Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Light posting

We are having difficulty with our computer at home. That makes it difficult to do much blogging. I am actually using the voice to text function on my phone to create this post.

I will figure out what is going on with our computer and at that point we will be able to resume normal blogging activities. For now, I recommend this piece from Sarah Hoyt, in which she takes the
former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, to task for his grandstanding. Key graf:
Yes, I understand Mexico is a proud country. Do tell me what it has to be proud of! Is it the fact that you have to send your citizens like beggars abroad? Is it your inability to enforce the law? Is it your governance, which is the laughing stock of the world?

You don’t like to be called a sh*thole? Very well. Stop being one. Give less consideration to your “image” in the world and more to how your country functions. Stop the corruptocracy. Enforce honesty and the rule of law. Reform your schools. Stop the rampaging of the drug lords.
Good advice. More at the link.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sweet

An example of full disclosure:
On January 1, Seattle had several new progressive laws go into effect. Along with mandatory paid sick leave, mandates for employers to post work schedules 14 days in advance, and severe restrictions on short-term rental platforms (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.), Seattle imposed a massive new soda tax — 1.75 cents per OUNCE on sugary drinks.

In response, at least one major retailer advertised in detail the reason for the significant increase in prices.
That would be Costco, a company based in Issaquah, WA, a suburb of Seattle. And their signs couldn't be more direct:

Go buy it someplace else

Costco would like to sell the Gatorade to you, but they aren't necessarily interested in collecting the tax for Seattle. So they are suggesting to their customers that they buy such beverages in the suburbs. If you are inclined to buy your beverages in bulk, and that's how Costco rolls, it makes perfect sense to point your customers elsewhere.

Of course, the politicians don't like that:
Soda-tax supporters in Washington state are trying to pass a statewide levy to prevent shoppers from getting around it, but it failed to pass in 2017 and is unlikely to do so this year, either.
This will be worth watching.


Monday, January 15, 2018

For what it's worth

We now have a senator on record as saying that Donald Trump didn't use the term "shithole" in his discussion:
Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue said Sunday that President Donald Trump did not use the phrase "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform last week.

"I'm telling you he did not use that word, George, and I'm telling you it's a gross misrepresentation," Perdue told moderator George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, says he did, but not directly:
According to Durbin, Trump had told a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the White House that he'd rather have more immigrants from Norway and fewer from "shithole countries" in Africa and said the U.S. didn't need anymore people from Haiti.  to describe Haiti and African nations where some immigrants to the United States come from."I have seen the comments in the press, I have not read one of them that's inaccurate," Durbin, a Democrat, told reporters in Chicago.

"In the course of (Trump's) comments, he said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist," the Illinois senator said Friday. "l use those words advisingly, I understand how powerful they are. I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and that Oval Office any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.
Durbin apparently gets to decide the intent of someone's remarks, and his decision is probative. Good to know. Durbin says a lot of things. In 2013, he said something else:
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, said in a Facebook post that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that GOP leaders are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them.

But Wednesday afternoon, both the White House and House speaker’s office denied his claims.

“In a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you,’” Durbin wrote in a post on his Facebook page over the weekend.
Durbin also said this, in 2005:
Durbin read from an FBI report that included descriptions of one case at Gitmo in which a detainee was held in such cold temperatures that he shivered, another in which a prisoner was held in heat passing 100 degrees, one in which prisoners were left in isolation so long they fouled themselves and one where a prisoner was chained to the floor and forced to listen to loud rap music.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said last week.

After the uproar that followed those remarks, Durbin said he was not comparing U.S. soldiers to Pol Pot (search), Nazis or Soviet guards, but was "attributing this form of interrogation to repressive regimes such as those that I note."
You can certainly believe Dick Durbin if you'd like. I wouldn't.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Vikings Fans Are Nervous Edition

Old dude, I think the Vikings fans should be nervous about Sunday. If they say they are not nervous, they probably are not being honest with themselves.

I hear a lot of bravado, but Vikings fans are always hearing the hellhounds on their trail. Over 50 years of torment will do that to a fan base. 


Yes, the fans of a 55-year old team hear the hellhounds described on an 80-year old record. The blues fall down like hail. 

I don't know where you come up with this stuff, old dude. Where you there when Robert Johnson recorded it? Maybe I should go ask Mom. I am sure that Mrs. D must be shaking her head.

