Saturday, December 31, 2022

Narratogy: Cigar Bar


Oh, by the way, one of the things that happened in 2022 was how we learned that Paul Manafort really did make a deal with the Russian government where he would help them try to take over Ukraine and they would help him try to elect Donald Trump to the US presidency in 2016. Not that there were any new details, exactly, in this excellent piece by Jim Rutenberg, The Untold Story of ‘Russiagate’ and the Road to War in Ukraine, which appeared in the New York Times Magazine November 18, and has been sitting in my open tabs ever since, but that it's among the first attempts to tell that part of the story with what you might call a healthy helping of narrativium, helping a reader understand the plot the plot of the plot, and I've been wanting to take it just a little bit further.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Jon Swift Memorial


Commedia dell'arte cover art, 1920s. Via MareMagnum.

Happy Boxing Day and good Kwanzaa! I may be back with something later, but in the meantime there's probably something terrific from this year that you haven't read yet in the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup for 2022 of blogposts chosen by the bloggers, created by the great blogger Jon Swift/Al Weisel and curated since his untimely death by Batocchio. 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas Present


I fell in love with this opening to the January 6 Report the moment I saw it last week. Telegraphing the ending instead of jumping into the medias res, it's not Dickens or Tolstoy, but it's the powerful jolt of narrativium I've been longing for in all these productions for the last three or four years. And the report is Dickensian or Tolstoyan in the extreme length of the thing, the panoply of grotesque characters among the occasional sincere and tormented person you can identify with, caught up in the war and seeking redemption.

In fact it's Christmas! It's a big fat novel your parents put under the tree when you're big enough—I know I was pretty young when I first read David Copperfield or Ivanhoe—where you come back from sledding or skating or whatever and you curl up on the couch with it and a cup of cocoa. It's really what I'd want to do over the next week or so, if only there were some snow and a print edition (I'm ordering mine from, an anti-Amazon gesture, but it'll be a while before I get it) and an actual vacation to work with.

Friday, December 23, 2022

For the Record: The Twitter Files

There's just so much news flooding in before I can absorb it, I'm thinking maybe I just have to resign myself to being a week or so behind on everything. I don't want to let go of the efforts of Mr. Musk's Kancelculture Kids to expose the woke leftist FBI's brutal censorship efforts at Twitter, where they succeeded in silencing the entire NewsCorp organization for [checks notes] a full day before Twitter changed its mind and its policy, in October 2020, nearly spoiling Rupert's special October Surprise revelations of Shirtless Hunter. 

Installment #7 of "The Twitter Files", by noted plastic straw advocate Michael Shellenberger, showed up on Tuesday to defend the story he, Weiss, and Taibbi have been developing: 

I mean, for one thing, the story of the blind computer repairman John Paul Mac Isaac turning the laptop over to the FBI was dodgy enough, the way Mac Isaac told it:

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Heirs of Joseph de Maistre

Mockery for Edmund Burke's support for Catholic emancipation, by James Gillray - Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

The historian Thomas Zimmer is doing some interesting (and scary!) analysis on his SubStack of what's been happening in the livelier precincts of the American right, at The Federalist and the Claremont Institute and the like, where they've decided to stop calling themselves "conservatives" because they're really revolutionaries, and they're ready to throw out the whole apparatus of representative government:

In a more recent piece entitled “Hard Truths and Radical Possibilities,” which came out in American Greatness in November, [Claremont thinker Glen] Ellmers reacted to the midterm results – by rejecting the legitimacy of elections altogether: “Elections – and therefore consent and popular sovereignty – are no longer meaningful.” Once again, his issue is not that the midterms were fraudulently stolen; it is actually much worse: “even if conducted legitimately, elections no longer reflect the will of the people.” There certainly isn’t much of a conserving spirit to be found here. Ellmers rails against the “woke oligarchy” which, based on a massive state bureaucracy that is entirely dominated by “the Left” and unresponsive to the will of the real people, has already completely destroyed the constitutional republic. There is, in this view, very little time to stand up to the “left-wing masters.”

That's a pretty weird turn. Elections are bad because they install a "woke oligarchy" in power. What kind of political process implements the "will of the people" instead? What is the will of "the" people as opposed to the will of most people?

To understand that, you should understand that most Americans aren't "authentic" Americans:

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Literary Corner: Wild Spewing


Jean Tinguely, 1970, Débricollage. Tate Gallery, London.


By Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

They say that the Unselect Committee of Democrats, Misfits, and Thugs,
without any representation from Republicans in good standing,
is getting ready to recommend Criminal Charges
to the highly partisan, political, and Corrupt ‘Justice’ Department
for the ‘PEACEFULLY & PATRIOTICLY’ speech I made on January 6th
This speech and my actions were mild & loving,
especially when compared to Democrats wild spewing of HATE.
Why didn’t they investigate massive Election Fraud
or send in the Troops? SCAM!

OK, in the first place, as the Select Committee made plain, the "PEACEFULLY & PATRIOTICLY" speech is the least of it. 

The Capitol insurrection goes back to weeks earlier and all the tweets Trump sent starting December 19: 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Literary Corner: A New Voice


Christmas Season

by Kevin O. McCarthy

We’re Christmas season.
A talk of the majority right now
who wants to put a small continuing resolution
to bump all the members up
two days before Christmas,
to try to vote on a package they cannot read,
written by two individuals who will not be here,
on spending for the entire government.

