Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LIFE'S LITTLE PLEASURES. Now is a good to remind ourselves that things can go horribly wrong. I've seen good times, I've seen bad, and the latter tend to be more prevalent and more lasting. So I suggest we savor every drop of the Arlen Specter thing. It's true, as The Poor Man and Glenn Greenwald have pointed out, that Specter isn't much of a get, and will likely take a 2010 nomination that should go to a more progressive candidate.

Well, Obama isn't much of a progressive, either. I don't care. In these few years I have left, I just want to capture some enjoyable memories of wingnut anguish that may bring some comfort to my charity hospital bed.

Recall, if you will, the days when conservatives told anyone who would listen that Democratic liberals were only hurting themselves by giving the wetter members of their coalition a hard time.

"They have now morphed into Taliban Democrats," said Cal Thomas in 2006, "because they are willing to 'kill' one of their own, if he does not conform to the narrow and rigid agenda of the party's kook fringe... Taliban Democrats have effectively issued a political 'fatwah' that warns all Democrats not to deviate from their narrow line, or else face the end of their careers through a political jihad." James Pinkerton talked about liberals' long heritage of finding "heretics" and "infidels," and of resorting to "ideological cleansing."

Thus also sprach many putative liberals, like our old warblogger friend Armed Liberal, who complained in 2004 that an authentic liberal like Jeff Jarvis (!) "gets piled on for being 'inadequately liberal'. And that's a pisser. First, and foremost, it once again wraps up the smug 'I know better than you' that the Democratic Party has become associated with -- and which lots of people, including me, find amazingly offensive." He predicted that the Taliban Democrats "are going to lose a lot of political power."

Those seem like distant times, but Joel Kotkin was talking about the impending "Democratic Party civil war" last month. The Taliban Democrats theme was not a finding based on observation, but one of the magic charms conservatives and bullshit liberals rubbed in their pockets to remind themselves that their opposition was hopelessly divided.

Conservatives have hated Specter forever, but in victory contented themselves with loud grumbling. This year, in their defeat and disarray, they plumped a challenge by Club for Growth president Pat Toomey, who decried Specter's "betrayal" on the stimulus bill. Suddenly, far fewer of them were talking about "ideological cleansing" as a bad thing.

"Specter must be sent out to pasture," cried Conservative Wahoo. "We can finally be rid of the two-faced, backstabbing, ear-marking political opportunist who shamelessly clings to power," said Mike Netherland. "Specter has been a cancer that has continuously sold out the Republican Party countless times," said the ever-classy B.S. Report.

When the NRSC chairman John Coryn spoke up for Specter, the American Spectator warned, "the Republican base has gotten smaller and the remaining conservatives may have had their fill of Specter." Their commenters rose to prove it: "GOP still backing Specter -- sounds about right. Things humming along without interruption while Hussein Obama is busting America," "This is the kind of thinking that got the GOP thrown out in '06," etc.

The Bear Creek Ledger roared, "No wonder no Republican wants to donate to the NRSC! What a bunch of tools." My favorite bit of outrage came from Matt Lewis, who said at TownHall that Coryn's pronouncement "clearly demonstrates the NRSC is not in the business of electing conservatives, but rather, Republicans."

In this Jacobin environment, Specter did what he had to do. For me, the great legacy of this moment comes not from the shock of the Republican operatives who were caught flat-footed, but from the joy of the wingnut dead-enders who think this is great news for their movement ("Only by ridding itself of the lowly likes of Specter will Republicans reemerge as the party that can rebuild the country by upholding the principles that made it great"). Like I said, Specter's not my favorite, but I'll always be grateful to him for what he accomplished today.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, mainly a miscellany but loosely tied to the latest iteration of the "liberal bloggers are uncivil" theme. I'm afraid I can find no new and intriguing thesis for this periodic pearl-clutching act; they pull it in both good times and bad, seemingly at random. Bloggers on the left, of course, complain about rightbloggers' stupidity and ham-handedness all the time -- why, it's my very stock-in-trade! --but I find that, for the most part, our team doesn't usually get so ostentatiously ruffled about swear words as theirs does. (I still recall with pleasure the conservative drive to measure the obscenity production of liberal blogs -- and the great larks we had twitting them with it.) It doesn't bug me so much anymore to be called an asshole, especially by assholes. But I do get riled when they call Obama a fascist, so who knows; maybe that's my version of a swear word. If I were in a hectoring mood, I might draw a parallel out of this, but it's too nice a day for that, so let's just enjoy the sunshine and teh stupid.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ROTTING FROM THE HEAD. A perfect wingnut storm, straight from the Old Perfesser and his imaginary friends:
ANOTHER UPDATE: A New York reader emails:
Govt demanding shareholders be kept in the dark . . .was a hot topic at a *parents* meeting at my daughter’s school tonight. Moms who are, well, moms, were talking about how the crowd in Washington “is a bunch of damn socialists”. It ain’t just the finance crowd.
Interesting. There seem to be a lot of upset moms out there.
And cab drivers! I suspect this scene was actually enacted by Dr. Helen and bunch of dolls.

It goes on:
MORE: Reader Fernando Colina writes:
Upset moms are a formidable force. Salvador Allende’s government was essentially brought down by a bunch of upset mums banging pots and pans every night in the streets of Santiago. Obama may want to take notice.
Kissinger and Nixon had something to do with it too. But as is the trend in wingnut-land, the tea partiers get all the credit.

