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?
SHORTER JIM LILEKS: I am the king of Minnesota writers and will spend thousands of words to prove it. And Obama is so not one of us. Why? Well, isn't it obvious? I'm a hard-working gas station attendant.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SOUTH CENTRAL PUT HIS SOUL IN THE DEEP FREEZE/SHE GAVE HIM HER KEYS. Forgot to mention that I saw Passing Strange just before it closed on Broadway. I understand that Spike Lee is preparing a film version, which pleases me, because the show demands far more attention than it got.

Some good friends of mine have been raving to me about Stew's songwriting for years. I never got around to seeing him before I saw this show, which he narrated and wrote with his collaborator, Heidi Rodewald. Stew's a large, ovoid black man who has clearly learned patience from being a major talent in a market ill-equipped to reward anyone like him for it. His stolid, ironical manner communicates this, as does his play. This is especially surprising because Passing Strange is frankly autobiographical and even more frankly about the burdens of artistry, like many awful plays, movies, novels, albums etc by artsy people before him, memories of which even now cause my sphincter to clench. But Stew's story, like The Sorrow of Young Werther and Withnail and I and "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and The Ginger Man and a precious few others, muscles over the hump of narcissism into revelation.

The through-line is simple and time-honored: a callow youth, full of the desire to make good, forsakes his family and goes on a journey. Young Stew -- in the play, The Young Man -- is a moody black kid in suburban Los Angeles, endlessly annoyed by his bourgie Mom's insistence that he go to church and get with the program. Tempted by a cute chorister, he joins the local church music program, and the music director's tales of Jimmy Baldwin and Josephine Baker and the treasures awaiting the young, gifted, and black in Europe convince the Young Man to break out and claim for himself.

This is a fine start, elevated by the director's heartbreaking revelation that he himself has been denied the pleasures of European exile by his "slavery" to the church. It's a slavery that, the play suggests, is really his own cowardice, and it sets a tone for The Young Man's journey: wherever he goes, he takes his internal shackles with him.

The free-and-easy culture of Amsterdam gives The Young Man's soul some much-needed air, and his libido a workout, but he only learns too late the cost of free love: once he crosses certain emotional frontiers, even in an open city, he can't go back. In Berlin his mind is humorously but genuinely stimulated by performance-art culture -- when the hardcore Berliners intimidate him, he defensively intimidates them back with "South Central L.A." bullshit, aggressively confronting them with complicated soul-shakes. And when he chants in Germanic performance, "My pain fucked my ego and I called the bastard art," it's joke but it's also a window into his state of mind. When his Berlin girlfriend calls him on his poses, he can't give them up -- not just because he's ashamed to admit them, but also because they're part of the self that he created to get himself this far in a frighteningly unfamiliar word.

The Narrator is onstage throughout, watching both his young Self and the characters he encounters. In the Broadway production, Stew's performance mode was mildly engaged but mostly removed. I couldn't tell at first whether that was because Stew isn't really an actor -- Oscar Levant and Dexter Gordon were also impenetrable in similar circumstances -- or because the style called for the Narrator to bear witness stoically and leave the feeling to us. I began to lean toward the latter interpretation when it became clear that The Young Man's mother was dying, and that he would not make it home before she went. When Stew explained, blandly, that The Young Man "could not accept love without understanding," and his dying mother suddenly turned from The Young Man and cried directly to Stew, "How do you feel about it now?" I burst into tears. Was it because I had played Berlin and Amsterdam, too, and left behind a mother who never understood? Or was it because I was feeling what anyone with a heart would feel -- that when you dare to reach beyond expectations you must also expect to leave a trail of hurt? Busted up as I was, Stew didn't flinch, and I think it was better that he didn't. Nabokov told his Cornell students, when he read aloud to them the death of Jo from Bleak House, "This is a lesson in style, not in participative emotion." But he must have known some of them would weep, even as they took the lesson.

Stew was very much front and center at the end, tying up the loose ends. I'm not sure how successful he was at it. Certainly he didn't possess the certainty with which the Chimney Man redeemed Jelly Roll Morton at the end of Jelly's Last Jam. But Stew's story was less mythic than specific, and to the extent that it clicked -- not as a Broadway hit; it only lasted five months -- it was mostly in its resonance for any auditor that knew what it was to break through a barrier and still feel he had left something behind. One late line collapsed the house: "You know it's weird when you wake up one morning and realize that your entire adult life was based on the decision of a teenager." I think that line is practically Shakespearean, and reflects what's wonderful in the play: the deep understanding that we can't know what we've done, or who we've become, until it's way too late to do anything about it.

