Thursday, June 30, 2011

WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT. At the New York Post, Michael Walsh on Greek dissension over their austerity plan:
A zero-sum mentality regarding capital and labor has brought Europe to its present pass -- and Americans should be worried. Because what's happening in the cradle of democracy could be coming here.

Not the rioting -- Americans rarely take to the streets in violent protest. But Greece ought to be a wake-up call. With the national debt standing at more than $14 trillion -- and as much as 10 times that in unfunded liabilities and other obligations -- America's on a path every bit as unsustainable as the Greeks'.
Mind you, just before this he was explaining that Americans and Europeans were different species -- "Europeans lack the American tradition of self-reliance. They expect somebody -- the king, the chancellor, the Eurocrat -- to protect them from life's vicissitudes." Yet Walsh still warns us of the bad times to come as we enter "the beginning of the end of the welfare state." The Post editors get the message, and run the photo at right with Walsh's column. Later Walsh amplifies at The Corner:
The culture of entitlement will not go quietly or easily, but go it must — and go it will, one way or the other.
There's only one reason for him to exhibit such nervousness: despite all Republican assurances to the contrary, he knows the American people don't want the welfare state, such as it is here, to end.

I wonder how long Walsh's faith in the self-reliance of Americans can endure. Our citizens seem not to like the Republican plan to turn Medicare into Coupons for Codgers, and though they sense a connection between the national debt and the fate of Social Security, they are mistrustful of the ideas politicians offer to maintain solvency.

And no wonder: the citizens are willing to hike taxes to sustain Social Security. But everyone in Washington knows raising taxes to save the safety net -- let alone, perish the thought, raising them on the rich for that purpose -- is a non-starter; taxes are bad; Reagan said so. Slashed services are what the authorities are selling, hard.

In other words, what our leaders seek is austerity by other means, even though the people don't want it. Their attempts to sell it aren't going over, so I expect they'll make an effort for a while, then just lower the boom. After all, what are we going to do? Go on strike? Like so many other things, that's only for the rich anymore. We could riot, but then we'd get the stick, like that fellow up top.

The only alternative will be to sit around, wait for bootstrap magic to happen, and then, to protect ourselves from a maddening awareness that it never will, revise our expectations to conform with our reduced circumstances. You know, like we've been doing for decades.

UPDATE. Luke Feszard's essay on the long-lived Republican plan to shred the net is well worth reading. It's funny, those guys are always talking about the left's alleged march through the institutions, Saul Alinsky, etc, but they're the real champs at the long game.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THEY'LL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE. I see The Anchoress has caught up with the New York Marriage Equality Act. We can sense her state of mind in a post at her own site, in which she practices what seems to be a little displacement upon Maureen Dowd, who wrote a puff piece on gay marriage hero Andrew Cuomo:
Oh, you dishonest, hate-obsessed, sniping harpy, you know damn well that if Bush 43 had talked to his father every day, you’d have crucified him for it with a gem on the order of: “The boy-pwince needs to tawk to Poppy evewy day, or he can’t find the Owal Owwice!”
Yeesh, some anchoress.

Her more substantive argument against the Act comes at First Things, where The Anchoress tells us about a nun who wanted to gender-neutralize prayers. This becomes The Anchoress' point of comparison with The Gays:
And since nothing is free, their “equality” came at a price: Sister’s obsessive focus on gender-language eventually closed her off to other voices and other words, until she became her very own cloister, leaving the very lively parish community for a safe-but-sterile environment where she is not challenged to relate to God in any way other than what she has permanently settled-on and declared for herself.

It is similar for the gay community now, too. Clutching a hard-won, if illusory, prize of worldly “equality,” and being “like everyone else,” they perhaps do not yet realize what they are rejecting—the challenge and adventure that leads to the pearl of great price: the call to be “other” than your own declaration.
These gays don't appreciate what a gift their second-class citizenship had been! Those earthly powers who spoke for God denied them marriage not out of bigotry, but so their isolation and heartbreak would bring them closer to God.
The adventure begins when you hear the call, and respond not with a “give me,” but with a “please take.”
It sounds like something torturers might say mockingly to their victims. In this case the victims have escaped, but they're not out of the woods yet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME. Referring to his own essay at National Review, Matthew Shaffer tells readers of The Corner, "I encourage you to read the whole thing here, precisely because it’s a bad piece, in need of serious work — quite sketchy and incomplete." This at first endeared him to me, and made me wish his colleagues would similarly warn us when they were about to uncork a stinker.

Alas, I read the thing. Shaffer's self-evaluation is overly generous. His premise is that "America today is startlingly segregated by age relative to historical norms, a change that is as lamentable as it is unremarked upon." You can tell he's serious because he mentions C.S. Lewis several times.

He never explains why this "segregation" is bad, though -- or why it's segregation as the term is generally understood, since there is no evidence that the generations are being forcibly separated. Of course, by the modern terms of conservative victimology, Shaffer needed only to find people who felt freedom of association was working against them, as with the Big Hollywood guys' claims that their lack of Hollywood jobs proves they've been blackballed. Perhaps he should have strengthened his case with quotes from seniors complaining that the kids don't ever come over. Didn't he think to take a tape recorder to an early-bird special?

Shaffer supplies a list of malign influences leading to generational drift. Social mobility after the Second World War is one; Shaffer says it brought about a "change in the conception of home and property," which I suppose couldn't be helped, as no one had to foresight to throw the battle against fascism and thus avoid the socially disastrous post-War boom.

But naturally the New Deal made everything worse: "FDR’s Social Security used Leviathan to free the elderly from want" -- that is, codgers got cash and were not obliged by the threat of starvation or ill-health to take their kids' spare rooms, thus "freeing of duty the children who might have cared for them more holistically, and more humanly."

In a better, Social-Security-free world, the elderly would have been discouraged from relying on doctors and home-health aides for end-of-life treatment, and had their poultices applied by grateful progeny. As for those elders who didn't have children, they might have rotted in lean-tos or on the street, but they would at least have had the satisfaction of knowing their miserable deaths were not distorting the American way of life.

This is not entirely new thinking; Stanley Kurtz has similarly longed for an America without a safety net, so that out of economic catastrophes "a new set of social values could emerge" -- that is, we'd learn to eschew our former mobility because each family would need every member's contribution just to survive.

But Shaffer is even more ambitious than Kurtz, at least in the ringing of rightwing bells: Having unmasked the cultural menace of the New Deal, he lays into "the Sixties," which "took cultural authority from the elderly and gave it to the youth." In evidence he offers the heartbreaking fate of Yale students deprived of the company of their professors. (Or of the kind of company Bill Buckley kept with his profs at Yale -- I couldn't really figure out what Shaffer was talking about there.) Then he tackles that newer tool of Satan, the internet:
On the new digital globe, the generations are separate nations. A twentysomething trying to explain to his mother why, at the frivolous end, a video of an “Auto-Tune cat” is funny, or why, at the political end, his generation is resolved that it is taboo and a stigma to oppose same-sex marriage, will have as much luck as the Hawaiian natives had with Captain Cook.
Here I lost patience and wondered, first, how Shaffer knew, given the anonymity of the internet, that geezers are uniformly ignorant and suspicious of LulzSec and viral videos -- I'm quite an old dog myself, and I enjoy those things -- and, second, if Shaffer ever considered that different people might enjoy different things without suffering spiritual decay. That goes for old folks too; if grandma would rather watch reruns of Quincy than Portlandia -- if in fact she's grateful that she has a range of choices, instead of being limited to the quilting bee, the revival meeting, or rocking and whittling on the porch -- isn't it possible this is a good thing?

