Tuesday, January 26, 2010

THIS IS THE SORT OF THING UP WITH WHICH I WILL NOT PUT. So, I saw this from Jonah Goldberg:
So [James] Cameron missed the point in the movie he made [Avatar] and conservatives were responding to what Cameron actually intended in the movie. And [David] Boaz agrees that the plot is "tired" and the dialogue "merely servicable." And conservatives got it wrong . . . how?
And I wonder: Do I have to see this fucking thing just to keep up with the culture war? Christ in Heaven, I hope not.

We've reached the stage where Goldberg is arguing with David fucking Boaz about property rights in Avatar. Surely this must be some sort of low point in the torture of pop culture in furtherance of useless propaganda -- and brother, let me tell you, I have seen it all.

I have no love for George Will, but once upon a time he was able to write something like "Well, I don't love you, E.T." (of which only fragments are available on the web) in which he was content to divine the evident anti-technological bias of the film and say bah, humbug, without trying to make a countervailing case for Steven Spielberg's conservatism. (Will later considered the film About Schmidt ham-handedly, but with some awareness that its makers and their literary forebears were expressing a point of view that was different from his own.)

This seems to me the way to play the game, if one is so inclined: to discern ideological motive and attack it. It's mostly cheap and stupid, but honest in its way, as it admits that the analyst is speaking from a political prejudice about a work of art.

I haven't seen Avatar and so must reserve judgment on it, but I will say that I have never, ever, seen a political discussion of even a cinematic piece of shit on the order of Goldberg's and Boaz's that proved fruitful once the steaming object was finally presented to me, and don't have high hopes for this one. And I will further state that I mildly resent being drawn into contact with a goddamn James Cameron movie on grounds of its alleged cultural relevance, "culture" being understood here as a political construct having to do with environmentalism, Native American rights, imperialism, and crap like that.

I accept that in a free marketplace of ideas I will be exposed to this stuff, and have the right to ignore it. I was able to do that with Brokeback Mountain, a worthy object of contemplation under any circumstances, and suffered no ill effects. But great God amighty, a 3-D movie about sentient cat-monkeys? Endured just to find out whether some dumbass had anything resembling a case to make about its Ayn Rand component?

I'm beginning to think this game isn't worth the candle.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

JIBBER AND JABBER. Hugh Hewitt gets his old pal Christopher Hitchens on his show to talk about Scott Brown. After offering Hitchens a series of Doesn't-Obama-suck opportunities, in which Hitchens seems not very interested, they finally get down to talking about health care:
CH: I don’t think there’s any possible mistaking that message. It confirms to me something I’ve long thought and hate saying, but I’ve always thought that deep down, Americans do not want to be covered. They just don’t want national health...
HH: Do you expect…
CH: …you know what I think, honestly, Hugh? I sometimes think Americans want to live dangerously. They think this wouldn’t be America if you had health coverage.
HH: Oh, it could be…
CH: You and your children should be at risk. It’s funny, but it’s there somewhere.
HH: It could be leftover of pioneer days...
CH: Well, it may even be they’re doing that, but not that anyone remembers what the Hell that was like, and think what it was like before dentistry, and to go to some of the states where there aren’t any dentists, and see what people look like.
HH: Well, go to Haiti.
CH: I mean, it seems to me an absolutely nightmarish delusion, but I think it’s very widespread. Somehow, they feel they’d rather not have it if it comes at the price of single payer, or any simulacrum of it.
HH: And, they also might believe that it’s bankrupting, that it is a complete disaster for the economy.
CH: No, no, that’s not it. That’s not it.
HH: I don’t want to debate. I don’t want to quarrel, but I could debate you on that.
And immediately after assuring Hitchens that he could debate him on the subject of whether Americans are delusional to reject the very idea of a health care system, Hewitt changes the topic to something with which they can both be comfortable: How the Left is hypocritical because it approves the "invasion" of Haiti for humanitarian purposes, when it opposed the invasion of Iraq because Bush was President. Yes, really.

