February 11, 2024
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Rags and Bones

by Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.net

Mika Brzezinski

I am fascinated by the ongoing tragicomedy of Mika, the disrespected sidekick of her husband, Joe Scarborough, on MSNBC's Morning Joe. I have been turning the show on as background chatter for years, originally enjoying Joe's brazen, childlike personality. Recently, he seems to be swinging back to the right; this morning, he and (even more surprisingly) Al Sharpton (who however has no moral compass, so not so surprisingly) were ragging on New York's bail laws, a set piece worthy of Fox.

Joe has never let Mika get a word in edgewise. She is accordingly a weird onscreen presence, who has never learned to do the sycophantic constant laughter and applause of Johnny Carson's unbearable sidekick, the always-smiling Ed McMahon. Mika instead stares at Joe, and at the camera, alternating a baffled deer in the headlights, what the fuck have I gotten myself into expression, with expressions which can be read as subtle grimaces and eye-rolls. Sinxce the Hamas atrocities on October 7, Joe has developed a trademark rant, which includes "They murdered Israelis, raped their women..." "Their" women, seriously?

And Joe never talks to Mika, or asks her a question. Ever! He converses only with the men on the show: "Well, Willy, I think that"; and they obediently answer while Mika sits there and simmers. Sometimes she launches a hesitant sentence, and Joe talks right over her.

Recently, she announced a podcast, "Morning Mika", which sounds like a consolation prize, a Sucker's Payoff. Millions are watching her daily humilation on television., and hundreds listening to her on the Internet. Well, it ccould be thousands.

Mika, here is some horror movie advice: "Get out of the house!"

Shame on Nancy Pelosi

....For alleging that pro-Palestinian protesters are being paid by Russia. Seriously? Are your arteries that hardened?

Lisa, the ambulatory troll whom I write about in the main essay, repeatedly shouted at me, "Who is paying you?"--because, as we know, there is no honest, honorable and unpaid dissent in perfect America. What I should have said (the "spirit of the staircase"): "Actually, I have donated millions of dollars of my time, protecting endangered and marginalized, and by the way, quite lovely people against schoolyard bullies like you".

Code Words

I don't think I knew when I started the Spectacle in January 1995 that I would spend so much time writing about the meaning of words. Here are a phrase and a word I am running into, defending pro-Palestinian students in universities. "Zero tolerance" for certain expressions means that if a student uses one of a certain class of words and phrases, such as accusing Israel of "genocide" in Gaza, then the university will not listen to any defense, but will simply assign absolute liability. A student feeling "unsafe", after hearing another student use the word "genocide", means only that the student really disagrees with the other's opinions and dislikes her, so really badly does not want her around. Universities are therefore privileging certain vocabularies over others. The real impact of privileged phrases is, use this word and you win. If you invoke zero tolerance or claim to feel unsafe, erveryone stops thinking immediately.

J.D. Vance

I find him iconic of the second worse type of people on Earth-- the first being the actual killers. Vance is now firmly settled in the Intelligent Sycophant level, eager to be Goebbels if given the chance. There is a special ethical spectacle in the Yale and Harvard graduates now opportunistically tearing down the Eastern Ivy League culture which made them-- Ted Cruz and Elyse Stefanik too. Vance seems like someone who believes nothing and will say anything. He has a special extraordinary element: he wrote a best-selling book which was made into a movie. Now, if he ever publishes another, it will be the ghost-written rant which is the only acceptable work on the far right. To do anything else, he would have to revert to Eastern Egghead and cultivate the people he now professes to despise. I read his book before his metamorphosis, and could not find anything to Glean for my Mad Manuscript, which is unusual-- every book provides something. Perhaps I sensed how plastic it was in the first place.