Showing posts with label culture war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culture war. Show all posts

Saturday, December 03, 2016


A day late, but I did it. Here, have some vintage live Black Flag for your trouble.

 I finally got into the National Museum of African-American History and Culture this week. It’s very much a typical, signage-heavy Smithsonian museum — long on curios, display cards, and uplift. At first I thought the slavery history galleries were a little too talky, and should have had some of the grim immersive effect of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. (I feel the same way about the National Museum of the American Indian, which always feels like it’s hiding something, genocide-wise.)  But then I noticed the place was packed, mostly with black families, and they were reading the history with great interest, so maybe they neither need not want to be smacked in the face with the horrors of slavery and segregation. To be fair, there are some coups de muséologie like the Emmett Till casket, and also images with quieter, more melancholy power; for example, a large wall projection of a photo of an Emancipation Day Parade in some city in 1905; a sea of black folk, neatly dressed but showing no sign of revelry or even celebration, seeming in fact somber, for reasons we are moved to imagine. And once you gets upstairs to the cultural section, all is bliss and wonder; special credit to whoever designed the groovy light boxes in the 70s-radical section. I take Steven Thrasher’s point about “respectability politics,” but it is on the nation’s biggest tourist strip, and you could do worse with four hours. (Oh, and like the American Indian Museum, the food is very good.)

•  I have to thank Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog (which you really should be reading, especially lately) for alerting me to the latest by culture-war clown Christian Toto appearing at the once-proud The Hill:
Film 'Miss Sloane' another reminder of Hollywood's liberal smugness
We warned you effete liberals, by our glorious election of The Leader, that we didn’t want to see anything but Batman vs. Superman vs. Wonder Woman’s Tits XVIIIVXI from now on, but you preemptively ignored us during the production cycle of this movie (or as you sissies call it “film”).
Now, the industry hopes a new film will change the public narrative on gun control. When will celebrities learn their one-sided sermons rarely change hearts or minds?...
Eventually Toto pretends to actually review the film and, surprise, says it’s bad on the merits, which is as may be, but clearly that isn’t why he finds it worth talking about because 1.) he’s Christian Toto 2.) he keeps sticking in talking points like “never mind that the National Shooting Sports Foundation recently revealed that women are the nation’s fastest growing group of gun owners,” and 3.) It’s in The frigging Hill, not Cahiers du Cinéma.
The film suggests most Beltway types want more gun control, but the gun lobby strong arms senators to make them do their bidding. Off screen, there are forces on both sides, each with its own resources and forms of persuasion. Like glossy Hollywood movies…
Like glossy Hollywood movies! From Hollywood! What a bunch of hypocrites.
Hollywood didn’t bother to ask why some Americans thought Trump, flaws and all, might be the change agent they craved. And “Miss Sloane” refuses to consider any NRA member’s arguments regarding the Second Amendment…
He seems to want advisory councils brought in to make sure the artistic product doesn’t challenge the Trumpenproletariat, at least not without an appearance by a raisonneur named Tistian Chroto to explain why conservatism rocks. In show biz they call these focus groups, and that’s how we get Batman vs. Superman vs. Wonder Woman’s Tits XVIIIVXI (in IMAX®!). Which I guess will be the ideal entertainment for the New Age.

•  As for the Carrier deal, you know what? First and foremost I’m happy for those guys who will get to keep their jobs. It sucks that many of the Carrier employees are losing their jobs and no one seems to give a shit, and that the propaganda Trump is making of it is probably a model for his general kleptocracy cover, and (most of all) that nothing about him and his factota suggests there’ll be anything like a policy that would generate better-than-subsistence-wage jobs for those hinterland honkies who thought voting for him was gonna fix everything. But in this round of winners-and-losers at least somebody who isn't a billionaire won something; also, we get to hear the hardcore wingnuts sputtering that it’s not real conservatism — and their Twitter followers snarling back at them. It's an ill wind that blows no one some laffs!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


It may seem as if I'm picking on Mark Judge of culture-war catastrophe Acculturated, but look, it's a busy day and sometimes you just have to take the easy lay-up. His latest is about how men should be able to go out with other men -- no, he doesn't mean anything gay, though it does get physical -- when Judge hangs with his old school buds "it’s noticeable how physical our friendships still are, even decades after we graduated. At reunions we tend to fall back on the age-old male expression of affection—light punches on the shoulder, a bear hug, even playful wrestling after a few beers." (I would pay good money to see Judge's remake of Cassavetes' Husbands.)

Judge's plea is actually for Boy's Night Out, which leads me to ask: so who's stopping you? Like all culture-warriors, he thinks behaviors of which he disapproves reflect political ideologies:
Both feminists who hector men to spend every moment with them—making sure all activities are of equal time—and conservatives who argue that a man’s entire life should revolve around his family, are both presenting ideas that are harmful to men.
Hectoring men to spend every moment with you -- isn't that from Our Bodies, Ourselves (That Includes You, Larry)? And even the comedy strawmen that pass for conservatives here at alicublog don't think "a man’s entire life should revolve around his family" -- how then, for example, would married preachers ever get away to Bible conferences for anonymous sex with men?

Here are my two favorite parts of the thing, devoid of context because who gives a fuck:
Feminists of course will take this (like everything else) the wrong way—I’m mansplaining why women don’t feel stress, etc.—but it’s actually a compliment.
The decision was instant and near unanimous: No. All it took to make the right call was a reminder of last year’s monkeyshines: the drinking, pick-up games, late night skinny dipping in the ocean, frank talk about women and sex. We needed to pick the insects and fleas off of each other, and that was best done without girls.
Readers Who Liked This also enjoyed "Why the ‘Conan the Barbarian’ Sequel Should Focus on Fatherhood," which amazingly exists but was written by somebody else.

Friday, November 06, 2015


Yeah, one-hit wonders. But what a hit! 

•   Quentin Tarantino pissed off some cops, so David French of National Review went argh lieberal Hollyweird I’ll show you and all those so-called “critics”  how it’s done! Here French explains to Tarantino why Tarantino is “the Most Overrated Director in Hollywood.”
Your movies, however, are terrible. And I don’t mean “morally reprehensible” or “too violent.” I mean they’re simply bad.
Strong opening, surely he has a killer argument coming up.
But don’t tell the movie press. Rarely has so much celebratory ink been spilled on a director who has made such dreck. Ever since Pulp Fiction — your best movie — they believe you’re an artist, but over time you’ve proven to be nothing more than a splatter-film director who can attract top talent.
I wonder why those top actors want to work with Tarantino instead of, say, Eli Roth. Must have something to do with liberal media bias. Anyway:
And you’re the least original splatter-film director in the United States. You simply can’t stop making the same movie. Consider your recent offerings.
To sum up: A lot of his movies have a revenge plot and mayhem. Don’t anyone tell French about Jacobean tragedy. Or the Elizabethan, for that matter. Anyway:
And yes, I know that I just said that I don’t hate your movies because they’re morally reprehensible, but let’s be honest: They are pretty vile. You gotta admit, you love that N-word.
So he’s “politically incorrect.” I thought conservatives loved that.
...Everything else about your movies can be ludicrously unrealistic (think of the mighty mountains of Mississippi in Django Unchained, the fiction of “mandingo fighting,” or virtually any scene in the Kill Bill series)…
Leave it to French to fact check works of fiction. I mean, come on, Hitchcock, birds never act like that!
…And the media — mostly — is fine with it. Why? Because you’re an “artist.” But mostly because you’re liberal. So all the typical double standards apply.
When I go around yelling “nigger” and attacking people with swords, I get in trouble, but you do it and you're an "artist"! Also, liberal media bias because, come on — that's what French has; that’s the only reason why he bothered — he doesn’t give a shit about art (excuse me, “art”), he’s just throwing shit because he doesn't like QT's politics.  Indeed, from this wretched example it seems as if he’s never tried or learned how to explain what’s good and bad about a film in his life. It’s always sad when propagandists pretend to be critics, but why is it always the least qualified ones who try?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Now listen, Mike. Listen carefully. I'm going to pronounce a few words. They're harmless words. Just a bunch of letters scrambled together. But their meaning is very important. Try to understand what they mean:

"How Star Trek Explains The Decline Of Liberalism."

