A bit of a rambling post here, so forgive me.
First, I would invite all rock-ribbed anti-socialists to read the replies to this Twitter post. Then think about what you would tell these average Americans. Not Pelosi, not Schumer, not AOC, not the fake news liberal media or any of the other usual bugaboos. What would you tell these normal, regular people when they ask you why it must remain like this?
We all know how unhappy regular people are with our current disaster of a healthcare “system,” from liberals to ardent #MAGA conservatives. (Again, I don’t mean members of congress or cable-news hosts who don’t have to directly worry about any of this. I mean regular people.) After all, hospitals and insurance companies don’t check your voter registration before dumping massive bills on you. People are in such fear of hospital bills that they ignore their symptoms, staying away until it’s too late. Or else they ration their insulin with their exponential, totally inexcusable cost hikes.
But enough with the horror stories — does anyone actually *like* the way it is in this country?
There are two main constituencies who do, though. One are the stake-holders in large for-profit hospital chains, insurance companies, and others who directly profit off patients’ misery, as well as the Republican politicians they generously donate to.
The other are people 65 and older.
Think of a retired, Trump-loving right-winger who is on Medicare. Ask them if they’d be willing to forego their government-sponsored plan. After all, it’s the ideologically consistent thing to do. See how far you get with that conversation.
The only workable solution is Medicare for all.
I’m not a lefty or a socialist. I’m anything but one of these nutcases holding up an Assad-clone like Nicolas Maduro as a hero of the worker, believe me. But I do not see any other option that is both achievable, and also an actual improvement for regular people.
Now, for Medicare for all to work, everyone’s taxes would skyrocket, no question. But here’s what they don’t want you to know: overall, the tax hike would be substantially less than the money you get back, whether it’s in your paycheck, or the money you’re no longer paying for an ACA plan, on top of all the thousands you may stand to pay out in outrageous copays, deductibles, and those surprise hospital fees unscrupulous hospital doctors and employees do their best to conceal from you until after your discharge. No more worrying about sending your spouse and kids to financial ruin if you decide to get that mysterious lump in your breast checked out.
Or let’s say you’re an employer, a stern believer in free enterprise and paying your fair share. Just imagine if you were no longer responsible for your peoples’ health care plans. What a colossal burden off the bottom line! Also, your people would be happier and healthier without you lifting a finger — and as a boss, you must be acutely aware of the effect of morale in the workplace.
“But muh socialism,” some of your buddies you rode with to the last Trump rally admonish you. Oh, please. This from the party that wants the federal government to take over Facebook and Twitter because they were mean to Alex Jones. Who’s more socialist, Trump and his wanting every private company that displeases him to answer to the feds, or the people who just want a health care system vaguely resembling the rest of the industrialized world? I dunno about you, but if I had to choose between two systems the government should intervene with, I think I’d go with access to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies over my Twitter account.
And the thing is, M4A isn’t even socialist in the slightest! I realize that conservatives increasingly use the term “socialist” the same way they use “fake news”: to just mean something they don’t like. But socialism means government ownership, and under M4A, the government *does not take over a single hospital or clinic.* What they’re thinking of is the British NHS, which M4A is emphatically not. Instead, all medical enterprises, from solo docs to massive hospital chains, remain privately owned (assuming they already were beforehand). All that’s changed is that instead of billing a constellation of insurers as well as the patient, they bill one entity: Medicare. Which is where the term “single-payer” comes from.
The people who don’t want the system to change are the people profiting off of it. Plain and simple. And most conservatives are not executives at Cigna or at Kaiser. Most conservatives are as screwed by the system as everyone else.
M4A is not socialism. This is not the Green New Deal, this is not a $15 minimum wage, this is not electing AOC president-for-life. If anything, this is taking away a key campaign issue from the Democrats. Stop listening to Rush, Hannity and Trump who all have their personal health care needs taken care of for life. Start listening to your own friends and family. Do what’s best for you and yours. Vote for Medicare for all.
So the worst has happened. You’ve been able to avoid the biggest movie franchise in history so far. You ignored the Avengers hype, you were able to dodge the Captain America movies, you even passed on Black Panther. But now, finally, a friend or loved one has lowered the boom and is dragging you to see Avengers: Endgame over your loud and frequent protestations.
The problem is, with almost two dozen movies already lodged into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, walking into Endgame cold is like starting watching, say, Breaking Bad from the middle of season 4. You’d have no idea who these people are, where they are coming from, or whose power is punching really hard and whose power is meth. Endgame won’t just expect you to have seen Infinity War (Endgame was originally named “Infinity War Part 2”). It will draw from most or all movies from the MCU, from Iron Man 1 on.