I would be embarrassed for the impression such things would give of us to future generations, were I not quite sure that we won't have any.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PARTY OUT OF BOUNDS. I haven't had time to sift through all or even many of the Brown responses (I confess that I have become powerless over my day job, and may have to resort to a higher power), but there can't be many that will beat that of Alvin S. Felzenberg at National Review, who suggests that Massachusetts voters reacted in disapproval of the uppity Henry Louis Gates, who was arrested for talking back to a cop -- and, Felzenberg is compelled to add, who is "reported to own more than one European-made luxury car." "History may remember tonight’s Massachusetts returns as the vindication of the Cambridge cop," says Felzenberg. He also compares the election of one Republican senator to Nixon's 49-state victory in 1972. Felzenberg seems an excitable fellow, especially where black people with luxury cars are concerned.

Marc Thiessen's elated cry of "Waterboarding Wins" is pretty awesome too. How well he must have slept last night, dreaming of tortured detainees in secret prisons.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. It would be nice to think the Democrats had a Plan B for getting health care passed, but they barely had a Plan A. The discussion of their post-Coakley chances is devolving to reconciliation, which makes me think of the old Thurber cartoon of an exhausted man watching his wife preparing to throw a bowling ball overhand: "Oh, all right, go ahead and try it that way."

It appears Democratic presidents in the modern era get only a brief shot at effecting meaningful change, and if they miss it, that's it for the next half-term, or term-and-a-half if they play their cards right. In a way, Obama has no one but himself to blame. He signed on to those stupid bailouts in 2008, and has been fatally hampered by their economically injurious legacy every since. I realize someone probably would have had him shot if he hadn't backed the bailouts, but he should have had the guts to take one for the team and let President Biden guilt-trip everybody into passing a Free French Health Care and Ice Cream for Everyone Including Rapists Bill.

In another way, you can't blame Obama or even the dummies that ran Coakley's campaign. It was almost touching the way he expected people to hold on and continue to trust their 2008 instinct that, now that things were tough, the major surgery they'd been putting off could no longer be avoided. He must be disappointed at how quick they got cold feet. Cynical as I am, I'm amazed; you'd think that, when America ran out of funny-money and banks started to collapse, they'd have been forcefully shaken out of their faith in the fairy story with which Republicans had been swaying them for years -- that they could fix any mess with some tax cuts and magic beans -- and for a good long while. But in little more than a year, a lot of them are going for it all over again.

Having seen this game a round or two, it's getting so I almost look forward to the Republicans taking over again, to see what explanation they come up with this time. Alas, the grill is mixed for a while, and all we can be sure of is that the safest bet will seldom be the people's interest.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK. Conservatives tend to keep off Martin Luther King Day of late, which is too bad, as it has brought us some hilarious essays in the past. But the blogprof handles it pretty well all by himself:
Today everyone should be reminded that Martin Luther King Jr. was a REPUBLICAN. The black community has been duped by Democrats. It was Democrats that fought to keep the black population enslaved. They were on the wrong side of the Civil War as a result...
It goes on like that. Not that you need it, but FAIR has a nice account of some of King's late endeavors, including his opposition to the Vietnam War and to authoritarian regimes "in a world that borders on our doors," which seems especially timely now that people are paying attention to Haiti again.

I hope you enjoy MLK in your own way today, and spare a thought for President Goldwater for signing the Civil Rights Act.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

WHAT'S ALL THIS TALK ABOUT GIVING EAGLES RIGHTS? In another har-har at gummint spending, National Review's Veronique de Rugy complains, "$1.8 Million for a Map. Seriously? In the 'crazy ways government is spending our tax dollars' category, this example may be one of the worse items."

She's talking about Connecticut's federal grant for federal broadband mapping, which is not about creating a piece of cartography, but about getting the information necessary to provide high-speed internet access across the county, since private high-speed providers are loathe to provide such information as they have to the public.

