Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, March 10, 2017

Responsibility Is For The Poors

Paul Ryan fixing Obamacare.

Let's talk about responsibility.

When you break something, you have a responsibility to fix it. When you do your damnedest to eradicate the health care of millions of people, you damn well better have something better to replace it. Unless your aim is to cause great suffering, which it well might be in this case, it's not enough to say that Obamacare is terrible and will destroy the healthcare system so it has to go. You must replace it with your oh-so-much-smarter and better new system.

When you don't, all your complaints about the new system don't mean anything. You wanted the system broken. You demanded its failure. You fought tooth-and-nail to kill it. You don't get to just walk away from that and shrug your shoulders and go back to your well-paid career rat-fucking the poor. You are responsible for your actions.

And make no mistake: McArdle doesn't care about the people who need insurance. She doesn't want the Republicans' greed and incompetence to ruin Republican political success.

My husband is, of course, completely right that it’s not clear what other problems this solves. It will not, for example, make the looming possibility of a "death spiral" in the individual market any less possible, and indeed may make it more likely. Passing this bill would certainly ensure that Republicans will 100 percent own any ensuing death spiral, and will have little luck whining that it was gonna death spiral anyway, because Obamacare. In other words, even if we leave aside any policy effects, this bill will be a disaster for the long-term political fortunes of the Republican Party.
It doesn't hurt that the Koch shops are against the Republicans' methods of killing Obamacare. They want it fully repealed.

 Heritage Action, Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity -- three of the biggest groups that Republicans will need to help them whip their right flank into voting for this thing -- have all come out hard against it. Avik Roy and Michael Cannon, two of the leading opponents of Obamacare in the policy community, have both panned it. You’re not exactly seeing enthusiastic cheers from the journalists who opposed Affordable Care Act, of which I am one. See? This is me, emphatically not cheering. If such a thing is possible, I am actively failing to cheer.

If McArdle is waiting to be praised and petted for not liking the results of her own labor, she is going to wait a very long time.

McArdle gives the reasons why she is against the Republicans' plans, which are mixed in with her usual lies and deceit about Obamacare and too tedious to discuss. Then she tells us that she simply can't understand why Republicans decided to pull down Obamacare without having a replacement.

I don’t understand what Republicans are trying to do with this bill. What do  they think will happen after they proudly proclaim that they’ve repealed Obamacare—followed in short order by the complete implosion of the individual market? Do they really imagine that they will be allowed to leave the rubble-filled lot there and proclaim that they’ve undone President Obama’s mistake? Or that, having watched them destroy the individual market, voters will be eager to let Republicans touch any of the other structures cluttering up America’s health-care policy landscape?

She should have thought of that when she was predicting that Obamacare would destroy health care and must be stopped immediately. She watched Republicans do nothing viable to replace Obamacare with a functioning market yet for seven years yet she yelped constantly to kill it. Now she shakes her head and fumes that her political party will be hurt by their and her actions.

If Republicans cannot get up the will to bear those costs, then they should do nothing, and start preparing their rebuilding strategy while they wait for the flaws in Obamacare’s structure to bring down the individual market on its own. Neither strategy is painless, because the ossified mistakes of earlier policy making have taken all the cheap and attractive options off the table. But either is better -- for America, and for the Republican Party -- than setting new mistakes in stone.
After  eight (or more?) years of Republicans rat-fucking Obamacare,  McArdle became convinced that it was damaged enough to die on its own and she is not best pleased that her ego or career might be dinged by a loss of Republican power. The sick, dead and suffering are beside the point.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Megan McArdle Experience: "A Lie Is Not A Lie" Is Not A Lie

Justice is blind, not stupid.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that if you want Paul Ryan to kill Obamacare, you have to defend the Trump Administration. When Trump falls, all hope of taking health insurance away from sick kids also falls. Therefore, Megan McArdle managed to drag herself to the keyboard to support racist AG (for now) Jeff Sessions. Let's take a look at McArdle's propaganda, just for lols.

