Showing posts sorted by date for query "culture war". Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query "culture war". Sort by relevance Show all posts

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PERSECUTION ENVY.

The Federalist:
Sri Lanka Attacks Highlight Growing Worldwide Persecution Of Christians
Author Kenny Xu leans hard on a Pew Research Center report -- but does not link directly to it, preferring for some reason the British Church Times, which screams "Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, says Pew report," though even the figures it chooses to pick from Pew aren't as cut and dried as that:
The Centre’s report on religious harassment in 2016 found that Christians were harassed in 144 countries, up from 128 the year before, while Muslims were harassed in 142 countries, up from 125 in 2015.
So it looks like Jesus and Allah are neck-and-neck! (The Pew report is headlined "Global Uptick in Government Restrictions on Religion in 2016," which is not nearly as good Republican ragebait.) After yelling about Muslims a while ("Few groups have suffered as Christian minorities have due to the rise of Islamist political parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and ISIS in Libya"), Xu makes the bold leap:
While many European journalists rightly blame mass migration from majority-Muslim countries for these religious persecution issues, migration is not the only factor here. Just as significant is Western Europe’s culture of enforced secularism, a world where religious speech is policed and religious symbols (such as burqas) are not allowed in French public schools or German business settings.
Hundreds murdered in Sri Lanka, dress codes in school -- same diff! Also at The Federalist, David Harsanyi:
Islamic Terrorism Remains The World’s Greatest Threat To Peace
After sputtering over "Islamists" -- a usage I hadn't heard much since the glory days of the Iraq War, but which seems to be coming back -- Harsanyi, too, rages about secularists:
Yet the American left continues to downplay the danger, first by arguing that Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, then by lumping every white-skinned person who commits a terrorist act into one imaginary coherent political movement to contrast against it.
Actually, that "imaginary coherent political movement" of white supremacists is America's #1 terror menace, far outstripping Islamic terrorism, and it's spreading around the world. But Harsanyi has an explanation for that: Islamic terror only looks weak because our Middle East wars have been so successful!
It’s true that Americans have been spared much Islamic terror since 2002—a year that, curiously, nearly every graph media uses to measure domestic terrorism starts—but only because we’ve spent billions of dollars each year and immense resources, both in lives and treasure, keeping it out of the country and fighting it abroad.
Perhaps sensing that even the morons and yahoos who constitute most of his readership won't buy this, Harsanyi gets back to a trendier attack on godless libs:
Another reason the majority of Americans might not comprehend Islamic radicalism’s reach is the skewed intensity of the media coverage. Political correctness and a chilling fear of being labeled “Islamophobic” makes it difficult to honestly report on terrorism around the world.
If it weren't for liberals you good people would be shitting your pants in fear of Mohammed at the 7-11 or the pediatric clinic, just like you were in the great Nine-Elevening!  Yet now, despite conservative urging, you still haven't killed Ilhan Omar. This isn't the country Harsanyi once knew.

These guys are catching up with Rod Dreher, who is every bit as nuts as you'd imagine:
A liberal friend of mine was lamenting recently that the left has gotten so good at policing its own thoughts, and never letting itself notice things that contradict its narrative, that it is often being shocked by events in the real world. When things like the Sri Lanka attacks happen, the first thing that many American and British journalists think is, “Oh dear, this is going to cause a spike in Islamophobia.” They cannot imagine sympathizing with Christians. They really can’t. Yes, these dead Sri Lankans may be Catholics living on the other side of the world, and sure, they may have roots in their country going back to the 16th century (or earlier), but deep down, when many journalists imagine these people, they see them wearing MAGA hats, and carrying around invisible knapsacks full of privilege.
If only Dreher would actually fuck off to a Benedict Option survivalist compound where he could tell the kids, "Yes, Rachel Maddow and Kamala Harris used to throw rocks at us Christians and put us in concentration Bible camps!"

Meanwhile at National Review we get more of the same ("Islam remains the fount of the most virulent and violent attacks on Christians worldwide"), and Eli Lake at Bloomberg telling us "White Nationalism Is a Terrorist Threat, but Not Like Radical Islam," because "white nationalists have no territory they control, as Islamic State did until recently. Nor is there evidence of a state supporting white nationalist groups..." LOL, who wants to tell him about America?

American conservatives in the depths of their Trump phase are, like their fearless leader babbling about the unfairness of his dropping Twitter numbers, addicted to victimhood, and so it was only natural that they'd treat the Sri Lanka bombing as an excuse to talk about how persecuted they are. Sure, no one's mass-murdering them -- over here, that seems to only happen to schoolkids and black people and victims of gun fetishists -- but liberals are insufficiently respectful of them, and try to make them bake wedding cakes for homosexuals, which is just as bad. One struggles to imagine them confronted by Jesus as they flee their martyrdom, and declaring, "that's it -- I'll go back to my six-figure job and put up with my kids not going to church and swears on the TV! It'll be rough, but Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!"

UPDATE. Relevant: "Steve King, censured by his colleagues for racist remarks, compares himself to Jesus... 'And when I had to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives and look up at those 400-and-some accusers — you know, we’ve just passed through Easter and Christ’s Passion — and I have a better insight into what He went through for us, partly because of that experience,' he said."

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

PRESIDENT NICE YOUNG MAN.

Well, Mayor Pete Boot Edge Edge just got the kiss of death: A glowing review from David Brooks.
In a recent Iowa poll he surged to third place. His campaign just announced that it’s raised an impressive $7 million since January. And I can’t tell you how many Democrats in places as diverse as Nebraska, Indiana, New York and Washington have come up to me over the last few weeks raving about the guy. I met a superfan in Frederick, Md., who says that every few hours she calls the campaign to give another $10.
Sorry but this makes me think: How does Brooks meet these Democrats, or anyone? When he dumped his wife he quickly married his research assistant, so he doesn't seem like a guy who gets around.
This is the biggest star-is-born moment since Lady Gaga started singing “Shallow.”
What'd I tell you? Don't start climbing the walls yet, though, because Brooks is about to tell us what's so dreamy about Buttigieg:
The Trump erahas been all about dissolving moral norms and waging vicious attacks. This has been an era of culture war, class warfare and identity politics. It’s been an era in which call-out culture, reality TV melodrama and tribal grandstanding have overshadowed policymaking and the challenges of actually governing.
I bet you've already seen the bothsides card peeking out of Brooks' jacket pocket:
The Buttigieg surge suggests that there are a lot of Democrats who want to say goodbye to all that. They don’t want to fight fire and divisiveness with more fire and divisiveness. They don’t want to fight white identity politics with another kind of identity politics.
They are sick of the moral melodrama altogether. They just want a person who is more about governing than virtue-signaling, more about friendliness and basic decency than media circus and rhetorical war.
Joe Biden feelz ladies up, and Amy Klobuchar hits people, so in the absence of Michael Bloomberg or a Care Bear stuffed with vouchers, that leaves all the Monsters of Identity Politics, Virtues That Are Not in Bill Bennett's Book, and Socialized Medicine, who are unacceptable, and Mayor Pete.
Buttigieg’s secret is that he transcends many of the tensions that run through our society in a way that makes people on all sides feel comfortable.
And of course there's one group that's most important to make comfortable and that's David Brooks and milky boomers like him.
First, he is young and represents the rising generation, but he is also an older person’s idea of what a young person should be.
Mrrowr hot.
He’d be the first millennial president, but Buttigieg doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes that have been affixed to America’s young people.
He doesn't talk with a smart mouth!
Young people are supposed to be woke social justice warriors who are disgusted by their elders. Buttigieg is the model young man who made his way impressing his elders — Harvard, Rhodes scholar, McKinsey, the Navy.
Cut of his jib etc.
Young hipsters are supposed to flock to coastal places like Brooklyn and Portland; after college, Buttigieg returned to Indiana.
He's like J.D. Vance except not yet an obvious fraud.
...Second, he is gay and personifies the progress made by the L.G.B.T.Q. movement, but he doesn't do so in a way that feels threatening or transgressive to social conservatives. He has conservative family values; it’s just that his spouse is a husband, not a wife. He speaks comfortably about his faith and says that when he goes to church he prefers a conservative liturgy to anything experimental.
He's the kind of gay person you'd like if you didn't hate gay people!
Finally, he’s a progressive on policy issues, but he doesn’t sound like an angry revolutionary. Buttigieg’s policy positions are not all that different from the more identifiable leftist candidates. But he eschews grand ideological conflict.
In other words, Brooks is sure that, as one of those geezers Mayor Pete looks up to, he can talk him out of the leftist stuff, it's not like anyone would notice. Well, let Brooks have his fun before he inevitably informs us more in sorrow than in anger that he has to support Trump because Democratic Nominee Fill In The Blank thinks he's racist.

