Monday, May 14, 2007

LET'S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. For quite some time, religious conservatives have complained that Democrats do not show them enough respect. Now apparently some religious conservatives are angry that "secular conservatives" do not show them enough respect -- so angry that they take a mild joke by the Perfesser as an occasion for low dudgeon:
Three of the most murderous men of the last century — Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin — were all atheists/occultists. Should we start expecting effette latte-drinking Utne reader types to start engaging in terrorism if they don’t get their way?
"Start expecting"?
...secular humanists constantly conflate Pat Robertson with the Taliban thereby demonstrating that they don’t get it, and most of our pundits and most of our major bloggers obviously don’t understand it either. Our dominant strains of voluntary ignorance may literally kill us.
This time the threat is merely mutual extinction. Next time, maybe, the author will remind the Perfesser that when that holocaust comes, he and his kind will descend into Hell.

The brawl crashes through a thin partition into Ace O. Spades territory, where one Jack M ("I am this site's resident 'social conservative'") declares:
...the Secular Cons often make no bones about their disdain for the Social Cons, going so far as to adopt the same sneering rhetoric as the militant left in deriding the very people without whom the secular cons would have no viable national platform at all. It's one thing to constantly confront outright bigotry from the left; it's quite another to have to brook it from people who are ostensibly on your side.
Well, now he knows how us Nutroots feel!

This is too good to last, I'm afraid. It is a symptom of the Rudy dilemma, whereby fundamentalists have been horrified to see widespread support going to a Republican who won't read the anti-abortion script with sufficient enthusiasm. But I expect soon enough secular cons and social cons will unite, mindful of their mutual devotion to the greatest con of all: the continued gutting of the Federal Treasury, and guns for everyone! Yeeee-haw!

Or it may be that the Lord takes pity on America, and allows the brawl to rage unabated in the Big Tent as horrified non-combatants run for the exits.
HOPE FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE. I know it doesn't count as journalism, but surely I have employed some sort of skill (shared with Ed Norton, who referred to himself as a "subterranean engineer") in digging through The Anchoress and Sigmund Carl & Alfred to get to a new and wonderful lunatic: "educator" Mamacita, who tells of life on the front lines of the teen sexual revolution, which -- despite everything you may have read in such Evil MSM outlets as Beliefnet -- is apparently raging out of control:
My last few years in the middle school were spent largely chasing kids out of the bathroom of the opposite sex. Blowjobs were all the rage. It was all they could talk about. They even drew pictures and diagrams, of kids ‘doing it,’ or ‘how to do it’ for the uninitiated.

Unpopular girls became suddenly popular. Early-developing boys were chased down the halls and solicited. It was sick. A time or two someone was actually caught in the act, but our principal had a hard time believing such things could happen at that age, and we had a really difficult time convincing her that yes, it was happening two or three dozen times a day. Nothing was ever done, because ‘the teacher must have just misinterpreted the situation and assumed the worst.’
Yes, it happened like that over and over. The parents were our worst problem, because they simply refused to believe their innocent child could possibly do that, and they became furious at the implication.

And the middle school kids were giving, and getting, blowjobs all day.
As a great man once said, bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.

I spent my adolescence and young adulthood in the 70s, which era is generally considered to be the apotheosis of sexual license, but this shit has my shit beat cold!

The good news doesn't stop there:
Maybe if people realized that all of these under-thirty girls who are hooking up with old men are someone’s daughter. . . . . it could be YOUR daughter. . . . is that really what you want for your child? To be the mistress of a dirty old man?
Did she say "all these under-thirty girls?" Looks like I should postpone my gun-in-a-roominghouse "retirement" plan! Let me roll down to the bodega for some Paco Rabanne, Zima, and Just for Men.

The fun doesn't stop there. Alright, class, whenever a wingnut says "blowjob," what proper noun may we expect to hear?
I know that people are tired of blaming Clinton for the rise in blowjob popularity, but it can’t all be a coincidence. When the President is able to rationalize his propensity for uncontrolled activities right within the White House walls by resorting to “I can’t help it; I have a problem; I’m an addict,” I believe the door was opened for a lot of other people to rationalize their behavior with that same pathetic excuse.
I don't remember Clinton referring to himself as a sex addict, but I might have just missed it: I'm sure I haven't spent as much time investigating him as Mamacita has.

If you want to go straight to the crack rock, you may click through to Mamacita's own site, though I must warn you it contains unironic references to Harry Potter and Les Miz. I won't follow, though; I've done my part.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

BLOW UP AT SHEA. Thanks to the generosity of Scott Lemieux (or, more properly, one of his colleagues) I got sunburned in the good seats at Shea Saturday. The Mets themselves got plain old burned, 11-3, by the mighty Brewers. You will be pleased to hear that class distinctions are not so huge between the field-seated and the upper-deck-dwellers among whom I normally enjoy these games: many of our neighbors started calling emphatically for Mike Pelfrey's ejection in the middle of the first inning. He didn't pitch so bad -- he was quick, coming back from disappointing results with vigor and intelligence, but then he lost his location and was done after five (in more ways than one: the Mets sent him down today).

In relief Aaron Sele did okay but got in a jam and yielded to Joe Smith, then sporting a 0.00 ERA. Smith promptly gave up an RBI. "There goes his scoreless streak," I said.

Guy in the seat behind, lounged back and florid-faced like the late actor Kenneth McMillan, said quietly, "That's not his run."

Shortly thereafter Smith gave up a grand slam to J. J. Hardy.

"Those are," deadpanned Kenneth McMillan.

The Mets' fielding was dismal: the normally sharp Gotay and Reyes approached grounders up the middle as if they were black cats crossing their paths. Maybe they'd had a late Friday night.

Well, it's early yet. The park was a pleasure. The dogs were hot and the beers were cold. We yelled Charge and Let's Go Mets and various insults. Willie ran onto the field to dispute a call and then, as long as he had the ump's attention, pulled out his lineup card to make a switch. The Brewers -- tip your cap -- played great and their two sons of stars, Prince Fielder and Tony Gwynn, looked pretty stellar themselves. Homerism and bitter accusations will come later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

ONE THING PERFECTLY CLEAR. Saw Emile De Antonio's old Millhouse documentary on Richard Nixon last night. Crude as hell, starting with the name, though the crudity works for it in places. De Antonio's lingering attention to the doughy middle Americans over whom Nixon put his line of bullshit comes straight out of old underground comics: lookit the squares gobbling it up! But there's a great passage from the '68 Republican Convention in which Nixon orates from the podium on his "dream" for the American people to the rapt honkies in the folding chairs. De Antonio strategically cuts into the soundtrack with the recently-assassinated Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. But he never cuts away from the Convention visuals. In this context, the attentiveness of the massively white Conventioneers to Nixon's knockoff isn't a cheap shot at all. It is, for one thing, a tribute to Nixon's cunning at extracting the saleable parts of the zeitgeist. (I remember the moment in Nixon's '72 Convention speech when he told Democrats disaffected toward Democratic nominee McGovern, whose "Come Home, America" theme has just been launched, "we say come home -- not to another party, but we say come home to the great principles we Americans believe in together." Nixon carried 49 states.) For another, it attributes to Nixon's auditors a yearning that is perfectly understandable. There is an implied criticism here, but the mind has to work a little to figure upon whom it is really implied. This lifts us, for the moment, out of the realm of propaganda and into that of art.

