs for said corporations because that’s the only way they can make a living. (Back in 1989 when the game was first released, that premise was called ‘science fiction.’)

If you, like me, grew up with that background, then the premises of Bright are a lot easier to accept. Perhaps the creative team (Suicide Squad director David Ayer and Hollywood writer Max Landis) grew up with that material too. The setting does seem to parallel Shadowrun in certain respects. For one thing, law enforcement is as corrupt As Fuck. Smith’s cop is pressured by his peers, sergeant and even Internal Affairs into getting his Orc partner fired, and when they get the opportunity, they even tell him to kill the guy while plotting to double-cross him and call the two of them casualties in a gang fight. OK, maybe that’s not as bad as the real LAPD, but it’s up there.

One difference between Bright and much of Urban Fantasy is that it’s assumed that fantasy races and magic have been around for at least 2000 years, ever since humans, Elves and other races fought against Orcs under control of “the Dark Lord” and all those races have been around ever since. By contrast, in Shadowrun, the return of magic to the world is a phenomenon less than a century old, and the resulting culture clash is a little more believable. One valid point that the critics do have is that the movie doesn’t do a good job of integrating this new element of “just like the real world only with Elves and Orcs.” Orcs are obviously second-class, but there are neighborhoods actually marked “Elves Only” in a way that ought to be illegal discrimination under American law. Again, it’s not well explained. One aspect that is similar to Shadowrun is that with the obvious species differences, human racial differences, while real, are not nearly as meaningful. I don’t know if they deliberately cast Will Smith’s wife as a white woman, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

There also seems to be a certain hate in the fan community for Landis that set up a negative perception of this movie. Max Landis is an opinionated and volatile figure in Hollywood, who by his own admission, “had a lot of behavioral and emotional issues” and is not prone to make friends with his behavior. His usual subject matter as a writer is the sort of fanboy stuff that turns off a lot of younger writers, with Landis coming off as the Daily Beast critic puts it, “a privileged white man (the son of John Landis) lacking any grasp of race relations.”

Of course that was all before accusations of misogyny over social media debates gave way to deeper accusations that Landis was a “ritual sex abuser.”   As it happens, Landis is the main producer of the BBC America series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and the second season of that show, like Bright, includes a team of heroes who have to keep a magic wand out of the hands of an evil psycho-bitch.

Like David Ayer’s previous work, the movie Bright is (literally) dark, ultra-violent, and foul-mouthed. The use of actors in funny makeup to comment on racial intolerance is a trick that’s been used many, many times before by the Star Trek franchise, and usually better. It’s especially egregious when you have a black protagonist being obliged to dispose of an enchanted creature as a pest, saying “fairy lives don’t matter today.”

So yeah, this movie has problems. But there are a lot of movies that aren’t technically “good” that I end up liking anyway. This was one of them. If you like lots of gunfire, this definitely scratches that itch. And as mismatched buddy cop movies go, this is at least as good as Alien Nation.

This is because, as uneven and impartial as Bright is in presenting the setting, overall it is much better than one would expect from a straight-to-Netflix production in terms of both production values and acting. Costuming and vehicles are appropriately gritty, and the makeup on the Orcs is very impressive, with Joel Edgerton (Smith’s co-star in Suicide Squad) as Jakoby the Orc having an amazing range of expression given that he is completely unrecognizable. And while the Fantasy elements are flawed for the reasons I described, they are still fascinating, with a lot deliberately unrevealed. In particular, the climactic battle where the evil cult leader tries to persuade the Elf girl to return to the fold is the most intense and best-acted scene in the movie, even considering that most of the dialogue is in a constructed language. It makes one wonder how this background would have been handled with a little more development.

Given that Netflix has already announced a sequel to this movie, it’s possible that there may be a deeper exploration of the setting. Presumably without Landis as the scriptwriter.

This investment in the subject is why I ultimately give Bright a recommendation, along with two other reasons: One, it was an inspired move to cast Margaret Cho as a police sergeant; two, it introduces the phrase “tittybar gunfight”.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Grinch

Y’ever feel like ya been cheated? HA haha.”

-Johnny Rotten

This Friday, almost as an afterthought, Viceroy Donald Trump signed the tax bill that was just passed by the Republican Congress, marking the only time this entire year that he and his party had managed a legislative accomplishment. The passage of the bill inspired a lot of conservative columnists, insisting (despite holding their nose at Donald Trump himself) that this tax bill might do some good.

Indeed it might. The tax bill does accomplish a few things that economists on all sides had wanted. For one, it reduces the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent, which is a lot closer to where most developed countries have it. Likewise, most countries don’t insist on taxing business income in the US, whereas this country insists on taxing all income regardless of whether you live here. Changing to a territorial tax system eliminates this unfairness (at least for a corporation) and the unfairness of being double taxed. Most of the liberal commentary on the bill is comparing it negatively to previous reforms such as Reagan’s 1986 tax reform. In other words, using an example of supply-side policy that they hated at the time as a successful example of tax policy, in order to explain why THIS supply-side proposal isn’t going to work.

But given these facts, it is testimony to Republican incompetence and disorganization that the tax bill is more unpopular with the public than previous tax hikes. These guys could manage to screw up a Free Hookers and Blow Act. Part of it is that contrary to Paul Ryan’s cheerleading, the scheme does the opposite of simplifying the tax code.  And the layers of the legislation continue to reveal their flaws. In New York Magazine, liberal Eric Levitz points out that the Right actually did the Left’s dirty work for it in removing deductions for the middle class and thus forcing them to pay more of the burdens of Big Government.  Moreover, the removal of state-and-local tax deduction (SALT) could have unintended consequences. Levitz quotes another source saying that state governments could compensate for the loss of revenue by allowing residents to make charitable gifts to the state instead of paying state income tax, said gifts being eligible for federal tax deduction.

