Monday, December 06, 2010

MONEY FOR NOTHING. The big tax-cut giveaway Obama just announced -- assuming that it accurately portrays the deal with the GOP -- demonstrates one unremarked fact: Republicans don't give a shit about the deficit. No sane person thinks we can even begin to scale that back just with cuts. Yet they just agreed to abandon the easiest route to new revenue, plus Democratic "concessions" that close others.

I wonder who else has noticed.

UPDATE. Brilliant comments here, especially as regards the general U.S. strategy the deal suggests -- as Tiny Tyrant puts it, "a mad scramble for the loot before the whole thing implodes! From that point there will be suffering by all, just a little less for those with the loot."

Sunday, December 05, 2010

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about two Constitutional Amendments the rightbloggers are pushing. Last week Dana Loesch was loudly insisting that the libertarian and evangelical factions of conservatism had to keep together if the Republic were to be saved, but I notice that neither of the Amendments that conservatives consider important enough to discuss are about abortion. This would seem to indicate where the juice is in that coalition; they finally get pumped to change the Constitution, and it's all about state legislatures.

If, as is likely, the Amendments don't fly, interested parties will try something on a more grassroots level. The Roanoke, Virginia Tea Party:
This section deals with a variety of nullification bills that have sponsors. So our task on December 2 will be to see if we want to support any of these other nullification bill in lieu of the Freedom For Virginians Act (FFVA) which does not have a sponsor yet...

The FFVA, in part states:

As a Sovereign state, the Commonwealth of Virginia reserves the right to determine whether any law, regulation, executive order or Judicial Ruling goes beyond the powers vested to the Federal Government by Virginia and the several states that created the United States Constitution. Any laws, regulations, executive orders, Treaties or Judicial Rulings from the United States that the Commonwealth of Virginia deems not within said enumerated powers shall be considered moot and unenforceable within its borders.
The Tea People hasten to assure us that this does not mean secession, which I confess disappoints me.
I Love You Phillip Morris. Along with the pleasure of seeing Jim Carrey have sex with men, this is best seen as a big gay parody of Catch Me If You Can. The gag, at least initially, is that Carrey -- who has an authenticity fetish that manifests in compulsive fraud -- gives everyone what they want and expect, and they go for it, and for a while it's every bit as compelling as Spielberg's version while being totally, self-evidently bogus. The reduction of prison brutality to cheap yuks, and of Carrey's courtship of Ewan McGregor to something like Carry On Prison Queers, made me hope they'd go all the way with this subversive strategy into uncharted territory.

Alas, no: Big-movie sentimentality comes in hard. Once he's got a good, relatively straight gig and life with McGregor, Carrey gets offended by how "boring" his colleagues are (that one of them restates his joke as one about "a nigger and a jew" is the cheesy underliner that's meant to help us buy it) and goes balls-out with his shenanigans, leading to new incarceration. This gives him a new reason to want to get out -- love for his partner -- and for un-good measure the filmmakers give us an even cheesier underliner in a flashback involving Carrey's AIDS-afflicted ex-partner.

Then we get the strings and star-affliction and it all goes to shit. The final scam is supposed to be impressive, and gives Carrey some Oscar-worthy acting hacks. I feel sorry for the real person Carrey plays, Steven Russell (to whose fate we are alerted in supers), and it would be nice if this movie gave some attention to his sad case. But either the ending is a failure of nerve, or the movie should have been much, much sadder.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

THIS AIN'T ENGLAND. The conservative war on that bastard FDR proceeds apace. Some Heritage guys have pulled Churchill into it. Churchill disapproved of socialism, FDR was a socialist, therefore Churchill disapproved of FDR, despite appearances.
Churchill commends Roosevelt’s desire to improve the economic well-being for poorer Americans, but he critiques Roosevelt’s policies toward trade unionism and attacks on wealthy Americans as harmful to the free enterprise system. Drawing on Britain’s experience with trade unions, Churchill understood that unions can cripple an economy: “when one sees an attempt made within the space of a few months to lift American trade unionism by great heaves and bounds [to equal that of Great Britain],” one worries that result could be “a general crippling of that enterprise and flexibility upon which not only the wealth, but the happiness of modern communities depends.”
And this was borne out by the great U.S. General Strike of 1946. Next: Thomas Jefferson appears at a seance and denounces Social Security.

Friday, December 03, 2010

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM. Over at Reason they're talking about doing away with public roads. I'm not shitting you.

"There's certainly no reason that private firms couldn't run all the toll roads in the United States," says Professor Bruce Benson of Florida State. Back in colonial times we had lots of private roads, it seems, and if you're the sort of guy who wears a tricorner and yells about the death of liberty, here's a new opportunity to emulate the lifestyle of the Founders.

There are even today some private roads; their owners "can limit access to them if they want to… they can tell somebody to leave if they don't like them being there." (Comes the revolution, if you're thrown off an existing road because the owner doesn't like SUVs, longhairs, or whatever, you can go build your own. Freedom!) Whereas gummint roads are "for the most part free access roads. That means anyone with a car can get on them, or a truck. They don't have to pay the cost that they impose on other people or on the road itself."

Why have the American People tolerated this outrageous interstate highway system for so long? Because, the Professor suggests, they are unaware that they pay for this socialist scheme; the gummint has deceived them by funding such boondoggles indirectly through gasoline taxes, which citizens presumably only pay because they think it's going to something useful, and consider the highways a gift from God. But free-drivers are ever a problem, and thus the people abuse the roads by driving on them overmuch, leading to damage which we certainly can't expect the gummint to repair. That's the people's money.

I'd imagine that, just as New York subway ridership went up when the Metrocard let riders move more freely through the system for a fixed price, highway use would go down when every Tom, Dick, and Exxon owned his or her or its piece of the road. But the Professor is more optimistic. He believes "there won't be tolls everywhere" because when the new age comes there will be "groups and firms who want people to come to their location" and will thus build free roads. The example of such groups/firms he offers is the casino owners of Las Vegas, who may get together and build a superhighway so people can get to their gaming tables, the present gummint highways having crumbled or been destroyed in the Great Awakening. (Given that the owners would retain their right to refuse service, prospective drivers will probably have to undergo a credit check.)

The route would be an efficient, straight shot from Los Angeles, and not subject to the vagaries of politics, under which "very powerful Senators" currently make highways go through their dinky towns to grub votes. The new barons of transportation will not be thus tempted, because they won't need votes. FREEDOM!

I don't see how we can take the Tea Party seriously until they get behind this 100%.
A MIGHTY FORTRESS. At Big Journalism, Dana Loesch is mad at a Newsweek column (also referred to as "Media"):
“Most evangelical Christian conservatives I know would at least be uneasy about the prospect of the government leaving the poor to their own devices and having churches pick up the slack,” he says.

Wrong. Heinously, irresponsibly, embarrassingly wrong. This from Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. His sound bites are all about stoking libertarians to feel like disenfranchised underdogs with the goal of rousing them to lash out at the big bully Christian conservatives.
I'm not sure how that's supposed to work -- maybe she means the libertarians and glibertarians, who are warm to see Americans deprived of social services and have the upper hand in the Republican Party now, are supposed to be outraged that some followers of Jesus Christ -- maybe the weak sisters in the GOP evangelical bloc that came apart in the late 00s -- take the "least of my brethren" stuff seriously. If so, they don't know Christians like Dana Loesch knows them:
Lynn should perhaps study the faith before he attempts to try to emotionally blackmail the faithful. That’s precisely what should happen: churches should be doing more, people of faith should be doing more and want to do more because big government is an attempt to remove action from faith thus making the faith less viable. When taxes go up, tithing goes down. When the government assumes the role of the shepherd, the power of churches is diminished. It’s another way to attack religion and for the state to eradicate it from society.
Thus, the more people we can turn out into the street, the stronger the churches get, because the increasing masses of the poor, having no recourse, will be forced to turn to them for soup and a cot. Then we'll have a healthy society (which, despite Loesch's inapposite citation of the Declaration of Independence, sounds rather medieval.)

