What was that about abysses and gazing again

The common refrain about this show: “None of the characters are likeable”.  Why?

Greg and Tom cement their weird adorable partnership by eating birds whole at a yuppie restaurant.  Shiv cucks her fiance romantically with her colleague and her colleague professionally with her boss.  Roman’s ego outstrips his ambition.  Connor is on Mars.

And Kendall – poor, tender Ken-doll – just makes the corporate power-moves we expect from someone in his position (and then goes on the requisite meth-and-wolves bender when they fail).

. . . Doesn’t this sound like standard fare?  Grey’s Anatomy-esque?  And they’re contrasted against one of the most monstrous characters since Walter White.

What about these folk is so off-putting?

* * *

Logan Roy seems created from a Jordan Peterson fame-addled fever dream, the Tyrannical Father spewing bile from his ailing body, slouching about Manhattan waiting to die.  Brian Cox made his Hollywood bones playing Hannibal Lector for Michael Mann, and Logan is essentially Hannibal with less murderousness but more psycopathy;  would Lector say to Clarice, “Maybe I should just let them come for you. . .” as Logan does to Shiv?

And yet the worst thing Logan Roy does is tell us something he really believes: “What you kids do not understand: . . . it’s all part of the game.”

* * *

It’s not about riches.  After Tom feeds Greg a bird, he takes him to a private booth at a club overlooking the dance floor; Greg asks, “So this is being rich, watching other people have fun?” and Tom’s “Yeah-ah!” is as convincing as Shiv when she denies affairs.  Connor’s only moment of lucidity is when he grasps the essential nature of what the Roys have: “Fact is, right now we’re somebodies.  Any doofus can have a few million bucks.”

It’s about power.  Marcia, Logan’s Lady Macbeth, spits acidly at Shiv when being confronted about her hilariously blatant attempts to deal herself into the Roy fortune, “Go out and see how you like it.”  Money is security.  Money is power.  Money is life and death.

* * *


* * *

Succession isn’t about rich people.  It’s about people who derive power by being within a corporate structure, and how that power – maintaining it, utilizing it, and above all reveling in it – becomes the only thing in their lives they are able to care about.

Connor gets off on his bullying of a prostitute into a relationship (indeed, the power dynamic of paying someone to fuck is probably why he sought her services in the first place.)  Shiv monologues warmed-over existentialism on the people she cares about most because she cares about power more than them.  Tom, about ten minutes after his honest and quite touching declarations of commitment to Shiv as a person, has completely bought into her mercenary loveless conception of marriage (and goes searching for bridesmaids) in order to secure his corporate position; the most important part of his whoohoo-he’s-finally-confronting-Nate speech isn’t “I’d hire men to break your legs” but “If I went to jail – *which I won’t*”.

Roman can’t even fuck.  Well he can masturbate, once, close to someone . . .

And Kendall can *see* this.

“C’mon Shiv, this is because you like the power.  This gets you close to the hill.  And Rome, you couldn’t get a job at a fucking burger joint, let alone a Fortune 500 without some nepotism.  And Conn, you like the glamour it gives to a fuckin . . . freak show in the desert.”

He also has everything he wants in his family; has anyone ever been happier to dance with their kids and ex for thirty seconds at a wedding?  But he can’t even bring himself to be a venture capitalist.  He needs the juice of the corporate hierarchy.  Despite every inch of him burning with the knowledge that he doesn’t really want it, and having to resort to blizzard-from-The-Shining levels of blow to ignore it.

* * *

Even the horror of the final scene isn’t about “a rich kid killing a boy” as Logan puts it.  Kendall has the option of skating only because “our guys know their guys, they’re good guys”.  It’s the corporate resources, the socioeconomic  relationships within and among firms, that can erase Kendall’s Chappaquiddick moment.

* * *

We don’t like these characters because we see that the only thing in their lives they care about is corporate power.  Money, even wealth, everyone has some conception of and can have some relationship with.  But corporate power is a shaggy amorphous collection of behemoth *somethings* over our heads that we know are there, tossing our lives about like leaves as they grapple, but can’t see and can barely even talk about.

We don’t like it.

And we can see it in human form when Logan Roy, while tenderly embracing his broken son in forgiveness, calls out “Colin” with self-assured command as an order for someone to lead his son away, the moment having served its purpose.


Think-piece 6504031 on This is America.  When you’re served a buffet you stuff yourself trying to savor everything on offer.

Take the symbolism as read: the background chaos lost to the dancing spectacle, the careful treatment of guns while bodies are ignored, the Jim Crow posing and minstrelsy.

Let’s go deeper.

Black Bodies, Black Roles

Dancing kids, dragged corpses, running mobs, swaying choirs.  There’s an emphasis on the physical presence of black bodies, as things that move and take up space.  And that don’t have a central, defining, function.

The prime focus, of course, is Donald Glover’s not-quite-dad-bod.  Pulsing with tension on the initial slow zoom, outrageously entertaining when dancing, exuding frightening violence holding a gun and magnetically poignant when pretending to hold a gun.

What are these bodies *doing*?

Glover’s face, on that initial turn toward the camera, goes through a series of grimaces and grins.  Trying to strike an appropriate tone, inhabit the right role.

These are bodies under a constant, frenetic, schizophrenic imperative to change.  Change dancing styles.  Change from background to foreground.  Change from alive to dead.  There is no one movement, there is no one performance, that can be sustained.

Including the final haunting image of Glover, previously under icy command of every muscle and tendon, flailing at the edge of his control in an effort to go as fast as possible.

What’s causing all this?

The White Eye of Sauron

Did you get a pervading sense of dread?  A lot of people did.  The juxtaposition of happy dancing children and chaos; the beat drop after the sudden violence; the violence threatening to fulfill the rule of threes.

Why does an artist depict this?  What audience is being forced to confront this?

Consider again Glover’s face constantly shifting in mood and expression, trying to find a role to inhabit.  The Jim Crow and overt minstrel imagery.  The sudden jarring shifts into uncomfortable violence.  Against a backdrop of dread.

This isn’t pain worked through in a cathartic way; this is pain depicted in a confrontational way.  Glover performs Jim Crow and minstrel imagery staring straight into the camera, trying to create a persona that would satisfy the audience.

That audience isn’t black.  It’s white.


The audience being performed for is white, and there’s an emphasis not only on collapsing the Black experience into physicality, but violently assaulting that Black physicality in a shocking way.

This could be forcing a white audience to confront the reality of American violence, but it’s also serving up that same violence for consumption.  The violence isn’t corrective or retributive, and doesn’t subvert unwritten rules for violence in entertainment.  (Consider the reaction if Glover’s victims were white.)

Why isn’t this an exploitation?  A diminution of the Black experience to a physical dimension and an exploitative performance of Black harm for shock’s sake?