McArdle begins by attempting to minimize the unbelievable parade of scandals, mistakes, and rat-fucking that is the new Republican Administration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the center of Washington’s scandal-du-jour.
Minimize the scandals as a daily occurrence, and therefore unimportant. (Please note that there was no scandal-du-jour during the Obama administration.)
The allegation: Sessions lied to Congress about contacts with Russia, which feeds into worries that the Trump campaign was somehow in bed with Vladimir Putin, and may even have had something to do with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
At issue are two meetings that Sessions had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak while the campaign was going on -- and while Sessions was a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sessions says that he routinely met with ambassadors from many nations as part of his Senate duties, and that nothing happened. Democrats say that it’s suspicious -- and that the fact that he lied to Congress about them makes those meetings more suspicious still.
Democrats asked Sessions if he met with Russians during the campaign. Sessions said no. He lied. It is very clear.
After perusing these alleged “lies,” I don’t think Democrats have the slam-dunk case that many on social media were claiming this morning.
Oooh, not only are they alleged lies, they're so-called lies. And the fact that Sessions was caught re-handed lying to Congress isn't a slam-dunk case that Sessions lied.
Mostly, the “lies” seem to come down to the difference between written and oral language.
And this is where I started laughing. McArdle is not all tedious propaganda and liberal insults. She is also quite the comedian. Of course her "reasoning" is nonsense, but so is her "intellect" and "morals."
To see what I mean, consider the substance of these two alleged falsehoods. The first came during Sessions's [sic] confirmation hearing, when he had the following exchange with Senator Al Franken:
FRANKEN: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week, that included information that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” These documents also allegedly say “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” Again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so, you know. But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.  
FRANKEN: Very well.
The second was a written response to a letter from Senator Patrick Leahy:
LEAHY: Several of the President-Elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?
Now, I don’t know whether Sessions has been in contact with Russian officials or not about the election; neither the senator nor Kislyak have chosen to confide this information to me.
Note the attempt to add to the confusion by adding the words "about the election." Sessions was asked if he met with the Russian. He said no. He lied.

It's hard for me to remember that McArdle is a "journalist," not a propagandist, and evidently it's hard for McArdle to remember this as well. Let's find out if Sessions did indeed meet with a Russian official or not. Maybe some "newspaper" has "reported" on it.

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.
Good god! It was possible to find out if Sessions met with the Russian ambassador! We know he lied about it because we saw the testimony just now in McArdle's quote. Case solved! It's Miller Time!

But let’s assume for the nonce that he wasn’t. 
I'm sorry, what?
 But let’s assume for the nonce that he wasn’t. 
Are you shitting me?
But let’s assume for the nonce that he wasn’t.  
Why the hell would I do that? Except to write a half-ass post off the top of my head that attempts to make my party look like anything but the World Of Fail that they are.
Was his response to Patrick Leahy’s letter reasonable? Eminently. It is reasonable even if, in the course of a meeting on some other topic, the ambassador idly asked how the campaign was going.
And we're off to the races, if by races you meant inept propaganda, and I do. McArdle follows with a bunch of irrelevant bullshit which I will present in full because she accuses you of lying if you don't quote her.
Sessions was an early Trump surrogate, and it would have been unsurprising for the ambassador to ask about the race in passing; if Sessions then replied with campaign boilerplate little different from what he was saying in public, that is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a meaningful contact with a foreign power. Anyone at the Kremlin could have gotten the same information by turning on CNN.
But what about the exchange with Franken? This was what really seemed to seize the imaginations of Twitter this morning, where cries of “perjury” were flying left and right. Well, OK, mostly left, actually. I don’t think, however, that those charges are going to stick.
Which is why Sessions recused himself, no doubt. Because the "allegations" didn't "stick."
Franken offered a lengthy preamble suggesting that the Trump campaign had been exchanging information with the Russians, then asked him what he’d do if there was information that someone in the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russians. In the time-honored tradition of congressional hearings, Sessions said he hadn’t had any such communications, had no knowledge of such communications, and therefore wouldn’t speculate about the hypothetical.
If you read the latter part of this exchange extremely strictly, chopping off the preamble, then you can argue that Sessions was technically untruthful.
The triumphant return of "technically true but collectively nonsense"!
The problem is that this is not how verbal communication works. The left is attempting to hold the attorney general to a standard of precision that is appropriate for written communication, where we can reflect on preceding context and choose exactly the right word.
Sessions was under oath. Those are the standards he is being held to. Fortunately for McArdle, her readers are mostly not very bright and will accept any excuse, because this latest attempt at "reasoning" is unbelievably lame.
Oral language is much looser, because it’s real time.
Real time means that we don’t have 20 minutes to puzzle over the exact phrasing that will best communicate our meaning.
Sessions was being approved for the head of the justice department. Lawyers and judges are ruled by exact words and phrases. And "no" is actually extremely clear.
(For example: Reading this column aloud will take you perhaps five minutes. It took me nearly that many hours to write.) 
This may seem like an odd aside to you. It's not.