But there's not enough of that. De Antonio keeps laying in negative commentary and burlesque intertitles to show us what a bastard Nixon is. That's often very entertaining. But outside this razzing, Nixon also exists as a character, which invites a curious reaction. In film as in life, nothing succeeds like success. The hard work Nixon put into mastering his game -- and "Iron Butt" was nothing if not hard-working -- is perversely admirable. Even the ridiculous "Checkers" speech -- so humiliatingly crass that John Ford saw fit to parody it in The Last Hurrah -- moved Nixon's ball forward. And though we are shown victims of Nixon's heedless rise, and proof of his mendacity, we can't help but notice that in the end (so far as the film knows) Nixon finally got to exactly where he wanted to be. Being Americans, how can we not be sympathetic to this triumph over adversity?

It is often said that some subjects are beyond parody. It may also be that some are beyond exposè, at least on the limited terms of documentary film. For a poetic perspective on Nixon, see Robert Coover's The Public Burning.
A FAN'S NOTE. I never read ballet criticism, but I may have to start. From the Observer's Robert Gottlieb on Peter Martins' new Romeo + Juliet: "Nikolaj Hübbe was a convincing Friar Laurence, but he and Juliet did so much hugging that I began to wonder about the nature of their relationship."

Somewhere on the other side, Dorothy Parker smiles.
A GOP HAS TURNED. NO ONE IS SAFE. Rudolph Giuliani has not taken the Cornerites' lying lessons to heart, and plans to stick to a mildly pro-abortion line. I thank our former Mayor for making it interesting. He of course had little choice. After the late Republican debate and the Pope's hard line on excommunication, it's clear that further waffling on the subject would have remained the focal point of his candidacy until he was (inevitably) forced to drop out. I think a sudden anti-abortion conversion would have been just as bad because no one would believe it.

In these cases, persistent doubts can be worse than an unpleasant certainty: so Bill Clinton correctly intuited when he admitted to "causing pain in my marriage" instead of trying to deny everything in 1992. By sticking with his known position, Giuliani invites voters to get over it or get lost.

We'll see which option Republican primary voters will take. Kevin Drum and Scott Lemieux, among many others, think Giuliani's finished. Wonderful if true, but let's consider another bright side. If Giuliani wipes out early after his long stint as front-runner, abortion will be the presumed reason, and we won't have to listen to any more guff about what a big tent the Republicans have compared to us lockstep Dems. If, on the other hand, he stays competitive for even a few primaries, think what shock-waves will roll through the GOP! Once it gets out that you don't have to bow to the Religious Right to stay competitive in the Republican Party on a national level, other Republican up-and-comers will get the message, and the Party will begin to lose some of its crypto-theocratic cast.

And -- why shouldn't I take this rare opportunity for concern trolling? It looks like such fun when they do it -- that would be good for all Americans.

UPDATE. Rightwing commentators rise (or, more properly, descend) to the bait! Split decision at RedState: while "Alexham" declares that "If Rudy becomes the Republican Party's presidential candidate, it will destroy the party for the foreseeable future" (yes, that's actually in red boldface*), one "Adam C" disagrees, claiming that "the best thing about Giuliani from my perspective is his ability to shift people's thinking on school choice." Yeah, our public schools are a model for the free world thanks to Rudy, and worth any number of extinguished fetuses.

No reaction yet from the religious maniacs, whose cherubim and seraphim are probably still helping them paste their heads back together.

UPDATE II. I'm so happy I started paying attention to RedState again! Look what they've come up with:
An Open Declaration of War Against The House Republican Leadership

The House Republican Leadership just does not get it and they will not take us seriously until we flex our muscle against them. We must fight the House GOP and we must fight today.

Today, I declare war on the Republican Leadership of the United States House of Representatives. We must scalp one member. That member's name is Ken Calvert.
Random b/f in the original, of course, or perhaps it was added by the stenographer who took down this peroration when "Erick" gave it to his platoon of plastic army mans.

The hilarity resounds in the drafty mountain cabin inhabited by Ace O. Spades, who objects to Erick's approach, resulting in one of Mr. Spades' finest sentences:
I don't think the leftist hijacking of the Democratic Party is good for that party's health; sure, they won back the Congress, but largely on the back of conservative Democrats and just slightly aided by the Republicans' corruption, incompetence, and lack of principle.
Or: If it weren't for the fact that we suck, you guys would have totally lost.

Oh, but wait -- I think Armed Liberal has topped him, at the end of a long rant about how we have to stay in Iraq because Saddam was Hitler:
Those who choose to stand elsewhere today will find that they will have harder choices to make tomorrow. Sadly, I think that all of us will.
So if I stand here (jumps left) I will have to make harder choices tomorrow, and if I stand here (jumps right) I will have to make harder choices tomorrow. So where do I have to stand to avoid making harder choices tomorrow? Nowhere, my friend; nowhere. (laughs, smokes a cigar like Michael Dunn at the end of Ship of Fools.)

All things being equal, I think we should get the hell out of Iraq.

*UPDATE III. In comments Alexham writes to inform me that the red is RedState linkstyle. That's too bad. I enjoyed RedState's resemblance to an old missal, and wanted to believe it was intentional.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

SHORTER JANE GALT: I like gay people, but I hate this liberal guy worse!

(Actually, this could be a Shorter template for any post that starts out "I like gay/black/Muslim/whatever people, really," and within seconds veers into a tangent that reveals a totally different agenda. We'd probably wear it out pretty quickly, though.)

UPDATE. O, the comments are a joy. My favorite so far:
When I was in the Army there was a situation where the food that was being stored for use in case of a nuclear war was reaching it's expiration date. Instead of just throwing the food away, the Army gave it away for free.

Our post had cheese to give away. Lots of cheese. If you were so minded, you could get one or two 10lb blocks of cheese. The cheese was 35 years old.

Thousands of people stood in line for hours to get 20lbs of 35 year old cheese.

Does that sound like something you would do? I wouldn't.

My point: Just because legalizing something (gay marriage, polygamy, men doinking trees) doesn't affect you, that does not mean that it would not adversely affect society.
A fatally defective reasoning mechanism, AND an inability to understand that poor people need things! He's the sort of reader Jane Galt was born to write for.
CHOC-O-MUT ICE CREAMS IS CONSERVATIVE BECAUSE I LIKES CHOC-O-MUT ICE CREAMS, PART 45,773. Culture clown Stanley Kurtz takes time off from his polygamy obsession to be young with the young:
Watching music videos for a talk on the twentieth anniversary of Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, I’ve stumbled across a hilarious production called Alfie, by Lilly Allen. Here’s the clip and here are the lyrics. I haven’t actually seen this on either MTV or MTV2 (which show relatively few videos now), but Alfie does appear on MTV’s recommended video list. This is probably as close as MTV has ever gotten to criticizing its core audience (and implicitly, itself). Alfie is certainly not coming from exactly the same direction as Allan Bloom, but it is an internally generated (and wonderfully clever) "conservative" critique. Should we open up a new spot on John Miller’s list of the greatest conservative videos?
The video in question is about Lily telling her stoner brother to get a job, a position totally antithetical to liberal ideology, which dictates that all Americans must be stoned all the time and not work, especially the ones played by puppets.

We may expect future conservative classifications to be granted to "Livin' On a Prayer" because of its Reaganesque optimism, and "Money for Nothing" because the guy says "faggot."

