Monday, April 02, 2007

TOO CHILDISH-FOOLISH FOR THIS WORLD. The Ole Perfesser plays The Ole Foolosopher, striking what I suppose passes among conservative propagandists for a contemplative attitude. As we have come to expect from such people, the tone is wounded, and the approach entirely self-justifying.

First, after noting that yet another of his stories has turned out to be full of shit, the Perfesser prints a note from some guy telling him how great it is that the Perfesser stooped to correct the item. Then he muses:
Well, a polite email always counts for something, especially in the blogosphere these days. As I note in the FAQs, I don't promise never to link to things that turn out not to be wrong (no blogger could do that) only that I'll try to correct the error if I find out about it. Rein's email is certainly nicer than some I received about the Ware story, though I think I got about as many from Dartmouth alumni complaining -- correctly -- that I shouldn't have called it Dartmouth University in my New York Post column. Well, nobody's perfect.
So not only is the Perfesser a real sport to print the sort of retraction he is constantly demanding of newspaper editors; he's also not responsible for all those other, interesting-if-true tales that he just leaves lying out there -- like dirty hippies beating up a soldier -- for, though they advance an alternative version of reality that exactly conforms with the Perfesser's own, they are innocent mistakes, like getting a name wrong. And those impolite bloggers (not anti-civility, just on the other side) who think otherwise can be dismissed with a hearty "heh."

Incivility bothers the Perfesser a great deal. After hailing James Taranto's Matthew Dowd damage control, the Perfesser presses his knuckles to his brow and ponders:
I've never felt that degree of attraction to, or affection for, Bush -- you never saw the kind of praise for him here that you once saw for him elsewhere. Mostly, I've just felt vaguely sorry for him, and hoped he'd manage to do a decent job under difficult circumstances. On the other hand, I haven't had the same over-the-top response to disappointment with him, either. But I try to keep the political and the personal separate, something that seems increasingly old-fashioned these days.
"I try to keep the political and the personal separate" -- brother, is that rich! Because the whole schtick of these rightwing blog kingpins is about reducing politics to lifestyle choices and personal tics.

There is, for example, Jim Lileks, who has reinvented himself as a 21st Century Babbitt. (In today's episode, he hollers about the damned artists and hoteliers who have ruined his beautiful Roger Smith Hotel, as if the many midtown lodges that draw customers with arty touches were responding to orders from the Third International rather than the demands of the market.) Column after column, Lileks presents conservativism as something that arises less from argument and assessment than from a longing for the Goode Olde Days, when men were men and matchbooks were matchbooks and nobody talked with a filthy mouth, proving that, if Lawrence Welk were plying his trade today, he'd spend most of the show talking about the life-affirming philosophy represented by Champagne Music and the Beatles' spiritual debt to Josef Stalin.

There is Ann Althouse, now in the final, gruesome throes of dementia, for whom all issues are literally all about Ann Althouse, and the most convincing side of any debate is the one that sends her the most mash notes.

And there is the Perfesser. As we sometimes demonstrate here with the Ole Grey Perfesser Test, he is a fairly doctrinaire conservative, with just a little socially-liberal trim added to differentiate him from the currently overstocked pool of Bill O'Reilly impersonators. The Perfesser tumbled early to right-wing market realities: for example, that while Rush Limbaugh's politics was a factor, it was his self-presentation as a callous, self-satisfied douchebag that reminded suburban burghers enough of themselves that they made him a god. But the crafty Perfesser has aimed slightly higher: between newsy bits, he rattles on about high-end coffee-makers and hand dryers and cars, portraying himself very convincingly as exactly the sort of shopaholic dink he wants to draw to his site. They're a demographic bonanza, after all -- moneyed, acquisitive, and fundamentally insecure.

This persona requires another innovation on the Limbaugh formula: while Rush's white dreamers of disenfranchisement relate well to authority, the Perfesser's target auditors are a little more urbane and feckless. So while rightwing politics must stay in the mix -- one cannot dispense entirely with authority, nor with the narrative of liberal betrayal, lest the audience drift away -- it must be a cooler version of rightwing politics, less beefy-faced and sweaty, more accomodating to people who, in the depths of their soullessness, really just don't give a shit about anything except their own personal comfort and primacy.

In answer to that need, the Perfesser and his peers embed their rightwing talking points in a creamy, formless mess that we might call I Can't Believe It's Not Politics. Its apotheosis is -- was, I guess I should say; who takes this shit seriously anymore? -- the "Anti-Idiotarian" concept, which held that old ideas of "Left" and "Right" had lost all relevance, and the real litmus was now whether you agreed with the Perfesser's right-wing ideas, or were an idiot. This is politics with no fuss, no muss -- that feeling of resentment the Perfesser's hehs and indeed have stirred in you are all the sign you need that you're in the right church.

When the heavy lifting involved in reasoning and comparing has been done away with, the politics goes down smooth, so long as the host maintains an entertaining line of patter. And so their readers increasingly perceive politics as something that has to do with Ann and Glenn and Jim and their affection for them. Any other relevance of politics to their lives would be a drag to think about.

Well, they have a right to make a living too, I guess. But let us not pretend that they aren't making the political personal, nor that this is an improvement.

Friday, March 30, 2007

NOSTALGIE DE LA BOUE. Dean Esmay is yelling at the Arab guy at his website:
It's very hard for me to look at American Muslims, or Muslims in general, or anyone who considers themselves "liberal" or "progressive" or "humanist," who claim to stand for freedom and human rights and then attack everything America has done and tried to do in Iraq over the last four years...

Furthermore, anyone calling himself a "liberal" or a "humanist"--Muslim or not--is in my view faced with a stark choice:

You either sit around pretending that a vicious, murderous, fascist "insurgency" that routinely cuts people's heads off and shoots children in the face blah blah blah blah blah...

Wow, it's just like the old days! Bombing Iraq as the real, classical liberalism! Also takin' me back: Saddam-statue-style warblogger hubris:
The fact is that the naysayers claimed we weren't really striving for liberation. We were. They claimed we'd install a new puppet dictator. We did not. They claimed that we wouldn't really try to set up a democracy. We did. They claimed there would be no legitimate elections. The Iraqis had three national elections in a row, all certified as legitimate by international observers, not even counting the local elections that were held before that.

They claimed we'd do everything possible to get out of the country "before the next elections"--they claimed that before the 2004 elections and again before the 2006 elections. It didn't happen. Now these same people in many cases are cheering for a Congress that's trying to force us out of Iraq even though the war supporters consistently say "no, that would be morally and strategically wrong."

