Monday, December 14, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the War on Christmas and how Obama may be spoiling the fun by drawing attention away from un-Christmasy chain stores and onto himself. Not that there aren't some corkers out there, but they are more of the passive-aggressive variety. For example, there's this weird CSI parody video from Steve Crowder and the Pajamas TV troupe:

The cream of the jest, as it were, seems to do with Target's disallowance of Salvation Army bell-ringers in the earlier part of this decade. Target has chosen instead to make a large holiday donation to the organization, which would please even the fastidious Major Barbara, but not Crowder, assuming he knows about it. Still, try to imagine Pajamas viewers boycotting Target in outrage! You can even buy Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto there.

Now, if he'd picked on a library or a university, it would have shown Crowder was serious. But he obviously walked into the sessions stoned and with a dim memory of some email he got from his grandma while he was in college, and this is the result. They aren't making Christmas warriors like they used to.

Nonetheless there are such WoC funsies as I could find at the Voice item, and a few of the Obama Xmas rags that are replacing them. Go and weep for what might have been.
HOW SPIN WORKS, PART 639,020. Annise Parker has been elected Mayor of Houston. Being openly gay, she had a hard row to hoe:
A cluster of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from choosing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort...

"The bottom line is that we didn't pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, numbering more than 200 senior pastors in the Greater Houston area. “National gay and lesbian activists see this as a historic opportunity. The reality is that's because they're promoting an agenda which we believe to be contrary to the concerns of the community and destructive to the family.”
Now that she's in, Andrew Malcolm, who has shown no interest in her campaign heretofore, declares
Houston picks conservative Annise Parker as mayor, first lesbian to head a major American city
This theme is picked up by the Perfesser and Don Surber, who adds, "Her opponent, also a Democrat, spread fears that electing a fiscal conservative would warp the values of Houston." He doesn't mention the Republican, Roy Morales, they both beat in the general, nor the flyer that went out for that other Democrat, Gene Locke, endorsing him on behalf of the Conservative Republicans of Harris County as "the most conservative, best qualified candidate" for the job.

Meanwhile, from conservatives who have not gotten the memo: "Locke gained the support of conservative and anti-gay groups to battle what they deemed Annise Parker’s 'homosexual behavior.'" "Question, is an openly gay elected individual not the Mayor of all people? Will Annise Parker govern with a bias toward gays vs. heterosexuals? If so, she will last one term."

These latter worthies are a little further down the food chain, and so had no need to bullshit.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

INGRATES. I think it was a little rich that Obama took time to defend the Afghanistan surge in a Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Well, they gave it to TR and Kissinger, too. And I give Obama credit for taking a lonely road, as it was inevitable that no one would be pleased by it -- including rightwing war fans.

The dime's worth of difference between the parties first noted by George Wallace has depreciated to about two cents, yet at even Obama's most war-friendly moment conservatives stand against him as if he were an incoming wave of Japanese Zeros. The technique is familiar -- like Dan Riehl defending gay people he hates from Obama, it's probably their idea of a Jedi mind trick. But I'm beginning to lose track of what it is they want to replace this Administration with. Something similar, maybe, only whiter and more bellicose?
Ambulance called to Tiger Woods' house in Florida; unidentified blonde woman seen taken out on a stretcher. More details TK.

So, if this is Elin Nordegren, and if she has tried to hurt herself over her husband's serial adulteries...
[Harangue about what a "contemptible human being" Woods is, "floozies," "he needs to suffer," etc.]
UPDATE: It's his mother in law.
Later Brother Rod prays for the strength to resist his "disgust" with Tiger Woods.

Dreher is my favorite Christian. Maybe he should try to convert atheists by getting them to read gossip magazines.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

BUT IF THEY HIJACK THOSE PLANES IN IRAN, WE'LL BE READY FOR THEM. John J. Miller, wrapping up at the Corner a tirade against Thomas Friedman:
Oh, and while we're on the subject of Friedman and his foresight, let's remember that he once wrote these words in one of his tiresome attacks on missile defense:
If [our enemies] are so crazy and hell-bent on attacking America, why aren't they doing it now, when there is no missile shield, and all they have to do is drive a truck bomb across the Mexican border or release a bio-weapon in Washington?
That was four months before 9/11. Today, Friedman still thinks we don't need missile defense, even though our enemies are close to having weapons much more powerful than Mexican truck bombs. Or hijacked airplanes.
I hate to defend Friedman, but it seems to me his vision of homemade, improv terrorism was borne out, and that a missile defense shield meant to repel foreign attacks would be useless against planes hijacked within the United States. Or maybe Miller, for some perverse reason, chose to quote selectively from Friedman to make his own case look worse. That would explain a lot, actually... no, read it, Miller's still wrong. And now I hold having to read Friedman against him. Curse you, Miller!
DRAMA QUEEN. The wonderful actor Michael Moriarty is at Big Hollywood, telling us that the liberal/socialist/communist Hollywood/Broadway threat goes back further than you can imagine. No, not to Bang The Drum Slowly, with its collectivist idea that wealth-producers should expend themselves in sympathy for the weak in mind and spirit. To Dead End:
The rich people in Dead End, who, in a miraculous quirk of fate, happen to live on the same block as the poor people, are not very nice. They are cold and distant. They’re the real villains, because … well … they’re rich!

