Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Why She Lost: Conventional Wisdom Edition


By A.J. Liebling
Meta-content Generator
 
It's the 21st Century equivalent of why the Red Sox lost: was it pitching Lonborg on two days' rest?  was it relieving Jim Willoughby?  was it keeping Buckner in the game with Stapleton on the bench?  These last-century questions are endlessly interesting.   

This century, by contrast, we are going to have to abide an endless torrent of Conventional Wisdom from the usual gasbags and bloviators telling us ignoramuses why Hillary Clinton lost the election – cough, Comey – to a dangerous crooked bigot who now seems to be evidencing signs of Alzheimer's.

Now wisdom dispensers don't get any more conventional than The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, whose evocatively named column, The Fix, has been shoveling it out for years.  Sure enough, Chris knows Why She Lost:
In The Washington Post's terrific oral history of the 2016 presidential campaign, there's a quote from Hillary Clinton media consultant Mandy Grunwald that is remarkably prescient. Responding to a question about how Clinton could lose despite being ahead in every traditional measure of the campaign, Grunwald said:
How it will happen would be that the desire for change was greater than the fear of [Donald Trump], the fear of the risk. . . . That’s something we talked about very early on — how do we make sure that people aren’t comfortable making that leap because they’d like to go for change. . . . The question is what’s the more salient question when they go vote.
That's it. That's the election in a nutshell: change vs. risk.
That's it, says the Bernini of Conventional Wisdom.  Nothing else to see here people; move along. 

Gee, we asked ourselves, could there be any other explanation?  We searched and searched and searched (for about 0.22 seconds on Yahoo!) and came up with one possibility that we'd like to offer up to Chris Cillizza:

Yes, Chris, we got it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Do not forget the clueless! The Spy's brazen Christmas appeal


Editors' Note:  Among the most beloved recurring features of the Spy is its moving holiday appeal.  Like such campaigns in other media, it works like this:  we guilt trip you into giving money and then take credit for your generosity.  It's so easy!  Unlike those other appeals in fading media outlets like newspapers, ours as in years past focuses on a group so pitiable that none could resist sending their checks to The Massachusetts Spy, The Spy Building, Worcester, Mass.  Remember, with your help, some of these poor bastards might someday get a clue!


Appalachia


How long has it been since night came to the Cumberlands?  We'll say more than 60 years ago, as the effort to rebuild that ravaged region began in earnest with the War on Poverty, which was ended with Honor by the most corrupt President in the history of the United States, pre-2017.  Since then, it's been an endless series of environmental disasters, public health collapses, and job losses, due to the replacement of coal by cheaper and less toxic fuels, like natural gas.

Over the last eight years, the Democrats under the leadership of President Obama worked tirelessly to bring hope to the meth-blackened hollows of Appalachia.  They refloated the American economy.  They brought health care to those who had gone without since the collapse of the United Mine Workers and their hospital network.  They tried to pass a massive infrastructure program to bring good-paying jobs to less-skilled workers, like, for example, unemployed coal miners.

And how did the good white folks of Appalachia respond to these valuable policy initiatives?  By voting en masse for a Tangerine-Faced Grifter who will do nothing but make them sicker and poorer while enriching himself, his mouth-breathing children, and his gang of finaglers and thieves to whom he will entrust the United States Government.  After all, he had the qualities that the folks in Butcher Holler could identify with: he wasn't black, he wasn't female, and he talked like he was on meth.

No health care, no jobs, no hope – it looks like a rough four years for the clueless voters of Appalachia.  Unless you help.  Or at least buy some of their meth.

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Republican Columnists


Almost all of American journalism betrayed its fundamental cluelessness in 2016, with a few honorable exceptions, like David Farenthold of The Washington Post.  Indeed, we first thought that we'd add the entire profession to this appeal, but then decided we might squeeze a few more bucks out of you if we focused in on the most pathetic among them.

Surely in that group were a number of supposedly thoughtful conservative Republican columnists who added much-unneeded bullsh*t [Surely, balance? – Ed.] to op-ed pages from New York to Washington.  Take the case of poor David Brooks, whose sure-fire combination of windy theorizing, straw-man arguments, and classy references to real writers have delighted his editors [Surely, readers? – Ed.] for years.  In measured tones, he seemed to conclude that the Tangerine-Faced Grifter was on balance a slightly greater menace than a superbly-qualified and brilliant woman whose faults included: (1) she wanted to take a few bucks from the rich and spend it on benefiting the poor and (2) she kept her emails on her own server.  His effect on the Republican electorate was so profound that they . . . well, you know.

Almost as sad was former Likud cheerleader Jennifer Rubin, who found herself unable to stand still for a grope from the T.-F. G.  It turned out to her surprise that the Republican intelligentsia, such as it was, didn't place support for Benjamin Netanyahu at the top of their priority list.  In fact, they regarded the neocon itch for perpetual war in the Middle East as a distraction from the main task of f**king over people of color regardless of nationality or religion, or as the Republican Party would call it, its platform.

To make matters worse, their rice bowl – the claim that their columns were needed to “balance” wild pinkos like Hot Air Force Generalissimos Tom Friedman and Freddie Hiatt '76 – showed signs of cracking as desperate editorial page editors put out a call for pro-Trump but not neo-Nazi columnists to peddle their wares.  It's one thing to be ignored and dismissed; it's another thing entirely to find a cushy gig in an economy ruined by President Obama's 70-month record of job growth.  Not to worry, Jen and Dave: we hear that Sheldon Adelson's Vegas Hayom is hiring!

PS to Freddie: She's available.  And she has plenty to say!






















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The tramp stamp reads: "Bernie 4-ever"

Millennials


We used to think that Millennials had it tough: their parents had run up a giganto debt paying themselves Social Security and pumped so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the younger generation might have to swipe left underwater.   Even worse, they had to endure endless clichĂ©-ridden style pieces in the New York Times about their penchant for kompuchea tea cleanses on hoverboards or some such crap.

Then came this election: a last opportunity for Millennials to salvage their future.  Of course, they fucked it up:
Of the estimated 24 million people under 30 who voted in the 2016 presidential election, a large majority supported Hillary Clinton. But Clinton received notably less support from young voters (18-29) than Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012, particularly in the crucial battleground states she lost to Donald Trump.
Not only did the slackers not turn out (according to the same study), an astonishing 8% voted for Ethan's crazy mom or Aleppo Gary Johnson.

Why?  Apparently some of these delicate flowers were still upset that their favored candidate, Grandpa Bernie, wasn't the nominee.  Then they were shocked to learn (thanks to Vladimir Putin) that some establishment Democrats wanted the candidate with the best chance of beating the Tangerine-Faced Grifter to get the nomination.  And then some heard something about “emails,” which they despise because it's how their parents check up on them when they're out of town.

Frankly, we don't give a toss why this clueless generation couldn't be bothered to put down their cat videos and save themselves from losing their Social Security, not to mention their planet.  We only know that staying home on election day because Hillary Clinton was a “politician” who used “emails” has got to be the very definition of cluelessness.  Their prize?  A lifetime on Mom's basement sofa, temping to pay off their student loans (assuming that rising sea levels don't flood the basement).