And oh, yeah, the production was brilliant, with good use of the stage and gestural Paul Sills acting. And the songs are beautiful. If you didn't like Rent, don't worry, neither did I, and this is much, much better. That Stew has a future, as of course he always had.
GAWD, THE CLUB IS FULL OF POSERS TONIGHT. Pressing the back of her hand to her forehead, fluttering her eyelids wearily, and striking a despondent pose, National Review scold-in-residence Lisa Schiffren denounces "The Media's Anti-Substance Bias" as regards our current Presidential campaign. "If the standard [for success] is 'sizzle,' or sex appeal," says Schiffren, "then any rational, substantive argument is doomed to lose..." She decries the "dog and pony shows" that "dazzle our media," and compares the situation to "American Idol." The voters are also to blame: they don't dig McCain's "irony" like Schiffren does, and his "straight-forward, informational presentation only works with people who want real information. (Sigh.)"

Of course, it is the popularity of that cursed blackamoor Obama that has Schiffren talking this way. She was much, much more into sizzle, dogs, and ponies during the late, lamented heyday of Fred Thompson, when she wrote:
The former Senator’s most salient attribute is his persona. He has a large, comforting, commanding presence that Hollywood directors have seen fit to cast as an admiral, the director of the CIA, and even the President. His slow drawl, big eyes, and wrinkles make him the very image of the respected Southern lawyer. He is an excellent communicator, sympathetic, easy to watch, and never grating...
Neither did Hollywood Fred's extremely thin qualifications ("Thompson frequently fills in for ABC radio host Paul Harvey, and gives short 'position paper' talks on issues") bother Schiffren, so long as he kept working his presentational skills ("He is diplomatic, uses language better than any of the others, and has that wonderful deep voice... he could get away with attacking the fragile Hillary or the sainted Obama better than any of the others...").

Now that the Democratic candidate is a media phenom and his opponent a puffy dotard, Schiffren is all Dogme 95, disgusted by cheap appeals to emotion. Let us have substance, she demands! Presumably, when the press starts giving more coverage to McCain's multiple senior moments in discussion thereof, she'll wonder whatever happened to the good old days when all anyone ever asked of a President was that he'd been tortured by the Viet Cong.

UPDATE. In the course of her hilarious advice to der Alte ("A speech coach should be on the campaign plane... thoughtful, specifically empathetic and directed approach might also work with those mid-western blue collar voters who flocked to Hillary..."), Schiffren actually says, "as E.M. Forster said, memorably, 'Only connect.'" I refuse to believe that anyone could be this much of a fraud out of a mere desire to deceive. Schiffren is clearly trying to impress her peers, and attain super-villain status among them. I mean, that's the only explanation I can think of -- they can't be paying her for this shit.
BREAKING THE SANE BARRIER. National Review "editor" Kathryn J. Lopez has been pretty crazy lately, but I think she's officially outdone herself:
I have MSNBC on and I'm not listening to Barack Obama's Jordan press conference. Which is the point of this post.

I'm not proud, but the truth is, he is so not-impressive off-script that you easily forget that this is SOMETHING BIG you're watching. He's umming and throat-clearing and looking and sounding out of his league. Which is what he is, of course. But we don't always see the reality for what it is, because he can deliver a good speech and work a crowd. I may not be listening, but I'm appreciating the clarifying moment.
I'm used to hearing them say that Obama's not a good speaker, but Lopez's suggestion that we are distracted from the reality of Obama's bad speech-making by Obama's good speechmaking -- to which Lopez is immune because she's not paying attention -- is, I think, an artful paraphrase of the riddle that made the robot blow up in "I, Mudd."

As for K-Lo's conclusion:
McCain may not rally a trial, but there's there there that could plausible be commander-in-chief of a nation at war (really, we are, remember? It's not just over there.)
I'm pretty sure this is a paraphrase, too, but I haven't read enough Guillaume Apollinaire to be sure.

UPDATE. Fixed bad link.

