Tuesday, November 14, 2006

THE NEW PROTEIN CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: "Politics is a blood sport and the Republicans have always played like it’s Chutes and Ladders (actually a ruthless game if you get into playing it)..."

(pause to consider this lot playing Chutes and Ladders in a ruthless manner, with lots of screaming, gnashing of teeth, and rending of Cheetos bags)

"The Republicans just can’t find the gumption to be disliked. The Democrats thrive on hate. It is their fuel and their fire. So the Republicans can continue acting as they always have--as the kick-me party, playing second fiddle to ruthless, ethics-challenged, but winning and leadership wielding opponents..."

This is a content-rich delusion, and I leave its derision up to you, but will add that Ken McLeod just wrote to remind me of this:
In Maryland, homeless men recruited from out-of-state shelters were recruited to pass out flyers meant to trick voters in black neighborhoods into thinking the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Robert Ehrlich, and Senate candidate, Michael Steele, were Democrats. This one couldn't be blamed on "contractors;" one busload was welcomed by Governor Ehrlich's wife. In North Carolina college students asked voters if they were registered Democrats, and if they said yes, handed them a list of "our" judicial candidates -— actually a list of Republicans. A California "information guide for Democrats" told voters to vote "no" on propositions backed by Democrats. Poll watchers brandishing handguns intimidated Latino voters in Arizona — a Republican trick there going back to 1962, when the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist was allegedly involved....
It isn't a partisan thing, so much, but when you hear Republicans claiming that they didn't get their way this time because they were too nice, it just doesn't seem very -- what's the word? -- reality-based.
Terrorists kidnapped scores of Iraqis from a higher education research institute. It says a lot that the Western media, Europe, and the Arab League don't react with the same outrage that they did over the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Here's some outrage for you, pal: we sacrificed all those lives, all that money, and the respect of the world just to make a fucking Evelyn Waugh theme park where terrorists can wander into government buildings and snatch 100 guys in broad daylight? Please extend my outrage to your imbecile friends who made it so.

Now to vomit, rinse my face with cold water, and get back to whipping up my famous, frothy, literary glacées, each containing no more than a soupçon of outrage.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A NEW LOW, VERSION 3,522. A few years back, I suggested that a particularly moronic Armed Liberal post was emblematic of the whole warblogger way of life. The following Corner post has a similarly valedictory feeling about it. I can imagine visiting the attic, decades hence, opening a trunk and finding these words embedded in block of Digiluce and thinking, boy, does that take me back:
Re: The Simpsons [Iain Murray]

Yesterday's episode wasn't just unfunny, it was very poorly animated - a 1970s Hanna-Barbera-level of crudeness. The sequence in which Lenny's car was crushed looked like it had been drawn by a 10 year-old trying to draw The Simpsons. I can only assume they're devoting all their time and effort to the movie.

As for BSG, I agree with Jonah's long-trusted reader and had exactly the same argument, err, discussion with my wife during the episode. Far more fun was Doctor Who in the hour beforehand, which involved Rose berating a pompous psuedo-patriot for not knowing how to fly the Union Flag and also included an interesting nod to the realization that families need fathers at the end...
The disturbing thing is, I don't yet know whether I will be recalling the nadir of a certain kind of idiocy, or the beginning of a whole new wave of idiocy. Well, guess I'll have to go on living to find out!

UPDATE: Michelle, She-Wolf of the PJM, joins in the denunciation of "military-bashing" cartoons "The Simpsons" and "The Family Guy." "The mockery of Army recruiters and enlistees is absolutely disgusting," she says. Please, dear God, don't tell her about Sad Sack!
GO BACK TO BEING JUST NORMALLY WRONG, PLEASE. After the death of everything they believed in (i.e., the right to claim most Americans believed the same crazy shit they believed), the Protein Wisdom crew has turned to creative writing. Here a member of the committee attempts a prose-poem on New York City. The author thinks New York City smells bad and the girls are ugly, and he saw a roller-blader whom he found effeminate.

Were I he, I would look into sawing wood.
SELF-AGGRANDIZEMENT MASQUERADING AS SOCIAL COMMENTARY: A SPECIALITY! Allow me to quote me! Just the other moment, the big "I" (of medium build, pale complexion, and limited omniscience) was watching the internet, when Norbizness commenced to bitch about car commercial jingles. Sez I to Norb, I says
The use of these incredibly inapposite songs to sell ugly, stupid cars make[s] a pretty good argument that we have moved beyond postmodernism into a new phase which I would like to call "Apocalyptic Science Fiction Viewed from the Inside."
I kill me. But I also have a point. As a society, our tolerance for bullshit long ago became an appetite. I will not revive here the usual speech about meta and self-referential whatnot, but I will say this: if there's any justice, David Letterman will one day be recognized as the father of our era.

Like other great men, Letterman knew that Americans were dumb as rocks but still had their pride, so if you were going to feed them the intellectual equivalent of hogslop, you had better flatter their intelligence at the same time.

While genii such as Cecil B. DeMille managed this trick by festooning their slopfests with Biblical and historical trappings -- making anti-culture look like culture -- Letterman found a much cheaper, much more insidious angle: let the rubes in on the gag. Call the pet tricks "stupid," make the showbiz flash-and-rattle even stupider than it needed to be, and cheerfully represent yourself as the hollowest of hollow men, and the suckers would applaud not only your twaddle, but the label on the twaddle that said it was twaddle.

Thus we began to accept lack of sincerity as an American equity, if not a virtue. This threw commercial culture into reverse gear: stupid and ugly were no longer absolute negative virtues. Evil wasn't even a negative virtue -- look at the revived popularity of Donald Trump, once admired for his imbecile dynamism, now frankly lionized for his cruel willingness to fire people on national television. Nowadays the only negative virtues have to do with being a Loser: indicted, dumped, disgraced. But with enough money and a sufficiently energetic image handler, I'm sure even Kevin Federline can come back from exile.

As a liberal baby-killing sodomite, I can accept moral relativism in most things, but it breaks my American heart to see public relations, advertising, and celebrity management unmoored from the verities.

Now look where we are. As the cars get increasingly, seemingly willfully, ugly and stupid, Madison Avenue abandons all pretense of claiming benefits, aspirational or otherwise, and simply turns up the freshness on the visual and musical accompaniment. This is not the proverbial pig lipstick -- no one thinks this will fool anyone into thinking an Escalade is in any way analogous to Led Zep. This is an abandonment of all responsibility. This is, "Oh, fuck, I don't know, you want to buy this car? Whatever. Here's some music so you don't get too bored while we do our shitty sales pitch."

Seen from the perspective of old-and-wrongthink, using bitchin-rad tunes to advertise these depressingly awkward assemblages of metal and polymer is like using the O'Jays at their most rambunctious to introduce an emphysemic 70-year-old to the fashion models he wishes to date. It is rankly, hilariously absurd. But nowadays, why the hell not? It might work. Look at the love life of Harrison Ford. That's victory enough for unreason to keep the various agencies, consultancies, working groups, and subcommittees that signed on to this nightmare scenario from having to run off into the swamps, there to subsist on toads and newts and every low, crawling thing until their ignominy is forgotten.

What does this have to do with politics, you might be wondering (especially if you are my shill at the back of the hall who has been paid to shout the question).

Well, here's a bit of the Times' article on Jon Tester today:
Chouteau County, where Mr. Tester lives on a homestead of 1,800 acres, lost 8.5 percent of its population in the last five years — typical of much of rural America that has been in decline since the Dust Bowl...

“When Jon talks about the cafe that’s trying to hold on, the hardware store that just closed, the third generation that can’t make a living on the farm, he is living that life,” Mr. Doherty said...

On the campaign trail, Mr. Tester spoke often of how “regular folks” just “haven’t been given much of a shake"...
There's even a bit about Tester spitting sunflower seeds, though several expected quotes such as "the big corporations are going to hear from little folks like you and me" and "I sure could go for some of my Maw-Maw's antelope stew right now" seem to have been edited for length.

Now, this is bullshit -- a campaign circular disguised as a newspaper profile -- but it is reality-based bullshit of the old-fashioned variety. I make no moral claims for it, but its simple propagandistic construction gives me more pleasure than the post-post-modern variety, in which, for example, it is asserted that the occupation of Iraq is going well, despite all evidence to the contrary, because a single blogger ("'Sooni,' who describes himself as a 'free man"' living in Baghdad") said so. Give me old-fashioned ballyhoo and tubthumping over the wholesale denunciation of reality anytime.

