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You know who else the elites thought they could control?

[ 88 ] September 29, 2016 |


If you’re into schadenfreude (why do the Germans always come up with the best words for the most reprehensible things I wonder?) consider the present position of the GOP elites in re Littlefingers:

Early last week, if you squinted hard enough it was possible to see the Republican Party beginning to unite behind presidential nominee Donald Trump. It was not overwhelming support, nor was it the full-throated endorsement a partisan might want for the party’s nominee. It was more tepid, trending towards lukewarm. . .

Then came Monday night, and a Trump performance that ranked as likely the worst ever turned in by a major party nominee in a presidential debate. All of a sudden, you could not find anyone besides Rush Limbaugh and congressional back-benchers like Marsha Blackburn to defend the GOP’s standard bearer.

For example, RNC chairman Reince Priebus — who ahead of the debate tried his hardest to put a positive face on the pile of rotted orange peels in a suit that his party nominated by suggesting that 14 season finales of his reality show “The Apprentice” had prepared Trump for the debate — has been missing in action since Monday. His Twitter feed, which he has regularly used to slam Clinton, has been almost entirely silent.

GOP congressional leaders have said as little as possible. Paul Ryan, whose relationship with Trump has been tenuous, tried to have it both ways. He called the nominee’s performance “a unique Donald Trump response to the status quo” — but also suggested he should actually, you know, prepare for the next debate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell said Trump did “just fine,” which is what a Southerner says when he means the exact opposite.

The Republican leitership remains on the horns of an exquisite dilemma. If Trump appeared to have a good shot at winning they would of course be throwing their purported principles overboard faster than Usain Bolt being chased by a grizzly bear. Lesser of Two Evils, he can grow into the office, he doesn’t really mean any of that super-racist stuff, and so forth. Heck, Ted Cruz was already there a few days ago (what a thoroughly disgusting character he is — and don’t be surprised if he’s your 2020 nominee).

Conversely, if Trump looked like a sure loser they’d be “distancing” themselves in whatever way they would calculate was best suited to avoiding a downballot blowout, so that they could claim subsequently that they never really supported him anyway, that his nomination was some sort of one-off freak Orange Swan event, etc. (Paul Ryan has been preparing to pull this stunt for months, and he’s going to get away with it, just watch).

But instead they’re getting middled. Trump is probably going to lose, but it’s still far from a forgone conclusion. This is, from the GOP elites’ perspective, the worst possible situation in terms of their own unctuous groveling v. frantic ass-covering calculus.

It’s a lot of fun to watch if you’re into that sort of thing (Except for the whole “Trump could still win” downside, which is admittedly harshing my schadenfreude mellow).


Mission accomplished

[ 162 ] September 28, 2016 |


Donald Trump has told a crowd of 7,500 that he was holding back during the first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton because he did not want to embarrass her.

He insisted that every poll showed him winning the debates but cited only internet surveys to prove this; every scientific poll taken in the aftermath of the debate showed a majority of viewers believing the Democratic nominee had won.

The Republican nominee’s unhappiness with coverage of his widely panned performance showed. Three times in the course of a rally in Florida, Trump called out “the corrupt corporate media” and gestured towards his supporters to turn towards the press pen to boo, hiss and even, in one instance, shout “go to hell”.

I get a feeling we’re going to see the real Donald Trump in the next debate, as opposed to the guy on Monday night, who so easily could have been confused for Edmund Burke.

Take the skinheads bowling

[ 66 ] September 26, 2016 |

earl anthony

This makes me feel a little better about tonight’s impending slow-motion car crashdebate:

Presidential candidate debates are kind of ridiculous under normal circumstances, but under these circumstances you can change “kind of ridiculous” to “surreal beyond the literary powers of James Joyce on LSD to describe adequately.”