One of the sources in the abovelinked Times article is something called Connected Nation, which has been nettled by the Wall Street Journal and others for carrying the water of big carriers who don't want their territory stepped upon. It is generally thought that public oversight will do a better job of mapping than private entities, which have traditionally declined to share their proprietary info. For that reason, private companies' inclusion in state mapping plans has been controversial.

The Connecticut plan to which de Rugy objects will be administrated by the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control. de Rugy might have objected with more reason to the administration of the grant given to Texas, which will be done by Connected Nation. Three guesses why she chose to pick on Connecticut instead.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A FACE IN THE CROWD. If you had been told that Sarah Palin has signed to do a reality show, would it be more or less of a surprise than the announcement that she is going on Fox News? I would have been slightly more surprised by the reality show, because some of the resulting footage might have proved more embarrassing to her if she runs for President someday; you can never predict what other people, even members of one's own family, might do, as Palin's career has shown. Her colleagues at Fox will be much less likely to put her in an awkward situation.

The Ole Perfesser is in the ballpark when he refers to Breitbart's "Red State Oprah" remark. The question is, is this Lonesome Rhodes routine going to be an end in itself? I think the "multi-year contract" gives her plenty of time to see if things get more insane, and we have candidates stepping up from keys of the Mighty Wurlitzer rather than just being played on and off by it. In the current environment she's ballot-box poison, but the next few years might make Network look like The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Reagan isn't the model. He had to do some SAG politicking and undergo extensive training by handlers before he was ready to appear before the public as a serious candidate. Palin has obviously had all the pre-Presidential political experience she cares to endure, and the grumbling of McCain operatives suggests she does not respond well to coaching. She may pick up a few tricks, but if she ever feels ready to make her big move, it won't be because she's greatly changed.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the Harry Reid controversy. I have to say I'm impressed to see conservatives coming out so strongly against casual racism, if only for a few days. Some of them are having a hard time getting their outrage properly tuned for public consumption: "Democrats, like blacks, simply cannot be racist. No matter how racist they actually are," says Bill Quick. This would seem to conflict with the current spin, which is that Democrats hate black people and Obama is excusing them because "the Soros money which elevated Obama to the position of President has bought his servitude." If they want to add on the venerable blacks-are-racist theme, they'd better get that Michelle Obama "Whitey" tape out quick.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

MORE SONGS ABOUT BUNGLING AND FAIL. The Ole Perfesser has taken to linking to a thing called When Falls the Coliseum, which is supposed to be about "culture," always comedy gold in the ham-hands of rightwing bloggers. My two favorite WFTC posts at the moment:

Steve Mazzeo, who tells us that "since the beginning I have claimed to be a Family Guy fan," but while recently "watching Family Guy in syndication" he "realized the following: I’ve never really liked this show..." Why, then, did and does he watch it? Mazzeo doesn't really say, but he does tell us the show is funnier if he watches it with other people -- "If I’m watching alone I laugh (on average) three or four times an episode. Add one person the viewing and I laugh eight to ten times" -- whereas with South Park, "I laugh ten to fifteen times in twenty-two minutes" even though "I watch these episodes alone," which presumably proves the show's superiority. Read a few Mazzeo posts and you'll see that he's wise to seek out entertainments that can be enjoyed without company.

Mike McGowan is pleased to learn that the "G-spot" may be a myth because that means he can stop even pretending to care about pleasing a woman:
How many man hours have been wasted in the bedrooms of America trying to find the product of some woman’s flight of fancy about her super-heroine, realistic-karate-chop-like-action orgasmic abilities? How many times have men been blamed for failing to satisfy their woman when it isn’t their fault, but basic human physiology’s?
There's a lot of haw-haw-ain't-I-politically-incorrect in this one. Steve Mazzeo, behold your future!

McGowan sometimes leaves comments on his colleagues' posts which are also worth your time ("I don’t think that 'insanity' should be a defense in a murder case").

