Friday, June 30, 2006

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT AMERICA. As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, I guess it's a good time for us traitors to think about what might constitute a good American holiday.

LOCATION. Any public place where barbecue is on offer. Up hereabouts it's infernally hard to get good barbecue, so I'm not as interested in the quality of the meat as I am in the quality of the scene. Are the people happy? Does the searing smell of Meat-is-murder increase their happiness? Is the band playing, are hearts light, are men laughing, do children shout?

The residents of the Drug House down the block (magnet for loudly talkative men in oversize basketball jerseys, broken front door, throbbing car stereo) sometimes roll out a Weber and grill chicken parts and dogs on the sidewalk, but I doubt I will be invited. I have other offers cooking, so to speak. But if they fall through, I will be content to see the folks gathered at the north end of McCarren Park, coolers stocked and opened, family-size-paks opened on blankets, grillin' like a villain and enjoying the sunshine and the blessings of liberty.

MOVIES. The 'plexes will be busy. I may choose to enjoy Young Mr. Lincoln alone so that no one can see me cry. It's just about my favorite movie, certainly the best on American themes. It is set in the interval between Lincoln's early political failure and his apotheosis, when the young man was trying to make his way as a country lawyer and thinking about life, and it is riddled with historical foreshadowing of the baldest sort. The plot has Lincoln working on a murder case involving two brothers (whose Maw, a witness, won't finger one or t'other; "it'd be like choosing between 'em"). At one point Lincoln rides along on a mule and plays a new tune on his Jew's-harp that his companion says "kinda makes you feel like marchin'"; the tune is "Dixie." He meets Stephen Douglas ("Mr. Lincoln, I trust I shall never make the mistake of underestimating you again") and Mary Todd ("You said you wanted to dance with me in the worst possible way, and that is exactly what you have done"). And at the end he walks to "the top of that hill" where a storm is beginning to rage.

This is the romantic, Sandburgian Lincoln who regards his fellow countrymen with love but also with a very large grain of salt. He suspiciously bites a coin offered for his services, and foils a lynching by offering violence ("I can lick any man here!") and then eloquence ("Don't want t' put that log down, boys? Ain't it gettin' kinda heavy?"). He stands among but not of them, deliberating loftily but folksily over a country fair bakeoff as he would in the time of Civil War. It is easy to forget that this was not always the settled view of the Railsplitter; The American Mercury had earlier published a very good essay defending Douglas' view of federalism against Lincoln's (I have lost my copy but I believe it was written by Stephen Vincent Benet, who also wrote the 1930 Griffith sound film of Lincoln's life). We know Ford was interested in legends, though (see truth, legend, Liberty Valance); we know, from The Informer (and maybe from The Whole Town's Talking and Judge Priest), what Ford thought about justice; and we know it was 1939. If there was ever a confluence that might encourage a filmmaker to say what he thought America was, that was it.

Or I may watch JFK. It's utterly ridiculous. ("Daddy, are they going to kill us like they killed President Kennedy?") But who but a patriot could have made it?

MUSIC. I wish I had the Bear Records compilation of Uncle Dave Macon. As it is I'll have to make do with some tapes. We played an Uncle Dave tune in an old band of mine: "Go 'long Mule, don't you roll them eyes/y'kin change a fool, but a doggone mule is a mule until he dies." He was the shit. This is from Shelton and Goldblatt's The Country Music Story, a horribly compromised official telling but no less interesting for it:
David Macon was born in Cannon County, Tennessee, in the township of Smart Station on October 7, 1870. He was of a large family of prosperous farmers who moved, when he was still young, to open a hotel on Broad Street in Nashville. It was here that Uncle Dave was bitten by the virus of show business... According to [Judge] Hay, it was not until Macon was forty-eight years old (which would be in 1918) that he left his farm and decided to become a professional musician...

Cousin Minnie Pearl recalled the "Opry" tent shows with Uncle Dave during World War II. "Uncle Dave used to carry a black satchel with him on those tours. In it was a pillow, a nightcap, a bottle of Jack Daniels [Tennessee Sour Mash bourbon] and a checkered bib. He was quite a ladies' man, which proved to me that some men never believe themselves to be irresistible, no matter how old they are..."
And how. Get a load of Uncle Dave. But he had something for the folks and maybe the ladies too: Old Judge Hay said that when Uncle Dave came onstage, "we moved the microphone back so he had plenty of room to kick." He certainly sounds like he was kicking. In the stuff I've got, he croons/gargles the verses, but when the choruses come in (usually accompanied by what sounds like an old Confederate regiment), he roars and wails like there was no such thing as electricity.

You may wonder what a city boy like me loves about country music. It's simple... oh, were you waiting for an answer? Because that was it. Of course, being a stuck-up type, I prefer old men hollering into gramophone horns to the new breed, but improvements in technology and costuming don't necessarily mean that nobody feels what Uncle Dave felt anymore. When Anna Nalick sings "Breathe," for example, I think she has it: under that awful Mariah Carey melisma I hear that old Patsy Cline plaint. It's a pissy modern recording, but I don't care: she's there. At this moment there are hundreds of singers, most of them playing in the most bought-off formats you can imagine, in a bar or a wedding band, opening up and letting something out. If that ain't country, Tejano, blues, rock 'n' roll, dancehall, emo, etc., etc., etc., I'll kiss your ass.

I might also find time for Neil Young's Hawks and Doves, which just sounds better and better every year: "Got people here down on their knees and prayin'/Hawks and doves are circlin' in the rain/Got rock 'n' roll, got country music playin'/If you hate us, you just don't know what you're sayin'/Ready to go, willin' to stay and pay/ (big, fat minor chord) Yew-ess-AAAAY! Yew-ess-AAAAY!..."

READING. "The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man..." -- T.J.

On our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor, dudes: rock over London, rock on Chicago. Thy banners make tyranny tremble when borne by the red, hot, and blue.

UPDATE. Tad Gallagher has a lovely and deeper reading than mine of Young Mr. Lincoln. His is also a more manichean reading of Lincoln's morality. But if Abe is "not above a bit of dissimulation, cheating or force to get things done," as Gallagher says, I can't see that his visual connections to the infinite (mainly via the river) are as binding as Gallagher makes them. Ford's Lincoln is certainly attuned to the elements (like the new moon that reveals Jack Cass' lie), but that doesn't make him Nature Boy: it just makes him a more complete human being than his adversaries, who are mainly about social connections. Ford, like countless authors before him, created a balanced hero who could upend his unbalanced adversaries. He was not about destiny (though he was equipped, at the end, to face it) but about common sense.
TWO CAN PLAY AT THAT GAME, SCARY WEB LADY! "Democrats do tend to be less patriotic than Republicans. There, I've said it out loud," writes veteran right-wing harpy Mona Charen. Her conclusion is based on an American Enterprise Institute aggregation of polls which asked, "If you had the opportunity to leave the United States and live permanently in another country, would you take it?" and got more yesses from Dems than from Reps.

