Tuesday, April 06, 2010

NO COMMENT. Some guy has been arrested for allegedly threatening to kill Senator Patty Murray over her health care vote. I'm sure conservatives are as tired of the raised temperature of the discourse as I am, and their response will be muted and supportive of Senator Murray's right to stay alive... oh wait, here's Bungalow Bill with a quick post:
The news media will go nuts tonight analyzing if the person arrested for threatening Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) life is a tea partier...

You just know Keith Olbermann is ready to call whoever this person is a dirty tea bagger, even without a trial to know of the person is guilty. This will be the direction of the media. Like Rush said, they could have cared less without all the threats made against Bush 43. They will make an example out of this person all in hopes of discrediting the growing tea party movement.
Here's Murray's opponent out of the Tea Party, Clint Didier, recently:
When I get to DC, there's gonna be hell to pay. When they flirt with my kids' future, their individual liberty and their freedom, there will be hell to pay... you see, when somebody gets into a fight, it's that person who's willing to die, that's gonna come out the winner. If I have any strength left in me, I will fight and die for our future, our children, and this country.
Let the "No, you raised the temperature of the discourse" fistfight commence!

UPDATE. Logistics Monster: "Waiting…waiting…waiting…any minute now the left and the media will dig something up attempting to link Charles Wilson to the Tea Parties." Wow, maybe I should call him -- sounds like he has inside information.

UPDATE 2. Oops, somebody just called the guy a "teabagger." This is officially the Left's fault! Chest bumps at Breitbart HQ!

UPDATE 3. Whoa, the guy's really crazy. And not particularly bright!

UPDATE 4. It's my default position that we should avoid making too much of these lone nuts (except for comedy purposes. Then anything goes!). I do wish circumstances made it easier for me to stick to it, though.

Gotta love this from Jammie Wearing Fool:
Naturally the usual suspects in the leftwing blogosphere are giddy and breaking out their usual juvenile "teabagger" comments. We have no knowledge that Wilson had any affiliation with tea parties, nor do we know if he's a Republican or Democrat.
A Democrat who's murderously angry about health care reform... say, I was just reading about this -- maybe he's a Tea Partier after all!
CRAIG FERGUSON DOES THE BONZO DOG BAND. I only kind of miss network TV, but if it were as full of Ernie Kovacs as this, I'd go back to watching it and never ever stop. (h/t Tuesdae.)



TECH UPDATE -- Comments seem hosed on Safari today for some reason. Not sure why except JS-Kit sux. Try Ffox.
THE CRITICS RAVE. I don't usually go in for this kind of puffery, but I have to make an exception for David Weigel, now writing at the Washington Post. His coverage of movement conservatism at the Independent and elsewhere has been extremely useful to me. He's also very funny on Twitter. (Or he was before success changed him.)

Best testimonial yet: Jonah Goldberg's extended mouth-fart --
Reading my email in response to this entirely neutral post on the Washington Post's announcement of Dave Weigel as their "conservatives in the mist" correspondent/blogger, I guess I should make it clear where I come down on this. Basically, while I guess I can think of a few folks I'd rather see with that gig than Weigel, I can think of a hell of a lot of people who would be worse...

Obviously, I'm skeptical about the whole enterprise and in particular what the Post hopes to get from him...
Translation: I know there's something I don't like about honest coverage of myself and my friends, but I can't think of a way to say it that doesn't make me look like a wanker. Oops, I've been wanking the whole time!

(For fans of this sort of thing, here's a classic Goldberg vacuous assertion - colleague rebuttal -- fart bomb escape trifecta from yesterday.)
SOMETHING I MISS ABOUT THE NORTHEAST. This gladdened my heart:



This is wrong-right on a few levels. First, to repurpose Herb Brooks' 1980 speech to the U.S. Olympic hockey team -- made as they were about to upset the Soviet Union team -- for the millionaires of Major League Baseball is not just a stretch, it's a sprain. Second, allowing 5-year-old Joshua Sacco to recreate his cute little YouTube trick from the field of Fenway Park was probably not the best parenting move; I imagine Sacco a dozen years from now, ego irreversibly swollen and ruptured by its premature exposure to the limelight, showing this on a broken-down iPad in Southie dives to cadge drinks. Not to mention the mild swear near the end.

But then: if anything in life compares to the relationship of the U.S. to the old Soviet Union, it's Sox-Yankees. Now, we have rivalries down here, too, and the Aggies-UT one (Saw 'Em Off) is legendary. But it's a polite rivalry. You see folks in College Station walking around in UT shirts unmolested, and the Longhorns emblem in car windows that remain unsmashed. This, as the old folks at home know, is not how they roll around the NE. They will kill you for that shit. There is neither friendliness nor courtliness in the Mets-Phillies or Sox-Yankees rivalries, and barely any sense of perspective. (Also check out this lovely story by one of my former colleagues, a Sox loyalist, about how she made a Yankees fan cry.)

Seen through that prism, pimping out a poor little boy (from Tennessee, as it happens) to whoop up the Fenway faithful's murderous hatred of the Yanks makes perfect sense. God knows there are forms of tribalism in Texas, too, some of them quite ugly, but nothing so wonderfully ludicrous as this -- at least, not that I've found yet. But it's only been a few weeks. Maybe you guys know different.

Oh, and icing: The Yankees lost. W00t, FUCK YOU DOUCHEBAG YANKEE FANS! My Mets are 1-0, and I'm ready for another heartbreaking September choke and the ensuing violence.

I ain't switching to the Astros. Fuck them. Clemens played for them.

Monday, April 05, 2010

SHORTER MARK HEMINGWAY: Sure, he's no Mark Steyn, but what the hell, I'll say nice things about Nelson Mandela if I can use him against Obama. Hey, folks -- Unlike Mandela, Obama consorts with criminals!
FREAKS. National Review's John J. Miller on a family vacation:
I took the family to Luray Caverns on Friday, in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. I haven't visited enough caves to say how this one compares to others, but it did make this top-ten list and I recommend it highly. It's also a private business that sells tickets and souvenirs, not a public park that consumes taxpayer dollars. Luray Caverns may not be a model for balancing tourism and conservation at every natural wonder in the country, but it's probably a better one than most people realize. Americans can perform a lot of wonders on their own.
It's not really their politics, specifically, that makes these people so awful, but the fact that they think it's every goddamn thing in life.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the recent rightwing claims that the alleged misbehavior by Tea Partiers against black Congressmen has been debunked -- in part by the fact that nobody taped it.

I don't think it's impossible or out of the question that Representative John Lewis is mistaken about his experience, nor would I insist that everyone take him at his word. But it's interesting, to say the least, that rightbloggers are inclined to denounce him as a "lying bastard" rather than letting this roll off their backs, as they might have done in simpler times.

I think this is less suggestive of racism than of a general uptick in conservative belligerence, whereby any attack will draw a violent response, whether such a response is politically advisable or not. They seem to believe anger is good for their cause, and see no reason to moderate it, ever, even when it makes them look a little crazed. It's a tonic for the troops, no doubt, but I wonder what it does for the camp followers.