Go back to the emphasis on Black bodies and physicality.  Glover’s menagerie of facial expressions.  These are being *consciously* performed *for the white gaze*.  The Jim Crow imagery and minstrelsy are explicitly referencing performances that were consciously chosen to avoid violence in a white world.  (Notice that the dancers are not subject to the chaotic violence around them.)

The camera itself lingers on Glover’s body, keeps the corpses distant, doesn’t focus on the chaos in the background.

There is an indictment of the stand-point of the performed-for audience.

There’s a causal linking between the violent anti-humanistic mess on the screen and the position of the white audience viewing it. Consequently, the jarring shootings raise the stakes for the consequences of that position.  The white gaze isn’t as guilty if the shootings aren’t included.



Maggie Haberman oozes.

She has no choice; she is a gelatinous mass, a bubble of viscous cytoplasm with an anus, lacking sense organs, appendages, cilia.  Animated by some dark curse that also grants her cognition, so that as she lurches – obscene, rancid, staining her path with a sickly-sweet residue – she pontificates.  As she envelops a child’s wooden train: “The Simpsons only got good after season 17.”  Gumming up a water treatment facility: “Crackle is the best streaming site.”  Suffocating a village as completely as Pompeii: “POTUS gave his best speech as POTUS.”

We cannot judge her for the nonsense she thinks up.  We are not in her place, a ball of conscious snot ambulating around Washington.  The pressure on a mind merely existing in that state, let alone trying to reconcile careerist cognitive dissonance on a world-altering scale, is incomprehensible.

We need to ignore her refusal to acknowledge what regression analysis, word clouds, and an eighth-grade media literacy has been screaming for a year – that the rate of coverage of Hillary Clinton emails approached a kind of treasonous incontinence – except to repeatedly gibber variations of “She was under FBI investigation as a presumptive party nominee. Not sure how that isn’t a story.”  Any of us might do the same in her position.

We chordates, in our privilege, cannot know if we would handle ever-changing Administrative spin about meeting with the Russians as credulously as Maggie Haberman.

But turn now, if you can stomach it, to contemplating something uglier than her body: her social position.  The isolation!  The loneliness!   Wobbling jelly has no experience of communal life.  Even as Maggie Haberman reports (and tweets and tweets and tweets and tweets) on a tumbril remark by Steve Mnuchin’s vulgar trophy wife, the social relations are simply invisible to her.  She can’t see that the obscenity isn’t the speech, it’s the position of the speakers; that a c-suite Goldman Sachs wife deboarding Air Force One laden with designer clothes is an indictment of the system that allowed it to happen.

Of course she can’t see that.  She’s slime.





Visual synecdoche for the past thirty years of political reporting

600 million years ago.  In a fetid swamp of decay – the opaque water a slurry of rotten vegetation, air bulging with the upper bands of UV radiation, brown brown everything brown – a lungfish heaves itself up onto densely-packed shitmud.  It can’t tell.  Its senses cannot distinguish water from air, or light from dark.

Immediately the poison blanket of radiation falling from the sun starts to break its DNA.  Enough slams into its cells that, in the few seconds before it collapses back to the stinking darkness of its sludge, the seeds of bulbous tumors are planted in every organ.

Everything bulges.  Everything hurts.  Suddenly it bumps into something in the blind muck.  Maybe the diaphanous remains of a corpse.  It robotically fucks whatever the thing is.  The mindless twisting is weak and languid but still tears its cancer-ridden body down the length of its spine.  The now inert, ragged, floating mass of carcinoma does not bob to the surface.  The water is too thick for that.

The pre-fatal intercourse happened to have been with another (living) lungfish.  And by a billion-to-one odds, the tangle of broken DNA in its malignant come twisted into place to produce offspring with the first photosensitive cells in vertebrates.  

We are able to see because a tumorous shitfish blindly fucked itself to death in fowl brown filth.  

There’s a silver lining to every situation, no matter how objectively disgusting.

Which brings us to Trump, and the media, and centrism.  What are the silver linings, what are we able to see, now that it’s obvious to all what Republicans are as a party?

(skip down to The Prestige to get the summary answer)

The Supporters

They didn’t come from nowhere, these Trump supporters.  They are Republicans.  They were Republicans.  Ten years ago, Republicans were people who, ten years later, would vote for Trump.  (And let’s not forget the majority of the rest wanted Ted Cruz, who is more horrifying than Trump but, thankfully, butt-ugly as a shitfish.)

Here’s how the NY Times characterized the largest blocks of Republicans in 2005:

TRADITIONAL VALUES BLOC Primarily interested in the general decline of morals in society and the breakup of the family rather than abortion and gay marriage. Education is their top issue. VOTERS: Working and middle classes, suburban and exurban

ANTI-WASHINGTON BLOC The largest group. Dislikes regulation, government waste and pork-barrel politics; would move power to the states. VOTERS: Red-state voters who hate blue-state voters

BIBLICAL BLOC Religion drives politics. Allegiance is to causes, not to party unity. For this group, President Bush did not do enough to save Terri Schiavo.  VOTERS: Conservative Christians

This was after 20 years of Rush Limbaugh, who was months away from “Barack the Magic Negro”.  This was after the second-most-popular Republican reason for voting in 2004 was to “keep the faggots from gettin’ marital tax breaks and visitation privileges, as Jesus intended”.  After torture became a plank of the Republican platform, after Katrina and the “shoot the niggers looters yeahhh shoot ’em all good ‘n dead” rhetoric.

This was shortly before Bill O’Reilly busted a vein over immigration like he lost his favorite loofah, with Geraldo Rivera (one not widely known for being able to pick up subtle nuances of sociological trends) warning “You want your viewers to go door to door, ‘You’re an Illegal, I’m going to take you outside and do something to you.’ ” 

To say nothing of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Jim DeMint, and the rest of the unending parade of lazy authoritarians in the Web 2.0 era.  

I wouldn’t use “disliking pork barrel politics” as a descriptor for these people, myself.  

So, Trump’s Silver Lining Lesson Number 1: Pay attention to what’s happening, because the media won’t do it for you.  Clear as day, and in real time, it was obvious that the Republican party was becoming the incompetent clowning fascism Trump and Cruz are championing.  

Why wasn’t this a prominent theme in the media?  

And why didn’t you realize it?

The Media

Clara Jeffery is Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones.  Broadly pro-union, anti-incarceral state, anti-middle class wealth stagnation, and all the other things you’d expect out of a publication that does actual journalism.  And yet, the above.

Meanwhile, Krugman can’t figure out why the media are “objectively pro-Trump”:

It’s not even false equivalence: compare the amount of attention given to the Clinton Foundation despite absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, and attention given to Trump Foundation, which engaged in more or less open bribery — but barely made a dent in news coverage. 