Charen probably missed the second part of the report, in which several American corporations were asked, "If you had the opportunity to take your plants out of the United States and put them permanently in another country, would you take it?" The answers might surprise her!

But I understand the relocation-friendly Democrats' responses. For one thing, Democrats tend to be aware that countries such as France offer their residents months of vacation time, great food and wine, and a functional civic life. As long as we're being hypothetical, what sensible person would not be tempted into exile by that? If it's good enough for Tom Paine, it's good enough for us. (Now if only we could get such a paternalistic government to adopt us! Yet these Londonistaners have surprisingly rigorous standards. Maybe if I walked around Heathrow screaming for jihad, Ken Livingstone would eventually invite me round for a pint.)

Republicans, on the other hand, by and large believe that everywhere outside America is a vast Islamofascist darkness where beer is served warm, and people go to plays that do not contain music by The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons. Also, they probably wouldn't dare say out loud that they'd ever move out of the good old U.S. of A. Who knows who that pollster really works for? Mawmaw din't raise no fool!

Fear and stupidity are often confused with patriotism. I assert that there is a difference. But why should you believe me? I have watched many a subtitled film, and drunk many a Dago Red. I am obviously soft on self-emigration, and one to watch.
WHO NEEDS CENSORS? WE'LL DO IT OURSELVES! The latest rightwing fashion trend is slurring liberals by saying they're just like conservatives -- dead conservatives, that is, whose other uses are past. As seen here previously, Miles Gloriosus compared "netroots" liberals to the John Birch Society, and today the Wall Street Journal compares Bill Keller to Colonel McCormack of the Chicago Tribune. How I look forward to a long National Review essay on the new Joe McCarthy, John Conyers.

The editorial, which targets the New York Times for treasonous reporting, is revealing in other ways:
According to Tony Fratto, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he first contacted the Times some two months ago. He had heard Times reporters were asking questions about the highly classified program involving Swift, an international banking consortium that has cooperated with the U.S. to follow the money making its way to the likes of al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.

Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story.

The Times decided to publish anyway, letting Mr. Fratto know about its decision a week ago Wednesday. The Times agreed to delay publishing by a day to give Mr. Fratto a chance to bring the appropriate Treasury official home from overseas...
Seems like the Administration had a pretty good heads-up on the story. So if its publication was going to be so very dangerous to national interests, why didn't the Feds get a judge to issue a restaining order against the Times? It's not unprecedented.

Failing that, they could have firebombed the printing presses. This is war, people!

The editorial defends the Journal's own reporting of the story, not on the but-Mom-they-did-it-first basis already floated by other wingers, but on the grounds that WSJ's version of the story was fed to them by Bush's people as a way of getting, if not ahead, at least abreast of the Times' coverage. John Peter Zenger may not be proud, but Lee Atwater certainly must be.

Perhaps, contra Dr. Johnson, patriotism is actually the last refuge of a hack.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

JOSH, YOU WERE SAYING ABOUT THE NEW BIRCHERS? "In fact, we may have just witnessed the SCOTUS overreach that loses us the war... after Kelo and Raich and McCain-Feingold, I’m not even sure the Constitution much matters anymore... I don’t wish to sound too conspiratorial here, but it seems to me that a case can be made that under Lederman’s reading of this decision, we’ve now effectively empowered an alliance between the intelligence community and the press to determine our national security posture by setting up the conditions where leaks will be even more effective and more coveted by partisans who disagree with a given administration." -- Jeff Goldstein on the Hamdan decision, or the boogey-man -- hard to tell which.

Of course I'm not being fair. Just because Goldstein is constantly praised to skies by the Perfesser and many other significant figures in the right-blogosphere doesn't mean he's a mainstream conservative. There are other explanations. But they're very unflattering to a large number of people.
SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY. The doctor says I'm not crazy after all -- (proudly) I'm a contrarian!

UPDATE. I can't leave mad enough alone. This rat's nest is full of choice pellets, but this one just has to be noted:
Voters know it's hard to do a risky thing like define marriage as a legal entity that can take place only between an adult human male and an adult human female. That actually would take some guts.
When I read that, I almost ran out into the street screaming "WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS PEGGY NOONAN?" so powerful was my need for an explanation. I got over it by imagining her thought processes at this stage of the composition: Wait, what if someone brings up FMA? Why is that better than the flag-burning amendment? Well, because it's... it's... glug, glug, glug, glug. Because it's hard! It's not just between a man and a woman -- it's an adult man and an adult woman. And they have to be human!

Best Moment of Ngnyyyaah: "Bush the Younger would breastfeed the military if he could."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

DAMNED IF THEY "I DO"... World Magazine:
One would think that homosexual or lesbian "marriage" would stop at just that: the union of a same-sex duo. Now, however, some gay Muslims are seeking lesbian wives in order to satisfy family pressure without "coming out of the closet." But is this 'heterosexual' union, devoid of any commitment beyond "friendship" and intramarital celibacy, really marriage?
Wait a minute. So homosexuals can't even marry members of the opposite sex? Maybe the author is convinced that gay citizens are rolling in "special rights," and should give up rights of the more mundane sort in compensation.

But what am I saying? It's liberals who are the real homo-haters. Zip, flop, slap!

UPDATE. Per Josh Trevino, liberals are becoming John Birchers, too. (Hilariously, JT's very first commenter, a RedState legacy pledge, argues that there were so Commies overrunning the State Department, and the New Deal was alien statism.) This argument assumes that Bill Buckley came out of the wilderness and cleaned all the Welchade off the movement, and American conservatives thereafter proceeded in powdered wigs and tricorners to let freedom ring. An alternative description of their methods is summarized here
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is there anything more oddly self-negating than generally statist liberals arguing for the New York Times by citing Jefferson saying he'd rather have newspapers without government than a government without newspapers? As if they'd ever pick newspapers and libertarian utopia?
First reaction: Huh?

Second reaction: Fancy Tim Graham, who wants the FCC to regulate according to Jesus, calling anyone else "statist."