Friday, April 02, 2010

GREAT ITEM BY LANCE MANNION in answer to that stupid shit David Brooks, who sought to turn the presumed disappointment of an accomplished woman into an indictment of modern life as lived by anyone but his own manicured self.
Meryl Streep and her husband have been married for thirty-two years, Bridges and his wife for thirty-three. Maybe Brooks didn’t watch the Oscars so he didn’t hear Michelle Pfieffer gush about what a great family man Bridges is or hear Bridges himself make part of his acceptance speech a valentine to his wife...

Meanwhile, what about Sandra Bullock?

The answer to that is Tom Hanks.

Or Paul Newman.

Neither of whom managed personal happiness through a happy and stable first marriage.

Things didn’t work out for Bullock with Jesse James but that doesn’t mean that tomorrow she won’t meet someone who is not a sleezeball with whom she will live as happily ever after as anyone ever does with anyone.
Though I generally spend my time here beating on fools for being plain wrong, I must spare a thought from time to time for the possibility that guys like Brooks have been raised in veal pens or Skinner boxes and simply don't know what life is like.

The sad thing is, such writers are so plentiful and their poisonous work so pervasive that we need people like Lance to remind us of simple reality.
THE NEW THING IS TO CARE PASSIONATELY, AND BE RIGHT WING. Remember the palmy days of South Park Republicanism and South Park Conservatism and all that? The Right hasn't had a comparably ridiculous youth fad for a while, but good news! Their labs have turned out a beta version of something called Jason Mattera.

Mattera is best known for delivering a comedy routine at CPAC and then working his victim status when people had the gall to criticize it. He has also written a book called Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation, and has been making the rounds of the Bizarro World press to promote it.

Things have changed since the days when South Park Cons declared the culture war over and won for their side. Now Mattera tells Right Wing News "our generation is made up of a bunch of circus animals, spoiled brats who aren't thinking for themselves -- and they're prime targets to be labotomized by liberalism." But there is hope! Mattera explains how even these sub-humans may be educated unto conservatism:
Young people don't get social justice. Young people don't get redistribution of wealth. Talk about redistribution of grade point averages and they will sure get that. Show them how fair it would be if we gave part of that A or that B+ they worked their tails off to get to help some person who has that C, get that up to a B -- and it's all in the name of fairness as Obama would say. It's all in the name of making everyone happy. If you want to talk about Cap and Tax, tell them how their iPod and their internet use...
They're sure to go for that. Also, try telling them that Big Government is like Jughead eating burgers that Archie paid for.

Mattera also calls "John" Stewart "a moron," perhaps because he doesn't know Stewart is supposed to be funny.
THE WORST PEOPLE ON EARTH. Today's Times article about the scumbag banks ("Pay Garnishments Rise as Debtors Fall Behind") has stories of predatory lending and dunning practices so disgusting that I'm surprised Megan McArdle hasn't risen to their defense yet*.

One of the names of the banks' factota rang a bell, so I googled HSBC spokeswoman Kate Durham and found she'd appeared in this Chicago Tribune story I'd noticed a few days back:
When he died July 17, Elmer Duncan left a $2,361.04 balance on his Carson Pirie Scott credit card, which is administered by HSBC bank.

Since her name was never on the account, Ruby Duncan sent HSBC a copy of her husband's death certificate and assumed the debt would go away.

Instead, HSBC sent a new bill -- with her name on it...

In November, HSBC sent the account to collections in Ruby Duncan's name...

[Kate] Durham said she could not discuss the specifics of Duncan's case, citing privacy concerns. But she said the company's goal is to ensure "all of our customers receive a positive card experience with each and every interaction."
Helluva way to make a living, isn't it? Sometimes, though, Durham gets to report that HSBC has taken mercy on some of its victims -- when a newspaper threatens to publicize the situation. Other times, she updates the press on the legal disposition of the bank's crooked schemes ("HSBC spokeswoman Kate Durham confirmed the bank settled the case and said it admits no wrongdoing") and does straight-up stonewalling.

I used to work in public relations myself, and may again, but if things get so bad that I have consider a job like Durham's I may have to do the honorable thing and start breaking into church poor-boxes. God, is there anything lower than a banker?

* McArdle was apparently too busy being outraged at the post office -- which has outraged me in the past, too, but leave it to McArdle to put me in sympathy with the P.O.:
Now, I have no idea whether this is regulation run amok, combined with Soviet-level distributional inefficiency; or whether she simply didn't feel like dealing with my wedding invitations, and started making up rules to force me to take my damn business elsewhere.
Oh, what are the odds?

UPDATE. The comments are all about Megan McArdle! Banks, people! Don't you care about -- oh, the hell with it, she's appalling, isn't she? Next she'll complain that she has to pay money for the marriage license, which will just be used to subsidize looters and wreckers. Or has she done this already? I'm scared to look.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NOT SUITABLE FOR TREATMENT. Haven't looked in on The Anchoress in a while. Guards, can you open the hatch?
Disgraceful.

Arrogant

Unstatesmanlike

Breathtakingly rude, willfully insulting

Contemptible

Bookworm asks: Has their ever been a more ungracious man in the White House?

Nope.

What an appalling Putz.

Sounds like putsch, a little, doesn’t it.

There, I’ve broken my own rule about referring to the American President in respectful tones, due to my respect for the office...
Sigh. Wait'll she finds out who Doctor Sheehan really is.

UPDATE. Oh, and:
It’s sickening. I cannot believe what is happening to my country. We all suspected we were in trouble, with Obama, but it’s worse than we realized.
I hope someday she explains how, if we all had such suspicions, Obama managed to get all those votes. I'll bet it has something to do with Satan!
DEAR NATIONAL REVIEW: I NEVER THOUGHT IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME! It's nice to know that, even in this age of Tea Parties, conservatives will still clap for a Nanny State when it comes to porn. Anonymous, "a psychologist [!] who lives with her children in Virginia," says "Congress should fund a long-term, multidisciplinary analysis of the effects of porn addiction on marriage and family life. The National Institutes of Health are granted billions of taxpayer dollars for research on a wide variety of public-health problems, and yet pornography addiction is not among them."

If you're one of those rad libs who think swine flu has a better claim on the NIH's attention than porn studies, hear Anonymous' sad story:
By his own account, my husband of 13 years and high-school sweetheart, was first exposed to pornography around age ten. He viewed it regularly during high school and college — and, although he tried hard to stop, continued to do so throughout the course of our marriage. For the past few years he had taken to sleeping in the basement, distancing himself from me, emotionally and physically. Recently he began to reject my sexual advances outright, claiming he just didn’t “feel love” for me like he used to, and lamenting that he thought of me “more as the mother of our children” than as a sexual partner.

