Tuesday, August 31, 2004

FOR A SECOND THERE I thought someone had slipped me some acid and that was why the Olsen Twins looked and sounded so weird.

I think I'm going to give the First Lady a miss. When Bill Frist is the substantive highlight of your evening, you should quit while you're ahead.

THE NIXON REPUBLICAN. I think it was Clark Clifford who referred to Reagan as an "amiable dunce." Well, Schwarzenegger proves that you don't even have to be amiable anymore.

He became a Republican in emulation of Nixon ("a breath of fresh air") versus the "socialism" of... Hubert Humphrey. (Four years from now, Republican Governor Vin Diesel will tell us all about that bastard FDR.)

Schwarzenegger then tells the unemployed and struggling not to be girly-men. His argument against the "Two Americas" idea is that he visited soldiers. Then some more about tyranny, then he visits some more soldiers. I guess this isn't a policy speech.

If this shit goes over, the country is in much worse shape than I thought.

FOLLOW THE MONEY (WITH FINGERS REACHING). At the RNC, Bill Frist has the severe enunciation and choppy gestures of a TV pitchman. Come to think of it, so has Gore, on occasion. Is this a Tennessee thing? Or just the long legacy of Pappy O'Daniel?

He's very strongly against trahhhl lawyers, of course, and pleads that doctors be protected legislatively from the rising insurance premiums which their depradations have caused. This is one of those ideas that sounds good until you actually hear one of its leading advocates explain it; then you start thinking, wait a minute -- are we really ready to restrain juries from giving large settlements in order to keep insurance rates down? If so, will we also hold the insurers' feet to the fire, and require that they slash their rates by an equal percentage of the projected savings?

That I'd like to see! Never happen, of course. If anything, the trend is toward having cash-strapped state governments muscle in on large punitive settlements as "windfall" profits that should serve the interests of the state. Such a plan, in fact, was proposed just this year by tonight's star speaker, Governor Schwarzenegger.

LAST-MINUTE SURGE. The race for stupidest RNC commentary is extremely tight. At National Review Online, there are multiple contenders. But David Brooks really stole a march with today's column, in which he posited McCain, Giuliani, and -- get this --Arnold Schwarzenegger as avatars of "courage":
First, they are clear and self-confident in their beliefs... Second, they know their own minds... Third, they are obsessed with character. When they talk about problems, they talk about selfishness and dishonor... There is something chivalric and archaic about this form of political courage. Churchill and Thatcher had it, so did T.R. But today it is disdained in schools, where gentler virtues are held dear. And the movement-dominated organizations that now dominate our politics hate it...
First, "clear and self-confident in [his] beliefs," "know[s] [his]own mind," and "obsessed with character" could as easily describe Norman Bates as these guys.

Second, there is always something comic about a bespectacled, manicured academic like Brooks complaining that we're all turning into wimps, and gushing over Republican tough guys.

Third and Finally, other than party affiliation, what does Brooks' trio of objective correlatives have in common? McCain I grant is courageous, and his quiet dignity last night is the way courageous people actually comport themselves. But Giuliani? I appreciate that on September 11 he did not hide under his desk and crap his pants, but what possible Mayor of New York would have? (Seriously, think about it.)

Outside that brief period, Giuliani has uniformly devoted his life to bullying the weak and sucking up to the strong, with the occasional break for extra-marital affairs. (Oh, and this isn't the first time he has tried to leverage 9/11 to increase his own power and prestige. He actually tried to get the 2001 mayoral election delayed and keep himself in office past his term for a "indeterminate" amount of time. Fortunately, Freddy Ferrer told him to go fuck himself and we had the election on schedule. No disaster ensued except Bloomberg.)

As for Schwarzenegger, "chivalric"? Come fucking on.

While Andrea Peyser draws breath, Brooks will still have to run for it, but I expect to see him in the semifinals at least.

Monday, August 30, 2004

WHO KNEW Giuliani would do a comedy act? And he mixed the zingers with bathos, with an aplomb that could win him a regular telethon hosting gig if the Republicans find him too liberal to run for high office.

But they may not be able to avoid him. The Noo Yawk stories make an excellent dressing for the same old heartland politics -- had to get Saddam, Iraq is free, Kerry's a flip-flopper, etc. He's plumping for Bush but he's working for Rudy. As usual.

Favorite line: President Bush "can see into the future." To top it, Arnold will have to claim that Bush can rip up phone books.

BLOGGER TRIUMPHALISM PART 45,399. I heard a lot of stuff about how the Democratic Convention bloggers were all about the "'Oooh, I saw Ben Affleck' type of posting." Here's a current roundup from the RNC bloggers:
GOP BABES OF THE DAY. The hostesses at the Cablevision Suite. Super Size Them Mrs. America 2003, Erika Harold (interview) -- Real World San Francisco star (and new mother -- see the family in line) Rachel Campos Duffy...

OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Miss America Erika Harold ...

OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Miss America Erika Harold is visiting Bloggers Row!

I went to the excellent National Review party tonight with my girls Lisa (btw, go wish her a happy birthday) and Jessica. It was insane. The place was wall to wall packed. I ran into my polling teacher from grad...

Shortly after our interview with Ari Fleischer we went to the Turtle Bay Grill for NRO Bar Night with the folks from National Review. It was packed, but it was a good time. I got to meet Jonah Goldberg, and...

Dashing fromm MSG to parties around the city is not fun. I suppose the reward is the party, of course, but traffic is pretty slow with cones lining nearly every street in Midtown Manhattan. Still, the quickest way across town was by cab. We hit...
It's good to see the grown-ups back in charge.

UPDATE SEPT. 1: Great minds think alike.

HATERS. At the RNC John McCain gave a characteristically lucid, even-tempered speech, positing the campaign as "argument among friends." It's interesting that he didn't set the crowd on fire until he dissed Michael Moore. Suddenly the elephants woke up, smelled red meat, and roared.

I had gotten the impression that we were the ones blinded by hatred of a single individual. Well, maybe so, but at least it's not some guy with a movie camera.

And Moore was in the gallery, laughing! I've heard the bad things people have said about him, but he's certainly not short of guts.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

ALICUBLOG ON THE MARCH! I’m not a protest type of guy, and tend to stand out in such crowds like Travis Bickle at a Palantine rally. Nonetheless I hauled my carcass over to Union Square this morning to see what the hubbub was about.

Like most attendees, I didn’t pay much attention to the speakers; the few I caught dished out the usual platitudes, though I admired the woman who bravely asserted after a catalogue of complaints, "When we run society, this kind of thing will not be allowed to happen!"

I was handed enough pamphlets and periodicals to wallpaper a small house, including The Revolutionary Worker, Solidarity News, 1917 (The Journal of the International Bolshevik Tendency), and a bilingual flyer for lunatic millionaire politician Abe Hirschfeld, who vowed to "end police brutality" in whatever post he’s running for this time. The LaRouche people were there too, bless them, still telling all voters willing to read dozens of pages of fine print that our troubles began with Jeremy Bentham, the Abbe Antonio Conti, and the Treaty of Ghent.

Someone was filming what appeared to be a student film: a handheld camera operator circled a young woman in a jean jacket as she looked around at the protestors. The NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit was also filming. The participants provided lively footage. A ring of Philadelphians clad in black and pink led some anti-Bush cheers. One of them wore a shirt that read, "When I say Gender, you say Fuck." That remains my favorite shirt of the day (though the plaintive "I Still Hate George W. Bush" is up there, too). Even a few of the park bums got in on the act; "Bush gotta go, Bush gotta go," repeated a scrawny man shuffling around with a framed Saturday Evening Post cover under his arm.

