Tuesday, September 22, 2009

THE SCANDAL WIDENS, DEEPENS, LOCOMOTES, ETC. How's it going with NationalEndowmentfortheArtsGate? Andrew Klavan:
Let’s not even concern ourselves with the fact that White House official Buffy Wicks directed the artists to channel their efforts through Serve.gov, a White House website with ties to the corrupt Acorn.
No problem.
It doesn’t matter that it didn’t actually offer these artists money in exchange for propaganda; its very presence on the line constituted an implied offer of access. It doesn’t matter that the artists on the call were already Obama supporters.
I have to say, the man makes a powerful argument. I smell Congressional investigation.
And whether or not these artists will bite into the apple of governmental corruption -- whether or not they’ll allow their creativity to be guided by the blandishments of the state -- the phone call is proof of the depths of this administration’s intentions to corrupt.
What adds force to these blockbuster revelations is Klavan's status as an author of books, which adds credibility to his claim that "in seeking to enlist the arts, [the Administration] has taken this overbearing and ultimately corrupting practice to the deepest and most spiritual level we know." Conservatives who have spent their entire adult lives condemning all American artists (excepting Chuck Norris and Gary Sinise) as toadies of the Democratic Party will affect outrage until the next big exposé, which we have on good authority will involve the Bureau of International Information Programs and its corrupt plan to have Shepard Fairey design the flyers America drops on Afghan villages.

Monday, September 21, 2009

MEDIA CRITICISM FOR THOSE IN A HURRY.
Miracles Are Real — For Buddhists [Jonah Goldberg]
That's all the warning most of you need. Follow! Goldberg was listening to NPR and heard an amazing story:
When the Dalai Lama was just two years old, some travelling monks found him. The tyke greeted them in the monks' own language even though he had no reason to know it and recognized the old men as long lost friends. He — at the age of two — "knew all about" his previous life.

Now, it seems to me that from any objective viewpoint this is, quite simply, a miracle.
Or bullshit. Either way.
As to whether this actually happened I see no reason why I shouldn't be agnostic as I like the idea of miracles quite a bit and poo-pooing it would be distraction from the point I want to make.
Uh oh, Goldberg's already trying to create a diversion; his weak-minded adversaries will still be parsing that sentence when he has vanished in a cloud of Cheetos dust.
But...
Non-traditional use of conjunctions also helps.
...I thought it was really interesting that no skepticism was brought to bear. I listen to discussions of Christianity from time to time on NPR and it seems that it's simply required in such conversations to take the "magic" out of the Judeo-Christian narratives. But when the religion in question is Buddhism it's apparently fine to suspend ones rationalist mind. Again, I'm not a regular listener of this show, so maybe my surprise is a little misplaced and all such talk is greeted with such open-mindedness. But that's certainly not my impression of NPR in general.
Goldberg's "impression of NPR in general" is probably similar to Homer's attempt to think like Flanders. To the extent that we can extract a point from this, it seems Goldberg finds NPR guests generally suspicious of Christian miracles, and one of them perhaps credulous of those attributed to an Eastern mystic. This invites all kinds of questions, foremost among them: Might the Church revive itself among the intellectual classes by encouraging its priests to talk like Mr. Moto and do card tricks?

Maybe Goldberg fled because wanted to keep his powder dry for a column on this. I certainly hope so. He's dynamite on the subject of NPR. (Search to "Strategic Humor Initiative.")
GRAPESHOT. Andrew Breitbart's follow-up to his child prostitution stings on ACORN -- the revelation that the Obama Administration talked to artists about its social programs -- is not shaking the earth, despite the inclusion of a Hitler dog whistle ("Riefenstahl-esque"). Patterico has even taken to explaining to readers that "it would be a mistake to dismiss this story as unimportant."

The reason is simple: While ACORN is sufficiently mysterious that they can paint all kinds of pictures on it, the NEA has long been one of the right's most popular betes noires. They've have been telling the world that artists are liberal homosexual operatives, and that the NEA is their front group, for years. The notion that it is being used to promote a leftist agenda will strike most of their intended audience as dog bites man.

The primary usefulness of this story will be as another slug in the grapeshot with which they stuff their cannons. They'll be using "NEA" the way they used "Whitewater" for several electoral cycles to come, as a signifier for half-remembered scandal.
MORE EVIDENCE THAT THERE'S NO RACISM IN AMERICA. John Derbyshire:
It's time someone took a 12-gauge to the phrase "affordable housing," which crops up all over the place in the ACORN-related commentary. It belongs with "undocumented immigrant" (he stole your Social Security number) and "vibrant neighborhood" (carry a gun) in the Liar's Dictionary.
In a way it's a disappointment; Derbyshire is often eager to explicate his racism right at the point of sale. But here, as with his Rivers of Blood item last year, he just throws out that "vibrant neighborhood" thing and continues on with something else equally stupid but less overt. If I didn't know him better I'd say he was trying to be sneaky.