I mean how do you “debate” somebody who doesn’t know anything about anything, who simply makes up whatever he feels like saying at the moment, and who is therefore essentially doing a kind of stand-up routine version of authoritarian ethno-nationalism, as opposed to “debating” in the conventional sense? We might as well decide some question of potentially existential significance via a bowling contest, except the winner will be determined by whoever Maureen Dowd thinks looks like a better bowler, as opposed to counting how many pins get knocked down.

The new old normal

[ 132 ] September 23, 2016 |


Here’s North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger on the BBC, explaining to his bemused host why people in Charlotte are protesting:

A few things:

(1)A key feature of the racist frame of mind is to adopt an absurd, utterly counter-factual caricature of entire ethnic group, and then apply that caricature to every single individual in that group, while using it as an explanatory mechanism for any issue involving that group.

For this guy (again, a member of the US Congress, not a guy with a sign somewhere) black people are poor people on welfare, and white people are not. Now if you pressed him on it he would admit that there are blah people who aren’t on welfare and white people that are, and he might even admit, when presented with the liberally-biased facts, that there are quite a few more white people on welfare than black people, that the vast majority of black people aren’t actually welfare queens driving Caddylacks and strapping young bucks using food stamps to buy dependency-addicting t-bone steaks etc. (Or maybe not, since you can use statistics to prove anything you know).

(2) I guarantee you Pittenger is genuinely appalled and outraged by claims that he’s a racist. Of course he’s not a racist: he’s just not PC, or a race realist, or a speaker of hard truths, or the true keeper of the spirit of Martin Luther King (He actually starts the interview with a paean to MLK; here’s the longer version if you have five minutes — it’s well worth watching for its sociological interest). Six years ago Chris Rock asked, what do you have to do now to be considered a racist by a mainline Republican, shoot Medgar Evers? That’s not even a joke any more.

(3) This is the Trump effect in action, although of course to a great extent Trump is a symptom not a cause. Open racism in national politics is back in a big way, and it’s having all sorts of social effects. Would law professor Glenn Reynolds have tweeted what he tweeted yesterday a year or two ago? I doubt it. But now that really open racism is off the leash again a lot of “respectable” people are really loving it.

The notorious Big (Papi) and the Hall of Fame

[ 201 ] September 22, 2016 |


I have a theory, which is mine: David Ortiz is going to get elected to the Hall of Fame, AND his election is going to help eventually open the floodgates for the election of Bonds, Clemens, etc. Why?

(1) The circumstantial evidence that Ortiz has used PEDs and that this has had a yuuuge effect on his career is very strong — certainly far stronger than the evidence against somebody like Jeff Bagwell, if not quite at the Bonds/McGwire level.

(2) Ortiz’s Hall of Fame case, in terms of traditional baseball stats, is also very strong.

And here’s where it gets complicated:

(3) In terms of advanced metrics, Big Papi’s qualifications for baseball immortality are actually quite dubious at best. To wit:

*Per Baseball Reference, his career WAR is barely more than Mike Trout’s, who is 16 years younger.

*He’s never had anything like a real MVP season, again per advanced stats.

*He’s only had about four all-star level seasons, including, remarkably enough, (wink wink nudge nudge) his current one, on the eve of his 41st birthday.

His postseason performance, which surely counts for something these days (he’s played in 82 playoff and WS games) has been very good, but basically in line with his regular season stats, although he did have an epic 2013 World Series.

Anyway, the interesting thing here is that the traditionalist voters — the people who are going to point to the 500+ home runs and the nearly 1800 RBIs and the .532 career slugging percentage and such — also overlap to a great extent with the PED hardliners. So these voters are on the horns of a dilemma.

And it’s a dilemma which is going to be exacerbated by the further fact that Ortiz is exactly the kind of candidate that, apart from his stats, is going to get a big boost from his popularity with sports writers and fans. He’s a charismatic guy with a cool nickname who played a lot of big games on TV for a major market legacy franchise team. In other words under normal conditions he’d be elected without a sweat.

My guess is that what happens is that, in this case, a bunch of rationalizations are going to be deployed about better baseball through chemistry, while the sabermetrics crowd (which I’m guessing is far less punitively inclined toward PED use than the traditionalists although I confess this is just a guess) scream bloody murder about hypocrisy plus he wasn’t that good anyway, especially compared to a bunch of truly great players who have been excluded.