When it got around noon I headed down 14th to Seventh Avenue, which was so clogged that we didn’t get moving for about thirty minutes. I shambled along awhile behind a man got up as a Greek Orthodox priest who carried a double-faced placard: the standard UPJ sign on one side, a beautiful gilt-edged print of "Our Mother of Sorrows" cradling the World Trade Center on the other. There were lots of signs around -- hell, people were leaving them by the roadside, and others were picking them up -- ranging from hunks of cardboard with scrawls to classy evil-elephant and Bush-looking-stupid print jobs, along with banners, Bush effigies, and balloons, some of which flew up into the sky to float among the police helicopters.

At 24th Street we passed an impromptu press gallery perched on a construction platform. (A lone Reuters cameraman, too heat-exhausted perhaps to climb, lounged on the sidewalk.) One of the photogs shouted, "Y’all look wonderful!" which raised a great cheer.

There were plenty of cameras within the crowd as well, generally trained on the grungiest protestors and most inflammatory signs. If you want to see that sort of thing, you know where to go.

Eventually I found myself behind a contingent from SIAFU. Never heard of them before (I think they’re these guys), but they were all in purple shirts proclaiming that they were "coming after the elephant and the ass," just in case you thought this was a Kerry rally. They danced in place and got some hearty chants going – "Who we are (who we are) we are the stu-dents (we are the stu-dents) mighty mighty stu-dents…" Other chants, mostly of the "Hey hey, ho ho" variety, popped up along the way.

The crowd was getting bunched up round 25th Street and some of the organizers sprang into action to regulate the flow -- young, mostly female, red bandanas tied on their arms, they linked hands across the avenue and held the pace. Very neatly done. If you want to know why moderates march with fringe groups, it's because the fringe groups know their shit.

Up in the 30s there was no getting out of it -- all the sidewalks and sidestreets were blocked off by metal gates and cops, who seemed attentive but relaxed; a number of them lounged in chairs inside the closed Blimpies at 30th, gazing out at us as if we were a dull TV show and the remote were too far away for them to change the channel.

I went around on this ride twice, and both times the crowd was thinner in front of MSG and on 34th Street – another bright organizational move, relieving tension at a critical juncture (and in the teeth of hundreds of cops). The chanting and booing there were light, there being nothing but police and convention security to yell at. Gaggles of Pro-Bush protestors provided some of the more argumentative marchers with targets at 33rd and Seventh and at 34th and Broadway (again, if you want to see pictures of them -- and claims that they outnumbered or were prettier than the anti-Bush protestors -- you can always go to Instapundit), but most of the crowd seemed to realize that the sheer mass of the march was the message – though everyone voiced loud displeasure at footage of Bush on the giant TV screen on Macy’s south side.

And then we were heading back downtown, with lots of elbow room, and then we were done. On East 14th Street, kids were hauling their boxes into the NYU dorms for the Fall session.

It all went very smoothly, which, given that I have personal experience of how these things can sometimes go, is how I prefer it.

UPDATE. For the visually inclined, there's a nice sequence of protest photos at FSHK.

For crap, go here and the vicinity. "The most disenchanted, dissheveled youth out of the leftest-wing of college campuses"? I don't just call but also certify bullshit. Most of the crowd looked like typical New Yorkers (sounded like them too -- most of the conversations were about where they were going to eat afterwards), Sunday-casual but by no means dissheveled. (Speaking of bullshit, Brookhiser somehow gets twenty pounds of it into his five-pound bag. As a sometime English tutor, I advise him that if he's going to refer to "the only other American flag I spotted," he should clearly indicate where he saw the first one. Reading The Corner's always a nuisance; contextual-reading it is just too much trouble.)

UPDATE 2. Even more lovely pictures here, here, and here. (The first two may cause you trouble if you have a dial-up connection; Margaret, ever polite, taxes your baud rate less.)

Over at The Corner (allegedly from Rick "Dogs and Dogs, Living Together!" Santorum*, but probably crafted by a crack team of GOP speechwriters): "Meanwhile, for the other America, I saw a woman wearing a visored cap with a W on it going out of Bergdorf Goodman." As literary epiphanies go, this is about the worst I've ever seen.

UPDATE 3. Now is a good time to recall Adam Brodsky's insane New York Post article from a week ago: "How fitting it would be if city natives held their own protests and spoke up for themselves, in support of an even tougher War on Terror, both at home and abroad...How satisfying to see locals, who have endured terror first-hand, step up and tell the pacifists to get with the program and defend America." To paraphrase Junior Kimbrough, things haven't worked out for poor Adam. If you are a student of abnormal psychology, his whole column is worth a read, but this will do for wingnut joy-poppers: "Yet even cops and firefighters, New York's last line of defense, are threatening illegal job actions, in the hopes of -- get this! -- winning a raise. (Talk about a lack of patriotism.)" No wonder the cops were relatively chill today.

UPDATE 4. I expected OpinionJournal, one of the moonbats' fave caves, to come up with a honey for Protest Day, and they gave me an article by Larry Gatlin:
Since Bruce Springsteen is about to "Rock the Vote" for John Kerry, I'd be only too happy to start booking my motel rooms to hit the road for George W. Bush. With my brothers Steve and Rudy, my buddies the Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Greenwood, Mark Wills and any number of other country music artists who get their support from the heartland, I'm going to find the time, come fall, to tell America that we're playing, and praying, for President Bush.
I like the Gatlin Brothers a lot, and looked forward to their invasion of this bluest of blue towns. Alas, check out Gatlin's tour dates for the remainder of 2004. Still, I guess Bush will have the Branson vote covered.

UPDATE 5. Just in case you were wondering what the Bush base thought about all this:
That [an anti-Fox sentiment] certainly seemed to be the most popular chant. I wonder what peercentage of the wackos were homofascists? Seemed tons were carrying rainbow signs. -- Guillermo

As far as I'm concerned, they should march every one of those bastards around the hole that once was the World Trade Center to give them the clue as to what appeasment gave us. -- Gunner03

The Vietnam War was won in 1968 but it was traitors like Kerry and Fonda who lost it at home. -- CROSSHIGHWAYMAN

Most of them are not employed in jobs like the rest of us. IF they work at all, they work on their computers, thinking up ways of protesting and terrorising your average American citizen... -- Curlewbird (They got us there! - RE)

BuBush went to war defeat terror and avenge what happened to New
York...NY repays him by overwhelmingly supporting Kerry...it was a mistake to hold the convention in this City of Ingrates. --BushBacker (There too! -- RE)

Couldn't you see Sadam, Stalin, Lenin putting up with the likes of today? It would be so sad if not so ironic.Yesiree...Higher Education at its best... -- TwoBits

WI naively believed that when the rest of the country rushed to New York's aid, despite the contempt that many New Yorkers feel for :flyover country," that something might change... In the end, liberalism trumps everything, even simple gratitude. -- BushBacker (Thanks for nothing, asshole. -- RE)

Ain't it the truth! My father-in-law was a retired Army captain who spent several years in a POW camp in Germany. His liberalism was so overpowering that he actually voted for Bill Clinton! His family is from the Boston area and they are dyed in the wool liberals. You're got to wonder what there is about liberalism that allows it to trump almost any other factor. -- jwrjr

I SUSPECT a "Large Portion" of these "Protesters" are "On the Public Dole;" I DOUBT THAT Most of the "Anti-Bush" Protesters in NYC are "Gainfully Employed!" Who Has the Time to Go to NYC for a "Protest!!" -- Doc on the Bay (I work six days a week. On Sundays I tear America down. -- RE)

Heaven forbid should there be another terrorist attack on NYC because I for one w/n feel upset for these 'boobs' who have forgotten... -- Tarheel

And yet the Jews continue to vote Democrat. -- conservativegreatgrandma
Et alia ad nauseum in extremis. (As if you didn't know: all spelling and grammatical errors recorded intact.)

