Thursday, March 23, 2017

THE NATIONAL HEALTH.

A lot of people think Trump's down, with the messed-up AHCA vote Thursday. But I'm not so sure.

First of all, this failure is the GOP's, not his. Trump's connection with the Republicans is purely opportunistic. As I've been saying all along, the deal is that Trump signs anything Ryan and his Republican death cultists send him, and in return they look away while he loots and grifts. The GOP is holding up their end -- hell, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is basically a Russian safe house, Trump's exploiting his office like a motherfucker and so are his kids, but with few exceptions the Republican Congressional majorities are like huh what do you mean sorry I can't hear you.

Will Trump hold up his end? We can't tell because lately the Republicans have been tripping on their dicks -- which makes sense, because they haven't been this hard since 2005. In a normal executive-House-Senate GOP three-way, the White House would work with the leadership to craft and smooth passage of any big bill, the way Obama, Pelosi and Reid did with the ACA. Does anyone here think it's worked that way with Ryan and Trump? Given the barely coherent palaver Trump dispenses to the general public, I doubt he even speaks English when he talks to Ryan -- he probably just goes "rhubarb, rhubarb," like an old-fashioned stage crowd, and maybe masturbates. And Ryan, ever the apple-cheeked suck-up, probably nods politely and goes back to the committee rooms, where them Freedom Caucus boys are screaming AH WANNA 'MENDMENT MAKE BITCHES CARRY MAH SEED! and WHA I GOTTA PAY FOR IN-SURANCE I HAIN'T NEVER GONE BE SICK! No wonder the bill had to be delayed.

Be not deceived; if these monkeys can be brought into anything resembling regular order, they'll find a way to push something through the House. It may not have every horror that's been floated but it will still be pretty bad. And I wouldn't count on The World's Greatest Deliberative Body making it appreciably better -- for the Senate is where McCain takes the grandstand but McConnell takes the bandstand, and he keeps his baton by picking tunes the boys like to play. Now try and imagine Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton letting anything that isn't stuffed with dominionist lunacy come to a vote. What they add might be worse than what comes out of the House.

Then, assuming the stuff about the Senate Parliamentarian being fixed is bullshit (and since Mike Lee and Deroy Murdock are pushing it I assume it is), it becomes a question of whether the Republicans want to go berserker and pass extra-budgetary reforms with 51 votes. Again, these boys hate Black President's Big Law with a passion, they're not honorable or especially bright, and things could get out of hand. So don't relax -- as some wiseguy on Twitter said, this lull could just be the false relief that comes after the horror movie villain looks like he's dead the first time.

But notice I haven't mentioned Trump for a few grafs. Recently his usual alpha bellows on the subject suggest that he's willing to wash his hands of the thing -- which works great for him, since the rubes who voted for him are just as likely to blame the Republican pencil-necks for his failure as they've been willing to blame the Democratic pencil-necks (andblackpeopleandMexicans) for their own. It's like every terrible thing he's revealed to have done -- it just bonds them tighter to him. They're locked into the political version of a shame spiral -- except Trump feels no shame. Speaking of spirals, Trump's already fucking up Obamacare, so he can just wait for it to collapse and rule over the ruins.

Thus we remain, nearly alone among nations rich enough to have it, without universal health care. It's not so much an indictment of Trump, Congress, or even our politics as it is of our national character at the moment. America's like all those normal-seeming guys you read about in newspaper crime stories who take their savings and hire a hit man to kill their wife or boss or father-in-law. They think if they can just get this one insane, immoral thing done, everything will work out great. But they can't do it themselves so they need to hire this insane, immoral guy. And things always go wrong because the hit man winds up blackmailing them or trying to kill them or kidnapping a member of their family. These guys always seem to assume, against all evidence and experience, that for some reason the hit man won't turn on them. That's us now. We're a nation of Jerry Lundegaards.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SNAPPY ANSWERS TO WHINY WINGNUTS.

