Tuesday, February 28, 2006

BUCKLEY, WAKE UP, THEY HAVE GONE MAD. Let's peek through the beaded curtain of the Crunchy Conservative site.
...conservative leaders and spokesmen ought to be saying loud and often that with a few exceptions, anyone who would place an infant in daycare is a negligent parent and a negligent citizen.
In the immortal words of Curly, nggnnyaahhh. I liked hippies better when they had weed.

UPDATE. Might this Dreher riff be the result of brown acid?
I’ve blogged before about a recent trip I took to Dubai, and about how the advent of a gazillion satellite cable channels in the Arab Muslim world is shaking those societies up. I spoke while there to an Arab Muslim media professional living in Britain, who said that she and her husband are scared of losing their children to the appeals of Islamic fundamentalists, but they are also alienated from the hypersexualized and aggressive secular culture that’s mainstream in their country (and about which Theodore Dalrymple has written so bracingly). This woman, and other moderate Arab Muslims I talked to while there, said that the masses in the Arab world see Western freedom as moral (especially sexual) anarchy, and are running straight to the arms of the radicals. Surely we on the Right, as proponents of capitalism and the open society, have to have something to say to this Muslim mother in London.
So an Arab mother living in a country with no First Amendment is Dreher's idea of a Crunchy Con constituent. Well, I always suspected they and the Jesus freaks would eventually unite to put an end to that morally anarchic sex the rest of us have been having.

UPDATE II. "So what we’re talking about here, the objective parameter Crunchy Cons are using to measure systems, etc., is Atheism, whether formal or material. That’s what most of us oppose. That’s our criterion for judgement." Soon Crunchy Conservatives will be wandering barefoot through your town, crying "Woe to the bloody town of [your town's name here]." Watch for them!

Monday, February 27, 2006

SIR PAUL. We've been a little hard on Paul McCartney. The thought came to me as I happened upon Sir Paul's PBS solo performance on TV tonight.

I think I'm safe in saying that John Lennon's legacy has sucked a lot of wind out of McCartney's sails over the last twenty-five years. I remember Robert Christgau quoting his wife back when Lennon was shot: "Why is it always Robert Kennedy and John Lennon? Why isn't it Richard Nixon and Paul McCartney?" It is a horrible thing to admit, but I took her point then, and I never got completely past it. After that horrible event, Paul's looked like the glib and easy way, Lennon's the stony path, and many of us felt like the dark genius had been taken from us, leaving us with the glib vaudevillian. That seemed a cheat, too perfect for the shoddy era that was coming.

No matter what the fellow did, it seemed like compensation, a way to get past the early deification of his storied partner. Did Paul play all the instruments on his new album? Oooh, what a genius, snort. Were his tunes tuneful? Yeah, but that's all his craft. Remember punk rock? It got a massive boost from the death of John Lennon, because the howling sorrow Lennon had brought front and center in his solo career became the dropped standard, and the fact that there was this other ex-Beatle still chirping out his bloody tunes only made us more determined to hurl clumps of feces at the high wall of commercial success. If we couldn't get them over, at least we'd make our mark.

Well. Watching the old man play tonight with his eight-track recorder and vintage mikes and invited audience might, in another time and condition, have just made me angry, but tonight it invigorated my long-dormant respect. In the first place, he was that Beatle. He stood on those stages, played those splendid bass lines, wrote those amazing songs. When John Lennon was a shuddering wreck, McCartney still went to the studio and kept things up, and when it was all really coming apart, he got the boys to play old tunes like "One After 909" and "Two of Us." (He and John did "The Ballad of John and Yoko" pretty much by themselves.) The Let It Be album at first looked like an expedient to get the title song on a marketable LP, but now it looks like McCartney's final act of faith in the band. Now, when I see Lennon in that film singing the hell out of "Don't Let Me Down" on that rooftop, I think of how McCartney must have forced it out of him by putting him on the spot -- after trying to convince his partner that they were "like Stravinksy," and getting only stoned stares in response, McCartney resorted to the oldest kind of musical challenge: okay, motherfucker, it's showtime. And Lennon came up.

Most of the ensuing McCartney career is a blur to me, but he wrote, he sang, he produced, he even played the drums creditably. His was a life in music and he kept at it. Trends came and went, and he responded to them playfully. So "Temporary Secretary" isn't so hot. As Groucho said years earlier, they can't all be winners, folks, you have to expect that every once in a while. But McCartney knew his strengths and played to them. Every now and then I'd walk through a mall and hearken to the sound: isn't that Paul McCartney? It may not have been memorable, but it was always pleasing.

Tonight's TV performance was, like all Sir Paul's late ventures, like "Helter Skelter" at the Grammys (See? John wasn't the only rocker in the band), a conscious demonstation of his greatness. He was entitled to it. When he played "Jenny Wren," it didn't matter that we wouldn't remember it as well as we had "Blackbird" or "When I'm Sixty-Four" or "Maybe I'm Amazed" -- it was a very nice song, one of hundreds he'd churned out, and we knew we could count on him to produce such like until his fingers or his brain made it impossible for him to continue. His knighthood made more sense to me then. He had served, continued to serve, and would serve to the end, as a true peer of the Realm should. If rock and roll were as much a spur as honor and duty, why should he not be honored?

Over time the little feuds and cavils will fade, and all we will have (if we have that) are the songs. A McCartney progression will probably still please the ear, and if his lyrics, long after their galvanization by the Beatles' and Wings' popularity has been worn away, are less likely to persist than those of his Liverpool chum, that's no reason to cast those pleasures away prematurely. And as for the pre-eminence we now give to Lennon, let us hear how Sir Walter Scott considered the lives of Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox when both were in the Abbey:
These spells are spent, and, spent with these,  
The wine of life is on the lees.  
Genius, and taste, and talent gone,
For ever tomb'd beneath the stone,  
Where — taming thought to human pride! —  
The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.  
Drop upon Fox's grave the tear,  
'Twill trickle to his rival's bier;
O'er Pitt's the mournful requiem sound,  
And Fox's shall the notes rebound.
MAU-MAUING THE FAT CATCHER. The new fun at NRO's blog on Crunchy Conservatism -- which, as previously explained, is Rod Dreher's revival of Jesus Freaks as home-schoolin', homo-hatin' yuppies -- is the exploding head of Jonah Goldberg.

Goldberg challenges Crunchy Con Man Rod Dreher's assertion that "the 'conservatives' will not oppose promiscuity because sexual discipline would reduce the profits of corporations, which in their advertisements and entertainments encourage sexual self-indulgence as a way of selling merchandise."

Now, you or I might sensibly tell Dreher: "So what?" (Come to think of it, it is instructive to consider how many of the complaints of today's lifestyle conservatives invite, nay demand, just such an answer.Hollywood doesn't make movies I like! So what? TV commercials make men look stupider than women! So what? Young girls are exposing their midriffs! Where? I mean, so what?)

But Goldberg, alas, has neither the standing nor the inclination for such clarity. He is a Big Wheel of Big Tent Conservatism, fond of defining conservatism extremely broadly, the better to keep together the great Republican coalition whose victories keep his Wheel Big. "You don’t really have to be a free-marketer or capitalist to be a conservative," he has argued. "The simple fact is that conservatives don’t have a settled dogma." And so forth.