Third reaction: Oh, I'll just stop being such an old fuddy-duddy, and play too! Isn't it oddly self-negating that people who are very stupid, such as Graham, should criticize anyone whose IQ runs to positive integers?

UPDATE. Changed the link to Graham's nonsense. Original was a secondhand source and not work-safe, which is a first for this site.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

SHORTER BRIAN CARNEY: Compared to the gulags, slavery really wasn't so bad.
HE HAS SLIPPED THE SURLY BONDS OF REASON. More and more, the blogosphere strikes me as a high-tech care facility for nuts and retards. In today's Grand Rounds I consider the case of James Pinkerton, who turns from playing Culture War to playing Spaceman. He posits a "space-ark" to save some human specimens (presumably including James Pinkerton and a ratio of ten females to each male) from the inevitable destruction of the earth.

Space exploration is of course Nerdvana for rightwing poindexters, perhaps because they are aware that the environmental policies they are successfully promoting are dangerous to planetary life (of course this assumes that they are evil instead of stupid, which is in no way a settled issue). Pinkerton manages in this article to cite "global warming" as a credible threat to the planet -- though one month ago, when Al Gore was making that same point, Pinkerton was laughing it off. That's how serious he is about getting a seat on that rocket ship -- he's even willing to alter his usual line of bullshit for a ticket.

Bonus fun -- Pinkerton blames our abandonment of the space race on dirty hippies:
It's no coincidence that back in the 60s, as support for the space program was falling, the desire to get high was, well, rising. That is, as technological forms of tripping faded away, trips of the pharmaceutical kind took off. And in the wake of psychedelic drugs came the efflorescence of New Age religion and, yes, one must also say, the explosion of the Internet. To put it another way, stargazing gave way to acid-dropping, and then to navel-gazing, and then to web-surfing. What a long strange trip it's been, indeed.
To recover America from its drug/God/web addiction, Pinkerton volunteers to be shot into space. I say any excuse is a good excuse. He can leave tomorrow, and take his nutty buddies (including the Transhumanist robot laywer) with him.

Monday, June 26, 2006

AND IF THE FACTS AREN'T ON YOUR SIDE, POUND THE TABLE. Bill Keller is a bit of a blowhard, but even he deserves better than this:
A deeper error is Keller's characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: "It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly."

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It's the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry. (A bit more on this topic can be found here.)
Not being an academic myself (except in some dark, steamy minds), I may just be missing whatever point the Perfesser's trying to make. Is he trying to say that reporters are not in fact "people"? Or maybe he thinks newsmen have fewer, or less inclusive, First Amendment rights than reg'lar folks.

Because, otherwise, it doesn't matter if Bill Keller and all the Times staff walk around in ermine capes and call each other Majesty. They and we either have the right or they/we don't. There are no shitty-attitude exemptions in the Bill of Rights.

This guy is a law professor. Think about that.

Bonus Laff: Austin Bay:
Some of us –- the majority of Keller’s critics -– are American soldiers and citizens who recognize dangerous, arrogant stupidity when we read it printed on his front page.
I'm no majoritarian, but that sounds like such an impossibly small group, I don't see why we should bother about them.

UPDATE. Perhaps attempting to make himself look smart by comparison, the Perfesser reproduces some comments on the subject that are even stupider than his own. Top prize goes to Andrew McCarthy: "The Times prattles on about what it claims is a dearth of checks and balances, but what are the checks and balances on Bill Keller?" Thank God the Founders in their wisdom foresaw the terrible danger represented by Bill Keller, leading, more or less directly, to the National Security Act of 1947.

For more fun, read McCarthy's whole second-person bilge noir -- "No, you have only one defense: Intelligence. Superpower power is useless..." -- then, the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist! McCarthy adds that "national-security secrets" are "the public treasure that keeps us alive." It is not surprising to learn that these people literally worship ignorance.

UPDATE II. More traitors call on the Bush Administration reveal its secrets!

Friday, June 23, 2006

MORE MEXICAN HIJINX WITH A TUPPENNY ASCHENBACH. At night on the byways of the resort where I serve as camera monkey, I see gaggles of drunk children. Well, they may be over 18. They may even be over 21. But they exude a mist of callowness and AXE Body Wash. They're well-behaved, not stumbling or vomiting. I puzzled over this and finally decided: any young people here will be from well-off families. It flashed me back to high school, when I had rich friends who would serve weed and booze in the east wing while the parents were dozing in the west. Flaming Youth -- same habits, worse clothes and music. (Or maybe these "teenagers" are all 30 years old -- like in the original Halloween! -- and I need new contact lenses.)

The Ugly Americans are less ugly than I expected. I had anticipated that the people who would come to such a place would look like old Ralph Steadman caricatures of vacationers at Disneyland -- fat, sullen, and stupefied. But the face of bourgeois privilege has undergone a makeover. Even folks from the fruited plain are going to health clubs now, and many of our new sybarites are toned, or at least can walk more a half-mile without getting winded. In fact, I notice that my own attitude has changed since childhood: once I thought fat, shambling Americans were a disgrace to our country and its Council on Physical Fitness; now I admire them for bucking a tide.

I got briefly to Playa de Carmen and witnessed its reduction of the Mexican national character to drunken frogs and their ancient Mayan sidekicks renting scuba equipment to white people. Hawkers, ugly t-shirts, McDonald's, Ben y Jerry's, and mercenary local characters/photo models: it reminded me St. Mark's Place with better set decoration.

More antes, I mean despues. Caramba.
WHERE I'M CALLING FROM. I declined to mention where the Company was sending me for a few reasons. First, I try not to make this thing too personal, aside from the medical reports, which I believe journalists would agree constitute "health & wellness reporting." Second, it's embarrassing: I'm taking pictures of sales representatives at a resort in Cancun. No, I'm not a photographer, but they were short a man and the field operations manager learned that I have opposable thumbs.

I have never been to a resort of any kind, and longtime readers will not be surprised to learn that the suburban-sybaritic experience has filled my head with an endless film loop of Death in Venice as interpreted by Aaron Spelling. Also The Gentleman from San Francisco: "...nor did any one who know what lay deep, deep, beneath them, on the very bottom of the hold, in the neighborhood of the gloomy and sultry maw of the ship, that heavily struggled with the ocean, the darkness, and the storm..."

If my mouth weren't full of overcooked food I would scream. As it is, I wait helplessly for the Mexicans to rise up and murder us all. I know they have machetes. I'm seen them used to trim bushes.

