Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CULTURE CLUBFOOT. TRex at Firedoglake (get well soon, dearest Jane) points out rightwing superhag Mona Charen's most recent exhortation to the Kulture Kops -- this one a little more forward looking than most:
When I travel around the country is when people say well you know how do we effect the country, how do we effect the culture, I will frequently say rather than have your kids be business men, teachers, lawyer—many other things—have them either be journalists or movie makers. That's where we have nothing in the culture…
Mona, Mona, Mona. That's not how it works.

Funnily enough, I've been reading a rather poorly written but still fascinating book on a subject of relevance to the topic. A Great, Silly Grin by Humphrey Carpenter is about British satire in the 1960s -- Beyond the Fringe, That Was The Week That Was, the magazine Private Eye, and that lot.

If you're familiar with late 20th century Brit humor high and/or low, you know that it was all over the place in terms of the usual political labels -- Labour got poked as much as the Tories did, and there's nothing a white English comic liked better than to pretend to be one of those silly African despots. ("Ah'm already consolidatin' mah effective position," said John Bird, grotesquely impersonating Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta, "as de first Negro Prime Minister o' Great Britain, an' shall soon be rushin' on to de assumin' o' even more gigantic powers as de Queen.")

Obviously these people were not so much ideologues as wreckers -- in fact, Malcolm Muggeridge denounced them as mere tyros for whom all "authority is a schoolmaster who, when his back is turned, can be pelted with paper darts and mocked with mimicry and funny face." Private Eye's Christopher Booker said he "gave up Liberalism as soon as it became fashionable," and his colleague Richard Ingrams alternately described himself as a Tory and as an anarchist.

If you pay any attention at all to the history of art, or to common sense, you will notice a problem with Charen's marching orders for heartland America to produce rightwing "culture." She thinks creativity is something the powerful can order up as easily as room service -- "Get young Jennings to produce us some satire, there's a good darkie!" She has no idea that culture is not created by sub-committees of political action groups, but by the sort of obstreperous, irreverent, fart-blowing people that she and her fellow winger dweebs would normally cross the street to avoid.

I've said it many times before and I will say it many times more: these pricks say they are at war for the "culture," but what they really want is to replace all vestiges of culture wih propaganda -- which is the only thing they know how to produce.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

DRUNKS WITH GUNS. The Ole Perfesser done wrote hisself (well, collaborated on) a paper, all about why Communitarians should hook up with the People of the Gun to make everyone, will-he nill-he, join a militia -- and not a statist militia-in-name-only like the National Guard, but something more like Boy's Night Out with shootin' ahrns.

It is strange that the Perfesser puts so much effort into reaching out to Amitai Etzioni and the Bowling Alone crowd. How many citizens out there proudly identify themselves as Communitarians?

One wonders why the Perfesser didn't tap into a more potent symbol of armed self-reliance: The Black Panthers of California. Back in the day they cheerfully exercised what was then the right of all Cali citizens -- open carry -- until Governor Ronald Reagan freaked out on whitey's behalf and signed the Mulford Act removing that right in 1967.

Oh wait, I'm sorry. One doesn't wonder at all.

There are all sorts of highlights in the document, but I especially liked the quote from an Andrew Lytle novel which the authors say "captures the spirit of community present in militias":
It wasn't long until riders from every section of the county came in, some of the younger and more spirited men shouting and taking on. But you'd see sober gentlemen of middle years, sitting straight in their saddles, ride by in a running walk as if they rode to musters every day. Those too poor to own stock, although there were not many of this condition, straggled in on foot.... Kin would meet that hadn't seen one another for a year or more; and the women would hardly run through the ailments of children and servants, with just a running start on the marriages and baptizing, when the musters came to an end. Such jollification you never saw. There were dinners on the ground, and red-mouth barbecue pits. The groceries knocked out the tops of their liquor barrels, and red whisky ran down gullets like rain after a dry spell.
Two things: first, it is amazing that the Perfesser, who is always going on about the latest electronic doo-dad he purchased (or had purchased for him by loving fans), would sigh over this low-tech, backwoods Arcadian scene. Were he transported back to such a time and place, he would probably go mad within days, holed up in his cabin trying to make a steam-powered iPod.

