Bill Barr: all is right with the world

What a relief that Attorney General Bill Barr has cleared Donald J. Trump of crimes. The report supports this conclusion:


Thanks to the president’s stupidity and panicked aides, Barr concludes, Trump is off the hook. Also, as Robert Mueller writes, Department of Justice can’t or won’t indict a sitting president; the special counsel preserved the evidence for a future time when unicorns descend from the empyrean.

Bret Easton Ellis, the scribbler as pedant

VOX’s Catherine Grady explains why Bret Easton Ellis is a pedant and the dullest of provocateurs:

Those who react with outrage to Trump and, for instance, the children who are being kept in cages as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, need to take a deep breath and listen to Ellis. “You need to be sedated, you need to see a shrink, you need to stop letting the ‘bad man’ help you in the process of victimizing your whole life,” he advises, mere pages after patting himself on the back for his love of art and discourse that “challenge” him and make him “more empathetic.”

What is ostensibly animating Ellis’s rage here is his love for aesthetics over ideology, which he feels have become embattled in the current cultural discourse. But leaving aside the fact that there is no such thing as non-political art — that Ellis’s position as a white, gay, wealthy cis man has as much influence on his perspective as Barry Jenkins’s perspective as a black straight man has on Moonlight (“dour and downbeat,” Ellis opines) — Ellis’s ostensible love for style is not evident in the clogged and uninteresting White.

Again and again, Ellis earnestly relies on the wildly unspecific non-word “problematic” as his catchall criticism. (Suggesting that gay jokes are passé is “problematic,” as is writing off Ellis as a dick.) He glories in dad-like insults, like calling millennials “snowflakes” and “Generation Wuss.” He falls back time and again on the cliché rather than the original, the generality rather than the specific.

I’ve fought the Ellis type most of my adult life: the sort of person who chastises non-Ellises for sharing political points of view from which his wealth insulates him; a member of an ancien regime who assumes there’s bravery in conformity, going along, letting men like Ellis moderate discourse. This is a fellow whose novelized autobiographies suffer from a disinterest in natural phenomena and incuriosity about other people not Bret Easton Ellis so total that they’re as airless as a basement.

A reminder: a political party needs defeating

It’s possible I have readers who remain devastated that federal marshals will not frogmarch Donald Trump and his children out of the White House. I had to talk a white male acquaintance off a Facebook ledge yesterday after he moaned that Donald Trump was good as re-elected.

Put simply, I’m fucking tired of some friends implicitly hoping Trump wins so they can return to moaning about how awful the state of the world is. Those of us who are brown and gay in a state that Ron DeSantis barely won thank you for the leftist solidarity.

At any rate, here’s a reason to keep fighting every GOP candidate running for office between now and 2020, possibly forever: the Trump administration, in a move that surprises no one, has asked a federal court to dump the entire Affordable Care Act, including protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. More:

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” three Justice Department lawyers wrote to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is now considering the case. “[T]he United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”

Regardless of the outcome, legal experts anticipate that the 5th Circuit’s ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. If the courts ultimately strike down Obamacare — over the objections of a group of Democrat-led states, which have spent more than a year defending the health law in court — the consequences could be substantial for patients, health care organizations and other groups that have adapted to the nine-year-old law.

The story mentions the fate of the prescription drug controls for which the administration has theoretically fought, a fate dependent on the ACA, but Donald Trump cares about prescription drug controls like I do about Michael Bolton B-sides. He cares about prescription drug controls like he does about infrastructure. That his most fervent voters depend on the ACA matters not a whit.

Another phenomenon, reported by the paper of record:

Between 2015 and 2018, support for laws aimed at protecting L.G.B.T. individuals from discrimination fell by nearly 10 percentage points among Republicans under the age of 30. This was one of the key findings from a survey of more than 40,000 Americans’ views on L.G.B.T. issues that the Public Religion Research Institute released Tuesday.

One theory: “The ranks of young Republicans are thinning, with more socially liberal individuals opting to identify as independent.” I have my own theory: the Trump administration’s contempt for trans citizens has liberated young men and women from the tyranny of courtesy.

Purge them from public office. All of them.

About that wall deal…

“Yes, by making a ridiculous demand to honor a dishonest and frivolous campaign promise Trump set himself up to be humiliated,” a Talking Points Memo reader fumed this morning about the purported deal reached about border wall funding between congressional Democrats and Republicans. “Fine. But it’s hard for me to see how this deal is much of a victory for anyone else, apart from representing a defeat for him.” Continue reading

State of the Union 2019


9:38 p.m. The president needs MS-13 boogeymen like college men need sex.

9:33 p.m. Almost four thousand troops the president will deploy to the Mexican border — a “tremendous onslaught” he calls it while Dems hiss and Pelosi holds up a peremptory hand.

9:28 p.m. Jared Kushner’s response to the presence of Alice Marie Johnson, whose sentence the president commuted, is the only human spasm this protozoa has shown.

9:25 p.m. The president bemoans the number of nominated judges waiting “years and years,” nodding sadly at the memory of Merrick Garland.

9:23 p.m. What a scene: hordes of aged GOP red white prime sirloin chanting “USA!” while the women in white sit on their hands.

9:20 p.m. “Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers.” Meanwhile Joe Manchin applauds like a man with fleas on his palms on learning that we produce more natural gas.

9:16 p.m. “Tonight I ask you to choose greatness.” Warren G. Harding: “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality….”

9:14 p.m. “A more prosperous American way of life is within reach.” If you make over a million bucks a year.

9:08. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tim Kaine stand and applaud as if at knife point.

9:07 p.m. Watch Pelosi get crap for net getting up to say howdy-do to the First Lady.

9:04 p.m. The only woman to shake the president’s hand in the last minute? Elena Kagan.

9:03 p.m Speaker Nancy Pelosi, looking as if she took a hit of battery acid.

9:02 p.m. [Senator] Mitt Romney spotting!

9 p.m. Justices Kagan, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Chief Justice Roberts are the only Supreme Court justices present. Kavanaugh, grinning ear to ear, is the only one who looks as if he arrived at a kegger where the beer is cold and the ratios fine.

8:58 p.m. I avoid running photos of the president. Let me run instead a photo of a SOTU by a president who was a uniter.

8:55 p.m. I’m going to live blog no more than 30 mins of the SOTU b/c I want to see Nancy Pelosi glower and how this diverse congressional class respond.

On the luridness of gay conservatives

The New York Times‘ Sunday magazine has run a story about the frustrations of gay conservatives. One Ben Holden, a Suffolk University student, explains himself:

Though he said he is liberal on most social issues and wishes the Republican Party would take climate change seriously, Holden aligns himself with conservatives and libertarians in many other ways — he’s anti-abortion, free-market-oriented and skeptical of big government. But perhaps above all else, Holden rejects what he considers a bedrock of contemporary liberalism: that, as he put it, your “immutable characteristics” — race, ethnicity, sexual orientation — “should determine what your position is on every political issue, or what you’re allowed to express an opinion about.” He added that he feels alienated from progressives on his campus and across the country, many of whom he believes are unwilling to debate issues “without resorting to shaming or name-calling.”

Continue reading