Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WHEN ALL YOU HAVE IS A CULTURE WAR, EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE A REVOLVER. More of that culture-war guff I mentioned in my post-election column is cropping up among the tighty righties. Michael Auslin at National Review goes full Goebbels:
Without getting too bogged down in esoterica, it seems uncontroversial to say that, at the end of the day, politics is culture (and of course, political systems reflect the cultures from which they grow). If that’s the case, then we will be in ever greater danger at the national level unless we start winning on the cultural battlefield.
This is where they get the ugly term "culture war" in the first place -- they think of art as propaganda by definition, existing for no other reason but to advance an ideological agenda, and so see all artistic efforts as part of a war effort. And you're either with them or against them.

The further Auslin gets in his diatribe, the more obvious this becomes: He adopts a wounded, we-are-too-childish-foolish-for-this-world tone, and his self-pity pushes him into a fantasy of vengeance:
There’s also a huge temptation to play dirty, the way Ted Kennedy and his ilk did against Robert Bork; I’m not so sure that’s wrong. They play dirty against us in academia, and mock us on television. We hold ourselves to higher standards, but that’s not much help in an increasingly liberal, dependent society. Maybe we shouldn’t flinch from playing dirty (or dirtier). It certainly hasn’t delegitimized liberals among their supporters. But we have to attack their ideals, their dangerous utopianism, and not the individuals. We shouldn’t pull any punches in highlighting their hypocrisy or their radicalism, the way that McCain pulled every punch in 2008.
They "mock us on television." All bets are off! And this time we won't pull any punches -- release the Crowder!

Someone send this poor guy a Bob Ross paint kit and some valium.


  1. Spaghetti Lee11:48 PM

    Without getting too bogged down in esoterica, it seems uncontroversial to say that...(yada yada) If that's the case...(yada yada) I'm not so sure that's wrong.

    Man, it's worse than I thought. Everyone else at NR is so depressed that Jonah Goldberg has to ghostwrite all the columns.

  2. Fats Durston12:20 AM

    "This is blasphemy! This is madness!"

    "Madness? ... THIS. IS. ACADEMIA!"

    [Kicks straw man down the well.]

    Pretty soon we'll represent a fat goose egg in humanities and social
    science departments - which, after all, is where the left's propaganda
    ministers are bred. And we sit around talking about churning out more
    bean-counters, washing our hands of the "useless" lefty disciplines just

    Seriously, they're trembling in fear of opponents who can't get their students to read two paragraphs from a Holy Roman Emperor's decree. (True story, this week!) Other tasks worked over in class this year: why some of the dates "go backwards" and that no, if you really think about it, Christianity could not have come into existence in the third century BCE.*

    *Multiculturalist relativist indoctrination!

  3. Leeds man12:36 AM

    "(with apologies to Victor), even the greatness of the Spartans failed against the numbers of the Persian"

    What a dick. He should have put a spoiler alert at the top. The Hanson household will be a glum place tonight.

  4. JennOfArk12:50 AM

    As one trenchant commenter on the internets once noted in regard to Thomas Kinkade, "Bob Ross could totally kick this guy's ass."
    Which is merely to say, Bob Ross might be a bridge too far. Kinkade and Jon McNaughton are more their speed - wingers are only truly happy and satisfied when they're being duped and fleeced.
    But send the valium anyway - that post-duping and fleecing afterglow wears off pretty quickly.

  5. GregMc1:15 AM

    Shorter Michael Auslin: why can't the artists go back to painting portraits of the nobility and the lives of the saints?

  6. GregMc1:16 AM

    Also too: dangerous utopianism? The f*cking Enlightenment - how does it work?

  7. MBouffant1:37 AM

    I hope to hell you're indoctrinatingteaching (or trying to teach) elementary school students.

  8. Chris Anderson2:13 AM

    And we sit around talking about churning out more bean-counters, washing our hands of the "useless" lefty disciplines just mentioned [humanities and social sciences].

