Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"THE HARROWING ADVENTURES OF PRESIDENT OBAMA." You may get a kick out of this.
REPACKAGING. I've had a laugh or two with Reihan Salam's and Ross Douthat's Grand New Party, but I haven't read it. Thankfully Patrick Ruffini of the forward-looking The Next Right has condensed it for me:
Want cheaper energy? Drill now, expand refinery capacity, go nuclear, and diversify into renewables...

Want cheaper consumer products? Fight protectionism and forced unionism.

Want cheaper food? Get rid of ethanol subsidies.

Want cheaper health insurance? Get rid of irrational regulations and frivolous lawsuits, and let people buy health insurance across state lines...

Want cheaper government? Cut spending.

Want cheaper tax bills? This is self-explanatory.
Ruffini then took the words right out of my mouth: "Most of this is not new. " But in his explanation he actually does come up with something fresh and different: "Republicans have largely been unable to capitalize on wanting things to cost less because the country was relatively prosperous and inflation has not been a real concern for a generation. With the country now facing tangible inflation in the food and fuel sectors, an affordability agenda for the working class is now much more salient."

It had been my impression that Republicans avoided using affordability as a come-on because, since Reagan days, they have showcased a hyperactive stock market, fueled by enormous corporate profits unwinnowed by taxes, as proof of their superior government stewardship. Gushers of cash and credit were the wind beneath their wings. Now that the bottom is falling out of that racket, Ruffini wants to position them as efficiency experts, using the same not-new philosophy and tactics as they had in the go-go era. It's as if a faith healer, having exhausted the credulity of his client, suddenly announced that he is also a trained surgeon.

The resemblance of modern politics to marketing is long established, but you rarely see it as plainly as herein:
In 2008, the recession is all about consumers -- be they consumers at the pump, homeowners, or at the grocery store. The recession is hitting all of us a little (rather than just some of us a lot, through lost jobs). This makes it psychologically more damaging, but also more open to a free market populist agenda centered around lower prices for goods in the private economy.

If we can get out from under the dead weight that is 28% Presidential approval, the economic issue environment can be turned against the progressives.
They'd better hope that not many people are watching "Mad Men." This reeks of the glad hand, seeking opportunity in crisis. I would say God go with them if they were not so obviously resistant to changing the formula along with the ad campaign.

Friday, August 15, 2008

STABBED IN THE BACK! The veteran money-followers at Open Secrets find that U.S. troops serving abroad have contributed six times as much to Obama's campaign as to McCain's. Like Hamlet said, we who have free souls, it touches us not. Using the troops as campaign window-dressing was cheap during the last campaign, and it remains so. In a week or two McCain will find a wounded vet who denounces Obama, and everyone will be talking about arugula and whatnot again.

But though we are above trying to embarrass our opponents with this information, we do not disdain to notice when they massively embarrass themselves.

We enjoy, for example, the close analysis of Wizbang's Jay Tea, which reveals that the servicemembers have spent very little on campaign donations overall, allowing Tea to brush off these warriors' contributions as "statistically irrelevant." He adds, "I think I kinda like that 99.9% of our troops aren't spending at least $200 on presidential campaigns."

This is a startling admission. When the Bankruptcy Bill was debated in 2005, the Democrats tried to put in an exemption for military personnel, and the Republicans voted it down. "One of the most common cases I see as a legal assistance attorney in the Army," writes a JAG soldier/lawyer, "is a soldier in debt." We pay them shit and give them no breaks, so I'm not surprised that the troops don't have a lot of scratch left over for campaign finance, but I am surprised to hear Tea admit that he's happy about it.

Michael Goldfarb at John McCain's own blog says that "most of those troops are likely too busy doing the important work of defending this country to make political contributions." Busy working second jobs, maybe? Goldfarb adds that McCain has far more "retired admirals and generals" endorsing him than Obama. Who's the elitist now?

Speaking of elites, a visibly flailing Allahpundit takes comfort in the fact that "the one branch where McCain leads Obama in contributions is the one most likely to see the hardest action — the Corps." This is fairly classic: as the weaker units desert, Allahpundit puts his faith in a hard core of loyal followers who will follow the flag unto death. Godwin's Law forbids the obvious comparison.

Say Anything points out that McCain loses by less when you include soldiers serving here in the states, where treason can't get at them. Also, "I think the lopsided contributions speak more to conservative dissatisfaction with McCain than outrageous amounts of new support for Obama," which servicemembers of course express by contributing to Obama. Then he throws a chair and runs.

This is feeble even by their usual low standards, but you have to be forgiving. They've been working the support-the-troops scam for so long that they might actually believe it. If you're a liberal, you have to imagine black people saying that Brown v. Board of Education was a big mistake to get some sense of how this is hitting them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

ATTENTION NEW YORKERS. At the Voice blog we are soliciting reminiscences of the 2003 Blackout. You are welcome, nay, invited to leave yours there.

Mine were recorded for posterity here.
POPULISM WITHOUT POPULARITY. The perfectly sensible point that the rich, well-born John McCain has got at least as many elitism points as Obama reaches perfectly mad Victor Davis Hanson, who responds:
Even adroit spinners and handlers can't manufacture elitism; it is not necessarily connected with wealth. The very wealthy Bush no doubt was brought up in greater splendor than was Kerry; but fairly or unfairly, he was more at home at NASCAR and Texas than wind-surfing. And the people sensed that even without Karl Rove's ads. John McCain in a wet suit seems unimaginable.
J. Pierpont Morgan is also unimaginable in a wet suit. But if he were living today and had a set of image-handlers, they would teach him to drop his g's and dress him in cheap windbreakers, and tell plain folks how much more old J.P. has in common with them than has that too-skinny glamour boy, Tom Joad. This would not, of course, change Morgan's business and political interests, though it would make them harder to see. Elitism isn't body language, but a way of looking at the world.
Liberals and progressives are far more vulnerable to charges of elitism, since they are prone to the additional charge of hypocrisy. Right-wingers, as the catastrophic election of 2006 showed, are more easily exposed as hypocrites when they preach family values and are caught in Rev. Haggard-like positions, or abuse drugs and drink. But liberals, 'two-nations' men and women of the people, who rail against the unfairness of an uncaring system and the perniciousness of wealth and privilege, far more readily suffer charges of elitism when their populist rhetoric is contrasted to private jets, 30,000 sq ft. homes, or 11 mansions.
The problem here, of course, is that both candidates engage in "populist rhetoric." When John McCain visits a kitchen cabinet factory and promises to "keep jobs here at home and create new ones," or goes to a biker rally and says he prefers the "roar of 5,000 Harleys" to the cheers Obama received in Berlin, or talks about "lobbyists and special pleaders" and comes out against lavish CEO salaries, he might as well be Huey Long. McCain's own campaign advisor calls him a "populist." This is categorically different from conservatives making fulsome "values voter" pitches and sermonizing on sexed-up Democrats while fucking prostitutes and harrassing teenagers on their cell phones. The latter is hypocrisy, the former is parity.

Personally I think it's a good thing that people are pointing out that both candidates are rich. It's a good first step toward some real populism.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

SEMANTICS AND PEDANTICS. Joe Lieberman pretty clearly said that Obama doesn't put his country first -- "Between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not" -- which is a sentiment that is uncontroversial in a college libertarian bull session, but highly offensive in a Presidential contest -- and Don Surber says, as they always do, that liberals are silly, but adds, perhaps for purposes of page length, a metaphor ex machina:
Ever have a bad tooth?

I have. There comes that time when you bite on it just so, it hurts like heck.

Liberals have a bad tooth that I will call, for the sake of this post, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

Lieberman hit the liberal bad tooth yesterday.
This mangled bit of wordplay pays tribute to the example of Dean Wormer in Animal House ("The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me"). Or maybe Surber's point is that, like teeth, Lieberman and liberals have many similarities, and are animated by the same forces, but underneath liberals are rotten.