This debate will in turn play role in those great players eventually getting in.

Glenn Reynolds (a Professor of Law) suggests his Twitter followers “run down” Charlotte protestors

[ 216 ] September 22, 2016 |


Gets his account suspended.

Glenn Reynolds, a conservative USA Today columnist and University of Tennessee law professor, was suspended from Twitter on Wednesday for urging drivers to hit protesters blocking a highway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Reynolds tweeted a link to a live video stream of demonstrators stopping traffic on I-277 during the chaotic second day of protests over the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. His comment read “Run them down.”

Twitter suspended his account shortly after the tweet went up and outraged commenters accused Reynolds, who also runs the Instapundit website, of inciting violence. Several users preserved screenshots of the tweet.

Wednesday’s protest began as a prayer vigil in downtown Charlotte but became more volatile later in the evening, with one protester hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound and camera crews getting knocked down during live shots. Police fired tear gas and flash grenades at protesters in the city’s downtown.

Murdering protesters is, strictly speaking, illegal, but Reynolds has a history of taking a creative approach toward extra-legal killings of people he doesn’t like.

It might (or might not) be worth mentioning that in addition to being a tenured professor at a flagship state university Reynolds is a columnist for USA TODAY, so this isn’t nutpicking in the classical sense of the term, although it’s getting really hard to keep my internet categories straight these days.

….(djw) Reynolds responds. For those who’d rather not click through, he goes on for a bit about a moral distinction between peaceful protests and rioting (a distinction one can appreciate, it seems to me, without calling for immediate vigilante execution of either group) before explaining that he was making point about traffic safety or something. In a world drowning in Frankfurtian bullshit, this:

“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully

PC continuing: To be fair to Reynolds, I’m going to quote his response to all this:

[B]locking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.

Meanwhile, regarding Twitter: I don’t even know that this is why I was suspended, as I’ve heard nothing from Twitter at all. They tell users and investors that they don’t censor, but they seem awfully quick to suspend people on one side of the debate and, as people over at Twitchy note, awfully tolerant of outright threats on the other.

Twitter can do without me, as I can certainly do without Twitter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Erik Wemple of the Washington Post emails that “Keep driving” would have been a better formulation of what I was trying to say. It would have been, and in only two words instead of three. But I’ve had over 580,000 tweets, and they can’t all be perfect.

No further comment necessary plus it’s too early to start drinking.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE [SL]: Since the beginning of time, Glenn Reynolds has yearned to kill his political enemies.

[PC] . . . and just for the record, how’s this for pure hypocritical self-delusion? (Really needs to be read in conjunction with the link Scott posted just above).

ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC: Rhode Island prof demands NRA chief’s “head on a stick” — Then declares himself a Twitter martyr because people quoted what he said. Then he softened his stance to say that imprisonment for life would be enough. All for the crime of political disagreement.

The anti-NRA syllogism seems to work this way: (1) Something bad happened; (2) I hate you; so (3) It’s your fault. This sort of reasoning has played out in all sorts of places over the past century, with poor results. One would expect a history professor to know better.

h/t Warren Terra

It’s five o’clock somewhere

[ 514 ] September 19, 2016 |


Updated below

JFC as the kids say.

I’m well aware that all along this particular poll has given Trump a better shot than the poll of polls. It’s been an outlier by several points over the average. Trump is now up seven in it. The big question of course is whether it’s an outlier because of a methodological flaw, or because it will turn out that it has a better method of prediction than the average of the rest of the polls. I don’t know anything about the technicalities of polling but I guess we’re all going to find out.

And yes I’m now officially panicked extremely concerned, and not because I think Trump is going to win, but because I think he has something in the neighborhood of a 30% shot of winning, which is genuinely terrifying. (Remember when everybody laughed at this 14 months ago? Good times!).