Tom Knighton at PJ Media:
Remember when liberals would take issue with a business refusing service to a customer because the action conflicted with the owner's personal beliefs? How dare a Christian refuse to take part in a gay marriage ceremony! 
Of course, it's all good when it's a bar in the West Village refusing to do business with someone wearing a Donald Trump "Make America Great Again" hat:  
Inserted here is an excerpt from a New York Post story about Hat Guy, one Greg Piatek, allegedly getting thrown out of the bar after a few rounds ("The ‘flustered’ bartender got them a second round but allegedly ‘slammed the drinks down'"). It includes a picture of Piatek; his lawyer claims this was "his client's 'saddest hour,'" but looking at the guy I'm guessing it's not even in the top ten.
This should be an interesting test for the Left. 
If you believe that no one should be allowed to refuse a customer because of the management's beliefs, then it's time to put up or shut up. If a Christian baker can't pass on a wedding cake for a gay marriage, then this bar can't refuse to serve someone because of a hat indicating support for a presidential candidate. Who won, by the way...
We don't need a Constitutional expert to solve this one. The guy in the hat wasn't being thrown out for his race, creed, religious beliefs, or even sexual preference. He was being thrown out because the bartender decided he was an asshole.

And one of the primary tenets of Common Law is: If the bartender thinks you're an asshole, you hit the bricks.

One of the other primary tenets, borne out by the story: The bartender is always right.

UPDATE. I see the Post story was written by the same stunt reporter who went around New York wearing a MAGA hat and pretty much begged to be shit on. I guess they're working on a little genre to inflame the sensibilities of red-state rubes: "Them gawdamn New Yorkers is prejudice agin' us! Wonder why thet Me-la-ni-a Trump wants ta live there so bad. I bet she'd be a lot more comfortable-like here in Skunk Holler. Might could go up there an' git her, have her stay with Cousin Clem, he been needin' a female to clean up and whatnot."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I PITY THE POOR PATRIARCH.

I don't have to tell you people who The Real VictimsTM  are in any given situation -- they're always (counterintuitive as it may seem!) on the side with the most power.

Owen Strachan of The Federalist starts out telling us the alt-right is very bad ("childish and vicious... ethnocentrism, outright racism, misogyny... we should offer condemnation in no uncertain terms"), but quickly (by the third graf -- I feel like Carol Kane washing Randy Quaid's cock in The Last Detail, that's how quick!) gets here:
I do wonder, however, if the media has missed at least one true thing regarding the “alt-right.” The movement (if we can call it that) may often prove inchoate and even inarticulate, but behind the memes and coded language, there seems to be a massed sentiment. It is this: men feel left behind.
Poor behind-left men! Strachan gets to the inevitable next stage quickly, too -- the one where you learn that these lost Nazi-boys, who "did nothing to choose their biological manliness, but are instructed to attend sensitivity training by virtue of it," are cruelly oppressed by feminazi society, who won't indulge their "glory hunger" (?). And so the alt-right boys, for all their vicious bigotry, aren't really bad after all -- they're depraved on account of they're deprived of their rightful good jobs and sucked dicks!
It is easy, and right, to identify where aspects of the alt-right are plainly misogynistic. But tying an entire people group to its worst excesses allows for the full-scale dismissal of a diverse array of concerns and experiences. This has happened with Donald Trump’s voters, for example; according to many journalists, they’re all either racist or angry about the loss of the halcyon days. The media executes the same lazy move with the angry young men of the alt-right: they’re idiotic little boys. We have nothing to hear from them, nothing to learn, nothing to consider.
Listen to the neo-Nazis -- they have something to say, too! How can you be so arrogant as to turn away when they give you the Hitler salute, or deface your synagogue? We have much to learn from them!

It figures that he wedged Trump in there. I predict "this is why I'm fluffing the alt-right" will be the new "this is why Trump won."

Monday, March 20, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the Trump budget, the controversy over Meals on Wheels funding, and how conservatives have spun it into a media rather than a budget story. It's frustrating to see goodhearted liberals like Kevin Drum bending over backwards to be not only fair but also generous to conservatives, saying basically that Mick Mulvaney couldn't have meant the bad thing he seemed to say because "if you were writing a satire designed to show that Republicans were all heartless bastards, you still wouldn't invent something like that" -- as if we haven't been living in an immersive environmental satire of conservative governance for months. (That conservatives never return the favor is too obvious and expected to be mentioned.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

JIMMY BRESLIN, 1930-2017.