She's been shaking her head for many years at my antics. But you knew that.

Mine too, Geritol Fan! But enough of the Delta blues, unless that's foreshadowing.

I don't know. I haven't seen your picks yet.

Well, stay patient. It's like you missed your daily dose of the Carter's Little Liver Pills or something. We have some other games to discuss, but you know that the Vikings fans are feeling the HYYYYYYYPPPPEE! and planning for another home playoff game down the line.

Or will the blues fall down like hail?

I'm not saying. Yet. Fair warning, I am going to bust out some spicy hot takes that even Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith would never even consider saying. It is time to watch me work!


Hotlanta Falcons (-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were projected to be the Super Bowl favorites, but will have to rely on Nick Foles to get them there instead of Carson Wentz. The Eagles are certainly going to be a factor, but the adage is that the best quarterback in a playoff game generally will win. Matt Ryan is certainly one of the best quarterbacks left, and has more playoff experience. The weather in Philly might not be ideal for a dome team, but I expect Matt Ryan to continue to try and redeem himself following the meltdown in Houston last season. Falcons 27, Eagles 17.

I think it's unfortunate that Wentz cannot play. Having said that, Matt Ryan might have still beaten the Eagles. The Eagles are rested, but they are not a complete team without their dynamic leader. If they are going to win this game, it will be with defense. Do they have enough to stop the Falcons? Survey says: Falcons 28, Eagles 14.

Tennessee Titans (+13) vs. New England Cheatriots. The Patriots have had to face a lot of questions for a number 1 seed, mostly surrounding an ESPN article claiming that the Hoodie, Robert Kraft, and Tom "Deflating Baller" Brady aren't likely to be getting along these days. New England is possibly the last great dynasty in the NFL, but really should be counted as 2 distinct dynasties since they went a decade without winning a Lombardi Trophy. The Titans are a young and hungry team who impressed me in coming back last week in a very difficult place to win -- Arrowhead. Let's be honest with each other, New England has had too many distractions lately and the Titans have nothing to lose. This will certainly cause consternation, but this will be the last game the Hoodie and Brady play together. Next year will finally determine once and for all if Brady really is as great as his fanboys claim, or if he is merely an average quarterback who was carried to 5 titles by a great head coach, a clutch kicker, and organizational strength. Titans 24, Cheatriots 0.

So that organizational strength in New England? That's Brady himself. The Patriots never won a thing before he hit town. He's the real deal. And he'll be able to beat the Titans, although it should be a better game than the point spread would indicate. Patriots 28, Titans 23.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Everyone talks about the Steelers as being the only team to have a chance to beat the Patriots in the AFC. I never have bought it. The Steelers honestly get along based on stars showing up and nothing else. Mike Tomlin is a good coach, but is he really better than Bill Cowher? Jacksonville beat the Steelers earlier this year, and the Jaguars have a very strong defense that can shut down the high powered Steeler offense. I like Jacksonville because they are young and have nothing to lose, and the Steelers can't rely on star power to keep bailing them out in games that they should have breezed past. Jaguars 17, Steelers 3.

Who is playing quarterback for the Jaguars? That would be Blake Bortles. He doesn't have any television endorsements, but he had a near namesake who did in the 80s:


While Blake Bortles will thank you for your support, I can't support him. Steelers 24, Jags 14.

New Orleans Saints (+5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. I have been waiting to talk about this game for a while, and I have a lot to say. The Vikings are the team who suddenly every single talking head wants to praise, and it seems nobody in the NFL media is asking serious questions about the Vikings. I am the only person to point out that the Vikings feasted on a schedule coming into this season was very easy, and that the Vikings won an NFC North that was down. If we go back to October, the hit by Anthony Barr on Aaron Rodgers really changed the balance of power, and removed the last real contender for the Vikings in the NFC North. A tiny, but vocal minority of fans cheered that injury and joked about it, in addition to rubbing it in the faces of my fellow Packers fans. Another factor that  annoys me about the Vikings this year, is that nobody besides me is questioning them honestly and respectfully. Case Keenum is having the season of his life, but is he really better than Sam Bradford?