Part of what’s going on is, as Scott points out, the perverse and indescribably irresponsible normalization of Trump by the media. Why that normalization has happened is a complex and extraordinarily important question, to which I sadly don’t have any real answer.

The most optimistic possible take on the present state of the presidential election is that a huge percentage of voters are, to put it nicely, low information individuals who basically pay no attention to politics and vote for presidential candidates on the basis of roughly the same factors that lead someone who basically pays no attention to football to realize that if they live in the Denver area they should be rooting for the Broncos at a Super Bowl party.

Various less optimistic and more plausible hypotheses are just too depressing to consider. Anyway, Jon Chait does a good job of capturing how the present situation is, on one level, almost literally incredible to people who know what a cover three defense is:

Sometime around the end of summer, it dawned upon most Democrats, and the elite of both parties, that they — okay, we — inhabit a different political universe than does the rest of the country. In our world, Donald Trump is a surreal authoritarian buffoon whose presidency is too nightmarish to contemplate, except perhaps as an abstract intellectual exercise to bolster whatever argument one wishes to make about larger trends in American society. Hillary Clinton is deeply familiar, liked by some, loathed by many, and caught in a vortex of mutual paranoia with the news media that leads her into errors of secrecy. But her flaws, as the conservative but Clinton-endorsing pundit P. J. O’Rourke put it, lie “within normal parameters,” and disagreements within the elite feel small in the face of Trump. Envisioning him as the actual president of the United States seems to us like a category error, as if a Game of Thrones character were to show up on Veep.

But as the first of the presidential debates looms, the hard numbers simply do not bear out this reality. The website FiveThirtyEight gives Trump more than a four-in-ten chance of actually, for real, winning. The Upshot, the New York Times’ forecaster, puts it at a slightly more comforting one in four, which sounds low except that, as the model’s authors point out, this makes the odds of a Clinton victory about equal to an NFL placekicker’s chances of making a 49-yard field goal. Also, the kicker has pneumonia.

Update: There are a lot of good comments in this thread but I wanted to move this one into the OP:

I think it’s hard to express what a Trump victory would really mean to a liberal like me, so I want to try to lay it out below. And hopefully this will help people understand why, given the thinking below, even a narrow loss is a rather scary prospect.

Trump winning the election would not just be a policy loss. It of course would be that, but that’s a relatively acceptable outcome from a larger, worldview perspective. I understand that I live in a world where many if not most people disagree with me about various policy outcomes. And that’s fine. If Romney would have won, that would essentially have been the outcome. But Trump is different to me, for basically two very broad reasons:

1) Trump is completely incompetent. He doesn’t know anything. And yet he seemingly pays basically no price for this. As I said above, I can accept the fact that people really disagree with me on stuff. Totally fine. I understand I will lose arguments in a democracy. But the premise behind this, to me, has always been that the people who disagree with me should have some knowledge of the things *they* claim to care about. Like, I think Romney has shitty tax ideas. But he clearly has vast expertise in business. McCain? Not a fan of his foreign policy. But he *cares* about it and tries to have knowledge about it. Even if you go off the policy grid, and say that the real issue animating Trump fans is racism – ok. Pick an intelligent racist! Like, Pat Buchanan. An odious figure, to be sure. But he *knows things*. He’s spent his life trying to understand the best way to implement his ideas, and the effect they have on the world.

Trump is none of these things. He doesn’t know *anything*. And he clearly pays no price for it. I waver between wondering whether the voters *don’t know* he’s ignorant, or don’t care. I genuinely don’t know the answer here. I had a conversation with a conservative family member last week, where he brought up how embarrassing it was that Gary Johnson didn’t know what Aleppo was. I agreed that was bad, but then I mentioned that of course he understands Trump has no idea what Aleppo is either, right? My relative dismissed this out of hand, claiming that “of course” Trump knew what Aleppo was. I just live in a different world.

There are 2 options here – either the voters don’t *know* that Trump is staggeringly ignorant with absolutely no interest in critical things, or they don’t care. Frankly both answers sort of frighten me, and tear at my faith in the sustainability of our democratic institutions.