[…] Brian Beutler argues that it’s about protecting the media’s own concerns, namely access. But I don’t think that works. It doesn’t explain why the Clinton emails were a never-ending story but the disappearance of millions of George W. Bush emails wasn’t […] [or] the revelation that Colin Powell did, indeed, offer HRC advice on how to have private email the way he did […]

And I don’t see how the huffing and puffing about the foundation — which “raised questions”, but where the media were completely unwilling to accept the answers they found — fits into this at all.

No, it’s something special about Clinton Rules. I don’t really understand it. But it has the feeling of a high school clique bullying a nerdy classmate because it’s the cool thing to do.

These are related.

Think of your workplace (you know, the place you’re sitting right now).  The industry it’s in.  There are all sorts of weird idiosyncratic ways of doing things, of seeing the business, that are essentially irrational, right?  That were created out of an organic process which no single person or entity is directing?  Maybe sales have to be conducted in a certain way.  Or a concept has to be explained like this and not like that in order to avoid looking like a rube.  

The equivalents in journalism: 

  • Boomers are right and the kids today are wrong
  • Republicans are serious
  • Anything bipartisan is good 

These are all ubiquitous enough to be cliches.  The editor-in-chief of a lefty magazine can be confidently illiterate when bashing the young’uns; Erik Erikson can go on CNN for years; I can offer $100 for a pejorative use of “bipartisan” confident that it can’t be claimed. (Unless, of course, it’s pork-barrel spending, which is an example of why “Republicans are serious” for “opposing” it.)

For other examples, see Charlie Pierce, now and always.  

The media’s treatment of Trump isn’t anything more than “Republicans are serious”.  Trump is a Republican.  He’s serious.  

Like other Republicans before him, he’s serious when he says he has a “secret plan” to end the war; when he says tax cut incontinence will create a bazillion jobs; when he advocates immigration policy from 1933 Weimar Germany.

Hell, even Trump’s obvious and clumsy grifts have a rich history within his party.

Trump’s Silver Lining Lesson Number 2: Political journalism has its own dynamics that have nothing to do with the truth.

It’s clear as day now that the media doesn’t cover Trump objectively, but slots him into their typical political coverage: that is to say, it will treat any objectively insane policy proposal of his in a sober and serious manner.  

But . . . why?  

And why didn’t you notice it before?

The Centrist Ideology

“I’m not an ideologue.”  “Both sides go too far.”  “I don’t slavishly follow a party, I make up my own mind.” “I’m a moderate.” “I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.” “I just care about what works.”

These are the siren calls of centrism, the ideology that marinates political coverage.  The truth lies somewhere in the middle of the extremes of left and right, and partisan cheerleading for unbendable ideas blinds people from seeing what needs to be done.  What could be more reasonable, more obvious, than that?

What’s missing is that the “extremes of left and right” do not exist out there in the world. They have to be built rhetorically.  Picking a middle from the extremes involves picking extremes.  What is the opposite of $4 trillion of tax cuts: infrastructure spending, or preventing the Federal Reserve from crushing wage increases?

Besides extending a spatial metaphor into uselessness, picking a middle from the extremes requires two extremes.  If one set of ideas is generally plausible and sane, and the other set the equivalent of slapping a hornets nest with your hand to kill all the stingy things inside, there’s no need to bother with the second set, is there.  

Finally, locating a political philosophy “in the middle” requires a large set of assumptions.  A small sample:

  • that political institutions are taken for granted the way they are
  • that the norms of political behavior are taken for granted
  • that the political economy framework within which policy is enacted is taken for granted
  • that the goals of the policies “in the middle” have already been determined 

Centrism is thus inherently an ideology of the status quo; it is inherently Establishment.

That the media should adopt centrism as their implicit frame for political coverage could be due to a lot of reasons: not wishing to upset access with their sources; subconsciously defaulting to the ideas that benefit the class and social strata most journalists come from; adapting to the political framework set out by their corporate owners. 

But whatever the reason, notice that the centrist framing of political coverage drives the three trends discussed above.

  • Boomers are the Establishment, run the institutions, and are tremendously invested in the status quo
  • Republicans need to be Serious so that there can be “two sides” to be “in the middle” of
  • Bipartisanship is “meeting in the middle”; in other words, of the status-quo institutions continuing to run as they have been run

Trump’s Silver Lining Lesson Number 3: The media’s coverage of Trump is not due to Trump, but due to the way they cover political events.  The centrist ideology which frames political coverage necessitates covering Trump in a certain way.  It necessitates covering Republicans a certain way.  It necessitates covering issues a certain way.  

And that’s why it took Trump waving his tiny hands around for you to notice how the media covers politics with a centrist frame: it took someone so obviously unfit and hateful, so cartoonish, so small-handed to demonstrate the framework the media uses to cover politics.  

The Prestige

Here, then, in three sentences, is the point:

The media’s centrist framing of political coverage over the past thirty years helped create the conditions for Donald Jay Trump.  Pay attention to that centrist framing.  It’s insane and brings evil into the world.  

That’s the reason for this blog.  

h/t LGM for the image



Spot on, Erik Loomis.

Patagonia’s getting a bunch of kudos (including the New Yorker ooooooo) for auditing its supply chain, seeing that it is in fact a part of the current garment industry in which worker exploitation and abuse is rampant, and taking steps to make things better.

Good for them.


[W]hatever Patagonia is doing may in fact be positive. But the point is that a) we won’t know except whatever the company tells us and b) it does not seem that workers themselves will have any power to demand dignified lives. The whole system exists upon the goodwill of Patagonia executives. No fundamental change to injustice can take place if it rests on the goodwill of the powerful. It must be codified into the legal code.

Aesthetically that last sentence is a bigger affront to human dignity than the triangle shirtwaist fire but it’s right.

Institutions.  Structure.  Codification.  Or GTFO.

This Vox article about SoulCycle smells really fishy.  It smells an awful awful lot like sponsored content.

Fresh fish fresh fish fresh fish

Fresh fish fresh fish fresh fish

For those interested in the prosecution’s case, it’s below.

The money shot first:  it’s tough out there for writers and new-age media companies, and who really gives a shit about paid content if it’s clearly labeled.

This isn’t labeled. 

Does Vox do this regularly?  That’s part of the problem, that you have to know.  Bah.

Some background before Jack McCoy starts his presentation: SoulCycle (in case you’ve never heard of a Bugaboo stroller) is a stationary bike exercise class that has a schmear of new-age sentimentality over it that apparently justifies its $30 / session price (for the lowest tier).

Take it away, Jack.

The Newsroom didn't deserve you, Jack McCoy

The Newsroom didn’t deserve you

Exhibit A:  Personal testimonial frame and rhetoric that is right out of “How to Write a 3am Infomercial for Dummies”

– My name is Alex, and I’m addicted to SoulCycle.

– I don’t have all the answers as to why some people are obsessed with SoulCycle [. . .] But perhaps I can shed some light on why the company is as successful as it is

– By the end of every class, I’ve left a small puddle of glistening sweat beneath my bike and my shirt is soaked through.

– It was awkward, and one-on-one training is something I have never tried again.

