Thursday, August 18, 2016

Recapped In Brief: My Current BFFs and Forever Failed Friendships; Reposted in Full: Douthat on Donald Trump and the Ring-a-Ding-Ding Dream

Twin lightning bolts in the distance behind the foreground featuring the monumental core of Washington, D.C., in a picture taken Sunday evening, August 14, 2016; Photo by Tyler Reber and posted on his Flickr CWG pool page and reposted in this CWG entry.

I assume this is a single image and not a "layered" photo of multiple lightning strikes. Also, if this really was August 14th -- and I'm tempted to say it was August 16th -- then that storm just north of D.C. bypassed the city outright.


Below is reposted in its entirety a Ross Douthat piece that I absolutely loved that appeared in the Sunday New York Times print edition and also online.

Indeed, I sent it out to some of the 20-and-30-something folks that are the core of the folks in my co-best friend*-Andrea's group.** However, this piece was not well-received by all -- the Hillary-hatred (itself a metastasizing of the large and older phenomenon of Clinton Derangement Syndrome that infects both the American political left and right) -- is simply too great among some erstwhile Sanders supporters and nothing is going to change that fact.

I'm ready for The Madame.


Anyway, that aside, I love this piece and think that Douthat is spot on in his cultural and political analysis.

Of note, that "alt-right provocateurs" that Douthat mentions are a truly reprehensible, if not just outright evil hate group. I've not mentioned them on this blog before but I am aware of them. The GamerGate phenomenon is nearly as depraved. As for "woke" dudebros, I'm not sure what that even means.

The piece is reposted in its entirety including with the lead image that accompanies it. The remaining images -- some of which are topically relevant, others of which are not -- are just meant to break up the text.

1500 block of 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 10:27AM August 16, 2016.


Who's a B.F.F.?? (Notes from above)

*I say "co-best friends" in that she and Quill are my two current best friends while Chester follows close on. Chris T. in Atlanta is my closest in terms of profound texting about our lives. BK in NYC is a long time friend with whom I can pick up right where we left off even if months have passed.

Jonathan in NJ in my childhood Jersey shore best friend and will always occupy a special place.

This list does not include family members (i.e., my mom and, to a lesser but still real extent, my crazy dad).

Then there is my whole Hit Parade of forever failed friendships including, but not limited to, Dan-O, Gasy the Chipmungorilla, the Shrieking Hysterical One, Wall-P (a.k.a., Pitty Shil), the Honking Goose, and Shits-off.

**This group is a lot nicer, even on its worse day, than the comparable group surrounding Wall-P that I was in as a 20-something year old myself back in the 1990s.

That was a truly shitty 1990s-era group. Today, the men are married to ever-inflating and totally controlling wives who have transformed them into buccal-pumping frogs on suburban lily pads requiring permission to use the toilet.

Most have reproduced and have now-adolescent-to-teenage children. One major exception to that bourgeois rule of the married is awful Wall-P and The Staff ...

As arrogant and money-and-power-fixated as it is clueless, Wall-P is the ultimate tool of Corporate Overclass Intrigue and its entire life revolves decisively and closely around that role.

He and The Staff live in that Adams Morgan mansion -- all 47 rooms painted off white and filled with class-free bourgeois consumerist goods such as 60-inch flat screen TVs and Ikea furniture, not to mention Velvet Elvis prints and 200-pound pieces of coral dynamited from distant tropical oceans and purchased on line.

Oh, and let's not forget the many, many fish tanks that have turned into miniature recreations of the primordial ooze of Earth 800 million years ago.

And on any given morning, while The Staff does horizontal jumping jacks in bed, he occupies just a wee corner, dutifully taking orders from her and the Washington Post editorial and op-ed section on what are the day's and week's allowable range of opinions, which he will mistake, of course, for Profound Insight.

Sorry, I'm getting off-topic. Anyway, on to the Douthat piece ...



A Playboy for President
by Ross Douthat
The New York Times
August 13, 2016
Link here

Donald Trump in 2003 with Victoria Silvstedt, 1997 playmate of the year, left, and his future wife, Melania Knauss, at a Playboy event. Credit Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive, via Getty Images

IN a different campaign or era, it would have been a race-altering moment; in this one, it was barely a scandal. There was Melania Trump, the potential first lady of the United States, posing stark naked in '90s-era photos published by the New York Post -- and then in the next day's edition, canoodling lipstick-lesbian style in bed. Yet the press yawned, her husband's latest outrage overshadowed it, and it only stayed a story because the date of the photos raised questions about the future Mrs. Trump's immigration status.