Then one morning around 2am he called, intoxicated, from his office to announce that he had “developed feelings” for someone new. The woman he became involved with was an unemployed alcoholic with all the physical qualities of a porn star — bleached blond hair, heavy makeup, provocative clothing, and large breasts. After the revelation, my husband tried to break off his relationship with this woman. But his remorse was short-lived. Within a few months he had moved permanently out of the home he shared with me and our five young children. In retrospect, I believe he succumbed to the allure of the secret fantasy life he had been indulging since his adolescence.
So, to recap: this rightwing scold's husband dumped her for a blonde with big tits who likes to drink. Yeah, what besides a psychological malady could explain that?

UPDATE. Forgot to hat-tip K.Lo, whose pimpage of this article at The Corner offers wet spots of its own:
When I recently went to a press conference for a Witherspoon Institute study on [porn's] social costs, a man walked in, stayed a few, and announced, "I expected to be much more titillated by this than I am." And there we are. It's dangerous stuff...
JIVE. How do you get the kids to listen to Bill Whittle? The same way you get anyone else to listen to him -- with tricks.

"Every now and then I'll run into a hipster," says Whittle in his latest PJTV entertainment. Knowing how tightly-wound the guy is, I was hoping the crew would bring in actual hipsters of the sort I used to see in my perambulations around Williamsburg*, so Whittle could denounce them for (to use a previous Whittlism), "sipping six-dollar coffees as they complain about capitalism on $2,000 Apple laptops," and maybe even criticize their grooming and shitty music. That could have been as good at the C.P.O. Sharkey episode where they go to a punk club.

But then Whittle tells us, "These hipsters, and many of them are in their 50s and 60s..." and shows us a picture of what looks like Wavy Gravy. Also, he says these alleged superannuated hipsters "are always so proud of being progressive, they're open-minded, always ready to try new ideas..." and affects to hear from these hipsters, "Don't be such a square man."

He's not even trying! Couldn't he have thrown in something about Micachu and the Shapes, or goatse? Regrettably, the reverse-hip act continues with Okie from Muskogee passive-agression: "They're not rigid and fear-driven like me... stuck with prehistoric ideas like individual responsibility and the right to keep and bear arms..." The Founders were "the worst kind of squares" -- which is, in case you haven't tumbled to Whittle's brand of irony, a big compliment.

Having trapped us in his bogus sideshow, Whittle lectures us about how Moses is better than Zeus and all those shitty little gods, "Greco-Roman philosophy" (that is, two falls out of three), and other boilerplate about why the West is the Best -- hardly remarkable, controversial, or difficult to grasp, but Whittle still insists it's dynamite to the longhaired punks: "At this point the hipster usually goes 'huh?'" He's not the only one.

* We don't seem to have hipsters around College Station, though Mary swears she saw some at a Starbucks once. I did recently see what appeared to be hipsters in Austin, but those specimens were of a softened form, more relaxed than the ones back in Brooklyn. Maybe that's because the coffee 'round these parts isn't so hot.
WE ARE ALL INTERESTED IN THE FUTURE, FOR THAT IS WHERE YOU AND I ARE GOING TO SPEND THE REST OF OUR LIVES. If I understand this hallucinogenic video aright, McMegan thinks that the recession will cause moral looseness as well as puritanism, and end in libertarianism, as everything does. Because the people far away from us won't matter so much, you see.

I would assume she wrote and directed the whole thing, but the folks on the breadline didn't have arrow-tags that said "looters."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GO AHEAD, HIT MY HAND AS HARD AS YOU CAN. Sometimes you just can't improve upon the simple juxtapositions provided by Memeorandum. Alongside a link to Steve Benen's Washington Monthly article about how red-state conservatives are screwing up their Congressional apportionments by denouncing the Census, Memeorandum provides another to the wonderfully apposite ravings of Sister Toldjah:
Why does one side of the Census postcard say it’s “required by law” to fill out but on the other side it says “you’ve been sent a *request* to fill it out”? No wonder the Census return rate is down at this point from the 2000 Census return rate. That and the fact that more and more people in this country are simply fed up with the federal government, a government that laughably suggests via their many Census ads that filling out the Census gives ordinary Americans the power to bring their “fair share” of federal tax dollars to their respective communities. Of course, they don’t mention that the more federal tax dollars poured into the community the more than community is answerable to Washington, DC. This is supposed to be “empowering”? No thanks.

And don’t you love the “non-invasive” Census questions, oh, like asking you for your name, birthdate, and phone number? [Emoticon]
It's official, these people are insane. The Census is in the freaking Constitution. You'd think folks who like to dress up as Revolutionary soldiers and have Tea Parties would approve of it. But apparently even the least objectionable and longest-lived requirements of the Federal Government are too much for wingnuts. Next they'll be talking about the Bill of So-Called "Rights" and the tyrannical Library of Congress.

Maybe they think it was all downhill after the Articles of Confederation, or when civilization itself interrupted the natural Randian state of nature.

I am very fond of my new home, but I'm glad I sent my form in while I was still living in Brooklyn and before I moved to Texas, so I could accommodate these morons in their quest for electoral irrelevance. Nydia Velazquez, bitches!

Jesus -- they're really totally abandoning normal democracy and just betting everything on hopes of a popular insurrection, aren't they?
GOLDEN BOY. Tom Tomorrow alerts me to Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser's latest, in which the eminent psychologist, documentarian, and non-tipping restaurant patron argues that liberals are mean to conservatives. We've heard this sort of thing many times before, often from Dr. Mrs. herself, but this time DMOP has picked herself a doozy of an exemplary victim: Jeff Goldstein.

Yes, that Jeff Goldstein (and this one), the belligerent proprietor of rightwing bile-shed Protein Wisdom. Goldstein is known for the viciousness of his own attacks on others -- including physical threats -- yet rightbloggers are accustomed to rally to his defense whenever liberals are mean to him.

I could never figure out why they're so protective of this bully, but I have a theory: Goldstein's always bragging on his academic credentials, so maybe the rightwing community, like any family that sees itself as coming up in the world, considers him their frail, schoolly child, and thus are prone to coddle him, and to be willfully oblivious of the fact that when he's not in his room studying he's out hitting the other kids in the back of the head with rocks.

DMOP's essay supports this theory. In this case the affront to Goldstein is even slighter than usual: He recently got a message from one of his former mentors, who requested that his name be removed from Goldstein's site. Goldstein, with his characteristic equanimity, described this as censorship. Goldstein's account is almost entirely rageaholic blargh-blargh, but DMOP, like an aggrieved parent, hears only her boychik's pain and sorrow:
Initially, Goldstein says he was hurt by his professor’s intolerant attitude, but then, his hurt rightly turned to anger.
Here I imagine Goldstein dressed up like the Mean Widdle Kid, peering from behind Dr. Mrs.' skirts and sticking out his tongue.

Inevitably it comes time for her to tell us that the boy is fine, it's those meddling social workers who are crazy. DMOP's reaction formation: Liberals are, like psychopaths, incapable of understanding the suffering of conservatives.
So just remember that next time a liberal treats you poorly, it may not be his or her fault. Like the psychopath who has no empathy for his fellow human being, liberals may have a blind spot when it comes to having any empathy or understanding for their conservative brethren. It often makes a psychopath worse to show empathy for him, as he will take advantage of it.
As that weird last sentence suggests, DMOP is ready to dish out prescriptions for the treatment of liberals -- but her aim is not to help the patients:
...expanding right-leaning media, getting more people involved, and making sure consequences are dealt out to those liberals who lie and treat conservatives with disrespect. Yes, this means all of us speaking up wherever we are when we hear false, inflammatory, or just plain mean remarks made about conservatives. And finally, clamoring for more diverse educational topics and literature in the schools and media would be helpful.