Obviously the real Dead End is Capitalism and capitalist America
Also: modern jazz, the Group Theater, the New School for Social Research, the "very hellish bottom of anti-heroism" of Taxi Driver, etc.

From the early part of the 20th Century, a "pre-Soviet, Communist/Capitalist merger in America evolved into what we now know of as the Progressive Movement, which, in turn, became the Progressive Power Years of the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama White Houses." And the very motor of this rise has been provided by folks who write, act, paint, etc.
World Communism without the French Revolution and American Communism without the Far Left artists of New York and Hollywood are fantasies as incomplete as the Lone Ranger without Tonto … or Stalin without Lenin.
As an artist Moriarty has presumably spent time among other artists, yet he attributes their tendency toward groupthink and sentimental ideas of life to an ideological conspiracy. In my experience artists tend to be a little dreamy and insecure -- as who wouldn't be, given their position in this society -- and will cut people, especially others of their own kind, for imagined slights and social misalliances at least as readily as for their political affiliations, and compensate for the resulting maladjustments with delusory fantasies of their own power and the power of art.

Come to think of it, that seems to be what Moriarty is doing now.
IT NEVER HURTS TO LISTEN. I have an interview with Andrew Breitbart over at the Voice, boiled down from what was pretty much a 45-minute harangue. You will be unsurprised to learn that he thinks the full power of the MSM conspiracy has been brought down upon him. I'm actually pretty sympathetic to some of his defenses -- of course big journalists get away with shit sometimes, and I think it sucks they're being sued -- but I wonder if he realizes the effect he has on people and perhaps his own cause. I mean, this is a guy who runs the only site about Hollywood specifically designed to make readers angry and miserable. You'll get readers and supporters that way, but the only thought-leadership they're likely to influence dwells in the tree-houses of survivalist compounds.

Also, if I felt as enraged about anything as he is about ACORN, I'd be telling my story to shrinks and maybe FBI agents while wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask. You have to admire his ability to function and prosper in society with a bug up his ass the size and ferocity of a panther.

Monday, December 07, 2009

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRETEND TO BE. Patterico notes an old statement about miscegnation attributed to Robert Stacy McCain in a thread of the neo-Confederate Southern League (A "white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us"). Patterico provides the context for the statement, which does McCain no favors.

Much as I dislike McCain's politics, I wasn't inclined to get worked up about it. McCain had implied previously that he was working undercover as a reporter when entered the neo-Confederate universe. Also, transient racism has probably affected most of us -- me too; I grew up in a white working-class Connecticut neighborhood -- and maybe he said something he didn't really mean. Obviously if you're black you might be less phlegmatic about it, and who could blame you.

But in a couple of responses, after saying he was entering the soul of the racists much as Hunter S. Thompson might (though he supports this by assertion rather than explanation), McCain says he was trying to prevent a Southern League author's "attempt to hijack the League as a vehicle for his own purposes" and "prevent the League of the South from being marginalized as a racist organization." In other words, he was a sincere moderate among neo-Confederates, seeking to expunge from the League such vestiges of real racism as its contributors exhibited and with which he did not agree -- "As a citizen, however, I felt a duty to become involved in those controversies." So maybe he wasn't faking that position after all.

I suppose it's possible that McCain was engaged in deep cover which for some reason he maintains to this day -- a real-life Howard W. Campbell -- and as the whole discussion has to do with the Crazy Wars between McCain and Charles Johnson (background here and here -- you may want to use wading boots) it may just be prudent to tiptoe away.

The remaining interest is in the wounded tone McCain exhibits throughout. "That this preventive engagement was successful," he says (that is, that he held the line at miscegnation, and carried the day), "ought to be counted to my credit, rather than being cherry-picked in an effort to discredit me." Later, he says an opponent "wants to have an argument with a Hollywood stereotype of an ignorant hillbilly bigot, rather to say anything useful." Later still, another post about RAAAAACIST claims. This is all in keeping with his customary views on the subject. I guess what we should be asking is whether McCain is only pretending to be Robert Stacy McCain, 24/7.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

THE LATEST MEDIA BIAS PRIMER. Mark Falcoff of the AEI is talking about words used by the press, and after the obligatory George Orwell tells us how the media is misleading us by using terms like "activist" and "civil rights leader":
One example is Mrs. Cynthia Sheehan, who in the old days would simply have been described as an angry housewife (or perhaps, more generously, as a grieving mother seeking attention and celebrity). Now, however, she is an “anti-war activist"...

