Wednesday, November 26, 2003

IF IT SNOWS THAT STRETCH DOWN SOUTH WON'T EVER STAND THE STRAIN. I like Glen Campbell. Most news coverage of his recent arrest has focused on "Rhinestone Cowboy" (which Campbell is said to have sung in his cell), but I prefer to recall three other milestones: first, that he was a yeoman session guitarist who toured with the Champs ("Tequila") and the Beach Boys; second, that he was the star of "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," a perfectly entertaining summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers back in the day; and third, that he did one of the few absolutely perfect pop records of the 20th Century, "Wichita Lineman."

That Jimmy Webb song is basically a dramatic fragment: a lineman in a barren stretch of the Great Plains during wintertime talks about the burdens of his business and the burdens of his love in alternating passages, but with a similar attitude: it's hard work, and things might go wrong at any time. It's pretty sophisticated for mainstream 60s pop, but it's the arrangement on this record that lifts it into glory. The orchestral sweeps and twang guitar are perfectly normal -- a little C&W, a little Living Strings -- but because the song is so weird, they actually promote rather than assuage a feeling of unease, like a haggard-looking guy at the end of a bar methodically peeling the labels off each of his beers. The main riff supports the feeling: the telegraphic guitar part, thin and insistent, cushioned in distant, ethereal strings.

Campbell fills his part beautifully: sincere and manly, not a complainer, just telling you where he's at. On those final high notes ("...still on the liiiiiiiiine") his voice is plaintive and sublime, and I imagine a lot of people who might have been puzzled by the lyrics heard those notes and suddenly understood everything.

His image is gentle (gentle on our minds?) but anyone who's knocked around the business as long as he has -- anyone who has been a session man and then a star and then a guy who occasionally had a hit but basically looked after royalty payments and played dinner shows at Branson -- is going to develop some sort of a dark side.
I mean, look at the guy:

Maybe this is where it all ended up for the "Wichita Lineman" guy, too. The job got to him, the woman got to him, he may have gotten a little physical during an argument and the goldurned troopers ran him in. Hell of a note.

Or maybe this will be a breakthrough for him. Maybe now that the mask has slipped, we'll be getting the dark Glen Campbell, doing Trent Reznor songs and hanging out with David Allan Coe. Why not? Like most of us, his depths are not half plumbed, though thanks to this little fender-bender we've had an intriguing glimpse.
DO NOT BE ALARMED. ALL IS WELL. Victor D. Hanson attempts to explain "What is going on here (Iraq)?" to the American People. "Almost everything," replies Hanson, though what he really means is, Goddamn Democrats, Goddamn allies, etc. Here's a prize passage:
Perhaps the next time a German official starts in on "the German way" or the "Bush as Hitler" metaphor, some dense American from the heartland quietly watching the emperor's parade will go agape at a naked royal and ask, "Excuse me, but why do we have thousands of troops in Germany when we have too few soldiers in Iraq?" In the new world I don't think we are ever going to go back to "Please don't insult us too much so we can continue to stay for another 60 years and spend billions to protect you." And that will be good for both us and the Germans — who, in fact, really are our friends.

I especially like the last bit -- the only proof that anyone, including editors, might have read this shit before it was printed.

Hanson's piece is meant to be reassuring, but since it consists mostly of sneers aimed at the many parties who have not supported our efforts in Iraq, he leaves a rather Nixonian impression of isolation and self-righteous brooding. Not the behavior of a winner at all. After calling Iraq "the greatest and riskiest endeavor in the last 50 years of American foreign policy," Hanson adds this disturbing clause: "Understandably, almost everyone is invested in its failure." Clearly, they're all out to get him/us.

But why would they be? And how came it so? In and among the vituperations, Hanson says something about how the old peace was a sham, because it did not last forever. I can't make head nor tail of it; if you figure it out tell me.

Clear as glass was John F. Burns on the Charlie Rose Show last night. I've long admired Burns, having first read him in a long, pellucid Times series on India some years back. Lately I'd assumed that, as people like Andrew Sullivan are always claiming Burns as one of theirs, that he had hitched, or Hitchensed, his wagon to the war train, and would be a good spokesman for that cause. So it was a shock to see last night how dour and unpromising his view of the situation was. He said he frankly didn't know how it would all come out; that the Coalition military had as much as told him that, yes, as they labored to root out the snipers and truck-bombers there would be civilian casualties, and this wouldn't do the "hearts and minds" part of the operation much good. He also said that he was beginning to see why some people were earlier asking about an exit strategy.

Burns did not, to the best of my recollection, devote any of his comments to clever insults about Germany, France, the Democratic Party, et alia. But, then, he's not trying to reassure anyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

SOMEONE? ANYONE? "To spare you the trouble of reading comments, I am not implying that the American left as a whole will think this way. Most won't. But someone will."

What was Tacitus' subject on this occasion? That's not important. (You can find out here, though.) I grabbed the quote because it's the apotheosis of a pervasive conservative schtick these days, which works like this:
  1. Find an intemperate statement from "someone" in the general vicinity of the Left.
  2. Lay it at the doorstep of your opponents, ring the doorbell, and run like hell.

"But someone will." There's a hopeful tone to it that I especially like. There'll be another such nut somewhere we can link this to -- then, it's proof of a conspiracy!

At least Tacitus -- an honorable man -- doesn't appear to be misrepresenting his source material. Less honorable examples are abundant at Andrew Sullivan's site. Here's one utilizing right-wing whipping boy Ted Rall.

Rall's Veteran's Day column this year portrayed the POV of an Iraqi insurgent, leading many allegedly intelligent commentators to believe, or pretend to believe, that Rall was himself calling for the deaths of American servicemen.

Finding Rall guilty of treason, Sullivan dragged him around the liberal side of town, looking for co-conspirators. "After 9/11, I was roundly criticized for daring to suggest that there were some people in America who wanted the terrorists to win," says Sullivan, but he contends that Rall's piece proves that "there is a virulent strain of anti-Americanism in this country... That's where parts of the left have now come to reside. It's as sad as it is sickening."

Sullivan doesn't bother to tell us which "parts of the left" he's talking about; it's what one might call an open warrant -- fill in the names as needed. "Someone" will fit the bill.

Monday, November 24, 2003

WHERE'S MY WHITE WINE AND BRIE? The most interesting thing (okay, the only interesting thing) about R. H. Sager's recent New York Sun article -- in which he joins the tiny enclave of pro-gay-marriage conservatives currently pretending they can prevail against the Man-on-Dog wing of the Republican Party -- is its by-now familiar rendering of the traditional Liberal Dinner/Cocktail Party:
I’d stumbled into some trouble at a liberal table by disclosing my support for the pro-life side of the abortion debate... my answer caused a number of my dinner companions’ jaws to drop indiscreetly into their Arctic char.

Sensing that I was in for a long, hard slog, I unleashed the dinner conversation equivalent of Operation Iron Hammer. “But,” I said, “I’m in favor of gay marriage.” This halted a number of tongues midlashing. Heads cocked to the side as my fellow diners contemplated how one could hold such a backward position on one hot-button issue and such a progressive position on another.

“People who hold that position on abortion don’t usually hold that position on gay marriage,” one reporter from a rival newspaper said...

I love that last quote. Try speaking it aloud. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

How come I never get invited to these parties? I've been a liberal for quite some time, yet I never get asked to scenes like this, where lefties gather to sample Arctic char (ooh, sounds fancy!) and react with comical horror when Jimmy Stewart as Brent Bozell casually announces that he wants women to bear children against their will.

