Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SOTU, SO WHAT. Well, that was nice and anodyne. I understand the necessity -- the House is now flooded with Republicans, and Obama doesn't want to give them any handles to grab. And he didn't; the yap about Sputnik sounded silly from him, but it sounds sillier coming from the amateur stand-up comedians of the right. The whole thing was evasive that way -- telling the Republicans that he wants to cut government too, har har, and talking about how "contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be" and how we're all going to argue but finally come together as if it's a sitcom premise -- Democrats! Republicans! Always a-fussin' and a-feudin', but when Al Qaeda comes to dinner, they join forces!

At least he told them he wasn't going to compromise on universal health care coverage -- though that would be more impressive if the Democrats hadn't already compromised like mad in Congress before the bill was even passed. This Administration is a blessing after the last one, and will probably look like a Golden Age after the one that comes next (if we survive it), but that's grading on a ridiculously steep curve.

Also, I don't see what the point was in electing an anti-American socialist Kenyan if he's gonna talk so fucking much about what a great country this is.

UPDATE. Paul Ryan just ain't cutting it. Nobody gives a shit about his three children and their alleged sufferings under a budget deficit. "Stimulus spending spree" isn't a very cutting charge after the President's gooey-sweet speech. And the "picking winners and losers" stuff isn't going to play well with millions of people who've been losers too long and know just looking at this obvious, lacquer-haired factotum for great wealth that if he's the one to pick, they'll be hurled into an even lower circle of hell.

And oh my Lord, "Share our principles," "the wisdom of the Founders," etc. If this doesn't lead to an offering by the Franklin Mint, it's a waste of time. People voted for Republicans because they were desperate, not because they're in love with their Revolutionary War reenactor schtick. Why didn't he think to give them something tangible -- like a co-branded half-price promotion with Dunkin' Donuts? "Buy a dozen donuts and John Boehner treats you to coffee!" Idiots.

UPDATE 2. Crap, it's late, haven't they got that dizzy queen Michele Bachmann's head screwed on yet?.. Oh Jesus, it's a freakin' forum in which Bachmann is only the nuttiest participant? Why are the other participants all mumbly young dorks talking policy? It almost makes you miss the guys in tricorners and knee-britches waving flintlocks and yelling "WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!"

UPDATE 3. Commenters tell me Bachmann's got an actual rebuttal going on, but I don't get CNN and the web outlets aren't working. I'll take commenter dex's word for it: "like coming back from the bar at 2am to watch infomercials in hell."

UPDATE 3.5. National Review's Fartmaster General Jonah Goldberg says, "I was truly surprised by how lackluster and clichéd Obama’s speech was," as if his profession of surprise and use of every liar's favorite word, "truly," will convince anyone he's recording his genuine response. (No doubt he was out back of the shop during the speech, impressing the interns by operating Kinect with his butt.) The rest of his post is about as believable. Despite heavy competition at NatRev, Goldberg's only real challenger is Mona Charen:
“America’s standing has been restored.” Still sniping at George W.? This must be some kind of record for gracelessness.
They keep this awful Reagan-era relic in a closet nine months out of the year for a reason.

UPDATE 4. Ann Althouse:
[Quoting Obama] Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion....
When was that true? Who is he talking about? I'm 60 and I don't remember that ever being true.
I can remember vividly the tract-house neighborhood I grew up in, filled with factory workers who supported families and houses and cars on single incomes. And as I got older I saw some of them retire from the companies they started working for as young people, and collect pensions; they didn't have to become greeters for Wal-Mart. Many middle-aged people in America recall such events. Maybe Professor Althouse doesn't remember because then, as now, she was inattentive to what was going on around her. Alternatively, maybe she's just full of shit.

UPDATE 5. Looks like Obama got high viewership and approval numbers for the State of the Union -- which explains the redoubled stridency of conservative attacks on the speech this morning.

Several commenters step up to say they, too, remember single-earner, blue-collar families who managed to achieve the American dream in pre-Reagan days. Clearly these are false memories, as everyone knows that bastard FDR not only prolonged the Depression but also left America broke and powerless after World War II, with most citizens living in hobo camps. Read Amity Shlaes' next book to learn all about it!
WINGNUTS OCCUPY THE OSCARS! (PART I) The Oscar nominations are out, and so are the rightwing Zhdanovites. Roger L. Simon:
“The King’s Speech” – a conservative movie – leads Oscar nominations

“The King’s Speech” – an unabashedly pro-royalty, anti-fascist film – has received the most Oscar nominations (12) for this year’s Academy Awards. Does this mean that the normally liberal Academy has had a political conversation to the Dark Side? No. It shows that good filmmaking can sometimes trump ideology.
I guess he thinks a liberal film, conversely, would be anti-royalty and pro-fascist. (Like what? The Patriot?) Here's the saddest bit:
But it may reveal more than that. Movie business liberalism is only skin deep. It is all very much a show for self-aggrandizement. Deep down, they respond like the rest of us. They just won’t admit it. Unless the movie’s as good as “The King’s Speech.”
So Hollyweird liberals aren't even really liberal -- they're just pretending to be, out of pridefulness; but their sham is exposed by the magic of the movies, as seen through the kaleidoscopic chemical cascades in the brain of Roger L. Simon. Hollywood ending!

I'm surprised to see that other conservatives have also rushed to claim The King's Speech. (Conservative Lesbian, for example, headlines her review "Traditional Values Take Center Stage." She should share her idea of traditional values with the House GOP leadership.)

I saw and reviewed The King's Speech, which I enjoyed despite some risible bits. And I must say, if you wanted to stick politics onto it, you could just as easily take this one the other way.

To begin with, isn't the whole preoccupation with a speech impediment anti-conservative? It's the sort of therapeutic subject liberals allegedly love -- an affliction other people neither share nor understand, leaving the sufferer isolated and moody until he is "healed" and brought into the sunshine of a supportive community. If that doesn't sound like a pitch for one of Michelle Obama's fascist fat camps, I don't know what does.

In the course of the movie we are sensitized to (or, to use the nomenclature, blessed with "awareness" of) the problem. Thus we learn to care about yet another type of victim, just as we learned from other movies and TV shows to care about victims of autism, Tourette's, brain damage, depression, etc. Isn't looking at people as victims what liberalism is supposed to be all about?

Even worse, the film has excited yet another special interest constituency -- stammerers have glommed onto the movie as a fund- and awareness-raising tool. Why, next there'll be a fucking ribbon for it. Then it'll be classified a disability, and the speech-impeded will get their own set-aside information and customer service desks where they can stutter and stammer to their hearts' content without people yelling for them to get on with it.

Admittedly the King overcomes his problem eventually, but look how he does it! He actually goes slinking off for help for his problem! Fancy a Live Free or Die Tea Partier going off to a therapist -- with taxpayer money, yet! Why, a real rough, tough conservative King would just beat up any subjects who dared be unimpressed with him. (Maybe that'd be the Schwarzenegger version: "S-s-s-s-metimes ze v-v-v-v-v-vords f-f-ail-me [Head butt].") His tutor turns out to be an actor -- you know what they are -- who refuses to call him Your Highness and talks to him about his feelings and his childhood. The therapist even encourages him to yell and swear as if he were in a Primal Box. By God, it's a wonder the King didn't wind up gay and soaking in hot tubs at Esalen. They call this conservative? It's just Rain Man with royals.

Plus their beloved Winston Churchill is presented as yet another Timothy Spall grotesque.

Okay, now I'm warmed up for the conservatives who say The Social Network is about the magic of entrepreneurism.