These guys make Big Hollywood look like the Algonquin Round Table*.

*UPDATE: ...except for the deranged Michael Moriarty, who now insists that Casablanca is Communist propaganda, and is in a class by himself.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

THE RETURN OF ROD DREHER. A reader wrote to inform me of the demise of Rod Dreher's Crunchy Con blog. Halfway through the second bottle of champagne, I noticed that Dreher had actually started a new blog at Beliefnet. So I went to see what this back-to-the-land, Benedict-Optioning, cult-friendly enemy of modernity is up to, and found:
OK, I'm going to confess to you now that Santa Claus brought the Dreher chirren a Wii for Christmas -- and it was a fantastic purchase, for the most part. The kids are getting actual exercise...
A fucking Wii? I'm a rootless goddamn cosmopolitan and I don't have a fucking Wii. What would Solzhenitsyn say? And why aren't his kids building their muscles by chopping wood and drawing well-water?

I understand he's moving to Philadelphia. I wonder if anyone told him they have a lot of black people there?

UPDATE. Now that I think of it, Dreher reminds me of this panel about George Hamilton III from Peter Bagge's Hate comics (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

TV PARTY. Just wanted to let you know about the New Year's offering by Bill Whittle at PJTV. He recalls visiting the '64 World's Fair as a five-year-old, expresses his disappointment with the Futurama exhibit -- which may explain much -- and claims the experience "rewired my brain, it made me the person I am today," which may also explain much.

Whittle goes on to explain that Futurama was about the Frankfurt School, Saul Alinsky, and their "plans, which are not secrets, but rather promoted at every opportunity throughout the 60s and the 70s, to destroy the heart of America which stood, and stands, as a mighty Colossus in their path, towards the collective, big-state future of Marxism and Socialism." I wonder if General Motors knew about this?

Whittle laments, among other things, "the choking to death of the forces of innovation, science, and free trade" by "global warming proponents." "What is killing this dream, this definitively American idea of optimism and progress?" he asks, and answers himself: "The Left," aka "fascists," who started killing the dream "about the time that I walked into that building in 1964," surely not a coincidence.

Whittles then points to comments at a video of Futurama at YouTube -- "tidal waves of cynicism, self-hatred, bitterness, resentment and anger at things like corporate greed -- hurled by a population so pampered by the products of those corporations that they cannot see the irony of sipping six-dollar coffees as they complain about capitalism on $2,000 Apple laptops!" This is of course Obama's fault, and Alinksy's. But "we are not going to forget who we are," and will elect Republicans.

He compares the struggles of himself and his compatriots to those of Union soldiers at Gettysburg, though I imagine a great number of his Tea Party comrades will be outraged that they have been equated with Northern aggressors. Maybe they can get AlfonZo Rachel to do a conciliatory follow-up.

Just in case you were wondering if they had gotten any less nuts.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A SLIGHT MISUNDERSTANDING. Matt Welch is angry about a couple of paragraphs I wrote about him in a Voice item. He is right on this matter: "'Warblogging' came to prominence not during the run-up to the Iraq War, but in the run-up to the Afghanistan War." Many of the brethren kept the ball rolling into the Iraq years, but warblogs did start coming out in 2001, and Welch had one. Back in those days he was writing stuff like this:
The Inevitable Neville Chamberlain Comparison: My comrade Catherine Seipp directs my attention to this Pacifist-bashing column by Thomas Sowell, for which I can find no link as yet (update: she just sent it -- it's here. Seipp describes the column as “a welcome antidote to the inane thoughts of Michael ‘Tokyo Rose’ Moore, and other idiocies making the email rounds.” Here’s a taste:...
Also, regarding Bobby Fischer, "I wonder if the strongly anti-war crowd is uncomfortable at all with the fact that many who echo their views are lunatic anti-semites." He seemed then to have a mission of exposing "the loonies of the Left," finding it "important that we record, for history, how some of these buffoons behaved when the chips were down," though he did give some conservatives a hard time, too.

