Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MAYBE IT'S JUST ME, but a Perfesserverse in which the commentary is focused on...
  1. All the evil liberals who were insufficiently respectful of Dick Cheney's non-assassination;
  2. Non-stop assaults on Oscar-winning non-candidate-for-anything Al Gore and the comical idea that we should do anything about global warming except build a few more Three Mile Islands;
  3. "Lefty bloggers seem especially anxious to go after righty bloggers these days";
  4. Whistling past the stock market crash;
...sort of reminds me of the last forty minutes of L'Eclisse mixed with the TV studio scenes from Dawn of the Dead. And maybe some Junior Samples bits from "Hee Haw."

Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's just me.

UPDATE. Fixed link, switched out George Romero film.

Monday, February 26, 2007

SHORTER TOM MAGUIRE: Michael Moore Al Gore is Fat.

I understand nearly 40 million people in the U.S. watched the Oscars last night. And from what I see on the blogs, 20 million of them were right-wing dorks looking for something to bitch about.

My favorite of these so far is an anonymous "actress and mother" who rages against Little Miss Sunshine because it reflects "modern Hollywood’s glorification of the miserable":
If you are miserable, then Little Miss Sunshine is the film for you. You can wallow in your misery, while enjoying the misery of others. But if you are a happy soul, resist the hype. The chances are good you will leave this film feeling worse than ever before. Then, perhaps, you will be more apt to join them in their quest to tear down everything that is good and decent, and create a damaged society in your own image.
It's too bad this review came out too late for the producers of Little Miss Sunshine to mine it for pull-quotes.
NOT SUITABLE FOR TREATMENT. Ace of Spades devotes a long post to yelling at women who have more sex partners than he approves of ("It's pathetic that this is what is now deemed 'progress' among the feminists... the reason they can't have what they actually want is that they're fucking guys so quickly guys hardly have a chance to catch their names...").

Then the proprietor of the site quoted by Mr. Spades explains some of his errors to him, which provides him with another opportunity to yell at excruciating length about... well, by this point it's not easy to tell what:
And what should I make of this?
"In any event, most college students are over 18. If they want to hook up, they’re grown people."
Well, they are "grown people," but only barely so, and furthermore Strepp's book addresses this phenomenon among high school girls as well.

One thing I don't get from the sexual left. They are for sexual liberation, I know that. But they sometimes seem to also be in favor of the sexual liberation of children.
Which prompts two questions:
  1. "Sexy left?" What's wrong with being sexy?
  2. When you talk about the "sexy liberation of children," exactly how young are these children, and, more importantly, how sexy?
Then Mr. Spades returns to one of his less objectionable hobbies, surfing the web for porn and obsessively analyzing it.

"Denial" and "projection" are no longer sufficiently comprehensive terms to use for their mental gymnastics, which is why alicublog long ago moved on to terms like "dork," "wank," and "asshole."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

PRE-EMPTIVE SELF-HUMILIATION. In the past I have made Oscar predictions online -- predictions that have been, without fail, spectacularly wrong, so much so that I have been told that professionals count on them each year as a negative example.

This year I will keep it simple and just tell you my guesses at the top winners: The Departed, Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Will Smith, Alan Arkin, and whatshername that kid. There is an impeccable logic to picking Smith -- everyone in Hollywood loves him and, since he is destined to spend the next 20 years playing action heroes, this is their only chance to give a pre-menopausal Big Willie a statue. Impeccable logic, and almost certainly wrong.

That's how it goes with me and the Oscars, which is why I devote most of my writing to insignificant topics like politics.
ADVENTURES IN JOURNALISM. Patrick Ruffini, promoted by the Perfesser:
When things don't go well in Iraq, we see the endless B-roll of chaos and carnage. When things are on the upswing, we tend to hear more about Anna Nicole Smith.
As a paranoiac, I am sympathetic to crackpot conspiracy theories, but this idea that the Anna Nicole Smith coverage is motivated by treason, rather than by a desire to profit from the public's well-established thirst for celebrity crap, strains even my childlike faith.

I mean, it's not like the days when the press was covering up the Clinton scandals. Now there was message discipline! I bet most Americans never even heard of "Whitewater."

Tip to Ruffini: haven't you wondered why Hollyweird has scheduled its Oscar show right in the middle of our great victory in Iraq? Get digging, citizen!
LIE, RUDY, LIE! Right-wingers of all kinds seem to love Rudolph Giuliani because he's a total fucking prick, which seems to be the personality trait that most excites such people.

Yet, as we have heard repeatedly, the former Mayor's customary pro-choice position on abortion is expected to give him trouble with the Cletus wing of the Republican Party.

This presents special problems for the makebelieve moderates and bullshit libertarians who are Giuliani's strongest spokespeople online. Like their man, they prefer an authoritarianism that is secular and stress-free -- one that preserves their upper-middle-class privileges without requiring anything of them, spiritually or civically -- and so would love to see the Manhattan Mussolini smack down the nation's squeegee men without any assistance from, or favors owed to, the style-cramping Christers.