We're left to assume Derbyshire is talking about urban neighborhoods thus described, such as Fort Greene, where a large percentage of the population is "sooty," as they say in Derbyshire's native land, thus making it a place no Derbyshire would wish to live, though many, many white race-traitors pay a great deal of money to do so (perhaps out of missionary zeal, since from the Derbyshire POV no caucasian would actually enjoy such dark surroundings).

I'm sure there are far fewer people even on Lawn Guyland than there used to be who actually believe they'd need a gun in such a place. With any luck Derbyshire will be the last.

STAYCATION. I am off from the Voice this week, and though I have promised myself removal from stressors, you and I both know I cannot long stay away from million-man rugby scrum that is our political discourse. So you'll probably see me around here more often than you have in recent weeks, when I had been tearing my hair out trying to find celebrity nudes and other sticky gibberish for my employers, and thus insufficiently attentive to the real people here at the midnight show. Maybe I'll take the opportunity to get back to things that really matter. (Oh hey, Georgia O'Keeffe celebrity nude at the Whitney!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

IT'S A WHITE THING, YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND. Whoops, there it is:

"(Video) Steele: why isn’t Obama trying to get Corzine to drop? Which is a question that has teeth in it, doesn’t it? Big, sharp, possibly racially-motivated teeth -- given that the major difference between Governors Corzine and Paterson is more or less their respective skin colors. Hey, the Democrats ask this sort of question all the time: since skin color’s so important to them generally, it seems only fair to check if it was important to them this time, too." -- Moe Lane.

"I say we start rubbing the racial-demagoguery in the left's face" -- Weasel Zippers.

"Well, that is the way it works, isn’t it? Do anything to oppose a black man in office, and that is proof of racism, right?" -- Blogs for Victory.

To recap, Obama asked Paterson not to run because he's black, proving the Democrats' racism. Irregular readers may be confused. The explanation is that conservatives deny racism is a factor in any area of American life, and that if there is any racism, it is created from whole cloth by Democrats. Thus, if the black President has some misgivings about a highly unpopular black and unelected Democratic governor standing for election, it may be tied to Democratic racism which, given the heritage of the current President, is both a joke (formally, anyway, with no need for a punchline nor any actual humorous content) and a deadly serious charge.

In related news: "Watch [Obama] call a black man a 'jackass', and consider what would have happened had that word come out of Bush's mouth." -- GOP Thinker.

It's an ancient grudge, which goes back to the transference of electoral allegiance of black voters from the Republican Party, which held it after the Civil War, to the Democratic Party, which wisely angled for it during the Civil Rights movement* and holds it to this day. Many of the current conservative combatants are not very aware of this history, and are responding instead to some inchoate feeling that black people have done them wrong. This reaction is tolerated and even encouraged by the movement to which they belong for reasons you probably don't need my help to discern.

*UPDATE. Mssrs. Harrington and Riley point out in comments that the turnaround in black political loyalties started much earlier, though LBJ delivered the coup de grace. They cite the New Deal, which is news to me, but most of us remember that Truman's civil rights policies drove Strom Thurmond out of the party, from which racist exile he was retrieved by the Republicans, whose agents now tell us that race is not an issue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

THEIR NEGRO PROBLEM -- AND OURS. I'll be honest with you. I don't think racism is the biggest problem in the country. Of course I'm inclined to feel that way, since I'm white, but I've also made the judgment that it's the manipulation of racism that makes much of the trouble that we attribute to the thing itself.

The provenance of the outrage applied to the Belleville West High School incident is obvious if you've been alive for more than a couple of years. Normal people know that in different situations, black kids will victimize white kids and white kids will victimize black kids, and it's part of the sad but slowly improving situation of the United States. I knew it when I was younger and things were much worse. (I saw a little of both sides, too -- I don't mean figuratively, but with my eyes.)

Normal people work through such resentments as these incidents bestir in them as best they can. A certain type of person tries instead to work them.

To a certain extent, playing with that particular kind of fire doesn't have to come out badly. New York City is a pretty good example. There are lines, albeit thin ones, between solidarity and isolation and between righteous indignation and rage. When it goes wrong, you get the Draft Riots, "Irish confetti," the 60s riots, Crown Heights, etc. When it goes right, you get political clubs and affinity groups, which do business with other clubs and groups and get deals done to their mutual benefit.

One of the reasons conservatives classically hate New York is because we have mostly worked out our ethnic tensions this way, in informal power sharing arrangements. That angers them because it reveals something they don't like to face about racism -- that it has to do with power, and that cooling its tensions may require that grievances be addressed and redressed. Maybe some jobs have to be shoveled toward ethnically distinct neighborhoods that don't have many of them, and maybe the mayor won't always line up with the cops when a member of a minority group is killed under suspicious circumstances.

It ain't always pretty but it more or less works. You may prefer that men be angels and rise above this sort of thing, but that sort of liberal utopianism is beyond me. I do notice that people of different races seem to get along here pretty well -- certainly better than they did 30 years ago -- so maybe the incremental approach, assisted by liberal applications of grease, will get us to Valhalla anyway, albeit slowly.