Friday, December 23, 2016

Report from Washington: What Is He Thinking?



Editors' Note: With the change of Administration from Barack Obama to the Gang That Couldn't Go Straight only a month away, the Spy thought it prudent to expand its Washington coverage to provide the kind of coverage you won't be getting from the mainstream gasbags.  So we've hired new correspondents and rented out some fabulous office space at Buzzard's Point to build out the team, which will be reporting to you until the demise of the First Amendment or the world, whichever comes first.

By Isaiah Thomas
White House Bureau Chief
 
With the President-elect of the United States threatening a vast new nuclear arms race via Tweet, Washington is once again asking itself: what is he thinking?

The usual bloviators are devoting hundreds of words and hours of airtime parsing over each syllable emanating from the Grifter-Elect’s stubby fingers, extracting a myriad of possible meanings from his vague yet menacing words.

The inquiry is sadly misplaced  because it relies on two vital but counter-factual assumptions: (1) the Grifter-Elect’s words have meaning, and (2) he’s thinking of something.

As even the dullest campaign-watcher should have concluded by now, the Grifter-Elect does not think, and he has no interest in what words mean.  When he says that Mexico is sending us rapists, he does not intend to communicate the idea that the Mexican Government is poring over lists of convicted rapists and then choosing which among them to send into the United States.  In fact he does not intend to communicate any idea at all.

What he’s trying to do?  Some or all of the following : (1) make himself the center of attention, (2) stir up anger and hatred to demonstrate how powerful he is, (3) retaliate against someone who has slighted him and (4) cast himself as the only one who can save the masses from the threats he conjures up.  He does not think.  He does not mean what he says.  How could he?  As the example of the Mexican rapists demonstrates, inferring a meaning from his words leads to a ludicrous result.
 
We admit that while these four motives usually suffice to explain any remark he makes, one must also keep open the possibility that any given outburst has no more meaning than a two-year old’s shrieked “No.”  There’s no rational motive at all, it’s just that the toddler is in the grip of powerful emotions he can’t control.  So too with, in Quinn Cummings’s classic sobriquet, the Giant Toddler.  He can no more control his emotions or be responsible for their consequences than can the Sta-Puf Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.  Indeed, there is a familial resemblance which would be ever plainer if the Marshmallow Man slathered on some bronzer before rampaging through the streets.

In this context, everything the Grifter-Elect says or does makes sense.  When he says “Lock her up,” he doesn’t mean that he believes that there are particular federal crimes that Hillary Clinton committed.  He simply means that a girl has been mean to him.  When he says that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, he has no interest in the truth value of that  claim.  It’s only  a way to get attention, stir up racist yahoos, and cast himself as their savior.  PS it worked bigly!

Consider his most incredible statement, which was that he should be elected President of the United States.  It didn’t mean that he had any plans that he wanted to carry out as President, whether for good or for evil.  All it meant was that he could make himself the center of attention, stir up anger and hatred to demonstrate how powerful he is, retaliate against those who mocked his ambitions, like Barack Obama, and cast himself as the savior of the masses he stirred up.

Even after the election, it is clear that he has no program, no goals, indeed, no idea at all of what to do.  He has outsourced all domestic policy to a loathsome gaggle of reactionary Republican hacks, like beloved baseball fan Mike Pence, and billionaire plutocrats who see the United States Government the same way the Grifter-Elect does: as a giant pinata to be beaten until riches rain down on anyone holding a bat.

For foreign policy, he has chosen generals and CEO’s who look the part, regardless of whether they are loony (like his National Security Adviser Jack D. Ripper), without experience (like His Oiliness Rex Tillerson), or perhaps fortuitously competent and rational, despite nicknames like “Mad Dog.” It’s surprising that based on his selection criterion for senior  positions (“looking good on television”) he couldn’t find a place for Ron Burgundy.  It must have been the mustache.

In the meantime, the Grifter-Elect is content to fire off Tweets about nuclear war or magazines that pan his shitty tourist traps, whichever gets his attention at the moment, and then ride around a golf course with celebrities.  We suspect that the next four years will play out just like this transition,  until he finds out what happens when you do your level best to provoke nuclear war.  Let’s just say the results will be yuge.  At least the rest of us won’t be around to see them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Texas T for the Tillerson

By Henry Cabot Lodge
Diplomatic Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The common clay of Ambridge, PA and all the other old mill towns that voted for the Tangerine-Faced Grifter must be on Cloud Nine after seeing whom he has chosen for  his  “populist” Administration.  Let's see, he's got a former senior finagler from Goldman Sachs, an avowed enemy of public housing at HHS, a billionairess who's vowed to destroy public schools at Education, General Jack D. Ripper as National Security Adviser, and the latest gift to America's depressed and not at all racist working class: the plutocratic CEO of the world's largest and most rapacious oil company, who has spent his career devoting himself to drowning the East Coast of the United States when not poisoning the air, the water, and the wildlife of Alaska.

The nominee for Secretary of State is a well-known oil magnate
Of course, the angry white men and women of Ambridge might not put down their crack pipe long enough to register a protest, since it's only Secretary of State and their Facebook feeds aren't crammed with photos of gorillas bearing Rex Tillerson's name.  The sentient among us are supposed to buy Assistant Principal Mike Pence's line that he's qualified to serve as Secretary of State for the Trans-Atlantic Oblast of the Russian Federation, nominally known as the United States, because he ran a big oil company that did a lot of deals abroad, like with his BFF Vladimir Putin.

Now we've known a few CEO's in our day.  They shared a number of qualities:

  1. An insane oversupply of unearned self-regard
  2. A laser-like focus on next year's bonus
  3. A proven record of relentless kissing up that brought them to their current pinnacle of success
  4. A childlike love of barking orders and insults to subordinates
  5. A paranoid belief that everyone is out to get them

Of those qualities, the only one that might be helpful to a Secretary of State is the last: a Secretary of State, especially in an Administration as dysfunctional and directionless as that presided over by the Grifter-Elect, needs to keep in mind what his enemies are doing to f**k him and how he can f**k them first.  And not just enemies: it's good practice for dealing with foreign states, whether they are our allies, like Russia, or our enemies, like France.

The other attributes, not so much.  Tillerson will trouser $200 million even if he sits on the Seventh Floor and plays pinochle.  The kissing ass will of course be required, but he'll have to take a ticket just to get anywhere near that sagging bronze butt. Of course, Tillerson will shit all over anyone and everyone in his Department, but that will only ensure that he is not informed about things he'd be better off knowing, like who else in the U.S. Government is trying to do him dirty.

The bigger problem is that the skill set so helpful to climbing the oily pole doesn't do you much good in Foggy Bottom.  You can throw your briefing book at foreign service officers or even foreign ambassadors, but that won't help you decipher the ever-more ominous pronouncements from China before the guns go off across the Straits of Taiwan, much less the Delphic emanations from the Pentagon that they will favor you with while muscling poor bespectacled State out of the way.  See Iraq, Victory in.