– It leaves me sweatier and more accomplished than any cardio I would normally do on my own.

– Anyone who tells you that vanity and the desire to look fit are not part of the reason they do SoulCycle is lying. And from a purely vain standpoint, I’m really happy with my results.  But I’ve also noticed other positive effects. My endurance has increased, my resting heart rate is down, I sleep better, and when I go to the “regular” gym, I’m stronger when it comes to exercises like squats and leg presses.

I’m running out of pixels, but there’s a lot more.  All of it positive, all of it reading like an F-list movie reviewer trying to get on a poster of Adam Sandler’s new movie.  “I laughed, i cried, I cashed the check the producers sent me.”

Exhibit B: Really really slanted rhetorical methods

The brand — which promises a full-body workout via “indoor cycling reinvented” — has been labeled a cult, an obsession, even therapy.

The first two links are to NYMag articles; the third is to a SoulCycle ad.  A child can see that’s wrong, right?

One of the worst fitness experiences I’ve ever had is taking a “free” training session from a personal instructor at my gym.

Does the context justify the quotes around the “free”?  Reader, it does not.  The only reason to put them there is to denigrate the entire silly notion of taking personalized exercise instruction that isn’t from SoulCycle.

It likely won’t be long before you find an instructor whom you mesh with — whether it’s due to their teaching style, the way they push their students, their inspirational attitude, or their feelings on Rihanna’s music.

What the fahk dude Jesus you’re not even trying to hide it.

But the head shot might be the consistent denigration of the competition.  Besides the above about the “training” “session” “at” “the” “gym”:

– At other places, like SoulCycle competitor Flywheel, there isn’t as much of a relationship between the music and your actions. You’re often just told to pedal fast or slow.

– And while many fitness studios and boutique gyms are forging deals with services like ClassPass (a sort of fitness class broker) to fill their empty slots, SoulCycle’s classes are as popular as ever.

No wait this is the head shot:

When people make fun of SoulCycle (I’ve made fun of it in the past), their derision is never about the actual workout.

Even Bert the Bailiff is rolling his eyes

Even Bert the Bailiff is rolling his eyes

Exhibit C: SoulCycle is so great. You exercise, on a bike!

– There are “hills” — intervals where you crank up the resistance and pedal against it — where it feels like you’re moving your legs through thick mud. There are fast sprints that will make you gulp oxygen and feel like your lungs are leaking.

– “Maybe tomorrow I can put on more resistance,” I’ve thought to myself. This is, of course, a lot easier said than done.

– Though all participants reserve a bike (signups open every Monday at noon) and choose where they sit, the rows tend to sort themselves. The newbies are usually in the back and off to the left and right. The overachievers tend to gravitate closer to the center and the front.

– Sessions are divided into sprints, hills, jogs (a medium-paced interval), and “jumps” (where you hold yourself up out of the saddle for two, four, or even eight beats at a time) — intervals that require different paces, changing beats, and varying levels of effort (sprints require bursts of energy, whereas hills require more endurance). The music acts as a skeleton plan for riders, keeping them together.

Why do this “golly there are varying resistances to this velocipede machine” routine if you’re not trying to sell the experience?

Exhibit D: There’s a big press push from SoulCycle now as they’re expanding

Someone from Style lost their SoulCycle virginity recently.  AdWeek likes SoulCycle’s offices.  CNBC had on SoulCycle’s CEO to talk some squawk.  Something called Bustle posted a listicle.  Months after her show with a SoulCycle plot point ends, Ellie Kemper’s SoulCycle love is in Shape Magazine.

And Alex Abad-Santos just chooses now to effuse about his SoulCycle love?

SoulCycle totally paid for this.

Politics is about who gets to do what to whom.

Voting, electoral politics, and political parties are a very small part of politics.

Case in point: this bullshit.

CBS’ The Briefcase, where viewers watch two desperate families fight over resources: the producers take two families, give one $100,000 and tell them to decide how to split it with another.  Are both families poor and desperate?  They are!  Does the deciding family snoop through the finances and lifestyle of the Other family to decide how “deserving” they are?  They do!

“It’s beautiful. Is that what I think it is?”
“Are you thinking of class warfare? Then yes.”

Beyond the obvious responses – e.g.: zounds (contemporary swear words seem inadequate) this is awful; jobs are so poorly paid that groveling on national TV for stop-gap amounts of cash seems like a necessary economic decision; between CBS, the production team of the show itself, ad agencies, in-house PR firms, etc: thousands of people signed off on this thing –

Beyond all that, consider how this show differs from gladiatorial combat in the Colosseum.  One is entertainment through destroying the body, the other through destroying the spirit.  Which is worse to watch?  Of those two toxic weeds, which indicates they grew in a more polluted environment?

Elias Isquith at Salon and Margaret Lyons at Vulture point out how the show reflects political economic dynamics.  Both Isquith and Lyons link the personal circumstances of the contestants to what kind of society supports a show that has such contestants.


What “The Briefcase” does is tell the people who are unfortunate enough to not only be poor but also to be watching CBS that this mental anguish is, ultimately, something they’ve brought upon themselves [. . .] What’s happening here is much more dehumanizing, and requires much more of a buy-in on the part of its victims. It’s not [altruistic pornography]; it’s “The Hunger Games.”

And Lyons:

The Briefcase does it in a clear and methodical way, but we live in a culture that habitually depicts poor people or poverty as inherently other [. . .] Why does the burden of helping “struggling” people fall on other struggling people?

To sharpen the point they’re both dancing around: conscious political decisions made about how to structure the US economy created the desperate environment in which the show’s contestants find themselves.  Decisions about how high wages are allowed to rise, who bears what kinds of risk, and who reaps the gains of economic growth.

sliding income graph

This state of affairs was deliberately made

As a necessary condition required for those particular decisions to happen, they have to be invisible.  How long would economic growth or income distributions (not wealth, mind you, *income*) be as lopsided as a sumo and a monk on a teeter-totter if people knew who was pulling which political levers to make those things happen?

Part of the fog that obscures those decisions is the erasure of class distinctions and an overbearing sense of agency: everyone is middle-class, and if you’re struggling to make ends meet it’s because of something you *did*.  The economic space in which you act isn’t shaped by anything, and it’s a place where ordinary folk like you can exercise decisions that matter.

The fog is the world of The Briefcase.

Of course the real world isn’t that.

Lovecraft was right, it’s a desolate space of horror where CEOs and financiers gibbering slobbery words wave their hands in inscrutable movement shaping the economy to their benefit by forging chains with the energies of their capital that keep taut politicians, courts and institutions as they stagger.  They are the Old Gods shaping things in ways the ordinary can’t see or comprehend.  If they take notice of the billions they condemn to misery and pain they give no sign.

J.P. Morgan Cthuluh

J.P. Morgan Cthulhu

Except when they do notice, and they notice you, all of a sudden you’re on national TV where it seems like your ideas about what’s valuable and fair control an economic outcome.