In any case it's better than his actual defense:
I parse it as saying put the country first in legislation, which is not questioning one’s patriotism but rather a common parliamentary elocution; we must put our country first, and compromise on campaign reform. McCain has reached out across the aisle many, many times. Obama hasn’t.
Similarly, when I say that Don Surber eschews liberal ideas and is not a heterosexual, I mean that he prefers to keep with his own intellectual kind, and not that he is a big gay guy who likes to have sex with men.

He does get points, though, for using the idea of a "screaming" toothache in the traditional association of liberals and screaming. It's so elegant I tend to think he cooked the whole essay up just to use it.
APOLOGIES for the sparse posting. You know how it is with a new job. Eventually I hope to learn time management skills from fatigue and methamphetamines, and give you lovely people the attention you deserve.
CURTAIN CALL. I sort of like the Guardian slideshow of President Bush Olympic LOLs, but something bothered me about it. At first I thought it was because the style was pretty transparently ripped-off of LOL President. But LOL President is itself a rip-off of LOLcats, so I guess by now it's just an hommage without attribution. (You know, like my Shorters!)

Then I noticed that LOL President was moribund, posting nothing since June 4. And I think I know why. There had been some funny Obama and McCain bits in recent months, but nothing brings the lulz like a good Bush photo funny.

This is made painfully clear by the President's behavior at the Olympics. I actually watched him during the Opening Ceremonies. He seemed impatient and petulant during the big parade, thwacking his flag against his leg and looking around as if for a beer vendor at a ballgame. And of course we've all seen him discomporting himself around Misty May Treanor.

I don't normally make much of the President's many social liabilities, which are irrelevant and pale in comparison to those of his governance. But it hit me: this is all he's got left. While the nation attends our ridiculously personalized Presidential contest, looking for displays of elitism or senility, the star of our national drama is mostly becalmed, sullenly reading statements and puttering around the White House. And he's actually a very successful performer, and one who seems to enjoy his effect on people, even when (maybe especially when) it annoys them. For years he seemed tickled that his repertoire of frat-boy stunts and cowboy posturing held the nation's interest. Now, for the most part, he has to lay low, lest he remind voters already disenchanted with the Republican Party of the grim results of his Presidency, or international war crimes prosecutors of signs of depraved indifference that may be used against him in a court of law.

The Olympics provided Bush with a golden opportunity to reinsert himself into the public eye like a sharp stick. As the effect had no domestic political resonance, he could let it all hang out. I'm sure nobody who wasn't extremely high has had as good a time anywhere as Bush had in Beijing. Politics to one side, it was almost charming.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS. I go off the grid for a couple of days, and come back to find I've lost my bearings. Though I'd covered the spectacularly dumb "Celeb" McCain spot, I was totally unprepared for his latest goofy ad. It seems to me that as Russia invades Georgia, the market convulses, Kashmir heats up, Musharraf falls, and our President, after fucking off to the Olympics all weekend, makes obviously toothless grimaces over South Ossetia while much more effectively sabotaging the Endangered Species Act, that even the Republicans would find it hard to tell people that their greatest danger comes from a Presidential candidate whom people like too much.

Given the circumstances I think the McCain campaign is consumed by the political equivalent of a fit of nervous giggles. There's nowhere else for McCain to go but negative, but the normal Republican negative routine of dark, dystopian portrayals of Democratic rule -- Dukakis' filthy Charles River, Mondale's unattended Russian bear, etc. -- would just remind voters that we are on the verge of dystopia already. The only course left is evasion, not merely of current political realities, but of reality, period. So they fixate on the one about the Obamessiah, and ring endless variations on it, as if it were the Holy Grail of comic material, impervious to wear, tear, and overexposure.

No matter how simply and directly critics point this out, the second-line McCain operatives have a single ready answer: that the critics are just projecting -- which is a mildly intellectualized way of saying that they don't get the joke. But even if we concede that there were something to the joke -- and that's a big concession, given how overstrained the right-wing laugh factory has gotten -- a sensible person would have to acknowledge that we are getting past the point where even a good joke would do. Normally I would assume they had something stronger prepared for phase two, when we are all within sight of the day of decision and have to face facts, if for no other reason than self-preservation. But I have a feeling that there is no Plan B. I should be happier about that, considering how I'd like the election to go. But as the examples of tulipmania and the Great Awakenings show, mass delusions, even when contained, wind up playing out badly for everyone in the end.

Friday, August 08, 2008

If he joined the Green Berets, there was no way you'd ever get above Colonel. Kurtz knew what he was giving up... His family and friends couldn't understand it, and they couldn't talk him out of it. He had to apply three times and he put up with a ton of shit, but when he threatened to resign, they gave it to him. The next youngest guy in his class was half his age. They must have thought he was some far-out old man humping it over that course...
Starting Monday, I'll be writing regularly for the Runnin' Scared blog at the Village Voice, and occasionally doing features for the paper.

I'll be here too, just a little more fried than usual.
ARMY OF ONE. America's favorite psychopath, Umpty-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters, is on one hell of a mood swing. His ravings on the Olympics in today's New York Post start, "I RARELY watch sports on TV. I'm a doer, not a viewer." Right off the bat the General is reminding us that he has killed men with uncurled paper clips. Then he tells us that "Beijing's post-Mao mafiosi dropped their (dirty) drawers." Context is unclear; maybe the General just emitted it in a spasm of journalistic Tourette's, and his editor -- well, what am I saying: clearly nobody edits the General.

A strong believer in useless gestures, The General will "boycott" the Olympics -- that is, he will refrain from watching it on TV, instead curling up with a Faces of Death marathon. He is also boycotting Chinese goods, which probably means (if he is serious) that he goes everywhere in his old Army uniform. Even the General admits "it can be hard" to do without Commie provender, and he wants you to know how hard: "A work-out bench ordered online recently turned out to be made in China." Again, the General is unclear: was the online ordering done by him, a neighbor, or another imaginary character? Doesn't matter, the key words are "work-out bench," to remind us that the General is out running the obstacle course while you maggots are still raising your morning wood. Now drop your dirty drawers, Chinamen, and he'll give you twenty!

You know I'm not fond of the Chinese Government, either, and would like to make common cause with the General on this issue, but that would lead to the same sort of problems William Holden had with Bo Hopkins in The Wild Bunch.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

IT'S A SHAME THE WAY YOU BEAT YOUR KIDS. NOW, LET'S PARTY. This morning at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, President Bush made some human rights noises in front of some Chinese officials. He had criticized the Chinese more strongly during an earlier stopover in Bangkok.

A Chinese spokesman made some counter-noises. Later everyone's going to the Olympic opening ceremonies. Be sure to watch on NBC!

You expect Kissinger to say Bush's part in this mutual ass-covering enterprise is "important," and I regret to say the same is true of Mayor Bloomberg:
"I thought the president of the United States stood up this morning and said what a lot of Americans believe: that individual rights aren't as open there as they are in America and that they should be," Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday at a press conference in Lower Manhattan. "I thought the president should go to the opening games — he is going to go. I thought he should speak out, and he did, and I was pleased to see that."
As long as nobody loses any money over it. I sort of miss the earlier, simpler time when History's Greatest Monster had us boycott the Moscow Olympics because of another big Communist country's aggression against some little country that we later invaded.

UPDATE. Naomi Klein explains. This isn't Berlin '36*, when the Nazis tried to keep their repressive policies on the down-low. It's an international trade show for totalitarians.

* Ralph Peters, of course, already told us that the new Berlin Olympics was the 2004 Democratic Convention. More conservative ChiCom sympathy here.
THE SWEET HEREAFTER. The Ole Perfesser hehs but does not indeed a First Things post mocking the Singularity, a human-robot nirvana for which the Perfesser holds out hope. But the Perfesser does not cast his scorn so wide as to include the IEEE Spectrum item to which First Things refers:
If you’re obsessed with your own mortality, the idea of a computer blinking into consciousness 400 years from now isn’t going to rock your world. You want the magic moment to come, say, 25 years from now at most. Unfortunately, that timetable grossly over estimates the speed of technical progress...
I've had fun with the Perfesser's visions of eternal life, not to be a killjoy, but because it seems integral to his horrible politics. He belongs to a school of conservative-libertarians who take a cheery view of human progress, and while that is usually preferable to the end-is-nigh attitude of crunchier conservatives, it too often serves as a glib evasion of even our most obvious problems.

