Sports humorist takes on Trump and his habit of cheating at everything

I have played golf once in my life, at a junior golf course in my hometown when I was, like, 11.

Probably needless to say, I do not read Golf Magazine. But there is an interesting interview (or, at least parts of the interview) in it with “sports humorist” Rick Reilly, author of a new book called “Commander In Cheat” in which he talks about the former President Orange Menace’s habit of cheating at golf:

Golf Magazine: You seem to firmly believe that golf is a game of honor.

Reilly: Yes. And Trump doesn’t offend me so much as a voter as he does as a golfer. We don’t cheat each other. The way I learned the game was to call your own penalties. If you cheat, then you despoil the game. Nobody should be able to say I shot 68 when they didn’t even break 80. I get lying about politics, but golf, you should never get to lie about golf.

Are you ready for the book to be called “fake news” by him?

I’m hoping.

What was playing with him like?

Well, he took a gimme chip-in, which I had never heard of. People say, Okay, so he cheats at golf. Well, yeah, but it goes deeper. If you’re going to cheat at golf, you’re probably going to cheat at business. And if you cheat at golf, you’re probably going to cheat on your wife. And if you cheat at golf, you’re probably going to cheat on your taxes. Tom Watson said he saw Gary Player bend back a weed at the Skins game and he never spoke to him again.

By all accounts, Trump is a pretty good golfer. So why lie and exaggerate?

Exactly. He has a good swing. He’s probably an 8 or a 9. That’s pretty good for 72 years old! Why do you have to cheat? I tried to make this book apolitical, I tried to make it about golf. He’s wrecking it. He’s leaving a big, wet orange stain on the game I love.

LOL at the “wet orange stain.” Also: eeew!

A picture of Trump cheating at golf. How do we know he’s cheating at golf in this picture? Because, as one sports humorist writes, Trump cheats at everything all the time. It a natural state of being for him, whether it be in sports or politics.

Elon is not that complicated; he’s like Trump in every way

Eric Levitz, senior writer for Intelligencer feature at New York Magazine, has a well-written piece up that examines the question: Is Elon a conservative or a liberal or somewhere in-between?

Leivitz points out that this is a settled question:

Elon Musk believes that a “woke mind virus” has infected the body politic. He thinks that COVID containment policies were “fascist,” that the New York Times is a “lobbying firm for far left politicians,” that trans people asking others to use their preferred pronouns is “neither good nor kind,” and that Anthony Fauci should be prosecuted. He encouraged his followers to vote Republican in this year’s midterms and has endorsed Ron DeSantis for president in 2024.

Yet he “continues to defy easy political categorization.” Or so the New York Times reports.

The paper published this assessment in a “news analysis” (a fancy name for a tendentious opinion piece that lacks any normative content) by Jeremy Peters. Headlined “Critics Say Musk Has Revealed Himself As a Conservative. It’s Not So Simple,” the piece seems to exist primarily to defend the honor of a previous Peters dispatch; last April, the reporter declared that Musk’s politics were “elusive” and did not “fit neatly into this country’s binary, left-right political framework.” It may seem like this take has aged as poorly as Tesla’s stock over the past nine months. But in reality, Peters reports, he is actually still right.

Peters is not alone in characterizing Musk as “a bundle of contradictions and inconsistencies” whose politics are “tricky to pin down.” Several other reporters have puzzled over Musk’s apparent transformation from politically taciturn Obama donor to compulsive sharer of cringe-inducing conservative memes. Musk himself maintains that his politics are “neither conventionally right nor left.”

Nevertheless, neither Musk’s political trajectory nor his present orientation seem all that difficult to comprehend or categorize. Musk is not only an identifiable political type but a familiar one. In many respects, he is a conservative in the mold of Donald Trump.

Levitz goes on to point out that, just as with Donald Trump, Elon Musk leans politically based on what makes him money, what helps him to keep more of his money, and what stances most allow him to get back at those who dare to cross him:

But one’s politics are rarely determined by material interests alone. And Trump and Musk are not merely businessmen who desire public subsidies, low taxes, and docile workers. They are also, by all appearances, thin-skinned narcissists with insatiable appetites for attention and public adoration.