Time after time the naysayers have proven themselves both morally and intellectually incoherent, and yet they never have the introspection to acknowledge this.
That's right, liberals who aren't really liberals -- gaze upon the success that is Iraq and gnash your teeth!

It's nice to know someone's keeping the old standard aloft. Sometimes I worry that people won't believe me when I tell them such people ever existed.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

L'ENNUI. Welp, haven't been posting much, let's see if there's a TV review at National Review Online... ah, here we go:
Through the drama, a national dialogue takes place on the issues of love and marriage, family, abortion, and faith or lack thereof...

The show has explored what it really means to love another person, moving beyond mere sexual desire. The show’s writers have managed to make interesting and lasting relationships, even if we wish they had also made the characters married.

At least the characters are generally moving toward marriage. And the show, despite the fact that it does away with nearly all sexual mores, does seem to acknowledge that a happy marriage is somehow the desired end of romance...

...It is never suggested that fatherhood has turned unconnected, selfish, womanizing men into responsible fathers...

...while she admits that unexplained miracles do happen, she never allows that a higher power was behind them...

Here’s an idea, Lords of TV: How about just one, rippin’ hot hospital chaplain who offers the patients hope?
The review is about "Grey's Anatomy." Not that it matters.

I could have written about this meditation on "a conservative view of culture" based on the Texas A&M bonfire (sample: "Of course, in both a marriage and the bonfire tradition, such a self-conscious, analytic process leading to an intensity of experience signals the loss of unself-conscious piety, of an intensity that arises from the loss of self"), but you know what? Life is too fucking short.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ROCK THE CASBAH. Peter Suderman applauds an Iranian antiestablishment rocker -- as do I! (Also I disapprove of shitting on a burning flag, except if it's done tastefully as part of a cutting-edge "reimagining" of Dialogues of the Carmelites or something! There, that'll put an end to those posts!)

Then Suderman goes for the big picture. First there is the expected moment of gibberish:
Where's Williamsburg's sneering hipster outrage when you need it?
Oh, Peter. Williamsburg is played out, man! Greenpoint is where it's happening!

But wait:
Not surprisingly, I tend to think that Islamic totalitarianism—the kind that seeks nukes, denies the Holocaust, and bans indie rock (among other things)—is one of the central challenges the world faces in coming years. I often suspect, however, that a large part of the solution will simply be the passage of time, as the younger generation grows into power and, unwilling to give up Western rock music or cell phone flirting, rejects a lot of the extremism we see now. I suppose it's almost the opposite view of D'Souza, in that I tend to think that Western culture and technology, whatever problems they definitely have, will ultimately be a civilizing, moderating influence on Islam, at least in the next generation.
Ah, we are not so different, you and I. Now can you tell your colleagues to stop praying for war with Iran? I'd much prefer to win the Iranians over with booty calls and The Decemberists.

While my good friend Pete and I wait for our decadent culture to reverse centuries of religious mania (he in Iran, me in America -- just like Stalin and Gus Hall!), some of the brethren are more excited by the dream of using American comic-book movies to excite our citizens into jihad. Victor Davis Hanson diagnoses a "liberal furor over 300" -- and implies that the film's critics would have preferred success for Oliver Stone's Alexander, a film that was fulsomely panned by just about everyone on the planet (including me). Hanson then dissects the merits of 300 as if it were a CIA leaflet dropped from helicopters to sway a populace, citing its relevance to contemporary events and his own classicist daydreams. You would never imagine, reading his analysis, that 300 is an action movie consumed with popcorn and soft drinks by citizens with disposable income and a desire for well-ordered thrills.

Some people will never figure out that American culture does its work in the world not as a propaganda for America's policies, but as food for the world's appetites. You may argue that it is junk food, but it is undeniably tasty, and it comes in a multitude of flavors to suit a multitude of tastes. Soviet teenagers certainly spent more of their black-market kopeks on bootlegs of Exile on Main Street than on The Wealth of Nations. Like George Clinton said, free your ass and your mind will follow.

Still, give Hanson credit for stirring the Ole Perfesser to drop one of his more amusing culture bombs:
Part of it is that the movie industry -- or at least the critic section thereof -- is stuck in the 1970s, when moral ambiguity and angst used to be groundbreaking and novel. Now they're overdone, predictable and boring.
Moral ambiguity and angst haven't been novel since Doctor Faustus, if they were then, though the Perfesser is right to intuit that some of us (though not the lords of the "movie industry," surely) prefer the age of The Godfather and McCabe & Mrs. Miller to the age of The Hills Have Eyes 2. But that is a matter of taste, not a problem of politics.

UPDATE. Premiere critic Glenn Kenney is also on the case, and better. I didn't know before I read Kenney's post that Hanson actually contributed to (and presumably profited from) a piece of 300 ancillary marketing -- because Hanson didn't mention it. Well, when you're intellectually corrupt, I guess the other kinds of corruption just naturally follow along.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TANTRUM. Ann Althouse's recent webcam performance has been, I think, widely misapprehended. To say she "loses it" in the video, as C&L does, is technically correct but misleading. That is, we may also say that a badly-brought-up child who throws a tantrum has "lost it," but this implies that the child is thoroughly and helplessly victim to his own passion, when experience teaches that kids milk their shit-fits in hopes that they will cause the relevant adults to change the rules in their favor.

Professor Althouse's whole online career, as has been tediously documented here, may be seen as one long series of tantrums, thrown to remove from herself the responsibility of making logical arguments on behalf of her crack-brained ideas. She constantly commits the most egregious offenses to common sense -- as when, after ceaselessly decrying political correctness in others, she decided Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks made his movies retroactively ungood -- and, when challenged, says that her opponents just like to argue ("link only for the things they disagree with"), that their "political vision... feels like depression," and other such non-sequiturs.

In other words, as soon as things start going any way other than her own, Professor Althouse resorts to behaviors usually seen in the as-yet-unsocialized. So let us not deceive ourselves that the Professor was showing us anything new when she blew up at Garance Franke-Ruta. Her video tantrum only looks different from her written ones because, confronted with a live commenter whose words she could not delete, Althouse resorted to a more physical form of her usual schtick -- that is, yelling and making faces.

And she got what she wanted -- Franke-Ruta backed down like Alan Colmes with a shy bladder. I think that's too bad, but I suspect that even if Franke-Ruta had come roaring back, Professor would have done something else as evasive -- sticking her fingers in her ears and singing "Yellow Submarine," perhaps.