"This essay appears in the Summer 2015 issue of the Claremont Review of Books."

5092 words.

You sure you have the guts? Alright, buddy, but once we're in we're not coming back till the mission is over.
The best expression of their spirit was John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, with its proud promise to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” 
This could have been declaimed by Captain James T. Kirk...
You weasel, get back to your position! Tie him down, Sliverberg; it only gets rougher from here.

Anyway, the author, Timothy Sandefur, tells us in the beginning Gene Roddenberry and his fellow World War II vets hated the Communists -- the Klingons -- and the hippies -- the Organians -- but then, for reasons no one can explain, in "The Apple"* ("Worst episode ever!" the fat guy cries), Spock spoiled everything by going multicultural:
Spock is more indulgent. “There are many who are uncomfortable with what we have created,” he tells the captain, “the planned communities, the programming, the sterilized, artfully balanced atmospheres.” Spock insists he does not share their views, yet he secretly admires them, and devotes his considerable scientific skills to helping locate their paradise planet. Later, he tells one of the few survivors of the acid, “It is my sincere wish that you do not give up your search for Eden. I have no doubt but that you will find it, or make it yourselves.” The skeptical, spirited Kirk could never utter such words.
Roddenberry, for some reason, was giving Spock the good lines! Had the Reds gotten to him? It could be that Gene and the crew knew it couldn't all be heroic Kirk speeches (especially after they got a load of Shatner), and needed some yang for his yin... but no, none of these trivial dramatic necessities occur to Sandefur, who ties Spock's moral relativism to "the New Left" (probably represented by some radical key grip who altered the script to follow the Stalinist line on his gold-plated overtime) and teleports his narrative in a huff to 1991,"months after Roddenberry’s death," so that Kenneroddenberry may remain in memory pure while beatniks trash his neoliberal legacy.

The weaker members of the crew scream "Nerrrrrrrrrds" as we pass these flaming rhetorical dung-satellites:
The dungeon in which Kirk is imprisoned in this film is on a par with Stalin’s jails.
[“Star Trek: The Next Generation"] featured false equivalency on a grand scale. The show premiered a year after feminist philosopher of science Sandra Harding referred to Newton’s “Principia” as a “rape manual,” and a year before Jesse Jackson led Stanford student protesters chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!”
The Ba’ku would have nauseated Captain Kirk. Here is a species that lives “The Apple” not as captives but as willing participants. They have given up growth for stagnation, which they have mistaken for life. Yet the audience is expected to admire this.
Etc.  In the end, Sandefur is retucking his shirt furiously, lamenting that “'Star Trek’s' romance with relativism gradually blotted them out until the franchise came to prize feeling over thought, image over substance, and immediate gratification over moral and political responsibility." And at no point does he betray any awareness that people watched the show, not because the Statist Overlords forced them too, but because they enjoyed it, and if there were a market for Star Hayek, someone would have made it. But the laws of capitalism never seem to apply to capitalists, and the way of the world never makes sense to a dork.

UPDATE. Comments are thus:

"Wait until Sandefur finds out that 'Laverne and Shirley' debuted a year after feminist author Susan Brownmiller declared 'pornography is the theory, rape is the practice,'" hoo-boys Jeffrey_Kramer.  Kordo sees my Star Hayek and raises with Burke to the Future. (Except Burke's not really conservative, see, because -- oh, hell, I guess I'm just a different kind of nerd.)

Sarcastr0 digs up a Sandefur guest-post at The Volokh Conspiracy in 2014 (pre-sellout), in which  he says the welfare state is unconstitutional and we should make it constitutional by amending the Constitution if we really want to have it, but psych, libtards -- "a constitutional amendment can itself be unconstitutional," because there's nothing in the Declaration of Independence about food stamps for moochers; also, "to the extent that the U.S. government operates contrary to those principles, its actions, too, are illegitimate acts of usurpation, and deserve to be treated as such." Wonder if the Kim Davis tsimmis has got him refurbishing his treehouse in anticipation of a Natural Law uprising.

*A few readers point out that Sandefur mistakes "The Way to Eden" for "The Apple." Gary Farber seems to think it was incumbent on me to correct him, but honestly, why would I fact-check a Star Trek reference? I wasn't arguing with his interpretation, which would require understanding of the references, but with the whole crackpot idea that old TV shows should be torn up for wrongthink by political operatives. I mean, most of the people who used to talk down the "Leave It To Beaver" view of family life did it as a joke, not as a 5,000-word essay.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Michael C. Moynihan, formerly of Reason (the magazine, not the capacity for consciously making sense of things, obviously), goes blar har over the latest political correctness:

His buddies concur: "Good grief. How about 'might not contain the same views as yours. Go ahead and listen; stretch your personal envelope,'" "What, did someone in the program use a gender-specific pronoun or something?" etc.

You may recall that Buckley was a full-throated segregationist and white supremacist:
He didn’t stop there. In 1957, Buckley wrote National Review’s most infamous editorial, entitled “Why the South Must Prevail.” Is the white community in the South, he asked, “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?” His answer was crystal clear: “The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because for the time being, it is the advanced race.” Buckley cited unfounded statistics demonstrating the superiority of white over black, and concluded that, “it is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.” He added definitively: “the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.”
And this is from the WNYC broadcast descriptor:
During the question period [Buckley] endorses the concept of a "white backlash" if it means repudiating the views of such black leaders as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Bayard Rustin.
Maybe these are the kind of sentiments that WNYC wanted to warn visitors about. Do these guys really think it's a bad thing if the website thinks some black kid might like a simple heads-up before opening a file from an advocate of "white backlash"? Probably -- I expect they think the Pure Food and Drug Act was a big statist nuisance too, depriving consumers of the freedom to discover poison in their food by eating it.

I'm not crazy about trigger warnings and other sissy evasions of rough and tumble public discourse, but if someone wants to warn Jews that Hitler's about to make his big pitch, or warn blacks that William F. Buckley is about to speak, I count that as elementary good manners.

UPDATE. In comments, Maclean's cultural critic Jaime Weinman reminds us of the trigger-warnings-avant-la-lettre that have appeared before old cartoons that feature pickaninnies and whatnot for many years now:
I'm pretty reflexively anti-PC (or anti-anti-anti-PC?) but I also think the most important thing above all is to keep stuff available and uncut, whether it's a cartoon or a radio interview. And I don't think people realize that the choice is between sending this stuff out in public with a warning and not sending it out at all.
"No longer politically or socially appropriate" is awkward phrasing, I admit, but then Warner Brothers' first try at a content warning for cartoons had Whoopi Goldberg walking out to warn us. They replaced this with a disclaimer card. It's a work in progress.
I can understand how the degradation of black people might be something some viewers (including black people) would want to avoid; I can also understand why some viewers would want to see the cartoons as they were meant to be presented, not shot full of censor-holes. (I should mention that syndicates also cut non-racial things out of cartoons, like Porky and Daffy's iron lung gag.) The warning seems a reasonable accommodation, but I can also understand how that lets libertarians out.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Funny or Die did a Planned Parenthood sting parody that's only borderline amusing in and of itself, but hilarious in its impact on dummies. Megan Fox of PJ Media:
Funny or Die has probably been on your Facebook feed once or twice. It is...
...that website that had that Will Ferrell bit with the little girl landlord who swears and the Zach Galifianakis interview with Barack Obama and some other online laffs, right? Thunderously no!
...a project founded by a spoiled rich kid who asked his very wealthy father to fund his frat-humor-turned-money-maker online comedy show. The wealthy daddy-benefactor is Mark Kvamme, who happens to be Governor Kasich’s sugar daddy. Kasich has been flying around in Kvamme’s jet with his campaign.
Are you not-laughing yet?
Unfortunately for Kasich (and Mark Kvamme), Michael Kvamme (pampered trust-fund baby) seems to think that Planned Parenthood’s scandalous and barbaric — not to mention illegal — methods of altering abortions to preserve organs to sell on the open market is funny.
Well, when you put it that way --
All of this is told by what I think might be minor celebrities (or semi-successful comedians) I’ve never heard of...
The video stars Kristin Wiig.*