Is there no corner of life that cannot be spoiled by their leprous touch?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

LOW STANDARDS. Ross Douthat says that when it comes to the Presidency, character counts, except when it doesn't, and it doesn't when his own former belief in the leadership skills of our brain-damaged dry-drunk President comes back to bite him in the ass. Behold his lovely I-meant-to-do-that statement:
In hindsight, for instance, it's clear that certain of George W. Bush's personal attributes - his intellectual incuriosity, his sense of personal calling, his abiding loyalty to friends and allies, his stubborness when challenged - have led his Presidency into disasters. But it's perfectly possible to imagine a Presidency in which those same qualities in the chief executive turned out to be great advantages that led to great successes.
Similarly, I could get rich selling turkey gizzard gelato, or by hanging out in Flatbush with a tin cup and a sign that says FUK YOU. Or I could, you know, make better choices.
SHORTER PATRICK HYNES: I'm proud to say I don't believe in evolution, but I wish the media would conceal the fact that three Republican Presidential candidates don't believe in it either.
LOSERS. Jonah Goldberg hears from Jon Chait that Markos of Daily Kos is using the tools of the Right to win results for the Left, and disputes:
For the better part of a decade now, liberals have been trying to recreate the media of the American Right — talk radio, think tanks, etc. — without spending much effort trying to replicate the message.
One might argue that the DLC and the neo-liberals did a pretty good job of replicating the conservative message, but never mind.
The conservative infrastructure that arouses so much envy among liberals today was an afterthought. It was created because the far more valuable real estate — universities, foundations, newspapers, and TV networks — were held by liberals. Conservatives used their institutions to have serious arguments about what conservatives should believe.

The netroots crowd seems determined to skip the serious argument part and settle on the idea that liberals should simply all believe the same thing, first and foremost on the Iraq war.
This is Goldberg's traditional rhetorical gambit -- make outrageous negative claims about the opposition ("determined to skip the serious argument part") and declare his side superior, then momentarily float above his seat on a cushion of methane gas.

But this argument isn't even worth having. Goldberg only engages it because, one, he has to produce something every so often to justify his Cheetos allotment, and two, he obviously expects the Democratic resurgence to continue through 2008, and is reduced to arguing that winning doesn't mean the Democrats are better -- much as I have argued, when drunk, for the moral superiority of the New York Mets over teams that were beating the crap out of them.

Goldberg wouldn't admit that, of course, but why else be so defensive about the glory that was Grover Norquist? It's a loser's gambit. And small wonder -- because the fact is, the best arguments for defenestrating Republicans are not coming from Daily Kos, nor from the DLC, nor from any such like. They're coming from the Republicans themselves -- not in their words but in their deeds: feats of astonishing and self-evident incompetence, greed, and corruption.

It is amazing to contemplate that, after years of successfully bashing anti-war Democrats as traitors, the Republicans find themselves outpolled by Nancy Pelosi on the prosecution of the war. Nancy Pelosi! A San Francisco Democrat! Despite all the lies about her that have been dutifully parroted in the press, despite all the bullshit about her scarf, Joe and Jane Sixpack still prefer the approach of Nancy Pelosi to that of this Administration.

That's how badly they've fucked up. You can feel the unease throughout rightwing media outlets. Operatives such as David Frum are busily lining up excuses for what he surely sees as a coming Republican debacle. As for the intellectual types, they are either rocking in place, repeating comforting banalties to banish their fear, or wrapped up in self-isolation fantasies, or planting a Jesus flag on the hill in their backyard and declaring war on the Enlightenment -- none of which approaches, however entertaining to the gimlet-eyed, offer much promise of renewing the Party's electoral hopes.

This is not to say that I share their expectations. Fate is cruel, people are stupid, and Fred Thompson may yet lay out a sufficiently engaging line of horseshit to flummox the electorate into four more years of this stuff (assuming the Republic lasts that long). But increasingly it appears that they think so. As I have learned from working in corporations, that's the kind of thinking that is usually behind any epidemic of ass-covering.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

PREVARICATION CONSULTANTS. National Review continues to give lying lessons to St. Rudy. The latest seminar comes from Rich Lowry, and contains several corkers -- this is my favorite:
Giuliani apparently thinks that saying he hates abortion is enough. But pro-lifers will want to know why he hates abortion. Because it’s taken the lives of 48 million unborn babies since Roe? Giuliani’s “hate” line rings so false because, temperamentally, he is not one to hate something without outlawing or attempting to discourage it.
That last bit is lovely and accurate. Mayor Giuliani, fellow citizens will recall, actually cracked down on dancing in bars, availing a disused Prohibition-era law. There is some dispute as to whether he did this as part of a crusade against underage drinking, or just because he's a miserable son of a bitch. But yeah, Giuliani does indeed seem to believe that what he doesn't like should be banned. That's why he would be a disastrous President.

Lowry closes that, if the insufficiently insincere Giuliani would only attend their lying lessons, "[his] position would still be a contrivance, but at least it would be a coherent and shrewd one." That's a winning strategy! Vote Giuliani -- he may be full of shit, but it's our shit!

UPDATE. New spin from Ace O. Spades:
I wonder if Giuliani could have cast his [abortion] flip-flop as simply deferring to the wishes of the city he wanted to manage... wouldn't it have been better for him to have announced he was "functionally pro-life," but had to make strong assurances of defending abortion rights to NYCers in order to get accomplished what needed to be accomplished?
In other words, he nobly lied because otherwise we wouldn't have voted for him, thereby depriving New York of his much-needed leadership.

How unselfish of him! If only I'd thought of this tactic at key moments in my own life: "Honey, if you'd found out that I was cheating on you, you would have broken up with me -- and I just couldn't let you make that mistake!"

Monday, May 07, 2007

SHORTER HUGH HEWITT: The Star-Tribune is making Lileks get up off his ass! Cancel your subscriptions!

I don't get it. They're always bitching about how evil liberal reporters twist the news. Now one of their favorite operatives has a chance to bring fair 'n' balanced coverage to whatever the hell goes on in the Twin Cities, and they're complaining.

Maybe Jimbo can camp out in front of a madrassa and wait for someone to look at him cross-eyed. Hot copy, that!

These guys always want everyone else to work harder; let's see how they like it.

(Also, Hewitt says, "Imagine The New Yorker asking E.B. White to manage the restaurant listings." I say, imagine E.B. White writing endlessly about his trips to the hardware store and the cute things his widdle girl says, and trying to get that past Harold Ross.)

UPDATE. Lots of good commentary but Nancy's is the best.

UPDATE 2. Jimbo's fan club says covering news is demeaning, MSM is for fags, Lileks is being censored, and a bunch of other really stupid shit.

Again, I don't know why Lileks and his fellow he-men aren't tickled to have him transformed into a real live newshound -- such a hardboiled profession, and it goes so well with a fedora! Why would they prefer he remain in his ivory rec-room, spinning out deepthink on Why I Like Pie and such like?

I guess because his new job will require some actual work -- e.g, the lifting of phone receivers -- and contact with people who are not store clerks, on premises that are not Target or Chuck-E-Cheese. As with their pet war, they only like the rough-and-tumble parts of life when there's a nice, thick plexiglass screen between them and the reality.

Someone told me the guy's salary is just a few COLAs from six figures. And I'm supposed to cry bitter tears because he has to get up and walk around? Fuck him.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

DOPE, GUNS, AND FLASHING IN THE STREETS. (UPDATE -- GFR has complained, and I have made two corrections. They are marked with an *.)