...since the passage of so much legislation in the last 50 years -- not just the Civil Rights Act but also the Voting Rights Act -- as well as the various forms of “affirmative action” and court-ordered reapportionments of congressional districts to ensure maximum black representation, it is difficult to see what possible dictionary definition “civil-rights leader” could have except “black agitator,” “shakedown artist,” or “poverty pimp.” Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights leader; Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson — to take just two of many tawdry examples — are merely cruel caricatures of the same. Too bad the media can’t see the difference.
So if the media were serious about playing fair, it would use "angry housewife" and "poverty pimp" as descriptors in straight news stories. While they're at it, they should get with "stuck on stupid" and "under the bus." Thus may a new golden age of journalism begin.

Falcoff goes on, complaining of the use of "progressive" instead of "liberal" as a cloaking device. The existence of Google News helps us here. The terms liberal and progressive are frequently used by political parties and groups to describe themselves, or by overtly political outlets such as AlterNet; if you pair the words with an American political entity in which members do not commonly thus designate themselves -- for example, "congress progressive" and "congress liberal" -- you'll see the old L word is still alive and kicking.

Falcoff also maintains that "'development assistance' (or, as the Europeans prefer to call it, 'international cooperation')" is the media's "replacement for the old (and in the U.S., hugely unpopular) term 'foreign aid.'" Not really.

And as Google News is a liberal front, you would expect them to return sources using lefty weasel words more often than other aggregators, in hopes of gulling the public. (Interestingly, at Bing the results are very different, though also much more selective.) You may alternately use your common sense. News people prefer short phrases to long, and words their readers understand to those they don't.

They keep working this vein, as they have for years. I doubt there are many people left to convince who haven't been convinced already, so I assume Falcoff's item is meant as comfort food for his perpetually beleaguered comrades. The last time I noticed him, way back in 2003, he was shopping Kissinger's plausible deniability on Allende. As the AEI guys like to say: Markets in everything.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

FORCED PERSPECTIVE. Big rightwing scandal of the day: Obama had an airplane moved before he made his speech. This is an unprecedented and treasonous attempt to control Presidential photo opportunities, which are supposed to evolve naturally, like a relationship.

Left Coast Rebel:
A brothel of snot-nosed, wide-eyed bleeding heart pointy-heads straight out of academia that care more for image and photo-op than any institution or sacred American lexicon. This story points exactly to just that. I have a prediction. This will be a big story tomorrow in the free-press only.
I have an educated guess. Left Coast Rebel is loved by his mother only.

Weekly Standard goes for the "I'm not nuts, you're nuts" approach: "And keep in mind, Obama was happy to have his picture taken with Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, but the F-22 -- a plane that Americans can and should be proud of..." Oh Jesus Christ. Maybe Obama should have had the Statue of Liberty, the Harlem Globetrotters, and Mt. Rusmore in the background, too. Or isn't he proud of them?

As for meeting with Chaevz and Ortega, here's Bush meeting with Red Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao -- in April 2009. He's meeting with tyrants even after he's done being President! That means he likes to hug and kiss them.

I don't which would be worse: if they actually believe this shit matters, or if they're just pretending. Maybe we should also consider the possibility that they don't really know what they're doing anymore, and lash out at everything, like young Helen Keller.

UPDATE. Left Coast Rebel offers a rebuttal:
The Left Coast Rebel Has a New Hater, The ACLUBlog
No to h8ers! Remember what the boss said. Of course liberal hate is contagious, and causes our hero to turn colors.
The ACLUBlog mission statement --- "There are some occupations that are stereotypically gay, but mechanical engineering isn't one of them."

Yes, stereotypically gay, just like calling a conservative out as only loved by his mother, or like a wandering Helen Keller. How original, how 'tolerant', how 'liberal.'
Apparently when I thought I was making jokes about internet commentators, I was attacking gay and disabled people. Forgive me, fellow PC killjoys! In fact, the joke about turning colors is probably some kind of racism, too.
Can you imagine if GWB had staged a photo-op at an Air Force Base...
I'm not perfect; maybe LCR's post is a parody too. But how do you tell?
TRY, TRY AGAIN. Since my job has forced me to pay attention to what's going on in Albany, I haven't expected much from the state senate in the way of gay marriage. (I was slightly surprised that they actually brought it to a vote today.) The New York senate is a shithole of graft and corruption and represents the worst elements of the state's political culture, so I knew when they got to the subject it would be badly handled. Tom Duane, a major backer, says that "promises made were not honored." I'm sure he is being quite literal. I wouldn't trust most of these bums to guard a dunghill.

Though a lot of gay folk are fuming at the no-voters, I'm sure each of those senators considers this vote a political plus in his or her respective backwater district, whether it be Ozone Park or Olean.

I will say that Hiram Monserrate surprised me, in that I don't see how he manages to be so perfectly disgusting all the time. From his beginnings as a deranged cop to his (as a councilman) Willets Point double-cross to his involvement with the Albany "Gang of Three" shakedown artists and Coup to his assault on his girlfriend, this guy seems almost consciously determined to set new standards of repulsiveness. Maybe he's a government experiment of some kind.

