Saturday, March 12, 2011

IF ONLY HE'D BEEN AROUND WHEN THE DUKE MADE THE GREEN BERETS. I have sometimes wondered what happened to Christian Toto, a culture warrior whose nonsense but rarely comes to my attention. I see now that he has a website, at which appears his review... of the reviewers!

"Is ideology invading ‘Battle: LA’ reviews?" asks Toto. While admitting that saying the stupid-looking new film "isn’t perfect" is "like saving Julian Assange has trouble keeping secrets" (LOL, #TCOT!), Toto judges the real offense to be evil liberal film critics:
But perusing a few of the critical responses to “Battle” yields something else “wrong” with the film. It doesn’t march lockstep with some critics’ ideological fault lines.
Above and beyond the amazing gall of a kulturkampfer complaining about other people politicizing the arts (hey, at least these critics saw the films first!), it turns out Toto's selection is heavily padded. Here's Toto's bias example from the Washington Post:
Did somebody mention Iraq? “Battle’s” depiction of block-by-block urban combat against an implacable, enigmatic foe evokes Baghdad at its bloodiest. But director Jonathan Liebesman (whose background is in horror flicks) isn’t interested in allegory, nuance or social comment. He just wants to line up platinum-plated space-squids to be blown away.
The critic compares Marines doing an Iraq-style mission to Marines doing an Iraq-style mission. Propaganda! Also:
And Roger Ebert, an avowed liberal, hated the film so much he called anyone who disagreed with him an “idiot.”
An avowed liberal having strong opinions is a sure sign of treason. And Toto seems not to know that comments such as "the film is plainly cut from the mold of old-school military propaganda films and rejected 'Call of Duty' missions" are what we on planet earth call "jokes."

Taken all together, the message seems to be, "Liberals totes kept me out of the Film Society of Film Critics. I'll show them!"

UPDATE. Toto complains in comments. He thinks I was suggesting that he hadn't seen the film; the passage in question refers to the modus operandi of other conservative critics, which was perhaps unclear. Sometimes I neglect to explain my jokes for newcomers. Speaking of which, Toto continues:
Your example of a joke isn't a joke, it's a colorful way to express an opinion. Jokes are funny. This comment isn't.
It seems explaining the jokes wouldn't have helped in any case.
BEYOND PARODY. I was joking that now would be a good time for Republicans to push for nuclear power. But Media Matters shows us that some of them have already done so at Fox Business.

These lunatics are saying that the Japanese reactors got through the tsunami "without a dent," which proves that we should get nuclear plants up and running now. Among the choice quotes: "Regulations don't make ya safe, safety makes ya safe!" Also they claim wind power is more dangerous than nuclear because a hawk flew into a turbine.

I've tried for years to figure out what motivates them, but I'm leaning toward the explanation that they were sent by aliens to destroy the human race. (h/t zpleat)

UPDATE. Ole Perfesser Instapundit doubles down, publishing an alleged letter from a constituent who tells us he's in Tokyo. While "alarmed at the nuclear crisis unfolding in Fukushima," the reader points out no skyscrapers collapsed, "so let’s not trash nuclear energy and Japanese engineering, please." If you question the safety of nuclear power, you're attacking Japanese engineering! Years of claiming people who oppose their politics are therefore opposing America have left them with this mental tic, I guess.

Most normal people are actually celebrating Japan's rigorous building codes, which probably saved many lives and are the sort of thing modern conservatives consider Big Gummint, fascist, etc.

UPDATE 2. Commenter MikeJ observes, "Any time something horrible happens Republicans will say we need to have more of it right here. The only thing surprising is that so far I haven't heard any Republicans argue that we should have an earthquake."

Friday, March 11, 2011

DISPATCHES FROM THE CULTURE WARS. Drew Patterson in L.A. alerted me to this attack on Glee by an admitted fan of Glee, California Family Council CEO Ron Prentice, who hath repented.
I fell prey to temptation. My ears were being tickled. But I have corrected my path!

Last night, I watched Glee for the last time. A television show about a group of high school students in their school’s musical performing club, their teacher (Will Schuster), and other faculty members of the school, Glee has devolved into a worldview-training course. And its worldview is without hope.
Devolved? You mean it started out like Seventh Heaven with pop and show tunes? Prentice would have you believe so:
Standard to the majority of television series, the first season impresses viewers with good story lines, and in this case, exceptional musical talent. Then, more overt worldview messages enter into the scripts.
Apparently Glee caught this Christer with Grease, Les Miserables, and Madonna sing-alongs, and then to Prentice's shock it suddenly turned out to be full of homosexuals and teen couplings. It has to be a conspiracy!

My guess is, other members of the council walked in on Prentice dancing around the TV to "Sweet Transvestite" and singing into a hairbrush, and he had to come up with something.

Speaking of O Jesus, The Anchoress finds "Another Reason to Defund PBS": The Sesame Street parody of Mad Men.
Mad men, sad men and … happy men?

Is it too difficult for Sesame Street to teach the concept of gladness? While watching this video, everything in me was screaming, “glad! GLAD! You’re GLAD MEN!”

They missed an opportunity to make education dynamic: “This makes me happy! This makes me GLAD!”
Of course if they had, she'd be yelling about this.
Add “glad” and you’ve given the children the concept of a synonym, plus a fun rhyme, and you’ve added a little wordplay for the adults.

Instead, this is dumbed-down, and maddeningly less than it could be...
A rightwing fake nun watching children's television has no right to complain about anyone or anything else being dumbed down.

But let's not just pick on the Jesus people when there are plenty of quasi-secular conservative intellectuals to pick on. In this regard, National Review's Phi Beta Cons blog is a treasure trove. Carol Iannone reads Antonia Fraser's account of her mostly happy life with the late Harold Pinter, which fills Iannone with literally incoherent rage:
Ha ha, but the laugh is on us. So while Pinter was enjoying his high-level marriage of refined intellectual equals in the British upper class, he was inflicting on his servile public a dark vision of obscure miseries, casual cruelties, inarticulate vulgarity, strangled miscommunications, and menacing silences in sordid rooming houses.
Also, centuries earlier, Shakespeare wrote tragedies and then went out to pubs and told jokes. And wrote comedies! Later, Inannone follows up:
A reader wants to know my point in my Pinter post.
You could go read it, but it doesn't get any funnier than that opening.
NOW SHE TELLS US. Peggy Noonan used to love Donald Rumsfeld ("these days he seems, as leaders go, a natural... As a communicator he's clear as clean water," etc) but now she's mad at him because he seems to have spent his recent memoirs deflecting blame from himself for the clusterfuck in Afghanistan. In fact she wants to take that book of memoirs and "break its stupid little spine."

It's not her last violent thought. Eventually our Crazy Jesus Lady gets around to talking about why we are in Afghanistan, despite our citizens' disgust at the enterprise. Followers may recall that Noonan was as recently at 2009 telling us that "Afghanistan is a great American undertaking," but was very unclear as to what the goal of that undertaking might be; she talked about what other people were thinking and saying (actually, mainly that they were thinking and saying indeterminate things), and implied of course that Obama had it all wrong, but didn't give us her own view on the subject, other than it was great and American and an undertaking.

Well, in today's column Noonan offers a little clarity:
If you asked most Americans why we went into Afghanistan in the weeks after 9/11, they would answer, with perfect common sense, that it was to get the bad guys—to find or kill Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda followers, to topple the Taliban government that had given them aid and support, to destroy terrorist networks and operations. New York at the time of the invasion, October 2001, was still, literally, smoking; the whole town still carried the acrid smell of Ground Zero. The scenes of that day were still vivid and sharp. New York still isn't over it...
Yeah, yeah, cut the bagpipes and get on with it.
...America wanted—needed—to see U.S. troops pull Osama out of his cave by his beard and drag him in his urine-soaked robes into an American courtroom. Or, less good but still good, to find him, kill him, put his head in a Tiffany box with a bow, and hand-carry it to the president of the United States.