This laxity suits Goldberg's role at NRO. He can make all kinds of ridiculous, lazy assertions, and when he is contradicted he can say: yes, you have a point, I'm sure the opposite can be true, too, we aren't really arguing and anyway it's late and I have to walk the dog etc. (No link needed: most of his stuff is like this.)

But when Dreher and his stupid hippies start spouting snake-handler gibberish, you can tell that Goldberg is just revulsed. Maybe it's just due to a storm of negative pheromones between those who smell of organic compost and patchouli, and one who smells of Cheetos, Johnson's Baby Shampoo, and farts. Anyway Goldberg lashes out instinctually at Dreher's imbecility -- "Have you ever met a conservative in your travels who won't attack promiscuity because to do so threatens corporate profits?"

But then Goldberg is ever so lightly challenged, and his instinct is to run to his suckup strategy. First he defends mainstream conservatives as every bit as spirited a set of fist-shakers and finger-waggers as the Crunchy Cons: "This administration puts real dollars behind its advocacy of abstinence, here and abroad... Conservatives criticize the popular culture." But -- here he reaches out -- "Now, they may not do it enough. That's a legitimate argument to make." Later, Goldberg strives so hard to accomodate Dreher's millenarial Christer philosophy that he even defends Karl Marx ("As for the alienating and deracinating effects of the free market and all that, I think some of the critiques — Marxist and otherwise — have varying degrees of value and merit"). See, Goldberg concludes, "I'm not the strawman conservative who idolizes the free market Rod has constructed."

So we see a leading figure of the Cause who, assailed by a new and radical fringe group convinced of its righteousness, has not the intellectual ballast to withstand the attack. I agree with your ends, he says; it's your means that I question!

Does this remind you of anything?

UPDATE. Meanwhile Ross Douthat, a smart fellow, reminds readers that the secret to success for a conservative niche brand like Crunchy Conservatism is to not take it very seriously:
...if such a cultural movement is going to win converts — or at least supporters — it shouldn't be too hard on those fellow-travelers who aren't up for home-schooling their kids, and don't quite have the time and energy to seek out the local organic co-op, and love "Lost" too much to get rid of their televisions. It's important to hold up an ideal, but it's also important not to let that ideal get in the way of making common cause with people who are, well, doing their best.
Sometimes I perceive that, despite all the fervent hallelujahs, modern conservatism is just a marketing exercise. Douthat's got his finger on the aspirational component of Crunchiness. And if you can get people to buy your hot cereal by telling them "It's the right thing to do," why not?

I realize this is a cynical reading, but it is also very charitable, considering the alternatives.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. This weekend I went to see a gospel chorale perform at the Broadway Presbyterian Church. It was wonderful all the way down the line. The church is beautiful, with big oak beams and leaded glass and a magnificent pipe organ, which was employed for the first number. (A good choir under a pipe organ is sublime: the sweet voices under the rumble and thrill of the pipes are like a rainbow under a great waterfall.) I was surrounded by churched people who were extremely nice, and the music and preaching washed me warmly and sanctifyingly.

Regular readers will know that I don't have much good to say about such religion as appears in our nation's political life, and my default position is always that funny bit about the last tyrant and the entrails of the last priest. (Or is it the other way around?) But though I may have slipped through the fingers of Religion, Inc., I am not beyond the reach of the godly.

Religion as I experienced it this weekend I count a fine thing. Whether I would find it an equally fine thing far from the Upper West Side, when it is dispensed by megachurchmen and snake-handlers, is a matter best left for experience to tell, and it may be that the essential godlessness of the City in which I live made the experience I did have seem more like an opportunity for the heart's comfort than an oppression of the heart's desire. That is, I didn't walk out of the church into South Dakota, where sharia is in the offing, but into New York, where free will is still part of the program.

Who knows but that the children of God among whom I briefly stood might, in other circumstances, feel encouraged to raid my library, cordon my abortion clinic, and go all Fifth Monarchist on my ass? But it is encouraging to have some evidence that it need not be so.

UPDATE. I forgot to mention it last night, but this sort of experience is why I don't get too upset when the ACLU goes after religious displays on public property. In this imperfect world, as we have seen, great religions, like great crime organizations, do not disdain to boost their membership numbers by fear and intimidation, and while that might be good for their shareholders, it is awful for humanity. As far as salvation goes, I prefer to live in a buyer's market. Three cheers for the Naked Public Square!
The Americans didn't do too well in Olympic hockey this time around. But in the gold-medal game between Finland and Sweden -- they're playing right now! -- the Swedish goalie has a picture of the Statue of Liberty on his blue-and-yellow mask. That's because in his real life Henrik Lundqvist is a member of the New York Rangers, which uses Lady Liberty in its logo. Still, he's playing for Team Sweden at the moment and rather than a picture of a Viking longship he's got a symbol of America on his mask. Nice touch. I wonder if any Europeans are pulling out their hair.
I'm trying to recollect if I was even like this as a boy. Did I ever think, "Boy, I bet it really burns Nixon's ass when Bill Lee pitches"? I don't think so, but I thought a lot of foolish things then. Perhaps John J. Miller is a pre-teen. It is Sunday, so I will leave it at that charitable analysis.

Earlier we have Warren Bell "calling for Hollywood writers and
directors to make movies and TV shows depicting the heroic stories of
the War on Terror, not for a whitewash of history." Isn't Bell a Hollywood, or at least a Television City in Hollywood, writer? Could he not propose, say, The Pat Tillman Story to Jim Belushi as Emmy bait? Or had Bell, when he wrote this, been in the throes of a hallucination, spurred by whatever drugs such people are taking these days, and imagining himself already appointed to the Kultural Kommittee that will mandate such scripts comes Der Tag?

"But why," wonders Bell, "are e-mailers of liberal sensibility so quick
to assume I (and by extension the Right in general) would only accept
one-sided propaganda?" I would guess because they read The Corner and know the contempt with which those fellows regard culture. Or watch "The World According to Jim," from which they may take the same impression.

Friday, February 24, 2006

SOUTH DAKOTA, FIND YOURSELF ANOTHER COUNTRY TO BE PART OF. The home state of George "Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion" McGovern is now about to enact a crackpot abortion ban, the only discernible purpose for which is to instigate a Supreme Court case that will overturn Roe v. Wade.

In a humorous coincidence, over at that Crunchy Con site we discussed yesterday, the stupid hippies are addressing the age-old question, "How're You Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm After They've Seen the Farm"*:
Further, Caleb might be willing — I certainly would be — to use social policy, at least in a soft way, to encourage a certain amount of immobility, or at least stop discouraging it. E.g., I've long thought that it would be good policy for localities experiencing brain drain (we might refer to these localities as "every small town in the Midwest") to offer to pay off a certain portion of student loans for those of its own who come back to the community after school.
Of course, once the bright young things whom Caleb and Jethro and Zeke and Cletus want to retain in Bumfuck, SD via "immobility" realize they're living in a theocratic nuthouse, they may say screw the loans and opt for a more cosmopolitan environment -- like North Dakota.

Or, these hippies might be craftier than we expect -- see Manson, Charlie -- and may be working a more long-range plan to so damage our fortunes via an incompetent Federal Government that we are forced to submit to government by God-botherer. (See Kurtz, Stanley.)

Either way the future looks interesting. Just as Iraq may be learning from us how to run a corrupt "democracy," we may soon take from them lessons in civil war.

