Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE NEW POST-PARTISAN ERA. Dropped a note at the Voice about early rightblogger reactions to the inauguration, and one of my japes drew the ire of Jay Nordlinger, who seems to think I was calling him a racist in the old-fashioned sense. I figured it would too much inside baseball to explain at length to Voice readers what Nordlinger's real stock-in-trade is, though I did link to this Nordlinger quote:
A quick comment on the Rush business -- on the quarterback business. [Limbaugh had said sportscasters overrated Donovan McNabb because he's black -- ed.]. I’m reminded of something that I’ve discovered in recent years. I work in Conservativeland, and I’m used to speaking freely. I’m used to not having to abide by a speech code or any other restriction of political correctness. And then sometimes I leave Conservativeland, and continue to speak freely--and sincerely--and then find that I startle people. They’re not used to hearing it.

Now, it seems to me that what Rush said is rather obvious: that people root for the black player, in whatever field, to succeed. That’s not necessarily wrong, incidentally. It may even be admirable. But it’s so...

[snip description of other silly liberals doing other silly things]

Rush considers himself a free man, and said simply what he thought was true. And I imagine that what he said is, in fact, true. And this is a great man, as can be judged, in part, by the quality of his enemies.
Nordlinger's world divides between those who are pleased to see members of minority groups succeed, and those (such as himself) who consider that to be "political correctness." As these things go, it's not Bull Connor. It's just the sort of defensive imputation of reverse racism that we've been hearing for years, and apparently haven't seen the back of even with the election of a black President of the United States.

UPDATE. Now Nordlinger claims himself wronged by Newsweek. Why doesn't he just write letters to the editor? But I am happy that this post brought "Conservative Guy" back to the comments boxes. Welcome home, prodigal son, we will kill the fatted calf.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

FALSE START ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE. New Voice column up, about rightblogger reactions to the many commercial tie-ins to the Obama Inauguration. They aren't upset by the commercialism, but that it shows Obama to be popular. Their response is boycott, burbling, and accusations of fascism.

The blessed event is hard for them in so many ways. Attend Patterico's denunciation of Obama's letter to his daughters: "It's not a letter encouraging children to work diligently at their careers, it's a letter telling them to make a difference in their neighbor’s lives," which Patterico finds distasteful and an example of how "some liberals see America as a glass half empty rather than a glass half full." In some awful future America, a Singularity robot Patterico, given access to some Democratic President's every move via telescreen, will tell us how insufficiently patriotic he finds the President's nite-nite tuck-in.

Meanwhile sworn Obama enemy TigerHawk makes believe he hopes the end of Obama's honeymoon "is a long time in coming" for a couple of ridiculous reasons, and seeks to sustain this honeymoon by complaining of Pepsi's Obama-ish advertising ("If Pepsi did not taste a little like vomit before, it will now"), suggesting ways the Republicans can exploit Obama's Blackberry dependence, etc. The Ole Perfesser links and says, "I predict that the honeymoon will end first on the left." What honeymoon?
SHORTER OLE PERFESSER. The election of Obama was a mass delusion. The Hudson River landing tells Americans the story they really need to hear, which is that they suck.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

MORE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS. The recent Supreme Court decision in Herring v. United States weakens the exclusionary rule that forbids use of improperly obtained evidence in court. National Review's Jonah Goldberg doesn't know much about anything, but he knows what he doesn't like, and so emits a column that portrays the rule as a "get-out-of-jail-free card" for "the scum of the earth."

(He is eased in his task by a column by the Ole Perfesser that seems to defend the rule, but really just uses it as an opportunity to gripe about all the rules the rest of us are obliged to follow, the rebuttal of which extraneous argument allows Goldberg to also skirt the issue of the exclusionary rule's relevance to citizens who are not the scum of the earth, but nevertheless find themselves subject to fishing expeditions by cops and prosecutors looking to nail them for whatever they can find.)

Goldberg brags on his shoddy work at The Corner, inviting comment, some of which points out that weakening Fourth Amendment protections seems an odd mission for professed conservatives. Goldberg cheerfully responds that his illustrious National Review forebears also disliked the exclusionary rule, and Miranda warnings as well.

Understandably this doesn't satisfy his critics, and some direct his attention to the salient point. Now Goldberg has the option of bailing out, an option he frequently avails, but he's feeling bold and decides to tackle the issue head-on.

He begins by trimming shamelessly:
First, for the record, I'm not sure I would throw out every law and rule that falls under the heading of the exclusionary rule, never mind throw them out over night. I think Rehnquist was right to come around to supporting Miranda, for example. So I'm open to practical arguments about what to keep and what to reform or chuck in the garbage.
Apparently the scum of the earth, and the rest of us, yet have hope in the Republic of Jonah. He also seems dimly aware that other citizens have a right to these protections, and more keenly aware that he has to humorously minimize them in order to come out of this in one piece: "Cops shouldn't be able to kick down the doors of mattress-tag-rippers, even if they're sure of the perp's guilt."

Goldberg then wheels around from his walk-back and finds he doesn't have much left to defend, and is sufficiently dismayed that he resorts to tricks that have not worked well for him in the past. First he characterizes his opposition unflatteringly as lawyers and scriptwriters:
But lots of people, particularly defense attorneys, get very passionate about fudging the distinctions between justice and process. This sort of thinking is omnipresent in the culture, particulary on TV.
Maybe Goldberg has seen enough "Law & Order: We'll Get This Skel Yet" episodes to realize this is an unpropitious line of attack, so he turns to a poorly-thought-out metaphor:
It reminds me of complaints from teenagers who think their parents have "no right" to punish them if the mother or father found out about a particular transgression by invading their kids' privacy. If my kid shoplifts and I discover it by snooping around her room, the issue for discussion won't be the unfairness of my snooping, it will be what the appropriate punishment for her crime will be. Likewise, if a cop lacks the right paperwork...
So much for the nanny state! The denouement is, to paraphrase internet kids, an Epic Flail:
Now, of course, if a maximalist exclusionary rule is the only way to protect the rights of the innocent, then I'll hold my nose and take it. But I'm unconvinced. For starters, that argument pressuposes that every modern, just, society has an exclusionary rule. I know no such thing (but would like to be educated on the subject)...
Finally he retrenches to his original argument: "If a cop wrongly breaks down my door, I should be able to sue." Goldberg is clearly unaware that citizens can sue on those grounds. But, as actual libertarians never tire of reminding us, the high court has actually been making it harder, not easier, to win such cases. The energy has all been flowing in the direction of police discretion, which is why reasonable people worry about Herring.