    If by hand-washing, he means "we can't do this stuff, for practical reasons," then yeah. Any bean-counters the Right could churn out would be the ones not likely to blow holes in the flimsy coracle that is their ideology. They can't do humanities and social sciences because it would turn out bad for them, ideologically -- that's the sense in which such activity would be "useless."

  9. montag22:21 AM

    Austin seems, at first glance, truly deranged by recent events.

    They "mock us on television." Lawdy, lawdy, if that ain't cause for a re-vo-lu-shun! He's probably alluding to Jon Stewart, and Stewart's likely got `em dead nuts.

    It's not like the wingnutz are sensible people, after all. They're flakes, and they know it, and, still, they want to be treated as if they are stolid, unambitious bourgeoisie, pleading for a return to the simple order they once knew, when Raygun was Raygun, and the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire, so this talk of "radicalism" from the left wears pretty thin in no time at all. Austin and his ilk would dearly love a putsch, if only they could figure out the details and get one rolling without having to leave their reasonably comfy chairs.

    And, that's the frustration--that the public won't go running off in all directions at their say-so while they're furiously typing away demanding an overhaul of the culture so that they're on top! Again! Forever! We hope!

    Jaysus, these NRO types have the IQs and personalities of corncobs. Mikey, the public hates you and your friends. They think you suck. They know you suck. They never want to see or hear of "An American Carol" again. They hate it and you. You shit on them day after day, month after month, year after year, and you expect them to love you. If it weren't for the Stockholm Syndrome, you'd have no friends at all.

    And, no, Joel Gilbert is not a genius, and the remake of "Red Dawn" will be just as bad, or worse, than the original. Good grief. Right-wing culture. Leni Riefenstahl already did that, and people remember, goddammit. Andy Fucking Breitbart is dead, you idiot. Give it up.

  10. Mrs Tilton2:34 AM

    "We hold ourselves to a higher standard"? Whose standards would those be? Lee Attwater's? Karl Rove's? Dick Cheney's? The Reverend Cardinal Bernard Law's? Michele Malkin's? Newt Gingrich's? Rush Limbaugh's? Nino Scalia's? Robert Stacy McCain's? Sarah Palin's? The Reverend Sun Myung Moon's? The Legitimate Rape Brigade's? John Yoo's? Rick Santorum's? Ann Coulter's? Tom DeLay's? James O'Keefe's? Charles Murray's? Robert E. Murray's? The Reverend Pat Robertson's? The Reverend Kent Hovind's? Doug Feith's? Jonah Goldberg's? Lucianne Goldberg's? Dinesh D'Souza's? Krusty the Clown's?

  11. Mrs Tilton3:15 AM

    That ugly term "culture war", BTW, really is one of those things that sounds better in the original German: Kulturkampf. It referred to the efforts by the imperial German government to protect the country against political subversion by agents of a foreign monarch -- Roman Catholic priests. There are very few things that make the Prussians look good by comparison. Anti-Enlightenment witch-doctors prancing about in silk-brocade robes are among them.

  12. Boy, this shtick never gets old with them, does it? "And I would've gotten away with it, too, if only I had attacked you meddling kids with more racism, misogyny, plutocracy, theocracy, blatant lies and general nastiness!" They really think they haven't already gone full metal wingnut asshole?!?

    This has to be a self-esteem move, like (not coincidentally at all) white southerners after the Civil War, thinking they could too beat them goddam Yankees if they wanted to. (It was their honor and restraint that held them back!)

    Crap, think about it – the Iraq War was porn for the neocons, the Bush tax cuts, Citizens United and Paul Ryan were porn for the plutocrats, the wimmin-hating was porn for the theocrats, the "apology tour," food stamps and birth certificates were porn for the racists, unskewed polls and 'halt the rise of the oceans' were porn for the anti-empiricists…and all of the Tea Party and Fox News and the entire fucking election was sold as good ol' fashioned, Dick Morris toe-sucking porn for the lily-white, Righteous Christians who should be ruling this land as is their natural right! – they tune in election night, eager for the Rmoney shot – and instead, the free market filled their TV screens with gay marriage sex and a triumphant black man.