* joke stolen from Steve Allen

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NEVER TRUST A HIPPIE. Now that Iraq is blowin' up real good and professional Bush apologists are putting their backs into the UAE counter-spin (expect a "but I support gay marriage, sort of" post from the Perfesser soon!), it may be that the rightwing mothership is finally heading toward that state once attributed by The Onion to Alzheimer's Ronnie: "Reagan's Condition Upgraded to 'Hilarious.'"

Further evidence of rightwing endtimes: the emergence of bizarre cults, such as Crunchy Conservatism.

CrunchyCon founder Rod Dreher has been extensively treated in these pages: a delicate son of rednecks, Dreher came to Noo Yawk to write (the world's least interesting) movie reviews for the New York Post, proceeded to talk smack about his adopted home at The Corner, fled in a huff to the Promised Land Down Yonder, then started bitching about all the McMansions he had to live amongst.

Over the last few years Dreher has been peddling a line of intellectual fashion called Crunchy Conservatism. It seems to be about some kind of yuppie-ish back-to-the-land movement that wants to feel good about drinking fair-trade coffee while voting Republican and hating homosexuals.

Dreher's new book on the subject is known to me only by its tireless promotions by Dreher's hivemindmates. But if the blog National Review has set up for Dreher -- bookmark it, froth fans! -- is any indication, then we aficionados of conservative lunacy are in for a lovely run of material.

After a cheerfully inclusive beginning -- "I heard from literally hundreds of NRO readers who said, 'Me too!'" says Dreher -- we quickly descend into straight Jesus freakery. "I put much more stock in what amounts to monasticism," says one Caleb Stegall, "in the broadest sense, which includes all of the crunchy virtues Rod discusses and more, though in a very natural and inarticulate way." Good thing he warned us about the inarticulateness, because after an apparently added bellyful of what the monks are fermenting, Caleb comes back with more:
Possessed of abstract natural rights, the developing 18th Century liberalism (whether in its radical continental form or more restrained English/Lockean incarnation) located the individual and his unconstrained will as the fundamental and universal unit of political and cultural order...

In the end, however, the underlying philosophical conception of man, society, and God will trump any specific policy goal or cultural norm.
Sounds like these fellas are less worried about McMansions than they are about their McMansions of the Hill. Mitch Muncy grabs a paddle:
As Caleb suggests, there are larger problems here. All this takes place in the context of the loss of the "end" in Western civilization in general.

I locate the intellectual/historical/political roots of this problem in the fourteenth century (going Caleb one better, historically anyway), with the rise of Nominalism, which is, in a certain sense, an "end"-less metaphysics.
Nominalism! A great rallying-cry for the lumpencrunchitariat! Imagine the appalled faces of the folks who came to Dreher's blog expecting to hear about how it's okay for Republicans to buy organic, and instead got Wachet Auf!

But wait, Bruce Frohnen's still on nominalism:
It seems to me that Mitch, Angelo, and Caleb all are right in pointing to historical roots of conservatism's current malaise. What is the cause? It's the nominalist myth that we can call "beautiful" something that is ugly, and that makes it so; it's the myth that people who are committed to virtuous lives have something important with empire-builders and libertarians who liken marriage to a contract for purchasing lumber or toilet seats; it's the myth that each of us has a "right" to create our own society and reality, as if we were each either a god or something less than a person, with a soul that needs to be fed through social life.
Of course, it's always about fags gittin' hitched with these people. But that's not the only way in which the Crunchies are, even in their weirdness, typical of our times and their torpor.

First, there is the almost visceral aversion to reality: as the Republicans busily hoover up the last bits of money out of the National Treasury, the Crunchy Cons are earnestly arguing about how many Lockean angels can dance on the head of a nominalist pin. As their favored political apparatus shows itself to be nothing better than an extortion racket, the Crunchies argue for even less engagement in its processes -- while still living quite comfortably within its jurisdiction. No wonder these people think Jonah Goldberg is an intellectual: though his thoughts barely deserve the name, he can blow a thick cloud of words such as can shield him and his buddies from both the brightening light and the frantic whistle of an oncoming train.

But mainly, despite all their egregious Godliness and scholarly cites, these guys are cake-and-eat-it-too types who endorse a back-to-the-land code only insofar as its inconveniences are less onerous than the righteous, patchouli-scented glow it affords is pleasurable.

Would it surprise you to learn that these folks think a "family ski trip" is a Crunchy thing to do? (I am confident in assuming that the Matero family did not ride a covered wagon to Bum Mountain, and wear skis recycled from first-growth barrel staves.) Also, watching TV, while not favored, can be okay "if your family can watch TV without losing its soul... Maybe you’re raising your kids to be media critics..."

And through your creed would seem to demand that we all live in tight family clusters and spend Saturday nights singing spirituals with our 20 brothers and sisters, if you really, really want to move away, and stay away, from the Southerly swamps from whence you came, you can do it with an easy conscience. You might get a little lecture from one of your movement's would-be Robespierres (who accuses Dreher, for the sin of moving far from his Paw Paw, of "the language of choice; the language of liberalism"). But talk is cheap; you can throw up your own little cloud of rationalizations, and then get back to your free-range chicken and your fair-trade coffee and natural fibers, confident in the Lord's directive: if it feels good, do it.

Never forget, children, that the root word of yuppie is hippie.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

PUSSIES. Christopher Hitchens pats himself on the back -- spilling priceless drops of single-malt, no doubt, then sucking them out of his cardigan sleeve -- for siding with Danish cartoonkind whilst attempting a defend-to-the-death of David Irving -- the legendary Double Voltaire!

Christ, what a -- what's that word the Brits use? Tosser! What a tosser, a right tosser! Has no one told this belligerent drunk that I have already unflatteringly caricatured the Prophet, thus drawing a line in the sand (and, figuratively, around my own neck) for Western Civ?

I'll even go this tosser, this bloody (do they still say that?) tosser one better, and in solidarity with David Irving I will deny me some Holocaust right here on alicublog! Watch me now:
I don't think Hitler could have killed six million Jews. I think it had to be more like, maybe, 5.9 million. Plus, I bet Zyklon B smells nice.
Come an' git me, Austrian motherfuckers! Roy Edroso fears no man!

Some cats got it, some cats ain't: this guy responds to the defenestration of Larry "Bitches Can't Cipher" Summers by announcing that if he were President of Harvard, "any department at Harvard that is not ideologically diverse will lose the right to make hiring decisions. A department that, for example, has systematically excluded Republicans, conservatives and libertarians shouldn't be trusted with the power to make new hires."

Defending free speech with quotas! Bush-league, son. I'm drivin' a Caddy, you fixin' a Ford.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

O WON'T YOU BE MY VAGINA? I thought we'd had all our fun with Valentine's Day a few posts ago back, but Christina Hoff Sommers has a late entry (no pun intended).

Sommers offers a fine example of the alternative-reality approach to argument: She says that sexual harrassment is not a problem on campus, but if it were a problem, it would be a problem because of the way kids today celebrate Valentine's Day:
Unfortunately for the AAUW’s case, it is not possible to fix the blame for the excessive sexual exhibitionism on men alone. Many women are conspicuous contributors, particularly on “V-Day.” February 14th is now celebrated on most American campuses, not as Valentine’s Day, but as V-day (short for “Vagina Day” or for “Violence Against Women Day”). V-Day — usually organized by a small minority of ideologically driven women faculty and impressionable and confused female students — has become an annual occasion to deplore all the horrible things men do to women while at the same time celebrating the wonders of female sexual anatomy. For a two- or three-week period, campuses are festooned with close-up images of a specific female body part. Frequently there are sexually suggestive T-shirts, anatomically correct lollipops, obscene chants and sex toy workshops.
Apparently that Penis Day Sommers was rooting for didn't take off. And not even schools with saints' names are immune! No wonder she dumped this one in the post-holiday sales rack.