Accusations of socialism, threats of an Allende-style assassination... the Perfesser really seems to be losing his robot cool.
BACK TO SCHOOLDAYS. Kathryn J. Lopez is pimping the hell out of a very old list of 30 books William "Book of Virtues" Bennett once promoted as a mandatory reading list for American high school students. (Some of the Cornerites plead for the inclusion of science fiction. Christ Jesus, what dorks.)

I don't know what fit came over the poor woman, but as a former amateur pedagogue, as well as a former high school student, I have something to say about this. First, I approve of the general idea (and of the listmakers' prejudice for Shakespeare's tragedies over his comedies, as the comedies are much too hard). Most students will neither apprehend nor enjoy the books, but I think they should get some of them down, as they do (or once did) times tables and key historical dates, as an introduction, however awkward, to the world of ideas.

Even if they are frog-marched through Crime and Punishment, they will at least retain some vague memory of it into adulthood, and with any luck it will resonate when they brush up against even informal discussions of right, wrong, justice, religion, free will, alienation, etc. It might prompt a shock of recognition that they have not been entirely left out of the conversation that the smart people are having. Also, just getting through big books, even if they test badly on them, may be a point of pride for them, and give them the salutary notion that they are not dummies after all.

If this sounds harsh -- if you think students should be inculcated with the joy of reading, rather than frog-marched through big books -- please take a moment to gather your memories of high school, and not just your own experience but also those of your classmates, as you perceived them. Then, consider: at which are schools better -- at instruction, or at enlightenment? If your mind was awakened in high school, congratulations, but chances are it would have awakened in any case, whether you had school or not. But you were less likely to have learned on your own polynomial equations, how to write a paper, historical analysis, or other such building blocks of intellectual life. I didn't want to learn these things, but I was taught them nonetheless, and I'm grateful for the experience.

In fact, the frog-march approach has an even more serious advantage when it comes to literature.

This approach would make sure that these books are not apprehended, as Bennett's Book of Virtues sought to have simpler works apprehended, as "a reliable moral reference point that will help anchor our children and ourselves in our culture, our history, and our traditions." This is not to say that I have anything against that culture, history, or traditions. But, for one thing, I doubt Bennett and myself have quite the same idea of them as I do -- or, for that matter, as the authors of these great works did. Works of literature are more elusive than any political operative's talking points.

Can you imagine Bennett's lesson plan for Moby-Dick? It would probably have something about Ahab's sin of pride. Okay, let the kids run with that; they won't have time, certainly, to think much about it as they slog through the endless pages and references to whaling arcana. Let them get the story, details, and characters straight, and then let them be haunted through life by it. Maybe they will spend years wondering, as I have wondered, about the sky-hawk that goes down with the Pequod, held by the hammer of Tashtego, "his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab." Later they can come to stuff like this, which is fun for grown-ups but would in their first reading only interfere.

Remember, a whole generation of American progressives was educated with "The boy stood on the burning deck" and stuff like that. They were no less propagandized than we are, and their teachers were no better or worse than ours. But their rote education gave them room to think and dream.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

HIGH ROLLERS. At Pajamas Media, Jennifer Rubin tells the troops that Obama is losing it with the voters. She cites in support of her argument no poll data, but the attributed feelings of a former CIA director, David Brooks, Alice Rivlin (whom Rubin non-quotes seriously out of context), and "editorial boards of major newspapers." She also has PowerPoint slides to illustrate her points ("Problem: Obama may have swapped his newly minted image as a sober commander in chief for the mantle of netroot bomb thrower"). Eventually she generously allows that "None of this is to say that Obama does not enjoy a high degree of personal popularity or that Republicans have recaptured the hearts and minds of all their countrymen."

Rubin was, of course, a McCain dead-ender, and claimed in mid-March that Tedisco might sweep into Congress in his heavily Republican district with the help of the AIG fracas (At last count Tedisco is behind and trying to sue his way into office). Even among conservative columnists she's a cheerleader.

But it's still a bit early in the game to be making these kinds of claims, isn't it? Obama's been President three months. I realize we are in the days of the permanent campaign, and these are eventful times for the nation, but it would seem that, with a disastrous defeat still smoldering behind them and any real elections far in the future, they might be focusing not on predicting Democratic collapse, but on sharpening up their own act. (I did notice their recent rebuilding phase went horribly awry, but that's a reason to try again, not to give up.)

Rubin's bit reminds me of something RedState's Moe Lane recently wrote about the deployment of the ever-popular Dick Cheney to do battle with Obama:
When it comes to the decision of how to prosecute the GWOT, the dispute was never between the progressives and the neoconservatives. It was between the neoconservatives and the outright Jacksonians. Which is why the progressive position is still being ignored in this debate, even though they thought that they had actually won an election or two.
It's an odd enough claim to make as people are actively debating the torture memos of the previous Administration. But "thought that they had actually won an election or two"? It's of a piece with the jilted-lover scenario I brought up earlier: they are full of faith that the country is theirs by right, and will come back of their own accord sooner than later.

The tea parties have been fun and invigorating for their cause, but I seriously think they have one serious drawback for these guys: they reenforce for them the impression that they don't have to do anything except call the faithful to arms. You could say the same for their recent Twitter enthusiasm. Getting names on lists and organizing events is important political work, but so far their only message is We Hate Obama Too, and its success presupposes an utter collapse that even failed Presidents don't always achieve, as the second terms of Clinton and Bush demonstrate. Power always has a trick or two up its sleeve.