Second, if a combination of loaded semi-automatic rifles and whiskey running "down gullets like rain after a dry spell" is what the Perfesser is after, I say let him try it in Knoxville first. I am content to watch the fireworks from a distance.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

HOW BULLSHIT WORKS. There was an anti-war march in Washington yesterday -- par for the recent course, a big one. The Los Angeles Times reported it at 100,000 strong -- given how such reports go, we could easily add 50 grand to that. In any case it was a meaningfully large turnout.

How you perceived the event had a lot to do with the coverage to which you were exposed. For example, there's a little media outlet in Tennessee that spun it this way:
A REPORT from the Code Pink rally.

UPDATE: In Madison, Vive Saddam.
The first linked story in Perfesser Reynolds' report is headlined "Redeploy the Hippies to Cuba (and other thoughts on the Code Pinko Rally)," which tells us that, contrary to the hyperinflated police reports (because we all know how cops like to make protests look successful), there were "MAYBE 4000 people there. And there were MAYBE 8000 - 12000 protesters at the Capitol. The news media knows how to frame shots of signs close together to make the crowd look more crowded. And they like to crop pictures as well." (For a glimpse of the huge counter-protester contingent, see here, or consult your common sense.)

The second link is from the noted crackpot Ann Althouse, who on this day of massive protest focuses on some guy in Madison, Wisconsin "who is holding a sign that says 'Vive Saddam.'" Then she says, "let's critique the 'Bring them home' chant," and basically says that... oh, damn, you people deserve the full force of teh funny:
It's a chant that made sense for Vietnam, a war for which men were drafted. I very much understand the resistance and shock and desperation that was felt for the young men who were forced to go to Vietnam, feelings that would make many people say, quite simply, "Bring them home." But for Iraq, everyone has volunteered. Everyone who's there made a profound decision to do something. The chant "Bring them home," in that context, seems to be shouting disrespectfully in their face that they made a blunder. There are people who chose to do something and are working very hard to accomplish it. While it is true that our leaders owe them the right decisions about how to win the war, the individuals who volunteered deserve respect for the choices that they made. The chant omits the honoring of that choice.
So what I guess Professor Althouse is suggesting as a more appropriate chant is, "RESPECTFULLY, YOU GUYS REALLY MADE SOME SHITTY CHOICES -- BUT 'A' FOR EFFORT!" Or maybe what she favors is "I'M SORRY I PISSED CONSERVATIVES OFF LAST MONTH -- PLEASE COME ENJOY MY HIPPIE-HATING BULLSHIT TODAY!"

How these people wash their hair without their skulls caving in is beyond me.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

NATTERING NABOBS OF NEGROTIVITY. Not to belabor the white-conservatives-and-race thing, but Jonah Goldberg made a fascinating statement at NRO the other day:
Derb - You ask if anyone dreams of a colorblind America?

Well, I do. As do — I think — a lot of people. That they're often called racist or insensitive and that such a goal is probably an unachievable ideal shouldn't sully the ideal.
This was followed up by many correspondences from Goldberg fans who are either mad at black people or clearly wounded by their lack of cooperation with right-wing Whitey.

Here is one who sighs that he expected "that black Americans would stop voting monolithically Democratic as they became more educated and successful," but has been sadly disappointed. (Goldberg says hey, tell me about it, I get the same thing from Jews!) Another goes into a long, dreamy reverie about race-mixing (the author says he is/was married to a "[black] African" -- what an exciting relationship that must be/have been!) Yet another is "sure there are many blacks who feel the least they can do to maintain their authentic blackness is vote Democratic. You avoid an awful lot of arguments with your family if you do." (Why not just vote Republican and lie to your family, if you feel that strongly about it?)