Monday, July 21, 2008

AN END TO TOKENISM. The Ole Perfesser and Co. say the New York Times is liberal, dying, will be sorry come November etc.

Let's get the decks cleared once and for all: have the Times stop sending Zev Chafets to do magazine cover stories on Rush Limbaugh and Mike Huckabee; fire David Brooks and William Kristol; and stop giving op-eds to Max Boot, Ross Douthat, James Dobson, Edward Luttwak, Fred Kagan, Paul Bremer, Tunku Varadarajan, Doug Feith, Bruce Barlett, Ann Althouse, The Ole Perfesser, et alia.

In return, the Wall Street Journal can lose Thomas Frank.

If that doesn't seem like a fair trade to you, please be informed that fairness has nothing to do with it.

UPDATE. In a hyperventilation worthy of L. Kudlow in his frosted nose era, The Anchoress says when the Times politely suggested that John McCain's op-ed writers try another draft, they denied McCain's right to "free speech." Requiring a periodical to publish something it doesn't want to publish sounds more like the Canadian way than ours, but if The Anchoress really believes this, I have a couple thousand words on what a dunce she is that, I'm sure she'll agree, the First Amendment requires she post at her blog.

UPDATE II. Tbogg points out the bitter tears of Roger L. Simon. Apparently the Times published a few of Simon's items once upon a time. Then -- without warning -- they rejected one! Simon's conclusion: "The Times is no more 'fair and balanced' than Fox News... Bias is as American as apple pie."

One little reversal, and the whole (media) world is against them. What keeps them from ever growing up, do you suppose? My guess is that wingnuts give off a kind of reverse ethylene, and when they become clustered (as in thinkthanks, National Review cruises, etc), the concentration inhibits ripening.

UPDATE III. Fixed gas. Thanks, Marc!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. This one's about the New Yorker cover that flipped people out last week. I'm really doing this stuff for future generations, who without documentary evidence might be tempted to disbelieve the stories old men will tell them about the Dark Times. But maybe it's as hard to believe and readable right now, too.
YOUR OWN LYIN' EYES, AND OTHERS'. The longer Americans believe their country's going to shit, the more conservatives insist it's all in their minds. Shortly after concurring with Phil Gramm that his fellow-countrymen are a bunch of whiners, the Ole Perfesser and likeminded operatives leap on a Rassmussen poll that shows half of Americans believing that the press paints a bleak picture of the economy and a rosy picture of Barack Obama.

Astonishingly, the same poll shows that "Only 34% of Americans believe the United States has the world’s best economy." Since it has been scientifically proven that evil reporters have been playing Jedi mind-tricks on us, shouldn't citizens be snorting up fat lines of irrational exuberance and launching into Larry-Kudlow-style "America is back" monologues?

The force of habit, not to say brainwashing, is powerful, so if the Republicans pull these gimp-strings hard enough, they'll win some votes even if Bush goes door-to-door molesting children and the National Debt gets so high we have to sell Hawaii to Saudi billionaires to make the vig. But there's a big difference between rounding up a few weak-minded stragglers and the mass psychosis to which these people are clearly accustomed, and for which they are clearly nostalgic.

Could this be the year in which Mencken's Law is broken, and somebody goes broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people?
THE ANCHORESS ADVISES ON COMEDY. No, really. Under the ridiculous pseudonym she uses when she's not pretending to live in a hutch, Thee Anch tells us how the Obama New Yorker cover could have been amended for maximum godly yucks:
In fairness, the reason some thought the cartoon would be misconstrued was that it was unfinished satire. The artist, Barry Blitt, simply did not go far enough; he should have included a "Honk if you love jihad" bumper sticker on the back of Obama's caftan, had Fidel Castro sitting nearby, and displayed a thermostat set to either "very cold in winter" or "sweaty in summer."
This is clearly mean to set, as David Frum once claimed to have witnessed when a Mark Steyn column was mysteriously disseminated throughout an airplane he was in, "the laughs exploding from the seat in front of me like artillery shells out of a howitzer" (which tells you everything you need to know about how conservatives experience humor). I am reminded of Groucho's comments (as rendered in Joe Adamson's bio) after the Marx Brothers screened roughs of one of their films. "Will they laugh?" asked Groucho. "Laugh? Look, they'll piss," said Chico. "I know," said Groucho, "but will they laugh?" Maybe The Anchoress should warm up with a few submissions to Reader's Digest.