As Welch finds me "full of shit," a "jackass," etc, you should not rely on me to tell you that this is typical, but take the time to scroll around his back numbers and see what you think. He characterizes himself on the Iraq invasion, when that came up, as "Hamlet, not Dick Cheney." This is an interesting interpretation of Hamlet. In 2002, Welch admitted, "I don’t know what the hell we should do in Iraq," then added, "Yeah, the let’s-invade-everybody plan seems a tad ridiculous to me, but I’m not exactly coming up with better solutions. Does this make me 'monstrously hawkish,' Nick?"

Welch also disputes that "my mea culpa was a direct reference to this pro-war belligerence." Reviewing that post, I see he describes the imagined glories of the golden age of warblogging ("yen for critical thinking, a sense of humor that actually translates into people laughing out loud," etc), but doesn't say much about the war part. Nonetheless some people, including many less critical than me, got the impression the warbloggers supported some wars. So maybe "warblogging" was a misnomer all along, and they should have called it critical-thinkingblogging, or laughing-out-loudblogging. That might have cleared up some confusion, and spared us all some grief.

UPDATE. "Hey look again!" updates Welch. "Dude found the search button!" This is the second time he's called me "dude," and I'm beginning to think it's not kindly meant. He also says, "he quotes a couple of my pacifist-bashing posts from September of 2001" -- maybe he thinks I'm cherry-picking; like I said, you can go look around his site and see -- "grudgingly acknowledges that the 'Farewell to Warblogging' column he so grossly mischaracterized 'doesn't say much about the war part'" -- which is true, and you may make of it what you will -- and "makes comments throughout about how 'angry' I am." I did say he was angry at the top; the rest he appears to be inferring from the various quotes from his own work that make him look angry. Those are not hard to find.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, picking through some of the recent attacks on Obama during his vacation, including the recently discussed Photo Phunnies. There's plenty of other choice stuff, including a rant by Erick Erickson suggesting that the President's condolences on the CIA agents recently killed in Afghanistan might be an attempt to "sabotage the intelligence community." Of course, if Obama hadn't said anything, it would prove he hates America's Spooks.

One thing I didn't get into was the high volume of complaints that Obama had a vacation at all, and had the temerity to golf during it. This is an old trope among the brethren ("Media Cheer Obama's Golf Outings; Criticized Republicans' Trips to Course"). I wonder how long it'll be before someone puts up an Obama Golf Watch.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

I MEAN, DID YOU EVER LOOK AT A DOLLAR BILL, MAN? THERE'S SOME SPOOKY STUFF GOING ON IN A DOLLAR BILL, MAN. Holy moley, they're still doing heavy photo analysis on Obama. Today the Ole Perfesser finds a pic of the President in a less than subservient attitude and goes all Ann Althouse:
OBAMA AND BIDEN: Analyze the body language. From the White House Flickr page.

UPDATE: No, I don’t think Obama’s facial expression is just a fluke of when the shutter went off. His eyes aren’t closed, as some with poor displays seem to think. Here’s a detail from the frame.
Jesus Christ. I wonder if he tried folding it to turn Obama's head into a mushroom.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Joseph Gautier writes: “If I really wanted to set my dad off, all I’d have to do is send him this photo..."
No doubt it would: "A nigger in a tuxedo!"
"... The amazing thing is, that it is found on the WH’s flickr page. Proving that they don’t see what we see."
Hate to tell ya, buddy, but we don't see the pink elephants or the leprechaun that tells you to burn things, either.

Was there a gas leak at the last CPAC convention or something?

UPDATE: Commenters point out further sifting by the photo analysis squad. This is getting to be the rightblogger equivalent of arts and crafts. Also, inevitably, one of the brethren says I'm "making this about race." Also claims people like me are "why I will never, ever, vote for a fucking democrat, ever again!" If the Democrats, or democrats, lose the House in 2010, you know who to blame, folks! They don't like socialism, but they really hate being made fun of.