This is what conservatives and libertarians have been saying all along. If you are rich, altruistic and civic-minded, and you think that the government should be doing such-and-such because they have the resources and wherewithal to do so, then YOU should fund that project yourself. I don’t believe that “taxation is theft” because a purely voluntary system would leave many public necessities unfunded. The problem now is that the definition of “necessities” has become politicized. But in the age of Kickstarter, we should be able to come up with a better way to do things.

But as conservative Pat Buchanan admits in his column, Republicans “bet the farm.” And they did so because they had a belief system: “The mission of Democrats is to (reduce) inequalities. And as the very rich are also the very few, in a one-man, one-vote democracy the Democratic Party will always have a following. Winston Churchill called this the philosophy of failure and the gospel of envy.  Republicans see themselves as the party of free enterprise, of the private not the public sector. They believe that alleviating the burden of regulation and taxation on business will unleash that sector, growing the economy and producing broader prosperity.”

The fact that this assertion avoids is that a system where the rules are ginned to the benefit of speculators, financiers and real estate developers is no more “free enterprise” than a Chavista system where the producers are looted in order to bribe the lower-class support base of the ruling party.

And insofar as the ruling party is using the heavy hand of government to benefit one class of people over another, ultimately at the expense of the majority, then that IS socialism for the rich. And not even all the rich, just the ones who support the ruling party.

It’s of a piece with the Trump Administration’s similarly unpopular foist, killing net neutrality, which according to conservatives and Devil’s Advocate-libertarians like Reason magazine is only getting rid of a 2015 FCC ruling that we had all managed to live without, blanking out the reasons why the commission had imposed that ruling to begin with. Given that FCC attempts to regulate internet providers prior to 2015 had been denied by the courts, the law ought to be on the side of the free-market Right anyway. That being the case, it is suspicious that the anti-net neutrality push was spearheaded by Trump-appointed FCC chair Ajit Pai (a former Verizon associate), reversing many FCC positions toward net neutrality under the Obama Administration, leading to organized protests and Internet action including major companies that rely on the net neutrality standard like Amazon, Google, and of course Pornhub. Over 1000 investors and startups signed an open letter to Pai against the proposal. Despite protest from the community, and millions of online comments against the policy, Pai and his FCC majority not only ignored the protests, there were reports that someone was stealing the names of real people, including some of the protestors, to make anti-net neutrality statements mirroring the language of conservative centers. If the government, specifically Pai’s majority at the FCC, were so confident that their policy was encouraging consumer freedom and capitalism, they would be more open about the process and less eager to change from a consumer driven standard than a standard favoring large providers.

There are several reasons that a right-winger like myself would favor a review of the previous tax code, FCC standards and other pre-Trump standards of federal governance. The problem, certainly from a “progressive” standpoint and ultimately from a right-wing standpoint, is that current policy is not motivated by libertarian or conservative philosophy so much as shameless deal making to benefit Congressional Republican donors, and even representatives themselves. The clearest evidence for this is how Senator Bob Corker (R.-Tennessee), who had previously posed as a budget hawk in opposition to the tax bill, ultimately went along with all the other Republicans and voted for it for some reason.

And if you want to believe one more lie- that the tax cuts for individuals are only temporary because they had to get the bill done on time and that they’ll (supposedly) be made permanent in future negotiations- then even that is an admission that tax cuts for the donor class take priority over tax cuts for the majority of voters.

This is the exact opposite of the “drain the swamp” populism Trump campaigned on, and the exact opposite of what “the base” said they wanted. The Trump Administration is to Republicans what The Last Jedi was to Luke Skywalker fans. The difference being that The Last Jedi didn’t suck.

Given that much of Republican losses in Virginia and the Alabama special race were a combination of not-Republican anger and Republicans staying home, I have to conclude that even Republicans are starting to notice they’ve been cheated.

That would explain why statisticians like FiveThirtyEight are projecting that the typical ruling-party losses in a midterm cycle have the potential to become a “flood.” That’s why internal Republican National Committee sources have told the Trump Administration that their policies, including the endorsement of Roy Moore in Alabama, would erode the party’s support base among women.

You’ve got a party that is not merely misunderstood or misinterpreted by liberal media, you’ve got a party that is doing its utmost to antagonize the general public, a ruling party whose only legislative accomplishment this year was because they had the most unpopular president of all time in power to sign it into law.

The same president who just this weekend was quoted as telling his staff that Haitians “all have AIDS” and that Nigerian nationals would “never go back to their huts” once they were allowed to stay here on visa.

And just think, Republicans: You’ve got TEN more months, over FORTY more weeks, of the same thing, every week, taking its toll until the Congressional election.

What are the chances that your party will hold both houses of Congress in this atmosphere? And what happens to your precious little angel if they don’t?

And on that note, Republicans:
Have a Merry Christmas, and look forward to 2018.

I know I will.

Now That’s Comedy

The other day I saw this thing on Facebook that I thought was funny enough to Share. It was a picture of Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles, captioned “instead of trying to not offend anyone, can we just get back to offending everyone again?”

And I got this response from one of my FB friends (name omitted to protect the guilty): “Meh. The youngins who keep saying this kind of stuff about things like ‘Blazing Saddles’ and George Carlin don’t seem able to grasp that their strength did not rely in ‘offending everyone’. It was about the way they unflinchingly told the truth with humor while PUNCHING UP. It pisses me off when people want to pretend the milquetoast bothsiderism of South Park and some dumbass ironic/not-ironic comedians like Daniel Tosh or the verbal diarrhea of the alt-right are heirs to the legacy of ‘offensive’ classics. ‘Blazing Saddles’ and George Carlin had no problem taking sides. They specifically took the side of the oppressed against the privileged. They just did it with self aware humor. Any idiot could see what their point was. Unlike some of today’s ‘satirists’ that can’t figure out (that) part of satire is actually having a fucking point. ‘Offending everyone’ as a goal in itself is weak bullshit.”

Well, point taken about Daniel Tosh.