Goldberg gives up and redirects readers to a colleague who argues that the exclusionary rule is itself the poisoned fruit of that dangerous radical Louis Brandeis.

The libertarian role in the future of the Sarah Palin party is clear.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

PLUMB CRAZY. The other day Joe The Plumber said, in so many words, that the media should not be allowed to cover wars, and was mocked for it. This calls for some first class spin. So The Plumber's handler, Roger L. Simon, reached out to JD Johannes, the normally reliable operative at Outside the Wire, who had expressed some annoyance at The Plumber's statement. "Evidently I've stirred a few things up," Johannes began his apology, and graciously updated his post.

Johannes says, "Roger gave me the back story," which was that The Plumber was mad, as any regular Joe would be if he were, like The Plumber, shipped off to Israel and put in proximity to people who made their living covering foreign wars. "An observer who is unfamiliar with the media battlespace would probably throw up his arms and say screw this, none of you should be here." You good people may not imagine you would react similarly when introduced to professionals in a field with which you were unfamiliar, but that just proves you're traitors. The Ole Perfesser pimps: "It seems that Joe’s remarks on war embeds were generally misunderstood," adding parenthetically, "Had said 'misreported' originally, but that wasn’t really right," a grudging acknowledgment that his client had been condemned out of his own mouth, and as if that had ever stopped the Perfesser before.

Later Simon and The Plumber made a YouTube for their many followers who can't read. The Plumber explained, "I came over here to talk to average Joes," and said that he was only talking about "the bad media, who seem to be agenda-driven," then explained who that was: "If you're gonna cover the war, cover it, don't sit there and just keep on talking 'the death toll, the death toll,' you know, 'Israel won't let us in there to cover it...'" So if you're one of those reporters who are interested in how many people died in a battle, or are inclined to let readers and viewers know that a country has blacked out your coverage, Joe isn't apologizing to you. "Let's hope you can be more objective than Reuters and AP when they publish those Hezbollah-doctored photos in the past," adds Simon, in case his auditors have forgotten why they were listening to a plumber talk about the war in Gaza. (The Ole Perfesser agrees: Rick Sanchez is arrogant!)

In case the pretense of reasonableness has not swayed some of the punters, Bill Whittle charges in with the shouters' edition. First he reiterates to the hometown crowd that The Plumber was not talking about two-fisted characters such as themselves: "I cannot imagine for an instant that Joe was referring to common citizens like J.D., Mike Yon, and Mike Totten who -- like me and like Joe himself for that matter -- are simply regular people called to try and fight back against the tide of bias and outright deception we see in the media." To underline the point, he catalogues the crimes of professional journalists. For instance, "TV crews don flak jackets and Kevlar helmets for a news segment, only to remove them the instant the cameras ceased rolling," in contrast to The Plumber, who as a regular-people foreign correspondent wears the same jeans-and-t-shirt costume with which he earlier presented himself as a regular-people political correspondent on TV shows during the last campaign. He's like Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp that way, only rightwing and without any actual talent.

Whittle's post is full of beauties, but this is my favorite and, I would suggest, the most emblematic:
Like Lincoln’s plain manner of speaking, Joe’s commentary is still unvarnished; it still “has the bark on” as the phrase was applied to Lincoln. And if anyone reading this immediately jumps to the conclusion that I am comparing Joe Wurzelbacher to Abraham Lincoln, you have a perfect example of the dynamic I am talking about.
It's hard to know what other conclusion one is meant to jump, walk, or sidle up to. If I told you, "Like St. Francis, I am kind to animals," you would be within your rights to say I was comparing myself with St. Francis. But with Whittle, we are outside the realm of simple logic. He knows placing The Plumber alongside The Railsplitter will make the necessary impression on his yahoo readership, and they will so dimly perceive the trick that's being worked on them that, when he follows by denying the trick and attributing all devious intent to his enemies, they'll join him in reviling them for it. That's the method behind this whole Joe The Plumber thing -- and, really, behind everything they do.
SWEATIN' TO THE OLDIES. At the Corner they're celebrating Vince Foster's birthday. You will be relieved to learn that they don't believe that Bill and Hillary rubbed him out.

Of course, as they say in the bullshit business, questions remain. Byron York:
But there's no doubt that Foster was deeply distraught over the Travelgate scandal. He believed — correctly — that it would result in several investigations. He was worried about his reputation. He was under a lot of pressure from then-First Lady Hillary Clinton...

Hillary Clinton -- who the independent counsel concluded gave "factually false" testimony on the Travel Office firings-- is going to become Secretary of State. Her husband is an international statesman. John Podesta runs an influential think tank and has orchestrated the Obama transition. George Stephanopoulos is sitting in David Brinkley's chair at ABC News. And Vince Foster has been dead for 15 years. Make of it what you will.
Time to bring this little guy out of retirement:



Jonah Goldberg, as usual, is here to make everything more fudgy:
Byron - I agree with you that it was a suicide. I did pretty much from the start. But I also alwas agreed with Bill Safire and others that the handling of his "suicide note" and all that was very, very suspicious. Any thoughts on that front?
Why, yes, Jonah, he does: "I didn't intend to rekindle the old Foster-suicide questions... But I do agree that the Clintons did everything in their power to make it look suspicious." Is there no end to their perfidy! But of course they had a lot of help.

Soon they'll start talking about fluoride in our water again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WARNING! THE LIBERAL ARTS ARE ABOUT TO GET LIBERALLER! There's been a movement afoot to get Obama to appoint a "Secretary of the Arts." Earlier this month ArtNet ran a gossipy item suggesting that "the buzz in art-and-politics precincts has the new administration seriously considering the idea of an official White House Office of the Arts, overseeing all things having to do with the arts and arts education." That's news to me, and as you know I run with a pretty artsy crowd (minces limp-wristedly, rolls eyes). From the item and Adaptistration's discussion of it, the idea seems to be better management of those lucky devils who get government arts grants and such like, and the "creation of an 'artist corps'" which sounds like the New Deal's federal arts projects. Well, if some of us can paint murals instead of three coats of green for our supper, great.

OK, you've heard what I think. Let's bring out our special guest, Warner Todd Huston of RedState. (Band plays "Dueling Banjos"; Huston enters, glares.)
Where is the outrage that a president dares imagine that HE should be telling artists what to do with his little “art czar”? Where is the “artistic integrity” of these purported artists who so often wish to claim they are free of coercion or control by government and should remain so? Why is it that they don’t seem to mind The One taking control of their world of art?