UPDATE 6. Did I call it, or did I call it? Jesus, what an asshole.

*UPDATE 7. They've fixed the Santorum reference at The Corner, attributing those idiotic remarks to Brookhiser. Might there have been a Protest Day mole at NRO? At this writing, a bold tag has been left open, rendering it even uglier than usual. Or maybe (this old HTML hound observes) the bad angle-slash-b-closeangle was done by Ned Flanders.

UPDATE VIII. Roger L. Simon sez: the protest made me feel like everyone was against me -- even the Korean who made my sandwich was acting just like Howell Raines -- until a cop and a fellow GOP shill made me believe in America again.

Pray hurry back to Hollywood to work with Michael Ledeen on Die Hard 2 Much, maaaan.

UPDATE THE NINTH. The RedState contingent has arrived in New York and already had trouble with "one angry black woman." Hopefully the first of many! (Hint to Tacitus and friends: you might try losing the Confederate flag bumper stickers.)

UPDATE DIEZ. Little Green Footballs says, "Only three years after September 11 blah blah blah blah..." Do they have only one brain, and pass it around?

UPDATE LEBENTY-LEBEN. Since James Lileks has devoted his Monday Bleat to some hometown reunion, the parade of protest assholes is hereby adjourned. G'night.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW DISAPPOINTED I AM to learn that Tacitus looks like your basic Libertarian alderman candidate. I was picturing Brando in The Young Lions.

He says his site features "worthy individuals of all ideologies." By this I guess he means right, far right, ultraright, here-be-dragons right, and Al Hunt -- I mean, Harley. No wonder the media looks librul to him.

I see Roger L. Simon says this is the first time he's ever voted for a Republican Presidential candidate. Hey, he looked like a pro to me.

Friday, August 27, 2004

BRIEF. I turned off the game in late innings with the Mets leading the Dodgers 6-1. I did not worry that they might lose. They would have had to work awfully hard to blow a lead like that, and the Mets are not currently inclined toward hard work.

BACK FROM D.C. My medical vacation passed without incident, though a surly phlebotomist did give me a nice ugly bruise on my arm. Too bad I'm not sufficiently thin to carry off the junkie chic thing. I also have a wicked farmer tan from marching around the Mall, taking in the greatest hits. I hadn't seen the FDR, WWII, and Korean War memorials before, and while there were things about each that I liked (particularly the statues of the Korea soldiers), I don't like this trend toward shoving ten tons of iconography into a five-ton bag. Also caught some art -- liked the Whistler, Mann, and Brown v. Board of Education shows most. Favorite moment: five Mennonite women in traditional garb, waiting in line for the Race Car Simulation ride. America is still my favorite country.

Anyway, now I have the RNC madness to look forward to. I imagine I'll take in a few protests and tell you what I see. I expect all will be peaceful if the cops can contain the outside agitators among us. (Thanks for the tip, Chuck, and did you notice that these guys are staying at Sun Myung Moon's hotel?)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

SLUMMING WITH THE CRAZY JESUS LADY. You may recall Peggy Noonan went freelance a little while back. She gave the impression that she would be heading into the shit, so to speak, because while she had worked in the White House (insert modest cough here), "There are others, however, lower down on the power pole, who might benefit from another hand on deck. I've called a few this week and they've been welcoming and I'll see if I can add to their fortunes. If I can't I'll at least try not to sink them." Bravely laughing off her unpaid leave from the Wall Street Journal, she added, "This will take a bite out of my finances but I can do it. Actually most of us, when we die, wind up with a few thousand dollars in the bank. We should have spent it! I am going to spend mine now..."

Hail to thee, blithe spirit! Visions of Peggy painting signs and churning the mimeograph in a bedraggled storefront danced in my head.

But look where I found Crazy Jesus Lady will be in a couple of weeks:
...U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary John Snow will address more than 700 restaurateurs from across the country at the 19th Annual National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference. During the conference, held September 13-14, 2004 at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington, D.C., restaurateurs will meet with members of Congress to discuss legislative issues and their impact on the restaurant industry, as well as listen to high-ranking opinion leaders, members of Congress and administration officials...

Other guests will include: Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL); Peggy Noonan, political commentator and writer...
A ticket to this conference costs $145. Oh, and there's a story on her in Time this week.

That "few thousand" in her bank account must be looking pretty damn secure right now.

Monday, August 23, 2004

SERVICE ADVISORY. Over the next four days I will be in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland, on one of my regular medical vacations, as part of my participation in a study at the National Institutes of Health. Since I don't have one of those newfangled portable electronic devices, posting will be infrequent. Government agents may find me at the Morrison-Clark Inn (tell them to ring the bar) or at the National Archives, gazing again through tears upon the Founders' majestic plans for this Republic.

INQUISITION DRILLS. NRO's Tim Graham goes off on a bat about the TV series Nip/Tuck. A correspondent defends the show on the grounds that some of its themes could be construed as conservative. This apostasy is too much for Witchfinder Graham, who thunders:
Is there anything more tiresome than finding something "a conservative could love" in the middle of a very sordid show? I haven't seen the show's every episode (I have a low sleaze tolerance), but the characters will act like regular human beings every few weeks or so. If they were really changed, the producers would think they had no show any more.
Bernard Shaw had a great line about giving power to feckless millionaires -- that it was like "giving a torpedo to a badly-brought-up child to play at earthquakes with." Graham makes me think of that. He seems the very prototype of the would-be censor: someone with feverishly strong opinions about the morally right and morally wrong aspects of soap operas, cartoons, etc; someone willing to track Nip/Tuck over the course of weeks, not because it gives him pleasure, but to better qualify his ravings.

Can you imagine if this deranged obsessive had any real power?

Stranger things have happened. Which is partly why I like to keep an eye on these guys.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

COUNT EVERY VOTE! Two days of audits and an OAS thumbs-up has not appeased critics of "Landslide Hugo" Chavez' apparent victory in Venezuela. They may have a point. I hope their Supreme Court serves them better than ours did.

I do find it interesting that many folks who profess concern for the will of the Venezuelan people today were much less devoted to the electoral process when it looked as if Chavez would be overthrown in the 2002 coup.

GHOST OF WMDs YET TO COME. Like we didn't know, seeing as we've been hearing it from every bobblehead on television for weeks:
Mr. Bush's advisers said they were girding for the most extensive street demonstrations at any political convention since the Democrats nominated Hubert H. Humphrey in Chicago in 1968. But in contrast to that convention, which was severely undermined by televised displays of street rioting, Republicans said they would seek to turn any disruptions to their advantage, by portraying protests by even independent activists as Democratic-sanctioned displays of disrespect for a sitting president.
Still, I have to ask: how does that work? If citizens gather en masse outside the Republican Convention to express disapproval, how is that good for Republicans? (I am consciously dismissing the whole "disruption" angle, largely out of respect for the NYPD's crowd-control skills, and partly because anyone with a gram of sense will know that any photogenic unpleasantness that occurs will probably be an inside job.)

More interesting is this soundbyte from Dr. Mabuse:
"This speech has to lay out a forward-looking, positive prospective agenda," said Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's senior political adviser. "It has to show -- and to defend in a way the American people want to hear -- his policies on the war on terror."
I'm getting a premonition: Iraq's over (I mean in the Entertainment Tonight sense, not the mayhem and the ever-increasing casualties), terror alerts are losing their mojo -- could this be the moment for Bush's big Iran speech? Stay tuned for the September Surprise!