UPDATE 2: Comments reveal the "making this about race" guy is kinda crazy, which is too bad. Where is that honest, sensible conservative who will help me get over my prejudice against white people?

Saturday, January 02, 2010


YOUR OWN LYIN' EYES. The meaning of the much-circulated Photoshop of Barack Obama as a shoeshine boy shining Sarah Palin's pumps is clearly understood by most people. We're sure the boys at Chimpout -- "Cops on Nigger Obama and shoeshine boy Gates" -- and Stormfront get the joke. See also Urban Dictionary, etc.

The image has turned up at Free Republic, SodaHead, and other places where you'd expect to see it. But other rightbloggers are going to great lengths to rehabilitate this ancient racist trope since it's been used on Obama.

One device they're using is the Democratic Party affiliation of one person whose handling of the photo made the news. "Her status as a registered Democrat cannot be ignored," says Patterico.

As the image was flagged by Charles Johnson, whose apostasy has made him a target of conservatives, this becomes a "My Hair is a Bird, Your Argument Is Invalid" line of defense among the brethen. "For someone so 'scientific' [as Johnson],'" says American Power, "real facts must have caused nasty bouts of cognitive dissonance and psychological displacement." Patterico's research is commended by America Daughter Media Center: "If a CJ makes a mistake, along comes a Patterico to correct it... bloggers are inheriting the mantle of the dying mainstream media."

Others are actually insisting that there's nothing racist about it. Tom Maguire, while conceding that "there are certainly some racial overtones of servitude to the shoe shine imagery," learns that Rush Limbaugh claims to have once been a shoeshine boy, thus cleansing the image of its racial associations.

Instapundit picks it up:
Or is it racist? Rush Limbaugh actually was a shoeshine boy. Yeah the racial stereotype is a bit shaky -- when I was a kid I knew older brothers of friends who did that; even in Birmingham, Alabama they were white. By the time I was a teenager, of course, shoeshines were on the way out.
And he's from Tennessee, so he should know. We also have Armed Liberal taking the things-are-complicated approach, whereby liberals of the unarmed kind are trying to make a "Big Story" out of what is actually the fascinatingly complex phenomenon of a black President pictured shining shoes. Plus he saw a black cashier being mean to an Asian.

Another Black Conservative testifies to the work ethic of black shoeshine men, which he suggests may be the real meaning of the photo. Certainly it's less demeaning than the job ABC's got.

Soon they'll be telling us that pictures of watermelons on the White House lawn are a tribute to Michelle Obama's garden, pictures of Obama as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose are a tribute to his rich cultural heritage, etc.

Friday, January 01, 2010

BLFF. Guy Benson -- "America's youngest top-market political talk show host" -- claims he knows a woman in Jersey who's a "lifelong Democrat voter, harbors a long-standing distaste for George W. Bush, and slants left on most issues." This already tells you where Benson is going, for when such as he announce they have a liberal friend, they will inevitably tell you immediately thereafter either that the liberal has committed a horrible offense, or that he or she has converted.

In this instance it's Door #2, as the alleged liberal friend starts reading off Republican talking points:
She was particularly furious about the health-care debate (a family member is battling cancer)... Her best line? "Just because I don't want my kids paying off national debts for their entire lives doesn't mean I'm a racist." Being a good Democrat, she couldn't quite bring herself to name names, but did noticeably bristle when I mentioned the unholy trinity of Obama/Reid/Pelosi.
How I wish he'd provided more detail to "noticeably bristle." How'd he notice her bristling? Maybe the fur on the puppet he was actually talking to needs brushing.

Anyway, Benson finds the alleged conversation "a real-life, first-hand example of the conservative re-awakening America is experiencing, and anecdotal confirmation of the polling data energized conservatives have been poring over for months."