Nothing stokes the hilarity like analysis, so The Anchoress takes it to the next level:
Satire is meant to be broad but -- for whatever reason, perhaps precisely because we cannot gauge Obama’s sense of humor [??? - ed.] -- the artist pulled his punch. In so doing, he ended up confusing and infuriating the Left and amusing the Right, who not only got the insult but found it particularly funny that, in their tortured explanations, the Left gave more and more exposure to those extreme ideas. Oh, irony!
Yeah, Castro, a bumper sticker, and a thermostat would have turned that around like a priest, a rabbi, and a minister. But seriously, folks: The Anchoress pleads for more laffs on Obama and, to raise the comedy stakes, sez she's doing it for Obama's own good:
Obama — if he is smart — will heed history and lighten up, before he falls from a glorious height and lands with a very cartoon-like thud. No one wants to watch him walk away with his head between his feet.
Except The Anchoress, whose blog has been an unrelenting hymn of hate toward Obama for months, and plenty of others like her. Obama has gotten off some good cracks -- like this one on Tyra Banks -- but lately he's had to focus on beating back all kinds of crazy shit about himself and his wife, promulgated by people like The Anchoress. That would harsh anyone's sense of humor. Now she's complaining that Obama doesn't make enough jokes. Truly the Lord works in mysterious ways.

But in case you've been taking her seriously, here's some material she's written for Obama:
If he truly believed that the satirical edge was missing -- and thus misleading -- he should have himself made the content plain with a genial laugh and a concurrence: "Wait," Obama could have said, "where's my fake birth certificate hanging on the wall? Why doesn't my wife have a Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat on her head? He left out my hammer and sickle!"
Can't you just hear the laughs exploding like howitzer shells? I just don't understand why Democrats don't take more seriously the advice offered to them by their mortal enemies.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

RAISING THE LEVEL OF DISCOURSE. "I'm pretty sure this is photoshopped, but either way it says volumes about Obama's vapid sloganeering..." -- Mark Hemingway, The Corner.

I just drew a picture of McCain dropping a load in his pants. (puts thumbs under lapels) I await our worthy opponents' rejoinder.

Friday, July 18, 2008

SHORTER DAVID BROOKS. When Americans want change, they choose Republican leadership, which is why in the depths of the Great Depression they returned Herbert Hoover to power.
NATIONAL REVIEW: OBAMA IS A FAG. Former TV critic lists top 10 reasons why "Real Men Vote For McCain" which, in addition to being one of the very few NR articles to support McCain without evident embarrassment, portrays the Democratic candidate as anathema to the butch: "Obama supports higher taxes for a government-run nanny state that will coddle all Americans like babies," "Obama gets support from Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and every weenie in Hollywood," "Obama is married to a bitter, angry lawyer," etc.

In case some of the brethren have lost their decoder rings, Peter Kirsanow spells it out at The Corner: Obama "projects weakness," and not just "the vacillating, flip flopping weakness of your garden variety politician," but a "screaming, flashing, neon light on the forehead weakness." Not only is Obama a screamer, like all liberals; he's also a flasher. One wonders why Kirsanow didn't try to work "flaming" into the formulation. Maybe they do have editors at National Review after all.

Kirsanow also finds weakness in Obama's "attitude and demeanor." He doesn't really explain, though he does mention famous bachelor Adlai Stevenson, claim (without supporting examples) that "when Obama tries to talk tough it sounds either silly or plaintive," and make a jerking motion with his fist near his mouth while poking his cheek with his tongue.

"It may say something unflattering about human nature," says Kirsanow, "but everybody gets it." Indeed we do. The question is, what's the point publishing this in a wonky online magazine, when its intended audience barely knows how to read? Kirsanow would have had better luck reaching them by scrawling a seriously simplified version of his post on an outhouse door, printing it on a gimme cap, or painting it on Carl Edwards' Ford Fusion. (I would suggest they forward the top 10 to Larry The Cable Guy, but it's really not up to his standards.)
QUICK TAKES. Charles Krauthammer is mad that Obama will appear at the Brandenburg Gate. Reagan "earned the right to speak there because his relentless pressure had brought the Soviet empire to its knees," says Krauthammer; Kennedy "was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin." What has that punk Obama done? I am in some sympathy -- I felt the same way when The Knack played Carnegie Hall, and when people were comparing George W. Bush to Winston Churchill.