Yet they have to deal with the fact that their fanbase includes many mouth-breathers who could be easily persuaded by a preacher to reject the marketable Rudy for some less electable Friend of Jesus in a chartreuse micro-constituency. (10-4!)

Giuliani has, naturally, shown himself agreeable to anything that might benefit Rudolph Giuliani by announcing that as President he would appoint only "constructionist" judges (meaning, in the language of our current politics, anti-Roe hitmen). While normal people would judge that a wise if cynical bargain, Giuliani's seconds find it necessary to explain that this flipflop is meaningless, that Mr. Nineeleven is still the same "anti-idiotarian" hero he was back when such glib neologisms appeared important.

Take Ann Althouse at the New York Times. Professor Althouse, who portrays herself as pro-choice, starts by minimizing Giuliani's opponents as sufferers from Your-Favorite-Republican-Name-Here Derangement Syndrome who will "hoot with derision," "smirking" with "ridicule" at Giuliani for his abortion prevarications. Then she explains why Giuliani's hedging is actually more honest than the plain-spoken anti-abortion statements of less electable Republicans -- because plain speaking is something liars do:
But it is the candidate who sets out to deceive us who has the most reason to keep it simple. By contrast, complexity may signal that the candidate is actually trying to tell us something about how he thinks. He may have a sophisticated grasp of the role of the executive in relation to the courts and the legislatures. We might do well to tolerate some complexity.
Some of us might think that "complexity" is a ridiculously inappropriate word for anything that comes out of the mouth of a Presidential candidate, but we must remember that Professor Althouse -- who hedge-rows her political posts with bleary-eyed, munchie-fueled appreciations of "American Idol" and "Project Runway" -- is accustomed to bestow many layers of meaning onto phenomena that are as shallow as the candy coating of an M&M. Case in point: her next paragraph --
What should a candidate say about abortion? To represent what the country as a whole thinks, the president ought to take account of the deep beliefs Americans have about both reproductive freedom and the value of unborn life. To deserve the trust embodied in appointment power, the president should have a sound understanding of the judges as independent decision makers who follow an interpretive methodology that operates differently from political choice.
If you do not recognize this as bullshit, I have a formless brown mass that you can use to frost your birthday cake.

Terrestrial Musings takes a more traditional but no less hilarious approach:
I know that this will be hard to comprehend, but it is quite possible to believe that abortion is wonderful, that every woman should have at least one, and still believe that Roe v. Wade was a judicial travesty.
Commonly, right-wingers in search of consensus posit liberals who are troubled by abortion and unconvinced by Roe v. Wade. This is the first I've heard of a fantasy lefty who finds baby-killing a real turn-on but still wants Roe overturned. Next I expect to hear of a gun nut who thinks the National Guard fulfills the Second Amendment's idea of a militia.

My very favorite citation is Eric from Classical Values:
...Giuliani is a Catholic, and is personally opposed to abortion. At least one Catholic bishop has said this is a "legitimate distinction."

I've never been able to understand why it isn't a distinction. Saying that a woman shouldn't be imprisoned for aborting her fetus is not the same thing as approving of her act, much less saying it is a good thing. I think drugs should be legal, but that does not mean I approve of or advocate heroin. If God disapproved of heroin, does that mean it would be immoral to oppose imprisoning people for it?
Wander the Classical Values site, and you will see much fist-shaking and finger-wagging at the moral relativism of Goddamn liberals. What then explains this who-are-we-to-judge dismissal of billions of unbaptized dead fetuses? I am not boor enough to suggest that Mr. CV's homosexuality (with which Giuliani is more cool than 99.9% of Republican Presidential candidates) has anything to do with it, so I will just credit it to his stupidity opportunism.

In general, I would say the Rudy revivalists are on, if not the right track, at least a possible one. Having lived in the City during Giuliani's crackdowns, I despise the guy, but I can still see how Americans, who hate New Yorkers almost as much as he does, would approve of him.

But I do think -- odd as it seems -- that most Americans would be more sympathetic to Giuliani's very few (and now apparently defunct) matters of conscience -- i.e., support from abortion, gay rights, etc. -- than they would be to the perceived necessity of his conversion to the Jesus position. That is to say: were Giuliani to break form and stand up for a position that could not possibly get him any closer to ther Republican nomination, they might think more of him for it.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no chance whatsoever of that happening.

UPDATE. Did a wash-and-rinse on some language and length, and revised judgment on CV. He certainly isn't stupid.

Friday, February 23, 2007

THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS. As my ex-girlfriends know, there comes a time when my apologies don't mean anything anymore, so I will not offer as an excuse for my absence that, at The Flea, "previews" means "extra long rehearsals with audience leading to notes and more rehearsals." You have your own problems.