What took 5 hours? Her refusal to do any research, even to read the facts? Her reason-free reasoning? Her stream-of-consciousness rationalizations?

On the other hand, our audience is right there, and can ask for clarification if they are confused.
Demanding extreme clarity from an oral exchange is unreasonable.
Why do we even bother with trials if people are incapable of answering questions under oath? Silly liberals.

No doubt when P. Suderman, boy Reason dogsbody, proposed to her she refused to accept unless he submitted it in writing.
Moreover, everyone understands that this is unreasonable -- except, possibly, for the chattering classes, who spend their lives so thoroughly marinated in the written word that they come to think that the two spheres are supposed to be identical. Most ordinary people understand very well that there’s a big difference between talking and writing (which is why most people, even those who are dazzling in conversation, have a hard time producing fluid and lively prose).
So much bullshit.
That’s not to say that it’s wrong to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. Investigate away! If the Trump campaign knew about, or colluded with, the hack on the DNC, then Trump should be impeached. But at the moment, we have no evidence that Sessions committed a crime, much less attempted to cover it up. The court of public opinion is probably going to require somewhat better facts to convict.
 So much dishonesty.

There's a footnote:
One reason that we writers spend so much time thinking about precise wording, and larding our prose with extra paragraphs meant to clarify exactly what we’re talking about, is that language is rife with ambiguity. This is why, at one time, Annapolis cadets were required to take a class in which they would write orders, and their fellow cadets would tear them apart looking for ways that a simple order could be misunderstood. It’s also one reason so many people get into so much trouble on Twitter: they write like they talk, but stripped of cues like context and facial expression, what they say is very easily taken the wrong way.
This passage might seem odd too. Again, it's not. McArdle and I tussled on Twitter, and that'll be the content of my next post.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fractured Fairy Tales: Ross Douthat And The Seventh Divorce From Reality

Bless me, Father Teddy, for I have sinned....

Ross Douthat is curled up in bed, sucking his thumb and casting his mind to his happy place. It's much better than the real one.