I thought agreeing to "vlog" with the horrible Ann Althouse was Garance Franke-Ruta's worst possible mistake, but she has topped it by declaring that, rather than expose themselves to the statistically insignificant chance of posterity in a "Girls Gone Wild" video, women between the ages of 18 and 25 21* should be prohibited from allowing their breasts to be photographed (insert) by certain people*(/insert):
It is time to raise the age of consent from 18 to 21--"consent," in this case, referring not to sexual relations but to providing erotic content on film.
Old enough to fuck, not old enough to flash! The slogans just write themselves.

I am sorely tempted to play the jaded roué here, but fun as that might be, I will for the moment take the high road. Franke-Ruta's argument is based on the harm that may be done young women whose bodies may be caught on film in a moment of animal high-spirits:
Once upon a time, a picture was just a picture. Today it can be wirelessly beamed to computers that can email it to networks where, once it is posted, it can be downloaded and endlessly reproduced by anyone who wants it. The detritus of 50 years of television is now available on YouTube, as are highlights from many DVDs. Just as Google transforms us all into archivists of previously fleeting moments, so too does the new digital recording technology give youthful acts a permanent life. In the case of Mr. Francis and his empire of imitators--not to mention angry ex-boyfriends with digital flash cards and a long memory--it can transform the playful exhibitionism of young women into scarlet letters that follow them around for life.
Lord knows our discourse is distorted when it comes to sex. It is my observation that it is distorted because of our misperceptions about sex and the body, not because sex and the body are themselves noxious. Popular R-rated giggle-fests from Porky's to the American Pie movies are, to me, dirtier than a typical porn film, because they posit sex as something you get away with, like theft or vandalism.

The appeal of "Girls Gone Wild" is based on that social malfunction. It's not the sight of 18-year-old tits that's gross -- O, far from it! -- but the idea that the filmmaker and the viewer have stolen the view because the nubile was, in Franke-Ruta's words, "intoxicated by both a Scorpion Bowl (illegally served) and her own newly developed form."

To worry as Franke-Ruta does that "Girls Gone Wild" participants will suffer lasting damage when their videos "follow them around for life" is to acknowledge that this fucked-up American sex-madness is unavoidable and undefeatable. Why else prevent women who are otherwise judged capable of sexual freedom from exhibiting their lady-parts? Elsewhere Franke-Ruta explains that she doesn't complain if young women (and men, she suddenly adds) privately enjoy "photos for personal use." But what is the meaning of the "privacy" concerns she claims to support if she wants private citizens to be legally enjoined from exercising or disposing them?

Exploitation, alas, exists. But this is no reason to fold the tent of liberty. All our rights -- the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right not to incriminate ourselves, etc. -- can be exploited, and indeed are exploited every day, but we try to find (or should try to find) the least restrictive way to limit those abuses, rather than allow those abuses to limit our rights.

So if the brain-damaged idea of sex as explotation is the problem, I say let us militate against that idea, not against the sexual autonomy of legal adults. Let us have wide and unapologetic dissemination of sexual imagery. Let us preempt the Joe Francises of the world by having fully empowered girls (and boys) go wild on their own terms -- there's a vlog subject more linkworthy than Fatso v. Ratso! Let the idiots among us hoot and holler and wank; the tide of history is against them. Isn't it?

Friday, May 04, 2007

SHORTER PEGGY NOONAN: If one of you gentlemen had hired me, I wouldn't be ratfucking your campaign in my column.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

DEFINING JACKASSERY DOWN. "Giuliani is going to get whacked around a lot for his performance tonight... Although honest to God, if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had been given the same question on differences between Shia and Sunni, I'd bet either of them would have/could have fumbled as badly. Really unfair that he got hit with that one." -- Jim Geraghty

Tomorrow Saint Rudy will beat up Al Sharpton or something. The real losers in tonight's Republican Presidential debate: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama! Look up, Hannah, look up!
ARTS POLICY. I've been on a tear lately about rightwing dabblers in the arts-criticism racket, but I feel it behooves me to go into negative space to better define my territory. Here is the beginning of a recent book review in the New York Sun by Otto Penzler:
Let me make something clear. I'm prejudiced: I don't like people who don't like America, and I especially don't like Americans who don't like America. I've never met David Ignatius, but I don't believe I'd like him, though I hope I'm wrong because he sure can write. I just find it impossible to separate the political tone (it's all our fault) from the novel, just as I can no longer be enchanted by Barbra Streisand's voice or Sean Penn's thespian skills.

Now, if you're more open-minded than I am (I won't say liberal, because no one is more closedminded than liberals, thereby ruining a wonderful word and an outstanding concept), just skip this column and go out and get a copy of "Body of Lies" (Norton, 349 pages, $24.95) because it is an exceptionally exciting thriller.
I have no objection to this, nor even to the fairly politicized (but still analytical) body of the review that follows. In fact I admire it. Penzler lays his prejudices on the line right up front, so we know what his terms are. I may be suspicious of his conclusions, but I feel so because I have been warned, not because I smell a rat.

I suspect Penzler's rigor has much to do with his genuine interest in the material. Penzler knows from thrillers, being the proprietor the excellent Mysterious Bookshop, and I sense in his caveat a tinge of embarrassment that his personal preferences interfere, in this case, with his keen appreciation of cracking good yarns.

That isn't a bad way to approach any task of criticism that engages our dual loyalties when we come across a subject we find aesthetically interesting but abhorrent for other reasons. I try to do it myself -- see for example my review of The Passion of the Christ -- and I find it requires a good deal of doubt.

I was going to say "self-doubt," but isn't all doubt self-doubt? The religious think doubt is a demon, because it feels that way -- burning, confusing, easy for the simple to pin on the Father of Lies. I think of it as a safeguard. I think of the late adman Bill Bernbach, who carried in his pocket a piece of paper that said "Maybe he's right," which I imagine served for him a function similar to that of the crown-bearer who whispered in the Roman general's ear "Victory is fleeting": a guard against hubris fatal to his true purpose.

Doubt is not always easy to summon. Life is easier (I imagine, not having had the experience since I was a little boy) when every intellectual decision is binary and predetermined. Doubt makes us work, and allows error. It's usually inconvenient, it can wreck your career, it looks bad on your face, it invites others to doubt you.

But I think doubt is absolutely necessary -- not in politics, so much, as I fear this blog demonstrates regularly, but in matters of art, which I find much more important.

In politics, certainty is a winner. We can't elect candidates or win favor for ideas, on the platform "On balance, I think we might be right." I see its utility. But I fear that if I let such relative externalities as politics sink so deep into my own bedrock that I would let them affect my ability to appreciate the things in life that are really beautiful -- the things that make life worth all the tedious business that goes with it -- that I had to say, no, I reject the appeal of this character, this melody, this gesture, because it conflicts with my political program, then I will have lost my soul. Maybe if the compensation of gaining the world were available -- if I were a Presidential candidate, for example -- I would feel differently. But, for good or ill, I don't have that option.