If Peak Oil ravings are unhelpful, for example, so too may be comforting assurances that we can just drill our way out of our recently acute but observably chronic energy problems. That sort of optimism flips off despair, which is reasonable, but it also flips off any suggestion of how progress might be better achieved by means other than those endorsed by the Republican Party, as shown by the Perfesser's suspicious lapses in confidence when the scientists he expects to grant him immortality take global warming seriously.

We can assume that the impeccably conservative First Things is annoyed by the Perfesser's interest in the Singularity because it conflicts, or rather competes, with their own faith in a more old-fashioned idea of life beyond life. It wouldn't annoy them so much if the Perfesser were not otherwise a fellow traveller -- that the FT post stretches to include Christopher Hitchens is a psychological tell: these fellows are basically on our side, why can't they go the whole hog and come to Jesus? What they don't recognize is that the Singularity serves the Perfesser's conservatism in exactly the same way Jesus serves theirs. It is the blissful prospect of a world beyond that makes sense of their otherwise puzzling lack of interest in the world at hand and the people who live in it.

Conservatives often disparage the alleged liberal faith in "the perfectibility of human nature," but by their actions conservatives tirelessly demonstrate that their contempt is really for the idea that we may improve anything in our present life -- not just the nature of humans, but their condition as well -- by means not endorsed by Reagan or Jesus. Liberals support social programs, they tell themselves and whomever else will listen, because liberals are foolish tinkerers with the human spirit -- just like the Nazis! Of course, we really support such programs as an advance from the want-induced tribalism of earlier times, as some conservatives acknowledge when they are incautious.

It's harder to demonize liberalism on those terms, of course, but I don't think that's mainly why they reject them. They really believe that something besides utility underpins their ideology, absurd as it may look to someone who is mainly looking to get through life with less pain. And that something is eternal, immutable, and unanswerable. So no matter how disastrous the results of their faith may be on this wicked, imperfect earth, that is to them a small thing compared to the reward their faith will buy them on the Other Side.

For the theocons, it's God; for such as the Perfesser, it's the Singularity. For the rest of us it's bullshit. But when they stick together it's difficult to wrest control of the Ship of State from their poisoned judgment.

UPDATE. In comments, Keifus breaks it down: "The rollers and the glibbies both expect to be rewarded for believing the right thing over actually doing the right thing." There's something to that. We already know why the Jesuscons are the way they are (because Jesus, that's why!). And as for the glibertarians, their sloth comes from the suburban/managerial mindset 99% of them are bred to. They think of scientists and engineers as their employees, even though they don't actually pay or manage them. Much as they expect artists to heed their calls to "shut up and sing," the glibbies expect the test-tube and cyclotron guys to devote themselves to sustaining the social order that benefits them. That's why they get mad when scientists turn their attention to stuff like climate change instead of softer cushions for fat glibertarian asses. To the glibs, that's goofing off.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

BYRON YORK, TV DETECTIVE. Byron York, National Review, August 5, 4:05 pm:
Several days ago, I posted a Top 10 list from the "Late Show with David Letterman" in which Letterman mentioned the John Edwards "love child" story. The list was actually entitled "Top 10 Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident"...

I linked to the Top 10 list on the "Late Show" website, but not long after my item was posted, I got a number of emails telling me the list had disappeared from the site. The suspicion was that the "Late Show" had pulled the controversial item. I've been meaning to call CBS to find out, and today I finally got around to it... the spokesman assures me it will appear in an upcoming issue of the "Late Show" newsletter...
Byron York, National Review, August 5, 8:15 pm:
I've received some emails from readers who say they saw the July 29, 2008 episode at home, on TV, with the Obama/Edwards Top 10 list included. Does anyone out in TiVo-land have any information?
Byron York, National Review, August 6, 10:49 am:
I've gotten a lot of emails from readers forwarding the link to the YouTube video of David Letterman's Obama/Edwards Top 10 list. From what I understand, that doesn't prove that it actually aired on CBS... I've also gotten more emails from people who say they saw it on the Letterman show, but I still haven't seen any video to that effect.

Meanwhile, I've gotten notes that Jay Leno joked about Edwards last night... The audience reportedly got the joke.
Readers, you seem reasonably sane. If it was made clear to you that you had become this much of a fucking tool, wouldn't you kill yourselves?
THE OLIGARCH AS POPULIST. Gazillionaire Tom Golisano, a frequent independent candidate for Governor of New York, has a PAC fueled by five million dollars of his own money. New York Republicans, whose balance of power in the State Senate is thin, are shitting bricks over it, and a candidate in a Democratic State Senate primary is calling for investigations because she suspects Golisano of colluding with her opponent. Talk about your Operation Chaos.

The last three times he ran for Governor, nobody took Golisano seriously. Even in the Corzine-Bloomberg era, he was considered a crazy rich guy playing at statesmanship. "Unlike Michael Bloomberg, whose millions were backed up with a discernible political philosophy [? -ed.], Mr. Golisano seems to believe that wanting to be Governor is enough reason to be handed the position," said the New York Observer in 2003. "New Yorkers realize, of course, that he is a clown."

Maybe so, but given the three-ring circus of our current politics, from the slimefest at of the Presidential race to the accidental Governorship of David Paterson, Golisano may yet turn out a clown prince. He may have figured that, while merely investing in campaigns didn't do the trick, it might be worth a few mil to position himself as a lone do-gooder venturing into Albany's den of thieves. It's a win-win situation for him. If he backs losers, the ensuing bad governance will be something he tried nobly though in vain to stop; if he backs winners, the ensuing bad governance will be a great disappointment to him, and a sign that Albany must be reformed root and branch.

This is the wave of the future. Our country is as rotten as a Minneapolis bridge, yet our politics is more of a clown show than ever, with tire gauges and celebrity slurs instead of squirting flowers and slapsticks. The more completely these matters are devoted to symbols rather than issues, the more obsolete Parties become: they're less political entities than production companies as it is, distinguished mostly by proprietary image banks that convey "toughness," "compassion," or what have you, the way MGM was once associated with glamour and Warner Brothers with action pictures. In the wasteland of 2010 Golisano may well be able to offer his candidacy to whatever party is desperate enough to take it, and win.

UPDATE. Fixed typo.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

QUINTESSENCE OF DREHER. Rod Dreher tries to get the CrunchyCon kids excited about John Edwards. He agitates to get the big papers (presumably including his own) to cover the Edwards affair story, which has so far been proffered only by the National Enquirer, bloggers, Fox News, and that monstrous hybrid of all three known as Mickey Kaus.

Dreher says he has very serious reasons for wanting to promote this story. "[Edwards is] still a big player in Democratic politics," says Dreher, "and might have been either an Obama running mate, Attorney General or held some other cabinet post." To elevate the tone further, he refers to Edwards twice as "the Silky Pony."

Amazingly, Dreher's readers don't take the bait:
Sounds like you are rationalizing. And gossiping.

I'm no fan of Edwards, but is it any wonder why people don't go into public service?

I am so glad I am not the only one who reads the tabloids when standing in line at the grocery store. Seriously, though do we know if these rumours are even true? It seems in poor taste to malign someones character without proof of their alleged indiscretions.
Some readers also mention the rich veins of McCain scandal that could be opened under this forgiving policy.

Dreher responds as one would expect of a Christian:
It is impossible for some people to engage in a rational critical discussion of the point. Another reader just wrote me privately to say I should shut down all the comboxes for a while, because the tone has gotten so nasty he doesn't want to visit them anymore. I'm not going to go that far, but I am going to shut down this one. Sorry, screaming mimis!
I'm tired of the excuse that Jesus is just misrepresented by his followers, and am going to have to assume that He's an asshole, too.
WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF. When last we attended kulturkampfer Andrew Breitbart, he was telling us that the Hollywood blacklist of the 50s was nothing compared to the dirty looks conservatives get in filmland these days.