I am prejudiced myself in favor of the Democrats for all sorts of reasons, but not least among them is my deep antipathy toward the very modern kind of casual unreason that has been the stock in trade of the Republicans' preeminent online defenders -- as an hour's perusal of this site (a excellent way to spend your lunch or coffee break) will show.

Now that the Dems have gained some advantage, I expect I will take more notice of their nonsense, and get annoyed. But until that nonsense starts to come even close to the sort of high-flown gibberish that right-wing bloggers have perfected during their long ascendancy, I probably won't shift gears very often.

Friday, November 10, 2006

OK, ONE MORE POST-ELECTION POST! Because it cannot be left unmentioned that, after this maudlin performance, it will be impossible (well, more impossible than ever, I should say -- it has always been impossible, yet people go right on doing it) to insist that the Ole Perfesser is "certainly not a Republican." You just don't give pep talks like this to someone else's team. Maybe those of his acolytes who are heavily invested in a pretense of Perfessorial non-partisanship can avail a plausible-deniability scenario: the Perfesser didn't back into the Party, the Party backed into him!

Christ, what a fraud that guy is.

We can be more forgiving toward Ann Althouse, who is clearly non compos mentis. After explaining how the election of Democrats will lead to eternal harrassment by terrorists --

Wait, let me actually quote the passage I just summarized -- some of you are new here, and may think I'm exaggerating:
It's the failure of Americans to support the war. It's the folding and crumpling because things didn't go well enough and the way we conspicuously displayed that to our enemies. They're going to use that information.

For how long?


How much harder it becomes ever to fight and win a war again. Only pacifists and isolationists should feel good about the way this election was won.
Cut to Bugs Bunny holding up a card bearing images of a screw and an 8-ball.

At the same time, Althouse reveals that she remained scrupulously non-partisan (you know how she hates partisans!) throughout the campaign. She even "voted for half Democrats and half Republicans" -- possibly using the eenie, meeny, minee, moe method. Taking her word for it (we did use the Simple Test on her, but her ravings broke our machine just like Kirk and Mudd's double-talk broke that robot in "I, Mudd"), we understand, with a little gasp of horror, what maddens her: by her scrupulous adherence to a pretense of non-partisanship, she has put herself in a position to be partially blamed for the treasonous outcome of the election! You cannot be telling the truth because everything you say is a lie... you lie, you tell the truth, you -– Illogical! Illogical! Please explain!

Well, at least she doesn't have a job that she can't do crazy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

HIATUS. Well, not entirely. But I'm making a sincere effort not to talk anymore about the right-wing bloggers' election post-mortems. As they keep on writing such summaries, and as they are often freaking hilarious and tempting objects of mockery, that will be a tough pledge to honor, so I may have to stay off the keyboard a few days just to keep from backsliding.

One word about Rummy, though. There's only one reason I can see why Bush waited till after the election to dump him: if he had done it during the campaign, it would have made him look conciliatory, which in the Republican thesaurus is a synonym for "weak." Once the jig was up and there were no votes to hold fast with a show of unrelenting manliness, no one gave a damn. Rumsfeld gets a nice long break before Jeb Bush's invasion of Mesapotamia, Bush gives another aging GOP time-server a plum gig -- everybody wins, except all the poor sons of bitches who'll get blown to bits before the final act in this Kabuki epic plays out.

UPDATE. It is suggested in comments that Rummy just doesn't want to go to prison. I expect that, when the day of reckoning comes (probably never, but indulge me), it will not matter who is holding the football at the time, and we will extradite the former SecDef from whichever of his many homes he then inhabits -- even if it's the one in Santa Domingo, which I'm sure is heavily fortified with gatling guns and cocaine-fueled suicide squads.

I should mention that I am also taking this time to retool alicublog for the Democratic era. Previously I let a lot of things slide because there was no point in paying attention. When John Bolton was muscled into the Ambassador's post, for example, I felt no need to question the decision: under the rule of Republicans run amok, that made as little sense as protesting the decision of Dracula to suck the blood of virgins, on grounds that their blood should instead be extracted by mad scientists who would then breed them with monkeys to produce a race of supermammals (the moderate approach).

Now I have to proceed as if the worst possible outcome is not a foregone conclusion.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

POSITIVELY THE LAST POST-ELECTION POST. I should have stopped long since, but couldn't help myself. I'm not gloating, mind -- all the Democrats won is a chance: they have the potential to score big or whiff disastrously. On that score, knowing the Party's checkered history, I am more anxious than smug.

(Though I will enjoy the early days of ritual humiliation, when Speaker Pelosi begins each session by spitting and trampling on a flag, and we ram through a bill to make all the preachers get gay-married and declare December 25th National Sodomy Day.)

But the right-wings blogs have been hard to ignore. A lot of them have been hilariously maudlin -- take this genius, who imagines that both the American People and the Democrats will be sorry they fucked with George W. Bush. "It is not like the president NEEDS the job OR the headaches," he grouses. "He has nothing to gain personally and has gotten nothing but criticism for trying to keep our country safer." A man with his talents, he could have been anything he wanted to -- business developerer, philophosist, choreologist -- but somehow he wound up running this crummy country, and we don't even appreciate it! Why, next election, George W. Bush might not run at all.

Even more instructive, in a way, have been the bloggers who suggest that, when the Republicans remove from themselves all taint of scandal, they will once again be worthy champions of the American electorate. To hear them tell it, this will be accomplished in something like a trip to the shop, where the weirdos and perverts will be scraped from the undercarriage and anti-sleaze poured into the radiator and the Party rolled out shiny and good's new.

They seem not to know -- or maybe they're just pretending not to know -- that our Parties are throughly scandalized, not by steamroom or macaca, but by money, and by the pressing need for unimaginable buttloads of it to get anywhere near public office in this country today. They start by raising buttloads of private wealth to get into office, and wind up managing buttloads of public funds as the people's servants. Then their contributors come around and suggest that some of that public money might best be invested in their own goods and services...

Both parties are susceptible to this kind of thing. However, there is a small but significant difference between them. Unions are heavily invested in Democrats -- therefore, Democrats wind up greasing unions, which plows some of their graft back into the public sphere, at least. The Republicans are mostly beholden to banks, telcoms, and various corporate scumbag outfits, who take their money from Republican legislation and fuck off with it -- and manage to get the Republicans to reduce their own tax burdens, too, which means We the People get double-fucked.

So while both Parties have to cheat and dissemble, the Democrats need merely to be corrupt, while the Republicans have to be downright evil. What was visibly hanging off the Republican Party during the late campaign was often called corruption, but it was nothing so simple or relatively benign as that.

The page-sniffing Foley, the mistress-strangling Sherwood -- and all those Republicans regularly chronicled in Roger Ailes' Grand Old Police Blotter posts -- were not like Clinton getting a blowjob. You expected Clinton to get a blowjob. What you didn't expect was Republicans engaged in dime-novel kink. Clinton was being Clinton; who the hell were these guys being?

And, once that question was out, you could ask it about Republicans who were not actual miscreants, but just plain weird: who was George Allen? What did he stand for besides a belligerent attitude and a thoroughly unearned sense of entitlement? Who was Rick Santorum, saying that the pursuit of happiness "harms America" -- what made him think he could get away with saying something so crazy?

Getting away with it, in general, was their problem. The Republicans had been getting away with crazy, off-the-wall shit for a long time, too long to fake it even when the voters started to get wise. They were as helpless in their passion as Peter Lorre in M. Corruption has its own problems, but these guys had gone beyond corruption, and into the realm of depravity.

Now they can screen their candidates from here to doomsday, but there are only two things that can help them. One is for the Democrats to screw up really bad -- never a slim chance. The other is time -- time enough for America to forget what freaks they are. Fortunately for them, our attention spans shrink by the minute. But I would say that, barring a Dem debacle, 2008 will probably be too soon.
THE WINNER. Only one could wear the sash marked "Stupidest Post-Election Post," and though competition was stiff, Jeff Jarvis ekes out a win. Also-rans The Anchoress and Gates of Vienna are simply monomaniacally deluded; Jarvis has not one but two lost causes for which to find silver linings -- Republicanism, and that Groovy Blog Revolution that Jarvis keeps telling us is just around the corner -- and his game attempt to do them both at once results in a passage of breathtaking incoherence:
I think the internet brought more change to the biorhythms of American politics in this election than the last, but in more subtle ways that we can only now begin to measure.