Conservatives shouldn’t back down on any of this, ever. For it is persistence and consistency that will eventually win the day.
From this it would seem that Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser is accustomed to practice on involuntary patients directed to her by the state, toward the end of neutralizing their threat to society, and that's also how she would like to deal with liberals who say mean things. If you were thinking of retreating to the Gulch with her, you should know that's the kind of libertarianism she believes in.

Monday, March 29, 2010

SHORTER NORMAN PODHORETZ. So, people have forgotten I'm alive, eh? I'll just whoop up Palin like I did Reagan, and remind these young punks that Norman Podhoretz always goes full retard!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the weird tendency of some rightbloggers to embrace the loonier fringe figures out there -- including the Hutaree Jesus militia nuts. Some, like Dan Reihl, are content to make incoherent innuendoes and leave their commenters to explain how the sheeple will rise up just like they did after Ruby Ridge. But some -- like the Perfesser, who I thought would know better -- take the position that the government is making false arrests to cover for Obamacare.

It's not my way to put anything past the Gol-durned Gummint. But it's a sucker's bet to make such accusations without evidence. It doesn't do the presumed-innocent arrestees nor the cause of justice any good, and it makes you look like a fucking nut.

But that seems to be a new tactic among the belligerati -- to make common cause with the most deranged political actors. Can it be what they really believe, or are they so desperate for new alliances that they'll take whatever they can get?

UPDATE: Oy. From a $100 victim of the National Review begging squad:
We have to take a stand against creeping totalitarianism. I'll take the risk that the regime will somehow get the NRO donation list and use it to round up the freedom-loving counterrevolutionaries
I think I have it figured now: These people want to think it's dangerous and brave to be a Republican, instead of just sad. And they're willing to pay, in money and IQ points, for the privilege.

RE-UPDATE: They actually pulled the "freedom-loving counterrevolutionaries" post. Bad conscience, or did this cowboy threaten to stop payment on the check?

RE-RE-UPDATE: Ann Althouse provides the worst "this proves Bush right" angle of all time. Several Althouse commenters have laffs about Detroit, proving that armed mobs of white people can declare war on the government and some people will still be more concerned with the Black Menace.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

THE LAND OF MAKE-BELIEVE. From RedState:
I had sworn off movies for the past year and a half, as my small contribution in the boycotting of Hollywood.

However, this week, when months of swelling, sustained, dedicated opposition to ObamaCare from this nation’s citizenry was answered by its passage with an iron gavel, and then followed by mockery and taunting, a particular movie scene immediately came to mind. I decided to temporarily lift the boycott, dust off an old favorite, and give it a watch.

Watching the final battle scene in “The Patriot”
Aaaaaugh! OK, continue:
was cathartic as I believe this scenario closely parallels where we are right now in this contemporary battle to protect our liberty from an over-reaching, arrogant, and corrupt government.
Try to imagine, in the early days of the Reagan Administration, some recalcitrant hippie saying that whenever the James Watt Department of the Interior got him down, he overcame his usual boycott of bourgeois entertainments and played a tape of The China Syndrome, and this inspired him to resistance.

That'd be pretty pathetic, wouldn't it?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

THE GILLIBRAND LESSON. I am pleased to see credentialed deep-thinkers like Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM discovering, as I did months ago, that Kirsten Gillibrand is one of the safer reelection bets among Democratic Senators. But McMorris-Santoro says:
She may have earned herself a second term simply by not being the controversial figure many in the Democratic party thought she would be.
Close, but "many in the Democratic Party" don't know what the fuck they're talking about. What could be controversial about her? She's as managed a candidate as I've ever seen. From the get-go Chuck Schumer and some other smart Dems have been packaging Gillibrand brilliantly:
  • Lots of Listening Tours in the hinterlands (whence she came -- it's not just for carpetbaggers like Hillary);
  • Unashamedly going "ahem" to the White House any time some rogue Democrat challenged her;
  • Association with high-profile clean-water, safe-baby, and anti-gun legislation.
That last bit is the most interesting and, I think, has the widest applicability. I recall when Schumer pulled Gillibrand off the NRA gold-star list and handed her a typical New York liberal gun position -- namely, anti. It was supposed to be too radical for those anti-statists upstate -- and actually a little too anti for me. (Thank God I'm in Texas now, where I can easily get guns and drunk as God intended!)

But it's all in the way you spin it, and along with her other palaver, the gun stuff helps present Gillibrand as a goo-goo, family-friendly type, which position turned out to be formidable enough to scare away Giuliani and several other contenders.

The moral of the story is: When you read how them Tea Parties is sweeping the nation, look at your local theater listings; look at the anodyne, MOR crap that's popular. Look at your grocery aisles, your department store shelves, etc. How much has changed there in a year? It's rare that people stray very far from the models they're accustomed to follow, in politics or in anything else -- especially when the other side isn't making a good argument for change.

Considering the complete and almost unprecedented collapse of the Republican Party from 2006 onwards -- recession, sex scandals, and all -- Obama should have carried fifty states in 2008; as it was, he only got over at all because the GOP got on the wrong side of a real watershed. And a watershed is not the sort of thing you reverse quickly. Hell, the Democrats even got over all right in the 1978 Congressional elections.

This isn't an argument for the moral superiority of Obama or Gillibrand or anyone, but a caution against any lazy assessment of any incumbent as "weak" just because the papers are now full of anti-incumbent talk. Given all the big Democrats like Evan Bayh recently quitting and such like, a lot of people expect big Democratic losses this year. Most of them certainly don't deserve to hold their seats. But as Clint Eastwood once said, deserve's got nothing to do with it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

PANTLOAD AND THE PERFESSER DO AMERICA. Every once in a while some smartass tells me about something awful at Pajamas TV. That pisses me off, because PJTV wisely doesn't offer transcripts, which means I have to watch the fucking things if I want to keep up.

A few of you recently lured me to a chat between the Ole Perfesser and Jonah Goldberg. This promised the greatest team-up since Beavis and Butt-head, but alas, these two titans are not at their best. Nonetheless, some highlights:

• The Perfesser asks why "conservative intellectuals" like David Brooks have "not a lot of enthusiasm" for the totally awesome Tea Party movement. "There are different reactions from different people," muses Goldberg, "but you're right to generalize."

That could be the Shorter! But let's press on:

• Goldberg finds it "really bizarre" that Brooks compared the Tea Parties to the old New Left. Why, the New Left was "seeking to tear down existing institutions," says Goldberg, whereas the TP movement is "about restoration. There's a reason why they're buying all these books about the American Founding, why they're constantly talking about Thomas Paine and Don't Tread on Me."