Now he devotes a Washington Times column to Jon Voight's recent right-wing ravings, which he claims were "swiftly attacked by establishment entertainment journalists expertly wielding the tools of the new McCarthyism." How's that for a hook: Voight is marked for death!

Those who are not fans of the genre may be disappointed at the thinness of the plot. When blogger Jeffrey Wells says of Voight, "I finally get what Angelina Jolie has been on about all these years," Breitbart thunders, "Mr. Wells went well below the belt by attacking Mr. Voight's parenting skills. And for what? Because one citizen expressed his contrarian political opinion in a town that doesn't embrace free speech anymore." Variety's Peter Bart repeats an anecdote demonstrating Voight's awareness of his own intellectual limitations; Breitbart, mortally offended, says that Bart is "desperately attempting to be as cruel as possible" (before repeating some dirt on Bart!), and announces, "[Bart's] message to Mr. Voight: You're dead. Hollywood never forgets."

Like I said, it's for fans -- if you're not familiar with the form, you may have trouble getting into the story, especially if you know that failure to toe the liberal line hasn't done much harm to Bruce Willis' career. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger's. Or Trey Parker's and Matt Stone's. Or Judd Apatow's, etc.

Breitbart anticipates this argument, but his rejoinder is less than convincing, and even less than coherent:
Those who argue that Mr. Wells' point of view is not representative of a larger mind-set among the Hollywood elite should think back to 2005, when Barbra Streisand publicly canceled her subscription to the Los Angeles Times for the crime of hiring a conservative to pen editorials a few times a week. That writer, Jonah Goldberg, went on to write the book "Liberal Fascism," which hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Perhaps the title resonated with the masses.
So Babs cancelled her subscription and Jonah Goldberg went to #1? What does that have to do with... well, anything? Never mind -- Breitbart throws us a twist ending ("Is it any wonder Jon Voight didn't have his opinions published in a hometown rag?") and brings up the closing credits. So it doesn't make sense -- neither does David Lynch! The critics will eat it up!

Competing for rightwing box-office is Weekly Standard's current cover story, "Hollywood Takes On The Left," which tells us about David "Airplane" Zucker's new comedy film, all about Rosie O'Donnell and Barack Obama and other deranged liberals. The cover promises an inspiring story of plucky wingnuts saving the day, but that's all marketing; Zucker and author Stephen Hayes know what the audience really wants when the lights go down, and they play it as a paranoid thriller. Zucker's partner, Steve McEveety, worries about losing his shirt. The star, Chris Farley's brother, says, "If it's the last movie I do, I'll go work for Steve's company." Zucker says he's "donated his career" to defeating Obama with this movie, and "Shouldn't I be allowed to say that?" and "Why can't I put it out there?" as if pleading for his little movie's life before a liberal death squad.

Yet such problems as Zucker et alia are having seem to be the kind any less-than-hot production company might reasonably expect ("Zucker had originally hoped to cast Dan Whitney aka Larry the Cable Guy as Malone, but a timing conflict kept him from getting it done"). But don't tell the wingnuts that. Their version of Hollywood entertainment doesn't come from movies, but from outrages. Breitbart and Hayes are those happiest of entertainment figures: showmen with a winning formula.

Monday, August 04, 2008

SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE. In my April Voice article I referred in passing to Megan McArdle as a "lipstick libertarian," which outraged her: "I'm hard put to think of a way to pack more snide sexism and heteronormative stereotypes into two words."

She also got after us sexist liberals:
I will say that I'm particularly shocked to find that about 95% of this comes from the left, particularly the fraternity potty talk--my right wing commenters usually limit themselves to saying "you're pretty", which is the sort of thing no one, male or female, minds hearing.
Today the Hit & Run blog of the eminently libertarian Reason magazine announced a bloggingheads dialogue between McArdle and Kerry Howley. It is titled "Lipstick Libertarians." At the top of the episode, McArdle announces, "I've been called a lipstick libertarian. I'm not quite sure if that was meant as an insult or a compliment."

She's reappropriating the L-words, I guess. Here are some of the Reason comments:
In my imagination, you two are planning a rainbow party. I'm not about to watch the video and spoil that image.

You girls would be so pretty if you just did something about your hair and makeup.

Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

Girl's got quite the noggin, glad she's on our team! *friendly, athletic slap on the ass*

They kind of look a little bit like Bert and Ernie in that one.
Bert and Ernie were a couple, so does mean Kerry and Megan.... [WARREN'S HEAD 'ASPLODE]
Maybe this is that fabled common ground between liberals and libertarians I've been hearing about. I suggest Obama start using it to counteract charges of elitism. First step: flip-flop his apology for calling that reporter "sweetie" and say his only regret was not also giving her a friendly, athletic slap on the ass.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP: "Rightbloggers find McCain's Chocolate Sandwich Tasty." I may be getting the hang of this headline thing.
CHUTZPAH. The Anchoress, under her pen name Elizabeth Scalia, pleads in a PJM essay against "name-calling" -- as practiced by "rabid Bush-haters."

I could leave it at that, but let's just take a quick look at some of the Anchoress' greatest hits:
Is it just me or is Bill Clinton looking increasingly like the the smug bastard son of Boris Yeltsin?

Is Obama a megalomaniac?... If he wins, no one can say we didn't see megalomania... (Also, Obama is "a presidential candidate [who] needs to get up on stage and jeer at his country and countrymen for their lack of so-called sophistication to his 'sophisticated' and self-hating supporters," who are also "jack-booted silencers of dissent"; the press are Obama's "whores," etc.)

Nancy Pelosi Orwell: The Lady Likes Control... Feinstein: Tomorrow belongs to the people! Pelosi: Excuse me, comrade, I think you mean tomorrow belongs to me!

Jimmy Carter... the most repellent ex-president, ever...
This only draws from recent examples in which the Anchoress' usual passive-aggressive approach flares unto raw slander. By and large she prefers to use devices such as imaginary dialogues and funny dialects to mask the full intensity of her rage. I'd say her latest self-casting as the Voice of Sweet Reason isn't fooling anybody, but with cases such as hers, we must admit the possibility that she is fooling herself.
SHORTER RICK MORAN: I can dish it out, but I can't take it.

(Remember: there is no greater atrocity on the face of God's green earth than accusing the children of Lee Atwater of racism.)
WHY WE'RE FUCKED. Over at Reason, discussion of some article about Obama race blahblah:
...my father--who I don't believe has a bigoted bone in his body... is nonetheless apprehensive about Obama because he correlates governmental decline of where he lives with when black politicians started getting elected. While I don't share his reasoning and conclusions (especially in the case of Obama, who won't get elected without a hell of a lot of white people voting for him) he is empirically correct about the local politics in many cities...

I don't suppose they bothered to ask the white voters who said race was a factor whether it was a positive or negative? I would expect some percentage to be guilty white liberals voting for the black guy because he is a black guy.

Obama's liberal white supporters are given to cheering his sneezes and fainting whenever he graces them with his presence.

All this election is going to prove is that whites favor generic white over generic black and blacks favor generic half black over generic white. That's a basic human impulse that has colored human social interaction since the beginning of time and is nothing to be concerned about.
Commenters also suggest that if you vote for Obama because he's black, this makes you the real racist; that black people won't vote for "an Orien..., er, Asian candidate? ;-)"; etc.

Now bear in mind, these are libertarians, who are generally smart enough at least to correctly spell the word "libertarian." Despite their clinical and tragic inability to empathize with other human beings, you'd think their intellectual pride at least would steer them away from racist circular logic. So it is depressing to see them using their big brains to explain that, while they themselves don't see the relevance, they can understand how Al Sharpton Whoisblack makes decent, reasonable white people nervous about Barack Obama Whoisblack.