Start with this: Wouldn’t it be ironic if the netroots’ excommunication of Joe Lieberman led the Democrats to lose a seat and not quite get control of the Senate? It won’t matter much in reality, of course. Lieberman’s still a Democrat, whether some Democrats want him or not.
I'd say biorhythms are pretty damn subtle to start with, but Jarvis goes from subtlety to vaporosity, constructing like a busy mime an alternative reality in which the failure of the netroots' candidate perversely demonstrates the power of the internet. Then we veer off all known maps, into Firesign Theatre territory:
A movement rose up to purge Lieberman from the party but ended up losing one for the party? Or does this demonstrate to party leaders that they can’t lose control of their parties? Can they still? The people and the power brokers have to figure out who’s on top.
Just ask those thousands of folks who wouldn't say "no" to yesterday, or "yes" instead of knowing it all!

Also, did you know that some of us saw our candidates slandered on YouTube instead of TV? That means "Anyone can be Jon Stewart," says Jarvis. I suppose anyone could sweep his hair up like Jon Stewart, and emulate his arch vocal patterns, and talk into a plastic webcam as if he were the host of a famous show, but when that little Citizen Journalist heads off to get in the limo, boy, is he in for a shock.

Jarvis should stick to recycling press releases for internet media hucksters. Anytime he tries this futuristic crap, he sounds like an old beachcomber trying to flatter the hippies into giving him some weed and pussy.
SO HOW COULD I EVER REFUSE/I FEEL LIKE I WIN WHEN I LOSE. New reality: Democrats actually lost by winning, because we only elected Democrats because they were more right-wing than the Republicans. This new breed of Dem will make things pretty hot for Speaker Pelosi, believe you me, just as soon as they finish electing her.

One might ask: if these Demoservatives basically agreed with their opponents, why did they go through with this charade of an election? Why didn't James Webb, for example, just cry out, "I refuse to be the cat's-paw of these treasonous bitches! George Allen, take this election -- with my blessing, and the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ!" Maybe Nancy Pelosi was holding their wives and/or children hostage in an old windmill, or something.

This is all best explained by Reasonable Conservative Jon Swift: "...as Adam Nagourney pointed out in the New York Times, expectations were so high that anything short of winning all 435 House seats and all 33 Senate seats in contention really has to be seen as a setback for the Democrats."
BLAME AMERICA FIRST. "Dear Wisconsin -- You’re my home state, and I love you like a brother... But you’ve let yourself become total suck, politically." -- Protein Wisdom

"The American people embraced the party of cut and run — oops, sorry 'responsible redeployment' — during a war." -- Jonah Goldberg

"The terrorists turned the Spanish election by the deft placement of a few bombs days before an election. They turned ours by killing 100 soldiers in Iraq in one month. (I know, it’s more complicated than that, but that’s how our enemies will interpret it.) That American voters would send such a message is deeply dismaying." -- Mona Charen

"Liberals blame voters for their decisions. I don't want to do that. But if politicians have to live with the consequences of losing their voters, voters have to live with the consequences of losing their politicians, too." -- Ace of Spades (Winner, Richard Nixon Memorial Passive-Aggressive Trophy)

"...if I were an Iraqi I wouldn’t necessarily be booking a spot in the line to the embassy roof, but I’d be checking price and availability." -- James Lileks

"Our job of saving the world just got a little harder, with the appeasement and anger party in control of the House (and possibly the Senate too). Over at the New York Times “political blog,” they’ve picked a few comments from our open thread #4 to illustrate what they call “Sour Gripes,” and completely misrepresented the overall tone of that thread." -- Little Green Footballs

I should talk. I get cranky when my team loses, too. But I'm a fancy-pants Jew York City lie-beral -- I'm supposed to have contempt for the rubes, yahoos, and slack-jawed yokels that mostly comprise our citizenry. (I exclude you, gentle reader, of course.) Republicans, conversely, have been pandering their asses off to Cletus and Brandine for so long that their spasms of America-bashing have a special piquancy, like an Archbishop jerking off in public.

To be fair, a lot of conservatives looked for silver linings, and took comfort that America still hates homosexuals.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The Ole Perfesser: This country has a serious problem with voting fraud -- except when the Democrats complain about it, heh.

Michelle Malkin: This country has a serious problem with voter fraud -- all caused by Democrats! (Except the robocalling -- that's bi-partisan.)

Ann Althouse: If you win you lose. You hear that, Democrats? I said if you win you lose. Dogstar! Stagecoach!

Kathryn J. Lopez: I'm the leader of the show, keepin' you on the go, but I know I can't live without my radio... (as the door slowly opens, screams and curls up in a corner)

Ace of Spades: Imagine the Democrats' defeat! Taste the tears of Chris Matthews! Ahhhh, that's good, yes that's good you little bitch... (as the door slowly opens, screams and curls up in a corner)

James Lileks: Gee, I love old crap. Old people, on the other hand, can go fuck themselves. Muslims will kill us all in the end, thanks to Democrats. I take comfort in memories of telling off that little socialist bitch... ooh, that little bitch... (as the door slowly opens, screams and curls up in a corner)

Brendan Miniter: To become competitive nationally, Republicans have to spend more money in Albany, New York.

Neo Neo-Con: The Democrats must be defeated, because they won't follow the honorable withdrawal methods of Richard Nixon, which led to this Cambodian anecdote I will now use against the Democrats.

The Anchoress: Jesus Eurabia lampost stagecoach Bobby brickbat wahoo abba dabba dabba doo cabbage.

UPDATE. I am much too ill, unfortunately, to drunkblog this year's festivities. And fever delirium and codeine are much too precious to waste on politics, anyway. I look forward to waking up on a different planet, whatever the agency of removal.

UPDATE II. Just woke up! What'd I miss? The grotesque electronic head of the Perfesser crying, "Where are my robowhores? Bring me my robowhores!" And Ann Althouse:
... I just realized I'm on camera... looking like a blogger blogging about the election, but I'm blogging about Britney Spears, ha ha, no one knows...

The cameraman startled me when I glanced over and saw the camera a foot and a half from my face. He's really good at sneaking into a space and getting a shot. Either that or I'm so absorbed while blogging that I lose touch with the real world.
Well, now that she's on TV, I guess the 21st Century has found its Mrs. Miller.

Monday, November 06, 2006

STOP THE PRESSES! Althouse goes Republican! Who saw that coming?

Her commenters are a joy, especially when they're riled by dismissive Democrats. My favorite, so far:
As I've said countless times before, even if we'd done everything according to Monday-morning quarterbacks like you, we would have made a whole new set of mistakes...

Now, without the benefit of hindsight whats the Democrat plan?
Being right is just being wrong in an alternate universe! And no fair peeking at current reality when composing your bogus "plan," Demonrats!

I suppose I'd look pretty funny, myself, if I'd had such unmerited electoral success for so long that my argumentation skills had become totally vestigial. So, by the commenter's logic, I have no right to laugh at him. Yet I do -- further proof of Democrat perversity!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. Although tracking the fever chart of American Conservatism can be tedious work, there are compensations. Such as laffs. For example, Orson Scott Card is pulling his ancient "As a Democrat, I hate Democrats" routine, with the assistance of the Ole Perfesser. We remind readers that Card's distinguishing characteristic As a Democrat is his announced belief that "Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books... to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society."

But wait, it gets better. The Perfesser, perhaps showing a heretofore unnoticed sense of humor, points us to one of the few commentators still taken in by Card's masquerade: gay American Eric Scheie. Scheie is inspired by Card's post, and says
I'll vote for the Republicans despite their alleged closets. I'll take their closets over the Democrats' closets. Closets are based on shame, and while I don't think homosexuality is worth being ashamed of, defeat in a war is very definitely worth being ashamed of.
When Scheie is notified that Card doesn't just want to put him in a closet, but in a prison cell as well, he shrugs, "hearing more about him makes this process more interesting. (Whether I agree with him on other issues is irrelevant.)" There's a patriot, folks -- a man who believes in the cause so deeply that he'll stand shoulder to shoulder with someone who, placed in such proximity to him, would take the opportunity to grab his arm and shout for a policeman.