Finally we get a "black republican" (why weren't they all black? The NRO letter-"receiving" team is getting sloppy) who's totally down with fighting the real enemy ("a white liberal can say really racist things about a conservative black," etc). Maybe that's why Goldberg decided to quit:
Lots of interesting email has come in, but I've got to run to a meeting. Either later today or tomorrow morning I'll post some follow-ups to some — I think fair —  complaints from liberal readers (some of whom happen to be black, Jewish etc).
In the Goldberg universe, of course, "Got to run to a meeting" means "Smell ya later, oh look a donut, score."

It may be due to my many years as a sharecropper on the liberal plantation, but I am struck, not to say thunderstruck, that this conversation is still going on -- let alone led, in this instance, by a guy whose obsession with black folk has always been a little creepy (read here under "Bye Bye Marion" for some real cold chills -- and imagine Goldberg and whatever sort of people would go out drinking with him making that request to a bartender).

That Goldberg would portray his bizarre attitude as nobly "colorblind" -- for which greatness of spirit the poor honkeys are called racist! -- suggests a slight but significant change in the race consciousness of white conservatives. While they were cheerfully winning elections with just a few percentage-points' worth of African-American support, the "how come they don't like us?" thing was just an idle bagatelle, like calling for a "Marion Barry" at the bar. But now that they have no majority, nor any immediate hope of one, I see this topic taking up much more of their ample free time.

Maybe at the next NRO Symposium, the Negro Problem will be discussed by Goldberg, John Derbyshire, Bill Bennett, etc. Maybe Deroy Murdock or Robert George will be there, but I doubt their contributions will be given any more weight than anyone else's -- that would be racist, right?

It gets clearer all the time that today American conservatism, as evinced by its most popular web avatars, is about displacement and projection -- they fuck up a war, then complain loudly that long-powerless liberals fucked it up; they lack black support, and lament at length the dysfunctions suffered, in their view, by black Americans -- because why else wouldn't they vote for the Party of the Southern Strategy? As Doghouse Riley is fond of saying, they really seem to be in their Ghost Dance phase.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

HEADS UP. I know the conservatives haven't been right about anything in a long time, but I think you should anticipate that the Iraq surge will have some kind of effect early on that will look like progress. Once the troops are committed -- and I suspect they will be -- they will certainly be instructed to kill some people and occupy some fractious districts tout suite. Our troops, being the world's best, will accomplish these missions, and the stateside cries of "boo-yah" and "liberal traitor" will return to 2003 levels as victory is proclaimed to be within sight.

Now, victory has been redefined. Before we were supposed to be saving the Iraqi people -- "Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country" -- but now, as this recent snarl from Mark Steyn shows, we are only interested in dominating them:
It's very heartwarming when you see US soldiers with beaming Iraqi kids because they've just rebuilt the schoolhouse, but it's not what US soldiers should be doing... My favorite Foreign Minister, Australia's Alexander Downer, gives a lot of thought to this matter. Oz has several failed and failing states in its backyard and it's far more comfortable with the idea not just of sending in troops but of sending in judges and civil servants and the like to get the place on its feet. Sovereignty is not absolute, as Mr Downer likes to say.

They don't need to be running the joint. A while back, John O'Sullivan told me he'd once danced a foxtrot with the prima ballerina of the Royal Danish Ballet. As she took his hand, she said, I will lead. But I will make you look like you are leading. I said, Wow! That should have been our Iraq policy. Instead of Paul Bremer as viceroy, a lot of really great discreet Number Twos in the Interior, Treasury, Education and other ministries...
And so "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" gives way to "Puppet Regime! Unsanitary Drinking Water! Ass Rape!" But no one remembers the old days and the fresh kills and captures will stir currently dormant bloodlusts. So war fever will rage anew until, months or years down the road, we realize that we have only taken hold of a different limb of the tar baby, and we play the game all over again.