And if that's what the Randian Supermen are up to, imagine the discourse in the 3-D comments boxes (aka bars, church basements, etc.) inhabited by Real Americans who don't need no debate-school tricks to tell you what they really think.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

SHORTER PETER WEHNER: Without bullshit, we're fucked.
OUTTA LOCKDOWN. Well, that was weird. Apparently Blogger thought I was running a spam blog and briefly shut me down. Blogger describes spam blogs as those that "can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text" -- well! An honest mistake, then -- "along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site." I'll have to write less about Jonah Goldberg henceforth.

I was a little sore about it, but I'm glad to see some of the comrades kept their heads:
Obama's Netroots Supporters Continue "Blog Burning"

Tell me once more how progressives love free speech...

Online activists thought to be loyal to Barack Obama are once against using Google's software tools to target rival political blogs for elimination as spam blogs...
I must mention that Mr. Yankee updated with a cryptic one-line link to a contrary opinion. (You won't catch me making that mistake again!)

The Anchoress delivered an epic "Prayer Request" for Catholic bloggers deprived of internet ventilation by Satan: "Not that one is conspiracy minded. But it does seem that Old Scratch is doing his usual. Pray for Julie, her husband and Beyond Cana group, Deacon Greg and Patrick... Let me know of any other Catholic blogs on google/blogger and I’ll add them to the growing list!" She also corrected, briefly, suggesting the outage might be due to "Summer mischief," which of course means she hates Obama because he's black.

UPDATE. Confederate Yankee has expanded on his retraction, only because you citizen-journalists held his feet to the fire! Boo-yah! Pibb Xtra for my horses, noogies for my men.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

THE BARREL HAS NO BOTTOM. It's come to this: the geniuses at National Review are parsing the hell out of Obama's statements that allude to the perfectly plain-to-the-non-brain-damaged fact that a black Democratic Presidential candidate is unusual and may excite negative feelings among certain honkies [cue 'Dueling Banjos'].

Peter Kirsanow marvels that Obama "suggests that certain Americans are intrinsically racist, and those Americans aren't just confined to political opponents." Kirsanow is one of the very, very few people of color I have heard from who is offended by the very notion that white racism exists, which explains why Bush appointed him to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

As for the house honkies, they seem especially enraged by Obama's crack that he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills" -- again, to the mentally complete, an uncontroversial statement. Jay Nordlinger clears his throat, retucks his shirt, says "Um, there's actually only one president on the dollar bill," then retires to the locker room for his wedgie. Yeah, adds Jason Lee Steorts, and what about when Obama said, "Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face"? "Nobody thinks... Well, no; lots of people think Bush and McCain have some 'real' answers to some challenges, and lots of people think Barack Obama's answers to the same challenges are mistaken. There are millions of such people, in fact." Then he retires to the locker room, etc.

After a barrage of this crap, Obama surrenders to custom and sends a spokesperson to tell people it's not about race, and Amy Holmes becomes excited and analogical:
This reminds me of that game one plays with children where you cover your face with your hands and tease, "You can't see me! You can't see me!" They will giggle and shriek, "Yes, I can! You're right there!" Children love this game and will play for hours. Apparently, the Obama campaign believes we will, too.
Sometimes a metaphor is not immediately obvious because it is especially crafty, but much more often it is not obvious because it sucks as a metaphor. Besides, don't kids do rainbow parties instead of this shit anymore?

At this point "The Dollar Bill Statement" has become a full-blown scandal at National Review, and soon we may expect them to predict serious electoral repercussions. "Not content with mere insinuations of racism," says Kirsanow, "the Obama campaign publically signals their belief that we're galactically stupid." Wonder where they got that idea?

People say this campaign is especially exciting, and I have to agree. It's only July and already I fail to see how these people can get any more ridiculous. But I know they'll find a way!

UPDATE. Some Haloscan weirdness; comments appear to have been deleted; feel free to resubmit. I took advantage of the confusion to delete an italic tag and fix a typo.
TROLLHOUSE COOKIES. I don't know how much more can be said about McCain's ridiculous Obama and the White Sluts ad at this point. But I was delighted to see Ross Douthat's coverage of it. No, not for anything Douthat wrote -- as expected, the advocate of a new, cleansing Republican populism does a "GOP Racism? Where?" Vaudeville act for two posts.

What pleased me was that the two posts are infested with what bloggers of a McArdlesque turn of mind would call trolls -- that is, they give Douthat a hard time not only about his posts, but also about his blog, his Party, etc. And very enjoyably too: "This blog is starting to feel like a petulant resignation letter," "This is the ultimate Ross Douthat post. Bitchy, hand-wringing, and pointless," "Maybe we should be congratulating Ross for being so post-racist that he is completely unable to detect it," etc.

But my very special compliments go to whoever put up the priceless fake Steve Sailer comment:
It's a fact that African-American penises are larger, in inverse correlation to IQ.

I have measured hundreds myself, and feel that this ad is bringing up a serious question.

If we have an African American president, then clearly white women are going to start having interracial sex. And we have no idea where this will lead.

But, we will have a lot of blond women surprised, and sore.

Nobody wants to hear this, but it is fact.
As some of us have known for years, many of the great geniuses of the internet labor in obscurity. We must celebrate them as we mourn the Unknown Soldier, with such insufficient but well-meant monuments as this.

(If you aren't familiar with Sailer's ideas on race, this will give you some idea.)

UPDATE. No sign of stopping. One commenter suggests Douthat is trying to follow Yglesias' lead and attract offers from more overtly partisan operations. I have thought for a long time that the Atlantic should just clear the decks and replace all their bloggers with genuine, diagnosed aphasics and autistics. The current policy of employing Asperger's sufferers just doesn't go far enough.
SOCIAL NOTES. Tbogg points out two girls passing notes at The Corner:
Observation [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

The last time I've seen as many smiling people as I saw at Tiffany's earlier this afternoon, I was at St. Peter's in Rome in the spring...

Kathryn's Observation [Lisa Schiffren]

Smiles at St. Peter's are about the hope for transcendence. Smiles at Tiffany are about the hopes that come with earthly love -- and the very material proof of its magnitude and sparkle that Tiffany purports to sell. The floor where they sell engagement rings ought to be a happy place.
All gack! aside, I really, really hope this is Corner code for "K-Lo's got a beau." I have a soft spot for this awful woman; she seems to be the product of great suffering, not just its cause. Nobody could actually be as stupid as her writing suggests, so I assume that trauma or disorder has something to do with her often-incomprehensible output. My basic theories are these:

1.) Unhealthy sexual obsessions, exacerbated by the twin, soul-crushing burdens of loneliness and Catholicism, fatally distract her;
2.) A neurotic need to please some distant father-figure overrides her basic editorial skills and drives her to humiliate herself by writing cringe-inducing propaganda and then, in a paroxysm of self-abasement, publishing it under her real name;
3.) All that and a brain tumor.

She deserves a little happiness. Also, given her professed values, if she marries we may presume she'll quit her job. Win-win!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WHO'S POLITICALLY CORRECT NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS?* You'd think that if anyone called Hillary a bitch, wingnuts would piss themselves cheering. But black people, especially those who've been mentioned favorably by Obama, don't get that Golfcourse Pass.

Ludacris spits some hilariously tasteless lyrics ("Paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified/McCain don't belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed"), and conservatives go into a PC snit. The dumber ones seem to think Ludacris works for the Obama campaign; the dumbest ones, having recently sought deep political significance in a cartoon, seek it now in a rap song:
Exit question: How does this stack up with the New Yorker cover? Both were created with an eye to defending Obama, both can be used by his political opponents against him (at least, in the New Yorker's case, among dullards unable to grasp satire) [!!! -- ed.]. I'm guessing that whereas the magazine was squarely blamed for Covergate, Ludacris will plead authenticity and be duly absolved.
The guy also says the song is "political dynamite"; does he think Ludacris is on Obama's VP shortlist? Perhaps he assumes that all Americans are just like himself, and cannot tell one black man from another.