It wasn't lust for vengeance, it was lust for justice, and for more than justice.
As you may have noticed long before now, that box was never delivered, and now Noonan says:
The failure to find bin Laden was a seminal moment in the history of the war in Afghanistan. And it was a catastrophe. From that moment—the moment he escaped his apparent hideout in Tora Bora and went on to make his sneering speeches and send them out to the world—from that moment everything about the Afghanistan war became unclear, unfocused, murky and confused.
I wish someone had told us at the time that we were just there for the head of Osama Bin Laden and that, once we had established that we weren't going to get it, we could split. Oh well, too late now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

MOVING TARGET PRACTICE. Standing up for white men in America, Robin of Berkeley. She was filling out an "application to be a provider for an insurance panel" (presumably because she's a licensed psychotherapist) and the application rudely asked if she were gay or Asian.
What also occurred to me while filling out the application is that every special category exists aside from that of a white, straight male. If someone is gay or a woman or a person of color, the welcome mat is laid out. But what about an ordinary Joe, a working-class stiff from Toledo?
I think a working-class-stiff set-aside would liven up any insurance panel, particularly if they waived the professional requirements... oops, next graf suggests she's talking about college admissions:
How does he get into college when all the recruitment efforts are aimed at others?
Cut to a factory clerk longingly gazing upon the gates of his local college, then hanging his head dejectedly as he remembers that college is for differently-abled lesbians of color.
Some young men turn to the military as a way of accessing needed funds for college. What are the consequences?

They are, in fact, grave: white, working class men are at much higher risk of being mortally wounded in the battleground than their privileged counterparts.
Privileged counterparts including non-white working class men? Whoops, new thought follows:
And while the working class risk their lives, the snooty elite go to college on daddy's dime.
You get the picture: The admission privileges allegedly enjoyed by minorities are easily conflated with the privileges enjoyed by rich people. The only ones left holding the bag are poor white men.
After decades of grievances, we haven't turned into a fairer nation; we're simply an angrier one.
Well, some of us are clearly angry.
In the age of Obama, aggrieved groups have joined together to demand their rights, endeavoring to put the white man under their thumb.
Unsurprisingly, there are no evidentiary links in that section.
Now men are marginalized and demonized. They are given the demoralizing message that they are unnecessary.
OK, we've made the leap from poor men to men in general, now let's take it a step further:
The United States would cease to operate if conservative white males went on strike tomorrow (not necessarily a bad idea, by the way). We'd do just fine shorn of most of the metrosexual crowd -- the college professors and the activists. But we'd crash and burn without the manly man. It's he who does the essential work that others cannot, like patrol our streets, extinguish fires, and drive tractors.
Conservative white males! If George Will, Mark Steyn and Charles Krauthammer throw down their tools, the nation will be consumed by flames, leaving only the vanishingly small coterie of metrosexuals who put Obama over the top to ask one another, "Which end goes on the hydrant?"
As a former progressive, I know how tempting it is to blame others for our own problems.
No comment.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

ANOTHER MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA. Charlie Sheen has been fired, and I weep that Two and a Half Men, the sitcom of our age, is no more. But like my mother always said, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and put vodka in it. Here's my pitch, Charlie: Bring back Playboy After Dark. Check out this vintage clip from the show of Hugh Hefner discussing philosophy with LeRoy Neiman:



The Playboy Penthouse as Plato's Cave! Now imagine Sheen taking Hef's place and discoursing, in an After Six tux and with a goddess on his arm (oh, right, two goddesses), on the "worldwide renaissance of me." It's a snug fit, no? Sheen, having none of Hef's savoir faire, will be more jagged and obscene, and more apt to inflict Korn on his guests than the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Shel Silverstein, and Lenny Bruce, but we must make some concessions to the times.

Also he should get this guy to tend bar.

Monday, March 07, 2011

(TBOGG AND SADLY NO EACH DID ONE, SO I GUESS I MIGHT AS WELL TRY A) SHORTER ROSS DOUTHAT: Let's go back to scaring kids out of having sex. This time it's sure to work!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Charlie Sheen phenomenon and the rightblogger reaction to it. There was sufficient insanity to fill the bag, so I left out some interesting bits, like Conservative Oasis' o-tempura-o-s'mores Hollyweird lament:
We have as a country regressed intellectually I think. We don’t, I believe, still treat ourselves to the penchant of a mild mannered, wise and thoughtful reprise to a more gentle and innocent introspection of ourselves. We want to be wowed. We don’t think about why, or the consequences. We just want to be wowed. Show me the freak show! Show me the daredevil that is really jsut a dumbass! Show me the disintegrating millionaire Hollywood asshole! Show me the whore, the junky, the youthful superstar sweetheart that has turned into the bitch who shows her crotch as she gets out of the car!
This monlogue should be spoken in an increasingly loud and strangulated voice by Harris Yulin while holding a Polaroid camera in a cheap motel room.

Friday, March 04, 2011

JONAH GOLDBERG, GAY MARRIAGE, AND CHARLIE SHEEN: LINKBAIT FOR SURE. For your edification and my sins, I have examined a video interview by James Poulos of Jonah Goldberg on the subject of -- shudder -- gay marriage.

Poulos is bothered that judges may legislate America into gay marriage. But he's an intellectual, so not for him the usual goldurn-activist-judges yak.

"The problem isn't that judges are usurping the role of legislators," he says, "but that they're really usurping the role of philosophers. So as far as I see it, there's no way to get the gay marriage outcome through the courts without basically importing a new metaphysical view into the law as it stands."

Goldberg seems to like this "metaphysic" thing -- sounds fancy! -- and so lunges, grabs it, drops it, and watches it roll through a sewer grate. This section I reproduce entire:
…we now expect judges to do things that judges are not particularly well inclined to do. If you're gonna have people decide on a new metaphysic, if you're gonna have people decide, what were the crazy Kennedy decision about the sweet mystery of life kind of thing where they're gonna define what it means to be a human being in the universe? Then why have guys who go to law school do that? I mean it's sort of crazy. Why not have philosophers on there or theologians or just all-around really wise people from different walks of life?
This confirms my suspicion that Goldberg writes his columns by dictation.

Ultimately, Goldberg would "just push [gay marriage] all the way down to the most local level possible and if states or communities that don't want to recognize gay marriage don't want to recognize it, then they don't have to and vice versa." So he's sorta okay with gay marriage so long as it comes with states' rights. Or vice-versa, which I suspect for him means "whatever."

Poulos rolls a clip of Robert Scheer discussing gay marriage and saying "people define their own sense of happiness." Aha, says Poulos: "That leap from separation of church and state to separation of our individual sense of happiness from the content of the law, this is, as you I think hinted, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey all over again" -- now Goldberg's thinking, I gotta call this guy next time I forget junk like that -- "the plurality opinion there, about sort of the mystical experience of defining your own personal happiness. The idea, though, that law has no authority to reflect an understanding about the meaning of life, that itself is a metaphysical or religious idea, isn't it?"

"This is more your stomping ground than mine," says Goldberg, clearly dazzled. "I mean, but you cannot get out of the business of establishing sort of sweeping truths -- if you say the court can't impose sweeping truths, you're essentially establishing a sweeping truth, and all those sophomoric games we can play. The thing that bothers me about this -- or one of the things, I should say…"

Among the subsequent flailings: Atheists in the 19th century would find gay marriage absurd; Barney Frank is a hypocrite because he doesn't support polygamy; and "the difference between men and women are according to every biological textbook grounded quite firmly in nature."