Friday, December 28, 2018

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


One of my favorite tunes, of which I was reminded
by this terrific interview in the Detroit Metro Times.

•  Rod Dreher's talking Spanish Civil War and guess which side he's on:
I didn’t intend to argue about who was right and who was wrong in that war. Personally I believe the better side won … but that there were no good sides.
Translation: Bothsides, but I gotta go with the fascist dictator. Which is no shock if you're seen Dreher moon over the current crop of European fascists such as Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (and her Auntie Marine) and Viktor Orban ("It seems to me that the Orban government correctly understands that the culture war is a war of imperialism and subversion fought by other means by nations and private actors [Soros] who wish to defeat traditionalists"). To make it look good, Dreher does a little hedging, pointing out that Franco Was A Very Bad Man, but inevitably tips toward the Throne and Altar authoritarian because the Civil War was "incredibly brutal on both sides" and Jesus is the tie-breaker.

Keep in mind that mainstream conservatives like David Brooks take this guy seriously and escort him into polite company. Which has been and remains the way with modern conservatism. Get a load of Roger Kimball, the very model of a rightwing intellectual, hoity as well as toity, getting down with wingnut clown Charlie Kirk:

This is why, when people wring their hands and go, "oh William F. Buckley Jr. would never have gone along with this," I just laugh. Like his pal Reagan was any less of a moron.

•  The conservative movement is in love with Blonde Chicks with Big Glasses like S.E. Cupp and Tomi Lahren, so naturally National Review had to have its own: Katherine "Kat" Timpf, whose attempt to promote herself with a victim narrative I covered some weeks back in my newsletter (and I am unlocking that issue for you because that's the sort of Robin Goodfellow I am -- but you should still subscribe!). Her shtick is silly-liberal-snowflake stories -- and here's her latest:
Being Bigger Than the Person You’re Asking Out Deemed Title IX Violation 
A student at the University of Missouri was found to be in violation of Title IX in part because he asked another student out on a date and is physically larger than she is.
If that "in part" made you suspicious, congratulations. Further into the story:
To be fair, the document does report that the male student had also been pestering the female student for dates and wasn’t leaving her alone — which is, obviously, unacceptable — but the fact that his physical size was enough to constitute a violation-worthy power imbalance is absolutely ludicrous.
Pestering? Wasn't leaving her alone? Hmm -- sounds like him being more physically powerful than her isn't the only issue here. Amanda Marcotte and Andrew Fleischman do us the favor of reading a filing by the guy's lawyer: He sent her romantic Facebook messages, she asked him to stop; he switched to paper notes left with her dance teacher, including one containing "apologies and a confession of 'love' for her." This went on for months with no encouragement from her before the poor woman went to the authorities. Timpf's column -- "updated" once, so I can only imagine how bad it was before -- is like an Olympic victim-blaming routine, e.g.:
The way in which this kind of thinking hurts men is obvious: They risk violating a law, and potentially being punished for it, over what every sane person could agree is normal human behavior.
I predict Timpf will serve as U.N. Ambassador in the Honey Boo-Boo administration.

Monday, July 16, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Sacha Baron Cohen pranking the wingnuts, and the wingnuts attacking him for it as if he were running a sleazy journalistic sting rather than doing his usual genius thing of getting people to reveal themselves on camera.

This is another example of why conservatives always wind up making culture war into a war on culture -- they don't understand the elemental appeal of comedy as a way of puncturing pretensions, and can only make it comprehensible to themselves by converting it to something their shriveled imaginations can grasp -- in this case, James O'Keefe.

Among the outtakes was one of the smaller fry caught in Cohen's net: "Utah gun rights activist Janalee Tobias," as the Deseret News reported. Interestingly, Tobias seems to be aping the victimization shtick that Sarah Palin pulled on Cohen: What she did on the show, Tobias swears, "goes against everything she stands for when it comes to gun safety and children." She says she only did that stuff -- "held a .22-caliber pistol cloaked in a stuffed toy puppy — the puppy pistol — and fed it bullets shaped like crayons to kill the bad guys," among other things, the News explains -- because Cohen "made me," though Tobias doesn't say how. Also, "I objected the entire time, but I am sure [Cohen] will not show (that)." Not bad, though it lacks the mad poetry of an actual Palin joint.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

THE HEALING POWER OF LAUGHTER.

I'm rarely this proud of my fellow countrymen, but it does my heart good to see so few of them inclined to side with snowflakes Sarah Palin and Roy Moore against Sacha Baron Cohen, who got some laughs out of making them look like morons by appealing to their limitless vanity. True, some mainstream dolts are doing the chin-pulling, has-comedy-gone-too-far shtick --"Comedian faces backlash for high-profile pranks" intones ABC News -- but though Joe Walsh, James Woods and other internet rage queens are fanning the "#BoycottShowtime" hashtag on the grounds that a comedian playing a veteran is "stolen valor" -- boy, I'm glad Jim Nabors isn't alive to see this! -- it's not gaining much traction.

Oh, Breitbart does its bit -- they quote an anonymous "source close to Palin" (wow, what a get for Breitbart!) whom they say "thinks this Cohen prank will 'backfire dramatically' because the fake interview was 'the epitome of a contemptuous Hollywood enclave that hates the ordinary working class Americans who swept Donald Trump into office. This is exactly what the American people voted against in 2016.'" Well done -- the stentorian self-importance of spokesmen for has-beens has always defeated comedy in the past! And The Stream's John Zmirak, who has given alicublog readers seconds of pleasure in the past, tries "Just Another Stale Comedian Attacking Safe Targets" -- ho hum, why would you even think of enjoying a popular jokester's TV show when you could be reading trenchant analysis like this:
But by the time of the movie Borat, Baron Cohen largely abandoned his even-handed satire.
I thought Ali G was funny, but when he started making fun of Kazakhstan and bed-and-breakfasts, that's when I knew I'd reached the limits of my tolerance. Oh, and yes, Lord help us, The Federalist has something about it too:
Comedians Use Trump To Excuse Ugly Comedy Like ‘God Bless Abortions’ And Impersonating Disabled Veterans...
Yes, the Left owns comedy. They have for decades.
Well, of course we do -- you keep giving us such choice material.
But even as recently as ten years ago, the bitter partisanship was restrained in comparison to what we have witnessed since Trump announced his candidacy. What is defined as “comedy” by today’s standards isn’t what’s actually humorous, it’s provocative viciousness that’s exclusively targets conservatives.
And you can take it from author Joseph A. Wulfsohn, because he's an expert on how humor-owning liberals aren't funny, but rather treasonous: See his "Hey Jimmy Kimmel, Where’s Your Emotional Monologue on Sexual Harassment in Hollywood?" He even uses the phrase "so-called 'comedy,'" and closes with the last refuge of a conservative, the Appeal to Civility: "Comedy is supposed to connect us as humans. Now it’s tearing us apart." Nobody tell the poor gink about A Modest Proposal or Lazarillo de Tormes or, hell, any great comic work before Life of Riley; comedy has never been for sissies.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: For conservatives, culture war is war on culture.