In my cynicism I am tempted to say that they are less interested in winning than they are in feeling like winners. And that's an attitude the house can work to their disadvantage.
STAY CLEAN. Normally, being a helpful sort, I go for the value-add, but here I'm just going to link to Michael Tomasky's Guardian story about the promulgation of yet another malicious rightwing fairytale.

Oh, and I will add this: as I have a good impression of Tomasky, I almost did not trouble to scan the 60-page judicial decision he took the time to read to prove that the bogus story Newt Gingrich and a mllion wingnuts are peddling is indeed bogus. But my conscience wouldn't allow it, so I gave it a riffle. So far I don't smell a rat, but if any sane justification can be found for Gingrich's claim that Judge Hamilton wants to ban prayers in the Indiana House to Jesus but not to Allah, I would be interested to hear of it.

I go to such trouble because if I didn't, I might turn into one of them.

UPDATE. Comments are especially instructive; Doghouse Riley has a good Indiana House backgrounder.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

THE CONSERVATIVE COMEBACK, PART 5633. If you're an ordinary American liberal type, winding down your day with a Gardenburger and PBR and listening to some Cat Power, and you hear Dr. Sanity referring to "The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror," you probably assume she's* talking about a different Left -- maybe the Left two houses down, or the Left over by the gas station.

But no: if you find Janeane Garofalo pretty MOR, or don't think it's a big deal that Barack Obama shook hands with Hugo Chavez, or think "green jobs" sound okay and approve of the reduction of greenhouse gases, you are the Left he means. She thinks that you're "so nonchalant about terrorism and the threat of Islamic jihad" because you see yourself "on the same side politically." She thinks you have rubbed your hands with glee as "a majority of Democrats have been slowly sliding toward a preference for tyanny over the last decade," and are happy to have a President who "never liked America much to begin with" and is eager "to demonstrate his willingness to submit to Islamic bullying."

Dr. Sanity not only believes all this, but has taken the time to create a handy chart, which she has disseminated to her friends, so they may better understand how you are plotting to destroy the country. Expect to see it mounted on a two-by-four and held aloft at some upcoming tea parties. It's part of the new patriotism, which is much like the old batshit-craziness, but with more froth.

*UPDATE. Now they tell me Dr. Sanity's female, so I had to change the pronouns. That's just another facet of our Marxist revolution: sexism!

Monday, April 20, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about tea parties, teabagging, and the healing power of laughter.

The whole fuss over the teabag language is silly, but you'd think rightbloggers would learn that nothing promotes mockery better than outraged insistences that it's not funny. As a large amount of their signage last week was devoted to crude jokes, it's clear they like a cheap laugh, too. As well they should -- it's one of the benefits of being almost totally out of power, as liberals well know. Hell, we've spent years yukking it up from the cheap seats. But they retain from their glory days a belief that they are entitled to the utmost deference and respect even when they're wearing a crown of soggy teabags.

In fairness, some of them are making an effort with jokes about how Janeane Garofalo is Ugly. I can't see this spreading too far among the sighted community, though. Aren't they interested in reaching a wider audience?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. Professor Bainbridge hauls out an old Chicago Tribune cartoon, which denounces that bastard FDR as a free-spending commie who, assisted by "pinkie" Ivy League aides, is driving America into a dictatorship -- just like Obama!

His analysis is seconded by the Ole Perfesser and, as is often the way with these things, appears near-simultaneously at Freeperland ("Well, we saw the outcome of that last one and the socialist president in the office then").

Oh please, please, please, rightwing nuts, please keep this up!

This theme of Franklin Roosevelt as History's Greatest Monster has been running around conservative circles since -- well, since Roosevelt. It got a revival during the "Jobless Recovery" fad of the early '00s. And the counter-historical books of Jonah Goldberg and Amity Shlaes gave it a big lift among the faithful during the last election, when conservatives prayed for a Herbert Hoover revival.

Ordinary American haven't heard much of this up till now, but maybe the Bainbridge/Freeper item portends it as the new rightwing talking point: Having dazzled the populace by gathering thousands of ordinary people to carry "Obama is a Socialist" signs, perhaps they think the time is right for some Great Depression Trutherism.

Keep it up, fellas. Please inform the American people that one of their best-loved Presidents was a communist who destroyed the country. Please instruct them on how America remained a ruined collectivist hellhole throughout the years of its greatest growth until Richard Nixon, or perhaps Ronald Reagan, made it the Valhalla we see today. Agitate to have the shameful presence of Roosevelt's monument (and that of his greatest boondoggle, World War II) removed from the D.C. Mall.

We'll do what we can to help spread the word. Vaya con dios!
A MODERN ENCOUNTER.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

THE PATRIOT GAME. The Tea Party organizers did a fine job this time, not least in tamping down the loony rhetoric of the first one I attended. The speakers at Wednesday night's New York event went instead for more ordinary conservative palaver with just an edge of hysteria, including patriotic symbolism, odes to the storied past, and tax populism of the old school -- not so much Boston 1773 as Orange County early 1960s.

As I mentioned in the Voice item, some in the crowd were a little on the edgy side. Contrary to the brief feints at bipartisanship on the dais, the sub rosa comments I heard were almost uniformly anti-Obama -- socialist, fascist, teleprompter, Michelle is ugly, etc. He was clearly their hate object, and they roared with anger on those occasions when his name was mentioned from the stage. But those occasions were more rare, this time: the duplicitous actor was less focused on than the duplicitous act -- that is, their betrayal.