They seem cheerful, and less acute minds than mine might imagine they prefer wearing clean linens and fetching margaritas to subsistence farming or starving in dusty hidalgos. But like all bright minds, I have been dreaming of apocalypse for the past several decades, and my luck's got to change sometime.

Excuse me now, I have to get on a tour bus and read name tags.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ANOTHER DAMN INTERRUPTION. The tedious demands of work (cannot these philistine employers realize I better serve the commonwealth as a synapse in the giant processing brain of the blogosphere?) cause me to travel for a few days. I'll try to get to the "business center" to post when I can. Meantime patronize the lovely people who populate my blogroll. Or read idiots yourself, and have your own special processing fun in comments!

UPDATE. Christ, comments are smarter than me! I would give up, but the doctor says I gots a obsession com-pul-si-ble synthdrum, real bad.

Monday, June 19, 2006

THIS SORT OF EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. In their lengthy, imbecilic "debate" about the importance of fathers (coming up next: was "The Flintstones" a total rip-off of "The Honeymooners"?), John Derbyshire says:
To take your last point first: Are you suggesting that if I hold a certain opinion about politics and society, and if I then read a sheaf of research studies that seem to me to be sound, but that contradict my opinion, then I should hold on to my opinion and ignore the science? Sorry, no sale.
Jonah Goldberg replies:
Yes, to a certain extent I am asking you to have your politics shape your opinions and frankly, I am at a loss to see how you should think otherwise, let alone why you should be so boastful about it.
As always, Goldberg's weak verbal skills leave his gist less than clear, so it's hard to tell whether he has totally missed Derbyshire's clear reference to fact-based information, or has acknowledged but refused to address it.

But his dudgeon speaks volumes. The idea that politics is the measure of everything on God's green earth is the central fallacy of National Review conservatism. As we never tire of pointing out here at alicublog, in their universe, movies, music, TV shows, football teams, and even sex are judged by their conservative correctness. So of course Goldberg is outraged. How could one of the comrades allow himself to deviate on so crucial an issue as the Meaning of Fatherhood? That's almost as ungood as failing to enjoy The Passion of the Christ.

Remember Godard's famous question, "How can I hate John Wayne for upholding Goldwater and yet love him tenderly when abruptly he takes Natalie Wood into his arms in the last reel of The Searchers?" That such an idea would never, ever occur to any of this lot -- indeed, it might cause their synapses to fuse like overheated electronic circuits -- really explains, more than their various political idiocies, why they are wrong.

UPDATE. Jay Brida in comments thinks we might be onto something: "Dare I say it might be the string theory of wingnuttia? It explains their culture, their beliefs and their oddly discordant strategy of appealing to fat libertarians and dominionists at the same time." Actually, I always thought that what brought these factions together was the all-you-can-eat shrimp bar. But that was an ignorant superstition. Science will bring us to the truth!

UPDATE. My wider point to one side, the Goldberg/Derbyshire mental-pygmy wrestling match has devolved to the hilarious. Derb here argues that sometimes abused children have it coming:
Rich would say (I mean, on the basis of his column, I suppose he would say) that THEREFORE parental abuse causes adult aggressiveness.

But that needs proving, and the mere correlation doesn't prove it. Two alternative explanations come to mind at once. (1) We have an aggressive adult from an aggressive parent (he beat the kid, didn't he?) Maybe aggression runs in this family. It doesn't even have to be genetic. It could be dietary, or religious. (2) The kid was obnoxious and difficult from the start. (Some are. Believe me.) The parent, who was perfectly average in aggressiveness, was driven to distraction (read: abnormally aggressive reactions) by the kid's intransigent naughtiness. So we're not looking at a parent-to-child effect at all; we're actually looking at a child-to-parent effect! Yet I am pretty sure I have never read a headline saying "Difficult Kids Provoke Parents to Abuse, Study Shows." Why not? Because our popular culture, and even big swathes of our academic culture, are Freud-soaked...
I imagine Joel Steinberg reading The Corner, and exclaiming, "That's what I've been trying to tell you people! The little cunt was staring at me!"

Meanwhile Goldberg just keeps bringin' the breathtaking:
I will simply say up front: I do not believe the science Derb is referring to or purporting to refer to. Perhaps I'll end up with apple cider in my ear, but if it means what Derb suggests it to mean then I just don't believe it.
If brains were dynamite, these guys couldn't blow a fart.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A WASTE OF TIME. Redstate emits one of those "Republicans must reclaim environmentalism" discussions.
In the wake of Al Gore's movie/political call to arms, I think that it is crucial for the Right to adopt the issue of environmentalism for its own. Politically speaking, stealing a popular, headline-generating issue from the other side is generally a very good idea. Policywise, it is an important step on the way towards imprinting one's own stamp on the substance of a particular issue...

...It seems to me, therefore, that a much bigger megaphone ought to be given to the free market environmentalist movement by Republicans, both as a means of shaping and preserving a victorious governing coalition, and as a means of having an important and prominent seat at the policymaking table...
As you may imagine, hilarity ensues in comments. Here is a nice prècis:
Environmentalism IS a conservative issue
By: Ed54
I never understood why we cede care of the environment to the Left. What could be more conservative than preserving and wisely using our public lands? What could be more evangelical than being good stewards of the world God made for us? What NRA member doesn't love to hunt in pristine woods or fields? What student of national security doesn't recognize that our gas money finances islamic extremism?
The Dems simply have built more credibility on environmental issues over the last 30 years, so they are taken more seriously when they argue the case for global warming. If we were to start seriously fighting to preserve the world we have, instead of mocking environmentalists as loony green lefties, our counter-arguments on Global Warming and Kyoto would gain more traction...

(sniff) (sniff) Anyone else smell Troll?
By: DAHmich
There seems to be an infestation tonight!
Also, much talk about how great it will be when global warming destroys New York and San Francisco, etc.

The biggest laugh, for followers of this particular scam, is the reversion to "free-market environmentalism." "Environmentalism is practiced by hunters, fishers, and the military," says a typical advocate. "Environmentalism was taught to me by the army. Environmentalism is not about hemp-wearing hippies chaining themselves to trees."

Hippies would seem here to stand for government intervention, which is so disgusting to Redstaters that they can barely bring themselves to even mention it, let alone endorse it. And this allows them to ignore the plain fact that the important environmental improvements of the past half-century -- and badly needed they were, too -- came from government intervention.