As usual, the idea of consent seems to elude these people.

Anyway: Shaffer has solutions.
Here are a few preliminary prescriptions to counter the problems of age segregation...

More people should die in their homes.
At first I thought he was longing for an uptick in fatal domestic accidents, perhaps to put the fear of God into people, but it turns out he just doesn't like hospices and such like. Also, "Grandparents should be more involved in raising their grandchildren" -- they should stop spending their time at the senior center, or on vacation, or working as greeters at Walmart, and go home; while Mom is cooking and the kids are playing video games, they can set by the fire and rail about how in their day TV was in black and white.
To counter age segregation, and because of economic-demographic realities, we should improve employment opportunities and incentives for seniors.
Since they're already taking care of the kids, it looks like the grandparents aren't going to get much of a retirement.
Churches especially should be skeptical of the efficacy of youth services... Even if they did increase youth attendance, that would not be worth the alienation.
This seems like a recipe for empty churches, as the elders will probably be too exhausted after their double-shifts at child care and senior employment to attend services. Or maybe in their misery they'll be psychologically driven to embrace religion anew. It worked with slaves!

Why is it that their solutions always seem to make things worse?
FEAR OF A GAY PLANET. Just thought I'd follow up on those rightbloggers who, I noticed in my Voice column, had previously remained tight-lipped about the New York gay marriage vote. RedState finally hosted Some Guy to try a Big Gummint spin. "Gay-rights activists are surely pleased with the new law," allowed Some Guy, "but they should ask themselves what they really want from this issue and whether the government can ever deliver." True, these activists seem pretty damned pleased about it now, but they may not have heard Some Guy's tightly reasoned argument.
Anyone can hold a marriage ceremony anywhere. Anyone can wear a ring. Anyone can cohabitate and raise children. The laws surrounding the transfer of wealth apply to less than 1% of taxpayers. Anybody can already visit Vermont for some syrup and a gay marriage. Very few lives will change in a practical way with the NY’s new law. Why the gay-rights obsession with government sanctioned marriage? Acceptance is the real gay-rights goal.
Those homosexuals whose ears lifted at this and who cried "O no, they're on to us!" will surely be affected by Some Guy's follow-up:
Gay-rights activists are sure to be sorely disappointed to learn that nobody’s opinion of gay marriage will change simply because NY now allows them to fill out a standard form. Gay marriage is a symbolic blast of hot air.
Hear that, faggots? Our fingers are in our ears, we're not listening, la la la.
Traditionalists will not change their beliefs. Life will go on, apart from a handful of politicians like Pres. Obama who in 2008 said “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me as a Christian — it is also a sacred union.”
Bwa ha ha! Where's your Obama now, gaysocialists? Finally Some Guy turns his rhetoric to whatever non-gay readers RedState might have:
Those who oppose gay marriage can only blame themselves for entrusting their institution with the government. The government twists in the political winds, and can only be relied on to disappoint. Most people now know that entrusting their retirement and healthcare to the government was a mistake. Entrusting marriage to the government is a similar roll of the dice.

The government should not endorse gay marriage; the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Most of all, nobody should look to the government for validation of his life or defense of his religion. The governments of the US are corrupt, capricious, and are the biggest threat to the nation’s survival. Why should anyone expect such bodies to arbitrate morals?
This is lovely, as it conflates homo-hatred with libertarianism: Big Gummint can't protect us from universal health care, how can it protect us from the gay menace? Best to take down Moloch and have gay-free churches like grandpappy intended. But keep your Big Gummint hands of our Big Gummint subsidies!

Speaking of BG, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government finally ran a related story: "NYC ‘Pride’ Parade Turns Into Celebration of Gay Marriage." This was entirely cribbed from an AP story, but the commenters provided some pleasure. "They have until January of 2013 to live it up," muttered one cowboy, "then the Nation comes back to being the United States of America, with an American President, a Nation which includes New York State." So much for the federalist laboratories of democracy! From another, whom I am not entirely sure isn't kidding:
It's time to stop the perversion of the language. 'Gay Pride is an oxymoron, if homosexuals are proud, let them keep the word and not co-opt and redefine another word. I'm taking the word 'gay' back. 'Gay apparel' is a colorful Christmas sweater or blouse, not a leisure suit with a change pocket.
Not bad, but I prefer the Homer Simpson version:

Many other top rightbloggers remain silent on the issue. Michelle Malkin can't be arsed, nor can Gateway Pundit, Roger L. Simon, Jeff Godlstein, Ed Driscoll, Dean Esmay, and even the mean fake nun The Anchoress, among many other top-tier lunatics. If I didn't know them better I'd say they might be embarrassed, but I do, and assume they're merely waiting for the day when they can either claim credit for gay marriage or lead torch-bearing mobs against homosexuals, depending on the breaks.

For shits and giggles (mostly shits) let's close with one of those low-end vendors who had nothing to lose and so were happy to extemporize on the subject, Francis W. Porretto. After explaining the biological basis of No Gay Marriage in his inimitable, Looka-me-I'm-Chesterton-after-a-brain-injury style -- "Women, therefore, are vulnerable before the male sex drive. They have their own sex drive, of course, and are legally 'protected' against rape in all civilized nations" -- Porretto delivers the saddest-ever defense of het marriage in an age of abundant divorce:
Most spouses remain faithful to one another while the marriage lasts.
Eventually he gets around to yelling at gay people, more in concern-trollery than in anger: While declaring that the "great majority" of same-sexers "are just as decent as the great majority of heterosexuals" ("for the sake of argument," that is, not really), Porretto asks:
  • Given that the correlations among same-sex marriage, declining fertility rates, and single-parent families are so strong, and that the obvious path forward is to research the matter for its causal interstices, why are homosexuals so determined to prevent even the discussion thereof?

  • If there is a causal link, such that the legalization of same-sex marriage does lead to various social pathologies and accelerating social decline, what benefits do homosexuals expect to reap from it that are:
    • Currently unavailable to them; and:
    • Great enough to justify inflicting that much damage on American society?
Or, to put it another way, when did you stop beating your same-sex so-called "wife," and Western Civilization? Look at it this way: He's just saying what rightbloggers are all thinking, but are too career-minded to say out loud.

UPDATE. Thank you commenter Keith: "Gay Panic no longer holds any water since they've been screeching about it for more than a decade and the worst thing to happen is that it's become socially exceptable for men to use hair gel."

Monday, June 27, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the New York gay marriage vote and the rightblogger reaction to it. I can't say it was hard to predict, nor that it is hard to enjoy. Go look!

The story reminds me of another this year, in which the New York Times [!] purported to tell us about "just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area." To anyone over 18, this report would be about as explosive as one about the prevalence of bowling alleys in Michigan; also, the study the Times quoted wasn't restricted to married (excuse me, "married") couples. But many conservatives, like Tom Hoopes of the NC Register, thought it proved that "those who argue for heterosexual marriage were right all the time. Homosexual 'marriages' aren’t really marriages in the way we define them." The article was similarly characterized by other rightbloggers, e.g., "Study: Gay Marriage Involves More Outside Relationships," "NYT: Rampant Polygamy in Gay ‘Marriage’ May Benefit Institution," etc.