Speaker after speaker talked about golden days of yore, whether the age of lower taxes or the age of muskets and tricorners, and how those glories had been taken away from them. They couldn't bring themselves to say that this had been done by a majority of American voters in the last election -- the election was not an election to them, but a supernatural disaster engineered by shadowy forces who did not have the country's best interests at heart. So they stressed, over and over again, that they were the People, they were America, and they were going to take their country back.

When I was growing up in Connecticut, we had a little shop called the Patriot Bookstore that sold books by Robert Welch and William Buckley, records by John Wayne and Walter Brennan, pamphlets, flag decals, etc. The motif was colonial, bunting and eagles and all that, but the thinking was pure Goldwater. I had some relatives who were Birchers, and they swung the same way. They too were America, not because they had attained an electoral majority -- in fact, you see much more of these people when they're in defeat -- but because they were able to imagine themselves at Bunker Hill, fighting Communists.

I'm sure the protesters also want to keep more of their paychecks; so, for that matter, do most of us. But the animating force of these events is not tax policy -- that's not how you get crowds going. The uniting force is grievance. For some the betrayal may have first come at Yalta, or in Dean Acheson's State Department, or by eggheads or outside agitators or limousine liberals or hippies or San Francisco Democrats, or some combination thereof. But the overarching theme on Wednesday was that somehow they (who were America) had been disenfranchised -- whether by greed or by the Comintern or by 192 Electoral Votes, it didn't matter. It's very like real patriotism, in that the motherland is within one's bosom. But it is not necessarily anywhere else.
THE BEST MEDICINE. I see the new rightwing rapid-response talking point is that their own unfortunate use of the teabagging nomenclature is the liberals' fault because they laughed at them.

American Conservative Daily says that when patriotic Americans hear "teabag," then "the images of Boston Harbor, taxes and American history immediately come to mind." Of course, they're only thinking of those things so they won't get a boner. "In the marble bosom of the socialist salon," scoffs The Next Right, "teaparties would seem to be the stuff of humor." Conservatives, on the other hand, laugh when bums are set on fire, and at "Home Improvement" reruns.

Don Surber is enraged that Anderson Cooper made such a joke -- and expresses it under the headline "Anderson Cooper Gags." He also says something about "report the news straight." Well, at least he knows what a joke is when it's not directed at him and his fellow yokels, and he does grasp that Cooper's jest "played on an oral sex reference in tea bagging," which shows he sometimes ventures outside of West Virginia, where the practice is known as the Family Reunion Dinner.

Infinite Monkeys denies all humorousness and insists that it's "tea party," not "teabagging," which is rather like Harvey Korman insisting "It's not Hedy, it's Hedley" in Blazing Saddles.

They remind me of a few other things, too: scolds who complain about "inappropriate laughter"; Frank Booth in Blue Velvet hissing "Don't you fucking look at me!"; and pretty much any other humorless dink who can't stand the disrespectful attention of others because he takes himself so damned seriously.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

STUPID HIPPIES. Hey, man, I see the pigs are trying to co-opt our groovy revolution with some kinda study whatchamacallit. They're trying to make us look like the oppressors! But don't worry, man -- some of the brothers dodged the pigs long enough to get the word out.

Jonah Goldberg is like playing it cool ("I'm taking a nap or launching cocktail hour"). He's gotta take it easy, you know -- if they catch on that he's not really disabled, they might take away his wingnut welfare. So we got brothers and sisters from off-campus backing him up in solidarity.

But Andy McCarthy is totally heavy, man! Check him out: "The only conceivable surprise is that it is so blatant and has happened so soon." Yeah, man -- it's going down right fucking now! Helter Skelter! Then he quotes himself from an earlier thing called "Obama's Assault on the First Amendment" -- y'see, this fascist Obama pig was like assaulting the First Amendment before he was even inaugurated -- that's how big a fucking fascist pig he is!

I know the squares aren't digging us right now, man, but just wait till they check out our demonstrations on Wednesday -- when they see us taking it to the streets, they'll be down for the whole thing! Remember: They got the numbers, but we got the gun nuts! But, psst... just make sure to bring the "tea" tomorrow, okay? Because I wanna get my head straight for when the shit goes down.

(Aaaaaannnd.... scene. Really, I envy them their mental youth, and if I thought any of them were actually going to get stoned and laid, I'd say they should go for it. Since that's unlikely -- though I'd be happy to hear otherwise -- I just have to ask: you guys do know how this story turns out, right? And don't tell me this time you have the internet -- all that does is make the music worse.)
EITHER MARY MAGDALENE GOES OR I DO, JESUS! Marilyn Chambers has passed, and Jesus fan Rod Dreher rushes to denounce her. Some of the brethren mention that this is less than Christian of Crunchy Rod, and he esplodes:
There is nothing wrong with judging the lives any one of us have lived. I cannot know Marilyn Chambers' soul, but from the evidence of her life, it was wasted. Anybody who spends his or her life as a porn star has wasted it... If you hate Christians like me, I wear your cheap scorn like a badge of honor. Funny, though, how you keep coming back to this blog.
He's right -- I do keep coming back; but only because, when it comes time to release the lions on these people, I want to remember why I needn't be sentimental about it.
SHIP OF FOOLS. How has the Right adjusted to the post-pirate reality? Can Democrats get a little respect from the bloodthirsty brethren for blowing some pirate heads open? Let's check in with one of their preeminent crackers:
The pirates are teenagers. Yes, and we all know that when you are killed by a teenager you are not as dead. Lefties will now begin caterwauling over how there are no job opportunities for them and they are “forced” to sell drugs, er, hijack ships...
If Obama took to dragging the corpses of the pirates behind his limo, Surber would declare that he wanted them close by because he likes to hug and kiss pirates. Then Surber would cry, "I'm goin' back to the wagon, boys, these shoes are killin' me," and exit to traveling music.