I will use my feeble claim on your attention to acknowledge Conservapedia (thanks Patrick and Woodeye [Hairlip!]) and applaud its contribution to American humor, as seen in this recent (and probably re-edited by now) entry on Bill Clinton:
Bill Clinton managed to serve two terms without botching the prosecution of two wars, manipulating intelligence, engaging in a systematic program of torture, or mishandling the federal response to flooding of a major American city. Obviously, he is the devil incarnate.
Enjoy it while it lasts. This egregious experiment will fade away, to be replaced by something less obvious and hilarious. Till then note well and store in your memory banks this wonderful telling detail from the era in which (you will one day tell your fur children) conservative amateurs, unaware that Culture War was just a vote-grubbing scam by the Big Boys, tried to get up on their hind legs and make some arty-farty of their own. Good times, you will sigh as you lay back in your cot at the re-education center; good times.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A BIT OF THE OLD ULTRAVIOLENCE. The New York Post leads with the “dramatic finding” of a “new poll” that shows Americans do not like to think of themselves as quitters. Well, when you put it that way (the poll asked whether or not respondents “support finishing the job in Iraq”), who can disagree? (Forty-one percent of respondents, surprisingly.)

The agenda of the polling outfit, the sinisterly named Public Opinion Strategies, is apparent not just from secondary sources but also from the makeup of POS’ management and the content of its website (“Public Opinion Strategies mourns Republican losses”). Even Right Wing News finds their poll a little confusing (“I’m not quite sure what to make of these numbers, to be honest").

Still, I would not be too surprised if this really catches the thinking of many Americans.

First, we are a notoriously optimistic people, and when Republican operatives lay thickly upon us their customary patriotic hectoring, it reliably stirs in us a touching, Charlie-Brown-like faith that, this time, the football will be held steady for us to kick.

This betrays a rather charming naivete on our part, as I'm sure all but the charred and bombed victims of our naivete would agree. What is less charming is the added ingredient of to-hell-with-them brutality which the operatives are using as a sort of retro-rocket to help this load of crap achieve escape velocity.

As our friends at Sadly No have noticed, the warbloggers have long since abandoned their solicitude toward the poor, purple-fingered Iraqi citizens and, to chase the war-weariness of ordinary citizens, are pushing the Surge as an almost-final solution that will, with just a leetle more patience, both dispose of the bothersome body bags and preserve a "W" for the U. S. of A. (reigning champs, Western Division). They started by complaining that we haven't been slaughtering ruthlessly enough, and now, as Sadly shows, they're citing the glory days of British imperialism and cold steel in the bellies of the fuzzy-wuzzies as a positive model.

This is unsurprising. From the earliest times, their kind has understood that the best way to keep us on board a war machine is to excite our savage natures -- or, if we don't have such natures, to instill them. Which is why we now get bizarre assertions by prominent right-wingers that the great thing about the TV show "24" is not that it makes time pass quickly for shut-ins, but that it inures us against our own moral qualms about torture.

If you are astonished that folks who bray continually about government interference with their cold, dead hands, and about the coarsening effects of tits and ass, should approve of a reverse Ludovico Technique that (they hope) will turn us into sociopaths, then you haven't been paying attention.

Monday, February 19, 2007

INCLUDING "AND" AND "THE." The Ole Perfesser has a laugh -- as does his advance man, Don Surber -- over a Democratic member of the Arizona House who was "trying to ban obsene mudflaps" of the buxom-babe-reclining sort. Lookit them prudish P.C. Dems, is the general idea.

Of course neither the Perfesser nor Surber tells the whole story:
It's still going to be legal in Arizona for trucks to have splash guards with racist terms and silhouettes of naked women...

Tempe Democrat Ed Ableser sponsored the amendment. He said he'd seen a splash guard that used a derogatory term for black children and said he wanted to make sure that people with hateful motives didn't inflict them on others.
I disagree with Ableser, believing that assholes who want to put "pickaninny" and other such verbal vomit on their trucks should be allowed to embarrass themselves that way. (Also, I approve of naked cartoon chicks, though I prefer Phoebe Zeitgeist to the mudflap model.) I just wanted to present you good people with yet more evidence that the Perfesser is a Hudson Sprayer of bullshit. Please spread the word. It is genuinely disturbing to me that so few people have caught on to him yet.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A LINGUISTIC TRIUMPH. One thing most of us have in common with sitcom characters is a catchphrase -- something we say reflexively under even slight pressure, or to fill space. As Robert Barone said, "Raymond, Raymond, Raymond," and Archie Bunker said, "Stifle yourself, Edith," for example, I invariably find myself saying things like "You can't fire me, I quit," and "Fuck you." Among the cognoscenti these have become my signatures.

The Ole Perfesser, heretofore known for "heh" and "indeed" (for which, please God, may he be remembered in Bartlett's Quotations, that future archeologists may have a ready-made thumbnail sketch of our intellectual disintegration), has been working up to a more substantive catchphrase that reflects his darker nature. For a few years, "Not anti-war, just on the other side" was the best he could do -- all that law-perfessin' and bloggin' left him little time for personal growth -- but I think he's onto something here:
To some people, Vietnam wasn't a defeat, but a victory. To them, the right side won. And lost. Naturally, they're happy to repeat the experience.
That is brilliant, and not just because the inspiration is -- are you sitting down? -- Charles fucking Schumer.