2) This one is less about Trump, and more about a systematic issue with our government, and that is that this election seems to be showing that the GOP has not, is not and never will pay any price for their procedural radicalism. While it’s not necessary to go through the whole litany of things that have happened since Obama was first elected, there have been a series of procedurally radical moves undertaken by the GOP: blanket filibustering in 2009-2010, the debt ceiling crisis of 2011, the government shutdown of 2013, and now we’re experience an unprecedented, ideological blockage of the Supreme Court. Many liberals, while living through this, have come to convince themselves that these sorts of overreaches would, in time, result in a backlash where people really got sick of this radicalism. Unfortunately, I think the opposite has occurred – rather than creating a backlash, our rigid partisanship has resulted in these actions being normalized. I mean, the fact that the GOP is blockading a Supreme Court seat just doesn’t matter at all. It has no play whatsoever in this election. I’d venture to say most voters neither know nor care about it at all. Same for the government shutdown, where the GOP had a wave election after doing this.

This one, unlike #1, is less of an existential crisis and more of me just being mad. If I misread the lay of our political landscape, so be it. If all those things I saw as “radical” were a gross misreading about how much the voting population cares about these issues, so be it. But unlike #1 above, this one sort of does hinge on why the feedback loop isn’t working. If it’s not working because people simply disagree with me about what’s important, then fine. I’ll lose that argument, live with it, and come back fighting the next time. As a liberal I hope we’ll learn the lessons and play the game better. But if it’s not working because people aren’t *aware* that this stuff has happened or that it’s not ordinary course, that’s a much larger systemic problem. The feedback loop in this scenario would be *broken*, as opposed to me merely misreading what people care about.

The not so odd couple

[ 208 ] September 15, 2016 |

trump thiel

Good news: vampires may at long last see their historical under-representation on the Supreme Court begin to be remedied:

Donald Trump has made it clear he will nominate Peter Thiel to the Supreme Court if he wins the presidency, Thiel has told friends, according to a source close to the PayPal co-founder.

Trump “deeply loves Peter Thiel,” and people in the real estate mogul’s inner circle are talking about Thiel as a Supreme Court nominee, a separate source close to Trump told The Huffington Post. That source, who has not spoken to Trump directly about Thiel being nominated to the Court, cautioned that Trump’s offers often fail to materialize in real life.

It’s not clear whether Trump has indeed offered to nominate Thiel ― only that Thiel has said Trump would nominate him and that Trump’s team has discussed Thiel as a possible nominee. Both sources requested anonymity, given that Trump and Thiel have each demonstrated a willingness to seek revenge against parties they feel have wronged them. In Thiel’s case, he secretly financed lawsuits against with the intention of destroying the publication. He succeeded, and his role in the assault was only revealed in the final stages.

These two guys are made for each other in so many ways, and I wish the new couple all the happiness they deserve.

Meanwhile, it looks like Pete, who was a lawyer for seven months once upon a time, may have to dust off his old Con Law (snicker) outline:

With less than eight weeks before Election Day, Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton are locked in a tight contest, with both candidates still struggling to win the confidence of their respective bases, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds.

Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has the support of 46 percent of likely voters nationwide, to 44 percent for Mr. Trump, the Republican, including those who said they were leaning toward a candidate. Looking more broadly at all registered voters, Mrs. Clinton holds a wider edge, 46 to 41 percent.

In a four-way race, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are tied at 42 percent each. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has the support of 8 percent of likely voters, and the Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, takes 4 percent.

The third-party candidates draw their strongest support from younger voters. Twenty-six percent of voters ages 18 to 29 say they plan to vote for Mr. Johnson, and another 10 percent back Ms. Stein. A little more than one in five political independents say they will vote for one of the third-party candidates.

None of this bothers me much, perhaps because I’m under heavy sedation at the moment.