Monday, January 24, 2011

JUST A REMINDER. Happy March for Life day! This is from Kathryn J. Lopez' recent anti-abortion observance:
“Frankly I had thought that at the time [Roe v. Wade] was decided,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg told The New York Times Magazine, “there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Now that’s something that should raise alarms: She let the eugenics slip show...
I am showing you Lopez's transparently willful misrepresentation of what Ginsburg was talking about, which has nonetheless become wingnut gospel, to remind you that these people really do think it's murder, and therefore feel justified in doing anything to stop it. Lying's not their limit, either, but except for a couple of rogues, most of them have not yet seen Jesus drop the hanky for Killing Time.

But given the times we live in, how long do you figure that will last? I see RedState is looking for loopholes:
We will not endorse any candidate who will not reject the judicial usurpation of Roe v. Wade... The reason for this is simple: once before, our nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support.
But if they don't do like Erick Erickson says -- bang bang! all bets are off. Also interesting: The post's attempt to compare Roe to the Dred Scott decision:
And thus the Supreme Court drew a line and declared that those humans on the “person” side were entitled to the right to life, and those on the “non-person” side (as defined by the Court) were not. The combined effect of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton was that a line was drawn at physical location within a woman’s womb.
Amanda Marcotte says it best: "Anyone who calls a woman a 'physical location is a misogynist, full stop." (What, you mean your uterus isn't on foursquare?)

In case you sheeple aren't swayed by the moral crusade, Robert W. Patterson attempts an appeal to your pocketbook with "How Roe v. Wade aborted America's economy." Apparently before you killed them, Jesus had meant for all those unborn victims to create jobs! So this depression isn't Lehman Brothers' fault or even Obama's, it's William J. Brennan's.

Also, says Patterson, abortion "gutted America's exceptional marriage culture, which Adam Smith noted was vital to our economic prospects.... by sanctioning a new 'choice' for an unmarried pregnant woman, the Court also gave the unmarried father the choice to 'op out' of the previously unavoidable consequences of his actions: marriage and child support." Who knew the shotgun wedding industry was that important to America's economy? There's still hope, though, in my Xtranormal video campaign to convince paupers to "get hitched and grow rich." Fund me lavishly, wingnuts, and I will make it happen! (photo via.)

UPDATE. Some disagreement in comments as to whether these people do in point of fact believe what they're saying. "If they did," says zuzu, "they wouldn't be so squeamish about 1) making exceptions for rape and incest; and 2) holding women criminally responsible for murder." Plus, adds BigHank53, if you put a convicted abortion-seeker's "demonstrably fertile ass in jail, somewhere there will be an empty kitchen without her bare feet in it, and the baby Jesus will cry."

There is also much speculation as to what the antis are really motivated by: A desire to subjugate women, or a desire to subjugate poor women, or a desire to subjugate poor people in general -- take your pick, I can believe any of it. There are also references to race suicide loons like Mark Steyn, and BryanD lectures the ladies on their reproductive responsibilities. This thread has everything!

UPDATE 2. Just had to add this -- Kathryn J. Lopez tells us what she did Sunday evening:
Speaking on — I kid you not: “The Virgin Mary, Saint Monica, and Sarah Palin: Embracing a New Feminism” at Georgetown’s beautiful Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life yesterday...
I think it's cute that she told us she wasn't kidding; I never would have doubted it for a second. I also wonder that she didn't include a martyr-saint in her Palin presentation -- maybe she thinks Palin herself fills the bill; Palin seems to think so -- but it makes sense that she did include the world's biggest nag.
TALL TALES. One of the big reasons why I really miss Norbizness's blog is his "The Left Is Attacking The City" posts, in which he chronicled the most egregious blanket statements made by conservatives about "The Left" -- a creature which, like the Loch Ness Monster, is known mainly by the descriptions of affrighted drunks. (e.g., Michelle Malkin's "How the left is faking an epidemic of hate crime." We are? I don't see it on my calendar.)

Had Norb not departed like Daniel "D-Day" Simpson for whereabouts unknown in 2008, what fun he might have had with National Review's Socialistfinder General Stanley Kurtz. It seems Glenn Beck's attacks on the aged and formerly obscure academic Frances Fox Piven have made her famous enough to receive death threats, and some people have complained about this -- which just shows, Kurtz cackles as sudden flashes of lightning illuminate his secret laboratory, that the The Left has made a "Strategic Blunder":
The hope of silencing Beck in the wake of Tucson has lured the left into a strategic blunder. They’ve decided to turn Piven into a martyr. Yet in doing so the left has tied itself to Piven’s wild writings and over-the-top radicalism... It’s not Beck who’s tarring the left with the Brush of Piven’s radicalism. They’re doing it to themselves.
Actually, comrades, I think where we went wrong was not knowing who the fuck Frances Fox Piven was in the first place. Had we been aware, we might have preemptively denounced her, or at least refrained from trying to defend her from the threats of patriotic mouth-bretahers, before Kurtz made his play. But our ignorance has left us open to attack as unwitting accomplices. Just being of (or in, or around, or in proximity to) The Left makes us responsible for her opinions, in much the same way that Republicans are responsible for the opinions of their fellow party member Ted Bundy.

(When and if Piven is assassinated, I predict the shooter will be non-partisan crazy. You can take that to the bunker!)

UPDATE. In comments, Xecky Gilchrist: "Who's this Piven? I thought we were all worshiping Ward Churchill, still."
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Obama-Hu Jintao dog-and-pony-show at the White House. I took it light, as the event itself was not super-meaningful, rendering the rightblogger reaction to it a froth upon a froth. Still, it was fun -- I even managed to sneak in my own version of Ann Althouse's White House Flickr stream photoanalysis. (Someone really should put together a book of those. It'd be like Gerald Gardner's Who's In Charge Here?, only for schizophrenics.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

McMORE McMISERABLE McMEGAN. I hate to get back to her so soon, but commenter Josefina directed me to this American Public Media Marketplace program featuring Megan McArdle, where she said this about the U.S.-China economic relations:
McArdle: I think that, you know, as China has gotten more successful and more powerful, you're just naturally going to see both from American businessmen and American politicians more hostility towards China, and indeed more hostility from them to us [? - ed.] and I think the sort of corollary to that is that, you know, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," and as people worry more about the fate of, you know, competition from businesses outside of the United States, they're going to feel a little friendlier toward the businesses inside the United States, and I think that may be part of what we're seeing.
Ummm… okay. Then:
Host: But let me ask you this though, Megan -- isn't it true that we're sort of in this whole mess together, the Chinese and us, and we can spout off rhetoric and we can have Congress saying this about currency valuations and all that but, fundamentally, they have to love us and we have to love them.

McArdle: Y'know, I think this is one of the hardest concepts to explain in economics, no matter how often I say to people, "Why are you upset that the Chinese want to give us excessively cheap goods?" This is like a free gift from them to us*. And we should be like, thank you, happy birthday!

[chortles all around]

Heidi Moore: We have nowhere to put them!

Host: That's right, we're running out of storage space.

McArdle: That's definitely true in my house!

[Chortle, chortle, chortle]

But people really don't see it that way. They see it as these greedy foreigners conspiring to come and take our jobs. They don't look at the other side, which is that, when the Chinese come in and they're more productive, they enable us to have more goods for less work. Politicians aren't good at explaining it, they're not even necessarily good at understanding it, and that's led to a lot of tension on both sides.
Amazing, American politicians are not good at explaining why Chinese slaves making goods for 10 cents an hour, and bringing those goods at a low tariff to U.S. markets, are good for a job-starved American economy! Those politicians must be pretty dense -- McMegan gets it done with funsies and libertarian charm.