And if you're thinking that the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil doesn't have to take a call from, and do the bidding of, Santino, Fredo, or Michaela Trump, well, brother, you're going to be shot out of the saddle, because you're about as indispensable to the Grifter-in-Chief as Rudy Giuliani.

Beloved theatergoer and baseball fan Mike Pence says that Tillerson is qualified because he's a great negotiator.  Whether all those oil deals prove to be good, bad, or indifferent remains largely unknown.  The answer depends on a combination of luck, hunches, and the future prices of various types of energy.  In any case, those deals all came down to dough.  Guess what: that's not how it works when the sign in front of you reads UNITED STATES and not EXXON-MOBIL.

How on earth is Tillerson supposed to balance support for Taiwan against enlisting Chinese help to stop North Korea?  Dumping the Iran nuclear deal versus protecting tens of thousands of Boeing jobs?  Balancing concerns about energy supply and human rights in places like Angola?  Actually, we're just pumping your derrick: you know where Tex-Rex is going to come out with that one.

Memo to Foreign Service Officers: be careful what you tell Tillerson
The only solace we can wring from this calamitous nomination is the prospect of Tillerson facing off against Deputy Secretary of State Dr.  John Bolton Strangelove.  Bolton is an old bureaucratic player comfortable with fucking anyone he doesn't like in the back channel.  Will Tillerson figure it out?

The next-to-most-recent time the Presidency was entrusted to a Republican manifestly not up the job, the State Department was torn to shreds between the devious, paranoid Al Haig and the reactionary boob sent to babysit him, a former state judge from Reagan's California kakistocracy.  We remember how Judge Clark and his fellow red-hots thought that they could stop a Russian oil pipeline by yelling, screaming, and threatening European allies as if they were subordinates who could be booted out at whim.  It didn't go so well.  It took George Schultz years to clean up the mess, by which time St. Ronald Reagan and his BFF Mikhael Gorbachev had agreed to destroy their nuclear arsenals.

If our Senate had regard for anything except passing tax cuts for the rich and destroying health care for the poor (hi, Ambridge!), it would send this toxic nomination up the pipe and flare it off.  Instead, we suspect that Tillerson will be narrowly confirmed to take his place as another piece of unqualified and crazy that will make the next four years a burning clown car if we are lucky.  And if we are not, no one will be left to tell the tale.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

1,000 years ago in The New York Times

The federal investigation, involving the F.B.I. and the intelligence agencies, has been going on since the Democratic National Committee first called in a private cybersecurity firm, Crowdstrike, in April.

Preliminary conclusions were discussed on Thursday at a weekly cyberintelligence meeting for senior officials. The Crowdstrike report, supported by several other firms that have examined the same bits of code and telltale “metadata” left on documents that were released before WikiLeaks’ publication of the larger trove, concludes that the Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., entered the committee’s networks last summer.

The G.R.U., a competing, military intelligence unit, was a later arrival. Investigators believe it is the G.R.U. that has played a bigger role in releasing the emails.

In an essay published on Lawfare, a blog that often deals with cyberissues, Susan Hennessey, previously a lawyer for the National Security Agency, called the published evidence about Russian involvement “about as close to a smoking gun as can be expected when a sophisticated nation-state is involved.”

Mr. Assange’s threat to release documents, she wrote, “means, put simply, that actors outside the U.S. are using criminal means to influence the outcome of a US election. That’s a problem.”

But American intelligence agencies have their doubts that the Russian intention, at least initially, was to sway the American election. The intrusion began just shortly after Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. At the time, his chances looked minuscule. One senior official noted that while the cyberattack might have been intended to embarrass Mrs. Clinton, who was the presumptive nominee, it could not have been aimed at bolstering Mr. Trump.
The New York Times, July 26, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You read it first in the Spy('s Twitter feed)!



The Massachusetts Spy, November 19, 2016

Let’s be even blunter. Flynn doesn’t bring to mind serious, sober figures who have served other Republican presidents, people like Colin Powell or Brent Scowcroft or Condoleezza Rice. He seems more in the mold of General Jack D. Ripper from “Dr. Strangelove,” obsessing over a supposed international conspiracy “to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

Scott Lehigh in The Boston Globe, December 7, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Annals of Diplomacy: a Spy Exclusive

By Henry C. Lodge
Diplomatic Editor

You may have heard something about a conversation the Grifter-Elect had with the President of Taiwan, during which he flushed 37 years of successful China-Taiwan policy down the gold-plated hopper.  You may have also heard that the Chinese, while somewhat nonplussed, sent a note of protest to the State Department, as would be expected in such circumstances.  But only in the Spy can you read the text of the State Department's response, leaked to us by a highly placed source who wished to remain anonymous but whose name rhymes with Don Berry:



His Excellency Cui Tiankai
   Ambassador of the People's Republic of China
       Embassy of the People's Republic of China
          3505 International Place, N.W.
              Washington D.C. 20008


The United States Department of State presents its compliments to His Excellency Cui Tiankai and has the honor to refer to the His Excellency's Note of December 1 last concerning certain conversations held by the President-Elect with certain persons located on the island of Taiwan.

Please be advised that the Government of the United States fully shares His Excellency's concerns regarding such conversation and takes this opportunity to reassure His Excellency that between now and January 20, 2017, the "one-China" policy of the United States Government remains in full force and effect.

Please be further advised that the Government of the United States is unable to provide further assurances with respect to any aspect of United States domestic or foreign policy after such date, which will thereafter be under the full control of an ill-informed narcissistic bigot with the intelligence and attention span of a fly caught in a bong.

His Excellency should be aware that the people of the United States have, in their wisdom, entrusted the fortunes of the entire world to a man whose view on any issue can be reduced to 140 characters of insult comedy and is any event formed by the last person he spoke to, who is invariably ignorant of the issue at hand.

His Excellency should also be aware that the President-Elect's foreign policy team are expected to comprise a National Security Advisor fired from his last intelligence posting for being, in the argot of the intelligence community, "batshit crazy," and the three untutored children of his first marriage when they are not otherwise engaged in decimating the animal kingdom or flogging hideous shoes to those with more money than taste.

Please be advised while the Department of State expects to continue in operation for at least a period of time following the Inauguration, we humbly suggest to His Excellency that all diplomatic communications with the incoming administration be conducted through Twitter or an appearance on a morning cable news show to reach the new President.

May we suggest to His Excellency that perhaps the best way to influence the next President is to enrich him.  The Department of State believes that the grant of a casino license in Macau to the Trump Organization or the purchase by a Government-affiliated trading company of a few thousand pair of Ivanka-brand pumps would likely resolve all outstanding issues between the United States and the People's Republic of China in a manner likely to satisfy the latter.

Upon the opening of Trump Macau, we would expect the next President to look with favor upon efforts by your Government to resolve the Taiwan issue once and for all, up to and including invasion.

The United States Department of States avails itself of this perhaps final opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China the assurances of its highest consideration and best wishes for the future. You'll need it. 