No, it dazzles because it packs so much stupid into such a small package. True, it's longer than "Raymond, Raymond, Raymond," but it is amazingly brief for all that it conveys: not only a rat-brained misreading of history, but also of the present, and of human nature as well. And it is not much longer than "I'm goin' back to the wagon, boys, these shoes are killin' me," the catchphrase of another great Tennesseean.

It is a great improvement on the Perfesser's former slurs. While "Not anti-war...," for example, did clearly impute treason to the millions of Americans against whom the Professor used it, it was too quick, too slashing to completely override the impression that the speaker was unserious -- that this was not an earnest accusation of grave crimes, but mere name-calling. The new catchphrase lingers enough to change the tone completely, as a long, fixed stare can add to a street bum's rambling obscenities an air of menace.

And it perfectly suits the interesting phase we seem to have entered. "Treason," cried the New York Post headline over which this classic Ralph Peters disgorgement appeared, and the right-wing bloggers all echo the cry. Suddenly treason is the new black. And all because Congressional Democrats made a (typically feeble) show of acknowledging the anti-war sentiment of the voters -- which, you may remember, put them in the majority in the first place.

I expect the Perfesser will be working this one hard. He may try to condense it -- being essentially conservative, he may not want to tamper much with classical forms -- but I like it at the present length. With proper training, one can get it all out in a single breath, which would accentuate its incantatory quality, always a good thing for a piece of nonsense.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

WHAT THEY BELIEVE AND HOW THEY BEHAVE. By following a long (maybe it just seemed long) stream of posts by Professor Bainbridge -- originating in a discussion of Aflac's decision to let shareholders vote on executive compensation -- I learn that Bainbridge believes that
[a]nalysis must begin with the basic principle that shareholders do not own the corporation. Instead, they are merely one of many corporate constituencies bound together by a complex web of explicit and implicit contracts. As such, the normative claims associated with ownership and private property are inapt in the corporate context. (This is known as the nexus of contracts model of the corporation.)

...shareholder voting is not an integral part of the corporate decision-making apparatus.
It struck me as I read this that, while Bainbridge's conclusion may be perfectly supportable in contract law, it suggests that the people who put down their nickels, figuratively speaking, shouldn't have much say in what is done with the fruits of their investment. This would seem counterintuitive for a conservative author -- aren't they always complaining that Big Gummint is squandering our investments (that is, our tax money), and calling for greater accountability to the People?

But things became clearer as I read further:
The board's primacy has a compelling economic justification. The separation of ownership and control mandated by corporate law is a highly efficient solution to the decision-making problems faced by large corporations. Because collective decision-making is impracticable in such firms, they are characterized by authority-based decision-making structures in which a central agency (the board) is empowered to make decisions binding on the firm as a whole.
And then it hit me: for conservatives, to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, money isn't everything, it's the only thing. They strongly identify with corporations, and therefore endorse whatever hauls in the most money for them and their leaders -- populism be damned. Government isn't nearly so important to them -- not a lot of profit to be seen there -- except as the object of a hostile takeover, after which it can be plundered and sold off for parts, toward which end a little pretense at populism is acceptable (See Revolution, Republican).

They're pretty obvious when they're propagandizing, but their true nature is never more clear than when they talk about the thing(s) they love.

UPDATE. In comments Kia is inspired to expound on a language native to the Ivory Tower called Weaselese: "[Bainbridge is] talking about corporate law, but he's using the legal terminology with surprising vagueness considering that he's talking radically about these very technical matters. That is, his legal phrasings are more like jargon; they don't actually bring any evidence or persuasive argument with them, just reassuring noise." And I thought I didn't speak a second language! You can enjoy more of Kia's brilliance at Gall and Gumption -- if you lose the address, you can always find it on my blogroll.

Friday, February 16, 2007

TRAMP THE DIRT DOWN. Sometimes people go too far. Your idea of "too far" and mine are probably very different: if, for example, David Broder were photographed working his own asshole with a Kewpie doll while eating Japanese schoolgirl shit, that would only favorably revise my opinion of him.

If there were a formula for what constitutes "too far" for me, I guess part of it would read "insanity + tedium." Many of my favorite subjects here are plain nuts, but their spirochettes, like Shelley's, drive them to poetic arias of insanity. But sometimes they get stuck in ruts, and their previously entertaining madness devolves into depressing monomania of the sort suffered by the madhouse gibberers in old horror movies.

Rod Dreher has reached the end of my patience. Having already declared common cause with the Islamic nuts who want us all to live under sharia law, Dreher today says that when Falwell said God blew up the World Trade Center because of fags, he may have been onto something:
...In fact, as uncomfortable as it is to contemplate, no Christian or Jew can rule out the possibility that God will judge America, and judge it harshly. And perhaps is judging America. The Bible, particularly the books of the prophets, are full of examples of God calling Israel to repentance, and bringing her to ruin when she refused. That God used the Babylonians as an instrument of chastisement does not imply that He endorsed the Babylonian Way of Life...

