You, too, could be a Washington Post columnist

It is a source of never-ending amusement to me that virtually anyone can, apparently, be a Washington Post columnist. I could be a Washington Post columnist. You could be a Washington Post columnist. The guy who screams at cars at the bus stop down the street could be a Washington Post columnist.

Because wisdom and genuine insight are apparently not the overriding qualifications to be a Washington Post columnist, as Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle proves once again in her first post-midterms column:

During the Republican primary season, Democrats took a big risk: They boosted Trumpist, election-denying candidates over their more moderate opponents. From the perspective of a coldly calculating Democratic strategist, this might have looked like a safe bet. These further-right candidates tended to be inexperienced and undisciplined, and their close association with former president Donald Trump’s various outrages would make them easier to beat outside of the Republican base.

But politics can’t all be reckless cynicism — that’s how you get Trump. As I and other critics pointed out at the time, screaming that Trump poses an existential threat to American democracy falls rather flat if you’re also helping Trumpist candidates get closer to positions of power, where they might be able to subvert our electoral processes.

Democrats were not taking the ordinary political risk of installing a bad candidate or two; they were wagering our country’s future to marginally improve their own electoral chances. It was a feckless and unconscionable gamble.

I am therefore quite distressed to report that, at least at the level of cold political calculation, it seems to have worked.

Sure, the cynical move paid off in a bunch of races and might have had knock-on effects down the ticket by discouraging moderate Republican voters — early Wednesday morning, Republican control of the Pennsylvania state house was imperiled. But there are two grave dangers in this kind of cynicism.

The first is that the cynicism will stop being a political tool, a necessary concession to human realities, and start being the primary modus operandi of campaigns that no longer have any real principles except “Give me power.” But the second is that pure cynicism will, ironically, not be quite cynical enough.

Poor Megan. She’s spent the last few weeks boosting Republicans with her predictions of a red tsunami, and hectoring Democrats about all the ways she thinks they botched the mid-terms.

Now that she’s been proven to be utterly wrong (a habit, with her) she’s bound to be a bit addled to the point of being unable to come up with anything mildly insightful to write in a pinch, except to lecture Democrats by saying, “Your tactics turned out to be spot on, but here’s why you should not have relied upon your winning strategies.”

This is, of course, the grand bargain that so-called centrists in the press expect Democrats to agree upon: Republicans can play as cynically and dirty as they’d like, and everyone just rolls their eyes and says, “Oh, that’s just how Republicans do things.” But if Democrats do the same thing it’s unseemly and beneath them. It’s also always a danger to the republic — as if responding to proto-fascism with a heavy dose of realpolitik is somehow a moral failing.

(And, by the way, since WHEN has politics ever been not cynical? Has McArdle ever sat through an American or French or British political history course?)

You see? Anyone can be a WaPo columnist. You don’t really ever have to be correct or insightful. You just have to be able to scribble bloviating hot takes and to never, ever, admit you were wrong save for saying you are “distressed to report” that you have no earthly idea what you’ve been writing about all this time.

Libertarian columnist Megan McArdle, whose chief skill appears to involve being wrong most of the time.

Gay NYC weatherman is fired after someone revenge porns him out of a job

I just watched NYC TV meteorologist Erick Adame for the first time in the YouTube compilation reel below. He’s quite good.

I’m not sure this incident should cost him his job with New York’s cable channel NY1 as a morning weather guy, but at least he’s fighting back.

A New York City weather presenter was fired from his TV job after someone emailed his employer explicit images they had secretly recorded from a private video chat, according to court documents.

In a court filing first reported by the Daily Beast, Erick Adame said he was terminated from his job of four years as a morning meteorologist at the Spectrum News NY1 cable channel as a result of “revenge porn,” a term used to describe the nonconsensual sharing of sexual images.

Adame is not suing his former employer, but rather Unit 4 Media Ltd. — the company behind LPSG (Large Penis Support Group), the website he used for video sex chat — in order to have a judge force the company to reveal information about the anonymous user that he suspects secretly screenshotted images of him naked and then sent those to NY1, as well as to Adame’s mother.