Once upon a time, Ross tells himself, Candidate Trump promised to think real hard about jobs, giving the common clay much pleasure and winning their votes. He was faking, as the Carrier non-deal shows, but the thought was nice. However, despite their benevolent thoughts,  the Trump Administration immediately began losing hugely. But fear not!-the Republicans' historic fuck-up makes them just like liberals.
As a result, right now his presidency is in danger of being very swiftly Carterized — ending up so unpopular, ineffectual and fractious that even with Congress controlled by its own party, it can’t get anything of substance done. The war with liberals and the media may keep his base loyal and his approval ratings from bottoming out. But it does nothing to drive any kind of agenda, or pressure Congress to enact one. And the more the Trump White House remains mired in its own melodramas, the more plausible it becomes that the Trump-era House and Senate set a record for risk avoidance and legislative inactivity.
Republicans spent the last eight years calling and fighting for, and achieving, avoidance and inactivity. They were spectacularly successful at being unsuccessful at governance.
Obviously, the absence of agenda-setting starts with the compulsively tweeting president. But the role of Bannon in these first few chaotic weeks also distills the White House’s problem.
One agenda was enacted, to world-wide fury and alarm. Theocratic Ross ignores Trump's Muslim ban because he believes in white Christian supremacy and because it's as embarrassing as hell.
The former Breitbart impresario has a clearer-than-your-average-Republican grasp of the political promise of Trumpism — the power of a right-leaning populism to speak to voters weary of cultural liberalism and libertarian economics.
Republicans are noticeably absent from the finger-pointing, as Ross both punches a few hippies and throws his libertarian buddies under the bus.
But instead of spearheading a domestic agenda oriented around these insights, instead of demanding (or making sure his boss demands) an infrastructure bill and a working-class tax cut from Congress the day before yesterday, Bannon has seemingly set out to consolidate power over national security policy — an arena where his ideas are undercooked and his lack of expertise is conspicuous.
Republicans have always wanted to starve the government into dysfunction, privatize the now-crippled agencies and services, and cut taxes for the rich. None of that has changed. The right is panicking because they thought they could avoid any repercussions for their actions and Trump destroyed their plausible deniability.
In effect, Bannon is trying to be both Dick Cheney and Karl Rove — the Darth Vader of counterterrorism and the architect of a domestic realignment, except with less experience, subtlety and political support than either.
This is not going to work. (In the end, it didn’t work out that well for Cheney and Rove, either.) Liberals can scare themselves about Bannon’s supposed plan for a slow-motion coup and Trumpistas can tell themselves that “disruption” is just what the ossified establishment needs. But a White House run this way will be politically impotent long before it reaches its first midterm.
Republicans are getting everything they wanted. More military, less foreign aid, entitlements cut and eliminated, minority rights eliminated or under fire, deportations and internal terror campaigns against those who are not white male Christians.
Is a different scenario possible?
No. You fought for it and won. This is your reward.
Of course, because the president still has free will. (We can talk about total depravity later, Calvinists.) He has, to his credit, assembled a reasonably competent cabinet.
Ben "Back up or I'll gut you, Mom" Carson.
Betsy "Wetsy" DeVos
Michael "Dasvidaniya" Flynn
He campaigned, again to his credit, on a reasonably popular policy agenda.
Racism, sexism, fascism, and jobs.
He faces no immediate foreign policy or economic crises, no threat that requires him to act sweepingly and instantly.
Just wait.
So there is no necessary reason he could not wake up tomorrow and decide to show a broad deference to Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis on foreign policy, while letting Jeff Sessions and John Kelly between them hash out an immigration enforcement agenda.
So if Sock Puppet Trump on Ross's left hand can work with Sock Puppets Tillerson and Mattis on his right hand, surely dreams can come true and peace and plenty will shower the land.
There will be time to reshape the world order if his approval ratings ever edge back over 45 percent; for now, he could shelve plans for big-league disruptions and Nixon-to-China strokes of genius and simply take crises as they come.
Yes, Ross wants to let Trump reshape the world order, a phrase that has no negative connotations whatsoever.
Which in turn would free him — and, yes, Steve Bannon, too — to pick a few policy themes and hammer them.
Let's not forget Bannon's priorities; one must be generous to the help. Cleansing the US of non-whites and non-Christians isn't done in a day, you know. And we all know that there's no chance of Ross ever being cool until the women, minorities, and non-Christians are all put in their place.

(Joking! He still won't be cool.)
And not the hardest policies, either: Let Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell figure out how to get an Obamacare replacement through Congress and tell Tom Price to prop the system up if they can’t. From the White House, the message should be simple, boring, popular.
The popularity of repeal and don't replace must explain all of those noisy town halls calling for the careers of anti-ACA Congressmen. And it's nice to see that Ross feels comfortable being so cavalier with my family's healthcare. We wouldn't want the wealthy to worry their little heads about the other 90% of us.
We want a big infrastructure bill. A middle-class tax cut. Corporate tax reform.
Infrastructure. Tax cuts for workers and parents. A better tax code for business.
Liar. He want tax cuts for himself and a cut of any privatized business.
Not a war with the judiciary. Tax cuts.  
Not CNN or Nordstrom’s perfidy. Jobs. Not Bannon’s theories about Islam or the crisis of the West. (And you know I like theories about the crisis of the West!) Bridges and roads and tunnels.
This isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s kind of easy.
Liar. He loves culture war crap because it gives him a chance to scold the girls who turned him down (not that he wanted them anyway) and the boys who turned him down (to the right clubs, get your mind out of the gutter).
Which is good advice for anyone in crisis, new presidents included. If you can’t figure out how to handle the hardest stuff, try something simple for a while.
Quitting is simple. Ask Sarah Palin.