I mean, while it is true that we do have parties, I can't recall a scene like the one Sagar describes. The liberals in such caricatures never argue with the conservative -- they just bray or tremble. Since there are so many more liberals at these Arctic char shindigs than there are of him, how come they don't just beat the conservative up and throw him out a window? That would be typically craven and unfair of us.

Also, how is it that these conservative writers have so many liberal "friends"? I thought there were only a couple of dozen of us left in the whole country, residing mostly on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And how, having located some, do these conservatives keep their liberal friends? Listen to this guy: "There are times when my liberal friends will not engage in debate at all. Instead, I often find myself mired down in stifled discussions, responding to insults to my intelligence. Case in point: I can't remember an occasion when I have heard a liberal friend give an honest objection to why tax cuts and sound economic policy are not synonymous."

If you were this guy's "friend," wouldn't you stop being his friend once you'd learned that he looked upon you with such stark contempt?

Also: Why hasn't WFDR fired Mallard Fillmore?

These are the thoughts that fill my long, sleepless afternoons.

Friday, November 21, 2003

LILEKS TURNS ON SALAM PAX. Once Pax was the poor guy running a blog out of the war zone. Now, per Jim, he's an ingrate and a pussy. And that's almost as bad as coming from the the wrong country. Or being Ted Rall. Sigh, I'm so glad I have no interest in politics.
ART, FOR CHRISSAKES. Another downward step in the politicization of everything: a National Review columnist tells his readers which Dr. Seuss books are conservatively correct. "So what are conservatives to do with Seuss?" ponders John J. Miller. "I say read him, because most of his books are incredible fun — but also choose wisely."

Oh, for Chrissakes. Why do people have to be protected from ideas that they might not have previously endorsed -- in children's books, no less? I read the high Tory Evelyn Waugh with great pleasure. I read Celine with pleasure, and he was a goddamned Nazi. And let us not forget the ancients, whose own political predilections have been long rejected by most of us. Who would throw out Shakespeare because he was a monarchist?

This "with us or against us" thing really has gone too far.
COCKEYED OPTIMIST. "BOORTZ ON GOODRIDGE: Another conservative keeps his cool." -- Andrew Sullivan.

"Do you want a law recognizing the value of children being raised by mothers and fathers; a law banning adoption by same-sex couples? Fine. I'm with you there too." -- Neil Boortz in the abovementioned column.

In Boortz' view, Hillary Goodridge and Julie Goodridge, the plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case, should be able to get married, but should also be stripped of their five-year-old daughter.

Doesn't sound so cool to me.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

LYING LETTERS AND THE LIARS WHO WRITE/RECEIVE THEM. Eugene Volokh is politically astute, yet here pretends not to have heard of Astroturf.

Astroturf describes the mass-mailing of one letter to several editorial outlets in hopes of creating the fake appearance of a groundswell of opinion. This appears to be the case with an item simultaneously printed and portrayed as a personal correspondence by Volokh and K.Lo., den mother of NRO's The Corner.

"I realize that in print media, it's considered a serious faux pas when an author prints the same op-ed in two different outlets at once," sniffs Volokh. "But that may have something to do with the fact that readers generally pay money for print media, and print media generally pay money for op-eds."

The item in question appeared at Volokh's site blockquoted, under the title LONDON CALLING, and with the introduction, "A friend of mine, whose judgment and accuracy I very much trust, writes this from London." Not since the days of Addison and Steele would this be considered by any reasonable reader anything other than a letter from a friend, rather than a propaganda pass-along to be published wherever they'd have it.

Even the normally thick Instapundit seemed to have the same impression, prefacing his reprint with "Eugene Volokh posts an email from the scene."

This is a small thing, but instructive. These guys love a good soundbyte, particularly a "counter-intuitive" one (well, I live in London and everyone I know loves Bush!), and cannot stop to pick and choose. They are, after all, fighting what they believe to be the Big Lie of the Liberal Media, and their whole blogs, if not their lives, are devoted to fashioning a believable counter-narrative -- and I use the word "believable" rather than "true" advisedly: every available thread gets woven into the tapestry, and who cares whether it's the right color or even strong enough to hold? The Great Work must continue! In the blogosphere, it's all, as the saying goes, too good to check.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A BREAK FROM GAY-INDUCED MADNESS TO BE JUST PLAIN MAD. Derbyshire on why he would happier in China than in America. It's not only because they don't like homosexuals there. Derb says he must leave America because he "has Bad Thoughts."

Derb, take it from me: the Bad Thoughts will follow you wherever you go.
MORE DERB GAY HIJINX! 9:53 am: Derbyshire refreshes himself before the fire, compulsively smoothing his ermine robe as an unidentifed councilor soothes him with "what if a guy wants to marry his son?" chatter.

9:53 am (2): Another Derb lackey, identified as a citizen of Magnolia, Alabama, reads to his liege some fresh intelligence on the judicial perpetrators. Apparently they all went to college!

"The main thing to note about these people," says the Alabaman, "is that they were appointed to their posts and are not accountable to voters... Here in Magnolia, of course, we elect ours in partisan races. Doesn't always work well. But if, every once in a while we end up with a Roy Moore..."

Derbyshire sighs, wonders if it isn't time to drag the family down to some Dixie hog-wallow where no winds of libertinism intrude.
HE DOESN'T MEAN TO HURT ME! HE DOESN'T MAKE A FIST! During his several long gurgles on Goodridge, Andrew Sullivan offers this astonishing defense of his beloved President (whom, he may not have noticed, is a mortal enemy of gay marriage):
Yesterday, the president mercifully didn't commit explicitly to that. The official statement read:
Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today's decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.

I'm not sure what this can mean.

Not sure what this can mean? Sullivan must know about the Defense of Marriage Act, because only a few lines earlier he refers to it ("a drastic attempt to write the permanent disenfranchisement of gay citizens into the founding document of the entire country"). He must also know Bush that has been considering DMA if the courts pulled something like this. His fucking statement echoes the language of the DMA. And yet Sullivan acts as if it's a long shot! "It's not what many of his centrist and moderate supporters want," Sullivan writes as RNC staffers howl with laughter. "And he has far more important things to do. In those vital things, most specifically the war on terror, the last thing he needs is to polarize this country even more." Here it is Karl Rove's turn to double over and slap his knee.

But this is Sullivan's trip, isn't it -- to talk endlessly about his compassionate conservative President, while said President never comes across with any compassion, except in speeches, which Sullivan takes as evidence that his President will not forsake him. Talk about battered spouse syndrome.
DERBYSHIRE ON THE HEATH. 8:29 am: Not only the wild-eyed prose ("These wrecking crews, and their black-robed enforcers, have to be stopped"), but the fact that he finds inspiration in Maggie "All You Skinny People Stop Getting Divorced" Gallagher, convinces me that Derbyshire has flipped.

8:31 am: Derbyshire lists the traitors' enablers. Most are Republicans! This is worse than he thought; mayhap Derb will summon aid from those wonderful salt-of-the-earth conservatives he's always on about.
ENTERING THE LISTS. Politics, as Bukowski famously observed, is like trying to screw a cat in the ass, so let's take a little break from intellectual bestiality to consider normally politics-intensive Matthew Yglesias' post on some critics' idea, digested here by McPaper*, of the top albums of all time.