...When Bush 41 said "The American way of life is not up for negotiation," he was expressing what I think many conservatives (and liberals too) believe: that we Americans are not under anyone's judgment. From a Christian point of view, that's dangerous and wrong. We are under judgment. Humanity is.
Dreher has been a fun toy for a while, but I fear he has entered the realm of smokehouse-dwelling end-of-days psychos. He only perceives culture outside his smokehouse -- that is, the place the rest of us call "the real world" -- as a chimera woven by the Devil to confuse or (in the case of chesty dead blondes) titillate him. If you could wave a hand in front of Dreher's face, the eerie fixity of his gaze would not waver.

He is lost to us, or at least to me. I am reminded of Harry Truman's judgment, in Plain Speaking, of the unfortunate President John Tyler, which if I remember correctly ends, "He wound up in the Confederate Congress, and that was the end of him."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

ACE'S HIGH! I've been pretty lame about posting lately. The play takes a lot out of me: though I have only a supporting role, my incompetence requires me to work extra long hours just to achieve mediocrity. (The rest of the cast is phenomenal, though, as are the direction and the play itself. So go! You can do a crossword puzzle or turn on your iPod while I'm stinking up the joint.)

But I'm never too busy to notice when some fellow scribe is absolutely on fire, and I have to give it up for Ace of Spades, who is having a great run.

First, he notices what even the dullest rightwing hacks cannot ignore: that Fox's new funny-conservative show looks a little shakey. Now, here Mr. Spades does something that, so far as my memory reaches, he has never done before: he gives the appearance, however briefly, of heading toward a defensible point -- that the show's writers ought to focus on being funny rather than on hitting the approved political targets. But apparently Mr. Spades' ignorance has a defense mechanism of its own, and it pushes him out of this territory and into all kinds of huh-what. There's a rant about Tina Fey ("liberals went ga-ga over her for her relentless didacticism"), an allegation that Greg Gutfield's show is actually funny (having seen some clips of that thing, I can assure you, it looks like someone just left a camera running in the break room at Dorks R Us), and finally an allegation that the failed funny of the Fox show is a liberal plot:
Material so weak, in fact, that one suspects the writers are all liberals deliberately sabotaging the show, or so horribly out of touch with conservative opinion as to have no real idea what a conservative might find funny, or -- likeliest of all -- convinced conservatives are abject morons who will not get a joke unless it's seltzer-down-the-pants woca-woca-woca sledgehammer obvious.
But wait, there's more! In an update, Mr. Spades, maybe after a visit from The Boys, says the show isn't really that bad. Then he starts pitching ideas: "The one good joke in the segement -- Barack Obama's 'A Life In Politics: My 18 Month Journey' -- could be expanded into a Ken Burns style documentary on his eventful life, with letters back and forth to his wife about just making it to the Senate floor in time for a bill to increase public awareness of the American cod fishing industry, for example. Playing into the Obama Messiah thing." I'm laughin' already! Does the wingnut welfare department have a branch office in Television City? We'll soon find out!

This post is reason enough to stand up and cheer, but thereafter Mr. Spades outdoes himself with a veritable Tourette's seizure of commentary:
  • On how no one likes Valentine's Day except "the frigging feminists" (by which I guess he means "women," or perhaps "women who won't fuck me even if I buy them dinner").
  • On how the real lesson of Tim Hardaway's anti-gay remarks is that "Blacks have been given a pass" from liberal political correctness because no one in the Librul Media is reporting those remarks except, oh, more than a thousand news outlets at this writing. And also, "there was an incident in the NBA about ten years ago when some New York Knicks said..." Way to run down a source, Mr. Spades.
  • On how Mr. Spades is really funny if he does say so himself. "What I realized in writing this was that there were a couple of parts to a sketch. The premise -- obviously, you need that..." Aristotle can rest easy.
  • On how when a black guy rapes a white girl, liberals don't care.
  • On how Christians make liberals cry ("... jaw hanging in disbelief, eyes welling up with angry tears...") with their Christianity because liberals are little girly girl types. (Of course, if you're an actual girl and you just laugh at Christers, you're a man-faced bitch). This one goes on for hundreds of words. Then Mr. Spades says he wrote it in defense of what sounds like an extremely tight-assed Muslim guy. Whoa, psych! Looks like Dinesh D'Souza isn't the only one who just has to give Islamic fundamentalists credit at least for hating the same people he does.
I could go on, but really, Mr. Spades shows no sign of slowing down -- or maybe of coming down... but let's not cheapen a historic run of asininity by suggesting it has been pharmaceutically enhanced: we all need our heroes, and somewhere a little boy who can't stop talking and thinks all the grownups around him are really stupid and has learned to like playing with army mens all by himself is only a mouse-click away from validation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