I give you this heads-up only because some of my younger readers may be dispirited by the turnaround, not having seen, as we greybeards have, many such like before.
NOT THAT HE'S APPROVING OF STEPIN FETCHIT -- WHY, THAT FELLOW WOULD MAKE AN AWFUL CLERK AT TARGET. Did you catch James Lileks' passionate defense of olde-style Negro servitude?
The Steward was one of those peculiar archetypes of American apartheid – along with the Porter and the Maid. Unlike the domestic servant, though, he contained no sass. Think Uncle Ben: big toothy smile, yassir. Domestic servants, however, were allowed a great deal of sass – listen to the old Great Gildersleeve shows, and you get a perfect picture of the popular idea of this idealized relationship. Gildy is henpecked and outdone by all his domestic associates, but the only person who comes across with any degree of pride or level-headedness is Birdie, the servant, and Gildy’s relationship to her is one of kindness and deference. You could say that’s easy: she didn’t count, so it was easy to be nice to her. But that’s wrong. There was a fundamental decency and mutual affection in their relationship. Yes, yes, idealized depiction of inherent inequalities, etc. As the argument no doubt goes, the shows perpetuated inequality by pretending they really didn’t exist. But it’s instructive to note what the popular culture held out as the ideal. Equality, not subjegation. Birdie was fully integrated into the family, and shared the same values. Nowadays I suspect a sitcom with a Black servant in a middle-class family would milk the clash of cultures, not the similarities. Wanda Sykes would star.
There's something missing here.... something... oh yeah -- the wounded, pre-emptive dismissal of accusations!
I am now bracing for the mail that accuses me of missing the days of Jim Crow. Whatever.
That's how the pro wingnuts do it, folks! Next up: why the passing from the scene of Joe Jitsu harmed our relations with China.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

LONG STORY SHORT. Didn't see the SOTU -- busy working on a project (tell you more later). Did read the transcript.

What a bunch of bullshit.

First, the usual Santa Claus list of initiatives. (I always liked Clinton, but I am beginning to hate him for bequeathing this legacy.) Bush praises our allegedly rocket-powered economy, then asks for tons of domestic legislation to support it. Can't Alberto Gonzales just make it all happen sub rosa (Latin for "inside a burlap sack by the river")?

Then the war shit. When Bush mentioned 9/11, did the media pool show anyone rolling his eyes? I would have volunteered. The Sunni and the Shia are portrayed as two scrappy 19th Century immigrants (Mike the Mick and Tony the Wop, in short pants, their sacks of newspapers flung to one side) who have to be separated by Uncle Sam and his death squads. I can't believe they're still selling this crap. And what the fuck is a "Civilian Reserve Corps"? What do they pay? If I offer my services as a Singer of Songs, Gadfly, and Reprobate, will I get my own room, three squares, and a roll of drink tickets? I'm just desperate enough to take it, as I'm sure many of my fellow citizens are.

Then the special guest stars, and IS THIS A GREAT COUNTRY OR WHAT? THANK YOU GOOD NIGHT! I hope the band played the "Carol Burnett Show" Theme at the end.

To sum up: Rod Dreher was right, I hate this fucking country and want to see it overthrown by militant Islam, which totally rocks!
TRAITOR. Thanks to Nancy Nall, I see Crunchy Rod Dreher has struck a new low. Because some guy made a movie about guys who fuck horses, Dreher thinks the Taliban may be onto something:
...what do you say to Muslims abroad who'd genuinely wonder why, if this kind of decadence is the fruit of American liberty, they should welcome what we have to offer?
You say, "If you don't like it, go ahead and continue to live in your medieval desert shithole, dumbass." That's what you say.
I believe that we have got to fight hard to defend the West against Islamic aggression. What, though, are we defending? D'Souza is right about this: the kind of people who make and celebrate "compassionate" movies about people having sex with animals are civilization's enemies.
You can understand Dreher's distress. Not only does he have to fight suicide bombers -- he also has to fight documentary filmmakers! And by "fight" I mean of course "write columns about." Amazing he finds the time to grind his pesto!