As MY suggests, these lists are always "a bit off." Consensus has no role in matters of the heart, and judgments on music, especially pop music, are all about love. Now, nearly everyone has a soft spot in his heart for the Beatles, so any pop fan will probably find a spot for them in his top-whatever. So whenever two or more are gathered in the name of rock, the Fab Four are probably the easiest call for the top slot.

If you've ever read the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop results, you'll notice the individual critics' ballots are usually a little eccentric, even perverse, but the consensus always comes out more or less normal, albeit cranky. Each of us imagines his own private headphone Valhalla, but group lists are about the commons, where the speakers are pointed out the windows.

This is easier to accept if music has been both a private and public passion for you. I used to go to the Cherry Tavern in the East Village, get a pitcher (usually with friends), and go to the jukebox and play "Revolution #9" from the White Album, sometimes more than once, sometimes until the bartender shut it off. "Whatsamatter?" I would say. "You don't like the Beatles?"

As for my top ten, it goes a little something like this:

1.) Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones
2.) Kings of Basement Rock, The Penetrators
3.) Live Rust, Neil Young
4.) Never Mind the Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
5.) A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles
6.) John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon
7.) Smiley Smile, The Beach Boys
8.) The Velvet Underground with Nico
9.) The Residents' Commercial Album, The Residents
10.) We're Only In It For the Money, The Mothers of Invention/The Portsmouth Sinfonia (tie)

But then, that's just me. Or you.

* Hope this doesn't get me into any trouble with any major corporations.
DERBWATCH, CONTINUED. The port is spilled, the pipe gone out, poor Tom's a-cold and Derbyshire is raving:
"We construe civil marriage to mean the voluntary union of two persons as spouses, to the exclusion of all others.”

Do you, by God! Then you are construing it in a way it has never been construed before. I see nothing in your "construal" to prevent me from marrying my sister, for example. Is this actually OK in the state of Massachusetts?

Oh dear -- Derbyshire in extremis has fallen back upon the Man-on-Dog defense (not based on any judgment on Sister Derb's looks, but on the expanded definition by Senator Santorum, famed explicator of M-on-D).

This is indeed the last refuge of a dumbass. The expansion of our freedoms has taken us to places of which the Founders never dreamed: the abolition of slaves, the enfrancisement of women, the liberation of "Ulysses" et alia. To point to a line not yet crossed and cry, well, what about that one? is to misunderstand the progress of mankind upon which our very nation is predicated.

Well, he could always go back to China. I understand they have pretty good ballet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

WSJ WRITERS ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM YOU AND ME. "What planet are these people living on? No normal person in a supermarket checkout line frets over whether the clerk has health insurance." -- James Taranto, Best of the Web.
DERB LETS THE SIDE DOWN. After discharging some of his negative energy by harshing at length on a transgendered opponent, John Derbyshire returns to Goodridge with a couple of conundrums.

"1. If 'gay marriage' is legalized, will prisoners be able to marry their cell mates? If not, why not?"

Well, outside coerced unions, which are invalid anyway, why not indeed?

"2. In many jurisdictions, a marriage can be annulled if it has not been consummated. What, exactly, constitutes 'consummation' of a gay marriage?"

Oh, pussy-bumping, ass-fucking, oral sex, penetration with dildoes and/or other sex toys, etc., etc., one imagines (even if Derb can't).

Really, old stick, can't you do better than that?

WELL, THEY ARE FRENCH. Lileks discovers new enemies of Our Way of Life: the Cirque du Soleil.
Ah, crap: married to pretentious European symbolism, that’s what. When you see a bunch of guys in cardinal-red waistcoats and powdered hair running around the lip of the stage swinging censors, you know Western Civ’s going to take it in the shorts tonight.

I don't envy the guy. All that money, that nice house, that nice family, and all he can do is bitch about the service at department stores, the evil traitors in our midst, and the sub-sub-theme of a Vegas casino attraction.
FIRST RESPONSE. I've been sitting here waiting for John Derbyshire, the proudest hater of homosexuals east of the Pecos, to respond to the Massachusetts ruling. Students of dramatic construction will appreciate his first sally, which is in response to some confused "speculating" by the equally repulsive, but much less amusing, homophobe Stanley Kurtz, as to what legislative measures the ruling might mandate.

Derb, bless him, behaves like a patrician made suddenly livid, but possessing sufficient mannerliness to mask his true feelings with an icy hauteur until he has some priv-acy, whereupon he will kick a footman or something:
Stanley: You observed that: "It’s also possible that only full gay marriage will do, according to the Court, and that the legislature will be ordered to bring it about."

Could you, or some friendly reader, please instruct me as to where, in the Massachusetts State Constitution, there is a clause authorizing the judiciary of that state to "order" the legislature to legislate in a certain way?

"Could you, or some friendly reader, please instruct me as to where..." Oh, that's very good. One can almost feel Derbyshire's barely-suppressed tremors of fury, masked by his long ermine cape against which, expelled by tension, his butt-plug flies, making a small thud like a tennis ball striking a drapery.

Monday, November 17, 2003

ANTI-SEMERICANISM?. Because of his actions in the 70s and 80s, I must consider Natan Sharansky a true hero. Unfortunately, the Sharon government he now serves seems to have demoted him to the less exalted role of propagandist.

Though the subtitle of Sharansky's recent Opinion Journal piece, "The inextricable link between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism," was probably not written by him, neither is it at variance with the text -- to say the least:
Despite the differences between them, however, anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and anti-Americanism in Europe are in fact linked, and both bear an uncanny resemblance to anti-Semitism. It is, after all, with some reason that the United States is loathed and feared by the despots and fundamentalists of the Islamic world as well as by many Europeans. Like Israel, but in a much more powerful way, America embodies a different--a nonconforming--idea of the good, and refuses to abandon its moral clarity about the objective worth of that idea or of the free habits and institutions to which it has given birth... [astonished italics mine]

There are many mad presumptions at play here. For starters, Sharansky really seems to think that having the same set of opponents is grounds for spiritual brotherhood (which would have been news to Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt).

One might also vigorously question the notion that there can be no reason to oppose the actions of either the U.S. or Israeli governments outside the ancient tribal enmity of anti-Semitism. (Sharansky throughout conflates opposition to Israeli policy with anti-Semitism -- "hatred that takes as its focus the state of Israel" -- but these days this non-sequitir is so pro forma it hardly needs comment.)

Worst of all, it seems never to have entered Sharansky's thoughts that either the U.S. or the Israeli government could be capable of acting against its own moral interests. Is it really anti-Semitism (or whatever the weird hybrid proposed by Sharanksy should be called -- anti-Semericanism? anti-Ameritism?) to oppose Bush's feckless war or Sharon's Palestine-As-Prison Project? Are these not offenses to the ideals of Jefferson and Herzl, and do they not mock the very idealistic catchphrases ("light unto the nations" and "shining city on a hill") that Sharansky cites?

One can see the purpose of this shthick: to more strongly yoke, at a time of some tension between Israel and the U.S., the fortunes of one to the other in the court of public opinion. Sharansky even closes by making much of the disparity between America's might and Israel's ("...the United States has been blessed by providence with the power to match its ideals. The Jewish state, by contrast, is a tiny island in an exceedingly dangerous sea..."), evidentally to more strongly suggest that, as the two universally-hated kids on the block, we should stick together -- meaning that the stronger party will physically defend the weaker, and the weaker will say flattering things about the moral superiority of the stronger.