UPDATE. Lololololol:
According to [Joe] Arpaio, the production team led him to believe that the host was a Trump supporter. He also noted signing a contract, writing, “I signed some kind of contract before filming, which I have done numerous times, did not read all the info.” 
He said he thought it was unusual that they didn’t offer to powder his face before the interview.
@KrangTNelson has the hot parts ("He said they told him that they were associated with a feature being sold to Showtime and that the show selected him as one of the twenty 'most popular' people in America"), but it's worth reading the whole piece, in which the Breitbart flaktotum seems to have just entirely given up trying to make the loathsome Arpaio seem sympathetic or even to take his grievance seriously. Maybe these people are educable after all!

UPDATE 2. Better and better.

UPDATE 3. Hey, look who let down the side! (Don't worry, nothing unexpected, it's Vox).
Sacha Baron Cohen’s political provocations are exhausting and dangerous
Probably the kind of person who thinks The Simpsons was only good when it had heartwarming conclusions.
On the one hand, all this may seem like the beginning of a glorious sublime parade of politicians owning themselves. But on the other hand, these politicians were tricked into appearing on the record as themselves, in a way that further perpetuates and entrenches not only the cultural ideological divide, but the idea among conservatives that “liberal” media, including entertainment media like Baron Cohen’s production, is a constant and perpetual trap to be distrusted at all costs.
I know they're kinda stupid, but I think even wingnuts know the difference between a comedy show and Meet The Press.
With his old bag of tricks, Cohen is successfully promoting his show not by adding to the conversation, but by gleefully poking at it and watching everyone — politicians and onlookers alike — get upset.
If I'm watching a comedy show, I'm not looking for a "conversation," unless it's something like "'member when that guy fell in a pile of horse poop?" "HA HA HA that was awesome!" God,  can't these fucking nerds ever just relax and have a good time?

Monday, June 11, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...this year's Pride column, about conservatives and gays after the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. It's interesting to recall that Trump went out of his way to acknowledge gay rights at the 2016 Republican Convention but, though most wingnuts have abjectly capitulated to Trump on nearly all of his agenda, they have haven't shifted an inch on that. Nor has Trump made inroads in the gay community; every once in a while a Kanye or a Candace Owens turns up to tell us how great Trump is for African-Americans, but we're not getting a lot of new Peter Thiels.

True, Trump has repeatedly proven that he didn't mean any of that outreach shit anyway, but even if he were dancing in a rainbow jockstrap on a float on Fifth Avenue I doubt conservatives would budge. Culture war is their most important product, and homophobia helps keep the religious right on board.

Also, as the column addresses (don't forget to read!), there's always some LGBTQ cultural event like a corporate Pride endorsement or a new trans celebrity that may seem innocuous to you but terrifies the Rod Dreher types who consider themselves Elsie Stonemans beseiged by gay Yankees. Thus we have Jonathan S. Tobin telling readers of National Review -- which was just a few short years ago a conservative anti-Trump publication -- that they must reelect Trump to protect God's people from the homosexual hordes ("it would appear that maintaining his presidency and the GOP Senate majority is going to be a must if conservatives are to preserve any dignity for those who cling to faith"). America may be getting more comfortable with gay marriage, but the people who aren't comfortable are downright hysterical -- and thus a reliable Trump constituency.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about conservatives' Memorial Day and how it was just a little off. Not sure I quite got my finger on it, but it just seemed as if they weren't as comfortable in their own, militaristic, super-patriotic skin as they used to be.

Among the outtakes were the wingnut Memorial Day observances of America's Civil War -- which were as twisty as you might expect.  Spurred by a year-old Robin Wright New Yorker essay about the “new kind of civil war” in which the United States seemed enmeshed, PJ Media’s Michael Walsh blames America's divisions exclusively on liberals: America's only “polarized,” he says, because “Democrats (just as they did in 1860) refuse to accept the results of the last presidential election"; also: "if there's violence -- and there is -- it comes almost entirely from the Left, in the forms of Antifa, Black Lives Matter and other groups of provocateurs... Keeping the people downtrodden, miserable, and resentful has long been the key to violent Leftist revolutions," etc.

After telling us how America sees through all the lefty lies and  "Americans are finding they have more money in their pockets, 'Now Hiring' signs are sprouting up all over'" -- boy, where have I heard that before -- Walsh finally declares,  “on this Memorial Day, when we mourn and honor our American war dead -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- we need to reject [the left’s] constant provocation and remember what unites us, instead of what divides us.” Clasp hands o’er the bloody chasm, indeed!

Our old pal and Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle responds to Wright’s essay with a tweet for the ages: “I am struggling to imagine what sort of army could be fielded by the ‘twee cosmopolitan elite’ side of America's culture war.” After a dunkfest by wonks and warriors alike, McArdle sniffs, “Some number of men seem to have felt that I was impugning their manhood, rather than heaping scorn on the notion of an American Civil War” -- shades of her accusing me of "snide sexism and heteronormative stereotypes"! Why, next people will be saying Gina Haspel isn't a feminist watershed! -- then claims “my mother, for the first time, apparently made the mistake of googling my name. I had to sit her down and have The Conversation about internet trolls.” Wait’ll she tells Mom about goatse!

Monday, April 30, 2018

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

‪...about Kanye West exciting the brethren and Michelle Wolf pissing them off. As usual there's an analogy in there somewhere.

The column is packed and I'm sorry I couldn't include the RedState column by Brandon Morse, who not only declares “This Kanye, Kardashian, Trump Episode Could Be One Of The Biggest Turning Points In Our Culture," and insists "if you’re part of the elite left, you’re gripping the arms of your chair. You’re in the river on the edge of the waterfall" -- he also finds special significance in Kim Kardashian's defense of her husband:
...as we’re all woefully aware, Kim Kardashian holds more sway in the media and the minds of many than we like to give her credit for.
News to me. Is she the inspiration for so many rich girls marrying jackasses?
...one of the most mainstream of the mainstream just said it’s okay not to be mainstream. The woman that a good many western first worlder consider a role model, American royalty, or just a flat-out obsession gave her blessing about having right-leaning proclivities.
That’s huge, whether you think of Kim Kardashian as the modern day goddess the media has made her out to be, or you think as I do that she’s a woman who got famous by being famous for silly reasons.
That last bit is so perfect: Morse imagines Kim Kardashian letting her husband suck up to Trump is an epochal, game-changing event, notwithstanding that he also finds her silly. It sums up the rightwing idea of culture war: they have no idea why anything cultural is popular, and indeed seem to find it all ridiculous and unimportant (at least as compared to timeless pursuits such as propaganda and ratfucking) but still want to manipulate it to their advantage. This also explains why they're so bad at it.

UPDATE. There's been stiff competition for the stupidest thing written about this, but I think Jenna Ellis of the Washington Examiner is going to be hard to beat:
Michelle Wolf exposes the true, despicable agenda of the abortion industry...
In part, Wolf said on abortion , "Don’t knock it till you try it — and when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there. And yeah, sure, you can groan all you want. I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion. You know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress." 
Are we really so depraved and desensitized as a culture that we are expected to laugh about “trying” abortion? As if abortion is equivalent to Saturday brunch and hey, if you didn’t like the eggs Benedict, there’s always next weekend. Have a mimosa, chill, and try abortion for fun, girls. Generally, if someone says “don’t knock it till you try it,” it’s something they enjoy and are encouraging you to try to see if you enjoy it too.
Funny how she blew right past anti-abortion men's secret mistresses and their abortions -- especially considering it has become a Republican hallmark, like flag pins and red ties -- to yell at Wolf making a joke about it. Also, I bet Ellis thinks Wolf was really "encouraging you to try" abortion the way the other outraged conservatives think she made fun of Sanders' appearance -- that is, not at all. Most of their propagandists aren't that dumb -- they're just trying to bamboozle a couple more people who are that dumb.

