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The Bush Brain Method

[ 134 ] January 15, 2017 |

I know most of you remember that Karl Rove was known for being someone who thought that going after pols’ strengths rather their weaknesses was sound political strategery strategy. It’s how we ended up with people at the 2004 RNC mockingly wearing purple heart bandaids on their faces and it seemed like a pretty successful–if disgusting–gambit at the time.

Yesterday I was talking to a tweep who made the case that these perceived strengths were actually weaknesses if they in effect functioned as weaknesses. That sounded really wrong to me, but as we talked it out, I became less and less sure of my position. It’s a subject that really interests me, so I thought I’d put the question to you all: Do people in fact have political “strengths” if they can be attacked effectively? And is the strategy of going after these perceived strengths a good one?


Does the changing, increasingly-more-polarized political climate affect this strategy? For instance, would R’s have worn the bandaids in 1994? Or would they have shown at least the perfunctory reverence for military service that R’s pretend to be about?


Working with Dems + Friday Odds and Ends

[ 125 ] January 13, 2017 |

A quick thought and some links…

So, here’s the thing: I work with Democrats because Democrats are what I have.

Until a viable (as in able to snag almost a third of the vote) third-party candidate who gives me all the free back rubs and all the artisanal cheese I desire comes along, I’m going to stick with the Democrats. I work with Democrats because Democrats are what I have.

I don’t work with third party candidates like Ralph Nader and Jill Stein because they run campaigns that hinge upon painting the Dems and Republicans as functionally alike when the truth is the two parties have never been more polarized (to piggyback off Scott’s recent posts). If you run a campaign that alleges such a thing, I can’t take you seriously; I can’t work with you. I work with Democrats because Democrats are what I have.

I work with Democrats because during one debate Hillary Clinton talked about abortion in a way that downright transgressive. I work with Democrats because Bernie Sanders (running for the Dem ticket) spoke truth to power. If you think I’m an obnoxious Hillary-loving bitch, please rest assured I would have been just as an abrasive a bitch for Bernie had he won the primary. I would have had t-shirts printed up that said “Bitches for Bernie.” Because Democrats are what I have to work with.

I’m always up for pushing the party left. I take it as given I’ll always have to. I take it as a given that every candidate I support will be flawed. I will work with Bernie Sanders.  I will work with Cory Booker. I will work with Democrats because they’re what I have.

I will work with some of them because I think they are as liberal as I am and I actually earnestly admire them. And I will work with others because people depend upon it, because we’ve seen what happens when the coalition fails. I am open to many of the ideas that excited Bernie supporters and I’m open to pushing the Democratic party to left in support of those ideas. I’m always going to work with Democrats…because Democrats are what I have.


Go Meryl

[ 88 ] January 9, 2017 |

Today I  woke to find the morning news shows airing clips of Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech dressing down Trump. As as soon as I saw the coverage it was getting I knew we’d be on the receiving end of some super hot takes–from both the right and (dirtbag) left! I was not disappointed.

Anyway, free speech is a helluva thing. It means that even elite Hollywood poopyhead jerks who eat poop and have stinky butts get to avail themselves of it. Sad!

Obama and Trudeau Don’t Count for Reasons

[ 78 ] January 8, 2017 |



From The Boston Globe comes this puzzling report on unconscious biases people have toward politicians. The headline (Study: The Democrats may have had JFK, but you’re more likely to find good-looking politicians among Republicans.) is pure clickbait but once you read, you may find yourself more confused than angry.

The Democrats may have had JFK and John Edwards, but you’re more likely to find good-looking politicians among Republicans.

OK, we have one citation here. Is one citation enough to make such an outrageous assertion, especially one so dependent on subjective opinion?

This is also the case for right-leaning politicians in Australia and Europe. Attractive people earn more, which makes them less supportive of redistribution, researchers say.

My head is spinning. I’m not sure how one assertion relates to the other. Are we talking about politicians or voters or both? And–again–are we really making the blanket assertion that right-leaning European politicians are better-looking?

Relatedly, people tend to assume that good-looking people have a higher socioeconomic status.

OK, but…

As a result, when presented with photos of the faces of unknown politicians, people tend to infer that good-looking politicians lean to the right.

People inferring politicians lean to the right does not make said politicians members of the Right.

Am I nuts or is this just a big dumb mess?


Comments So Alpha You Have to Call Them “Chads”

[ 34 ] January 6, 2017 |
This is what Nobdy's comment would look like if it were in animal form.

This is what Nobdy’s comment would look like if it were in animal form.