Members of white majority parties resist this thinking because it suggests that they may have to give something up. So they concentrate on ways in which they can portray white people as victims of some sort of black hegemony, and adopt the prerogatives of grievance themselves. You'll remember that conservatives originally tried to get at ACORN by suggesting that it was redirecting wealth unfairly to black people. (It was only when that failed to inflame the public imagination that they turned to child prostitution stings.) The clear message of the Belleville uproar is that people of color are getting away with something, and simple justice demands that white people hold the line.

Robert Crumb explained this better than I have. I will add that I am in some sympathy with Jimmy Carter's remarks -- is it really so controversial to observe that a lot of people can't accept the idea of a black president? -- but I think he may be missing the angle shot. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the people who are stirring the shit up at present aren't casual racists at all. (Some of them certainly go out of their way to give the impression that they're cool with black people.) But they know what racism can accomplish with a little help.

UPDATE. I found part two of the Crumb thing, which is also worth your while.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

THERE IS, TOO, A CONSERVATIVE INTELLECTUAL TRADITION. National Review's great thinker:
But when I say, "Hey, look, Robespierre and the Jacobins were even closer students of Rousseau's and they found something in there that sanctioned the Terror. Did they all misread Rousseau?" And their basic answer is "yes." To which I say, okay, but does that really let Rousseau completely off the hook? If there's something in there that led very smart people to believe there was a philosophical and moral writ to slaughter thousands and erase society surely that should count against Rousseau on some level, even if it's only an indictment against his clarity of thought and writing. No?
I don't know whether to send Goldberg a reading primer or a Bible.

Monday, September 14, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP -- an extended look at the Joe the Yeller story. To the extent that their hive-mind is capable of judgement, conservatives may have figured that having a humanoid representative for their cause -- even if it's a humanoid of such limited appeal as this pig-ignorant Dixie congressman with a once-safe seat -- makes it easier to advertise. Since no one has been murdered by Obamacare yet, and the traditional horror stories out of Britain's National Health do not move their target audience (because they find all furriners and their ways hopelessly exotic, even if they do sort of talk American, and assume their health care shortfalls are a natural consequence of warm beer), they work with Joe Wilson, casting him in the usual passive-aggressive way as both hero and martyr. Sometimes I think they moon over Reagan so much because it's been a long time since they had anyone with actual charisma to shove in front of the cameras.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A STAR IS BORN. Joe Wilson yells at the President. Thousands of posts ensue, in which we learn that he took No-Doz, likes the Rebel Flag, and reacted protectively toward Senator Strom Thurmond when his illegitimate daughter came forward. His views on health care are suddenly of interest, and he has worked the outrage against him into a fundraising pitch. He is now the darling of the right and a national figure who will be considered in upcoming discussions of candidates for high office.

Ah gits weary/An' sick o' tryin'/Ah'm tired o' living'/An' skeered o' dyin'...

Caligula had to appoint that horse. Here they are nominated by acclamation.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

ROD DREHER ON THE GAY MENACE, WHICH MUST BE MET WITH ARMS. Oh, go ahead. You'll never guess why Rod Dreher keeps a gun in his house. Gay people! Someone wrote in the Washington Post about anti-gay-marriage people who were not chaw-drooling Cletuses; some readers strongly objected. Maggie Gallagher, as usual, says gays are the real bigots. Dreher says:
She's right about that. Trust me on that one. It's one reason I have a gun in the house. I've let a couple of you trusted readers -- same-sex marriage supporters who believe I'm very wrong on this issue, but who are civil about it -- know what I'm talking about.
I was hoping he'd tell us about the roving bands of sodomites who rattle a stick on his picket fence at night, but apparently he restricts this info to the Righteous Homos in his congregation. But he's an equal opportunity armorer:
It's why I support fully the intention of Celtic Dragon Critter, a transgender reader who believes people like me are badly mistaken on same-sex marriage, to maintain the means and the will to shoot anyone who crosses her threshold to harm her or her family. There are people on both sides of this issue so crazy with rage that they will stop at nothing to punish those they hate.

The spirit of madness and hatred now rising in this culture is prominently on the right of late, but not exclusively on the right.
Dreher's idea of gay violence is presumably this:
Mark Shea points to this video of a small group of peaceable Christians who had to be protected by a phalanx of San Francisco police as they walked through the gay Castro District in San Francisco. Otherwise, it's clear they would have been assaulted even worse than they were before the riot police arrived.

This is terrifying. This ought to be on the national news. If this were a Christian mob surrounding gay-rights campaigners, it certainly would be -- and should be, as no peaceful protester in this country should be subject to this threat. (And no, this wasn't a made- up thing: here's how a local SFO TV station covered it).

Watch this, and tell me these people [Update: by which I mean the enraged activist core, not all gays -- RD.] aren't going to come against churches full force once they have the civil rights laws on their side:
I don't advocate meeting mere offense with violence. But one of the ways we ordinary people get along is this: I don't take a group of people to a church picnic and make a show of telling the folks there, one way or another, that their lifestyle disgusts me. The Christians in question have a certain right to behave provocatively, as a drunk in a bar has a right to tell you your mama is ugly, but they dissemble when they say it's not a provocation.