Friday, March 16, 2018

FRIDAY ‘ROUND-THE-HORN.



You know, some of the new groups aren't bad.

• It takes a fuckton of chutzpah to warn against "Borking" CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, as National Review's Rich Lowry does today. Actually that whole use of Bork's name to imply persecution is ridiculous, since Bork himself was clearly nuts and unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. But Lowry sinks even lower, talking about America's torture of enemy combatants in the Bush years as if it were an unfortunate necessity rather than a straight-up war crime. Haspel has been accused of supervising the torture of Abu Zubaydah; he may not have been part of her portfolio (though she is more credibly accused of destroying evidence of CIA torture, either to preserve herself or her colleagues, or both). But Lowry defends Zubaydah's torture at length nonetheless:
The enhanced interrogations were brutal. Zubaydah was struck, placed in stress positions, confined in small boxes and repeatedly waterboarded. During one session, he became unresponsive. By any standard, this was extreme and right up to the legal line.

The CIA didn’t learn of any planned attack in the U.S.; it did become confident that Zubaydah wasn’t holding back anything about one. From his capture to his transfer to the Department of Defense on September 5, 2006, information from him produced 766 intelligence reports.

In the cold light of day, we would have handled all of this differently. The Bush administration shouldn’t have been as aggressive in its legal interpretations. We should have realized that we had more time to play with, and that the program itself would become a black mark on our reputation overseas and such a domestic flashpoint that we would basically lose all ability to interrogate detainees (droning became the preferred alternative).
"Right up to the legal line"; "become confident that Zubaydah wasn't holding anything back"; "aggressive in its legal interpretations." This is the language of manicured depravities -- euphemisms common in the Abu Ghraib era and, apparently, primed for a comeback. It's odd that, a while back, some people were saying Trump is so bad he made them miss Bush. They'll get a chance to test that theory soon!

James Hohmann:
Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing Fox News contributor John Bolton as a potential successor.

A leading contender to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is Pete Hegseth, the co-host of “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

The president named CNBC analyst and former host Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser on Wednesday.

Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox and Friends,” got promoted on Monday from being a spokeswoman for the State Department to acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs

...Trump’s plot to poach from green rooms is an additional proof point that validates two important themes I’ve written about: Trump has debased the value of expertise and supercharged the celebrification of American politics.
Trump's grift in general is like a monkey-see reflection of conservative values, true to their horrible essence but dumbed down for mass appeal, so I take this as his distillation of the Right's endless culture-war caterwauling that liberals have all the artsy people to make their values look good, and it's no fair and conservatives have to "take back the culture" to redress the balance, even if they have to tell fart jokes to do it. It makes sense that their debased idea of "culture" would be asshole TV presenters appointed to top government offices.

Monday, March 05, 2018

DOGS AND CATS, LIVING TOGETHER!

There's been a lot of nonsense written about the Oscars, but Rod Dreher has surpassed everyone and even himself, through the agency of a "reader" "mail":
“The Academy used to play it safe with controversy, but now it’s moving the Overton window faster than in real life,” he wrote. “Who’d have thought one decade ago that the most prestigious award in the film industry would go to a film about bestiality, and casting it in a positive light?”
Yes, he's talking about The Shape of Water, which I told you about here -- but even if I hadn't, if you've had a halfway decent liberal arts education you'd recognize it from even a summary as a fable, like Ovid's Metamorphoses or Penny Marshall's Big.

But not Dreher. "I don’t pay attention to the Oscars, or Hollywood," he sniffs, "because I’m interested in other things' -- oooh he's an intellectual, look at his eccentric glasses! -- but though actually exposing himself to Hollyweird mindrot is beneath his dignity as a pedant, Dreher asks his readers to tell him about the movie -- and then he can’t even wait for that expedient before giving forth with the crack-brain hooey:
Could it be in this film, what happens at the Occam facility is Elisa, who works there as a janitor and first encounters the creature, learns to separate morality from matter, so that she can open herself to a sexual relationship with an aquatic creature? In other words, if there is no intrinsic meaning to matter, including humanity, then we can do with it whatever we want. Including submitting sexually to animals, or any creatures that give us pleasure and affection?
Here's another clue for you all -- the Walrus was Paul.

I don't know whether Dreher's gurus actually let him watch movies except to get something to yell about-- I remember him denouncing The Hours in 2003 as an "apologia for evil" -- but I like to imagine him leaping from his seat at A Midsummer Night's Dream when Titania makes love to the donkey-headed Bottom, screaming SACRILEGE, LIQUID MODERNITY! (I could go on like this all day -- e.g., Dreher sees Carl Dreyer's Day of Wrath and when it's over cries "I knew it! Witches are real!")

Imagine getting this far in life, and in a writing career no less, and having no fucking idea what art is nor what it's for. As I've said many times before: For these maroons, culture war is war on culture.

UPDATE. Dreher got mad because people made fun of him:
You guys, knock it off with “you didn’t see the movie so you don’t have the right to say anything about it.” I conceded early on that I hadn’t seen the film, and that my comments are based only on the Wikipedia description of its plot, and things both the director and others favorable to the film have said about it. Of course I could be wrong! If I’ve made a mistake in my description of the plotting, then I welcome correction. Nobody has yet said that I got that wrong...
It says right here in the review that she fucks a fish, so it's propaganda for fish-fucking -- because what else could it possibly be?

UPDATE 2. I saw a headline at Media Matters -- "Fox News keeps running columns from the same guy explaining, 'I'm a Democrat but [insert agreement with GOP]' -- and it put me in mind of two things: First, Harlan Hill; second, Rod Dreher, whose "reader" "mail" from Liberals Who've Had Enough is legendary. And he has a beautiful one today! Excerpts:
I read what you said about having spoken with four people recently who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but are considering it now because of the left’s recent behavior. I’m not quite in that camp, but am close to it; I suspect my progress on the issue largely resembles those of your friends and (I suspect) a substantial minority of other Americans as well.
Oh that's another thing -- all Rod's apostate liberal "readers" have their finger of the pulse of America.
...I’m certainly not a typical Trump supporter — I believe in climate change and America’s responsibility to take policy steps to reduce our contribution to it, I’m anti-NRA, pro-Obamacare to an extent, and detest the Republican Party generally. The day after Trump got elected, I posted a scathing denunciation of everyone who had voted for him, which got the millennial social capital gold: hundreds of likes and almost 40 shares, including by several people I didn’t even know.
This is where all the folks on the Mourner's Bench go "oooooh!" 'cuz they know a conversion narrative's a-comin'.
...But leaving the nuclear issue aside, the Left’s behavior in the last year has pushed me steadily more and more in the direction of being willing to vote for a sort of lower-key Trump (someone like Ben Shapiro)...
I wonder if Dreher owed Shapiro a favor; if I weren't quite sure he's humorless, I would suspect him of making a joke.

UPDATE 3. Just had to share Dreher's sputter-back in his Shape of Water comments section:

I wonder if Rod really means to posit the Ancient Greeks as his socio-sexual model.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

BUT IN THE END, THEY'RE ALL LOSERS.

The Oscar nominations are out, and if I get some time I hope to watch more of the nominated films and luxuriate in stupid prognostication like I used to do back when I was single and had nothing to do but attend the ci-ne-ma. Speaking of nerds, I see the wingnuts are having their usual allergic reactions. Kyle Smith, who went from pretending to be a film critic at the New York Post (and sometimes a theatre critic -- see his review of Will Ferrell's one-man George W. Bush show, "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?" Never forget!) to full-blown kulturkampfer at National Review, tells his readers what they want to hear, i.e. that the nominations prove "#OscarsSoWoke" and are all about appeasing the dark gods of liberalism: in this "highly politicized year... Academy voters are going to be very eager to send a duly left-wing cultural message" and so, Smith predicts, moviecommies will vote for The Shape of Water which he says is leftwing -- because of the human/nonhuman miscegnation, I guess. Then he says,
As for Get Out, I think this is a very fine movie that is being hugely overrated because it’s about racism and I can’t imagine Oscar voters, who are mostly senior citizens, will be as impressed with it as critics have been.
So Academy voters are too "senior citizen" to vote for Get Out, but "woke" enough to vote for some other woke movie? Maybe there's something in there about Hollywood liberals being The Real Racists™ -- I'm stunned Smith didn't tease that out!