That these alleged restorationists are attracted mainly to the most violent Revolutionary sentiments rather than, say, The Federalist Papers does not alert Goldberg to any contradiction, even when the Perfesser later elaborates that back in the colonial era, it was assumed that "if the government went too far, the people would just rise up in a body, it would be an organic thing" -- presumably like Shay's Rebellion, defeat of which began our long descent from the libertarian Valhalla of the Articles of Confederation to the Era of Big Gummint. (Or was it a false-flag operation?)

(BTW, do they know Paine thought Washington was an asshole?)

• Goldberg, in a semi-coherent ramble about the populism of the Ross Perot Reform Party, says that in '92 "the timing was just wrong because of Clinton and Bush I and the rest." Too bad there was no citizen journalist on hand to ask him the Tough Questions as to what he meant by that.

• The Perfesser gets down with The People! "The minute they do get interested in politics," he says, "everybody is basically saying 'why are all these ordinary Americans out there, shouldn't they just listen to their betters?' And actually that 'listen to their betters' is a lot of the tone I get not just from David Brooks but from a fair-number of sort of higher-level conservative intellectual types..."

The Perfesser quotes no examples of this, but as it's a matter of "tone," rather than actual words, he might have needed to express it via interpretive dance or his techno music, so it's just as well.

• "The Left," says Goldberg, "has bought into this idea that they have the monopoly on authentic protest" -- illustrated by a rant about "hippie kids" of the kind no one has heard since the days of Al Capp -- while conservative intellectuals are "trained to be skeptical of populism and mass-movement protest," which will certainly surprise anyone who's heard of Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13, the Moral Majority, etc.

Goldberg also chides the Left for being quick to call conservatives fascist, which I would find a charming piece of chutzpah if I had any faith that Goldberg knew what the fuck he was saying.

• After Goldberg claims National Review has always "had this internal debate about elitism vs. populism" -- Goldberg portrays William F. Buckley Jr. as a populist, which is like portraying Ernst Rohm as a scoutmaster -- the Perfesser pipes up, "I'm actually happy to be an elitist."

Well, of course he is -- after all, he's a Yalie and a tenured radical, and he's going to be among the elect for real when the Robot Rapture comes! But how's that square with his pitchfork Tea Party fervor? Simple:
I don't think the people running the country are an elite. I think if you look at it, they're not especially bright. They have no track record of especially good success.

What's happened in this country that's gone well over the last 50 years has mostly gone well in spite of the people running the country, not because of it. And so I don't think it's necessarily anti-elitist for groups of people to come up and say that the politicians and the journalists and the pundits are all a bunch of idiots because I think that's objectively a defensible position to take.

And I don't think that's anti-elitism. If you want to be an elitist, one of the things I think you have to be is an elite. It's like, you know, to be a diva, you're not actually just a woman who treats people badly, you're supposed to also be a woman who sings really, really well. And to be an elite, you have to be elite! You have to be good at something! And I look at Nancy Pelosi, or I look at, for that matter David Brooks, I think. what exactly are these people that good at, and I'm still waiting for an answer.
...says the guy doing a video in his rec room.

• "I think you make a good point," says Goldberg. Whereas "elite" is a meaningful term in plumbing, in politics "the word elite gets weird" -- because the political elite is really a "ruling class," or at least they are when they're Democrats, who are defending a "labor union-academic establishment and protecting their own interests to the detriment of society," in contrast to the altruistic oilmen behind George W. Bush.

• After a Perfessorial skein on his previous theme about how Politico is trying to work the "narrative" against the Tea Parties, Goldberg gently explains that Politico just likes to fuck shit up.

Corrected by Jonah Goldberg -- now that's a downfall! Fortunately for the Perfesser, the balance of the universe, and the ongoing cause of comedy, Goldberg immediately takes back the title of Clown Prince of Conservatism by offering as evidence of the Right's superior intellectual vibrancy the ongoing "healthy debate" between order and liberty as exemplified by... Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

Next time they should get Goldberg all hopped up on Pibb Xtra before they turn on the cameras. The same basic idea worked for Chris Farley!
JUST FOR FUN. A local correspondent (that means Texas, hoss!) has tipped me to an Austin rightblogger called Urban Grounds and his offering for the day:





This is, I believe, the Inigo Montoya Award Winner of the Decade.

UPDATE. "Honestly," the guy adds in comments, "do you actually believe I don’t know the definition of an antonym?" This reminds me of the TV version of Shogun, when they tried to give Richard Chamberlain a boy and he snarled, "Do you take me for a God-accursed sodomite?"

(Just to save us some time: No, guy, that doesn't mean I'm calling you gay.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SHORTER ENTIRE RIGHTWING: All these claims of threats against Democratic legislators, hah! These sissies just can't face up to the will of the people. Plus how do we know it isn't all a fraud? Why, in olden times OH SHIT ERIC CANTOR SAYS SOMEBODY SHOT AT HIS OFFICE DEMOCRATZ ARE OBVS KRAZY MURDERERS!

Bonus: Confederate Yankee, who explained the necessity of violence yesterday, is outraged by this alleged assault, and blames Rep. John Lewis.

This is why I tend to be phlegmatic about this kind of story -- not because they're necessarily untrue, but because by the time such reports get to us punters, there's nothing left but bloody shirts and instructions for waving them.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED... Tom "Not the Total Wingnut in the CA GOP Senate Race" Campbell says everyone knew he supported gay marriage before Maggie Gallagher of the He-Man Faggot Haters' Club produced a smear ad based on that fact. Gallagher says no, they didn't:
But before we launched that ad, we polled... Bottom line? Tom is wrong. Just 2 percent of his own voters know he favors gay marriage...

Bottom line: I think Tom Campbell is about to find out, as Dede Scozzafava did, that it is not a good idea to be for gay marriage if you are Republican.
Despite the superfluity of bottom lines, this is a great comparison, and a great idea in general: Alert voters up and down the state how much Republicans despise homosexuals, and seek thus to replicate the results of the Doug Hoffman-Dede Scozzafava-Bill Owens race -- in which conservatives triumphed by dooming the Republican candidate and electing the Democrat. If it worked that well in conservative upstate New York, imagine how it'll go over in California!

Please, Republicans, more Maggie Gallagher! We could use the laughs.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WHAT COMES AFTER DERANGEMENT? Conservative rage at the passage of the health care reform bill provides many opportunities for hilarity, and Sadly, No! and others have been slatherin' on the schadenfreude. But some of the featured performers in this circus are, I find, getting a little too weird for funsies.

Take Confederate Yankee, tightly-wrapped even under the best conditions, and today particularly deformed by anger.

First there is, as you might expect from someone whose cognomen proudly celebrates treason in defense of slavery, a badly-encrypted threat of violence:
Some are calling for the armed revolt against this encroaching tyranny. It was for this specific reason, after all, that our Founders made sure Americans would not be denied the use of arms.