Perhaps sensing she has not made the sale, Loesch then yells for a while about how the "various groups comprising the tea party movement" better stick together or they'll never overcome "the left: the communists, the socialists, the say-their-anarchists-but-are-actually-socialists."

She needn't worry, nor does she seem to know how the game is played:

When out of power, you rouse the Christians with culture war controversies -- which seem to be making a comeback now. When in power, you talk about Jesus and hand out presents, as Bush did when he got into office, showing his appreciation for the evangelicals who supported him by ladling out cash in the form of "Faith-Based and Community Initiatives."

Loesch appears to believe that the Tea Party thing is all new, and those who once had their hands out are now pushing away. But the hands are always out, and the only ones who ever really get pushed are those with the least power.
THEATER NIGHT. Tim Miller has been at the performance-art game for decades, and was a player in the NEA funding wars of the 80s, which seem to be making a comeback these days. He tours a lot and has a new show, Lay of the Land, at P.S. 122, where I saw him Thursday night.

Though I thought I'd seen every crackpot thing in New York in the 80s (I recall with particular fondness one performance in some fetid basement where a guy smashed beer bottles against the wall and then demolished a cinder block with a sledgehammer), I'd never seen Miller work before. Lay of the Land was mostly story-telling about his challenged life as a gay man in unfriendly America, with some slides and props. His stories, from his childhood and adulthood, explained both the origins and the depths of his outrage, which has led him into political action as well as performances.

However, the impression he left me was not of outrage, but of disciplined passion. As with many other performance artists I've seen, evident expense of energy seems to be part of his act; he motormouthed, he gesticulated, he stalked the stage. But he wasn't sloppy and I never got the feeling that he was trying to alert us to his capacity to go suddenly to outrage or violence (the flashing of which trump card is not unknown among many kinds of performers). He has obviously worked to keep his body, breathing and enunciation in condition, and the whole thing was carefully modulated. What tension there was came from the stories.

The political attitude expressed by those stories would be familiar, perhaps overly so, to anyone who would go to such a performance; it was his metaphors, and the eloquent way he expressed them, that put it as far as it went above agitprop. At one point he described himself as an already-gay kid having a dinner-table argument with his father about going to a baseball game, and suddenly choking on a piece of chuck steak. This led quickly to both lascivious and existential references of "biting off more than I can chew," to his feeling of being choked as a homosexual in a country that wants him silent and invisible, and (when the father prepares to perform an emergency tracheotomy on him) to the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac, to Caravaggio images of which he used to masturbate. It's no shock Tony Kushner is a fan of Miller's. They both have that tendency to reach through the ridiculous to the sublime.

At one point Miller seemed ready (if the audience would support him) to burn a flag in protest. I was surprised. Then he said he couldn't do it, even if they wanted him to, because he still believed in the promise of America. I still entertain a sneaking suspicion that he isn't eager to bite off more than he can chew anymore -- NEA pays some of P.S. 122's bills. A more charitable explanation would be that Miller, who's talented enough to have done plenty of other things with his time, is not inclined toward the quick shock, but for the long haul, if it's more likely to lead to victory.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

LIF, LIBERY, AND THE PURSUIT OF BULSHIT. Now what can we do at The Corner to make politics out of a World Series bet? Oh Jesus:
Before the series began, [Arlen] Specter, confident in the bats of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, made a wager with [Nancy] Pelosi. And this afternoon he paid up, via an enormous Hershey’s chocolate cake emblazoned with an image of Independence Hall.

For Pelosi, it may be a bittersweet gift: a reminder of a baseball triumph . . . and of the libery-loving tea parties which led to her party’s shellacking.
Being the world-record holder in typos, I wouldn't normally twit Costa or anyone for misspelling, but it's a gloriously apposite detail in the midst of all that hooey.
A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. Ann Althouse equates liberalism with GWAR. Since the current Administration has been offering mostly Muzak, I see this as an advance, but only if GWAR serves as a gateway drug to the original Stooges. Liberals need more of a "Search and Destroy" ethos.

Professor Althouse, check out the Mentors. It's worse than you thought!

UPDATE. In comments, Professor Althouse engages! Always happy to see her here.
I'm equating and its visitors with liberalism. The GWAR video, which shows the graphic depiction of torturing and killing a woman, is presented by the website for its readers amusement. My point, which I make extremely concisely at the link, but will make verbosely here, is that liberals often put party politics ahead of feminist values, and when they do, I like to point it out. If the female victim were not Sarah Palin, the feminist issue would be obvious.
I have no idea what she means. Bloggingheads is liberal? (You could have fooled me.) The members of GWAR are liberals? (ADDED: Ahem. Thanks, jsacto!) The hordes of drunken fans are liberals? Maybe I should have gone to law school.

I wonder what the political demographics are for Lingerie Football.

UPDATE II. Wait, I get it -- Bloggingheads is Jewish! And you know how they vote.

I'm beginning to think this is all a plot to get people to watch videos on Bloggingheads. Well played, Professor!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

SERVICE ADVISORY. I played around with the template here this evening. Nothing fancy, just a different Blogger template into which I could easily add features I'm too stupid and lazy to jerry-rig with massive workarounds. I wanted to keep the old comments despite our regular problems with the system because they're so good, but it wasn't working.

I fear the old comments may be lost in the next edition. Can you live with that? A few years ago all old comments were expunged when my previous service shut down; I hated to lose those, too, but we are but a moment's sunlight fading in the grass and all that.

Don't worry, whatever I do alicublog will probably remain butt-ugly.
THIS IS YOUR FUTURE. The new Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, wants us to know that Wisconsin is now "open for business," and Remapping Debate wants us to know what he likely means by that, focusing on Walker's pledge to "require state agencies to review [business] permit applications within 60 days of receipt and approve or deny them within 180 days or else they will be presumed approved":
Wisconsin’s Commerce Department currently insures that businesses meet the regulatory standards the state sets before issuing them a permit to do business in the state. Walker would transfer the regulatory functions of the state Commerce Department to the relevant state agencies for the specific industry -- the norm, actually, before former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson incorporated many regulatory functions into the Commerce Department’s granting of permits.

But the Commerce Department wouldn’t be stepping out of the process. It would be changing hats. Walker would reconfigure the Department as an advocate for private industry in negotiating the regulatory demands of state agencies. Instead of the Commerce Department acting as a gatekeeper -- protecting the public interest in, say, workplace safety -- before issuing permits to do business, the new agency would advocate for the business, becoming, potentially, the adversary of state agencies seeking to insure compliance with government standards.
Remapping Debate also gives us a taste -- sometimes tinged with animal excrement -- of what this could mean for neighbors of the state's factory farms, which "account for only 2 percent of Wisconsin’s farms, but 50 percent of its output from animal-based agriculture," and one of which, per Midwest Environmental Advocates, is "the state’s fourth largest source of sewage, lagging only behind the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay."