You be the judge
The Saints are no slouches, and are balanced and have a more experienced quarterback. The Vikings are a very good team, and I am not arguing otherwise. My point of view is that the Vikings have no excuses this year, since the Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks are all sitting on their couches. If the Vikings waste this golden chance, Mike Zimmer should be canned. Ben, that sounds harsh, I hear you say. Well, that is the way it should be. Mike Zimmer has done a great coaching job, but he can come off as arrogant. Although I do think he should be Coach of the Year, he reminds me of some bad coaches I had growing up in which sometimes he takes too much of the credit and does not seem to be a humble guy. The bottom line is that the Vikings will play their hearts out, but will come short because the Saints are too balanced and experienced. In addition, the Saints are a lot better than the last time they came into Minneapolis. Saints 29, Vikings 10.

With all due respect, young fella, this isn't Shoreview Area Youth Baseball. I agree, this is the best chance the Vikings have had in 40 years. I don't think they will blow it this time. Saints give them a tough game, but. . . . Vikings 24, Saints 20.

Once again, I call it like I see it, and if you are with the Vikings and want to call me a moron or a biased Packers fan, I welcome debate in the comment section. Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out!

Point of Other

Have you ever told an Iowa joke? I can think of a few:

Q. What's the best thing to come out of Iowa?
A. I-35.

Q. What keeps Minnesota from drifting off into Canada?
A. Iowa sucks.

I have friends on social media (and maybe I need better friends, but bear with me on this one) who disapprove of the electoral choices people in Wisconsin have been making recently. I regularly see the epithet "Wisissippi" used to describe our neighbors to the east, because apparently supporting certain types of politicians means you are allowed to denigrate everyone who lives there.

And why is the term "Wisissippi" a term of disparagement? Well, of course, because it reminds people of Mississippi, a southern state that all bien pensants know is backward and benighted, a place filled with undesirable people, a place that everyone knows is a... wait for it...

Shithole.

We're told that's the epithet Le Grand Orange used to describe certain countries, especially Haiti. I'm being instructed by the bien pensants that I must denounce such language at once, or else I'm just as bad as he is. And he's a racist, or something. You may have even noticed something about Trump -- he talks like someone from the Outer Boroughs.

We're all about slagging the Other. We do it all the time. People in the southern suburbs slag the northern suburbs all the time. I live in a community next door to Fridley. I've heard dozens of Fridley jokes, usually about trailer parks and whatnot. People in the suburbs slag people in the city all the time.

People write songs, too. Steely Dan has a good one:



Don't believe I'm taken in by stories I have heard 
I just read the Daily News and swear by every word 
And don't think that I'm out of line 
For speaking out for what is mine 
I'd like to see you do just fine
But look at what you wear 
And the way you cut your hair
I can see by what you carry that you come from Barrytown

Speaking of the Daily News, they have a nice cover this morning:

The latest poop
It's vicious if Trump says something Anglo-Saxon about Haitians. But it's good sport to make fun of people from Queens, or Jersey, or Fridley, or Barrytown, or any other Podunk town. Unless you're in the Podunk town, where it's de rigueur to rip on the city slickers in New York City.

Speaking of music, Tom Lehrer had another take on such things:


Oh, the poor folks, hate the rich folks
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks.
It's American as apple pie

Or, for that matter, try this one:


We sing of freedom and ooh equality.
But we really don't care we just want money money money.
We want to drive in a big black limousine.
Get so high off ganja we can't even see.
And then we kill the white people. Ooh we gunna make them hurt.
Kill the white people. Yea. Ooh but buy my record first ooh.

I'm coming to the conclusion that the real reason people hate Donald Trump is because he's comfortable in his biases. We sing of freedom and equality, but we really don't care we just want money money money. And if you doubt that, you're probably not getting fundraising emails from the DNC.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Game On

Something is happening, but you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Grassley?
A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday blasted Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) release of a transcribed interview with the co-founder of the firm behind a controversial dossier on the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, calling the move "confounding."