Ah, but that is just it, isn’t it? These so-called artists really HAVE no principles. They love them some Obama and that is all they need to turn around and paradoxically cast their general disdain of government out the proverbial window. Of course, wait until the next Republican gets in office and see them suddenly remember that they want their freedom from oppressive government, eh?

But, for now, the silence from the “art” community is deafening.
Boy, that takes me back. In my copywriting days I often felt then as if I were selling out to The Man, and in fact I was. (Now that I'm a journalist I have no such worries -- second shift at Starbucks would be a step up, socially as well as economically.) The Man was not, in is this case, an elected Democratic official, but I still had to do what he said, at least while at the office.

In truth, anyone holding a bourgeois "job" with its "rules" and "goals" and "sexual harrassment policy" is to some extent putting his talent at the service of he who pays the shilling. That, as we used to say in the warehouse, is why they call it work, and why so many novels are written after hours.

Maybe Huston feels let down that even such creatures of tinsel and glamour are subject to these mundane constraints. (He did contribute to a book called Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture -- actually it just says he "appears," so maybe they used his headshot as a dingbat.) Oh, I'm just being mischievous: Huston is the sort that perpetually seethes about those artists (alternately, "purported artists" or "so-called artists" or "'art'ists" -- the only real ones are Mel Gibson and Dennis Miller) in their berets and leotards who giggle over their absinthe about stupid Republicans. And now they've got the nerve to take hypothetical government money for their so-called purported "art" that could be going to churches!

Where is the outrage? Huston sucked it all up and there's none left for the rest of us, at least until we find out the new Obama Theatre Project wants us to do Cymbeline in an Iowa barn. (And no craft service -- Maw will fix us some vittles, and we can foam our milk straight from the udder.)

If Huston is too upmarket for you, you can go to FreeRepublic and hear them roar about "Obama’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda," "Purveyors of bullwhip in anus and crucifix in urine art," etc. I think it's safe to say their concern that Big Gummint will control the arts is feigned. If jackbooted arts commissars demanded production of a thousand neo-Soviet realist novels it's unlikely they would notice; they've already been told, endlessly, that the arts are all run by a liberal cabal anyway. There's a whole website all about it! As long as Obama doesn't take "Deal or No Deal" off the air, it touches them not.

In other words, they don't yell about the arts and the people who make them because they appreciate them, but because they've been trained to hate them.
POURNELLE SPEAK! People sometimes ask where I find the people I write about here. Very often I find them via the Ole Perfesser. Here he has a link called "WHEN DEMOCRACIES DECIVILIZE." And here's some of what you would find, if you were fatally curious, at the other end:
We are busily destroying the basis for our consensus of right and wrong in favor of some kind of pluralism and diversity. Not in favor of rational discussion; indeed, that is suppressed in the name of preventing hate speech.

Of course the federal structure of the nation was intended to accomplish something like diversity while preserving the union: by leaving as much as possible to the states, the largest possible numbers would live under governments they had assented to. In addition, by leaving most economic matters to the states, there would be competition: competition to have lower death taxes thus luring the wealthy to move there before they died. Competition to have lower sales and business taxes to lure the enterprising to come live in the state...

But make no mistake about it. To secure real rights, governments are necessary. We can agree on that without deciding how to choose a government. Both Heaven and Hell are rumored to be absolute monarchies with a hierarchy of officials...

There was one really galling paragraph in Atlas Shrugged: the judge who has retreated to Galt's hideaway at one point says that he has written a book on law that would save the Earth, but he isn't going to publish it. I will leave it as an exercise for the readers to discern why this so upset me when I read it that it pretty well spoiled the rest of the novel. Miss Rand did not want to comment on that paragraph, which she remembered as soon as I brought it up; I have often wondered if it bothered her as much as it disturbed me. I confess I did not dare ask her why Ragnar the pirate would be so eager to rush to her rescue; but then having met her, I didn't need to ask.

And enough. It really is time for bed.
I would ask whether the Perfesser, a ward of the state, might be more usefully remanded to another, more rehabilitative state institution, if I thought he really believed half the crazy shit he links to.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

IN WHAT THEY HAVE DONE AND IN WHAT THEY HAVE FAILED TO DO. Sarah Palin complains that the Anchorage Daily News harrassed her with questions about Trig Palin's true birth mother, which led to a story that... was never printed. The Daily News laboriously fact-checks this accusation, and others made privately by the Governor to the paper. This is the very model of what would normally be called media transparency, and acquits the paper well, especially their patient explanation that fact-checking is part of their job, and that the Daily News did not publicly assert a claim that anyone but Sarah Palin bore Trig.

By and large Palin's complaints are, as we say in the lower forty-eight, bullshit. Yet rightwing factota defend them. Hot Air's Allahpundit takes a novel tack: that the Daily News had previously published photos of Sarah Palin looking pregnant and alleged actual-mom Bristol Palin looking unpregnant, and a doctor's letter referring to Palin's pregnancy. So the story, in his estimation, was proven false, and the paper sinned by asking her questions about it -- which would never have entered the public record had not Palin revealed them.

It should not shock us that Allahpundit believes true journalism is about not asking questions, when the questions do not favor his side. After all, many of Hot Air's incurious first impressions have not turned out so well. ("I agree with people in the comments who say that [Ashley Todd's] beating and maiming were political, and obviously so" -- Let's see Dan Rather get away with that!) Rightwing bloggers float insane stories all the time, yet make sinister news of Sarah Palin's complaint that someone asked her a question and accepted her answer. But this is not about a search for truth, but the furtherance of spin. Palin wanted to promote her image as a hate object of the media and, without any genuine cause but with the help of Allahpundit and others, got what she was looking for. Claims of liberal media bias are mostly overblown, but it is observably true that the media will always give a platform to any celebrity who claims victim status.

Monday, January 12, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the current, two-pronged rightblogger strategy. Prong one is revealed by their Al Franken reportage (i.e., yell "Thief!" and hope no one asks questions), and prong two by Big Hollywood. One might call it "Gun and Run" -- shoot bullshit at available targets, then retreat to a happy place where they are simultaneously persecuted and triumphant.