Here, I admit, I’m veering into the inherently speculative terrain of long-distance psychology. Yet it seems uncontroversial to say that both Musk and Trump harbor grandiose conceptions of their personal significance (the former openly styles himself as the human species’ would-be savior, the latter as the greatest president in American history), suffer from compulsive and often self-destructive social-media addictions, and do not take kindly to perceived slights. Now, if you are a white male billionaire with a taste for womanizing and longing for plaudits on social media, then you’re bound to experience social-justice politics as a problem. In its emphasis on the unearned advantages that accrue to individuals with Trump’s and Musk’s phenotypes and class backgrounds, and its broader insistence on the centrality of luck to success in the marketplace, contemporary liberalism is an unfavorable ideology for rich white businessmen who wish for their net worth to be read as gauges of their brilliance and social value.

It’s unclear exactly why Trump made the transition from nonpartisan reactionary libertine to conservative demagogue during the early Obama years. But there’s reason to think he was radicalized in the same way that many other graying boomers were; namely, by offsetting the heightened social isolation of old age with compulsive spectatorship of Fox News. In any event, once Trump developed an interest in joining a community of cable-news obsessives — and specifically, one in which he would be recognized as a great businessman and commentator — he could only find what he was looking for on the right. Given the mogul’s inveterate political incorrectness, and his serial business failures, he was never going to enjoy a fawning reception in blue America. The right, on the other hand, does not demand propriety from its pundits or genuine business acumen from its star entrepreneurs (since mainstream media documentation of the latter’s failures can be summarily dismissed).

In short, Trump found that he could give the conservative base what it wanted (e.g., racist conspiracy theories about Barack Obama) and that it could give him what he wanted (unqualified admiration). This led Trump to spend more and more time in the right-wing-media ecosystem. And as he did, he came to share its preoccupations, resentments, and truth claims.

A similar process seems to have sped Musk’s path to conservatism. Granted, the billionaire’s rightward turn can be partly ascribed to contingent events. The pandemic heightened the contradictions between Musk’s business interests and liberal governance. Tesla’s CEO was an adamant opponent of COVID containment policies, who predicted in March 2020 that there would be “close to zero new cases in US too by end of April.” He therefore did not take kindly to California’s relatively heavy-handed approach to the pandemic, which involved shutting down production at Tesla’s factory in Fremont. Musk derided these policies as “fascist” and threatened to relocate his company to Texas to escape them.

Of course, any compulsive Twitter user who took this point of view in 2020 was liable to earn applause from the right and jeers from the left. And over the ensuing two years, Musk found himself attracting slights from liberals on several other fronts.

In August 2021, the Biden administration convened a summit on electric vehicles and declined to send Tesla an invitation. At a tech conference the following month, Musk complained that Biden “didn’t mention Tesla once and praised GM and Ford for leading the EV revolution. Does that sound maybe a little biased?” before adding, “Not the friendliest administration, seems to be controlled by unions.” Shortly thereafter, Warren published her call for hiking Musk’s income taxes, so that he would stop “freeloading off everyone else.”

It’s an enjoyable, informative piece.

Elon Musk with a bad hair day
There is never not a good reason to run this Bad Hair Day photo of Elon Musk.

A picture worth a thousand words

The police officer heroes of Jan. 6 were receiving the Congressional Gold Medal Dec. 6 in Washington. Former Officer Michael Fanone, who nearly lost his life in the Trump-inspired attempt to overthrow the government, was heckled during the event by some of his fellow police officers.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, the liberal boogeyman, and Fanone shared a moment. (see pic).

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone.

It doesn’t matter that Rupert Murdoch and Mike Pompeo have had enough of Trump

Some sycophants formerly stuck in Trump’s orbit are starting to turn on him, which has some of the never-Trumpers (Lincoln Project, etc.) excited that the tide may be turning against Trump ahead of what looks to be (at this point, anyway) his planned Tuesday announcement about a 2024 presidential candidacy.