I note that some of the boys are at least acting embarrassed about the kind of nonsense they normally pull now that another boulder has come down in advance of the gay marriage landslide. But let us never forget how full of shit they are when they think nobody's paying attention.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLES OF RIGHTWING REPUBLICANS. One of my staples here at alicublog has been stories about conservatives playing the victim. It is strange to me that people who constantly assert that America is as right-wing as they are, and whose ideas of government have ruled Washington for most of the past three decades, are unembarrassed to declare themselves oppressed and disenfranchised by liberals. Even when a Democrat is shot, they portray themselves as the injured parties.

A fine example is provided today by Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator. A bunch of liberals who have been mean to conservative Republican Sarah Palin have also been mean to conservative Republican Michele Bachmann. Said liberals have also been mean to Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and others whose viewpoints they disdain, but Palin and Bachmann, Lord suggests, are of a special, vulnerable class, and Palin's noble campaign of self-aggrandizement has blazed a trail for Bachmann's current success. Lord finds the objective correlatives:
Al Smith and John F. Kennedy: The group trying to rise? Catholics, Irish-Catholics specifically...

The group trying to rise? The new American conservative movement. Goldwater, the Senator from Arizona, was the champion -- the Al Smith of conservatives...

Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama: The group in question? African-Americans...
One of these things is not like the other -- and not just because there's no boldface header for Goldwater and Reagan, which may have been an editor's attempt to soft-pedal Lord's bizarre comparison of struggles against anti-Catholic and anti-black prejudice with the way "the liberal media of the day treated Goldwater scandalously." Nonetheless the comparison is later made more forthrightly:
And so -- like clockwork -- just as their predecessors tried to re-make JFK into Al Smith, Reagan into Goldwater, Obama into Jackson, the usual suspects, doubtless startled as the political ground shifts, are suddenly trying to make Michele Bachmann into the caricature they created of, yes, Sarah Palin.
Along the way Lord tries to bolster his argument by accusing Palin's and Bachmann's detractors of an actual longstanding prejudice, sexism -- but in this case it is a special sort of sexism, only roused by a certain class of female: "The idea of a conservative woman in the White House," says Lord, "was a danger to liberals on multiples of levels." And suddenly all those libs who supported, say, Hillary Clinton (whose status apparently protected her from unkind remarks from conservatives, in some alternative universe) have shown their true colors.

Lord must have heard somewhere that sisterhood is powerful, and decided to get in on the action.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A GRIM DUTY. Walter Russell Mead, seconded by such as Ole Perfesser Reynolds, dances victoriously with the news that some top-100 lists of public high schools in the U.S. have Red State schools in the top positions. This, he declares, means that teachers' unions are through, America needs more home-schooling, etc.

If you think about it for a couple of seconds, you remember that America has many thousands of high schools, and that the presence of a shining example or two in Texas doesn't make that state an education winner any more than the presence of Michael Jordan made the Washington Wizards NBA Champions.

Some of Mead's commenters point this out; others refer to flaws in the surveys' methodologies, etc. But none of that matters and you know it; it does as much good as reading Shakespeare to sea lions. Among the belligerati, the notion that schools in Republican territories are naturally, vastly superior to those found in fancy-pants states now spurs the usual internet chest-bumps, and will do so long into the future; when their local education budgets have been voided out because they're socialist, and their grandkids know only the Bible, the Turner Diaries, and how to cook meth, they're still be talking about how their schools (or, as they will then be known, "l'arnin' sheds") are the best in the nation Because Low Taxes.

I had expected to get to bed early and wasn't even going to mention this story. I mean, who needs the aggravation? People like Mead and Reynolds do this and worse pretty much every couple of minutes. Keeping track of it is a lost cause.

Well, maybe that's the point. It's good to be reminded that, any given moment, these guys are busy driving up our national rate of flying bullshit. (I think we're up around Tulipmania now, and fast approaching levels not seen in nations before, but only in cults and Amway seminars.) If you can't catch all the incoming, at least you have some idea where the smell is coming from.

UPDATE. The subject is depressing for other reasons, too -- commenter N.C. looks at his local listings and says, "I'm totally super excited about the two-tiered future of public education: great schools for rich kids and math nerds with good test-taking skills, and Junior Sing-Sing (Now With Books) for everybody else."
SHORTER ELIZABETH SCALIA*: Maureen Dowd is very juvenile about gay so-called "marriage"! Let me make the grown-up Catholic counterargument: Dicks fit better in pussies than in assholes.

*Mean fake nun when she's off-duty.

(And that's just the tip of the yikes!berg; my second-favorite bit is "I am not sure gay fulfillment rests in adopting heterosexual norms, either" -- she's only keeping those norms away from them for their own good! -- but there are many others you could pick over, had you the same perverse taste in abnormal psychology case studies as I.)

UPDATE. Several of you do share my taste, you poor devils (Doghouse Riley: "Maureen Dowd was vapid and incoherent? And you think this means you win?"). Scalia's interest in "the two shall become one flesh" puts Hell's Littlest Angel in mind of David Cronenberg, but it reminded me of Robert P. George.
BLACK PRESIDENT DONE STOLE MAH CHAINSAW. All Victor Davis Hanson's National Review posts are pretty much the same stew ladled from different parts of the pot -- e.g., Anthony Weiner blah blah John Edwards blah blah RobertByrdJosefStalinSaddamHussein blah narcissists Versailles Washington. Or: Boeing blah blah Petraeus-Bush blah Van Jones blah Geithner Defense of Marriage.

He goes a little further in this essay, about some recent robberies in his neck of the woods. One guy snatched Hanson's chainsaw. ("Mind you there was only a 5-minute hiatus in between my cutting.") Another pulled copper wire out of his pump. And a house down the way was relieved of its major appliances. Hanson is in California farm country, and I must say his sad tale made me happier than usual to be living in Harlem, where such offenses are not so bunched up.

Hanson has been inspired by these misfortunes to generalize:
I think the public would react in two different ways to the above occurrences — and such a dichotomy explains a lot why the nation has never been more divided.
(I never did figure out what the second way to which he alluded was; maybe one of you can explain it to me.) A majority of his fellow citizens, Hanson says, will know that the robbers wanted money for "drugs, excitement, or to buy things like an iPhone or DVD" rather than food. Which may well be, though as he later complains of California's rotten economy, I'm not sure how he knows this -- oh, wait, Mexifornia blah blah gangbanger blah blah La Raza; I see what he's getting at.
After all, Hollywood, pop music, the court system, and the government itself sympathize with, even romanticize those forced to take a chainsaw, not the old middle-class bore who bought it.

The remedy to address theft would be not more government help — public assistance, social welfare, counseling — but far less, given that human nature rises to the occasion when forced to work and sinks when leisured and exempt. I don’t believe my thieves have worked much; instead, they figured a day’s theft beats tile setting or concrete work beginning at 5 AM.
Here we see the casual connection between these three robberies and Hollywood, which spurred them on, his link suggests, with Bonnie and Clyde. (I'd be stunned if the crooks knew anything about this 44-year-old movie; I guess Hanson felt a reference to rap music would give the game away.)