Speaking of culture war, Ronald Radosh reports that the guy who killed Hattie Carroll -- the subject of Bob Dylan's "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" -- was actually a graduate of "the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. Yes, folks, the same moderate lefty school that Chelsea Clinton graduated from and that the children of Barack Obama are now attending!" So that means the Obamas are racist, or something. "Conservatives would be wise to find their own Hattie Carrolls," says a commenter, though surprisingly she does not mean they should find someone to beat to death with a cane, but instead, "individuals that have been abused by liberal excesses. Joe the Plumber comes to mind." For what that brain-damaged individual has been doing with himself lately, or allowing to be done to him, see here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

THE END OF BIOGRAPHY. Ed Driscoll* has been dipping into H.L. Mencken, and likes him. That's the kindest thing I've ever said about Driscoll, so let's pause to savor it. Now to Driscoll's qualifications: he thinks Mencken's "deep cynicism and Nietzsche-inspired nihilism... does start to wear after a while." And this reminds him of a put-down of cynical Hunter S Thompson by... James Lileks, who also doesn't like nihilism, perhaps because without faith Target seems less of a Valhalla.

And Driscoll doesn't like that Mencken's tone "was the model for newspapermen since. And really is his tone that mattered, because they didn't pay much attention to his content, aside from his writings on the Scopes trial." Mencken didn't like FDR and other Democrats any better than he liked the backwoods booboisie, which consistency of outrage Driscoll finds lacking in modern journalists. Not that Driscoll approves of that consistency either: Mencken's notion of "permanent opposition in politics" dissatisfies him because "half the time it involves contrarianism for its own sake," as opposed to contrarianism for the sake of Republican candidates. Then back to complaining that you won't find this contrarianism among present-day Menckenites such as... Andrea Mitchell and Tavis Smiley.

Driscoll does approve "the writings of Mencken's mid-century successor," whom a link reveals to be... Ayn Rand.

Sometimes I think culture warriors approve of literature because they don't know what's in it.

*UPDATE. I originally attributed the article in question to Jules Crittenden. Driscoll and Crittenden are of course very different writers. For one thing, Driscoll has never been known to make an intentional joke, whereas Crittenden is capable of at least childish taunts. Also, Crittenden does not much bother himself with cultural issues (and a good thing, because even so pellucid a text as a racist anti-Obama poster gives him trouble); Driscoll frequently addresses sophisticated cultural subjects, usually with the same success seen here.
TO BE BLUNT ABOUT IT. The Ole Perfesser links to a Michael Silence screenfart about Erin Brockovich, whom they both apparently hate because she once helped some poor people. The Perfesser elbows his patrons in the ribs with, "what movie star does she resemble in the second photo?" The punchline is revealed in Silence's comments section, where like-minded souls suggest Woody Allen, "Gary Busse [sic] in drag," Andy Dick, etc.

Later on the Perfesser's hate-boner returns:
GETTING THE RESEMBLANCE: Yeah, I saw Garth from Wayne’s World in that picture, too. Certainly not Julia Roberts.
It's useful to be reminded sometimes that, in addition to having really terrible ideas and weak arguments, these people are scumbags.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

HOLLYWOOD SQUARES. As you might expect, if you know his work, filmmaker Kung Fu Monkey finds Big Hollywood -- the would-be movie ministers of propaganda considered here earlier -- "a garden of crack pinatas." It sure has been; but two days in, it's already getting tiresome.

How many posts that say "the Hollywood culture that overwhelmingly favors the left and demonizes conservatives is a huge problem for conservatism, but not a hopeless one," can one bother to eviscerate in any given working day? How much pleasure can one take in answering "No one watches the Academy Awards any more" with the fact that the Oscars continue to draw massive global viewership? And as comical as the headline "Top 5 Conservative Characters On 'Lost'" undoubtedly is, what sane person would dig far enough past it to mock the contents, knowing that every day henceforth until the end of the internet will be filled with similarly risible gibberings?

With the Obama ascension we've entered a bizarre era of rightwing web commentary. Conservatives are pimping social media as their internet comeback device. But on the internet as it is, Big Hollywood represents their actual strategy: the usual culture-war guff with a new splash page. Their other new-media innovations are Joe the Plumber in Israel and reruns of Sarah Palin versus the press.

Endlessly they talk about the death of old media, but their new media options seem to be celebrities and show biz, and without nudity. How is that supposed to increase market share?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

SHORTER MICHAEL J. TOTTEN: You shouldn't suck Juan's dick -- he has cooties. In fact, you know what you should do? You should suck my dick. Because that would make Juan so mad!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

MAJOR B.O. Hollywood had an all-time-record year at the box office, so what it obviously needs is a rightwing website explaining what Hollywood is doing wrong. In the inaugural post of his newly-launched Big Hollywood site, Andrew Breitbart decrees its purpose: "to change the entertainment industry. To make Hollywood something we can believe in -- again. In order to give millions of Americans hope." But hope of what? More, longer, and interactive Scarlett Johansson nude scenes? Bigger explosions? Transformers sequels in 4-D? Read on, pilgrim, and they'll tell you what to hope!

Breitbart himself offers a column that declares, "Except for the election of an antiwar candidate, 2008 was a great year for the pro-war side." Even that hollow electoral victory, you see, will be denied the traitors as staunch Republicans like Hillary Clinton flood Obama's cabinet. Now Obama -- whom Breitbart told us scant months ago "promised hope, but mostly delivered hate" -- can get down to his real agenda: to "do what a Republican president, especially one vilified in Hollywood, could not: sell the war." In fact, he can do it better than Bush, whose Defense Department informed a shocked and unnamed pal of Breitbart's that it didn't "do propaganda"; for, as every conservative knows, liberals love propaganda, and now they can put their evil habit to good use. Though Obama is "poised to disappoint the zealous anti-warriors," they'll still do whatever he says, maybe because he's black, like many Hollywood stars. Thus "Hollywood and the Democratic Party can be redeemed" in a way that making money and winning elections can never hope to equal.

To get Hollywood's propagandists in the mood, Melanie Graham tells them that they "all incorporate themselves to avoid higher taxes but expect everyone in Rube State America to pony up," PowerLine's Scott Johnson tells them they've been commie dupes since the 70s at least, Orson Bean says that "they went to college and were taught that their country is wrong." This is the kind of nagging that forges alliances.

Some film reviews, or something like film reviews, also appear. Ben Shapiro (!) explains why Body of Lies failed in America while Waltz with Bashir made money in Israel: because Americans are patriots who reject the treasonous premise of the action picture, while Israelis hate themselves: "Since 1948, Israeli film has been heavily focused on undermining Israelis’ patriotism – and Israelis have bought into it." (Shapiro must have long lead times.) They're doomed, but "In America, it isn’t too late... Eventually, Americans will demand to see movies that champion America." At present, they demand to see movies about cute doggies, but just you wait, Big Hollywood's only getting started.