In a statement, the spokesman, Taylor Foy, said that Feinstein's decision to release the transcript without first consulting Grassley compromises the Judiciary Committee's ability to conduct its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses," Foy said.
What Foy says is true enough, but that's not the reason Feinstein leaked the transcript. The real reason is because the Democrats need to get out ahead of this story. It needs to be old news so it can be dismissed as such. It's increasingly clear that any collusion going on in the 2016 election cycle was all on the side of the Donks. Andrew McCarthy, writing for National Review, makes the point:
When you look at it hard, two conclusions are impossible to escape: First, at the height of the 2016 campaign, Obama intelligence officials anxiously adopted Christopher Steele’s allegations of traitorous conduct by then-candidate Donald Trump rather than first subject his “dossier” to rigorous investigation — even though Steele himself admits that his “raw,” “unverified” reports might not be true.

Second, at the same time the FBI was receiving Steele’s reports — which were based on multiple-hearsay from anonymous Russian sources, and paid for by the Clinton campaign — Obama intelligence officials were briefing congressional leaders about them, thereby ensuring that they’d be publicized just six weeks before Election Day.
There's much more at both links I've provided. There's a lot of news to be managed right now and that's why our betters are spending so much time talking about the deportment of Le Grand Orange. Scrutiny won't work well for them and scrutiny is coming.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to

Victor Davis Hanson is asking questions:
For all his gossip and intrigue, [Michael] Wolff offers little insight into why such a supposedly disruptive and dysfunctional campaign team won the presidency. The victory, according to Wolff, was to the surprise of Trump and his advisors themselves! The logic of Wolff’s argument is that a pathetic Trump team that did not really wish to beat Clinton, Inc. If true, that paradox would say what exactly about Hillary’s fate? That wasting a mere year to win something you do not want is preferable to spending 17 years scheming in vain for your life’s ambition?

Wolff’s ogre purportedly sloppily eats Big Macs in bed, golfs more than Obama did, has no hair at all on the top of his head, and at 71 is supposedly functionally illiterate. OK, perhaps someone the last half-century read out loud to Trump the thousands of contracts he signed. But what we wish to know from Wolff is how did his trollish Trump figure out that half the country—the half with the more important Electoral College voice—was concerned about signature issues that either were unknown to or scorned by his far more experienced and better-funded rivals?
And more:
Why did not a well-read Marco Rubio or later Yale Law graduate Hillary Clinton focus on unfair trade and declining manufacturing, illegal immigration, unnecessary and optional overseas interventions, and the excesses of the deep administrative “swamp” state?

Who discovered these issues or knew how to develop them? Was it really the feisty Corey Lewandowski? The genius Paul Manafort? How, then, could Wolff’s idiot grasp that these concerns were the keys to flipping purple swing-states that had previously been written off as reliably Democratically patronized clinger/irredeemable/deplorable territory by far better informed and more tech-savvy campaign operatives?
Wolff doesn't care about any of that, really. We just need to know the Leader of the Free World is icky. We did know all that -- Le Grand Orange has been in the news since the early 1980s -- yet he got millions of people to vote for him. Why? Hanson is not done asking questions:
Furthermore, given that Wolff argues that the Trump inner circle seems to be little different from the Trump of “The Apprentice” reality TV fame, why, then, would half the country vote for someone who has orange skin and combed over yellow hair, and is supposedly paranoid to the degree of eating junk food out of fear of being poisoned?

What does that ribaldry say about the voters lack of confidence in the more normal Harvard or Yale Law alternative nursery of properly schooled presidents? Is Trump’s crudity tolerable given the 2016 alternative of breaking federal law by setting up a home-cooked email server, and lying about it, but doing so with the fawning admiration of bicoastal elite culture?

If, in reductionist terms, half of the country accepted the crude antithesis of refined New York-Washington establishment expertise, why exactly was that?
I've come to believe what's happening here is an exercise in negation, a Goodbye To All That to technocracy and the cult of expertise that has been building along the Potomac since Herbert Hoover, or even Woodrow Wilson. If the meritocracy has no evident merit, the whole thing collapses.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Speaking of Twitter. . .

The Leader of the Free World was trolling it up over the weekend. As always, read the Tweets from the bottom up:

If possible, play calliope music as you read these to heighten the effect
And, as usual, half the people on my social media feed were shrieking about it. He's not stable! He's dumb! It's been nothing less than astonishing to watch -- people I've known for years coming unhinged. It's not surprising Trump was successful in the real estate, since he lives rent-free in the heads of millions.