That's probably why I'm so annoyed by the culture cops. They don't seem to know that there is anything more important than their smelly orthodoxies -- little, as Orwell had it, or big, as in the case of megachurchmen and other such fixers who seek to herd every true desire for transcendence into promixity to their ancient buncombe and collection plates. That's why any encounter with a work of art, however unpropitious its aspect, however contrary it may at first blush seem to the other thoughts I have rattling around in my head, is something to which I want to be available, and which I would rather enjoy than condemn. Wherever else I may be forced to hold the line, let my heart and soul be open.
IF I COULD GET PAST HER BODYGUARDS, I BET SHE'D REALLY, REALLY LIKE ME. Ha! No sooner do I finish dealing with Ross Douthat's complaint that the mean liberals won't write novels about Republicans than Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley complains that the mean liberals won't make anti-Communist movies for him.

(Like Douthat, Billingsley is one of those guys who goes over works of art with an ideological spectrograph, looking for wavelengths of wrongthink. He also thinks the Hollywood blacklist was no big deal because the "free market" took care of it. That's why this piece of shit appears in Reason, I guess.)

I keep saying it and saying it but I never get a satisfactory answer. Why don't you make your own fucking books and movies? Pen and paper are cheap, and I'm sure Murdoch, Scaife, and Sun Myung Moon will be happy to bankroll The Joe McCarthy Nobody Knew or Red Dawn II or whatever stupid shit you want to make.

I guess the opening aria, in which Billingsley imagines top Hollywood stars acting out one of his favorite Stalin exposès ("Harvey Keitel turns in a powerful performance as American Communist boss Earl Browder"), really shows us where he's at: he wants celebrities to validate him. He wants those figures on the posters on his bedroom walls to tell him, "Yes, Kenneth, we agree with you, only under capitalism can the soul of man thrive; and you look really cute in those pajamas." Maybe that's what's eating all these morons. Maybe they're all secretly 12 years old. Their prose certainly supports this theory.

UPDATE. The Perfesser hehindeeds. He really surprises me. Weren't blogs and nanobots and home recording studios supposed to make Hollywood obsolete, like they did newspapers and traditional medicine and everything else?

I forgot -- nothing the Perfesser says means anything except what he, at some future date and depending on circumstances, retroactively wishes it to have meant.

UPDATE II. The New York Times hears from a successful screenwriter who was first drawn to cinema as a boy by a love of slasher flicks ("We devoured them and they, in turn, juiced us up"), and derives from this experience that slasher flicks turn people into deranged killers. Is this some sort of coded confession to some as-yet-unsolved serial murders? I hope the FBI is profiling the shit out of him. This could be bigger than Zodiac!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

ATTENTION WHORE. Ross Douthat, incomprehensibly installed at the Atlantic Monthly now, bitches that no one's writing great works of literature about the Bush Administration:
If Soviet Communism didn't make "the aesthetic feel insufficient" for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, then I don't want to hear a peep from the poor delicate darlings who think they're too traumatized by the Bush years to write anything that's any good...

No, the fact that none of our artists have managed to make something out of this Administration tells us way more about the artists than the Bushies. It suggests that there aren't any interesting Republicans in our fiction not because Republicans aren't interesting, but because our intelligentsia's political prejudices blind them to the possibility that a Republican might be, well, a complicated human being rather than just the sum of every liberal's fears.
He seems awful mad that none of us wants to write about him and his buddies. But are Douthat's arms broken or something? No? And he's supposed to be some sort of a writer, isn't he? Then why doesn't he write the goddamn Great Republican Novel himself instead of crying because no one else will do it for him?

First possible answer is, by his own admission, Douthat isn't the greatest judge of Republican character. More likely, it's because Douthat is, despite his ornamental pretensions to aestheticism, really just another culture warrior who thinks of art as a commodity to be turned out according to the specs of the Central Planning Committee he hopes to run someday. It's not something he would dirty his own hands with.
BOOK CLUB. Another reason to hate them all, of course, is because they're such pissy little shits. Al Gore says* his favorite book is The Red and the Black, and the National Review guys start going "Oh no he dih-hint" and snapping their gum. Derbyshire at least admits only that he would like to believe Gore is lying about Stendhal (though Clinton, in the Derbview, is presumed to lie about everything, especially the Tomes of the Ancients): John Podhoretz says, with no evidence whatsoever, that Gore was trying to "make it appear he is something he almost certainly isn't: A steady reader of great literature." Not like Podhoretz, who walks around the office in a toga, index finger heavenward, declaiming on lofty artistic subjects between infusions of malted milk.

You can just see them balling their tiny fists and wishing they could make Gore take a test with lots of trick questions.

Literature, like everything else in this life, means nothing to them but an opportunity to score points on the people they have been trained to hate. Were they not trusted advisors to the scum who wreck our lives, I'd pity them.

*UPDATE. Actually Gore made this claim in 2000, and the Cornerites were roused by its recent mention by Rick Brookhiser, who adds:
George W. Bush said his was The Raven, an old Pulitzer prize winning bio of Sam Houston that is readily available in Texas. Most interesting bit: Houston had the same problem Bush had.
I had no idea Sam Houston was a sociopathic coke freak, nor that he believed the Alamo to be a great success right up till such brains as he had were dashed out by Mexicans. History is fun!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

RASHOMON WITH RETARDS. It has been some time since we looked in on Gates of Vienna, which is sort of like Little Green Footballs for logorrheic Eurotrash. I could use a laugh, so let us don our Hazmat suits and return.

In recent months the Gateseans have devoted much of their time to spying on local Mohammedeans, even going so far as to do airborne reconnaissance of their home with the giddy enthusiasm of little boys playing Army Mans ("OK, I’ll lay out everything I can about the 'basketball court.' I’ve been studying it for a long time in the full-res versions..." Yes, that's an actual quote.)

Local MSM reporters are less suspicious but, as all GoV readers know, the press is part of an immense conspiracy to turn all free, still-predominantly-white nations over to global jihad. Further evidence of this is offered in a Scandinavian's report called "The End of the American Dream?" Apparently the sort of wingnut who is normally enraged when Europeans talk smack about their native land will not mind this fellow doing it, as he shares his readers' fear of dusky-hued peoples. For several paragraphs he even gets away with noticing Bush's involvement in the mass transportation of Mexicans into realms heretofore known for their whiteness, before losing his nerve and blaming "left-wingers" who "see it as a goal to erase the Western cultural heritage." (The Scandinavian also informs us that Los Angeles is "becoming a Third World city, with little glamour left." Maybe it's time I moved there!)

But my favorite bit is "Making The Modern Case for Monasticism," in which correspondent "Dymphna" reports that her boy, away at school, was nearly entrapped by a "young liberal co-ed" -- not in the badger game of olden times, but in an assault claim. His story sounds less fishy than sad:
“Max” and I had water guns and were using them to squirt people at various points during the party [held at our dorm suite]...

This intoxicated young woman suddenly attacked me, trying to take the gun...

When I wouldn’t let her take it, she grabbed my glasses instead. Afraid she might break them; I grabbed her arm — without hurting her — and took my glasses back. At which point the girl said:

“I could call the police.”

I was mystified. “About what?”

“You attacked me!”

I looked at her, up and down. “There aren’t any marks on you.”

She drew her own fingernails down her skin. “Not yet. There could be.”
Mind you, this is what he told his mom, who blames "feminism," which she says "exists solely to promote abortion rallies and arrange emasculation events." But even given its provenance, the lad's narrative lends itself to still more piquant interpretations than self-defense before the matriarch. There is some poignance already in the fact that, while in the company of "intoxicated" women at college, he chose to shoot water pistols with his pal; might he have misunderstood the female's physical approach, or at least misplayed it? I think of "I looked at her, up and down," and of her arm-raking gesture, and wonder what might have been. Maybe he will, too, when he's older.