It may be that Scheie has a sense of humor, too. Just a week ago, he said, "anti-gay bigots deserve same sex marriage in pretty much the same way that the Republican Party deserves to lose the election." Who knew at the time that this meant, "not at all"?

Is it any wonder that I can't stop watching them work, despite my best instincts?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

ASSHOLE BUDDIES. As the rats exeunt the flotation-challenged U.S.S. Mission Accomplished, we hear by way of a horrifying Vanity Fair article their excuse that no one could have expected shipwreck with such fine men at the helm. Kenneth Adelman:
I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional...

I've worked with [Rumsfeld] three times in my life. I've been to each of his houses, in Chicago, Taos, Santa Fe, Santo Domingo, and Las Vegas. I'm very, very fond of him, but I'm crushed by his performance. Did he change, or were we wrong in the past? Or is it that he was never really challenged before? I don't know. He certainly fooled me.
Over at The American Scene, Ross Douthat is similarly puzzled by the performance of the Best and the Brightest:
If you had asked me, circa 1999, to pick out a group of senior GOPers who I would have wanted at the table in a national-security crisis - well, I'm not sure I could have done better than Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, with (in theory, though of course it didn't turn out that way) Brent Scowcroft whispering in Condi's ear, and George H.W. whispering in his son's. This is how the Bush Administration was sold to people, on foreign affairs at least, and I remember watching television after 9/11 and being so relieved to have Powell around, and Cheney, and Rummy, instead of, say, Anthony Lake or Madeleine Albright.
In the immortal words of "Seinfeld"'s Elaine Bennis: well, that's because you're an idiot.

I am but a shabby poetaster who don't know nothin' about nothin', yet I've had a bad feeling about this thing from the beginning, and continued to express that bad feeling throughout the days when the current former war fans were calling us all traitors.

So what did I catch that these geniuses missed?

I like to think that it was mainly common sense. Rome could subdue, enslave, and Romanize far-flung populations for decades. On the other hand, America's style has mostly been to cut and run and let the United Fruit Company sort things out. A great exception was World War II, which was run by a crew very different from the lot that has presided over the Iraq debacle.

Vanity Fair's neocons grumble that their dream of pacifying the Middle East at the point of a gun was deferred by mere screwups. Yet Cheney, Rumsfeld, et alia are not screwups -- on their own terms, they've been marvelously successful. They have made the GOP a War Party exuding strength, confidence, and animal vitality. This has won a few elections and may win another on Tuesday. Perhaps more importantly, they have managed to siphon from the U.S. Treasury a considerable amount of cash for their buddies, and they are in the process of kicking over their traces so that We the People will not get a chance to take some of it back. When it's all over, Rumsfeld will be able to buy himself five more homes, at least.

So maybe, despite my failings, I have managed to obtain in the course of a long and checkered life some skills that these professors and pundits failed to pick up: I can spot a scumbag at ten paces. I can smell bullshit. I know that the laws of the universe will not necessarily be reversed because I so very badly want them to be. And though I sometimes find that I have left a store counter with short change, I certainly know better than to patronize that establishment again.

Hopefully a few voters out there have acquired the same skills.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NOTHING'S SHOCKING. "Astonish me," Diaghilev told his auditioners. Would he were alive today! We are lately seeing such breathtaking leaps (albeit of logic) as would send him into raptures, and make Nijinksy step back with his hands on his hips and go "Day-um!" or whinny jealously or whatever he did.

As Thatcher once told us there is no such thing as society, David Frum now tells us there is no such thing as hypocrisy. Read his essay on Ted Haggard if you have time to waste and a strong stomach. It floored me; I am still on the floor, typing from there, so forgive any misspellings. Frum's opening made me think he was just going to show sympathy for a fallen sinner; later, I thought he would be content to tag on some contempt for a liberal media pile-on; but eventually I realized to my horror this man, a professional writer who had once been employed by the President of the United States, was rejecting a taboo as old as human society:
Consider the hypothetical case of two men. Both are inclined toward homosexuality. Both from time to time hire the services of male prostitutes. Both have occasionally succumbed to drug abuse.

One of them marries, raises a family, preaches Christian principles, and tries generally to encourage people to lead stable lives.

The other publicly reveals his homosexuality, vilifies traditional moral principles, and urges the legalization of drugs and prostitution...

...the first man may well see his family and church life as his "real" life; and regard his other life as an occasional uncontrollable deviation, sin, and error, which he condemns in his judgment and for which he sincerely seeks to atone by his prayer, preaching, and Christian works.

Yet it is the first man who will if exposed be held up to the execration of the media, while the second can become a noted public character - and can even hope to get away with presenting himself as an exemplar of ethics and morality.

How does this make moral sense?
Because, you hoser, human society depends upon at least a rudimentary concept of justice. We can forgive inconsistencies, and even admire trying and failing, but when someone amasses power from us based on his personal superiority, and is proved a fraud, he has broken the basic bargain of leadership. We mock him not out of meanness, but out of a communal survival instinct.

When such a concept is assimilated, Tartuffery of Reverend Haggard's sort* is immediately and viscerally perceived as unjust. And hilarious.

It's not possible that a functional adult could be as ignorant as Frum portrays himself here. I have to believe that he's just desperately trying to defuse a worrisomely familiar culture bomb. For big-time conservatives on the eve of a big election, it may be that the Haggard case makes a sinister bookend to the Foley case: both instances of sexual scandal that are not really germane to any political issue, but which may excite feelings among the rest of the tribe that our leaders, with their Family Values crests and credos, are not everything they claim to be.

In such circumstances, an outrageous moral lecture on behalf of a hypocrite could be worth a try. If you confuse or cow them, they might stop giggling.

*UPDATE. I hadn't noticed this before, but while Frum and many of his fellow travellers have talked about all this as if it were proved that Haggard had sex with Mike Jones, this is not the case, though Jones insists it is. So I don't know that Haggard has been hypocritical, and apologize for even peripherally carrying the imputation forward. I should know better than to follow NRO's lead on anything.
SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY: To lift America above the rancorous partisanism of our time, we need more true progressives like Rick Santorum.
A NEW LOW. The New York Times reports on the Government's attempts to leverage Iraqi documents on the internet to its own advantage. The report mentions some old documents about Saddam Hussein's pre-1991 attempts to gain nuclear power.

The immediate response from the right is that the Times report proves, in some way not discernible by ordinary logic, that Saddam was on the verge of wiping us out in 2003, and that the Times only printed this information (which, if it actually existed, would be injurious to their beloved Democratic Party) because they are crazy and/or stupid.

They don't know which dark desire they want to indulge more -- their hatred of the Times or their wish to be vindicated on Iraq -- so they try both at once, which works as well as would an attempt to sing opera while eating a pie. Actually, I guess it does work, in the sense that this sloppy performance will yet stir traditional enmities and ardours in the people such guff usually works on, though it leaves the rest of us wondering why we ever bothered learning to read.

UPDATE. More detailed analysis than I have time or talent to make by David Weigel.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

FIGHTING THE LAST CAMPAIGN. I'm actually disappointed that The Big Stiff apologized. I took him at his word as to the meaning of his jest, but even if he had a different one in mind, he had a right as a veteran to make it -- God knows we've heard more pointed cracks from men who served. For a while I thought he'd tough it out, but once a soldier always a soldier, and he did his bit for the higher echelon. In 2004 he expected as much from others, as I noted at the time:
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.
Now Kerry himself takes one for the team. Were I of a cynical turn of mind, I might suspect that this was the idea all along. Now Kerry, who is not running for office, has become the heat sink that draws all the savage denunciations ("a man who remembers everything and learns nothing," "Mister Nuance," "forlorn loser," etc) that might otherwise be expended upon those who are.

In fact, I don't know why I bother to provide post-specific links, as the folks at The Corner and other such blather outlets will be hammering this into the next decade. Remember, the blogosphere thing is just a bubble, and its skin, like that of the paramecium, is only semi-permeable: news may enter, but outrage mostly stays inside, which is of course the secret of both the blogosphere's growth and its ineffectuality: it swells without discharging.