In another post called "The Anti-Trump Oscars" (these guys are nothing if not subtle) Smith explains why The Post can't win even though, if we follow his Zhdanovite logic, its journalistic-heroes-beat-Nixon story would seem to be the obvious choice: "Perhaps the Academy found the film just a bit too by-the-numbers... or voters thought the film was a bit too blatantly intended to capitalize on the anti-Trump mood. The Oscars are a fan dance..." It's all so complicated! Or maybe it's actually simple: the whole idea of everything that happens in movieland being a proxy battle between Republicans and Democrats is a bunch of bullshit. C'mon, Agent Smith, think outside the box!

Also, while I think people who mope about "snubs" because their personal love-objects didn't get Academy recognition are silly, at least they're just harmlessly indulging fan-crushes; Zachary Leeman's "Conservative Movies Snubbed by the Academy" at LifeZette, on the other hand, is like a cross between 1984 and Tiger Beat. For example, Leeman tells us Wind River is conservative because it's "about the mental and physical stability and fortitude still needed to survive in some parts of the country." You know, like Cimarron or Walkabout! Thus it "deserved recognition for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay," and because it didn't get it Leeman has thrown himself on his bed sobbing and kicked off all the frilly pillows. (The other snubbed movies were ignored, Leeman says, because they have uniformed personnel in them, and Oscar never honors servicemembers except for The Hurt Locker and Platoon and Saving Private Ryan and Platoon and Patton etc. etc. [voice trails off])

Speaking of snubs, if you thought Wonder Woman didn't get any nominations because, news flash, not every big-budget comic-book movie gets the prestige awards that lonely dorks holed up with their "light saber" and a box of Kleenex believe it should, Brandon Morse of RedState is here to tell you it's really because "Hollywood, being the left wing haven that it is, couldn’t stomach a few of Wonder Woman’s glaring politically incorrect flaws." That seems weird, as I remember when the movie came out conservatives were mainly tumescent with rage at all-female showings of the film. But no, Morse tells us,
For one, feminists didn’t seem to think Wonder Woman was suitable as a rep for their narrative. She was too sexy and too beautiful.
And when he unsheathed his light-saber, an usher threw him out of the theater.

Others among the brethren run their own little fantasy factories -- like Victory Girls' Kendall Sanchez saying Get Out is about "how progressives attempt to understand the cultural experience of African Americans." I know, that's what we all took away from it. Also, while Kyle Smith thinks Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is "about a vengeful feminist looking for answers after her daughter’s murder and also has a racist character" and therefore is "just as woke as The Shape of Water" -- a damning assessment, indeed! -- Kendall thinks "it’s a great movie about a desperate mother urging police to find her daughter’s murderer. I went into the movie thinking it would be a giant slam against police" -- and therefore bad! -- "but it turned out to be a humble and empathetic story that emphasized all humans are 1) intention-driven and 2) both good and bad." Ebbing, Missouri is a land of contrasts!

Maybe Smith and Kendall can do a podcast where they argue over whether a movie is conservative-therefore-good or liberal-therefore-bad. That'll really show the libs and send the walls of Hollyweird tumbling down, and our children's children's children will have nothing to watch on the telescreen but Veggie Tales, God's Not Dead 1-3,927, and the Two Minutes Hate, as God intended.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: For conservatives, culture war is not a war for culture but a war on culture.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

HOW THEY LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (TO SPITE THE LIBS)

Something weird I noticed: since that nerve-wracking Hawaii alert last weekend -- which brought back for this old duck-and-cover kid some old-fashioned end-of-the-world dread for which, it turns out, I was not really nostalgic -- conservatives have been talking about nuclear war as if it wouldn't be such a big deal.

“If a Missile Alert Sounds,” headlined David French of National Review, “Prepare to Live.” Hmm, I thought when I first saw that, some people are so jaded they need apocalypse porn to get excited; but it turns out French wants to convince readers that, despite what the nervous nellies say, they could happily survive a hail of H-bombs.
Prepare to live. As tempting as it may be, don’t spend the precious minutes between missile alert and missile impact texting family, sending tearful goodbyes on Snapchat, or attempting to reconcile old grudges. Don’t do it.
Your family will respect you more, knowing that in the final hours you didn't go all wobbly and tell them you loved them.
First, you have to understand that the odds are overwhelming that you’ll survive an initial blast. Nuclear weapons are devastating, but it’s a Hollywood myth that any individual strike will vaporize an entire American city, much less the suburbs and countryside…
Hollywood always exaggerates these things. For instance, they never show you the parts of Hiroshima that were open for business the next day.
Second, you also need to understand that you have far more control over your survival than you might think. Time and isolation are your friends…
No shock a conservative would argue for time and isolation — if living 80 lonely years in Gopher Hole, North Dakota makes you a loyal Republican in good standing, then being a nuclear attack survivor should make you a precinct captain!
Yesterday’s warning presents an opportunity to take stock. Do you have an emergency plan? Do you have a basic stock of emergency supplies? Do you know exactly where you’d go in your house? Have you gone to websites like ready.gov to understand the basics? There’s nothing weird or strange about being a basic “prepper.”
So stock up on Jim “Brother Love” Bakker’s Survival Chow!  And stock up on guns, ammo, crossbows, machetes (we calls ‘em “Mega-Bowies” so they sound less Messican), and quarterstaffs to fend off interlopers in your post-apocalyptic paradise! Remember, time and isolation are your friends.

French’s colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty chimes in: “a single, nuclear device exploding in a nearby city does not necessarily doom you and your loved ones to death.” He encourages readers to have “a little unpleasant discussion around the dinner table” with their families to prepare. Most memorable line: “If you ever received such a text warning, would you fill your bathtub with water, or with your family members?” Well, after they've been incinerated I guess your bathtub could accommodate quite a lot of them.

And Austin Bay — remember him? — complains that “the Clinton Administration slowed anti-ballistic missile development because hard left Democrats disdained Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative”; boy, some grudges really die hard. But his initial complaint is even weirder:
When told by government authorities that an attack was underway, Hawaiian residents felt vulnerable, even those who know the U.S. Navy deploys AEGIS ballistic missile defense warships in the area. Still, Hawaii's current missile defenses are quite thin, so many people panicked. 
Yeah, that’s why announcing a nuclear attack made them panic — they’d all been thumbing through Jane’s just the day before and had doubts about our missile defense system.

It's easy enough to conclude that they know a nuclear tantrum is a Trump possibility, and want to prep their people to roar approval rather than scream in terror when the mushroom clouds sprout. But as always I lean toward the psychological, and assume it's another form of culture war: Since back in the Cold War days liberals made all those movies about how bad nuclear war would be, for conservatives it stands to reason that nuclear war must actually be good. All it needs is the right publicity!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

THE GLORY THAT WAS GIPPER, THE GRANDEUR THAT WAS COOTER FROM THE DUKES OF HAZZARD.