Then Fox goes on about the latest real PP sting vid ("StemExpress employees taking blood samples from women and fetal tissue their aborted babies for research without their consent!") and yells at Funny or Die some more:
I’m surprised that this Funny or Die sketch didn’t go for broke and just make fun of aborted babies, like the pro-abortion Left usually does. Normally, when they are feeling secure in their dominance, they’ll really go for the disgusting abortion jokes.
Yeah, doesn't Jimmy Fallon do a couple of these every night?
None of that is in this video, which leads me to believe that they know exactly how much trouble Planned Parenthood is in and this is the best damage control they can manage.
They're only not doing these disgusting jokes because they know they'd get in trouble!  After a while she sniffs that Funny or Die is made up of "unfunny losers" and melts into a puddle.

You know why Donald Trump is really leading the GOP polls? Silly as Fox's column is, try thinking of it instead as a longform version of those Trump tweets in which The Donald lays down what he surely perceives as wisdom on subjects ranging from outside his expertise to in another universe from his expertise ("Everyone knows I am right that Robert Pattinson should dump Kristen Stewart. In a couple of years, he will thank me. Be smart, Robert"). Trump scores with conservatives because this is how they "analyze" everything -- that is, the same way Fox analyzes this modest video joke. They don't really think about it, they just react, making up ludicrous shit on the spot about how Kristin Wiig isn't anybody and those so-called comedians aren't really funny, etc. But in the silence that ensues, they have to imagine that people are cheering in response, whereas Trump has had the money and media access to train people to provide actual cheers. That's why they love him -- he's living their dream.

UPDATE. I see Greg Gutfeld, the Shecky Greene of Punching Down, had something to say about this parody video on his Fox News show. This line is already justly celebrated:
It's called Funny Or Die, but fetuses don't have that choice because they're already dead.
But with comedy greats like Gutfeld, the backswing is often choice too, and this one's no exception:
It's a shame that Funny Or Die didn't exist generations ago because they would have been great propagandists for Stalin.
And you thought the Jon Stewart butthurt was bad! Ain't culture-war hell? (I'm working from a partial transcript, so apologies if I missed any mention of Alinsky.)

*UPDATE 2. Commenters tell me that's not Kristin Wiig in the video -- apparently I misidentified Alice Wetterlund from The Interview and Silicon Valley. The whole cast is lesser-known comedians or, as Fox has it, "unfunny losers." Still pretty good, though.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Politico reports that Jon Stewart visited the White House twice in the Obama era. To you and me and other ordinary citizens, no big; but to the Washington Free Beacon it’s “Jon Stewart Secretly Visited Obama White House Two Times” — that’s two (2!) times, America! — a development “previously unreported in the media.” The story concludes: “Stewart has become infamous for his consistently negative portrayal of Republican lawmakers. He will appear in his final episode as host next Thursday.”

You may be wondering, why the ominous tone? Turns out it’s widespread among the winger brethren. “That’s the clown-nose-on, clown-nose-off issue again with Daily Show and its clones,” seethes Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, replicating a ten-year-old wingnut talking point; “they want to be taken seriously as cultural drivers and news disseminators, but don’t want the responsibility for disclosing their biases or their slants.”

One wonders: What “desire to be taken serious” or “responsibility” is Morrissey talking about? The responsibility to look glum and serious like Ben Shapiro? (If Chuck Todd decided to try and be funny, would he be more likely to increase his effectiveness, or to embarrass himself?)

“Secret visits, unprecedented access,” sputters Amy Miller at Legal Insurrection under the title “It’s Official: Jon Stewart is an Obama Shill.” “Comedy is an effective buffer against criticism,” Miller says, carefully sloshing the volatile essence of comedy between two beakers in the pale moonlight, “and now we know that there was a coordinated effort to control which Administration foibles got ha-has, and which were exposed for actual critique. It’s not a particularly shocking revelation, but it does serve as one more layer of slime covering the travesty that is the relationship between liberals and the media.” (You disgusting jokesters! I knew there was a reason why they made you sit at a table far from the paying customers!)

The Politico reporter “never questions the appropriateness of Obama’s private meetings with the liberal comedian,” gasps Newsbusters. "A DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVE, MASQUERADING AS A COMEDIAN... Potemkin Village? We’ve got a whole freakin’ Potemkin Culture," crypto-fascizes Ole Perfesser Instapundit (h/t @punditdotcom).

“While President Obama was leaving the money on the nightstand for the rest of the press… he was making waffles and fresh squeezed orange juice for Johnny in the morning,” says alleged comedian Steve Crowder. “…If you ever needed any more proof as to the corrupt relationship of not only the press, but the entertainment industry with the Democratic party… you’re welcome.” In a healthy democracy apparatchiks would encourage the people to laugh at Steve Crowder, not some commie oaf!

“Confirmed: Jon Stewart Was Obama’s Official White House Jester,” snarls Philip Wegmann at The Federalist. His lede is precious:
Molière, the 17th century French playwright, once observed that “comedy alone can correct the vices of men.” Too bad he never watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It turns out that the Comedy Central funnyman was just another flak for the Obama administration.
Whereas Molière was always telling people what a treasonous bastard Louis XIV was. Surely you remember “La comédie de l'acte de naissance”? Wegmann closes,
Comedy probably won’t see another Stewart anytime soon. His comedic genius will be hard to match. But one can’t help but wonder, what if Stewart had really gone after everyone? How many laughs did he lose by telling canned-political jokes? How many vices went uncorrected?
Does it strike you as it does me that these people have never told a joke — I mean, never done so just for the pleasure of making their friends laugh? (Though they may have lab-tested some pieces of ordnance marked “humor” for their loathsome work of correcting vices or whatever, and stood sadly in their lab coats watching them fail, wondering why their creatures never came to life.)

This is sort of the essence of conservatives when they talk about culture. They show not the slightest awareness of the fundamental truth that comedy, like drama and film and music and everything else like it, is animated by something much deeper and more elemental that politics — though artists may become political themselves and be motivated to approach those subjects, particularly when the society they’re born into is as fucked up as ours. Art confuses conservatives, so they despise it, and treat it as some unfair advantage that liberals have. They don’t think artists tend to be liberal because liberal society gives human beings the breathing room to develop their talents — such a thing is impossible for them to grasp; they think it’s because ObamaHitler and his fellow Hitlers have found some community called “Artsilvania” or something where people are temperamentally just like conservatives except talented, and paid them a great deal of money to promote liberal lies (which, in the conservative imagination, they would do happily because money is more important than anything).

I’d feel sorry for them if they weren’t working so hard to destroy everything I love.

UPDATE. Angergrams keep coming in. "I’ve always viewed Stewart as Obama’s messenger boy and this pretty much confirms it," says American Spectator's Aaron Goldstein, whose usefulness in any capacity has never been demonstrated. And the New York Post's Kyle Smith calls Stewart a "partisan hack" who "allowed himself to be seduced by power. He sold out. He dined with those he should have been dining upon." Back in 2009, Smith was yelling at Will Ferrell for making fun of newly-evicted POTUS George W. Bush: "Is it too much to ask for Hollywood's leading comic actor not to use the deaths of our troops in combat for a giggle?" his subhed sputtered. Smith was talking about a bit where Ferrell's Bush interrupted a moment of silence for the war dead to take a phone call. This is an ancient gag (there's an especially funny variation involving Ralph Richardson in O Lucky Man! starting at 6:45 here) but Smith seemed never to have heard of it, and to be mortally offended:
The problem is, during what turned out to be merely a pause to set up the punchline, I actually was thinking about our war dead, and so were a lot of others. Left and right, we all believe, or supposedly do, in honoring the sacrifice of our servicemen and women. 
Here, Hollywood is letting its mask slip...