And the same people would notice, and the same people would fail to notice.
AN OLDIE BUT NO-GOODIE. Think I'll drop by that New Criterion blog. After all, they got a fancy Latin name... they can't be too much like the mouthbreathers I usually consort with...
Why America Hates New York

[Posted 12:37 PM by James Panero]

'Forty Days in the Dessert'? The 'Immaculate Confection'? The possible New York Post headlines here are endless (and yes, I know the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth.) But one thing is clear. From Piss Christ to The Sensation Show, America hates New York for cheap art-world stunts, and for good reason. Check out the following notice that just came over the transom...
Piss Christ and Sensation! How did he miss Karen Finley? Must have been edited for space.

He's angry at a Jesus made out of chocolate, by the way. Oh wait, I forgot the best part:
And why have I yet to see a custard Mohammed?
Blasphemous and soft on Islam! I hope Panero storms this exhibition, throwing Holy Water and screaming "The Power of Charles Johnson compels you."

On the bright side, at least America hates New York again. Thank fuck! I was really tired of them pretending not to.

Monday, March 26, 2007

FOGGY MOUNTAIN BREAKDOWN. The L.A. Times has a story about how Democrats get more famous musicians to play at their fundraisers than Republicans get. This should be no shock to Republicans, as the Party of acid, amnesty, and abortion has long been the natural home of all us godless artists.

The Ole Perfesser, however, reacts to the news as if he has just seen a passel of bluecoats comin' over the ridge:
ANOTHER REASON WHY REPUBLICANS should cheer the music industry's troubles, and perhaps help them along by repealing the DMCA or something. As I've suggested in the past, though, I think their reflexive tendency to side with big business has gotten in the way of smart politics.
Not enough musicians like the GOP. Let's punish them with frivolous legislation!

As previously mentioned here, the Perfesser seems not to know the difference between art and propaganda. We might try explaining it to him by using his own work as an example -- take your own short films of car interiors, Perfesser, or your thoughtful essays on how much hotels charge you for internet access -- surely these are not political in purpose, but pure expressions of those few vestiges of humanity left in that shallow grave we call your soul!

But then again, why bother?

P.S. Since the recent box-office triumph of 300 was supposed to mean that Americans want to be ancient Spartans, does this latest development mean that Americans now wish to be anthropomorphic turtles? (Favorite Libertas line: "If white men kill darker men in this story, it’s not because of their color, it’s to stave off their slavish culture, just as we must do today." Wow, maybe that will be the Sean Bell officers' defense.)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

SHORTER ACE O. SPADES: Giuliani shows signs of beginning to consider to pretend to almost support my positions. Yessss!
RIGHT-WING NUTS SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS, #452,885. "Here, morality is not being used as a lens through which to view the facts, but rather as a hammer that can smash the inconvenient ones." -- The American Thinker on (not that it matters) so-called global warming.

(Me, I use morality as a lint-brush to de-pill my bedspread. Hat tip to the deranged housefrau wearing a breastplate made of old brooms and declaiming lines from Saint Joan. The whole thing is insane, but I'm all about the piquancy of clumsy metaphors and the sweet taste of low-hanging fruit. You may have at the "Thinker," and his claim that liberal alchemists are trying to hypnotize us, in comments.)

UPDATE. I'm so lazy today I forgot to check: one post earlier, Jean D'oh writes:
So, you know...if the big boys of Global Warming aren’t really taking the issue seriously,,,if they find it so unserious as to allow the issue to be used as a political wedge or a rabble-rousing sound-bite, and that’s all...well, then I don’t have to take it seriously, either.
(Original rendered in bold, italic, flaming type with a car horn blaring "ah-OO-ga" in the background.) This is not about global warming so much as about styles of denial. Their reason for denying the credibility of global warming theories, however much its expression changes from post to post, is simply that people they don't like are advocating them. Maybe some GW advocates ought to appeal to them by wearing American flag pins and talking smack about Chavez, and thus save the world from catastrophe.

Friday, March 23, 2007

ANOTHER NAME TO CROSS OFF THE MacARTHUR GRANT SHORT-LIST. The Ole Perfesser starts out reasonably enough:
WHY CD SALES ARE PLUMMETING: The music industry blames piracy, but other factors -- from the ability to just buy the songs you like, and not a CD full of filler, to competition from other things like games and the Internet, to the fact that releases tend to suck more than they used to -- seem more significant.
Then -- who knows? -- maybe a nanobot got stuck in his brain:
It occurs to me that the media sectors that are doing badly -- movies, music, newspapers, TV women's shows -- seem to be the most highly politicized, while the sectors that are doing well, like games, aren't. I'd be interested to see more analysis on that subject.
The Perfesser, of course, is constantly predicting that the wave of the future is homemade websites that gas about politics.

There's an old notion that genius is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. Of course, like other signs associated with genius -- inflated self-esteem, for example -- it is often misattributed.

Still, I must agree that it would be interesting to see "more analysis" of the concept that people are buying fewer Christina Aguilera CDs because of their political content.
LONESOME RHODES SPEAKS! National Review maintains its audio soapbox for Presidential candidate Fred "Ah got me a deep voice an' ahm on the TV" Thompson. His latest is about the global warmin', which Ole Fred is agin:
Nah, I guess we shouldn’t even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There’s a consensus.

Ask Galileo.
I did ask Galileo, and he asked if Jonah Goldberg is still Editor-at-Large of National Review. I said that he was, and Galileo handed me this Goldberg column:
The head of the Inquisition was a Galileo supporter, who hoped to get the whole thing over with quickly by just giving him a formal reprimand. Unfortunately, rabble-rousers and opportunists turned the heat up. The trial is very complicated but the result was that Galileo got house arrest, which is where he did all of his research anyway. He was permitted to correspond with any scientist he wanted and he wrote the Dialogue Concerning Two New Sciences while under the Man’s thumb.

...The Church had the same problems of any major political institution and other challenges unique to being the Catholic Church. It had to contend with politics and intrigue and in-fighting and cravenness. But it also had legions of people fighting for truth and fairness in a difficult time beset with bizarre politics. Marxists, like Bertold Brecht, and liberals, like all of your (non-Marxist) college professors, seized upon the notion of a monolithic and superstitious Church because the aim was to discredit the Church specifically and religion in general. Religion with its faith in the unprovable and the perfection of the hereafter is, and always has been, the greatest threat to those who believe we can perfect the here and now through “scientific methods.”
So they arrested him! They still let him have a pencil and paper, even though people who supported Galileo were like totally Marxist. At least it wasn't like Oz! You remember that show? It was rilly funny. Oh, look, a donut.