That whole "both sides" thing keeps coming up; Moore says "if we really step back and look, we haven't been good to China, either, and they haven't been good to us…" and then talks about how "we are not always in the right." In other contexts, trying to see both sides in a dispute between the U.S. and an unfriendly foreign power gets you accused of treason. But it's different when you're talking about arrangements by which rich middlemen stand to gain from the diminished bargaining power of American workers.

And they call us rootless cosmopolitans!

UPDATE. Susan of Texas informs in comments that McArdle addresses this issue in her own comments section. The whole thing is priceless, but here are two excerpts:
We'll leave aside the notion that lifting Chinese and Indian workers out of dire poverty is a despicable and disloyal act.
Again the idea that we Americans are just being greedy with our copious jobs, and need to be taught to share! I thought McArdle had off-loaded this particular brand of bullshit to Katherine Mangu-Ward.
The firms that move often feel forced to move because of competition from firms in lower-wage areas where the taxes and regulations aren't so onerous.
Taxes and regulations! Somehow I knew it would come to that. If citizens chafe at being told by libertarians that they deserve to lose their jobs to the Chinese because, unlike us, the plucky Sinos have the moxie to work for a handful of rice and exemption from beatings, maybe they'll go for it if it's restated as the fault of Big Gummint.

*UPDATE 2. Fixed two mis-transcribed prepositions here which made McArdle look even worse than she was.

Friday, January 21, 2011

POLISHING THE TURD. You know the "He's My Friend" number from The Unsinkable Molly Brown? Molly's coarse Leadville pals invade a society party, and declare in a jes'-plain-folks way their affection for one another, and that they'll beat up anyone who messes with them ("If I should yell, 'They got me, Seamus,' he'll come chargin' in!"). The big gag comes near the end, when the music slows down and The Grand Duchess, who drips with jewels, speak-sings in a plummy aristocratic voice her own high-falutin' version of their refrain ("And if anyone dares to presume to display a disparaging frown, they'll have me to reckon with").

Similarly, after weeks of rowdy conservative argh-blargh about how everyone is persecutin' them for Tucson and how Charlie Krauthammer's gonna take 'em to the woodshed, the music grows quiet as Megan McArdle rises from her throne to ahem:
The right has a legitimate grievance here: every time there's some potential act of terrorism, it seems that people feel perfectly free to assume that it must have been a right wing lunatic who committed it. The same people who urged us not to rush to judgement after the Fort Hood shootings didn't see anything wrong with Bloomberg's speculation that the Times Square Bombing--a bombing actually committed by a Muslim terrorist wanna-be--was probably committed by a militia member. And now this.

I am in general impatient with the notion that "discrimination against (fat people, Christians, Catholics, gays, transvestites, etc.) is the last acceptable prejudice." As you can see by the list, there still seem to be a lot of acceptable prejudices left. But this rush to indict conservatives for every incident of mass violence where motives are unknown blah blah blah blah...
The post is 1,455 words long. (Well, I never said it was a show-stopper.) You will see, especially if you read the whole excruciating thing, that the rightwing persecution folk-tale has reached a new stage of development: It's not just about Tucson anymore, but about endless, unfair, blood-libelous attacks on peace-loving Republicans stretching backwards and forward to eternity -- proven, as is customary among her people, by a single casual comment by Michael Bloomberg. (If she'd gone on much longer she would have had to tell the one about how liberals use targets on maps too.)

McArdle's contribution adds no new facts and insights to the topic, but it is delivered with the wrinkle-nosed hauteur she traditionally affects when something excites her moral outrage (usually poor people getting away with something*), which puffs up her prose slightly more than usual. And it does appear under the stately banner of The Atlantic. It is, in other words, a fancy alternative for people who think there must be more to life than Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and so reach for the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Deluxe.

When that gets tiresome, there will be other versions to keep their resentment hot: Xtranormal videos, a Declaration Entertainment film, and perhaps a mini-series in the manner of Roots.

* Yes, she's still writing about "jingle mail" in 2011.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Palin's 38% favorable rating is her lowest (by two percentage points) since she became a well-known political figure after the 2008 Republican national convention, and her 53% unfavorable rating is her worst by a point. Palin has been a central figure in the recent debate over whether political rhetoric -- including hers -- was partly behind the Tucson shootings. Last week, she responded to these allegations by posting a much-publicized video response on the Internet. The recent news has not done much to change Americans' opinions of Palin, though.
National Review:

A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Nicole Gelinas at The Corner:
All New Yorkers start out the Christmas season optimistically festooning their trees with the ornaments that, during the non-Christmas months, took up half the apartment in storage boxes.
When did everyone in New York start having Christmas trees? This December the town looked the same to me as it has at the end of any other year -- full of small, mostly treeless apartments. (Then again, most of my friends are godless; maybe among the Catholics of Bayside, tannenbaums are de rigueur.)*

Having thus established its vital importance, Gelinas gets after the city's tree-collection policies. At year's end, she says, Mr. and Mrs. EveryNewYorker know "the dark day is coming" when "they will have to lug their dry tree down their building hallway and into the elevator to deposit it on the sidewalk..." (Elevator?)
All good New Yorkers know, too, not to be late in this chore. There’s a deadline for Christmas-tree collection — and nobody wants to miss it. Green New Yorkers justify having bought a real tree with the knowledge that the city will recycle the trees, making them into mulch for our parks. If one misses the recycling deadline, though, one faces the shameful private realization that one’s tree will instead decay over eternity in a landfill.
I will add here that this whole idea of Gothamites as slavish environmentalists also contradicts my long experience. Those who do separate cans and bottles, for example, generally do so because the building management (which does not want to get fined for non-compliance) badgers them about it, not from love of Gaia. Neither do the overflowing trash cans and crap-strewn alleys in certain of our jurisdictions suggest eco-fascism.

I assume Gelinas is pitching this to the rubes who love to hear how we're all latte-sipping homosexual eco-freaks who secretly wish we were living in Oatmeal, Nebraska and eating at Sizzler.

Anyway there's been some slowness with Christmas tree trash collection. Here Gelinas really affects to get inside our heads:
Citizens know that they followed the rules, and that the city was supposed to have picked up the trees. They know, too, that the huge snowstorm was nearly a month ago — meaning that it should not be an excuse.

Yet the trees remain, collecting bits of tissue and trash in the cold. New Yorkers are now thinking as they walk past each small, forlorn pile, “Mr. Mayor, if you’re going to leave trees on the sidewalk, at least bring us fresh trees.”
Listen, New York is full of comedy writers -- surely we could come up with better material than that.
More important, people are thinking: Does this mean something? Why hasn’t Bloomberg picked up the trees? Why hasn’t anyone said anything about it? What else is going undone, unnoticed, sliding into chaos? Call it the pine-scent version of broken-windows policing.
You mean like in 2006? (That story is from The Sun; it appears the Christmas Tree Menace is a -- you should pardon the expression -- rightwing evergreen.)
The trees are a challenge, too, for Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith... as the guy in charge of general operations, [Goldsmith] is also already New Yorkers’ face of failure on Sanitation’s abysmal snow-removal response to the December 26 blizzard. So when people see the trees, they think of Goldsmith. (“That’s the guy who didn’t know it was snowing — and now he’s left the trees out to rot.”)
So I'm getting a picture of a city full of craven tree-worshippers fretful that their trees won't be properly mulched, and who reflexively curse "Goldsmith" the way they used to curse Hitler or John V. Lindsay. I guess Gelinas and I live in different New Yorks.