Some misguided souls seem to already be responding to this affront to liberty with violence. I fail to find the usefulness or utility of such symbolic and largely impotent acts. This sort of petty vandalism is not what the Founders sought to protect.
Nay, not for such as the Founders the mere breaking of windows:
They sought to protect our right to replace—yes, overthow—would-be tyrants and rouges that history has taught us always eventually arrive to usurp power and run roughshod over the rights of the people.
Yes, a big-time rightblogger is calling for insurrection over National Romneycare. I'd mischievously suggest we call on his bigger-time buddies to denounce him, but that's a mug's game, and what would be the point?

His follow-up is just sad. A North Carolina report finds an employed-but-not-yet-insured fellow with diabetes, DeCarlo Flythe, who is happy about the bill, because he and his family will soon have access to medicine -- "we are going to go ahead and pay our co-pay and be alright." Check your own feelings on this: Happy for him? Maybe a little cynical about the plan being as much "like Christmas" as Flythe wishes to believe? Unless you are an untreated survivor of horrific child abuse, you probably didn't feel anything like what the Confederate expresses toward "un-men like DeCarlo Flythe and other dependent wards of the welfare state":
For dim souls like Flythe, Obamacare certainly seems to be an answer to their worries. In the short term, IRS agents will confiscate monies from those of us who pay taxes to pay for his inability to take care of his own family. Obamacare will pay for his diabetic medicines, and his eventual blindness. After all, with me and you picking up the tab, there is little incentive for Flythe to change his behavior to help regulate his diabetes.
This is the sort of Randroidal contempt for the less-fortunate you usually get from Megan McArdle, and though I am inclined to give the Confederate credit for sparing us McArdle's trademark self-pity, he loses it by advancing a non-fact -- "Obamacare promises a near stasis in medical care" -- as a reason for his concern. He's already made himself quite clear, and that feint suggests he doesn't even have the courage of his loathsome convictions.

Confederate Yankee may be sui generis, but polling suggests there are plenty more like him back home, and some of them may yet learn to read and write.

Monday, March 22, 2010

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. Yeah, I'm still doing these on Mondays, for the time being. Today's is about the Jesus angle on that health care bill passage anguish. Some Catholic groups had gotten involved with the struggle, which afforded ripe opportunities for hilarity, as well as a chance to introduce new readers to The Anchoress at her most stupidly vicious, laying down Catholic doctrine to actual churchmen and churchwomen from her little suburban fake-nun castle. Jesus, what an awful person she is.

Part of me wanted to get in on the nigger/faggot tea party thing, but first-hand reporting was sparse and I wasn't sure whom to believe, frankly. On the one hand, of course Democrats and their fans can get an easy lay-up by reporting they were slurred by neanderthals -- who besides the Ole Perfesser and likeminded doofuses would disbelieve them?

And they'd have cause to believe -- despite the Perfesser's carefulness to find the few black folk at these events and get pictures of them, anyone who's been to one of these shindigs knows the score. My own coverage of the early tea parties as well as their Version 2.0 showed me that the overseers of the tea parties want to make them as mainstream as they possibly can, and have cooled out the original hot rhetoric insofar as they have been able to. But, let's face it -- it's not a grassroots movement, it's a rightwing movement that wants to look grassroots, and such gatherings are bound to, of necessity, pull in some straight, white, and loose cannons of the slur-slinging variety.

So the words may have been said. The irony is, even if they were, I doubt they'd reflect much more that the deep-seated prejudices of some of the participants -- and if that were a crime, as Hamlet said, who should 'scape whipping? That's America, folks. The real question is, why and how did the equivalent of Orange County John Birch Society meetings from the 60s gone al fresco become such a big media deal?

UPDATE. Thomas asks in comments about my remark on "grassroots" in this context.

It's not that I think rightwingers less able to community-organize than liberals, but that I think most "populist" movements in our own era are mere inventions of seasoned political operatives and big moneymen. Like Ross Perot; some populist! (And let's not forget the periodic insistence that Obama, of all people, is a populist too.)

While I wouldn't write off the Tea Parties (and the closely-related anti-health-care rallies) as pure astroturf, they too have some fishy roots and receive a lot of unpaid advertising (you can't reasonably call it "coverage") from the rightbloggers. Their organizers get the crowds to show up, and famously to make their own signs, but not to draw up the agenda; when the big dogs staged those Tea Parties in New York last year, I doubt the congregation was polled to choose S.E. Cupp, Deroy Murdock, and several local Republican candidates for public office as speakers. Those picks were straight off the rightwing comintern go-to list.

Thus, they're stage-managed events, but with an open door policy. Shouters and spitters will turn up at such things and, like I said, it can't be much helped. But the belligerent response of the rightwing press to this revelation suggests stronger message discipline than most grassroots movements could manage: If it were a movement over which they really thought they had NO control, they'd just denounce the racist nuts and move on, rather than try to explain to us, first, that the incidents didn't happen, and second, that they are actually a healthful sign that racism is over.

Friday, March 19, 2010

GREENPOINT APARTMENT, ANYONE? My landlady claims to need help renting my 1BR up here in North Brooklyn. It's relatively cheap. Drop me a line if you're interested.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DEFINING GALT DOWN. Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser talks with an Atlas Society Randroid about Going Galt. It appears they've lowered the bar considerably since they were predicting masses of Bigbrains fucking off to the Gulch and taking Amerika down. Now Dr. Mrs. offers new and "different definitions of Going Galt." There's "the Randian definition... producers going on strike." But it can also mean businesses moving to different states to get tax breaks, and some kid moving her bank account to a credit union. It's E-Z and fun, kids!

The Atlas Guy claims that, just as in the 60s there was a "rising consciousness among blacks about civil rights," people are no longer thinking of themselves as liberals and conservatives, but as "producers and moochers." (Put me down with the moochers! I've been working like a son of a bitch, but I'm willing to learn.) Also, the Tea Party people use Ayn Rand slogans on their signs, which means the revolution against Obama's "socialism" is near.

I wish the PJTV thing more success than they, alas, have so far managed. Tea Parties would last about ten minutes if people got a load of what their Great Minds actually think.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FOLLOW-UP.

DA, DA, WE LAUGH! I finally saw one of those "Obamafeld" things the Ole Perfesser is pushing. At least the Obama/Seinfeld concept is a new one, and I thought it was promising. But they don't do anything with it except Be Wacky -- you know, a Pizza Nazi throws pizza at Ben Nelson, Joe Biden's a drunk, Scott Brown is dreamy, etc.

I don't think the makers have ever actually seen a Seinfeld episode. It has the same off-the-mark, trying-too-hard feel as their attempted viralizing of catchphrases like "stuck on stupid" and their attempts to convince the world that everyone's Goin' Galt. It's like they don't have an actual sense of humor, but were still determined to create some comedy because the Central Committee ordered it.

You know, I want to like these things. First of all, I prefer jokes that are funny to those that are not. Second, I get tired of having to haul out Evelyn Waugh, yet again, as an example of a Tory who had some artistic and humorous sensibilities. Any kind of person can hear the muses and everyone has a sense of humor.