However, The Atlantic‘s David A. Graham has a good piece up which says everyone should just cool their jets because Trump will not be out of the game until a substantial portion of his base turns on, or tires of, him. And that has not happened any previous time the GOP mainstream (or what passes for it these days) thought they could push Trump out:

One theory about the Republican Party and Trump is that if enough of its movers and shakers had turned on him simultaneously, they could have cast him out. But going back to the 2016 GOP primary, members of the establishment never liked or wanted him. They worried he couldn’t win, and they worried he didn’t agree with their core beliefs on issues such as trade and foreign policy. The problem was that voters did like Trump—although only a plurality in the primary—and didn’t like his rivals. One reason the establishment couldn’t effectively rally around one of his opponents is that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and the rest all had weaknesses that a unified media front couldn’t erase.

They tried, though. The high-water mark was the January 2016 “Against Trump” issue of National Review, the flagship movement magazine, which gathered a host of writers from across the right to try to stall the inevitable. It didn’t work. (Some of the contributors remained Never Trumpers, others embraced him, and a third group settled on anti-anti-Trumpism as a compromise.)

The collective-action theory got another test in October 2016, when The Washington Post published a recording of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women. Many Republicans and conservative pundits abandoned him, but once it became clear that there was no alternative and that GOP voters were still on board, many of them quietly slunk back too.

This pattern has held over and over. After the white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017; after the 2018 Helsinki summit; after the attempted extortion of Ukraine; after Trump lost the 2020 election; and then again after the January 6 insurrection, swaths of conservatives prepared to make a dramatic break and then either changed their mind or held back when they realized that voters were still with Trump. After the election loss, Murdoch’s properties briefly soured on Trump, but when their competitors started to gain market share, Fox and friends had second thoughts.

I’m with the people who think Trump is going to announce he will run because that is the only possible way he has left to try and slow down all the investigations against him, his family and enablers.

Whether enough of his base has tired of him — the only metric that matters — will be a mystery until the first GOP presidential primaries.

Incidentally, Michael Tomasky of The New Republic has a piece up that says many of the same things the Atlantic piece says. You can find it here.

Christ Christie. left, may have finally had enough of Donald Trump, but that won’t matter until Trump starts losing primaries.

GOP candidate who impersonated a black, gay man loses his state senate race in PA

You may recall that Pennsylvania “social and fiscal conservative Christian” Dan Browning was running as a Republican for a PA state senate seat.

You might also recall that Browning, a straight white guy, sent the following tweet under his real name when he meant to tweet it under a fake account:

“I’m a black gay guy and I can personally say that Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little bit and it was for the worse. Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected – which I never do when democrats are involved.”

People noticed. A lot of people noticed.

Browning tried to delete the tweet but it was too late.

Then he tried to explain it away by saying he was quoting a black, gay friend and Browning just failed to make that clear in his tweet in which he claimed to be black and gay.

Anyway, the good news is that Browning lost to a progressive Democrat.

The bad news is that, even after being exposed as a major fraud and liar, Browning still got 46.7% of the vote.

There is simply does not exist a non-Jesus-like behavior that MAGA politicians can engage in which will cost them support with the MAGA faithful.

Lie, cheat, steal, beat your wife and kids, and as long as you say you hate liberals and Hillary Clinton, you’re as good as gold with those people. It’s crazy that we’ve reached a point where the loudest alleged Christians are the least like Jesus these days.

The Fetterman family in hoodies and shorts at his victory party in PA is giving Republicans the vapors

It’s an amusing thing that the rich people of the Republican Party — the talking heads and columnists and Fox analysts and Claremont think-tankers — are getting all snobby about the Fetterman family showing up in hoodies and shorts on-stage at his PA victory party Tuesday night after he knocked off medical charlatan Mehmet Oz.