Who knows, maybe the new state administration (Republicans now run both houses of the legislature) will wind up balancing community interests in a thoughtful manner. But with jobs everyone's #1 issue (Wisconsin unemployment is at 7.8 percent), large-business interests have a tremendous advantage over environmental interests, as citizens (as suggested by their votes) increasingly acknowledge. The Republicans react accordingly ("the House Appropriations Committee will be exercising its prerogative to withhold funding for prospective EPA regulations and de-fund through the rescissions process many of those already on the books").

The Atlantic has today a slideshow of the "30 Most Dynamic Cities in the World" as found by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. Only one U.S. city, Austin, is on the list; the winners are mostly in places like India and China -- which make things foreigners want to buy, and which also have less exacting standards than we do at present, to put it mildly, when it comes to balancing community needs against commercial growth. They are slowly moving in our direction, while we appear to be moving rapidly in theirs. Wisconsin is exporting less milk these days, but they and the rest of America seem to be importing ideas about growth from the developing world at a fast rate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THE OLD BAG OF TRICKS. The booboisie have caught up with that gay show at the National Portrait Gallery I mentioned yesterday.
Prepare For Massive Christian Riots In 3... 2... 1...(Update)

No, wait. Christian don't riot over this stuff, so it is okay to offend them...
Why riot, when you can call in the mullahs? John Boehner and Eric Cantor squawked, and the Gallery pulled the ant-covered Jesus, though the clown fucking a skeleton is apparently safe, at least until they need something to make a new stink over.

I keep hearing about what an innovation the Tea Party Republican Party is, but so far it looks like Jesse Helms all over again.
SHORTER ARMED LIBERAL: James Fallows claims that liberals who denounced civil rights offenses in the Bush era still denounce them in the Obama era. But that's not the point; the point is that Toby Keith song, "Beer for My Horses." I really like that song, especially the part about lynching, but liberals hate it. I rest my case!

Monday, November 29, 2010

TODAY IN THE ARTS. See what you're missing, not reading National Review's The Corner? There Kathryn J. Lopez sent me to CNSnews for
Smithsonian Christmas-Season Exhibit Features Ant-Covered Jesus, Naked Brothers Kissing, Genitalia, and Ellen DeGeneres Grabbing Her Breasts

WARNING: This story contains graphic photographs of items on display in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.
It is a thing of beauty. Reporter Penny Starr copiously details the outrages. Her descriptions are pretty good:
One of the paintings in the exhibit is “O’Hara Nude with Boots,” from 1954, by Larry Rivers. O’Hara was an American poet (1926-1966). The painting depicts O’Hara standing nude and the exhibit description says Rivers was O’Hara’s “sometime lover.”
But those she wisely excerpts from the catalogue are even better:
Broadly modeled on Goya’s dystopian Saturn Devouring His Children, Caja’s painting depicts his friend and muse Charles Sexton engaged in an act of self-cannibalism. Literally painted on Sexton’s ashes after his death from AIDS, Charles Devouring Himself, like Caja’s Bozo F---s Death, an image of a heavyset clown engaged in anal intercourse with a grinning skeleton, hit that sweet spot, so often historically associated with drag queens, between pathos and aggression.
I've got my trip all planned, but the idea is to get CNSnews' wingnut readers worked up about these homosexual doings put out where children can see them. In our Nation's Capital. At Christmas!

It isn't a Christmas show per se, though, it's a three-and-a-half-month show that just happens to run through Christmas. (It's also running through Hanukah, so Michael Savage can get in on this if he wants to.) But the vicissitudes of scheduling are no excuse. Picture it: The Petersons come from Oshkosh to D.C. for the holidays. They're tripping down the Mall, and suddenly spy the National Portrait Gallery. Portraits! If the kids didn't like going through metal detectors and standing in line for a glimpse of the Constitution, maybe they can be edified by majestic oils of Washington and Jefferson. They get in there and John Wayne Gacy is sodomizing a skeleton and that lady from TV is feeling herself up. Even a whole afternoon at the Air and Space Museum won't wash that out of their brainpans.

I applaud Starr for her honesty in pointing out that the exhibition is financed by sponsors rather than by taxpayers, but Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute finds a loophole:
"If the Smithsonian didn't have the taxpayer-funded building, they would have no space to present the exhibit, right? In my own view, if someone takes taxpayer money, then I think the taxpayers have every right to question the institutions where the money's going."

"Think about the Washington Post," he said. "They don't have to publish every op-ed that they get, right? They own the platform. In this case [the Smithsonian Institution], the taxpayers own the platform and so the taxpayers should decide what is presented on that platform."
In fact, what do we have statist curators for, anyway? Turn these apparatchiks out and let the people decide what goes and doesn't go at the National Portrait Gallery! Then we can have room after room of giant TVs playing Dancing with the Stars and Fox News, and if there must be sodomy, let it be as practiced on the adult cable channels and Cinemax.

It was getting a little slow on the culture war front; I'm glad to see they've still got it in them.
THE TERRORIST HAS WON. Of the many conservative commentators who think the new WikiLeaks dump is absolutely immoral and simultaneously proves we should change U.S. foreign policy to suit their prejudices, there may be no riper example than James Carifano at National Review:
The administration can, however, do two things to repair the damage wrought by WikiLeaks. First, it can embrace a foreign policy that our adversaries fear and our friends respect. Nobody gets more cooperation than a winner. For starters, the president should dump the New START treaty — its one-sidedness makes the U.S. look like a lousy negotiator in the eyes of the world… and a patsy in the eyes of the Russians. He should also reject out of hand calls to gut the defense budget and just flat out declare that America will stick it out in Iraq and Afghanistan until the job is done. And while he’s at it, he could stand up to China and stop extending the hand of friendship to regimes interested in a world without freedom or America.
I haven't read them all, but I don't see why the leaks demand the death of START -- because we called Putin Batman, maybe? Russia's international wheeling and dealing as revealed by WikiLeaks is neither a shock nor out of character. I'm guessing Carifano just considers the docs a good news hook to promote the planned Republican obstruction of the treaty in Congress.

As for the allegedly necessary result of leaving defense out of the budget cutting we heard so much about during the recent electoral campaign, there's the fig leaf for the small-gummint Tea Partiers to wear when they excuse the Pentagon from the bloodletting. Rand Paul, your come-to-Jesus moment has arrived!

"Stand up to China" is just an old-fashioned rightwing non-sequitur, as we are in it up to our eyeballs with that totalitarian regime on a bipartisan basis. Ask Rupert Murdoch.

Carifano also claims "the leaks could well get people killed" and wonders how Assange sleeps at night. That's gratitude for you! WikiLeaks is pure gold for these guys, since their customary free-associative style applies as well to its revelations as to anything else -- if Assange next leaks medical records from our various diplomatic outposts, I bet Carifano will find in them an indictment of government health care -- and gives their deranged conclusions added publicity to boot.

They should be sending Assange tokens of appreciation. He is, after all, providing them a crisis, and being good Alinskyites they aren't letting it go to waste.

UPDATE. Looks like they're softening toward Assange:
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, tells National Review Online that the WikiLeaks controversy shows how the White House is keeping Congress in the dark on foreign policy...