*UPDATE. As commenter chuckling reminds me, a healthy percentage of New York's population is non-Christian. Maybe in the Gelinas version they're all getting Christmas trees in a desperate effort to assimilate.
THE PERFESSER REVEALS A NEW AREA OF EXPERTISE! Recently on Instapundit -- January 17:
THIS ESSAY ON PORNOGRAPHY by Natasha Vargas-Cooper in The Atlantic takes a rather dim view of men, going on and on and on about “the unlovely aspects of male sexuality that porn legitimizes.” Are there any “unlovely aspects” to female sexuality? And, if so, what social institutions legitimize them?
January 18:
IN SEARCH OF the Year Zero Face. Well, given that we prize women for sex rather than childbearing nowadays, maybe it makes sense that women want to look at what’s supposed to be their sexual, rather than reproductive, peak — age 36!
January 19:
REPORT: Men have upper hand in sexual economy. Maybe that’s what has Natasha Vargas-Cooper so unhappy.
BYRON YORK: Before banning ‘crosshairs,’ CNN used it to refer to Palin, Bachmann. I blame the network for creating a climate of hatred and violence. There’s blood on your hands, CNN!

Well, there’s some sort of bodily substance involved, anyway.
I'm not sure what the hell is going on over there, but I think he should spin these posts off to a separate blog. If he needs help, Dennis Prager could fill in. It'd be the perfect Tea Party sex column; they could call it "Pump Action."

UPDATE. In a Thursday morning post on "Palinoia," conservatism's new Restless Leg Syndrome, the Perfesser ejaculates: "Women are always meanest to other women." There's a man with something on his mind! That new column can't come fast enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A HELPFUL GUIDE. Here, gentle reader, is how you can tell people are talking bullshit about health care reform. Today's example is from neo-neocon:
The report states that up to half of Americans under 65 have pre-existing conditions that might serve to disqualify them from health insurance under the old system. That ignores the reality that most such people have insurance and will always have it, because group insurance bought through an employer takes all comers.

I don’t know what percentage of those people will actually ever be forced into the individual market, but it certainly would be a far smaller group than half of all Americans under 65. Even people who lose jobs temporarily are eligible to be covered through Cobra for quite some time (usually 18 months), and although Cobra is expensive, nevertheless some people manage to use it. What’s more...
First, she describes a situation as eternal -- "most such people have insurance and will always have it" -- that, in an era of increasing job insecurity and correspondingly decreasing worker power, anyone can see is about to join the one-earner middle-class family in the shadows of history.

Second, listen to her describing COBRA! "Although Cobra is expensive, nevertheless some people manage to use it." Can you imagine anyone who lost their job and suddenly started paying a thousand bucks a month out of terror of cancer bankruptcy talking about it that way?

By the time neo-neocon gets around to parsing the true meaning of "high" cholesterol, any attentive reader who is not actively looking to be gulled will see what's going on. The "tell" in all these cases is that the bullshit artists inevitably end up doing PR for the current, universally-despised system.

They kind of have to. I notice that damn few of them -- certainly not neo-neocon -- can summon the added nerve to argue for the superiority of the GOP health care plan.

That's also why HCR is a prime target for their Tea Party crap (e.g., as neo-neocon helpfully puts it, "the effect [Obamacare] is likely to have on the budget and the deficit, and whether it is constitutional") -- they have no meaningful argument against the utility of the thing, so they conjure up Gouverneur Morris lifting his flintlock and snarling, "Universal health care? Not on my watch!"

There's plenty about the plan Obama managed to muscle through Congress that you can reasonably debate. (Ahem.) But conservatives are not so much participants in said reasonable-debate as hooligans trying to disrupt it -- you know, like they were back in 2009. This time they're doing their yelling in the Op-Eds rather than the Town Halls. If they can't move repeal through Congress, though (and with so many Blue Dogs defenestrated, I rather doubt they can), we may expect the bellowing and fistfights -- and, who knows, maybe a little totally-unrelated-to-politics gunfire -- to recommence.

Monday, January 17, 2011

OBLIGATORY MLK POST. It's an alicublog tradition to call out some of our favorite conservative tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. on his Federal holiday. So far cowboy Alan Stang leads the pack, with his essay "UN-CELEBRATE MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY":
...the King holiday was proclaimed, after considerable, racist intimidation, when the nation knew hardly anything about him, not alone because it was inflicted so soon after his death, but because by court order the truth about him was suppressed. Yes, that is correct; we have a national holiday for a man whose wife got a court ruling that suppresses the facts about him until 2027 to spare the intense embarrassment she would have felt had the truth been revealed.
The fella's got a point -- after all, when word got out about Sally Hemmings, there went the Jefferson's Birthday Federal holiday!

Further into the column you can read some fascinating testimony from former Montgomery, AL Chief of Police Drue Lackey about the Freedom Rides:
Those four days on the road had turned into an habitual sex orgy by the time they reached the capitol. King was always seen on TV marching in the front row among clean, well-disciplined performers. It was all a sham. He stayed partying separately most of those days, and would only arrive in a chauffeured limousine for appointed press deadlines, leaving immediately after.
The Lame Stream Media shows white celebrities like Paris Hilton in sex tapes all the time, yet where are the photos of Martin Luther King snorting coke, banging whores, and vomiting in alleys? It's obviously a cover-up.
Most of the others put off at least until nightfall, what they had come for, as this mob had been bused in from across the country and around the world: unemployed Blacks, White students, party activists of both races, on promises of all the free food, booze and sex they wanted.

They reached Montgomery late on the afternoon of March 24, 1965, and spent the night at St. Jude’s where they had been invited. We kept security along with the National Guard, for the local Whites were up in arms. We witnessed them sleeping on the ground all together, and a lot of sexual activity went on throughout the night, with frequently changed partners. This is what the federal government sponsored: a bunch of communists and moral degenerates
So that's how they got those kids to walk into fire hoses and gunfire! You'd think they would have stayed home in Jew York and miscegnated in comfort.

Lackey is also the man who fingerprinted Rosa Parks when she was busted for what radio host James Edwards calls her "bus stunt" ("It never ceases to amaze me how lawbreakers [Parks, 'civil rights' activists, illegal aliens, etc.] are heralded as heroes," etc). Edwards, author of Racism, Schmacism (I'm not kidding), interviewed Lackey a few times in 2008; one of these days I'm going to have to snuggle up with a snifter of Hennessy and listen to them.

Bonus rounds:

• A black guy who says
King recognized the tyrannical nature of the government, and he would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Herman Cain, Allen West, and many others in an attempt to free not only blacks this time, but the entire nation from the very same government that was oppressing blacks during King’s lifetime.
That would be an interesting march, especially when King started regaling Limbaugh et alia with his plans for a guaranteed minimum income for Americans.

• At Human Events, Daniel J. Flynn tells us that liberals, labor unions, and Democrats are the real racists ("The New Harmony commune's exclusion of African-Americans, labor union cries of a 'yellow peril,'" etc), and African-Americans were in deep shit until they were rescued by Adam Smith:
A truly free market works as an antidote to racism. Though contemporary radicals would vociferously deny this, their forebears vociferously charged capitalism with negating racism... Capitalism and racism can't long peacefully coexist.
Exactly! Who can forget those black folk who sat down at segregated lunch counters, not because they were agitators or anything, but because the food there was so delicious and well-marketed that they'd risk a beating for it. Also, "the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott is one of many examples of money trumping bigotry during the civil rights movement," etc.

It's amazing King and all those other civil rights workers got shot -- didn't James Earl Ray and those guys know what a financial bonanza desegregation would be? Musta been socialists.

UPDATE. Michelle Malkin honors the day by demanding "Give the race card a rest," yelling about Al Sharpton, and listing what she considers examples of liberal "race card demagoguery" (sample: "DREAM Act radicals bitterly accused opponents of xenophobia and race traitorism"). Malkin probably wonders why no one invites her to give toasts at weddings.