So endeth another insincere missive from Ross Douthat, another flight into fantasy-land, in which conservatives are cool and good at their jobs and liberals are invisible unless they are creating art, developing science, and cleaning up after conservative failures.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love And Money: Marriage The McArdle Way

It's Valentine's Day and Megan McArdle's thoughts naturally turn to love, which means money. Join me as I mock the woman whose rat-fucking is screwing with my life. Remember, as we rummage through the crystal ball of her head, that McArdle's interests, experiences, and speculations begin and end with herself.
This Valentine’s Day, if you’re in a long-term relationship, resolve to do something really romantic: talk about money.
Megan McArdle, M.A., MBA, FU, ignores the fact that outside of the top 10% or so, most couples discuss money every time they go out. Can we afford to go out, where can we afford to go out, what can we afford to eat or drink, what about a babysitter, is there gas in the car, and so on.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that my husband spontaneously proposed in the middle of a household budget meeting. You may therefore conclude that the McSuderman household has somewhat … unusual … ideas about what constitutes romance.
So what you're saying is that P. Suderman saw your income, bank balance, expenses, and assets and proposed on the spot.
But what’s more romantic than “until death do us part”? And substantial research shows that fights about money are one of the most common stressors on couples, and a very good predictor of divorce. One recent study found that it’s not having money troubles that send couples to divorce court, but the inability to agree on what to do about them.
Then that study ignores the stress of poverty and is useless, which is why McArdle later points out that lack of money creates stress.
In a consumer society such as ours, money is fundamental.
Yes. Yes, that's very true. We are in a "consumer society." Money is fundamental to consumerism. McArdle has a fine grasp of the obvious. It's not "Consumerism, according to Webster's Dictionary, is-" but it's very close.
Our purchases aren’t just about stuff we’d like to have; they’re about signaling who we are, to ourselves and other people. Money is one of the most important ways we shape choices about our lives. Naturally, when someone else gets involved in those choices, there’s going to be conflict.
Not so fast, missy. If your sense of yourself depends on the amount of money you have, you are very confused about both money and identity. When people base their identity on their wealth, they must convince themselves that wealth confers an abundance of positive characteristics on them, even when this is obviously untrue. If your self-esteem depends on your wealth, you are really in trouble. Such people could become greedy beyond words, because adults with no self-esteem almost never are satisfied. Nothing material can feel such a void, although not for lack of trying.

Which brings us back to Megan McArdle.
Those conflicts are obviously made easier when you have more money. There’s margin for error and disagreement without catastrophe or stress. But as financial advisers can attest, a dedicated spender can easily find ways to run through 20 percent more than he or she earns, regardless of how much that is. That spending isn’t necessarily on flat-panel televisions and speedboats; it may be on a house in a good school district. But no matter where the money goes, if you strap two spenders together, they’re both apt to end up in financial disaster. And if you strap one of those spenders to a saver, you end up with years’ worth of fiery arguments.
I think we can conclude that P. Suderman, spender, is strapped to M. McArdle, saver. Forever.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that that budget meeting has been the foundation of my marriage in more ways than one.
I believe you. 100%.
We do not agree on all money matters. There is considerable divergence in household views, for example, on the relative merits of high-end stereo equipment and expensive kitchen appliances.
I'm not a expert on technological matters but I think "guys spending money on expensive stereos" is passé, although it probably sounds a lot better in her head than "guys spending a lot of money on video cards, speakers, microphones, games, virtual reality equipment, and combustible 'snacks.'"
But we did agree that we had to agree on how the money would be spent. And having already had those discussions, through some hard times (Peter was laid off a few weeks after we moved in together) we knew even before we tied the knot that we could come to such agreement.
Two libertarians, self-selected for selfishness and mistrust, with the tendency to see those with less wealth as looters and moochers. They can exist both in perfect agreement and inevitable conflict.
Too many courting couples have a delicate reluctance to get down into the nitty-gritty of how they’re going to arrange their money: how much to pool, and how to spend those collective funds. Like a Victorian bride picturing her wedding night, they have only the vaguest notion of what is supposed to happen, but they imagine that money matters will sort themselves out easily as they drift along on a cloud of ecstatic love.
To make her unnecessary advice seem more urgent, McArdle invents a narrative of virginal, naïve Mid-Century teenage spouses, shyly opening their purse and wallet to each other for the first time.
What they often get instead is glorious fights when one party wants to put aside 15 percent of their salary for retirement and another 5 percent for emergencies, while the other wants to live for the day and let the future take care of itself.
My sympathies are naturally with the careful saver. But we’re not talking about retirement planning today; we’re talking about love. And if you want that love to last, what you do with the money is less important than being on the same page about it.
And that page says that they'll save for a rainy day and pay off the mortgage early and put away a lot away for retirement, when the spender is far too old to enjoy it.
Which means that if you’re considering marriage (or a functionally equivalent long-term partnership), you should have that conversation as soon as possible.
That conversation should include near-term budgeting. But it also needs to lay out the long-term goals that you both want, whatever they are: a big wedding, nicer cars, education for the kids, travel, a cushy retirement. You need to try setting a plan.
And since the saver has more money than the spender and has already drawn up the budget and spreadsheets and has the MBA while the spender has a kick-ass stereo and an English degree with a concentration in movie reviews, the saver usually gets her way.
And then you need to see if your partner can keep to it, or if they do as so many people end up doing when these plans are attempted: sheepishly confessing that they stopped trying to keep to the budget four days into the month, making secret purchases, blowing through the money that was supposed to go into the car fund on a spontaneous night out with the boys.
Oh, P. Suderman. You shouldn't have. That must have been a very awkward budget meeting after your The Hangover weekend.
Someone who repeatedly cheats on you with money can reform, to be sure -- but you should see strong signs of that reformation before you tie the knot, rather than hoping that marriage will somehow change them into someone they haven’t been.
He learned to be a good boy.
And what if you’ve already married that special darling who can’t seem to stick to a financial plan? What if you’re already having those fights?
Well, that’s an even better time to have that conversation. If you’re already fighting constantly about money, you need to stop blowing up over individual purchases and crises, and start hammering out a long-term plan that both of you can live with. The more distance there is between you two in how to handle money, the more detailed that planning needs to be, because you can’t rely on inertia to do any of the work for you. It is not the naturally thrifty who need a microscopically attentive monthly budget; it is those who look up at the end of the month and wonder where all the money went.
"How much do you need for coffee?
"I don't know, $6 a day?"
"Can you get by on $5 a day? Now let's talk about your cab fare."