John Nolte does criticism on the more traditional tip: "Laden with subtext referencing the daily headlines exposing the Catholic church’s disgraceful sexual abuse scandal from a few years ago, Doubt does those victims a disservice." Well, that's all I need to know.

To be fair, Nolte does one of Revolutionary Road that actually reviews the film, and Greg Gutfield is so bold as to engage in actual satire, spooling off a list of "conservative rockers" that grows increasingly ridiculous ("[Public Enemy's] song '911 is a Joke' served as an indictment of the left, or more precisely those who refused to take the attacks on the World Trade Center seriously"). Unfortunately, if expectedly, this confuses Big Hollywood's commenters; some argue that the picks are wrong, some just go BAR HAR HAR! STOOPID LIBERALS! and some think Steve Albini is actually talking to them.

There's plenty more, including an actor who comes out as a conservative, despite warnings that They'll get him like They got Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis ("I'm told I’ll hurt my career if I continually spout off about Liberalism — which I see as a growing cancer in our society"), and ends by challenging his readers to a fistfight, and Hey'dja Ever Notice thumbsuckers, etc. But you get it already. It's the usual Zhdanovite schtick: claims that Hollywood is destroying the country, except when the country is destroying Hollywood; wounded self-presentation as an oppressed minority deserving aesthetic affirmative action; and above all projection of the widescreen variety, in which artists who resist their call to propagandize are the real propagandists, and can only become genuine artists by making movies that suit the prejudices of a bunch of rightwing web operatives.

It's all good, though; they get a sure-fire audience of likeminded folks who believe John Wayne will come back to life if they click hard enough, and I get a new, entertainingly low-budget serial to watch while I eat my popcorn.

Monday, January 05, 2009

PLEASE STAND BY. Comments have disappeared. I'm waiting on further instructions. Apologies, hope to have it cleared up tomorrow.

UPDATE. Fixed now.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, still following conservative bloggers on Blagojevich and adding late demolition derby entrant Bill Richardson. One thing that's hard to figure is the effect all this fierce and relentless spinning of the pre-Presidency has on normal people. They seem favorably disposed toward Obama, and certainly want him to do well so we don't all die in poverty. I wonder if they even know that Commerce is a cabinet office. Nonetheless I'm sure the rightbloggers are storing this one up in their cheeks for the day something terrible happens, so they can say, see, we told you that when Obama hushed up the murder investigation of Bill "La Cucharacha" Richardson on the orders of Tony Rezko, it showed Obama's true colors.

I'm just sorry I didn't get to include this analysis by Jonah Goldberg:
I haven't followed the allegations that are causing Richardson such trouble. But, I must say I'm not surprised. With the exception of Bill Clinton, it's difficult to think of a major politician who has been plagued more persistently by troubling rumors of all sorts. When I was in New Mexico not long ago, it felt like I was visiting Little Rock in the way everyone had a sketchy story, theory or little-known fact. Some was very vague, some of it was clearly over the top, and some of it was quite plausible.
Plus both Clinton and Richardson are called "Bill." Liberals might say, ha! So is William Kristol. Sorry, he's "Billy," not Bill. In my experience Williams who are called "Billy" are more trustworthy than the ones who are called "Bill." Now some liberals, my editor has just told me, will probably bring up Bill Buckley, but around the office we actually never called him "Bill." (Mentions pressing appointment, flees.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

HARDBALL AND SPITBALL. Rightbloggers are still pumping that Blagojevich thing for all it's worth and then some. Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:
Really, it’s fascinating how one crooked state pol can ensnare both the new presidential administration and Congress. The Obama team is lawyering up, the Senate will be sued, and the grand jury in Illinois will spend months reeling in more witnesses who, in turn, may implicate still more politicians. It’s hard to recall a single figure who has caused as much consternation and litigation.
If you were to take this version of events seriously, you might imagine Obama on the verge of pre-impeachment. For those readers who might actually have followed the story and question its impact on the incoming Administration, Rubin sprinkles some more fairy dust:
The lesson here? Don’t associate with corrupt pols, don’t take their calls or make deals with them (even without an explicit quid pro quo)...

[E.J.] Dionne is wrong to praise “Obama’s patented approach to problems -- wait and think to see what develops before acting.” It is precisely the benign toleration of Blago and the unwillingness to move swiftly to cut off his power of appointment that created this mess. It is a warning for the President-elect and his party: cut off corruption before it devours you.
It's like Watergate all over again, if Nixon had been pressured to resign in January of 1969.

Meanwhile there's another tsimmis over the seating of a maybe-Senator, Al Franken in this case. You can observe the Republican message discipline at work in TPM's analysis: the Franken team's expression of confidence ("I think we're on track to win"), which is the default attitude of any political contender, is described as "falsely declaring victory," as if it were a form of perjury, and the prospect of Franken's seating is described as "unprecedented," which is not true.

This is the sort of thing that sufficiently muddies the water that allegedly nonpartisan or even Democrat-friendly outlets buy into the spin. The About.com correspondent on liberal politics, California Democrat Deborah White, says, "If Franken prevails, as seems the likeliest outcome, he will start with a tarnished image. And Democrats will be embarrassed by association." Apparently Democrats are supposed to lose close elections or rule with heads hung in shame.

Presumably Coleman should be equally ashamed to win, but you know he wouldn't be, just as Bush wasn't in 2000. The consensus is that rules are for pussies and Democrats.

In related news: "Some Conservatives Fear Obama Advisers Lean Too Far Left."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

SCIENCE FICTION. Erstwhile Conservative candidate for New York Mayor George Marlin has found a heretofore unrevealed agenda of the Obama Administration. He cites a New York Times article about behavioral economists interested in the "underlying consumer psychology" behind phenomena like the mortgage bubble. "In this year’s campaign, Mr. Obama signaled an interest in the field by surrounding himself with advisers who were quite sympathetic to [behavioral economics]," said the Times. "Of course, this was before the financial crisis became so serious that it overwhelmed everything else. Today, it’s reasonable to ask whether the Obama administration will still have time for behavioral economics."