Dreher says that "I probably have, re: fundamental morals, more in common with the first 500 people I'd meet in Cairo, Damascus or Tehran than the first 500 people I'd meet in Park City, UT, during festival time." But he won't move to Cairo, Damascus, or Tehran -- dammit! -- because "I do not want to live under sharia or cultivate affinity for sharia-based societies, whose values I find in particular instances to be perverse and inhuman." (Emphasis his.) He doesn't say which "particular instances" he finds inhuman, but I have a sneaking suspicion book- and movie-banning aren't high on the list.

I sometimes -- cur that I am -- make fun of those of my fellow citizens who live in Bumfuck, Alabama and other such rustic locales. But it would never occur to me to declare that, because I do not myself enjoy snuff-dipping or tractor pulls, that I am in sympathy with the folks who want to blow those citizens up for Allah.

Yet for the past five years I've been called a traitor while Dreher has been drawing fat wingnut-welfare checks for his shitty writing and spending them on arugula and hemp clothing. Sigh. Wake me when this spaceship has left Bizarro World.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A HEALTH CARE REFORMER IS A CONSERVATIVE WHO GOT SICK. Cathy Seipp tries to explain why she complained about the shitty health care system that allowed her insurers to raise her deductible and refuse her treatment (until the State intervened on her behalf):
Yes, what is this terrible Republican woman doing complaining about an insurance company? Don't all Republicans side with evil corporate entities against suffering human beings? Isn't that... you know... a basic part of the platform or something?

But for some reason, the only politicians pushing expanded access to health care right now are Republicans: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who's just left his post to become a (mean old) Republican presidential candidate in 2008.
Fair-weather free-marketeers Romney and Woflcastle are for statist health care plans for the same reason Seipp is: because there's something in it for them. Romney wants to be president; Wolfcastle wants popular support for when he storms the Capitol, bites Nancy Pelosi's neck open, and declares himself dictator; and Seipp wants to justify her cafeteria conservatism sufficiently (and it doesn't take much, apparently) to keep her sinecure at National Review.

The two pols are at least crafty about it -- the plans they propose fall short of what liberals might propose, and anyway what do they care about the mess they may leave behind them in their rise to glory? But Seipp is just clumsy as hell. Instead of making a conservative case for state-sponsored health care (whatever that might be), Seipp just bitches out other people -- some liberal who won't immediately support the Wolfcastle plan, young whippersnappers who would rather bask in such luxuries as "living without a roommate" than buy insurance (or maybe Seipp wants the kids to pay for her procedures: her writing is so confused at this point, it's hard to tell), and people who eat burgers in her hospital waiting room ("Whatever was wrong with them, it certainly didn't affect their appetites").

This is lifestyle conservatism at its best -- conservative because the author feels herself conservative even as she calls upon Big Brother to rescue her.

But I'll say this for Seipp -- at least she is free to jettison, if only for the opportunistic moment, the bare-fanged cruelty of Cato Institute types such as Michael F. Cannon, who approves of the upcoming George Bush health-care proposal because, he cheerfully admits, it will cause Americans to seek less medical treatment -- not because they'll be less sick, but because they won't be able to afford it:
As it stands, the tax code also encourages Americans to consume more health care than they otherwise would. Employer-provided health insurance isn't taxed as income, so workers have an incentive to demand ever more generous health benefits...

The incentive to demand more coverage often causes us to consume more health care than we need -- which, in turn, drives health care prices and insurance premiums skyward.

The president's plan would encourage responsibility by limiting the amount of health insurance we can deduct from our taxes each year...
Yeah, Grandma's not likely to find another husband at her age, so why does she need that wen removed? And how do you know you can't live with your cancer until you've given it a try? Your stupid diseases are making the Invisible Hand feel bad!