Oh, and here's a guy who admits he thought in 2008 that Obama was going to "take our nation irrevocably down the multicultural path," but is pleasantly surprised to see him thwarted by "the rise of the Tea Party." When the honkeys in tricorners triumph, he predicts, "then will come the day MLK's dream is fulfilled." Just ask Glenn Beck.

UPDATE 2. In honor of MLK, William Teach beats up environmentalists:
Personally, I don’t doubt that MLK would have simply patted the eco-nuts on the head like a rather slow child still trying to master See Spot Run at age 10, since he seemed to be the kind of guy who wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings by pointing out what nutjobs they are.
Yeah, that's what King would be doing, all right. He'd also have a pick-up truck with a gun rack and a "The Next Time You Need a Cop, Call a Hippie" bumper sticker. It just follows naturally from what we know about the guy.

Later Teach invents more King insults for enviro-freaks, and adds, "do I really have to mention that Dr. King spoke more about equality, rather than 'social justice'?" I guess Teach isn't talking about the MLK who said, "Capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor," but about the one who sounds so convincing reading Teach's lines.

UPDATE 3. Thanks, commenter Jeff, for pointing out Jay Nordlinger's tribute at National Review. Nordlinger notes that King applauded the Presidential election victory of Lyndon Johnson, who signed the Civil Rights Act, over Barry Goldwater, who opposed it. Nordlinger adds this historical gloss:
An older MLK might well have been ashamed of that rhetoric, or at least regretted it. For one thing, Goldwater’s view of government and economics was the opposite of fascist: was the classical-liberal view.
Maybe the MLK of Nordlinger's imagination -- like that of William Teach's, and all the other speculators -- is actually one who escaped the assassin's bullet in 1968, turned 82 this Saturday, and suffers from advanced Alzheimer's Disease.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, in which I try to get some perspective on the continuing Tucson disaster by focusing on one of its small but telling epiphenomena: The wildly increased rightwing rage at Paul Krugman. Krugman, like a lot of people, points out that Rep. Giffords and Judge Roll were threatened prior to being shot, and that this is worth considering when we talk about the atmosphere that engendered the shootings; wingnuts go apeshit. I see more than one reason for it.

One of the things they focus on is Krugman's citation of the Michele Bachmann "armed and dangerous" comments. As I mentioned last week, supplying the context for Bachmann's remarks actually shows them to be more provocative than advertised, not less. But the conservative consensus is that Krugman is libeling the poor woman with her own words. Hoystory, for instance, claims "Krugman took that Bachmann quote so out of context that if she weren’t a public official Krugman and the Times might find themselves facing a false light libel suit."

Hoystory also says that "the last time the media went this wrong for so long was probably the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing when hero Richard Jewell was falsely tarred as the bomber." I'm surprised he didn't bring up Bruno Hauptmann and the Lindbergh Baby. Can you imagine being so absurdly paranoid that you think a decades-long conspiracy has been successfully pursued against you by a bunch of underpaid writers and editors? It'd be more dignified to claim your were being stalked by janitors.

UPDATE. Readers do the updating I'm too drunk to do! For example, they point out that the actual Atlanta bomber turned out to be a Christian Identity nut and abortion clinic bomber. "If The Media had simply accused right-wing gun nuts of that one," says Doghouse Riley, "they'd've turned out to be right."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

GRATITUDE UPDATE. I remain humbled by the collection Jay Brida took up for me last week. I want you good people to know that the coin toss came up heads, so I did not exhaust the proceeds on one final, glorious round of hookers, blow, and suicide, despite the urgings of my army of hangers-on.

No, I'm in a nice sublet now, in the East 60s, of all places -- right where I worked in the late 70s. In some ways the neighborhood hasn't changed much: it still has lots of weird little shops selling replicas of Etruscan bronzes, giant, vaguely Asian vases, and other things rich people liked 50 years ago. As a young punk I hated that swells-in-amber ambiance, but now I find it charming. At least these people don't go chasing trends -- they're too comfy. (Lot of wine shops here, too.)

Both my lungs and my outlook are much, much better. I'm cooking meals, doing work, and scrabbling after opportunities like someone much younger and dumber.

So thanks again and all around -- first, to Jay for conceiving and doing the thing, and most ably; we've discussed it, and he will be taking down the Edrosothon PayPal button soon, and devoting his spare time to composing his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award speech. If you still want to give me money, I've added my own PayPal to the alicublog sidebar. Great for late-night drunk-donating!

I also thank my friends around the internet who spread the word, including James Wolcott, Tbogg, the Sadlynauts, John Amato, Scott Lemieux, Ian Welsh, Gary Farber, Cogitamus, Susan of Texas, Scott "World-o-Crap" Clevenger, Batocchio, DJG-E at Balloon Juice, Tom Tomorrow, Nancy Nall, and probably some other people I've missed and whose names I'd like to know (Update: Like PZ Myers!). If PBS had a fundraising team like this, they'd be making $50 million versions of Thomas Hardy novels and giving their subscribers gift bags stuffed with cashmere scarves and iPads.

Mostly I'd like to thank the donors -- scores if not hundreds of them, most of whom gave amounts which, though not huge, probably represent more actual sacrifice than the bazillions the Koch Brothers ladle out every year. Their generosity has been both a help and a lesson to me. Jay has explained the logistical and privacy issues to me, so I'm only writing back to donors who added personal notes to their contributions. (If you sent me something without a note and would like some acknowledgement, drop me an email and I'll send you a "Whattaya Want, a Medal?" certificate suitable for framing.)

And on that note: It seems I'm ahead of the trend again, as several other wonderful bloggers have come down with a bad case of the brokes. Lance Mannion, one of the very few internet writers worth reading on cultural subjects (he's not just another wannabe Harry Knowles, he's Manny Farber with the stick out of his ass), is experiencing shortfalls. And Gary Farber, one of the most relentless bloggers of all time (now at Amygdala and Obsidian Wings), is putting up a brave front but I know for a fact that if you give him money he will spend it on keeping himself alive, which is a noble cause.

Oh, and Diane of Cab Drollery is on the verge of losing her home. One of the douchebags at The Jawa Report made fun of her request for money (despite the presence of a great, honking PayPal button on their own sidebar), which should double your incentive. It did mine; I just sent Lance, Gary, and Diane a little something. Because I understand that Getting therapy works best in combination with Giving therapy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF SARAH PALIN AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES AT THE CATO INSTITUTE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE REVEREND SUN MYUNG MOON. Lawyers, Guns & Money informs me that the Washington Times has gone Sarah Palin's blood libel malarkey one better, declaring that recent criticism of La Palin is "simply the latest round of an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers."

A pogrom, yet! Their persecution mania was already so far beyond parody that I hardly know what to call this new frontier the WashTimes has achieved -- science fiction, perhaps.

I understand Palin is going to address the nation on Martin Luther King Day. I fully expect her to sing "We Shall Overcome," and to refer to her Fox News desk as the new segregated lunch counter and to Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow as the new Bull Connor and Lester Maddox. Hell, maybe she'll complain that liberal censors prevented her from completing her tribute of Dr. King by performing in blackface.

UPDATE. Commenters are enjoying the theatrical angle suggested by the title. "We could call it Moron/Sad for short," says Susan of Texas. Michael Bérubé suggests William Kristol for the role of the Marquis de Sade and Michelle Bachmann as Charlotte Corday. But Rob W wants a rewrite: Wingnut on the Roof ("If I Were a Fox Host," "Kingmaker, Kingmaker," "Pro Life!" etc).

Friday, January 14, 2011

HOPPED UP ON GOOFBALLS! Longtime readers will remember Barry Rubin, the Pajamas Media guy who claimed his kid's school was actually forcing its soccer team to lose on account of Political Correctness until interim coach Barry Rubin taught the lads how to play like capitalists.