Uncomfortably numb

[ 161 ] September 12, 2016 |


This morning Donald Trump went on the teevee and:

(a) Used an egregious racial slur to mock a current U.S. senator

(b) Told a big fat lie about the fact (warning: not actually a fact) that he doesn’t own any stock.

(c) Revealed that he doesn’t know the first thing about, well basically anything, but in this case monetary policy and the work of the Federal Reserve.

(d) Trotted out one of his minions to fulminate on CNN, the most trusted name in news, ™ against “this whole, you know, Trans-Pacific trade agreement with China.”


In a normal election cycle, a candidate making an offhand racist remark about a sitting US senator would be a big news story.

In a normal election cycle, a candidate making an offhanded lie about the state of his personal finances would be a big news story.

To be totally honest, even in a normal election cycle a candidate exhibiting total confusion about the mechanics and merits of monetary policy probably wouldn’t be that big of a news story but it would at least get some attention.

Seriously. Stop. Take a breath. Now imagine if Mitt Romney had run exactly Mitt Romney’s campaign but then suddenly in mid-September went on television and called Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas for no reason. It would have been huge.

This year, basically nothing. Trump being kinda racist is a dog-bites-man story. After all, just yesterday Donald Trump Jr. shared a white nationalist meme on Instagram. Trump lies all the time, so that’s not a big deal. In fact, he lies frequently about the essential core of his foreign policy, and his business dealings pose such obvious and flagrant conflicts of interest and ethics problems that lying about his stock holdings doesn’t seem like a big deal. And of course Trump doesn’t understand what he’s saying when it comes to monetary policy — monetary policy is complicated and obscure and Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about on any other issue either. . .

Speaking of which:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a trade agreement with China. It includes 12 countries and none of them is China.

The long term effects of this sort of desensitizing of the body politic are probably analogous to the long-term effects of drinking a quart of gin every day and finding that you don’t ever feel particularly intoxicated any more:

The truly scary thing is that Trump is redefining the concept of a gaffe out of existence. It turns out that if you just boldly repeat something often enough, it goes away as a story. We’ve become numb, as a society, to what Trump is doing. In the process we’ve normalized casual racism, intense personal insults as an approach to politics, and completely decentered the idea that elected officials should grapple with difficult policy questions. Half the crazy things Trump says or does barely merit a mention on Twitter, much less the front-page coverage they would have merited in previous campaigns.

More than anything else, the numbness that Trump creates frightens me.

We have a learned a lot this year about what you can get away with in politics if you are brazen enough. The answer is that you can get away with a lot. Whatever happens in November, that revelation won’t go away.

. . . Warren Terra notes in comments that Toronto Star DC correspondent Daniel Dale has a much longer list, and points out that even combining the two lists may well not be comprehensive, since each omits items from the other:

• Called Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”
• Claimed with no evidence that Fed Chair Janet Yellen is manipulating monetary policy to help Obama, said she “should be ashamed of herself”
• Said the Fed, the FBI, and the Department of Justice are “obviously” no longer independent
• Alleged with no evidence that the Presidential debates will be “rigged” and said there should be no moderator
• Falsely claimed his schedule had been busier than Clinton’s: “There’s not a contest”
• Claimed with no evidence that Iranian sailors are making “crude gestures” at American sailors
• Claimed with no evidence that British people “call me Mr. Brexit”
• Said, “I’m the king of illegal immigration. I will stop it!”
• Falsely claimed Clinton wants “open borders”
• Said he would turn Air Force One around and fly home if top officials from a foreign country weren’t at the airport to greet him
• Said of North Korea: “We should get China to fix that problem”
• Falsely claimed he is leading in the polls
• Falsely claimed he has visited “numerous” black communities other than Philadelphia and Detroit

Where does the phrase “basket of deplorables” come from?

[ 217 ] September 11, 2016 |


I have spent days hours minutes using my weak google-fu trying to determine the answer to this question, and now, in the spirit of the contemporary entrepreneurial university, I am going to outsource it.

My guesses regarding its origin:

(1) Something from a Smiths song.

(2) A phrase from a Victorian novel.