As our current, insane politics requires, Obama has distanced himself from the remarks of Mr. Cris; his measured, sensible way of doing so draws a lovely why-I-never sputterfest from uber-ofay Philip Klein at the American Spectator:
The need to add the qualifier, "While Ludacris is a talented individual" is absolutely outrageous. Most Americans won't see talent in these lyrics -- they'll see them for what they are -- blatantly racist and sexist garbage. This is a major bungle by the Obama campaign.
Yeah, Obama should have come out for warning labels on iTunes. That would have helped him cement that crucial "old guy who still says coloreds" vote.

I'm shocked the head wingnuts don't have flying squads running around the internet, taking this stuff down before normal people wind up staring dumbfounded at it. They must have those voting machines rigged nice and tight.

LATE ENTRY. The Voice posted my usual Monday column on a Wednesday this week. (Why? Because they're in the Village, man, where time is just a concept.) Have fun anyway, it's about the Obama World Tour and the dopes who are all "Oooooh, Obama's your messiah, you looooove him," and making the peace sign and going "Peeeeace man, peeeeeace." And then (as long as we're fantasizing, why not?) crapping themselves and rolling around on the floor.

Ahem, what I mean to say is, I find their reasoning a trifle disingenuous. This news is not so fresh, though I see conservatives are still trying to get some mileage out of the troops Obama unvisited in Europe. National Review's Charlotte Hays dismisses the Washington Post's "McCain's Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence" story: of course treasonous Obama would treasonously deny he treasonably dissed the troops for treasonous treason, and "Obama's inconsistent reasons for not going are as lacking in supporting evidence as McCain's assertion," Hays reasons. I wish that trick really worked, if only for my own sake: I could go around demanding people prove they don't owe me two grand, and never have to work again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

HOW DID RED DAWN EVER GET MADE? How odd to see Orson Bean, one of my favorite talk-show guests in boyhood, quoted extensively by his son-in-law Andrew Breitbart in the Washington Times:
"Aside from the inconvenience of having a career ruined, being blacklisted in the '50s was kind of cool," Orson recalled over watered-down dark rum pina coladas poolside at Club Med.

"You were doing 'the right thing.' Hot, left-wing girls admired you. You hadn't 'named names.' The New York Times was on your side. And you knew it would pass. Things always do in America..."
On the other hand, these liberals today:
"These days, the left doesn't just disagree with right-wingers - they hate them. People actually shudder when I tell them I'm a Republican. I should have to carry a bell and yell, 'unclean'"...
So the blacklist was okay, because Orson Bean got trim and the support of the Times in exchange for employment opportunities, but today liberals shudder at him, which is worse. What was Dalton Trumbo bitching about?

It's a curious point of view, which even Breitbart seems to realize, because he refers to Orson as "once again on the wrong side of the censors," presumably to make the point that shudders mean censorship. I suppose he really means self-censorship: "'Repugnant' Reaganites and 'reptilian' Bushies planning to work on the 'Ocean's 14' set have mastered a code of conduct: silence." Yeah, look at Bruce Willis, who "doesn't talk openly about politics anymore" -- after he stumped for Bush the Elder in 1992, Willis was shunted off to obscure projects like Pulp Fiction, Nobody's Fool, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance. Bruce did hard time, man, so we can forgive him for taking the easy way out now. He just couldn't take the shudders. Could you?

It might be easier for guys like Breitbart if there were Senate Committee hearings and publications (Red State Channels?) that made their martyrdom more overt. On the other hand, like most Hollywood types, they have vivid imaginations, and can cook up a witch-hunt out of a few dirty looks.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, DOUCHEBAG. National Review's Victor Davis Hanson is not content with being both a columnist and a -- wait, what do you call a guy who knows a lot about ancient history and is constantly reminding you of it? Oh yeah, a douchebag. Well, now Hanson wants to be a neologist, too. Speaking on the speeches of politicians whose eco-enthusiasms annoy him, Hanson writes:
It is scary when Speaker Pelosi claims "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet," or Al Gore barks about his utopian plan to shut down all generators of electricity except wind and solar within 10 years -- or else: "The future of human civilization is at stake." Or Obama claims that at the "moment" of his nomination over Hillary (?) "The rise of the oceans began to slow." Call this ecobonics, geo-narcissism, or hokey science -- or a variant strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome -- but it is creepy nonetheless.
"Ecobonics"? Why the conflation of ecology and ebonics? What do black people have to do with environmentalists? Oh right: conservatives hate them, too.

It would appear... wait, I'm having difficulty maintaining my arch tone and devising a glittering jest on this subject. So let's leave it at this: what a fucking douchebag.

Monday, July 28, 2008

MONDAY WITH ROD DREHER. 8:52 AM: My Lord Jesus wouldn't approve, but between you and me and the blogosphere, Africans are hopeless.
3:56 PM: TV gives your kid autism! So don't give them any, much.
4:15 PM: I don't mind living with black people so long as they belong to the same cult as me. I have children, y'know.
6:41PM: Why should black people get breaks? Let 'em earn it like I did.
8:43 PM: It's ridiculous to say conservatives want to kill people. I just want them fired for blasphemy. Totally different.
10:06 PM: Some poor saps at my job are going to get fired. Break out the good champers!
THE LAND OF MAKE-BELIEVE. You've probably heard the one about the deranged stars-and-bars enthusiast who went hunting liberals and homosexuals, but was identified first and foremost by rightbloggers as a Christian-hater because he went to a Unitarian Church to find liberals and homosexuals, reasonably assuming there would be several of each in attendance there. "While many in the political blogosphere will no doubt focus on the fact that Adkisson said he hated liberals and gays," fumes another Confederacy celebrant, "the fact of the matter is that the didn't target a gay club or local progressive political groups, he specifically targeted a church." Similarly, if he went hunting homosexuals in a gay bar, it would be because he really hated mixed drinks.

Here's more close analysis from Clayton Cramer: "You know, most rational people who hate liberalism aren't taking food stamps (a liberal program) or whining about age discrimination (a liberal concern)... There are some occupations that are stereotypically gay, but mechanical engineering isn't one of them." Go ahead and read the whole thing -- context doesn't spoil it much.

You may wonder: why would anyone spin a crazed-gunman story to make it look more like his own propaganda? You have to remember that all these people have left anymore are their folk-tales and myths. A world in which hippies don't spit on soldiers, Obama isn't a Muslim, and all hate crimes don't proceed from P.Z. Myers' atheism lab would not be a world they recognized or could live in.

I mean, get this:
A few years ago in LA, I was driving home from work when a group of gay pride protesters were marching down one of the main roads just south of Sunset Blvd. The group attempted to block an intersection just as I was entering it. They ran in front of my car when they saw that I was almost past them. When I stopped, a couple of them ducked down behind my car out of my view. They were hoping that I would put my car in reverse so they would get bumped and become "justified" in focusing their rage against me and my vehicle.

They were the aggressors but they had a well choreographed plan to spin the situation around where they could claim that I (or any other driver) had recklessly driven into them thus triggering a violent confrontation. Such a manufactured hate crime would have justified the protest group's claim that hateful people aggressively target them with violence for no reason at all.

One of the protesters in the front of my car had a brick in his hand and slammed it against the hood. He slammed it down again as he walked towards my open driver's side window...
The author then coolly dispatches this gay street gang with his sidearm. Now, anyone who has actually attended a Gay Pride parade knows that such an American-International Pictures scene as the author describes is as likely to occur at the Country Bear Jamboree as at Pride. But most down-home conservatives don't know what those marches are like -- they only know that they hate faggots, and that whenever their enemies get together in groups of ten or more -- be they blacks, beatniks, Arabs, or whatever -- the result is inevitably mindless violence that can only be stopped by exercise of Second Amendment rights by one of their own kind. So if all those cheerful pictures in the lying MSM of nice homosexuals were starting to shake your faith, here's what happened to me or a close friend just the other day...