But is it too much to ask for our war dead to not be ridiculed by wealthy comedians? Maybe those who fly on private jets, live in closely policed communities with surveillance cameras covering every inch of their property and send their kids to private school don’t understand that there is such a thing as public security, and that it isn’t a joke...
Also, how about that bastard George Grosz, painting deformed World War I veterans so disrespectfully instead of promoting kinder, küche, and kirche like a good citizen?  That Smith's talking about anyone else's hackery is rich, but I'll say this for him: What he lacks in talent he makes up for in nerve.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Having apparently given up on convincing voters on the issues, The Federalist is working on Arguments from Butchness. There have been a couple of stories in the news lately about Kitty Genovese-style mass indifference to attacks on the D.C. Metro, from which Federalist author Robert Tracinski extrapolates that liberals are pussies:
Ironically, the same people now making excuses for [Metro] cowardice are the kind who engage in exaggerated Kabuki theater displays about how evil slavery was and how terrible the Confederate flag is and how much they furiously oppose them—150 years after it took any courage to do so.
This causal or genetic link between disapproval of Confederate flags and cowardice is not supported by any evidence except, well, D.C., they're all Big Gummint sissies, right? Also, Tracinski saw in the paper that "at a Renaissance festival in Colorado, a 'wench-costumed woman' put a man in a headlock after he stole a jouster’s sword, which gives you some idea of the cultural difference between Colorado and DC." Maybe the Colorado wench was just high. Speaking of which, just in case you were wondering, Tracinski says he's no sissy either:
I know how I would react [to random violence] because I’ve done it. The last time I can recall was many years ago: two drunk guys in a parking lot were attacking a third guy, and I tackled one of the drunks, allowing the victim to safely escape. It was not that big a deal and did not involve much risk on my part, though I didn’t really know that going in. 
Giving Tracinski the benefit of every doubt, including sobriety, good for him but so what? I lived in New York City in the late 1970s; maybe I should have the Croix de Guerre, or at least bring it up when I run out of political ammunition ("Hey, I lived under the Koch Administration, motherfucker! And I say single payer rules!").

I also worked several years as a waiter and a busboy, so I can sympathize somewhat with Traciniski's colleague Peter Cook, who is proud of his experiences in F&B and retail, and I agree with him that "Everyone Should Work at Least One Crap Job." But Cook thinks this is a political distinction, too. He sneers at a few reporters (aka "the national media") who laughed because, after serving barbecue to a crowd, Scott Walker kept his latex gloves on while eating. Well, huffs Cook, "why wouldn’t you after spending that much time around ribs?" I can imagine why you wouldn't (for one thing, it makes you wonder if Walker kept serving up BBQ after slobbering over them), but Cook makes it a crusade:
Yes, gloves. That’s what food service regulations require. These two journalists seem unaware that when you prepare or serve food to other people, you should have clean hands while doing so, and the best way to ensure one’s hands are clean is to wear gloves. Doing so is not a freakish anomaly, but what food-service workers do daily, all around the country.
I was a dishwasher once, too. I wonder if the dishwashers Cook knows eat with their gloves on.

Also, the catchphrase "beta males," familiar to readers of MRA fedora dopes, has caught on at The Federalist: "Tocqueville Identified The Original Beta Males: Europeans," "Behold, The Beta Males Who Feel Good About Watching A Man Die," "while not all men can be alpha males, they can be men," etc. For readers who need a little more help with their masculinity, they have an article by Rebekah Curtis about how her husband made a real Second Amendment woman out of her with guns:
The guy loves guns: he has a lot of them, he’s good at shooting them, and he wanted me to be a part of it. Having my Second Amendment adherence bluff called has been a rough, but worthwhile, experience.
To each her own. I expect this outbreak is really about identity politics. Since gay marriage went nationwide and the Battle Flag came down, what conservative signifiers are left? Being a prick to working people and hatred of Mexicans, which in and of themselves have limited appeal -- but that appeal may be boosted if it's accompanied by a bit of swagger. It's been hard for conservatives to work machismo since that unfortunate Iraq war which all of them cheered and in which few of them served, and it just got worse when the gay rights avalanche made it harder than before to get away with portraying their opponents as sissies. The upside is that the gays, having been recast as fascist overlords, can be ignored, and the brethren can butch up and work on their manly prose physiques with some web sparring matches against accommodating strawmen. Maybe by the time the campaign heats up they'll be sufficiently ripped to call Hillary a bitch out loud and not run away.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


I haven't been paying proper attention to Acculturated, that most enjoyable culture-war make-work project, so thanks to alicublog commenter mortimer2000 for alerting me to a new column there by Mark Judge (known as Mark Gauvreau Judge in an earlier incarnation). It's called "'Manhattan': Remembering a Near-Great, Near-Conservative Film." Get a load:
Manhattan was famously shot in glorious black and white by Gordon Willis, who passed away in March. Manhattan is also, at least at times, a conservative film. This sounds absurd about a Woody Allen film, but it’s useful to remember that Allen has always had a lot of criticism for the cultural revolution of the 1960s. His films often poke fun at drugs, radicals, rock and roll, and the movie industry. Allen’s obsession with sex and younger—much younger—women has often obscured this fact. But without it, Allen could write for National Review.
Well, he could still serve as president of Hillsdale College.

Anyway: the fact that Woody Allen's character Isaac has the hots for the Diane Keaton character Wilkie, even though she believes in God and talks smack about Norman Mailer, proves to Judge that "he’s a New York liberal with a conscience that tells him that Wilkie may have a point," because there's no bigger turn-on than philosophical differences, look at James Carville and Mary Matalin, preferably not before lunch. Also, Isaac is mad at his lesbian ex-wife -- which has to be a moral imperative, because it can't possibly be the kind of psychological reaction you'd expect Woody Allen to have to a woman who left him for a woman -- and also has character-building tips for his underage girlfriend:
Isaac criticizes his young girlfriend Tracy for being raised in the Sixties.
I hope you've learned your lesson, young lady! Next time pick a responsible decade to be born in.
“You were brought up on drugs and television and the pill.” He then adds that he believes “people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.” Then, disgusted with the drug-taking hippies who produce his show, Isaac quits. This is not a member of the Weather Underground.
No, this is typical Woody Allen, a crabby guy who likes to lecture his friends about God and death -- and in the end gets his comeuppance from, surprise, the teenage girlfriend, which shows at least a little self-awareness on his part. In Judge's view, though, "Manhattan sets up a great premise and then fails to deliver" and guess what, it doesn't have to do with anything as puny as art:
Keaton’s Mary Wilkie arrives as an intellectual equal to challenge Allen’s assumptions. Then, just as suddenly, she and Isaac fall in love and she loses all of her edge. She vacillates when she gets involved with a married man, Isaac’s best friend Yale. Where she was once fearlessly direct, she becomes dithering and morally uncertain. It’s fine to have characters who have self-doubt, in fact it makes for a more compelling film—and a fresh alternative to so-called Christian and conservative films, which give us square-jawed protagonists who get all their answers from God.
Allen will be relieved to hear he avoided this pitfall.
But you don’t establish a powerhouse female character who dismisses liberal journalists as “schmucks... mired in Thirties radicalism,” and two scenes later have her almost begging Woody Allen for a date.
I have asked this many times but: Has Judge ever met a real person? Or at least seen a Whit Stillman picture? Eventually Judge tells us how he would have made Manhattan:
How different and better Manhattan might have been had Allen just gone with the initial premise of the script: a middle-aged TV writer who is uncomfortable with the Cultural Revolution meets a sharp journalist who validates his doubts. They don’t become born-again Christians, but they do navigate their way to a better moral place. He stops dating teenagers, and she stops fooling around with a married man.
I'm on the edge of my seat! You won't be able to sell tickets fast enough! Maybe for the foreign markets, though, in the third act we should have them go on vacation to the Grand Canyon, and have one of those humorous encounters with wildlife Allen's so good at.