It might not seem like the most idyllic way to spend your Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, it might ensure that you have plenty of happy Valentine’s Days to come.
And if not, DC is a not a community property "state." McArdle wins either way.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Pointing And Laughing At Megan McArdle

As we all know, there is nothing I can do to stop well-paid propaganda. Megan McArdle will continue to earn a small fortune by rat-fucking her country to screw the looter and moochers and get lower taxes. But I can do one thing.

Laugh my ass off.

As much as I would enjoy taking credit for the cocktail party meme, McArdle's readers, many of whom are Trump supporters, are perfectly eager to call her an effete liberal snob without any help from me. She is on the east coast, went to an Ivy League school, and is in the media, therefore she is assumed to be a liberal cocktail chatterer.

Maybe the constant criticism over her anti-Trump views is getting on her nerves. Maybe her hit count is going down as Trumpers gain ascendancy and #NeverTrumpers lose it. Maybe she's just a liiiiitle less useful to her backers as she once was. She was hired to be honey for the wingnut bees, and the bees are beginning to give their Queen the stink-eyes.

McArdle has about half a dozen posts that she recycles endlessly in her blog, radio and tv appearances, her book, and speeches. As her commenters have noticed in the past.

At this point the fun tirade ends, but I want to add one comment from a reader to demonstrate the kind of person she is attracting and chooses not to reprimand. I have a feeling we are going to hear this kind of argument again.

I don't think Bannon will stop with Muslims. I don't think any of the Trumpers will either.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

McArdle Knows Best

Megan McArdle has written multiple posts saying the Democrats should quit fighting and give up because they'll never win. Like the poisonous witch in Tangled, she attempts to undermine liberals to exploit them for her own gain while telling them that it's for their own good. She is so very concerned about their well-doing, you see, and wants to help them because Mother Knows Best.

Mother McArdle:  
You want to go outside? Why, liberals...!  
Look at you, as fragile as a flower  
Still a little sapling, just a sprout  
You should stay up in your ivory tower

Liberals: I know but-

Mother McArdle:  
That's right, to keep you safe and sound, dear  
You were so sure this day was coming  
Knew that soon you'd lord over all the rest  
Soon, but not yet

Liberals: But--

Mother McArdle:  
Shh! Trust me, pet  
Mother knows best  
Mother knows best  
Listen to your mother 
It's a scary world out there  
Mother knows best  
One way or another  
Something will go wrong, I swear  
Escalation, blowback  
From vituperation  
And Trump

Liberals: No!