    Not even the desiccated corpse of Saint Ronnie could yield Viagra powerful enough for them that night.

  13. Pope Zebbidie XIII6:03 AM

    And over-muscled naked young men.

  14. Pope Zebbidie XIII6:10 AM

    I know a lot of people already know this, but Eco nailed them 20 years ago.

    "The Cult of Tradition",
    "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake",
    "Disagreement Is Treason" -
    "Fear of Difference",
    "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class",
    "Obsession with a Plot"
    "Pacifism Is Trafficking with the Enemy"
    "Contempt for the Weak" -
    "Selective Populism" -

    "Newspeak" - fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning.

    teh wiki

  15. bargal206:58 AM

    Oh, come on! Hasn't he ever seen Dennis Miller jab at us with his razor-sharp adamantium barbs?

  16. Shalimar7:22 AM

    Someone is going to have to explain to me how "dangerous utopianism" is different from "actually trying to live christian values other than God Hates Fags".

  17. reallyaimai7:32 AM

    And writing scripts for Leave it to Beaver.

  18. reallyaimai7:35 AM

    Didn't they definitively lose the bean counters, number crunchers, and soc sci analytics battle of 2012 when they chose die hard Republicans and Conservatives to run Romney's Campaign? Peggy Noonan literally choked on her Martini when she discovered that Obama's team had advertised for an "analytics" person rather than a mere enthusiast. They ran Paul Broun against Zombie Darwin, FFS.

  19. reallyaimai7:39 AM

    They actually consider the Jesus of the Gospels the most dangerous utopian of them all. Turn the other cheek. Give him your whole cloak? Renounce this world. Serve the poor? You are darn tootin' that's dangerous. Like that dopey movie about the race car drivers they can do an entire dinner sentimentally discussing "which Jesus" they like better: baby Jesus, angry Jesus, "throw the moneychangers out of the temple Jesus," decompensating Jesus, or Santa Jesus but they hate the "feminine Jesus" who sets an impossibly high standard of love and generosity.

  20. chuckling7:57 AM

    I actually do feel a bit of empathy for the poor culture warriors who, on tv at least, have been as thoroughly defeated as the Polish army at the outset of World War II.

    As I have a teenage son who watches some tv, I can't help noticing how gay friendly the major networks have become. Of course, and I'm thinking particularly of Modern Family (my son's favorite show), "gay friendly" is a euphemism for "ejaculate in the face of conservative America." When you sandwich that prime time demographic assault between such demagogic liberal productions such as Sesame Street and the evening news or anything with a factual bent, you can begin to see how Fox News and Leave it to Beaver reruns are the only viable options (and LitB is often suspect, especially when Eddie Haskell's not around).

    It all reminds me of the last bit in Sacha Baron Cohen's "Bruno" when he plays Straight Dave in a MMA style cage match setting and ends up having sex with a guy in front of the stunned crowd of rednecks.

    Of course that's all for the good. Although it's hard not to suspect that there may be at least some culture warriorism being practiced in the writer's rooms of Hollywood, these popular shows are subject to the rigors of the marketplace and they ultimately represent the diversity of real life much more accurately than any purely propagandistic effort ever will.

  21. El Manquécito8:05 AM

    "They kilt us but they ain't licked us, huh Colonel?"

  22. Landru8:05 AM

    It seems uncontroversial to say whatever the fuck I want and base my argument on that assertion, while pretending that the semiotics of my assertion don't exist.

    It seems uncontroversial to say that the President is a Negro.

    It seems uncontroversial to say that my values are self-evidently the only values that could be taken seriously.

    It seems uncontroversial to say that the constitutional process of advice and consent is dirty if the other side does it.

    It seems uncontroversial to say, "Ooga-booga!"

  23. scottdedalus8:08 AM

    Bob Ross, man. He won't need Valium. Just listening to that dude on sick days when I was in school always made me feel a little better. Takes me back!

  24. My only coherent response to that sentence was laughter.

  25. satch8:17 AM

    So far, unfortunately, the only lesson these meatheads are learning is: "Don't talk about any of this stuff until AFTER we get elected."