/s/ John F. Kerry
Secretary of State



That should smooth things over.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Only the Loathsome, Part III


By A.J. Liebling
Content Deconstructor

We have now marshaled our forces sufficiently to dig our way through the final portion of “Kevin” Dowd's column in last Sunday's New York Times.  We can't go on much longer, so, breaking our promise to readers of line-by-line analysis (of course, if we were as narcissistic as “Kevin”'s choice for President, we'd just deny we ever said it), let's skip ahead a paragraph or so.  (For those of you who came in late, we have Kevin in quotes because we don't know if he's real or just a chance for sister Maureen to tell us what she really thinks while retaining plausible deniability.)

After berating college students who skipped class because they were upset at the imminent transformation of the United States of America into a kleptocracy (apparently, college students, unlike he-men firemen, policemen, and newspaper columnists aren't entitled to personal days off), “Kevin” decides to take a shot at what the kiddos are studying at college these days:
Not one of the top 50 colleges mandate one semester of Western Civilization. Maybe they should rethink that.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Maureen, you've heard of Columbia College up there on 116th Street?  Here's its description of its required freshman course, Contemporary Civilization:
The Core Curriculum is the set of common courses required of all undergraduates and considered the necessary general education for students, irrespective of their choice in major. . . .

Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West

Founded in 1919 as a course on War and Peace Issues, the central purpose of Contemporary Civilization is to introduce students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities – political, social, moral, and religious – that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities;. . .
We're not going to go through 50 fucking websites just to prove that “Kevin” doesn't know jack shit about higher education, but here's two more:

At the University of Chicago, thought by many others besides “Kevin” to be a pretty fair school, undergrads must take two courses from the following list:


Readings in World Literature I-II-III

Philosophical Perspectives I-II-III

Greece and Rome: Texts, Traditions, Transformations I-II-III

Human Being and Citizen I-II-III

Introduction to the Humanities I-II-III

Reading Cultures: Collection, Travel, Exchange I-II-III

Media Aesthetics: Image, Text, Sound I-II-III

Language and the Human I-II-III

Closer to home perhaps, here are the core requirements of one fine school within rock-throwing distance of Annandale, Georgetown:
Kevin Dowd remembers when college taught you how to think white
They also have to take science courses so they can understand that women do not have to remain silent whilst menstruating, a tidbit lost on “Kevin”'s preferred candidate.  Maybe “Kevin” should rethink getting his information on the state of American academe from Rush Limbaugh.

Let's move on to “Kevin's” next nugget:
Mr. Trump received over 62 million votes,
A mere 2,500,000 fewer than Hillary Clinton, which doesn't seem to slow down “Kevin”'s entirely unearned triumphalism.
not all of them cast by homophobes, Islamaphobes, racists, sexists, misogynists or any other “ists.”
That's true.  Some were cast by poor whites in Appalachia because they thought the Tangerine-Faced Grifter would help them.  Perhaps “Kevin”'s definition of “help” includes cancelling their Obamacare-provided health insurance thus allowing them to depart their grim lives years earlier.
I would caution Trump deniers that all of the crying and whining is not good preparation for the coming storm. 
Another fact!  That makes two in a row.  He is absolutely correct that crying and whining is not good preparation.  Organization and resistance work much better.  We did like the neologism “Trump denier.”  That's different from “climate denier” – an individual who like the Tangerine-Faced Grifter denies the irrefutable scientific proof of human-caused global warming, an issue of no interest to “Kevin,” unlike say freshman college course requirements.
The liberal media, both print and electronic, has lost all credibility.
I come here not to defend the liberal media, whatever that is, but only to note that “Kevin” has provided us with the moron's version of a Buddhist koan.   If a column in in the “liberal media” says the liberal media has lost all credibility, then is “Kevin” Socrates?  We'll go with no.
I am reasonably sure that none of the mainstream print media had stories prepared for a Trump victory. 
I am reasonably sure that “Kevin” pulled this out of his blowhole. If he really wanted to know what preparations the media had made for election night, perhaps his sister could have picked up the telephone and called Dean Baquet, her executive editor and boss.   Sadly that would require an act of “journalism,” a craft last practiced by Maureen Dowd during her salad days on the late lamented Washington Star (died 1981).
Here is a final word to my Democratic friends.
To quote Tracy Lord, “Of whom he has many I'm sure.”
The election is over. There will not be a do-over. So let me bid farewell to Al Sharpton, Ben Rhodes and the Clintons. Note to Cher, Barbra, Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham: Your plane is waiting. And to Jon Stewart, who talked about moving to another planet: Your spaceship is waiting. To Bruce Springsteen, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Katy Perry, thanks for the free concerts.
This gets to the heart of  “Kevin”'s artichoke.  For him and his fellow white louts, the campaign was not about the economy (as Annandale has been living large at the Federal teat for generations), managing complicated and dangerous crises in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, keeping the world from drowning our children, or making life better for the downtrodden.  It was about white male triumphalism: the supposed right to gloat over a list of mostly female, minority, and Jewish celebrities that “Kevin” now feels entitled to patronize, because of how 100,000 votes fell in three Midwestern states.  (By the way, you can try to make fun of Jon Stewart if you dare, but his joke was making the obvious point that if you fear that the Tangerine-Faced Grifter will blow up the world, as you should, moving to Canada is hardly a solution.)

Ridiculing celebrities on the left is considered quite a sport among the white supremacist set, so it's hardly surprising to see “Kevin” piling on.  Liberals don't get to have equal amounts of this fun, because what's the point in roughing up Scott Baio and Ted Nugent?

“Kevin” saved his KO punch for the end:
And finally, to all the foreign countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, there will not be a payoff or a rebate.
That riff hasn't aged too well, has it? In the last week alone, we've seen the Grifter-Elect profit from foreign countries booking events at his DC hotel, and from countries like Argentina and the Philippines hiring the Grifter-Elect's real estate partners to influence the G-E. And since the G-E refuses to divest his holdings, instead entrusting them to Santino, Fredo, and Michaela Trump, he'll be in position to profit from not only foreign deals but also, just to name a few, going easy on penalties for a German bank to which he owes $650,000,000 and nobbling the National Labor Relations Board so that he can violate with impunity the collective bargaining rights of ill-paid maids at his Las Vegas sh*thole.

But “Kevin”'s not worried, because he knows that a Cabinet and White House staff composed of former Goldman Sachs partners, white supremacist mouthpieces, reactionary hacks, and billionaire finaglers will no doubt stand up for average hard-working Amurricans like him.  While that crowd of swindlers is robbing him and our poor country blind, stealing Medicare from “Kevin” and his contemporaries, and leaving 20 million Obamacare recipients to expire in the street, they'll provide “Kevin” what what's really important to him: a steady diet of insult comedy, unearned gloating, and the chance to put the non-white, the non-hetero, and the non-testicled in their place.

He must be so proud of himself.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Only the loathsome, Part II


By A.J. Liebling
Content Deconstructor

Several bottles of Pepto-Bismol later, we're ready to wade further into the muck, by which of course we mean Kevin Dowd's not-so-hostile takeover of her sister's lame-o New York Times column.  We got through four lines before we started to feel dinner coming back up the way in went in, so let's see how far we get this time.