"Don't all Republicans side with evil corporate entities against suffering human beings?" Sure, unless it interferes with whatever other scam they're running at any given time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

McCORMICK! McCORMICK! McCORMICK! McCORMICK! No sooner do I post fresh evidence that conservative culture cranks are getting way, way out there, than I find this amazing post at Chicago Boyz ("Boyz"! Jesus, and I thought my shizzolator needed an upgrade), in which the media are exorted to cover the Iraq War as if it were football:
...we do need media who recognize that they've got some skin in this game. That there are things that they do not need to know, immediately, under a system of representative government. That their role in life is not to undermine the effectiveness of the local team. Yes, we want to know the strengths and weaknesses. But winning the game -- not exposing how the game is to be won -- is what ultimately counts to the fans.
I don't know if I can even tell you why this is stupid, as I have not had to explain anything a five-year-old lately and may have lost the appropriate skills. But I will mention that this bizarre, apparently non-satirical post has gotten big ups from the Ole Perfesser, Ed Driscoll, and other rightwing blogbrethren.

And I must call out this line:
Thus my broader view for the day -- America will get the MSM it wants when America takes its national security as seriously as its football.
While I can see that the author, James McCormick, knows what kind of MSM he wants -- I envision something with headlines about "Oceania" and "Eurasia" -- I wonder why he thinks America wants the same thing. I guess this is a legacy of the old days, when blogs were just a few Jeff Jarvis columns away from taking over the world and people like McCormick were going to be the new opinion leaders -- maybe he still thinks all he has to do is run to the top of the hill, scream "LAMPPOST DOGSTAR I AM A TV SET," point his wooden sword westward and charge, and all his countrymen (who -- also in my imagining -- closely resemble him) will happily follow.

I sort of miss the days when they were content to inflame existing prejudices and mass delusions, instead of trying to make up new ones.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

YOUNG MAN, THAT'S THE FUNNIEST THING YOU'VE SAID ALL NIGHT -- SCREW THE IRISH! At "Islamophobic and proud of it" Gates of Vienna, "Baron Bodissey" covers a U.K. reality show tsimmis in which an Indian actress complained of racist treatment. At first he wasn't going far wrong, which in his case is a great achievement. The Baron finds the comments directed at the actress "boorish, tasteless, and unwarranted," notes that British lowbrow humor has long had a racist component that is probably not going to be easily ameliorated by "administrative fiat," and thinks it was a bit much for the Prime Minister to get involved in this case.

Agree or not, a reasonable reader might at least judge this response within the bounds of reason, which bounds, alas, can never long restrain the Baron:
It would be laughable if Britain were not facing a looming cultural disaster at the hands of Islamic zealots. When sharia takes over on the nook-shotten isle of Albion, Ms. Shetty will no longer have to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous racists on reality TV, because there will be no more reality TV, and no more shameless infidel women in their scanty outfits.
Then he completely misreads parodies of racist behavior by the Firesign Theatre and Ed Sanders. Then his helpmeet "Dymphna" amplifies on the topic with a takedown of celebrity culture. I, too, think celebrity culture is pretty silly, but as Dymphna warmed to her topic my mild nods of approval quickly turned to a Springtime for Hitler gape:
The [People] magazine was crammed with improbable looking women, all dressed and sculpted to look alike, their botoxed lips giving them a certain K-Mart Lolita air. The Stepford Wives have nothing on these creatures; they are merely messier looking versions of their legendary suburban foremothers. And the men? They all seemed to need a shave and a job and a trip to Good Will for some clothing.

Plumbing the depths of People didn’t take the pain away, but it did create a diversion of sorts as I attempted to figure out the ramifications of a culture of women with lots of money, ratty hair, and clothing that seemed to have been grabbed off the street from passing hookers.

