Are we not surprised?

No, we are not. Megyn Kelly left Fox News for good reason — no one of any political stripe deserves sexual harassment — but she was a perfect fit for that network. She became a star at Fox because she embodied the conservative ideals of people like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, and everything was copacetic between them all on a political plane. Being a victimized women does not make her an ally or an admirable person. Ann Coulter is subject to some of the most scurrilous, rancid attacks by people on the left; that’s wrong, it makes me sympathize a little bit with her on a personal level, but she still holds hateful and odious views for which she should be spurned.

A lot of us were shocked that MSNBC, the so-called ‘liberal’ news network, offered Kelly a job, but I suppose we should recognize the reality that the news networks are unprincipled profit-making establishments that cannot be trusted to pursue truth over dollars. But now Kelly is following the instincts that served her well on Fox and is interviewing Sandy Hook ‘truther’ (about as contemptible a title as you can bestow on anyone), Alex Jones. And she has so little conscience that she could simultaneously promote Jones and host a benefit for the Sandy Hook families (she’s not now, fortunately).

So why are confirmed liars and phonies like Alex Jones and Megyn Kelly and other ghastly serial liars like Jeffrey Lord given a loudspeaker at every opportunity? Yet at the same time others, like Reza Aslan (whose show I despised for its insipid religious apologetics) get fired? How can people be upset at a performance of a Shakespeare play that has someone who looks like Donald Trump cast as Julius Caesar? That’s a serious promotion given to the president, and yes, Julius Caesar gets assassinated, but the whole point of the play is that the assassins get their due, and that murder is a violation of Republican principles.

I’ve come to the conclusion that free speech is an illusion in a world where power puts on the mask of liberty. It’s not free speech when it’s selectively denied and used solely as an excuse to justify hate and the expression of one set of values. It’s not free speech when Nazis think it means they get to slash people’s throats. It’s not free speech when it’s a club used to rationalize trampling on the rights of the oppressed by the privileged.

So I’m not at all surprised when a regressive toady like Megyn Kelly keeps bubbling up to the top. She’s part of the demographic that knows very well how to manipulate the concept of free speech to make lies a virtue.

What about the memes?

This is more like what I’ve been expecting: an alt-right dorkwad tried to join a protest by a far right Christian militia, offering to share his posters with Pepe the Frog and Nazi symbols, and the Oathkeepers turned angry and vicious and chased him off. This is not comiccon, one said.

The alt-right trolls are a noisy presence on the internet, but everyone knows they’re superficial twits looking for lulz, rather than committed ideologues. Many of their precious memes — such as Nazi regalia, or flaunting gayness as a generic taunt to the mainstream, or advocating open fascism or sacrilegious behavior — are anathema to the conservative far right. I don’t support either side, and they can go ahead and put each other in chokeholds all they want, but I was expecting these kinds of conflicts to come up far more frequently.

I’m trying to imagine Milo Yiannopoulos addressing a group of Oathkeepers and the event not ending in bloodshed. It’s hard.

It’s a tried and true solution!

When a conservative party has trouble meeting the demands of a progressive future, they never consider compromising with the liberals: they always reach back and compromise with the most backward idiots they can find. The Tories in the UK fail to form a majority in the recent election, so what do they do? Revise their policies to be more in line with the electorate? Don’t make me laugh. They decide to form a coalition with the crazies. The DUP. Ian Paisley’s rotting corpse. This party:

It reminds me of how the Republicans in the US are making hay with an unholy union of Libertarians and the Religious Right. It just leads to greater decay.

Shorter David Brooks

The Driftglass report on Brooks’ latest: We can’t investigate Trump because look at all the misery caused by investigating the Clintons!

Instead, Mr. Brooks turns the entire Republican attempted-coup-by-impeachment scheme — from Whitewater through Blue Dress — into a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger cautionary tale about the consequences of investigating presidents generally:

If past is prologue, this investigation will drag on for a while. The Clinton people thought the Whitewater investigation might last six months, but the inquiries lasted over seven years. The Trump investigation will lead in directions nobody can now anticipate. When the Whitewater investigation started, Monica Lewinsky was an unknown college student and nobody had any clue that an investigation into an Arkansas land deal would turn into an investigation about sex.

This investigation will ruin careers far and wide. Investigators go after anybody they think can yield information on the president. Before the Whitewater investigators got to Clinton they took down Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, Webb Hubbell, Susan and Jim McDougal, and many others.

But of course, The Past can only be prologue for those who remember it fully and clearly. So how perfectly ironic it is that doing this very thing — remembering The Past fully and clearly — is also the greatest single existential and financial threat to Conservatism generally, and to Mr. David Brooks’ ability to afford his new multi-million dollar Capitol Hill retreat specifically.

The media are trying desperately to exonerate Republicans and blame the Democrats for our current situation — and I agree in part with the latter, because the Democratic party has lost its soul in a mad scramble for corporate dollars — but we cannot allow this kind of selective amnesia. The Republican party is a treacherous swamp of greed and treachery, and the people who voted for Trump are…

I would say much worse things about David Brooks.

What is going on in Wisconsin?

Or, as Charles Pierce calls it, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. They’re arguing over a neutrality bill in their legislature that would require the University of Wisconsin system to be neutral on “controversies of the day”, whatever those are.

That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publically[sic] express a given view of social policy.