Here are the next two paragraphs:
Preaching — and pandering — with a message of inclusion, the Democrats have instead become a party where incivility and bad manners are taken for granted, rudeness is routine, religion is mocked and there is absolutely no respect for a differing opinion. This did not go down well in the Midwest, where Trump flipped three blue states and 44 electoral votes.
The rudeness reached its peak when Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by attendees of “Hamilton” and then pompously lectured by the cast. This may play well with the New York theater crowd but is considered boorish and unacceptable by those of us taught to respect the office of the president and vice president, if not the occupants.
This section refreshingly contains one almost-true statement: Hillary Clinton did lose four Midwestern states that Barack Obama won in 2012.  Maybe “Kevin” forgot that Iowa and Ohio are not the same place.  As for the rest of it, it's hard to know whether to call it projection or projectile vomiting.  The Democrats are the party of incivility?  The party of routine rudeness?  He understands that those clips from Hillary's campaign ads were not of her, but of her opponent, doesn't he?  Maybe that was the problem!

Possibly “Kevin” (we keep his name in quotes because we aren't sure whether he exists or whether he's Maureen's John Barron) forgot, wasn't offended by, or, most likely, is desperately trying to drop down the memory hole the torrent of unspeakable abuse launched by his beloved Tangerine-Faced Grifter-elect. We'll just reprise a couple of the T.-F. G.'s greatest hits, although the full list of his insults filled two pages in the newspaper that provides a lifetime of ease to his sister.  Making fun of disabled reporters?  Deprecating women reporters who recalled his misogynistic insults against women by speculating they had blood coming out of their “whatever?”  Describing his opponent as “crooked” and a “nasty woman?”  Maybe this passes as fair comment in Annandale, Virginia, but most Earthlings would describe the T.-F. G.'s campaign as one in which incivility was taken for granted and rudeness was not only routine, it was the main attraction.

Which brings us to  “Kevin”'s next smear: the tired old chestnut that Democrats or liberals or both mock religion.  Who, when, and where?   While “Kevin” is at it, maybe he could describe one act of religious faith ever committed by the Tangerine-Faced Grifter.  Hint: going to church to cheat on wife one doesn't count.

Absolutely no respect for differing opinion? That's got to be a new height of fatuous projection.  How many people got beaten up at Clinton rallies by goons egged on by the candidate?  How many member of the press were cursed at Clinton rallies while being insulted by the candidate?  If you think that it's the Democrats who don't respect differing opinions, then brother you're living in the Jew-S-A.

The only example of supposed rudeness and disrespect “Kevin” can dredge up didn't happen until after the campaign, but he'll fire it up anyway because it's a handy way to sling mud at Jews, gays, and liberals, or as “Kevin” so delicately calls them, the “New York theater crowd.”  In “Kevin”'s retelling, it's another example of decadent liberal values that would never happen in The Heartland.  Except when the opening day crowd in Indianapolis lustily booed their hatemongering Governor, a troll by the name of Mike Pence.

We can't pass over “Kevin”'s effort at condescension.  He alleges that his ilk were properly brought up to respect the President.  They were?  Maybe “Kevin”'s fellow travelers who were passing around smears about the President's birth, parentage, and racial background didn't pay close enough attention.  Oh and speaking of respecting Presidents, let's just recall the slogans about former President Bill Clinton emblazoned on Bangladeshi-made T-shirts lapping over the paunches of Tangerine-Faced Grifter rallygoers.

We're now nauseated again and we're barely halfway through “Kevin”'s little composition.  We'd call it sad and pathetic but right now we're in the holiday spirit and we wish goodwill to all, even the haters and the losers.  Like “Kevin.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Only the loathsome, Part I


By A.J. Liebling
Content Deconstructor

Very recently we had a little fun with the estimable (in his mind at least) New York Times columnist David Brooks.   We made up a silly award, took a few shots at his latest column and basically goofed around.  That was the appropriate response we thought to his somewhat lukewarm take on the recent electoral unpleasantness.

But for those of you who like their bullshit served up sizzling hot and with a snarl, you couldn't do much better than Maureen Dowd's latest effort on Sunday, in which she channeled the rage of her real or imagined Trump-lovin' brother, “Kevin.” After over a year of responding to vile drivel from entitled white men with dumb yuks, we broke our funny bone on this one.

Despite the lack of opportunities for cheap laughs, it is critical to analyze the contents of this screed essentially line-by-line so that we can begin to understand the revolting stew of bigotry, entitlement, and ignorance that motivates what Mo chooses to call her “affluent, educated suburbanite” scumbag of a brother assuming he in fact exists.  It's almost as important to note that not one of the factual claims in “Kevin”'s “column” proves to line up with reality.

Goggles, nose clips, boots, and latex gloves on, we dig in.  “Kevin” starts with a man who brought dignity, honor, a social conscience, and a keen intelligence to the White House, despite his Kenyan birth:
The election was a complete repudiation of Barack Obama: his fantasy world of political correctness, the politicization of the Justice Department and the I.R.S., an out-of-control E.P.A., his neutering of the military, his nonsupport of the police and his fixation on things like transgender bathrooms. 
Claim 1: how can an over 2 million vote margin for the Democratic candidate be described as a repudiation, much less a complete one?  Of course, it can't, but it is important for “Kevin”'s worldview to be premised on the false notion that he and his bro the tangerine-faced grifting President-elect represent the majority.  In this case, though, you'd really have to call “Kevin”'s  majority silent, because something that doesn't exist can't make any noise.

Kevin Dowd looks more like his sister every day
But we haven't even gotten to the end of the first line yet.  Claim 2 is that President Obama, an astute observer and consummate pragmatist, lives in a “fantasy world” of political correctness.  By this “Kevin” must mean that President Obama's unceasing efforts to ameliorate America's great racial divide is a pointless fantasy, because entitled white racists like him and his candidate will forever malign persons of color, women, those with alternative gender preferences or identifications, the disabled, and anyone else who doesn't resemble Liz Lemon's old boyfriend.  Is such a hope a fantasy?  No, a fantasy is the claim that Barack Obama was born anywhere else than Honolulu, Hawaii or that his religion is anything but Christianity.  Who lived in that fantasy world, “Kevin?”

OK we've finished the first line. Let's turn to “Kevin”'s reference to politicizing the Justice Department.  He doesn't cite any examples of such nefarious activity during the Obama Administration.  So let's give him a few.  President Karl Rove's successful effort to purge U.S. Attorneys because they refused to bring dubious voting fraud cases against Democrats is politicizing the Justice Department.  Thinking that the President decides who is prosecuted is politicizing bigly.  Obama doesn't think like that; “Kevin”'s man-child does.

Indeed at this point we're suspicious that we're not getting an argument here as much as a wilted word salad of different reactionary and white supremacist talking points.  The politicization of the IRS?   The Republicans have worked hard to peddle that story to the credulous (like “Kevin”), when in fact all they ever had was the effort by career, not political, IRS officials to make sense of a poorly-drafted statute that does in fact distinguish political from other activity.  Some “scandal.”