Also, illegal immigrants are using up Hanson's emergency room services.
The taxpayer cannot indefinitely fund the emergency room treatment for the shooter and his victim on Saturday night if society cannot put a tool down for five minutes without a likely theft, or a farmer cannot turn on a 50-year old pump without expecting its electrical connections to have been ripped out. Civilization simply cannot function that way for either the productive citizen or the parasite, who still needs a live host.
Yes, the producer and the parasite -- the basis of all the Going Galt stuff though, as Hanson is here in full victim mode, we are not getting the traditional threats that he will actually leave, alas.
The same is true of unions, pensions, and compensation…

…if everyone is on food stamps (actually computerized government plastic credit cards designed to avoid the old stigma of pulling out a coupon), are there still food stamps?…

This liberal notion of being careful of what you wish for extends to energy…
If you're an aficionado of this sort of thing, you can see what's coming next:
Watching the tastes, the behavior, the rhetoric, the appointments, and the policy of this administration suggests to me that it is not really serious in radically altering the existing order, which it counts on despite itself. Its real goal is a sort of parasitism that assumes the survivability of the enfeebled host.
blah blah cap and trade blah blah Guantanamo blah blah solar panels. You'd hardly know that the Democratic governor of Hanson's home state is actually battling the Democrats in his legislature to scale the budget back, using the traditional tool of the veto rather than putting on a tricorner and raging in the town square. But Jerry Brown is prosaically trying to fix California's budget, whereas Hanson is -- I would say poetically, were it not an insult to poetry; might I say doggerelly? -- trying to exponentiate race and class resentments which may be useful in future elections.

We've lately seen others among the brethren use minority crime stories to rile their readers against the black President, but Hanson goes to much greater lengths than they have to conceal his purpose. Is it possible that he's embarrassed?

UPDATE. Commenter MikeJ breaks down VicDave "300" Jo's POV: "He's just upset that we don't allow the hoplite farmer class to keep slaves around to guard the chainsaw from the persians."

Monday, June 20, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. about the emergence of Michele Bachmann as a serious Presidential candidate, and by serious I mean ridiculous. There's also some stuff in there about Rick Perry, the latest in a series of If Only candidates. (I don't know why no one's approached Nancy Reagan.)

I'm still waiting for Sarah Palin to make things absolutely mesmerizing, but you can learn a lot about conservatives by watching them window-shop. In this case they're kind of like someone who's looking for a gift to help cheer up a depressed America, but keeps wandering over to the gun counter.

Friday, June 17, 2011

BLEEDING HEARTS. Michele Bachmann attacks Obama for an alleged lack of "empathy" for the little guy; almost simultaneously, ABC's Jake Tapper grills White House communications director Jay Carney on Obama "seeming to be out of touch over the economic woes of Americans." (Here Tapper gives them more. Ya gotta love that liberal media -- they're so clever they often give the impression of carrying the GOP's water. But that's all their craft and artfulness! )

Suddenly the brethren wonder why Obama isn't crying them a Boehneresque river: Gay Patriot ("he seems strangely dispassionate, only showing emotion when criticizing his critics"), Hindrocket ("perhaps it suggests that his real objective is to advance leftist objectives like government takeover of medicine, not to improve the lot of working Americans"), Taylor Marsh ("he just doesn’t connect emotionally"), the Perfesser, et alia.

Of course come the 2012 campaign, both Obama and whatever horrible creature the Republican Party imbues with its life-force will be empathizing their asses off, so this doesn't mean much except for one thing: It's a sign the boys have, in their minds, already advanced to the electioneering stage and are starting to think seriously about bamboozling someone other than their regular readers. No regular patron of these professional Patrick Bateman impersonators would mistake them for empaths; the hope instead is that, with enough practice and a thorough cleaning of the sheep's clothing, they might take the act on the road and there find some success.

Along with demonizing the ungushy Obama, they'll try to convince voters that their candidate is, conversely, full of gush -- someone they would like to have a beer with, in the old phrase (though, given how their last beer-worthy president worked out, they'll have some difficulty erasing from voters' minds the fear that their beer will be spiked with Rohypnol).

And that's the problem with the empathy thing. Given the wretched state of the economy, Obama should be getting blown out in polls, yet he manages to keep it close against a "generic" Republican candidate. I'm convinced this is because the American people know at least that Republicans do not have their best interests at heart and, given the Party's recent tendency to promote psychopaths, aren't sure they even have the will to pander anymore. The generic candidate actually has an advantage here; it's one thing to convince the punters that Obama doesn't care, but another to convince them that the Worthy Opponent does. Which of these guys convinces you?

Maybe they should just pool their resources and hire somebody who doesn't look like he would gleefully kill you for Jesus/your wallet. At least then they'll have done something about unemployment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TORTUREGASMS AT NATIONAL REVIEW. Peter Moskos has an op-ed proposing that, whenever possible, we subject convicts to floggings rather than incarceration. It's a flawed but genuinely interesting thought experiment -- not one of those "What if you stupid liberals were Hitler CAUSE YOU ARE!" thought experiments you get from conservatives -- the purpose of which is made plain by its closing: "If it takes a defense of flogging to make us face the truth about prison and punishment, I say bring on the lash."

But this sort of argument can only be conducted among adults who have learned to control their retributive impulses -- which lets out the boys at National Review, who of course see it as a chance to talk about their enjoyment of human suffering. Andrew C. McCarthy:
Jonah, this dovetails with a thought experiment I’ve been pushing for a while now, in rebuttal to the claim that waterboarding (as it was administered by the CIA on three top al-Qaeda detainees) is torture. If you gave every inmate serving, say, two years or less in prison the option of being waterboarded or completing his sentence, what would he choose? I’d be stunned if less than 95 percent chose waterboarding.
McCarthy thinks that if you were offered a choice between two years in prison and some waterboarding, and you took the waterboarding, then you obviously don't think think waterboarding is so bad. As usual, the very concept of consent eludes them. (That's McCarthy's head shot up there; looks like he's cumming in his pants over the prospect of manning the "Torture or Time?" booth.)

Even worse in his way is Kenneth D. Williamson:
Jonah and Andy: I’m not entirely sure about flogging, but I have long seriously advocated the return of stocks, especially for crimes of a nature that inherently degrade public life... I think 24 hours in the stocks for defacing a public space with graffiti would be appropriate, especially if the stocks were set up at the scene of the crime...
And you know who'll be there early with rocks!
But I also think that government should mostly do its business in public, including its punitive business. Public crimes ask for public punishments.
When they bring back public hangings, the victim won't be the only one to pop a boner.
As for the flogging, I remember thinking in the case of young Michael Fay — you may remember: the snot-nosed American punk kid who got himself caned in Singapore back in 1994 — that the punishment was probably appropriate to the crime, perhaps even a little on the lenient side.
Interestingly, Moskos says in the op-ed, "Some would argue that flogging isn’t harsh enough," and that if this is their counterargument, "then perhaps we need to question our humanity."

Seems a good place to put this:

HOCKEY RIOT IN VANCOUVER. I must say I'm surprised that Matt Drudge hasn't colored in the rioters' faces with magic marker, spurring another wave of conservative outrage.

In the absence of negritude, maybe they'll blame it on socialized medicine. If these guys had rickets, they wouldn't be able to riot!