A welcome return

I don't pay a lot of attention to Twitter. I have an account but I rarely use it; it's difficult enough to find time for this feature, let alone getting into the muck there. But I am heartened to see that Sean Spicier is back:


Parody accounts on Twitter can be a lot of fun, and whoever the individual is at the helm of this one has a sensibility I fully support:

It's even more fun to watch when you are cosplaying in your vagina getup
And a well-deserved shot elsewhere:

That's just dope

As always, we need our jesters. Especially effective ones.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Housekeeping

It's early January, so I am playing with the format of the blog a bit. Will continue to pick at it all weekend, I would guess. Most of the changes will be cosmetic this time. More to come.

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Playoff Time Edition

Old dude, it is playoff time. We shall see if this is finally going to be the year that the Vikings turn the page on their emotional history and make NFL history.

Hope is alive here in the Twin Cities. How will it be dashed? But that's not all, right?

And we get to bash the SEC and I can continue to drop takes that other pundits refuse to tell you because those pundits are scared and beholden to corporate narratives.

Oh, you mean the Alabama Invitational? Yeah, I figured you would have opinions about that.

I feel the HYYYYYYYYYPPPEE and it is time to watch me work!


Tennessee Titans (+8.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are probably the most confusing team left as we begin the playoff journey. They looked so great on opening night in Foxboro, but have looked very ordinary at times. The Titans have quietly built a contender, but going into Arrowhead in the cold is going to be a huge ask. I think the Chiefs win, and are a serious threat to beat New England and Pittsburgh on the road. Chiefs 39, Titans 8.

Someone has to be in the playoffs, I suppose, but the Titans are weak sauce. Chiefs roll. Kansas City 31, Tennessee 10.

Hotlanta Dirty Birds (+5.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams. This is the first playoff game in Los Angeles in my lifetime, and it is good to see that the Rams finally improve. I personally enjoyed watching them during The Greatest Show on Turf era, and those Rams teams were one of my first football memories outside of the Packers. This game should be a classic shootout. I always harp on the Falcons having a great running game, and the key for the Rams is can they stop that running game? I am assuming that Goff and Ryan are going to probably cancel each other out, but Todd Gurley can be the difference maker, since he takes pressure off young Goff. The winner of this game is a potential opponent that the Vikings and their fans should really fear, as they are playing good football when it matters most, and both have enough balance and talent in the coaching department to make some noise. Rams 35, Falcons 31.

I agree with everything you've said, Grasshopper. The Falcons are a flawed team but they have a lot of talent. I'm not sure Jared Goff is ready for the bright lights, either. Still, Gurley is something else.  He's the difference in maybe the best game of the weekend. Rams 33, Falcons 27.

Buffalo Bills (+8.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. I have to be honest with you guys, if you had told me that these teams would playing each other in the playoffs, I would have called you crazy and laughed in your face. Both these teams are great stories for the league, but stories that the league missed out on in order to continually openly root for another team in the league, which plays next Sunday. I feel the Bills should win, because their loyal fans deserve it and it would be fun to see how far they could go. Bills 21. Jaguars 10.

Can Shady McCoy play? That's the only thing that matters. Without him, the Bills are dead. With him, they will have a chance. I think you go with the home team here, though. Jags 24, Bills 13.

Scam Newton and His Carolina Panthers (+6.5) vs. New Orleans Who Dat Nation. I have to continue to praise these playoff games, as the NFC South has been a very fun division to watch all year. Both these teams have strong offenses, and are both strong contenders in a very wide open NFC. The Saints are a lot better than they were in the early part of the season, while the Panthers have seemed to rediscover their form from a couple of years ago. I think the balance and home field advantage of the Saints gives them the edge, and could set them up for a run similar to 2009. Saints 56, Panthers 31.

If these teams played 10 times, they'd split. Very close. I like the Saints because the game is in New Orleans, but that's the only reason. Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the tournament on the NFC side. That's worth remembering, both this weekend and down the line. Saints 33, Panthers 24.