The President Oprah thing is already beginning to die down, but before the historic moment passes let us bring to Clio's attention one particular piece of related gibberish from Opus Dei conservative Michael Brendan Dougherty at National Review. It is, as one would expect, dismissive of Winfrey — “about how women are rising up to speak ‘their truth,’ telling ‘those men’ who have oppressed them that ‘their time is up’" is his sneer-quote-intensive description of her speech (Gad, isn’t it just like a woman to get pissy about rape and harassment!) -- and has a Big Idea about the Meaning Of It All, please God, but instead of sticking with the traditional mush about what celebrity culture hath wrought, Dougherty goes the extra mile to fix blame for celebrity culture on “wonks.” How ya figure, MBD?
The wonk’s role is well-fitted to the centrist political ideal in the post–Cold War West. For them, government is most highly admirable when it is totally denuded of questions of value or morality (these having obvious and uncontroversial answers), and reduced to a purely technical exercise. The politician working with the wonk finds that his job is reconciling the public with what’s good for them. 
Imagine — being so almighty arrogant that you want government to give people “what’s good for them” (like working bridges and highways, health care, etc.) instead of gifting them with your moral value decisions like “hmm, feeding these poor black people seems moral, but wouldn't it be more Christian to let their starvation and misery serve to spur others to thrift and industry?”
And this fits the machinery of the executive branch, which is filled with hundreds of thousands of civil servants, overseen by a much smaller retinue of political appointees almost all chosen from within the governing class of the country. 
He doesn’t mention private-sector government contractors, who soak the public fisc at least as well as any Gummint bureaucrat (no “what’s good for them” nonsense for those privateers — just good old-fashioned free-market self-enrichment!), because they are of Reagan, which is to say of the Lord.
Where this model of government is most advanced — in Europe — policy questions are routinely taken away from the passions of democratic peoples, and quarantined for expert management.
Dougherty is of the Dreher/Douthat school that wishes Eurocrats would stop thwarting the true will of white people and let neo-Nazis lead.

We could go on forever like this but ugh, let’s cut to the chase: according to Dougherty these silly “what’s good for them” government wonks are making a celebrity president like Oprah inevitable, while serious people like Dougherty prefer “the traditional politician, a person of judgment and charisma who represents the community from which he or she emerges, using his own wisdom in reconciling the diverse interests and needs of his nation and constituency” — you know, like Reagan and Trump. Or the have-a-beer-worthy George W., if you want to talk about genuinely manufactured celebrity -- for Bush Lite, who would have had neither business nor political cred without wealth and Republican handlers, was about as big a put-up job as Peter Lemonjello.

"Wonks are now the producers, behind the scenes," closes Dougherty. "The celebrities are just the talent, reading lines and leveraging their brand for the great project of governance." I don't know whether Dougherty saw Trump going off the reservation on DACA and being guided back to orthodoxy by Kevin McCarthy before he wrote that, but even if he didn't, he should know by now that you don't need good-government types to treat political leaders like the "talent"; simple goons and grifters are if anything even better at it.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

BULL.

The Federalist is a uniquely awful piece of shit, not only for its wingnut politics, which you can get at a dozen other internet popsicle stands (and not only for the wretchedness of its writing, which ditto), but also for its culture-war crackpottery. Last week I mentioned their weird attempt to make a porn star's suicide into an anti-gay statement, and now there's this thing about a fucking cartoon:
Similarly, in the latest Ferdinand film, audiences will be told, “Be strong, be brave, be true… to yourself.” In the case of a bull who’d choose peace under his cork tree over fame with the matadors, we might argue that he chose the better. But our world is not the fictitious world of Ferdinand. For the human heart and mind, being true to oneself can quickly lead us to dangerous relativistic thinking.
Actually the relativism goes back to Dumbo, which betrayed our old certainties about how elephants should submit meekly to their bullhooks and do ordinary circus tricks -- and now look; Ringling Brothers is kaput -- talk about a Gramscian Long March of pink elephants through the Institutions! But let us not intrude on Federalist writer Jessica Burke's thesis:
Ferdinand, The Transgender Bull?
OK, let's intrude. Apparently someone has mentioned that the flower-loving Ferdinand "did not want to perform his or her gender as expected," making this cartoon in Burke's view "an emblem of gender nonconformity" and an assault on godly butchitude. Not only that, it encourages the sin of individualism:
But being true to yourself isn’t isolated to just rejecting classic sexual ethics or sex roles. We can be true to ourselves in any number of gluttonous, lustful, and selfish ways. My millennial friends are known to say, “You do you,” believing that each person has the right to pursue whatever makes him or her happy. They don’t want to deem any actions or beliefs as wrong or untrue because they believe that each person defines truth and morality. This thinking has led to a culture that often ignores sin and even calls it courageous.

In “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis...
Ugh, okay, I draw the line at citations of the proto-Douthats. So to sum up, Fendinand, like Dumbo and his mom, should have submitted to the will of heaven and led the children to Christ, but he made them into flower-sniffing do-your-own-thing hippies instead, so you will see him, heathen, bucking and snorting in Hell as you both roast for all eternity.

If nothing else this is a reminder that fundamentalists were nuts well before they embraced Trump.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DE GUSTIBUS NON EST DISPUTANDUM, MOTHERFUCKER.

I've said more than once that the "culture war" is a war on culture but, as pithy an aperçu as that is, it doesn't draw the whole picture of what's wrong with culture warriors. Sure, many of them are brutes who are frightened by the power of art and think it must be some kind of ordnance liberals possess that they should try to steal. That's why they're so excited by the Harvey Weinstein thing  -- not because they give a shit about sexual harassment, but because they think it's an angle they can use to break Hollywood's alleged spell over the masses and grab it for themselves; you can hear it in the exultations of Kyle Smith ("Hollywood’s image of itself as a morally enlightened congress of tribunes of the people has been destroyed") and Jim Geraghty ("Hollywood, you don’t get to lecture us about anything anymore") who seem to think this has been achieved.

Sometimes I think this ties in with Trump's war on the NFL; Trump clearly envies the violent passions football excites and hopes, by portraying it as traitor-infested, to transfer that passion to himself.  For conservatives of the modern type, the ideal state would be one where citizens are driven away from sports and movies and, indeed, any traditional form of recreation, and instead spend their leisure hours on megachurch services and MAGA rallies.

 But there's also the aspect of culture war that's sad as well as weird, because it shows just how damaging it is to the warrior. Get a load of an article by Theodore Kupfer at National Review called "Conservatives Should Reconsider Their Opposition to Hip-Hop." It begins:
Most conservatives don’t like hip-hop. The typical conservative case against the genre amounts not to music criticism, but to...
Ha ha but come on, though, you didn't really think they'd cop to it?
...the charge that it promotes dangerous behaviors in the culture.
Well, the dog heard it. (Another thing about these guys: With them it's always "the culture" instead of culture -- just as for Putin it's always "the Ukraine" instead of Ukraine.)

Kupfer says his fellow wingnuts, apparently on the strength of a 30-year-old N.W.A. record, believe "most rap... feeds the violent loop that mars inner cities, whose residents scorn the justice system and settle scores outside it." But Kupfer -- look at him, the fightin' conservative who knows how to rap with the kids! -- begs to differ.
The first track on Straight Outta Compton is a clue that the critique might be wrong. The song begins with the sobering reminder that, “When somethin’ happens in South Central Los Angeles, nothin’ happens. It’s just another n**** dead,” letting that last word echo before the music kicks in. In other words, N.W.A., which became infamous among conservatives for glorifying violence, began its first album by noting how pervasive such violence is in their hometown, and how little anyone seems to do about it.
Sure, they talk about violence -- but they think it's bad! And they clearly don't think the state is the answer -- why, it's just a short leap from that to support for enterprise zones.

It goes on like that -- Nas has a tune about how much he loves his son, and we're all about family values, right?  It might be touching coming from a prep school student trying to explain to his ofay teacher what rap is, but at National Review it's just some young "Fellow" trying to make conservatism a little more millennial-friendly -- NatRev and chill -- and the comments section reveals that actual National Review readers aren't going for it  ("97% of it is garbage and probably an even higher percentage is liberal").