All I can say is, if co-eds are sucking candy cocks now, maybe I should look into Continuing Ed.
BIG BROTHER CONSERVATIVES. As we have seen, many conservatives made a show at least of free-speech solidarity in the Danish cartoon case. Other prominent right-wingers, however, noticed that the uproar has left freedom of speech lying defenseless by the side of the road, and could not refrain from putting in the boot.

We have previously examined the case of General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters, who denounced the cartoonists as Europeans and arty-farties. Now we have the loathsome Maggie Gallagher, who adds, quite unnecessarily, to her cartoon column this hint of what sort of democracy she feels America ought to be encouraging in Iraq:
Frustrated and appalled legislators in five states are seeking to ban protests at funerals. Sounds reasonable to me. I don't think such a law would be inconsistent with democratic freedom, any more than I believe the First Amendment really does require us to permit flag burning.

And so too I can imagine with much disturbance that (say) a democratic Iraq could choose to ban depictions of Muhammad. It is perfectly possible to protect sacred symbols or sacred moments in ways that do not violate core principles of free speech necessary to robust, democratic life.
The wording's a little tricky -- how much "disturbance" do you think she'd put up with? -- but given that she smooths her path with flags and funerals, I assume that the readiness she expresses at the top of the column "to sign onto the First Amendment absolutist brigade" is merely the prologue to a conversion narrative.

To this Hugh Hewitt adds, "The freedom to publish anything doesn't mean we ought to," his "we" in this case seeming to mean whatever War Emergency Board he dreams of heading up when Bush gets serious about the War on Em Ess Em.

We'll see how they run now that David Irving has been found guilty by an Austrian court of fraud for his Holocaust-denying crap. Already Roger L. Simon is doing the "normally I'm a free speech extremist, but..." thing with the same suspender-snapping sanctimony that usually accompanies his "I left the left or the left left me" schtick.

This could be fun, in a grim kind of way. As the philosophical basis of conservatism is increasingly revealed to be a mere cover for Republican looting of the Treasury, and the "movement" sprouts the kind of millenarian fringe-groups that presages a crack-up, it may be that the authoritarians in the bunch feel they might as well say what's really on their minds and see how the rabble react.

(edited for clarity, believe it or not)

UPDATE. Commenter RobW points out that Irving was nailed for denying the Holocaust, not fraud. Apologies for the slop. Meanwhile an anti-Danish-cartoon guy cites the Irving verdict as a good model for legal protection against blasphemous funnies. Guess when this all shakes out, we'll all end up on the appropriate sides.
PROUST’S WAY. I have a little list of great books that I want to read even though I’m not attracted to them. Call it a self-improvement project, or just a way to get to say I read all these books. I guess there are people who devour books out of pure, indiscriminate pleasure, but I’m not built that way. Rank pretentiousness and self-doubt, alas, will always be part of my motivation. But that’s fine. Some kids go to the Army to learn self-discipline, and some go for computer courses or an alternative to jail and get self-discipline anyway. Who cares what lifts us out of the primordial muck? If I were perpetually following my Bliss, I’d be far too drunk and homeless, not to mention too busy masturbating, to post things like this on the Internet.

The forced march through Great Books is a muddy slog and its progress depends upon exigencies. Bronchitis and bedrest got me through Middlemarch. I’ve tried Ulysses twice, and I expect the third time, tentatively scheduled for this summer, will be the charm. Excelsior!

This winter was Swann’s Way. It took many, many subway rides, with breaks for Invisible Cities, Paul Hemphill’s Hank Williams biography, Nabokov’s lecture on Proust, and several cheap magazines, just to keep me from giving up on the printed word altogether. As with all such problem cases, there was pleasure in the pages but not in the progress, at least at first.

You probably know that large chunks of the book are descriptive to the point of mania, and not just descriptive of people, places, and objects, but of states of mind and even of being. There are long passages that seem to be nothing but monstrous agglomerations of metaphors, technical terms, and prose-poetry. My heart sank when I read, "For there were, in the environs of Combray, two ‘ways’ which we used to take for our walks," and sank further still when Proust compared these "purely material roads" with "the two parts of my brain in which I used to think of them," because I knew I would be asked not only to regard every dog-rose and trick of light that Proust could call to mind, but also their relationship to time and consciousness. That is hard work even without page-long sentences. I prayed for a gun-fight or a shoving match or even an interesting conversation, of which none of the characters then seemed capable, for relief.

Why did I persist? For the reasons I mentioned, but others, too. For one thing, the writing is too good to give up on. Proust is an obvious example of what Raymond Chandler called "writers who write writing," and I prefer the kind who write stories, but Proust’s style is impressive even when it is barely readable. And over the years I’ve figured something out: when someone writes that well, you may be sure he has something bigger up his sleeve than style. I got a hint of this even before the famous madeleine scene, when Proust unloosens the carefully weaving of his first childhood scene:
Many years have passed since that night. The wall of the staircase, up which I had watched the light of [my father’s] candle gradually climb, was long ago demolished. And in myself, too, many things have perished which, I imagined, would last for ever, and new structures have arisen, giving birth to new sorrows and new joys which in those days I could not have foreseen, just as now the old are difficult of comprehension. It is a long time, too, since my father has been able to tell Mamma to "Go with the child." Never again will such hours be possible for me. But of late I have been increasingly able to catch, if I listen attentively, the sound of the sobs which I had the strength to control in my father's presence, and which broke out only when I found myself alone with Mamma. Actually, their echo has never ceased: it is only because life is now growing more and more quiet round about me that I hear them afresh, like those convent bells which are so effectively drowned during the day by the noises of the streets that one would suppose them to have been stopped for ever, until they sound out again through the silent evening air.
Maybe it has to do with my own stage of life, or of the place I was when I read this, but at the moment of my reading it the world in which I lived briefly stood still and then went in motion again.

So I kept going, and found after a while that Proust’s prismatic rendering of events had a purpose. Nabokov explains it all very well, but even without the technical advice a reader can, if he decides to, get comfortable with Proust’s method and lose at least some of his impatience, so that he can walk through each stretched-out moment, and examine each impacted metaphor, and begin to see things Proust’s way.

I guess it is possible that, by the time I got to the romantic agony of M. Swann, and then to the minature version suffered by Marcel, I would still have have felt those shivers of recognition, even without the long premonition that is the rest of the book. How can I know? "Who, indeed, can say whether, in the event of his having gone, that evening, somewhere else, other happinesses, other griefs would not have come to him, which, later, would have appeared to have been inevitable?" But I am grateful to have been taken there. And now I can say I read it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

POST NON COITUM, ANIMAL NUTS. The morning after Valentine's Day at The Corner, we see what their orgy of antisex hath wrought. K-Pro tenderly cuckoo-calls, "MY VALENTINE'S DAY REGRET is that I don't know anyone who attended a Boston Legal Viewing Party," provoking a too-wit too-woo from a reader:
This is some sort of joke, right? Is this like the sad people who think Emilio Estavez's dad is president? Or are these "viewing parties" common in the big coastal blue cities? The closest thing we have to viewing parties in these parts are frantic telephone calls to make sure our friends and family are watching Brit Hume's ritual Sunday morning disembowelment of Juan Williams.
I thought the viewing party was mildly silly (y'all know what I think about "Boston Legal"), but if someone woke me up on Sunday morning to admire Hume's giant head, I'd seriously reconsider my alliances.