KULTURKAMPFERS GONE WILD! Behold the latest ravings of Victor Davis Hanson:
Reading the self-righteous remarks of the Dixie Chicks reminded me of the Nobel Prize announcements, to the effect from one judge that Jimmy Carter had been likewise rewarded for his vocal opposition to the war in Iraq.
When do we get a live broadcast of the Nobel Prizes with Joan Rivers on the Commie-Red Carpet?
All this comes in the wake of the photo-shopped Reuters photos, the AP stringers misinformation, the Dan Rather memos, the Newsweek flushed Koran story, etc. So in an age where our national elites scream about Joe Wilson ad nauseam, most of us instead worry that major institutions-in entertainment, arts, news-not merely lean to the politically-correct, but do so in such a fashion to outweigh all else.
Hanson's sweaty head thrashes on the pillow. So many enemies! And they all have gala award ceremonies!
The result is that we can no longer be sure whether merit and truth are the primary criteria in bestowing awards or reporting news.
Not that, Victor! Please tell us the People's Choice Awards are still legit!
This is not partisan criticism, but rather evident from remarks of a judge on the Nobel Prize committee, Jimmy Carter himself, the Dixie Chicks, etc., all apparently unafraid to make explicit the connection between politics and recognition.
I'm not the Kulturkampfer, you're the Kulturkampfers!
In the short-term, all this posturing brings advantage, but in the long-term, Samson-like it is bringing down the temple of our basic institutions-hence the rise of grass-roots talk radio, cable news, the blogs that either offer partisan correctives or critique the bias of mainstream institutions.
Kulturkampfers never tire of finding ways to miss -- well, everything, including the simple perspective possessed by millions of Americans who would never dream of comparing Jimmy Carter with some stupid pop group just because they both possessed shiny objects.

Monday, February 12, 2007

CRUNCHY ROD DREHER DOUBLE PLAY! The guy just gets worse. In one of his last spasms of infatuation with Amanda Marcotte, he complains that the MSM isn't as enraged by her Virgin Mary jokes as he is, and approvingly quotes the Catholic League madman Bill Donohue:
Newsweek reeks of a double standard. In its December 11, 2006 edition, it said that Michael Richards had gotten himself in trouble for his ‘racist rant,’ and in the same article it recalled Mel Gibson’s ‘anti-Semitic remarks.’ On February 5, 2007, it said that Isaiah Washington got himself into hot water for making a ‘homophobic comment.’ In other words, when someone makes a racist, anti-Semitic or anti-gay remark, Newsweek labels it as such. But when obscene comments are made about the Mother of God or religious conservatives, it counts as mere criticism.
So in Donohue's and Dreher's mind(s), making fun of their imaginary friend is the equivalent of calling someone a nigger or a faggot.

But the cream of the jest comes later:
Many on the left can't see what the big deal is, and say that Christians who are offended by this wouldn't have voted for Edwards anyway. Really? My "Kingfish" gibes aside, I was interested in what he had to say about the economy, and populism. But now, forget it.
This is the same guy who suddenly decided last year that the Iraq War was a terrible mistake and that the Republicans were thoroughly corrupt, but concluded, "I don't think the country deserves the Democrats" -- largely because the Democrats might slow down the criminalization of abortion for which Dreher prays his knees off every night.

The Republicans could be running drunk and naked through the country setting fire to barns, and Dreher wouldn't vote for Edwards or anyone remotely like him. Jesus, don't these people have a whole commandment about lying?
REACTION FORMATION. In certain slants of light, the blogosphere looks to me like a series of specimen tanks. Very little in it is really original -- though most days I do find writing there that is so incredibly bad that it shatters all known precedents for incompetence, which I guess is a kind of originality. But crap can be instructive if not elevating, and there are plenty of good examples of bad reasoning to be found.

Here's a classic by Crunchy Rod Dreher having to do with critics of Christianity and how hypocritical and "suicidal" they are not to be critics of Islam:
This is how the left works: yell "bigotry" to silence critics who confront them with arguments they don't wish to have. In Holland, Pim Fortuyn -- an openly gay hedonistic libertarian with a wicked sense of humor -- ran for prime minister on a platform that in large part warned the Dutch that they were going to lose their liberal democracy if they didn't confront the growing forces of Islamic extremism within their country's immigrant population. The hysterical left -- which is to say, the media and academic establishments in Holland -- called him a fascist, and left it at that. Fortuyn was so far to the left he made Barney Frank look like the Queen Mother, but none of that mattered to the left-wing Dutch establishment.

I honestly don't get this. Shouldn't liberals be the most concerned about Islamic fundamentalism, given that the things they profess to value are the first things they would lose under Islamist pressure? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this sort of liberal hates political conservatives and orthodox Christians more than he loves his own liberty. And he wishes to cling desperately to his own self-image as a defender of the poor, oppressed minorities, even when some of those poor, oppressed minorities would just as soon see him and his kind swinging from the gallows.
Well, y'all know I roll: Jesus, Allah, Moses -- they're all comic-book characters to me. Having courted fatwa in the past, I can claim consistency -- as can Dreher, in his own, very different way: he has actually made common cause with Islam against decadent Western ways --
I probably have, re: fundamental morals, more in common with the first 500 people I'd meet in Cairo, Damascus or Tehran than the first 500 people I'd meet in Park City, UT, during festival time.
-- and, further, agrees with the mullahs that homosexuality is an abomination --
...a gay Republican male -- very successful guy, well-dressed, in the public limelight, not at all a desperate troll -- told me that this was a pretty normal part of gay male culture. He told me that he used to cruise public toilets looking for sex, in part because the stench of those locales smelled like "nectar"...