The anonymous person or people used the account names Sonal Prehonn, Tommysize29, Funtimes99, and Landenboy227.

“As a direct result of [the anonymous user’s] acts, [Adame’s] employment was terminated by his employer,” reads the petition, which was filed in the New York Supreme Court on Monday.

A Spectrum News spokesperson declined to comment for this story, but two sources at the company, who asked asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss the matter, said Adame was let go after months of discussions during which time he had remained on the air until the end of August.

I’d like to think that if I had a well-paying job in the public eye that I’d resist the urge to get naked on-camera with a stranger, but boys will be boys and who knows what I’d have done at that young age in NYC. On the other hand, if you’re a hot young public figure in Manhattan, you probably shouldn’t be hurting for less risky ways to meet men. Unless, of course, erotic chatting is your thing.

It probably would have increased his viewership if NY1 wasn’t so uptight.

I don’t get why people still torture themselves watching CNN, Fox News, or any of the others

I don’t watch television news, save for the over-the-air broadcasts of one of my local stations weekday mornings for the weather forecast, and to see where the latest mass shootings have taken place.

But that’s it. Except for clips online, I consume no regular video-based news source. Not CNN, nor Fox, nor MSNBC, nor Cheddar, nor Newsy, nor any of the other awful youngster-focused news channels that have popped up to prove, inadvertently, that video news can contain even less depth than it has previously.

Why would I?

I read two daily newspapers (WaPo and NY Times) and a handful of current events magazines, plus whatever news articles I run across every day from publications not behind paywalls.

What could I possibly learn from CNN or MSNBC, which serve up news in two-minute segments, that I cannot learn more broadly by reading entire articles about the same subjects?

Even a bad article in the New York Times has more useful information than the best non-long-form story from a television news source. That is, if my goal is to be informed and not entertained.

I use to have either CNN or MSNBC droning on in the background on my TVs the entire time I was home. Until I realized that I wasn’t learning anything new from even the most competent news anchors and reporters. Watching people argue or pontificate in 30-second sound bites is not learning. It feeds something in our brains, otherwise it wouldn’t be able to hold our attention the way it does. But it’s not learning.

Which brings me back to CNN. #BoycottCNN is trending, and for good reasons.

The network is in the midst of a rightward lurch because CNN is part of a larger Wall Street corporation (I can’t keep track of who owns whom) and the heads of that larger corporation have looked at the consistently higher audiences of Fox News and thought, “I gotta git me some of that.”

So they are getting rid of more progressive stalwarts such as Brian Stelter (fired Aug. 18) and promoting the likes of the irritatingly named Poppy Harlow. Poppy’s name sounds exactly as shallow as she is. It fits. Like if you had a macho friend named Rex Rexson. You know what you’re getting with Rex Rexson and you know what you’re getting with Poppy Harlow.

You can tell by watching Poppy that Poppy is not about journalistic ethics and finding truth wherever it takes her. Poppy is about Poppy’s career, and if being a right-wing shill for her corporate overlords is what Poppy needs to do to get ahead, Poppy is all in.

After President Biden gave a truth-telling speech in which he called out the existential threat facing America from “semi-fascist” forces who tried to overthrow the government, Republicans everywhere were in high dudgeon because Biden had the balls to call them what they are.

Poppy saw her chance to ingratiate herself with her new, conservative-audience-wooing bosses. During a Sept. 2 CNN interview with White House press spokesperson Karin Jean-Pierre, Poppy pounced:

HARLOW: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as you know, just spoke a few minutes ago in the President’s hometown. No coincidence there, off-screens (ph) of pre-battle, if you will, arguing the President’s trying to distract Americans from the problems many folks at home face, kitchen table issues, the economy, education. He also called on the president to apologize tonight for saying as you know, a few days ago that the MAGA movement is quote like, semi-fascism. He said that at that private donor event. Take a listen to what McCarthy’s asking for.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: (VIDEO CLIP) When the President speaks tonight, at Independence Hall, the first lines out of his mouth should be to apologize for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists.

HARLOW: Will the President apologize?