Who knows how well it will work, but whatever merits it has as spin, it is worthless as analysis.
NOTORIOUS HOMO-HATER REVEALS SECRET BRITNEY OBSESSION! Keep up the hate speech, John -- whenever I need to cite an example of conservative bigotry, you always have a fresh, steaming pile all ready for me. But please keep your strangulated, if-only-we-could-make-her-a-nice-girl crypto-porn out of it. Last thing I need when I'm watching Britney is the mental image of you in a lab coat...
NED FLANDERS' HOLIDAY FILM ROUNDUP. "Don't they care what they show kids?" Oh, go watch your singing vegetable tapes, you fucking doofus.

P.S. I know, Julia, even lefties can love Veggie Tales, but I used all my best right-wing-nut signifiers last week and have to deploy the weak stuff until reenforcements arrive. Say this for me, though: I haven't gotten down to the easy Ann Coulter laughs yet. Forbid it almighty God!
NUKED. The $87 billion Iraq reconstruction bill is the big-ticket item on which people are understandably focused. But the Bush Administration has many other ways to use our money to fuck things up. The energy bill they're about to ram through Congress gives between $16 and $20 billion in tax breaks to "producers of oil, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear energy."

Apparently the production of nuclear reactors is a dying craft, and its impoverished adherents require federal funding to keep this dark art alive. Not to worry, their plutonium rods will outlive us all.

Oh, yeah, the bill also authorizes Wildlife Refuge drilling. And for Corn Belt states, huge ethanol subsidies!

It's a good thing money grows on trees. Now if only we had more trees.

Friday, November 14, 2003

WHY THEY HATE EVERYBODY. "(Sometimes I swear that if a European hits his thumb with a hammer when no one’s around, he shouts GODDAMN JEWS!)" -- James Lileks.

Elsewhere on the page: put-downs of Michael Moore, Ted Rall, Howard Dean, and the French.

See, this is why I don't write about the guy as much as I used to: what would be the point?
YOU TAKE MY MEANING? McDonald's, you may have heard, is mad because Merriam-Webster has put "McJobs" in their dictionary, defining it the way anyone who has ever heard the word automatically and instinctually defines it -- as shitty, dead-end service jobs.

Mickey D's minions have hit the press hard with its complaints ("a slap in the face to the 12 million men and women blah blah blah"), and of course WSJ's OpinionJournal, flagship of scumbag bosses worldwide, has risen to its defense. OJ claims that M-W "misdefines" McJobs, because people do move up from burger flipping to better work. No figures at all are offered in defense of this statement, but plenty of can-do corporate-speak is: "ladder into the American workplace," "Ditto for opportunity," etc.

There is something piquant, and more, about McDonald's and the Journal's attempt to explain to the many, many people who use the word McJobs appropriately that they should be using instead as a positive term -- like McDonald's does in its jobs-for-the-handicapped program! (Turn that frown upside down, fella! You're on a ladder to the American workplace!) Kinda makes you feel like you're committing a hate crime or something if you even say the word, now, doesn't it?

And if we don't respond well to this friendly persuasion, well, both McD and OJ remind us that the term McJobs is a licensed trademark -- hint hint, see lawyer.

Does anyone else see something slightly sinister in this attempt by a corporation and its goons to change the universally accepted meaning of a word? It's one thing to work your company's image, but it seems to me that the way to remove an unflattering connotation from your nomenclature is to improve your own performance in that regard.

Instead, Mickey D (hey, am I allowed to call them that? Is it, like, racist?) goes running around the English-speaking world yelling, " McJobs good! Say it! McJobs good!" I suppose we'll find out soon if they're rich enough to pull it off, and if we're feeble-minded enough to have it pulled off on us.

If so, I expect that in the near future, Maaco or Jiffy Lube will aggressively attempt to change the popular understanding of the term "rim job."

Thursday, November 13, 2003

SHORTER INSTAPUNDIT UPDATE: Ted Rall getting published in the Village Voice means all you stinking hippies want Americans to die. Conversely, you can't pin Misha's ravings on me just because he's on my blogroll. My "bad apple" theory of political life applies only to mainstream vehicles like what you hippies read, not to the Rolling Stone of the 21th Century.

(I guess I can't read the New York Times anymore since they started running David Brooks. That would make me a neo-conservative!)
SHORTER INSTAPUNDIT: This'll show Tom Tomorrow! See, warbloggers aren't the whiners with bad wrists -- Tom Tomorrow is!! Heh indeed! P.S. Ted Rall sux.

(editor's note: using the "Shorter" format on this cracker asshole really is like sticking a pin in a balloon.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

NOT THEIR LITTLE GIRL ANY MORE. Betsy Hart at NRO tells us that Jessica Lynch's I'm a Soldier, Too is a load of Howard Dean propaganda. Hart makes other mystifying statements, which Soundbitten admirably deconstructs.

Not mystifying at all is this new animus against Lynch. While more sentimental conservatives, like those at, at least appreciate Lynch's service to her country ("The young soldier may not have engaged in any Sgt. York-style feats of daring -- but she's a hero, nonetheless"), the movement's Kulturkommando think she's nothing but trouble. Some, like Mona Charen, have been denigrating Lynch for months because she's a poster girl for female participation in America's armed forces, which to Charen et alia is just another liberal scheme to destroy America.

Others, like Hart, seem to be responding to a more recent need within their little community. Remember when conservatives were defending Lynch's heroism against "crackpot" debunkers? That was before she was able to speak for herself.

Now that's she has, it's apparently time for the story of the plucky little soldier from Palestine, WV to turn into something a little less flattering.
MR. SULLIVAN'S PLANET. In his latest article, Andrew Sullivan tells us that America is divided between those "baby boomers" who "see everything" through the "prism" of Vietnam and are destined to lose the entire south and the next Presidential election, and regular people like himself.

Taking care to be fair and balanced, Sullivan admits, after reproducing a long, incendiary and (if you know anything about the source) anomalous screed from Democratic Underground, that "Free Republic... is sometimes just as outrageous in the other direction as Democratic Underground."

Yes, he's talking about that Free Republic, at which members commemorate Lincoln's Birthday by toasting John Wilkes Booth, and would likely beat hell out of Sullivan if he stumbled upon their trailer park. (Representative post from a recent Freeper board: "...most queers aren't neat and pretty like tha' teevee shows either. Might as well stereotype them as lazy, self-absorbed, perverted, and living in pig sty apartments that reek of chain smoking and overfilled trash cans -- because that's what a lot of them are and that's where a lot of the queers live. Or better yet, why not take a tour of the AIDS wing of a large metropolitan hospital and set it to a laugh-track...")

Oh, and Sullivan thinks that Bush might lose "if he nominates a real extremist to the Supreme Court or backs a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage." Yeah, that'll alienate his base, alright.

I used to wonder what planet Sullivan was from, but now I'm thinking in terms of galaxies.

P.S. Sullivan also says, "[Dean's] from Vermont, one of the home bases of what's being called 'the Starbucks Metrosexual elite.'" "Called" by whom besides Sullivan?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

MILOS FORMAN WAS RIGHT. Larry Flynt claims to have nude pictures of Jessica Lynch, and to have procured them soley to keep them out of circulation, and thus spare from further degradation the Iraq War's most famous POW, whom Flynt feels has already been exploited enough by the Bush Administration.