They don’t.

Because in a sign that their hidden decisions are in utter control over your fate: the big reveal at the end of every episode is that both families are the ones divvying a briefcase for the other, and each gets to keep the full amount.

O there are tears.  O yes.  Tears of utter joy and gratitude.

I have painstakingly decoded the very complex and subtle way the New York Times uses its readers’ prejudices to signal that Bernie Sanders’ campaign is not worth taking seriously:

Personally I think old ladies are very astute and hip.  I doubt the NYTimes' demographic does though.

Personally I think old ladies are very astute and hip. I doubt the NYTimes’ demographic does though.

The premise of this piece is that Bernie Sanders is a wicked-scary political force and mentions rallies of hundreds of people.  “Hundreds of lame people,” the editor said under his breath as he was selecting a photo that more people will see than read the first paragraph of the piece.

“But old people vote!”  *You* might think that, but *your psyche* is thinking “Bernie Sanders supporters are old white women, and not the fun Betty White kind.”  During the first Democratic debate you’ll be wondering why Sanders’ railing against the TPP makes you think of Grandma’s Boy.

And no-one liked Grandma’s Boy, not even Nick Swardson.

In the foppish, sweaty, desperately condescending tone of an Oxford Don dressing down an undergraduate in lecture who resisted his leering advances at the pub the night previous, this Financial Times book review tries to defend US political economic policy as “pragmatism”.

If centrist tropes were oil this review would break OPEC’s pricing power.

The tropes are used to oppose a characterization of the US political economy as “neoliberal”, something neither the reviewer or book author being reviewed seem to understand.

Neoliberalism is a contentious term. As a deer hunter in the Michael Cimino style I care about aesthetics, and by far the most aesthetically pleasing definition of neoliberalism is the anthropological one: a set of rhetoric, practices and institutions which trains the self to use metaphors of competition and the market to frame experience.

You ain't a true burned-out rust belt town until you spontaneously recite Horatio Alger stories

You ain’t a true burned-out rust belt town until you spontaneously recite Horatio Alger stories

But whatever. That might not be the right way to analyze neoliberalism or political economy. But definitely one of the wrong ways is the centrist claptrap the Financial Times recites.

Size of the state matters, and “government spending compared to GDP” is an accurate way of measuring it

Size *always* matters (ask an Irish person who lives abroad if you don’t believe me) but spending / GDP is a red herring. The consequences of policy decisions by the state have nothing to do with *amount of spending* and everything to do with *amount of control*. A SNAP program that allows Hormel products and not kale exerts much more control than mailing strings-free checks.

The amount of economic regulation means the state is “interventionist” as opposed to “letting the market take its own course”

Oh god this is the dumbest shit ever.

Exhibit A: The market can’t exist without state regulation on the tiniest, granular level. The Illusion of Free Markets is my favorite explication of this (mainly because of aesthetics again, though Bernard Harcourt can’t really be characterized as a “one deer, one shot” thinker). There is no line past which “regulation” “distorts” “the market”. It’s regulation now, regulation tomorrow, regulation forever.

Exhibit B: The flurry of economic regulatory activity in the last few decades hasn’t even been oriented around containing markets, it’s been about shifting resources and risk.

Exhibit C: the FT review scores an own goal by stating outright “the [economic regulatory] changes are more accurately described as a re-regulation – a change in the forms of regulation and intervention – rather than de-regulation.”


Finally, the big one:

“Even on the level of rhetoric, the ideas of neoliberalism have little purchase. Outside of a few university seminar rooms and think-tanks it is, for better or worse, pragmatism that reigns.”

The greatest trick the Devil tries to continuously pull is that one is acting “without ideology” in a “pragmatic” manner.

The past few decades of US political economic activity – in which public decisions and resources have steadily been shifted to places where no-one in the middle-, working- and precariate classes can benefit from them; risk has increasingly been shifted from the elite to the poor and from private to public; and trillions of dollars in cheap and nigh risk-free money have been transferred directly from the government to the financial sector – is a strange kind of pragmatism.

One which looks exactly as if it’s using the state to de-democratize decisions and put resources in the hands of elite control while shifting risk into everyone and everything that is not a part of that elite.

Funny, that.


This is this. This ain’t something else. This is this. From now on, you’re on your own.

I prefer my misogyny out in the open.  I like it niiiiiice and inflammatory.  People can react to it, and it can be dealt with.

We don’t live in that world.  We live in a world where misogyny slips into cracks, into subtext, into what is *not* said.

We also live in a world where misogyny is deeply intertwined with corruptive and reactionary view of politics.

Perfect example: Benedict Carey’s Memorial Day article in the NY Times.

Carey’s article is nominally about the increased rates of mental illness among women in the military than men.

One of the biggest adjustments the United States military attempted during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was cultural: the integration of women into an intensely male world.

I know I know a US military that “attempts” “adjustments” is a horribly reactionary frame; move past it, move past it, there’s worse.

The evidence that Carey, the Times’ reporter on brain and memory science, provides for the increased mental illness rate among women has more holes than Hitler at the end of Inglorious Basterds.  But leave that to one side (or check the bottom of the post *), move past it, move past it, there’s worse.

The reached for (and “reached” is definitely the verb, if not “shitted-out”) explanation is that women can’t access brotherly love.

For men, the bonds of unconditional love among fellow combatants — that lifeblood of male military culture — are sustaining. But in dozens of interviews with women who served, they often said such deep emotional sustenance eluded them.

[. . .]

“It creates a kind of bond between members, a love that transcends anything you’ve ever known,” David H. Marlowe, the founder of the Army’s behavioral health unit, who died last year, once said. “You come to the absolute belief that the noblest and most important thing you can do is die for the others.”

Many women in the military did not have that kind of love — at least when they were deployed. “It’s like, I got all the downside of serving in the Army and none of the upside, the camaraderie,“

Hmm.  Are the ways that women fail to access this “lifeblood of military culture” different from the ways men fail to?

It's that guy from Law and Order: Criminal IntentHint: this is not Batman

Benedict Carey doesn’t know, because Benedict Carey lumps all men together and all women together.  Men do not have difficulty accessing this camaraderie; women do.  This “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” framing, the individualization of the problem, is endemic to centrist political reporting, and glosses over the institutional dynamics that contribute to problems.  This is an individual problem for people to deal with, not a social problem for communities and institutions.

What’s puzzling, and acts as a key to unlocking the piece’s deeper misogyny, is that Carey quotes a woman that offers a way for the Army to deal with this predicament.

“It’s such a tricky thing to navigate; you have to learn to approach guys like a sister, not as a potential romantic partner,” said Anne, a woman who served two tours in Iraq and wanted her full name omitted because she is currently on active duty. “When you do that, they’ll do anything for you. But so many females coming into the Army, they’re so young, they don’t understand how to do that.”