Oh, yeah? Well, I had a conversation recently with a lifelong Republican who harbors a long-standing distaste for Jimmy Carter, and slants right on most issues. From Alabama! She came up to me at the sort of unspecified location where such conversations always take place, and suddenly started ranting about Bush having eight years to fix our national security and accomplishing "jack-shit," the way the former President let the banks run wild and destroy the economy, etc. Her best line? "This country is so totally fucked we had to hire a black guy to unfuck it," though I think she got it from Madeleine Albright.

This, I declare, is a real-life, first-hand example of the conservative destruction America has experienced, and anecdotal confirmation of the polling data showing the conservative movement splitting into a Give Us Our Patronage Appointments Back faction and a White People's Party faction.

And to add a little extra versimilitude, my conservative friend is a cab driver.
NOT A YEAR-END "BEST OF," but emblematic in its way -- The Ole Perfesser:
Yeah, I actually agree with Andrew [Sullivan] on torture, but the more I read his stuff, the weaker my sentiments on the subject get...
This really nutshells a certain kind of conservative thinking -- either directly of the "I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick" school (thanks, Prof. Berube), or opportunistically feeding off it -- whose adherents claim they would have coherent moral standards if only liberals didn't make them mad.

I'm actually surprised the Perfesser used language that would hearken us back to the warblogger era ('member that?), when alleged former liberals like Matt Welch and Jeff Jarvis would bellow that the scales had been torn from their eyes, revealing to them the necessity of invading Iraq. I notice that they're not similarly rallying to the call to invade Yemen, which suggests such epiphanies have a more limited shelf life than once was thought, as well as a longer, subsequent period of buyer's remorse.

To assert while drunk and belligerent at a party that you've become more hot for torture because people you dislike are against it is one thing, but to publish such feelings while sober, and with evident sincerity, is literally depraved.

Yet apparently this sort of thing goes over in the conservative world now, as is also seen in the whole crotch-bomber contretemps. The similarities to the Richard Reid shoe-bomber episode, which passed with blame largely attributed to the malefactors rather than to the Bush Administration, are obvious, but the current rightwing talking point is that the threat "would have easily been caught by 1990’s computer" were it not for the deliberate malfeasance of Obama.

There is literally nothing, in the eyes of such people, that is not suddenly rendered immoral by its attachment to liberals. But it leaves the rest of us free to ask what, in particular, their own moral certainties might be.

UPDATE. People are leaving comments referring to some "New Year" thing. Is it some sort of holiday? It sounds suspiciously like Year Zero. Is it socialist?

Haw haw, I am making the joke. Happy 2010, if that doesn't prove an oxymoron.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

THE GREAT REVIVAL. Kathryn J. Lopez:
So many, like Mark and myself, have personal stories about Rush's kind generosity. But there are millions of people who have never met him who are e-mailing me today telling me they went to morning Mass with his intention in mind, that they have their whole family praying for him...
Why hasn't this sudden, massive rise in church attendance been reported by the MSM? Maybe a substantial number of these millions only meant to go to church.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PISS ON YOUR OWN LEG AND TELL YOURSELF IT'S RAINING. I have to hand it to Don Surber. I couldn't guess how he'd spin the news that President Obama topped the latest Most Admired Men list. But goldurn it, he came up with a beaut:
Both Hillary and Sarah beat Michelle...

While that is up from 3% last year, the fact is [Michelle Obama] is nowhere near as popular as her predecessor, Laura Bush, whose popularity ranged from 63% to 80%.
Hillary Clinton's popularity suggests to Surber that "maybe Democrats will switch quarterbacks in 2012." Alternatively, I suppose, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama could swap wives.

Surber briefly mentions that "President Obama led the list (as most presidents do) with 30% (last year he led with 32%)," gliding over the fact that the guy not-yet-President Obama beat in 2008 was President Bush, who had a vote of five percent. Bush was the first President since 1952* to fail to make first place. (Bush topped the poll in 2007 with a vote of ten percent.)

At some point, spin just becomes the spins.