Mother McArdle: Yes!

Liberals: But--

Mother McArdle:  
Also many  
White Working Class Men, and  
Stop, no more, you'll just upset me  
Mother's right here  
Mother will protect you  
Darling, here's what I suggest  
Snub the commie  
Stay with Mommy  
Mama knows best

Mother knows best  
Take it from your mumsy  
On your own, you won't survive  
Knee-jerk peaceniks,  
Elite mandarins,  
Please, they'll eat you up alive  
Half-baked ideas,  
Positively Marxist  
And a bit, well, hmm fascist 
Plus, I believe  
Gettin' kinda slutty  
I'm just saying 'cause I wuv you  
Mother understands  
Mother's here to help you  
All I have is one request, liberals?

Liberals: Yes?

Mother McArdle: Don't ever ask to win an election again.

Liberals: Yes, Mother McArdle.

Mother McArdle: I love you very much, dear.

Liberals: I love you more.

Mother McArdle:  
I love you most  
Don't forget it  
You'll regret it  
Mother knows best

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Normalizing Trump The Douthat Way

A long time ago our favorite pundits chose a side and sold themselves to the 1%. Since then they have steadily and publicly debased and humiliated themselves in the name of passing on their masters' propaganda. These pundits demonstrated that they hoped to keep on grifting the public under Trump. They could bide their time, pin every disaster on liberals or Trump, and benefit from the tax windfall that Paul Ryan was about to grant them. Even now, Ross Douthat is still trying to benefit from the disasters Trump will inflict.