These fellows like to think themselves tough-minded, yet they cling to the childish fiction that corporations with no financial incentive to do so will, once freed of the government yoke, magically turn into "stewards of the environment," and that the free market will heal the earth, sky, and water. ("If enough people were bothered enough by the air quality in these cities," writes one such, "the problem would take care of itself as people moved away" -- another subscriber to the Perfesser's notion of America as one giant urbless Suburb.)

In fairness I should note that Redstate is all about getting Republicans elected, and that there is no real reason for them to concern themselves with environmentalism, as all that is needed to return their champions to power is a big pre-election ballyhoo about fags getting married and Democrats being traitors. But I guess that leaves them a lot of time to kill, and a large online diary for those who have a bad conscience (or a conscience at all) to fill.
FEEL THE LOVE. The Perfesser mentions "OUTMIGRATION FROM NEW YORK," and my ears perked: At last! How soon can we return to those days of high crime, low rents, basement performance art and open containers I miss so much?

Then I read the actual Times article and realized it was about OUTMIGRATION from upstate New York, not the City. What a disappointment.

Many commenters on the same story at Vodkapundit are less careful readers and, after some very interesting reflections from past and present upstaters, they get down to the business of slagging the City. One, after admitting that "New Yorkers are smart, tough, hard working, and a lot of fun" (he neglects to mention our hip, black clothing, and our habit of lapsing into an Italian accent in times of stress), tells us that down South "Unemployment for educated professionals with a good work ethic is essentially zero" ("good work ethic" presumably means "white face and no desire for health care") and invites us to "Move to Texas. Have a baby. Shop at Costco. Vote for Bush." This sort of invitation to reform never ceases to charm us. In return, I invite the commenter to move to New York and start using hard drugs.

The commenters also notice that we live in small apartments. One compares New York City unfavorably to Miami. Weather seems to be a big factor. "I'm sorry," says one, "but the weather in NYC isn't that good.... better than upstate, but that is like saying a broken toe is better than a broken tooth.... I don't want either." Those of us who came here for the balmy breezes off the Gowanus must be feeling pretty silly.

Personally I'm glad they're back to hating us again. Even Jim Lileks, who enjoys taking pictures of our old buildings, now thinks of New York as a place ripe for riot and rebellion -- ah, would that it were so!And I expect the recent report of a pre-empted poison gas attack on our subways will not excite their former protestations of love and support.

Of course, the 40 percent cut in our Homeland Security funding was a pretty big hint, too.

Friday, June 16, 2006

FIRST RULE IS/THE LAWS OF GERMANY. My reaction to "Hadji Girl" is: fine, go ahead. I'm a free speech absolutist, and I recognize the Sweater Kittenz tune as a worthy companion to "Nigger Loves His Possum," "Pray I Don't Kill You, Faggot," and the oeuvre of The Mentors, Rapeman, and The Goldwaters. (Not to mention the old shanty "New York Girls," which it thematically most closely resembles.)

In return, I don't want to hear any more shit from these people about Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks, Checkpoint, "All Things Considered," or anything else relating to their long-standing, phony Culture War. Fair's fair.

I don't expect them to take the deal, or even acknowledge that there is a deal. Culture warring requires a constant state of amnesia. In their way of looking at things, newspaper reporting is stark troop-killing treason, but a Marine prosecuted by Marines for his cheerful song about killing Arabs is proof that some imaginary entity called The Left is out to censor them.

What a failure of imagination that shows. In their younger days, no doubt, they emulated schoolyard bullies, and sucked up to the strong as they pummelled the weak; their adult politics certainly reflect this. But let them put a foot outside their customary arenas of power, into places where words are taken more seriously than fists, and they fumble for recourse into the dimmest recesses of their rucksacks for a tattered copy of the First Amendment, which they blunderingly misinterpret in their own defense; and, once the challenge is forgotten, they stuff the scrap forcefully back, and deride all further mention of it, until they again feel the chill breath of disapproval upon their necks.

The White House, two houses of Congress, most Governorships and a healthy chunk of the zeitgeist in their control, and still they bitch and moan that they are misunderstood. What a bunch of pussies.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

SHORTER PEGGY NOONAN: The Democratic Party's excellent chances in Virginia prove that the Democrats are finished.

(Extra contempt added for her closing gush over neo-Duce Rudolph Giuliani.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

WHEN TOMORROW IS TODAY, THE BELL MAY TOLL FOR SOME. In the most recent of their many puzzling habits, NRO's Cornerites have started cheerfully citing people who mention John Miller's "Top 50 Conservative Songs" as evidence of the article's influence, even when those sources consider Miller to be utterly full of shit. Just so long as they spell the name right, one supposes.

The latest such link points us to the Financial Times, and for this I am grateful, as FT makes a few interesting points:
But it’s not such an anomaly to speak of rock and conservatism in the same breath, for as a musical form it is deeply conservative. Male-dominated, resistant to change, endlessly reproducing a narrow range of guitar chords, it lost whatever radical creative edge it had ages ago. One of the greatest rock bands, The Ramones, led by the ardent Republican supporter Johnny Ramone, understood its narrow parameters perfectly. Do the same thing again and again. Wear the same clothes. Rock may advertise itself as rebellion but in fact it values tradition and convention as much as any conservative.

That is why it has become a battleground for politicians. Witness a recent Westminster tussle: no sooner did Gordon Brown reveal in a magazine interview that The Arctic Monkeys “really wake you up in the morning” than David Cameron popped up on the radio programme Desert Island Discs to wax lyrical about The Smiths, Radiohead and REM.

Just so we know that he likes rock but not other, more delinquent forms of pop, Cameron later launched a savvy broadside against gangsta rap as glorifying violent crime. This is the to-and-fro of politics in the iPod age, with rock as the favoured musical shuttlecock. Pete Townshend had better get used to it.
I have only one real problem with this. The bit about "creative edge," obviously meant as a slur, is to me an irrelevance: "edge" is only what fans and critics ascribe to artistry, not a central fact of it. Your basic rock clod might think his favorite young idiot doing a recycled 70's riff and/or pose is edgy, because it amplifies his prior, TV-nurtured ideas of same, whereas said clod would think the genuinely adventuresome Charles Ives not edgy, because he's, like, old and in black and white.

The author is correct that rock as a form is conservative (though not nearly so much so as, say, the sonnet). We must stipulate that we use the term "conservative" here as sane people do (e.g., "At a conservative estimate I'd say you owe me ten bucks"), not in the indiscriminate and incoherent manner of culture warriors. And that sublime changes can be wrought within the most restrictive forms.