*UPDATE. Commenter Neil points out that Jimmy Carter ran behind the Pope in 1980. Also, Nixon and Ford lost to -- get this -- Henry Kissinger.

Monday, December 28, 2009

JOURNEY INTO FEAR. The Corner at this writing is largely devoted to demands that Janet Napolitano be fired. In a crowded field, Jonah Goldberg has distinguished himself. Early on, he reiterates the general willful misreading of Napolitano's statements, then huffs, "I thought the head of the DHS was supposed to have the trust of the American people." I must have missed those days when American parents named their children after Tom Ridge, and kept portraits of him over their kitchen tables. Apparently Goldberg did too, because later he says
Well, if memory serves, I've never been much of a Tom Ridge supporter. And this magazine was awfully tough on him and DHS in general.
Maybe he meant the Golden Age of Michael Chertoff. Sometimes I think Goldberg suffers the same condition as the guy in Memento and has right-wing talking points tattooed on his belly, so whenever he comes to, he can just start bellowing away, blessedly unaware of what he said just hours before. Would that I were similarly blessed, at least regarding what Goldberg has said.

Goldberg also complains that Obama used the words "allegedly" and "suspect" regarding the incident. His post includes an almost perfectly Goldbergian sentence -- "If we know it, how 'allegedly' can it be?" I bet he mutters that to himself whenever he reads crime reports in the papers, or when he gets queries from his editors at other publications.

Goldberg acts as if Obama were going to blow the whole case, dammit, because he used careful language at a delicate time, rather than the pirate impersonation Goldberg favors. Presumably if Obama referred to Abdulmutallab as "yon scurvy dog" his chances of lifelong incarceration would be increased from certain to oh totally.

This obsession with tough talk is shared by Andy McCarthy, who wants to know why the Secretary of Homeland Security did not quickly and definitively attribute the failed crotch-bombing to Al Qaeda:
That is to say, indications of a larger plot abound. The prudent course is thus to say, "We are aggressively investigating all possibilities" and leave it at that. At this premature stage, no sensible person would be surprised to hear that; but saying it suggests we might be open to the possibility that there's a massive international Islamic terror conspiracy -- can't have that.
No normal person, hearing Napolitano's actual words, would assume that an Al Qaeda connection had been ruled out. Why is McCarthy doing this? His tell is "massive international Islamic terror conspiracy." McCarthy wants the most terrifying description of the possibilities front and center in the public's mind. And if people inclined to listen to him aren't terrified enough, he heads directly from certainty to speculation -- "They may very well be complicit. For a better sense of the potentially involved Yemeni players..." -- so that they'll go away in an imaginative frame of mind to draw webs of their own.

His purpose -- like that of Pete Hoekstra, quoted by Robert Costa in complaint that Napolitano is "reluctant to use the word "terrorism'" -- is not to enlighten but to spook. These guys discovered a while back that the public liked them better when they were scared, so now they're picking nits to suggest the Administration is incompetent or just not bloodthirsty enough, hoping to draw Americans back into the state of fear that increases Republican chances.

Goldberg pops back in to run the old Animal House clip of Kevin Bacon getting flattened by a panicked mob as he cries "All is well." His joke is that Napolitano is behaving like Bacon, but it would work better if the frightened mob had actually materialized anywhere but in National Review's offices. It remains to be seen if he and his buddies can get the extras to follow direction.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightblogger rampage over the failed crotch-bombing. Janet Napolitano may be my least favorite cabinet member after Tim Geithner, but her anodyne ass-covering statements were perfectly appropriate for what it is becoming hard to remember was a non-explosion. The conservative response has been to willfully misread her statements, then demand her resignation based on their own misinterpretation.

Their long-term strategy is not yet discernible, but I hope they got for a NEVER FORGET 12/25 angle, and next year start yelling at people who insist on making merry during the anniversary of America's worst terrorist non-attack.

Do they never cease pissing their pants?