But him being a clueless honky isn't the big thing. It's the ending that gets me:
This remains an unfortunate blind spot for a political movement with a checkered record on race. Reform-minded conservatives have convincingly argued that the path up from white-identity politics runs toward a civic nationalism that is pan-ethnic, one that celebrates the shared cultural and artistic achievements of all Americans. If they’re right, then the conservative mind ought to rethink hip-hop, a sometimes-great and always uniquely American art form.
What is "the conservative mind" and why should it be argued into liking a form of music? What has one's tastes or desires got to do with being "reform-minded" or "a civic nationalism that is pan-ethnic"? You might just as well write an article about why, on the strength of recent trends in The Movement, conservatives should embrace sweet potato pierogies. And Kupfer's if-you-believe-this-you-should-enjoy-that formulation implies that conservatives are hypocritical not to like rap. This isn't like opposing gay marriage publicly while picking up men in toilets privately -- this is music, and it is beyond dispute.

I have friends who don't like rap, and/or country, and/or other musics I love. Hell, my wife can't stand most of the music I like. But that is, to those of us whose minds have not been turned to glue, the way of the world and something we can live with, if we have attained a certain very basic degree of perspective. Imagine being the kind of person who felt the need to argue someone into enjoying the music they liked. Sure, the famously ugly John Wilkes said that when he was trying to get laid he could talk his face away -- but, well, he was trying to get laid. What's Kupfer's excuse?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

TODAY IN WINGNUT GRIFTS.

Some of my longer-serving readers will remember a project by Bill Whittle called Ejectia. It was yet another online wingnut nest, but pitched by him as something more than a website -- indeed, a "City-State of Virtue" that he intended to build with reader donations. He even had "early test renderings" of the intended result ("Some people would like it to be a collection of Greek buildings in a verdant valley. Some want it on a tropical isle...").

Ejectia of course vaporized,  and Whittle went on to new horizons - and he's still out there grifting, bless him, with the same cutting edge material. But what of the dream of an alternative rightwing universe? One would think that with Trump mutilating America into the human centipede of their dreams, conservatives would have no need of fantasy lands. But hope springs eternal, and if they bought it once they'll buy it again, so here's something called "Respvblica" (the "v" is for "it's like in the gladiator movies, see?"). I learned of it from a pitch letter that began thus:
A NEW NATION DAWNS, VIRTUALLY 
Believing that real estate is not necessary to form a country in our Internet-led world today, innovators, pioneers and entrepreneurs Benjamin Poser and Joshua Resnek announced the start of Respvblica.com, the first, credible virtual nation. At first, it will launch as a news and commentary site, offering some of the sharpest writing about issues people truly care about, or should.

Respvblica is proud to be joined by Keith Ablow, MD, the New York Times bestselling author and psychiatrist who has spent ten years as psychiatry Contributor for the Fox News Network. Keith is available to talk about this new online nation...
Ablow, you may know, is a famous crackpot, the inheritor of the tinfoil crown of Dr. Martin Abend from Fox's prescursor, WNEW-TV. The other guys, who knows; Resnek seems to be a Jews-for-the-GOP sort with a taste for culture war ("Jews claiming shock and horror at some of the things Donald Trump says do not claim shock and horror watching five love making sessions during a popular movie..."). Also, his name appears in some novels by Keith Ablow, probably as an inside joke; Resnek himself writes novels -- the promo for one tells us, "through finely wrought portraits of Iowa and Washington DC of that era and of himself as a lover, as an observer and as a close-up, real time participant in the war protests and the great rallies, he stirringly depicts an American social and political era and reveals the American pastiche in all its violence, emotion and irony." What more could you want (though maybe hold the himself-as-a-lover part)? As for Benjamin Poser, he's a mystery man; maybe he put up the starter money.

From the site's "Become a Citizen" pitch:
We live, after all, in an age of Jihad, when virulent ideas have been promulgated by entities which began without any land mass, but called themselves nations, nonetheless. What if our nation—Respvblica—also were free from the notion that a land mass is essential to nationhood?
Hell of a model, guys.
What if we invited people all over the world to remain citizens of the countries in which they live, while also holding dear their allegiance to a virtual nation that, as we grow, can offer them online learning about liberty, best in class legal representation to assert their rights to free speech and the pursuit of happiness, as well as the power of a growing citizenry to obtain preferred pricing on goods and services, all around the world?
It's like your survivalist treehouse, only cuh-lassy! The price of admission is -- how cute is this -- "$17.76 USD for the first 14 days, then $17.76 USD for each 30 days." That's for starters -- I expect there'll be Platinum Citizenships and such like as soon as it gets going. Something's got to pick up the slack from Respvblica's slow-moving Kickstarter, and it'll have to be you the sucker -- er, citizen!

The site itself, you will be unsurprised to learn, is hot garbage, with a heavy pro-Trump, kill-Palestinians focus. But remember, they're not selling the steak, they're selling the pizzle.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

DREHER AND NOSTALGIA FOR GERMAN RACISM.

Wondering about AfD (Alternative for Deutschland), Germany’s entry in the international fun-fair of Fuhrer-phumphers? Here’s a nice rundown from Deutsche Welle, with some points of interest:

“When it was formed in 2013, the AfD's main thrust was its opposition to bail-outs of indebted European Union member states, like Greece. Its leader, Bernd Lucke, described it as a 'new type of party that was neither right- nor left-wing.'" (Hey — just like what our dummy journalists think about Trump now!)

“German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the former co-chair of the AfD told a regional newspaper in 2016”;

“The AfD also sees itself as a defender of the traditional nuclear family model. It is anti-abortion and hostile to alternative lifestyles.”

Sounds pretty wingnutty, even by American standards. A piquant feature is that their current leader, Alice Weidel, is gay — not unheard-of among anti-untermenschen bigots; think of Pim Fortuyn and Ernst Röhm.

Ah, but longtime readers will know where I’m going with this — right to Rodland! Rod Dreher does the finger-on-chin, quizzically-cocked-hip musing thing on AfD. First, get a load of the Lolworthy header:



Ja, das ist eine Schwarze Frau!

As often, Dreher has loooong quotes from another source, this one claiming a German “Christian civil war” between Merkel’s CDU and the AfD neo-whatsits, in part because the CDU “saw eastern Germany as more open to “Asiatics.” “It’s a powerful charge,” says Dreher, “and I have no way of knowing whether or not it is true. But I’ll assume that it is.” LOL. Also, per the source:
…the CDU’s postwar leader, Konrad Adenauer, was a Catholic who attended mass faithfully. Subsequent leaders have been less and less pious. Angela Merkel is the least pious of them all…
Yeah, we’re in legitimate political science territory here, but Dreher is rapt. He is aware of the Head Lesbian in Charge, but seems to have found some wiggle room via something called Christians In The AfD, which equivocally gibbers at length that it's okay if it's for whiteness; Dreher, who Wants To Believe, observes, “maybe they believe it makes more sense to tolerate same-sex marriage (which is now a fact in Germany) within a larger context of the state working to support marriage in general. I don’t know… It’s in German, but I read it in translation via Chrome.” Again, LOL.

But then Dreher gets to the good stuff — White Supremacy, Deutsch edition (because it’s a good idea to support other nationalists’ Supremacies, in case you need their support in, for example, a World War):
In general, I believe that all nations have the right to determine their own character. If a historically Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist nation wanted to maintain its religious and civilizational character, they would have the right…
We don’t begrudge you darkskins if you want your own table at the campus union — why should you begrudge us our white nations?
…To the deracinated, globalizing liberal, it doesn’t really matter if the medieval church in the town center becomes a mosque or a disco, as long as procedural liberalism has been respected. This kind of thing gives lie to the claim that liberalism is neutral.
Christ is King is the neutral state — oh, if only the Inquisition were still around to show you libtards! Thereafter, more what-if-white-people-invaded-a-dark country bullshit, and this remarkable graf:
If you asked Western Christians if they would rather live in Christian Lagos or atheistic Berlin, I suppose most would choose Berlin. I would, or at least that’s what I think off the top of my head. It’s not simply because the standard of living is higher there. It’s also that despite the absence of Christianity, the culture is much more familiar. But consider this: Christian children raised in Lagos almost certainly have a much greater chance of retaining their Christianity into adulthood than children raised in Berlin. What profiteth it a man to raise his kids in all the order and comfort of the West, but watch them lose their souls? According to the logic of my own principles, I ought to choose Lagos over Berlin. And perhaps I would do so, after thinking about it.
Sure you would! Dreher, who’s always fucking off on European foodie vacations, pretending he’d go live in Lagos? Shit, he couldn’t even stick it in St. Francisville, Louisiana. The fucker has lived in Philly, Brooklyn, Dallas, and Baton Rouge, and has had three religions — he’s the very definition of a rootless cosmopolitan!