On the other hand, you don’t want to torture yourself with 48 hours (or whatever we’re up to) worth of superhero movies, so here’s a quick how-to on getting caught up and without resorting to plot synopses from Wikipedia. These are not only the most important movies in the MCU’s world-building; they are also among its best, so don’t worry: you won’t be steered into stinkers like Thor: Dark World.
DC McAllister has long been one of the more vituperative and emotionally unstable Trump-worshipping writers of the Right, which obviously made her a perfect fit for sites like The Federalist and The Daily Wire. No matter how hateful or how completely insane her ravings, her bosses had her back because she was, in their opinion, owning the libs.
To my surprise, some lines that may not be crossed still somehow exist on the post-morality New Right. In an undoubtedly alcohol-fueled frenzy, McAllister of “You were at my wedding, Denise” infamy sailed right over one (and it’s crucial to note that insulting the wife of Federalist boss Ben Domenech was *not* over the line). I’ve decided to screencap the epic meltdown before she wakes up and, through the hangover, cold realization suddenly punches her in the gut, and she deletes her tweets / her account.
It began the day before when McAllister decided to tweet this.
Let me just say that being married to a woman like this would absolutely be hell on earth. Anyway, after spending a day being mocked online for her tweet, and her responding with her usual grace and equanimity…
…journalist Yashar Ali (who should be noted to be gay, for narrative reasons that will become clear shortly) decided to also get a dig in.
By the time Yashar tweeted, it seemed that cocktail hour had arrived at McAllister’s North Carolina home.
This tirade, and in particular the “another man’s asshole” pontification, attracted even the attention of mainstream conservatives such as S.E. Cupp. At this point, you may ask, did McAllister realize that she may have messed up? That maybe she should perhaps log off Twitter until the tequila was out of her bloodstream? Or did she decide to tweet through it? Did you even need to ask?
And finally, the hammer dropped. First Ben Shapiro and then, apparently prodded by his wife because he didn’t see a problem, even Ben Domenech let McAllister know her services were no longer required.
McAllister’s final tweet, before passing out, phone still clutched in hand, was more right than she knows. She, along with the rest of her erstwhile Federalist allies, certainly made their choice when it came to principles, morality or truth.
People often forget the power of social media. It’s too easy to think of your Twitter or Facebook account as just a latter-day LiveJournal, where you’re just shouting into the void and/or speaking only to a small, select audience. All it takes is one rant (that you no doubt feel is “justified”) to end your career. (Not that a scumbag like Domenech cares about homophobia. He does care about bad press from his fellow conservatives and his wife’s hectoring, however.) And social media apps most certainly do not breathalyze you first. Take care and, if you enjoy imbibing more than one adult beverage on the weekend, make it a rule not to use any social media apps any time you don’t trust yourself to drive, either.
Also, as terrible as things can get in the Age of Trump, at least we can appreciate the progress made in our attitude of gay and lesbian people. Twenty or even ten years ago, as libertarian writer Elizabeth Nolan Brown has noted, McAllister’s bromides would’ve barely warranted a slap on the wrist from a conservative site or magazine. Instead, even a culture-war conservative stalwart like Ben Shapiro is rightly horrified. Of course, this could all change if Trump starts listening to his vice president and declares war on every letter of “LGBT” instead of just the “T.” But until then, (cis) queer people and their allies can remain proud of the progress our society has made.
Given the recent Mattis resignation, conventional wisdom holds that the last adult — or, at least, the last senior official willing to question their president’s wisdom — has left the building. Ominously, there are reports that Mattis had a system where he would be notified if the president attempted to use his gravest power of all to initiate a nuclear attack, a protective system that is now presumably defunct. So where does that actually leave us? Is there any way he would ever actually go down that road?
Now on the one hand, it’s not like he makes nuclear threats nearly as often as Putin. Happily, it’s just not one of his obsessions the way his wall is. I can’t recall any nuclear threats since he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea long before the current best-buds relationship with dictator Kim Jong-Un. And on that note, whom would he even target, since he loves America’s enemies so much? It’s not like even he would try to nuke CNN’s headquarters, no matter what Ann Coulter tweets, right? Nuclear fears are just more fake news from biased liberals trying to whip up panic. That’s just gotta be the case.