To compare this to the constant threat some people face just by being perceived as gay is somewhere south of offensive.
THE VIEW FROM THE CREEP SEATS. What's more fun than a Presidential address on health care? The Corner covering a Presidential address on health care!

They started well before the speech. Tevi Troy precogs that "President Obama would tell sad tales of Americans who lack access to health insurance" and announces himself proven right because he's seen "a list of the guests in the First Lady's box." Obama spent about 60 seconds on sad takes of Americans who lack access to health care. Time for a Tevi Troy victory lap!

Jonah Goldberg also has a memorable warmup: "Maybe I'm just beholden to my own predictions, but the pre-coverage of Obama's address sure makes it sound like the White House thinks the moment requires more cowbell." This refers to his previous analogy that compared Obama's public speaking, which largely got him elected, to irrelevant noise, based on the fact that Goldberg remembered a funny bit from Saturday Night Live. I assume he didn't use "Yeah, that's the ticket!" because the cowbell thing implies familiarity with Blue Öyster Cult, which will do wonders for his street cred.

Kathryn J. Lopez obsesses on the laminated "talking points" given by Obama to GOP Congressmembers. "Don't Worry Your Pretty Little Eyes with Legislation," says K-Lo. "Trust the White House. Serve the President, If You Will." Later she repeats the outrage of Pete Hoekstra: "Handing out laminated talking points produced by the White House is tacky. This is serious business. I will not twit during speech." Sending a message by not sending a message -- surely the people will rise when they don't hear of it. To amplify, K-Lo posts a picture of the laminated document. Maybe their acolytes will bring replicas to Town Halls, and interrupt the proceedings by noisily scraping them on their unshaven faces.

The speech starts. Obama: "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last." Goldberg: "Obama will, for all time, settle the issue of healthcare in America? He'll be the last president tackle healthcare? Ever?" Goldberg missed a similar chance when Obama said, "Credit was frozen" -- he could have rejoined, "Frozen? Like in a freezer? So all you need is a microwave to thaw it out?" But that would have sent him straight to the Hot Pockets and we would have missed his further reactions. Stephen Spruiell is similarly miffed: "Makes Obama sound foolish. Medicare and Medicaid are the subjects of constant legislative meddling. Obamacare wouldn't require frequent tune-ups/refinements/bailouts?" They must have loved these guys on Debate Team.

K-Lo: "A veteran politico" -- by which she means the dolly on her pillows with the long, grey coat -- "asks me: 'Why is he yelling so much? If Bush had done that, the press would have had a field day. How many headlines will say "an angry obama"? None.'" Obama's poor speaking skills masked by liberal media again! A pity more citizens don't have television sets.

"No matter how much the president insists otherwise, preventative care doesn't really save any money," says Mark Hemingway, quoting a Washington Post story on a study that questions the anticipated preventative care savings on... patients with Type 2 diabetes. Still, I take his point. I've thought of giving up smoking and drinking, but who's to say that this preventative program will reduce my need for medical attention? Mom wound up on an oxygen tank, but I think she was just looking for attention.

John Hood tries a Goldbergian approach: "Not to be disrespectful or anything, but I’m multitasking at the moment — watching the president on the small screen while spooling a recorded Scooby Doo movie from DVR to tape on the big screen." He and Pete Hoekstra are really showing Obama.

K-Lo doesn't believe Obama's promise that federal dollars won't be used to fund abortion because "It's open to negotiation... Who knows what those committeemen do with one bill or another. Who knows what happens in conference." This is where Jesus is supposed to walk through the wall and chide her for her lack of faith. Mark Hemingway calls Obama's promises on this and health care for illegal immigrants "foolish" because "aside from being disingenous, it's the opposite of consensus building." Better Obama should just admit he wants more abortions and wetback medicine till the cows come home, as that might build the sort of consensus Hemingway seeks.

Andy McCarthy praises the contributions of Sarah Palin, especially on the alleged death panels, in which he retains touching faith. "I can't tell you how much I love Roman's cover on the latest edition of NR," he adds, which shows Death wearing a lab coat.

John Hood doesn't like Obama's point that public care will no more kill private care than public universities have killed private universities: "Government colleges and universities have, indeed, come to dominate the higher education market not because they are better or more efficient but because of massive taxpayer subsidy." Graduates of Texas A&M will be interested to hear that their alma mater is kept alive only by the mindless largesse of Big Gummint, as will students of schools like Yale and Harvard, where I understand they burn books to keep warm in the winter thanks to declining revenues.

Goldberg lets fall the cowbell. "I don't know if this will win over the public (though I'm skeptical). But if he's actually trying to woo the Republicans in the room, I don't think this is working at all. Too many digs to placate his base and indulge hs own vanity." It doesn't surprise me that Goldberg has trouble grasping the distinction between "woo" and "embarrass." (He picks the cowbell up again, though, when he learns that Obama will follow up on this speech tomorrow. Obama just can't stop embarrassing himself by talking! Didn't he learn anything from his disastrous Presidential campaign?)