Also, it's "ultimately an argument about elite populism," a term new to me, which Goldberg helpfully explains: "There's just a lot of people who now have decided that they want to redefine what the institution of marriage is, and because they have numbers and influence on their side they can make an argument that actually doesn't persuade very much I think on purely rational terms simply because it's a matter of power politics." So: Elite populism occurs when lots of people support an idea, which yet remains an elite opinion because Goldberg doesn't agree with it.

Poulos interprets the Frank anecdote as a sign of "tension that exists on the left," presumably between the left's warring monogamist and polygamist factions. Then he asks Goldberg what he thinks marriage is for.

"Historically, up until about five minutes ago, marriage was for forming the core basis of the family, right?" says Goldberg. "I mean I think that's sort of evolutionarily, historically the most obvious statement. It was a matter of forming a unit of two, a team of companions..."

Poulos, showing some spine, says yeah, but what does Goldberg think? The ploy seems to unnerve Goldberg:

"I'm more open-minded about some of this stuff," he stammers. "I mean marriage ultimately is what people who are married say it is, right? At some point a lot of these political institutions, they take on the meaning that people invest in them. And I am not the guy you want to have on if you want to me to make can objective have voice of God theological argument for the institution of marriage, even though I have great respect for that version of it…"

I'll be damned: Goldberg has imbibed some of that new metaphysic, and become a squish on gay marriage! But you know it can't last:

"In the Judeo-Christian Western tradition, marriage has meant something very specific for a very long time," he remembers to say, and so "from a libertarian perspective, I have great amount of trepidation about reaching in and just yanking out and messing around with an institution like that --"

(Libertarian perspective? Forget it, he's on a roll.)

"-- when you don't know what all the consequences are. It brings to mind Chesterton's famous parable about the fence…" Oh God.

"I hear your view on this," says Poulos charitably. He agrees that everyone's going gay and "this was captured in the Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are All Right," which he finds "an icon of where I think we're at in terms of mainstream culture right now. But culture is a funny thing, right, it can be stubbornly unofficial in some ways." (I pause to appreciate this rare acknowledgement by a culture warrior that culture may not be, at least on some occasions, within reach of his lance.)

"So you can have a very tolerant or even celebratory culture toward gay marriage," Poulos continues, "where nevertheless people tacitly understand that there is some kind of qualitative difference, between a gay household and a family with a biological dad and mom and kids…" Ah, rapprochement -- you can have your gay marriage, so long as we can keep our disgust at it.

"So a lot of conservatives I think would ultimately settle for that if that's where it ended," Poulos offers, "but not a lot of liberals would settle for that, I don't think."

Goldberg seems to recognize his cue, but not what to do with it. He points out that he's been in favor of civil unions for 10 years, but are the liberals happy? No, he says; "you have the left bring up hospital visitation rights for gay couples" -- Goldberg actually smirks at this -- " for 20 years now, when this has almost always been --" A spasm of uncertainly seems to seize him: "I think there were some real horrible cases in the very beginning, but for the last 15 years it's been a complete red herring made-up thing, but it so offends people's sensibilities that you can't have the people you love in the hospital room that they want to bring it up." It's amazing how conservatives suffer in the struggle for equality, and the visitation rights thing hardly ever happens.

Suddenly Goldberg remembers he's anti-gay-marriage again! "Let's not call these things marriage," he says, "because marriage is this word and this institution with this other meaning and history." Not only that, Obama's "lying in public" about his "evolving" stand on gay marriage, because really "he's in favor of gay marriage but he wants to get there incrementally." Between this sham anti-gay-marriage stand and Goldberg's forthright if sporadic anti-gay-marriage stand, it's clear which America would endorse if liberals hadn't hornswaggled them with elite populism.

Then Goldberg remembers when gays were against marriage and just wanted to get fucked at the Ramrod, presumably based on his extensive interviews of them, and denounces Andrew Sullivan for his "pro-cruising and anonymous gay sex position, which he was in favor of simultaneously while supporting marriage, which always seemed to me a pretty damning contradiction." Poulos gets excited, states that bourgeois straights as well as gays "especially want to do this kind of oscillating back and forth between the comfy enclosures of their domestic zone and the experience of transgression that they swore off as a full-time lifestyle when they went bourgeois. Case in point, Charlie Sheen…"

Charlie Sheen! Goldberg does his bit to make things worse: "One of the reasons why we're in trouble in this country is that we don't have as healthy institutions as we should, to create more decent people," he says. "Though I still think this is an inherently decent country with vast reservoirs of -- not to keep repeating the word -- decency to draw upon, but when you have people like Charlie Sheen…"

Oh Jesus -- Charlie Sheen is what's wrong with America! Him and gay marriage! Goldberg rolls off to a second lunch, leaving Poulos to editorialize about Marxism, democracy, Plato, and Charlie Sheen, and to declare that "gay marriage is a salient issue but it's not a root issue," and to predict is "homosexuality will only be as mainstreamed, in America at least, as far as Christianity will allow it to go. Judging by the sea change in sexual attitudes we're already witnessing in the churches, that might, at least in the very near future, be rather far indeed." Always leave 'em laughing! Next week: Natalie Portman's fetus and the left's tension over abortion.
SHORTER CHRISTIAN SCHNEIDER: I must admit the protesters in Madison, Wisconsin are polite. But let me put this flashlight under my chin and tell you stories about rowdy protests many, many years ago. And today... those dirty, violent hippies... ARE IN MADISON PLOTTING REVOLUTION! Scared ya good, didn't I?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

FIRST TIME AS FARCE, THE SECOND TIME (AND ALL THE OTHERS) AS FARCE. Back in the fall of 2009, Maggie Haberman of the New York Post was telling the world that, according to understandably unnamed sources, disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer was "considering a run for statewide office next year." His speculated target was either Kirsten Gillibrand's Senate seat or the exalted office of state comptroller. The story was seized upon by other news outlets, despite Spitzer's denials and the general ludicrousness of the idea. The Post delightedly printed the blog musings of Ashley Dupre, one of Spitzer's former hookers, who was said to be "responding to a front-page Post exclusive about Spitzer contemplating a return to office" but mostly defended herself from the scorn of non-prostitutes. The paper followed up with responses from women whom Dupre's remarks outraged or at least annoyed. "Rrrrrrrrr-oww!" went the lede. "The claws came out."

This nostalgic moment is inspired by an item in today's Post by Fox Business reporter Charles Gasparino, who claims the "political class" is "buzzing about [Spitzer] running for mayor in 2013," which he will allegedly attempt as "a self-financed independent, a la Mike Bloomberg." Gasparino says he was told of this ambition "by several prominent city Democrats."

Gasparino also heard that former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso wants to run for mayor, too, in an apparent grudge match against his former tormentor. (Grasso hasn't confirmed, though Gasparino says "I know Grasso is game.") Spitzer has allegedly been inspired to a mayoral run by "his ego-inflating experience as a CNN host (despite its lousy ratings)" and the softball treatment he received in the movies Client 9 and Inside Job.

The column is padded out with a denunciatory recap of Spitzer's career (including a claim that Spitzer "might have actually abetted the [2008 financial] crisis" because as state attorney general he brought charges against the CEO of AIG), and ends with the bold prediction that "Spitzer will chicken out rather than face the possibility of a more balanced depiction of his record."

Reactions to Gasparino's column are rolling in: "One gets the sense [Spitzer] is just biding his time until he can get out of the media business," says The Business Insider. "That out may come in the form of a NYC mayoral run in 2013, according to Charlie Gasparino." "Charles Gasparino says the former brothel client may run for mayor of New York City in 2013," says NewsMax.

"Pretty astonishing, I know, that disgraced ex-governor -- and low-rated talk-show host for CNN -- Eliot Spitzer would be thinking about running for mayor of New York," says The Cable Game. "But FBN's Charlie Gasparino has the story in today's New York Post, and reprinted in The Business Insider, including additional names of who might run for the mayorship in 2013." What more proof do you need? "With Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) as the Democratic candidate, this could be the best political race ever," says Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.