But in my old age I have accepted the realities of modern marketing, and things being what they are I'm glad this year's Democratic candidate has some understanding of them too. The Republicans certainly have acknowledged them. Their new thing is to create videos critical of Michelle Obama which they hope will go viral, as the kids say, and contribute to their big Scary Negro campaign. When their festival opens in Minneapolis, they will have plenty of dry ice, strobe lights, and jungle drums in place to amplify their message.

So I can't blame Obama for his audacious photo, film, and possible music video op. You can't beat Big Bullshit with flexi-discs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

THE LAST REFUGE OF A WINGNUT. Rod Dreher points to a French academic's book which contradicts long-accepted ideas about the Islamic role in spreading Greek thought in the West. Edward Said et alia said it was big; the new guy says it barely existed. As usual when someone says something bad about Islam and not everyone in the universe applauds, Dreher yells thought police:
...many in the academic establishment have set out to ruin its author, Sylvain Gouguenheim, by tarring his as a racist and a tool of the right wing. Some medievalists have come to his aid, saying that it's a perfectly legitimate question and area of inquiry. But the politically correct academic police de la pensee are out for his head.
First, I checked Dreher's link, which is to Le Figaro and unhelpfully in French. Babelfish gave me a suspect but hilarious translation ("D' other researchers choose Libération to express their 'stupor' in a signed letter... The guards of the doxa leave their hinges"), which nonetheless shows the article to be highly prejudiced against the unhinged doxa guards -- that is, the petitioners against Gouguenheim.

But not everyone in Dreherland sides with the chief. One commenter points out another story about the controversy from the International Herald Tribune, which is in English and makes clear (as Dreher does not) that Gouguenheim has plenty of mainstream support. And several commenters point out that it's not thought-policing to point out that the guy's theory is full of shit.

Dreher updates:
Just to clarify, it's beside the point whether or not the historian Gouguenheim is correct in his theory. The point is, he should be able to raise the question, and to be able to be wrong in his theory, without being professionally ruined by the academic thought police.
Ruined? I notice his book is still selling. And, with the support of Le Figaro, Le Monde, and every Muslim-hater in the Western World, we expect Gouguenheim will become an international "contrarian" superstar, like Oriana Falacci or Camille Paglia. For people like that, the outcry from colleagues is the best possible advertising.

Dreher is a professional schismatic who owes his entire Crunchy Con following to the massive persecution complexes of like-minded vegetarian Jesus freaks who consider themselves the one true church of conservatism, as proven by the contempt in which all other conservatives hold them. That such a person would fail to recognize the selling power of apostasy is nearly unbelievable.

So unless he's faking -- never a longshot with this bunch -- the best explanation for Dreher's thickness is this: conservatives, even the fringier conservatives like him, have reached a point in their degeneracy where they must believe other people are trying to silence them. It doesn't matter that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, they are not being silenced at all, but merely called out on their bullshit -- to their fragile psyches, it's the same thing: an intolerable assault on their egos that, if not repelled, will result into the obliteration of their carefully-constructed personalities. So of course any opposition loud enough to reach their ears is Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini all rolled into one.

A pity that Dreher and Jonah Goldberg fell out; they have so much in common.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SEX MAD. I go away for a couple of days, and I find the folks at National Review have been talking about Cosmo and Barbies. Even a short recess will make this stuff even more hallucinogenic. It's like I left what I thought was a mildly dysfunctional family and came back years later to realize they were really the House of Atreus.

So I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around it, but I will say this about the Kathryn J. Lopez column, which seems to blame feminists for way-to-bring-out-the-animal-in-your-man articles. Between the old days and the new, not much about human nature has changed. People will take the main chance every time it is offered to them, absent morality. Though it's clear that Americans have fewer restrictions on them when it comes to sex and sexual expression, it's much less clear that they are any more or less moral than once they were. The kind of guy who thinks of a woman as "a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment" because she let him fuck her would have, a hundred years earlier, thought that way about her if she showed him a bit of ankle.