"National Championship Game/SEC Championship Part 2": Alabama Crimson Tide (-4) vs. Georgia Bulldogs, in Atlanta. Time for a Very Special Comment. Georgia won the SEC, and I have no problem with them being in the playoff this year. The Bulldogs did lose to Auburn, but avenged that loss in the conference championship game and earned a return trip to a very partisan stage in Atlanta. Alabama on the other hand lost to Auburn, and did not play for the conference title. They also played Mercer before the Iron Bowl, which is a baffling decision that defies belief. Look, I understand that Ohio State got ambushed in Iowa City, but the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title game fair and square over my beloved Badgers. My Badgers got questioned all year for playing a weak schedule, but at least we did not schedule Mercer. Alabama annoys me because they get benefits that this team did not earn. The SEC plays 8 league games, whereas the Big Ten plays 9. Alabama has not played a true road out of conference game in years, which begs the question what Nick Saban is afraid of. If I were an Alabama season ticket holder, I would wonder why I have to pay extra to go to NFL stadiums all the time instead of getting a good true home and home scheduled. I publicly challenge the Alabama fan base, the Alabama athletic department, and Nick Saban himself to explain to me why a team of Alabama's stature refuses to play a true road game out of conference that would be fun to watch and prove that they can win outside of the South. I also want to call out the media for not asking more questions about this issue, because it seems unfair that other schools play tough true road games, while Alabama never gets on the phone and schedules true road games outside the South.

I had to get that out there. I like Georgia, since the Bulldogs challenged themselves by going to South Bend and playing a team that could have beaten them. That experience is the difference, especially combined with the fact that the Bulldogs have a great running game and defense should pull it out in a partisan Georgia Crowd. Bulldogs 17, Tide Rolled 0.

Dang. I agree with you again. I may need to check my meds. I agree with you about Alabama -- they did play a home and home against Penn State, but that was while the Nittany Lions were in Sandusky hell. Other than that, the last time they played outside of their region against a good opponent was UCLA, back around 2000. But remember, Mercer means business:


Mercer always a Janitor in a Drum full of ass whoopin, so maybe Alabama had more trouble than we knew. Anyway, back to the game. Georgia is about as explosive as the septic system our guy Mercer describes, so if they get rolling in front of a home crowd, this could be the year the Bulldogs finally break through. Georgia 24, Alabama 21.

Again, if you support Alabama and want to explain why the last time you left the South to play a football game was 2011, feel free to comment and tell me why I am a hack. Enjoy your football this weekend, and Ben out!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Contextualized

In our moment, facts are negotiable, but the Narrative is not. And therein lies a problem for those whose narrative depends on trashing Le Grand Orange. And the smarter observers know it. Behold Alex Shepard, writing for The New Republic:
There is value in publishing a larger, contextualized account of the Trump White House. There is nothing to be gained, however, from reporting information about Trump that can’t be locked down. Wolff’s recklessness fuels the Trump administration’s critique of journalists and the media. It suggests that journalists really are out to get the president—after all, in Fire and Fury, Wolff suggests that journalists will print anything, so long as it casts Trump in a bad light. The rewards are clear: His cavalier reporting has led to TV bookings, a #1 Amazon bestseller, and insane traffic for any of the outlets that agreed to publish his work.
So we're clear, "contextualized" means conforming with the larger Narrative. But in the marketplace of ideas, narratives compete, and Shepard understands that the Trumpian narrative of "fake news" works precisely because of the elements of truth to it. Trust that the MSM are honest brokers has been steadily eroded for nearly two generations. Even the sacred and heroic work of Woodward and Bernstein now is better understood as a couple of errand boys carrying the water of a disgruntled bureaucrat, Mark Felt, who wanted a job he didn't get.

It all works in Trump's favor. So will this book, despite the surface legal maneuverings and "cease and desist" letters flying around like bullets in the funhouse:


We have produced a generation or two of post-structuralists who now run our institutions. The game has always been the same -- take the meaning out of the existing structure, then claim its vacant imprimatur. What many of us who were earnestly NeverTrump didn't understand is something that should have been obvious, and now is in retrospect; it takes a bullshitter to call out the bullshitters. In a world where, to borrow a phrase from a cynical Reagan-era song, crap is king, it's increasingly clear the guy who's been in the business longest will prevail, especially when his adversaries consistently underestimate his intelligence.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Operating assumption

When it comes to the latest nonsense involving Trump, the easiest way to proceed is to assume everyone involved is lying. Trump, Bannon, Michael Wolff, Donald Trump Jr. -- all of them.

It's also best to assume none of it matters very much. All the calliope music is just that.

Things happening at home matter more. Especially in our little corner of the world. We're only four days into the new year and we've got plenty to consider.