"Folks," roars The Corner's current rookie dead-ender, "I do NOT agree with letting Senator Aristo-Slacker off the hook for his plainly delivered insult to the troops." That's fine, Mario: keep the old standard aloft, while the busy world bustles without.

I still think this will all end badly, as the Republicans have rigged the voting machines, but as far as the old-fashioned politics go, this is only today's news, and tomorrow is upon us. Let us keep our keep our eyes and ears open for the latest meaningless outrage.

UPDATE. In the discussion, some commenters object to the allegations of a fix, and Steve notes that "the utopian fantasy where every vote gets counted once and only once has never existed." Quite so. I have been rereading with pleasure Luc Sante's Low Life, and have just come to the Tammany boss' directions for getting four votes out of a single vagrant by shaving bits of his facial hair between trips to the polling station.

While Republican fixers currently enjoy the advantages of electronic voting machines, it may be that, by the time the wheel of fortune turns the Democrats' way, they will have the benefit of wi-fi-assisted cerebral cortex jamming devices.

Hopefully I won't be so depraved by then as to defend them. The whole time I've been operating alicublog, the Democrats have been a disorganized rump; should they obtain something more than the power to harass, I may have to start paying more attention to them. That may cure me of politics for good, which is as fine a reason as any to root for them.
NEXT: HOW HERBERT HOOVER WAS ACTUALLY AN ANARCHO-SYNDICALIST. If Kerry really did say, "I hate idiots like me who served in the military," then I suppose Rick Santorum can be a libertarian, right?

Fresh from explaining how her sex-loathing somehow made her unpopular with her "fellow" libertarians, Jennifer Roback Morse explains at National Review why Senator Man-on-Dog -- a guy who actually said out loud that Democrats are "anti-responsibility" because "their entire agenda is, 'I should be able to do whatever I want to do as long as no one gets hurt'" -- is the logical choice for Pennsylvanian libertarians.

After all, she tells us, Santorum likes tax cuts -- you guys love tax cuts, right? -- and he is beloved of the Family Research Council, who loves a lot of the same things libertarians love, including parental notification for abor-- um, tax cuts!

Morse acknowledges some libertarians may reject Santorum because of the whole make-sodomy-illegal thing -- but:
If you’d vote for Bob Casey Jr. over Rick Santorum because of their respective positions on gay rights, you’re not a libertarian. You are a single-issue gay-rights voter.
Or, to use the colloquial: you're not a libertarian, you're a fag! And here endeth the lesson.

I have speculated more than once that many National Review articles are written on a bet -- you know: Hey, Lowry, two large says you can't write a thousand words on how a billion-and-a-half dollars for marriage lessons is "conservative"! But even in these bagatelles, there is normally at least a collateral benefit to the conservative movement. Morse's piece, outside of its bookmaking potential, is perfect in its uselessness. Who at the Review gives a damn about pleasing libertarians anymore? Haven't they all caught on by now?

Things must be going worse for them than I thought. (Still holding onto my bet, though! Diebold, people!)
THE GOP'S HAIL KERRY PASS, AND MY COMING ANOINTMENT AS A POLITICAL GENIUS. They must think Kerry's remarks will help them in the election, to judge by the way their most reliable web propagandist is beating it to death.

And also by how they beat their own when they don't get on board. At The Corner, John Derbyshire takes the perfectly reasonable view that Kerry was, as he claims, insulting Bush, not Our Fightin' Men, and his mates turn ugly. "You're just wrong, wrong, wrong," says John Podhoretz. "Guess when Senator Kerry was talking about dimwittery he should have been talking about me too then," says K. J. Lopez. (Yeah, guys, I know, but I'm in a hurry.)

But such blog-froth is, after all, good only for a few days, and affects only the hotheads and shut-ins who regularly avail this medium. That Bush himself has gone front and center to attack the Kerry remarks indicates that the national Party has been prepared for a last-minute offensive on similar themes, but has accelerated its schedule, and shifted its specific target, to suit events.

This and the President's recent references to gay marriage support my prediction that, in the last ditch, the Republicans would paint the opposition as gay traitors to win the election.

My casual slur having been proved prophetic, I will go further and predict that in this final week of campaigning, you will see many otherwise incomprehensible attempts by Republicans to -- well, not even associate; to juxtapose Democrats with notorious sodomites and turncoats. "Harold Ford wears a shirt and slacks -- just like the men who raped and murdered Jesse Dirkhising!" "Hillary Clinton gives a regular radio address -- just like Tokyo Rose!" You can take that to the bank.

As for the election results, I see no reason to prognosticate, because everyone knows it's fixed.

UPDATE. Lileks, of all people, takes Derbyshire's view, though by the time he gets to it he has exhausted himself in rage against that damned snot-nosed punk Mort Sahl.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

THE SIMPLE TEST, DEFEATED. I recently ran one of my Ole Grey Perfesser Tests -- that is, I took a page of Instapundit at random and analyzed each post on it for evidence of centrism, libertarianism, and other alleged nutrients. The results vary but little from reading to reading, and show the Perfesser to be a reliable Republican shill with statistically insignificant trace elements of contrarianism added to appeal to young and/or unsophisticated consumers.

Since Ann Althouse has been talking up her credentials as a centrist Democrat, I figure she's about due for a test, too:

Oct. 25, 9:10 am: Lawsuit over penis! Gross!

9:27 am: That Corker ad with the white girl is shameful and perhaps plays to racist feelings.

9:44 am: I like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

9:50 am: Don't you think we should have sexually segregated schools?

10:19: James Cavaziel, Michael J. Fox -- a plague on both your houses!

3:10 am: I think this court decision in favor of the gay-marriage side is a big mistake. I always say that, of course, which is why I always have to remind you that I'm pro-gay-marriage, too.

Oct. 26, 5:11 am: Bob Dylan Broadway show. Hmm.

5:55 am: Ugh! What a bad poster! Why isn't the hand wearing pants?

6:32 am: Ha ha, Ted Nugent is funny. Why doesn't anyone else write about it? Oh, someone else wrote about it.

6:50 am: Why did I do this on a school night! Now the sun's coming up and I still can't get to sleep.

7:03 am: Mickey Kaus said the gay Jersey court was playing politics. Hmmm.

8:10 am: Those people who say Corker's ads use racism against Ford are being dishonest. I think Ford's people are just as bad!

8:41 am: Now Simon Cowell has me thinking about marriage. I wish I could sleep, or feel my tongue, or stop thinking about not feeling my tongue.

9:13 am: David Brooks says the midwest is the future. That would be awesome.

11:24 am: What's your favorite Supreme Court Justice! SCALIA! He's so fine, he's so fine he blows my mind Scalia! Why don't you like Thomas? It is because he's black? Can I serve you and Barbie some more tea?

8:30 pm: O God it was good to sleep... still tired though... uh, I guess there's something to those dirty stories Webb wrote... politicians always do that you know... Omigod, I wrote a lot of crap! I better add some factual material.

10:07 pm: Ha ha, Camille Paglia sure gave it to those Democrats! What? The thing about Studds is wrong? Ugh, what a drag. I gotta start saving this shit for the weekends.

11:11 pm: If I blog about my radio show tomorrow morning maybe I'll remember it when I wake up, and not just turn off the alarm and go back to sleep like last time.

Oct. 27, 6:18 am: That Bob Dylan show sounds awful.

6:50 am: If I were Kevin Barrett, here's how I would have handled that protest.

7:10 am: It was bad, what the Muslim cleric said about rape. "Clean out the White House" doesn't mean get rid of Bush! God! You're so stupid!

7:36 am: Ha ha! Canada! Ha ha!

8:04 am: Okay I'm about to go on the radio. UPDATE: I was on the radio.

10:01 am: I take pictures.

1:38 pm: Some people have trouble with the blog in their browser. Foxfire! O God that's funny! Fox-Fie-Err. Fox-Fie-Err. Wow.

4:16 pm: Reading about TV is kind of like reading and kind of like watching TV. So maybe we should just read about TV. But then we'd need TV shows to have something to read about. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

4:46 pm: Bes-tial. Bes-ti-al. BESSSSSSSSSSSSssstial. Bes. Ti. Al.