I don't believe him, but you have to admire the showmanship. Some men will enjoy even the idea that the photos exist; some who do not enjoy the idea will still wonder if the photos exist; others will decry the whole concept as violently as if the photos exist. Thus Flynt has associated himself with a pornographic scoop that does not exist. Whotta demon!

I prefer this kind of buncombe to the kind dispensed by more diligent shapers of public opinion, and not only because it involves porn. While Roger Ailes and his drones, for example, methodically enforce their own version of political correctness among the serfs at Fox News, Flynt steps up like P.T. Barnum with an outrageous public claim that deftly mixes equal parts of concupiscence and sanctimony. One offense to reason and decency smells of the carnival tent, and promises at least a little cheer with the cheat; the other smells of Wite-Out and expensive cologne, and bores mercilessly into the skull, not caring to stop and tickle anyone's fancy along the way, lest they fall off-message.

Flynt's approach is, dare I say it, more American, and Ailes' more Orwellian. There is after all a difference between bullshit and Newspeak.
BOOTS ON FIFTH. I spent my lunch break today at the Veteran's Day Parade. I'd heard this event is always sparsely attended, and I was prepared to be depressed by the sight of aged warriors hobbling up Fifth Avenue as gaggles of seniors feebly clapped. But while this year's Parade certainly won't set any attendance records, that didn't seem to matter, because the vets were rocking. Didn't matter that St. Patrick's and Gay Pride are bigger and brassier. The vets had their parade. They hoisted the flag, worked the rifle, and styled their peacoats and camo with brio. Even the old ones had some spring in their step; even the ones bearing the POW-MIA flag had an upright and energized bearing.

I'm sure they'd have preferred huge, cheering throngs, but fuck it -- they've been through a lot worse than a weak house. Though many of the NYPD sawhorses held back naught but November air, and what applause we spectators raised died fast in the concrete corridors, the marchers waved and smiled and, when they recognized a brother on the sidelines, saluted.

There were representatives of all the services (I think -- didn't see any sailors), and of particular squads and special interests. There was an equal-rights group that flew the Pride flag next to Old Glory. There were guys carrying rifles as if on point, and others who slung them carelessly over their shoulders. There was a group of Bronx Vietnam vets who looked like they got back yesterday. There were Veterans Against The War, chanting BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED -- I wonder if the guys down at the New York Post who bitched today about poor V-Day attendance caught this act, or showed up at all. And there were high school marching bands playing the American military's greatest hits (including "Onward Christian Soldiers"), baton twirlers, and honor guards.

It wasn't all high spirits and happy faces. The POW-MIA flags, once an urgent distress signal for men presumably left behind, now seems a bitter reminder that soldiers know well whom they can and can’t count on. One improvised "float" featured a bamboo tiger-cage with tattered fatigues hanging in it. On the side of an armored vehicle read this legend: NEVER AGAIN WILL ONE GROUP OF VETERANS ABANDON ANOTHER.

It struck me that while the Parade does honor the fallen, it also honors the folks who came back from our wars, who must feel not only proud but lucky. These guys sure seemed to feel that way -- lucky to be alive, to hear and feel their boots tromping on safe concrete, to smell the tang of autumn. Having never served (too young for Nam, by the grace of God), I feel lucky, too; and I acknowledge that these guys, and their absent friends, may have bought me some of that luck.
HEADLINE OF THE WEEK. "Kidman To Keep Kravitz Romance Private,"

Monday, November 10, 2003

FUTURE SCHLOCK. This recent piece of Virginia Postrel gush is about the new architectural template for Home Depot stores. Postrel posits that the "higher aesthetic expectations" of "urbanites" have led to this design marvel, and backs it up with a passage from the Engineering News-Record and a photo.

The News-Record does concur that "shoppers are flocking to buildings that are navigable, organized and well-maintained." The photo, however, forces me to make an observation: the buildings, if this is a reliable example, are butt ugly.

Now, to a Dynamist, I'm sure this is judgment is incomprehensible, or comprehensible only as a pathetic dying yawp from the withering tribe of The Future's Enemies who cannot see heaven in a box of steel, stone, and glass, however ergonomically sound.

But fuck it. I say they're eyesores and I say the hell with them.

P.S. I also think Philip Glass and Blink-182 are clearly inferior to the dusty, low-tech creations of Beethoven and Iggy and the Stooges.
'TIS A BLESSING TO BE SIMPLE. "FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: ARABS... AGAINST: NYT, GUARDIAN, AND THE LEFT." -- OxBlog. Writing must be easier to do when you are not simultaneously obliged to think.
IT'S OKAY, BUT IT'S NO MALLARD FILLMORE. Zara Downs tipped me to this unique series of instructional comics from Law for Kids. Even more curious than the authors' idea of a good gag-panel punchline ("You are both suspended") is the whole idea of Law for Kids, "America's first stand alone web site dedicated to teaching children about the law." Is the presumption here that first-graders need legal counselling, or that teenagers read at a first-grade level?
NEW FRONTIERS IN WINGNUTTERY. Andrew Sullivan comes thisclose to calling George Soros, a Jew, an anti-Semite. God, what torture it must have been for Sullivan: he had the Right-wing slur of the moment all ready, and couldn't use it because his adversary possessed ethnic kryptonite!

Perhaps Sullivan can take comfort in the news that Putin's boys are dealing with this troublesome billionaire the old-fashioned way.
VERY EASY COMPOSITION TEST. Class, tell us what's wrong with this sentence from the Wall Street Journal's editorial about why Souterners won't vote Democratic:
And far from playing the race card, most [Southern] Republican candidates nowadays strive to avoid making race an issue, if only because they don't want to boost largely Democratic black turnout.

Answer: The sentence is too long and should be edited to carry only the words needed to carry its meaning, e.g., "Southern Republicans don't speak their minds about race, because black people would kick their ass if they did."

Of course, in this new version, one also loses the reference to "playing the race card," which in the original implies this cowardly course of action is in fact a form of courage.
SHORTER JONAH GOLDBERG ON CITIZEN KANE: In order to maintain my reputation as a young, hip conservative, I will affect boredom with a famously brilliant American film and pretend to prefer a Patrick Swayze action picture. That's, like, way iconoclastic!

Friday, November 07, 2003

OVER TO YOU, BILL. I ought to read Whiskey Bar more often. Billmon makes an excellent point about Bush's NED speech -- which, like all Bush orations, has already received gushing fanboy treatment from Sullivan and those guys.

Of course, Billmon and Sullivan seem to be talking about different speeches. The one Sullivan heard reveals that "The fundamental lesson of 9/11" is that "it [is] no longer possible for the West to ignore or enable the poisonous and dangerous trends in the Middle East." But Billmon points out that Bush's speech was actually quite sanguine about freedom's hopes in that region, and rang with praises of allegedly incipient democracies in the Middle East -- including, rather hilariously, Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, Bush criticized Iran's government, which he commanded to "heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people." Here's what Billmon made of that:
Even for Shrub, this is hutzpah. For all its obvious flaws, Iran is a hell of a lot more democratic than any of the feudal oil kingdoms Bush cited in his speech. It has a real parliament, with substantive budgetary and oversight powers, holds real elections, and has a president who can stake a stronger claim to a popular mandate than having the votes of five Supreme Court justices.