Anyway. I've been around a long time, and have learned how ingrained both the bigotry and the cowardice represented by this vote are. All we can do is keep being right and hope some of us live to see things change. Things do get better -- they were burning witches not many generations back -- though not always on our timetables.

One other thing. It's interesting to note that, where once upon a time rightwingers would on these occasions take pains to distinguish between their opposition to "special rights" and their personally enlightened attitude toward gay people, today they're basically openly saying "Get the faggots." There's a lot wrong with our current poisonous discourse, but at least we have been relieved of the obligation to treat these shitheels politely anymore.
STILL IN BAGRAM. I really don't see what these guys are bitching about. They're getting pretty much what they would have gotten from any other President, alas: a renewed commitment of blood and treasure, with some trimming in keeping with our straitened circumstances.

I can see why they would object to the language, as it is not as bloodthirsty as they normally enjoy, but as a pitch to a recession-weary populace, it made sense: he made the problem look resolvable and of limited duration, and he appeared cost-conscious, which is a nice change of pace.

"The words were meant to be inspirational," claims Ann Althouse, "but there was no lift... no lift of a driving dream." We've been at war for nine years; I doubt Obama or anyone else is looking for uplift at this point. (She says of one passage, "I had to imagine Reagan saying it to understand what it was supposed to mean." Try to imagine Reagan saying it if Jimmy Carter had invaded Afghanistan in 1980 instead of just boycotting the Olympics, and we were still there in 1988. Or try to imagine President Palin saying it in 2013. There aren't enough gosh-darnits in the world to put that one over.)

This playing for time business is depressing, especially when you consider that the best we can hope for is reduced levels of violence in the countries we have broken and are endeavoring to un-buy. But barring the kind of sweeping reform of national priorities that we increasingly unlikely to get from either party, we can't expect better. The swords will stay swords for some time; let us hope we aren't called upon to melt down the ploughshares anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

THE BAD LIEUTENANT, SECOND TAKE. Some people were confused by my review of The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and I don't blame them, as it was posted late, unedited and over-effusive. I feel compelled to revisit the topic. I warn you, I may not have this thing figured, but I enjoyed the movie and it stayed with me, and thinking out loud is how I stretch out the pleasure. (Thank God there are other sites on the internet for you to visit! One man shouldn't have so much power.)

Most of the lead characters in Herzog's movies -- Aguirre, Stroszek, Kaspar Hauser, Timothy Treadwell -- don't undergo old-fashioned dramatic transformations in which they confront the opportunity to change; their surroundings change, and the characters struggle against them as if change were out of the question. (Stroszek tells his girlfriend that America takes your soul, then goes on a rampage, but as played by Bruno S., he's practically catatonic and can no more be said to undergo recognition and transformation than could a cornered animal.)

Similarly, McDonagh doesn't appear to be making decisions; he acts on impulse, frequently fueled by drugs. That's what makes the movie so weird, all singing iguanas aside. He's set up as a mixed character in the Hollywood tradition -- a Cop Who Doesn't Play By The Rules -- and we are encouraged by custom to seek his badly-hidden good side and root for it. But Herzog makes that impossible by making him a Herzog character.

There's an interesting moment, for example, when the football player McDonagh is trying to shake down for points tells him he doesn't seem concerned anymore with the family murder he'd been investigating. McDonagh replies (paraphrasing from memory): "Look at me. Now look at you. I never was." What's shocking is that, given the way he's been acting, we really don't know if he's lying.

What's good about him? He seems devoted to his job, but he's busted, not for Not Playing By The Rules, but for an egregious screw-up that wrecks the case. His decision to plant the crack pipe (and really, how "good" a move is that?) might be the result of long-term planning under the pretense of criminality, but given his instability it looks more like junkie cunning with the power of the law behind it. He's a really Bad Lieutenant. His devotion to Frankie looks good, but when pregnancy and rehabilitation seem to have rendered her prostitution career inoperable, and their relationship more traditional, he's back to shaking down minor drug offenders and presumably getting sex out of it.

I really think if some other director had gotten this script, he would have planted "tells" to comfort us that McDonagh is a good man struggling to act like one, saved by his own actions, and played by Michael Douglas. In the Herzog version, every opportunity to see it that way is painstakingly removed. The settled and sober McDonagh -- drinker of sparkling water, bearer of the recovered childhood spoon! -- is a result of events playing out, not his will. Then he backslides, and has to be rescued.

That rescue (and who knows how long it will last?) has played on my mind. Part of me thinks it's just a concession to Hollywood tradition. Another way to see it is as a clue to the philosophy. Last time out, I was talking about grace; maybe the "good" is just something that comes to us, and we take it when and where we can. And if that's the last thing we see before the credits, those of us who were just thrilled to see Nicolas Cage flip out for two hours can go home happy. The rest can wonder if, after the credits, it all keeps happening over and over again. Is that his life? Is it ours?