Thompson's bizarre citation of Galileo perfectly fits this tween-election period, which is all about denying reality. Gun nuts support the virulently anti-gun Giuliani and the NatRev claims a pro-science mantle for its opposition to scientific consensus. By early 2008 the careerist rat bastard Giuliani will be hoisting rifles over his head at NRA photo ops, and National Review will be loudly declaiming the scientist-homosexual alliance. You read it here first!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I DON'T NEED NO DOCTOR. Having, in the previous post, treated the famous rightwing psychologists Dr. Krauthammer and Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser, I figured I would go for the trifecta with Dr. Neo-Neocon. Here she talks about the recent anti-war demonstrations, making the time-honored conservative argument that people who don't support the war are all a bunch of smelly old hippies (aka the argumentum ad patchouli):
The protesters are nostalgic for the heady days of the 60s, when hundreds of thousands could be mobilized for the street theater of the time. They may forget that, when the draft ended, so did most of the protests. Or perhaps they don’t; maybe that’s what’s behind the call by some of them to resume the draft.
Anybody got cellphone pix of the "Resume The Draft" posters from that demo? No? Then what the hell is she talking about? (Charlie Rangel, one assumes; I'm sure he's gratified to be referred to in the plural form, and will ask for each of his votes to count double henceforth.)

It is generous of Dr. Neo to attribute to all these weed-addled hippies sufficient long-term memory to recall the 60s. But the fact is, they wouldn't really need it, having more recently seen this:
The February 15, 2003 anti-war protest was a coordinated day of protests across the world against the imminent invasion of Iraq. Millions of people protested in approximately 800 cities around the world. According to BBC News, between six and ten million people took part in protests in up to sixty countries over the weekend of the 15th and 16th; other estimates range from eight million to thirty million.
Even the January 27, 2007 demo might have been as much as a half-million strong, per the Wikipedia -- traditional news sources tend to estimate these things very low, as I recall from the 2004 Republican Convention protest, which looked more like 500,000 people to me than the lowball estimates of 100,000. But even 100,000 is still good for a bunch of aged, irrelevant Flower Power types, no?

Also, mightn't the fact that there had just been a large demo a few months earlier, and the sitting of an allegedly anti-war Democratic majority in Congress, have something to do with the relatively low turnout last week?

But there's no point in posing these questions to Dr. Neo, who, like her colleagues, dispenses her judgments of liberal insanity from a dreamland very much like the old Soviet Union, where dissidents could expect a negative diagnosis with or without a proper examination.

Boy, they give out doctorates like bubble-gum cards if you have the money now, don't they?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SHORTER DR. MRS. OLE PERFESSER: I diagnose liberals as crazy by their bumper stickers. Top that, Krauthammer!
SHORTER ACE O. SPADES: (splurt.) Bitch! [4 hours later] (splurt.)

I've gone from wondering if they ever get laid to wondering if they ever will be.

Monday, March 19, 2007

IN RUSSIA, MUSIC PLAYS YOU! Years ago, while the Soviet Union was still kicking, I recall there was a crime wave in Brighton Beach (not the ongoing Russian Mob stuff, I mean muggings and such like). One of the local papers reported on it, and interviewed some old Russian residents of the neighborhood, all of whom noted nostalgically that, back in the old country, they knew how to deal with people like this. Life in a police state, their wistfulness suggested, had its advantages.

I am reminded of this whenever some former inmate of an authoritarian state complains of America's lack of resemblance to the hellhole whence he came. But things have changed a little. Where once these discussions mainly involved street crime, now they involve -- what else? -- culture war.

Witness these ravings from a former resident of the Ukraine who, though he has left the land of Zhdanovism behind, still persists in judging art by the standards of propaganda. Today's double-plus-nogoodniks: John Lennon and Yoko Ono!
Have you ever been asked whom you liked better, John or Paul? And have you ever answered “John” on a vague assumption that otherwise people might have less respect for your other views? Wonder why? The question was never about music - it was about your moral philosophy. To answer it correctly - assuming you wanted to fit into the crowd - you had to consider the moral philosophy of the crowd, thus voluntarily submitting your mind to thought policing. In most cases, answering “Paul” constituted a thought crime...
How I remember the heart-rending scenes when a high-school buddy, perhaps too stoned to watch his mouth, expressed a fondness for "Rocky Raccoon" and was immediately dragged away by the Secret Police, never to be seen again!

The author, one Oleg Atbashian, states that "the practice of shaping musical tastes based on political correctness comes too close to the practices of the Soviet Politburo" -- but ends by declaring that "At this point the question about my favorite Beatle comes down to whose moonbattery makes me least uncomfortable." He chooses Ringo. I yield to no one in my fondness for his first solo album, but really, what normal human being picks favorite musicians on the grounds of politics? It's rather too much like pre-teen girls in 1964 debating over which of the Fab Four was dreamiest.

It might be fun to contact some Beatlemaniacs and tell them, "Hey, there's a cool Paul vs. John debate over at Pajamas Media!" Imagine their puzzled looks when they get a load of passages like this:
In the “progressive” book of virtues, American values are the quintessence of evil. So if you are a “progressive” and you aren’t mad at this country, that just means you’re neither honest nor consistent. But then again, because living by this dead-end moral code is logically impossible, one has to resort to hypocrisy and seek compromises, forever balancing on the edge of madness.
Jesus Christ. Can't we do a better job of acclimating these fucking immigrants to our way of life?

Link via the Ole Perfesser, who also directs our attention to culture guff from Fred Thompson, this time on the Right's masturbatory fantasy du jour, 300. "I must say that I’m impressed that Hollywood took on a politically incorrect villain," drawls the old fraud. "Must have run out of neo-Nazis." Haw haw, ole Fred is working that popular right-wing bit about The Sum of All Fears -- which came out in 2002. You'd think they'd find a new hobby horse -- maybe they can say The Hills Have Eyes 2 is P.C. because the inbred killers aren't Muslim.

As for Thompson, he's quickly turning into the reincarnation of Lonesome Rhodes.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

SHORTER FRED THOMPSON: The news business is changing -- by which I mean, it has more liberal bias than ever, and Rush Limbaugh is the same thing as the Associated Press, and -- and -- aw hell folks, ah got me a deep voice an' I'm on th' TV! Vote fo' me!
SHORTER JOHN TIERNEY: You're not funny, bitch. Ha ha ha!
TORTURED LOGIC. After years in U.S. custody, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has confessed to being the "mastermind" of 31 terrorists attacks from 9/11 to the mysterious death of your pet schnauzer.

Conservatives, hungry for any sign that this Administration's anti-terrorist activities are achieving anything besides mayhem, are going for the story in a big way. "The testimony by bin Laden's top operational lieutenant is a jolting re-education in the enemy we face," says the Wall Street Journal.