Some people say that America suffers because our citizens don't follow current events in the news, but increasingly I'm convinced that it suffers because they do.
EVERYTHING THAT'S WRONG WITH TELEVISION. The Frisky headlines:
HBO Making A Male “Sex And The City”?
It's to be masterminded by Doug Ellin, creator of Entourage. Fuller vs. at The Huffington Post:
"It's something I've lived with my friends," Ellin said. "People were thinking that 40 is the new 20 and their life is all set -- and all of a sudden they woke up one day and had no money."
Wow, relevance. It's refreshing to see the everyday problems of little people --
Set to star in a role modeled after that conundrum is Ed Burns, who will play a wealthy banker who finds himself holding the bag after his bank collapses.
Whoops. In the first ep, Burns decides whether to use his severance to finally get his Ph.D, or on a big blowout for himself and his buddies on Whore Island. Then, everyone goes artisanal-shaving-gear shopping!

And yet we couldn't get the characters of Peter Bagge or myself on TV. Hmph.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

TESTIFYIN' FETUS. I'm surprised the plan to have a fetus appear as a witness at an Ohio legislative meeting hasn't reminded anyone else of this bit from That's My Bush:

That's My Bush!
Anti-Abortion Leader
www.comedycentral.com
Tosh.0Funny JokesThe Comedy Awards

Yeah, it's in bad taste, but isn't everything these days?

UPDATE. Thanks, I guess, to commenter Jason for alerting me to the webcomic Umbert the Unborn, about a remarkably well-developed and talkative fetus. It includes a kids page featuring Vita the Viable. The whole thing makes me sorta wish I'd been D&C'd so I wouldn't have to witness it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

FREEDOM! HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FREEDOM! I see Kay Hymowitz is on book tour for Manning Up, talking about how men have been so badly damaged by feminism that they've retreated into PlayStation and porn.
Let’s call it gender bait and switch. Never before in history have men been matched up with women who are so much their equal — socially, professionally, and sexually. By the time they reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors — in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. They very reasonably assume that the women they are meeting at a bar or cafĂ© or gym are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.

That’s the bait; here comes the switch. Women may want equality at the conference table and treadmill. But when it comes to sex and dating, they aren’t so sure. The might hook up as freely as a Duke athlete. Or, they might want men to play Greatest Generation gentleman. Yes, they want men to pay for dinner, call for dates...
Like women weren't confusing to men before the Dawn of Co-Ed Soccer. Anyway, fewer Americans are getting married, which is an undesirable result for some reason (pitchfork proctors in Hell couldn't get me to read Hymowitz's book, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the idea that marriage increases your earning power), and so must be nagged into it.

This theme has become a popular favorite, at least among the deepthink crowd. Little Miss Attila feels it too, and insists everyone else agrees, even liberals:
Right now, we live in a culture in which the structure of male-female relationships is broken, and everyone senses it. When I talk to my lefty friends, they acknowledge that as well, but they would really like it to be the fault of corporations, so they tend to talk a lot about “making sex into a commodity.”
I haven't heard this argument yet at the liberal clambakes I attend; maybe it's currently big in Portland and destined to sweep the nation next season.

LMA tries to be playful about it ("I, for instance, planned to be a sexually active spinster all my life, until I fell in love..."), but her prescription is less sex. "We have to get back to a place wherein 'sexual freedom,' as a cultural norm, actually includes the freedom to say 'no,'" she stresses. You'd think freeborn Americans already enjoyed this right, but apparently the "culture" took it away from them, so that "what was possible became a mandate."

Thus, I suppose, "Manning Up" starts with admitting that we are powerless against culture, and have to be liberated from it by new ways of thinking: "Erotic restraint has to be acknowledged as the wiser course," says LMA, "rather than treated as weirdness." She doesn't say how this change will be affected -- maybe national Promise Rings legislation, or a new edition of Nancy Reagan's Dating Do's and Don'ts.

No such discussion is complete without the contribution of Dr. Ace O. Spades, who tells those man-hating feminists at length that they're the ones to blame for prostitution being illegal, and that they're only hurting themselves with a "Sexual Arms Race" that "leads to increased pressure on other women to behave, sexually, in a way they would prefer not to." (Again with the strange compulsion to be sexy against their wills! I thought conservatives were the personal-responsibility people.) Ace hurtles to a spectacular and perhaps literal climax:
Silly third-generation feminists watched Melrose Place and didn't realize it was fantasy inverted-world wish-fulfillment, but in fact was describing actual reality, or at least the way the world could be and should be, if dirty men weren't screwing everything up by insisting that Heather Loclear settle down and marry someone.
Little Miss Atilla thinks this post "did, I think, have a few stereotypes hitchhiking through it, but still made some good points." So they can work together! The strategy planning sessions should be awesome.
GOTTA ADMIT, THEY HAVE NERVE. After weeks of portraying teachers who have the effrontery to belong to unions as greedy ingrates, it was something to see National Review's Matthew Shaffer -- whose magazine has been at the forefront of such characterizations -- lay out this reason why teachers should be happy with less money:
Most importantly, teachers have important non-financial compensation — working with children in a universally admired profession, etc.
The guy who killed his parents and then asked the judge for leniency because he's an orphan just went "damn."

Monday, February 28, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, in which I consider the dismissive attitude of rightbloggers toward last weekend's nationwide union rallies. Why would they not approve these displays of grassroots democratic dissent, when they celebrate those practiced by the Tea Party? Yeah, yeah, I know, but I really think I added something here.

UPDATE. I had to revise a number in the post, which led to a lot of "my hair is a bird, your argument is invalid" comments from unsympathetic readers. I guess they're giving graduate degrees in missing the point these days. Even if the total attendance were only the 170,000 Legal Insurrection estimated, or even less, national rallies by people who are not the Tea Party would still be noteworthy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

littleoscarright.jpgMY WORST OSCAR PREDICTIONS YET! It's time for my annual Oscar humiliation! At picking winners I've had good years and bad, but the very compulsion to indulge this juvenile habit, let alone share it with the world, shames me deeply. Well, better this than Middle East policy, I guess.

As usual, I have seen but few of the nominated films, so these predictions are based mostly on ignorance and gut-rumblings. I will also say that I'm very nervous about these picks, as my Jesuitical reasoning has led me unto highly counterintuitive choices. But that's the story of my life. Now let 'er rip:

Best Visual Effects: Inception. Because it's a Best Picture nominee, and because everyone who gushes about it seems to be describing special effects rather than a movie.

Best Sound Editing/Best Sound Mixing: Toy Story for the former, Inception for the latter. There. We've taken care of two Best Picture nominees that won't win anything else.

Best Makeup: The Wolfman. A man turns into a wolfman!

Best Documentary Short. The Warriors of Qiugang. I just saw the trailers and Jesus Christ, all this stuff looks grim. The Chinese pollution and corruption theme in Warriors seems like something Oscar voters would go for.

Best Animated Short: Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage. Like a sap, I'm picking the one I liked.

Best Live Action Short: Na Wewe. A.O. Scott has me convinced.

Best Documentary Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop. In my big 2009 win, I got burned betting against the front-runner in the category. Never again!

Best Song: If I Rise, from 127 Hours. It sounds like something a Hollywood factotum might play on his car stereo. And it's from a Best Picture nominee that won't win anything else.

Best Foreign-Language Film: Biutiful. Oscar likes Iñàrritu.

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3. Duh.

Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland. Something besides a Best Picture nominee has to win a meaningful award, and awful as this movie is, its look is highly distinctive and clever. Plus Tim Burton films have won this award three times before.