Then Dreher thinks about whether Christian refugees are bad for thinking of going to Germany where it’s less Christian than their native hellhole, and comes to this:
Hard, hard questions. If Germany loses her Christian faith, she may be persuaded in the future to return to it. But if Germany loses her distinctly German culture through mass immigration, there will be no going back. Obviously, the Hitler legacy makes these questions excruciatingly difficult for Germany — as well as hard for the rest of us, or at least it ought to make them hard — but that horrible legacy does not settle the questions.
I should fucking think the "Hitler legacy" -- that is, the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the Second World War -- settled those questions for good and all. But maybe hardcore Jesus people like Dreher have a more, let us say, transactional relationship with Nazism.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MR. BROOKS' CLASS WAR.

Old-fashioned straight-up racism is a tougher sell in the age of Black Lives Matter than it used to be, so racists (and the people hired to get votes from them) must modernize. Some conservatives (including the allegedly reformed Andrew Sullivan) remain quite comfortable saying or at least dogwhistling that black people are treated unequally in this society because they're Bell Curve inferiors. But even they must qualify it: Look, we're not racist because we admit Asians are smarter than us! Look, we're only defending Charles Murray's right to free speech!

There's always the "Liberals are The Real Racist" dodge. But that's usually an unsatisfying balm conservatives apply after they've been laughed off the stage. However, maybe they'll get more pro-active with it -- David Brooks is working in his sociological meth lab to strip the "white" out of "white privilege" and put "liberal" in instead.

How's he doing it? By taking out the actual political and philosophical parts of liberalism, and leaving only the stereotype of sissies who like fancy books, food, and leisure activities, think they're better than you, and have found a way to be rich without quite being capitalists (sneaky buggers!).

Brooks' column, generously titled "How We Are Ruining America" (it's the last acknowledgement of his own possible complicity, though), starts with a long wheeze about how "upper-middle-class" people are soaking up all the good things -- education for their kids, "behavior codes" (presumably like marriage, which makes you rich!), maternity leave, etc. While a socialist, or a Christian or a decent human being, might think, okay, then let's use government to give less upper-middle people better access to such things, Brooks explains that what's really causing these inequalities are "the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent."

This isn't about the black guy who can't get a cab -- why, the fact that he's presuming to hail one shows he's in the upper 20 percent, and thus just as much an oppressor as the whites. The real oppressors are the ones who can pronounce simple Italian words, or who don't freak out when they can't (a sure sign of effeteness):
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree...
BULLSHIT BUZZER ALERT! Maybe she's his nanny.
...to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named "Padrino" and "Pomodoro" and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
What sort of person is class-shamed by an Italian deli? Mmmmaybe the "friend" was Mexican; maybe she'd just come up from Gopher Holler, where they have a Chipotle but not a salumeria. Here's how Brooks explains it:
American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”
Those fucking Italians! Always trying to make you feel small because you don't know which gabagool to use for the fish course!

Even worse:
In her thorough book “The Sum of Small Things,” Elizabeth Currid-Halkett argues that the educated class establishes class barriers not through material consumption and wealth display but by establishing practices that can be accessed only by those who possess rarefied information.
That "rareified information" being the code to the security systems at their McMansions.
To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.
I know what all this shit is; I must be rich. Rich and rareified! Yet I'm wearing a cardboard belt. Why don't I just leave this stupid job I'm stealing time from to write this, and live on information?
The educated class has built an ever more intricate net to cradle us in and ease everyone else out. It’s not really the prices that ensure 80 percent of your co-shoppers at Whole Foods are, comfortingly, also college grads; it’s the cultural codes.
I showed the cashiers that I know how to pronounce quinoa, but they still called security when I left without paying.
Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else. We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible. The rest of America can’t name them, can’t understand them. They just know they’re there.
If you're still wondering why Brooks downplays the role of money as well as the role of race here, I'll spell it out: His target is not people of color, who don't need David Brooks to tell them what time it is, but 1.) the Trump voters out in the heartland who might resent that they can't afford a block of Pilates classes (but let's face it, they don't read David Brooks nor even know who he is, and would take him for one o' them liberal sissies if they ever saw him); and, more likely, 2.) rightwing operatives who have been peddling arugula-Grey Poupon visions of liberalism forever, and hope that the recent uptick in class consciousness can be exploited against liberals rather than against their coprorate masters -- perhaps with "I am the 80%" t-shirts, and symbolic anti-elitist state-lege bills taxing reiki or requiring yoga studios sell cigarettes, and rhymes like "If you're lib, I like the cut of your gib, if you're centrist, you get a good dentist, but if you're Right, brother, good night, good night."

As America goes further down the crapper, a lot of people are going to get mad at the rich, and the donors might find it worth their while to fund propaganda that says "Don't guillotine you, don't guillotine me, guillotine that liberal hugging that tree." Maybe they'll outfit their Porsches to roll coal so the rabble know they're alright. Since saner policies are out of the question, it's worth a try.

UPDATE. Holy shit, every wingnut in wingnuttia rushed to defend Brooks' imbecilic column. Here's the crest of Megan McArdle's tweetstream:


I mean, all those liberals have to have the same exalted social status as she, haven't they? Otherwise why would Twitter allow them to talk to her? And she knows lots of genuine working class people, like that lady who said such nice things to her on the bus -- although, hmm, that lady was black, so maybe she was on welfare.

Chris Arnade comes in with his usual bullshit -- "I would add, where David Brooks uses upscale delis, I use McDonald's to show the difference in cultural capital between front-row & back-row" -- just in case Brooks is thinking of jumping line, Chris Arnade has McDonald's, bitch (and possibly a licensing deal -- "ba ba ba ba ba, white working class!"). On and on he goes about how oh, you liberals all sneer at McDonald's! Like we're all 23, have trust funds, and dine at Le Diplomate every night -- or that the amount of crap food one has eaten (and I've eaten plenty in my time) is the measure of one's authentic something-or-otherness, instead of a marker for pre-diabetes.

This may be Arnade's nadir: "The online reaction to David Brooks column is largely this -- Snark from people who have cultural capital but not economic."  As if we could ruin people's hopes and dreams by making snide remarks from our studio apartments and crappy jobs! Again, we see the insistence that money has nothing to do with it, and therefore money can't help. It's a great excuse for not supporting government interventions -- because the real power is in positive thinking, and if we just reward that and punish "snark," then by the law of supply and demand we'll Make America Great Again.

This brings us back around to Murray who, looking to diversify from his Bell Curve shtick a few years back, promoted that Fishtown/Belmont "bubble test" hooey, purporting to show that if you didn't watch the right TV shows and listen to modern crap country music (not that rap stuff, though -- only you-know-whats listen to that), you were an elitist and therefore had nothing to say to the Little People. This led to the spectacle of pencil-necked wingnuts imagining themselves butch because they knew the names of some pickup trucks. And now we have the logical end result of this ridiculous obsession, Donald Trump -- on the one hand, the People's Choice, whom no one would call elitist; on the other hand, a golden-palace-dwelling narcissist, the ultimate Bubble Boy. It is amazing what lengths we'll go to as a country to evade paying the butcher's bill -- but I have a hunch the butcher will get real insistent real soon.