Next week at Acculturated: "Citizen Kane -- So much better without the class politics."

UPDATE. Comments are already fun! Gromet:
Chapter one: He adored Tulsa. He idolized it all out of proportion. Uh, no. Make that He romanticized it all out of proportion. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of Toby Keith...

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Daniel Henninger starts his Wall Street Journal column with a description of the Memory Hole from 1984, and regular readers know what that means: Liberals are once again forcing citizens to listen to lies such as "humans cause climate change," "the Iraq War was a mistake," "homosexuals have civil rights," etc.

This time Henninger's villains are the so-called "teachers" who are doing the latest revision of the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum for the College Board. (Apparently they revise the thing every couple of years. Parson Weems and the Pledge of Allegiance aren't good enough for these tenured radicals!)

 "The people responsible for the new AP curriculum really, really hate it when anyone says what they are doing to U.S. history is tendentious and destructive," says Henninger. (And why might that be? Sounds like some little pinkos have a guilty conscience.) These pencil-necks are deaf to the "pushback" to the revise that has "emerged in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Georgia," the intellectual jewels of our nation, and to the 56 real "professors and historians" who have signed a petition against it. No, they bask instead in the approval of something called the American Historical Association, which sure sounds like a union to me. And New York magazine and "one liberal newspaper columnist" have had the audacity to make fun of these good Americans; why, that's double Orwell with a side of Alinsky!

There's more, including a quotation from a non-committal press release from the historians (to give Henninger's readers that got-'em-on-the-run feeling cultural warriors crave) and a tear for fallen comrade Lynn Cheney. But after all that, these are the examples from the actual revision plans Henninger picks to show us how Marxist is all is:
An example: “Native peoples and Africans in the Americas strove to maintain their political and cultural autonomy in the face of European challenges to their independence and core beliefs..."
This is in direct contradiction to the "dancing darkies" and "funny drunken injun" view favored by conservative historians.
Or: “Explain how arguments about market capitalism, the growth of corporate power, and government policies influenced economic policies from the late 18th century through the early 20th century..."
 Market capitalism doesn't "influence," libtards -- it heals, it soothes, it liberates!
And inevitably: “Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities. Students should be able to explain how these subidentities have interacted with each other and with larger conceptions of American national identity.”
Apparently, even worse than acknowledging that slaves and conquered Native Americans had it tough is acknowledging that they had feelings and human interactions at all.

Maybe as soon he wrote these down Henninger realized he had nothin', because immediately he goes for the bullshit totem of the hour:
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld got attention this week for saying he understood why other comics such as Chris Rock have stopped performing on campuses beset by political correctness...
See, it all adds up! A pattern is emerging in all their P.C. hoo-hah: Their ideas fail, and they blame censorship rather than acknowledge that a growing number of people are figuring out they're full of shit.

UPDATE. In comments, whetstone points out that I missed Henninger's coup de horseshit:
At one point the curriculum’s authors say: “Debate and disagreement are central to the discipline of history, and thus to AP U.S. History as well.” This statement is phenomenally disingenuous.
Try and guess how Henninger will prove their disingenuity. Give up? Here:
From Key Concept 1.3: “Many Europeans developed a belief in white superiority to justify their subjugation of Africans and American Indians, using several different rationales.” Pity the high-school or college student who puts up a hand to contest that anymore. They don’t. They know the Orwellian option now is to stay down.
The history teachers are disingenuous, see, because they claim to believe in debate, yet who's going to debate their assertion that slaveowners and conquerors believed they were superior to their subjects? The only possible reason is Orwell! Perhaps Henninger and his buddies should publish a study guide to prepare students to contest this point of view; better still, a video;  even better a Vine, showing Brad Pitt being nice to Chiwetel Ejiofor, then a card that says YEARS PASS, and then a clip of Ben Carson at CPAC.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I love Jerry Seinfeld, but if the kids don't dig him anymore, maybe it's political correctness, maybe it's not, so what? The hippies didn't dig Bob Hope either -- that is, as they say, show business. Bitching about it makes you sound like Lenny Bruce's Comic at the Palladium when the Brits don't laugh -- "well, Freddy boy, I see it's a little squaresville tonight, real squaresville for the first show..."

I notice Aziz Ansari isn't having trouble drawing college crowds. Maybe different audiences just like different things. They're not obligated to like you, and if they don't it's not the same thing as oppression, as conservatives seem to think. The kids have not been "unwittingly drawn into a cult they cannot escape." They are young, they like what they like, and they think old people smell.

UPDATE. Hey, remember that crazy shrink or psycho-sociomologist or whatever she is Stella Morabito from The Federalist? She has another the-PC-end-is-near rant ("Ignorance was cultivated in the schools through political correctness and squashing free debate," etc. skree), and in it she acknowledges that the peecee people do in fact laugh, but at bad things that it's bad to laugh at:
I think the reason there is so little “comedy” that’s funny today is the genre itself has been hijacked by the humorless PC crowd. Why is their humor so unamusing and so dependent upon mean-spiritedness? 
Also, the music they listen to these days, you can't even make out the lyrics, and what's with those baggy pants. Increasingly it looks like this whole P.C. boo-hoo is just a weaponized version of Those Were The Days.

UPDATE 2. Enjoy some libertarian Mad Libs from the Fonzie of Freedom at Reason:
To be sure, San Diego State student Anthony Berteaux also insists in his letter that, hey, he likes edgy and funny folks such as Amy Schumer and Louis C.K. and George Carlin and that Seinfeld should "Offend the fuck out of college students. Provoke the fuck out of me. We'll thank you for it later." 
But this doesn't just ignore the chill that is already upon campuses when lefty feminist profs like Laura Kipnis gets dragged into Title IX hearings about sex on campus in The Chronicle of Higher Education...
If you don't laugh at this AARP member's jokes, Laura Kipnis goes to the gas!
...viewings of films as mainstream and honored as American Sniper are replaced by Paddington, and students call for trigger warnings before reading The Great Gatsby.
Regular readers know how sick I am of all the culture-war bullshit, but Fonzie has it exactly backwards. College students saying they don't like your act isn't oppression. If the kids want a different leisure time activity than American Sniper, which made gazillions of dollars without their help, who gives a fuck? You don't have a Constitutional right to student activity board funds. Incursions into the curriculum and the rights of professors, on the other hand, are about the new consumerist approach to education, whereby students are regarded as customers to be satisfied rather than seekers after knowledge; "social justice" is just the MacGuffin.  The bad ideas you should worry about are the ones that created this system, not some teenager's insufficiently deep understanding of racism.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


I hear Pam Geller held a Draw Mohammed event in Texas which drew some unwanted attention (well, unwanted by normal people, anyway -- I'm sure Geller is delighted). I wonder why she didn't invite me -- I have after all been the internet's boldest, baddest blasphemy-be-unto-him artist since 2006:

I'm joking, of course -- the noted rageclown Geller doesn't do free-speech events, she does skree-kill-Mooslims events, in which I have no interest. Nonetheless, I defend to the death their right to harrumph harrumph harrumph. Now where's my medal?