PIERRE: You know, I’ll say this, Poppy. I will let the actions of Kevin McCarthy for over the past two years just speak for itself. There was a moment on January 6, or around January 6, where Kevin McCarthy, Martha McCarthy spoke very forcefully about what happened on that day, about what that attack meant for our nation. But you may have missed it if you blinked an eye, because sadly right after that, soon after that he aligned with the most extreme part of his party. And that is a sad thing to say, that is not a great thing to say. That is a sad thing to say as we talk about that mob, that insurrection that I just spoke about that landed on Capitol to attack on democracy, to attack law enforcement officers. Again, he spoke to it and then you blink an eye again, you may have missed that.

HARLOW: So can I — we — I understand our viewers I think fully understand the shift that Kevin McCarthy made from what he said then to what he said later on, but I asked you about the President, and what the President will say tonight. So I’m going to take it as a no, the President will not apologize.

Poppy is dishonest and her morals are easily purchased, but I’m not upset at her. Because she’s an entertainer, not a journalist. Just as with most of the people who appear on Fox News, she’s a performance artist working for bosses who want her to play her part in a performance piece masquerading as news. It’s the journalistic equivalent of click-bait meant to attract viewers they can then sell to advertisers.

And this has always been true at CNN, to lesser or larger extents, depending on who’s been in charge at CNN and its parent companies. CNN has always been awful in more, or less, tolerable ways. CNN is part of Wall Street and Wall Street only cares about money. To the extent that CNN has ever been about public interest journalism, even those times were really just experiments to see if public interest journalism can increase shareholder value and executive compensation. Now that they’ve figured out it doesn’t, it’s time to try something else.

If any of this were at all about putting out a quality news product, the PBS Newshour would be crushing CNN and Fox in the ratings.

I suppose there is a someone-needs-to-keep-an-eye-on-them aspect to torturing yourself by watching these news channels. Sort of like what the masochists at Media Matters do by watching Fox New 24 hours a day.

But I have better things to do, and better ways to keep informed.

No, there is no conflict between younger and older union activists over fashion choices

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to manufacture tensions between old-line union activists and their younger counterparts.

The headline over this WSJ article is “Labor Activists Get Fashionable—to the Chagrin of Old-Line Unionists.”

Except very little of the article is about these alleged tensions.

John Elward, a truck driver for United Parcel Service Inc. near San Francisco, collects labor union memorabilia. He owns at least 12 Teamsters jackets, his favorite being a green one labeled “Irish American.” Then there are his dozens of union pins and patches.

So when organizers in April became the first to unionize an Inc. facility, the 42-year-old Mr. Elward grew excited. Several of the leaders seemed to have a flair for fashion—not something typically associated with labor activism.

Chris Smalls, the activist who led the organizing drive at Amazon, wore a red baseball cap, red sweats and hoodie and a red “Amazon Labor Union” shirt on top that day, all finished with a pair of oversize sunglasses. Pictures of his outfit went viral.

At the Time 100 gala two months later, Mr. Smalls went with black overalls and a black blazer, along with a bandanna and huge black shades. For an appearance on “The Daily Show,” he donned a bubble gum-pink Amazon Labor Union shirt and a printed baby blue bomber jacket.

Mr. Elward, whose grandfather once headed a local branch of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had already noticed more style creeping into labor activism. He launched the Twitter account “Dripped Out Trade Unionists”—using hip-hop slang for ultrafashionable—to chronicle the sartorial leanings of retail employees, machine operators, engineers and other workers.

He now has about 30,000 followers and regularly gets messages from workers sending him snapshots of their outfits or asking things such as, “Where can I get that jacket?”

The article does quote two old-line union organizers who aren’t so much into fashion, but the main criticism from them seems to not be about being too fashionable, but rather they caution against wearing clothes so ostentatiously expensive that you give the impression to management that you make “too much” money.

But that is a far cry from there being tensions in union ranks over something as stupid as clothing.

You can read the rest of the WSJ article here.

Amazon union organizer Chris Smalls, shown above left at Netroots Nation, brings a younger sartorial style than you might usually find in a union office.

Why do people still waste time on the Old Farmer’s Almanac?

NBC Chicago has a story up about the Old Farmer’s Almanac and its prediction for a terrible winter in the region this year.