It is not infrequently that I wish we could install Disqus here because when I read something I love, dammit, I want to Like it. Thanks, Nobdy, for this:

Chad doesn’t spend the night next to the pussy-vessel. That’s for Beta Bob to do! After he “finishes on her face while she is smiling” Chad tells her to leave. Chad is out there…getting it done. Making it happen. Sleeping alone. Waking up alone. Looking at his abs in the mirror. Getting older. Is that a gray hair? He’s not lonely, YOU’RE lonely! He doesn’t crave intimacy he craves more of that good free ‘gina!

You’re thinking like a Beta Bob, bear. That’s why your species is going extinct. All the ChadGrizzlies are fishing in your streams and you’re just out there on an iceberg looking for someone to cuddle with.

I think I need a cigarette now.

Hung Chads

[ 123 ] January 6, 2017 |


Who is Chad? He’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. He grabs life by the pussy and life thanks him for it. He is most interesting Chad in the world.

This article is an amusing, laugh-to-keep-from-crying take on a Redpill meme: Chad, the guy who gets all the girls. The thing I find most interesting (??) about this is the description of the ideal woman as “submissive and…child-like.” They want a submissive, childlike woman who has “porn star sex.” No mention of smarts or charm or kindness or intelligence; they’re not factors, I s’pose. There’s a lot to unpack here (much of it suuuuuuuuuper creepy), but the bottom line is that these fellas aren’t in the market for a girlfriend, they’re in the market for a Westworld character.

Hello, 2017

[ 12 ] January 1, 2017 |

Before the new year (uh, today), I squeezed in some art-makin’. I wanted to share it with you. 2016 was just…terrible. So I’m venting with something positive.

"Good Eggs"

“Good Eggs”


"Red Widow"

“Red Widow”

If there’s something beautiful/funny/cathartic you wanna share, share!

The Post that May Finally Get Me Kicked Off the Masthead: Atlanta Brisket

[ 63 ] December 31, 2016 |
Don't hate me

Don’t hate me

As some of you may remember I recently reviewed one of America’s Test Kitchen’s latest cookbooks: The Make-Ahead Cook. When I last reviewed it I’d only made two dishes but had been impressed with the range and simplicity of recipes. Since the first post I’ve made two more dishes from the book and I remain incredibly impressed. So far I’ve had a 100% success rate. That’s unusual.

The Slow-Cooker Texas-Style Chili was packed with flavor, and while it had a few more ingredients than many of the book’s recipes, it was easy to assemble.

However, I want to talk about the recipe I made for our holiday dinner–an Atlanta Brisket. I was tired of the same old traditional ham or turkey and I needed an option that would allow me to “set and forget” the main dish; brisket fit the bill. The recipe couldn’t be simpler and I’m going to tell you about it, but I must warn you–it’s simple, home-cooking, and it contains copious amounts of ketchup. (Erik, please turn away now.)

Basically, the sauce consists of an extremely generous amount of fresh onions, some onion powder, ketchup and…cola. Sound disgusting? Yeah, it’s not sophisticated. But the ketchup/cola/onion/juices from the meat cook down to what is essentially a BBQ-adjacent (perfectly cooked, tender) brisket…with a very sweet, tangy sauce. It was a huge hit with the fam.

And with that I will bid you all adieu!

You Gotta Read this New Dystopian YA Novel by Michelle Goldberg

[ 123 ] December 27, 2016 |

Michelle Goldberg, apparently deciding to enter into a contest with Erik (unbeknownst to him, I’m assuming) for Debbie Downer of the Decade, writes this article about what life might be like for women/feminists under Trump rule. It’s, uh, dark.

In America, men have always ruled, and right now I wonder if they always will.

For 25 years, after all, Clinton was reviled as a synecdoche for unseemly female ambition. That’s part of what made her candidacy so fraught. If she’d become president, it would have been in the teeth of widespread male opposition; even the models that showed her winning had her losing the majority of men. She proposed policies that would have increased women’s power and autonomy at every level of society: equal pay, paid family leave, subsidized child care, abortion rights. For all her manifold faults, her election would have both signified progress toward gender equality and made more such progress possible. Before Nov. 8, it looked as if the arc of history was bending toward women.