UPDATE. Nobody likes Pammy.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


I'd like to forget about Indiana, but it keeps exponentiating stupidity like some kind of Moron Collider. Some jerks menaced an anti-gay-marriage pizzeria, and the brethren declared this the fault of the reporter who revealed they were anti-gay-marriage. PJ Media's Scott Ott claimed the reporter "fabricated" the story "out of nothing" (that is, she accurately reported what the pizza people said); then people started menacing the reporter.

By the way, does anyone here approve of pizza shops getting death threats? I didn't think so. I suppose if you really did, you'd have adopted the successful gamergate model  and I'd be hearing how the threats were just satire. But the big story in rightwing circles is that you, me and Ted Kennedy have the pizzeria pinned down with Kalashnikovs.

"The left doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as they get what they want," raved Ott. "Leftists use Gay people as blunt instruments to hammer only Christens," agreed Samuel Gonzalez at Right Wing News. "They don’t have the guts to go after Muslims who literally throw Homosexuals off roofs in the Middle East." (I don't normally bother to say this, but all rightblogger spellings/capitalizations are verbatim.) And of course the Daily Caller's resident drama queen Jim Treacher cranks it to eleven:
The social-justice bullies of the modern left got what they wanted. Gay marriage is legal in Indiana. But that’s not enough. Nothing will ever be enough, because they need to think of themselves as victims.
That last line must be some sort of inside joke.
...Exit question for gay-marriage enthusiasts: If you’re so sure you’re right, if your stance is so strong, why do you feel the need to destroy anybody who so much as dissents from it?
Why do I what? I don't remember calling in a death threat to the pizza parlor -- but Treacher's not talking to me or you, he's declaiming to the galleries as he plays the lead in The Tragedy of the Victims of Big Gay, and hams it way up. That's what all these guys are doing. If they can get enough people to buy their martyr act, they seem to hope, they might get them to think American Christians are actually being ground under the heel of homosexuals. It's win-whine!

UPDATE. Matt Welch of Reason:
The bad news, for those of us on the suddenly victorious side of the gay marriage debate, is that too many people are acting like sore winners, not merely content with the revolutionary step of removing state discrimination against same-sex couples in the legal recognition of marriage, but seeking to use state power to punish anyone who refuses to lend their business services to wedding ceremonies they find objectionable. That's not persuasion, that's force, and force tends to be the anti-persuasion among those who are on the receiving end of it.
Like Title II of the Civil Rights Act. Well, I expect they'll get rid of that soon enough. (Welch quotes Rod Dreher in support of his argument, which is just perfect.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


This pops up in the middle of a Charles Two Middle Initials Cooke rant about how PC is intimidating professors and you liberals who think Ted Cruz looks like Joseph McCarthy are actually The Real Joseph McCarthy:
But the truth is that if Arthur Miller were writing The Crucible today he would likely be less interested in effusive senators from Texas and more interested in the more modern pathologies that the Cruzes of the world tend typically to disdain. Presumably, Miller would look at our universities and our media, at our malleable “speech codes,” our self-indulgent “safe spaces,” our preference for “narrative” over truth, and at our pathetic appeasement of what is little more than good old-fashioned illiberalism, and he would despair.
It seems never to have occurred to Cooke that if his analogy is sound, then The Crucible is already about speech codes etc. -- because it's not a news report but a work of art, which pertains to the universal, and resonates with anyone who has experienced mass hysteria and its attendant repression in whatever form. Other people know that; that's why the play is always getting revived. Audiences get the connection. Cooke might get a theater company together to alterna-stage The Crucible to look like Oleanna if he likes.

I suspect that Cooke's not interested in universals, though: What he wants is an already-famous property that's about how college students are oppressing conservatism -- or, failing that, to get people to believe that the dead author of the famous property was really a rightwinger and just didn't know it. You know, like they do with George Orwell and many others, to avoid the hard work of making (or even seriously engaging with) any art themselves.

UPDATE. Jonah Goldberg tells his colleague: You say McCarthyism like it's a bad thing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The latest surge of Poors-Must-Learn-Morals-from-Their-Betters gush, inspired by the new Robert Putnam book but rooted in traditional Marriage Makes You Rich boilerplate, is best known by its David Brooks effusion, covered here. Since then we've had Ross Douthat and all manner of idiots shaking the scold-stick on this subject. But leave it to Megan McArdle to accelerate the stupid like a Hadron Collider:
There is one place this change might come from: Hollywood. Entertainment is a surprisingly powerful venue for articulating social norms, and if Hollywood decided that it had a social responsibility to promote stable families and changed its story lines accordingly, that might actually do some good. 
Yes, the Artist Formerly Known as Jane Galt wants private enterprise to pitch in with some free propaganda.
I'm not talking about sticking a few propaganda story lines into Very Special Episodes of some sitcom, which wouldn't do a darn thing. Rather, I'm saying that if Hollywood actually believed that married two-parent families were overwhelmingly optimal, that would naturally shape what they wrote, in a way that would in turn probably shape what Americans believe, and do.
Hang on -- this suggests that Hollywood product currently militates against marriage. Is that so? I must have missed the successful sitcoms "How I Met Your Baby-Momma" and "My Three Sons (from Separate Mothers)." And looking at last year's top-grossing films, I'm having a hard time figuring how they could have shoehorned marriage into movies about wizards and superheroes; maybe they could have had Katniss from the Hunger Games movies falter until a priest rushes in to marry her to some guy, like Popeye deriving strength from spinach.

Of course, McArdle's offer isn't serious --
But this is an inherently socially conservative message, and Hollywood is about the furthest thing you can name from socially conservative -- our entertainment industry tends to send socially conservative messages only accidentally, as it did with "16 and Pregnant." And there is nearly as much social distance between David Brooks and your average Hollywood show runner as there is between David Brooks and the kids whose lives he wants to change.
-- it's just more ressentiment for the regular crowd, who sometimes need help believing that social-net-shredding policies have less to do with the parlous state of the poor than evil Hollyweird cokewhores.

UPDATE. Hang on, asks Meanie-meanie, tickle a person in comments: "Hollywood who? Or is that a surname? Joe Hollywood from Detroit? Or maybe Frank Hollywood from Miami?" Tsk, Meanie -- it's a metonym for the cultural apparat -- you know, what such people used to call "Jews." Or maybe McArdle doesn't know this, and imagines herself handing out Operation Hitching Post slide decks to a bunch of guys who look like Robert Loggia, wear their shirts unbuttoned to the plexus, chomp fancy cigars, and produce all the movies.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


What is Rod Dreher Whining About Now? Some literary types have taken a vacation from reading white male writers:
The internet has been abuzz recently with debates over reading lists and reading habits. Writer K. Tempest Bradford caused a bit of a stir when she challenged readers to stop reading straight white cisgendered male authors for a year. Sunili Govinnage generated her share of outrage when she reported on her year spent deliberately not reading white authors.
As a normal person, I say: who gives a shit? Read whatever you like, free country, and as long as Dan Brown or his seasonal equivalent draws breath white male writers will still have a Place at The Table. But Rod Dreher -- well, to give you some idea, he reads this part of the Gawker story...
Many of the responses generated by these articles and initiatives have been supportive — even from those white male authors ‘targeted’ for exclusion.
...and responds thusly:
Of course. Dhimmis.
Eventually Dreher explains the moral imperative behind his condemnation of other people's choice of reading material.
You would scarcely believe the money and effort going into promoting my upcoming Dante book. Maybe it will pay off, but chances are it will not. The competition is unbelievably stiff. 
And even if a book does get a lot of media attention, that guarantees nothing. My 2006 book Crunchy Cons got a lot of favorable press and Internet discussion. There were good reviews in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, a front page Washington Post Style section feature, and an All Things Considered essay from me, related to the book. And yet the book never made back its modest advance, and almost certainly never will.
Who says there's no God? Dreher goes on and on about hard it is for Rod Dreher to sell a book, till finally he gets down on one knee to tell us that when you buy a Rod Dreher book, you're striking a blow for freedom:
So, if you are one of the people willing to spend money on books, I say God bless you, no matter whose books you buy. Every writer who is not Stephen King or Danielle Steele or in that category is in the 99 percent. I hope you’ll buy good books, and I hope you will buy my books. But I’m glad you are buying books.
See? He's for inclusiveness, and those monsters who encourage you to buy Roxane Gay instead of him are for dhimmitude! The choice is clear, particularly if you're the type who buys books not to read but to leave about the house as identity signals.