But I wanted to respond in depth, and in doing so, I realized I would be committing the same error as my interlocutor: Namely, if you have to explain the joke, it isn’t funny. But that’s part of why I have a blog in addition to Facebook. Going into depth on Facebook would be that much more defeating the point, but as long as I’m going to explain a joke, I might as well do so on a blog nobody is reading.

The reason humor works is because of thwarted expectations. One expects a certain thing and then something else happens, sometimes something embarrassing to the subject. There is not much funny about pretty or privileged people humiliating the ugly and powerless. After all that is too much the norm in many places. But the reverse offers some potential for humor. As Krusty the Clown said when he hired Sideshow Bob, “the gag only works when the sap’s got dignity!”

For instance, there’s this verse, which is (I think) from the legendary Steve Allen:

Roses are red / And violets are blue / You think this will rhyme / But it ain’t gonna

And then there’s the following: “Before I post something on social media, I ask myself three questions: Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it kind? And if the answer to any of these is No, I go ahead and post.”

These are examples of thwarting expectations.

These points are not inherently opposed to the social message of Blazing Saddles, which was very real. It’s just that in addition to the social message, that film was also a platform for extremely vulgar jokes. Thinking that your piece is supposed to be a vehicle for class consciousness before it is a vehicle for humor is the comedy equivalent of producing Christian rock. And nobody wants that. Although Mel Brooks actually did produce a farce about the period of the Bolshevik Revolution. It wasn’t as funny as the real thing, but there weren’t nearly as many casualties.

By the same token, sensitivity and political correctness sometimes intersect with the point that “punching down” usually isn’t funny. But sometimes they’re just a different standard of funny, in the same way that veganism is a standard of cuisine that dispenses with elements that were based on cruelty and power relationships. Elements like “fat”, “sugar” and “taste.”

For instance, take “the dozens.” A.K.A. “Yo Mama.” Like, “Your mom is so stupid, she stares at the can of orange juice cause it says ‘Concentrate’.” Or “your mama’s so lazy, she thinks manual labor is the president of Mexico.” What did your mom ever do to deserve this? Isn’t this sexist?

By contrast, back when I was growing up, you had a lot of ethnic jokes. Some of these were only told within the ethnic community, as with Jewish jokes in the Borscht Belt or the material black comedians still use. But I remember seeing several joke books with stuff like “Polack jokes.” As Wikipedia points out, the problem is that such ethnic jokes are “conditional jokes” in that they require accepting some stereotype that may or may not be accurate. It seemed as though a lot of the joke writers were World War II vets. Most of the Italian jokes ridiculed Italian military performance (‘did you hear of the Italian tank with seven gears? One forward, six in reverse’) or cowardice (‘the reason it was called the Six Day War is because in 1967, the Arabs fought the Israelis and six days later the Italian Army surrendered’).

Such jokes discount the point that part of Italian reluctance to fight in World War II was because most soldiers were poorly paid, poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly led, fighting for a Fascist government that since 1922 had led Italians to a steady decline in living standards.

Meanwhile the Poles of World War II fought valiantly, but usually in exile, because Poland was a country carved up between a brainwashed leftist collective and a racist war machine. Sort of like the 2016 election, only with tanks.

The point being, at one point in history, nobody got the memo that “punching down” isn’t funny, because that sort of thing was a lot more popular. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense now.

So to test the efficacy of “punch up” vs. “punch down” humor, I decided to engage in a little thought experiment, which I think both Left and Right will enjoy.

Basically, take any one of those generic ethnic/insult jokes, and substitute the target (Mexican, Italian, blonde, etc.) with the word “Republican.”

For instance:
Q: How do you know a Republican has used your computer?
A: There’s white-out all over the screen.

Q: How many Mexicans will it take to pay for Trump’s wall?
A: None, Republicans. You are.

Q: What’s the difference between a prostitute and a Republican?
A: A prostitute won’t fuck her own kids for a tax cut.

See, now THAT’s comedy.

Jones vs. Moore

“There’s a special place in Hell for Republicans who should know better.”

-Steve Bannon

“Republicans did not win elections because they were popular, because they had good ideas, or because they had a mandate. They won because voters hated their opponent more, or did not hate them enough to come out and vote. They fail to consider that if you get voters sufficiently pissed off, that dynamic may reverse. ”

Me

The Alabama special election that ended up pitting Democrat and former prosecutor Doug Jones against Republican Judge Roy Moore (that’s his first name, Judge) for the Alabama US Senate seat picked up a great deal of significance because of the thin Republican margin in the Senate, and over the course of time because of Judge Moore’s prior history of reactionary opinions and the bombshell revelations of his pursuit of teenage girls in his thirties. Jones won the election with 51 percent of the vote, very close but with a wide enough margin to avoid a recount. This doesn’t mean that Roy Moore is conceding the results. In statements after the election, he claimed that big money from the establishment prejudiced the results. If he really wants to get attention, he should blame the result on Russian hackers.

It is testimony to where American politics is at this point that when the racist theocrat with a rumored thing for young girls lost an election, it came as a surprise. It probably shouldn’t have, though. While Doug Jones was canvassing neighborhoods last weekend in the company of (mostly black) celebrities and Democratic Party figures like Cory Booker, Moore was conspicuously absent from Alabama, choosing to watch his son in this year’s Army-Navy game instead. Even before that he was refusing to make appearances in the state, almost as if he were embarrassed about something. Then, the very Monday before the election, Alabama’s senior Senator Richard Shelby – who had been a Democrat before joining the Republican Party during the Clinton Administration – told the press that he could not vote for Roy Moore, and instead cast a write-in vote for a different Republican. As it turned out, about 22,800 write-in votes were cast, exceeding the gap between the votes cast for Moore and Jones.

So, third-party protest votes saved the day. That’s not a phrase you see very often!