Oh, I'm not missing the whole black thing, either, but with these gomers it's so customary as to be hardly worth mentioning.

We should have gone with my plan, which was to have Obama announce, without their foreknowledge, that he was giving an expeditionary force of rightbloggers a letter of marque and one of the old ships from South Street Seaport to sail over to Somalia for some privateering.

Monday, April 13, 2009

THESE ARE PEOPLE OF THE LAND. THE COMMON CLAY OF THE NEW WEST. YOU KNOW... MORONS. As someone who's actually been to a Tea Party, I can tell you that they're fascinating events and you should try to attend one in your area on April 15. You've probably heard that these parties are dependent on often shameless shilling of major rightwing organizations. They are, in part -- but not entirely.

That's easy to forget, because of the appalling bad faith of the phenomenon's promoters. High-traffic political operatives like Glenn Reynolds and Michelle Malkin have for months been selling the Tea Parties like telemarketers in heat, and at the same time declaring them "grassroots" events. (Reynolds placed a particularly ballsy example of this in Monday's New York Post, claiming tea partiers "aren't the usual semiprofessional protesters who attend antiwar and pro-union marches. These are people with real jobs" -- as if union people don't have jobs [that's why they call them labor unions, Perfesser], or the millions who protested the Iraq War in 2003 are still out there with placards, semi-professionally protesting or waiting at the shape-up for a gig.)

But it's not a total con. People come to these things, sometimes in great numbers. They're not zombies summoned by Glenn Beck, but real people with whom the tea party idea resonates.

And if past events and present promotion are any indication, on April 15 what they'll be hearing is that the President of the United States is a socialist and/or a communist who ignores the Constitution and must be resisted as a usurper with revolution. There'll be complaints about high taxes, of course, but everyone complains about that. The main message is that Obama is an illegitimate leader, and that the folks holding the signs, notwithstanding the electoral results, are the true voice of America.

I'm not cherry-picking, folks. This is how they talk. You won't read about it in the promo pieces, but if you go among tea partiers, that's what you'll hear.

You can see why the high-level operatives spend most of their times talking about grass-rootsy authenticity of the tea parties -- how they's all jes' folks, includin' the perfessers, newspaper columnists, and former members of Congress -- rather than about the message. They want people who don't attend these events -- that is, most Americans -- to know that they draw crowds, because that suggests power and gets respect. But if Malkin, Reynolds, or the rest of them went up front and said, "We represent a national movement that believes the Muslim pretender Barry Soweto to be a fake President, believes the rich should hole up in a gulch with a perpetual motion machine until the poor cry for them to rule (unless the rich want to rule socialistically, in which case never mind), and wants paupers taxed the same as billionaires," they might receive a different kind of publicity than they've been getting.

In other words, the reason to oppose them is not because they are somehow not real or summoned under false pretenses; the reason to oppose them is that they're nuts.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the Somali pirate story and its uses by the rightwing blog community. While we are always impressed with the brethren's ability to bellow catch-phrases and do other political goon-squad business, they are also capable of more scholarly approaches, even rabbinical attentiveness to philosophical details.

Thus, where the ordinary reader would be mainly pleased for the captain and proud of the Navy, with Obama very far down the list of people of whom they would even think, rightbloggers sought painstakingly to establish Obama's lack of a role in the victory (or his many malfeasances within that victory) and to build little twisting logic-bridges to lead readers to the conclusion that the success of this mission proved the feebleness of the President's piracy policy, which just this week became one of the nation's many pressing concerns.

One of my favorite bits, for which the column had no room, was Michelle Malkin's terse dispatch, in which she quoted a Vice Admiral to the effect that "Washington had rejected negotiations with the pirates" and followed up, "Would have been nice to hear those words directly from the commander-in-chief." Maybe he says patriotic things his tongue catches fire or something. Of course, if the President went on TV and performed such chest-pounding as Malkin prescribes, we would have heard that he was trying to hog the limelight. It's a deep game and may convince dozens.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

PROJECTION ROOM. Crunchy Rod Dreher catches Top Movies That Are Really About ME fever. A correspondent writes,
This weekend the Frau and I watched the Jack Black/Mos Def oeuvre called "Be Kind, Please Rewind"... After the credits rolled, we looked at each other and said "Hey this is a Crunchy Con movie!" Question: has anyone compiled a definitive list of Crunchy films?
Dreher calls for readers to nominate such films, starting himself with Babette's Feast and Big Night ("great stories that explore the sacramental nature of food") and the Dork of the Rings trilogy. The suggestions are simultaneously full of self-flattery and absolutely devoid of self-awareness ("Gone With the Wind is another cautionary tale for the Crunchy Con constituency. How do you avoid becoming that kind of unjust, some might say evil agrarian society and still stay true to your Crunchy Con principles?" Since when is that a problem for them?).

One guy names a few dozen great directors (including John Ford and Stanley Kubrick) and says their "work can be profitably viewed through a Crunchy Con lens." Crunchyism, like Jesus, goes with everything.

Once again conservatives make a bad thing worse, taking the loathsome AFI list-making mania and using it to amplify their already massive self-regard. For religious people they're certainly insecure.

Amazingly, no one mentions what I thought were the obvious choices: The Mosquito Coast, The Rapture, Land Without Bread, and especially Lost in America -- I can easily imagine Dreher screaming at his family about the Core of the Easter Nest Egg. Did I miss any?