(Even if they don't believe Khalid, conservatives like the story. "There is reason to be wary of every word this man says, including his claims of responsibility for anything and everything," says John Podhoretz before pronouncing Khalid "unmitigated, unmediated, undeniable evil in human form" on the basis of his unreliable testimony.)

The Journal dismisses anyone who might supect that Khalid's extraordinary confession was coerced or derived by torture as "truly credulous" -- by which I guess they mean that we give some credence to reporters like Nat Hentoff, and to reports like this one (pdf) from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Military reports admit that many prisoners have been thrown or dropped on the ground or thrown against walls. Several prisoners report that assailants jumped on their backs or shoved their heads into hard surfaces while they were incapacitated and lying on the ground. For example, Yasein Khasem Mohammed Esmail claims that when he arrived in Guantánamo, while he was still shackled, he was thrown into the air and allowed to fall to the ground. When he lay on the ground, soldiers stomped on him. A group of soldiers sprayed Mr. al-Wahab with “disorienting gas,” burst in his cell, handcuffed him, pulled him out of his cell, and pushed and rubbed his head against concrete until he lost consciousness...
Etcetera. Khalid's statements, by the way, were made from Guantánamo, and the photo that ran with his story in the papers is the same one that was taken when he was captured, no other having been permitted since then.

Anything, as they say, is possible. It may be that all these detainees are lying, or actually had themselves beat up like Andy Robinson in Dirty Harry. It may be that Khalid is lying just because he got a little goofy after years of not-being-tortured. Or it may be that he is the super-genius he claims to be, which proves... well, I don't know what, exactly.

I do know a few things. First, that because this Administration has worked so hard to normalize "coercive" interrogation, it is now only reasonable to assume that the Fed have employed such techniques when a unseen-in-years detainee admits to killing Papa Doc with his voodoo.

I also know that conservatives, whom I once thought didn't give a shit about torture, actually do give a shit, but in a very different way that we do.

Some of them basically use torture the way they use everything else -- as a stick to beat the left for its constant complaining, hobbling our fighting men, etc. Religious conservatives say they're "praying" over the issue, while accusing other Friends of Jesus who wonder what could possibly be Christian about torture of being snotty.

And others invove it in orgasmic fantasy scenarios ("Jack Bauer invents 'Dry Waterboarding' -- yee-hah!).

I prefer my kink consensual, but I am an adult and can accept that not everyone is like me.
SPECIAL EDITION FOR THE HARD OF THINKING. Ann Althouse:
[The Ole Perfesser] says we guestbloggers did our "usual topflight job," but he reveals that he got "a few grumpy emails" from readers who don't like him to be away, and he's got to know that Richard Brookhiser was all:
Instapundit - Glenn Reynolds = 0
Nothing is harder than simple.
It's irksome the way Brookhiser assumes that the assignment was to imitate Glenn.
Actually, and very very clearly, Brookhiser's words say that the contributions of Professor Althouse and the other nudniks constituted a nullity -- y'know, void, zilch, zero, or in my own idiom, worthless dogshit.

This is mainly why we persecute Professor Althouse -- not for her politics, absurd as they are, but for her inability to comprehend simple English, whether it is written by liberals or conservatives.
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. It has long been my opinion that Rudolph Giuliani would sell out his or anyone else's mother to satisfy his bottomless ambition, and I was recently shown an extraordinary piece of evidence for that analysis:
Mr. Giuliani also took a step to the right on guns, saying yesterday that he agreed with a federal appeals court ruling striking down a District of Columbia ban on handguns in homes.
This is, of course, the same Giuliani who as late as August 2001 was issuing press releases like this:
MAYOR GIULIANI AND POLICE COMMISSIONER KERIK ANNOUNCE MORE THAN 3,000 GUNS TAKEN OFF NEW YORK CITY STREETS TO BE TURNED INTO SCRAP METAL...

"The Police Department's dramatic success in reducing crime is due in large part to its corresponding success in removing guns from City streets," the Mayor said. "More than 90,000 guns have been seized since 1994, and shootings have plummeted more than 74 percent. The NYPD's gun seizure success is also reflected in the murder rate, which has plummeted 65 percent since 1994, and is down another 11 percent this year over last year. The NYPD has also ensured that thousands of guns can never be used to commit a crime by destroying them and putting the metal to good use. Now, another 3,000 guns have been taken out of circulation -- permanently."
Enforcement via "stop and frisk" drives of New York's very stringent gun control laws -- of the sort that drives wingnuts into frothing rage -- was the cornerstone of Giuliani's anti-crime program. But, as this comment thread at Urban Elephants shows, the former Mayor's current cheerleaders are already working to elide this fact:
Rudy was tagged with an anti-gun label somewhat unfairly. Can anyone show me where he ever came out against the 2nd amendment? Or where he is opposed to legal gun ownership?
When one of the posters obligingly notes that Giuliani actually preceded Bloomberg in suing out-of-state gun manufacturers for crimes committed in New York with their weapons, a Rudy fan rejoins, "And this tells us what? What does this say about Rudy's position on legal guns? I see this as an attempt to go after illegal guns." When Second Amendment supporters express their astonishment ("UE's most radical right-winger is vanilla soft on the 2nd amendment"), the Rudy loyalist shrugs (oh, how I love this):
That's the problem with true liberals -- they generalize every single issue into some black and white arguement [sic].
And he's not talking about Giuliani -- he's talking about the 2A guys. Liberalism redefined as opposition to Rudy! It won't be long before they start making incendiary speeches in beer halls.

UPDATE. Oh boy, in comments does fellow New Yorker and ace blogger Julia let Rudy have it: "Now he believes in exactly the opposite of everything he ever went to the wall for in the past, because you people are making him jump through hoops. In public. Again. You know what? He's lying to someone about what he's going to do, and when you're not the boss of him any more, I suspect you're going to find that he hates you every bit as much as he hates us. Maybe a little more."

Friday, March 16, 2007

MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME. I have a whole bunch of reasons for the long silence. Which one do you want?
  1. Fuck you.
  2. The professional commitments I could handle, but I wasted a lot of time talking to people and dealing with their emotional needs. Pffft! Later for that!
  3. I sold my posts to more popular blogs to buy medicine for orphans.
  4. I... I don't know. What day is this? This calendar says 2007! No! NO!
To get back to sea level, I will take the lay of the land -- by which I mean Wingerland, a large but mentally-impoverished duchy:

Ace O. Spades has gone back to thinking that calling someone a traitor is more fun than calling him gay. For the moment.

Jeff Goldstein continues to redefine surrealism as what the French call "jokes without punchlines."