This has been What is Rod Dreher Whining About Now?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


David Brooks says he has "taken [my] column in a spiritual and moral direction of late" -- or rather he says people (presumably  A-list guests at Brooks' Vast Entertainment Space) have noticed that he has -- and explains that he has seen how well rich kids behave and how badly poor kids behave and so he is convinced that America needs poor kids to have more of what the rich kids have, namely money. Ha ha, kidding! The poors must have "social repair," which is less expensive than money. His models are England's Second Great Awakening and the Great Depression, events which few of us beyond fundamentalist lunatics and Stanley Kurtz would care to live through. Here are some of Brooks' specific remedies:
Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set. 
Next it will require holding people responsible. People born into the most chaotic situations can still be asked the same questions: Are you living for short-term pleasure or long-term good? Are you living for yourself or for your children? Do you have the freedom of self-control or are you in bondage to your desires? 
Next it will require holding everybody responsible. America is obviously not a country in which the less educated are behaving irresponsibly and the more educated are beacons of virtue. America is a country in which privileged people suffer from their own characteristic forms of self-indulgence: the tendency to self-segregate, the comprehensive failures of leadership in government and industry. Social norms need repair up and down the scale, universally, together and all at once.
Cool speech, bro, but I liked it better when Jules Feiffer first wrote it in Little Murders:
What’s left? What’s there left? I’m a reasonable man. Just explain to me… what have I left to believe in? I swear to God, the tide is rising. Two hundred and fifty dollars. Gimme, gimme. We need honest cops! People just aren’t being protected anymore. We need a revival of honor and trust. We need the army! We need a giant fence around every block in the city. An electronically-charged fence! And anyone who wants to leave the block has to get a pass. And a haircut. And can’t talk with a filthy mouth. We need respect for a man’s reputation. TV cameras. That’s what we need, in every building lobby, in every elevator, in every apartment, in every room. Public servants who are public servants. And if they catch you doing anything funny -- to yourself -- or anybody -- they break the door down and beat the living -- A return to common sense. We have to have lobotomies for anyone who earns less than $10,000 a year. I don’t like it, but it’s an emergency. Our side needs weapons too. Is it fair that they should have all the weapons? We've got to train ourselves. And steel ourselves. It’s freedom I’m talking about! There’s a fox loose in the chicken coop. Kill him! I want my freedom!
Carol Newquist's prescription differs in some particulars from Brooks', but then Newquist didn't have an editor. Also Newquist was operating in late-60s New York, a situation of genuine danger, not Cleveland Park in an era of steadily-falling crime rates. Finally, Newquist is a character in a play, and the author had the opportunity to show us what had driven him crazy. With Brooks we can only guess.

UPDATE. I should have foreseen that Brooks' rightful owner, Charles P. Pierce, would have more and better to say on the subject. Sample: "Brooks reaches these completely unsurprising conclusions by quoting a few horror stories from whatever book is on his nightstand these days." His close is killer.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


The Wall Street Journal announces that Emily Zanotti has joined their staff. alicublog readers will know her as E.M. Zanotti, and perhaps recall my review of her culture-war work ca. 2007. Highlights from one Zanotti post at National Review:
There seems to be a degradation of the concept of art that starts around the Enlightenment. Naturalism was a rejection of the spiritual art that came before it... Somewhere along the way, [art] became less about making a visionary artistic statement, and more about making a statement that was "counter-cultural" (the Dada movement, for example) and meant to shock the collective consciousness... what fit this qualification often garnered an artist fame in his own community and an increase in his paycheck...
Modern art, whatta racket amirite? You may wonder how National Review let this one get away: Her last post for NR, filed from the 2008 Michigan GOP primary, contains this:
McCain has added difficulties of his own making as his Michigan campaign winds down. His sudden affinity for plaid dress shirts has ensured visually painful clashes with the blue backdrops at press briefings.
We also learned from this valedictory post that "good hair and rolled-up sleeves are in the Romney blood."

Zanotti kept her own blog for a while, too, where she tackled head-on and without a helmet issues like "If [abortion] IS a killing, why don't you just throw everyone who has one in jail?!"
To answer the question outright, if its a life, then taking the life is murder. We have no problem with that assertion, and frankly, believing it to be a life makes even their arguments easier. Its hard to stand on stable ground when your fundamental argument involves a distinction you cannot prove, but allowing, for a moment, that the fetus is a human could present a wealth of not esoteric but legal defenses...
[Blah blah, Margaret Sanger, the Spartans, Peter Singer, murder, etc.]
That said, its not as though making something illegal necessarily makes it punishable. Widespread recognition of the dignity and worth of human life by making it a crime to take one isn't something we brought into being by majority vote. Its a long-standing tradition. Some might call it the "natural law." Whether humans punished it was up to them...
On and on through thousands of words of point-dodging, but nothing resembling an answer; those who hung on till the end, however, got some nice anti-feminist insults ("everything short of unfettered access is totally unreasonable to Anna [Quindlen], though she'd never care to admit it"), and were probably satisfied.

Then came years of banging out boob-bait for outlets such as the American Spectator; last week, while other outlets were covering the recent Department of Justice report on Ferguson with headlines like "DOJ Report Condemns Ferguson Police Department's Practices" (NPR) and "Ferguson Officials Suspended After DOJ Report Have Resigned, City Confirms" (NBC), Zanotti's Spectator dispatch was headlined "DOJ FERGUSON REPORT VINDICATES OFFICER DARREN WILSON." She has also served as a "strategic partner" at Republican consultant bullpen Hynes Communications, and occasionally goes on Catholic sites to bitch about "the stretch pants ladies’ substituting Maya Angelou poems for Gospel readings." Can't say she hasn't paid her dues!

Zanotti seems to have calmed down, or at least gotten hungry enough to send in better first drafts. Her first offering for WSJ is a thumb-sucker on the Chicago mayoral election -- did you folks know that progressives are dissatisfied with Rahm Emanuel? Zanotti characterizes the contest as "two unappealing candidates who are battling for the measly one-third of the electorate that hasn’t checked out completely," which may seem a strange way to describe Chuy Garcia, an activist who came out of nowhere to win 34% in a primary against a standing mayor, but Zanotti huffs that Garcia's "a man who has many progressive dreams and no idea how to pay for them," and though she currently lives in Chicago she really wants to move away (presumably to some conservative oasis like Fritters, Alabama, to serve as the village strategic partner), and what else do Wall Street Journal editorial page readers need to hear?  I predict a bright future, for Zanotti if not America.

Friday, March 06, 2015


It's a good morning for... well, actually, what isn't a good morning for Motörhead?