6:06 pm: Wow. This place is awesome.

7:25 pm: No, wait. Wait. No, was it cool to laugh at that? No, because yeah, if it was Hitler because of the Jews. Steve Irwin didn't kill any Jews.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

8:05 pm: You know? Because, you know?

Oh, I can't stand this anymore, I quit. Some things just don't bear close examination.

Monday, October 30, 2006

SHORTER TIGERHAWK. You're in the managerial class? Me too! Boy, don't non-salaried employees suck?
SHORTER JOSH TREVINO. Liberals have BDS so bad it turns them against their own mothers, according to this lifestyle story in the New York Times which I suddenly trust unreservedly. And they say they're for "privacy," whatever that is, but they really just mean Ess Ee Ex. I would pity them if they weren't about to kick my ass.
I'd like to see the Democratic Party become centrist. If they win because they found moderates to run in key districts, I think they'll have a special obligation to please people like me. I'm going to hold them to the bargain.
What bargain? Who are you? Why, it's Professor Ann Althouse, who normally speaks only of Democrats as anti-feminist, whiny losers, to the cheers of her largely right-wing readership. But now that the Democrats stand a chance of winning, Althouse considers herself as indispensible to their success.

Having followed her work a while, I don't see this as simple bandwagoning. I think Althouse believes she actually has something to do with the Democrats' anticipated victory. It's sort of like Divine giving her acceptance speech from the electric chair in Female Trouble: deluded, yes, but with the saving grace of hilarity.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

OR A SPORTS CAR. THAT WOULD BE NICE. Fooled by our ignoble retreat from Daylight Savings Time, I wound up watching some of the Sunday morning gibberish. Ben Stein (Ben Stein!) recited a speech he'd written for George Bush, admitting Iraq was a mistake. Then Michael Steele (Michael Steele!) explained that the difference between himself and his Democratic opponent was that he'd wait an extra 60 to 90 days to pull our troops out "if the Iraqis don't want us."

And there's this:
Meanwhile, even as Bush was praising Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "a smart, tough, capable administrator," endangered Republicans like Kentucky Representative Anne Northup and Ohio Senator Mike DeWine have been joining the increasingly loud chorus of calls for the secretary's ouster.
And pressure for change is not coming only from the desperate and the wobbly. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison -- a Bush loyalist well ahead in her bid for re-election -- is expressing regret for her vote to authorize the invasion and is advocating partitioning Iraq along ethnic lines. "We have to step back and stop trying to put our American ideas onto this problem," she told the Houston Chronicle.
I should be glad to see the consensus moving the right way, but on the other hand, what the fuck? Many of us have been hearing for years that we were traitors to express skepticism about this adventure, and now I hear Republicans coming out with this shit. Don't we get an apology or a fruit basket or something?

Friday, October 27, 2006

TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS. We hear today, after a blessedly long hiatus, from Camille Paglia, whose anger at liberal colleagues has made her a surprise hit with folks who would otherwise never listen to a humanities and media studies professor say anything, unless she were reading back their fast-food order. Paglia is still mad at other intellectuals, even when she agrees with them:
The feckless behavior of the Bush administration has been a lurid illustration of Noam Chomsky's books -- which I've always considered half lunatic. Chomsky's hatred of the United States is pathological -- stemming from some bilious problem with father figures that is too fetid to explore. But Chomsky's toxic view of American imperialism and interventionism is like the playbook of the rigid foreign policy of the Bush administration. So, thanks very much, George Bush, you've managed to rocket Noam Chomsky to the top of the bestseller list!
Chomsky's "toxic" view, as explicated by Paglia, has been fulsomely borne out by actual events, yet Chomsky is "half lunatic." In fact, to hear Paglia tell it, President Bush himself is more than half lunatic:
...I've become concerned about Bush's mental state in the past few months. Sometimes in his press conferences or prepared statements (which I listened to on the radio), I heard a sort of Nixonian tension and hysteria. His vocal patterns were over-intense and his inflections impatient, lurching and sarcastic. There was this seething quality to his speech that worried me and that seemed to signal that something major is being planned -- perhaps another military incursion.
Interestingly, despite this startling accusation of incipient Presidential lunacy, Republicans are linking to it.

Lord Nazh is phlegmatic: "Granted she has her hang-ups like any good lefty does... scim the lefty parts if you must." This guy says "A liberal Democrat tells it like it is!"; Fraters Libertas is tickled that Paglia "opines on liberal talk radio." In a long post, one Dr. Melissa Clouthier says of Paglia's warning of a Bush mental breakdown that "If I were him, I might be paranoid. I've mentioned this before. I'd be paranoid because everyone does seem out to get me..." One hopes her Doctorate is not in psychology.

Apparently you can get big play from the right by talking smack about liberals, even if you simultaneously suggest that George W. Bush is one sleepless night away from blowing up Iran to still the voices in his head. This suggests a new definition for the term Bush Derangement Syndrome.
THESE COWS ARE VERY SMALL, BUT THOSE COWS ARE JUST VERY FAR AWAY. I see Republicans are bragging about their poor reading comprehension skills. This is a Virginia election, however, so it might just work.

Here's my favorite report of Webb's novels so far, from noted rightwing news aggregator CNS:
Virginia Senate hopeful Jim Webb was taking flak Friday for what sounded like a child sex scene in his 2001 novel, but critics who have examined the books he wrote over a two-decade period also see a pattern of discriminatory and offensive characterization of women and racial minorities...

But, [Mychal] Massie ["national chairman of the conservative African-American group Project 21"] added, "Speaking as a writer, a person tends to write what they believe in. Even in presenting a fictional writing the author writes from a core philosophy -- an intrinsic philosophy."
Don't tell these people about Nigger Jim or they'll haul Mark Twain's body out of its grave and throw it in the Chemung.

It'd be annoying if an important election turned on this bullshit, but I gotta be honest with you: sometimes I feel as if I've been a little unfair to conservatives, portraying them as illiterate clods and such like, and it's nice to be reminded that I have if anything understated the extent to which their cause relies on plain pig-ignorance.

UPDATE. Of all people, Michelle Malkin shows a grasp of basic literary concepts.
COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN. I got to an advance screening of Babel this week. I've never seen Iñárritu's other movies (Amores Perros, 21 Grams), but I can see why he's a big deal. He's really good at showing the undramatic ways in which dramatic events develop. Two brothers, each jealous of the other's claims on their father, wind up shooting a tourist; a young deaf girl seems perfectly well-socialized within her peer group, but when she is casually reminded of the doors that are closed to her, she begins to act out sexually; a Mexican nanny wants to go to her son's wedding and takes a risk that has a good chance of working out -- until her nephew takes a risk of his own that turns everything into a nightmare.

This shows great storytelling craft, but Iñárritu wanted something bigger than a mere story, and mashed a bunch of them up into some sort of thread-crossing statement picture. Unfortunately I don't know what the statement is supposed to be. Communication is obviously a big part of it -- language barriers, deafness, "Babel." But if you want to say that communication breakdowns are the cause of all the problems in the film, you have to define both "communication" and "problem" so broadly that they barely mean anything. If the Americans have wound up in Morocco because they can't talk to each other, does that mean getting shot is a communications problem? And do the boys get to the point of target practice because their conflict resolution skills are imperfectly developed, or because they're boys and have a gun?

Also, the film slows way down at the end, so that we may more fully experience, or wallow in, the agonies of the characters -- but at that point they were still strangers to me, and in fact I cared much less about all but one of them than I had at the outset. Only the deaf girl's story held me -- partly because Kikuchi Rinko's performance is so amazing, but also because her story had suffered the least from distractions: her deafness, and her adolescent simplicity, made it necessary for Iñárritu to focus intensely on her, and we could read a world of details into her silence. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett just can't compete with that, no matter how photogenically they suffer.

It occurs to me that this sort of multi-thread strategy breaks down dramatic interest of necessity, and that it only works if the multiple plots and casts coalesce to suggest a community that we can care about, as in Nashville or Dodes'ka-den. God knows Altman's stars, wannabes, and innocent bystanders chronically talk past one another, but their town still lives because their blind, groping need holds them together; Kurosawa's dump-dwellers have communications problems, too, and there's even a character who doesn't speak (well, maybe because he's really a ghost), but that's just what you expect from people who live so close to one another that each man must jealously guard his identity, or the private pain that is all he knows of it. (Though spouses are interchangable. Damn, that's a beautiful movie; I wish I could watch it right now.)