If you want more, there's always their Twitter feeds. K-Lo chirps:
delayed reax: was that an ashley madison commercial i just caught -- the MARRIAGE DATING SERVICE? Oremus. so much flipping not sure where.
Shortly thereafter:
now im screaming. back to normal, a cialis commercial. par for the course, often at 2 pm when i'm on a conference call in the office.
Maybe she's afraid Obamacare will force her into psychotherapy.

Monday, September 07, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, despite the holiday. Just a quick spin around the Obama school speech issue. Among other things, I notice that accusations of fascism, "Obama Youth," etc. are getting more common. Maybe they're all secret LaRouche supporters. In earlier, simpler times, they might have just called Obama's actions inappropriate or questionable, and explained why. Hitler=Obama removes the necessity of the second step and, better than that, leaves it up to the fevered imagination.

For some the default accusation will always be Communism and Russia (where you came from), of course. Andy McCarthy at National Review:
Van Jones isn't Alger Hiss. There's nothing covert about him. He didn't snooker Obama into bringing him aboard. He is who he is, and that's why Obama wanted him. Having a communist in that job was perfect since the "green jobs" initiative is an important part of the hard Left's agenda to use environmentalism as an additional justification for usurping command of the economy.

In fact, the death of the Soviet Union has actually been a boon for neocommunists. Now, Obama and his fellow travelers like Jones, Ayers, Wright, Klonsky, and ACORN, can spout all the same totalitarian, anti-American, central-planning ideas the hard Left has always pushed, but in the abstract -- under such mushy labels as "social justice" and "green jobs." That is, they are liberated from having to defend the Soviet Empire, which, until 1991, was a living, breathing, concrete example of how horrific these ideas are when put in practice.
Thus we have a new Evil Empire -- the United States of America under its current, duly-elected leadership. With the folks at National Review talking like this, it's no shock the smaller fry are so free with their use of Mao, Hitler, Stalin etc. They've come a long way from the days when William F. Buckley was arguing for national service.
RAGGED GLOURY. [spoilers.] For the first hour or so of Inglourious Basterds I thought: well, it's finally happened. Either Tarantino has become totally brilliant, or I've watched enough Tarantino that I can't tell the difference anymore. The two first scenes -- the drawn-out agony of Colonel Landa's visit to a farmhouse where Jews have been hidden, and Aldo Raine's ludicrously inspiring speech to his recruits -- are among the best things he's ever done, from Landa's cheerful gabble to the close-ups of Brad Pitt's crinkled eyes, and it looked as if Tarantino was going to finally resist his impulse to undercut himself, and just turn his considerable gifts toward the end of making a damn genre picture without willfully jacking the whole thing up with random crazy ideas until the whole thing flips over. Maybe, I thought, he was catching on to what Sam Fuller knew -- if you're already nuts, you don't have to force it: your war movie, no matter how tightly plotted, will bear your gloriously (or glouriously) insane hallmark. (The Steel Helmet would not have been improved by song numbers.)

The first sign of trouble was the payoff on the "Bear Jew" idea (introduced by a suitably Vaudevillian Hitler). You mean that's it, I thought, -- he beats Nah-zis to death with a baseball bat? And ominously thumps the bat in the dark woods before he does it? Whoops, that was it, and the character recedes, to be supplanted by a lot of other show-stealing but debilitating schtick. The Theme from Cat People; non-Italian-speaking Basterds as Italians at a Third Reich shindig (maybe a hommage to All Through The Night); most disappointingly, a really interesting tension between the Jewish massacre survivor and Goebbels' new "It" boy, which climaxes in a projection-room scene that shows Tarantino still relying on childish, film-geeky blood-love as a resolution for difficult relationships.

I shouldn't complain. There's enough jam here to get you through the long running time, and it's fun. But Tarantino's technique has gotten so good that I wish he'd goof around a little less, and I grow tired of wishing for it. One of the great scenes introduces our British Forces hero -- a film critic (!) chosen for Operation Kino based on his knowledge of UFA and German language-fighting skills. The scene is as mad as you could wish, with Churchill incomprehensibly present and Mike Myers in highly successful make-up briefing the critic, with stiff upper lips all 'round. The absurdity is baked into the concept, and played and filmed beautifully. The tension between the barely-possible reality of the scene and Tarantino's rendition of it makes you giddy but keeps you in the story.

But it all leads to a Nazi Gotterdammerung so muddled and overblown that it blew my connection to the movie. I could accept an alternate WWII ending -- sure, why not; it was fine when Chaplin iron-masked Adenoid Hynkel in favor of a Jewish barber -- but by then the little tweaked realities had turned into a pile-up of absurdities, and my faith in the film was broken. It should be much more satisfying than this to see Hitler machine-gunned to pieces -- and for that matter, to see Landa get what's coming to him. But the movie has gotten so out of control by the end, all that's left are violent bits. Good bits, mind you, but without the benefit of the gathered force that a more disciplined film might have afforded.

Tarantino's too good to leave it at that, but no one's going to make him take the next step. At times like this I miss Louis B. Mayer. Or David O. Selznick.