The election result is a critical blow to the Republican Party, and in retrospect it is a blow that is completely self-inflicted. Not only that, it is a catastrophe that could have been averted at several points.  It started when Viceroy Donald Trump decided to reward Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for his early support by making him US Attorney General. (A decision he now has other reasons to regret.) Sessions’ seat was safe for Republicans, because the governor of Alabama was a Republican. However Governor Robert Bentley appointed state Attorney General Luther Strange to the post in February, despite or maybe because of the fact that Strange was prosecuting an impeachment case against the governor and had recommended that it be delayed.  At this point, Strange was to serve out the remainder of Sessions’ term which would have ended with the 2018 election cycle. However, Bentley ended up resigning over his various scandals in April and was replaced by Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey. She then decided to hold a special election for the Senate seat this year. Bentley had ruled against a special election as Governor citing costs, but Ivey made the decision for an immediate election citing state law.  Again, at this point the seat was still assumed to be safe for the Republican Party. But then Roy Moore showed up. Despite Strange being supported by the national Republican establishment (including Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), he was challenged by Moore and conservative Mo Brooks in the Republican primary. Strange won the first round of votes but failed to clear the margin for a runoff, which Moore subsequently won in August.

Even then, the expectation was that Moore would win easily. The last time a Democrat won a Senate seat in Alabama was with Richard Shelby in 1996, who again ended up turning Republican. Initial polls after the primaries had Moore leading. Even after the Washington Post article about Moore’s sexual history came out, Republicans rushed to defend him, including both Trump and former president Steve Bannon, both of whom liked Moore better than Strange to begin with. And Moore and his supporters continued to make statements that rallied the Trump Right and appalled everyone else. It culminated shortly before the election when a group identified as a “pro-Trump super PAC” got a 12-year old girl to interview him for a campaign video.

I enjoy a sick joke as much as anyone else, but there is such a thing as taking it too far.

It became clear long before the Moore campaign that the only reason one would have to vote for the current Republican Party is to flip off the liberals. And if that is all they have to offer, tweaking the liberals is a valid tactic only up to the point that it alienates the people who don’t identify with either team but may hold the balance in a close election.

I’ve often thought that the lesson of the 2016 election was that if making liberals cry was the only thing that mattered, then Donald Trump would have won the popular vote. And a lot of the Democrats’ problem is that they haven’t grasped this. But what Republicans refuse to get is that Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote because most voters realized that making liberals cry was not the only thing that mattered.

In his Politico column, conservative Rich Lowry offers a theory:  “We don’t know if Trump will experience a midterm shellacking on par with Obama’s in 2010, or, getting more speculative, go on to win reelection anyway. But every indication is that Obama and Trump are similar in that their signature politics work much better for them than their parties.” He observes that Obama’s charisma failed to attach to Democrats in the midterms (though the unpopular health care bill might have had something to do with that) and “(Obama’s) party felt the full fury of the backlash against his agenda, while he, winning reelection handily on the strength of his core voters, was held harmless.” Similarly with the current Republican ascendance, “all the people stirred up into a lather of anti-Trump loathing might want to do something with all their pent-up energy — like vote. With Trump nowhere near a ballot for the next three years, the only alternative is to take it out on the nearest person with an “R” next to his name.”

What that means is that just because the Republicans got one retarded howler monkey in a suit elected, that doesn’t mean the trick will work twice now that the novelty has worn off. Especially now that people have seen what the monkey will do with an executive order.

Yet, if protest votes (or abstentions) made a difference, the fact remains that for a large part of election night Moore held the lead in the vote tallies, and it was still possible that Moore was going to win the election because enough people saw his vices as virtues. What really tipped the balance, after 10 pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, was when the final reports for Jefferson County (Birmingham area) came in, giving Doug Jones his final lead. Jones won the most urban counties and got 96 percent of the black vote, and 61 percent of votes from voters under age 45. While Roy Moore did not receive the same level of Republican turnout that Donald Trump did in 2016, this election was determined by black voters.

If state laws – and their enforcement by Alabama government – are being skewed in such a way as to making voting at least inconvenient for black neighborhoods, and their votes still made the difference in this race, that indicates just how motivated the black community was.

Even then, it wasn’t necessarily because Doug Jones was offering anything. The Washington Post had an article covering the opinions of black voters in the state, with one woman saying “I obviously know what he did to prosecute white supremacists years ago, but I don’t know what he has done for the black community lately”. Another man went on Twitter saying: “”Today I voted to defeat Roy Moore because he’s horrible, not because I felt encouraged by Doug Jones. I still think Jones’ campaign was a mess that disrespected the Black community. I know other Black Alabamians felt the same too, but we did what was needed.” Certainly the fact that Doug Jones successfully prosecuted the two Alabama church bombers didn’t hurt, but the conviction was in 2000 for a crime that happened in 1963. Jones actually did the work and campaigned hard while Moore assumed he could coast on the votes of his base, but if the lesson for Republicans is that the base would vote for Moore anyway, the lesson for Democrats is that there were still almost enough Moore voters for him to win. In both cases, the potential for error was in taking the voter base for granted, as Democrats have been doing for quite some time. It remains to be seen whether either party will learn that point.

In retrospect, it turns out I was right in another column:

“You might remember that in 2012, after Mitt Romney lost a presidential run to incumbent Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee commissioned a “growth and opportunity project” –  more commonly referred to in the press as their post-election ‘autopsy’ – in which the feedback they got in surveys, focus groups and other methods indicated that the GOP was faulty at ‘messaging’, that young people in particular ‘are rolling their eyes at what the Party represents’ and ‘many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.’ The proposed solution was for the party to ‘stop talking to itself,’ basically meaning outreach to other people who don’t already agree with the doctrinaire Republican position, as opposed to catering to the stupid bigots fortified by talk radio and alternative media. And the response from the ‘base’ and Republican organizers in the 2014 midterms was ‘we SHOULD TOO cater to the stupid bigots, because they’re the ones who show up and VOTE, and vote for the hardcore conservatives who fight for us.”