...what are the rest of us supposed to think about gay male culture, and the degree to which it self-defines according to behavior that most people rightly find repulsive?
So Dreher is mad at liberals for failing to defend gay people, whom he condemns, against Muslims, with whom he sides against gay people.

If this seems a bit muddled, you have to remember that Ole Rod sure is mad at liberals. It's a Southern thing. The last part of his post -- in which the liberal "wishes to cling desperately to his own self-image as a defender of the poor, oppressed minorities, even when some of those poor, oppressed minorities would just as soon see him and his kind swinging from the gallows" -- reminds me of some of Dreher's other postings on "minorities," including this one, in which he decides that black folk who don't wish to sweat in the fields must be selling crack, and this other one, in which a black crime incident in New Orleans means that town is now "Mogadishu on the Bayou." Liberals must have done something to Dreher, or to his pappy, once upon a time, and he hasn't forgotten it.
SO SORRY. I had written a nice, long, time-intensive post to make up for my lost time here, and the new improved Blogger fucking destroyed it.

Death to Blogger.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I JUST THREW UP A LITTLE IN MY MOUTH. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Stanley Kurtz is nuts.
Nothing says romance like conversion. Abraham leaps from polytheism to monotheism, and just look what happens to his wife -- at ninety years old, no less. What about Paul? He turns Christian, and pretty soon he’s writing history’s most famous meditation on love. Nope, nothing says romance like conversion.
Bear in mind that this effulgence relates to no prior post -- whatever spurred it (crystal meth body rush? a random glimpse of thigh at the think tank?) remains Kurtz' secret.

I have never quite understood why some people try to portray the Bible as sexy. Alex in A Clockwork Orange had that Biblical fantasy, but I wouldn't use him as a role model. These folks make a good case, but they're from Western Europe, where even the churchmen are de facto atheists. (I especially like the Kraut pastor's comment, which I imagine is enriched by translational vagaries: "It's just wonderful when teenagers commit themselves with their hair and their skin to the bible.") God knows religious people, whatever their other attractive qualities, tend to drive away one's thoughts of romantic bliss, sometimes by their physical appearance but more often by their peculiar way of talking dirty -- take, for example, The Anchoress' Bizarro-world Karen Finley act, in which she hollered things like "Can I get an 'arghghghghg' for Readi Whip and maraschino cherries? Arghghghghghg!" (That she associates suburban fetishes with sound effects from old Marvel Comics is almost more disturbing than the thought of her having sex.)

But Kurtz gets stranger still:
But when it comes to romance, political conversion is best of all -- particularly a move from left to right. After all, Romeo started out loving Rosaline, a woman who opposed free trade, yet ended up with someone against all such barriers. Abelard and Heloise? Admittedly, this couple practiced free trade at the start, succumbing to severe protectionism only later. Nonetheless, if Abelard was unconventional, he also combined the roles of professor and religious believer. In my book, that means Abelard ended up a conservative.
Especially after they castrated him.
So there you have it. Conversion from liberal to conservative politics: the ultimate aphrodisiac...
Just as you're looking somewhere, anywhere, for a sharp object to jab into your own eyes, or at least a bottle of Purell, Kurtz reveals that this is a promo for some stupid wingnut-welfare book -- published on "Simon & Schuster’s Threshold imprint (headed by Mary Matalin–a famous lover herself)." Well, there goes dinner. Do these people ever get laid? Maybe Kurtz should cease holding out for "the most potentially stable form of multi-partner union" before he starts metaphorizing Iraq as an ass-fuck that might have been wonderful but for the lack of sufficient lubricant, sensitive anal play, and consent.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

LIVIN' IN THE C.Y.A.. As regards the conservative position on Iraq, while there are yet many dead-enders hiding in spider holes with dreams of glory, some of the brighter bulbs (or more shameless careerists, depending on how you want to look at it) are now working on their excuses.

John Podhoretz quotes the Times' John Burns. Burns, you may recall, was the guy Andrew Sullivan was quoting all the time in the "Democracy Whiskey Sexy" days of post-invasion euphoria. Burns, who has been much in Iraq since before the war and actually knows what he is talking about, is today far less enthusiastic about the adventure.

Why does the Bush loyalist Podhoretz quote Burns' despairing words? The sections Podhoretz chooses to put in boldface explain: while "the American troops were greeted as liberators" (mumble mumble hubris disaster mumble) "I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis."