Provide training and create a culture where men and women generally interact with each other platonically, not as people eyeing each other at a club in 1 in the morning.


These boots were made for creating an atmosphere of sexuality

But Carey doesn’t frame the quote this way; it occurs during a dump of quoting women describing their experiences, and its implications go unremarked.

We’re on to something, here.

The “Men are Martian,  Women Venetian” frame that emphasizes individuals and ignores how institutions create the context in which they operate partly explains why he does this.  There’s a deeper reason though.  It ain’t pretty.

For all his focus on individual experience, Carey misses A GIANT FUCKING ENORMOUS matzoh ball: how the differences among women contribute to the difference in their experience.

Carey doesn’t even rhetorically ask whether women of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds experience this lack of social integration differently.  This is baffling, because, as with the quote above outlining a perfect institutional response the Army could take, Carey provides quotes highlighting the importance of ethnicity and class in individual experiences:

[Social Scientists] have found that the mental costs borne by those in the minority are similar.  Members of such groups tend to report as many insults and bad days as members of the dominant culture. But compared with the majority, they feel far less secure.


She also learned how to handle the rich girl comments: “So what, I’m here just like you.”

How ethnicity and socioeconomic status affects the ways women handle stress in the military isn’t just something Carey overlooked; it’s explicitly in Carey’s narration of the issue.  But it’s not in his analysis at all.  Every woman is white, and every woman is upper class.


If that’s even the term for it.  Carey chooses to frame his story around a young Lieutenant who developed mental problems: feelings of inadequacy, numbness, anxiety, panic attacks.  She went to Philips Exeter Academy, one of the most elite prep schools in the world; graduated from Wellesley; and has been traveling the world for a couple years as a way of combating her illness.  Her father is an international venture capitalist for software firms.

She’s a sympathetic figure, and I wish her nothing but the best in her struggles.

Benedict Carey treats her ethnicity and wealth as invisible.  As unworthy of discussion.  If someone’s ethnicity or socioeconomic status differs from hers, Carey doesn’t find that relevant enough while exploring women reacting to stress in the military to even ask whether it matters.

All the things Carey does re-enforce each other, making a tepee of social shittiness to trap women.  If males are all able to access brotherly communion that women have difficulty sharing, and the military itself doesn’t shape the problem, the stress and mental anguish women experience are due to something innate to being a female – ethnicity and class don’t affect things, after all – and can only be changed by women acting differently on an individual level.

The message is: a woman’s isolation and alienation in a social space is a problem specific to something innate about women, not a social problem; and women need to deal with it individually, not collectively; and certainly not men, and not institutions.

Notice how free-floating the message is once its received.  It applies to a woman working the line at McDonald’s as well as someone in upper-middle-management who rarely sees another person wearing a skirt.

“Your feelings of isolation and alienation are because of you.  You’re the only one who can deal with them.   Hope you have enough money to travel the world.”


The ultimate con here is one I’ve already lost by discussing this stupid, shitty, misogynist article by Benedict Carey: we shouldn’t be getting our patterns of thought from the media.  It shouldn’t matter that Benedict Carey wrote a piece that ignores how the military institutionally creates a social environment, that erases distinctions among ethnicity and class, and treats all men and all women as two homogenous groups.  The words should have the same affect being printed in the NY Times as being printed on a handout you get while walking through the airport from someone waving a tambourine.

But in order for that to happen, your parents would have had to raise you differently.  It’s probably too late now.

I suggest meditation. Or Jack Daniels.  I use both quite liberally, and concurrently.

* He cites a study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine  to talk about the increased risks women face over men when they return to civilian life.  The *conclusion of the study* is “the post-deployment adjustment of our nation’s growing population of female Veterans seems comparable to that of our nation’s male Veterans.”  Umm.

He cites a finding in that study that the expected rate of depression among enlisted women is likely between 1.1 and 1.6 times that of men.  But the expected rate of women in general to experience depression is twice that of men in general.   Umm.

The study relies on self-reporting of sexual harassment, depression, and PTSD.  I am not a betting man, as it is against my church, but if I were allowed to bet I would bet that male soldiers are less likely to self-report those things.  Umm

The other piece of data Benedict Carey provides, although without attribution, is that “Army data show that the suicide rate for female soldiers tripled during deployment, to 14 per 100,000 from 4 per 100,000 back home — unlike the rate for men, which rose more modestly.”  So.  During a deployment when women were being used in combat roles in an unprecedented way, the suicide rate for women rose more than it did for men.  Umm.

And that’s the hard data in Benedict Carey’s piece.

The nicest touch is that in his discussion of how minority populations in general face more stress, he says the data isn’t there for women in the military:

The search for answers continues.

Researchers are now asking how much “all those little things” — the differences inherent in being on the margins of a culture — affect a person’s mood, especially under the stress of combat.

Carey explicitly says he’s pulling stuff up outta his ass.  That the story he’s trying to sell about women’s mental illness in the military – that it’s due to maladjustment with a male culture – is a story, unbacked by data.

So, to be clear, the shitty parts of the story – that ignore the military’s role, lump all men as homogenous and ignore ethnic and socioeconomic differences among women, and creates such a shitty message – are not driven by data.  They’re driven by Benedict Carey.

Y’know what really creeps me th’ fuck out?

Some apes have had mirrors placed in front of their cages and been given crayons.  They draw the cage, but they don’t draw themselves in itI look at those drawings, and one time it hit me: maybe they do.

Maybe they see their constraints as defining who they are.  I’ve always found that chilling.

I’ve found something worse: a self-portrait that doesn’t include the cage.

Anand Giridharadas writes an arts column for the times, but he also writes a mish-mash of columns about international political dynamics.  His sense of politics matters.

And it’s awful.

The two Brooklyns awkwardly coexist, nowhere more starkly than in politics: Brooklyn votes emphatically for the left’s relative egalitarianism — giving President Obama 81 percent of its vote — even as its gentrifiers drive out the poor, secede from the public education system and, in many ways, embody how the country increasingly shows the patterns of an inheritance society.

Anand Giridharadas, I happen to be roommates with Al From.  I read him your column (I had to; he’s too high to read much before noon, most days) and he laughed and laughed and laughed.

“Doesn’t this guy know that the Democratic Party isn’t a vehicle for egalitarianism?” Al said in-between puffs from his vaporizer.  “Hasn’t this schmoe figured out that it’s Neoliberalism With a Human Face, and that merely voting for these guys won’t do anything about advancing class mobility?”

“I think he’s viewing it through a more touchy-feely lens, like, how it feeeels to vote Democratic?” I offered.

“Word,” Al said. “That’s dumb.”

Giridharadas’ larger mistakes have to do with where this analysis of how things feel leads him.