Why would ladies pay five grand to take writing lessons from a successful author, asks a NRO rookie hack, when the real question is, why would anyone pay $5000 to be set adrift in the North Atlantic with a bunch of madmen? True, the accomodations look nice, but when, after too many 7&7s, Mac Owens has got you in a headlock, Victor Davis Hanson is grinding his crotch against a broom-handle in emulation of Jim Morrison while bellowing Catullus, and Jonah Goldberg insists on "running some Liberal Fascism chapters by you" (i.e., farting uncontrollably), no cabin can possibly be large enough.

The reekage at InstaB-List is so rank even other wingnuts are noticing. Ann Althouse, we may be sure, is oblivious, being obviously high as a fucking kite approximately 100% of the time. (Her commenters, on the other hand and as evinced by this thread, seem to be surfing on methane fumes. My favorite: "BTW, Ann is not a conservative. Most who characterize her as that display their own liberalism.")

But Professor Althouse is still a piker when it comes to self-unawareness. Yesterday Jim Lileks actually complained about a newspaper writer who, he judged, was making too much of dogs dressed in sweaters. Jim Lileks! And mere paragraphs after he had sternly parsed the music selection at Starbucks!

I leave you with Fred Thompson denouncing Gandhi. Next week, Thompson takes on that faggot Jesus.

Monday, March 12, 2007

NOW HE TELLS US. "Bush isn't a very good President when it's all said and done, is he? His early life, marked chiefly by taking the path of least resistance, is a fair preamble to his presidency. Yes, the war is a good counter-example; but even his relatively steadfast position on that has been marked, often tragically, by half-steps and ill-advised compromises." -- Ace O. Spades

You may remember Mr. Spades roaring lustily in triumph when Bush was reelected. And approximately 1,522 other posts celebrating W and denouncing his enemies as homosexuals... Oh, you never paid that much attention to him? You're smarter than I am.
QUINTESSENCE OF CORNER. If you want to explain NRO's The Corner to a neophyte, this series is pretty good.

1. Madman Larry Kudlow praises the ravings of "my friend," madman Zell Miller ("Military shortages, Social Security crisis, and illegal immigration all linked to abortion").

2. Jonah Goldberg seems about to veer dangerously close to sanity in rebutting Miller, but drifts back into his asteroid belt of Cheetos and ignorance, stipulating that, basically, he objects to judging any governmental instrument ("GNP, the crime rate, military readiness or anything else") by outcomes. (It only sounds like a moral argument if you read it, or write it, very quickly.) Then he invites Ramesh Ponnuru into the debate by asking if Ponnuru said something he thinks he heard somewhere about abortion and a decline in American births, using a classic Goldbergian "I can't remember... if I remember it correctly" syntax.

3. Ramesh Ponnuru gently corrects Goldberg's memory of his stats, but supports madman Miller's logic. Kudlow claims abortion is both evil and bad for the U.S.

4. Mark Steyn supports the instrumentalist position, says that nations that cannot be persuaded by moral claims (like Russia) might be swayed by the inescapable fact that abortion decreases population. "The country is also in net population decline. [Putin's] trying to figure out a way to reverse that... Right now the government would be very grateful for any anti-abortion argument that plays in whatever’s the Russian equivalent of Peoria." One gets the impression Steyn would also approve of such an approach here in the home of the actual Peoria.

PUNCHLINE: None of the participants mentions that between the time of Roe and the present, the population of the U.S. has increased by nearly a third.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

PAYDIRT. This idiot mine contains nothing but fool's gold, but it glitters and sometimes you just have to swing a pick. I saw this Perfesser squib --
DAVE KOPEL ON THE ART OF "INSULTING UPWARD," as practiced by Ann Coulter and her disciples.
--and wondered what the angle might be. I knew by "disciples" he had to mean liberals, as the Perfesser only mentions wingers who've worn out their welcome among his own, more upscale Republican faction as a means to attack the left. But the Perfesser is not usually so terse -- he tends to telegraph the punchlines with snide gags.

Also, he is seconded by Ann Althouse, albeit at greater and dottier length. So, old miner that I am, I got a tingle in my diggin' hand.

Sure enough, in the linked article Coulter is judged a terrible person -- not because of the many outrages that have brought her fame, but because she insults upward -- that is, makes fun of folks more famous that she is, thereby feeding off their fame. What cheek!

And by that logic, when someone less famous than Coulter attacks her for her universally-acknowledged viciousness, why, it's just the same as what Coulter does. It's worse, in fact, if the Coulter critic -- in this case, Paul Campos -- a.) uses swears ("which this newspaper won't print") and "lawyerly formulations," and b.) attacks other more-famous people upon whose jocks Kopel is strongly positioned.

Guess who they are?
[Campos'] column also insulted upward at University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse (bizarrely claiming that she is part of a conspiracy to protect Coulter). Althouse is far more famous than Campos on the Web and in academia; her record of scholarly publications in law journals is significantly larger than his. She responded to Campos on her blog, thus giving him more publicity.

A couple of weeks ago, Campos also successfully insulted upward when he accused University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds of advocating murder, and urged that the school censor Reynolds. Reynolds too has a vastly larger record of scholarly publication than Campos, and Reynolds' Web log, InstaPundit, is the most influential in the world (based on incoming links statistics at truthlaidbear.com).
As the Perfesser's blog is "the most influential in the world," I guess Campos is guilty of Grand Insulting Upward in the First Degree, or Reputation Genocide, or some damn thing.

Althouse and the Perfesser, of course, built their empires by attacking Democrats and American Idol contestants, who might be considered more famous than they. But Althouse and the Perfesser never (well, hardly ever) use swears, and as for "lawyerly formulations," well, if these folks can actually win lawsuits with their style of argument, the homeless guy loudly denouncing black women who wear wigs on the A train the other night definitely missed his calling.

Spinning for rightwing asshole buddies with a Coulter and a fake moral equivalence! Best of all, by criticizing them I'm just like Coulter! This is as much fun as playing checkers with a badly-brought-up child who cheats.

BTW, here's some sober analysis from Glenn Greenwald -- he's pretty famous, so feel free to take him seriously.

Friday, March 09, 2007

WELL, THEY'RE HALF RIGHT. A few weeks back I said this:
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.
I was sort of kidding, but the kids at National Review prove once again that satire is, if not dead, then living in hiding under the alias "Alternative Reality," with several posts to this effect:
Have been talking to some smart people today about Giuliani. Two of them said independently that the appeal of Giuliani is he'd be “a tough SOB—for you,” and that he'd be “a d—head—for you.” Another said (and he hadn't seen Kate's e-mail post yesterday) that a Giuliani supporter he knows considers the nasty divorce a kind of asset because it speaks to his toughness.
I hope that, if some of us who actually lived under Giuliani can get heard on the subject, people will find out that, while Rudy is indeed a d---head, it is never for you, nor for anyone other than himself.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ART DON'T LIVE HERE NO MORE. I saw most of the first "1/2 Hour News Show" -- that allegedly conservative, allegedy comedy show on Fox -- and thought it blew. National Review's David Frum has seen two episodes of the thing, and thinks they both blew.