THE DUMB IDEA FACTORY WORKS OVERTIME. Lord, the things we do to amuse ourselves. A couple of guys (one of them a "recent graduate of Yale Law School") at OpinionJournal propose this:
What would you say if we told you we have a way to add as many as eight new Republican senators to Congress? We could also add eight right-leaning votes to the Electoral College. It's simple, it's fun, and it's perfectly constitutional: Texas should divide itself into five states...
This fancy, the authors say, is enabled by an unexpired proviso in the original Annexation Resolution: "New States, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the federal constitution."

Tee fucking hee. OK, let's all play. The authors assure us that quinfuracted Texas would add "as many as eight new Republican senators to Congress" and "eight right-leaning votes to the Electoral College." Behold a map of Texas shaded in the accepted red/blue manner to indicate Congressional representation by party:

I don't see as how the GOP, even considering their substantial gerrymandering skills in this region, can do better than three out of five here. That could give them a few new Senators, but that Electoral College powerhouse of 32 votes will be scattered to the winds.

Also, if we take the "sufficient population" part of the gag into account and consider the liberalizing effect of large urban centers in states like Illinois and Michigan (which the new Texasettes will closely resemble), it could be that over time our side gets four out of five, at least.

I know it's the weekend, but have they run out of Swift Boat Veterans already? This is lame even by their standards.

UPDATE. Texas blogger Amanda of Mouse Words has an excellent post about this, pointing out that "Conservatives in Texas have always been in love with Texas's 'special'' right to divvy itself up... Most people who think it's a nifty idea think so because it would mean that they could move to one of the 'whiter' states that would be formed. Great glee is expressed particularly in the idea of just slicing El Paso and the whole Rio Grande Valley area from the rest of the state."

WE ALSO EAT BABIES. This Andrew Stuttaford post bears repeating in full:
One of the more bizarre aspects of the Left these days is the way that it has aligned itself with defenders of hard-line Islam. The motives for this vary -- from sheer political devilry, to reflexive hatred of the West, to blind faith in multiculturalism.

Well, this disgusting piece of legislation is a reminder of the company in which today’s ‘progressives’ find themselves:

“A law banning gay sex has come into effect in Zanzibar, with homosexual men threatened with 25-year jail terms and lesbians facing seven-year sentences. "This is what we have been aspiring for. If the government takes such steps, the country will really move ahead," said Sheikh Muhammed Said, a local Islamic leader. The law was brought into effect by President Amani Karume's signature last week, the attorney general's office said. Parliament passed the bill in April. The islands, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, are largely Muslim.”
Did I miss a memo? I don't recall endorsing "defenders of hard-line Islam" -- I'm guessing that means the Taliban and those guys -- and I'm certainly not keen on jail terms for homosexuality. Maybe I'm a moderate or something.

Oh, wait, I forgot: election in progress.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

JOURNALISM 000. It's been a while since anyone brought up irony, but get a load of this from the Metro Section of today's New York Times (registration required):
New York neighborhoods do not announce their sea changes. There is no news release or banner draped across the street. Sometimes there is just a certain guy, and a thing that guy does, and before you know it the neighborhood has made one of those subtle shifts, the sort that keep New York City fascinating.
The neighborhood is Williamsburg and the guy is one Todd Fatjo, a former record store clerk who is moving to the Bronx to live with his girlfriend. That's really all there is to it, but the story goes on for a thousand words, these among them:
[Fatjo and his roommates] held five parties during their tenancy that Mr. Fatjo would later describe as major, defined as involving three separate sound systems blaring away in different parts of the apartment. "It was just insane," Mr. Fatjo said...

He wrote with a simple yet passionate eloquence, speaking directly to his peers in a parlance that showed him to be of the place and moment. "If you've ever been to my duplex loft you know how truly dope it is," Mr. Fatjo began...

If you have to ask why proximity to multiple 99-cent stores might be an advantage, you will never know. Mr. Fatjo's truly dope duplex loft is not in the gentrified Williamsburg of investment bankers and corporate media types. Those 24-hour bodegas he mentioned have bulletproof glass...

Love is a funny thing. It can spin a cynical hipster around like a record (baby, right round, round, round), and it has done a number on Mr. Fatjo, who is 28. He quit the music store this year and took a job showing apartments in Manhattan. He is working toward a broker's license, and this month he had the Afro shorn to a nice, respectable wave...

The fate of the truly dope duplex loft may be a sign that the hipster scene is fading in Williamsburg, or who knows? Some new generation could reinvigorate the neighborhood with its own brand of cool. As for Mr. Fatjo, who is fast becoming just some guy who has a job, the end of the party is bittersweet...
Here's my question, and I ask it in all sincerity: is there any way to tell if the reporter is kidding? The hipster-exodus story is a staple of metro sections, and one can get a lot of resonance out of some schlub's life changes if there is any trend or home truth with which to hook it up. But this guy just got a new apartment and a new job. Williamsburg has been gentrified for years, and from what I can see, from my vantage point a few blocks from Mr. Fatjo's dope duplex, kids are still shoving dollar bills through bulletproof glass. So what's the story? People move? Williamsburg has condos?

I wouldn't bring it up if I could be sure the reporter was just filling a news hole with a lazy-ass story -- hell, I've done that plenty of times. But I have this nagging suspicion that I'm hoping you can allay. I worry that this is actually news. I worry that, if the Olympics weren't on hand with its many color photo opportunities, Todd Fatjo would be on the front page. (Bad enough that today's actual front page had a story about the political significance of Bush hugging John McCain.) I worry that I've had my nose buried in the editorial, sports, and comics sections so much in recent months that, without my noticing it, all absolute values were completely overturned and I am now living in a Bizarro World where Todd Fatjo is copy!

Or maybe it's just a joke. I'm not ruling that out.

Friday, August 20, 2004

LIFE AMONG THE LIBERALS. For some time I've been a connoisseur of right-wing "life among the liberals" narratives. These wish-fulfillment pieces, typically showing a stalwart conservative (always the author) easily rebutting a bunch of liberal hippies out of old Mannix episodes, are as formally distinctive as Roman colloquys or medieval morality plays: neither the godlike central figures nor their moronic interlocutors have any discernible character traits, and all the pleasure comes from childlike caricatures of opposing thought.

I do what I can to spread awareness of these lulus, so that some future archaeologist may have a less cold trail to follow to these clear indicators of this parlous phase of our once-great civilization. "Behold!" he will say, "They had a highly developed dramaturgy, yet millions preferred these crude Punch-and-Judy shows -- and all for politics! No wonder the assholes got wiped out."

A few months back I discovered one Alan Bromley at OpinionJournal, and recognized him as a master of the form. Well, he's back at it again, and his latest, "No Holiday from Hate," is a peach. One day I expect I will teach a class on propaganda techniques, and "No Holiday from Hate" will be one of the seminal texts.

Bromley is on holiday, sitting on a porch with his family in Cape May, N.J. (Though his characters are mere cyphers, Bromley is always very specific with town names, perhaps from awareness that localities cannot sue for slander.)
One day, sitting next to a couple from Philadelphia, I was asked what I thought about the Democratic Convention and who would win the election. Being in a state between relaxation and boredom, I wasn't sure if I wanted to enter this discussion, so I replied by asking them what they thought the biggest issue was.
Note that Bromley, like other classic heroes of the LATL Narrative, never provokes the argument, and always has some dandy Socratic way of undermining his adversaries' clearly malevolent intent.
"Restoring trust to government," the wife replied, sounding like a Kerry bumper sticker. Her husband, munching a cracker with cheese, nodded in agreement.
"Munching a cracker with cheese" is very good (well, by the standards of the form); no one looks good munching a cracker with cheese.
I sensed my 17-year-old daughter's ears perk beneath her black hair and my wife's spine straighten, both sensing a political storm brewing.
The tension suggested here is merely a vestigial literary device; as in the novels of Horatio Alger, there is so little real danger to the hero that even his loved ones seem to be play-acting their symptoms of concern.
"You don't mean the legend on our currency, 'In God we trust,' do you?" I teased.