Some smart people who are fans of Herzog really hate the movie, and I can't say I blame them, either. McDonagh closely resembles the glorious monsters played by Klaus Kinski in Herzog movies but, though McDonagh is almost as much fun to gawk at as Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo, he isn't on their scale. Those characters were forces of nature and had the fascination of landslides or hurricanes. Try to imagine Kinski as a Cop Who Doesn't Play By The Rules!

The question for me is, does putting this trademark Herzog brand of monstrosity into a cop movie destroy it? Are these creatures only fit for extremities, or do they mean something even in grimy little procedurals? I think the latter, because I think those monsters are not just great men, but characters to which even little people like me can relate. We are sometimes outsize, if only in our imaginations. We are sometimes awful, and think we may be awful all the way down. We are often damned by our actions and sometimes rescued by chance. And we may be forced to consider, when it is pointed out to us by an insane German, that chance might be the thing we thought was God.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. The White House gatecrashers thing was stupid enough on its own, but the addition of a Palestinian conspiracy angle may have catapulted it into the Hall of Fame. Now Accuracy in Media demands an investigation as to whether "the Secret Service was pressured to let the couple in, based on statements made by someone in the White House... Where does this trail lead? And when will the mainstream media go beyond the official line?" In this case, the "official line" is probably known only to abnormal psychologists. (Extra points for references to Obama's arugula of indifference.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

BACK ON THE CHAIN GANG. Peggy Noonan, newly filled with a sense of purpose, tells us that people don't like Obama anymore. That is, the polls indicate a lot of them do, but the people who matter don't. Among these: columnists, and people Peggy Noonan meets in unspecified "bipartisan crowds":
As I read Ms. Drew's piece, I was reminded of something I began noticing a few months ago in bipartisan crowds. I would ask Democrats how they thought the president was doing. In the past they would extol, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, his virtues. Increasingly, they would preface their answer with, "Well, I was for Hillary."
It's amazing Clinton didn't win the Democratic nomination, with so much vital bipartisan support.
This in turn reminded me of a surprising thing I observe among loyal Democrats in informal settings and conversations: No one loves Barack Obama. Half the American people say they support him, and Democrats are still with him. But there were Bill Clinton supporters who really loved him. George W. Bush had people who loved him. A lot of people loved Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. But no one seems to love Mr. Obama now; they're not dazzled and head over heels. That's gone away. He himself seems a fairly chilly customer; perhaps in turn he inspires chilly support. But presidents need that rock --bottom 20% who, no matter what's happening -- war, unemployment -- adore their guy, have complete faith in him, and insist that you love him, too.
Her model for such people might be Peggy Noonan, who once said things like "Mr. McCain is the Old America, of course; Mr. Obama the New." Remember those days? In any case it would explain her certainty in this analysis.

But Obama does have such people, despite the fact that Noonan is no longer among them. Even the Rasmussen polls favored by wingers show far more than 20 percent, in his alleged hour of darkness, strongly approve of Obama's performance. Maybe she figured someone might look this up, because she makes this move:
Obama probably has a hard 20 too, but whatever is keeping them close, it doesn't seem to be love.
What might it be, then? Personal threats if they don't answer polls the right way? It may not be "love" as Noonan experiences it for politicians, but given how loopy she can be her ardor, that only speaks well of the Obama diehards' psychological health.

When numbers fail her, Noonan retreats to memes. "The Obama bowing pictures," she asserts, "are becoming iconic, and they would not be if they weren't playing off a growing perception." She compares Obama's bows with Gerald Ford's lack of physical grace, which was also parodied on Saturday Night Live. We'll see if SNL is still working them in 2012, but Noonan is convinced they are deathless, probably because they were seized upon by conservatives who obsess on them to this day.

Noonan, not having been offered a bipartisan sinecure by the Administration despite her service, is back to reading the rightwing tea leaves and portraying them as the wisdom of the people. So, though her long years in the journalistic trenches must have shown her that some political schtick is evanescent, now that she is stuck playing the conservative on Sunday morning shows she is milking every anti-Obama talking point as if the udders were full of benedictine. You will recall she also counseled that the only thing that could save Obama from the Nobel Peace Prize was to reject it as rudely as possible; this he was disinclined to do, and now nobody gives a shit.

So Noonan grabs the Next Blog Thing. Off the pages of history and back to ordinary political cycles, she is condemned to worry each outrage du jour as if it were Watergate to infinity.

She's still offering advice to her late espoused saint, though: Lose the health care bill. "He can't afford to win with such a poor piece of legislation." That must go over big with the boys in the green room, especially among those who take morbid pleasure in the thought that she may have once imagined herself, like Bob Gates and Dana Perino, standing behind a lectern that bore the Presidential Seal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY WAR ON THANKSGIVING! Yes, I was just having a bit of fun, but apparently it's a real menace, says Christian Newswire:
America once was content in allowing civil authorities to select and define its holidays. With the increasing influence of groups which use the courts to challenge any comingling of religion and the function of government, the definition of the some of the nation's holidays have become a war zone.