We’re going be blown backward so far that this irredeemably shitty year may someday look like a lost feminist golden age. The very idea that women are equal citizens, that barriers to their full human flourishing should be identified and removed, is now up for grabs. A pastor warming up the crowd at a post-election Trump rally in Louisiana promised that with Trump in office, the White House would be a place “where men know who men are, women know who women are.” The massive power of the American state is about to be marshaled to put women in their place.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s going to be this bad. It could be, but I’m not sure my pretty little brain is ready to go there yet. I feel like this written in a pique of –admittedly 100% righteous–sadness and anger. It’s a little goth in tone. But, hey, I’m the person who thought it would be hilarious if Trump won the primary because there’d be no way he’d win the general. Sooooo…

We might well lose Roe v. Wade in the next four years. Trump has said the issue would then go back to the states, but there’s no reason to think that Republicans would settle for anything less than a national ban. There is a particular insult at the thought of a sybarite like Trump, who still won’t say whether he’s ever paid for an abortion himself, imposing a regime of forced birth on American women. When and if Trump strips us of bodily autonomy, there won’t be any illusions that he’s doing it to protect life or the family or sexual morality. It will be because he has power, and women’s hopes and plans for their own lives don’t matter to him at all.

Well, she’s got me there.

If a new backlash comes, some women will embrace it. The uphill struggle for freedom and equality can be enervating. Many women find comfort and consolation in being provided for by a man—or in the dream of being provided for by a man—and are sick of feminists making them feel guilty. Others know how to negotiate the male power structure without challenging it, like Ivanka Trump. In a time of backlash, women will redouble their efforts to accommodate men, and the culture will celebrate their choice in making that accommodation. The backlash, wrote Faludi, “manipulates a system of rewards and punishments, elevating women who follow its rules, isolating those who don’t.”

I think this is a good cathartic scream. I’m hoping it’s not actually prescient. I’m hoping this invigorates the feminist movement. But I’ve hoped a lot of things this past years and the hoping hasn’t paid off much. Maybe Ms. Goldberg is on to something.

Feeling Festive Yet?

[ 41 ] December 18, 2016 |


I had to take a break from doing dark stuff.

So, I hadn’t shared a piece in awhile. Wanted to. But you guys talk about whatever you like.

Lame Theory

[ 214 ] December 18, 2016 |

If you think this is going to be a post skewering Eric Garland’s epic tweetstorm you’re wrong. I’m not going to bother. I never finished reading it. I’m inherently suspicious of any super-popular tweetstorm, and as I am not a student of history (and won’t be able to assess some tweets critically), I get scared that screeds like Garland’s will simply serve as an echo chamber for things I already think. I don’t have an opinion on his tweetstorm. I suspect he made some good points; I suspect he made some stupid ones as well, as humans are wont to do. I’d like to talk about Sam Kriss’ temper-tantrum about it instead.

If Clinton won, he said, he might not accept the legitimacy of the result, and people were horrified by this suggestion. Every principle of representative democracy seemed under threat and all because one jumped-up narcissist and his limp, frothing coterie couldn’t deal with not getting everything they ever wanted. Defeat, past or imminent, does strange things to people. They get desperate, they try to grab hold of any explanation that won’t incriminate themselves, they tear through their own skin looking for stab wounds in the back. It’s understandable.

(Italics by moi.) Physician, heal thy fucking self.

So it’s strange, but not surprising, that so many people would sing the praises of Garland’s masterpiece, because it is absolutely the worst piece of political writing ever inflicted on any public in human history.

I bet it is. If you’ve never read anything by Sam Kriss.

It’s possible that the Democratic National Committee leaks were caused by Russian hackers—but given that the hack took place thanks to John Podesta clicking on a link in a phishing email, displaying all the technological savvy of someone’s aunt extremely excited by the new iPhone she thinks she’s won, it could have been anyone.

Says hacking expert, Sam Kriss. Also, Podesta is bad at computers–LULZ!

Countries sometimes try to exert influence in each other’s internal affairs; it’s part of great-power politics, and it’s been happening for a very long time. When Americans meddled in Russia’s elections, it was by securing victory for Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s very own Donald Trump, a man who had sent in tanks to shell his own parliament. Leaked cables suggest that Hillary Clinton’s own State Department interfered with the political process in Haiti by suppressing a rise in the minimum wage. And American involvement in the politics of Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Iran was mostly through military coups, sponsored by none other than the CIA.

Shorter Sam Kriss (and the whole Ironic Left crew): CIA has acted poorly in the past, therefore it’s cool if Russia helped get a proto-fascist elected.

It wasn’t the Russians who told the Democratic Party to abandon the working-class people of all races who used to form its electoral base.

I don’t know how they were abandoned. There’s footage of Hillary Clinton talking about jobs again and again. And isn’t it weird how there was only *one* race who didn’t hear her? Are white, working class ears unable to hear the frequency of Clinton’s voice? If so, we should do something about that immediately.