FiveThirtyEight odds of winning and current electoral map for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the 2016 presidential election, updated August 17, 2016.


This election was supposed to be a referendum on Hillary Clinton, long a polarizing figure because she seemed to embody the cultural transformations of the 1960s -- the liberal, feminist, working-mother spouse of the first boomer president.

Ha ha


But in the year of Donald Trump, the religious conservatives who fought many of those transformations find themselves reduced to a hapless rump. The best have retreated to rebuild; the worst have abased themselves before a sybaritic, irreligious presidential nominee.

So in word, deed and his wife's "artistic" shots, it's Trump rather than Clinton who has confirmed the full triumph of the sexual revolutions.

FiveThirtyEight forecasted odds of Clinton and Trump percentage and electoral vote wins for the Nov. 8, 2016 presidential election, as of August 17, 2016.


I say revolutions, plural, because Trump is a reminder that the 1960s happened in stages, with different figures and worldviews shaping its social shifts. As John Podhoretz wrote in a shrewd column, Trump and Hillary are both children of the ’60s -- but of its opposite ends, the Brat Pack era in Trump's case and the flowering of boomer liberalism in Hillary's.

Much of what seems strange and reactionary about Trump is tied to what was normal to a certain kind of Sinatra and Mad Men-era man -- the casual sexism, the odd mix of sleaziness and formality, even the insult-comic style.

But while that male culture was "conservative" in its exploitative attitudes toward women, it was itself in rebellion against bourgeois norms and Middle-American Christianity. And if Hillary is a (partial, given her complicated marriage) avatar of Gloria Steinem-era feminism, her opponent is an heir of the male revolutionary in whose club Steinem once went undercover: Hugh Hefner.

It was Hefner who fully embodied the male sexual revolt. Today he's just a sleazy oldster, but in the beginning he was a faux philosopher, preaching a gospel cribbed from bohemia and various Freudian enemies of repression, in which the blessed pursuit of promiscuity was the human birthright. But really a male birthright, for a certain kind of man: The sort of hep cat who loved inviting the ladies back to his pad "for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex."

1400 block W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 7:01PM August 17, 2016.

Thunderstorms were approaching and I was walking to the gym.


That was the ideal, at least. Trump, the thrice-married ubermensch who jokes about Megyn Kelly's period, is the more usual reality. (So, albeit with more surface class, was the ultimate early-'60s man, the sex-addicted J.F.K.)

That obvious gulf helps explain why Hefner passed from a phenomenon to a sideshow, while a more feminist vision of liberation became the official ideology of the liberal upper class.

But only gradually and partially. The men's sexual revolution, in which freedom meant freedom to take your pleasure while women took the pill, is still a potent force, and not only in the halls of Fox News. From Hollywood and college campuses to rock concert backstages and Bill Clinton's political operation, it has persisted as a pervasive but unspoken philosophy in precincts officially committed to cultural liberalism and sexual equality.

It has also endured by going downmarket in the culture. If you watched "The Girls Next Door," the TV show about Hefner's ménage, you noticed that the Playboy mystique was emphatically not a joke in the lower middle class environs that produced his centerfolds and their most adoring fans. Like Trumpism, Hefnerian values have prospered in the blue-collar vacuum created by religion's retreat, community's unraveling.

Then finally, among men who were promised pliant centerfolds and ended up single with only high-speed internet to comfort them, the men's sexual revolution has curdled into a toxic subculture, resentful of female empowerment in all its forms.

This is where you find Trump's strongest (and, yes, strangest) fans. He's become the Daddy Alpha for every alpha-aspiring beta male, whose mix of moral liberation and misogyny keeps the Ring-a-Ding-Ding dream alive.

There aren't nearly enough of these fans to win him the election. Steinem's revolution (Clintonian complications and all) should easily beat Hef's at the ballot box this year.

But the cultural conflict between these two post-revolutionary styles -- between frat guys and feminist bluestockings, Gamergaters and the diversity police, alt-right provocateurs and "woke" dudebros, the mouthbreathers who poured hate on the all-female "Ghostbusters" and the tastemakers who pretended it was good -- is likely here to stay. With time and Christianity's further decline, it could eclipse older culture war battles; in the pop culture landscape, it already does.

Ten years ago, liberals pined for a post-religious right, a different culture war.

Be careful what you wish for.

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