It'll soon get to the point where they'll dispute all accounts of traffic accidents that result from an improper right turn, on the grounds that there is no such thing.
SNAP. Kathryn J. Lopez' aforementioned streak continues:
The New Yorker's version of putting a bumper sticker on the car: I wore a McCain cap to the office this morning. The weird looks, I think, had more to do with the poor fashion accessorizing than the candidate.
I prefer to think they were staring because she had her dress on inside-out, and was handing out rosemary, pansies, and fennel. (She would give them some violets, but they withered all when Mitt Romney died.)

Lopez also files the laziest Obama-in-Europe article so far, which takes some doing. It consists almost entirely of anti-Obama mad libs such as "Chris Matthews and his tingling leg," "The speech at the Berlin Victory Column... with its Leni Riefenstahl-like rally posters translated into German," "The surge worked," and "throw him under the bus." The few original bits, though, are choice. For example:
The junior Illinois senator has been telling us for months now: “We are the hope of the future. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” If I believed that about myself, I’d be pretty audacious. Not to mention messianic.
Yet she lists herself as an "editor" without apparent shame. With apologies to Herman Mankiewicz, imagine the whole world governed by Lopez's self-esteem.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

TOO GOOD TO CHECK. The top rightwing blogs usually treat the Associated Press as a nest of lieberal traitors ("I personally just find it amazing that major media outlets continue to wonder why most of America refuses to read their trash-masquerading-as-news anymore"). But now AP reports that the U.S. is winning in Iraq, and these bloggers have grown credulous, because it gives them a chance to give the speeches they've been rehearsing in their bathroom mirrors for years.

I would consider it a fair trade, if I hadn't read further down in the AP story:
Iraqi authorities have grown dependent on the U.S. military after more than five years of war. While they are aiming for full sovereignty with no foreign troops on their soil, they do not want to rush. In a similar sense, the Americans fear that after losing more than 4,100 troops, the sacrifice could be squandered.

U.S. commanders say a substantial American military presence will be needed beyond 2009...
In other words, same shit, different headline, call it defeat, "mission accomplished," or whatever you like. It has endured through several news cycles, with one side or the other going blar-har-har at any given time, and will likely endure through many more without a change more serious than a news hook.
IMITATION OF CHRIST. P.Z. Myers' communion-wafer stunt has received ample commentary from CrunchyCon Rod Dreher. Before the event, Dreher used his traditional approach to sacrilegious artists: "Just try doing the same thing to what Muslims regard as sacred. Let's see what you're made of."

Later Dreher hoped for blowback, telling readers that an obnoxious atheist had helped make him a Christian and that he hoped "Myers' infamy will be redeemed at least partially by it shocking the conscience of agnostics, and encouraging them to read more about the Christian faith..."

After Myers had desecrated the host, Dreher played the forgiveness card, trying, with veins bulging in his neck, to follow the passive-aggressive example of Christ:
I was thinking last night what the proper Christian response is. If you think about it, P.Z. Myers has done far more to damage himself than anything any of us might do. With his Satanic pride and diabolical act, he has put himself in serious danger of hell -- and that's far worse than any worldly sanction we might (justly) [?? -- ed.] see applied to him...

But what would he do if the response to his hideous blasphemy is ... love? What would he do if Catholics and other Christians, and even sympathetic members of other faiths, turned up en masse on his campus simply to pray quietly for him? What kind of witness would that be to the wider culture? How might that make straight the path to salvation for P.Z. Myers, and many who now admire him? Wouldn't that be blessing those who persecute you, as Christ commands us to do?...

Let's provide a counterwitness for what faithful Christianity is capable of. God may work a miracle in that man's life yet (consider the example of Saul). Let's not get in the way of the work of redemption in this lost man's life. As much as we can, let's answer hate with love...
Yesterday Dreher showed what he means by Christian love: discussing ways to get P.Z. Myers fired.

I'm not a fan of Myers' approach -- not because it is counter-productive, but because it is unproductive. It appears designed to expose the hypocrisy of his opponents, but that is on full display at all times, and has been for centuries. Pointing it out -- even as spectacularly as he has drawn Dreher to do for him -- doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

Friday, July 25, 2008

RIGHTBLOGGERS FOCUS ON THE ISSUES. A few days ago The Ole Perfesser heard about Obama's 3-pointer and said, big deal, I know a guy could do it backwards. Now a German gossip mag (top story at this writing: "The Breast of Hollywood") has posted some gush on Obama's workout ("wow, he didn’t even sweat!"), and Macsmind huffs, "By the way, ten reps on each arm with 35 pound dumbbells and ten sit ups wouldn’t make me sweat either fraulein."

No word yet on Obama's dick size, but when that breaks the coverage will be well worth following.
THE GHOST DANCE CONTINUES. I have noted, time and again, here and elsewhere, the weird habit among American right-wingers of insisting that pop culture artifacts they enjoy are "conservative." Doesn't matter whether the movies, rock songs, TV shows etc. that they adopt are overtly political or not -- if a piece of pop dross pleases them, then they are sure that it stands for low taxes or war in Iraq or some damn thing.

So I was pleased that someone some folks besides myself and Brad noticed this breathtakingly insane Wall Street Journal article by Andrew Klavan, which seeks to demonstrate that the latest popular comic-book movie is not merely a series of explosions, CGI effects, and lurid performances, but first and foremost a ringing defense of the Bush Administration -- even though it was made by the sort of Hollyweird players Klavan normally can't stop denouncing as evil cultural polluters (perhaps, in this case, the forces of decency threatened their families).

The brighter bulbs have found plenty of ripe comedy in the situation, so I will only add this: I recall another time in this country when politically engaged dumbasses became convinced that cultural portents such as Bonnie & Clyde, songs with drug imagery, and nude Broadway musicals all proved that the revolution was at hand. Junk culture is not a very good predictive mechanism, particularly when applied by folks who know most of their fellow citizens are sick to death of them and turn to the posters on their bedroom walls for validation.
EVERYBODY'S GOT A DREAM. Jim Lileks, having recently given us what his fellow analists call a "fisking" to a Garrison Keillor column that was three times length of the column, does something similar with Obama's Berlin speech. Lileks informs us that "'World citizen' is used as a badge of empathy that carries no responsibilities... it dilutes actual national citizenship, which naturally takes second place to World Citizenship." Also, Obama said the 9/11 viictims were from all over the world, but "most weren’t from all over the world. Most were Americans. Which makes sense, since the attack was explicitly aimed at America, not The Globe." In the unedited version, Lileks tells us that the Hudson River isn't really a river but a tidal estuary, America is a republic rather than a democracy, and the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire.

This is the sort of tendentious crap in which Lileks has become a specialist. Something about Obama really brings it out in him, though. When he gets to the global warming part he actually writes, "Obama may have heard of the Dust Bowl..." Heh, just maybe! I really expected him to reproduce some Dust Bowl matchbooks to demonstrate his superior authority.

It goes on like this forever, and the point, such as it is, is that Obama's appeal to idealism is laughable to hard-bitten cynics like Jim Lileks. Of course that's just me being tendentious, as Lileks and his comrades have their own Shining City of the Hill, but theirs is built on endless wars, tax breaks for the wealthy, and hatred of homosexuals: it's a vastly more butch kind of idealism, which they believe, with reason, makes it easier to sell.

So they compare Obama's speech to "We Are The World" as a pointed mockery, because that global event took place during the Age of Reagan, and takes them back to a happier time when the fruitier sort of idealism was a mere sideshow, an indulgence to distract feather-haired fools while the grown-ups shoveled money from the National Treasury to their friends in the private sector. They have another old guy running for office now, and if he doesn't sprinkle fairy dust as effectively as the original, this can be blamed on the media's refusal to cover him: voters must take on faith that McCain will restore the natural order of the 1980s. Outside the land of dreams, this doesn't look like such a hot idea, but as long as we stick to symbology, it might just work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

THE FIRST TIME AS TRAGEDY, THE SECOND TIME AS FARTS. Obama's talking about moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Sensing an opening, General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters storms the breach with a squad of Howlin' Paradoxes:
Now their presidential candidate has announced that he won't bring all those troops home, but will simply transfer combat forces from Iraq to Afghanistan -- expanding that war. (He's discussed possibly invading Pakistan, too.)