Best Costume Design: The King's Speech. Never bet against period dress in this category. But which period? I'm guessing many voters will boost the Oscar count for their Best Picture choice with this craft award.

Best Original Score: The Social Network. Yes, I agree, Trent Reznor winning an Oscar would be awesome. And I bet a lot of the voters think so too. (I know they're all supposed to be geezers, but surely you remember "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"; maybe they take recommendations in the musical categories from their less-elderly children or mistresses.)

Best Editing: The Fighter. Tough call. It usually goes either to the Best Picture winner by default, or to a perceived flashy-cutting job a la Bullitt. The Fighter has jittery-as-hell sequences which David O. Russell will not win an Oscar for, so it's this or 127 Hours.

Best Cinematography: True Grit. Roger Deakins FTW. It's time.

Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech. No way around it.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network. Release the Sorkin!

Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech. I sweated this one, and briefly considered Darren Aronofsky, and even the Coens. Carpetbagger thinks The King's Speech will win Best Picture but picks Fincher for directing because "best director-best picture splits are rare in Oscar history, but when they happen, they usually reward the edgier film’s director." But since 1972, those splits have usually happened because the Best Picture winners in those years (Crash, Chicago, Gladiator, et alia) really, really sucked. (Also, what's "edgy" about The Social Network?) Whatever its drawbacks, The King's Speech is a well-made object.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter. On consideration, I'm halfway convinced by Jay B's reservations about this showy performance. But Bale's in front and there's no one they're drooling to replace him with.

Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech. Attend my brilliant reasoning! First, the last time a film won both the Best Supporting Actor and Actress Oscars was Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986. And that was by Woody Allen, a jackpot for supporting actors. Bale will win, so favorite Melissa Leo probably won't.

Till this very moment, and my fifth beer, I was going with Hailee Steinfeld. I really think that if the Coens and Jeff Bridges hadn't been so recently honored, and if the film hadn't been a remake, True Grit would win everything this year; it has deep feeling and great craft, and is just the sort of thing the voters would like to reward with a strong showing. And Steinfeld, who's the heart of the film, would be the logical beneficiary of their affection for it. But the energy is flowing toward The King's Speech, and HBC had a great year with this and Alice in Wonderland, of which she was the only really magical aspect. Well, her and the frogs.

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech. I'm not a total idiot.

Best Actress: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right. Or am I? But they've been trying to give this chick an Oscar for 20 years. When her co-star Julianne Moore, who was equally wonderful, didn't get a nomination, I sensed something was up. It may have been easy for voters to decide that Natalie Portman will get another chance down the road. And if it wasn't so easy, Warren Beatty may have made some phone calls.

Best Picture: The King's Speech. For all the reasons you've heard elsewhere. It's lush and uplifting and a massive hit.

These prognostications are made for entertainment purposes only. I'm sure not putting money on them. See you on the red carpet!

UPDATE. LE-O-O-O-O-O-O! Clearly this is one of my bad years. Alice in Wonderland takes both Best Costume and Best Art Direction, and The Fighter both Supporting Actor awards. Hmm. Not that you should listen to me at this late date (10:10 pm EST), but it's looking more like The Social Network's year.

UPDATE 2. No it wasn't. Ah crap. 12 for 25 -- great for batting, lousy for Oscar prognostication. Well, back to tedious political subjects.
WISCONSIN SOLIDARITY RALLY, CITY HALL PARK, NEW YORK. Went over to look. I see this guy has a report calling the demo "sucky," with pictures meant to portray the turnout as meager. Don't you believe it:


The crowd stretched up Broadway from the base of the park to Steve Flanders Square, with overflow protesters on the sidewalks across the street -- about the same size as the crowd for the 2009 Tea Party rally I covered for the Voice at this location. The cops say 3,000 attended. Considering how much we New Yorkers are supposed to disdain the rubes in flyover country, that's not a bad show of solidarity. (There was even a bunch of badger signs.)


A lady was handing out these lyric sheets for the expected chants. (Some of the helpers self-identified as members of MoveOn; cut to George Soros and the Koch Brothers playing chess on a cloud, a la Jason and the Argonauts). I didn't hear any of these actually chanted, but I did hear "Tax the Rich," which is destined to become a certified rightwing objet d'outrage, as well as "The Whole World is Watching" and such like. Also some guy warbled "Solidarity Forever," with which the older brethren sang along.


Here's a cute kid, whose protest sign was held by her mother while she drank some water. Alert Michelle Malkin!


Many reporters interviewing people with cheese on their heads. Seconds after this snap, a cheesehead told this Fox journalist to have her cameraman turn around and record the AXIS OF EVIL: KOCH MURDOCH WALKER sign directly behind her. She laughed. You have to have a sense of humor in this business.

I was so far away from the bandstand I couldn't see the speakers, but I did hear Charlie Rangel, Bill de Blasio, Jerry Nadler, Jeff Cantor of the WFP, and a bunch of union people who generally reminded the crowd (in between sound system malfunctions) that a.) the Republicans aren't just coming after the teachers, they're coming after all working people; b.) the bankers and brokers have not been invited to join in this allegedly "shared" sacrifice with the rest of us; and c.) liberty and unions, now and forever, one and inseparable. (I'm paraphrasing.) Every so often an innovation tickled me, e.g. Public Advocate de Blasio's statement that "unlike the national media, I am not fascinated by Chris Christie. I don't think he's an oracle or Moses. I think he's a politician" trying to make a name for himself.

The attendees were in a festive mood. There were plenty of recognizable protest types, covered in buttons and stickers, but there were also plenty of people who just looked like citizens who figured this was as good a use of their time as another. I did not see any union buses, and the overwhelming majority of the ralliers did not conform to the stereotype of union folk -- that is, they neither chomped cigars nor rested on featherbeds nor went around thugging up rightwing activists. So you could call it grassroots, except that the term is now reserved for people in Revolutionary War costumes trying to get rich people a break.

Friday, February 25, 2011

MY PRAYERS ANSWERED. Remember when I asked for a moody WB comic-based teen series called Riverdale? Well, Point Blank Creative has done even better -- they've made a movie trailer:



While the Columbine angle had occurred to me, I must admit PBM caught me looking with Jughead.

Now, Dame Fortune, send me a Lockhorns movie! (No, this doesn't count.)
ANNALS OF THE AGE OF CONSERVATIVE VICTIM-PLAY. That Wisconsin protestor who smacked Tabitha Hale's camera away has got the brethren agitated. Fortunately Ace O. Spades has channelled his rage into a workable plan:
In an email, a blogger mentioned, off-handedly, the idea of "Purple Hearts for Tea Partiers."

I would suggest taking this idea seriously.
And maybe the Purple Hearts should have band-aids on them. No, Ace is aware Purple Hearts are seriously devalued by John Kerry having them, and so goes instead for something easier to fabricate:
I would suggest that when Tea Partiers congregate, they wear an armband of a specific color if there has been any assault on them in, say, the past month. I'd suggest Purple for a bruising attack/simple assault (as Tabitha Hale suffered), Red for any attack that draws blood, and black for a truly serious attack, a deadly sort of attack (which may or may not result in actual death).
A wonderful plan, but insufficiently ambitious. What about the Tea Partiers who have suffered the most common assault of all -- unkind words and "blood libel," of the sort that was dished out by vicious liberals after Gabrielle Giffords was shot? Surely the brethren who have suffered thus deserve armbands, too; blood libel is serious! Or maybe they'll just cop the purple bands and claim some hippie messed with them. Who's to know? Ace continues:
I'd say that guy getting his fingers bitten off by a nonviolent, peaceful leftist Concern-Fag would be a black attack (and let's hope for no more of those).
"Concern-Fag" is a thing at Ace's place now. It seems to mean "Excuse-to-say-Fag."