Unfortunately Rubin's story was not picked up by Adam Sandler for a heartwarming film comedy, and he has been forced to go back to the PJM drawing board. This time he offers a darker dystopian fantasy about a lost generation of racially-oversensitive children.
A pre-teenage boy, living in the United States with his affluent family from South America, attends an American public school in the eastern part of the country...

Recently, he was raising money for the homeless with a friend at a school fair. At the first of the tables he passed, the salesman invited him to take a look at his merchandise — soccer balls and shirts. The boy became very upset.

“That’s racist,” he complained to his friend.

“Why?” asked the schoolmate.

“That’s what they think of us Mexicans. All we are interested in is soccer and tacos.”

In other words, he innocently had turned a simple situation — a guy wanted to sell merchandise, for charity, to boys of a soccer-crazy age — into a racist incident.
And that little boy grew up to be Baracko de Obama-Jimenez! And it's not just the Hispanics, folks, though they do make for the most lurid anecdotes ("one eleven-year-old girl from another South American family told her classmates: 'We hate America, but our parents are making us live here'") -- no, thanks to "indoctrination" in public school, even white children know nothing about America except that it's a racist hellhole. Take a look at the evidence -- that is, unimpeachable eyewitness testimony from Coach Barry:
  • In one fourth grade class, "their sole reading on September 11 was a story on how Kenyans reacted to the event — with no identification of who had carried out the attack."
  • "A math exercise in which the teacher uses a deck of playing cards, each of which is marked 'Vote Obama' on the back."
  • "On Memorial Day, son draws pictures of soldiers during free time in school; teacher confiscates, makes and files photocopies, and warns him never to do that again."
My favorite: A young man doesn't even know what "The Star-Spangled Banner" is ("Daughter helpfully sings, “You know, ‘Oh, say can you see …!’ Son: 'What’s that?'"). Presumably the school has forbidden male children to attend baseball games, lest they grow up heterosexual; or maybe this particular incident took place in California, where all ballgames commence with "Canta, No Llores."

With the kids all hopped up like this on Political Correctness, you'd expect them to be having non-stop rumbles and socialist petting parties. I figured Rubin had to have seen at least one misguided youth hauled in for killing puppies like Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause. Alas, all Rubin produces are grim warnings about the future, where a "mentality of perpetual victimhood, endless grievances, and bitter divisiveness is set to cripple the United States." (You know -- like the Sarah Palin media team.) Oh, Coach -- you're never going to get to Hollywood this way! Can't you at least give us a villainous Julian Assange having Sex By Surprise with the homecoming queen? You might as well -- it's far too late to worry about making it believable.
SHORTER RON HART: Liberals are hypocrites to complain about violent imagery. After all, they make jokes.

(The real punchline: Nick Gillespie thinks this is astute.)
DON'T YOU FUCKING LOOK AT ME! I see at National Review Daniel Foster is pissed because CBS asked people in a "stupid poll" the question, "Do you think it is ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the government, or is it never justified?" Most of the respondents were true sheeple, eschewing violent action under any circumstances, with Republicans marginally more likely to take to the hills with their shootin' ahrns than Democrats.

"So I guess I’d be among that 28 percent" who would rebel, bravely asserts Foster, brandishing a dinner roll. "But then, so would Hobbes, and Edmund Burke for that matter." He knows not what course others may take, but thinks the weak sisters in the poll haven't thought the question through:
But what does surprise me is that 76 percent of respondents, including 64 percent of Republicans, think it is never right to take up arms against the government. Ever.

What about if the government canceled the next election and started seizing first-born; or arbitrarily disappearing whole classes of citizenry; or summarily abolished private property and confiscated all our belongings at the tip of a bayonet? Not even then?
Har. But the question, however awkwardly phrased, is relevant because a lot of people currently do believe the government, under the Muslim pretender Obama, will cancel the next election, seize their first-born, etc. Rather than call out specific cases of such like among the gomers and gun-nuts who now comprise the GOP base, I could just put a link to my whole blog, but for now I'll content myself with the Insurrectionist Timeline and stuff like this:
Mitch McConnell Accuses Obama Of Plan To Seize Internet

..."Today, the Obama administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, will move forward with what could be the first step in controlling how Americans use the Internet by establishing federal regulations on its use," said McConnell.
This kind of crap goes on all the time, in both the high and the low registers of the outrage apparatus. I expect when CBS revisits their question in a few months -- after the Giffords situation has cooled down, and Obama has committed some fresh outrage, like further weakening America by extending unemployment benefits or something -- the shooty-shooty numbers will be higher.

Foster's complaint and the ones that are sure to follow once the central committee gets the memo around are part of a whole How Dare They movement to delegitimize even the mildest notice (aka the "blood libel") that the Republican Party has gone plain nuts. I'm reminded of Frank Booth, all ethered up and hissing "Don't you fucking look at me!"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CUE THE CRAZY JESUS LADY. I see that the President has made his speech, and the apparatchiks are working the Wellstone Maneuver -- the time-dishonored schtick in which conservatives pretend to be outraged at the upbeat tone of memorial services held by their mortal enemies.

Of course, it ain't over till the Crazy Jesus Lady sings -- by which I mean Peggy Noonan, who stuck the Triple Lutz of the Wellstone Maneuver back in 2002, actually pretending to be Senator Wellstone, and condemning his friends and family from heaven for their insufficient solemnity.

It was one of the lowest performances it has ever been my misfortune to witness, and it worked like a charm, helping to elect the horrible Norm Coleman to Wellstone's old seat. So Noonan must be greatly tempted to go for the hat trick. I can almost see her words crawling across the page:
Why can't I speak? My God, this must be what Terry Schiavo felt like! If I ever get out of this accursed bed, I'll mend my abortionist ways and fight for the rights of all God's children. And a balanced budget! And there's something else I'll do: Denounce everybody who didn't spend that memorial service blubbering like John Boehner at a supermarket opening. The very idea of those Demonrats cheering -- and that Kenyan pretender presuming to speak -- I'll tell you, the doctors think I'm fighting for my life, but I'm actually quivering with rage!
Etc. Of course, there's a danger, in that while Wellstone was dead, Giffords is not. If Noonan does go for it, there's a good chance Giffords will return to good health, fly up to New York, and kick her Crazy Jesus ass up and down Fifth Avenue.

Well, I'm convinced. Go for it, Peggy! I'm sending a bottle of Old Overholt and a scapular to your office for inspiration.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

THE ETERNAL VICTIM. Now that Palin's gotten on Ole Perfesser Instapundit's "blood libel" bandwagon, I wonder whether the Anti-Defamation League will step up. (Update: Foxman issues a watery statement.) Traditionally, see, this is blood libel:
The blood libel is a false accusation that Jews sacrifice Christian children either to use the blood for various "medicinal" purposes or to prepare Passover Matzoth (unleavened bread) or for vengeance and mock crucifixions. It is one of the central fables of Anti-Semitism of the older (middle ages) type.
I suppose every time a newspaper runs an editorial against her, it's Kristallnacht. And if Obama wins in 2012, that'll be the Holocaust. Jesus -- is there no limit to their persecution mania?

UPDATE. Ha, Dave Weigel: "First reporter to obtain Palin react quote from Mel Gibson gets a cookie."

UPDATE 2. The Perfesser's playing it close to the vest. Maybe he guessed that, once his noxious usage achieved wider dissemination through a celebrity spokesmodel, people would start making fun of it. Back to the bunker, fellas! (Update to update: The Perfesser has since added a lot of wounded gush about the "silliest hissyfit yet." And when he calls the New York Times Building the New Treblinka, betcha those silly liberals will pop off again! They're so predictable!)