But the bit about British politicos throwing around rock names the way monkeys fling feces is best of all. I'm sure all these guys are basically spiritual heirs to the minister spoon-feeding Alex at the end of A Clockwork Orange. If rock signifiers are what the punters want, then signifiers they shall have! The strangeness, to our American ears, of hearing The Smiths used in such a way helps us to see more easily that the hipster imprimatur can be applied by anyone to anything regardless of relevance or consequence. Thus these pudgy, pasty pols apply bands like henna tattoos to their personas, in hopes of seeming more natural when strolling through the rougher electoral precincts.

That's the human comedy, folks, all the way down down to Cameron's impersonation of Mrs. Scum. Of course over time, or if overindulged, this sort of thing has a deleterious effect on the brain, which is why those of us who have grown out of it civic-mindedly try to encourage young folk to do likewise. Regrettably, an increasing number of adults refuse to abandon this childish affectation (indeed, they seem to be indulged in it by think-tanks, editors, and vanity presses). If the proportion of such retards exponentiates much further, we will find ourselves trapped in a large-scale environmental production of Wild in the Streets, only with more torture and worse music.

You may do your part by refusing to become a rhinoceros (or, if your perspective is less literary, a dumbass).

Monday, June 12, 2006

IN WHICH GEORGE CLOONEY FRAMES UP KEN LAY. James Pinkerton tries another liberal-Hollywood essay. It is not so offensive as some such. It is silly, for sure, basically twanging the old saw about social commentary closing on Saturday night, and blistered with bizarre cracks (on Tom Cruise: "And conservatives, for their part, needn't complain: Aren't gays supposed to stay in the closet?").

But Pinkerton acknowledges, first, that Hollywood is observably not turning Americans into Bolsheviks, and second, that Hollywood filmmakers try to make money. For these guys, that's an impressive acknowledgement of objective reality.

Naturally conservative critics think Pinkerton has failed to grasp the seriousness of the cultural situation. Larry Ribstein complains:
Of course Hollywood artists like business – after all, they’re in business.  But they like their own particular type of business. What they don’t like is capitalists – the folks who lord it over the artists, and force them to constrain their vision. 

And so what we get in Hollywood films is an unrelentingly dismal view of money, stock markets, and impersonal market forces...
I should think Americans might find impersonal market forces pretty dismal without any help. But no: because filmmakers "have been trained their whole professional lives to manipulate emotions," they can march sozzle-headed citizens into the jury box to "send capitalists to jail" and "levy huge punitive damages against big capitalist firms." And all because some tycoons tried to constrain their visions!

You will be relieved to hear that, despite these depradations, Ribstein is against "regulation of film content," preferring "more business education, and more awareness of filmmakers' perverse take on business." You can get a bellyful of such education at Ribstein's other blog, where he lists anti- and pro-business films: "Although Citizen Kane and the Godfather movies might be seen as the rare films that show what it takes to build a business," he sighs, "they don’t paint a pretty picture." Among his pro-capitalism picks: Do The Right Thing ("Sal’s Pizzeria feeds everybody and is an important binding force for the neighborhood").

Ribstein at least is clear on his own terms. I'm still puzzling over Professor Bainbridge's conclusion:
The problem with Pinkerton's argument is that he conflates how Hollywood portrays class and how it portrays business. Even if we enter an era of cheap high-quality film making through digital technology, the desire to strike it big evident even among the most left-leaning Hollywood types likely will continue to constrain the way films portray class issues. The same may not hold true for how Hollywood portrays capitalism and business. Filmmakers freed by technology from the need for vast amounts of startup capital may well end up making even more anti-business films than they do now.
Is he saying that, the easier it becomes to make a movie, the more poisonous anti-business films we will have? That doesn't speak well of the free market.

None of these commentators seem aware that films are anything more than propaganda for one gang of nerds or another, but what else is new?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Three prisoners at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have hanged themselves in what is being called a "planned event," the U.S. military has said.

They are the first confirmed deaths at the compound. Prisoners have attempted suicide in the past.

"Two Saudis and one Yemeni, each located in Camp 1, were found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards," said a statement issued by Joint Task Force-Guantanamo on Saturday...

The suicides should surprise no one because the detainees believe they will be held indefinitely with no chance for justice, said Josh Colangelo-Bryan with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents about 200 of the detainees.

"They've been told that while at Guantanamo they have no rights as human beings," he told reporters during a conference call Saturday.

Colangelo-Bryan said one of his clients told him during a visit to the facility in October 2005 that he "would simply rather die than live here with no rights."
Wait for it... wait for it...
"They are smart. They are creative. They are committed. They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own," [Commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, Rear Admiral Harry] Harris said. "I believe this was not an act of desperation, but rather an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us"...

Asymmetrical warfare is when one side uses unorthodox or surprise tactics to attack the weak points of its stronger opponent.
Fox News announced it would refer henceforth to such suicides as "homicide suicides," to let viewers know that they were actually attacks on American self-esteem.

UPDATE. If the self-slaughterers "plannned and coordinated" their own deaths, asks Ann Althouse, "doesn't this support the government's theory that these were warriors maneuvering and not individuals despairing?"

Interesting choice of words, Counsellor! One imagines Althouse grilling the corpses about their so-called despair, and explaining to the judge that the defendants' pre-posthumous state of mind "goes to motive."

Thought balloon over a corpse's head: Well, at least now I'm getting a trial.

Friday, June 09, 2006

THEY'LL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE. Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg (whose head Zarqawi cut off), does an Imitation of Christ:
Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that.
In response, the Ace of Spades does an imitation of Sgt. Slaughter:
The moral vanity of these people is disgusting. Attempting to remake themselves into Holy Angels, they instead make themselves into monsters. Does this asshole really think it's an enlightened human response to feel as bad for the death of your son's butcher as for your son's?

He thinks that attitude makes him better than other people?

I think it makes him less than human, personally.

When he dies (which he will, of course, as we all will; no death threat intended), I hope his son slaps this stupid fuck right in the face.
I don't believe in that "love your enemy as yourself" bullshit, either, but I don't get all bent out of shape when other people go for it. For one thing, unlike the shellfish provisions in the Old Testament, it has zero chance of ever catching on.