It’s weird. It’s kind of the reverse of the “teach the controversy” tactic creationists have taken in the past — now conservatives (this is a Republican bill) are demanding that criticisms be silenced, because they’re discovering that college campuses tend to get rather ferocious in those criticisms. It’s really about sheltering conservative positions from debate.

In an introduction to the legislation on its website, the Goldwater Institute paints the recent flurry of protests against conservative speakers on college campuses as a clear and present danger to democracy.

“As both a deeply held commitment and a living tradition, freedom of speech is dying on our college campuses, and is increasingly imperiled in society at large,” it reads.

The spread of campus free speech legislation across the country will open a national debate that will influence the broader culture, it predicts.

As evidence of the peril in Wisconsin, lawmakers supporting the bill pointed repeatedly to the November 2016 appearance of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro at UW-Madison. Students opposed to Shapiro’s mocking of a push for “safe spaces” on campus interrupted his talk, shouting him down for about 20 minutes. Police then escorted protesters out and Shapiro resumed his talk.

Vos, who has complained about the dearth of conservative guest speakers on UW campuses, said that without a law requiring the university to remain neutral, chancellors can block speakers whose views they don’t see as legitimate.

Wait. So Shapiro got to speak, but because many students used their right to speak freely to vocally oppose him, Republican congressmen want to shut down the students’ free speech in the name of free speech. Got it.

A few obvious concerns have been raised. Here’s one:

Rep. Terese Berceau, a Madison Democrat, was quizzing Rep. Jesse Kremer, her Republican colleague from Kewaskum, at a hearing for his proposed Campus Free Speech Act before the state Assembly’s Committee on Colleges and Universities recently.

Berceau wondered what would happen under the bill — which requires University of Wisconsin System institutions to be neutral on “controversies of the day” — if a student in a geology class argued the Biblical theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

“Is it okay for the professor to tell them they’re wrong?” Berceau asked during the lengthy session on May 11.

The earth is 6,000 years old, Kremer offered. That’s a fact.

Who gets to decide what is controversial? The age of the earth is actually not a controversial fact at all, and no, it’s far older than 6,000 years. Does this bill demand that the geologists and biologists and physicists on the UW campuses are not allowed to disagree with Kremer? That the students aren’t allowed to argue with their professors? I’m also not sure how this is going to work. Is the UW going to have to hire political officers to monitor and police speech on campus, to be sure that no faculty representative expresses an opinion not approved by the Koch brothers? Oh. Actually, this is in the bill.

Yet Kremer immediately speculated that students who felt intimidated from expressing their opinions in class could bring their complaints to the Council on Free Expression, an oversight board created in the bill. So the law could potentially cover things that happen in the classroom, he suggested.

This doesn’t sound like any kind of free speech as I understand it. I see the Republicans retain their superpower of hyper-ironic naming: the Council on Free Expression is going to make sure your professors don’t say anything a conservative might disagree with!

And what about genuinely controversial issues?

“The bill gags the university,” said Matt Rothschild, executive director of the advocacy group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. In his argument, Rothschild referenced political controversy over stem cell research, something UW-Madison lobbied vigorously to protect from prohibitive legislation in 2015.

“So the university stem cell researchers, and the deans of the departments where they work, would not be allowed to take a position on the importance of stem cell research to cure diseases?” Rothschild asked. Would the chancellor be prohibited from weighing in on such issues as student debt or whether higher education should be free of charge, he queried in his written testimony.

“You are saying that UW institutions should remain neutral on the question of Darwin and natural selection versus creationism,” Rothschild said. “This is ludicrous and hidebound.”

Or how about this “controversy”?

Probably the biggest debate is global warming, Vos said. A lot of people think it’s settled science and an awful lot of people think it isn’t. I think both sides should be brought to campus and let students decide.

Here we go again. “Both sides”. Sometimes the two sides are “truth” and “lies”. I think it’s part of a university’s mission to always favor “truth”.

For instance, if a speaker shows up to say The earth is 6,000 years old. That’s a fact., I think it’s perfectly fair for a thousand students to show up and shout him down and tell him that he’s an idiot who shouldn’t be holding public office. But I guess Representative Kremer just wants to legislate a safe space for himself.

You could hurt somebody with that much projection, fella

Wow. This is Eric Trump on Hannity, explaining how the Democrats have no morality — they aren’t even people — while defending his virtuous pussy-grabbing father.

Well, I guess Eric is supposed to be the dumb one…oh, wait, or is it supposed to be Donald Jr.? When the intelligence scale is jittering down somewhere around the floor, it sometimes gets hard to tell.

No! Totally unacceptable!

A performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar featured the titular character in contemporary dress.

In this summer’s rendition in Central Park, Caesar is “dressed in a business suit, with a royal blue tie, hanging a couple inches below the belt line, with reddish-blonde hair,” according to Laura Shaeffer, an audience member who spoke to a local radio station.

Then there was the murder scene, with blood spurting everywhere. People were very upset at the scene with a character looking a heck of a lot like Trump. So am I.

Julius Caesar was brilliant and competent, maybe too competent, as he ruled Rome with the force of his will, his dignitas, his armies, his history of victory. Any comparison with Donald Trump is intolerable and inappropriate. I demand that the company cease besmirching the memory of a truly intelligent and historically important man.