Every craft aspect of the film is wonderful; the music is lovely, especially the theme from The Alamo, and Christoph Waltz deserves some kind of prize for bringing some badly needed joie de vivre to the Nazi villain role.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

F MINUS. President Obama is going to talk to schoolchildren on TV about public service which, Michelle Malkin informs us, is child abuse. She reproduces a teacher's guide which includes questions for students like "What is the President trying to tell me?" "What is the President asking me to do?" and "Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?" when it should be instructing them to shout the president down and bring loaded guns to the classroom.

Malkin's analysis:
Will Obama be able to resist issuing a call to youth arms to marshal help in passing his legislative agenda? The thing is: He won’t need to make the call explicit.
This is clever, as it means that Obama could just tell the kids to help little old ladies across the street and the faithful may still imagine him to be pouring acid on the foundations of the Republic.

Melissa Clouthier is reminded of Elian Gonzalez, Ace of Spades is reminded of The Omen III, Noisy Room quotes Hitler, Fire Andrea Mitchell calls it "Obama Youth," Stephen Kruiser says "Can I get a Hammer & Sickle in the house?!?!?" etc.

These guys make me miss the John Birch Society. At least so far as I know, they never thought the President's Council on Physical Fitness was an attempt to create a new Aryan Youth.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

WWJ-LoD? After wringing a little more outrage out of the Lockerbie bomber's release, Kathryn J. Lopez is reminded she's a Christian, maybe by a picture of a kitten, and regrets the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. "I'm opposed to the death penalty," she proclaims. National Review readers try to smack her back into compliance by noting Willingham's obscene gesture during execution. "These things, too, do not require the state to end his life," she bravely insists.

Eventually, inevitably, K-Lo does the walkback:
I should note that the debate over facts is not my moral argument against the whole execution business. I think the man shouldn't have been killed, period, with or without the New Yorker. Capital punishment isn't intrinsically evil, there are times when it may be necessary. But those strike me as rare -- if not inconceivable -- instances in the U.S. in 2009.
Not so inconceivable, apprently: She closes by linking an argument in favor of capital punishment from her brother in Christ Ramesh Ponnuru.

Earlier Lopez wrote about "Vigilance in the Defense of Life." She was at that time talking about fetuses. "For Catholics," she wrote, "while other matters are subject to prudential debates, innocent human lives are not."

I can understand the distinction between innocent and non-innocent human life. But it rather vitiates the power of the Jesus card when you start making distinctions based on the laws of Man, or at least the ones you favor.

I honestly don't get much atheistic pleasure out of tweaking the contradictions in the Christian conservative perspective -- excepting the bloodthirsty ravings of Rod Dreher and such like; that's always a treat. But I do think that if you can't go full metal Jesus, you should stop appealing to cardboard cutouts of him as an authority.

Monday, August 31, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightbloggers' attempt to pull a Wellstone on Kennedy. They didn't get much, but some of them are still reacting ("Use of Kennedy's Death for Political Advantage Sinks to New Lows") as if liberals had invaded their memorial service, as the schtick demands.

Even the dimmer bulbs among them seem to realize it isn't going over, and have moved on to more exotic Kennedy slurs than the ones they emitted at Kennedy's death. Patterico parses a casual comment Kennedy made to Jose Maria Aznar, Cortes E. DeRussy attacks Kennedy's letter to the Pope for not being as awe-inspiringly humble as the one DeRussy would have written, etc.

Once upon a time, pretending to care so greatly about a dead liberal that they would endeavor to protect his reputation from his own family and friends -- while simultaneously spreading every loathsome story about the deceased that they could dig up -- seemed like breathtaking nerve. But they've spent the past seven years topping themselves.

Friday, August 28, 2009

SHORTER MEGAN McARDLE. Liberals complain that conservative protesters bring loaded guns to meet the President. But liberals burn flags, which is every bit as dangerous. I mean it's not like guns were made for shooting; they're mainly used for protest. God, where do you people get your data?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SHORTER RIEHL WORLD VIEW: Liberals bitch about our hate-screams at dead Kennedy, but the reaction I fantasize they will have to the future death of Dick Cheney proves them hypocrites.

(As to their general "Oh yeah well a liberal laughed at Tony Snow" bit, they usually have to trawl message boards and comments to get evidence for this, on those rare occasions on which they bother to show it, whereas you can find Kennedy grave-spitting from Breitbart, Say Anything, TigerHawk, Confederate Yankee, Robert Stacy McCain, and other top rightbloggers regularly linked by the Ole Perfesser and displayed at memeorandum. Like we said about the Obama illegitimacy fantasies: on the left you get this stuff from Code Pink; on the right you get it from the leadership.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

HITLERMANIA! Megan McArdle realizes she hasn't pretended to be Above the Fray for a while, and goes on about how wrong it is to call even Obama a fascist. Her commenters, nearly to a man (and trust me, they're all men), prove an Army of Jonah Goldbergs ("I think fascism is a sufficiently distinct superset of Nazism that it still deserves useful life on its own"), and say it was LaRouchites (who are Democrats!) who called Obama Hitler so why are you hitting yourself?