The problem with Iranian democracy, of course, is the theocratic veto given to the Shi'a religious establishment, which has managed to frustrate most, but not all, efforts at popular reform. But does Bush really propose to argue that the Ayatollah Khamenei is less legitimate than the semi-comatose side of beef currently sitting on the Saudi throne? Bush cites the example of Shirin Ebadi, Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner. In Saudi Arabia, she'd be horsewhipped by the religious police for even showing her face in public.

I mention all this not just to flog a blog, or even to draw your attention to a neat peiece of rational analysis of the sort I am usually too bile-choked to attempt. It's also an experiment in blogging efficiency. I am tired this week, and believe me, it is easier to find smart stuff on the web, link to it, and add a few words of set-up, than it is the delve into the psychological rat's-nests of this world's Kim Du Toits, Ralph Peterses, et alia, as I normally do. In fact, if I stopped devoting such craft and style as I have on the set-up here, I could easily do this all day long, and maintain a tenured position at the University of Tennessee.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

BLOOD 'N' GUTS REDUX. After yesterday's rousing column, I thought General Ralph Peters' minders would have insisted on a week of bedrest for him at least. Yet here he is again with an even more enraged article. For if there's one thing that gets Peters' goat worse that Iraqis firing on Americans, it's Germans.

Peters has had this bee in his helmet for some time -- here, for instance, he tells us that Germans are loud and smell bad. But now the General has an excuse, sort of: a German general named Guenzel got caught passing some anti-Semitic remarks.

Guenzel was summarily fired, and denounced by the Chancellor, but Peters insists that "millions of Germans" also hate the Jews -- in fact, to hear Peters tell it, all citizens of Germany hate Jews:

There are good Germans. Plenty of them. But they live in Philadelphia, not Frankfurt. They and their ancestors all left Germany by 1938. Those who stayed didn't just support Hitler - they loved him and fought for him to the bitter end...

The whopping difference between the Allied occupation of Germany and our occupation of Iraq is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis welcomed their liberation. We had to force freedom and democracy on the Germans at gunpoint.

They'll never forgive us...

Right off the bat, this prompts a question: do German Jews, being German, also hate Jews? But we know better than to interrupt the General.

On he rages, explaining that a lot of the universal anti-Semitism of Germans is craftily hidden: "Oh, sure, making anti-Semitic remarks is a crime in today's Germany. But anti-Israeli remarks are just fine. You've merely got to choose your words carefully."

Of course, stateside we are well-used to this mad idea that criticism of Israeli policy = the blood libel. But why would anti-Semitic Germany have such notoriously strong laws against anti-Semitic speech -- and try so hard to get the rest of the world to follow them? Shouldn't they instead be pushing a free-speech line, in hopes that their children may one day be allowed to watch Jud Suss and yell ethnic slurs?

Again, there's no containing the General. His conclusion: we must boycott Germany as we boycotted France. "The boycott of French wine sent a strong message," avers Peters. Well, considering that, as Reuters reported, "Americans overtook Germans as the biggest spenders on France's Bordeaux wines in the 2002-03 sales year," that message must be that Americans are too fucking self-indulgent to stage a decent boycott.

I was at first disposed to declare Peters mad. He has all the attributes of a lunatic: he has strongly fixed ideas about people that experience cannot dispel, he takes chimeras for hard facts, and he is in a perpetual state of rage. But I haven't shaken the feeling that perhaps Peters is playing a different game: maybe he's just deliberately inattentive to facts and reason, not because he's nuts but because he's aware that his function is to stimulate anger at selected enemies rather than rational debate.

The "either evil or crazy" formulation, though, I could live with.
KIM? ISN'T THAT A GIRL'S NAME? It's never a good sign when the Ole Perfesser does a long post, but this one represents a new low ("Have you got that, Mr. Bernstein? A new low!").

In some ways it's the usual Reynolds rap -- a lot of bizarre, offhand assertions ("I wonder, though, if this phenomenon doesn't go part of the way toward explaining why network TV is losing so many male viewers") interrupted by quotes from dopes and links to dinks -- but here the premise is so ridiculous (basically, that men have it rough, and the bitches get everything their way) that you wonder why he bothered to type it instead of just getting shitfaced and blurting it out on the street while smashing beer bottles.

Also, at this length, it's more obvious than usual that he doesn't know how to build an argument, or even what an argument is. (You say this guy teaches law?)

But rank as his stuff is, the inspiration for his post is even worse: a guy whose unfortunate name, Kim Du Toit, seems to have scarred him for life. As pictured at his site, Du Toit looks like Floyd the Barber after a weekend in Paris ("Oooh, Andy! Such wonderful little cafes they had there -- ooh, but their hair was so messy!"), and writes like -- well, there's almost no describing it. Put it this way, though: If I washed a dozen percoset down with a bottle of Jim Beam, and had to write with a magic marker that was sticking out of my ass, I'd still do better than this guy.

Not to waste too much of your time, but here are the two most illustrative examples:

" the twentieth century, women became more and more involved in the body politic, and in industry, and in the media -- and mostly, this has not been a good thing."


"I'm going to illustrate this by talking about TV, because TV is a reliable barometer of our culture."

I'll say this for most self-styled he-men: at least they attempt to back up their claims at supermanhood with entertaining stories about drinking, fucking, and fighting. This guy just wants to talk about TV.

The fact that this nerd is getting play in the blogosphere (if, self-evidently, not in the sack with non-vinyl women) tells you all you need to know about the general dumb-assedness of the current scene.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

FLIP A COIN. Looks like someone hacked Andrew Sullivan's site and put up a thoroughly disoriented post in order to discredit him.

Or not. Who the hell can tell anymore?

Just remember: If you celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, it means you hate Britannia!
LIKE THE PUERTO RICANS SAID TO RADIO RAHEEM, You got it, bro. Billmon has de-necessitated my entry on the Reagan TV Movie mess.
HEARTS AND MINDS. Lock and load, maggots! General Ralph “Blood 'n' Guts” Peters admits in the New York Post that “while our occupation of Iraq is going vastly better than the media suggests, there is certainly room for improvement.” And for ol’ Blood ‘n’ Guts, improvement proceeds from the barrel of a gun.

Here’s how he proposes to deal with Iraq’s Sunni Muslims, some of whom are thought to be involved in the deadly events of last week:
If the populace continues to harbor our enemies and the enemies of a healthy Iraqi state, we need to impose strict martial law… we need to cut back on electricity, ration water, restrict access to the city and organize food distribution through a ration card system. And we need to occupy the city so thickly that the inhabitants can't step out of their front doors without bumping into an American soldier.

The General also proposes limiting Sunni access to the nation's vast oil profits, and Sunni representation in Iraqi security forces. Thus would every man, woman, and child among them feel the wrath of Peters!

Having laid out the short-term punishment detail, Blood 'n' Guts looks into the future, proposing "alternative plans for Iraq in case attempts to build an integrated democracy fail." Here one is tempted to ask, "Didn't you just say that the occupation is going vastly better than the media suggest?" but this would only lead to a knee in the gut and a court-martial for insubordination.

All Iraq, Peters prescribes, is to be divided into three parts, like Gaul. And the imperial resemblance will not end there. "We're overdue to take a lesson from the Romans and the British before us," barks the General, "and recognize the value of punitive expeditions… we need not feel obliged to rebuild every government we are forced to destroy… Where you cannot be loved, be feared…"

You might have gotten the impression, from all the statue-toppling and sob stories, that our bloody adventure in Iraq has been justified, absent the WMD, by the hope and democracy we are eventually going to bring to its citizens. Well, ol' Blood and Guts don't cotton to all that P.C. bullshit!