It wasn’t the Russians who decided to run a presidential campaign that offered people nothing but blackmail—“vote for us or Dangerous Donald wins.”

And Dangerous Donald did win. I’m sure he’ll be GREAT for those white, working class voters, though.

The Russians didn’t come up with awful tin-eared catchphrases like “I’m with her”

Why it’s tin-eared is a mystery to me, and Kriss doesn’t bother to explain.  But perhaps as an establishment liberal (somehow), living in my ivory tower in Tuscon, Arizona, I’m unaware that white, working class voters have a longstanding and understandable fear of cooties.


The Russians never ordered the DNC to run one of the most widely despised people in the country, simply because she thought it was her turn.

No, but they may have stacked the deck for a widely-despised man who still lost the popular vote by 3 milllion.


What the Russia obsession represents is a massive ethical failure on the part of American liberals. People really will suffer under President Trump—women, queer people, Muslims, poor people of every stripe. But so many in the centrist establishment don’t seem to care.

Correct. We didn’t care. Which is why we voted for Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein? Oh no wait, we didn’t do that. You did. And you counted on the white, working class voters you profess to care so much about to cover your asses while you cast your vanity votes. You know what, Sam Kriss? FUCK YOU. This shit is on YOU and your ilk. Also, anyone who coins the term “Alt-center” should quit freebasing smugness.

Charred Trumpe

[ 151 ] December 15, 2016 |

Tina Nguyen, of Vanity Fair, went to Trump Grill(e) in Trump Tower. She, uh, did not like it.

Donald Trump is “a poor person’s idea of a rich person,” Fran Lebowitz recently observed at The Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.

No, not really. He’s a dumb person’s idea of a rich person.

“They see him. They think, ‘If I were rich, I’d have a fabulous tie like that.’” Nowhere, perhaps, does this reflection appear more accurate than at Trump Grill (which is occasionally spelled Grille on various pieces of signage). On one level, the Grill (or Grille), suggests the heights of plutocratic splendor—a steakhouse built into the basement of one’s own skyscraper.

Ah, the anachronistic “e” of classiness! I am solde!

On another level, Trump Grill falls somewhat short of that lofty goal. The restaurant features a stingy number of French-ish paintings that look as though they were bought from Home Goods.

Ya know, I’m not Trump or a Trump employee but I felt that one like a punch in the gut. Fucking OUCH, Tina!

The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich. The inconsistent menus—literally, my menu was missing dishes that I found on my dining partners’—were chock-full of steakhouse classics doused with unnecessarily high-end ingredients. The dumplings, for instance, come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil, and the crostini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined. The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, ”House Salad”).

The menu is yooge and classy. Don’t hate.

Our table nevertheless ordered the Ivanka’s Salad, a chopped approximation of a Greek salad, smothered in melting goat cheese and dressing and missing the promised olives, that seemed unlikely to appetize a SoulCycle-obsessed, smoothie-guzzling heiress. (Instead, it looked like a salad made by someone who believes that rich women only eat vegetables.) But the cuboid plant matter ended up being the perfect place to hide several uneaten Szechuan dumplings.

The steak came out overcooked and mealy, with an ugly strain of pure fat running through it, crying out for A.1. sauce (it was missing the promised demi-glace, too). The plate must have tilted during its journey from the kitchen to the table, as the steak slumped to the side over the potatoes like a dead body inside a T-boned minivan.

Renowned butcher Pat LaFrieda once dared me to eat an eyeball that he himself popped out of the skull of a roasted pig. That eyeball tasted better than the Trump Grill’s (Grille’s) Gold Label Burger, a Pat LaFrieda–branded short-rib burger blend molded into a sad little meat thing, sitting in the center of a massive, rapidly staling brioche bun, hiding its shame under a slice of melted orange cheese.

Is it possible to feel physical pain while reading a restaurant review? Am I just cringing so hard I’m hurting myself?

“This is on me,” said our waiter, who must have noticed that we sent barely touched plates back to the kitchen, as he slipped us a tiny chocolate cake buried under whipped cream and anxious drizzles of caramel with our check, and my heart broke. It’s not his fault that he has to run garbage food back and forth, from a slammed kitchen behind a door marked “TRUMP EMPLOYEES ONLY,” to a table waiting an agonizing half hour just to close the check. It’s not his fault that the only way he can make it up to us is with a free cake, still frozen in the center, that tastes like Tums.

Well, ya gotta hand it Tina Nguyen. I could see throwing some shade while eating shitty food. But she somehow managed to down this stuff while blocking out the sun. Impressive stuff.



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