  26. Doghouse Riley8:18 AM

    As Irving Kristol noted, the culture war is over, and we lost. We were driven out of the universities, surrendered popular culture, and hunted from the mainstream media

    No you weren't; you were never in those places. You were right where you are today: in government, in the military, and operating low-watt religious radio stations and their equivalent.

    You've controlled research, inquiry, popular culture, and news only through political intimidation, only where you could impose your anti-fluoridationalist will from the outside. Or where, in the case of the "news", you could create your own versions of the truth that only you could hear.

    You weren't swept out of anything. You lost argument after argument because you talk nonsense. And once institutional racism, neocolonialism, and Christian hegemony became untenable--because of their own failures more than the sniping of their opponents--you were left looking back at a past that never was, and blaming the present for wiping it out.

    You didn't lose the culture wars. There ain't no culture wars, except in your heads, except to the extent you can mount increasingly feeble attacks on a continually decreasing scale, in the never-ending hope that some day you'll be back on top, and this time the Blacklist will work. Your modern religious equivalents--fundamentalism, evangelicalism, Pentecostalism--all exist as a reaction to the 19th century, all spawned in breeding pools too small to permit diversity. You're their political arm. When you defeat Darwin, Kant, and Gustave Courbet, do let us know.

  27. chuckling8:18 AM

    "...Christianity could not have come into existence in the third century BCE.*

    Perhaps not, but odds are fair that it came into existence in the first century BCE.

  28. they think of art as propaganda by definition, existing for no other
    reason but to advance an ideological agenda, and so see all artistic
    efforts as part of a war effort

    And not just art! For example, I know that every time I take another man inside me, I'm thinking, "Oh man, this would piss off Michael Auslin SO MUCH!"

  29. Rugosa8:56 AM

    To quote Mike the Mad Biologist, "nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism."

  30. Waitaminute ... except possibly for (5), none of those things is progressive.

  31. Let's put a happy little tree over here ....

  32. Fats Durston9:23 AM

    Yes, yes, we talk about things like that, too: Christianity as an already-existing strain of Judaic thought and practice; existing Levantine (and wider) salvation "cults" that Christianity mimicked/resembled; the fact that our presentist/Whiggish concerns perhaps aren't quite focusing on what mattered religiously then and there; that the assembly of the New Testament is a long and contested process; the difficulty of any sort of exact pin-pointing of the invention of any religion.

    But these things are lost on a majority (partly because they don't care), and class often has to revisit the most elementary (per Bouffant) frameworks of knowledge.

  33. sharculese9:30 AM

    "6. "Obsession with a Plot" "

    Well, when you've lost the plot decades ago of course you'll be desperate to get it back.

  34. JennOfArk9:33 AM

    Yeah but, that's the thing, and the saving grace, as it were.
    It's only by talking about this stuff that they can get their goobers out to the polls. If they talk about it, sane people turn from them in horror, but if they don't talk about it, the insane people who are their base start screeching about RINOs. That was the whole reason for the etch-a-sketch, and we see how well it worked out for them. Heads, we win; tails they lose.

  35. M. Krebs9:38 AM

    William Alexander could kick Bob Ross's ass.

  36. "We hold ourselves to higher standards," Uh huh. This from the party who distributed a DVD slandering the President's late mother.

  37. BigHank539:54 AM

    Quick, to the Breitmobile! We've got to keep this knowledge away from The Corner, or there could be a massive matter-antimatter explosion!

    Or possibly just an extended fart.

  38. Provider_UNE9:54 AM

    Apropos of nothing the following popped into my head and I felt the need to share. It came to me as I was downloading all of the blogs I have not read (including and especially, this one) since my last time online, regarding the wingnut reaction to the election.

    "Obamapocalyptic Oogah-Boogaloo 2012"

    Though with the talent that hangs round these parts, I am sure that a similar formulation has already been made.


  39. GregMc9:59 AM

    It's all one higher standard. All the way down.

  40. chuckling9:59 AM

    Sounds like a great class.