UPDATE. Comments at the Ace Theological Seminary enhance the hilarity. The money shot:
Christians are explicitly commanded to defend those who cannot defend themselves, and Christ stated quite flatly, numerous times, that on His return He would lead the armies of Heaven and slay the wicked. Berg's disgusting attitude is fundamentally un-Christian. "Not directly comparable?" It's not even in the same ballpark. Not even close.

Pick up a Bible someday, Michael. It's not the pacifist hippie screed you seem to think it is.
Boy howdy, is he right! Who can forget:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, then hitch them plowshares to 100,000 oxen and rampage through the enemy like crap through a goose!


Suffer the little children come unto me. I'll teach the little punks to kill with the edge of a rolled-up newspaper!


If someone strikes you on the right cheek, smash the fucker good in the other cheek! Then, the heart punch! Do the eye gouge! Do the hammerlock! Do the hammerlock, you turkeynecks!

Though perhaps the commenter and I are mixing up our sacred texts.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

TRAVEL UPDATE. I got through the tests, we'll see about results. I also did a little day-tripping while in DC. The Mall is presently overrun by school trip teens and their minders: fleets of tour buses, harried adults holding up colored signs or folders, mobs of gangly yout's in copy-heavy t-shirts and shorts. The National Museum of Natural History, which I visited, seems made for them: the exhibits and signage are simple and bold, designed for durability and easy cleaning. I took in shows about the Sikhs ("Willy Wonka!" cried one yout), early life on Earth, and Lewis & Clark, in which the signage contained many prompts for an audio tour no one seemed to be taking. I'd never thought much about Lewis & Clark before, but it's a hell of a story, right down to Lewis' pathetic and mysterious suicide. It's almost enough to make me read Thomas Pynchon, were life not so brief.

On recommendations from readers, I also took in the Phillips Collection. It was terrific, and there was hardly anyone there. After a few Target Free Nights at MOMA I had forgotten what a pleasure that can be. I sat and looked at Luncheon of the Boating Party for twenty minutes and two people got in my way, briefly. Even the newer paintings -- including a great, untitled Jake Berthot that looks like a bridge in a mist of smudges, and Howard Hodgkin's ebullient Torso, spilling over onto its frame -- pleased grumpy old me. I was compelled to attend artists who had never interested me before, like Dufy and Braque. The artists I already liked, I had all the time in the world for. Even at full fare this felt like an enormous gift.

Also on recommendation, I dined at Dukem in Adams Morgan. The Doro Wot was fine; still, I'd complain about the price (come on, it's stew poured over weird, grey bread, and six bucks is a lot for a bottle of St. George) were it not for the music. It was my first experience of eskista, so I couldn't tell you if it was good eskista or bad eskista, but I loved the sound: guy beating on a drum with sticks, guy sawing on something that looked like a zither, guy plucking at another zither-thing with a cigar-box soundboard attached, and a girl sitting calmly up front and singing in a high, plangent voice. The rhythm was a little unusual to my culturally insensitive ears (I could count the fours, couldn't quite make out the pulse), but the dance team that came out at the end got into it pretty good.

In other world news, I had the TV on while packing for home and watched the reports on Zarqawi. Much talk about a "turning point" in the War, repeated footage of the Iraqi press corps cheering. And, on the other idiot box, the Perfesser accused the press of "spinning war news to make things look worse than they are, and to hurt Bush." I haven't plowed through the blogs to see if anyone was really sad that the guy who sawed the head off Nick Berg (among many others) got what was coming to him, but it's a big wide wonderful world of opinion, so who knows. Maybe after I clicked off, George Stephanopoulos called for a moment of silence.

Well, I got politics in, now I can take a nap.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ANOTHER DAMN SERVICE INTERRUPTION. You really should go with a more reliable vendor. I am in D.C. for three more days of Von Hippel-Lindau-related testing. This time it's an MIBG scan: they shoot me up with radioactive material and watch it glow in my body over two days. Seriously, that's what they do. (Go ahead and make fun of me for it, though -- I promise not to reveal your identities!)

I am typing this at a Kinko's on K Street. (Two guys tried to bribe me as I walked over here.)

I'm staying at the Washington Plaza, a 60s monolith on Thomas Circle. The management is apparently trying to exploit its retro chic rather than its gigantism and isolation in a weird fish-nor-fowl neighborhood. Locals, please tell me if there's anything to do around here beside visit drug stores and fend off bums.

I imagine I'll get in some culture and bore you all with it at some point, but posting should be light till Thursday night.

Monday, June 05, 2006

CYBERSMART : SMART :: ROAD APPLES : APPLES. Semi-popularizer of the South Park Conservative fad, Brian C. Anderson, says video games are good for your brain. Since he's writing at OpinionJournal, he drops the kind of comments that gets right-wingers excited: Dr. Spock is (posthumously) against gaming -- gaming good! Hillary Clinton is against violent gaming -- gaming good, cut off bitch's head! And the Ol' Perfesser likes it, etc.

But even beyond the customary, specious political identification, there is plenty of just plain stupidity in here:
Video games can also exercise the brain in remarkable ways. I recently spent (too) many late-night hours working my way through X-Men: Legends II: The Rise of Apocalypse, a game I ostensibly bought for my kids. Figuring out how to deploy a particular grouping of heroes (each of whom has special powers and weaknesses); using trial and error and hunches to learn the game's rules and solve its puzzles; weighing short-term and long-term goals--the experience was mentally exhausting and, when my team finally beat the Apocalypse, exhilarating.
Anderson seems to have cribbed this notion from Malcolm "Blink" Gladwell, and my response to the knockoff is the same (though less respectful of course) that I had to the original:
It has been my experience as a remedial English tutor that even the brightest students are undertrained in, and often unaware of, the simplest analytic tools -- including grammar, sentence structure, and outlining. These are not nearly so easy to absorb as the [computer gaming] skills Gladwell values, but the fact that he can make himself clear in essay form shows that he has himself mastered them, which makes it rather disturbing to me that he seems not to care much that we make so little effort to wrench our kids away from their entertainment modules long enough to learn how to diagram a sentence or tie three supporting details to a main idea.

...If we don't teach our young citizens to think rather than merely process information, all the video-savvy in the world isn't going to save their sorry asses...
Yeah, so I'm quoting myself. Busy day. Besides, I fought the Battle of Tompkins Square Park for the likes of you! Get off my lawn!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

TRY ONE OF THESE JAMAICAN CIGARS, AMBASSADOR. THEY'RE PRETTY GOOD. A "writer living in Washington D.C." explains why drinking California chardonnay is conservative: contrary to "its alleged association with affluent political liberals," California chardonnay is populist (because "influential wine critic Robert Parker" disapproves), and "sexy, muscular and swaggering," and therefore much better than "watery French swill."