I think it's because they're eager to play populist but have forgotten what people are actually like. They have a list of talking points -- People love humor! And irreverence! And pop culture! -- and make sure to check off all the boxes when they create some cultural ordnance. But it doesn't seem like they do much actually laughing, as opposed to heh-indeeding.

And they sure flip out when someone makes fun of them -- which is something else they bizarrely think will endear people to them.

This is probably not advice I'd be offering if I didn't think they were too deranged to take it, but if they just relaxed a little it would not only improve their efforts, but also their electoral prospects and maybe even their lives.

Monday, March 15, 2010

SHORTER ROSS DOUTHAT. Liberal Hollyweird, just like that hack Mark Twain, cannot comprehend the Shakespearean tragedy that is the Iraq War. Were I a playwright rather than a pundit, Bush would be Hamlet, and Claudius his father, Saddam Hussein.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the schoolbook mishegas in Texas (my new home!). Many of the brethren approve of the proposed changes, but some seem a little guilty about it -- they're happy to see von Hayek in there, but don't say much about the weird, specific deletions of Anne Hutchinson, Thomas Jefferson, Colin Powell, et alia -- tip-offs that the new program is not just about showing a little pride in capitalism ('scuse, "the free market" -- that's planned to be changed, too), but an attempt to make history lessons less inclusive rather than more.

And more Jesusy. "If God were good enough for our founders and Creator-language important enough to be in pivotal documents like the Declaration of Independence," thunders World Net Daily, "then why can't our kids be educated about that Creator from at least their original documents?" But the original documents may not be emphatic enough, so the author is working to give them some modern conservative context:
Maintaining a balanced curricula in our public schools is the reason my wife, Gena, and I joined the board of "The National Council of Bible Curriculum in Public Schools," whose state certified Bible course (elective) has been implemented in 532 public school districts (2,035 high schools) in 38 states.
He counsels readers to "consider petitioning your state's education board, school district and local school to adopt 'The National Council of Bible Curriculum in Public Schools' curriculum about the influence of the Bible in history, civilization, law, literature and the founding of America." Highly recommended: the module about how that turn-the-other-cheek stuff was just rhetoric.

Jeremy Binckes has a great backgrounder on the conservative curricula reviewers here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SERVICE ADVISORY. After a brief lull, you have reason to expect a great spike in production here at alicublog.

The spike will be because I'll soon be leaving the Village Voice. Amazingly, there is no related scandal or dispute; I'm only leaving the Voice because I'm leaving New York. I will be relocating to a small town in Texas to live with my girlfriend.

Yeah, I was surprised too. But beneath this gruff exterior, I am actually a terrible romantic, and once I decided I wanted to live with her, living without her was out of the question.

I felt that way for a long time about New York. This would be my cue to lament the decline of the place, as I have frequently done at the Voice blog, but I can't. God forbid I should become one of those sullen expatriates who tells everyone New York is over because he left.

No. New York remains the capital of everywhere. I went Friday evening to the Whitney to take in the Biennial, and even though most of the art was crap (though not Robert Williams, nor George Condo and Nina Berman and Stephanie Sinclair and Hanna Liden and a few others), it was still a good time, with the Black Monks of Mississippi singing in the basement and the sort of people who would find this sort of thing interesting swirling around me, and pizza at Totonno's afterward. You don't get this sort of thing where I'm going, or anywhere else.

More to the point, New York has been my home. It hasn't always been an easy place to live, but if I was ever bored it was my own fault. Here I've been chased by cops in the Tompkins Square riot, and heard Allen Ginsburg read poetry there some days after ("Look, I'm wearing a tie -- am I a yuppie?"); fretted with my Williamsburg neighbors as the ruins of the Twin Towers smoked on the horizon; walked over the Williamsburg Bridge during a blackout; spilled a giant thug's beer in a basement after-hours, apologetically bought him a new one, and been rewarded with fat lines of coke; read poetry at St. Mark's Church; played CBGB so many times I forgot it was a shrine; been advised by Jimmy Breslin on how to talk to cops, handed a flyer by Jean-Michel Basquiat, advised on my music career by Lieber and Stoller, given a tour of Terry Teachout's art collection, yelled at by Hilly Kristal and several members of the NYPD. And at the Voice I held a desk next to Tom Robbins. Everywhere I met remarkable people, because this is one of the places they like to be, and saw and did remarkable things, because here they happen all the time.

So, no. Not for me the route of that rootless anti-cosmopolitan Rod Dreher, telling people how mean the urban teens were to him before fucking off to Dallas. I was blessed to live here, and I'll always be grateful and proud. And if this poor woman ever figures out what a horrible mistake she's made, you may see me back in the Big Town, living under a bridge.

I've been to Texas a number of times but I barely know what I'm in for. I know it's pretty there, and they have some good people. And that it's the only place in the country that gives New York serious competition for the most self-regarding jurisdiction on earth (heard on the radio: "Thunderstorms and Tyler roses always make me think of you"), which I can appreciate. I expect I'll learn to two-step and handle a gun, and if I wear a hat I'll tip it to the ladies.

As for work, I'll be freelancing to start, so if you have any leads let me know. Also I expect to stop suffering and write that symphony, or something like that.

I thank the Voice for the platform and for more kindnesses than anyone has a right to expect, especially from journalists. (I expect to do some more work for them and I'll let you know when I do.)

Meanwhile, if you want me, you can find me here.
LA VIE BULLSHIT. Ann Althouse does one of those piquant posts (so clever, she is) where she affects to challenge Rush Limbaugh, who criticizes Nancy Pelosi for offering health care to artists and other parasites. It has nothing to do with anything (Pelosi is talking about employed people, not starry wannabees), but the boobs Althouse has cultivated for years react with the expected Ah hates me a art-faggitt! ("The only thing at which [art] succeeds is polishing the egos of the elite") responses.

My favorite among those:
I write, and I hope to be published and I hope to make decent money... but I'd love to do a thousand other creative things I'm not very good at, if I could afford to do them. The writer's life... an artists life... who wouldn't find long days of unfettered creativity delightful?
Oh, deary, you have no idea.

UPDATE. Further down it gets even better:
Even thick-skulled Hollywood types have been able to weasel in on the fun and turn it to their advantage. In order to be considered a person of brilliance and great compassion they simply suck up to some bullshit Lib cause. Nothing says "I'm a deep-thinking artiste" like getting the rubber stamp of approval from some shit-for-brains organization like Greenpeace or PETA. Blasting coke up your nose while smacking around strippers and driving 140 miles per hour is totally cool as long as you wear the right ribbon on your lapel.
Where does one get jobs like that? Oh right -- via the free market! I'm still unsure about Greenpeace's and PETA's roles in it, though; perhaps commenters can enlighten me. I could go for a gig like that, and I'm willing to wear ribbons.

UPDATE 2: Dan Riehl gets in on it: "We owe, not only our modern living standards, but our political freedom to capitalism... If the world were to run off to create mostly bad art, who is it that will be running the engine to subsidize it?" Yeah, you airy-fairies, some of us man up and blog, like Adam Smith intended. Hit my "Make a Donation" button and help keep capitalism alive!