UPDATE. Commenter KC45s gets there early: "Don't worry. They're working on the theme of 'liberal Vancouver' and 'Canada's San Francisco' even now. The posts would be up already but the crew at NR haven't been able to find the city on a map yet."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ANNALS OF THE CULTURE WAR. I have been encouraged to review the latest opus of Ben Shapiro, boy culture-warrior, this one in National Review and about the "twelve best conservative TV shows." It is a noisome task. The descriptions are moronic ("I may be the only person on earth who believes that Lost skews conservative on political matters..."), as is indeed the whole thing. But this statement is worth noting:
You’ll see that many of these shows were also created by outspoken liberals — so this is a tribute to those gutsy liberals who didn’t toe the party line.
This is really how Shapiro, and his fellow operatives, think about TV, movies, literature, etc. They think all the studios, presses, and writers' rooms are actually devoted to advancing leftism -- that in real life the show-runner begins each day by asking, "How can we speed the coming of the dictatorship of the proletariat?" And if Shapiro likes a show, he imagines that some of these minions have bravely rebelled by inserting conservatism into their work.

It's sort of like when people who generally look down on TV think the shows they enjoy come from the creators' attempt to insert a little artistry into the commercial product. This is a simplification, but at least it acknowledges the forces of art and commerce. In Shapiro's case, though, it's all political, because that's what he thinks everything is. When he gets a pair of shoes that fit comfortably, he probably gives a prayer of thanks to the cobbler who resisted liberal orthodoxy to provide them.

Shapiro's height of lunacy is reached in his coda, where he offers to "help television save itself." From what, I wonder? Television is doing well enough that someone could afford to pay Charlie Sheen $2 million an episode. And when its producers are dissatisfied with the money they're making -- and they always are -- they innovate in ways that have nothing to do with politics (as with reality shows -- small investment, big profits). But Shapiro insists:
In truth, only Hollywood can save television. And Hollywood can save television only if they give up their liberal agenda and focus on what they should have been focusing on all along: pleasing the American people, regardless of political viewpoint.
The American people have already voted with their eyeballs -- they want Snooki and celebrity drug addicts. That's capitalism, comrade, and a better lesson in conservatism than Shapiro can manage.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

OOGA BOOGA. Some Guy at RedState:
Whether our best and brightest want to admit to it or not, law and order disintegrates daily in America...

Thus, I believe that the eventual GOP candidate for President has to ignore the accusations of racism and make this an issue. This is bigger than just a shot at political advantage. The blood of innocent people cries out from the stained and filthy alleys of our lawless urban streets.
I'm sitting here in Harlem; why has no one knifed me yet? Let's see what the FBI says in their Preliminary Annual Crime Statistics for 2010:
...the nation experienced a 5.5 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes in 2010 when compared with data from 2009...

Violent crime declined in all city groups. Cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 saw the greatest decline in violent crime (6.9 percent). Violent crime in non-metropolitan counties decreased 6.4 percent, and in metropolitan counties, it declined 6.0 percent.
What's Some Guy talking about then? Oh, he saw some stuff on Drudge about black people committing violent crimes -- like the story that excited this eruption from the brethren last month. Says Some Guy:
The offenders portrayed were primarily young, black males. Those who listen intently for dog whistles heard them.
And by that he means liberals who pretend not to know that Drudge is way ahead of law enforcement in noticing ObamaAmerica's black violent crime wave.

But at least some patriots have got the guts to tell the truth:

Noted civil rights activist Robert Stacy McCain steps up to defend this ad: "Are people really so dense," he asks, "that I need to explain what Ladd’s video was intended to accomplish?" No -- no one's that dense.

UPDATE. See also, too.
CUE SINISTER MUSIC. Kathryn J. Lopez interviews an Archdiocese lawyer on the coming menace of gay marriage in New York. As usual, they can't tell us exactly what we're supposed to be afraid of, but at the close the lawyer takes a shot:
As for intolerance, here’s an omen of how it’s going to be here in New York — a sign posted on the Facebook page of a Democratic state senator of her office door, with an arrow pointing to the floor, reading “Bigots and Homophobes Please Put Your Literature Here.” That’s what we have to look forward to if this bill is passed.
The lawyer refers to this, from the office of the totally awesome Senator Diane Savino; she specifies the sign is for "hate mail," and anyone who's grown up in America can imagine what that must be like. Yet we're supposed to be troubled that the Senator isn't giving these scrawls the careful attention Lopez and the lawyer think they deserve. It's the thin end of the wedge! Soon people will stop taking literature from Klansmen.

When you're reduced to demanding respect from people you consider perverts, it's probably time to throw in the towel.
AFTER PARTY. I didn't watch last night debate, and have instead relied on the transcript. This insulates me from the participants' legendary charisma, so I can't say how their performances might influence whatever people actually saw it.

On that head, though, some of the responses were interesting. I credit the much-mocked Tim Pawlenty with a fine piece of traditional political sloganeering in his answer to a question about fixing the American mess with tax cuts. He wouldn't just cut taxes, said Pawlenty -- "We're proposing to cut taxes, reduce regulation, speed up this pace of government, and to make sure that we have a pro-growth agenda." Someone over there should be negotiating for the rights to "Harder Better Faster Stronger" as a campaign song.

It is generally accepted that Pawlenty had a bad answer on "Obamneycare," but probably really lost the crowd by admitting he had once been in a union, though he recovered somewhat by supporting right-to-work laws. The good reviews for Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann are understandable even from the transcript. Everyone of course shook their fists at Obamacare, but Romney actually said something coherent about the difference between his state plan and the national one; this may protect him from Tea Party wrath, as it has that federalist angle that's popular with GOP activists these days. Bachmann avoided saying the kind of egregiously crazy things that have made her a national punchline (grading, that is, on the GOP curve for crazy), and benefited from the discussion of TARP, as she's one of the few candidates with any credibility on what has become of late the default Republican position.

All of the candidates were serious -- at least in their pronouncements; when and if one of them is elected, all bets are off -- about defunding the government, from Social Security on down. They worked to outdo one another in denouncing the outrageous regulations and expenditures of the Obama Administration, the EPA, the National Labor Relations Board, and NASA. Romney's answer about denying disaster aid to ravaged communities is considered bizarre by sane people, but these were Republicans he was talking to, and they probably accepted his general premise: "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."

The odd thing is that this year Ron Paul, despite his persistence at these events, has been marginalized, not because his ideas are extreme, but because in the current Republican Party they are mainstream (except on defense issues, where he is still treated as the crazy uncle). The only question is which of the others will be put forward as the blow-dried avatar of the new feudalism.

UPDATE. I can tell you now, down here where it's too late, that if you had one roundup to read it should be that of Gin and Tacos:
Anyone else enjoy the surreal sequence in which Pawlenty, Romney, and Bachmann tried to out-tax-cut one another? Romney proposed taking the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. T-Paw one-upped him with 15% last week. Tonight, Bachmann threw down to the tune of 9% (with no capital gains tax, estate tax, or AMT…and a tax increase on the lowest bracket). It was like watching three children fight over who loves mommy more.
He also dumps cold water on the notion that Rick Perry will fly in to save them all, as the actual candidates have been working for years to get nominated and Perry starts from zero. Good point, though there is another undeclared savior figure who has been pursuing her own non-traditional campaign since Election Day 2008.

Monday, June 13, 2011

ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE TO REMIND ME. At National Review, Ben Shapiro offers the high-toned aesthetics we've come to expect from that publication:
Ferris Bueller: What Could Have Been
And what does Shapiro wish had been added to the film? Explosions? Godzilla? Slave Princess Leia?

Surprise! What Shapiro thinks it needs is some propaganda.
This weekend marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. As Kathryn has written, the original script for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off contained a bunch of conservative lines...