We at alicublog thank this belligerent clown for his candor. Now if only the draft-dodging mush-mouth in the White House had his guts. 'N' blood.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

WOLF HUFFS, AND PUFFS, BUT APPARENTLY DOESN'T BLOW. Naomi Wolf has an offense against reason at New York. And OMG, it's about porn. Sample quote:
By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high “exchange value,” as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale. All mainstream porn—and certainly the Internet—made routine use of all available female orifices.

Naomi Wolf doesn't sound like a fun date.

Thank God Sisyphus Shrugged has this shit hilariously covered (Julia, please supply a link to "Joe's House O' Internet Cooz") or I'd have to go on one of my more offensive, spooge-soaked rampages here.
THAT WAS SO FUNNY I FORGOT TO LAUGH. David Frum reviews Al Franken for FrontPageMag. We all know what to expect, of course, though the Conscience of Canada does manage to surprise in one respect: rather than just slam the politics, he actually attempts to assess the humor quotient of the national best-seller. Less surprisingly, he finds it wanting, at least in comparison to the work of his favorite humorists.

And whom might they be? Mark Twain? George Ade? Dave Barry? "Not to be invidious," invidiates Frum, "but the best right-wing funny men -- P.J. O'Rourke, Rob Long, Mark Steyn -- truly are laugh-out-loud funny. I have been on airplanes on days when Steyn's column is running in the local paper and heard the laughs exploding from the seat in front of me like artillery shells out of a howitzer."

This last is an interesting metaphor; maybe Frum's fellow passengers were actually choking on airline peanuts. Or maybe they were reading the latest statement from the Fed. Or it could be that he was riding on Air Force One, and the President's men were trying, with as much lung power as they could muster, to plant a message on the credulous frostback.

Anyway, Frum deduces that, since purchasers of the book cannot possibly have bought it for its humor, they have shelled out chart-topping amounts for Lying Liars because they are looking for "villains and scapegoats." That's worth twenty bucks, isn't it, folks? He even compares these readers to supporters of Islamic terrorists ("How had the once-wealthy and all-conquering Muslim world been overtaken by the despised Christian West? Al Franken's Lies can be read as one Democrat's attempt to grapple with an analogous problem.")

Of course, I may have misread him -- maybe he thinks Franken's readers are Islamic terrorists: the enraged Muslims... Franken repudiates both self-examination and self criticism. It is all somebody else's fault. The faithful have nothing to learn from anybody. The solution to their problems is not reform, and it is certainly not self-criticism. It is a return to the fundamentals of the faith -- and war against the unbelievers.

Whew. Heavy analysis for a joke book with cartoons.

I have to admit that I don't find most overtly political authors very funny. (Witty and eloquent in some cases, yes, but not hardly risible.) About the best of the right-wing lot is Florence King, but after that it's a dry gulch; even O'Rourke's post-Lampoon career baffles me. (The joke always seems to be about how drunk he can get and still file dispatches, and how bad hippies smell.) And, truth be told, Franken is only mildly amusing in his attack mode (though I liked the Jesus comic very much) -- he was much funnier with Tom Davis.

But that's the nexus of politics and humor for you. Hell, even Twain's political work is less funny than chilling. I modestly propose a theory: political humor is only really funny when your contempt for your adversaries so exceeds your desire to make a point that you leave the orbit of politics altogether, and achieve satire. See Waugh, Heller, and even Franken in the hilarious intro to Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot (in which Jeanne Kirkpatrick finds herself obliged to review the book).

(I do laugh at Roger Ailes, BusyBusyBusy, and a number of others. But that's only because I hate America or something.)
STYLE SHEET. Let me draw your attention to one of the commentators struggling over Jane Galt's now-thoroughly-discredited (by Wampum -- thanks, Atrios, for the tip) article, "Are the Democrats Effectively Discriminating Against Minorities?":
Let me add my impression (and this may just be the result of me sucumbing to lying GOP propoganda, but as a data point it *is* my impression), liberal activists do see to seem to be especially vehement and zealous in their denunciations of conservatives when they are also minorities. My impression is of a desperate desire to maintain a near monopoly of minority official among Democrats, and a visceral hatred of minority conservatives as being an affront to the universe. If this is not just Republican propoganda, then Democrats and liberals need to rethink how they present their arguments...

This follows a phenomenon I've observed before, Friendly Advice from Mortal Enemies: the Right suggesting to the Left ways in which the Left can more effectively get their message across to people.

Sometimes, as here, the idea is to displace responsibility for bad arguments onto one's opponent: I know I haven't proven it , now you disprove it! Nice try, buddy.

More often, though, the gambit is much simpler. The latest variation is to find, or pretend to be (hard to tell which in most cases), a disaffected Democrat, former or inexplicably current, who won't vote for Democrats, and who goes on to explain how the Democrats can become more Republican so he/she can vote for them.

Today Andrew Sullivan has another one of those gee-look-what-I-found letters in which he specializes, beginning thusly: "If any of the Democrats want to win, they will need to get my vote..." This person claims to have voted twice for Clinton and worked for Gore (!), yet now considers him/herself a "September 11 Republican" and believes her former party of "hates the South, the West, anything not New York (I'm from New York, so I can say that) or San Francisco, or anyone who feels proud flying the American flag."

That's quite a turnaround -- practically schizoid. Sullivan's got another one here -- from someone saying he/she is related to a Democrat who now cries (swear to God) "Thank God Gore lost!"

There are plenty of these floating around, but my favorite is this one from PhotoDude's comments. This correspondent seems more reliably genuine than Sullivan's, in the sense that he actually exists, I think, and has a name, Bruce Webster, and a web site (the ultimate proof of authenticity!). But his political gambit is similarly curious. He considers himself a "Scoop Jackson Democrat," and it sounds like old Henry is the last Democrat he actually voted for: "I voted for Bush in 2000," he proudly avers. "I’ll vote for him again in 2004." Indeed, he only remains a Democrat "out of stubbornness."

So he seems lost to the fold -- yet he insists on lecturing the Dems as if they were the wayward children: "Sadly, I think it will take a crushing loss to lead the Democratic Party to remake itself, to realize that it has become the party of intolerance and exclusion and special interests, and that the Republican Party is becoming the party of inclusion and tolerance and leadership (sort of)."

This is a little like saying, "I came to believe that the Catholic Church is a tool of Satan, and since 1972 have attended only fundamentalist services. I regularly denounce the Church as the Whore of Babylon. Yet I still belong to Our Lady of Good Counsel parish. I'm just stubborn that way."

Come to think of it, maybe Sullivan wrote this one too.

Monday, November 03, 2003

LYING LIARS, GULLIBLE GULLS. Here's an interesting line from a con job from the American Enterprise Institute (about more later):
...Kissinger's conversations with relevant figures in Washington and elsewhere. Some of these conversations took place by telephone. Records of Kissinger's telephone exchanges, covering the entire span of his government service, are now in the process of being released--they form, for instance, the primary basis of his new book, Crisis...

Kissinger learned well from President Nixon, apparently: if you're going to record your conversations, make sure they go your way. Then you can corroborate a version of history with the tapes instead of hanging yourself with them.

The Kissinger phone records are so favorable to their owner that he has graciously lent them to AEI's Mark Falcoff to help prove, sort of, that Nixon and Kissinger had nothing to do with the 1973 Chilean coup.