And while most Americans think of Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas as Christian holidays -- history is clear that Easter and Christmas were originally pagan celebrations, stolen and redefined.

This leaves Thanksgiving as the one American holiday originating within Christian culture. It is a holiday created to remind a nation to thank God. So while talk-show hosts expound upon a war on Christmas -- let's not ignore the war on the one true Christian holiday, Thanksgiving.
Their evidence of this is that Obama said "we observe traditions from every culture" in his Thanksgiving address. George Washington, conversely, referred frequently to God. The word has spread and muskets are loaded.

This cowboy* is taking the war to heart:
However, the last few years I have seen a constant assault on Thanksgiving. First we have people having pasta or sushi and not turkey. Now we have people calling Thanksgiving, Turkey Day, Gobble Day or Gobble Gobble Day. Then there is the advertising, "Gobble up Savings", "Don't be a Turkey and Pay Too Much". And of course there is the Black Friday sales and if that were not enough we now have Pre-Thanksgiving or Pre-Turkey Day sales.

When will it end?!
You'll find him marching up and down a Templeton, California sidewalk in a Pilgrim outfit today, picketing a Japanese restaurant.

*UPDATE: Seems the sushi guy is actually doing satire. Good for him and thank God; I thought it had gone out of style.
DO YOU SEE THIS? LOOK ON HER, LOOK, HER LIPS/LOOK THERE, LOOK THERE! Jesus, Victor Davis Hanson is still talking about Obama's bowing:
If multilateralism was the objective, it came out instead as obsequious deference. Whereas Bush's backrubs and Carter's frontal kisses were reflective of American casualness and too much informality, the bowing seems for some reason a far more bothersome gaffe. And as with Obama's apologies, what we thought was a one-time slip turns out to be a systematic pattern that reflects an apparent worldview.
And that's not all. You see how he's lifting his left leg as he walks here? He appears to be mincing, which is a gesture toward the homosexual lobby. Note too that he rubs the White House dog with his left hand, not his right, a coded insult to dog-loving Americans. Consider also the slight lift of his thumbs here, as he points. Try the gesture yourself. Does it not feel more insecure to you than the sturdy, thumbs-clenched pointing done by Republican presidents? Clearly he is worried about the polls. Notice also he is not quick to take a hand offered in friendship, as casual, informal Americans are.

Oh well, at least he's not always thinking about tits, like some people do.

Hanson's interpretations of those details to which he is directed by the Morning Memos, though, I believe are all skewed more or less the same way they would have been if Obama had spent all 10 months of his Presidency doing the robot, if Breitbart were stalking the Southern Poverty Law Center instead of ACORN, and if the unfortunate emails had come from the Brookings Institution instead of the University of East Anglia. He is not working from intuition or inspiration, but from a template.

We are all prone to interpretation, but Hanson has of late made a habit of pushing it very hard -- to wit: "'Punishing KSM' means giving the liberal community a world platform for legal gymnastics designed to repudiate the past administration and demonstrate that community's 'tolerance'" -- without bothering to explain to us why we should share his conclusion. At the same time he insists that "the public has finally caught on that the president's tough rhetoric and soaring oratory don't match reality," "there is a certain roughness and crassness that infuriates the public," etc, justified only by the news that most, rather than an enormous number, of voters approve of his performance during a contentious struggle over health care and a bad economy at the holiday season. And, of course, the indignation of other rightwing bloggers.

The most charitable view is that Hanson is just rehearsing for an actual election season. It would just be sad to imagine he really believes he's seen the tide turn in the first quarter when the opposition is still holding a lead. They all do this, of course, but Hanson's a classicist, and presumably knows about hubris.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DRIFT PUNCTUATED BY EXPLOSIONS. I'm begining to think of it as like Renoir's or Ophuls' American movies. Of course The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is no Letter from an Unknown Woman. Hollywood is no longer the inviolable template with which foreign directors once had to contend; foreign directors have at this point changed the way even the way our blockbusters look, and style standards are more fluid. But as did the old masters, Herzog sure makes his hand felt.

How weird is it to see a police drama, even one with its malformed heart scooped out of Abel Ferrara's original, played like McDonagh, The Wrath of God? Instead of blandly mysterious flute-playing natives, we have a connected perv who repeats "whoa" and "hey" as if it were a magic incantation. Instead of Klaus Kinski maddened on the Amazon, we have Nicolas Cage gazing in horror out of a sea of slot machines. We have hysterical acting emerging from dead calm. We have conversations played within one room that seem to be conducted across vast fields of time and space. And we have iguanas, who don't sing exactly, but puff their ruffs and flick their tongues while a lounge version of "Please Release Me" blares, shot by Herzog lying on the floor.