(3) One of Shakespeare’s minor plays.

(4) Harry Potter?

If this wasn’t actually an allusion, and Hillary came up with the phrase herself, color me impressed.

If you laugh at this you’re going to Hell

[ 129 ] September 9, 2016 |

You’ve been warned.

Luckily nobody has over-reacted or anything:

SAN ANTONIO —Miracle Mattress will close “indefinitely” after the San Antonio store’s advertisement for a 9/11-themed “Twin Tower Sale” received heavy social media backlash and media attention, the company announced Friday.

The now-deleted video, posted on the store’s Facebook page earlier this week, shows manager Cherise Bonanno and two employees boasting the promotion in front of two stacks of mattresses.

RELATED: After national backlash, mattress store continues to apologize for 9/11 ‘Twin Tower’ sale ad

“Effective immediately, our Miracle Mattress store will be closed indefinitely,” owner Mike Bonanno said in a letter posted to the store’s doors on Friday. “We will be silent through the 9/11 anniversary to avoid any further distractions from a day of recognition and remembrance for the victims and their families. We take full responsibility for our actions and sincerely regret the hurt and pain caused by this disrespectful advertising campaign.”

The company, which has apologized for its actions, said it will lay out “plans to offer support for the 9/11 Memorial and victim funds” in a statement next week.

“There is very little we can do to take away the hurt we have caused but we can begin with silence through the anniversary and then do our best to follow up with actions that reflect the seriousness of our mistake,” Mike Bonanno said in the letter.

. . . obviously the ad is horribly tasteless (if it makes a difference it was a video posted on the store’s Facebook page, as opposed to something that ran in conventional advertising formats) and basically suicidal from a business point of view, but the whole subject of black humor is pretty interesting. What about this, which was broadcast three (not 15) years after 9/11?

This scene takes place in the context of an episode where, among other things, a Holocaust survivor and a contestant from the show Survivor get into a fight at a dinner party about who suffered more. Is the mattress commercial worse because it’s a mattress commercial? (Full disclosure: I love Curb Your Enthusiasm and this is one of my favorite episodes),

Star Trek: 50th anniversary thread

[ 405 ] September 8, 2016 |

star trek

I’m a very marginal Star Trek fan as such things go. My Trekkie credentials are weak at best, consisting of having seen at one time or another probably every episode of the original series, bits and pieces of a couple of the subsequent series, primarily STNG, and maybe four or five of the movies, although none since the one that had RoddyMalcolm McDowell in it.

Almost all of my Trek viewing consisted of seeing reruns in the 1970s of the original series, although I have a fragmentary memory of actually seeing the very first episode — the one with Captain Pike’s severely messed up face and creepy communication device — at the time it originally aired 50 years ago tonight (I was six, and it made quite an impression on me if I’m recalling this incident from my early childhood correctly, which I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on, but FWIW).

However I’ve actually been to a couple of conventions — Star Cons in the lingo I believe — in the company of some real fans. They have a big one in Denver every year, and indeed I think Denver is one of the original, if not the original, sites for these gatherings. So I’m a lukewarm fan at best, but I’ve seen the hardcore devotion to the series up close and personal, and I find it fascinating.

The original series is by conventional measures a pretty bad TV show in lots of ways: low budget, with over the top acting, particularly from the inimitable William Shatner, and many hackneyed, formulaic plots. There are some exceptions, such as City on the Edge of Forever — what a great title! — which I believe was written by Harlan Ellison. And it had awesome opening and closing credit sequences (The only competitor in the category of best opening sequence for a classic TV show is Hawaii 5-0. That was in re-runs when I was in college, airing at 11:30 PM on the local Detroit station, and I would sometimes make a point of catching the opening, in those primitive days before DVRs, let alone the Youtube and the Snapchat etc).

But for all its obvious limitations, Star Trek in its various manifestations has had a huge effect on an enormous number of people. This thread is intended to be a discussion of what Star Trek has meant to you, or people you know, or American or world or galactic culture.


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