Here's what Marlin makes of that:
It should come as no surprise that the 1970s radicals taking over the Federal Government in January are promoting this brand of economics because the hero of their youth was the leader of America’s behavioral revolution, B.F. Skinner. Skinner, who, in the early 1970s, made the cover of Time magazine and whose book Beyond Freedom and Dignity hit the Times bestseller list, proudly proclaimed to his adoring public, “We not only can control human behavior, we must!”
Marlin then goes on to detail the philosophical crimes of Skinner ("Accordingly, there is then no essential difference between modern 'objective' psychology and rodentology, or between man and rat") and warns that these as-yet unhired social scientists will put us all in Skinner boxes: "If behaviorists have their way, man will be dehumanized by the planning and redevelopment of the cultural, economic and social system by government overseers. What a scary intellectual basis for Washington’s forthcoming managerial revolution."

Dad29 boils it down for the folks in the cheap seats: "But now, ALL of us can be rodentologized under the Great Obama." (Later, in comments: "No, I don't claim that O has 'embraced' Skinner's theory of behavior modification. But practitioners bear watching.")

Let's hope that no prospective Obama economic advisors have been associated, either through thesis papers or book club memberships, with the work of H.G. Wells, or it will be suggested that he wants to feed us all growth serum.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

WAS EVER WOMAN IN THIS HUMOUR WON? It's amazing that Dennis Prager wrote "When a Woman Isn't In the Mood: Part I." It's astounding that he published it. It's mind-blowing that, having published it, he didn't hop a tramp steamer to Vera Cruz and try to make a new life for himself. But reenforce your skulls with duct tape, because Prager's back with "When a Woman Isn't In the Mood: Part II."

His argument is that, to preserve the marital bliss of their households, women should have sex with their husbands whether they feel like it or not. We might call this the nut graf, were not all the grafs nuts:
The baby boom generation elevated feelings to a status higher than codes of behavior. In determining how one ought to act, feelings, not some code higher than one’s feelings, became decisive: “No shoulds, no oughts.” In the case of sex, therefore, the only right time for a wife to have sex with her husband is when she feels like having it.
And here's an analogy that should really win the ladies over: "Why do we assume that it is terribly irresponsible for a man to refuse to go to work because he is not in the mood, but a woman can -- indeed, ought to -- refuse sex because she is not in the mood?" That's why it's called a blow job, girls.

Even more disturbing than his argument is his sheer doggedness in pursuing it. I can understand begging, pleading, emotionally manipulating, and even dressing up nice, buying dinner, and pretending to be a nice guy to obtain sex, but writing two columns for Town Hall is where I draw the line. They're both as repetitive and incantatory as a bad 18th Century religious tract. It's as if Prager had heard the famously ugly womanizer John Wilkes' explanation of his romantic success -- "Give me half an hour and I can talk my face away" -- and decided: give me two essays and I can talk my penis into her vagina.

Someone should send him a bottle of Astrolube with a note explaining that it's not just for women.

Monday, December 29, 2008

LISTOMANIA. At the Voice I succumb to the classic end-of-year syndrome with a Top-10 list of stupid rightblogger tricks. Since you're the late-show real people, you get bonuses:

#15: Jonah Goldberg Handles Criticism. National Review's Jonah Goldberg kept close watch on the reviews for his book Liberal Fascism, and when he was not praised leapt to his own defense. "I knew I was in trouble when the interview just wouldn't end," he observed of his Jon Stewart appearance, "and I got the sense it wasn't ending because Stewart didn't feel like he 'won' so he had to keep going." Then he whipped out reader e-mails to prove he had actually triumphed over Stewart. Goldberg collegially called the Economist's dis "craptacularly lame," and responded to Newsweek's by quoting in his defense other bad reviews ("even The New York Times and Slate's Tim Noah conceded it's not what they consider an 'Ann Coulter book'"). He kept this up through Christmas Eve, denouncing an old New Republic pan of which its editors happened to remind him. We imagine in April he'll hold a little awards ceremony for himself using statuettes from Happy Meals.

#14: Striking a Blow against Political Correctness. "You're cowards. Not because you fear and condemn a single word. But because you feel that condemnation, all by itself, constitutes some kind of winning argument." The word is "niggers," which Old Punk did not use in a Huckleberry Finn context, but in reference to black people he didn't like. Memories of this brave resistance to the forces of liberal brainwashing may give comfort to its authors in these, er, dark days.

#13: Sarah Palin's Last, Best Hope. When questions of Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's experience came up, The American Scene's Noah Millman admitted "that she's totally unqualified to be President at this point in time," but proposed a possible future-retroactive solution: "If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to appoint someone who is more ready to be President to be her Vice President, on the understanding that she would then resign and be appointed Vice President by her successor." The plan might have worked were it offered in the form of a tile puzzle and omitted both Palin's and McCain's names.

#12: Prop 8 Explained. An author at Ace of Spades relates his trouble with gay-rights protesters in Los Angeles: "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." We understand the Chinese government had a similar explanation for the unpleasantness at Tiananmen Square in 1989, with the significant exception that the Tiananmen Square incident actually happened.

#11: "B" is for Bullshit. When Pittsburgher Ashley Todd claimed that a mugger, enraged by her McCain bumper sticker, carved the letter "B" for Barack into her face, rightbloggers rushed to defend her story even when they weren't sure it was true. One said he deleted his "earlier notes of skepticism" because he was afraid "CNN will quote me when they say 'Even conservatives smell a hoax...'" Others just broke out the champagne over the "potential Pennsylvania Willie Horton game-changer." When it fell apart they drank the champagne anyway, but in a less celebratory, more unconsciousness-seeking spirit.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

THE TORTURE GARDEN. More tee-hee over torture from the Ole Perfesser:
“DON’T MAKE THEM LISTEN TO OUR STUFF — IT’S INHUMAN!” Rockers to Press Obama on Music Torture. Best bit: “And the BBC has reported on a particularly insidious practice: using the theme songs from Sesame Street and Barney to break the will of prisoners.” Okay, that is inhuman. At any rate, whatever limits on volume and duration are applied to Guantanamo should also be applied to public concerts...
Ha ha! Silly detainees tortured by rock and rap -- it's like a Dave Berg cartoon come to life!

The linked article refers to "hours of music played at deafening volume -- sometime for days or even weeks on end." Also, from the Transcultural Music Review:
A long New York Times story on March 19, 2006, described in detail “Camp Nama”, the headquarters of a multiple-agency interrogation unit at Baghdad International Airport; there, “high-value detainees”... were sent first to the so-called “Black Room," a garage-sized, windowless space painted black where “rap music or rock’n’roll blared at deafening decibels over a loudspeaker”... Read together, these reports suggest that the “deafening music” is usually delivered to a detainee who has been chained into a “stress position”, in a pitch-black space made uncomfortably hot or cold.
The article also discusses the usefulness of allowing soldiers to pick the music, not only because the Western sounds they favor will disorient the prisoner, but also because it helps the soldiers identify with the instrument of torture and thus feel righteous about applying it.