Although he agrees with calls for the [WikiLeaks] perpetrators’ prosecution, he’s not convinced that Rep. Pete King’s suggestion that the government label WikiLeaks a terrorist organization is feasible. “I wouldn’t get to the point of classifying WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization,” Hoekstra says. “I don’t think under our current framework you could do that. You may be able to get them under espionage, but it’s difficult.”
WikiLeaks' services to the nation are noted. In a few more weeks they'll put Assange up for the Medal of Honor.
To a guard, after tearing the heel off one of his shoes:
“I don’t want anybody else to stand in my shoes.”
— Richard Carpenter, convicted of murder, electric chair, Illinois.
Executed December 19, 1958
I've been on their Twitter feed awhile, but it only just occurred to me to add Last Words of the Executed to the blogroll.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the latest from WikiLeaks and the rightblogger response, which I suggest is more pleased than their patriotic complaints might suggest. Everyone seems to get something out of WikiLeaks; I'm beginning to wonder if the government hasn't set it up to distract us from our real problems.

Friday, November 26, 2010

HAPPY BLACK FRIDAYSGIVING. Sorry to have been so far off the grid, again, but this time I wasn't having a wire shot up my penis. I went to New Hampshire by bus -- not to evade our fascist TSA overlords, but because it was cheap -- and am on holiday with my good friends Martin & Zara. Yesterday we ate a giant turkey that came out of this:

The terror of conducting this potentially injurious procedure gave me a great appetite, and I ate enough for two men, which is too bad because I have only one digestive tract, which buckled under the strain. I hope to be back on solids soon.

This being Live Free or Die territory, I also went off to the range and shot off guns -- a 9 mil and a shotgun:

Suck on that, Washington establishment.

P.S. I know The West Wing was wish-fulfillment, but really, what kind of a Thanksgiving are you having when you feel compelled to post this:

"Read all eight of Reagan’s Thanksgiving proclamations here." Then, some football, three hours of Luftwaffe documentaries, and then to the writing desk to fire off some sharp correspondence regarding one's elected representatives.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SHIT FLOATS. The Washington Post has hired Commentary's Jennifer Rubin to fill its Ben Domenech Chair for Wingnut Blogging. I said in August that Rubin was "fast becoming the worst hack on the internet." I like to think this was what clinched it for Rubin.

The Rubin atrocity that prompted my comment was a doozy -- she claimed that the President of the United States' "sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens" (for Commentary writers, real patriots only allow Israel to come before the United States) -- but she has delivered many others:The secret to Rubin's success is that she just spins everything and anything so that it will sound heartening to her fellow conservatives. Back during the 2008 campaign, she was happy-clapping about "the difficultly many Democrats will have in moving on to support Barack Obama" (pushes in nose) and suggesting "McCain can capitalize on this by outreach to the aggrieved [Hillary] Clinton female voters (or by putting a woman on the ticket)." She started predicting Obamadamerrung -- "the Obama team is lawyering up, the Senate will be sued" -- in... January 2009. She just sputters hyperbolic insults -- for example, when Obama attempted to negotiate with Iran, she called him "a cold-hearted technocrat obsessed with engaging a loathsome regime."

So whenever things go wrong for the Democrats, she's vindicated, and whenever they go right... well, they never go right. Even when Obama sent more troops to Afghanistan, which you'd think would warm her black little heart, her response was, "Obama never did say 'victory,' and that is telling. It's not his thing."

In short, the woman's so full of shit I'm surprised she doesn't explode. Her fans across wingnuttia will enjoy reading her as they scream about how they can't trust the WaPo.
MO' MONEY, MO' PROBLEMS. Jim Geraghty sees the flaw in that poll showing most Americans un-outraged by the new TSA screenings: It includes people who don't fly at least once a year, presumably because they are obliged to drive, take Greyhound, or hitchhike on their rare travels.
Are we surprised that those who will rarely or never experience the pat-downs are less opposed to them? Like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, for these folks, a TSA agent reaching where he shouldn’t is an entirely theoretical manner.
The smug bastards! I bet they're throwing off the support for extending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, too. What do the rich think of those cuts, that's what we should be looking at.

Someone will soon invent a polling service that only questions top earners, and will become very rich.
TV PARTY. My sublet has a TV, which is a blessing and a curse. In my experience, when granted a monitor the TV abstainer will start on substance and eventually work his way down to crap. So it's been for me; I started on TCM but soon hit the harder stuff. Not Dancing With The Stars, yet, but I have seen some of that show with the two fat people. It's alright, but they have some serious catching up to do with Roseanne and Dan.

My current favorite form of crap is Two and a Half Men. I watch it in reruns and first-run whenever I can. It's taken Larry David's commandment for Seinfeld -- "No learning" -- from a sneaky sophisticate's joke on sitcoms to its logical conclusion: A smooth and popular comedy about pathetic dysfunction enabled by unearned privilege.

Horndog Charlie has a glorious life in Malibu bought with jingles, and has been putting up his absurdly maladroit brother and his horrible kid for eight years. If they all lived in a double-wide and scavenged deposit bottles, this might be a documentary. But money makes it funny: The characters' various ineptitudes cause comic embarrassments instead of life-threatening crises.

Everyone snipes at one another, and no one ever leaves, though in real life Alan would probably be rotating in and out of SROs and periodically pleading his brother for a sofa and a shower from a pay phone outside a shelter, and the kid (now pretty well grown, but still chubby and stupid) would be in protective custody. Alan's and Charlie's mother is a true gorgon, and most of the other women on the show are bunnies outsizedly lusted after by both. (Charlie has the means to both get and get rid of them, but when he's actually emotionally interested in one, he is incompetent to commit, while Alan simply winds up paying more alimony.)

Married… With Children had a similarly miserable outlook but was played broadly, overlit and theatrical, a live-action Punch and Judy show (I've always thought Peg and Al would make a great Mere and Pere Ubu); Two and a Half Men is played more coolly in a traditional sitcom format, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In other words these people, in TV terms, are supposed to be real. And despite all their advantages, they're deeply unhappy. Their greatest pleasure is to insult their alleged loved ones with zingers that convulse the laugh-track and leave themselves bitter and wounded. If I were tasked with creating a time capsule to explain our low age to our feral survivors, I would have to include a boxed set of Two and a Half Men.

Also saw the John Lennon American Masters show on PBS. I'm allergic to hagiography, and there's a strong vein of it in this bio; the drugged- and drunk-up parts of his life, for example, are treated somberly as darkly romantic effusions of his artistic personality, which I can certainly get with but which removes the comic pathos that might really humanize him. (They relate the famous LA tampon incident, for instance, but don't include the punch line: Lennon saying to a waitress, "Don't you know who I am?" and the waitress replying, "Yeah, you're some asshole with a Kotex on his head." Too deflating, I guess.)

Nonetheless it's good to hear so much about the guy at work -- much of it from musicians and other collaborators, and some from tape track run-off that hints at his methods ("It has to be a little laid back because he's watchin' the wheels, he's not drivin' the damn truck"). Especially for someone with so much else to occupy his thoughts, Lennon worked very hard and seriously on his music, and I'm grateful for any glimpses I can get of how he did it.

And though I'm sure Yoko Ono, keeper of the flame, held a heavy club over this production, I'm glad this bio helps cement the acceptance of her stuff from the Lennon years as something more than a sideshow. When I was a teenager walking to downtown Bridgeport to buy any John Lennon single that came out, I'd play the Yoko b-sides almost as much as the Lennon songs. They sounded super groovy coming out of the tiny, maxed-out speaker of my picnic player. (Of course I was also a big fan of "They're Coming to Take Me Away Ha-Haaa!" and its backward b/w. In fact I still am.) Whatever else she was and is, Ono had the balls to assert her bizarre idea of rock and, as Lennon astutely observed when he first heard the B-52s, the world caught up with her. Fuck Albert Goldman.