For the rest of them, there is clearly no hope.

Monday, April 30, 2007

TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY. You have to hand it to Newsbusters. Who else would have imagined that the proper objective correlative to the current DC Madam story would be the liberal media's brutal suppression of the 1996 Dick Morris story?
ABC pounded the word "tabloid" in all of their coverage (even though Hume noted no one in the Morris or Clinton camps denied the Star story). But now ABC is the "tabloid" outlet on the Call Girl beat. Ross touted his scoop on Monday's Good Morning America about a State Department official who resigned in disgrace, even putting on a prostitute's lobbyist to denigrate him...
I and everyone I know must have been incredibly plugged-in back in the 90s, because we all knew that Morris was consorting with prostitutes and improving his status with them by letting them eavesdrop on his conversations with Bill Clinton. And all we had to do to obtain this suppressed information was occasionally pick up clandestinely-published samizdat such as the New York Times and Newsweek.

I kid. Newsbuster's angle is not that the MSM spiked the story -- who could claim that? -- but that they took a different tone about it, talking about it as if it were tabloid-sourced, which it was, and surprisingly undetrimental to Clinton's standing in the polls, which it also was.

What is Newsbusters trying to show here? One interpretation might be that Clinton suffered little from the Morris affair because the MSM had his back -- that we all heard the story, including the salacious details, but were hypnotized into ignoring it by Peter Jennings' Jedi mind tricks. Of course, Clinton had long been associated with sexual scandal by that point -- thanks to vigilant reporting of his imbroglios by the press -- and it may be that citizens were simply relieved that it was a Clinton flack, rather than the Big Dog himself, who got caught with the prostitutes. While, in the current case, the first disgraced party is a celebrated promoter of abstinence from America's Party of Moral Uplift, and his exposer claims to be sitting on a fat batch of further revelations.

That agents of the mainstream press may be manipulated by political spin doctors is a proposition accepted by people of all political philosophies. But nothing cuts family ties in that community like a nice, juicy scandal. Whether a newsreader arches his left of his right eyebrow while reporting such tawdry tales, his audience will still be focused on the savory (or unsavory, depending on your point of view) details -- the stained dress, the cigar, Leaves of Grass, and so forth.

It may be that our famously horny former President got away with much more than Randall Tobias ever will because, somewhere along the line, the Democrats were established as the sexed-up Party, while the Republicans were cast as defenders of Values, Guardrails, and Christian Revivalism. I don't think it's unfair to note that, if this assignment of roles involved mind-tricks, they did not originate with Peter Jennings. That a number of Republicans have of late been discovered with their pants down, and that many of us find this appallingly funny, may have less to do with the prejudices of reporters than it has to do with the law of unintended consequences.

Friday, April 27, 2007

SHORTER ACE O. SPADES: (through angry, helpless tears) Why don't you stop picking on someone your own size?
UNQUALIFIED. Eugene Volokh on a columnist who complained about St. Rudy Giuliani's Vote-For-Me-Or-Die-in-a-Terrorist-Attack bullshit:
Now Giuliani's speech may well be unsound; I'm not a Giuliani partisan, and I have no desire to defend it on the merits. But I'm puzzled, as I often am about such arguments, by the claim that "milking one's 9/11 reputation for crass political gain is, obviously, despicable"...

Imagine a surgeon who, in the wake of some disaster, does what many see as a superb job of saving many patients. He then goes to hospital managers and says that the hospital's patients will do better if he (rather than his rivals who he thinks haven't shown such skills) were given a promotion to an even more responsible surgical position.

Would we fault him because "milking [his] reputation [formed during a deadly disaster] for crass [careerist] gain is, obviously, despicable"?
Well, this analogy holds only if the surgeon's record includes the following:
  • A spotty performance including some exceptional saves and many incredible bonehead errors, costing the hospital millions of dollars every year.
  • Alienated the hell out of nearly the entire hospital staff, patients, benefactors, etc.
  • On one exceptionally trying day, found the super-special operating room he'd built (at great expense to the hospital) for such days was completely useless; still, performed his duty as dictated by his office without shitting his pants.
  • Tried unsuccessfully to avoid mandatory retirement by strong-arming the doctors who were in line for his position.
  • In applying for a more prestigious hospital leadership position, declared that an operating room should be run every day the way his was on that Great Day when it was blown up -- that is, in crisis-triage mode, with lots of fear, panic, and running around. Also let it be known that he no longer believed in any of the shit he pretended to believe back when he was at that other hospital -- except for the part where he was hailed as America's Surgeon.
Also, if I were Volokh I'd be careful about defending Giuliani with the image of an angry, lisping duck.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Back from DC now, with no bad Von Hippel-Lindau-related news at present. Thanks for all the goodwill. I did less sightseeing than usual, mostly strolling and working on my sunburn and taking drinks at the rooftop bar of the Hotel Washington. There I met an heiress of indecipherable middle age whose family, she claimed, had once owned the hotel, but had sold it for ready cash. She drank Irish Coffee, though it was after midnight, and said she no longer bothered with doctors as they had poked and prodded but never done her any good. Well, you can't argue with success.

I did have dinner with Thomas Nephew, who's a prince -- smarter and better educated politically than I by several orders of magnitude, as his weblog daily demonstrates, yet still willing to engage my bilious, jejune prattle. He happily maintains a wife, child, and pets, and also an easy-going sense of humor and perspective, despite his proximity to the thrumming engines of government that comprise much of his subject matter, which would drive me madder than I am -- I wonder how he does it? He matched me beer for beer, so I doubt that he takes sedatives. Remarkable fellow.

Also saw the Jasper Johns show at the National Gallery. The exhibition was full of studies and multiple versions, which added to the impression that any subject, however silly, may be elevated by talent and obsessive hard work. It's just amazing how much energy is still in those paintings, even when they're so thick with scrawls, smears and impastos that the lines of force seem to be cancelling each other out. It's like the subjects -- targets, cans, compasses, legs, and assorted gee-gaws -- so mesmerized him, simple as they were, that they became mysteries that he had to paint his way out of.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

OCCAM'S RAZOR TO THE RESCUE. Andrew Klavan at City Journal:
The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine...

Of course, like everything, this candor has its price. A politics that depends on honesty will be, by nature, often impolite. Good manners and hypocrisy are intimately intertwined, and so conservatives, with their gimlet-eyed view of the world, are always susceptible to charges of incivility. It’s not really nice, you know, to describe things as they are...
Man, if I had a dime for every ill-mannered little shit who believed that the cold stares provoked by his bigoted drivel were proof of his incorruptibility and his hearers' intolerance... well, I might have enough money to be one of those little shits myself.

Klavan has overthought the sitiation. If he's not "the sort of person you want to be seen with," it's probably not because he's "the sort of person willing to speak the truth" about Muslims, poor people, etc.; it's probably because he's an asshole.

(Hat tip to Sven)

Monday, April 23, 2007

In the wake of the Virginia tech murders, there has been a lot of editorialising about gun control and mental health interventions. But I haven't found a single editorial addressing one factor we know creates these mass murders: reporting on the mass murders. In the next few weeks and months, even over the next few years, expect to see copycat killings inspired by Cho's actions. The more saturated the media coverage, the more such events we are likely to get. But as far as I know, few papers have taken to advocating that we cut down on news coverage of these events.
Funny, I was just talking about bullshit libertarians, and here we have someone named after a fucking Ayn Rand character who thinks free markets, while good in their place, just don't apply to news.