Making a joke out of torture is standard operating procedure for dehumanizers. It's the old Abu Ghraib thumbs-up all over again, revived by internet tough guy who are depraved enough to express pleasure at human suffering and wimps enough to pretend it isn't really suffering.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF ANN ALTHOUSE. "Oh, why give out prizes for art anyway? If you're at the level of handing out prizes, why not stiff the jerks? Even for decisions that matter, like voting for President, we stiff the jerks, don't you think? The nicer person wins. Why pretend otherwise?"

Also:

"I followed my 2 sons into B-Side Records, which was full of shoppers. I counted 15, all men. When did music shopping become such a heavily male activity?"

Next week: "Why shouldn't the rich get lighter prison sentences? Why should that be any different from the rich getting a nicer car or house than the rest of us?" and "Nobody wears ties to faculty meetings anymore. Why is that?"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PUTTING THE "X" BACK IN XMAS. Christmas always makes me think of my old Church, and lately also of Rod Dreher, for whom Roman Catholicism was one of the religions he went through on his way to wherever it is he's going. Like me, he retains a soft spot for Catholicism, and today he defends the Pope, who lately made some unfortunate remarks about gay people (he appeared to compare them to a blight on the rainforest):
It is a central paradox of our culture war that American liberals, as a general rule, judge most everything by whether or not it advances the sexual revolution -- yet accuse the Catholic Church (and more broadly, religious conservatives) of being obsessed with sex. You've probably read this week that Pope Benedict trashed homosexuals in a speech. Well, guess what? He restated the constant, entirely familiar teaching of the Roman Catholic church on homosexuality, but devoted only a couple of lines in his long speech to the subject. That's not how our media reported it.
It was just a couple of lines. If only Reverend Wright could have availed such an excuse! Brother Rod may also recall that only a few minutes of each Mass is devoted to the solicitation of funds -- just like in carneys -- but that doesn't reflect their true value, either.

Tomorrow is Jesus' birthday. I think he would want you good people to give each other the love and respect he's not around to enjoy. God rest ye merry!
A VERY JONAH CHRISTMAS. At The Corner on Christmas Eve, not a creature was stirring. Then Jonah Goldberg stumbles in and, after knocking over a garbage can and eating Santa's cookies, gives readers this Yuletide greeting:
Michael Tomasky reviewed my book for The New Republic. I say this with all sincerity: I thought his review was shameful, dishonest and just plain stupid. I used to think highly of Tomasky, but I thought his review (with the help of Leon Wieseltier's obvious meddling) spoke terribly of him and the publication. I haven't brought any of this up much because I assumed my friends at The New Republic were simply, and justifiably, embarrassed by it — and I had my say. But now they seem to think it was the "best of 2008."* So, for those who care, here's my response.
The latter link brings us back to Golberg's 3,547-word March bitchfest, containing such classic lines as, "This is the whole point of the smiley face with the Hitler mustache on the cover; fascism was popular, fascism is popular," and "As for Dachau’s organic honey, Tomasky is once again -- willfully -- obtuse."

Everyone else at National Review has long since knocked off and gone to the Opus Dei scourging party, but Goldberg burns the mid-evening oil to complain for the second time about an unfavorable review he received three trimesters ago.

However you're celebrating your Christmas Eve, be thankful that you aren't having whatever it is he's having.

*UPDATE. (My asterisk, not Goldberg's) Apparently the original link was defective and led to a spam site. It has been replaced -- let me know if there's still trouble.
UPDATE 2. Hmm. People are still getting jacked. Well, then just leave that link alone. I think you can tell without proof that even Tomasky trumps Jonah Goldberg.
A CRY FOR HELP. Despite reversals, the brethren are still looking for some way to blame Blagojevich on Obama. Ace O'Spades grows wistful:
Nothing legal will come of this. However, there might just be grist for the political mill. Not sure if I want to relive the endless scandals and endless farcical denials of the Clinton administration, but we may be on that track -- a long period of time when Obama is plausibly accused of lying and obstructing justice and yet there's never any resolution.
What Ace has described is pretty much all he ever does (except give odds on football games and moralize about his own pornography). Yet he sounds so gloomy about it that I actually feel bad for him. (Victory has given me the strength to be gentle thus.) We all get tired of our jobs sometimes, of course, but should he decide he really can no longer stand his, what else is he fitted to do?
.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

MORE QUINTESSENTIAL JONAH GOLDBERG.
It's funny you mention it. I've heard several (liberal) pundits say much the same thing now, and I had no idea what they were talking about. I've been busy with some other stuff, so I haven't followed the Warren debate too closely, but I assumed I missed some griping. And maybe I have. But to date, I haven't gotten a single angry email from a reader about this, and usually when conservatives are enraged by something, somebody emails me about it.
I should really put out a book of these, with pictures of puppies.

Monday, December 22, 2008

THEY TRY -- OH, HOW THEY TRY. And I was just talking about irrational exuberance -- Peter Kirsanow at The Corner:
Rod Blagojevich, $1 trillion "fiscal stimulus", Harry Reid, expiring tax cuts, Nancy Pelosi, socialized health care, Charlie Rangel, reinstitution of the oil drilling ban, Joe Biden, liberal judicial nominees, Al Franken (maybe), nuclear Iran, John Murtha, car czars, Dennis Kucinich, PC culture, Chris Dodd, entitlement explosion, Barney Frank, entitlement implosion, Barbara Boxer, card check, the Clintons, Russian adventurism.

If Republicans can't come back in 2010 they should be sued for political malpractice.
For those who are tallying scores in that alternative universe known as Planet Earth, Kirsanow's bill of particulars includes:
  • 13 people who actually exist, but whose negative campaign potential is about as well-established as, oh, say, Ed Meese's in 1988 (and one of whom, Al Franken, is presumed a liability merely because he may commit the crime of winning a close election) ;
  • Several things that were either done by the Bush Administration or have not, in point of fact, happened;
  • Culture war armament that died with Lee Atwater.
Why didn't he include Iraqi children giving flowers to soldiers? Seriously, it would have fit. And what about Ollie North's clean-cut good looks? He had everyone swooning that last time he was on national TV, which I think was on an episode of "Wings."