"No!" the husband, who had swallowed his snack, sharply responded. "We're in favor of separation of church and state, and would prefer that those words not appear on our dollar bills, just as we want 'under God' removed from our pledge of allegiance. And you know what we mean," he continued, ratcheting-up the tone. "Bush lied to us about the war in Iraq!" The chairs rocked faster.
Bromley's remark would, in company of even normal intelligence, draw perhaps a polite chuckle and a return volley of badinage, but the liberals in LATL narratives always explode upon contact with conservative wit.

Bromley thereafter delivers to his audience of seaside vacationers a long, long Republican speech ("We had Ted Kennedy, who lied about trying to save Mary Jo Kopechne. We had Hillary Clinton, who lied about her billing records..."), and the liberals' only responses are literally these: "Screw you!" "Speaking for myself, any news that helps defeat Bush makes me happy" (this referring to unemployment), and "You're a fascist! We're leaving!"

There is some passing resemblance to versimilitude here -- if I were taking the sun on a porch in Jersey, and some asshole suddenly started raving about Mary Jo Kopechne, I might leave, too, just as I might leave a subway car occupied by a bum who smelled strongly of human excrement. But as portrayed by Bromley, the liberals' retreat is a rout, his tendentious speeches are a blow for liberty, and his family is deeply proud of the spectacle he has made at the beach house (whereas the real-life version suggests a thought-balloon reading, "Another vacation ruined.")

Isn't this what cultural studies are all about -- trying to understand people whose ways of life are otherwise incomprehensible to us? My understanding of conservatives has been greatly enhanced by my study of their culture. And through my close attention to their LATL narratives, I have even developed some sympathy toward them. That is to say, if they need crap like this to make themselves feel smart, they're even more fucked than I thought.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

WHY IS REDSTATE DOWN? POSSIBLE REASONS:#5: Refused to pay ISP portion of fee that would go to unconstitutional federal taxes. #4: Still looking for all-heterosexual web design team. #3: Decided to eschew web, will use mind power to beam messages directly into the brains of constituents. #2: Alan Keyes took a baseball bat to their servers -- claims he thought he was in the offices of National Review. And the number one reason Redstate is offline is: Rope-a-dope! (cue music)

UPDATE. They're back! Never mind.

MORE GOOD NEWS. The butched-up Kerry campaign seems to be working. Evidence: it has inspired Deep Thoughts on manhood from the Ole Perfesser. First, apparently after doing bong hits all night with his much smarter father, the Perfesser hallucinates Kerry morphing into LBJ: "The constant photos of Kerry with Harleys, guitars, guns, and soldiers... it's, like, blowing my mind." OK, he didn't say the last clause, but he did say,
Lyndon Baines Johnson was another President with a silver star and a short combat career who seemed to feel that he had a lot to prove. Might Kerry's rather clear desire to be seen as a tough guy make him a surprisingly resilient warrior? Or might it backfire, as it most likely did with LBJ?
He does answer himself, convincingly, "I don't know," but all hope of drug-induced revelation and the attendant humility before God are dashed when he tells Oliver Willis, understandably confused by the tenured radical's pipe dream, to "read it again," as if Willis were a slow freshman and Reynolds' gibberish A Theory of Justice.

Today Reynolds gets back on the horse at his mainstream media gig."The party that gave us Al Gore's earth tones is now the party of swaggering machismo," chortles the Perfesser. "But it rings kind of hollow." Hollow why? Because Reynolds and his pals say so, that's why -- with references to commedia dell'arte, yet!

What I am actually enjoying here is the sound heard throughout the land of the Right blowing a gasket, because The Big Stiff seems to be putting it over. This drives them nuts for the usual reasons, but what twists the knife is that Kerry's doing it with a schtick they thought they had patented -- oh, they would have included more homosexual panic, of course, but that flag thing, that butch thing, that's got © GOP all over it!

So don't you fret, my children; when the frothers tell you that the Democratic candidate is too manly, that ain't nothin' but good.

IT COULDN'T HAPPEN TO A NICER GUY. The Mayor has been playing cagey with the UPJ protestors and their demand for a Central Park demo during the RNC, but his game with the cops is about to run down, I should think:
Weeks away from thousands of anti-Bush protesters converging on the Republican convention, police union members employed to control the crowds on Thursday stepped up their own threats to disrupt the meeting.

"No contract, No convention!" about 20 off-duty officers chanted before Mayor Michael Bloomberg arrived to open an HIV/AIDS services center -- the latest protest by police and firefighters who have publicly hounded the mayor for weeks over a contract dispute on wage increases.
They've been working without a contract for two years.

For most of us citizens, it has been a little unnerving, having a rich mayor who can do whatever the hell he feels like doing -- apeshit smoking and noise bans; on-again, off-again property tax increases -- knowing that if we finally get up on our hind legs and kick him out, he can always buy an island someplace and rule that; but his well-unionized opponents know they've got him now. Rudy may be whispering in the shadows, Fuck 'em! Show 'em the back of your hand, like I did! That's all they respect! But Bloomberg must be worrying, insofar as worry ever penetrates his dense skull, that the last-minute cop comity in his old home town, Boston, will make him look bad -- what will his friends at the Club say?

Now the officers are keeping him up nights, which is very bright -- a man accustomed to getting himself and his friends around by private jet may be driven mad by even the mildest inconvenience.

Whatever happens, he looks like an asshole. Which is only just.

The massive number of energized local Democrats, plus the cops -- it's a nice little coalition. And the words "Mayor Ferrer" -- what a nice ring they have.

I'm starting to like this Convention.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

YOUR CHOICE. You can go to OpinionJournal today and read Brendan Miniter's piece on how Kerry was wrong not to go to post-hurricane Florida, or you can wait until Miniter is dead and go view his private papers at Bob Jones University, where you can compare the published column with the one he almost certainly wrote at the same time, in case Kerry did go to Florida, calling him an opportunist, French, etc.

I would not be making such charges were Miniter's scribblings not so consistently content-free that their only imaginable use is as the rankest sort of propaganda.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

ERA OF GOOD FEELING. In a day of tactical evasions, John Kerry talked down a MoveOn.org anti-Bush ad, apparently in solidarity with John McCain, who had talked down the Other Swift Boat Guys' anti-Kerry ad. I see the political usefulness of this for the Big Stiff, and invite him to denounce my own ravings as well if it will help him defeat the fascist scumbag space-alien freak Illuminatus Bush.

Meanwhile the Mayor has invited RNC demonstrators to don "Peaceful Political Activist" buttons for discounts on hotels, Broadway shows, and other tourist attractions. Well, if it'll get me 10% off at Applebee's, I guess I can behave myself. But if the wings aren't hot, all bets are off.

RATHER WELL PUT. In case some of you were wondering why New Yorkers are hatin' on the RNC*: here. (Thanx Ezra.)

* "A recent survey by a Manhattan public relations firm found 83 percent of those polled do not want the Republican convention in town. When asked why, more than half, 53 percent, were worried about traffic, street closures, and security hassles." -- WABC-TV. (Found by Margaret.)