I don't want to hear any more crap from these people about how I hate freedom because I want to use tax money to give medicine to sick paupers.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

SERVICE ADVISORY. I had a discussion with Editor Martin the other day. He's down in Georgia working with the CDC on public health issues. He marveled at the CDC's effectiveness, and especially marveled that the incompetence that emanates from the Bush Administration like stink lines from a cartoon skunk had not damaged the CDC as it has so many other Federal entities. We speculated that perhaps even the Bushies balked at imposing their maladministration upon agencies of public health -- and then we thought of the FDA and Walter Reed Hospital.

Well, who knows. CDC is perhaps both good at its job and good at holding the line. I suspect the same of the National Institutes of Health, which I visit every year as a subject in their Von Hippel-Lindau study. Their facilities are amazing, their staff top-notch, and they accomplish amazing things.

I hope I'm of some help, though my interest is not entirely altruistic. The good news is, if they find tumors in you, they take them out, and they're very good at it. The bad news is, they sometimes find tumors. I've had a few pheochromocytomas out, and for ten years I've been running on only a tiny sliver of adrenal tissue. Pheos tend to recur, so chances are one of these years I'll come back from Bethesda an Addisonian, like JFK. Again it's a good news-bad news situation -- your face gets puffy and you have back problems, but you get to run the country and ball Marilyn Monroe (or, I am assuming, her contemporary equivalent).

Tomorrow I'm off for four fun-filled days in Medical Disneyland, during which time posting will be light.
BRING BACK THE BLACK PANTHERS! Gosh, the Perfesser sure is laying it on thick with the gun posts, isn't he? Columbine in the New River Valley really put the zap on his head.

Clearly the poor man is suffering from Posse-Comitatus-itis, a disorder characterized by itchy trigger fingers. As long as the fit is on him, we will never hear the end of his plaintive cries for universal gun ownership -- by force if necessary.

Fortunately I know the cure:

Bring back the Black Panthers! In the 60s there was no more outspoken group of gun-rights enthusiasts. The Panthers marched in state capitols, bravely brandishing their firearms in defiance of those that would take away their Second Amendment rights.

No swifter cure for Posse-Comitatus-itis has been found! Soon open-carry laws were shutting down all over the place -- including California, where the sight of black folk with firearms worked so effectively on Governor Ronald Reagan's Posse-Comitatus-itis that he signed the Mulford Act.

Displays of armed negritude will work like lightning on the Perfesser's condition, and on the cracker community he serves.

Then we'll only have to think of ways to get him to shut up about everything else.

Friday, April 20, 2007

THIS WAS SOMETIME A PARADOX, BUT NOW THE TIME GIVES IT PROOF. "[Glenn] Reynolds describes himself as a libertarian, specifically a libertarian transhumanist." -- Wikipedia.

"As a libertarian myself, I'd love to see the nation run under small-government principles..." -- Instapundit.

"A LOOK AT WHO'S TAKING AID AND COMFORT from Harry Reid's statements." -- Instapundit (link is to Eugene Volokh, often cited as a libertarian but undeclared as such, who says that Senator Reid is "strengthening the enemy's morale as well as by weaking our own soldiers'" by saying that the Iraq War is lost).

Here Perfesser Reynolds denounces NBC for encouraging "copycat mass shootings" by running its freely-obtained Cho footage.

Here is Jane Galt/Megan McArdle, another libertarian, explaining why the overthrow of Roe v. Wade would be a good thing, using an internationalist argument ("The restrictions that could actually be passed at the Federal level would probably bring our abortion law roughly in line with the rest of the world's").

We could go on and on with this, but why bother? With all props to those brave souls who cleave, come what may, to a coherent libertarian line, in the broad swath of public discourse "libertarian" is not a philosophical affiliation at all, but a grace note one adds to one's conservatism as a distinguishing feature (or, we might say, marketing ploy) to gain a wider audience, mostly consisting of people who are vaguely ashamed of current American conservatism.

This is why, despite my predilections, I try not to refer to myself as "libertarian-leaning" -- not out of contempt, but out of respect. Words should have meanings as specific as reason can make them, or all hope of using reason to dig out of the mess we're in is lost.

UPDATE. I made two little changes: in the penultimate graf, I changed "philosophy" to "philisophical affiliation," and I removed "the word" from "the word 'libertarian.'" Because how can a word be a philosophy? I mean really! My only excuse is that I post these things shit-ass drunk, just to test my skillz.
SHORTER DAVID KAHANE. For the Virginia Tech massacre, I blame the liberal moral relativist Alfred Hitchcock.
RIGHT WING "MEDIA CRITICSM" EXPLAINED. The Ole Perfesser, back in ole times, razzed "Big Media" for not showing video of terrorists sawing off Nick Berg's head. But now NBC shows some footage of Mad Dog Cho -- in which he does not saw off anyone's head -- and the Perfesser starts dropping Kaus turds and other effluent to tweak Big Media for not shielding the public from the grisly spectacle of a guy posing with guns and knives.

Similarly, but as always more spectacularly, Ace O. Spades is outraged that NBC showed the Cho footage ("They might as well be inviting the rest of the idiots in the stands to take a lap around the basepaths"). Then he goes mad with rage that the Em Ess Em hasn't given heavy play to a gruesome rape/torture/murder story. (Mr. Spades believes liberals are covering for the rapists/torturers/murderers because they're black -- which brings up an interesting question: If we're spiking that case solely to protect African Americans, does our heavy Cho coverage mean we're attacking Asian Americans? Or is it all about getting Whitey, whose votes we presumably do not need?)

When you read anything by these awful people that has to do with what should and should not be covered, please recognize that they are not trying to inform you. For them everything -- news, art, science -- is propaganda. There is no aspect of human life which they do not see an opportunity for partisan advantage.

That's why I'm so hard on them -- not so much because they're wrong on the issues, but because they're twisted freaks who seek power, and that sort always needs resisting.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

SHORTER BYRON YORK: I don't acknowledge a difference between reality and make-believe.

SHORTER JOHN DERBYSHIRE: PC liberals won't let you say this guy was crazy! Let us celebrate my great courage.

SHORTER KATHRYN J. LOPEZ: I'll be at this party, and I will have had a lot of beer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE -- WORDS AND PICTURES DO! Crunchy Rod Dreher finds the real Virginia Tech culprit:
This is what you get too from a society that tolerates all manner of lurid, explicit violence in its visual art, and forbids nothing except the impulse to forbid. I don't think for a minute that everyone who watches slasher films, or who plays violent video games, or who reads sadistic novels, or who listens to violent music, will turn out to be Klebold, Harris or Cho. Clearly that's not the case, and it would be stupid to claim that. But... no taboos... nihilistic... culture of death... moral imagination... gurgle...
When his commenters are less than respectful, Dreher says, "Do I really have to explain that I don't think Goya or Shakespeare are the same thing as Nine Inch Nails or the collected works of Cho Seung-Hui -- even though they all depict violence in their work?" Watch out, Trent -- God-Boy's a-gunnin' fer ya! Even the love of a few other wingnuts won't protect you from his fully-engaged moral imagination!