Later K-Pro worries about "Willie Nelson's gay cowboy song." (Her headline is genuinely witty, which shows how rattled she must have been at that point.)

The others are looking at softcore porn -- some favor Michelle Malkin, but an unclothed, flour-encrusted Scarlett Johannson captivates Stephen Spruiell. K-Pro counters huffily, "Am I the only one in here who thinks Red Eye star Rachel McAdams is cool for saying 'no' to the cover shoot?" and adds -- rather superfluously, we hard-to-get players judge -- "As an aside, Cillian Murphy is a dead ringer for Media Blogger Stephen Spruiell," and then (de trop, Mme. K-Pro!), pulls in by the sleeve a reader who has found McAdams' tits somewhere (one is reminded of Nathanael West: "[Doyle] tried, rather diffidently, to leer").

Spruiell's response cannot have emboldened K-Pro: "I do think it's a good thing McAdams declined to appear on the VF cover with Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightly. That would have prevented me from getting any work done today." Here we draw a courteous curtain on K-Pro, though we are put in mind of Tracy Turnblad, rebuffed in an early reel of Hairspray.

Andy McCarthy expresses an interest in bars now that women are drinking more.

I don't know what happened to Goldberg last night, but he's going on about credit card readers in soda machines and trying to tie Dick Cheney to Rock 'n' Roll High School. Well, at least he's got that dog.

Cheney is on many minds; Derbyshire seems to think his man-shooting a good thing: "It was not likely, as in the movie, an excess of competitive zeal. And if it was, who on our side would mind? We want our politicians to be full of competitive zeal."

Elsewhere at NRO, eminence grease William F. Buckley suggests that Hamas be "castrated."

The rest of us were happy with candy, flowers, and consensual sex.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

HAVE A RIGHT-WING VALENTINE'S DAY! National Review comforts its dateless readers by making the prospect of sex undesirable.

K-Pro interviews a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League named Jennifer Roback Morse. The comrade has written a dating guide, and you can guess the perspective. "Recreational" sex is bad because "when sex is a recreational activity, my partner becomes a consumer good." Apparently, when Morse engages in recreational activities with friends -- like bowling, say, or frisbee -- she loses all respect for them. She doesn't sound like a fun date, with or without jelly roll.

I suppose all we really need is the money quote:
And make no mistake about it: men do sometimes go over the line and become obsessively jealous, even dangerously jealous. But, one thing is for sure. A woman knows that she matters to a guy who gets jealous.
But connoisseurs will enjoy some of the fine points. For example, the author maintains that "The Left hates sex," though we lefties are "hyper-active about sexual activity" (i.e., have lots of it). Does this seem counter-intuitive or, to use the older word, nuts? Well, it's a female right-wing sex scarapist's prerogative to change her mind: we actually hate sex because we're after something she calls "gender equality," which she doesn't define but scorns on the grounds that the sexes "can never be made fully equal. This is one of the most basic biological facts of our species. You'd think our modern scientific age could accept this."

The only smart sex, Morse concludes, is married sex, so all you single conservative guys enjoy your $100 dinner tab and peck on the cheek!

Oh, but wait, it gets worse. K-Pro actually asks some of her close personal inmates for "conservative love stories," and before you can say, "huh?" we get Myrna Bluth saying John and Abigail Adams' love was right-wing because they were apart so often they seldom had sex, and Christine Rosen saying Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon's love was right-wing because he exiled her and they never had sex again, and Danielle Crittenden saying Pride and Prejudice is right-wing because there's no sex in it, which makes her mouth "go dry"... one begins to detect a pattern.

Well, now at least when people ask me why I'm a liberal, I'll know what to tell them.

Movies are so crass. I much prefer the wholesome, intellectual stimulation of a good video game.

(Happy Valentine's Day to Mrs. Lileks, poor woman.)

Maybe I should take a cue from Amblongus, who suggested in comments that conservatives will soon go beyond reviewing movies they haven't seen, and start reviewing movies that don't exist.

Let's preemptively digest the weekly Lileks!

WEDNESDAY: You ever notice that liberals like to say they "support" classical music, whereas I actually appear on stage at young peoples' concerts? You don't see too many grotesquely overweight Michigan filmmakers in tie-died shirts wearing giant NO BLOOD FOR OIL buttons doing that, my friends! In I Died a Thousand Times Jack Palance has a head like a rock.

THURSDAY: Of course Frank Miller agreed to have Batman fight Al Qaeda. You can just imagine Miller in his split-level home; adoring dog at his feet, adorable little girl on his lap; he's studying an old matchbook and thinking, Islamaliberals would take this all away from me; get me the pen; play some Nick Cave! And his little girl stretches to kiss his massive, shiny forehead.

FRIDAY: You know, the people who are all over Bush's case for strangling that butler are the same people who gave Dick Cheney a hard time last weekend. 'Twas ever thus: Play a little buckshot tag with a buddy, and the anti-violence people (who are actually the ones who are really violent, and I'm talking about their facial expressions as described by me) will take you to their secret torture chambers, figuratively speaking. They'll try the same thing on Bushitler McChimphitlerspittleMoveOn; again they'll fail. I found an old matchbook that has a picture of an old building on it.

Wow, that was liberating.

UPDATE. I may have misjudged Jimbo. He has graciously linked to this post, and not even most of the readers drawn from his world to mine are abusive in comments -- at least so far. My. (Pause to observe a vast horde of souls tumbling toward heaven.)

Okay, group hug over. Everybody back on your heads!

UPDATE 2. OK, some of them are abusing my hospitality. Here is a typical exchange:
"Sir, you are an ant waving his antennae fiercely at a lion."

"Oh yeah? Well, fuck you."
I could delete 'em, but that's a punk-ass move, so I'll just get my Islamofascist buddies to go lean on their way of life.

Monday, February 13, 2006

STILL ONE OF OURS. The Ole Perfesser does his bit for comity, using the recent Coulter affair as a stick to beat "lefties," whom he terms angry, theatrical, prejudiced against white people ("The lefties seem mostly upset about her use of the term 'raghead,' which is racist and offensive, but more or less akin to the term 'cracker,' which doesn't seem to bother a lot of lefties"), and tending to spit on outstretched hands, none of which, it is obvious, belongs to the Perfesser.

Ditto Michelle Malkin. After allowing as how "Ann says many deliberately provocative things," Malkin laces into "smug," "in denial" liberals, and insists "we don't need your prodding."

This approach seems to work for other subjects, too. Dick Cheney shooting a guy is either "a wash or a slight bump up for the administration," says Andy McCarthy at The Corner. "Why? Because the media and the most partisan Democrats can always be relied on to turn opportunity into damage... transparently partisan hyperbole... compare Clinton and Cheney... Dem bomb-throwers etc."

Also at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg brags that conservatives are quite capable of criticizing their own. As well they might be, because at the end of the day even when conservatives err they are still innocent of liberalism, and that is really all that matters.
A VERY MODEST PROPOSAL. "We'd call the words 'United Nations Commission on Human Rights' an oxymoron, but that would be too kind... it's time to create an alternative. The United States should lead efforts to found a new institution devoted to the protection of human rights, and involving eligibility requirements that would limit member states to genuine liberal democracies." -- National Review editorial, February 13, 2006.