The new way gave us more chances to screw, and also new chances to screw up, and so many people have. That's what happens with everything pleasurable in America, it seems. And it's very interesting that in the country where citizens most strongly prize their personal freedom, so many of us are drunks, junkies, overeaters, and/or sex mad. It's one of the things I sorta like about the place.

Of course we have our Puritanical side as well. We see it still in smoking bans, drug wars, and other such nannyish pursuits. But it has generally been on the decline for a long time. Its zenith was in the days of the Volstead Act -- the legal prohibition of a previously widely-enjoyed right. Not so many people think that was a great idea anymore. And I'm sure the few that do think it was a good idea, and would like to bring it back, must feel as oppressed by the contents of the wine and beer aisle in the supermarket as Lopez feels by the smutty mags at the checkout.

Lopez faults feminism for its part in the promotion of birth control, because it led to Cosmopolitan and all these other sexed-up artifacts of our modern life, which she believes are harmful to women. Let's tally it up: once, women only had to worry about unwanted childbirth, frustration, shame, ostracism, and ruin; now they have to worry about ways to bring out the animal in their man. That's some trade. Anyone who wants a do-over is welcome to join a cult -- or, in Lopez' case, remain in one -- and have it themselves. As the wonderfully American expression goes, it's their life.

UPDATE. I should add: if Lopez is really looking to form an anti-sex coalition, why does she start with an appeal to feminists, who are probably not inclined to take her seriously, rather than with an appeal to her fellow wingnuts? In today's edition of Rupert Murdoch's New York Post we find this:
GOOD news, horny New Yorkers!

We're the No. 1 destination in the US for tourists from other countries, and you know what that means, right?

Fresh international meat!
Come to think of it, maybe it isn't just an unwillingness to talk to her own kind. Maybe Lopez senses that the Post's repulsive reduction is, in its way, just as anti-sex as she is. Maybe, being a conservative, she thinks that if sex is exploitative, it is thereby redeemed.
UH... From Wake Up America:
Jesse Jackson Shows Hypocrisy By Calling Blacks, Niggers
The portion shown in the original video was where Jackson had said that Barack Obama was "talking down to black people". What wasn't shown was the remark made after that.

The full remark was, "Barack...he's talking down to black people...telling niggers how to behave"...

This brings back up a situation in 2006 when Michael Richard's, who played Kramer on the popular Seinfeld television comedy show...
Uh... uh...
Is it hypocritical for Jackson to have tried to get movies, books and the entertainment industry, as well as the general public, to ban the use of a word that he, himself, utilizes?
You really can't imagine that someone living in America doesn't understand the difference between a white guy saying it and a black guy saying it. Then you see Michelle Malkin and a whole bunch of others saying the same thing, and you realize there are only two possible explanations: 1.) They have never been around any black people; 2.) They do know the difference, but are fond of tendentious, circular logic puzzles -- e.g, "You say you're against prejudice, but that makes you prejudiced against people who are prejudiced," or "You say you're for human rights, but you didn't want to invade Iraq" -- that shield them from the mundane reality in which the rest of us live.

In this case Jackson's unfortunate promotion of a ridiculous hate-speech ordinance makes it easier for them, but no less transparent.

Just to prove my own hypocrisy, I'll say the correct explanation is 3.) They're full of shit.
APOLOGIES. BEEN BUSY. Will try to get back later today. Meantime there's a bunch of stuff here you might enjoy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NEW VOICE POST UP. Odds & sods -- Phil Gramm, Bernie Mac, etc. What? Hell yeah, it's worth reading! You read this, didn't you?
BEYOND SATIRE. It's pretty depressing* that some liberals don't get that the New Yorker Obama cover is satire. That conservatives don't even know what satire is would also be depressing, were they not ever and always blind to even the simplest aesthetic concepts.

I mean, Jesus:
IF OBAMA LOSES, THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM WILL BE that it was because sleazy rightwingers portrayed him as a Muslim terrorist sympathizer.

When that happens, show 'em this New Yorker cover and remind 'em that The New Yorker is not generally regarded as a right-wing publication.
The Ole Perfesser then follows by sneering, "but it's satire!" as if satire were some ridiculously effete and rarefied concept which he couldn't possibly take seriously, like "conscience" or "humanity." That any piece of communication has value other than as propaganda probably doesn't even compute with him; his robot brain just perceives the images, goes "Beep beep, consistent with Obama TPoint 7A, promote to morons," and moves on.