If there's a community in Babel, it would seem to be The World. That may have been a little too big a target for Iñárritu, at least at this point. But he's got great skills, and he makes Morocco, Tokyo, and Tijuana feel so real in the short spaces devoted to each of them that I wonder what he could do for one place over an hour or so. Let me know when he makes a simpler movie.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

ALSO, THEY FUCK DOGS TO MAKE HIPPIES. One of the madmen at Gates of Vienna has written hundreds of words complaining that black people are prejudiced against white people.
So, everybody is supposed to keep their culture, except people of European origins? All cultures are equal, but some are more equal than others? Why is colonialism always bad, but not when my country, which has no colonial history, gets colonized by Third World immigrants?
Also, a bunch of dark people moved into his country, and they steal and rape white women. No word yet on whether they drive Cadillacs to pick up their welfare checks.

I seem to remember hearing stuff like this when I was growing up in a Northeastern American city that was growing less white. (Bridgeport now has a minority majority, I believe, though it's still run by white people). Still, I don't recall hearing, in my childhood or in my adult visits there, that the solution was to wage global war against Southern Baptists, lest we all be absorbed into Dixietude.

The prior post is about the Swedish integration and equality minister, Nyamko Sabuni, who sounds terrific. The author then starts raving about black people who call other black people "oreos" (though there is nothing remotely about that in the text about Sabuni), Jesse Jackson, etc.

The post before that is about veiled women in Europe, and somehow drags in the ACLU and "ghetto gear" ("baggy pants and exposed boxer shorts").

One gets the impression that these soldiers joined the Keyboard War Against Islam to get away from themselves, and are not having much luck.

UPDATE. Comments are... well, here I am reduced to twirling my index finger next to my head:
Fjordman, I think it is time for Swedish and Norwegian patriots to set up governments in exile, just like occupied countries did in WWII...

It seems, at this point, that the choices are between following democracy until it kills us all or, eventually, going for the jugular and staging a coup in (at least) France...

For things to change, whites must strengthen our racial consciuousness, which, reports to the contrary, does exist -- though it is suppressed. And once we act, once we liberate ourselves... I have no doubt whites are waking up, slowly but sirely, but we need to take the thinking to the next step.

Might I suggest we start by issuing our own "fatwas" against Muslim clerics inciting hatred... If the authorities have decided to destroy our countries for whatever reason, they have no legitimacy, and must they not be overthrown?...

So, if any of you white folks out there want to stay alive and have a future for your children... know your enemy and start taking steps to defeat your enemy...
Gates of Vienna appears on the blogroll of Armed Liberal and other fine moderate bloggers.

UPDATE II. At Dean Esmay's site, Mary Madigan says Gates of Vienna is "often maligned as being 'Islamophobic.'" I'd say Islamophobia is the least of their problems.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

MARKETING FOR OF DUMMIES. Jeff "Criswell" Jarvis finds something else to love about our hopeless future: a brave new generation called "millennials" who, according to the Jersey Star Ledger,
can text message, listen to their iPods and instant message on their laptops -- all at the same time. They are patriotic and relentlessly optimistic about the future.

They rarely read books for fun and most likely aren't reading this newspaper.

They are the most diverse -- and perhaps the smartest -- generation in U.S. history...
The smartest generation in U.S. History? Do you know any people who take no pleasure in reading, need to be constantly entertained by demotic IMs and crappy pop music, and never believe anything but the best about themselves and the place they happened to have been born in?

I have. They're called morons. In fact I would say that such behaviors and beliefs are pretty much the definition of moronism.

To be fair to the kids, I do not for a second believe that they are as this article describes them -- else they would all be in special-needs facilities, instead of out there tearing up my lawn.

Rather I believe the "popular speaker on the academic lecture circuit" whose press release is breathlessly replicated in the Star-Ledger just seeks to portray them as such -- so that marketers, excited by hints that this latest generation is even dumber and riper for the picking than the last, will hire him as a consultant, hoping to learn the secret codes that will sever the idiot strings connecting the kids' wallets to their $100 jeans.

As for Jarvis, well, he's just interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. He'll probably remain equally enthusiastic about all things New and Happening even as President Jenna Bush is texting OMG I JUST BOMMED IRAN!!!! to her constituents and ROTFLHAO.

For more of my increasingly hoarse denunciations of the notion that one can be smart without knowin' nuthin' except the names of characters on "The Sopranos," see here.
MEANWHILE DOWN AT THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD TV STATION... Paul J. Cella unleashes another Jesus-without-contractions stinker at RedState . The theme this time: atheists have such "shriveled" imaginations that they "can only conceive of divine vengeance as something obvious and inexpressibly cartoonish," whereas in reality God showed his love for America by killing hundreds of thousands of its citizens with gangrene and grapeshot.

One of his commenters points out flaws in Cella's syntax, and his seconds step forward with these defenses:
Those to whom God gives eyes to see will see. Likewise those to whom God gives ears to hear will hear. To all others, even the wisest among them, it will seem as foolishness.

I would suggest that you pray for insight and enlightenment, for it is beyond my power to explain it.

We would like to help you understand, but I suspect that the total lack of subtlety, spirituality, vision, and poetry in your heart and soul makes that an impossible task.
"Poetry" they call it now? Back in the day we just called it acid.

Right-wing world has been getting crazier by a minute, but this is a new development: critics who insist on even simple predicate logic are not answered, just told that they lack an inner light that would allow them to "see."

Remember: it doesn't mean they're losing. It only means they think they're losing. But it's still fun to watch.
SHORTER ACE OF SPADES: The better liberals do in the polls, the more I hate them & fags.

(On the other hand, Mr. Spades did recently admit that Tim Robbins was "wise enough to walk away" from comments made by Rosie O'Donnell, a "bridge troll." So he probably qualifies as a Michael Totten centrist.)

UPDATE. MT centrist Dean Esmay* explains that CNN is working for Al Qaeda. If things get any more moderate around here, we'll all be hung as war criminals by Christmas.

*2nd UPDATE. Apparently I can't even spot the tonal differences between Dave Price and Dean Esmay! How insensitive is that? For examples of the actual Esmay's authenticated centrism, see here and here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

REVERSION TO FORM. Hadn't checked out Mr. Moderate Michael Totten for a while -- not since he won some respect from me by declining to agree with lunatics that his Lebanese friends were proud and happy to be bombed by Israel.

So I peeked in:
Producers aren't the only ones bored with the format. How about hiring lots of centrist pundits?... Here are a few places to start. Half of them have been on TV already. Put them on more often!
Go look at his list of "moderates." I warn you: it's pretty much what you expect (though he waits until comments to sort-of-include the Ole Perfesser).

Next week: an expose of that Idiotarian bastard FDR.

UPDATE. Fun comments, in which Michael gamely takes part. Is centrism in the eye of the beholder? I take centrism to mean on-the-other-handism that seeks to split the difference, which I like better in politics (which is largely about splitting differences) than in commentary, where it tends toward warm mush.

Peter Beinart's stuff, for example, seems to a hothead like me like an endless stream of polite requests for everybody to stop being so unreasonable. This is not my cup of gruel, but if you don't care for pistols at dawn, I can see where you might find it soothingly accommodationist. Beinart would probably try to form a T-group in a gang war.

The folks on Michael's list have agendas which can be entertaining, on the mad terms of our poisonous debate, but I can't imagine ordinary people reading, say, Armed Liberal yelling at a newspaper and thinking it an attempt at finding consensus. They'd probably wonder why he was yelling at a newspaper.

Most of us are frankly a little strange.

Monday, October 23, 2006

WHAT KIND OF MAN READS INSTAPUNDIT? "Okay, with about 6800 votes so far, we've got 74% in favor of Republicans keeping both houses, 17% in favor of the Dems taking one house, and 9% in favor of Dems taking both houses..."

I keep hearing all this stuff about how the Perfesser "has never been much of a Republican. He's more a thinking Libertarian," etc. So how come his readership is more Republican than Jesus Junction, Alabama?