The story then goes on to list the reasons that running these same articles year after year about the Almanac is a stupid waste of time and bandwidth:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been predicting the weather for centuries, and we’re learning more about what the publication believes is in store for the Chicago area this winter.

According to this year’s forecast, which will be released later this month, parts of the upper Midwest, including the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, will potentially see “unreasonably cold and snowy” conditions this winter.

Parts of western Illinois are grouped in with the Great Plains states, with the publication calling for a “hibernation” winter that will be full of cold temperatures and plenty of snow.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that it uses long-term temperature patterns to predict the severity of the upcoming season, as well as the track record of precipitation and snowfall in the impacted areas over the course of the last 30 years.

Many meteorologists dispute the accuracy and the methodology employed by the publication. The publication claims that it is “about 80% correct,” but many media studies have contested that figure. One such study, conducted by the University of Illinois and cited by Popular Mechanics, holds that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is only correct 52% of the time, which essentially represents the odds of a coin flip landing on either heads or tails.

Yet I still see this moronic publication offered at (or near) almost every supermarket checkout I go to. Same goes for Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.

I should start my own almanac since it seems so easy to get people to buy into this nonsense.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Good takedown of the Almanac here.

Elon Musk is becoming his company’s worst enemy

Some journalists — few, actually — have long been saying that Elon Musk is a showman and a charlatan, while most others offered up uncritical coverage.

That is changing. One example is this article from Bloomberg by Ira Boudway and Kyle Stock:

Dennis Levitt got his first Tesla, a blue Model S, in 2013, and loved it. “It was so much better than any car I’ve ever driven,” the 73-year-old self-storage company executive says.

He bought into the brand as well as Elon Musk, Tesla Inc.’s charismatic chief executive officer, purchasing another Model S the following year and driving the first one across the country. In 2016, he stood in line at a showroom near his suburban Los Angeles home to be one of the first to order two Model 3s — one for himself, the other for his wife.

“I was a total Musk fanboy,” Levitt says.

Was, because while Levitt still loves his Teslas, he’s soured on Musk. “Over time, his public statements have really come to bother me,” Levitt said, citing the CEO’s spats with US President Joe Biden, among others. “He acts like a seven-year-old.”

Before it was reported Musk had an affair with Sergey Brin’s wife, which he’s denied; before his slipshod deal, then no-deal, to acquire Twitter Inc.; before the revelation he fathered twins with an executive at his brain-interface startup Neuralink; before SpaceX fired employees who called him “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment”; before his daughter changed her name and legal gender after his history of mocking pronouns; before an article said SpaceX paid an employee $250,000 to settle a claim he sexually harassed her, allegations he’s called untrue; Musk’s behavior was putting off prospective customers and perturbing some Tesla owners.

The trends have shown up in one consumer survey and market research report after another: Tesla commands high brand awareness, consideration and loyalty, and customers are mostly delighted by its cars. Musk’s antics, on the other hand? They could do without.

Creative Strategies, a California-based customer-experience measurer, mentioned owner frustration with Musk in a study it published in April. A year earlier, research firm Escalent found Musk was the most negative aspect of the Tesla brand among electric-vehicle owners surveyed.

It’s nice to see the rest of the world wake up to what a snake oil salesman and anti-social jerk he is.

Rest of the article at this link.

“The View” announces Ana Navarro as additional co-host

The producers of The View announced their final line-up of the daytime talk show conservatives love to hate because of Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar and, you know, women in general.

Now those same people have another reason to hate it.

ABC on Thursday officially named former Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin and Republican strategist Ana Navarro as permanent co-hosts of “The View.”

Both Griffin and Navarro have been among the right-of-center media personalities the network has put through a revolving door of co-hosts serving in the “conservative” seat on the daytime table-talk-style program in recent months.

The spot was vacated last year by firebrand pundit Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who left the show alleging what she later said was a toxic culture of bullying and hostility.

Multiple outlets reported Griffin had been selected by ABC to fill McCain’s shoes, but the network’s decision to also hire Navarro had gone unreported before Thursday.