“…Now, as with the Romney Autopsy, Democrats ought to do the opposite of what they’re being told. That doesn’t mean (you) should nominate another dull party hack who has no grasp of the victory conditions for a presidential election. It also doesn’t mean you should emulate Republican psychology. You will never top Republicans when it comes to tribal, us-versus-them, persecution-complex, ‘the only way to stop Satan is to self-lobotomize and vote for the lesser asshole’ mentality, and if you try, you will defeat the purpose of claiming to be different from them. But you can learn what they learned from their defeat: First, find the people who will vote for you no matter what, and cater to them. Second, wait for their leader to show up.”

REVIEW: The Last Jedi

The main knock that critics had on The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) was that it too closely paralleled the original Star Wars (Episode IV). To me, that similarity should have been the main subject of the storyline. How is it, that after more than thirty years (real time and in-setting), the Star Wars universe is back to square one? Why did Han Solo leave Leia and return to smuggling? Was it grief over the loss of their son, or was it just Han being Han? Who is Snoke, what is the First Order, and how did they take over from the Empire? Why did Luke not rebuild the Jedi Academy after it was destroyed by the Knights of Ren, and how did they seduce Ben Solo to the dark side? And what does Rey have to do with all this?

SPOILER ALERT: Not all of those questions are answered in The Last Jedi.

In addition to the primary Skywalker/Rey saga, there’s a mission where the cowardly-yet-brave Finn (John Boyega) tries to save the Resistance, or what’s left of it, with the help of two new characters, a plucky engineer (Kelly Marie Tran) and a stuttering scoundrel (Benicio Del Toro, in what may be his most Benicio Del Toro performance to date). Otherwise, fans have been telling people to not spoil the movie. So I won’t. I will just say: GO SEE IT. The Last Jedi offers everything you want to see in a Star Wars movie. Including hope.

Note: This is also a very long movie, about two and a half hours. Yet, I did not feel any bladder urges until the credits started to roll.

The Force was with me.

The Whisper Network, Continued

In the wake of both John Conyers and Al Franken being forced to resign from Congress over their “inappropriate sexual behavior”, there does indeed seem to be a backlash against the #metoo anti-harassment movement, although not from the Right. Dahlia Lithwick in Slate says,  “Is this the principled solution? By every metric I can think of, it’s correct. But it’s also wrong. It’s wrong because we no longer inhabit a closed ethical system, in which morality and norm preservation are their own rewards. We live in a broken and corroded system in which unilateral disarmament is going to destroy the very things we want to preserve. ”

It’s often pointed out that Franken’s main accuser, Leann Tweeden is a conservative Fox (Sports) alumna and allegedly an associate of Trump family members. Celebrity Tom Arnold accused her of being coached by a “Roger Stone pal” at her radio station. And some Democrats have gone much further in bemoaning their party’s policy toward one of their own. In the Washington Post, feminist author Kate Harding said “I don’t believe (that Franken) resigning from his position is the only possible consequence, or the one that’s best for American women.” But she elaborates: “When you combine these things — an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women — it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault… Isn’t that hypocritical? I hear you asking, Because Republicans won’t do the right thing, we shouldn’t, either? But if the short-term ‘right thing’ leads to long-term political catastrophe for American women, I think we need to reconsider our definition of the right thing.”

So Democrats should go back to saying “it’s okay when it’s our guy?” That would indeed solve the double standard problem. If both parties are going to roast the enemy for the same thing that they forgive on their side, there’s one standard that is being applied equally.

The problem is that the Democratic liberal base won’t go for it anymore. More specifically, the women in the Democratic hierarchy won’t go for it anymore. It was Democratic women Senators who led the demand that Franken resign. Recall that whatever one thinks of Donald Trump, this whole #metoo thing erupted after the first allegations came out concerning Harvey Weinstein. Snap quiz, who was a bigger fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Harvey Weinstein or Charles Koch? It’s Franken who’s expected to fall on his sword for the good of the Party, not the feminist contingent of the Party that’s expected to put up with him for the sake of not letting Republicans “get” one.

What all this proves to me is that liberals need to find a happy medium between retroactively crucifying Al Franken – who was never accused of adultery, let alone rape – for sleazy behavior that occurred before he ever ran for office, versus “it’s not perjury if it was over a blowjob, and even if it was, it’s just a Republican witch hunt.” Maybe we should acknowledge that if “believe the women” is not as bad an extreme as “always believe the accused”, it is still an extreme. Maybe rather than uncritically dismissing or believing the accuser, we should take the accuser seriously, seriously enough to give the claims proper investigation.

Because even in the olden days, it was sometimes more likely that allegations of sexual misbehavior from a politician would be taken seriously, and a politician’s career could be destroyed over allegations that were both less substantial and more substantial than the charges against Franken. In 1988, Democrat Gary Hart was preparing a run for the presidency until the press started covering his relationship with a young woman named Donna Rice, a relationship that both Rice and Hart have maintained to this day was not sexual. Then after the 1992 campaign, Republican Senator Bob Packwood was shadowed by continuing allegations of sexual assault, allegations which intensified after the Senate Ethics Committee requested his diary and found out that he had altered the diary passages. Eventually Packwood resigned in 1995.  Incidentally, the Wikipedia article on this points out that the head of the Committee at the time was Senator Mitch McConnell, who had said afterward in regard to President Clinton’s impeachment: “As most of you will recall, the Senate faced a similar choice just a few short years ago. It was one of our own who had clearly crossed the line. It was one of our own who had engaged in sexual misconduct and obstruction of justice… During the Packwood debate, we made the tough choice. And, I have to say, that decision was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my career in public service. To recommend expelling from the United States Senate a colleague, a member of my own party, and most importantly, a friend with whom I had served in the Senate for over a decade. We sent a clear message to the nation that no man is above the law.”

What caused the standard to change all of a sudden?