This is a clever way for Podhoretz to suggest that his own tireless war cheerleading (which only began to wither in late 2006) was not because of arrogance nor of ignorance, but because he loved the Iraqis not wisely but too well. Podhoretz' colleague Mona Charen rushes to join his T-group, comparing her feeling for the Iraqi people favorably to that of liberals who were saying "let's not bomb Iraq" in 2003:
Liberals barely know the name of Iraq. For them, it's just another country name to slip into the Vietnam slot of their rigid mental architecture...

...[Burns] may be right or he may be wrong, but the sensibility he expresses — that our mistakes were honest ones (not wanting too large a footprint, hoping the Iraqis would handle matters on their own) — is such a relief.
I'll bet!
It pulls something into focus that I hadn't fully realized until this minute, namely that we have been giving ourselves a terrible pounding for the past 12 months. Not all mistakes are created equal. Our mistakes in Iraq have been well-intentioned ones.
Try to imagine Mona Charen wracked by self-doubt and nightmares about mangled Iraqi children until John Burns came along to tell her she is, too, a good person! Not bloody likely.

But I would sooner believe Charen capable of second thoughts (or of first thoughts) than I would believe it of the glibertarian Arnold Kling. Kling's essay is basically devoted to herding restive libertarians back into the GOP -- and so desperate is he to realize this mission that he's not only willing to reverse course on Iraq, he's even willing to blame the Iraqis for his change of heart:
On the war in Iraq, the National Review partisans demanded victory rather than defeat. I would love to see victory, but I do not know which side we are fighting on. At this point, I am fed up with the Iraqis. I see them acting like siblings who won't stop fighting, coming up to us saying, "He did it! Punish him!" Until they learn to act like adults, I see no point in fighting their battles for them.
In previous discussions, Kling suggested there was "no substitute for victory" in Iraq. Turns out that, for him, there is at least one substitute: utter capitulation.

Self-esteem building and surrender -- I thought that was supposed to be our gig.

Monday, February 05, 2007

STATUS REPORT. I recently apologized for the paucity of my posting, but actually, when I look at the right-wing blogs that usually spur my bloggage, I do so with the horrified incomprehension of an amnesia victim who has just been told by his doctor that, in his forgotten life, he was addicted to dogshit smoothies.

I mean, look at Ole Perfesser Reynolds at the present moment. He's still talking about spat-upon soldiers (no doubt as a reaction to the growing general realization that Joshua Sparling, conservative GI spit-model of the moment, has just been asking for it); he's still oohing and aaahing over army mans; and he's still mulling, at unimaginable length, over the quality differences among fucking light bulbs. In short, he is still a perfect hybird of a dick and a dork. (This is not to speak of his Global Warming magnum opus, in which he blames hippies for failing to portray conservation as a fun consumer offering like Club Med. With this article the Perfesser achieves something I had not dreamed possible: he makes Jonah Goldberg look like Isaiah Berlin.)

Then there's Lileks, whose red-blooded American response to the Super Bowl is this:
If Madison Av made a commercial about a homecoming vet, the [New York] Times piece didn't discuss it. And if they didn't make such an ad: I'm not a bit surprised.
Maybe he was just upset that Prince did the halftime show. <homersimpsonwhisper>Oops! Sore subject!</homersimpsonwhisper>

And at The Corner they're torn: which do they hate worse -- Muslims or fags?

How any of them can fart without suffering a brain hemorrhage is beyond me. Refresh my memory: Why did I start writing about them?

Well, I'm sure I'll eventually return to my previous level of attention to this gibberish. But over the next week or so I will be somewhat distracted by my involvement in a theatrical project: the world premiere of Julian Sheppard's Los Angeles at the Flea Theatre, directed by Adam Rapp. The cast is mostly brilliant youngsters; I'm on board mainly to ballast their freshness with Old Man Smell. You can buy tickets here. What? No, no punchline, this one is really, really good. It happens sometimes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

SERVICE ADVISORY. Regular readers may notice that posting here has lately been less regular than usual. All will be made plain, if not well, soon enough. I do regret that I haven't time enough to give such spectacular examples of sloppy thinking and writing as this the treatment they deserve. But you're a smart bunch -- you know that statements like "But Hirshman's real problem, of course, is that women who are liked by conservative men are not proper women" ought to be accompanied by some evidence that this is what Hirshman thinks, and that statements like, "I'm going to continue to taunt Hirshman about this, and I'll laugh when she fulminates about my lack of 'reason.' I'll laugh insanely," only achieve the desired humorous effect if your readers do not already think you are insane.

So write your own jokes. They're usually better than mine anyway.
SHORTER JONAH GOLDBERG. Playing the race card is deplorable, unless I'm holding the race card, in which case, boo-yah!

UPDATE: "Truth is a defense against slander, but is it a defense against bigotry?" He seems to be saying that Clark and Yglesias are correct, but no fair anyway because liberals get mad when Larry Summers says chicks can't add and subtract. That's the problem with racial obsessives: they think that everyone else shares their obsession.

If ordinary justice applied, I would rejoice that Goldberg wrote, "...ah yes, it’s those bagel-eating puppeteers in New York who are driving us to war with their piles of blood money..." because then I might expect him to stop bitching about black people out of embarrassment at least.