I’m still working on this puzzle, though I did notice a central part of their belief system: repeated stays at drug rehabilitation center as a swinging door rite of passage. Their in-and-out-the-rehab-door-dramas brought to mind those clocks or barometers with little German dolls that used to lurch woodenly out of their tiny spaces to announce the time… or did they forecast the weather?
Here's the thing: I can enjoy, or at least tolerate, a standard-issue Jay Leno gag about skanky Hollyweird actresses. But were Leno to stick with the topic after the first wave of laughter passed, darkly warning of the cultural "ramifications" of all that drug abuse and thrift-store clothing, I think NBC would be cutting away to a commercial pretty fast.

This reminds me of something that those of us who cover conservative cultural criticism often forget: most such criticism circulates only within a closed loop occupied by outrage junkies. The number of citizens who see Paris Hilton as the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse is very small. We Americans can be weird about our pop culture, but few of us are that weird.

The thought is mildly reassuring. A clever demagogue, of course, can exploit our vague uneasiness about changing mores for electoral gain -- and it has in fact been done more than once with great success. But if Dymphna and the Baron represent cutting-edge rightwing thought, it may be that conservatives really are losing whatever populist touch they may have had.

Friday, January 19, 2007

UNIFIED FRAUD THEORY. I think this may be the perfect Ole Perfesser post.

First, he quotes Don Surber, who says
Big Pharma update. Big Pharma develops a vaccine for a virus that causes 70% of the cervical cancer in the world. Liberals in the West Virginia Legislature stop clubbing Big Pharma long enough to notice this development and to push for a bill requiring girls get vaccinated.

The conservative Daily Mail endorses the idea.

But liberals already are back to clubbing Big Pharma. It is Luddite liberalism.
In Surber's original post -- but not the Perfesser's replication -- we get a link that shows "Luddite liberalism" to mean this:
Without discussion, the [West Virginia] state Pharmaceutical Cost Management Council agreed Wednesday to a postponed deadline for drug companies to disclose what they spend on direct-to-consumer advertising and marketing to physicians...

The disclosure form has been a bone of contention for pharmaceutical companies and physician groups, since it would require drug companies to report any gifts, grants or other payments to doctors in excess of $10,000 a year.

Advocates of the disclosure form argue that the council needs to know how much pharmaceutical companies are spending to advertise and market brand-name drugs, in order to exclude those costs when negotiating for drug price discounts.
As this is plainly due diligence by a state agency responsible for negotiation with vendors, it would appear Surber has wildly exaggerated the Luddism. But at least he gave his readers the chance to, as they say, read the whole thing.

Here's the best part -- the Perfesser then quotes at great length a report on the development of a new cancer drug that sounds unambiguously wonderful, even miraculous. Then he comments:
I hope it pans out, but if it does people will probably find a way to bash the drug companies over it.
Because that's just like certain people, isn't it -- you cure their cancer, and they turn right around and smash your threshing machines.

We may well remember this as the day when Perfesser officially transitioned from propaganda to surrealism.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

SHORTER CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Bloody hell, Bush bollocksed the war! But I still prefer his dick to Clinton's. Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug.
LIFESTYLE CONSERVATISM. Like Megan McArdle's defense of being wrong, described in the previous post, the latest Lileks Bleat confronts reality with a rubber sword and a victory flag.

What sticks in his craw is a Times thumbsucker on the increase in unmarried women. Lileks cannot dispute that women who don't want to be married don't have to be, and some may even be happier on their own. But simple pursuit-of-happiness grounds are as nothing compared to Lileks-grade nostalgia! "To my parent's generation," he says, "divorce for no good reason was proof of moral failure." They also thought nuclear radiation was harmless, Jimbo. (Also, they would have considered a fellow with your fussiness about breakfast sausages and old matchbooks to be, erm, a mite tetched.)

And then comes that last refuge of a propagandist: prose poetry!
It's a consequence of the triumph or Romantic Love, I suppose; if you don't mesh at the elemental level, something's wrong. The notion of simply inhabiting the same road as you move towards the horizon isn't enough; you must both be fascinated by the same things. I prefer the model where one person is interested in the flowers that grow by the road, and the other discourses on the history of pavement, and you both speculate on the birds in the boughs above. But that's just me.
This is the sort of thing that makes me sorry I learned how to read.