Since ten seconds after the VT massacre, every conservative in existence has jumped to inform us that whatever else we may think about it, we must not blame guns. But, boy, are they concerned about ink and pixels! The very idea that NBC might publish some of Cho's ravings has them flipping out.

It says something about their reasoning that they think we can handle semi-automatic weapons, but not words and pictures.

UPDATE. MSNBC is running the Collected Works of Psychonerd:
You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn’t enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren’t enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn’t enough. Your vodka and Cognac weren’t enough. All your debaucheries weren’t enough. Those weren’t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.
I'll be durned! Cho Seung-Hui was a Crunchy Con!

Oh, and folks? If you're forced to commit mass murder now, please don't tell anyone where you read this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

HE WAS A BIT OF A LONER... JUST LIKED TO WRITE THINGS ON HIS COMPUTER... Ace O. Spades wonders aloud why no one ratted out the VT Shooter as a potential mass murderer, then answers himself (unsatisfactorily, of course):
We've been conditioned since infancy with thousands of morality plays that just because someone seems weird doesn't mean they are weird. Or bad. Or dangerous.

The trouble is that weirdness has a pretty high correlation with badness and dangerousness. If someone has a dysfunction that prevents the normal sort of interaction and empathy with one's fellow human beings, well, that's not likely to be a person that's otherwise well-adjusted....
This made me think: what would happen if Mr. Spades were a student, and someone sent the authorities a link to his website? What would they make of Mr. Spades' weird amalgam of self-loathing porn ("The first click is safe, it's the second click -- the click once you get there -- that has a very, very big content warning on it... [splorch]... something has gone seriously wrong with our culture"), misogyny ("they're fucking guys so quickly guys hardly have a chance to catch their names"), numerology ("9/11 3/11 7/11 ...? How about 8/11? I know 7/7 doesn't work.."), and irrational violent rages ("When he dies... I hope his son slaps this stupid fuck right in the face")?

If we lived in the kind of world Mr. Spades favors, he'd be in a nuthouse quicker than you could say Preventive Detention. For the moment we live in another kind of world, and one which I prefer -- though it's nice to know that, once that other world comes around, it will have an upside.
ALSO: THE KILLER WAS RIDDLED WITH STEM CELLS. The blood is barely cold, but Carol Iannone knows what caused the Virgina Tech shootings: co-ed dorms and English Literature.
And I'm sorry, some will really think me foolish, but I don't think dorms should be co-ed, so that crazed, jealous boyfriends can enter their girlfriends' dorms and kill them and the innocent young men who come to their aid. If it had been a single-sex dorm, the killer might not have been able to enter so readily. There aren't enough difficulties getting young people through college these days so that we have to deal with "domestic disputes" in their dormitories as well?

And, sorry again, but thoughts also arise on the killer's being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays.
He better not have been reading anything by Noam Chomsky! Or French!

Bonus hilarity:
Once a student erupted in rage at a colleague of mine and the administration excused it as a sign of "stress."
And that little boy grew up to be.... CHARLIE MANSON!

Is clinical insanity a requirement at National Review, or just a nice-to-have?

UPDATE. Meanwhile, from Cockslapper Jeff, another 87,000-word version of "I'm not intellectually dishonest, you're intellectually dishonest." Mass murder really brings out the worst in some people.

Monday, April 16, 2007

FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS TO YOUR COLD DEAD HANDS! A gun massacre seems like a bizarre occasion for a Second Amendment pep rally, but the Perfesser was never known for his good taste.

Tbogg picks up the projection racket going on this subject at Protein Wisdom and other bullshit clearinghouses. And the Perfesser continues to help out. As a Second Amendment sympathizer, I say, go ahead and flood the South with guns. We can start with the Perfesser's own campus! It may turn out that the libertarians are right -- more freedom really is the solution to all our problems!

UPDATE. In a transparent attempt to class up his coverage, the Perfesser puts up a little VT flag at half-mast. At first I thought it was just another product he'd wheedled out of some corporation -- maybe a sexual aid or something. I was looking forward to that review: "When I applied it to my perineum, nanobots of pleasure ran up my spine." Also, the Perfesser says,
...a lot of the sports bloggers are observing a moment of silence for Virginia Tech. That's a nice gesture, and I'll do the same.
How does one observe a moment of silence on a text blog? I like to think the he means that he shut off the techno version of "The South's Gonna Do It Again" that's been playing in his skull since late 2001.
CONSERVATIVES SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS 2. Jonah Goldberg, 9:55 am:: of the things that astonishes me when I visit college campuses is how successful the 21 age limit [on drinking] has been.
Jonah Goldberg, 11:08 am:
But your post gives me a good excuse to clarify one thing: I was not saying that the 21 drinking age is effective (one reason why I'm for lowering it is that I think it isn't).
One day his posts will all just go like this:
Faaarrrrt, faaaaaarrrrrtt. FART. FA A A A A A A A ARrrrrrrrrt. Frt. Fr. F A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A RRRRRT! Phoot.
And his colleagues will still say "Jonah's point is interesting" and then shift the topic.
CONSERVATIVES SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS 1: "That's why the Post story upsets me. It intimates a 'Screw you' to the socials that is very far from the Rudy I know."

Perhaps what Andy McCarthy means is, the Rudy he knows wouldn't say "Screw you," he'd say "Fuck you," or maybe "Fuck you, bitches, up the ass with a nightstick." That's just the sort of warm. lovable guy he is.

The whole NRO hard-on for Giuliani is hilarious, anyway. Obviously, like me, they expect Saint Rudy to start full-on pandering to the social conservatives any second now. But he keeps holding out -- probably just because he loves giving the back of his hand to people who need something from him -- so the NROniks keep making excuses for him: He didn't mean to hurt you! Not the Rudy I know!

Again, I expect the son of a bitch will eventually reveal that the Virgin came to him in dreams and told him to repeal Roe v. Wade, if this is the cost of the nomination. But I have no stake in his conversion, so it troubles me not.
SHORTER ANDY McCARTHY: Don't call it a lie -- say it was something that could conceivably have been true.

(Then, later, bitch about moral relativism.)
SHORTER OLE PERFESSER: Climate science and the survival of future generations are not as important as my hatred of liberals.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

THANK YOU FOR HOLDING ME UP. Finished the run of Los Angeles last night. After three months' involvement with this project, I feel a bit lonesome now that it's done. Mostly I'm a writer, and normally detachment is something I cherish. But working on a play pulled me much further out of myself than I'm used to. For weeks, crowding into a little box stage right, waiting for my cue with a bunch of actors -- have you ever eaten with one? -- was a major annoyance. Now I miss it.

That's one of the amazing things about theatre: it breeds massive egos yet relies upon collaboration. To be part of it, you have to amplify yourself sufficiently to be seen and heard above the common run of humanity -- and then subsume yourself in the shared vision of a play. We were lucky to have a grand vision, and we all worked hard to realize it. Everyone in the show labored to elevate his or her colleagues -- and in so doing we were all exalted.

All that's left now is the kudos, so: If you want to see good theatre, The Flea is always a safe bet; if you want to follow an exciting new playwright, Julian Sheppard is well worth trailing; Adam Rapp is a gee-nee-us; and, if you ever get a chance to play a scene with Katherine Waterston, take it -- it's like playing Horse with Michael Jordan, if Jordan conducted you into the lane and boosted you up on his shoulders so you could dunk. These people lifted me beyond my talents because generosity is included among their talents. May you, in whatever field of endeavor you choose to contend, come across such like.