[Brooklyn] is a place where two conservative notions flourish: the idea of competitiveness, in which life is imagined as a brutal Darwinian struggle and it’s never too early to start preparing your kids to outsmart the local math genius; and of traditionalist purity, in which good parenting means returning to The Way Things Were, resisting grain-fed beef and formula-fed humans (and shaming parents, particularly mothers, who fall short because of physiology, ambition or, simply, a focus on different things).

This isn’t “Darwinian competitiveness” and “traditionalism”.  This is “life under a market society”, where consumption choices reflect personal values and the only way to win is through comparison to others in the marketplace.

This has nothing to do with partisan politics.   It’s about political economy shaping subjective experience.  It’s about how one feels one has to live in order to gain meaning in the environment our institutions and culture create.

Giridharadas should be able to see this from his own writing, in which

that $1,049 Bugaboo stroller, that musically enhanced play date, that ergonomic carrier, that free-range egg, that multilingual nanny, that wrenching decision by the powerhouse mother to quit work against her own expectations and desires

are seen as partisan political choices.

Repeat after me, as many times as it takes, maybe start with a simple 150 repetitions in the time it takes you to mousse your hair every morning: Those. Are. Not. Partisan. Political. Choices.  They are choices made under the assumption that politics is only consumption, and so that the kinds of consumption you indulge in say what partisan team you’re on.

Does this conception of politics, in fact, hide where the real power in politics operates?  Does it obscure the decisions people make that build the institutional, structural factors under which consumption choices are made?

Will Giridharadas demonstrate it in his next paragraph?

Fuck THIS bullshit:

[A]ll the questions of taxing and spending begin with this one: How do you allocate your resources between your children and everybody else’s?

1 in 6 people can’t get adequate nutrition on a regular basis.  Wages have not increased for forty goddamned years.  All the economic gains in the past decade have gone to the top 10%.

In case anyone reading this has Giridharadas’ comprehension skills,  I’ll spell it out for you: those things determine the resources you have to spend, on your children and everyone else’s.  All the questions of taxing and spending exist prior to your decision as to whether to quit your job for your shitty kid.  Prior to what kind of food to buy.

*That’s* the arena for partisan politics.  Not “oh Joffrey is so tuckered from his multiple violin and Mandarin lessons he can barely eat his grass-fed beef I quit my law firm partnership to prepare all day for him, so I feel guilty as a Democrat.”


One of the reasons Mad Max: Fury Road is so good (umm spoilers if you’ve been chained to a bed in a Misery-type scenario and haven’t been able to see it) is that it dramatizes ideological constraints.

No-one can see past their prejudices.

Not the chalky henchmen, not the escaping women, not the old crones in the desert, not Bad Teeth Joe who crashes his empire for no reason.

Enter: Oprah.



One of the defining characteristics of centrism is ignoring and denying the structural factors that constrain individual action.

Unemployed?  Move to where the jobs are!  Or get more education and skillz!

Face sexual discrimination at work? Lean-in and do what the boys do!

Oprah is a consummate centrist entertainer, emphasis on the first syllable.  Featuring self-help gurus, spiritualists, vision boards, and other self-improvement claptrap by the truckload, she rigorously advances individual responses to social problems.

Nicole Aschoff, in a compelling excerpt printed in the Guardian from her recent book New Prophets of Capital, documents a number of these ridiculous piece of advice, including becoming an “out-of-the-box thinker” to lessen back-pain at work and reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles to lessen stress when you can’t pay your rent.

Obviously, an obsessive focus on individual-level solutions to broad structural factors prevents people from organizing to change those factors.  Macroeconomic policies that depress wages and boost unemployment while siphoning resources to the rich are not in peril from people learning to become out-of-the-box thinkers, or reading Murakami.

But Aschoff goes deeper: the kind of relentless individualistic remedy Oprah promotes is centered on a specific idea of what a person is.

It’s simple. Anyone can become anything. There’s no distinction between the quality and productivity of different people’s social and cultural capital. We’re all building our skills. We’re all networking [. . .]

The way Oprah tells us to get through it all and realize our dreams is always to adapt ourselves to the changing world, not to change the world we live in. We demand little or nothing from the system, from the collective apparatus of powerful people and institutions. We only make demands of ourselves.

A necessary part of Oprah’s vision being a specific kind of person.  Attributes of this person, besides being willing to buy homeopathic remedies because a Turk is wiling to wear scrubs on TV:

  • She is not too poor to acquire new skills
  • She has a social circle she can leverage
  • She is not too physically isolated, due to geography or illness or personality

But more generally, and more importantly, she is the type of person that doesn’t look for collaborative, communal organizational activity to solve broad social problems.  She has to be psychologically comfortable with not changing the situation she finds herself in through collective action.  She has to be willing to cope without rocking the boat. 

The centrist tropes Oprah relies on are a narrative that creates this type of person.

Success in life means that you earned it; failure means you did something wrong.

Finding fulfillment is finding the right self to fit your environment, not in finding fulfillment in the struggle to change your environment.

Saul Bellow once wrote: “That’s the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what’s real.”  The tragedy of this centrist story is that it tries to turn this quote on its head: the struggle is recruiting versions of your self to fit what others define as real.

That’s partly why I’m making an effort to write this shitty blog again.  Too many of my friends, family and co-workers are falling prey to this centrist narrative.  I want to get it to stop.

And if it ever does?  Oh what a day.  WHAT A LOVELY DAY.

Howdy y’all.  After living as a Mountain Man in the Sangre de Christos for a few years I’ve ambled down to the flatlands to shoot bigger varmints.

I wanted my first post back to be a comprehensive ideological thing about something I noticed on Memorial Day.

And then I came across Mike Konczal’s recent centrism piece.

He’s been doin’ yeoman’s work and has a beautiful soul.  And this piece on centrism’s recent failures is spot-in in its parade of horribles (listed at the end of this post *).

But when he claims that those recent failures mean centrism is doomed as an ideology as a result?

Ideologies don’t die when they’re revealed to be dumb.  Ideologies die when they’re beaten.  And pretending otherwise makes it less likely for centrism to be killed and buried where it deserves to be: underneath a giant pile of the fetid stinking human misery it’s so good at producing.

Centrism’s been failing since Matt Yglesias was in diapers

Konczal looks at policy failures from 2008.  Centrist ideology has been failing since at least the mid-80s, when Reagan had to reverse himself and raise taxes in order to keep the economy going.

Since then: centrism has had failure after failure after failure.

Slashing public investment and moving public assets to private control?  Too many failures to count, but some bigger ones you may have heard of:

  • the 1996 Welfare Reform that created tens of millions of hungry kids
  • Enron
  • Repealing of financial regulation that created the ’08 crash


  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Patriot Act
  • Iraq War
  • A federal judiciary filled with hacks who construct a Neo-confederate Gilded Age between mouthfuls of tobaccee

These events all happened *before* the ones Konczal lists.

Just because an ideology produces misery doesn’t mean it won’t stick around for a long, long time


So how has this ideology been at the levers of control for so long with so much failure?