Only one problem: They didn’t make the final cut, for some odd reason (my theory: studio execs didn’t want to offend liberals … like them). Instead, what we got from Ferris Bueller was a proto-Simpsons view of adulthood and being a teenager. All the adults in Ferris Bueller are invasive morons — including a principal who wants desperately for Ferris to stop cutting class — and all of the adolescents are brilliant, witty, and charming. That was the conflict that summed up John Hughes’s world: he was a conservative, but he was also an advocate for taking teenage angst just a bit too seriously for conservative tastes.
Hughes was also a maker of popular films who wanted people to enjoy them more than they might enjoy something like, say, Atlas Shrugged Part 1. I bet it never occurred to Shapiro that this might have factored into Hughes' decision not to load up a fucking teen comedy with political material.

As you know, I have no real interest in politics and mainly write this blog to discharge nervous energy and entertain my friends. But if there's one thing I would like to keep in front of the public, it's the Zhdanovism of the American Right. As all their blather about "taking back our culture" shows, they really think "art" is just a fancy word for indoctrination, and believe that if only they can transfer control of the cameras, stages, presses, etc to the right kind of people -- that is, apparatchiks as pinched, soulless and controlling as they are; rightwing Robespierres -- then art will cease to be a problem and become part of the all-encompassing solution. Mostly they're ridiculous, now, because they haven't figured out a way to make it happen; but never underestimate the determination of a would-be commissar.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP -- alas, more Weinergate. But what can you do, it's what the people want. Me, I'd like Weiner to hang in there, just to see what would happen to all this fapping without a climax; if nothing else it might teach the brethren some staying power. But the new angle is that Weiner's taking dirty pictures at the Congressional gym will be grounds for impeachment, and as the establishment has shown itself disinclined to stick up for Weiner, this may be their excuse to shut him down.

Whenever the moment of ecstasy occurs, it will not have taught anybody much of anything. I see at NewsBusters Noel Sheppard is mad that ABC had a bunch of women discuss the case.
ABC's "This Week" actually used the occasion of Congressman Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) sex scandal to discuss whether this was "a good moment for women."

During a lengthy segment, host Christiane Amanpour along with her exclusively white female guests proceeded to bash members of the opposite sex with ABC's Claire Shipman actually saying, "A group of all white men are not going to reach the best decisions"...
I get the feeling the presence on the panel of Whoopi Goldberg or Angela Davis would not have lessened his outrage.
Yet, as we've seen from the media in recent years, attacking white men is not only acceptable, it's all the rage.

I don't know about you, but as a successful white man who has raised two wonderful children that both will likely be very successful members of this society, I'm getting awfully tired of the reverse racism and reverse sexism in this nation.
I marvel that "successful white men" are so prone to complain.
Is this really what my son who has just graduated from college has to look forward to the rest of his life, or is all this white male-bashing going to some day soon run its course?
Dare to dream, Sheppard; though the Glenn Beck rally seems to have done you little good, maybe you can get up your own Million Honkey March and agitate for rights of white males. (Actually, that sort of thing goes on in a distributed fashion all the time -- they're called shareholder meetings.)

Somewhere Bob Packwood is laughing his ass off.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

FAMILY VALUES, NEXT PHASE. When Naomi Cahn and June Carbone put out Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture last year, showing red states had more teenage mothers and more divorces than blue states, conservatives didn't have a lot to say about it. Ross Douthat was pleased to hear that the teen moms of Fritters, Alabama weren't having abortions; NewsBusters revealed damning evidence that Cahn and Carbone are liberals; and Eve Tushnet thought it was snotty and elitist of Cahn and Carbone to point these disparities out. But in the main they were quiet.

At least Kyle-Anne Shiver seems to have gotten the message and even taken a clever angle, as revealed by her article at American Thinker, "Morally-Schizoid Liberal Women and Their Weiner Husbands."

After informing us that liberal women are sluts prone to "running to the OBGYN with neurotic frequency, to make sure their alley-cat lifestyle has not resulted in any of the dreaded, fertility-destroying sexually transmitted diseases," Shiver explains that it is futile for them to expect their spouses to be faithful.
Certain that one of the men with whom she has copulated without strings will suddenly morph into a faithfully monogamous creature the minute she can convince one of them to say "I do" in front of a few witnesses, the liberal woman marches blindly down the aisle towards near-certain, adulterous doom. Yet, no amount of honest reason can dissuade liberal women from this self-destructive, moral myopia.
I admit, at first I was too caught up in the ridiculous caricature to see where she was going. But further down Shiver spells it out:
Any woman, who still believes that males are naturally monogamous and that a wedding ring is anything more than a little band of gold, needs to take a long, hard look at the sham of a marriage on display between Congressman Weiner and his wife of less than one full year. Afterwards, if said woman still does not see the lifelong value in chastity before marriage and a pair of shredder scissors in the kitchen drawer afterwards, she needs to take a very large bucket of ice cold water and dump it upon her own head.
The lifelong chastity bit we may dismiss as a tic, since even Shiver can't possibly believe that will be the result. But I take her expression of contempt for the notion of elective marital fidelity as a cry from the heart. And given her point of view, she may also see the copulating conservative-region youth as refreshingly wised-up compared to neurotically cautious liberals. No running to the OBGYN for the red-state kids, except to get help with their numerous pregnancies. And if their divorce rates are also great, it may be that experience has simply given them more modest expectations of marriage than have the ladies of Massachusetts and New York, and they take the forsaking-all-others charade less seriously.

I would advise conservatives to grab this and run with it. If tradition prevents them from endorsing sexual freedom outright, they can at least let their constituents know that they understand them, and consider them more enlightened than the stuck-up Yankee bitches who think they can hold a man forever with their fancy birth control and delayed marriages. What a vote-getter that might be! They can start on it as soon as they've finished milking the Scandal of the Century.

I must note one other fragment from Shiver's article:
I've seen some of these women nearly go completely insane as they receive one of those now-common, "So sorry I may have infected you" love notes from a former "lover."
Now-common! And yet Hallmark hasn't created cards for the occasion. It's enough to put you off your faith in capitalism.

UPDATE. Comments are choice, with lots of Hallmark STD poetry. Some commenters, such as Cato the Censor, wonder, "If she hates lib women, why does she hang out with them so much she's usually around for the VD mail?" Regular readers will know that culture warriors often pretend to have liberal friends, so they may report back to their readers the things these liberals say and do, most of which are, in a literal sense, unbelievable. Ripe examples here, here, here, and here. All fine efforts, but not as good as the totally true story of my encounter with Jeane Kirkpatrick and a backwoods preacher.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I DIDN'T KNOW THEY STACKED SHIT THAT HIGH. I see Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to join the 328 other Republicans running for President. Aside from being a total Jesus freak, a secessionist, and an all-around posturing asshole, what has Perry got to recommend him? From the encomium of an obvious operative at the Texas Tribune:
Given the current economic climate, Perry has a unique and compelling story to tell that America is ready to hear. As governor of Texas, he has presided over the most dynamic and successful economy in the nation.

Texas is dominating in job-creation and economic dynamism, even in a national recession. In the last 10 years, Texas has created 730,000 new private-sector jobs.
Interesting! And how did Texas/Perry do it? In manufacturing? No, that's a bust. In info-tech? Likewise. Construction? There was a boom a few years back, but that's all done now.