That brings us to line three.  The EPA is out of control because why exactly?  No doubt “Kevin” believes conveniently that global warming is a liberal conspiracy, not a threat to our (and his) children.  Perhaps he thinks that Lower Manhattan flooded for the first time in history because of, insert whatever cheap shot “Kevin” would throw at New York here.  But New Yorkers, who have spent billions of dollars cleaning up the mess left by Superstorm Sandy, know well the threat of rising sea levels from melting ice caps.  If it really was a liberal conspiracy, why would liberals engineer an event that requires the closing of the L tunnel for two years?  How are they supposed to get to Williamsburg?  “Kevin” probably doesn't care, but a lot of Clinton voters do.

And if the EPA is really throttling our economy (which is the full false talking point), why has the economy grown for 70 months, and at an annual rate of 3.2% in the past quarter?

The next claim – “neutering” the armed forces – is another rubbish GOP talking point.  It's most notable for demonstrating what “Kevin” really fears: that women, Negroes, immigrants and other undesirables will cut off his withered old nuts and we don't know redistribute them?  In any event, Obama's military had enough testosterone to dispatch Osama bin Laden to the bottom of the sea, unleash drones at terrorists over half the world, overthrow Qaddafi (maybe not a great idea but hardly an example of armed impotence), while fielding 420,000 GI's, 182,000 Marines, a 282-ship Navy, and 317,000 Air People.  This piddling force cost only $585,000,000,000 last year.

Speaking of what “Kevin” really fears, let's go to the next talking point, by which “Kevin” means that President Obama does not uncritically support police massacres of black people, especially unarmed ones.  Do you think that the police, alone among government agencies, should be immune from criticism?  If you do, you're white!  Wrong, too.  Again, what “Kevin” really mourns here are the lost days when the police could treat minorities and other undesirables with impunity, whether stopping and frisking them because they brandished a pack of Skittles or drilling them with bullets because they were armed with cell phones.  Of course, the President's statements are replete with praise of law enforcement, but any suggestion that the 5-0 might need to control its tendencies, now available on video, to mistreat minorities constitutes an unbearable threat to “Kevin” and his buddies.

We're almost done with Part I of “Kevin”'s rant.  And now another of “Kevin”'s fears generates another whopper.  Did I miss the 20-minute section of Obama's State of the Union Address when he embraced the cause of transgender bathroom access?  Wasn't it in fact loathsome state bigots who turned a non-issue – the right of people to use the bathroom consistent with their sexual identity – into a controversy?  Didn't the Obama Administration act only in response to such brazen violations of basic human rights?  This one we honestly don't understand: what is “Kevin” so terrified about?  If someone dresses, acts, and identifies as a man, which bathroom should he use?

Presumably “Kevin” agrees with loathsome Ted Cruz's suggestion that transgender individuals simply hold it until they get home.  We'll end Part I with a constructive suggestion: any trans person denied bathroom access by bigoted state laws should take a dump on “Kevin”'s azaleas.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why We Fight: Know the Allies

KABUL, Afghanistan — As heavy snow fell on the muddy arena in northern Afghanistan where a traditional game of buzkashi — two teams of horsemen fighting for a dead goat — was underway on Friday, a scuffle broke out near the stands. It was not just another group of hotheaded fans going at it.

The man who had thrown the punch is the vice president of Afghanistan, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. And he did not stop there: To drive the humiliation home, he put his foot on the chest of his downed victim, a political rival named Ahmad Ishchi, who was then beaten by the general’s bodyguards, thrown into the back of an armored vehicle and taken away, said several of Mr. Ishchi’s relatives, many of them speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

“Dostum came there, and he walked around the stadium, — then he called Ahmad Ishchi over to him,” said Gulab Khan, a relative of Mr. Ishchi who was among about 5,000 spectators at the game. “After talking with him for a couple of minutes, he punched him, and his bodyguards started beating him with AK-47s. They beat Ahmad very badly and in a barbaric way.”
 
The account of General Dostum’s actions — while not unexpected for a former warlord with a history of accusations of human rights violations and abuse, including physical acts of retaliation against allies and rivals — underscores fears about someone a heartbeat from the presidency.

With President Ashraf Ghani traveling on an official visit to Central Asia, General Dostum is technically the acting president. For more than two days, he has held a political rival hostage in one of his properties, with members of Mr. Ishchi’s family increasingly concerned about his health. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the vice president’s pink palace in the northern city of Shibarghan, pleading with him to free Mr. Ishchi. The protesters remained all day, but General Dostum did not meet with them. His guards simply told the protesters that the general was busy or resting.

Spokesmen and advisers to General Dostum did not respond to requests for comment, despite promises from several of them. Aides who had accompanied the general to the game, and who were shown at his side in official pictures, flatly denied they had been there. . . .

The New York Times, November 28, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Coming soon in The Spy!

Another exclusive book excerpt: My Strugel (for Beter Skools), by Betsy DeVos (Amway Press, $78.95).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

And the coveted Greg Marmalard Award goes to . . .



By A.J. Liebling
Meta-content Generator

Nothing drives clicks more than handing out awards (unless it's pointless lists or pictures of what child stars look like now that they're 50).  If the next President of the United States can violate every norm to enrich himself, we don't see any reason to deny ourselves.

So we've decided to hand out a new award: the sure-to-be-coveted Greg Marmalard Award, named in honor of the Animal House fraternity president who famously persuaded six of his frat brothers to beat the crap out of Otter, just because Otter had done the nasty with Greg's girlfriend.  Later, Otter got him one-on-one.  After telling Greg to look at his thumb, Otter cold-cocked him and then said “Gee, you're dumb.”

"Our op-ed page has more than its share
of campus leaders."
Otter's words rang in our ears this morning when we happened to pass over David Brooks's latest effort on the op-ed page of the New York Times, where he pontificates as part of a fraternity of underachievers including Generalissimo Tom Friedman of the Hot Air Force, Nick Kristof, who specializes in interviews with imaginary voters and South Asian confabulators, and of course Maureen Dowd, whose stylings we have covered ad or possibly trans nauseam.

But we can't hand out a Marmalard to every mediocrity who has unaccountably been awarded by a column by The New York Times, or The Washington Post, or even our own Boston Globe.  Better luck next year.  In the meantime, let's look at Brooks's winning effort.

He starts off by channeling Kristof.  Instead of actually talking to Trump voters, which would involve an act of journalism, Brooks imagines some:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the best imaginable Trump voter. This is the Trump supporter who wasn’t motivated by racism or bigotry. This is the one who cringed every time Donald Trump did something cruel, vulgar or misogynistic.
Whether such a paragon exists is of course an interesting factual question, but facts don't interest our winner.  He relies on telepathy:
This voter wants leaders tough enough to crack through the reigning dysfunction, and sure enough, Trump’s appointments so far represent the densest concentration of hyper-macho belligerence outside a drill sergeant retirement home.
We don't know many drill sergeants ourselves, but we did make the acquaintance of a few members of our armed forces, and we don't recall them boasting about sexually assaulting women, providing forums to neo-Nazis, or resorting to crude religious or ethnic stereotypes.  That's not “hyper-macho;” that's hatred and bigotry straight up.  But let's forget about all that, the same way the media forgot all about Trump's vitamin scam.