Follow the Money

It hasn’t had failure for *the right sorts of people*.  Here are a few graphs, presented without comment:

Productivity vs. Wages

Productivity vs. Wages

Pushing public resources under private control, letting business interests run hog-wild in an environment of lax regulation, and pretending there’s no alternative to this state of affairs because, all-together-now, BOTH SIDES DO IT and there’s no difference between parties, pushes income and wealth to the top and prevents the bottom from doing much about it.

Ironically, Konczal drops name after name that has been instituting centrist policies that have failed for the last few years – Peter Orszag, Alice Rivlin, Alan Simpson, Pete Domenici – and doesn’t stop to ask himself why they instituted these centrist policies in the first place.

CEO-to-Worker compensation ratios

CEO-to-Worker compensation ratios

Number of strikes involving over 1,000 workers

Number of strikes involving over 1,000 workers

Why does the Washington Post employ centrist writers?  Why are there more centrist think tanks than cow shits around a watering hole?  Why do centrist tropes and policies have influence after 30 years of providing money to the rich and immiseration to the rest?

The Long Con

Let’s try to go deeper than “rich folks control all the power.”  How?

Partly because of stuff like this Mike Konczal piece.

  • Short-term memory: the kinds of policy failures Konczal discusses have been happening for generations, but presented as if they’re recent
  • Focus on the presidency: not quite a horse-race piece (although there are shades of it), there is still a background assumption that the presidency is the end-all be-all of policy making, and that should a progressively-minded person get in there the ship will be righted.
  • Focus on correctness and not power: Konczal’s piece assumes that making correct arguments in the public square has a relationship with acquiring and retaining power.

All these dynamics prevent people from using levers of power.  A short-term memory keeps people from using levers that only show themselves over time.  A focus on the presidency keeps people ignoring the levers that exist outside the presidency.  And a focus on being correct in arguments keeps people from grasping any kind of levers in the first place.

Konczal is doing yeoman’s work at the Roosevelt Institute and the New New Deal.  But he plays the unwitting accomplice to con men in the Nation piece.

And you’re the mark.

* From the rabid spittle-flecked mania to reducing the deficit to keep inflation low (deficit remained high, inflation is now negative), to privatizing Medicare as the only way to lower healthcare costs (Obamacare has in fact lowered costs, no need to make seniors try and eat vouchers for dinner) and claiming that matching skills and education with jobs would fix the economy in the long-term without the need for short-term assistance (let’s all just laugh at this one: hahahahaha).

Saddle up

Whoo boy I forgot how much fun alt text was

We’ve all got it comin, Kid

Oh, General John Allen’s emails to Jill Kelley were “flirtatious“, were they?  That doesn’t do anything for me.  For fuck’s sake, The Wall Street Journal is talking about the shirtless photos an FBI agent sent Kelley.  The old stuff that used to grab me just isn’t provoking the same response.  I’m becoming desensitized to the news.

Wait, the Allen/Kelley emails “were like phone sex“?  Mmm, that’s more like it.

Since the more things change the more things stay the same



I can feel pretty confident predicting at least one of these stories will be published at some point:

NSA intercepts capture “passionate moaning” during Bolton, Power phone calls

NYTimes, 5/14/14 – Two more high-powered Washington foreign specialists have been caught up in the NSA surveillance scandal.  Phone calls captured by the agency between UN Ambassador Samantha Power and John Bolton, who held Power’s position in the second Bush administration, depict the two having multiple sessions of phone sex, some lasting for hours.  A highly-placed official in the NSA described the calls’ runtime as consisting mostly of “passionate moaning”.  When the energy seemed to be lagging, Powers would hurl militaristic insults at Bolton, such as,”You blood-soaked walrus, you don’t care who you hurt, do you”; Bolton would often respond in kind, declaring, “You want to call it “responsibility to protect” but deep down you know you love indiscriminate killing as much as I do you crazy-eyed bitch.”  At which point, the official said, the moaning would resume at greater pitch and volume.

President Rubio nearly breaks bed giving it to First Lady first night in White House

POLITICO, 1/21/16 – President Rubio and First Lady Jeanette Rubio were boning so hard last night after the Inaugural Ball that the king bed in the Presidential Bedroom had to be structurally re-enforced, someone close to the incident said.  No word on what positions were used that damaged the frame.  The Drudge Report has confirmed that the new nickname for Jeanette Rubio among the President’s staff is “The Fist Lady”.  A spokesman for the administration declined to comment.

Paul Ryan’s Prodigious Ejaculation Ability Spells Doom for Democrats

Matt Stoller, Washington Daily TimeWeek Beast Post AOL Slim Jim, 9/16/36 – Americans value a man’s man, someone who can get things done outdoors, in the office, around the house . . . and especially in bed.  Cory Booker, years ago, used to have that kind of can-do gung-ho spirit, but running a lackluster Presidential campaign has seemed to sap his strength.  The sex tape he unveiled during the Democratic convention did nothing to dispel the impression of him that is solidifying among the electorate: his stroke was all over the place, he featured barely any use of the tongue, and the money shot consisted of a few pennies.  He looked like he didn’t want to be there.  In a race that is a referendum on the future of the refugee problem, a solution to which will require Americans rallying behind the virility of their leader, Booker’s anemic performance is a huge liability.

This couldn’t be in greater contrast to the one Paul Ryan premiered last week.  It wasn’t just the three percent body fat and authoritative, almost manipulative commands – it was the masterful way he teased his partner, lying to her every time he seemed to promise a release into orgasm.  For a voting population that is increasingly frightened and looking for someone to believe in, Ryan gave them the type of strong and inspiring sex tape that many will respond to.

George Bush V and Rodham Clinton engagement orgy goes awry

McLean Mimeograph, 4/17/95 – The engagement orgy of George Bush V and Rodham Clinton last night in Shielded Dome 7 featured plenty of thrills, chills and come – at least until it was broken up by security.  Tevye Emanuel’s Community Response Team ushered orgy-goers into security sleds when a breach in the Southwestern gate resulted in a flood of contaminants entering the city.  They were soon beaten back beyond the perimeter, and the janitorial staff have already nearly cleaned up the scraps of leathery sunscarred flesh that had fallen off during the incident.  While they were being evacuated, some of the guests who had been interrupted at the height of their activities availed themselves of the CRT’s truncheons and whips.

While there were no casualties or injuries, a minor scandal looks to be brewing. One contaminant managed to board a security sled in the confusion and Laurie Craig, whose pussy was screaming from an erotic asphyxiation session that had been interrupted, allowed the contaminant to choke her to orgasm while others aboard her sled looked on in shock.  As soon as a member of the CRT was notified of the situation, the contaminant was exercised immediately.  Craig’s fate is much more uncertain, and though no-one expects her to resign from the cotillion committee, her tenure there is certain to be much rockier than it was yesterday.


We're all in this together



wordpress visitors