  41. Halloween_Jack10:14 AM

    something something taking one for the team

  42. hells littlest angel10:23 AM

    Huh. So kulturkampf -- that's not anything like summer kampf?

  43. zencomix10:25 AM

    You want the answer?Follow the Mooney!

  44. redoubt10:28 AM

    Enlightenment? They're still mad at the Renaissance.

  45. Halloween_Jack10:33 AM

    Previous salvos from the Konservativekulturkampf:

    Minor-League Celebrities vs. Al Franken

    An American Carol

    Sisters Singing for Santorum

    It is entertaining, if not tactically useful, unless they mean to attack during the ROTFLMFAO phase.

  46. zencomix10:39 AM

    I wonder if they had a Godwin's Law for using "Jesus" during their Kulturkampf?

  47. zencomix10:41 AM

    William Faulkner did some of him best work on Leave It To Beaver!

  48. M. Krebs11:03 AM

    They'd just come up with a way to claim that the list describes liberalism perfectly. No wait, didn't Jonah kind of do that already?

  49. M. Krebs11:06 AM

    Can we work Obamapoplexy into that?

  50. synykyl11:12 AM

    If they want to fight fire with gasoline, that's fine with me.

  51. They sure would be mad at it if they remembered what it was. I've been reading my way through Orlando Furioso-- a knights-and-sorcerers epic poem that was the genre blockbuster of the early 16th century-- and despite being nominally a story of Christian heroism, there's something on every other page to drive a modern conservative nuts. Holy vows of chaste love make for good motivation in subplot 1, but in subplot 2 the knights and ladies jump in the sack whenever they feel like it. Subplot 3 has Charlemagne is saving the world from the Muslim horde, but subplots 4 and 5 are about a bunch of Muslim knights (and female knights) who are the greatest knights ever. And there's a lengthy rant about how guns are the worst invention ever, because there's no honor in that kind of fighting.

  52. Maybe a little bit.

    I fondly remember a Boy Scout summer camp where we had a bunch of firecrackers and bottle rockets, and engaged in patrol vs. patrol warfare.

    I'll never forget that Black Cat firecracker with the quick fuse that went off right next to my right ear, just before I could throw it. At least it wasn't a grenade...


  53. tigrismus11:31 AM

    Yes but there were no jokes on it, were there? Not any funny ones, anyway.

  54. so, this is what soul-searching and reassessment looks like, yeah?

  55. Two big thumbs up to Orlando Furioso, or as the Ain't It Cool fanboys call it, OF !!! Gustav Dore's illustrations for it are a hoot, too. Also, too - "Fiordispina is in love with Bradamante even though they are both women." Some sexxy cultural tropes are forever, methinks...

  56. mumble muble rising to the occasion

  57. "They mock us on television" - their discomfort with the increasing positive visibility of gay people in the media brings new meaning to the term 'straight man'.

  58. 7/10 needs more sexual deviance

  59. I started this OFo reading blog a while back, but I'm way way behind on it. There's a few drawings there too-- proof that I'm no goddamn Doré, unfortunately, but that stuff sure is fun to draw.

  60. Mr. Wonderful12:07 PM

    "There ain't no culture wars, except in your heads..."


  61. Mr. Wonderful12:12 PM

    "They never want to see or hear of "An American Carol" again."

    This is the single funniest fucking thing I've read all year.

  62. If that’s the case, then we will be in ever greater danger at the
    national level unless we start winning on the cultural battlefield.

    Just start making movies where the plucky cartoon animals die at the hands of the evil oil company executive. Easy!

  63. Mr. Wonderful12:42 PM

    Imagine being a conservative in the 19th century and seeing a painting by Monet for the first time. The problem with Romanticism and its descendents, for these people, is, that no matter how much they gas off about the sanctity of "the individual," the last thing they want to be stuck with is their own subjectivity. They crave rules and "standards" in order to know how to live, what to like, what to condemn, and how to evaluate themselves.