UPDATE. Oh, you guys are funny. "Salo -- the part with the shit eating," says Froley. I think Synykyl is onto something with There Will Be Blood. And how'd I miss this?
SHORTER EDITORS OF NATIONAL REVIEW: Everyone hates fags and the decisions of democratically elected fag-lovers only proves that everyone hates fags. While free from the taint of lawlessness fag fag fag fag faggotty fag. Parenthood is a popular book title and also a reason to hate fags. Fag. Soon fags will faggotize faggoty fag fag faggotism. Culture, marriage, parenthood. Fag! We rest our case, fag-lovers. P.S. fags.

UPDATE. Why fag is fag Andrew Sullivan fag engaging fag our arguments fag? Does he fag not fag realize we have fag disproven fag science on fag penguins? We fag have fag pretended to fag countenance his fag arguments for ten years and even fag more fag during which fag years we fag pretended that fag we respected him fag and he has gone along with the fag gag (see here and scroll to his May 31, 2003 "Instacomment," or to "Not So Fatuous" here, or go to any Sullivan page on the Wayback Machine -- it's hilariously instructive). The fag time has come to fag abandon the fags we fag have already fag abandoned. Why fag don't they fag understand fag this fag despite fag our fag earlier fag pretenses fag? Maybe because they didn't know we were kidding. Fags.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

DREAM BIG. At AOL, Matt Lewis posits the "Top 3 Conservatives Who Deserve a Biopic." After an expected intro about Juno, Knocked Up, Team America: World Police, The Passion of the Christ and The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis imagineers biopics of Whittaker Chambers, Bill Buckley, and the Duke lacrosse scandal. Gotta give him credit: along with the usual dreams of glory ("Kelsey Grammar, whose portrayal of corrupt D.A. Mike Nifong earns him the award for Best Supporting Actor"), Lewis credibly scenarios flicks that would make the Tea Party crowd swoon ("a harrowing tale of political intrigue, chronicling Chambers descent into communism, his recruitment as a Soviet spy, his change of heart, and finally key role in exposing Alger Hiss").

But I see both the promise and the problem here: Lewis is describing Lifetime wingnut movies -- small-scale stories that might work if Rupert Murdoch greenlighted original productions on Fox News, but unlikely to garner the bucks and buzz necessary to launch a big-budget rightwing moving picture. Dream big or not at all, Matt! The Passion of the Christ was about the biggest conservative hero of all -- a Jesus beaten and flayed by Philistines, Jews, transsexuals and other liberal stand-ins, who summoned the second-life strength to dish out post-mortem payback. That's a story that sells tickets and popcorn! Let's re-imagineer on his behalf:

Joe. Nobody gives young Joe McCarthy (Paul Dano) much of a chance: he isn't very bright, isn't much of a speaker, and tends to lie about his service record. Even when he beats Bob LaFollette's boy (Richard Lewis) in a Senate race, he gets no respect. But when he discovers a nest of traitors in the State Department, led by the master criminal Alger Hiss (John Malkovich), the now-mature McCarthy (Gary Sinise) finds a new eloquence, and ordinary Americans, symbolized by the parents of John Birch (Chris Cooper and Allison Janney), rise and affirm his accusations against the denunciations of the corrupt attorney Joseph Welch (Patrick Stewart). Joe's ascent is ultimately arrested by the closet Communist Senator Ralph Flanders (Robert DeNiro) and his Democrat enablers; Joe takes to drink and in a photogenic D.C. bar gives many prescient speeches about a future Negro President and his Alinskyite subversion. He is felled by a heart attack while laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, who takes his spirit's hand and leads him into the Congress of the future, where he stands behind Michelle Bachmann and nods sagely as she calls for an "armed and dangerous" uprising against the traitor Obama.

AuH2O. Young Barry Goldwater (Drew Carey) is a goofy kid working in his daddy's Arizona store, always giving a hard time to his boss Mr. Wick (Drew Ferguson) and his secretary Mimi (Kathy Kinney). But when he goes to the Senate, he finds that his nemeses Jack Kennedy (George Clooney) and Lyndon Johnson (Geoffrey Rush) are "a bunch of statist jerks," and resolves to run for President with the help of his buddies Karl Hess (Diedrich Bader), Joseph Welch (Ryan Stiles), and Phyllis Schlafly (Christa Miller). He tells the delirious crowd that "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," and they all join him in a dance number to Ian Hunter's "Phoenix Rocks." After he is beaten by the evil liberals in 1964, he spends his days wisecracking and playing pool in his backyard till Ronald Reagan (James Brolin) pulls him out of retirement to support his successful Presidential campaign. He then hangs out at the White House, where Mr. Wick and Mimi are engaged as servants and serve as comic foils. Late in life, drunk on his buddies' homemade beer, he says crazy things about evangelical Christians and homosexuals, which he corrects in a "Hey, just kidding" monologue delivered from Heaven, where he, Douglas MacArthur, and Richard Nixon make a series of humorous videos for Reason magazine.