Let’s hope it stays that way. On the other hand:
I too-briefly touched upon a peculiarly Aristotelian character trait on my subtly-named Aristotle: Wrong About Everything piece, when I really should have expended a thousand more words on this true legacy of that poisonous old Macedonian bastard. You see, almost everything Aristotle came up with was fundamentally, ridiculously, often immorally wrong, whether we’re talking about his absurd views on astronomy, anatomy, biology, or the arts — but few people in history were more assured of their own greatness and correctness than Aristotle, and that towering conviction, the utter lack of any self-doubt or reservation, no matter how half-baked the idea he was espousing, convinced succeeding Western generations for over two thousand years into making him the #1 guiding light of Western civ on the basis of gee, if that guy is that convinced he’s right, there must be really something to him.
Few men in history had the raw, animal dominance, and the resulting reception and excitement among more submissive people, of Aristotle. And this unique trait would go along way to explaining our current politics.
Now, both sides have been hammering Mitt Romney for his recent op-ed and its quite accurate assessment of our president’s moral character; but #MAGA in particular has been hammering him with a viciousness outdoing anything liberals ever came up with in 2012. One of NRO’s more Trumpified acolytes, Victor Davis Hanson, came out with his own rebuttal which, surprisingly, avoided most of the personal attacks, thereby providing some illumination as to why these guys are so enthralled by such an oafish, blundering buffoon.
VDH starts by rolling out the cliche’d but-Gorsuch and but-Hillary routines, and the what-about-that-endorsement bit, as if those had anything to do with the question of Trump’s personal character. Because the president’s ethical and moral self, which lands somewhere in the spectrum between “vile” and “pondscum,” is what we’re talking about, not the damn judges. Neither Mitt nor conservative stalwarts with impeccable lib-owning street cred like Jonah Goldberg, David French, Alexandra DeSanctis, Amanda Carpenter or Kevin Williamson have one cross word to say about Gorsuch or Kavanaugh. As I sonorously repeat over and over, it’s all about his moral character. And as VDH’s colleague Goldberg notes, the fact that our president makes your average mob boss look like a model citizen most likely spells disaster for his presidency — and the country. In real-life, practical ways — because, as conservatives used to believe until two years ago, character is destiny. For instance, the brewing recession stupidly triggered by his clumsy trade wars were only possible from someone too profoundly ignorant of economics and too convinced of his own half-assed opinions, someone who is only enraged when a subordinate offers disagreement.
And recessions don’t care who you voted for when the layoffs start hitting your firm.
But VDH really gives the game away here:
And given that Trump was a known quantity (and known often to be abrasive) for decades, why would Romney have sought out and accepted his endorsement in 2012 for his own presidential run? The obvious answers are that in a world of political pragmatism, all candidates are foolish to turn down endorsements from celebrities and sitting presidents. But is not the bar higher for ethicists who argue that traditional definitions of character adjudicate successful or unsuccessful governance? (emphasis mine)
There you have it. A different set of standards applies to you, me, and Mitt than they do to Trump. The bar is higher, the penalties harsher for us plebes, as opposed to, and forgive me for bringing in another philosopher, a beautiful Nietzschen Übermenschen like Donald Trump (try not to laugh).
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Trumpkin declare this so baldly, but that has been the bedrock of their arguments, such as they are, since Trump descended on his escalator. It’s the basis of the Fifth Avenue rule, and they would never attempt the same outrageous defense with anyone named Bush or Cruz. VDH and his peers truly believe the laws and morals that govern regular people should not and do not apply to Donald Trump, as he is history’s true greatest genius, its towering figure from whose shining brow all the gifts of Western Civilization arise.
All that, of course, we already knew. But the big question remains: why?
Why do people believe this, especially over someone as laughably incompetent, dull-witted, uncreative and amoral as our president, who ol’ Friedrich would have had a good chuckle over? Perhaps VDH’s “Trump is above your petty laws and codes” stance gives us a clue.
I believe the answer is how Trump’s magnetism has the same ferrous core as Aristotle’s, that absolute, unshakable faith in his own genius, one that somehow becomes stronger the wronger he is — and drawing in everyone around that narcissist, especially those of weak and/or submissive temperament like VDH’s confederate, Rich Lowry. (It also naturally attracts the perpetually-furious subsection of #MAGA including the likes of Kurt Schlichter, Dan “Roid Rage” Bongino, and John Nolte, guys who see Trump as a useful battering ram against civilized society and who’ve always thought Jesus and his Golden Rule were for cucks, anyway.)