What happened was that a certain politician in the duopoly decided that winning was more important than shame. Packwood and Hart could be shamed out of the system. Bill Clinton could not. And while I’m sure Hillary Clinton didn’t plan on things turning out this way, the fact that she was First Enabler in 1998 meant that in 2016 she was the only person in either major party who was not in position to take on Donald Trump over his history of sexism. It’s not as though she didn’t get some good licks in, especially with invoking Alicia Machado in a debate, but the fact that Trump got as many white female voters as he did indicated that Clinton had a critical problem with her core audience.

Democratic ambivalence on this issue is precisely because Republicans have embraced Bill Clinton’s approach more thoroughly than they have. Not only that, this allowed Trump to disarm the whole premise of enforcing moral standards. He has also shown right-wingers the path to counter left-wing virtue signaling: Don’t let them shame you. Don’t let them crybully you. Don’t apologize for what you are. The problem occurs when what you are is not just objectively evil but belligerently stupid.

The other day, (Dec. 6) Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic wrote a piece called “Embracing Depravity,” which is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a pretty good analysis of where the Republican groupthink is now. It explains why the “conservative” movement, in all its contradictions, has one consistent factor: what Friedersdorf calls ressentiment.

“Culture-war conflict now dominates their political identity.

“And to watch them embrace the label ‘deplorable’ even as they elevate a man like (Roy) Moore is to suspect (Julian) Sanchez was right in seeing ressentiment as ‘a resignation to impotence on the cultural front where the real conflict lies. It effectively says: We cede to the bogeyman cultural elites the power of stereotypical definition, so becoming the stereotype more fully and grotesquely is our only means of empowerment.”

This is why it doesn’t do good to whine that it’s not fair that Democrats are being held to a standard that Republicans don’t respect. When you’re a Democrat, you find excuses for why you can’t win elections. It’s what you do. But more importantly, liberals, you are never going to be more punk rock than the Republicans. You are never going to be more transgressive. You are always going to be under the self-imposed double standard, if only because you have any standards at all. Because unlike Republicans, who have discarded all standards except winning, you are still under the delusion that you have morals. That your political calculus is based on a higher standard. That you’re here to fight for something.

So here’s a radical Communist idea, liberals: Why not FIGHT for something?

If the game of moral superiority is, if not a wash, ultimately meaningless in winning elections, if it ultimately comes down to voter turnout, and if Republican tax “reform” is doing more to cement their Snidely Whiplash image than anything leftists could imagine, then Democrats ought to spend this next year concentrating on the very “flyover” counties that won Trump the election in 2016, the very places that will be hardest hit by Republican policy, and convince those voters that their party is able to help them out. But that would require having both a message and a plan.

…Naahh, that’s too hard, isn’t it?

We Are So Screwed

When the Republican Senate passed its tax “reform” bill just after midnight on December 2, journalist Kurt Eichenwald sent this tweet: “America died tonight. Economic suicide adopted to feed the insatiable greed of donors, who have been refusing to dole out $ to GOP until they got their tax cuts. Voters fooled by propaganda and tribal hatred. Millenials: move away if you can. USA is over. We killed it.”

I wouldn’t be quite THAT pessimistic, but we are seriously running out of options, given that one ruling party (the Democrats) are not currently in power and doesn’t have any ideas for how to turn things around if they were, while the current majority (Republicans) are not merely mistaken but outright destructive.

The actual tax reform bill as passed by the Senate still included several points amended on the copies with markers. This is going to come back and bite Republicans in the ass when they find out the (“) symbol means inches and not feet.

What we have is being passed off by liberals as “economic libertarianism.” Which is BS. Of course I’m going to say that because I’m a Libertarian. But assume that economic libertarianism is based on the axiom “taxation is theft.” (Not like liberals have given a better definition of it.) You can say that that attitude is blinkered and just plain wrong. But even taking it at face value, it would mean that we should tax as few people as possible, and as little as possible. What this bill is is a scheme to have as few people as possible pay as little as possible while in many areas, we are maintaining or even expanding government spending on the backs of the other income levels by removing the exemptions and services that will be given to the upper income levels. In other words, it would be a tax increase on many of us. Hardly libertarian.

The thing that neither the Left or the Right are willing to admit is that if you already have wealth and power, you don’t need the government to give you more. That is not why a (classically) liberal democratic republic exists. In fact, the Founders created this country to rebel against the previous paradigm where a government was set up specifically to take the resources of the majority and use them solely for the benefit of the hereditary elite. This idea may stick in the craw of America’s “conservatives”, but then the idea that “all men are created equal” offended a lot of people, too.

But if it’s easy for liberals to say that libertarianism (whether of the Republican or Libertarian Party variety) is just a giveaway to the rich, and if the rest of the country more or less accepts that, that’s because the primary promotion of an economically libertarian or “fiscally conservative” platform is that of Paul Ryan and his ilk. And the result does more to promote socialism than anything the Left could come up with on their own merits.

What’s really sad is that the reason for pushing so hard on a bill that practically nobody wants is that the Republicans care more about their wealthy donor class than voters (given how much they gin the election system to keep safe seats, and how little Republicans care about what their own party does to them). There’s just one problem. The “fiscally conservative” Republicans were so eager to stick it to blue states with their plan that they alienated wealthy donors in those states, since the tax “reform” eliminates a lot of the previous deductions that were given to residents of high-tax states like New York, where a lot the richest Republicans live. So according to the Washington Examiner: “I think checkbooks stay closed until they see how it plays out,” said Eric R. Levine, a Manhattan attorney and Republican donor who bundled contributions for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in 2016. “I’m not even trying to raise money in the fourth quarter.” Because donors “foresee higher personal taxes under a plan that axes deductions for state and local taxes without offering what they consider compensatory reductions in marginal income rates, even with the repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax that hits many upper-middle-class Americans. They resent that the bill excludes their white-collar service professions — think law, finance, and consulting — from the bill’s lower small-business rate, even as it shrinks the corporate levy to 20 percent from 35 percent. ”