Jonah Goldberg, as usual, is even worse:
Of course, if we ran the exact same art, the consensus from the liberal establishment could be summarized in words like "Swiftboating!" and, duh, "racist." It's a trite point, but nonetheless true that who says something often matters more than what is said — and, obviously, that satire is in the eye of the beholder.
Goldberg is very fond of categorical imperatives when it comes to nearly everything, yet he imagines satire to be "in the eye of the beholder," rather than the clinical term artists (and, indeed, anyone who graduated from a decent high school) know it to be.

It's understandable that anyone whose sense of humor misfires as often as Goldberg's would be motivated to confuse definitions relating to humor, in hopes that this may provide cover for him next time he really fucks up. What I wonder is: do his, and the Perfesser's, and all the other idiots' readers really think the same way? Do they also look at the New Yorker's frequent joke covers and, instead of laughing or scowling or any other human response, think, how can this be spun for my political candidate?
'Cause if they do, having to sell John McCain is the least of their problems.

*UPDATE. Sigh. Tom Tomorrow just tipped me to this comment from Drum's site, which reads in part, "Is your objective another Crystal Night, and trains of jews, gays, minorities, and other non-Aryans headed for the ovens?... This is not satire. It is race hate, religious hate, and political hate. It is an invitation to violence, lawbreaking, and cultural war." I'd like to think it's a plant, but alas, given what I've been hearing, it may be legit. Can't we let the conservatives be the crazy ones for a little while longer?

UPDATE II. Okay, this is more like it: minutes before defending the Obama cover, Megan McArdle humphs that August Pollak's lampoon of her proves that "the left has no sense of humor" -- at least, that's what her commenters and I think she's saying; it's one of her more mysterious, impenetrable constructions. Commenters, with all the philosophical heft libertarians traditionally bring to such topics, discuss the nature of humor ("Most humor relies on the propagation of general truths with a twist of absurdity thrown in") and Megan McArdle ("Megan knows that waiting for the iPhone and being a refugee are not the same experience"). Thank God someone's working to restore the balance of the universe!
THE REAL END OF COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM. If you're wondering what Phil Gramm was thinking with that "nation of whiners" crack, let me suggest that it may just be part of a new charm offensive from the right, at least if these bits from the weekend's New York Post are any indication.

"The baby boomers... have once again spoken. What they have said is, 'Waaaaaahhh,'" says Monica Hesse, who reads a Pew study showing boomers "worry that their income won't keep up with rising costs of living" and "that things don't look too good for their kids." They sound like most Americans of whatever age, but Hesse responds, "Oh, the drama! Oh, the anguish!" A separate study "found that boomers have never been happy," so there's no need to pay any attention to them now -- only Hesse does, and at column length, because "the rest of us are doomed to study them, analyze them, wave shiny objects around for them," though by what coercive mechanism she doesn't say. "BUCK UP ALREADY!" she shouts, or she may have to write another column about them, instead of one about "The Google Ogle Defense" ("'Orgy' might be a popular [Google] search term not because it's a popular practice, but because it's not. How do all those limbs fit together, anyway?"), or "Things that are 'awk-ward,' according to a group of University of Maryland students hanging out on the campus quad," or other topics of national importance. Trend reporting seems like an easy gig, even when the economy's in the toilet and some fossils are bitching about it.

Younger people get it -- at least the ones in Iraq, reports movie reviewer Kyle Smith, who pimps LiveLeak, "a destination spot for short war films that are awesome or disgusting, depending on your viewpoint." Smith's own viewpoint is clear: "LiveLeak is doing a much better job presenting the facts than, say, the latest foamy-mouthed drivel about corporate masters of war from the formerly popular actor John Cusack." The lead featured item at LikeLeak at this writing is "Man Shows Unique Ability To Put Hands Into Cauldron Of Hot Fat," but Smith seems to be talking about stuff like this:
...a clip of gunship attacks set to the metal song by Dope called "Die Mothe - - - - er Die." The video wasn't gruesome, though, since the enemy was well off in the distance and disappearing tidily under puffs of white smoke. One of the troops is overheard saying, "This was great. I need a cigarette. This was like sex." And a few more shocked grad students get some fuel for their eroticization-of-violence papers...
Actually it sounds like "Jackass," except instead of injuring themselves Johnny Knoxville and Wee Man kill other people from a distance. Smith believes "the primary message fired-up young men are likely to take from [these films] is that fighting for your country is a lot cooler than the mainstream media make it out to be. " One wonders why the Army hasn't dispatched teams of movie-makers to Iraq to do fan-film versions of Halloween and Saw, casting the natives as terrified teenagers, and release them with titles like Be Kind Re-enlist.