I'm not a huge moralist and I don't think there is no place for sex - or sexuality - in our society. But there is a big difference between promoting sexuality and promoting sex.
I forget, which is the good one -- sex or sexuality?
I see this blitz of breasts on even network television every day and it saddens me to think that my daughter is growing up in a media-crazed society that rewards most the women -- and girls -- who show the most. Maybe I've become a bit of a prude in my old age, but I cringe when I see women parading around in next to nothing because I know that teenage girls are impressionable and will emulate these women...
That reminds me: I don't have a TV Guide -- anyone know when women's floor exercises are back on?

IF IT WEREN'T FOR CHEAP IRONY, WE'D HAVE NO IRONY AT ALL. The only two entities I have found that responded favorably to the victory (such as it is) of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela are The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It's an ill wind, I guess, that blows no one some good.

More ominous still: John Derbyshire will no longer buy American cars.

Ah, big deal. Everyone knows the real threat to our Republic is insolent teens and wide-band watches in the Marshall Field's catalogue.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

A CITIZEN RESPONDS. The Mighty Mighty Reason Man has chewed out the Kerry campaign for its lame responses to the Republican spin machine. "There's a lot of dirt gonna be thrown your way in the next few months, and the time to pattycake with this bullshit is over... what your crew needs to do," he advises, "is set up a resource, a central repository of factual bitchslaps across the jaw of all this character assasination."

Who am I to argue with Reason? But allow me to add a nuance. The GOP is not dishing out truth, it's dishing out, as MMRM correctly calls it, bullshit -- smears, deliberate misreadings, and mountainized molehills. In the feral playground that is current American politics, one looks weak even trying to counter much of it logically. Edwards can point out very reasonably that Cheney is quoting Kerry "out of context" and a thousand operatives will react as if he were the kid with asthma challenging the assertion of bullies that he caught asthma by being gay -- that is to say, with more abuse.

So if the Kerry operatives are going to get talking points, maybe they should go more like this:

On Cambodia: "Aw, hell, man, you know how it is. Guys get together at the VFW Hall, have a coupla drinks, they say all kinds of shit. It was spooky back in 'Nam, man, and Kerry was smoking a lot of the good weed, so maybe in his mind he was in Cambodia. Hey, hit me in the stomach, hard's you can."

On Kerry's "sensitive" remark: "When he said 'sensitive,' he meant sensitive like an ultra-thin Trojan condom. I mean, when you get in there, you want to feel it, know what I'm saying? We think Bush's approach is more like a ribbed condom, betraying a deep insecurity that he can produce the desired effect. Plus which it's probably loose and he only has a piss-on."

On gay marriage: "Dude, why you care so much about it? Got troubles in the bedroom? Jesus Christ."

On a varieties of other issues: "Oh, no you didn't. Oh, no you didn't. Pundit, please."

Alternately, the Kerry people can simply repeat the interrogator's questions in a high-pitched voice.

It's worth a try, and if it doesn't work everyone will have forgotten about it in a week.

Friday, August 13, 2004

WHATTAYA WANT ME TO DO, DRAW YOU A PICTURE? SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU? AS LONG AS YOU LIVE, DON'T EVER ASK ME MORE! Pretending to be mentally retarded, Daniel Henninger marvels at a Democratic fundraiser with rich Hollywood stars. "Isn't it becoming harder by the day to take the Democrats seriously as the party of the common man and the left-out?" cried the faux dumbass.

Sigh. Here's the top ten list of contributors, from OpenSecrets:

1. Goldman Sachs -- $3,910,296. 51% to Democrats; 49% to Republicans.
2. National Assn of Realtors -- $2,062,839. 51% to Democrats; 49% to Republicans.
3. Morgan Stanley -- $1,882,535. 33% to Democrats; 67% to Republicans.
4. Microsoft Corp -- $1,768,446. 64% to Democrats; 36% to Republicans.
5. Time Warner -- $1,730,995. 75% to Democrats; 25% to Republicans.
6. Citigroup Inc. -- $1,659,287. 50% to Democrats; 50% to Republicans.
7. SBC Communications -- $1,632,381. 32% to Democrats; 67% to Republicans.
8. Wal-Mart Stores -- $1,585,410. 19% to Democrats; 81% to Republicans.
9. UBS Americas -- $1,584,828. 37% to Democrats; 62% to Republicans.
10. Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- $1,556,630. 97% to Democrats; 4% to Republicans.
If the Dems are not "the party of the common man and the left-out," that sure doesn't mean the Republicans are. All us po' folk are fighting for an ever-shrinking slice of the American pie. If you trust Bush, Cheney, et alia to give you a bigger one, God go with you. But let's not make believe that the presence of Bruce Springsteen at a Donkey fundraiser means that the GOP, of all entities, has become the party of the little guy.

McGREEVEY. We can almost entirely ignore the pundits' reactions to this, because they are hamstrung by politesse. Indeed, the intemperate Tacitus is having such trouble working this corner that he has spun out of the blogosphere and into the ionosphere, at least:
The coincidence of the rumored harrassment suit -- or imminent social exposure -- is a convenient excuse for an action that was ultimately inevitable. Pace those who feel sorry for him, a victim of society and its mores he is not. Which is not to say he shouldn't be.
(Had to slip that in there, didn't he?)
Second, it's worth pointing out that McGreevey came to office in the fall '01 election season -- part of an incoming class of Democrats that included faux-Republican Michael Bloomberg and Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Some good conservatives went down in that cycle. Why mention this? Because it puts the lie to the Democratic canard -- repeated by no less than John Kerry himself -- that the President has relentlessly used 9/11 for partisan purposes from the get-go. His popularity was assuredly at its peak in the months of that grim fall season, and he refused to use it in the service of electioneering or his own party. Count me among those who thought at the time that he should have -- and were appalled that he did not. Next time you hear this line dragged out for ritual flogging, quash it dead: in the heat of the crisis, the President was President alone. Those who give him no credit for it do so because they, by contrast, are partisans all the time.
What the hell is this guy talking about? normal people might ask. Go to the dictionary and look up "sublimation." McGreevey's resignation and disgrace have nothing to do with Bush, 9/11, and "faux-Republicans" -- unless you live over your head in a murky swamp where homosexuals are senior partners in an imagined tyranny that has been keeping every decent American down, and must use issues of national security and authenticity to give some socially-acceptable form to your inchoate rage.

For source matter, look at the lumpenprole response to the gay side of McGreevey's revelation:
Who is the person he had the affair with? Barney Frank?!?!??!?!

This is probably due to the fact that they have a relationship similiar to the Clintons. A Business relationship.

But where are the NOW people screaming that he placed his wife and child in EXTREME DANGER with AIDS and other STD's!!!! Where was his respect and love for them and their health??

Maybe he should hook up with Marv Albert and Howard Dean! Yeeahahahahhahaa!!!!!!!

Dump your dumocrat legislators in Nov. if they don't force the sodomite to resign this week.
Mind you, the guy didn't say he was bi-sexual, but that he was homo. He looks as though he is a bit on the thinnish side (yes, I am using code for possible aids).

Far from accepting deviance, we should buckle down and reinstate society's stigmas.

We are seeing the groundwork laid for the 'Closet Homo Defense' here.

The sad thing is that there are sick perverts like this in even more powerful and prominent positions. McGreevey is a start -- but we need to flush them all out.
There are many more, but I'm just sick of looking at them, though you may go and find them even in the "respectable" quarters of the Web.