The Democrats have been in power.
They've had the House, the Senate, and the presidency.
They did not do their work.
But they should not jam us now.
They should not jam the American public.
We cannot afford it.

We should not move a short-term C.R.
We should move one further into the new year.
Allow the American people what they said
a month ago. To change Washington
as we know it today. We can't afford
to continue to spend the way the Democrats have.
The future generation
cannot afford it as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

No Foul, No Harm


Vintage Space Jam T-shirt via.

I've been thinking about sports lately, partly no doubt because it's that one time in a quadrennium when I start following a sport myself with some assiduity (maybe should be twice in a quadrennium now that I've found out about the women's game), and wanting to say something about how Republican politics relates to sports, but it wasn't coming together until this remarkable series on Mark Meadows texts from the effort to overturn the 2020 election began coming out at Talking Points Memo, and then something Hilzoy said (Hilzoy is the philosopher Hilary Bok, one of the great bloggers until she quit blogging in 2009, and still a really valuable presence on Twitter) crystallized it for me:

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Narratology: From the #TwitterFiles

 The Republican noise machine, including this putz, a former reporter who got fired from BuzzFeed in 2014 after 41 of his stories were busted for plagiarism, now reinvented aa a podcaster for "God, Family, America", with gigs on NewsMax, Parler, and Charlie Kirk's Turning Point USA (coincidentally I just removed him from my Twitter yesterday in my #ProjectMute program, which is why I know all this at the moment), is shocked! shocked! to learn that Twitter's Trust and Safety officers were meeting regularly with the FBI during the 2020 election campaign. 

This from the #TwitterFiles "investigation" being carried out by famous independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss ("investigation" in scare quotes because the investigating seems to consist basically of reading the stuff Mr. Musk gives them and trying to squeeze it into some kind of narrative arc).

Pretty sinister, huh? And Twitter's deputy general counsel at the time, Jim Baker, used to be

Friday, December 9, 2022

For the Record: Trolled Again


It's a little self-indulgent on my part to run this whole idiotic thread, but it's about some misinformation in the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents case which seems to be leaving a lot of people really confused.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Narratology: Night of the Hunter

Catherine Herridge interviews Donald Trump July 14, 2020 for CBS—the one where she asked him why Black people are killed by police and he replied, "So are white people."

A couple of weeks or so ago, CBS News ran a story about the Hunter Biden laptop that didn't get a lot of attention outside the rightwing outlets, by Catherine Herridge, who joined CBS in April 2021 after two decades as a correspondent for Fox News, because she wanted to be on "a team where facts and storytelling will always matter," she said at the time, but it quickly began to look as if it was because a better place to launder the "exclusive" propaganda material from dubious rightwing sources that has long been her stock in trade.

I didn't watch the CBS piece, but I did read an account of it at Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, under an alarming headline:

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Literary Corner: Meat Mountain



by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

So, with the revelation
& DECEPTION in working closely
with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, 
& the Democrat Party, do you throw
the Presidential Election Results of 2020
OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or
do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud
of this type and magnitude allows for the
termination of all rules, regulations, and articles,
even those found in the Constitution. Our great
"Founders" did not want, and would not condone,
False & Fraudulent Elections!

Sir, this is an Arby's, and today's Meat Mountain is penis.

Namely, the prodigal penis of presidents' progeny (sing it in rolling hexameters, Muse, and lubriciously!), of which somebody (I assume connected with Rudy Giuliani) posted a photo on Twitter during the 2020 presidential campaign. Intrepid journalist Matt Taibbi has discovered (actually no, he didn't discover anything; the assignment editor, Mr. Musk, gave him the relevant documents) that the Biden campaign asked Twitter to pull the picture, and Twitter obliged, after some earnest in-house debate, on the grounds that Twitter rules forbid the publication of hacked material, which seems like as good a reason as any.

Apparently Retired Emperor Trump believes this was the decisive moment of the whole campaign—deprived of a chance to look at that cockshot, America's voters, or at least the Twitter users, lost their ability to make a decision and stumbled blindly into voting for Biden instead, with the deplorable results we all know (I see he's slipped back into admitting he didn't get as many votes as Biden, that's nice). That's the massive and widespread fraud and deception we're talking about, the collusion between Democrats and Big Tech, violating Giuliani's freedom of speech, invalidating the whole election, and abrogating the Constitution. 

And apparently Taibbi and his assignment editor, Mr. Musk, believe it too, though they don't seem to offer any clear ideas on who would throw out the 2020 election and reinstall Trump in the White House—former Vice President Pence? General Mike Flynn? Maybe the House can elect Trump Speaker in January and then Biden and Harris can resign so Trump becomes president automatically. I'm sure everybody will agree with that, and Biden owes it to us, since it's all his fault. It's what the "Founders" would want, scare quotes and all. Biden's always talking about unifying the country, why doesn't he do something?

Friday, December 2, 2022

For the Record: Election Handicapping


Photo via.

Following up on the previous, some thoughts I had with regard to a longstanding with Thornton/Henry, who's right on this problem with election forecasting (not polling, forecasting, claiming to know with a certain probability who's going to win):