UPDATE. Some fine TV partying in comments; Kia does close analysis on Hoarders ("...gradually you begin to realize that the piles of crap are actually keeping the husband out of the house by the grace of a wise and powerful subconscious intuition... Do I have a life? Well, not much of a life. Why do you ask?" I hear ya, sis).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Today on Uncommon Knowledge, Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein answers the charge that, if he were an American, he would be a member of the Tea Party movement. "Well, yeah I have to accept that."
Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein! (In the tape, by the way, interviewer Peter Robinson refers to him as "Your Highness" rather than as "Citizen" or "Ruling Class Scum.") They aren't making grassroots like they used to.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the TSA tsimmis. As I mentioned before, while I'm pleased that conservatives are standing up for their civil rights, they seem far less interested in those of people who do not resemble them. How far we've come, though, from the time when Peggy Noonan complained about airport security in 2008 and Scott Johnson of Power Line sighed, "Better to bash Bush from the perspective Noonan imputes to the weary travelers at Gate 14 than to help readers understand Bush's predicament as a politician constrained by the consent of the governed... . Included in the actions that Bush has taken to prevent a terrorist attack on the United States since 9/11 are those Noonan mocks in the column." Johnson is now much less inclined to defend the President of the United States on airport security grounds. Something has changed -- must be a new respect for civil rights!

UPDATE. For some reason I'm reminded of this.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PRE-EMPTIVE STROKE. At Reason, Brian Doherty is telling his fellow libertarians to give new Senator Rand Paul a break. He's only one man:
In terms of passing laws or shifting the Senate in his direction, Paul is not going to get much done by trying to operate as a one-man Tea Party in a minority party. Though he may become a filibuster machine, which given his outlier status means the Senate will have lots of cloture votes to shut him up...

As a legislator, it would be silly to expect much out of Rand Paul, either as a minority party freshman or even as the majority party freshman he may well become in 2012.
This Doherty attributes to the nature of the Senate, where even an illuminated hero like Paul cannot stampede his colleagues to reason with a "Cross of No Gold" speech, but must grub for votes. And when he inevitably fails to shake the walls of Congress with the libertarian thunder of his genius, guess who will then be to blame:
Paul is a Republican who thinks of himself as a Tea Party man. But whether we like it or not, or certainly whether he likes it or not, he is linked in the public mind with libertarianism. While significant differences in style and emphasis exist between him and other libertarians, his general political vision is as radically libertarian as anything the modern Senate has seen.

Thus, any dumb thing Paul says or does, any deviation from small-government principle, will become a public brick against libertarianism. And in an MSNBC world, sticking to his principles will be a weapon used against libertarianism as well...

...When the nation as a whole is paying attention to a libertarian as hardcore as Rand Paul (and he's not even that extreme—he told ABC’s The Week that he’s OK with a $2.4 trillion dollar government as long as it doesn’t spend beyond its means trying to be a $4 trillion government), I fear that most Americans will find they do not like what they see. An inefficacious senator risks becoming an extremist laughingstock.
He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, trapped in a world he never made, etc. So don't expect too much from him. (If only Obama could get that sort of pass from leftists!)

But there is hope:
So if Rand Paul ends up getting nothing done and failing to win mainstream respect for the ideas he stands for, what good is he?

If he can use cable news and the Internet, and skillfully exploit the predictable crisis on the horizons arising from the out of control spendng, inflation, and debt he decries, Paul can become the Tea Party leader he wants to be. Thus he might influence and inspire future politicians who will seek, and perhaps win, congressional primaries, whether or not the powers that be in the media or the party hierarchy like it.
The choice is clear: Paul should quit halfway through his term, take a job on Fox News, and star in his own reality show.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

JUNK SCIENCE. Back in my increasingly distant youth, I often heard it said that the domestic interventionist policies of Theodore Roosevelt (now widely denounced as a socialist) only really caught fire with the American public when Upton Sinclair's The Jungle nauseated them sufficiently with its descriptions of unhygienic food handling that they were willing to accept the statist Pure Food and Drug Act.

Sinclair's novel also revealed savage inequities in the treatment of working people, and the author hoped this would touch readers' consciences; but the travails of a bunch of sweaty and possibly communist immigrants did not interest Americans of the middle class nearly as much as the possibilty that they might find shit in their vittles.

Now there is a great tsimmis over new and more invasive airport security measures. Dave Weigel says that Republicans, who were in power during the creation of the TSA, have always been kinda sorta against the agency -- or at least "a rump of congressional Republicans" were, presumably not including those whose districts profited from the newly beefed-up airport security industry. And Lord knows there were always plenty of prominent conservatives demanding to know why real Americans had to take off their shoes when all the Gummint had to do was start profiling Arabs.

But now the spectacle of little girls being patted down by screeners has freshly inflamed America's outrage, and citizens worried about having their junk touched are newly energized in opposition to this intrusive behavior.

Good for them. It's always nice to see people recognize that they have civil liberties, however late in life it happens. It's just too bad that drug war casualties, indefinite detainees, victims of criminally overzealous prosecutors, and other unfortunates whose rights are routinely trampled will never find themselves anywhere near the front of the complaint line now headed by middle-aged outrageaholics who suspect TSA employees are leering at them.

Americans usually can't be bothered about violations of civil liberties because they think they only happen to other people. The only way to convince them otherwise, it seems, is to hit them in or around the gut. What they lack in empathy they make up for in queasiness. The problem with using the ick factor as a spur to heightened consciousness, though, is that it doesn't get us high enough.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SERVICE ADVISORY. Apologies for the light posting. I'm down to D.C. for the annual medical Disneyland tour. My time has been eaten by a battery of tests and doctor visits, some tourism and socializing, and bouts of insomnia, mortality contemplation, and vacant staring at cable television. The highlight so far: today's cystoscopy, which went something like this:

I kid. The facility and care are everything one can expect from the National Institutes, and I do not seem to have any stones. But the procedure was performed with only local anesthetic (administered with what seemed to be a glue gun); this made insertion less traumatic than I expected (it was sort of like peeing in reverse), but did not alleviate the highly unpleasant sensation of wires being pushed up into my bladder, much less the somewhat worse sensation of a noble though doomed attempt to penetrate my ureters. Well, you hang around NIH long enough, sooner or later they let you on all the big-kid rides. Now if I could just stop pissing blood.

Tell you more later. Time to do some drinking.

UPDATE. Thanks, all, for the good wishes. The red tide has receded.

UPDATE 2. You're all so good to me, sob. Someone suggested pain medication. They did give me an anti-spasmodic, but shortly after taking the first dose I got a terrible abdominal cramp that sent me running back to the doctor, who assured me that this, too, would pass, and it did. Sometimes the only way to learn the side effects of a procedure is to experience them. (I'm still not sure whether my racing pulse and sleepless night were caused by my F-DOPA injections, and neither was my endocrinologist.) Consider it part of my contribution to medical science.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, following the development of the Arrogant Obama theme in rightwing discourse. Though there are laughs along the way, there really isn't much variation -- mainly it's like the sputtering of an old engine that refuses to totally give up, or fluctuations in the vocal strength of The Angriest Dog in the World. Whether it shows mania or admirable stick-to-itiveness on their part (or mine, for that matter) is a matter of perspective.