Oh, and it gets even gooder. Just today (Dec. 4) nymag.com had an article from Eric Levitz clarifying just one case of how Republican hastiness on the tax scam is already biting them in the ass. In order to get all the cuts the Senate bill needed while still adding only so much (just $1.5 trillion) to the deficit, McConnell had to scramble for other means of making up revenue. At present, the country has a corporate tax of 35 percent- which is subject to modification by various deductions, down to a minimum tax of 20 percent. The alternative minimum tax was supposed to have been removed in the first Senate bill, but in order to help make up the gap, they put it back in as part of the last round of wheeler-dealing. However, they forgot to lower the absolute minimum below 20% – which is where the base corporate tax rate is in the new bill. This makes all the various deductions and investments hitherto used to lower corporate taxes useless. Levitz quotes a Wall Street Journal article (paywall) in which the head of Murray Energy Corp spoke: ““What the Senate did, in their befuddled mess, is drove me out of business and then bragged about the fact that they got some tax reform passed,” Mr. Murray said in an interview Sunday. “This is not job creation. This is not stimulating income. This is driving a whole sector of our community into nonexistence.” Murray Energy, by the way, is a coal company.

All of which means that, given that Big Money is all that Republicans have going for them, dissension in the ranks makes it that much harder for Republicans to maintain the support they need going into the 2018 midterms. Midterms usually are a hostile environment for the ruling party, but Republicans made things that much worse for themselves with their legislation this year. Of course they felt the need to pass all the things on their agenda now that they finally had the opportunity to do so. Because they finally had a Republican president in the White House who would sign their dream bills and help them make America great again.

Yeah, about that.

On Friday December 1, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn – who had already left his joint defense agreement with Donald Trump’s legal team – pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI in regard to communications made with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration. And as predicted, later in the day it was stated that Flynn was in agreement to testify about his knowledge of communications between “senior administration officials” on this matter, the current rumor being that the main “senior official” being implicated was Trump’s son-in-law and Schmuck Without Portfolio Jared Kushner.

And in response, on Saturday December 3, Trump tweeted:

I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

9:14 AM – 2 Dec 2017

Raising, among other questions, how did he know Flynn had lied to the FBI at that time?

To paraphrase Dr. King’s Bible quote, the arc of the moral universe is long, but Trump won’t shut his fucking mouth.

But later that day, the Trump team announced that Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, was the one who drafted the tweet.  Oh, so that wasn’t Trump that posted that incriminating tweet, now that he realizes what he did. It was his lawyer. His PROFESSIONAL LAWYER. Who posted something that would tie Trump to the Flynn case. In Trump’s name.

Well, I guess that completely exonerates Trump. I mean, if this is what the White House sends out after consulting with a lawyer, imagine what Trump would have revealed if he’d just shot his mouth off.

(Dowd, by the way, was noted in Wikipedia as a Trump staffer who forwarded an email from a conspiracy theorist to conservative media saying that Black Lives Matter was infiltrated by terrorists and that there was no difference between George Washington and Robert E. Lee.)

I sincerely doubt that Trump’s lawyer posted that tweet. If only because a real lawyer, when asked to vet that statement, would respond by yanking Trump’s smartphone out of his hand, throwing it against the wall and then stomping it to a million bits while Trump watched, as a professional opinion on why that statement should not be made on Twitter.

In any case, this would beg the question, “just how fucking stupid do you have to be to believe this slimy criminal?” but this is the Republican Party we’re dealing with. Ultimately I have to attribute Trump’s motive in making that post to one of two thoughts:

“I can admit to anything because Paul ‘Paulie Numbnuts’ Ryan and Mitch ‘the Bitch’ McConnell will always be there to protect me”

or

“Somebody stop me. Somebody please stop me.”

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. A lot of Republicans might be willing to toss Trump to get Vice President Pence to take over, since he’s a more sincerely conservative Republican than Trump and would be less likely to incriminate himself on Twitter. However it may already be too late. See, the stated reason that Trump fired Flynn was because Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence (who was running the pre-inaugural transition) about contacts with Russia. If Flynn lied to Congress about this, and this lie was the same thing he told Pence (according to big-mouth Trump) then if Trump knew it was a lie at the time and this incriminates him it is hard to see how it doesn’t incriminate Mike Pence. Thus, any charge that is substantial enough to incriminate Trump could also incriminate Pence for the same reason. If the President is removed from office and the Vice President is also not able to serve, the law states that succession falls to the Speaker of the House.

Which means that the acting president would be Paul Ryan. AKA “Paulie Numbnuts.”

Unless of course Mueller is allowed to drag this thing out past the point of the 2018 midterms, and in the perhaps 50-50 chance that Democrats can actually capitalize on Republicans’ unpopularity, then the third in line after Pence would most likely be House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

You know, the liberal feminist who at first defended John Conyers against sexual harassment charges and called him an icon of Congress.

Nancy “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” Pelosi.

We really are screwed, aren’t we?

The Whisper Network

“I wish to argue that none of you possibly have enough evidence to jump to this conclusion, but experience has taught me that only guarantees it to be the case.”

-Vaarsuvius, Order of the Stick #1106

I had almost thought the issue of powerful men getting taken down by a history of sexual harassment was starting to lose currency. But last week the big news was that Today show lead anchor Matt Lauer was “suddenly” fired after NBC News recieved a detailed complaint, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack saying “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” As it turned out, both Variety and the New York Times had been investigating an extensive history of misbehavior on Lauer’s part.  Less publicized that week was the news that hip-hop mogul and producer Russell Simmons was stepping down from his companies after he was accused of sexual assault.