Try to imagine making such a basic proposition as Our President is Not the Living Embodiment of Adolf Hitler and getting such an overwhelmingly negative response from your readers. I bet her next post is about puppies or how when you get married you have to buy stockings or some shit.

Meanwhile Ace of Spades calls Obama a Nazi For Reals (wow, I didn't know Ace was a LaRouchite) because the NEA had a focus group about a government ad campaign. Don't tell Ace that all those ads for fire prevention and against drugs (of the sort he sees when he wakes up in the middle of the night and finds the TV still on) are produced by the government -- it'll really blow his mind.

Can't we somehow spread the word that Obama is really an anarcho-syndicalist? I'd like to hear them try and pronounce it.

UPDATE: In a very deranged post*, Melissa Clouthier pulls a new one, or at least one that is new to me:
The left resisted efforts to get involved in WWII. They didn’t want to see the atrocities of Japan, Germany and Italy, especially, because it didn’t fit their never ending selfish narrative.
Good thing the Republicans were able to defeat FDR and get a real American elected President in time for WWII.

I don't know what the fuck this crackpot is talking about, either, but expect it to be the new conservative talking point within a week.

* Really, if I hadn't read it and you had merely described to me the part where she said she enjoyed Inglourious Basterds but would have liked it more if the Nazis were Arabs, I wouldn't have believed you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

LATEST FROM THE GOLDBERG FUDGE FACTORY. Jonah Goldberg closes his Liberal Fascism blog with a post that seems to say (without ever categorically saying it) that he doesn't think Obama is a Nazi. "Indeed," he says, "while I don't think it is remotely right or fair to call Obama a crypto-Nazi (if by that you mean to say he's a would-be Hitler), the real problem with all of this loose Nazi talk is that it slanders the American people."

The post directly preceding this, about Obama's health care plan, Goldberg headlines "Lebensunwertes Leben" -- and in case his readers don't get it adds a link to the Wikipedia page about the Nazi classification ("This is nothing new").

The post before that: "The editorial blog of the Baltimore Sun is accusing me of violating Godwin's law, and some of the commenters are rushing to my defense." (Representative sample: "How, precisely, is it a 'fantasy' that all statism is on the left?")

No matter how inept he gets -- and, no mistake, he has only gotten worse over the years -- Goldberg can still make me angry, as with his justly ridiculed post about how torture is no big deal because they do it to bad guys on TV all the time. It's sort of like Billy Budd's reaction to Claggart; something about his perfect viciousness and dishonesty just makes you want to smack him. At such moments I try to imagine Claggart, not as I first pictured him or as he was brilliantly portrayed by Robert Ryan in the 1962 film, but as he might have been enacted by Stephen Furst. That usually wins me a little perspective.

Monday, August 24, 2009

THE GREEN, GREEN GAS OF HOME. Seemingly out of nowhere, Bryan Caplan tells his readers Europe's not all that. Tourists who think so don't realize that they couldn't afford the best neighborhoods. Also, you would have to use subways and bikes, which everyone knows are terrible. Plus the suburbs aren't so nice, and as an American you would naturally prefer to live in a suburb.

Tyler Cowan jumps in, says Americans are impressed by Europe's fancy old buildings: "in reality most Americans would think of Europe as some kind of dump." Megan McArdle finds this "spot on": look at the dreary buildings in that great European capital, Toronto. She knows a liberal who doesn't like it!

There's no recent poll or anything like that I can find that might have animated this discussion of how bad Europe/Canada really is despite what Americans might think -- though a June Economist report finds all of the world's top ten livable cities outside the U.S., and a recent study confirms the well-known fact that Americans work far longer hours and have much less free time than Europeans.

Maybe the chat was inspired by the present consideration of a socialistic health-care program that would make us a little more like the Eurnadians. I could see how that would make them feel a little insecure.
THE RISE OF BIRTHER-WITH-AN-EXPLANATION. Politico reports Arizona Rep Trent Franks' complaint that he has been maligned as a birther, when he's really what we call around here birther with an explanation -- he has come to believe, after "a significant amount of research," that Obama was in fact born in the U.S., but is outraged that the President won't produce the double-secret long form birth certificate, which despite the conclusive results of Franks' painstaking investigation he still finds necessary to "put people's concerns about his national identity to rest for good."

The item draws a passel of interestingly passive-aggressive comments in a similar mode. Here's a good one:
I think President Obama is a wonderful man and a history maker, too! I want to celebrate him! Let's construct a great monument marking his place of birth, like we do with other presidents. I'd also like to shake the hand of physician who delivered our great president into the world on his day of birth. So... who exactly is that doctor? And, specifically, what is the address where we can begin building that monument? ...crickets...
This is my favorite:
I am sitting on a very large cash donation that I wanted to make to the childrens ward of the hospital that Obama was born. I mean it is historically significant the first Black President and first from Hawaii, I want to make that donation in the name of the doctor that birthed Obama. That simple tidbit of information available on the long form version of his BC is the only thing standing in the way of the poor sick children getting some much needed upgrades to their hospital ward. Emails to the White House have not been responded to. No one will provide this information. It couldn't be that Obama wants to deny the sick children.... no that definately isn't it so why can't I get this information from the most transparent administration in our history?
The current, sad era in American history isn't good for much, but it is proving a golden age for tendentious arguments. These folks want to keep the birther obsession alive as part of their greater effort to delegitimize Obama, but perceive that they are being laughed at. So they invent fantasy scenarios in which Obama is actually harming citizens by failing to produce the proof they claim not to need.