Here you might think the fascist frostback and I have found common ground. But no, no, no, no. Robespierre and an ordinary citoyen might agree that today is a fine day, but simple Jacques might simply mean that the sun feels good on his cheek, while the Incorruptible would probably mean that it is a fine day to purge the Assembly or slaughter some royals. See what lesson Frum draws from the "News Show" debacle:
[The show's creator] Joel Surnow told NRO on Friday that he wanted to produce a program that would set Michael Moore's hair on fire. He has not done it. More seriously, he has failed to do something much more important: create a conservative institution with cultural power. The Daily Show and now Steven Colbert have taught a generation of college students that Republicans are ridiculous, absurd, hopelessly past it. And their work has had an effect: today's 20-somethings are more Democratic than any equivalent cohort since World War II.

"The 1/2 Hour News Show" does not counteract Comedy Central's clever cultural sabotage. On the contrary: it contributes to it. If there is anyone under 72 still watching it, they are not thinking, "Gee - conservatives can tell a joke." They are thinking, "Conservatives are a joke."
Longtime readers of alicublog will see the problem, but for the rest of you and for the record I will spell it out.

There is a difference between artists and propagandists -- and a similar difference between admirers of art and admirers of propaganda.

The root of the difference is intention. Artists do what they do because they can hardly help themselves. If one can be said to decide to be an artist, it is only in the same sense that one could be said to decide to scratch an itch. Despite the impression you get from those monsters of ambition on American Idol, artistry is seldom a smart career decision. Poverty and rejection are the artist's fringe benefits. No one gets into the business to become rich -- no one sane, anyway.

In a sense the artist is not even trying to do anything like what most of us are trying to do in our work. Most of us are looking to achieve a concrete goal: move the sales curve, sell a car, build a better mousetrap. If artists wanted to do something similarly normal and "productive," they would turn instead to the professions near to art -- copywriting, industrial design, etc. These jobs have goals, metrics, benchmarks. The arts don't -- not unless you think awards ceremonies are meaningful, or that Wild Hogs is superior to Citizen Kane because it had higher opening-weekend grosses.

While it is true that most artists are not immune to the necessity of making a living -- even if they were, they would still want audiences, readerships, people who will understand and appreciate what they've done -- at their core, they are just trying to scratch that itch; being obliged to somehow make the scratching pay doesn't change that, it just complicates it.

Propagandists are more like the bootblack and the marketing manager and the nail technician: if they can find a way to increase their yield, they are wholly fulfilled. Now, we can say this for them -- mere lucre is not their aim. You can even get them to work for free, or very little, just as you can get an artist to do. But what they must have is yield, a result. In their world, this means souls turned in their direction.

Here you might ask: isn't that what artists do? They want to turn souls in their direction, too. They want to put bums in seats. They want a crowd around their canvas.

Yes, but while the artist desires attention, he does not want (except for the merchandising part of himself, born of poverty and necessity) to draw anything from the audience but attention. Oh, he probably wants love, approval, admiration, and all that -- but only because his gig is so psychologically damaging that he cannot get enough of these primary emotional needs met in the normal way. (That is part of the reason why artists are such problematic friends, lovers, and credit risks.)

If he has made a political work of art, the artist may think he wants a political result, but his observers know better. Do you really think Oliver Stone made JFK because he wanted the assassination files opened? No, obviously he made it because he felt a deep soul-ache that could only be healed by mass viewing rituals in cineplexes across America.

But the propagandist wants souls turned his way because he wants them to do something for him. He wants results. In his black, rubber heart, he does not get the appeal of Madame Bovary or Lolita or The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. What action plan follows upon these? What agenda is advanced? What polling results will be affected? Whereas a well-crafted Swift Boat ad, or blog, or National Review column will make people do things -- vote, or fail to vote, or stay mad at the people you want them mad at, or stay worshipful of the people you want to remain unquestioned.

That is why David Frum -- whose soul, if he ever had one, must be fatally wearied by the lifelong application of his verbal talents to propaganda -- looks at this failed comedy show and thinks -- says! -- that the great failure there was not a failure to clear a grateful public's minds and lungs with laughter, nor a failure to provide them with a fresh angle from which to view their world, but a failure to "create a conservative institution with cultural power."

To him culture is not a spring that refreshes the spirit, but a storehouse of destructive power to be used against his enemies.

What a thin, choked, stunted way of life and of thinking that is! Yet these people get big pay and loud megaphones, while great poets, as Charles Bukowski used to say, die in steaming pots of shit. Is this any more or less the way of the world than once it was? I will only say, by way of a hint, that there were fewer cable stations, PR firms, and Republicans 20 years ago than there are now.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

FURTHER THOUGHTS ON BAD WORDS. Ilyka at Pandagon notes that I generally criticize rightwing women without stooping to make fun of their womanly attributes. I appreciate the implied compliment, but I won't congratulate myself for it.

For one thing, I consider such behavior elementary good manners. I do not make fun of Glenn Reynolds for his hideous facial rictus, for example, because he cannot help it, but I do take him to task for his smugness, fraudulence, pin-headedness, and other such avoidable failings.

Also, I am of the opinion that all women are beautiful, even the ugly ones. If you don't understand that, I'm afraid I can't explain it to you. It has something to do with upbringing.

Also, I still say "cunt" and "pussy" a lot. Now, when used in reference to the female pudend, these terms should be unobjectionable to any thinking person. But sometimes I use them in unflattering reference to human behaviors, and that can raise -- and has raised, in my comments -- objections that I am saying something bad about women by using female genital referents as negatives.

My only answer is this: language is my metier, and I try to use it to my best advantage. One of the best tools toward that end is the unexpected choice. Sometimes I put academic, literary, or other elevated types of language into situations that do not seem to call for them. (George Plimpton was a pro at this schtick. I remember him writing about Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre, and saying of an act that was about to emphatically get the hook, "The crowd desired that he would be silent.")

Sometimes I go another way and use crude language as a crotch-kick against pretension -- as when I called this thick-necked Men's Rights blowhard a pussy. As for "cunt," well, it's just a fun word.