The American Organization for International Human Rights and Responsibilities suffered another setback today as it was rebuffed in an attempt to file suit at the International Court of Justice in Den Hague. The Court’s Clerk informed the delegation that it had no standing to sue "The Universities of the World" for "failing to sufficiently diversify" their faculties with conservative professors, as the AOIHRR does not represent any sovereign State.

The delegation briefly demonstrated outside the Court, crying "Shut it down" and singing Twisted Sister’s "We’re Not Gonna Take It," before adjourning for lunch.

Since its inception in 2006, the AOIHRR has failed to attract international support despite lavish funding from Richard Scaife, the Forbes Foundation, and the Unification Church.

After an initial flurry of interest, including an offer from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to house the Organization "in one of my villas," the AOIHRR lost much of its public support when it became clear that no nations would sign its Charter or send delegates to its frequent "special sessions."

The Organization had high hopes that the government of Iraq would sign on, and spent much of its budget on "incentives" lavishly distributed in Baghdad. But each introduction of a membership bill to the Iraqi Parliament has been thwarted by procedural objections, fistfights, or gunfire.

AOIHRR Secretary-General Michael Ledeen’s announced strategy of "using the power of blogs to shame Western nations into compliance" appears to have been entirely unsuccessful, and even the website Instapundit recently removed its "I’m the AOIHRR" banner without comment.

Many observers say the last straw for the Organization’s hopes was its disastrous "Global Gun Court," held last month in Phoenix, Arizona to prosecute nations whose gun laws the AOIHRR found insufficiently lax. The boisterous event, to which none of 325 named "defendents" sent a representative, was broken up in its second day by local police, who confiscated a large weapons cache. AOIHRR Self-Defense Commissioner John Lott, Jr., is still awaiting trial on charges of inciting a riot, and Phoenix has refused to acknowledge Lott’s claim of diplomatic immunity.

After the Den Hague incident, Ledeen was unavailable for comment, but at the delegates’ luncheon Special Deputy Jonah Goldberg proclaimed that "you can’t break an omelette without laying a few eggs" before initiating a food fight.
CONSERVATIVES REVIEWING MOVIES THEY HAVEN'T SEEN IS THE NEW BLACK. Roger L. Simon explains what's wrong with Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, based on his own ignorance ("I haven't seen Brooks' film") and the talking points of the day ("traditional Hollywood libs like Brooks don't seem to have the guts for satire anymore... The Brooks crowd [all of them] are more worried about seeming 'nice' these days then telling the truth"). Oh, and on "reviews," though if Simon really put such faith in critics, he'd have blown his brains out after Scenes from a Mall.

These guys are getting so used to reviewing movies by their trailers and posters -- and sometimes just by what their ideology demands -- that I wonder if they go to movies at all anymore. Why bother, when the Politburo will tell them what is good and double-plus-ungood?

It gets clearer all the time that culture warriors are actually making war on culture, not for it.
I CALL FOR LILEKS' ASSASSINATION! But I'm doing it with my "usual acidic sarcasm," so you really can't get upset about it.

BTW, does anyone know what the fuck that poolhall story meant? That it's okay to call someone a nigger and run over him in your car, so long as you're pretty sure you'd take him to a hospital afterward?

Friday, February 10, 2006

WORLDS APART. I could have easily dismissed this Althouse schtick with a Shorter. It is classic psuedo-moderate malarkey in the manner of Roger L. Simon and Michael Totten, etc, and follows their formula explicitly:
  • standard "I'm a moderate" assertion;
  • highly negative characterization of liberals ("looking for heretics," "curl up with your little group of insiders");
  • unflattering comparison of liberals to conservatives, who "perceive me as a potential ally";
  • several reader quotes about what deluded totalitarians liberals are (and comments which endlessly reiterate this theme);
  • mild qualifying statement ("I don't think all the irrational blogging is on the left"), for cover;
  • "I find it terribly, terribly sad."
This is such an obvious fraud it hardly bears examination, but Althouse did say one thing to which I am strongly motivated to respond:
What I've noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side. Why is this happening?
I can speak only for myself. And I will speak as if her comments were directed specifically at me, because one of my New Year's resolutions was to be more egotistical.

Yes, rather than to link to a bunch of people who agree with me, I choose to mock those who maladroitly disagree with me.

The main reason is: it's fun. Don't forget, I'm doing this for free, and there has to be some percentage in it. Ditto for my readers.

I don't see the harm. I am not picking on retards or children here, but grown men and women (some with teaching positions at major universities!) who have offered their thoughts for public delectation in a medium that is widely advertised as "self-correcting."

But Althouse seems to think this is a bad thing. Her argument is that I and others like me should be "engaging" her, with a view toward changing her mind, as if this were a romantic comedy in which she plays the lonely heiress who needs the touch of a real man's intellectual argumentation.

I think she seriously mistakes my mission. I'm not trying to engage, convince, or convert anybody. I figure I'm talking to adults and if they're vacant enough to be swayed politically by a fucking blogger, they're probably not bright enough to get my jokes.

Though I have political beliefs, I'm not a political operative. I'm closer to a satirist. There's less Howard Dean than Dean Swift in me.

I don't write to change the world, but to create one on the page. I write for my own pleasure and illumination, and invite whosoever might also enjoy to come read it. I may not have the largest constituency on the web, but they're a smart bunch and more fun to hear from in comments than a bunch of PoliSci nerds (even the ones who are, technically, PoliSci nerds).

Althouse's misconception about my mission may have to do with the way she looks at the blogosphere, or, more to the point, what her experience has led to her to believe about it. She has been made famous within this tiny world by the linkage and adulation of other pioneer conservative bloggers. Hence, she sees the blog world as a social circle, and writes the way a hostess makes conversation: as a way to keep the party going.

Whereas for me writing is not primarily a social act -- though it sometimes becomes one, usually most circuitously, in the almost grudging, semi-conscious hunt for an audience.

If you don't like that sort of thing, well, then stick with your daisy chains. We who have free souls, it touches us not.

UPDATE. Professor Althouse seems to have read some other writer and attributed his or her sentiments to me. I used to think her misreadings were deliberate, but I now realize I was just chivalrously inflating my estimate of her intelligence.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS. I don't have much to offer about the Grammys, other than an endorsement of Sly's decision to walk off the stage (fuck Rick James, he's Sly Stone, bitch!) in the middle of that god-awful, caterwauling, alleged "tribute" to his music, and a reiteration: corporate rock still sucks.

For in-depth analysis you can go to The Corner, where K-Pro shows a picture of some geezer apparently too drunk to lift the skirt of an overweight boudoir-photography customer before trying to eat her out, which KP considers "a pro-life moment." (She also thinks AP's sympathetic treatment of Mariah Carey proves that "their bias isn't just on politics!" while Tim Graham emits a comment on Barack Obama's grammy, and two minutes later returns to sniff it again.)

I imagine a room full of industrial safety wonks sitting around watching the Grammys and saying things like, "That Mariah Carey is a real Level Two!"