This is candy for initiates, and so are the more transparently Hollywood scenes, like the one in which Cage tells Eva Mendes about his buried silver spoon: the distance between the insanity of the movie and this hokey dream-with-me moment out of The Rainmaker is so vast that it, too, makes you giddy.

But that scene has a payoff which is also Hollywood, and well-earned. As wild as the style is, there's something of the old template there. McDonagh's trip has a recognizable arc -- but it's backwards, and for all its deliberateness even more radical than Ferrara's. Unlike the Harvey Keitel Bad Lieutenant, Cage's is redeemed at the beginning rather than at the end. Bad Lieutenant 1 underwent a Catholic purgatory; Bad Lieutenant 2 is sanctified in a manner that I suspect Herzog associated with the slapdash Protestantism of Americans from the South (like God's Angry Man), which he may have associated, in the exceedingly casual manner with which European aesthetes usually regard us, with New Orleans -- a kind of jungle, or as J. Hoberman had it, a "smashed terrarium."

As he always does with natives, Herzog keeps his distance. The voodoo alluded in a funeral scene isn't an attempt to drop a theological marker, but a reference to a spiritual life that grows like kudzu around the lives of the characters. Herzog is not of a temperament to explain it or line it up with his plot. Like the rituals of the mystics in Bells From the Deep, the rituals in this movie (pipe-sharing, liquor spitting, gambling, AA meetings) are not expected to make sense, but to make their sense to us, the way dreams dreamed to Kaspar Hauser.

McDonagh's act -- of what? kindness? fellow-feeling? reflex response? -- charts his course in the first scene. What happens afterward is the playing out of a drama in which the climax has already occurred. Maybe that helps explain all Herzog's odd stories, and even his documentaries. From Even Dwarves Started Small to Grizzly Man, his style has been drift punctuated by explosions, and this may be what he sees as life. Put that way it seems hellish and almost inhuman in its disorder. But as is the redemption of McDonagh's rusty spoon, it can also, still, be beautiful.

UPDATE. Thanks Mnemosyne for spellcheck.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Going Rogue publicity. The song remains the same -- Palin portrayed as most martyr-like when she is most successful -- but there are some interesting variations, especially from our old friend The Anchoress.

I see that Ross Douthat is on her case, and seems to wish she and the voters would instead pay attention to the "innovative proposals" of his more serious fellow ideologues, including a payroll tax cut in lieu of stimulus. Tax cuts instead of spending! There's a new one. I regret he didn't include a cutting-edge way to overturn Roe v. Wade. Call me a squish, but I think even Palin could comprehend such proposals well enough to run on them, were there no danger of her getting elected and having to take responsibility for their results. I don't think it occurs to Douthat that maybe Palin was getting out of politics, not because it was too hard, but because the getting was good.

Friday, November 20, 2009

THE CHILDREN OF ZHDANOV. Oh shit: From John J. Miller, mastermind of "The 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs":
I plan to assemble a list of great conservative novels for NRODT, probably for an issue in early 2010.
He directs the brethren to this place, where they may leave suggestions. It begins promisingly...
I’ve always had a feeling that Dean Koontz books lean right and I thoroughly enjoy them.
...and devolves from there:
I had always hoped to have the time to write a book on how the Harry Potter series is a conservative masterpiece.
Oh please, nobody tell him.
The sheer all out conflict of good and evil. The terror inflicted on the world by Voldemort and crew...
Who were Muslims.
I do not know whether Ms. Rowling would ascribe to it in this way, as she takes a shot at GWB in the opening of one of the books...
But what would she know? Fortunately, another commenter steps up in defense:
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when JK Rowling is referring to the “horrid man” who is U.S. president, the actual timeline of the novels suggests she is referring to Bill Clinton.
Shirt-retucking trumps Satanism! Next up:
Say, I hope it’s okay to do a little BSP (blatant self promotion) here. I’m a novelist. I’m center-right... I’ve had four young adult mysteries published (the first was an Edgar nominee) and two humorous women’s fiction (as Libby Malin). I wish more conservative publications would pay attention to young adult literature, by the way...
With these promotional instincts, how can she fail? Next!
“American Pastoral,” by Philip Roth, so much so that he wrote an entire novel with the ideological purpose of taking it all back.
One wishes the commenter had provided a list of Roth novels demarcated by ideology. No doubt The Breast would be leftist, because of its identification with The Other.
A perhaps surprising suggestion is Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”
I re-read this in the early nineties when I was still a liberal, and I think it began the process that lead me to change [by '94 a full fledged Contract With America voter!]. It’s very subtle [else my liberal anti-bodies would have detected the subversion occuring] but it was a great read in its own right. The debate in the town with minimum wage laws is by turns frustrating and hilarious, due to the familiarty with which we see it play out again and again before our eyes.
Hank's plan to overthrow the Catholic Church must have escaped his notice, as must the general sympathies of its author. Other choice bits:
Lolita, if you can get past the allegorical child molestation, is a book about controlling your own circumstances even when it feels like something much larger is looming over you. Is it applicable today? Only if you think Humbert Humbert is the government...

Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Van Helsing’s reverent use of the consecrated Host to stop evil seems very conservative these days. [They'll also love the sequel!]

The Great Gatsby: A study of the importance of personal character, and the lack of it from many supporting characters.
As with any Kulturkampf, there are accusations of wrongthink: "I disagree firmly with those who have suggested Steven Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger novels. Hunter is, as you would expect from a film reviewer for major dailies, a reflexive liberal, and those ideas permeate his writing and frequently issue from the mouths of his characters." Back to your spider-holes, anti-Party gangsters!

Some of the brethren are more forgiving as to what makes the conservative cut. "I don’t imagine that Faulkner was self-consciously a conservative," says one. "But many of his novels delve deeply into the issue of race in America that we have not begun to see the end of. And he looks at the questions from many perspectives and never falls into the useless left wing class consciousness formulas." This would seem to give Miller an enormous out -- if it's not explicitly Marxist, it's right-wing. And given Miller's previous method ("[Who'll Stop The Rain,] written as an anti–Vietnam War song, this tune nevertheless is pessimistic about activism..."), rest assured he'll make use of it, as most of the other suggestions are sci-fi and Mark Helprin.

Do any of these people ever read books, watch movies, listen to music, or do anything simply for pleasure and edification, rather than in search of political self-justification? And do they have any idea that their Zhdanovist schtick directly contradicts what they profess to believe?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

RIGHTWING SPARKLE WILL TELL YOU WHAT'S FUNNY! "I used to think Jon Stewart was funny," says RightWingSparkle -- which already has me dubious, as dailyobamajokes seems more up her alley, but let's roll with it. What makes Stewart unfunny now, she says, is that only "once in a blue moon he might take a light jab at Pres. Obama. Which is absurd considering the wealth of comedy to be had at President Obama's enormous ego, his addiction to his teleprompter, and his constant need to bow to other world leaders."

Busting a gut yet? Wait, the real payoff's on the way. Stewart was mean to a picture of Bernard Goldberg becase Goldberg said liberals hate Sarah Palin because "she has five children, liberals don't have a lot of children. She has a down syndrome child, liberals don't allow that in their lives." Stewart then noted that Eunice Shriver had nine kids and founded the Special Olympics.

"Does anyone else find it amusing that he had to pick a Democrat who was 88 yrs old (she died earlier this year, so he couldn't even find a live Democrat) who had a lot of kids?" asks RWS, and adds, " I guess he couldn't find a Democrat who had a Down Syndrome child at all, so he just used the example of her starting Special Olympics." Presumably what Stewart should have done was gotten Ordinary American Democrats with multiple Down Syndrome kids, put then in the audience, and introduced them from the stage to thunderous applause like Presidents do at the State of the Union. But then, what do people like him know about comedy?

For the capper, RWS tells us that Shriver was anti-abortion, "just like Sarah Palin. So Jon Stewart ended the segment with a joke he didn't intend to make." And if you're properly informed, you can detect the humor in it. If only RWS could have handed out fact sheets to the audience before the show; then we'd see who's laughing.

I see a new conservative best-seller in this: a book of spoilt liberal punchlines. Take the 2006 Oscar show montage Stewart introduced showing the gayest moments from classic Westerns. A well-researched list of all the featured actors' heterosexual unions will prove its unfunniness. Add a section of jokes such people should have been making instead, and you'll have a gold mine. Because there's nothing people like better than someone telling them when to laugh.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SHORTER S. ROBERT LICHTER. My old employees at Fox News are both the most anti-Obama network and the most fair and balanced network. How can this be? Simple. As a study by my own right wing front group explains, all the other networks are liberal media liars who love the fraud Obama. For purposes of this argument, the figures also show that the liberal media liars are now attacking the fraud Obama (whom they love) just as much as Fox is. Now, having said that, how can we go on insisting that the liberal media liars love the fraud Obama, whom they are attacking? Simple. (throws sand, runs out of room)
BOW MAO. I have to admit, even accustomed as I am to this foolishness, I found the hubbub over Obama's bow to the Japanese royals rather de trop. But I didn't expect we'd still be talking about it on Tuesday. Now footage of Nixon bowing to Mao has surfaced. They say fools rush in, and me and neo-neocon prove it:
I admit that I don’t like it. But it’s a little head bob compared to Obama’s extraordinarily deep obeisance. What’s more, in Obama’s case the bow is symbolic of his policies to humble America. In Nixon’s, the intent and the policies were -- different.
I'm really sorry she didn't explain that difference. 37 years after Nixon's visit, China's slave laborers make our clothes and its banks hold $798.9 billion in U.S. treasury bonds, more than any other foreign power. And look -- Japan is number two! I'm surprised Obama didn't kiss their asses.