Not everyone is drawn in — those of solid moral backing are left confused and wondering what just happened with their former friends. But that doesn’t change the fact that Trump has totally dominated his own party to an extent unprecedented with either party since WWII, to the point where the GOP chairwoman denounced Mitt Romney, her own uncle — and it isn’t from the president ever being right about much of anything. It isn’t from his spectacular failures as a businessman, one who couldn’t even succeed at running a casino during Atlantic City’s boom years. It isn’t from any kind of genius policy proposal. His only success came from convincing others he was some kind of business virtuoso (i.e. the basis his old reality show), despite his track record proving otherwise. And his political success came from convincing the same kind of rubes and suckers that, in his words, “I alone can fix” the nation’s troubles.
The problem is that, despite what conservative moral relativists like VDH and Roger Kimball believe, not only can the president be wrong in an absolute sense, but that wrongness can and will have deleterious real-world consequences, just as Aristotle was more responsible for the European Dark Ages than any single other person in history. Besides the recession, we have a world looking down on America as a kind of joke, the insulting of allies (or outright betrayal, with the Kurds), the emboldening of the world’s worst dictators, ever-more-division between American citizens to the delight of both Trump and Putin, and a Republican Party that has formally renounced character and family values.
That last isn’t an exaggeration. “Railing about character hurts the president, and Republicans know that,” wrote Henry Olsen in another op-ed, getting straight to the point. Caring about morals hurts the Great Leader; therefore, we should not care. This has always been a tenet of the New Right, along with there being a different set of rules for their ochre overlord; they’re just getting more brazen in admitting it.
Would any of that have happened under Jeb! or Little Marco?
There have been other world leaders with the same Aristotelian core, and with the same resulting cadre of awe-struck submissives serving as yes-men, as our dear leader. Napoleon comes to mind, although he at least also had some real-world military genius to carry him through. That said: how did his story end for France and for himself? How many were left dead by the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution instituted by Mao, a man completely immune to the self-crticism he demanded of his subjects? And I hate to go there, but: how did a certain mid-century leader’s unassailable conviction of his own genius end for Germany, especially compared to his counterpart Stalin, who by contrast was at least aware of his own lack of genius in military strategy and who was therefore able to delegate effectively?
Our president may be many things, but he is neither new or unique, and neither is the almost erotic submission of men like VDH, Lowry, Lindsey Graham, and Rand Paul to their self-declared alpha, the latter two engaged in a chronic, catty, and repulsive one-upmanship with each other to be the dominant’s favored submissive of the moment.
One core tenet that conservatives used to believe in is the immutability of human nature, across the world and across time — and though the Right is abandoning this along with every other principle, it has never been more true than now. The vulnerability to dominance by the alpha male is the same as it was two thousand years ago, as is the completely dominant personality eager to exploit this. It may be fascinating that our current-day president has relearned the same nefarious lessons discovered by Aristotle so long ago, but it is also disheartening that it still works so well. Few things Aristotle ever uttered endured as truth, but the man himself is evidence of a hard truth of human nature. Our institutions were carefully constructed to protect against this, among other human frailties — which is precisely why the Alinskyite New Right aims to tear our institutions down.
It’s common and lazy journalism to mistake the hurlyburly of Twitter as anything more meaningful than the equivalent of bathroom-wall scrawlings, so I’ve been hesitant to read too much into this for a while…
…but it’s clear that a discontent among right-wingers against a POTUS who, quite obviously, sold them a bill of goods is growing. And by this I mean deep-red, hardened, Neanderthal arch-conservatives. We’re not talking ex-conservatives like Max Boot, or moderate #NeverTrumpers like Tom Nichols. We’re also not talking about mercenaries at FoxNews or the Federalist who are purely in the #MAGA business for the money. This is the praise-the-Lord-and-pass-the-ammunition kernel of the president’s base, and it’s increasingly easy to say: he’s losing them.
To reiterate: These are not RINO squishes selling out to the liberal media. These are among the most hardcore wingers among us today, as the appearance of Ann Coulter should suggest. They do not back down one iota on their stances on the 2nd Amendment or the Wall. All were vocal and loyal Trumpistas before the election, and all are as dedicated to owning the libs as your average Breitbart editor. Their anger toward Clintons and Obamas is unequaled by anyone employed by the Daily Wire or Daily Caller.
But the key is: None of these people enjoy cushy, coastal-media sinecures. They are not buffered from the passion of the right-wing base the way elite, well-compensated pundits are. They don’t have studios on Sixth Avenue. They don’t have social-media assistants who filter out all the negative tweets before they begin another lazy rehash of an hour-long show they already did in early 2017 or before collecting another easy paycheck from a foreign owner who couldn’t give a shit what Americans think about their president.