The procurement of a sinecure for McGreevy's inamorato is a matter yet to be dealt with, and it certainly will be, but let us not (pardon the expression) mince words: the national result will be an intensification of the Republican Fags 'n' Flags strategy for the Presidential election. It's a good idea for them, too. I mean, what else have they got?

UPDATE.Mild edits for clarity. As to T's national security angle, I see WorldNetDaily got a copy of the hymnal: "Given that New Jersey was where one of the 9-11 planes originated from... one would think McGreevey would have vetted his security czar closely... According to a sexual harassment lawsuit to be filed shortly by Cipel, perhaps McGreevey did vet him ... a little too closely." Using the same standard by which the President is often judged, though, I'd say McGreevey and Cipel did a great job -- no one has blown up New Jersey on their watch, have they?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY. David Frum on Kerry's plan for government purchase of cheap Candian scrip drugs:
...drug re-importation is a cheap and cynical non-solution to a real problem: the unfairness of asking Americans to pay the whole cost and more of new drugs while the rest of the world pays less. But it’s no kind of answer to cut prices in the US: In that case, innovation could disappear entirely. (emphasis added)
The scene: a high school chem lab in the Midwest.

TEACHER: Congratulations, Timmy, on your acceptance to Stanford! As my best student ever, I'm sure you'll make a great translational pharmacologist.

TIMMY: (exhaling a cloud of cigar smoke) What's in it for me?

TEACHER: I beg your pardon?

TIMMY: You heard me, cloth-ears. This Kerry mug wants to buy drugs on the cheap from Canada. That'll cut into Big Pharma's racket but good -- and then it's bye-bye, fat signing bonus from Eli Lilly.

TEACHER: But surely your interest in medicine grows from a desire to help your fellow man?

TIMMY: What put that in your nut? There just one reason anyone gets into the pharmacology game -- and that's the sweet do-re-mi. You think I spend my nights drawing time-concentration curves just to heal some poor sap in a charity ward? Harvard gave Otto Krayer his own private jet, for Chrissakes. I won't so much as pick up a beaker for less than six figures.

TEACHER: But Timmy, what will you do if not pharmacology?

TIMMY: (shrugs) A little of this, a little of that. I'm pretty handy with a shiv. I've had offers from the Sudanese government and JPMorgan Chase, but I'm keeping my options open. So go tell your highbrow friends to lay off Bush, or us pill-packers will cut off your flow of new life-giving drugs but pronto, get me?

TEACHER: (placing the back of his hand to his brow) My faith in the younger generation is shattered.

TIMMY: (aside) I guess now would be a bad time to tell him all his engineering prodigies are going to work for Halliburton.

(Aaaaaannd... scene.)

AND ALSO I DISAPPROVE OF WHAT I JUST DID. The Vanderbilt student newspaper slots two AP dispatches to humorous effect. First:
A statewide poll last month by Middle Tennessee State University found that only 20 percent of Tennesseans support gay marriages, and about one-third favor gay civil unions... Also, Tennesseans were nearly divided in the poll about whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to define marriage as a relation only between a man and a woman.
Immediately after:
More than half of adult Tennesseans have trouble reading well enough to understand a street map or to calculate postage, a new study on adult literacy shows.
Professor Reynolds' tenure explained! ad hominahominahomina... (Found via Alice.)

I should take this opportunity to note, in the spirit of Andy Kaufmanesque self-reproval, that my only travels in the Volunteer State centered around Nashville, where I met some of the nicest, brightest people in the world, along with many musicians.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

SELF-DETONATING LOGIC BOMB OF THE DAY: "My position against gay marriage is essentially libertarian, although I've never managed to convince my libertarian friends of this." -- Cathy Seipp, NRO.

THEY DON'T MAKE CULTURE WARRIORS LIKE THEY USED TO. Really, I miss Pat Buchanan. At least he could write -- vicious ravings, sure, but well-turned! Sadly, the Right couldn't abide Pat's alleged anti-Semitic stink, and has replaced him with a squad of pablum pukers who, while perhaps even crazier that Buchanan, utterly lack his chops.

One of these is Duncan Maxwell Anderson, last seen in this space comparing Jesus to a Marine. Twelve years ago he was telling America how the nefarious, little-known Securities and Exchange Commission ("The Securities and what Commission? The SEC was founded in 1933 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt...") was going to destroy multi-level marketing. Today Anderson runs something called Faith & Family magazine -- yes, it has a weblog, where you can can read ALL CAPS exhortations to avoid Calvinism, as well as some extremely confused Constitutional theory -- and runs something called High Tor Media, whatever that is (There was once a very fine playwright named Maxwell Anderson, and he wrote a play called High Tor -- if this DMA is in fact his progeny, let us take up a collection to have some spikes driven into his coffin to arrest the poor man's spinning.)

Occasionally, mystifyingly, Anderson writes for the New York Post. Today the Post has published his "A Time for Manhood," which treats the ancient conservative Daddy Party theme (Right is Strong, Left is for Homos, etc). Even poor, crack-brained Peggy Noonan knows that this sort of thing requires an angle, however trite -- but Anderson just combines various cliches as a child might mash together lumps of Play-Doh. And they're not even current cliches -- there's "Let's Roll" again, and when was the last time you saw Alan Alda used as a symbol of liberal emasculinity? On an episode of C.P.O. Sharkey?

Though I must admit, comparing the Democratic Convention to "the Berlin Olympics of 1936" is a new one. Incomprehensible, but new.

Meanwhile we have Jonah Goldberg explaining why feminism is to blame for girls' pants with words on the butt (all the while explaining, as is his increasingly pathetic wont, that he's no prude). And Dennis Prager, defending his right to beat on children ("why should a 12-year-old girl be immune from adult criticism?"). At least he's found an adversary whose stage of intellectual development may not have exceeded his.

Such are the new Shondekommando. Go here, punks, and see how it's done. If you're gonna be nuts, at least be articulate!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

HOW MUCH TO MAKE THIS GO AWAY? I'm surprised it hasn't dawned on anyone else: our treatment of Libya basically says you can do whatever you want to innocent civilians as long as you pay for it afterwards:
Libya agreed Tuesday to pay $35 million to some victims of a bloody terror bombing at a Berlin disco nearly two decades ago, making another step in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's effort to rebuild relations with the West.

The deal, coming after much larger settlements for the bombings of two U.S. and French airliners, does not cover 169 American victims, including two soldiers who died in the blast at the La Belle disco on April 5, 1986. Lawyers are seeking separate compensation for them in U.S. courts.

Agreed to by German lawyers and officials of a Libyan foundation run by Gadhafi's son, the settlement deals with 163 non-U.S. citizens, including Germans who were wounded and the family of a Turkish woman killed by the bomb...

In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli welcomed the accord, but he emphasized that the claims of U.S. victims also must be met.
Maybe one day Bin Laden will hold a pan-Arab telethon to pay off the vig on the World Trade Center.

LAFFS. This Slate article about the literary efforts of three Maxim associates is so much funnier than I expected that I must, in gratitude and wonder, share. The author, Dan Chiasson, turns some delightful phrases -- e.g., "Itzkoff's promise to 'consider the torturous path that any piece of copy had to follow before it ever appeared in print' might well mark the all-time low-water mark for the quest narrative..." -- and the careers of the authors on view say more about the collapse of literary culture than a thousand Roger Kimball essays ever could.

I am especially grateful to be made aware of Felix Dennis, who has led a fascinating life and now builds a poetry career for himself out of money and balls. Good for him! If his hoary verse fails to raise his literary profile, they will at least damage Tom Wolfe's.