Falcoff's many defenses are pitiably weak: he argues that Nixon didn't care all that much about Chile, as if that would prevent mischief. (Why? Scruples? Or the possibility of getting caught? The fucker had bugged incriminating conversations involving himself for years!) He also argues that, while it's true that Kissinger's agents had ordered the sequence of events that led to the failed first putsch right after Allende's election, Kissinger later ordered them stopped (but for some reason they went on anyway, which certainly was not Harry K's fault...), etc.

But the funniest and saddest part is Falcoff's faith in the Kissinger tape. At one point Falcoff throws this on the table like the opposite-of-smoking gun:
As for President Nixon, he was evidently pleased -- how could he not have been? -- but exhibited no sense of complicity with the coup-makers themselves. As he said on the phone to Kissinger on September 16, "Well, we didn't -- as you know -- our hand doesn't show on this one though." To which Kissinger replied, "We didn't do it."

"As you know, our hand doesn't show on this one." "We didn't do it." Yep, that's how innocent men talk about someone else's crime. Nice digging, Falcoff.

I observed long ago about the movie Atomic Cafe that its archival footage is comical to us moderns because we know the people in it are lying outrageously and, as they are unaccustomed to the omnipresence of cameras, they look clumsy when they're trying to look believable. Lying was not then the fine art it has now become, but some of Cafe's stars, notably Nixon, did pick up a few tricks quickly. What's amazing is that they're still taking people in.
WINGNUTS VS. COPS. At NRO, Jack Dunphy says that the New York Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) "betrays" its membership by endorsing Senator Chuck Schumer -- because Schumer favors gun control.

Yes, fellow citizens, that's really what Dunphy (of Los Angeles) said: cops don't like gun control laws.

Reckoning that the general political views of "the average cop on the street... would fall more in line with those of Jesse Helms (ACU rating: 99) than with Schumer's," Dunphy extrapolates that the NYPD en masse favors unfettered access to killing machines for every skel, nutjob, and walking time bomb who has the money to buy one.

Perhaps Dunphy has never spoken to a New York City police officer -- he claims to have done so, and quotes two anonymously in this article, but they both sound like the same guy, specifically Jack Dunphy. (One of his alleged sources claims that PBA boss Pat Lynch is a "rube" because "he worked in [relatively placid] Williamsburg." The brackets are Dunphy's, and the modifier within them is preposterous; as someone who lived in Williamsburg in the 70s and 80s, I can assure you that Billyburg had enough crime to go around then.) So perhaps he does not realize that many of New York's Finest don't share his guns-for-everyone Second Amendment absolutism.

Why would they? A large part of New York's historic 11-year drop in crime is due to strict enforcement of equally strict gun laws. You think those quality-of-life/broken-windows police crackdowns conservatives usually love were all about squeegee men? No, a lot of them were about guns. Get a load of this from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection:
The NYPD gun strategy uses felony arrests and summonses to target gun trafficking and gun-related crime in the city. NYPD pursues all perpetrators and accomplices in gun crimes cases and interrogates them about how their guns were acquired. In a proactive effort to get guns off the streets, the NYPD's Street Crime Units aggressively enforce all gun laws. In 1996, the Street Crime Units made up one-half of 1 percent of the NYPD, but made 20 percent of all gun arrests. In 1997, their ability to enforce gun laws and make firearm arrests was enhanced by a quadrupling of the number of officers assigned to the program.

OJJDC adds that "New York City has some of the most restrictive local licensing requirements for Federal firearm dealers in the country."

The results have been obvious to longtime citizens such as myself, but conservatives like Dunphy continue to make a big stink about the bureaucracy, the injustice to hunters, etc. I am not insusceptible to Second Amendment claims, but only as a matter of constitutional right -- not on the patently absurd grounds that my little slice of heaven in Brooklyn would be safer if you could get guns for the asking at the local bar or bodega.

This is one of the crazier propaganda tactics going: ideological matchmaking. Cops are seen as conservative because, I guess, they wear uniforms and are required to act manly on the job; therefore, the argument goes, they will support every wingnut idea without blinking. It's very similar to the idea that African-Americans will vote Republican because they allegedly "support family values" (i.e., don't like homosexuals).

It doesn't work, of course, but these guys apparently have enough resources that they can devote some of them to nonsense.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

DIVERSITY VS. DRUNKS?From the Washington Post and making the rounds:
A Harvard University study released yesterday found that "binge" drinking by college students was significantly lower on campuses with more female and more black, Asian and other minority underclassmen.

The study, to be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health, said that "the student-body composition and demographic diversity should be examined by colleges wishing to reduce their binge drinking problems."

I doubt advocates of affirmative action will turn this into a talking point. Not that it's completely counterintuitive. The Post also notes that "Previous studies have shown that younger, white male students, particularly fraternity members, are at higher risk for binge drinking," and who, flashing on his or her own experience of the Delta Tappa Keg of their own college days, does not envision a bunch of white guys, some with a bloody cotton ball stuffed up one nostril, roaring along to the Beach Boys or the Beastie Boys or Coldplay, depending on the era, and occasionally falling off a roof?

But look at U.S. News and World Reports' listing of America's most diverse schools. They are mostly either small "international" schools like Alliant, or intensely serious institutions of higher learning like Brown, Harvard, Berkeley, Rice, Temple, and various Institutes of Technology. (Though I note with interest that the University of Bridgeport is also on the list.)

It may be that one expects fewer roaring drunks at such places anyway. It may also be that the most aggressive efforts to diversify the student population take place at larger institutions, with more intrusive and pressure-sensitive Boards, than at smaller schools. The recent Supreme Court affirmative action case hinged on the University of Michigan, after all, not on Gopher Junction A&M. And if you're trying to get out of MIT alive, there's less time for binge drinking.

I'm probably the opposite of a statistician, but this doesn't seem like political dynamite to me.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

THANKS FOR RELIEVING ME. I write about The Corner way too much for my own peace of mind. But now that the Mighty Reason Man has done this, I can lay off for a couple of months.
LATEST TOPBLOG INTRAMURAL: Volleys amongst Calpundit, Armed Liberal, and InstaPundit as to whether we are engaged in a "war of civilizations."

This is ridiculous. We are engaged in a series of battles against a loose federation of absurdly overmatched nuts, whose ability to strike at us is totally dependent on funds from rich benefactors about whom we do next to nothing. It ain't the Crusades. We overran Iraq in a matter of weeks; wherever Wolfowitz' dart hits next, it won't be too much different -- though whether we gain a really useful geopolitical advantage from any of these adventures is a matter of real debate. This is not looking like an epochal struggle on any level. Expensive, risky, tragic, yes, but not a war of civilizations.

And I must say that the Roger Simon post that kicked this all off isn't worth the pixels expended in reply. It's basically a hit piece on the Democratic presidential candidates ("sleaziest collection of low-down opportunists that I have ever seen," "pathetic," "yutz," etc) of the sort seen every day at other dispensaries of partisan invective, all the way down to the absurd implication that Kerry, Clark et alia don't realize that Saddam is/was a Very Bad Man. The only revelation is that Simon considers himself "an old radical-liberal." Well, so was David Horowitz, I suppose.

It's politicking, pure and simple -- sloganeering toward the end of electing candidates. A serious discussion of what we should do next may be going on somewhere, but not 'round these parts.