Douthat wrote a hasty-produced-looking post today that attempts to normalize the abnormal so Trump can continue to wreak havoc and Paul Ryan et al can continue to pillage and punish--and so Ross can continue to live in luxury. Let's take a look at the language he employs in his efforts.
Normally at the end of a new administration’s tumultuous first week, it’s the pundit’s job to sit back and chin-stroke and explain everything that the president and his aides are doing right or wrong. In the Donald Trump era, though, there’s a distinctive problem: Before he can be defended or criticized, we have to figure out what’s actually happening. And for several reasons, that’s going to be harder in this presidency than ever before.
Douthat presents the Trump Administration as eccentric but essentially normal. His policies should be analyzed and supported/criticized just like every other president's policies. By refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of our situation and Trump's actions, Douthat normalizes them.
First: This is clearly going to be an administration with multiple centers of gravity, with more fractiousness and freelancing than in the relatively-tight ships that Barack Obama and George W. Bush ran. The Trump White House has a weak chief of staff surrounded by rivalrous advisers. The Trump cabinet is not necessarily on the same ideological page as the president’s inner circle. Trump himself is famous for agreeing with the last person who bent his ear. So there is no trustworthy voice providing public clarity — least of all poor Sean Spicer — in cases where multiple balls and trial balloons are airborne.
Douthat immediately jumps to lying in support of Trump.  The Chief of Staff is a white supremacist and he seems to be running the show, rather than being a weak man surrounded by rivals. [Error: correction in comments.] The Cabinet is run by people chosen specifically for their desires to destroy their departments and the inner circle is Trump's children. "Poor" Sean Spicer is a despicable toady. The "balls" are unconstitutional orders and the "trial balloons" are executive orders.
Second: The establishment press, as I warned last week, is being pressured to lead the resistance to Trumpism, which makes it more likely to run with the most shocking interpretations (muzzled bureaucrats! mass resignations!) of whatever the White House happens to be doing. At the same time, the Trump inner circle clearly intends to lean into this phenomenon, to encourage the press-as-opposition narrative, seeing mainstream-media mistakes as a way of shoring up its own base’s loyalty. And then the technological forces shaping media coverage also encourage errors and overreach — a dubious story or even a misleading live-tweet of a press conference can go around the online world long before the more prosaic truth has reached your Facebook feed. (A self-serving suggestion: In such a climate, the discerning citizen may come to appreciate anew the tortoise-like pace of print journalism.)
Douthat is nothing if not self-serving, as well as Trump-serving. He is trying to accuse the press of hysterical over-reaction to Trump to intimidate them into silence and persuade people to ignore them. He treats Trump's trampling of the press as typical beltway give-and-take and calls the facts "a narrative." Douthat drops little hints such as "mistakes," "error," "overreach," "dubious," "misleading," and over-interpretation. Like every conservative ever, no matter how young, he blames advances in technology for whatever he seeks to excuse. Finally he attempts to flatter the vanity of supposedly ego-centric New York Times readers. Douthat is an incredibly clumsy propagandist and also greatly admired for his supposed skill and nuanced intellectual superiority, which is yet another reason why we have Trump.
Third: Trumpism is an ideological cocktail that doesn’t fit the patterns we’re used to in American politics, and Trump has arrayed himself against bipartisan habits of mind on all sorts of issues. This means, as The Week columnist Damon Linker notes perceptively, that he’s guaranteed to do things that seem “abnormal” and that take both the press corps and D.C. mandarins aback —– like, say, actually enforcing already on-the-books immigration laws. The trick for the public will be figuring where what’s “abnormal” is obviously “alarming” and where it makes more sense to wait and see. Which will be hard for reasons one and two, and also because …
It's not that Trump is abnormal, it's just that the DC liberal mandarins, with their effete long fingernails and robes, are taken aback by someone who actually follows the law--Trump. Therefore we should do nothing.
… Trump himself is a loose cannon whose public interventions tend to make his own policies harder to interpret. Is his administration planning a trade war with Mexico, as his tweets suggest, or just pushing a wonky border-adjustment tax that’s been part of G.O.P. proposals for a while? Are we actually considering reviving waterboarding, or is that just an empty executive order left over from the Romney transition that James Mattis and Mike Pompeo have no intention of operationalizing? Is the administration about to embark on a racially-coded war against phantom voter fraud based on random anecdotes and conspiracy theories … or is this just a “Twitter promise,” not a real one? Of course time will bring a certain clarity. We’ll find out whether Trump’s refugee and visa freezes from Muslim countries are actually temporary, a means to stricter screening, or whether they become permanent. We’ll move from speculation to reality on Russia policy. We’ll find out how far the president intends to run with the voter-fraud nonsense. We’ll see how often his angry tweets and behind-the-scenes obsessions cash out, and how often they’re just a way of venting.
Trump's erratic behavior is "venting." Trump's hints of purging voter rolls are "nonsense." He's not playing chicken with Mexico, he's a wonk pushing an old tax. He says he's in favor of torture and that torture works, but that's just empty words. Ignore the Muslim ban-which Ross cleans up to be no big deal. Time will tell. Don't do anything hasty, like have a spontaneous demonstration at a dozen airports, converge dozens of lawyers, and have the ACLU sue Trump to stop him. That would be silly and useless.
But if the fog lifts in some cases, it’s likely to chronically shroud the policy-making process on issues (health care, taxes, infrastructure, more) where Trump needs his congressional allies to have certainty about their shared objectives. And it threatens to descend more dramatically — with Stephen King-style monsters screaming in the mist — with every unexpected event, every unlooked-for crisis, in which what the White House says in real time will matter much more than it does right now.
We must work together to achieve Trump's objectives. We must not shriek hysterically at fictional monsters, like racist travel bans or Nazi-era laws. We must let the good, misunderstood people working for Trump and Bannon achieve their goals unimpeded.
I ended last week’s column with a warning for the press corps, about their potential contribution to a climate of political hysteria. But this column’s warning is for the president and his advisers, some of whom clearly like the fog and seem to imagine that it will help them govern just as it probably helped them win.
They shouldn’t be so confident. For legislators, too much fog is paralyzing. For voters, it’s a recipe for nervous exhaustion. For allies, it’s confusing; for enemies, it looks like an opportunity.
Trump is not a popular president, he has not actually built an electoral majority, his team is not particularly experienced. If he can’t provide clarity and reassurance and a little light around his agenda, it will be very easy for a fog-bound presidency to simply run aground.
He is perfect clear. We know what he wants. And we know what Douthat wants: a Republican party that can run rampant, committing as much destruction to human life as it desires, as long as Ross Douthat can imagine himself rising up in the party with it. He's a Good German.