AN ERRAND BOY SENT BY GROCERY CLERKS TO COLLECT A BILL. As to the recent Vietnam-related doings of the VRWC (Vast 'Re-elect W' Committee), I note that the medium seems to have become the message, as the blogosphere congratulates itself on holding the media's feet to the fire. You know you've reached the tertiary stage of scandal-mongering when the subject becomes "Look how much braver we are than CNN."

The Swift Boats Vets For Truth seem a minor annoyance: some of Kerry's comrades like him, some don't; at least we're thus assured he's no Raymond Shaw. The Cambodia story is a little stranger, though.

I find the John McCain's quick defense of Kerry on the Vets' ad, and his disinclination (not to mention Bush's) to leverage the Cambodia story on the stump, very interesting. It may be mere, collegial courtesy on McCain's part, as conventional wisdom has it. It may also be that McCain knows how these boys operate from previous experience -- in fact, some of his opponents are still at it -- and he wanted some of his own back.

But it may also be that both Kerry and McCain know some things about America's operations in Southeast Asia -- no so much through their combat (and McCain's POW) experience as through their work on a Congressional POW/MIA inquiry years ago -- that they're not prepared to get into.

Kerry's and McCain's MIA work was sufficiently shady to arouse the interest of Sydney Schanberg -- the sentinel of My Lai and Abu Ghraib -- who still thinks Kerry and McCain were less devoted to uncovering the truth than they should have been. Given what we do know about Vietnam, I would be shocked if Kerry and McCain didn't have secrets about the War and its aftermath. Whether these secrets are dishonorable, or merely disturbing and (in someone's view) politically or diplomatically necessary to keep, is unknown to me.

But I would say that if Kerry is less than transparent about his service, there many be more than one reason.

Time may tell much more -- there was a lot no one knew about America's Cambodian adventures until someone dug it up, so someone may yet dig up something on Kerry's Cambodian adventure, or lack thereof, too. Or it may be that this thing sinks back into the vast, unexplored backwaters of history, and the political operators will content themselves with working whatever unease its moment in the media sun has stirred up.

Monday, August 09, 2004

DEMOCRACY! WHISKEY! SEXY! Al Jazeera has been closed in Baghdad. Attend the voice of censorship, sounding suspiciously like Elmer Fudd:
"They have been showing a lot of crimes and criminals on TV, and they [send] a bad picture about Iraq and about Iraqis and encourage criminals to increase their activities," Iraq's interior minister, Falah al-Naqib, said.
PM Allawi cited the recent bogus beheading video as part of their reason for the station's 30-day timeout. I guess Reuters and AP will be the next to feel the wrath of the world's newest republic.

If you're waiting for a MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT item on this from the Ole Perfesser, you will wait a long time indeed.

DO TELL. Ramesh Ponnuru:
...again and again [Wieseltier] suggests that liberals are sadly lowering their standards to match those of conservatives. Right. We had this great, civil, elevated political discourse until Limbaugh and Coulter came along, and it's too bad that liberals are now meeting fire with fire. I don't have the space, time, or patience to go into all the counter-evidence here, which could stretch all the way back to the Goldwater campaign or, for that matter, to William F. Buckley Jr.'s first coming to public attention. Suffice it to say that no right-winger wrote a major book talking about killing Bill Clinton during the 1990s.
I assume that final crack refers to that new Nicholson Baker book, which so sorely vexes some conservatives' understanding of such arcane literary terms as "fiction," "character," etc. But what's the rest of it about?

It's really too bad he doesn't have the patience, because I would love to hear how the Daisy ad stacks up again McCarthyism (both original and throwback varieties), Nixon's plumbers, the various bullshit Clinton prosecutions, and yeah, while we're at it, Limbaugh and She Who Cannot Be Named, and all the other dirty tricks without which modern conservatism is nearly unimaginable.

Maybe they're saving that one for the cruise.

Friday, August 06, 2004

THE QUARRELSOME QUADRENNIAL. Since I have but two topics, myself and politics, and I am sick of both (hey, guess the ref!), y'all have fun with HarpWeek's Presidential Elections 1860-1912.

I have some feelings about these spellbinding horror stories of pride, ignorance, slander, and power madness, but I'll leave that alone for now. I just figured you guys would like it.

HE LIKED YOU BETTER WHEN YOU WERE A PUSSY. After being called traitors again and again and again, liberals got sick of it and started fighting back, which has prompted one "Doverspa" of RedState.org to ask, "Where Are The Reasonable Liberals?"
the center-left and center-right have been able to respect each other despite their differences in the past... I continue to hear the conservative critique of liberal programs... but the liberal critique has changed. The President (and by association all Republicans) are greedy, racist, and terrorism is a political ruse to scare the nation. President Bush probably knew about 9/11 ahead of time, he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act, and he wants to enrich all of his rich buddies while screwing anyone who works for a living.
Yeah, when Kerry hollered "No blood for oil! Bush lied, people died!" at the Fleet Center, I knew the jig was up.

So conservatives are all sweet reason, are they? Let's see what kind of friendly, collegial criticism they're dishing out at one typical, mainstream right-site -- RedState.org:
Why should any believing Catholic vote for a Democrat, given that the Donkey Party's one sacrament is abortion on demand; and why should any Catholic who takes her faith at all seriously vote for John Kerry?

...it is nonetheless dismaying to watch the Donkeys descend into ahistorical madness... Clearly, the Democrats are either slowly self-destructing or acting out one heck of an ideological spasm. More power to them, I say.

...Osama bin Laden fan [Washington Senator] Patty Murray...

Congratulations, Democrats. You've just nominated for yourself an epistemological zero.

...one wonders if the modern Democrat party might have read too many comic books in its time... John "Kiss Me If You've Seen the Photo of Me Kissing Ortega" Kerry...
That's just in the past week or so, and not to speak of the Comments section.

Let me be clear. As a practitioner, I have nothing again hardcore invective, and I get a kick out of the RedStaters', which employs advanced vocabulary words and, on occasion, wit. But to sigh, at the same time you are using these flammable chemicals, that you are so very disappointed that your once "reasonable" opponents now use such techniques is rather like complaining that the kid you used to bully in third grade came back for the first day of fourth grade with some martial arts lessons under his belt. Nobody likes a bully, much less one that complains about the quarrelsomeness of his former victims.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

THE RIGHT HAND DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE OTHER RIGHT HAND IS DOING. From the Washington Times we get a story about two talk radio hosts who wish to unseat a congresscritter whom "they deem soft on issues such as border security and benefits for undocumented aliens."

We don't know this official's name. Neither do the show's hosts, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of KFI-AM in Los Angeles. The unlucky legislator will be chosen by their audience over a long and arduous campaign.
The "winner," as chosen by the listeners, will be announced the day after Labor Day. The hosts then will use the airwaves to pursue the representative's political downfall in November's election -- and have a little fun.

"We've made it like a reality show -- we've got drums beating in the background, stuff like that," Mr. Kobylt said.
Five nominees are named, all, BTW, Republicans who are not hardline enough to suit Kobylt's and Chiampou's taste.

Elsewhere in the same edition of the WashTimes, one Barry Casselman denounces the "self-styled (sic) 'cultural' elite" that seeks to defeat political candidates.
I am not saying that comedians and entertainers are not citizens like everyone else, with the right to express their political opinions. But in our American society, celebrities enjoy many special privileges of fame and wealth. And when these privileges are misused, we are all the poorer for it...

The comedians and entertainers who have hijacked the political debate to publicize themselves are doing no service to their country.
Seasoned readers will not need to be told that Casselman is talking about entertainers who "are conducting a class war against President Bush."

Casselman is described as having "reported on and analyzed national politics since 1972." You'd think that by now someone would have told him about talk radio.