I did miss a few late entries, like one from the Sipsey Street Irregulars, one of whom approves the ridiculous Jonathan V. Last article about Obama's alleged narcissism, observing that "Narcissistic Personality Disorder is insufficient grounds for claiming a "diminished capacity" (insanity) defense" and rejoicing because "that means he can still be hung after the war crimes trial subsequent to the civil war he starts." Another of the Irregulars, you may remember, once called for true sons of liberty to break the windows of Democrats. One of the problems of pop psychology is that you don't always know the credentials of the practitioners.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGIST, HEAL THYSELF. As we have seen, a rightwing cottage industry has emerged in damning psychological profiles of Barack Obama. Many of its analysts are or claim to be psych professional, but at this level qualifications are not a requirement. Now Jonathan V. Last is here to tell us the President, unlike Presidents before him, is a narcissist.
It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.
Despite Last's helpful italics and characterizations, these incidents make neither a definitive case nor a feature-length article, so Last piles on more. As an author Obama once changed the direction of a book he was writing, and thus Simon and Schuster "got burned for a few thousand bucks." When his fame rose he changed his agent, much like that other monster of ambition, Bruce Springsteen. Also he left his job at the University of Chicago sooner than they would have liked.

Worst of all, Last tells us at length, he was deluded enough to think he could be elected President of the United States.

"Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency," says Last, before further wearying the cushions of his own psychology armchair. Obama has bragged on his abilities and used his reputation to political advantage. He used Lincoln's bible at his Inauguration and Lincoln's china at the luncheon. His palaver about the end of the Cold War does not match that of Jonathan V. Last. He doesn't delegate much.

Were Obama a captain of industry rather than a Democratic President, I suspect this would all be presented as evidence of his Randian dynamism, and the article would be a cover feature for Forbes rather than another chunk of boob-bait in the Weekly Standard. But, to indulge in a little armchair psychology of my own, we've reached a stage in the group psychology of the Right where even accepting the Nobel Prize (with becoming modesty, though excerpted here to give a contrary impression) is offered as proof of Obama's unfitness. They have some nerve calling anyone else nuts.

Friday, November 12, 2010

ALTHOUSE ATTACKS! Ann Althouse didn't like what I said about appreciating the privileges into which one is born:
He's reacting to a program that in which government officials are prodding adult citizens to think about how privileged they are. The analogy to a parent-child relationship comes so easily to the left-wing mind.

And what kind of families — back in the olden days — encouraged their kids to think about how lucky they were to be white? Only racist parents would have said anything like that.
Close reading is not one of her strengths. My mother told me to be grateful for my advantages. Recognition that white people have it easier, on average, than black people in this country did not require parental instruction, but could be deduced by observation.

I will answer some of her commenters' questions addressed to me, not in her combox but here, as you are much more likely to actually listen:
How would you like to be black, and growing up in Africa, Edroso?
Compared to what? Assuming that it's better to have been born than not born, which may not be a fair assumption, that condition would beat non-existence and I would make do. But in gaining the material benefits that make life easier, being born white in America is, by any reasonable measure, a huge leg up.
So is having a Protestant work ethic a "privilege"?
Well, it's not like there aren't drawbacks to whiteness. For example, it can seduce some people into believing they are responsible for cultural traditions they did not themselves invent.
Can you imagine cracker ass Edroso getting drafted? You think he's a sissy crybaby now? Can you imagine the coniption fit he'd have? He'd be pulling his white privileges out of every orific of his body.
My reaction would mainly be astonishment, as I am deep into middle age. But if in a few years things get so desperate that they're drafting oldsters, I'll probably be grateful for the three hots and a cot.
Of course, I never got any of that white privilege, not being white, but for some reason I was still expected to score 400 points higher on the SAT than people of other ethnicities to get the same result. Should I have been contemplating that as well, Roy?
All contemplation can be rewarding, though as this complaint supports rather than contradicts my point, I think the challenger might better spend his time reading.
THE MAGIC OF THE MOVIES. "America has had a big change! We've had a big election -- how will it effect Hollywood? Will there be a big change?" You people owe me big time for actually watching Roger L. Simon and Lionel Chetwynd discussing this in a PJTV video so I could transmit their message in a less unpleasant format.

Simon suggests that, in the wake of the election, conservative screenwriter Chetwynd should now be running a movie studio. This appears to be a joke, but Chetwynd responds, "Though there's a logic. In a logical world -- one would think that, you know, they famously once said that even the Supreme Court reads the polls, that the people in Hollywood who do control Hollywood and control half of our destinies and the films we see would look at what's going on in this country and would say, you know what, maybe it's time to perhaps spread our net towards the right of center and those people…"

…instead of producing Communist propaganda like Faster, Saw 3-D, and Megamind.

Chetwynd then attacks Danny Boyle, who made a quick crack at an opening about the Tea Party, as "an Irishman" who only knows "four blocks of Manhattan and a couple restaurants in West L.A., making statements about America, completely secure that the audience would embrace him, and in fact Variety reported it approvingly as far as I can tell. They don't change!" Expect Boyle's treatment of his own comment to be produced by a consortium of Hollyweird types and rejected by the American people.

Then there's a a loving remembrance of Sam Goldwyn and those guys, who are compared favorably by Chetwynd to traitors like Steven Spielberg, who "belong to the great artistique community in the clouds," which is why nobody goes to Spielberg movies. But Simon reasons that even the Spielbergs will be affected by what he considers the "potentially revolutionary election for the entertainment industry," which will motivate filmmakers to finally get The Joe McCarthy Nobody Knew on the Silver Screen.

Chetwynd is willing to be somewhat optimistic, only because he sees a lot of "hedge fund money" (apparently a new development) coming in from "politically committed" backers for alternative entertainments, and these worthies will steal the lunch of modern moguls who "disdain what the American electorate has done" and are as bad as the pictures of Janeane Garofalo, Keith Olbermann, and Bill Maher they then show to reignite viewers' righteous indignation.

Simon wants us to know that cultural revolutions take time, but he and Chetwynd assure us they'll be keeping track. Subscription button at right!

If you haven't had enough of this sort of thing, their colleague Bill Whittle is still offering Declaration Entertainment, where the scripts are developed by You, the Citizen Producer! So far they've given us only videos performed by Whittle himself, like What We Believe, Part 5: Gun Rights ("The philosophical substrata for gun ownership is something most gun owners understand in their bones," he says, "they don't need to be told anything I'm about to tell you," which you have to admit is a hell of a come-on), but like the guys said, these things take time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Motifs of the American flag have become a regular addition to Google's artistic repertoire celebrating patriotic holidays but today's Veterans Day doodle has sparked a measure of controversy.

In the past Google personified its doodle with red, white and blue letters but the addition of an Islamic crescent moon-looking "e" has all the Internet abuzz.
Actually it's the tail of the "e" at the end of the logo:

I suppose I should be grateful that even some commenters at Free Republic and Godlike Productions are giving this the raspberry, but wait till Jim Hoft sees it. (h/t P.A. Godat.)

At least we can count on the mainstream press to... oh hello, Charles Hurt of the New York Post:
With his feeble flame of "hope" thoroughly doused here in the United States by last week's elections, President Obama has set out around the globe in search of throngs still enthralled by his flowery rhetoric...

So that is why your president is halfway around the world instead of being here in the United States to celebrate the sacrifices American soldiers, sailors and airmen have made around the world to keep the real, still-burning flame of freedom alive.
The President is on a government mission to Indonesia, when he should be home saluting veterans. "And the White House wonders why so many people think there is something foreign about this guy," says Hurt.

This is actually crazier than the Google thing, but it's the everyday kind of crazy rather than special-occasion crazy, so people are less likely to notice.
THE WRONG MAN. One of the advantages of this sublet is that it comes with cable, and gives me the opportunity to catch up on some old movies. The Wrong Man was on TCM last weekend.