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

WHEN YOU THINK YOU'VE LOST EVERYTHING, YOU FIND OUT YOU CAN ALWAYS LOSE A LITTLE MORE.While I was off looking at softcore pornography, the Corner managed to get even stupider:
MOVIE BLEG [Bill Bennett]:
Has anyone seen, does anyone know of, a movie depicting the war we are in now, the fight against the barbarians? We've had movies about the first Gulf war, and a morally ambiguous fiction about something or somewhere called Syriana -- but anything about our over-four- year- old fight for civilization against the Islamist barbarians, based on fact? Anything? Anyone?
It sounds like something out of one of those Corner parodies.

Why doesn't he just go to the video store?

VIDEO STORE CLERK: Can I help you?

BENNETT: (with great seriousness) Yes. Do you have any films about the war we are in now, the fight against the barbarians?

VIDEO STORE CLERK: Uh, do you mean, like, the war in Iraq?

BENNETT: Yes! Yes!

VIDEO STORE CLERK: Sure. Fahrenheit 911.

BENNETT: (shoulders up around his ears) Saints preserve us! (runs out of the store, screaming)

VIDEO STORE CLERK: It's a living! (canned laughter)
NOW, BACK TO THE IMPORTANT SUBJECTS. Xan Brooks is amusing, and onto something, concerning the new Vanity Fair cover:
...therein lies the problem with this Vanity Fair fleshpot. It is neither arousing enough to sate the masturbators, nor artistic enough to appeal to the aesthetes.
As a masturbator and an aesthete, I say hear, hear! I was eager, not to say anxious, to get a load of Scarlett Johansson naked, if only to establish a more vivid mise en scene for that play I've had running in my head since I was 13, Even Though I'm A Beautiful Movie Star I Can't Keep My Hands Off Roy Edroso. (The production has undergone some changes over the years -- when it opened it was a wispy, sensitive bildungsromance, but now it has more of a Bukowski feel, and certainly more cursing -- and some of America's top starlets have done their best work in the lead role.)

Alas, Ms. Johansson appears to have been made up for the shoot with pastry flour, and to be posing for a Hummel figurine. That such a beautiful woman, unclothed yet, could be made to look unsexy! Now I'll have to recast Even Though I'm A Movie Star... with one of those women I brush up against on the subway.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

HE'S JUST SAYING WHAT WE'RE ALL NOT THINKING! I rool. While other blogs just yapped, growled, and heh-indeeded about Mohammedian censorship, I gave the cartoonophobes something to jihad about.

Yet thanks to their Good Old Blog network connections, those fake freedom fighters still get all the attention, while I labor here in obscurity -- probably a good thing, as my fatwa has come through: "Oh, a wise guy?" wrote one Latrell X in a note that came covered in white powder (which our lab has determined to be Desenex); "Why, I oughta..." Here the note ominously trails off.

Ah well; this story, like all blogospheric proclamations of Clash of Civ endtimes, will not last long. Soon the self-soothing that'll-show-those-Europeans gurglings will lull their authors into the next news cycle, which I understand is all about tapping phone calls made between the U.S. and Batavia, New York.

But there is no soothing (self- or otherwise) our old friend Twelve-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters, who, while giving the back of his hand to maniacal Muslims, plants his bayonet in the belly of the real beast -- European godlessness!
The Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons last September was not standing up courageously for freedom of expression. The editors and cartoonists were so oblivious to any reality beyond their Copenhagen coffee bars that they just thought they were pulling an attention-getting prank.

They got attention, all right. As did the papers elsewhere in Europe that reprinted the offending cartoons last week. In the name of press freedom, of course.

The problem is that with freedom comes responsibility, a quality to which Europe's become allergic (nothing is ever a European's fault). Breaking a well-known taboo of Islam was irresponsible. No other word for it.
One of the things we love about the General is his tendency to sprint -- usually naked, frothing, and waving his pearl-handled pistol -- off the reservation: while the Malkins of the world have to make believe (thanks, I believe, to some ancient treaty with the glibertarians) that they care about freedom and stuff, the General just hears the word "Yurrup" and visions of limp-wristed espresso-drinkers start bonking around inside his helmet.

And you know what his problem with these here Yurrupeans is? Not just that they're a little light in the Birkenstocks -- but that they ain't got God ("Today's Europeans consider religious belief as beneath their sophistication"). And without God, you can't have the sort of war the General's been practicing his whole life for: a total, orgiastic, scimitar-versus-bunkerbuster, real rain that'll wash all the scum off the streets.

This is partly why, after a long fun run with the General, I don't quote him so much anymore. He has no agenda other than his own madness, while the usual targets of our wrath are more calculating and dishonest. You will see their freedom flags dip, as their "Support Denmark" flags have already started to do, once we go back to talking about American citizens again. The General, bless him, never shifts tactics.

UPDATE. If you get tired of brainless wreckers like me, one of the very, very few intelligent discussions of this subject is at Sisyphus Shrugged.

Monday, February 06, 2006

THE RETURN OF MICHAEL TOTTEN'S "PROTEST BABES"! The Cedar Revolution continues! I swear to you, there are a couple of real lookers just out of frame here:

OK, I'm kidding. Totten doesn't like Lebanese riots over those Danish Mohammed cartoons and neither do it. In fact, I dislike them so much that I will show solidarity with the forces of free speech by publishing in this very blog my own cartoon of Mohammed waving "hi" to his fans:

I am told it was the bare fact of the Prophet's pictoral representation that stirred the Islamic nuts' wrath, so it should not matter that my Mohammed is not doing anything sinister (or that I can't draw hands, or much of anything else) -- I am one with my Danish comrades in breaking a taboo. That makes me "politically incorrect," the highest accolade in the rightwing vocabulary. God, I feel brave -- every bit as brave as a Fightin' Keyboarder mouthing off about Brokeback Mountain!

I invite these idiots to stop blaming the cartoon controversy on liberal professors, and to cheer my courage. And -- using their own infallible logic -- if they fail to do so, it proves they are objectively pro-censorship!

This blog thing is ever so much more fun than the real world. P.S. Censorship sucks. Just mentioning it on the very odd chance that you didn't realize that's what we all think.

UPDATE. Readers are not impressed with my blasphemy. "I would not give even a paper cut to your neck," writes Mr. I. Kabibble. "Your death can wait until the coming holocaust." So I have upped the ante by amending my drawing so that it shows Mohammed smoking a cigarette:

I also decided that his hand is turned in that bizarre way because he is dancing, which I'm sure must be very offensive. I probably won't make it to nightfall! Give my love to the Danes, especially Claire.

UPDATE 2. Hey, apparently I love freedom more than Condi "for President" Rice. This encourages me to kick it up a notch: Since, hours after my original entry, I have not received any credible death threats, I will try acting all Danish to see if that's the "X" factor in this case.

How does one act all Danish? I dunno, but aren't they almost the same thing as Swedish? I'm just do my John Qualen impression: Heurney fleurny heurney! Heurney fleurny heurney! Oh, Ethan -- Mohammed's he don't a-smell too good, py Yimminy! Heurney fleurny!

UPDATE 3. Nothing from the Islamofascists, but I did hear from one guy who claimed he was going to replace all my furniture with plain, blond wood modular units.

Stephen Green fantasizes that Hollywood will help him make fun of Muslims. Of course, Green makes fun of Hollywood at the same time, so there is little chance that "the writing staff of Will & Grace" will be rushing to join his jihad anytime soon. So he's stuck with Citizen Satirists like me! C'mon, Steve, let's see if we can't git-r-done:

Hyuk hyuk. "Mr. Egyptian, yer a goddamn liar!" We don't need us no arty-farties nohow. Hell, we can animate this and put it in the Liberty Film Festival!