I mean, the Trumpiest base of the GOP is primarily people with broken down cars and washing machines in the front yards of their double-wides, and the GOP’s millionaire spokespeople are approaching fainting spells over some gym shorts.

Quotable

Republicans just appeal to their own horrible weirdos who would vote for them anyway, and the “normie” swing voters find it all a bit confusing. That 40% of the country are assholes is probably true, but it’s still only 40%.

The Republican extended universe is actually quite weird. Because of the way political journalism is, it all sounds “normal” but actually [MAGA] are the weirdos! Enough people are like “what the fucking fuck” when you claim kids are shitting in litterboxes in schools because of pronouns.

Atrios at Eschaton blog, on why the GOP did historically bad in the mid-term elections

Election 2022: Good either triumphed over evil, or evil was not able to kick good’s ass the way evil (and I) thought it was going to do

Honestly, who the heck knows whom to believe when it comes to polling these days?

Republican poll subjects have lied so much to pollsters in recent elections that (it appears anyway) that even the Democratic side has started lying to pollsters. So with everyone lying to pollsters, how can we trust any of them?

But the GOP-affiliated polls were way out of sync from reality it turns out. Whether that was by design to try to depress Democratic turnout (or increase GOP turnout) … well, the GOP pollsters aren’t admitting to anything. But it’s clear that the Democrats beat expectations around what happens in mid-terms to the party holding the White House during economic turmoil.

Now the questions begin, starting with Michael Tomasky in The New Republic, whose piece today lives under the hed/subhed, “Hey, Liberal Media, Here’s What You Got Really Wrong About the Midterms: Abortion mattered. Latinos did not desert the Democrats. Neither did independents. Why does the mainstream media fall for right-wing narratives every time?”

First of all, let’s stipulate that expectation of a red wave this election was entirely warranted. I was prepared for the worst myself. Recent history and Joe Biden’s bad approval numbers suggested a big Republican night.

It didn’t come close to happening. So: why?

My answer: because the mainstream media, the so-called “liberal” media, goes out of its way during every campaign to emphasize news of Dems in disarray. Twenty polls show the Dobbs decision matters to voters. But look, here comes one outlier that shows Dobbs not registering! That’s news! Let’s play up that one!

I’ve watched a lot of elections in my life, and I’ve seen this happen time after time after time. The liberal media, I guess wanting to demonstrate its collective independence, decides that “news” equals “looks bad for Democrats.” There were hundreds, maybe thousands of headlines over these last four weeks screaming that everything was moving toward Republicans.

Maybe most notorious of all was a New York Times poll in late October that crowed about a massive shift among independents to Republicans, based on a sample size of a small subgroup of respondents. Did any editors at the Times say, “Hey, folks, let’s hold on a second here?” Maybe, but in the end, the paper bannered the bad news for Democrats across its front page, and the huge play ensured that this alleged substantial shift became conventional wisdom.

This goes back to structural ethics problems between liberal and conservative journalists.

Real journalists at real newspapers — many of them at least tending toward progressive in temperament and outlook — bend over backwards to try to not seem or actually be biased.

This means very often giving even the most obviously false right-wing talking points a fair airing. This is the basis of “both sides-ism.”

I don’t think many mainstream journalists are secretly conservative, nor do I think they like to create chaos just to make their jobs more interesting. They are trained to just report the facts, even if the “facts” are obvious GOP lies, unless they have direct proof that something is a lie. That’s a pretty high bar to meet when deciding whether to report GOP talking points, especially if you have a story that is complex and expected under deadline at newspapers and TV stations where reporters are expected to do more with less these days.

Conservative journalists at Fox, the New York Post, and elsewhere are not under the same constraints. Not even close. They can be as one-sided and outright anti-Democrat as they want to be. Their readers/viewers don’t care about balance. In fact, their readership/viewership expects them to be one-sided.

Where this all gets messy during elections is that GOP-affiliated pollsters insist they are not GOP-affiliated, and their methodologies are sound. The fact that this is a lie often only becomes apparent after an election. By that time, it’s too late.