I love it, but this is probably the least enjoyable of Hitchcock's films. The photography and editing rhythm have a kitchen-sink dullness that seems influenced by television. (Hitchcock did not disdain trends -- he even made a 3-D movie -- and may have felt, in the wake of the success of Marty, that it would be okay to go more naturalistic than usual.) Though the tightening of the screws on the hero, a musician wrongly arrested and nearly convicted of robbery ("Oh, this looks bad for you, Manny"), quickens the pulse, it's a less exhilarating than depressing experience. We're even denied the pleasure of watching for Hitchcock's traditional cameo, as he appears in a sententious prologue to tell us that the story is real.

Hitchcock seriously restrained himself with this one. Usually there's something like fun going on in his movies -- sweeping camera movements, incongruous humor, an unexpected change in rhythm or point of view. In The Wrong Man, there is that amazing moment when Manny is put in a cell and the camera swims, and the quiet hysteria of the group of women when he's "identified," but other than that, there are none of Hitchcock's trademark bravura touches -- it's all small things that show how screwed Manny is, like his apparently uninterested attorney (great performance by Anthony Quayle) doodling at the defense table, and especially the way people look at and talk to Manny. Henry Fonda collaborates in this -- quiet, earnest, remarkably well-behaved. Even when his wife goes mad, she's quiet.

It isn't a question of the material or the setting -- even the physically-restricted Lifeboat has scenes, like Gus' amputation, that are practically operatic in their handling. The effect of Hitchcock's restraint is to shift the focus from the strangeness of the usual paranoid scenario and onto its believability. Now the caprice of fate is not a magical intrusion on reality, but reality itself: bleak, unrelenting, and pitilessly unjust. Suddenly the little English boy who was famously influenced by a few minutes in jail is giving us the grown-up version of his nightmare.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ALL THE BREAKS. Amy Alkon is upset that a program in a Canadian city is asking honkey citizens to "acknowledge your white privilege" as a consciousness-raising exercise. Alkon calls this a "Vile Racist Campaign Against Racism," and seems to believe it's going to have "children grow up thinking they're bad people by virtue of their skin color."

Actually, I find it useful to contemplate my white privileges, and any other privileges into which I was born, like being a citizen of the richest country on earth, and did not obtain for myself. In fact, when I was growing up, it was customary for adults to remind children of such luck as they had inherited, like the food we had and "people starving in other countries" didn't. This was meant as a spur to gratitude and humility, and to not being such a whining little shit. I guess things have changed. Everyone's a victim now, even (perhaps especially) the most privileged among us.

Alkon is also mad about this:
I'm also opposed to sexism in offering opportunities -- like this recent example by Maria Shriver: event in Long Beach sponsored by first lady Maria Shriver to provide free medical, financial and educational services to low-income women.
So, if you're a low-income man, screw you, go eat out of Dumpster? Nice! Sorry, but isn't feminism supposed to be about equal treatment for all, not special treatment for people with vaginas?
Of course, there are plenty of gender-blind programs, such "Socialist Security," but Alkon is opposed to those, too. Considering her keen nose for injustice, I assume she finds such programs unfair to the Randian supermen who can take care of themselves -- The System unfairly taxes them and, adding insult to injury, gives the proceeds to paupers!

If this lottery ticket in my pocket comes through for me, I certainly hope I won't spend that much time complaining.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

THE PLAYING FIELDS OF EAT ME. Linked by Ole Perfesser Instapundit and The Volokh Conspiracy, Barry Rubin of Pajamas Media, on how they tried to make a pussy out of his boy.
It‘s something of a stretch to compare a soccer game among eleven-year-old boys with the fate of the democratic world, but I’ve always managed to see big issues in small things.
No doubt! Rubin's kid plays on a soccer team, but the coach won't let him win:
The coach is a nice guy, but seems an archetype of contemporary thinking: he tells the kids not to care about whether they win, puts players at any positions they want, and doesn’t listen to their suggestions.
This contradicts everything normal people know about American sports teams at any level, but I completely believe Rubin fils told him all that, though it would be much more believable in reverse order: He doesn't listen to us, and, and, he didn't put me in the right position, and, and, he disagrees with you politically, Dad!
And of course, the league gives trophies to everyone, whether their team finishes in first or last place.
Don't worry, this loathsome, un-American result will change mid-season, thanks to the Invisible Hand -- of Barry Rubin, kick-ass substitute coach!
When the opportunity came to step in as coach for one game, I jumped at the chance to try an experiment. I’ve never coached a sport before, and am certainly no expert at soccer despite my son’s efforts. Still, I thought the next game could be won by simply placing players in the positions they merited, and motivating them to triumph.
And how! Rubin moved the kids around as the Invisible Hand dictated -- "You don’t need Ayn Rand to tell you which way the wind blows" -- and gave them this pep talk:
Every week you’ve been told that the important thing is just to have a good time. Well, this week it’s going to be different. The number one goal is to win; the number two goal is to have a good time. But I assure you: if you win, you will have a much better time!
Suddenly these soccer kids, previously forced by Big Gummint to lose, were given permission to win! Imagine the result! No, you don't have to: Rubin tells us these Bad News Bears kicked ass! Not only that, they learned libertarian propaganda cheers:
One shouted from the sidelines something I thought showed real character: “Don’t let the good players do all the work!” Instinctively, he recognized that some players are better, but he wanted to bring everyone’s level up rather than down. I’m tempted to say he was going against what he was being taught in school.
And this anti-winning education Rubin perceived was traced to some of the parents:
Suddenly, I noticed that one boy’s mother was really angry at him, claiming he hadn’t showed good sportsmanship because he was too happy over the victory. Not seeing anything that might have provoked her outrage, I wondered whether this was a suggestion that one should apologize for winning. Still, the bawling out didn’t put a damper on his big smile.
Fuck you, Mom! I'll rub my crotch in the face of any stupid loser bitch I want!
Next week, of course, they will be back to losing.
Because the Invisible Hand requires Randian Supermen like Barry Rubin, "director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal," to lead them to victory. Did you get the name? BARRY RUBIN!
As I said at the start, perhaps not too much should be read into this little parable. Yet the broader question may be the most significant issue of our time: why should Western democratic societies abandon the techniques and thinking that have led to such great success, in order to embrace failure as glorious or victory as shameful
Why indeed! Failures going back to Vietnam can be blamed on statist pro-losing coaches like General Westmoreland, but with the advent of Barry Rubin, America can defeat anyone: Iran, Russia, whoever! Just try him!

Those of you who have actual children have nothing to fear, unless some political nutcake offers to take over your kids' sports teams. Then, woe unto you, because most police departments have yet to be informed that there are predators out there with something other than a sexual agenda.
11/9 WAS AN INSIDE JOB! Remember those old chemtrails conspiracy theories? The dadgum Gummint wants you to believe the vapor off Cali is nothin' to worry about. So does the gol-durned IEEE, a buncha liberal "engineers." But Chemtrails911 knows it hain't so! And so does Michelle Malkin:
“The operative word is ‘unexplainable,’” a Pentagon spokesman said.

I guess they’ll tell us the “system is working.”

Perhaps the most interesting theory: Obama was showing off to Asia while on his jaunt.

So why not just be upfront with the American people and say so?
Why won't the Gummint also explain these secret messages I been getting through the fillings in my teefs? (Malkin's "related stories" on this one are about 9/11 and Fort Hood.)