UPDATE 3. Flop-sweat at National Review: Since Jonah Goldberg refused to take one for the team (I can imagine K-Lo trying to pull him out of the hall closet, his eyes streaming tears and his mouth streaming Cheetos), Jim Geraghty had to go out there and earn his bonus with a oh-yeah-liberals-do-it-too post.

The main difference is that Geraghty's examples refer to 1.) Claims that all gay people are pedophiles; 2.) Claims that all black people want to rape white women; 3.) A call for all Muslims to be profiled as terrorists; 4.) Claims that Al Gore tried to disenfranchise military voters ("almost a blood libel"). The last one's a little over the top; the others are less so, because they portray groups of people as guilty of horrible crimes simply because they belong to those groups.

The idea that wingnuts were blood-libeled because some people (including the victim) noticed the incendiary rhetoric used on Giffords before she was shot is worse that ridiculous.

UPDATE 4. Arizona District GOP Chair resigns because he's afraid the yahoos might kill him and his family:
In an e-mail sent a few hours after Saturday's massacre in Tucson that killed six and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, [District Chairman Anthony] Miller told state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen he was quitting: "Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home? So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman...I will make a full statement on Monday"...

Miller said when he was a member of McCain's campaign staff last year has been criticized by the more conservative party members who supported Republican opponent J.D. Hayworth. The first and only African-American to hold the party's precinct chairmanship, Miller said he has been called "McCain's boy," and during the campaign saw a critic form his hand in the shape of a gun and point it at him.

"I wasn't going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday," Miller said. "I love the Republican Party but I don't want to take a bullet for anyone."
Clearly he's blood-libeling Sarah Palin too! If he had any decency he'd put on a bullet-proof vest and get right back in there.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE REAL PROBLEM. One of the best things I've read about this Giffords situation is by "hisnewreasons," made in comments to my last post:
I don't think Sarah Palin's rhetoric has inspired violence, because it's essentially meaningless. Whether it's Glenn Beck's Armageddon talk or the internet blather about gun confiscation and socialism, all of this tough talk eventually leads to rather banal ends -- i.e., the rise of a John Boehner to high office.

It's that banality that you find underneath the rage of suburbanites who seem themselves as Nathan Hale, simply because they joined the Tea Party. You don't find potential assassins, but tourists who practically need cannons to take down a moose on hunting trips...

"Lock and load" doesn't make people violent. It makes them stupid.
Just so. Their deliberately menacing blood-of-tyrants, Second-Amendment-solutions blather looks, in the wake of the Giffords shooting, rather sinister -- especially since, after one of their targets was slain, their first reaction was defensive rather than abashed.

But violent delusions aren't the only kind from which they suffer. Take National Review's Kathryn J. Lopez and her recent mooning over that nice Catholic boy Marco Rubio. Rubio inspired Lopez with some mild fourscore-and-seven-years-ago bombast to a bizarre flight of fantasy:
...Rubio recalled — with a savvy “Señor Smith Goes to Washington” appeal — visiting some of the Founders’ memorials in and around town. They stand as reminders and even rallying cries. Those who fought and died to establish this country, those who worked on its founding, believed that “every single human person had inherent rights that came from God,” he reminded the crowd... And what the 112th Congress does will help determine, Rubio insisted, whether, “when my children are my age,” they will come back here to admire the monuments of our core national values, or merely be “looking at relics of a once-great nation.”

I couldn’t have been the only one to picture the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes — and without feeling entirely absurd.
Normal people may or may not be inspired by Rubio's patriotic mush, but they will be inoculated by common sense from taking it too seriously. When they hear the mournful line about relics, they may not know that it is straight out of a specific class of wingnut propaganda ordnance, meant to portray the brethren as the last loyal defenders of freedom -- like Douglas MacArthur's ravings about wanting the curse on a dying soldier's lips to be Roosevelt's name and not his own, and other such self-pitying bluster. They may even feel a little wistful, observe that freedom isn't free, resolve to teach their kids the Pledge of Allegiance, etc.

But they won't fantasize about liberal apes romping in the ruins of our national monuments while Charlton Heston roars GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! And if they did they'd be embarrassed. But K-Lo is proud. To her Planet of the Apes is a work of social prophecy, like 1984.

That's how her mind works -- and how their minds work. The "eliminationist" tropes we've been hearing about recently are part of the problem, but so are the less violent notions we see them parroting every day: That Obama is a Muslim, an alien, a psychopath, and consciously trying to destroy the United States; that Teddy Roosevelt was a dangerous radical; that America's scientists are engaged in a deliberate conspiracy to bankrupt the nation via global warming fraud; that deficits, which were harmless and even kinda fun under Reagan, are under Obama a menace to the future of our famous statues; etc. etc. etc.

The cumulative impact of this kind of magical thinking may or may not lead to assassinations, but it certainly weakens the sufferer's ability to respond to even obvious problems in any reasonable way. And in the long run this is more dangerous to the Republic than the grrr-lookit-me-I'm-a-Minuteman blood-lust we're currently focused on. The wingnut looks, for example, upon millions of citizens financially unable to visit a doctor when they're sick, and the first thing he asks himself is, "How can we defend these people from socialism?" He sees the stock market doing great while ordinary people can't find jobs, and surmises, "This Administration is anti-business." Etc.

Even if you embarrass them (fond hope!) into talking less about guns and revolution, you aren't touching the real problem. I'm not confident that it's curable. The best we can do is keep them away from sharp objects and the levers of power.

UPDATE. Lotta pushback in comments. I'm aware of the copious evidence of conservatives gone kill-crazy, including the bill of particulars of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's Insurrectionist Timeline (which makes Michelle Malkin's "progressive climate of hate" list look like a kindergarten bad conduct report). And I can imagine the effect the constant threats of violence, masked and otherwise, have on Democratic organizing, especially in communities infested with gun nuts and tricornered delusionals.

I still say that's a problem but not the problem. These nuts wouldn't be out there going shooty-shooty in the first place if they hadn't been convinced by the orchestrators of their own stupidity that Big Gummint is a tyranny that cannot be effected by voting and petitioning. Why should they take part in working groups or doorknocking campaigns when they've been told, contrary to all evidence and common sense, that because these things worked for Obama they have ceased to work for white rageaholics, who must in consequence attack every policy as if it were Bunker Hill?

UPDATE 2. A long comment on this post from Doghouse Riley. Includes:
So much of our politics seems to be a debate about how best to remove most of the pieces of eggshell from our omelette, and none about figuring out how to properly crack an egg.

Monday, January 10, 2011

WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE WINGNUTS? Since I wrote about it at the Voice, it's just gotten worse: The entire right wing is in mourning over the recent assassination of their reputations. (I hear some Democratic Congresswoman got shot, too, but they don't have much to say about that.)

The Corner is one long blubber-fest. Brian Bolduc repurposes a Glenn Beck press release "decrying" -- get this -- "political opportunism of all stripes." Yeah, let's get past these sideshows and fight the real enemy: George Soros and Teddy Roosevelt!

Rich Lowry laffs about a gun-sight image from the sports section -- how could those silly liberals take such things seriously? -- then turns grave over a GOP elephant festooned with swastikas on an anti-war poster. (Lowry doesn't tell us how many people were shot at that rally; must have been dozens.)

Michelle Malkin does one of the longer SKREEEEs in her history, a list of liberal hate crimes generously padded with egregious misrepresentations ("The Green War on Children") and trivialities (a mug shot of Josh Medlin, who "threw an ice cream pie at Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol"). It all goes to show that liberal hate (and Mexicans!) created the climate of terror that led to the shooting of Rep. Giffords and, possibly, the Kennedys and Davey Moore.