Politically, I may disagree quite strongly with, say, Shannon Joy on most issues. But I do not believe for one second she doesn’t say what she means, unlike craven sellouts like Rich Lowry or Mollie Hemingway who are directly paid by billionaires. The billionaires couldn’t care less about a wall or about guns, so neither do the NYC, LA, and DC-based conservative media elite. Joy, Deace, and Horowitz, on the other hand, live or die by their fans in flyover country. They literally cannot afford to ignore their listeners or viewers. Their livelihoods depend on it.
And they’re increasingly saying that Donald Trump has sold them a bill of goods.
To which I say, of course he did. Googling “Trump Roy Cohn cufflinks” should tell them all they needed to know about the moral character of our president. Oh sure, yeah, I’m just a NYC coastal elite myself, so my saying this is irrelevant.
But the right-wing base saying this? The bedrock of the party wising up to the president? Oh, that is relevant. One could say, that will be quite relevant in 2020.
I generally don’t blog or even tweet about climate change for the same reason why I don’t blog about gamma-ray bursts.
For at least a couple of decades, establishment media outlets and climate researchers run their climate-change articles specifically with the agenda to push the ruling class to make changes. The hook of nearly all pieces on climate change running in mass media is the reporter waving their arms and yelling, “Somebody, do something!” From a random assortment from the last 24 hours alone, we have: “How limiting greenhouse gases would substantially benefit the US economy” (The Guardian); “…but Chinowsky said there is a real opportunity to start the conversation, for state leaders and agencies to enact change…” (a Denver ABC affiliate); “Wake up, Australia.” (news.com.au).
They even tipped their hand to this intentional massaging of climate articles after NY Mag ran a piece last year that didn’t hew to the usual cliches, drawing tut-tutting from some of the usual names. Don’t stray off the reservation, they said. Stay laser-focused on influencing people to change, to cut carbon emissions, to beat climate change.
Which is, and always has been, quite hilarious.
Revisiting this post from two NFL seasons ago:
“There are too few dominant teams, too few absolutely hopeless teams, and too many in the mushy, Tennessee Titans middle. Way, way too many…. By what I mean by “too much parity” is this. Fans in sports accept, even expect, the presence of a certain number dynasty teams on one hand, and perennial loser squads on the other.”
Happily, this trend has reversed itself, and the league is enjoying the resulting rebound in ratings. Two years ago, I argued that if Tom Brady had been suspended for the whole year over deflategate, there would not have been a single top-tier team in the league. Now, tier 1 cozily welcomes the Rams, Chiefs, and, as usual, the Patriots (out of a six-tier system). Tier 2 is also well-stocked with the Saints, Vikings, and Chargers(!) reporting for the “playoff contender” slot.
And just as importantly for the strength of the sport, the cellar is also populated. Perennial losers are almost as important to any sports league as the dynasties — partly for the bingo free spot on other teams’ schedules, partly because one of the most reliable sports stories is on the long-suffering fans of such organizations, but mostly because they provide a foil to the average teams and their bases. “Well, at least we’re not the Padres;” that sort of thing. Dynasties could not exist without anti-dynasties to balance them out.
And on that note, 2018 enjoys a bottom-tier populated by the Cardinals, Raiders, Giants, Niners, Bills, and Raiders. That’s six absolutely hopeless squads that cannot even be charitably described as “rebuilding,” out of 32. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more shit-soup teams in a single season, and the boost they provide to the morale of the other 26 is hard to exaggerate. I haven’t seen any pieces on how laugher teams are almost as important to any given league as the champs, but it’s true.
Add in the six tier 1+2 squads, and we’re left with only 20 teams this year in the muddled mediocre middle defined, as always, by the Tennessee Titans.
Because too many Tennessee Titan squads are a cancer on any sports league. The more .500-average teams, the worse the league suffers. This is sports. Fans rightly expect winners and they expect losers, not a grey morass of adequacy. Stories last year were written about the Patriots and also the Browns, but not the fucking Titans. People tune in to a sports league because, at the end of the day, it’s a TV or streaming series with winners and losers, heroes and villains, same as any superhero movie franchise. They don’t tune in for the point-of-view of just some random guy.
It’s not even midseason yet, and already, twelve NFL teams have carved out their narratives for the year — for better or worse, and it almost doesn’t matter which. That right there is why ratings are up.