After the imaginary stereotyping our Marmalard Award Winner gets to the task at hand: dispensing condescending advice.
Second, this seems like a moment for some low-passion wonkery. It’s stupid to react to every Trump tweet outrage with your own predictable howls.
Really?  Why?  Should we let hatred-fueled lies dominate our political discourse?  That's working great in Russia!

After some perfunctory tut-tutting about Republicans whose insane lust for tax cuts for the rich led them to embrace a crooked ignorant bigot (that's actually not the delict Brooks is upset about), he gets down to every lame pundit's favorite topic: those pathetic liberals and their silly prejudices:
The Democratic Party is losing badly on the local, state and national levels. If you were a football team you’d be 2-8. Maybe you can do better than responding with the sentiment: Sadly, the country isn’t good enough for us.
Hmm, by doing some perfunctory fact checking, we learned that the Democratic Presidential candidate amassed some 2 million more votes than the tangerine-face grifter and Democratic Senatorial candidates won 6,000,000 more votes than Republicans, but lost the House aggregate by 3 million votes.  So in terms of what Americans voted for, we'd say they were 2 for 3.  Maybe there's something wrong in a political system that translates those results into President Tangerine-Faced Grifter and 52 stooges for whatever whackjob he nominates for the Supreme Court.  Must be the fault of those liberals!

And finally we get to the money shot:
Those of us in the opinion class have been complaining that Trump voters are post-truth, that they don’t have a respect for expertise. Well, the experts created a school system that doesn’t produce skilled graduates. The experts designed Obamacare exchanges that are failing. Maybe those of us in the professional class need to win back some credibility the old-fashioned way, with effective reform.
They don't?  They are?  Talk about post-truth.  Is the reason that coal miners and steel workers can't find jobs is because 25 years ago they weren't trained as software coders?  Seems post-truth, or maybe pre-truth.  Are the Obamacare exchanges failing because gross premiums are going up to levels estimated by the Obama Administration?  Twenty million people, including a lot of Trump voters, will find out what happens when those “failing” exchanges are replaced by the healing power of estate tax repeal.

Maybe those of us in the professional class should be unrelenting in our opposition not only to the ruling kleptocracy, but also to the anti-democratic voter suppression and gerrymandering schemes that have frustrated the popular will.  And maybe those not in said class who voted for the tangerine-faced grifter might reflect on the coming betrayal.  Those who didn't vote, like those black barbers in Milwaukee, on the grounds that the white woman was as bad as the white man, might want to rethink their view sometime after they lose their health insurance and whatever progress made in the last eight years to reduce the numbers of minorities tossed on the streets by the 5-0.

In the meantime, we hope that David Brooks enjoys his much-deserved Marmalard.  Just remember, David, to handle it the same way Mandy handled Greg: with latex gloves.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Larry Summers and the Age of Enlightenment

By A. Larry Lowell
Cambridge Bureau Chief

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Amidst the usual whines from unrepentant Iraq war shills, climate science deniers, and assorted otherwise-unemployable hacks that fill up a surprisingly large portion of the opinion pages of The Washington Post, one recent piece pierced the darkness with a white hot beam directed at those who would excuse bigotry by decrying opposition to it as “political correctness.”

By now even the most meager intelligence would have grasped that that particular term of obloquy was nothing more than a device to ward off entirely justified charges of bigotry, racism, sexism, and other assorted forms of intolerance.  You think we shouldn't call Mexican immigrants assassins and rapists, or shouldn't paint all black neighborhoods as bloodbaths, or avoid boasting about grabbing unwilling women by their “pussies,” to quote our President-elect?  How very PC of you!

The man who was fired from the world's easiest job – President of Harvard University – isn't having any of it:
The fight for academic freedom and for ideological diversity on college campuses should and will go on. But given what opposition to “political correctness” has licensed, it time to retire the term.
More importantly, democracy does not mean electrocracy [What's that? – Ed.]. Winning an election does not entitle one to upend our basic values. The refusal to tolerate blatant racism, bigotry and misogyny are beyond compromise. The first obligation of anyone currently in a leadership position is not to find common ground with our new President-elect now that the ballots have been counted and the election is over. It is instead to once again make it possible for all who live in our country to feel safe. 
The President and Ladies of Harvard College, in happier days
Wow.  Who knew that Larry Summers was so woke, as they say on Mt. Auburn St. these days?  Especially considering his Harvard background.  That institution it will be recalled sheltered in living memory a psychology professor who used obviously faked data to prove that the IQ scores of blacks and other slow learners were 80% determined by their genes.

Even worse, as late as the first decade of this century, one Harvard bigwig was heard to argue that women were genetically less able to excel at math and science than members of the twig-and-berry club.  The ruckus landed on page A1 of The Boston Globe on January 17, 2005.  Apparently said bigwig
sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. [Said bigwig] also questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities.

Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, walked out on [the] talk, saying later that if she hadn't left, “I would've either blacked out or thrown up." Five other participants reached by the Globe, including Denice D. Denton, chancellor designate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, also said they were deeply offended, while four other attendees said they were not.

[Bigwig] said he was only putting forward hypotheses based on the scholarly work assembled for the conference, not expressing his own judgments in fact, he said, more research needs to be done on these issues. . . . Referencing a well-known concept in economics, he said that if discrimination was the main factor limiting the advancement of women in science and engineering, then a school that does not discriminate would gain an advantage by hiring away the top women who were discriminated against elsewhere. Because that doesn't seem to be a widespread phenomenon, . . “the real issue is the overall size of the pool, and it's less clear how much the size of the pool was held down by discrimination.". . .

“I believe that it's an important part of what I do to encourage frank scientific discussion," he said.
Frank scientific discussion, to be sure.  If you had the temerity to point out there was in fact no science behind his musings (as the fact pattern he described could equally well or better be explained by pervasive sexism), well, you were just sacrificing frank scientific discussion at the altar of political correctness.

Or so said Harvard Professor Harvey “Homewrecker” Mansfield in the neocon's stroke book, The Weekly Standard: “Political correctness is the leading form of intimidation in all of American education today, and this incident at Harvard is a pure case of it.”

And who was the Harvard big shot saying such ridiculously bigoted sexist rubbish back then?  You know the answer:  Professor Electrocacy himself, Larry Summers.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

100 years ago in The New York Times

Over the last few days of the race, Donald J. Trump intends to travel all over the country. He's going to Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and even Minnesota, he said Saturday.

It’s an impressive travel schedule, but it may reflect the biggest challenge facing him right now: It’s still not clear exactly where and how he would win.

Hillary Clinton has a consistent and clear advantage in states worth at least 270 electoral votes, even if the race has undoubtedly tightened over the last few weeks. But even that understates the challenge facing Mr. Trump’s campaign: It’s not at all obvious where he has his best chance of breaking through, making it harder for him to concentrate his efforts over the last days of the campaign.

This is not to say that Mr. Trump can’t win. The polls could be off across the board.

But even if he wins Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Utah, North Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire, he's still short of a victory.