   His fellow conservatives are all blargh, Hitlery's doomed, so Jonah Goldberg must have thought "The E-mail Scandal Won’t Doom Hillary" would be a clever contrarian approach to the wingnut rage-of-the-moment that might earn him another Pulitzer No-Prize, or at least an extra box of fudge at dinner. Of course, to keep his readers from getting turned off, the Son of the Lewinsky Scandal has to front-load the column with a bunch of anti-Clinton bosh, and this is clearly the easiest part for him to write, though that doesn't mean that he can write it well:
The server was registered under the name Eric Hoteman — someone who doesn’t exist. But it’s almost surely Eric Hothem, a Washington financial adviser and former aide to Clinton who, according to the Associated Press, has been a technology adviser to the family. Tony Soprano would be envious.
Al Capone, too ([smacks forehead] "Breaking email rules! And I hadda evade income tax, like a dummy!").
Depending on whom you ask, this was a violation of Obama-administration policy, long-established State Department rules, the Federal Records Act, or all of the above. Moreover, outside the ranks of Clinton-Industrial Complex employees, contractors, and supplicants, there’s a rare bipartisan consensus that it was, to use a technical term, really, really shady.
This flimsy fart-cloud is our first hint that Goldberg doesn't actually know what kind of trouble Clinton may or may not be in, which presages the collapse of his thesis. First, he tells us Clinton will get away with whatever it is she did because she's so damn crafty she'll manage to withhold her most incriminating emails from Republican investigators -- that is, the "incriminating stuff could remain invisible — valuable snowflakes held back from a blizzard of chaff." (Look, if he could craft a decent metaphor, don't you think he'd have a less humiliating job?) In other words, he thinks Trey Gowdy and the boys are even stupider than you do. His second reason is -- pretty much his first reason:
This points to another reason why I think Clinton will survive this mess. If there’s a damning e-mail out there, it’s been deleted, and the relevant hard drive would be harder to find than Jimmy Hoffa’s body. So critics are probably left with the task of proving a negative.
Leaving aside the idea that prosecution in this case requires retrieving a hard drive (which ain't necessarily so), I would point out that we're still talking about whether the homebrew system itself is a punishable offense, and who has the standing to punish her for it. Talking about whether there's a "Well, my Dread Lord Satan, how's the cover-up of the murder of Ambassador Stevens going?" email Clinton is hiding someplace is like speculating on whether the server itself doubled as an illegal moonshine still. (By George, they'd have her then!) Even Goldberg seems to intuit this, and closes with more Clinton curses ("Nothing in this story is surprising... and certainly not the staggering hypocrisy") and even a just-you-wait, you'll-be-sorry whine...
At some point down the tracks, when yet another fetid cloud of Clintonism erupts into plain view, many smart liberals will look back at this moment as the time when they should have pulled the emergency brake and gotten off the Hillary train.
...of the sort you only hear from conservatives when they're starting to panic, or when, like Goldberg, they actually scare themselves.

•    Speaking of the wingnut equivalent of #SlatePitches, Matthew Continetti, many of whose offenses to reason (like his column during the Ebola scare, "The Case for Panic") have been detailed here, must have retucked his shirt so furiously when he thought of this one he injured a groin muscle:
I Don’t Love Spock
Column: President Obama’s favorite Star Trek character is an appeasing arrogant jerk
Ain't even kidding.
The president is not the only writer who has drawn comparisons between himself and Spock. I am also a Star Trek fan, but I admit I was somewhat confused by my rather apathetic reaction to Nimoy’s death.
Just like when my parents died. But we went over all that in the court-ordered therapy sessions. Haw! Stupid therapists!
And as I thought more about the president’s statement, I realized he identifies with the very aspects of the Spock character that most annoy me. I don’t love Spock at all. 
Not only do Spock’s peacenik inclinations routinely land the Enterprise and the Federation into trouble, his “logic” and “level head” mask an arrogant emotional basket case.
Princess Leia and Cheryl Tunt -- now they're a different story. They can hide his emails in their homebrew anytime! [retucks shirt] I wonder how much time Continetti devoted to figuring out who would be Kirk in this scenario. A Kirk who wanted to kill Spock, I guess, then deny earthlings health care and a minimum wage. (Is this what they call "non-canon"? I don't truck much with pencilnecks.)

•    By the way, if you're a fan of Dreher dudgeon, anti-gayRod is on a tear lately. First example:
We think of ISIS as anti-human, and we are right to. But...
Always a "but" with Dreher and Islamicist lunatics.
...what if the greater threat to humanity is not among the barbaric brigades of the Levant, but among the far more sophisticated barbarians at work in Silicon Valley?
You mean those tech assholes who are fucking up the Bay Area for the few remaining poors? Don't be silly -- Dreher's just heard some Singularity geeks and is as rattled, as you would expect of someone who hasn't looked at a magazine since William Gibson was a big deal. Accepting their assessment at face value, he sputters:
Will you people who sneer at the Benedict Option and think that it’s only about trying to get away from the queers finally understand that this stuff Harari is talking about is the kind of thing I say we must prepare to resist?
Surely there must be someplace where your paranoid fantasies and mine intersect -- for one thing, I have so many of them! Oh, and someone told poor Rod about the two boys kissing on The Fosters.
Shelley was right: Poets — that is, people who create art — really are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
[Looks again -- confirms that yes, Dreher is actually talking about network television.]
If you as a conservative parent are not pushing back against pop culture propaganda as pop culture is pushing against your kids, you all are going to get steamrollered. Turning the TV off is a start, but this is where we are now as a culture, and if all you give them is “thou shalt not,” it won’t be enough.
Clearly your own godly example won't cut any ice with your hellspawn, so it's time to lock them young'uns in the Jesus shed till this whole gay thing blows out. I half expect to see Dreher cutting some guy's head off in a video one day.

Sunday, March 01, 2015


What say we start the week with Rod Dreher crying Get ready! The Worr-uld is coming to an end! This time the big issue is trans people born one thing who call themselves the other thing. Normals say who gives a shit but Dreher sees the End Times, and he is especially disappointed in the liberals, who should after all understand why it's so important:
This is a principle that the American Left can see is terribly damaging when put into practice by those who clear-cut forests. But they are blind when it applies to human beings clear-cutting, so to speak, their own bodies.
It's a wonder we haven't got abortion clinic protesters putting in extra shifts outside practices that do gender assignment surgery. Maybe harrying scared pregnant women is a less daunting prospect than confronting someone like Fallon Fox.

Also, per Dreher, Dante put Ulysses in Hell because of his "corrupt desire to defy the gods in pursuit of his own will," and "this is us. This is the West. This is America, 2015," with our homos and test-tube two-daddy babies and space travel, too, no doubt -- imagine what Dante would have thought of that! Not to mention harnessing the power of lightning to run artificial brain-machines -- so the Saving Remnant better Get Ready:
This is not going to be stopped by us. But one day, it is going to stop. We know where this is going. The task of the traditionalist today is to live in such a way that truth and sanity survive the darkening of our collective intellect. That we not forget who we are, and what is. This is hard work, but as the Noah myth should instruct us, it is past time to start building that cultural ark.
The ark will no doubt be filled with VeggieTales, well-beaten Bibles, and Brother Rod's approved reading list, which will be fine until some passenger finds it insufficient and in the margins of some Flannery O'Connor paperback defies the Captain in pursuit of his own will. Then come the floating witch trials and the Aguirre The Wrath of God ending. Go with God, dummies!
It may well be that this civilization continues in relative peace and prosperity for some time. I certainly hope it does, because I live in it.
Also because he's about to fuck off on yet another foreign foodie vacation:
Really, though, Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show episode on Lyon, with Daniel Boulud, put things over the top. I’ve watched it three times on Netflix streaming. I want to go eat at a bouchon or two (or three), and I want to make a pilgrimage to Reynon the traiteur, and taste his saucisson à cuire. I think this must be the first time I’ve ever chosen a travel destination solely for the purpose of eating.
Been to Lyon? Where should we stay? Where should we eat? Talk to me.
How about you stay in a monk's cell and pray for a clue?

UPDATE. Comments are very good. Jeffrey_Kramer:
I'm not sure whether the literature to be preserved on the Cultural Ark would lean more towards the Autobiography of Saint Teresa or the collected works of Anders Breivik
And JayB, by coincidence, recently happened to be passing through Lyon himself:
Since Rod asked, I did come across a gay AND 'libertine' Sauna on the Croix-Rousse. I didn't partake, but someone with his hangups would surely find something a bit rogue going on. I'm sure he'll be there in a week with a camera, a notepad and a heart filled with angry curiosity. Bon champs, you dickhead.