The gem of the bunch is of course by Umpty-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters. The General's been on a roll lately, and his opening here is a classic: "We all have irritants that make us want to reach for the revolver." Don't I know it! But what gets the General in a killin' mood is bumper stickers -- "One per car is OK, but anything more is public masturbation"; get it, maggot? -- people who call dissent patriotic, and Barack Obama. The dissent fans misquote Jefferson, who was of course against dissent, as shown by his accommodating attitude toward the Alien and Sedition Acts; as for the "last refuge of a scoundrel" thing, though the General admires Samuel Johnson ("I've got a huge two-volume replica edition [of Johnson's Dictionary] -- it's so heavy you could bench-press it"; real he-man writin'!), he reckons the Great Cham was just blowing smoke. "I'd rephrase the line," announces the General, "to read: 'Attacks on patriotism are the last refuge of the coward.'" Get some REMFs on it most ricky-tick, and then fetch the General a copy of the Constitution and a blue pencil!

But you know what really chafes the General around the chaps? Obama and that "Hope" bull-hockey. "Hope is the opposite of audacity," says the General. "It's passive, an excuse for inaction. Medicating ourselves with fuzzy hopes, instead of rolling up our sleeves and fixing things, has wasted countless lives and entire cultures..."

So, to sum up: Don't hope, don't complain, and enjoy your free war videos. It's the new conservative message! They must really be counting on those Diebold voting machines.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A LOATHSOME DUTY, PART 2. As conscience dictated in the case of Mark Steyn, I must offer my sympathies to Harry's Place, whose proprietors are apparently being sued by Mohamed Sawalha for their interpretation of a statement by him.

Not being a student of Arabic, I don't know that their interpretation is correct. But Harry's Place noted, however incredulously, the British Muslim Initiative's response to it. If they're wrong, they've certainly made it easy for anyone who can read the language to figure it out.

Harry's Place is a nest of racial obsessives -- sort of Little Green Footballs for people who can process complex sentences -- but the proper reaction to their interpretation would be a countervailing interpretation of one's own, not the hammer of the Law, the use of which in this case may lead disinterested viewers to suspect that the object of the suit is not to shine the light of truth, but to intimidate opponents. Maybe that's how they do things in Blighty, but not 'round here.
SAVINGS AND LOAN SCANDAL II -- THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL! More good economic news! Another mortgage lender goes down -- and an Administration factotum blames the whistleblower:
The director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, John Reich, blamed IndyMac's failure on comments made in late June by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), who sent a letter to the regulator raising concerns about the bank's solvency. In the following 11 days, spooked depositors withdrew a total of $1.3 billion. Mr. Reich said Sen. Schumer gave the bank a "heart attack."

"Would the institution have failed without the deposit run?" Mr. Reich asked reporters. "We'll never know the answer to that question."

Mr. Schumer quickly fired back.

"If OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac's poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn't be where we are today," Sen. Schumer said. "Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs."
Speaking of factota, the usual suspects rush to support Reich's spin. If only Charles Keating or Herbert Hoover had such a blogosphere to work with! True, it's a hard sell, but, like anything else for Republicans these days, worth a try.

UPDATE. The Ole Perfesser seems to have caught the memo, but not the enthusiasm: "Problems with the bank aren't Schumer's fault, of course, but publicity-seeking is a well-known Schumer flaw, and subjects like this call for a degree of discretion that he seems not to have demonstrated." Maybe he was pulled off-message by Schumer's evident willingness to fight back. I'm not overly fond of my senior Senator, but it's nice to see him show a bit of spine. Maybe he and his colleagues should try it more often.

UPDATE II. An L.A. Times blog says the accusation against Schumer is "an important angle in the IndyMac failure that may get lost in ominous headlines tonight and tomorrow." I don't see how, with the Wall Street Journal giving it prominent play and the rightbloggers shopping it aggressively.