Franks' version is rather bland, but his defenders show great imagination and nerve. You've got to admit, most ordinary people wouldn't pretend to have a large endowment to offer as ransom -- in comments to a blog post, yet. But we're not dealing with ordinary people.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the new thing: Obama killing veterans with mind control. Oh, wait, I see there's a new new thing -- Obama's dastardly plan to turn 9/11 "from a day of reflection and remembrance to a day of activism, food banks, and community gardens." That's right: instead of repeating for the thousandth time how we're gonna get Osama, the pretender wants us to give soup to the homeless. Just like that bastard FDR did to Pearl Harbor Day! We used to kill Japs on December 7, but after the Democrats got through with it, it was practically meaningless. No wonder Bin Laden considered us ripe for attack.

Nonetheless, the vet-killing thing is worth noting as one of the steps leading to our inevitable idiocratic nadir. Plus it's got that Goldberg touch. Also, for the hometown crowd, my suggestions for the Bill Thompson campaign.
THERE WAS SHRINKAGE. National Review enlists a psychiatrist, Dr. Irwin Savodnik, to tell us the meaning of Obama's visit to Martha's Vineyard. Among the Doctor's interesting findings:
Tony is the word for the Vineyard — style uber alles: In Chilmark, it’s Birkenstocks, creased shorts, a well-worn T-shirt and — to top it all off — a low-brow Red Sox cap. Anti-Bush stickers stare at you from rear bumpers while Obama rules the road from every Jeep and SUV, not to mention the occasional (and embarrassing) Hummer. While the whole island tilts left, if you’re really a committed radical-left politico, you have no choice but to reside in up-island Chilmark, where the Far Left, still obsessed with dragging the Bush/Cheney duo into Federal Court, spends its summers.
National Review describes Savodnik as "a seasonal resident of Martha’s Vineyard," from which we may assume that he is a glutton for punishment, or perhaps a claimant to the journalistic throne of Alan Bromley.

In fairness, the Doctor shows more allegiance to Edgartown, which he finds "less ideological and quintessentially New England" than Chilimark -- home of former prosecutor Linda Fairstein -- and where he "had the strange experience of nearly running into a post-jog, diaphoretic Bill Clinton with my bike, which evoked a nervous smile on my face and a full body tremor that propelled me all the way home," which he may feel strengthens, in a projective way, his standing to psychoanalyze the current President from a distance:
It’s not the sharp difference of opinion between the president and the public that has hurt him. It’s how he thinks. Barack Obama thinks differently from Bill Clinton. He’s more doctrinaire, passionate about his ideas, fixated on a single path for the country. He ran as a man above the fray, the man who ushered us into post-racial America. Unlike Clinton, Obama looks to a hardened ideology that draws its inspiration from the storming of the Bastille, a Rousseauian social contract, and the dialectical struggle between the haves and have-nots...

The president chose Chilmark for his well-earned vacation because that’s where the utopians go. And like many utopians, he wants to transform all of us into the idealized participants of his dream. I suspect he hears his inner voice more loudly than he hears the shouting crowds of unruly moms, grandmas, and sick kids. It would be best for his presidency if he were to put a lid on that voice and tune in to what the cheering and jeering off-island crowds are telling him. Were he to hear them, he might learn some deep truths about the people over whom he presides and -- most importantly -- about himself.
Dr. Savodnik has come a long way from 2004, when he said about a similar attempt to shrink George Bush:
[Bush on the Couch author Dr. Justin] Frank acknowledges he never met Bush, much less interviewed him on his couch. There is not an ounce of psychoanalytic material in the entire book... Frank justifies his method with the argument that others, such as Jerrold M. Post, have conducted 'at-a-distance leader personality assessments.' Freud himself tried it, when he collaborated with the journalist William Bullitt on a book about Woodrow Wilson, but it was, to say the least, not a high point of Freud's career... Mostly, though, Frank is blind to the underlying silliness of his enterprise.
Again in fairness, while Dr. Frank has put in some time in D.C., he shows no evidence of having vacationed in Crawford, Texas, and thus had not the geographical excuse for at-a-distance leader personality assessment that Dr. Savodnik has.

Also, even before Dr. Savodnik dismissed Frank's analysis of Bush, he felt comfortable explaining that Howard Dean's scream was "signaling of primitive emotional states," proving that "were [Dean] to become president, we would be besieged with dangers" and that as President he "would disorganize and abandon us to our deepest anxieties." Which even non-professionals may recognize as a cry for help.