I expect someone will explain to me that Republicans are actually more open-minded than Democrats, and that is why they listen every day to the non-partisan stylings of the Perfesser, then go out and support the GOP at approximately twice the rate of the rest of their fellow citizens.

They keep using that word "libertarian" -- I do not think it means... oh, hell, I don't think anyone knows what it means any more.

UPDATE. All respect, of course, to situational libertarians like Loretta Nall, who was harassed by scumbag cops and is now funding a run for Governor of Alabama by flashing. (Hat tip Wonkette. I haven't caught the act, but even if "the biggest boobs in Alabama politics" turns out to be the lame gag it sounds like, I will endorse Ms. Nall for anything she wants, short of a third-party check.)

Whatever beef we may have with sincere and starry-eyed fans of the Articles of Confederation and the law of the jungle, it is as nothing compared to our feelings against suburban douchebags whose only true guiding principle is, as commenter Kia reminds us, "I got mine, don't worry about yours."
WOLVERINES! As I have predicted time and time again, the strategy wizards of the GOP are looking, in these dark late innings, to terrify American voters into electoral submission. "BEST GOP HOPE: SCARE 'EM SILLY" runs the head on Dick Morris' latest ad for his consulting practice, with space generously donated by the New York Post. Per Morris, Republicans "need to sound a note of alarm and fill the airwaves with specifics of exactly what will happen if the Democrats triumph." He suggests a TV commercial in which Islamofascists are left free to kill by bleeding-hearts and their deranged insistence on so-called "rights." Why not just show turbaned terrorists streaming through a revolving door?

This Hail Marianism has only just commenced and greater madness will surely ensue, but it is not too early to call out promising contenders for Craziest Campaign Subterfuge. For your consideration, Ace of Spades, who is strongly pushing a campaign to unmask Ted Kennedy as a Soviet agent. Soon enough will come the details of the threat: Gorbachev seizing power in the "new USSR," tanks on Main Street, Kennedy as Commissar of the Soviet Republic of Amerika! Citizens awake!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

FOLLOW THE MONEY. Barron's makes the best possible case that the Republicans will hang onto power in the upcoming election: they have more money.
Is our method reliable? It certainly has been in the past. Using it in the 2002 and 2004 congressional races, we bucked conventional wisdom and correctly predicted GOP gains both years. Look at House races back to 1972 and you'll find the candidate with the most money has won about 93% of the time. And that's closer to 98% in more recent years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Polls can be far less reliable. Remember, they all but declared John Kerry president on Election Day 2004.

Our method isn't quite as accurate in Senate races: The cash advantage has spelled victory about 89% of the time since 1996...
Remember when the Republicans' image problems had more to do with lobbyists and fundraisers than with text messages? Those malfeasances were unphotogenic where revealed, but they showed that the Republicans knew how to work the spigots. Abramoff and Noe went too far, but you can expect that sort of thing when word gets around that there's big money to be made if you show a little initiative. Many others have been as energetic, and not so dumb, as their fallen comrades, and the GOP's money mountains -- and the networks of influence that keep them majestic -- are the result.

Democrats are no pikers, either, and may get (back) their chance at patronage primacy -- K Street, ever cautious, has apparently begun to put out feelers. Which is why I'm confused that their candidates are not thumping economic populism hard -- if you want citizens to help elbow your opponents away from the trough, what better motivation can you offer than some of its contents? That's why I'm a Democrat, certainly. (That and the sodomy.)

I'd say Democratic chances at control of either House are a near thing at best. As I've observed before, the Republicans can, have, and will get out the pitchforks at the last minute, and remind America that Democrats are gay traitors, which should rouse some of the values voters who are alleged to be disgusted with the GOP at present. I would be more optimistic for the Democrats if they would start hollering loud about the full dinner pail, or the full home entertainment center, or whatever, and remind voters that they have something [rubs tips of fingers together] to offer besides ringing denunciations and rainbow coalitions.

Money is the big thing, though it's a real buzz-kill when we're reminded of it.
TO QUOTE ALICE KRAMDEN, "HAR DE HAR HAR HAR." The Ole Perfesser votes Republican! Who'd-a thunk it? Me, of course.

But the Perfesser "split" his vote by endorsing Phil Bredesen, who has no chance of losing, and gay marriage, which has no chance of winning! Yay! We're all moderates! Everyone's hugging!

UPDATE. I should talk. I expect to split my own ticket in a few areas. Anyone as proud of his prosecutorial career as Eliot Spitzer should be be moved further from, not closer to, government power. Rather than support a Democratic Giuliani manque, I will give my vote to Jimmy McMillian of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. Finally, a cause I can support unreservedly!

I will vote for Hitlery, though. Not that I like her so very much, but for the usual reason: to piss off the rest of the country.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

THANKS for your concern, but I'm okay about the NLCS. I took a schvitz yesterday and got most of the poison out -- the previous night's poison, I mean: the wellspring of that fierce indignation which lacerates my heart cannot be touched by sweats.

I have no real complaints. My Mets made it to Game 7, and their defeat, as has been widely noted, came not so much from their pre-playoff pitching misfortunes as from the relative quietude of their batters against the Cards. They just weren't ready. It's hard to remember that David Wright is only 16 years old; maybe when he's had a few more big games, or a woman, he'll react better to playoff baseball. Our other big guns were spottier than they should have been, and that's baseball -- if you don't win it's your own fault. (Conservatives should agree! This makes me a "moderate Democrat"!) So the Cards deserved it. They are, as befits their midwest location, big cornfed guys, and this year their pitching (and the addition of scrappers Spezio and Eckstein) has been good enough to support them. As the baseball parlance has it, you have to tip your hat.

The Cards have beaten the Tigers tonight in Game 1 which is too bad: I want to see Murder City take another Series, because they're due, and because they might have a riot, which would be awesome. I mean, shit, I'm sick of polite clappy-clap corporate sporting celebrations, let's get all Stooges up in here. You wanna have a RIOT, GIRLS? RIOT! Mind you, I would love to see it here, but Detroit's got the know-how as well as the indigenous* angry minority population not bought off by Wall Street runoff money, and the opportunity. And WIN! RIOT!

Also I hate Tony Fucking LaRussa. Even when I'm not drunk (4 am EST-5:15 EST M-F), LaRussa is a fuck. Tonight he's a fuck for taking Reyes out in the 9th: Three rookie pitchers have pitched a complete game victory in the World Series, and if anyone deserved to be the first since the 1950s, it was Reyes, but fucking Tony "I Look Like The Joker on Those Biennial Occasions When I Smile" LaRussa had to protect his 7-2 LEAD IN THE NINTH. He is also a fuck for running the steroid chucklehead A's back in the Canseco days. Also, I mean, he's a fuck. Just look at him.

But if he wins, he and his Cardinals will deserve it. Just as, if the Democrats don't do so well in November, America will deserve it. The fucks.


*UPDATE. A commenter points out that "indigenous" is the wrong word, and he's right. Big words give me trouble. Should be "local."

Friday, October 20, 2006

SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY. With our politics so mired in corruption and ineffectuality, what America needs now is more bullshit.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

RECPA. Motherucking cocksuckr. Ypoy kids didn;lt throw any batteries., What the fuck is wromng wioth you. The Cradinals plauyed rhard and desrvbe the win. Goddman shit.

UPDATE. whyyou didnl;t throw bnatteris

UPDATE II. Go toiggers


Alright alright alright alrigt aligt.

DOOON'T BUNNNT! DONNNT BUNNT! Tim McCarver doesn;t know what the fuck he's talking about. ALRIGHT THE CROWD IS BACK INTO IT! START THRWING BATRTERIES!



Pleae don;t be choking please don';t be choking plkeae don;'t be choking.



Oh fuck Cl;iff Floyd. Willie I hope you have a pipelione to God.

Woo big cut.

This is hard weather to hot a homer in. CK! Borderline putch indeed.

Throw to first is a good move, didn't work.

The crowd is screaming of course but at this stage no player hears. This is the center of the storm.



OK I got the sound off.

jose jose jose jose hose


OK yuh big lug,,, all up to you...

bases loaded

Wainwright Molina on the mound

Beran wiping his bat

Praying in the stand s (Borougjh of Churches)