Well, why not? As long as it's only make-believe.
THE GRINCH THAT STOLE FITZMAS. I have a new Voice column up, looking at the sad holidays on the right. Most of it follows up on the latest Blagojevich news, in which conservative hopes for getting a nice Obama scandal out of it appear to be cruelly dashed. Now, for all I know the upcoming report could yet show Obama leaving the cell phone on his pillow so he and the Governor can talk each other to sleep, but so far the connection appears thin. Yet even with the phone records fading as a causus bullshit, they're still keeping hope alive ("Obama Not Releasing Some Emails Between Him and Blagojevich: Breaks Transparency Promise"). They think every Democrat is Al Capone, and tax evasion will do if nothing else sticks. And if nothing at all sticks, they can still tell each other the bastard's guilty.

A nice little thumbnail version is provided by the Ole Perfesser, who promotes a story about Andrew Sullivan's failure to contribute to the defeat of Prop 8, then acknowledges that Sullivan couldn't legally contribute because he's not an American, then links to a guy who says, well, if he's a foreigner then what right does he have to complain about this country anyway? The pursuit of enemies may sometimes take the form of the pursuit of justice, but the difference will be clear to most normal observers.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

CULTURE WAR PORNOCOPIA! Christmas comes early at National Review, with a series of stories on what we might can cultural matters. The themes are largely familiar. Mark Goldblatt is outraged that some kids still wear Che shirts. He informs whomever among them may be within reach of his voice that Guevara killed people and didn't show any contrition or discrimination about it. Sensing perhaps that he is not breaking new ground, Goldblatt throws in a challenge. "Why does an obsessive Nazi-hunter like Simon Wiesenthal get positive press," he asks, "while an obssessive Communist-hunter like Joe McCarthy is vilified?" Maybe because Wiesenthal hunted actual Nazis, while McCarthy was happy to tar citizens ranging from Owen Lattimore to Adlai Stevenson. But, as Goldblatt's subject might agree, when the cause is just contrition and discrimination must go by the board.

Dear, dotty Jay Nordlinger contributes one of his rambling columns about nothing much. He thinks reporters are not hard enough on Obama; hears that "During the campaign, you were a hateful, racist monster if you spoke Barack Obama’s middle name. But now it’s cool," referring maybe to an old Facebook stunt; denounces the free-market malfeasance of George Bush, which he thinks the liberal media is trying to cover up ("You sometimes have to wonder whether reporters are ignorant or malicious or what"); and reports that some people have, for reasons unknown, a low opinion of conservative thinkers. Also, some grammar notes.

Jonah Goldberg offers some Caroline Kennedy gotchas: how is this "Cinderella" more qualified than Sarah Palin for high office? He might have noticed that support for Kennedy is hardly universal among liberals, or even among New York State voters, but that would have deprived him of the chance to refer to the "self-indulgence of elite liberalism" as "bowel-stewing," an adjective Goldberg was born to invent. Predictably, he actually injures his case in referring to Palin as "designed by God for a Hallmark movie of the week" and rising "by dint of her dedication and almost naive fearlessness" -- an unconscious avowal that, as most American voters quickly grasped, Palin's nomination was an exercise in rightwing wish-fulfillment and that she was desperately out of her depth on a national ticket. He also offers some lovely examples of the baroque Goldbergian style ("There were valid criticisms to make. But that is quite a different thing than saying all of the criticism was valid"), as well as a breathtaking lack of awareness that, as one of American conservatism's most famous legacy pledges, he hardly has room to talk.

The jewel of the bunch, though, is Mona Charen's article on pornography, festively titled "'Tis the Season for Porn," which made me hope for a moment it would be a holiday shopper's guide. Charen begins by announcing her own martyrdom, predicting "I will be called names for writing this column," confidently stating that such taunts come from porn's "fanatical devotees," which suggests that more casual users will find nothing risible in her linkage of Zack and Miri Make a Porno to hardcore S&M websites. Her scientific explanation is that "pornography use breeds tolerance and the need for more intensity to get the desired result," which may be read as a convincing argument for increased participation in fetish sex to obviate the need for pornography. Alas, Charen goes another way, holding up Hugh Hefner as a poster boy for the Wages of Skin:
Hugh Hefner, the godfather of mainstream porn, apparently does not have normal sex with his many girlfriends. Despite the presence of up to seven comely young women in his bed at a time, he uses porn for sexual satisfaction. Think about that.
Maybe it owes to my constant, desensitizing exposure to culture-warnography, but I don't consider consider Hef an object of pity. Of course, I'm not as inclined as Charen is to believe a story clearly invented and spread by him to sell more copies of Playboy. As censors in any age could tell you, prudes are porn's best advance men.
MORE CONSERVATIVE IDENTITY POLITICS. The L.A. Times has an article about Team Sarah, a web entity which the Times portrays as a rallying point for "women who had never followed political affairs" who are attracted to Palin as "a conservative mother trying to balance family and career." Co-founder Majorie Dannenfelser lets us know early that this isn't just an anti-abortion front group, and rather seeks to "bring together a coalition of women who support Sarah Palin on a range of issues, not just the Life issue." The other co-founder is Jane Abraham, who is also General Chairman of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

The American Spectator calls Team Sarah "the sort of spontaneous Tocquevillean activism that the conservative movement has been woefully lacking lately, and there is no other candidate for 2012 who has anything like it." (Dannenfeiser has written -- glowingly! -- about Palin at the Standard.)

There is a new wrinkle to this, though I wouldn't call it Tocquevillean. National women-centric political operations are usually focused on electing politically-appropriate female candidates, not on one person in particular. The two best-known such entities I can think of are both pro-choice: Emily's List (Democratic) and the WISH List (Republican). In the last election cycle Emily's List netted $33,401,859. WISH List took in $587,880. Abraham's Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund drew $690,165.

Speaking very broadly, it seems a gender-specific political appeal is more effective if your candidates are Democratic and favor abortion rights. Team Sarah is clearly hoping that Palin's popularity, such as it is, will change that. But thus far Team Sarah looks like a pink, candy-coated shell for hardcore anti-abortion politics, with the Team sending out alerts like "Stop the Abortion Bailout," and updating us on "Team Sarah at March for Life." Even if they admire Palin's Governor Mom routine, will women who are not already pro-life single-issue voters go for this?

As I've noted before, the rise of Palin has got some conservatives excited at the prospect of peeling off some of that hot identity-politics action from the left. About the most flattering thing I can say about it is that it's transparently insincere.