”We promised to take a little time to fill the seat and we have found the right match and a welcome addition to the show with Alyssa,” said Brian Teta, “The View’s” executive producer. “She is willing to share her unique political experience and brings a strong conservative perspective while holding her own in tough debates with her co-hosts and guests on both sides of the aisle.”

Well, if viewers are going to be stuck with the fem-troll Alyssa Farah Griffin on the show, then at least Ana Navarro will be a nice counterpoint to Griffin’s ill-informed screeching.

Navarro is many things. Ill-informed is not one of them. She will wipe the floor with Griffin in debates.

I don’t watch The View but I have watched it, and I love it because it pushes so many macho men’s buttons. Sometimes I will bring The View up when I’m in the company of men I know to be chauvinistic just to see them get worked up about it.

They hate it because it’s all women who won’t back down or take shit from men. Two of the strongest co-hosts are Jewish or Black. And now they have Ana Navarro, a pushy (in a great way) Latina who is super well-informed and smart as hell.

See some of Navarro’s greatest hits in the video below.

You can read the rest of the article at this link.

Wall Street Journal gives surprisingly even-handed coverage to Kansas abortion vote

I get a free Wall Street Journal subscription through work, otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother since I already subscribe to two national “dailies.”

However, the WSJ news pages have always been quite good, despite the fact that it is owned by Rupert Murdoch. In fact, its article today about the surprisingly lopsided Kansas abortion amendment vote in favor of abortion rights has been one of the best articles I’ve read in terms of analysis. And the article’s authors don’t waste a single sentence on the ridiculously baseless arguments coming from some Republicans as to why they lost in Kansas. (Interestingly, neither did the paper’s normally whack-a-doodle editorial writers when they weighed-in about the Kansas vote.)

“If it’s going to happen in Kansas, it’s going to happen in a whole lot of states,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). “The strong pro-choice turnout we saw last night in Kansas will continue well into the fall, and Republicans who side with these extremist MAGA policies that attack women’s rights do so at their own political risk.”

State election records show that women accounted for 70% of Kansans who registered to vote after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, according to Tom Bonier, a Democratic voter-data analyst.

The referendum was soundly rejected in the state’s suburban and metropolitan areas, losing by 16 percentage points in the Wichita area and by 36 points in the area around the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

Support for the amendment was stronger in the state’s rural communities. Still, the results suggested that some Republicans opposed it. In Cowley County, on the southern border with Oklahoma, Mr. Trump drew 68% support in 2020, but voters there narrowly rejected the referendum on Tuesday, 52% to 48%. Mr. Trump had won 72% support in rural Allen County, but voters split evenly on the referendum, with 50% for and against it.

Another thing I found interesting about the WSJ coverage of Kansas is that it gave prominent front-page placement in the print edition for the story. (See below.)

However, when I last checked the online WSJ home page, the Kansas news article was nowhere to be found, but the in-house editorial was there.

You can read the rest of the news article here.

Alex Jones is spanked — and spanked hard — by trial judge

I can never get enough of coverage of how slithering media showman and supplement hawker Alex Jones is being exposed for the opportunistic crank and hater that he is.

The latest from that Texas courtroom where he is being sued by the parents of toddlers killed at Sandy Hook:

Alex Jones is not used to sitting in silence and listening to others admonish him. But on Tuesday, in a Texas court, he was forced to do just that.

In a moment that has been years in the making, Jones found himself in court with a pair of Sandy Hook parents who were determined to hold him accountable for the conspiracy theories he pushed about their murdered son, their family, and the 2012 shooting writ large. And Jones also found himself also in the same room as a judge who showed no tolerance for his antics.

First, Jones was confronted directly in court by Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Jesse Lewis, who was murdered at age 6. As she testified on the stand, Lewis stared right at Jones, detailing in extreme detail the pain he had caused by pushing Sandy Hook lies. And then, later in the day, Jones was scolded by Judge Maya Gamble, who laced into him for violating court rules, including his duty to be truthful under oath.

“This is not your show,” Gamble reminded Jones at one point on Tuesday.

Which is all to say, by any reasonable standard, Jones had an awful day in court.

You can read the rest at CNN’s Reliable Sources at this link.

Alex Jones, in his natural state.