Whoops, here come my assassins. Gotta run!

Friday, February 03, 2006

DUMP YOUR PAJAMAS MEDIA STOCK! I'm no kind of financial reporter, but I do notice the Ole Perfesser pitching to Craigslist:
Perhaps Craigslist should consider a local-franchise model that would incorporate local news content, something that -- as far as I know -- they're not doing. That would still kill off a lot of local weeklies that are nothing but vehicles for classified ads now, but so what? They're doomed anyway. At least it might add something.
Of course, when the Perfesser says "local-franchise model," it's like when he says "Libertarian" -- window-dressing to get the rubes on board for what he's actually selling. And that's the value-add we're all looking for in a classified-ad service: right-wing political bullshit. If this were a good idea, surely Buy-Lines would have picked up Ed Anger's column by now.

I haven't heretofore spoken to the issue of Pajamas Media because why would I: it's a bunch of crappy writers ganged up to exponentiate their crappiness. Their claim to fame is that they're all pioneers in one of the Century's first big fads -- as if there were some merit in being the new Shipwreck Kelly. Smart guys like the Perfesser are hedging their bets by exploiting their notoriety to sell old-fashioned dead-tree products; others will be absorbed into the Republican journalism machine; most, alas, will wind up haunting gin mills and blind tigers, occasionally puffing out their chests and crying Don't you know who I am? Try Googling DeathtoLiberalsWI59, mortal!

Eventually I'm sure the franchise will be bought by Murdoch or Moon or some such, festooned with Page Six "protest babes," and trawled downmarket. Whether that will be counted a victory for blogism in general or PJM is particular, I neither know nor care; among the vanities, this doesn't even rank with the crackling of thorns under the pot.

Still, it is interesting to see the Perfesser pushing it at people like Craig Newmark, especially given what Newmark wrote on Wednesday:
PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM IS A BIG DEAL: Looks like I can't say this enough, since it's forgotten in both the excitement for citizen journalism and the stress of competition.

Professional journalism involves high standards of writing, fact checking, editing, and research.

Journalism ethics includes "separation of church and state", figuratively meaning that marketing and financial concerns are separate from editorial matters and reporting.

Professional news organizations recognize that we all have freedom of choice when it comes to selecting what news operations, etc., that serve the community best.

A special tip of the hat to the San Francisco Chronicle, which has greatly impressed me with its adherence to ethical standards. thanks!
High standards! Fact checking! Separation of church and state (even as a metaphor)! The doubleplusungood San Francisco Chronicle! Looks like a very bad fit for PJM.

Next stop: Maxim online, for whom the Perfesser can review gadgets.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

NOW HERE'S A MAKEOVER I CAN GET BEHIND. From the Washington Post today:

Maybe Will prayed, "Give me lips, God -- I don't care what it takes!"
SHORTER JEFF GOLDSTEIN: You pathetic liberal jerks, I was joking when I said cuff Sheehan to a radiator! You just can't perceive my strenuous and sophisticated humor, you stupid -- hey! I said I was joking! You must have very tight assholes because you are not laughing at my jokes, idiots! Etc.
SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY: I am tired of being a wall-flower. I go to be young with the young! Everybody: The Democrats are unhinged! The Dem-- what's that? You need proof of my loyalty? I must denounce Wendy Wasserstein? B-but wait -- I can imply she was right-wing, then there'll be no need... Oh. I'm sorry, comrade: yes, I meant prove she was right-wing.
EASY MONEY. As we have previously observed, conservative culture cops have gotten comfy reviewing films they haven't even seen, so why shouldn't National Review's John J. Miller pick up an easy extra buck at OpinionJournal reviewing the unreleased Curious George movie?

He actually does okay for a while, poking around the famed monkey's biographical data, but Miller knows he has to get to the right-wing money shot sometime, so about halfway down he tells us that "the first book (Curious George) violates our modern codes of political correctness," implying that the film, being a product of Hollyweird, has corrrr-rected that. And those trained to heed the PC dog-whistle lean forward, expecting news of some absurd liberal whitewash.

But Miller reports that, based on his close reading of the movie's trailer, while the original Man in the Yellow Hat was "a gun-toting poacher" who kidnapped George from his African home, he is now "an unarmed naturalist." Also, movie George does not smoke and drink, as did first-book George.

At this point even conservative parents are probably scratching their heads, thinking, Gee, we hates us some goddamn librul PC, but do we really want little Ayn and Whittaker to admire poachers and a cute little monkey who smokes and drinks? It is a children's movie, after all.

"Perhaps these revisions are an acceptable bowdlerization," admits Miller. Realizing with horror that he has hundreds of words to go, he casts about for ways to hurl George at liberal heads. The best he can do is, "Today's Hollywood probably would be more comfortable making the Man in the Yellow Hat an out-and-proud homosexual than an exploiter of the animal kingdom," before concluding that Hollywood shouldn't fool around too much with the classics. How I wish I could show this garbage to the ghosts of Hazlitt and Dryden, and then, after they had stopped whirling and asking God why they had been flung into Hell, arm them with billy clubs (or, failing that, pen and ink), so they could express to Miller their feelings about the perversions he has performed on the art of criticism.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

THE SLEEP OF REASON BREEDS BULLSHIT. It's fascinating to watch the birth of an idea, even a competely retarded one. In the American Spectator, Mark Gauvreau Judge posits such a thing as "metrocons," well-read conservatives who disdain rowdy entertainments such as muscle-car rallies.

Folks who share my unhealthy fascination with this sort of nonsense will recall that, in the 90s, Judge was pushing swing-dancing as a conservative credential, and when mass Lindy Hopping did not break out all across America, he retreated to the usual tired culture-war crap for his living, till this new, Gestaltifying idea came upon him.

His fellow derechos are not, so far, having it, to judge by these responses. But I give them no credit for that, because they argue against the metrocon idea for a variety of countervailing doctrinal and political reasons, rather than dismissing it outright as bullshit, or whatever word Father Neuhaus uses instead of "bullshit."

By bullshit I mean, in this instance, that the idea is produced, not by the logic of the true student of human nature, or even of the sociologist, but of the marketing consultant. Like the promoters of Crunchy and South Park variants of conservatism, Judge is just looking for an angle that will make his name in the psuedo-science of conservative taxonomy. It offers nothing to stimulate serious thinking or political action; it is the apotheosis of the old saw, "The personal is the political" -- an adage formulated years ago on the Left, but lately adopted whole-heartedly by the Right.

Judge's concept is not worth even such discussion as I have given it here, but it is genuinely interesting to see how far such useless ideas as his can get in the current environment; The New Criterion deigning to discuss metroconservatism is like the Pope issuing a Bull on the selection of American Idol winners.

We have all seen what happens to some people who enjoy great success without doing anything to merit it: very few of them can simply relax and enjoy their good fortune; they crack up their Ferraris, they descend into drug addiction, they take up Scientology or some other crackpot creed to explain to themselves that there is no giant foot trying to squash them. Conservatives got a big Lotto jackpot with the War on Terror, and have since been laying about the mansion, engaging in increasing dorm-like bull sessions, inventing ever more sophisticated sophistries -- shrinking government while their Congressmen and contributors plunder the Treasury, converting Arabs by blowing them up, and so forth.

Next I suppose they'll be inventing conservative haircuts and ways of wearing their breeches. And after that -- well, we all know how that goes.