There is one category of growth, though, that accounts for about 400,000 new Texican jobs:

The category? Education and Health Services. That's right, two professions that don't create anything, and that Republicans hate -- the first because, conservatives now tell us, it's full of traitors (though maybe they trust Texas' politically-corrected schoolbooks to keep teachers in line), and the second because it helps people. On the other hand, Texas is a right-to-work state, so conservatives may be pleased to know that a lot of those bedpan-cleaners aren't being paid a living wage.

As if this didn't make him a suitable enough candidate, in 2008 he was Rudy Giuliani's family-values factotum.

He has as good a chance as any of them, I suppose. 2012 will turn on the economy; if it stinks, the GOP is in; if not, not. All that's at issue is, which of the party's frothing madmen will be in the captain's chair at the time. Perry's advantage is that there are a lot of Republicans who think America should follow the Texas model -- i.e., possess a lot of oil, which finances you doing whatever crazy shit you want to do -- and strongly relate to authoritarian douchebags. Perry's disadvantage is that the Republican base is easily distracted by other people at least as crazy as he is.

I'm still calling it for Palin. To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, nobody out-crazies her. Though maybe Perry can come to the Convention with a snake in each hand and stampede the delegates.

UPDATE. Hold on, we have new evidence for the theory that Jonah Goldberg makes everything worse. His latest "Goldberg File" has arrived via email; it's not online yet, but I doubt he's smart enough to edit it before it gets there. Among his offerings:
One last point, since I raised it on Twitter yesterday. I think there's a non-trivial possibility that Rick Perry turns out to be this cycle's Fred Thompson.

I understand that there are lots of reasons why the analogy shouldn't hold.
I'll wait a moment for you to compose yourselves. Ready?
Perry's a much more serious campaigner with a lot more fundraising potential. But there's just something about this that reminds me of Thompson (who I am a fan of, by the way). Fred came in looking so awesome on paper -- and that was part of the problem. It was as if he got in the race less because he wanted to be president and more because he found the argument for why he should run so compelling... But I just get the sense [Perry's] running because there's a compelling case for him to run, which is not quite the same as a compelling desire.
Similarly, when Scarlett Johansson expressed a sexual interest in Sean Penn, he probably responded, not out of genuine interest in sex with Scarlett Johansson, but because it just made so much sense on paper.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM, CONT. Let's look into what prominent libertarians say about the Weiner case. Surely they won't want him thrown out just for dick pics -- they're pro-freedom, and philosophically consistent; they hate Democrats and want to legalize weed! Nick Gillespie:
A lot of people say that there's lying (not a good thing) and then there's lying about sex (also not a good thing, but a more understandable thing). But then there's lying about cellphone porn and tweetpics by saying that the attacks on you may be the "point of Al Qaeda's sword," or some sort of super-terrorist cyberhack of a sitting member of Congress. Which is what Weiner says above (via CNS News).

That's such an awful lie on every possible level that I think it should really remove any doubt about his fitness for office. It's one thing to do stupid things and cover them up with misstatements and obfuscations. That's wrong but understandable, at least within certain limits and when it doesn't directly impact his job. But to play the Al Qaeda card in an attempt to throw folks off the scent of an embarrassing (not even illegal!) misstep is really something else...
Yes, Gillespie is actually affecting to take seriously Weiner's sword joke -- a joke even the dimmer rightbloggers get. And with the help of the ridiculous Conservative News Service, yet! Gillespie even warbles about "the very city that suffered the greatest terrorist attack in U.S. history" as if he were a GOP Congressman from Fritters, Alabama pretending to love Jew York on 9/11 anniversaries.

Well, surely the artist formerly known as Jane Galt won't play the witch-doctors' psuedo-moralistic game!
But I also don't think it works to say that it's nobody's business but the couple's whether people keep their marriage vows. Andrew [Sullivan] has been a great proponent of gay marriage--not civil unions, but marriage. Why was it so important to call it marriage, if everything about it is entirely private? Why not stop with legal equality and leave marriage to the heterosexuals? If all the benefits are private, then a combination of legal visitation/property sharing rights...
[Blink.] [Blink Blink.] OK. So -- if Weiner's digital cheating isn't our business, McArdle wants to know, then why do you want gay marriage, Andrew Sullivan? I guess she knew this would piss him off enough to distract him.

Did [Mrs. Weiner] show up at his campaign events? If she did, they were both happy to have the marriage be part of a very public persona.
And so they both deserve to suffer.
Society takes a greater interest in marriages than in other relationships because society, as well as the individual, has an interest in strong marriages...
While Jane Galt morphs into Maggie Gallagher, let's turn from Weinergate to the doings of the most prominent libertarian in the U.S. Senate:
To Rand Paul, Legal Immigration Is Also a Concern

It’s common to hear a senator express concerns about illegal immigration these days, but Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, is also concerned about legal immigration.

“We have 40,000 students coming to this country from all over the world,” he said. “Are they would-be attackers?”
I grow more convinced every day that libertarianism only exists to give young Republicans something marginally less repulsive to call themselves when they're trying to get laid.
WHY, THIS IS HELL, NOR ARE WE OUT OF IT. Nothing like a little Anchoress to put things in perspective:

Admit it, your first reaction was Wha, or some variant thereof. Why is our favorite Jesus blogger sharing an ungodly interest in alleged male chest hair trends? True, The Anchoress likes frivolities such as American Idol -- even though she acts ashamed of it sometimes. But this is getting into unseemly, Ross-Douthat-on-Jennifer-Aniston territory.

The easy explanation is that Obama's breastplate is smooth, so Th' Anch may take the trend and tease it, so to speak, into something about how America is turning away from hairless socialism and toward carpet-chested AmericaJesusism. Still, it seems a pretty thin reed to --

Ah, I get it now! Obama, Weiner -- a smooth chest is the Mark of The Beast! (Using Selleck was clever, but why not Kelsey Grammer? He makes Mark Hand look like Michael Phelps.)

The text is almost superfluous, but you should see this:
Our social behavior (and our values) seem to be suggest a devolving away from maturity and toward a collective case of arrested development that has all age-groups exhibiting the entertainment sensibilities, critical-thinking skills and moral giddiness of 14 year-olds.
Whereas Obama, Weiner, and chest hair are part of the grown-up discussion. Oh, The Anchoress a little earlier:
To my way of thinking, the saddest part of this [Weiner] story is Barbara Walters devolution; this once-respected newswoman...
See what I mean about perspective? In fairness, she's barely worse than her compatriots -- e.g, James Taranto:
How exactly does that make [Weiner] different from a family-values conservative who turns out to be struggling with homosexual desires?
Long story short: Weiner took down an old statue because it was sexist, ha ha. Also, he said he liked that his wife was smart, which is totally hypocritical because his digital sex talk doesn't resemble the correspondence of Abelard and Heloise. Therefore he, and all feminists, are just like Republicans who hunt cock in toilets while denying gays the right to marry, because penis.

Shorter still, Taranto thinks anodyne, pro-women statements are the equivalent of legislating bigotry. As usual, this bunch's misunderstanding of sexual behaviors is really a misunderstanding of consent.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I'LL TAKE PARIS. Saw Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris the other day and loved it. Yes, loved. I haven't had a good run with late Woody, but Midnight in Paris is the first one since Match Point that I'd really like to see again.