And of course, that bastard Bill Clinton and his Oklahoma City false flag operation, as hawked by the Ole Perfesser, Byron York and Dick Morris. Not that they're turning a crisis into an opportunity or anything, but this makes a great teachable moment about how liberals use wingnut violence to make wingnuts look bad.

It is something to see the Perfesser, normally glib to the point of apathy, feverishly glomming every bit of propaganda provenance he can get his hands on (including more "blood libel" stuff) as if he needed them immediately for a firebreak. They must have doubled his stipend, or cut his ration. That other tenured radical, Ann Althouse, meanwhile pre-emptively declares that "the accusations backfire," and retreats to her happy place. We all deal with stress in our own way; Althouse's seems the cozier; the Perfesser will have a hard time achieving immortality if he continues to strain himself like this.

I sure hope no one shoots Obama. These poor people have suffered enough!

UPDATE. You must admit, they have nerve:
Glenn Beck told his radio audience this morning that Sarah Palin had e-mailed him about the tragic shootings in Arizona this weekend, writing, “I hate violence. I hate war.”

“Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence,” Palin added.

During his show, Beck also urged Palin to seek extra security for herself and her family.
One of Palin's targets gets shot, but Palin is actually the one in the cross-hairs. In Hell Joe Goebbels is laughing his ass off.

UPDATE 2. In comments, whetstone follows through: "Unfortunately that Corner post doesn't capture the full nerve of Beck's concern for Palin: 'But please look into protection for your family. An attempt on you could bring the republic down.' Goebbels, having gotten the full quote, has now stopped laughing and is now quietly seething with envy."
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Giffords shooting. The fallout has in some ways been what I'd expected: as with Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell, conservatives have been quick to label Jared Loughner a liberal even though his actual politics as expressed in his ravings could best be described as aphasic.

The thing that took me aback was the vehemence of some of the more prominent rightbloggers on the subject. Ole Perfesser Instapundit, for example, did several posts with more manic intensity than he usually betrays -- including a couple of bizarre references to "blood libel." The Southron, apparently, is the Jew of Liberal Fascism.

This is taking conservative victim status to new heights. But why? I think they may be suffering flashbacks to Oklahoma City -- to which, I notice, they increasingly refer as a scam by Bill Clinton, or in the words of Tea Party Nation's Judson Phillips a "tactic" which "worked then, backing conservatives off and possibly helping to ensure a second Clinton term," rather than as an act of mass murder. Their rapid-response muscles have been so assiduously trained for so long, it seems, that they're constantly on hair-trigger, and every event, however horrible or moving, they immediately perceive as a political opportunity before anything else; I imagine they were working out their spin for this before the bodies hit the floor.

Favorite outtake: HillBuzz, who's also obsessed with this, discovering that the assassin's Facebook and MySpace pages were no longer available, and demanding to know, "What is the Left hiding on these pages?" Wait'll he finds Loughner's Facebook manifesto, ghost-written by Aaron Sorkin! Then Hillary will surely consent to lead the Army of God.

UPDATE. The Perfesser's charm offensive continues: "FLASHBACK: Sarah Palin hanged in effigy during 2008 campaign." That might mean something if she were the one who got shot. But people like her seldom are.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

LEARNING TO SAY "THANK YOU" IN ENGLISH. My sister and I are in some ways so different that I think it startles both of us. (Edrosos are so fundamentally contrary that we have long since gone beyond disagreeing on specific issues, and passed into divergent realities.) But in some ways she and I are absolutely alike. These traits fascinate me, because they offer some clues as to our heritage and the way it has shaped us.

For example: Since we were old enough to buy our own Christmas gifts, every December we would get around to asking each other what Christmas gift would be appreciated. Unfailingly we both had the same response: Don't get me nothin'. Then each would ask again, and the other would brush it off again.

So we'd have to guess what gift would please the other. I for one was always nervous about it, and despite assurances never felt like I had guessed right. I think she felt the same way.

One year my sister just declared: We're not doing presents this year. That worked great. In fact Christmases were a lot easier after that, and not just logistically.

If you think it's weird that we were so reluctant to ask each other for something, even with the best excuse modern merchandizing had to offer, then you and I are in agreement. Weirder still, I'm often like that with other people, too: Friends, lovers, employers, store clerks. It's not unfailing; if I want a bourbon and soda, I find a way to express the thought. But it tends to be worse when I really need something. Then for some reason I become a lot less eloquent than I like to think I am.

I'm not sure I have the subtleties right, but I've figured out this much: I have a particularly ornery independent streak. I can't stand to feel beholden to others. Of course we're all of us beholden to others, generically and cosmically; even I know that. But if I feel someone's carrying me, even casually, I feel the need to get off and walk. It's all right. I got it. I don't need help. Don't get me nothin'.

So recently, in ornamenting what I usually think is an politics and culture blog, I made what I considered mordant jokes about some personal reversals I'd suffered. I figured longtime readers would get the joke: That pissant maudit Edroso and his black cloud, doing a little trapeze act for the crowd. I welcomed sympathy, and would have been grateful for any little back-pats and hang-in-theres, but figured I'd get onto the usual Jonah Goldberg fart tricks as soon as I had time and opportunity for them, and we'd forget all this.

What I sincerely did not expect was for people to offer me something more substantial. Like, money.

When I saw that Jay B had done the Edrosothon, I didn't at first absorb the fact. I figured maybe a few people might kick in some bucks and that would be that. I'd be grateful for it, of course, but best of all I could sort of dismiss it. You know, as if all those people in It's a Wonderful Life burst into George Bailey's house and said, "Here's twenty bucks, George -- when you get out of prison, you can take a cab home."

But I talked to Jay, and it appears a lot of people have contributed. A lot. And the take is meaningful -- enough that I'm not really hearing the hellhounds anymore, and should be able to get to a clean, well-lighted place soon.

I'm going to be writing to my contributors as soon as I get their names. But I want to extend this gratitude not only to them (and to Jay B, who I'll tell the world is definitely someone you want on your side) but also to everyone who didn't contribute but who has been kind, encouraging, sympathetic, or just plain nice to me, and whose gestures I may have accepted graciously but may not have fully grasped were tokens of real friendship. I get it, folks. I get it. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

SERVICE ADVISORY. Sorry to have dropped off the grid again, friends, but the past few days have been a challenge. My Harlem sublet came to an end, and none of the tickets I had out on a follow-up came through, so I was obliged to lodge with an old friend in Inwood, way up by Fort Tryon. It is a fascinating, hideous neighborhood. Here is a picture of an orange-seller on Dyckman, sweeping away the foul remnants of the late storm so that her customers can come right up to her, instead of flinging coins at her from the street:

I'm sure there's plenty else just as charming about Inwood, but I have been too sick to notice. I caught a chill New Year's Eve, spent two days I should have spent packing incapacitated by fever, and my lungs and sinuses are full of epoxy. Also, though I am very grateful to my buddy for lending me his spare room, it has seen little use and no absolutely no cleaning since the 28th Olympiad, and I'm not sure this is facilitating my recovery.

Every so often, in my delirium and through fluttering lids, I catch sight of Jonah Goldberg shaking his finger at figurines made of long-hardened Play-Dough, and demanding, "Oh, so you're all 'hands off my body' when you want an abortion, but then you also want to make me have socialized medicine, which is hypocrimi, hypocriminical, hypo squirtfarrrarrrarrrrrrrrrrrrart," and I try to respond, but no one can make out what I'm saying, or else they think it's a Blake Edwards tribute.

Also: No wireless internet.

This may take a while.