    Naturally, then, they can only laugh (transparently nervously) when confronted with the idea of psychoanalysis or therapy. Self-knowledge really IS, for them, Original Sin. God forbid they should criticize the Lord for punishing Adam and Eve for their awareness. No, they condemn Eve, *as they do to this very day.*

    It's not that they don't "get" Ornette Coleman. It's that they don't "get" Louis Armstrong. (Or Scott Joplin. Or syncopation itself.) Conservative culture is one big panic attack and flight from the messy contradictions of the actual self. Auslin can write with a straight face "we hold ourselves to higher standards" because the second he stops believing that, he literally loses his mind.

  64. yadda yadda engaging in sexual intercourse

  65. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard12:59 PM

    Austin and his ilk would dearly love a putsch, if only they could figure out the details and get one rolling without having to leave their reasonably comfy chairs.
    They need a handbook- Putsches for Putzes.

  66. Jay B.1:09 PM

    "There’s also a huge temptation to play dirty, the way Ted Kennedy and his ilk did against Robert Bork"

    Here's what Kennedy said: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy ... President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice."

    I only wish there were more Democrats like that still around. He could have said that about every single fucking Republican appointee they put forth since then, with the exception of Souter.

  67. PersonaAuGratin1:13 PM

    "Wenn ich 'Kultur' höre...entischere ich meinen Browning."

  68. PersonaAuGratin1:23 PM

    (5) is a flexible concept, subject to modification via numbers (9) and (10).

  69. whetstone1:26 PM

    "we have to offer a rational and appealing view of life to counter more moderate liberalism"


    It's a Rational, Appealing Life
    The Unbearable Rationality of Being

    Beats, Rhymes, and a Rational and Appealing Life

  70. Ah yes, the current hot button issue of the day: Kennedy vs. Bork. One sure way to win the culture war is to continually refight battles you lost 30 years ago. It sure worked with contraception this election cycle! Might I suggest, dear Rightwingers, you make the 2014 midterms all about the Teapot Dome scandal? Hitch your wagon to that star and you will go far!

  71. "His ears must be burning" applies to more than ears.

  72. Jesus was a socialist, so of course he's dangerous to the wingnut mind.

  73. M. Krebs2:32 PM

    I'll never forget that Black Cat firecracker with the quick fuse that went off right next to my right ear, just before I could throw it.

    That happened to my friend sitting next to me on the school bus once. I kid you not.

  74. M. Krebs2:35 PM

    I have a 1-gallon plastic gas can that came with a sticker on it that read, "Gasoline and fire never mix."

  75. montag26:52 PM

    "Jesus" is now a Republican brand (and a military brand, I might add). As such, it is identification with the brand that's important, not the value of Jesus' original teachings.

    "Jesus" as a brand may "mean" something to the person that identifies with the brand, but that meaning is not usually something that can be articulated. Marketing strives to create only feelings of worth through brand identification--and, of course, the object of Republican marketers has been, through cross-branding, to associate those same feelings of worth with Republican candidates, the military, the Reagan name and/or image, etc.

    It works pretty powerfully with their base,

  76. Perhaps what we need is affirmative action for conservatives at universities.

    Of course, actually *benefiting* from such a program automatically disqualifies one from being a TR00 CONSERVATIVE - so no applicants could actually be accepted. ;)

  77. redoubt8:09 PM

    So very much this. In a just world, Robert Bork would have been hanged for treason on August 10th, 1974.

  78. It's already glum.

    It's in Fresno.

  79. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq7:53 AM

    You're totes slandering Krusty.

  80. TomParmenter10:40 AM

    They don't get "syncopation itself" and can be seen cheerfully and dutifully clapping one one and three while the entire popular music of the world has been hitting two and four for a century.

  81. "This one time? At kultur kampf...?"

  82. moops2:43 PM

    Don't wealthy contributors at universities and media outlets already do this same thing ? Koch Family Foundations, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation and the Adolph Coors Foundation hand out lots of money to specifically hire right-wing faculty.

  83. Provider_UNE5:49 PM

    Hells yeah? Hows about Obamapoplectic-O-pacalyptic-Oogah-Boogaloo?
    Fills up the alliteratude meter nicely.

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