SKREEEE Patterico:
What I found interesting, though, was that if you traced it back away from the sea towards land, it became a sort of ghostly translucent dark blue color. I had never seen a color like that before on a contrail and it got my attention...
SKREEEE Gateway Pundit:
You didn’t see much of this during the Bush years…
SKREEEEEE Right Pundits:
Possibility Number Three would be a terrorist group. This would appear to be unlikely, given that our Navy ‘claims’ that there were no vessels in the supposed launch area. Any sort of decent cargo ship could be rigged for such a launch. Why would they do it? For causing terror!
SKREEE and SKREEE again! In their beginning is their end: Chasing their demons through clouds of smoke.

UPDATE. Sometimes people ask me: What's the audible model for SKREEE? It's the harpies from Jason and the Argonauts:

If nothing else you get ten minutes of that finest of Harryhausen films, and one of my favorite Hermann scores.

Monday, November 08, 2010

INDIA DINKS. I hate to bore you good people with repetition, but the Obama India trip has drawn more interesting commentary. The excursion seems, by the usual measures, to have gone well, what with the crowd-pleasing offer of a permanent UN Security Council seat, the juicy trade deals and all. It has even been praised by a writer at the American Enterprise Institute blog ("eased export restrictions on several Indian companies, and facilitated closer talks between private-sector leaders in both countries... There’s much more work to be done, but this was a good all-around effort. GRADE: A-"). If this, along with the major arms deal Obama pumped on the trip, seems ominous to regular readers, I would remind them that the President is a traditional Democrat, alas, rather than a socialist wrecker as advertised daily in rightwing blogs.

Speaking of rightbloggers, they continue to see the thing through their own special prism. Fausta's Blog sees Obama's call for Indians to "get involved in public service" as a call for "more bureaucrats," and denounces Obama's "distaste for private enterprise," which might surprise the business leaders he took with him on the trip.

Actually those leaders are part of the problem, says Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, as their presence suggests that Obama's approach is to "bestow favors and privileges on politically connected firms." This seems a good point about partisan oligarchy, until Boudreaux explains that "these favors and privileges, such as tariffs and export subsidies, invariably oblige consumers to pay more – either directly in the form of higher prices, or indirectly in the form of higher taxes – for goods and services." The elimination of tariffs from American international trade policy would be interesting, as we haven't had such a policy since the founding of the Republic, due to the statism of the Founders. India might like it, though, since they haven't eaten enough American jobs. While we're at it we might as well stop making them irradiate their mangoes; bugs should be as free from government regulation as capital.

Next on the list of outrages is Obama's visit to the Gandhi Museum. It was hypocritical, for one thing, says theblogprof: "Was Ghandi pro-infanticide like Obama is?" he roars. (I'd be very interested to know what other Gandhi prescriptions theblogprof endorses -- it's a cinch he wouldn't approve the Mahatma's physical culture regimen.) "I knew there was something I never liked about that Gandhi guy," snarls Angry White Dude. neo-neocon agrees, though in daintier language: "History is history, and Gandhi’s is hardly all sweetness and light." She quotes: "All sense of proportion had vanished when [Gandhi] advocated non-violence not as a technique of moral pressure by a weaker on a stronger party, but as a form of masochistic surrender…" Clearly by his endorsement Obama wishes the same for all of us, and the arms sale he also endorsed was some kind of Alinskyite diversion tactic.

Obama also gave the Gandhi memorial "a piece of white stone from [Martin Luther] King Jr's memorial at Washington DC. It was set on a small black base that had the presidential seal and Obama's signature embossed on it," which Weasel Zippers reports as "Obama Gifts Gandhi Museum With Pet Rock From MLK Museum."

And of course there's the tried and true OBAMA BOWS! "Skreee," says Freedom Eden. "Skreeeeeeeee."

And so to Indonesia, about which visit National Review's Daniel Foster affects concern: "You know what seems a bad idea to me?" he says. "Publishing POTUS’s itinerary, right down to motorcade routes, during his visit to a country with a long history of Jihadist attacks on Western targets." His concern is touching.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the rightblogger fallout attendant upon Obama's India trip. The stories about the $200-million-a-day price tag -- very many of which remain on the internet, like a thousand points of misinformation -- intrigue me. Isn't India supposed to be really cheap? Even if Obama brought 3,000 people and put them up in style, what's that going to cost? I began the online booking process for a room at the Taj Mahal Hotel (one of their talking points) and found the rate was 14,500 rupees a night, or about $330 U.S. The Taj Mahal has 560 rooms, which would make a nightly sell-out rate $184,800. And I'm pretty sure Obama booked further in advance than I did, and probably got a group rate. Maybe rightbloggers are factoring in the added expense of hookers, blow, and premium video service.

It's all choice, but here's a guy who didn't make the cut:
And King Obama claims he is just one of the Guys! Yeah right, well “one of the guys” cannot book the Taj Mahal and spend $500,000 per day on their vacation with other people's money.
“One of the guys” is lucky to get a freaking vacation once a year and “One of the guys” don’t eat Lobster and Caviar on vacation, “One of the guys” eats hamburgers and chicken wigs, or splurges sometimes and has a Steak with french fries.
Pity the Guys who are One of the Guys, forced by ObamaHitler to eat wigs made for chickens! I like to think this cowboy outsourced his blogging to Bangalore.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

THEY LOST IT AT THE MOVIES. The damned liberals in alliance with a fifth column of damned artists have contrived to keep the sheeple in the dark, says Ed Driscoll. How so? Deep Throat said "Follow the money" in the movie but he never said it in real life.

This is good for many paragraphs, mostly quotes, about the alliance and its conspiracy to deceive the masses. (Driscoll et alia also tell us that All the President's Men failed to inform citizens that Deep Throat was conflicted in real life, but this may be disregarded, as the film shows him smoking cigarettes, which in the post-Bogart era became their traditional way of telling us a character is impure.)

But this is not the end of liberal-artist perfidy:
Even beyond All the President’s Men, a pretty fair chunk of the accepted pop culture of the 1970s was, in retrospect, often invented out of whole cloth and then repackaged as Truth — “truthiness,” as faux journalist Stephen Colbert would say — by the film, television industry, and (actual) journalists of the day.
For instance, did you know the article on which Saturday Night Fever was based was, by Nik Cohn's admission, actually based on Shepherd's Bush mods? Yet South Brooklyn mooks did not rise up in protest on this slur on their way of life, and indeed started putting Travolta posters on their walls. This was the thin end of the wedge, and liberal intellectuals delivered the coup de grace by promoting the career of Tony Danza.

Also Alex Hailey was a plagiarist, casting doubt on Roots' negative portrayal of slavery, by means of which Democrats control the black vote. Driscoll continues:
Given that much of what’s taken as The Official Narrative of the 1970s was built on useful fiction, how much of the decade we just lived will also be remembered inaccurately as well?
Then Driscoll rolls out Jim Lileks to tell us that movies like Spartacus are not true to life. Upper-class Romans didn't really sound like Laurence Olivier. If you're not sure how this deception helps liberals, Driscoll explains via Lileks: "Makes you realize that in 2000 years they’ll make movies about our era, and everyone will be half-naked and sweaty while they commit mortgage fraud." That's long-term planning, comrades! (Well, more half-naked sweatiness certainly would have improved Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.)

Driscoll recommends for further reading an expert in the field, Kathy Shaidle, who lists eight truths liberals kept from her in her youth, among them that the Japanese were the bad guys in World War II and that "Michael Moore is a liar."

These guys make Andrew Beitbart's Big Hollywood look like Sight & Sound.