Me, I drink Mumblin' Jack Malt Liquor cause it gits ya cozy.

Lest you think the article was written and submitted for publication on a bet, you can also read this authoress (Melinda Ledden Sidak) on the moral relativism of mothers who work and Bob Dole Viagra commercials, and how people who have unmarital sex should lose their jobs, if you are as big a glutton for punishment as me, which I hope none of you is.
FUCK THAT NOISE. HOW 'BOUT THEM METS? I attended the second game of yesterday's twi-night Mets-Giants doubleheader. The evening was cold and damp and as the matinee had suffered a long rain delay, by the second game the crowd was pruned down to about 5,000 die-hards. But the Mets are doing well -- even two months into the season! -- so the faithful were in good spirits.

At least they were in good spirits when they got away from the ticket window. Management decided the make-up game for Friday's rainout should be part of this already-ticketed event; those of us with Friday tickets had to trade-in for whatever slop was left. ("They oughta just open up the gates and let everybody sit wherever they want!" yelled one mook.)

So we started among the upper deck diaspora, watching the white blobs dashing around and the sheets of rain whirling laterally through the floodlight. Folks were scattered across the red seats. A few couples huddled under soaked Mets beach blankets. (There was no liquid warmth available as Shea had turned off the beer taps between games. What is this league coming to?)

Later, as standards relaxed, we went down to the mezzanine, where the population was more consensed, dry, and convivial. Barry Bonds wasn't in the lineup, but the natural wise-assedness of our tribe prompted many rounds of "Barrrr-rrry" (in the sing-song manner of the old "Darrrr-rrryl" chant, and the "Larrrr-rrry" that traditionally greets "Chipper" Jones at Shea). As we went to extra innings the "Let's Go Mets" chant turned to "Let's Go Home."

We responded to events, too. When Lance Niekro came to the plate, some oldtimer yelled, "Throw him a knuckleball!" When Jose Reyes stole second (always a pleasing sight), we serendaded him with the Jose Song (which some Nats fans claim they had first). And when the Home Run King Presumptive stepped up to pinch-hit, the uncrowd went nuts, and went nutser when Barrrr-rrry grounded out. (I didn't hear much steroid stuff. This is just the sort of treatment we give celebrity opponents. Bonds' return under abuse to his dugout was slow and upright, but he's had a lot of practice. I imagine it is less easy for Kaz Matsui, who for poor overall performance was booed reflexively whenever he shifted his weight.)

Oh, and we won! Lastings Milledge executed a lovely hook-slide to evade a tag at home in the 11th. Big cheers, loud music, and a hasty retreat to the 7 platform.

Plus I got money back on my ticket. And they brought back the Howard Beale tape ("I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell -- LET'S GO METS!"). A good night all in all.
WHAT I SAW AT THE DEVOLUTION. Perhaps attempting to put fire in the bellies of their discouraged constituents, the Corner guys talk about how Disneyland and Scotland have gone communist.

The Scottish thread is particularly rich. "Thatcherism never really penetrated far into Scotland, despite some of her most fervent admirers being Scottish," says Iain Murray. Another guy blames his inability to make money there on Scottish prejudice against the "Yank Capitalist." Cliff May is upset that a "talented and beautiful" Scottish folk musician played a John Lennon song. (No, it wasn't "Lassie is the Nigger of the World.") Derbyshire exhumes Dr. Johnson's famous crack, indicating that patience is exhausted, and invasion is the inevitable next step.

On the other hand, there is this:
As you can imagine, I don't get much help from mainstream media in promoting my music and values...
Boy, can't we all relate! John J. Miller urges you to buy the man's tunes, and those of other "rockcon" artists who speak truth to powerlessness.

I wish them well. I'm a lot more favorably disposed toward this Top Conservative Songs thing now that it's a marketing scam that might get some musicians some play. Swindle, comrades!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

WHAT DO YOU CALL JEFF GOLDSTEIN WITH A Ph.D.? (ALERT: inside baseblog)There have been some complaints about disrespectful treatment of Jeff Goldstein. In the aforelinked cases, Goldstein’s use of MLA blather (with jokes, though -- you can tell 'cuz they're in all caps) is alleged to cause his critics jealous outrage that "one of us" has turned to the dark side.

Are Goldstein’s critics really academics? I never got more than a Baccalaureate (in Fine Arts, swish swish, so I didn't have to read much), and I work for a corporation. Tbogg works for a corporation, too. Atrios is a political activist, and we all know they don’t know from semiotics. Majikthise is kinda schoolly, but I’ve had beers with her and she never once spoke of the signifier and the signified. And Jane Hamsher's a movie producer -- they are all self-made types given to ignorant spoonerisms and big cigars, and think college-professor stuff is strictly the bunk.

Maybe we just think the guy's comedy gold.

As alerted, this is all bloggity-blah, so its significance is nil. Still, you have to wonder why Goldstein's seconds are so incensed that people are making fun of some guy known for making fun (semiotic fun, mind you) of some other guys. Even the normally sane John Cole says, "they do not like his politics, so they simply want to destroy him. It is that simple."

Christ Jesu, I never dreamed we had such power! I'ma get me a cool helmet like Ian McKellen's in "X-Men" and destroy all my enemies with the unstoppable force of paste-eater jokes!

P.S. Michael Moore is fat. (Unless that was some sort of Levi-Straussian jest I am simply too unlettered to grasp.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

JESUS IS MY MANAGER, AND HE'S DOING A REALLY SHITTY JOB. Michelle Malkin is excited to hear from USA Today that the Colorado Rockies are a religious cult:
Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular with youth today and in many other clubhouses, is not played. A player will curse occasionally but usually in hushed tones. Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight room. Chapel service is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups each Tuesday are well-attended. It's not unusual for the front office executives to pray together.
Next time they talk to Jesus, they should ask him how to get the fuck out of fourth place in the NL West.
LATEST CONSERVENTIONAL WISDOM: Innocents Slaughtered at Haditha; Rightwing Bloggers Hardest Hit.

For perspective, see here.

The idea of a "morally irrelevant" war atrocity is new, and I hope the Perfesser and his allies get full credit for it.

UPDATE. Anyone remember when Winds of Change was the "liberal" warblog? Get a load of this.

The current post at Winds of Change at this writing is against the Jacobin Terror. Hilarious, under the circumstances.