UPDATE. Lively comments, with some readers inspired to apposite references, like wjts' to the Horst Wessel Song ("The Tea Party marches with bold, firm steps/Cameras jarred by SEIU and ACORN thugs"). trizzlor suggests, "Maybe they can write the assailants' names on their faces?"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NOT BAD, NOT BAD AT ALL. The Obama Administration's decision to stop defending the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act is good news of two kinds. The first is obvious. The second: rightwing rage!

First there's the no-take-backsees argument, most eloquently and passive-aggressively expressed by Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review:
Stanley Kurtz writes, “Did anyone on any part of the political spectrum ever actually believe that Obama opposed gay marriage?” My guess is that the answer is yes, millions of people heard him and assumed he was telling the truth. That is, after all, why he said what he did.
Ponnuru's cute when he plays dumb, but I'm sure most sentient creatures knew that Obama defending DOMA was like Republican presidents sucking up to unions -- something politicans have to do until they can get away with doing what they really want.

Another category of good news is all the fist-shaking assertions that Obama will pay for courting the gay. Mike Huckabee declares it may "destroy" Obama; Law Riot, incensed that Obama has "unilaterally decided what is constitutional and what is not," says it "could hurt Obama deeply come next year’s election"; "This is going to come back to haunt him" and "may come back to bite him in the ass," snarl the dead butch buckos at Flopping Aces; etc.

This sort of thing actually revives my optimism -- because these yahoos assert that most Americans hate homosexuals as much as they do as confidently as they assert that most Americans are with them on everything else. Since they're wrong about gays, it may be that they're full of shit about the rest of it, too. What a cheering thought!

Extra asshole points to Orin Kerr in a wonderfully weaselly Obama-vs.-our-sacred-Constitution post: "Now, I wouldn’t in a million years compare torture and wiretapping with gay rights," he says. "Obviously, the subject matter is totally and completely different. But..." Yeah, okay buddy.

(Graphic from one of the greatest cartoons of all time, John Holmstrom's "Bosko's Perfect Day.")

UPDATE. In case you were inclined to be taken in by Kerr's pretense, be advised that he's been seconded by Megan McArdle. I rest my case!

UPDATE. Doghouse Riley in comments: "I'm busy calculating the ergs of concern McArdle-Galt put out over Bush's signing-statement frenzy. Back in a minute." He has yet to return. Conservatives generally keep Constitutional concerns up their sleeves, and only produce them when they're holding a losing hand. See Party, Tea.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

THE DREAM IS OVER. CNN has a front-pager about conservatives in Hollywood. It's mostly familiar material, but leave it to Andrew Breitbart to add some news value:
Breitbart said the notion that the "casting couch" is a quick way to find success in the industry has now been replaced with a new expectation of actresses new in town.

"Hollywood has always been known for the casting couch as a dominant aspect of how you get into the industry, and I would say that's almost a bygone burden," he said. "I think that the current burden is, if you're getting off the bus into Hollywood now, the first thing that you're taught is to go to certain social events, charitable events that are left-of-center oriented."

He later added, "So a young actress comes into town, realizes that if she's seen at the correct charitable event and talks to the producers that go there, that's one of the quickest entries into proper Hollywood these days."
So Hollywood moguls no longer fuck starlets, but instead take them straight from the depot to the new Schwab's Drugstore, a Maxine Waters Meet-Up. Man, Tinseltown really has lost its glamour.

Oh, there's also a link to BigDawg Music Mafia, a page for artists who describe themselves as "culture warriors." I'll give you a tip: The pause button on the player is halfway down the page. But you know how I feel about it -- I endorse anything that gets people to play music. Hats off then to Toots Sweet, who tells us in "We The People":
Man, it's all so bizarre
Everywhere I look I see another czar
Lightin' up a Cuban cigar
We're like American refugees!
Toots has also made up new lyrics to "You Ain't See Nothin' Yet" in honor of Michele Bachmann ("She looked at me with those red, white, and blue eyes and said..."). Say what you will, it's certainly more fun than reading Lileks on the subject.

UPDATE. In comments, Hob is right: Fats Durston's "Bachmann-Turner Diaries Overdrive" is very good.
ANNALS OF THE CULTURE WAR, PART 534,556. Joe Carter at First Things examines Picasso, and if you've ever been to First Things you have some idea of what to expect. But I think Carter may exceed your expectations here.

The post is mostly about how Picasso was a shit with women, which we knew, and how that led Picasso to attack women with cubism:
On learning that Picasso was out, Hemingway decided to leave him a present. He went to his car and returned with a case of grenades, on which he wrote, “To Picasso from Hemingway.”

While an appropriately symbolic gift, Picasso didn’t need the armaments: He had already been lobbing grenades for nearly half a century…

The grenades he tossed also left more than a few wounded women.
See, they don't call it "culture war" for nothing. Not content to attack his wives and mistresses, many of whom "led tormented existences that ended tragically," with his artistic grenades, Picasso went rogue:
What begins in the glow of realist love -- or at the very least infatuation -- ends in the violent disgust of Cubist distortion. Picasso’s love-hate relationship with the visible world was a visual expression of his love-hate relationship with the women in his life. Cubism, according to the evidence in Picasso’s paintings, is less an abstract juggling of shapes and colors than an index of sexual disgust.
So even though Picasso also famously expressed his cubist disgust toward musicians, fruit and tableware, and himself, it was really all about the misogyny. Carter charts how Picasso made women purty like a photygraph when he loved 'em, and all cubey when he got sick of 'em. As for his "teenage mistress, Marie-Therese Walter," Carter determines, "being only an object of lust rather than of love, Walter never rated a fully realistic portrayal." And people say conservatives don't do feminist outreach!

But that's not the end; it never is. Picasso's grenades detonate to this day!
But Picasso’s story is not merely his own. As Arianna Huffington wisely discerned, his story is “the twentieth century’s own biography.”

The dehumanization trope can also be found in the works of such artists as Allen Jones and Robert Mapplethorpe, men who have embraced the objectification of the human form and who reduce the individual to an object.
I don't know much about art, but I'll say this: When Mapplethorpe stuck a bullwhip up his ass, you by God knew it was a man with a bullwhip up his ass.
Meanwhile, the fear and disgust surrounding female sexuality has become so pervasive that it is almost passé. Castration anxiety is now a major theme in rap and hip-hop music, and extreme images of the female threat, such as vagina dentate, appear in popular films (for example, in Teeth).
Oh, I remember Teeth; big hit. (Aren't they on Teeth VI now?) My only question is, what's this vagina dentate thing? It sounds Latin, but since sexism began with Picasso the term must date from the turn of the last century at the earliest.

Meanwhile if you like your culture-war more in the fake-C.S.-Lewis mode, you can visit Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Pantheos, where they send First Things writers when they get too reactionary, apparently. Longenecker's Professor Slubgrip conducts a Pop Cult 101 class at the University of Bowelbage (how do they think of these things?) and promises his demonic worm-students that they will be soon be "working in film, television, and 'media.'" Mwa-ha-ha! This threatens to be part of a series, and I only hope Fr. Longenecker learns to be faster at getting to the punchline.

UPDATE. More historical revisionism from commenters. The Dark Avenger: "I blame Marcel Duchamp for the post-colonial mess in the Congo, with his infamous painting Ce n'est pas un massacre." Zen Comix: "The presence of a Cubist Fernand Leger painting in The Omega Man's apartment is proof that Charlton Heston's gun fetish is about subjugating women to his Republican penis." Hogan: "And don't get me started on the rampant taurophobia displayed in Guernica."
BA-DUM-BUM.


