The Baffler,  March 17, 2017

Daily Bafflements

Nice work if you can get it

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An alt-right rendering of The Thinker / kan_deng00
An alt-right rendering of The Thinker / kan_deng00

Oh to be a fascist conservative pundit today. The possibilities, it seems, are endless. Here’s a few of our favorite right-wing revelations from the last few days:

• Among Richard Spencer’s greatest hits is the dismissal of black Americans’ contributions with the zinger “White people could have figured out another way to pick cotton.” So you’d have expected to see a little egg on his face when Mother Jones reported today that “Spencer, along with his mother and sister, are absentee landlords of 5,200 acres of cotton and corn fields in an impoverished, largely African American region of Louisiana” and the recipient of $2 million in federal farm subsidies. But Spencer was characteristically unfazed by the hypocrisy.

• Spencer’s cohort, meanwhile, is finding ample fodder for speculation in the vacation plans of a certain shadowy figure in national politics:

• And of course, there’s the august David Brooks, who’s pulling down the big bucks for such drivel as “It was fun to watch Bannon operate. He was the guy with a coherent governing philosophy” and “the Trump health care and budget plans will be harsh on the poor, which we expected. But they’ll also be harsh on the working class, which we didn’t.”

• Even with the right hemisphere of the pundit world tripping all over itself to analyze, justify, and glorify Trump, it’s the administration itself that’s doing the most bang-up PR job. Take, for instance, Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney’s assertion that feeding hungry kids just isn’t providing the kinds of dividends he’d hoped:

They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? That’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home, get fed so that they do better at school. Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, helping kids do better at school.

• Lest you on the left start to feel a bit too smug about all this blatant idiocy from the other side, there’s also the first episode of our “Experts Baffled” podcast, in which Chris Lehmann and Rick Perlstein discuss “the politics of smart” and the intellectual elitism that runs the U.S. political gamut.

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