This phenomenon is in fact so widespread and happening so fast that a lot of observers are worried about it. For one thing, the idea that we should believe all women who accuse men of abuse is getting challenged. Professional feminist Lena Dunham defended a writer from her show Girls after he was accused of rape by actress Aurora Perrineau, saying he was one of the just “3% of assault cases that are misrepresented every year.” More relevant to politics, Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken was accused of groping one woman on a USO tour, and then another. Now it’s up to six. Not only that, veteran Congressman John Conyers (D.-Michigan) was accused of a long history of improper sexual behavior. Yet another Congressman, Ruben Kihuen (D.-Nevada) was just accused of repeated sexual advances and improper touching by an aide.  But it wasn’t until fairly recently that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called upon Conyers to resign. (Perhaps for that reason, she was a lot quicker to go after Kihuen.)

So what? The story now is, we “believe all women” unless the accused is a friend of ours? Or if it’s politically inconvenient?

To their credit, a lot of liberals are saying politics be damned, such men need to be out of Congress, even if they’re Democrats. But it’s not that simple. Conyers’ seat (in the Detroit area) is safe, and in any case he’s very old and may need to retire anyway. However, if Kihuen resigns, the Governor of Nevada (who would appoint his replacement) is a Republican. And Franken has been a serious asset to the Democrats in the Senate, and even if Minnesota’s Democratic governor replaced him, that party needs all the seats it can get.

Not that Republicans are any more pure. As more documented stories of Roy Moore’s predilection for younger girls came up in Alabama, that just increased the desire of Alabama Republicans to get him elected Senator. But that’s what they are. All that matters to them is winning. “Conservatives” would vote for Bill Clinton himself if he said he was a Republican. But as I keep telling Republicans, they kinda did.

In large part, a lot of liberals are worried that there’s going to be some sort of right-wing backlash once somebody gets the idea that they can make a false claim. When Rolling Stone published a “searing expose'” on a gang rape at the University of Virginia campus, the story turned out to be unverifiable and was later retracted.  This critically undermined Rolling Stone’s journalistic reputation (to the extent that it had one) and set back feminist attempts to target “rape culture.”

More recently, Bari Weiss in the New York Times worried that the current ascendancy of #metoo feminism is going to set up its own downfall, citing the Teen Vogue writer Emily Linden who had to shut down her Twitter account after posting ““If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.” Weiss says that while she sympathizes with that attitude, “I think that ‘believing all women’ can rapidly be transmogrified into an ideological orthodoxy that will not serve women at all. ”

There is of course a danger of backlash with all the sexual harassment stories, but the reason that hasn’t happened yet in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein case is because when an individual is accused of sexual abuse, it’s not just one case that can’t be verified. There always turns out to be more behind it.

When Anthony Rapp made his accusation against Kevin Spacey, at the time I thought it was just an isolated case of Spacey being drunk quite a few years ago. (Though it still reflected badly on him that he would let himself get so out of control.) But according to producers on House of Cards, Spacey had been engaging in harassment fairly recently, and often enough to where it was brought up as a problem. When an accusation gets in the news, it stays in the news if it turns out to be a pattern.

There is now actually a term for how this works. Feminists Valerie Aurora and Leigh Blackwood came up with an observation they call “the Al Capone Theory.” The basis is that Al Capone had a major organized crime ring going with alcohol smuggling, but the Federal government couldn’t get him on those grounds, but they could trace his income and prosecute him for tax evasion on his assets. Aurora and Blackwood said: “We noticed a similar pattern in reports of sexual harassment and assault: often people who engage in sexually predatory behavior also faked expense reports, plagiarized writing, or stole credit for other people’s work.” In other words, even where (say) sexual harassment is hard to prove or prosecute, it may be possible to prosecute an offender for other more easily-established criminal offenses – because the kind of person who engages in sexual harassment is the kind of person who is likely to commit other crimes. “Ask around about the person who gets handsy with the receptionist, or makes sex jokes when they get drunk, and you’ll often find out that they also violated the company expense policy, or exaggerated on their résumé, or took credit for a colleague’s project.” Whether companies know the “Al Capone Theory” term or not, they are becoming more cognizant of this pattern in order to guard against it, given that such personality types can cost money for reasons other than public harrassment suits.

More directly, a lot of these sexual harassment cases gain traction because they’re not isolated incidents. When the first accusations came out against Harvey Weinstein, they destroyed his reputation, but they couldn’t be prosecuted because they were past the statute of limitations for assault. But recently the NYPD announced that it has at least one rape case that is recent enough to investigate.

The approach taken by the authors of the Al Capone Theory points towards a critical standard that addresses the serious possibility of treating men unfairly. One of the concerns of men is that the “whisper network” has the potential to destroy men over isolated, consensual encounters when there is no legal standard such as presumption of innocence. But one thing that’s overlooked with that position is that the abuses themselves are a case where men (usually men) are taking advantage of grey areas in the law and in company human resources policies, and in the reaction of the culture to women’s claims. Until recently, when women did try to work within the system, their claims were disregarded by superiors, for example in the case of Lauer. The Variety article said: “Several women told Variety they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today.’ NBC declined to comment. For most of Lauer’s tenure at ‘Today,’ the morning news show was No. 1 in the ratings, and executives were eager to keep him happy.” Whereas the standard that Aurora and Blackwood are endorsing obliges companies to review a person’s overall performance record to corroborate accusations of bad behavior, including accusations against women.

It seems as though liberals in the media and politics are taking a look at where politics have gone and then taking a look at the “sophisticated” culture they did so much to enable, at least when Bill Clinton was president. And whether they admit it or not, they’re making a connection.

Consider that however self-conscious and hypocritical liberals might seem about sexual harassment, they are at least taking a look in the mirror and cleaning up their own house.

But then consider that Donald Trump is still president.

And that Roy Moore, at least initially, was leading in the polls after the Washington Post story came out.

And it seems to me that “conservatives” are looking at self-flagellating liberals, and they’ve decided that if it looks embarrassing or hypocritical to develop a conscience too late, then clearly the best course of action is to never develop a conscience at all.