Not Montparnasse, but good enough for the likes of us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HOME TAPING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IS KILLING MUSIC. Aw, Jesus, that asshole Jay Nordlinger is combining his two great loves -- classical music and union-busting:
Okay, it is not so lovely down here that I’ve ceased to stew about Wisconsin. This morning, I thought of something that an insider once told me about the New York Philharmonic. I was inquiring about spiraling costs in the music business — also about why we don’t really have recordings or radio broadcasts anymore. A big part of the answer, of course, is the unions: killing or suppressing music, as they kill or suppress so much else. This insider said, “Don’t think of the Philharmonic as an orchestra. Think of them as Local 802.”
And yet some people want the Rockefellers to pay more for their season tickets! Can't we just fire these communist musicians and bring in the Portsmouth Sinfonia?
IMMORAL RELATIVISM. The Economic Policy Institute points out that Wisconsin public service employees are not, in the main, getting a better deal than private employees. "To get an apples-to-apples comparison," says Ezra Klein, "the study's author controlled for experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship and disability, and then sorted the results by education."

At National Review, Jim Manzi seizes on this as the study's fatal flaw, and tries to portray the study's original author, Jeffrey H. Keefe, as some sort of disingenuous leveller:
Stripped of jargon, what Keefe asserts is that, on average, any two individuals with identical scores on each of these listed characteristics “should” be paid the same amount.

But consider Bob and Joe, two hypothetical non-disabled white males, each of whom went to work at Kohl’s Wisconsin headquarters in the summer of 2000, immediately after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. They have both remained there ever since, and each works about 50 hours per week. Bob makes $65,000 per year, and Joe makes $62,000 per year. Could you conclude that Joe is undercompensated versus Bob? Do you have enough information to know the “fundamental personal characteristics and labor market skills” of each to that degree of precision?
Also, what if Joe really sucks at his job? Or what if Bob is actually worse at his, but has a winning personality and shoots skeet with the boss? See, if social science teaches us anything, it's that statistics are meaningless, if used by liberals.

Manzi claims Keefe does not take into account true "systematic differences in the market realities of the skills, talents, work orientation" between public and private employees, and made his findings "without adjusting for an all-but-infinite number of... relevant potential differences between the weight-average public-sector worker and the weight-average private-sector worker."

Manzi lists some of these differences ("Whether their years of education for the job are in molecular biology or the sociology of dance"), but never mind -- if you find that they still don't convince you that schoolteachers are worthless freeloaders, he can always cook up more. They're all but infinite!

And since Keefe didn't take all these infinitesimal gradations into account, says Manzi, his claims are "worse than useless; they are misleading."
The whole question — as is obvious even to untrained observers — is whether or not there are material systematic differences between the public and private employee that are not captured by the list of coefficients in his regression model.
You folks have probably caught on to what he means by systematic differences: The differences between his team and the other team. And as long as his team has a full tank of propaganda to run on, the pointy-heads can take a break.

Monday, February 21, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Wisconsin union fight. Remember when Lisa Simpson talked about "every teacher who cares less about young minds than about cashing their big, fat paychecks"? Apparently a lot of people don't know that was a joke.

I regret I had no room for John Feeney of America's Right and his post, "Fort Sumter, Wisconsin." "The ongoing events in Wisconsin may well be 'The Point' on which this country’s future hinges," claims Feeney: If Republicans strangle the union, that will be "the single greatest service this country has seen in at least the last generation" -- but if not, "the 'unionization' that is so much at the foundation of a socialist/communist infrastructure may well be at least the immediate future of our nation." (At least the immediate future? I thought socialist/communists were harder to get rid of than that, like bedbugs.)

But you gotta give Feeney credit for actually working the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque into the story:
I’m also forced to wonder about the manner in which these events are going to affect two other projects: the construction of the Freedom Tower and the Ground Zero Mosque. By all accounts, the Freedom Tower currently under construction by unionized labor is and will be a fantastic sight to see; on the other hand, until the 17th, I would’ve gone to any casino in the country and bet everything I own that those trying desperately to have the Mosque constructed would never, ever have a scintilla of a chance of getting unionized American labor to work on that project. After watching the clips of the Wisconsin events, noting the degree of solidarity shared amongst not only the teachers but also the many other state and local municipalities, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it might be until union laborers across the country either feel compelled to support or begin to feel sympathy for their brethren. Further, how long might it be until they’re potentially threatened with their livelihood, or worse? Is it possible that unionized workers might refuse to continue working on the Freedom Tower and to uniformly agree to construct the Mosque? Either decision would be a flat-faced decision to turn one’s back on his or her country.
America betrayed by... the hardhats! Well, if you live long enough you see everything.

Also in solidarity against solidarity is Ann Althouse, who sees two city salt-spreaders honking their horns in support of the protesters in Madison and makes this complaint:
Two city salt trucks circle the block at least twice, with horns blaring. Only one is visibly spreading salt. The protesters wave and hold up fists, indicating that it is their interpretation that the city workers are sounding support for the protests. Obviously, we taxpayers pay for the salt trucks and the employees who drive them and we expect those trucks to be used to make the streets all over town safe, not to circle the Capitol Square for other purposes.
I can't wait to see how this investigation plays out. Who'll get in more trouble -- the guy who wasn't spreading salt, for his egregious waste of the city's time and gas, or the guy who was spreading salt, for double-salting and dangerous multitasking? Also, can we have video when Professor Althouse goes down to the stationhouse and tells the Captain she saw a police car double-parked?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

FAILING UPWARD. Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post:
Women's liberation worked in ways we might never have imagined. The feminist woman of the left, who burned her bra and insisted that all hear her roar, is today a taupe-ish figure who wonders where things went wrong. The daughter she begat may well be a Republican - a gun-toting, breast-feeding supermom of several who condemns government for being a "nanny" and tells men to man up.

Adding insult to injury, she's also probably considered a "hottie" by the men who stand by admiringly, watching their women show those libs a thing or two about being a "hard-core woman."
I'm surprised Parker refrained from putting in a bit about a pigeon-chested, chinless simp taking his mannish, Birkenstock-wearing feminazi date to the Save the Whales concert but wishing he was instead with a Sarah Palin "hottie" who "got it going on" if you know what I "mean." (An editor might have taken it out, but I see no evidence that Parker has one.) Elsewhere, she tells us how the conservative hard-core hottie "carries a concealed weapon instead of a lace hankie."

Parker has a column in the Post, a Pulitzer Prize, and a TV show. I'm beginning to change my mind about Wisconsin -- maybe America's teachers have let us down.

UPDATE. Commenter Nance provides some background: "I once wrote a piece of un-fan mail to K.P. She wrote back with this jaw-dropper (which I've never seen in a column): her first husband left her when their son was an infant, to run off with 'a nationally known feminist whose name you'd recognize.'" That must have really scorched her bra.

Friday, February 18, 2011

PUNCHING BAGS. As conservatives denounce schoolteachers who seek to preserve their collective bargaining rights, it's good to be reminded by Matt Taibbi that the banksters who wrecked the economy have been let off scott free and then some by the government. Lehman Brothers' Dick Fuld, AIG's Joe Cassano, and assorted big and less-big fish have suffered no meaningful consequences for their actions. But that doesn't mean law & order sleeps:
Which is not to say that the Obama era has meant an end to law enforcement. On the contrary: In the past few years, the administration has allocated massive amounts of federal resources to catching wrongdoers — of a certain type. Last year, the government deported 393,000 people, at a cost of $5 billion. Since 2007, felony immigration prosecutions along the Mexican border have surged 77 percent; nonfelony prosecutions by 259 percent. In Ohio last month, a single mother was caught lying about where she lived to put her kids into a better school district; the judge in the case tried to sentence her to 10 days in jail for fraud, declaring that letting her go free would "demean the seriousness" of the offenses.