And the left's quiet as a graveyard at midnight.

Where are the outraged protests from MoveOn or the DailyKos? I thought the extreme left felt sorry for our service members in harm's way and wanted to reunite them with their families.
Having nothing to say against Obama's prescription ("Yes, we could use more combat forces in Afghanistan") -- nothing coherent anyway ("I'm not quite ready to invade Pakistan without weighing the consequences and costs") -- the General instead directs his fire against a squadron of straw pacifists. Like a true action hero, the General likes to wisecrack while he rips through the enemy:
If the next president yanks our troops out of Iraq, all the progress disintegrates, Iran moves in and we have to re-invade to clean up the mess, will you enlist and do your part?

I know, I know: Educated people like you are too smart and too important to serve in uniform. The military's for dummies, for losers. Serious players stay home and blog and bitch over double espressos.
Along with their effete choice of beverage (real men drink instant, boiled over a flaming skull), the imaginary peaceniks are also assailed for "sitting in your basement blogging in your underwear at 3 a.m." Speaking of which, Ace O'Spades gets the General's back, and also gets credit for additional dialogue:
I'm not a big fan of the chickenhawk argument, but the left has long made it. And I asked similar questions a hundred times in the past: Fine, you're against the Iraq War. But you claim to be in favor of the Afghanistan War and even, on occasion, in favor of the Great Overmountain Invasion of Pakistan. So, um, Chickenhawk? How's blogging from Kabul?
Then he pours his Pibb Xtra over the crotch of his Stupid Hippie doll, and laughs the laughter of the righteous over the Hippie's weak bladder.

Inside jokes like these are fun for us dorks, but McCain's mainstream operatives are not likely to pick them up, figuring that John Q. Citizen won't know what the hell they're talking about. So if they want to ride their meme to glory, the General, O'Spades, and their comrades might try a public education campaign, alerting America to the perfidious people who blog for war from basements. As examples, they can take some of their old posts and change the names; for strats and tacts, they can emulate the left in 2004. It probably won't even work as well as it did last time, but let us encourage them to try.
NEW FRONTIERS. I'll say it again: Obama is black and therefore can still lose against these idiots. But it's nonetheless fun to see them digging so deep into their worn-out bag of used-up tricks. For example: Someone reminds the Ole Perfesser of Obama's celebrated 3-point shot. The feat was cheered by soldiers, which must have extra-deranged the Perfesser and led him to emit this:
Anyway, that's not so cool as Kass makes it sound. My high-school friend Steve Proffitt once made a more than full-court shot -- from the opposite end of the Maryville College gym, as he walked out the door -- over his shoulder, all the way to the far goal, nothing but net. He was so cool, he didn't even see it as he continued out the door without looking back. Now that's cool. And if he were running for President, I'd vote for him...
...unless he were running as a Democrat, in which case the Perfesser would say that's wasn't such a big deal, he knew this one guy who sank a basket from an airplane, or some shit.

They're actually attacking Obama's basketball game. To me this suggests desperation verging on madness. But maybe I'm misreading it. Seen another way, they might just be expanding their media options. Obviously no subject is too stupid for them, and they are also forming crucial new alliances with other alternative press outlets, as suggested by this Rod Dreher outreach ("The [National] Enquirer is actually a more solid investigative outfit than many people think"). With both the Enquirer and Ed Anger behind them, how can they fail? And meanwhile their operatives are still hard at work on Obama-Hitler comparisons that should prove convincing, especially after the Party has disseminated copies of Black Gestapo in key districts.

I used to think we owed the Founding Fathers an apology, but I'm beginning to think they owe us one.
PRUDES VS. NUDES. James Poulos tackles the important subject of nude yoga. He seizes upon a practitioner's claim that nudists are "celebrating our bodies":
We can strip off -- what a victory! It's all so dreadfully banal. Nudism is the new checkers. Only checkers has a set of rules and a point to it more complex and well-developed than celebration. That's sort of what a game is for -- withholding celebration until some quantum of meaning has been obtained out of participation in an order. Celebration as we take it is like stipulating that we've all just already played a game and everyone won. Celebration as we take it hinges on the idea that celebration shouldn't result from meaning but should result in it. That's bizarre enough on its own terms, and much more 'harmful' culturally speaking than playing a game where the winners of a game of team checkers get to get naked.
The post is titled "Self-Parody Watch," which I suppose is what makes Poulos a Post-Modern Conservative, and provokes several thoughts:
  • If ever a story cried out for investigative reporting, this one does. Is Poulos on firm ground when he says "At least naked yoga isn't an orgy"? You know how hippies are; they may start by innocently celebrating their bodies, but this inevitably degenerates into a Siobhan McKenna Group Grope. At least I hope so. Are there any photojournalists who can look into this?
  • Maybe I only speak for myself, but I have "celebrated" birthdays, the only quantum of meaning for which was obtained by the earth, which did the hard work of circling the sun since my last birthday. All I did was get born and stick around. Should we rethink birthday parties? I know people enjoy cake and presents, but perhaps it's not worth the moral hazard.
  • I appreciate Poulos' right to "amused contempt," which is also my stock in trade, but anything Isis Phoenix says that justifies getting her kit off automatically trumps anything Poulous or I could say about anything. I don't have the philosophical training to explain it well, but I think it has something to do with Natural Law.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SHORTER ANN ALTHOUSE. So you think McCain was scurrilous, eh? Well I think you're scurrilous! How do you like that! Now I'm going to take your nose and stick it in your butt, like in that Jim Carrey movie I saw. Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Obama is a traitor.

UPDATE. Inspired by Althouse, commenters suggest new terms for fake moderates of the living concern troll type. "Cryangulators," "Sinn Feign," and "Right-Wing Assholes" are among the winning entries.
BUCKLEY WAKE UP -- THEY HAVE GONE MAD. Just lookin' around the internet, seein' what the wingnuts are up to...

In the immortal words of Curly, "Ngggnnyahh!" Seems the Obama European Tour has brought out the best in Dr. Melissa Clouthier, who defensively explains:
This is about artistic tone. The profile view. The serious expression. The shading. When I saw the Obama flier picture, my mind immediately called up this Hitler image and I was struck by how similar they are in feel the color choice differences aside. Unnerving really.
In comments Clouthier is compelled to explain even more:
I did not say Barack Obama and Hitler are anything alike, just that the imagery is startlingly alike. It would be one thing for a flier in America in English called to mind that imagery, but when Obama is going to the very place Hitler spoke at and chose as the capital of the world under German supremacy, it’s alarming.
The only possible conclusion: Obama is trying to make himself look like Hitler to win votes.

But don't worry, not all conservatives are obsessing over Barack Hussein Hitler -- or even angrily comparing him, as Victor Davis Hanson does, to those other famous Nazis, James Dean and the Beatles, in defense of the new rightwing talking point that Obama is too popular. Some are hard at work firming up that John Edwards sex scandal story ("This story seems extremely strong. Given that it was the National Enquirer... most media outlets wouldn't touch it, but it is good to learn what appears to be the real story"). Others are following the Pope and lamenting that his healing presence came too late to save Jamie Lynn Spears and her bastard.

Meanwhile, a local government gives tax breaks to a local group that's bringing a whole lot of out-of-town business to the city, and conservatives won't defend it! But how can that be? Haw, haw, haw. You caught on, didn't you? I'm not as hard to see through as I think.

Thus do they fill their days in between Ghost Dances.

UPDATE. Just in from the rightwing semiotic squad: The Anchoress finds the flag on Obama's plane too small, and the preponderance of his campaign logo cause for grave concern: "It's starting to really make me uncomfortable. Obama is clearly trying to send a signal that he is a 'citizen of the world' type before he is an American." What -- like Diogenes? Or, even more sinister, Arthur Ashe?

Do these people even know how crazy they look to folks who don't spend all day looking for signs, symbols and portents in every goddamned little thing?