He's not assured to win any of those states, to be clear — although he's a clear favorite in Iowa and Utah at this point. He has trailed in more live interview polls of North Carolina and Florida than he has led, although the national race has tightened since many were taken.

But he would still need to win one of the following states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia, or perhaps New Mexico or Minnesota. . . .

Pennsylvania seemed like Mr. Trump's best option earlier in the year, but he hasn't led a live interview poll there since the summer. The final nonpartisan live interview polls there show Mrs. Clinton ahead by a comfortable margin of four to six points. The state will probably be close, but it's quite clear that she has the edge.

Wisconsin is another state that seemed as if it could be promising for Mr. Trump. It has a large population of white working-class Democrats, just as Iowa does, and Mr. Trump is running well in Iowa. But he has struggled among Republican-leaning voters in the Milwaukee suburbs. The race could tighten if these voters return to his side, but he hasn't led a live interview poll there all year.

Michigan could be a more interesting option for Mr. Trump. It was the most Democratic of all of these states in the 2012 election, and he hasn’t led a poll there all year either. But recent polls have shown a relatively tight race there.

Mrs. Clinton visited the state on Friday, and President Obama will visit on Sunday and Monday, and Mrs. Clinton will make another stop on Monday, so clearly the Clinton campaign thinks there's some softness there. That said, if the election comes down to whether Mr. Trump can score an upset in Michigan, he's in a lot of trouble. It seems hard to imagine he could carry the state without also carrying Pennsylvania. . . .

Again, the polls are close enough that the possibility of a victory for Mr. Trump is still quite real. But it's just not clear exactly how or where he would break through. It doesn't seem that the Trump campaign knows either.

– Nate Cohn in The Upshot, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

From the Archives: working class frustrations boil over

Editors' Note: A publication older than the Republic itself (and perhaps lasting longer) has seen a lot of Election Nights come and go, so when we were told that last week was unprecedented, unbelievable, and unbearable, we wondered about the first two.  We recall an Election Night not so long ago in which a lightweight bullshit artist took the White House by surfing a wave of middle-class white discontentment.  And that turned out fine.  If your daddy staked you in the real estate business and you started grifting your way to fame and fortune in the 80's, that is.

Reagan Propelled to Victory
By Angry White People


By David Bloviator, Political Editor,
with material from The New York Times News Service


WASHINGTON, D.C.  (Nov. 6, 1980) – Washington's pundits, stunned by Ronald Reagan's unexpected landslide victory, have begun to grope for explanations. Among the leading contenders Reagan's victory was fueled by a volcanic outpouring of anger and frustration on the part of middle-class white voters who feel they are falling down the economic ladder, due to cheap Japanese imported goods and illegal immigrants.

“We've known for a long time that there was a lot of frustration and anger out there,” Patrick Caddell, pollster to the defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter, was quoted telling The New York Times. “Finally a lot of people said, ‘I've had enough and I'm not going to take it any more.’”

The source of the voters' ire: economic stress plus the feeling that the United States is being pushed around by Middle Eastern terrorists.  In June, 71% of voters polled said that protecting U.S. jobs was more important than cheaper foreign manufactured products.  Recent polling indicates that 77% of the electorate opposed allowing illegal aliens to work.

Voters were angry that 500,000 jobs were lost in the needle trades due to cheaper foreign imports, and that only one brand of televisions is still made completely in the U.S.  Earlier this year, U.S. Steel warned that competition from imported steel and environmental regulations threatened the future of the industry.

In Ambridge, Penn., site of the famous American Bridge steel works, workers said that they counted on the new President to save their jobs.  “We need a strong leader to protect our jobs and our future,” said Jimmy Burke, a union steelworker.  “Without Reagan, this place could be a ghost town by the time my kids grow up.”

Similar sentiments were expressed in Youngstown, Ohio, another mill town threatened by foreign imports.  “I've never voted for a Republican before, but I believe that Ronald Reagan will ensure that we continue to make steel here in Youngstown forever,” said John Burke, who runs a tavern near the gates of the mammoth Youngstown Steel plant.

Union steelworkers voted for Ronald Reagan because they believed
he would keep the steel mills from ending up like this
At the massive Buick City auto factory complex in Flint, Mich., UAW officials admitted that the specter of layoffs and plant closings had hurt the incumbent.  “My members think that we need a change to protect the future of the U.S. auto industry,” said Jerry Burke, the head of UAW Local 2008.  Similar sentiments were expressed at the sprawling American Motors factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“We are getting screwed by unfair trade details,” complained Janet Burke, an assembler at the Zenith television factory in Chicago.  “I know that Ronald Reagan will protect our jobs.  He understands the concerns of people like me.”

Even those with safe government jobs were attracted to the Reagan-Bush ticket.  “We are being pushed around by Iranian terrorists.  Ronald Reagan will be the strong leader we need.  He won't allow us to be pushed around anymore,” said  Joe Burke, an air-traffic controller in Washington.

Whether the Reagan Administration will be able to protect American factory jobs remains to be seen, experts warn.  Global trade trends are not easily counteracted by national law, and Reagan's key advisers seem wedded to the notion that expanding trade creates prosperity for all.  Several key advisers, including OMB Chair David Stockman have voiced opposition to any effort to water down the incoming administration's to free trade by calling for “free and fair” trade.

The battle over saving U.S. manufacturing jobs highlights the division between the prosperous high-tech and service-based economies in places like New York and California, and the declining prospects of Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio.

In Manhattan, prosperous young New Yorkers seem to be unworried about the economic hardships faced in other states.  “Steel mills?  Who gives a f***?  Say hi to my two dates, Svetlana and Vladimira” said a sniffling young Manhattanite coming out of Studio 54 who gave his name as Don Trumpf.  “I don't need any rebar to shaft these two, if you catch my drift.” 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Someone run over to the Port Authority and buy them a new crystal ball


The New York Times (print edition), November 6, 2016




– home page of nytimes.com, November 6, 2016, 9:07 p.m.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Spy's endorsement, with extra divine inspiration

We know that most of you are waiting to learn whom The Spy will endorse in the Presidential election before casting your ballot.  Very wise.

We do not take this responsibility lightly.  We have ruminated about the choice endlessly.  As is so often the case, when we are in need of inspiration or material to plagiarize, we turn to the Bible.  Amazingly enough, when emended in light of recent learning, a close reading of Devarim provided an answer as plain as the bronzer poorly slathered on Donald Trump's face, viz:


You stand this day all of you, before the Lord your God  . . . your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp . . . . See I set before you this day life and Hillary Clinton, death and Donald Trump . . . . If your heart turns away and you give no heed , . . I declare to you this day that you shall certainly perish . . . .The life you face shall be precarious; you shall be in terror, night and day, with no assurance of survival.  In the morning you shall say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening you shall say “If only it were morning!” – because of what your heart shall dread and your eyes shall see.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before your life and death, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Choose life – if you and your offspring would live . . . .
Devarim [Deuteronomy] , ch. 30 v. 15-19, ch. 28, v. 66-67.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

The Editors

Who are we to disagree?