So there you have it. Illegal immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: one. Bankers: zero. The math makes sense only because the politics are so obvious. You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons and fill them with people for selling dime bags and stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion dollars? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass. It's not a crime. Prison is too harsh. Get them to say they're sorry, and move on. Oh, wait — let's not even make them say they're sorry...
One of the saddest things about the decline of this country is that we've relearned a pre-democratic contempt for the suffering of the less fortunate and a solicitous interest in the problems of the very fortunate. Poor saps who never had a chance are presumed to never have deserved one, while the rich are treated with kid gloves lest they take offense and go Galt on us. Once Americans cheered the underdog. Now I see there's a book out called Underdogma: How America's Enemies Use Our Love for the Underdog to Trash American Power which tells that this generosity of spirit is actually a dangerous delusion:
David versus Goliath, the American Revolutionaries, "The Little Engine That Could," Team USA’s "Miracle on Ice," the Star Wars Rebel Alliance, Rocky Balboa, the Jamaican bobsled team and the meek inheriting the Earth.

Everyone, it seems, loves an underdog.... But this tendency, which international political consultant and human rights activist Michael Prell calls “underdogma,” can be very dangerous – both to America and to the world at large.
We hear a lot of talk about "hippie punching" these days, but make no mistake: Under a certain, very high net worth, everybody's getting punched.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TEACHER'S PELT. The big teachers' union fight is on in Wisconsin. The Republican Governor Scott Walker claims the government needs to severely curtail the union's collective bargaining power in order to save money; TPM notices that Walker blew a hole in the budget himself and suggests that he did so in order to create this crisis and break the union.

As the Christian Science Monitor headline demonstrates, the union is aware of the stakes: "We’re fighting for our very existence." Conservatives know it too. They have been full-throated in their denunciations not only of the union but of teachers in general, portraying them as parasites -- like Teamsters, only easier to beat up. National Review's Jay Nordlinger has been particularly obsessive in this regard. First:
Teachers used to be something like a holy caste, practically the most honorable among us. I come from a family of teachers. Everyone thought of it as a noble calling. Teachers earned too little, but that was remedied, over time.

Then everything went screwy. Teachers were not just well paid. (“Best part-time job in America,” Lee Iacocca once quipped, to the howls of many.) They were some of the most petulant, greediest, nastiest unionists around...
Then:
In a previous era, long ago, teachers were rather like missionaries. You practically had to take a vow of poverty to be a teacher. Often, a teacher [blah blah, miles in the snow]...

I would never go back to the days of missionary-teachers. They ought to be generously compensated. (Shouldn’t we all.)
Even Grandpa Simpson has his moments of generosity, I guess, but Nordlinger quickly catches himself:
But good grief: These grasping, lying, bullying unionists are enough to give the teaching profession a bad name...
Later:
And everything the teachers do, of course, is for the sake of “the children.” I wish the children could talk back, borrowing a phrase from anti-war movements: “Not in my name.”
Instead of playing in the yard and thanking God for their luck.
For decades now, union militancy has dragged the teaching profession through the mud, robbing that profession of its public spirit, even of its professionalism...
And so on. Funny as it is, I don't find the situation cheering. They're trying to turn teachers into a pariah class in order to normalize their removal from the middle class. The whole energy of our rulers seems devoted these days to squeezing that remnant, and if they are not completely successful in this grand opportunity to reduce its number and further weaken union power at the same time, they will keep coming back until they are.

Their cheerleaders ("Look, I am the daughter of union folk; I appreciate why unions were initially formed") spread the story that the rollback is unavoidable, as the morality for collective bargaining died with their parents' need for it, and anyway "the money is not there." Indeed it's not there, because it has been painstakingly relocated.

Though the state of American manufacturing is so parlous even the CIA is worried about it, "economic futurist" Jeff Thredgold is bullish. He explains:
The common wisdom notes that most of these jobs left in search of less-costly havens, initially Mexico and then China. This is certainly true for a share of the jobs.

However, the most important factor leading to lesser employment was major gains in worker productivity. We simply make more goods with fewer bodies. While overall U.S. worker productivity gains have run just under 3 percent annually over the past 10 years, productivity gains in manufacturing have run two to three times higher.
Maybe Thredgold has good reason to feel confident. There's just been an uptick in the mid-Atlantic manufacturing index. The big winner from this, so far, is Mexican stocks, as the uptick "indicated strength in one of Mexico’s most important export sectors," says MarketWatch. I wonder how much of that money is going to be left over for the guy on the line.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

THE FAN CLUB. The story of reporter Lara Logan's beating and sexual assault in the thick of the Egyptian revolution is horrible. But there isn't anything on this earth that can't be made more horrible by Debbie Schlussel:
Hey, sounds like the threats I get from American Muslims on a regular basis. Now you know what it’s like, Lara.
Uhhh...
I just love it when the people of the profession of “the public’s right to know” suddenly want “privacy.” Tell it to your next interview subject, Lara.
The whole thing's an atrocity, so let's move on to the rest of the rightbloggers. Some are incensed by the insensitive reaction of NYU's Nir Rosen, and they're certainly right to be. (Update: Rosen has apologized.) Others are very caught up in the white-lady-among-heathens narrative. theblogprof:
As the saying goes - you mess with the bull, you get the horns.
There's not even a profession of sympathy to leaven it, though there is a big photo of Logan in a low-cut dress. Let us be charitable and assume steroids have affected theblogprof's brain.

Patterico wants answers, preferably in detail:
Nobody else seems to know more than this and of course “brutal and sustained sexual assault” could mean several things. LA Weekly claims she was repeatedly raped, but they seem to be assuming that this is what CBS news is saying. That is less than clear. I would add that the LA Weekly article is downright creepy in the way it was written
"Did they...? Was she...?" "What do you want me to do? Draw you a picture? Spell it out?" I don't know what's worse -- that he wrote it down, or that he wanted to share it with the rest of us.

As usual, if you go into the comments sections, you'll get even worse. From one of the fans at Gateway Pundit:
The arrogance of these journalists amazes me.

They might as well walk into a lion cage wearing a meat suit. Let’s see, “hot young blond American reporter (read infidel) stands in the middle of thousands on drunken, uneducated testosterone driven radical Muslims”.

Is anyone really surprised THAT ended badly?
This cowboy was probably at the first run of I Spit On Your Grave, telling the rest of the audience what was coming next. Oh, I forgot his closing:
Meanwhile, I plan on taking a relaxing stroll through Harlem tonight wearing a gold Rolex.
No, really, buddy, it's cool, just leave your Confederate flag t-shirt at home.

UPDATE. A needed corrective.

UPDATE 2. Oh Jesus, Atlas Pam: "Imagine if this were ..... Israel. Or a tea party." Imagine! You may say she's a screamer, but she's not the only one.

UPDATE 3. Echidne breaks it down.

UPDATE 4. The real monsters here, says Robert Stacy McCain, are feminazis:
There is only one acceptable way to discuss sex, and feminists are the self-appointed arbiters of the discussion.
Also, feminists "control the conversation." Maybe McCain is looking at a different internet from the one the rest of us see.
As with all leftist ideologies, feminism is collectivist in nature. Rape is therefore not a crime perpetrated by specific criminals against specific victims. Rather, rape is men’s collective crime, of which women are the collective victims: All men are therefore complicit in every rape, and all women suffer when any woman is raped.
The more enlightened view, it would seem, is that rape is Arab men's collective crime.

UPDATE 5. Good journalism angle by Nancy Nall.

UPDATE 6. Comments are brill, but a special award goes to JohnEWilliams, who says now that "Scott Brown says he was abused by a camp counselor as a child, I'm certain we'll hear how he shouldn't have been so hunky and fetching."

Oh, and Jason informs us that Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft realized he was losing the crazy derby and weighed in:
[Lara Logan's] liberal belief system almost got her killed on Friday.
If Lara Logan were a man, no doubt Hoft would call what she had "courage" or "mama grizzliness."

Well, reckon it's about time for another article about how conservatives are the real feminists.