Another notable passing. If you're the sort of person who reads alicublog you probably know what a terrific, fluent writer Jimmy Breslin was, and about his various journalistic coups such as interviewing the Kennedy gravedigger and the cops who brought John Lennon to the emergency room at Roosevelt Hospital. All I have to add is in addition to being a writer-writer, he was a newsman from the days when the difference between a reporter and a columnist barely existed, and did the job like it was important, at all hours and sometimes under extreme duress, as when he returned from being beaten and robbed at the Crown Heights riots to file a story. If journalism seems like a drag and a whore now, it certainly isn't any of his doing. He was the real thing.

Also, years ago I wrote a little something about hearing him read from one of his books and asking him a question. Here's a bit of it:
There was something I had long wanted to ask Breslin: How do you get cops to talk to you? I never have any luck with them. 
Breslin squinted. "Ask 'em what's doin'. Why wouldn't they want to talk to you? A nice white fella from Long Island. What'dya say to them?" 
"Um, 'I'd like to ask you a few questions.'" 
Breslin looked disgusted. "Don't come on like a district attorney! That'll make 'em nervous. It makes me nervous. Who d'ya write for?" 
"Alicubi." 
Breslin inclined his head. "You against cops?" 
"No."
He shrugged. "'What's doin'?'"
Brush with greatness, that. And still good advice.

CHUCK BERRY, 1926-2017.

Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice. 

I remember when I was a dumbass college kid and he had that stupid hit, "My Ding-a-Ling," and I was confused by that into thinking he was just some old duffer who'd had a few hits and was resurfacing to grab one more -- like Ricky Nelson with "Garden Party."

Well, I shouldn't have slept on Ricky, and I damn sure should have known better about Chuck. It took me playing music myself to realize that the thing called rock 'n' roll pretty much came directly from him. Sure, in the historical traces there were the blues masters when they got wild and there was Ike Turner's "Rocket '88," but that was the primordial ooze, something that just bubbled up; no one knew how to make a regular business out of it, so it wasn't rock 'n' roll. (One way or another, rock 'n' roll is an assembly line. That's why it started dying when the factories started closing down.)

That leaves us with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and mmmmaybe Bo Diddley. These three were serious in their manufacture, but while Bo had the bottom end and Richard could wail, Chuck Berry took the insistence of the one and the exuberance of the other, distilled and bottled them together, and sent it down the line still fizzing like Coca-Cola. He'd have been really rich if he were white, but as it was his sound made a lot of money.

Those records -- "Maybellene," "Johnny B. Goode," "Memphis," "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man," et alia -- have everything; it makes sense that NASA sent "Johnny B. Goode" into space because, with the possible exception of "The Battle Hymn of The Republic," that's the song you could best reconstruct America from. It has the spirit, the swagger, and even patriotism, because who's Johnny B. Goode really but the rock 'n' roll John Henry? Even better, there's no admission anything will make him ever lay down his hammer -- which makes the song double American.

(It's not a serious song, but come on -- America can be grim or mean, but whoever thought it was serious? I love Lou Reed, but he was a New Yorker and thus at least half European; Chuck Berry was from St. Louis and would never have lived in a Lower East Side cold-water flat if he had a choice.)

You can't leave out his guitar, which was more many of us the blueprint: hammer-ons, double-stops, and syncopation; leave the noodley leads to wankers. It's like the blues got amnesia and a handjob -- fun, fun, fun (and for white people, money, money, money).

For me, the signature is "School Days." I could listen to it all day. It's basically about work and getting off work -- except the work is schoolwork so it isn't that serious; it's about getting by, finding a seat, playing off the teacher -- school and work, that is, as seen by an enlightened soul who doesn't care if some asshole thinks he's shiftless because he's something good in his guitar case. And the moment when school lets out -- ah, that's a benediction that anyone who wants shut of the teacher or the boss or the spouse or the world longs and loves to hear: "Close up your books, get out of your seat/Down the halls and into the street." It's crypts breaking open and souls flying to heaven, but better, because it's undraped of the maudlin religious panoply, and you can really believe it, because it happens every working day. If for nothing else we should remember him for that; in fact, maybe inventing rock 'n' roll isn't even the superior achievement.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

SELF, MEET PARODY.