The McGuffin you've heard: A Hollywood hack goes to Paris with his fiancee and moons about how he wishes he were there in its fabled '20s; he gets his wish, and things get complicated. Knowing how enamored Allen is of Days Gone By (he sometimes wants to make me yell "everything has to be old and in black and white!" like Sophie Crumb), I was nervous about that going in. But it's Allen's leading man who's goofy about Paree, not Allen, who isn't so enamored of it that he can't make jokes. Good jokes, too. ("Of course it doesn't seem strange to you!" the hero at one point tells Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, and Man Ray. "You're surrealists!") Anyway, the movie's not really about that.

It helps that Allen has Owen Wilson in the lead. Wilson dispenses with Allen's tics and gives us a chummier kind of alienation. He's not as nervous as Woody, but when he's put in situations (nagging fiancee, pseuds, his first moments in the magical past) where his generous natural charm just doesn't cut the mustard, he responds with his own kind of discomfort -- he's as Owen-Wilsonian as usual, but a little more insistent on it. (There's something extra hilarious about his fiancee telling him that, along with everything else, his rival is an expert on wine, and Wilson responding, enthusiastically, "No! Really?") So we get a Woody-type hero who's not stuck with Woody-type behaviors, and can respond to him as a guy who might be alright if he didn't let himself get so crowded by idiots.

The Lost Generation scenes are fun, especially when they include Corey Stoll as an Ernest Hemingway who talks a lot about the brave and true and good, and asks Wilson if he wants to box as if he were asking him to step out for a smoke. But the pleasure deepens when Hemingway and the others talk sense to Wilson -- that is, tell him some things that he can take back to the 21st Century. This, and the device of having the hero transported from the same spot at midnight every night, are clues that the time-tripping is just a way of getting the hero to acknowledge a deeper reality, and to face his problems in the here and now. To me it's much more satisfying than The Purple Rose of Cairo, where the dream of interaction with movies is cursed to disappoint. However wised-up that vision may seem, it's not as powerful, nor as dramatically rewarding, as a dream that leads to a real awakening.

And that's what our hero gets. As easy as it was to predict how the bookstall girl would react when the rain came down on her and Wilson at the end, it still touched me in a way that I'd long ago stopped expecting from Woody Allen. It's rare enough, and welcome, to find such a witty, literate script, but to also get a nice touch of romance at the end -- well, it was well worth the price of admission. I hope Allen's in good health, because suddenly I'm interested to see what he does next.

UPDATE. Late as it is, I want to mention that commenter aimai has some good objections to the movie, which (also in comments) I attempt to answer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

THE REDEEMED CAPTIVE. Last week, while he was hard on Weiner Watch, I asked Lee Stranahan on Twitter what he meant when he said he was a liberal. After all, these days when he's not parsing penis pictures he mainly works on Breitbart's Pigford/Shirley Sherrod jihad. He got pissy:

But now, because of Weinergate he is, as they say, outraged at Chappaquiddick:

I teased him about that, got this response:

Before someone starts yelling about Marching in Lockstep and Thought Police, let me say that I'm in no position to enforce anyone's orthodoxy, and am somewhat unorthodox myself. But Stranahan's behavior would baffle any neutral observer. He's in favor of all those liberal things, but because Anthony Weiner got caught sexting, Stranahan doesn't want to be a liberal anymore (except for purposes of market differentiation)? Also, he works with Breitbart, who repeatedly describes liberalism as a near equivalent to Satanism; does Stranahan think that after he's helped Breitbart take down some more liberals with penis pics, Breitbart will help him get Single Payer?

But there's really no point in asking these questions. This kind of redemption narrative works fairly reliably. Take a walk down memory lane to see this 2003 summoning of the pro-Bush liberals (scroll down to July 22) -- Michael Totten, Roger L. Simon, Gerard Van Der Leun [!], et alia. With a few exceptions, none of these guys are even pretending anymore. And I will tell you right now that the chances that we'll see Stranahan working to take down opponents of gay marriage the way he's worked to take down Weiner are very, very thin.

I guess there's a call for this sort of thing. Some people think it's great that David Brock was a big wingnut before his conversion, and some even trust Andrew Sullivan's mood-swing toward the left. Maybe such people see converts as living testimony to the power of their cause. But this is America, and these are operatives; maybe they're not responding so much to the tug of conscience as to a market opportunity.

Monday, June 06, 2011

SO, WHAT'D I MISS? Went to Southpaw this evening for the Moth "Story Slam" event, which kept me from the Weiner sext show. So I'm not up on the commentary, which I'm sure is lush.

I see also that Andrew Breitbart bum-rushed the show with a movie supervillain performance, complete with threats and self-pity. It does not seem Breitbart was looking for the affection of the American people, who for the most part don't know who he is, but for fear and respect. Among normal people, this will probably go over pretty much as it did in the Austin Powers films, but I expect the political class will take it as intended.

Weiner says he's sticking around. It'll be interesting to see how that goes. The claims of underage girl involvement or other actual crimes haven't played out, but we have been left to wonder if they will, which is of course the whole idea.

I would say we've entered an interesting phase of American politics, but we've been it that for a while. This just ups the ante. Over time I expect we'll find ourselves reentering the era of the Breitbart of his time, James Callender -- some of whose allegations, you may remember, have been vindicated by history. It remains to be seen if we'll wind up with the sort of governance we had back in those days. Knowing how the backwards trend in our history has worked out so far, I'm inclined to think not.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the Anthony Weiner case and the rightblogger treatment of the women involved. This should help greatly with the conservative crusade to claim the mantle of true feminism. As citizen journalists continue their investigations of TweetDeck and yfrog in hopes of nailing down who sent what to whom, there's been plenty of time for discussion of Gennette Cordova, Huma Abedin, and Ginger Lee; in the future there'll probably be much talk of "Betty," "Veronica," and "Ethel," too. Maybe May 21 really was the apocalypse, and we're all in hell.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

ANNALS OF THE CULTURE WAR, PART 5,344,023. Speaking of drama queens, The Anchoress is culture-warring this week, too, plumping fellow Jesusite Barbara Nicolosi's column on how Hollywood is promoting euthanasia. (The Anchoress also suggests that the simultaneity of Nicolosi's column, the death of Jack Kevorkian, and the publication of Ben Shapiro's book about Sesame Street Socialism make "an interesting trifecta... The battle is visible and invisible, and this week it seems to be stepping up!" Well, it's classier than seeing Jesus on a piece of toast.)

Nicolisi gives propaganda advice to the brethren:
Our response to the mercy-killing machine must be more than an occasional op-ed piece; we need a shrewd and all-encompassing cultural strategy if we are going to make a good fight in the euthanasia war.

Shrewd means that we fight smart. It means appealing to the emotions of the masses through stories, not non-fiction tomes. Songs, not philosophical tirades. Heroes, not pundits.
Okay, Nicolisi, you have my attention! Let's see what you got.
If we’ve learned anything from the abortion wars, it’s that the words “choice” and “right to choose” set our cause back decades. We need an emotionally winning language for this fight. The other side should not get away with christening themselves “mercy killers”; they are “death dealers,” “elder abortionists,” “needlers.” Please, not “death with dignity”; let’s get there first with “medical murder” and “unnatural death.” Not “end-of-life clinics” but “human garbage pits.” We need slogans like, “Make your insurance adjuster’s day; let him kill you.” Or, “Everything we know about euthanasia we learned from the Nazis.”
Greenlight! I can see it now: Dying Miss Daisy, with the old lady convincing her would-be elder-abortionist not to drive her to the human garbage pit. I think we can get Michael Moriarty.