This response also plays to Ilyka's wider theme: the myth of Political Correctness. No normal person gives a rat's ass what any professor, committee, or City Council thinks of the use of any given signifier. At the same time, normal people know what offends and doesn't offend them -- and in many cases, it is not the specific words so much that make the difference as the way they are used. Consequently, most ordinary folks of all races would be able to understand and accept Lenny Bruce's "I want to introduce you to the niggers in my cabinet" routine, or Blazing Saddles ("Don't move or the nigger gets it!"), but would consider this white jackass, who thinks it's cool to say "I hate niggers" because Chris Rock said it, to be, well, a white jackass.

In general, it goes a long way toward overcoming any language sensitivity issues people might have if you endeavor to talk to them instead to trying to put something over on them. As long as I stick to that program, though I do consider all criticisms seriously, I feel I cannot go too far wrong.

Monday, March 05, 2007

AND THEN YOU WILL BE IN A WORLD OF SHIT. You may recall that, when the press first started sniffing out the substandard medical treatment our Government has been giving American servicemen and ex-servicemen at Walter Reed, some conservatives sprang to the defense of substandard medical treatment. Blackfive, for example, greeted these reports with anger toward John Murtha and Dana Priest, and warned wounded vets that they "have become a pawn in the political game between the media/left and this administration" and should Embrace The Suck -- that is, keep their traps shut -- lest they give aid and comfort to the enemy.

As the whole thing ramped into a major scandal, conservatives got even more creative, declaring that the Walter Reed case was really an indictment of socialized medicine, hehindeed.

This defies both common sense and expert testimony. Normal people can easily imagine what a for-profit medical corporation would do with uninsured veterans -- shove their gurneys in the general direction of a county hospital, probably, or secretly grind them down into pet food. And a little reading reveals that the privatization of many functions at Walter Reed is actually part of the problem with that once-proud institution. And I can personally testify to the magnificent care offered by the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center just down the road from Walter Reed -- the NIH is also a bastion of "socialized medicine," but one the point-shavers have not yet despoiled, perhaps out of fear that non-military citizens, unaffected by any Embrace The Suck hectoring by rightwing operatives, would raise hell.

Christ Jesus. I always knew in the abstract that they'd lie about anything, but the actual sound of their claws scraping those barrel-bottoms can still send a chill up my spine.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

THEY SURE DON'T MAKE ANCHORESSES LIKE THEY USED TO. The popular right-wing web scold calling herself The Anchoress is fond of declaring that global warming is a Big Lie in which only dirty hippies like Algore believe. Today she leapt forward with this news:
In light of the growing intimidation of skeptics by financially conflicted globaloney globalarmists…it seems quite timely — indeed, important — to post this quaint little reminder:

….. over 17,000 scientists declare that global warming is a lie with no scientific basis whatsoever. [ridiculously long ellipsis, hysterical tone & formatting in original]
One would not know from her stop-the-presses tone that the petition to which she refers -- widely known as the Oregon Petition -- dates back to 2001 (it was meant to defeat the possibility of American endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol), and that its organizer, Frederick Seitz, is kind of problematic:
Shortly before his retirement from Rockefeller University in 1979, Seitz began working as a paid permanent consultant for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, advising their research program.
For fun on a rainy day, you can open up the Petition's signatory lists and check some names. I picked Mike Ibarguen. He might be this longtime oil company engineer, or he might be the 1970 Detroit Tigers #2 draft pick. Or both.

None of this means that the matter is settled. Furthermore, it is certainly, observably untrue that critics of the global warming consensus are censored and go unheard -- on the contrary, if you Google "global warming" you will find many, many links right up front to GW skeptic sites, starting with the EPA's. In fact, the news hook of The Anchoress' effusion is the imminent showing on Britain's Channel 4 of a documentary called "The Great Global Warming Swindle."

Also, some of you may know that the United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and shows no sign of doing jack-shit about carbon emissions. Acceptance of human responsibility for global warming is not the official U.S. government position. Its currency is based on the judgment of climate scientists -- an impressive preponderance of them.

Yet The Anchoress talks about their findings as if they were mere slanders sent by Satan to confuse mankind. This befits the perpetually enraged tone of her blog, which is mainly about the hellish perfidy of liberals.

She is the sort of Catholic who, when talking about the need to repent hypocrisy for Lent -- which one would imagine to be a very personal and self-directed kind of activity -- feels it necessary to spend most of her contemplation on the hypocrisy of others. Take this criticism, for example, written in the first-person style of the old Jerry Lewis Telethon "I am Muscular Dystrophy*, and I hate people, especially little children" monologue:
I’m an environmentalist and I’ve done so much to raise awareness that I don’t really have to worry about the mines on my property, or flying my private jets because - thanks to me and my advocacy - a million little people will do their part to make up for that pollution...

I’m a journalist who went into the craft because I wanted tell true stories…but these are complex times with relative truths, and so I can completely bury stories of progress in Iraq while sobbing about a lack of progress in Kosovo because it’s for a greater good, as informed by my worldview...
To be fair, she does add some talk about the hypothetical possibility that she might be hypocritical sometimes -- though, to be sure, not as hypocritical as her enemies. I'm sure Jesus loves prayers like this.

I should inform you folks -- or those few of you to whom it has not been long obvious -- that I was raised Catholic, and one large source of my disaffection with that creed, and all creeds, was the awareness that Catholicism's strongest advocates were those who had learned how best to game its system.

If the dizzying scope of the child abuse scandals of the American Church was never a surprise to me, it was not because I had seen the pedophilia, but because I had smelled the bullshit: if a Church that professed to follow the teachings of a lowly carpenter and outcast could possibly get over among lower-class families (like mine) while dripping with Vatican bling, it stood to reason that its "celibate" priesthood, with its all-access passes to little boys, would include many sprat-fuckers whose activities would be excused as part of the cost of doing business.

So the online Anchoress is no surprise to me, though she is a bit of an outrage to the small part of myself that wishes to think well of my old religion. The great joke of her site is that she portrays herself as the online equivalent of those mystic Anchoresses of old: shut-ins, contemplatives who willingly sought the sort of enlightenment through isolation that was granted to such as Boethius. Yet from the evidence of her writings, the online Anchoress is in no way isloated: she has a husband, kids, a house, a wide network of friends and acquaintances, and several paid ads on her website. And I would bet my hope of eternal salvation that she has most, if not all, of the creature comforts available to other middle-class Americans. In other words, Julia of Norwich she ain't.

Yet from her comfy web space she throws down jeremiad after jeremiad, claiming the authority and pulpit of saintly deprivation when in reality she is a typical, middle-class, enraged Republican blowhard.

It kind of puts things in perspective when you realize that they are so fraudulent that they aren't even aware of committing fraud.

*UPDATE. How could I forget that Jerry Lewis telethon'd for MD, not MS? Apologies.