You may have heard that The Leader likes his steak overpriced, overcooked, and with ketchup, and that new-breed wingnuts are showing their allegiance to Trump by praising this as a real man's way to eat steak. Matt Bors did a funny strip about this at The Nib; in one panel a guy in a MAGA hat gnaws charred ketchup steaks and tell a bemused liberal:
We are owning libs so hard with our steak eating. Hashtag #welldone. Are you crying? Do you need a safe space?
Today Matthew Continetti decided to play this character at National Review, in a column called "Freedom Is Eating Steak Well Done with Ketchup." He claims "the press has fixated on the steak and its accompaniment," and defends the President's choice of meat-ruination from "snobbish and self-congratulatory" food critics thus:
“Trump eats $50 steak with ketchup, foodies aghast,” reports SFGate.com. It is hard to read stories like these without coming to the conclusion that so much of our elite’s abhorrence of Trump is a matter of aesthetics, of his not fitting in, of his stubborn devotion to practices and ideas deemed retrograde by opinion leaders but that still appeal to, oh, about half the country. As I read these stories I want nothing more than to run to the nearest steakhouse, order the filet well done, and dunk the bites in a raft of condiments, from ketchup to Tabasco to relish to mustard. Why not? It’s still a free country. Just so long as you can find a way out of the bubble.
Later in a friend's tweet, Continetti showed his devotion to the cause:


Are you crying? Do you need a safe space?

Someone tell them the really patriotic thing to eat is rat poison.

Friday, March 17, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.




The kids are alright.

• Though Salena Zito is alicublog's favorite White Working Class Whisperer, we don't sleep on J.D. Vance, the Hillbilly Elegy guy who, though he went to Yale and became a rich investment capital executive and a National Review writer, still feels for his kinfolk back in Skunk Holler (actually, according to his official bio he "grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky" -- a WWC twofer!) and really understands why they went for Trump (which, of course, is very different from supporting Trump himself, though he never gets around to saying what the difference is). The other day Vance told his many rustic fans (at least those who read the New York Times) that he was "moving home" with the noble goal of "founding an organization to combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic." Thus he will do his bit to reverse the "brain drain" that Charles Murray worries about, and bring jobs and purpose to Rust Belt Middletown and --

Hang on -- you say he's not moving to Middletown? He's moving to Columbus? Or, as the hipsterrific ads call it, Cbus?

Columbus Monthly explains:
Though Cincinnati is closer to his hometown, Vance chose Columbus for its more convenient airport, central location and availability of promising job opportunities for his wife, Usha, a lawyer and fellow Yale Law School graduate. Speaking before an event hosted for him at Miranova by Columbus power couple Larry and Donna James, Vance, an Ohio State graduate, said he and his wife plan to move to German Village with their two dogs, Pippin and Casper.
Somehow I dount Pippin and Casper are coonhounds.


• Back in 2009, The Editors of National Review blasted the DNC for referring to obstreperous attendees of Obamacare Town Brawls as a "mob," and Democratic officials for avoiding such events:
The DNC’s ad, “Enough of the Mob,” abominates those Americans who show up to address their congressmen and to exercise their constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to petition their government for redress of grievances. You know, that old pre-hope-and-change, hopelessly retro, pre-messianic democratic stuff...

The most mockery-inviting aspect of all this is that Obamacare-supporting Democrats are now ducking constituent meetings back in their home districts, afraid to face questions from the people they are paid to represent. Given the Obama team’s contempt for these people, and its utterly dismissive attitude toward their concerns, is it any wonder “the mob” doesn’t want Obama in charge of their health care? Obamacare will constitute an injury to Americans’ well-being — and the president now adds insult to it.
Today, with the disastrous Trumpcare bill being muscled through Congress, and Republicans ducking their own Town Brawls, The Editors haven't got the nerve, so they've hauled in some poor lady from Acculturated, rightwingdom's single-A farm team. Her headline:
Stop Trolling Politicians at Town-Hall Meetings
There follow several grafs from a History of Town Halls term paper, then:
This is the new political coliseum, and while there aren’t lions, chariots, and sparring with swords, there is the aura of the melee rather than deliberative debate...

The best town halls will always be places to gather and debate, sometimes heatedly. But if this crucial democratic tradition is to survive our fractured age, we should embrace civility during town-hall meetings, and save the angry trolling for Twitter.
NR performs its duh diligence, the Acculturated lady gets a top-drawer writing credit, and no normal people ever see the column. Everybody wins!