MLKKK. This contrarian epic stars Tea Party singer Lloyd Marcus as ambitious Baptist preacher-traitor Martin Luther King Jr. who gives comically Communistic speeches ("I may not get there with you -- ya knows I sleeps late 'cause of tha niggeritis!") while true patriots try to achieve racial harmony via the free market. There's a hilarious reversal on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in which King and his minions ("Whoa-a-a-a-aah! Go back! Go back!") are driven to retreat by Major John Cloud (Leslie Nielsen), and comical scenes of King and Lyndon Johnson (Dennis Miller) -- "You da man!" "No, you da man!" -- before the farcical assassination in Memphis facilitated by a fame-hungry Jesse Jackson (Alfonzo Rachel). At the end, the chastened ghost of King tells moviegoers to support the Tea Parties ("A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard"), and leads the cast, all armed with semi-automatic weapons, in a new version of "Movin' On Up" ("Stim-ul-us crushes all of us/Everyone rich and poor/Long about time/We shot Obama/And shoved his corpse out the door").

There -- fixed it for them. But will they have the courage to follow my lead? Blargh! That's the problem with these Obama-age wingnuts -- they think they have to accommodate the littlebrains. But give them time; they'll catch up yet.

Monday, April 06, 2009

NOTHING BUT A MAN. When Erick Erickson tells you "the left was right," you know there's got to be something funny going on.
The left, when it decided Bristol Palin was fair game, went after Levi Johnson for being a thug and redneck. He was not interested in college -- only in scoring with the Governor’s daughter. The classic tale of the high school jock who is, in essence, a low life loser in it for a good time. The left and media regaled the rest of us with tales of what a loser the Palin kid slept with.

The left was right. Now, though, they can’t be bothered by it.
Actually, the people who were "bothered with it" -- that is, Levi Johnson as a subject, or object -- during the late campaign were the folks who spent some days spinning Johnson and his knocked-up girlfriend into a holy family for political purposes. That bloom faded pretty quick and they abandoned him. Now he's out there taking care of himself as best he can.

Erickson imagines Johnson "will be greeted as a hero by the left because boosting him hurts Sarah Palin." Like David Brock, I guess, or Mother Kusters. But I'm not -- nor, I guess, are most of us -- interested in Johnson as a political football, to be intercepted and carried toward the goal line. The poor guy has been used enough by his so-called friends.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the trend toward calling Obama a fascist. Some late entries since the column went up this morning: "Obongo the Muslim Socialist Fascist" (The State of the Mind); "Obama Fascism Spurs Demand For Atlas Shrugged" (U.S. Constitution); "Notre Dame Sells Out To Fascist Obama" (Conservative America); "The core of Obama's goal is to turn the United States into a subordinate cog in an international fascist socialist regime. Of course, he avoids using the honest terms fascism and socialism like the plague, which is exactly what they are" (Objectivist Individualist).

The MacGuffin varies; sometimes it's the bailouts, sometimes it's environmentalism; Chebama suggests that the fact that people are polarized on the subject of Obama is further proof that he's a fascist. Mainly they just seem to like using the word, regardless of the damage it does to its meaning. Or maybe that's the point.

UPDATE. The big polling split between Republicans and Democrats on Obama is noted elsewhere, and though Commentary asks if this is "really the change we were told we could believe in," they refrain from calling him a fascist. But Sacred Monkeys calls him a socialist, perhaps just for old times' sake.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

GAMING THE SYSTEM. Jules Crittenden learns about the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (still at the work draft stage) from the impeccably liberal Mother Jones. Then he wonders when liberals will notice ("Awaiting widespread lefty outrage, denunciations of Biden-Obamamchitlerburton regime").

This tiresome schtick aside, I notice the bill is mostly about study groups, funding and boondoggles, and the relevant passage partly quoted by MoJo ("gives the president the ability to 'declare a cybersecurity emergency' and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any 'critical' information network 'in the interest of national security'") is possibly not as obnoxious as portrayed:
may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network
But, as usual, there is a lot of complicated language in the bill that may stretch the definition of "Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network" sufficiently to impinge on ordinary citizens' civil liberties, which I would of course oppose. After reading the slightly (but not entirely) more reasonable Slashdot discussion, I'm more concerned with the section that seems to grant Commerce "access to all relevant data concerning such networks" -- that is, "Federal government and private sector owned critical infrastructure information systems and networks" (emphasis mine) -- "without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." That I can say sounds very bad.

I am grateful to be kept informed on these issues, and would be more grateful to Crittenden (and imagine his contribution would be less easily ignored by readers who might be sympathetic) if he dropped the tiresome insistence that liberals are against civil liberties.
EVERYBODY HATES AMERICA. Reuters reports that some Taliban guy claims responsibility for the Binghamton massacre. Even if you hadn't heard that before, readers, I bet you pretty much immediately know what to think about it.

RedState, however, thinks you're too dumb to figure it out, and likely to fall under the sway of the traitorous Reuters mind-shapers.
So, why did Reuters think it a story worthy of reporting? There can only be one reason.

You see by telling us the lie of Baitubooolah Meshaweazel Muhammad something-or-another who is claiming he was responsible for the rampage Reuters can also promulgate anger toward our Predator drone program that has been so successful in killing these Taliban and al Qaeda scum-bags.

Reuters knows full well the story is bunk. But if it helps turn more people against the U.S. efforts to stop Islamofascist terror, well, that is a tale worth telling.
The problem is even worse that RedState portrays it: Fox News has also picked up the story, meaning that Rupert Murdoch has come to hate America, too. Given the enormous influence of an MSM-Fox treason alliance, the U.S. should be thoroughly demoralized in a couple of months. Maybe RedState can tell us what step two of the Big Takeover is supposed to be, because I don't know how news organizations can expect to profit from the death of America.

Oh Jesus, I found myself taking them seriously for a couple of seconds there. I need a vacation.