This whole thing is giving me a retro thrill. I really thought even the denser types had stopped reacting to the Damned Artist of the Day as if he were their own no-good son who needs to cut out all the nonsense and go work at the plant like his daddy. Now the laughter is back, and every day is Footloose!

Friday, March 12, 2010

FUNDAMENTALLY UNSOUND. Some conservatives are enraged that that Politico did a story about evangelical disapproval of the Tea Parties -- mostly, though not exclusively, because the Party people don't engage social issues, which is an observable strategy of some TP organizers and seems calculated to broaden their appeal, like getting pictures of the dozens of black people who have attended the events.

As they're trying to bring new recruits into their anti-Obama juggernaut (they're always claiming that it's "non-partisan"), you wouldn't think the TP people would take so hard a story noticing one of their points of difference from traditional GOP feeder streams. If they just wanted another Moral Majority, they could always reanimate the old one, and maybe call it the Jesus Party and hand out loaves and fishes instead of teabags.

But the Ole Perfesser says Politico's Ben Smith "was used," and is part of the ominous "they" who are "afraid of this movement" and thus "trying to divide it." (Smith has gotten that kind of treatment from the other side as well, and I doubt he minds.) Gateway Pundit yells that Smith quoted an Obama supporter, but doesn't mention the quotes from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council et alia. Evidently the differentiation of their movement is something they prefer to keep quiet.

Robert Stacy McCain, in a refreshing approach, takes the story for granted and yells at Christians who are not sufficiently attuned to the "moral argument for economic freedom."

This is all familiar from other recent dustups between conservatives and the fundies, whose coalition isn't what it used to be. I understand the dilemma -- they still want those godly votes, but don't want to run any more Terry Schiavo operations lest they scare the ungodly. But good luck keeping other people from noticing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

THE QUINTESSENCE OF DREHERISM. Rod Dreher repeats a story about "How rock killed the Soviet Union." He applauds when "Vitya pulled the new Zeppelin LP out of what at the time was a mind-blowing sleeve and put it on, and 'Whole Lotta Love' rose up with a beckoning howl. Corks formed of cloying Soviet music flew out of our ears..."

Then Dreher does the old needle-scratch:
But any force that powerful must be just as capable of being used for evil as for good. I recall reading Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind"...
I'll spare you; he used to think Bloom was an old fuddy-duddy. (And he was, though his fans are much worse.) But:
Now, I see that I was wrong, but I don't say that in an ideological sense. It's not that I've turned on rock and roll -- most of my music collection is rock -- but that I see that Bloom was onto something, that rock is a far more ambiguous a phenomenon than I could possibly have grasped at 21. To the extent that rock music hastened the demise of the despicable Soviet regime, hooray. But the same energies called forth from the human spirit by rock music, and its descendants, have affected our own institutions, traditions and self-understanding.
This is sort of a classic Dreher argument. Rock is a powerful force -- like gelignite or opposable thumbs -- but it can be used for good or for ill. To determine which is which, see Rod Dreher's music collection.

The ass-shaking music Dreher likes is good. (Like Thriller. That's okay.) The "barbarism" of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex," on the other hand, is bad, as Dreher discovered in college after a Christian gave him a hard time about it: "He did make me reflect on how the lyrics of so many songs I dearly loved expressed sentiments I found at the time distasteful, and, as I matured, would come to find gross."

But what about "Whole Lotta Love," which blew the corks out of the Russians' ears? You gotta admit that's pretty raunchy. Maybe Dreher can work up a project at Templeton that will extract the song's tyranny-defying power while leaving out the sexually suggestive parts -- which would include the bass, drums, guitar, and vocals.

George Michael, by the way, appears to be very popular in the former Soviet Union.

It's a good thing that no one told Dreher when he was young that he looked ridiculous when he was dancing, or, when he was a child, that playing with a ball was infantile. Or maybe they did; maybe that explains him.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A RINGER. I'm pretty sure this item at Big Government by one "Mytheos Holt" is a parody that got past the irony-deficient staff there. Holt posits that "the current youth ethos embodied by internet subculture is fundamentally conservative in character, even if its denizens have not yet caught on to that fact," and believes this will become apparently as die Kinder start attacking liberals with.... parody websites and 4chan.
...even if you accept the framing of such sites as hotbeds of craziness and rabid disorder, there is a method to their madness. As for what that madness is, once you get past the persistent ironic glorifications of perversity and take a look at how the people who frequent these sites actually behave, and more importantly, who they target, it becomes abundantly clear that not only are the values of such sites fundamentally conservative, but that their communications strategies, even if toned down for a mainstream audience, are nothing less than the perfect weapons for disassembling the Obama Presidency...

While one can disapprove of the tactics used against these institutions/individuals (some of which make the much vilified “enhanced interrogation techniques” look positively benign by comparison), it is worth noting that ultimately, the power of internet goons lies in their ability to enforce social norms against the most flagrantly vile members of society through private sanction – something which conservatives from Russell Kirk and Irving Kristol to Tom Coburn and Dick Cheney have endorsed.
A blazing tell: He refers with approval to the fanciful South Park Conservative craze. From the comments, he seems to have put it over. Unmask, young Holt, and take credit! You needn't keep the game up merely to encourage them to embarrass themselves; nothing can stop them from keeping it up.

UPDATE. Commenters include people who've been following Holt's career awhile and will attest that he does indeed believe crap like this. Damn! I thought I'd found a great parodist, and ended up with merely another in an endless series of raving lunatics.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the struggle to identify the Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell with one ideological faction or another. This sort of thing reminds me of a graffiti thread from a library bathroom in my college days that began "Adam and Eve Were Black" and went back and forth on this theme until someone thundered in bold marker BIG SHIT WHAT COLOR THEY WERE.

Such disputes, alas, are not as easily resolved online. There Bedell is associated with the left for several reasons, including the natural cheerlessness of liberals, which apparently drives us to kill. The need to operate a keyboard isn't the barrier to entry we once thought it was.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

WHAT WE DO IS SECRET. Nick Gillespie on the libertarian content of punk rock in... San Francisco, taking off from a new book which "focuses on the Bay Area scene that ultimately gave rise to Green Day and other acts." A pretty damning indictment all around.
In the beginning, or near the beginning anyway, were groups such as the Dead Kennedys, whose scandalous name was of a piece with a wicked sense of humor that produced underground hits such as "California Uber Alles" (an attack on liberal Gov. Jerry Brown as a crypto-fascist who forced kids to "meditate in school") and "Holiday in Cambodia" (which taunted left-wing poverty tourists). "We weren't trying to tell people what to do," explains member East Bay Ray. "Our thing was to try to get people to think." (Sadly, this last directive seems to have escaped the defunct band's lead singer, Jello Biafra, whose recent interview in The Daily Beast is chock full of banal observations about politics and contemporary America.)
Jello changed, man. He's forgotten where he came from when he wrote songs like "Liberal Fascist Punks, Fuck Off."

(Here's an interesting article on Jerry Brown by Reason's Jesse Walker.)