In any case, I’m glad those GOP pollsters were mostly wrong, and the Dems performed far better than most of us ever hoped they would.

And, hey: Lauren Boebert AND Mehmet Oz appear to have lost. Those are worth a great deal on their own, especially since GOP pollsters had them both winning handily.

Colorado’s Lauren Boebert appears to have lost her seat in Congress.

Nobody should be shocked that Tom Brady is pals with Ron DeSantis

I have never liked Tom Brady as a person. This put me in a distinct minority of Boston-area residents, so I didn’t say it out loud much because it’s a stupid thing about which to pick a fight with friends, family and acquaintances.

As an athlete, he’s obviously in a class by himself. And I felt sorry for him during the entire made-up Deflategate scandal because it was clear he did nothing wrong and was being targeted by an NFL commissioner who was always jealous of the attention Brady received in popular culture.

I even started supporting, in my own small ways, the Patriots during this time because I had moved back to Red State America and it made the wingnuts crazy to say out loud in a public setting, “Tom Brady is the greatest athlete who ever lived.”

I don’t actually believe that, of course. It was just a way to get an amusing rise out of a certain kind of person.

I have always been confused that people in the Red State America hated Brady so much — it was partly the ultra-liberal Massachusetts thing, I guessed — because Brady is clearly, ideologically speaking, closer to Mississippi than he is to Boston.

He was wise enough, and financially savvy enough, to keep his mouth shut about this most of the time, despite his (and his coach’s) very public flirtations with Donald Trump — even after Trump was revealed to have racist, fascist tendencies. Brady and Coach Belichick did some sly stepping away from Trump after Jan. 6, but I’ll guess this was strategic more than it was that either man is no longer in Trump’s camp politically. I’m sure they’ll both secretly vote for Trump if he runs again.

So none of us should be shocked that Brady appears to be good buds with Ron DeSantis (R-Weimar Germany):

Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, has for years been the subject of public affection from former President Donald J. Trump.

But according to Tim Michels, the Republican nominee for Wisconsin governor, Mr. Brady is now on texting terms with another Republican seen as a White House contender: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Mr. DeSantis attended a Green Bay Packers football game last month and spent part of the game texting with Mr. Brady, according to Mr. Michels, who hosted the Florida governor in Green Bay and told supporters in Wisconsin last week about their time together. Mr. Brady first expressed support for Mr. Trump in 2015, when he was quarterback of the New England Patriots. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.

“I took Governor DeSantis to the Packer game at Lambeau Field,” Mr. Michels told a gathering of the Lake Country Patriots, a far-right group, on Thursday at a brewery in Oconomowoc, Wis. The New York Times was denied entry to the publicly advertised event, but obtained a recording of Mr. Michels’s remarks.

Mr. DeSantis, who on the day of the Packers game had appeared at a rally for Mr. Michels and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, “had never been to Lambeau Field before and he wanted to go,” Mr. Michels said. “We’re sitting there, you know, we’re watching the game and all of a sudden, I look over and he’s texting and he says, ‘How do you spell Lambeau?’”

Here is a thing I used to say in Boston out-loud that got me in trouble: Brady will run for national office eventually, and he will do it as a right-wing Republican. Possibly (probably?) as a full MAGA right-winger.

People in Boston used to tell me I was nuts for thinking that. I don’t think so many of them think it’s crazy any longer.

Plus they all hate Brady now because he went to Florida, so Brady’s former supplicants in New England all talk shit about him anyway.

DeSantis (left) and Brady.

Ron DeSantis doesn’t like women who correct him

“In his recent pandemic memoir, What Just Happened: Notes on a Long Year, the author and critic Charles Finch recalled two things about his former classmate [Ron DeSantis] known then as ‘D’: he did an uncanny impression of baseball star Jose Canseco and, according to a friend, would tell dates he liked Thai food, but pronounced it ‘thigh.’ If they corrected him, Finch wrote, he would find an excuse to leave. ‘He didn’t want a girlfriend who corrected him.’”

— From an article in the Financial Times