Friday, April 03, 2009

YOU REALLY OUGHT TO GIVE IOWA A TRY. You think someone at the Wall Street Journal was rattled?



These things go back and forth, but I took a moment to celebrate.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

KICKED THEIR ASS IN '76 TOO. Jonah Goldberg thinks Britain is a PC hellhole. So does Gateway Pundit. So does Stop the ACLU.

But they all think it's simply frightful that Obama gave the Queen presents of which they cannot approve.

Best of all is Stop the ACLU which, upon hearing that in addition to the iPod Obama gave the Queen a rare songbook signed by American musical comedy great Richard Rodgers, responds, "perhaps the songbook gift might have been nice (I’ve never heard of the guy)..." Yeah, this is someone you want dishing out protocol.

The old bitch had probably never seen an iPod and thought it might be a new kind of IUD or something. Fuck her and fuck these people. Guy Fawkes and Harry Perkins had the right idea. The President needn't truckle.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

SCIPIO SAYETH THE SOOTH! I don't know whether it's good or bad but I seem to have developed this knack: I go over to the Perfesser's place and I see a short item like this --
HOW WE FELL.
--and somehow I know the link is a gateway to madness.

The Great Gerard Vanderleun*, now traveling under the name The Return of Scipio (clouds of dry ice! Laurence Olivier and Ray Harryhausen!) telleth a tale in which an archaeologist, "rummaging among the ruins of our fallen civilization," encounters a ghost who shows him a blog post, presumably on his iPhone, detailing the dead glories of our once-proud world. The archaeologist makes the mistake of asking what happened.
We traded beauty for ugliness, truth for lies, liberty for comfort, love for indifference, responsibility for frivolity, duty for entertainment, history for sound bites, and children for pleasure.
He left out the mess of pottage, but perhaps in the future copyright will stretch back to the Scriptures.

Also, "We turned men into women and women into men and marveled at our new creative power." The archeologist could have thrown up his hands and gone, "Whoa! TMI, dude!" and they could have high-fived each other and let it go at that. But the archaeologist is not too quick on his feet, and is suffered to hear how we traded God for "hip, cool and slick new" gods, with whom we "made all sorts of merry."

At this stage you may be thinking the shade is talking about "Soul Train" or "Hullabaloo," but then we learn the gods "required that we all get special marks on our bodies" -- tats? chips? Mark of the Beast? To cut to the chase, everybody started going on all fours and it was just a mess. You can go see for yourself -- there's a special surprise ending that I won't spoil for you.

The story is beginning to get around in such circles as are susceptible to this sort of thing. Oh please, please, new gods, let it become the new Going Galt!

Oh, you may enjoy the commenters, too. One has a lovely story of his own:
I feel Cassandra like, and have for 30 years. I’ve been cajolling, extolling, encouraging, speaking out when it was not convenient, and almost totally ignored about honesty in governance, honest in weights and measures (i.e. money), adherence to law and standards… in other words, I was a Libertarian from 1980, then once that group went off the rails re: legalized drug use, I found the US Taxpayer Party which later became the Constitution Party.

Some 1% of Americans belong to 3rd parties, and it simply is not enough to keep our culture alive from the powers that be...
This conjures charming images of Chuck Baldwin and a bunch of wingers holed up in a cave, teaching their boy-children Rhetoric.

*UPDATE. A fan helpfully informs me that it's not Vanderleun who said the sooth, but some other nut; Vanderleun was just an accessory. It's hard to keep the names straight while you're in the middle of a laughing fit.
AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE STRAW. Jonah Goldberg does a nyah-nyah about censorship: you stupid liberals like your porn but what do you think about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission? I can tell him I think it stinks, and I think campaign finance reform, in general and including McCain-Feingold, stinks. I am highly suspicious of anything that trammels the speech rights even of millionaire wingnuts. And I don't see how we're much better off with the current limitations, given that every election shows the system routinely gamed by pressure and interest groups.

I'm well aware that challenges like Goldberg's are meant to confuse the issue, but I'm not confused, except by the longevity of his whole oh-yeah-what-about schtick with unnamed correspondents. I'm guessing that if he addressed it directly to, say, Lisa Derrick, he knows he'd get his ass handed to him -- I disagree with her on this but she clearly could argue for the merits of genocide or the Divine Right of Midgets and still reduce Goldberg to spasms of shirt-tucking and snot bubbles.

I have some unorthodox opinions; for example, I will oppose with my last, hacking breath anti-smoking laws. Yet I never seen to get banned or menaced by those fascist liberal hordes Goldberg often talks about. Maybe I should do it in all caps next time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. This is a miscellany of some of the week's greatest hits, including the White House Easter Egg Hunt, the Republican alterna-budget, and "Human Achievement Hour," the right's sad and sour we'll-show-those-treehuggers Earth Day counter-demonstration. Nothing says Modern Conservatism like wingnuts running up their electric bills as a protest. I don't recall them rebranding their SUVs as "Freedom Guzzlers," but I can't be everywhere.

I got so carried away that a missed a few things, including the Rush Limbaugh Mud Wrestling Challenge "You're a lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward," writes discourse-raiser Andrew Klavan. "You're terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do." All of us have heard a little Rush -- how can you help it? -- and I am reminded of what Hemingway said about James Jones and not needing to eat a whole bowl of scabs to know that they are scabs.

I'm also sorry to have missed Andrew Breitbart's declaration that all internet trolls are liberal, particularly after finding my first Voice commenter of the morning: "KISS MY RIGHT-WING ASS EDROSO..." Or is he one of our double agents?