Like McArdle's plaint, this is all about being right when you're wrong -- defending an indefensible premise (in which you're too invested to back off) by any means except logic, which has already been failed you. To this end, Lileks even avails the old trick of speculating, what if the thing I'm ranting about were actually something entirely different? ("Or would a Times piece by this author about surging rates of marriage -- especially among the young -- somehow communicate a sense of dread and regret, of oppurtunities lost?") This is known among nerds as a "thought experiment," and among regular people as bullshit.

Finally, though, one is left wondering: Why are the private beliefs and behaviors of other citizens so annoying to Lileks? Probably because what was once said of the left wing is now demonstrably true of the right: for them, the personal is the political. The marriage habits and bedroom behaviors of others obsess them; they obsessively judge the political content of movies, TV shows, and so forth. I guess when your politics are shown to be disastrously inapt for the country, what else have you got left?

UPDATE. For a more seriouser look at the single-gal issue, see here.
SOPHISTIC LADY. Megan McArdle's bizarre "20/20 Bias" post -- near as I can figure, it's about how just because she was wrong about Iraq doesn't mean the people who disagreed with her were right -- has already been appropriately dealt with on grounds of idiocy. But I would like to briefly address the fantasy aspects of it.

McArdle states that "What the doves would like to see the hawk's do" is make this statement: "I was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong about everything, I am a stupid idiot, you are a brilliant figure with god-like omniscience." I think my regular readers know that I certainly wouldn't want anything of the kind. McArdle herself is too valuable a source of humor to lose that way, and her fellow hawks have been at least as hilarious. I look forward to chronicling their progress for years to come.

Also, McArdle says "I think the doves are crediting themselves with way too much analytical brilliance." Speaking only for myself -- as someone who is decidedly not a dove, but who thought this war was a bad idea from the beginning -- I make no claim to analytical or any other kind of brilliance. If anything, I just have a lick of common sense, drummed into me by my late mother, who did not trust fancy salesmen who refrained from showing their merchandise; this trained me to look askance upon a war against someone who hadn't attacked us, justified only by the assertions of untrustworthy Republican poltroons.

Devising paradoxes and logic puzzles to get around bald reality is some sort of a skill, but not the kind that pays the rent or keeps a nation out of unneeded difficulties.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

IDLE QUESTIONS. I see that the evil MSM has given the Ole Perfesser a platform for his gun rights activism in their house organ, the New York Times. My first question is: why did he bother? The Perfesser keeps telling us that the MSM is finished, through, washed up -- so why not just post this on a blogspot page and let PayPal and Jeff Jarvis work their magic? Mayhap he has some relatives who live way on up in the hills and have no WiFi access but receive the Times regularly. ("Lookie here, Brandine -- Yorkies is movin' up, but they don't say nothin' bout hound dogs!")

Also, as long as the Ole Perf was in the belly of the beast, why did he choose to illustrate his point (that we should all be forced to have guns at gunpoint) by using a little Idaho town as his example, when he could have instead presented a dazzling vision of how the paper's readership would fare in an all-guns, all-the-time New York City? Greenpoint would certainly be a more exciting place had I a government-mandated weapons cache!

And I must ask, under this plan would poor people get government-funded firearms? I'm guessing the Perfesser would prefer not, but I'm sure my right-wing readers will agree that one should always take a moment to consider the unintended consequences of governent programs.

UPDATE. Speaking of right-wing readers, I will save a certain someone a bit of time by informing him or her that this post was written and posted during my lunch break and on my own internet connection. P.S. Blow me.
MLK DAY WRAPUP. Aged recluse Jeff Goldstein bestirs himself to perform -- in poor voice, but with maximum attitude -- some Jeff Goldstein Greatest Hits, challenging black folk who think they deserve some sort of a holiday -- which they don't because there is no such thing as race, you see. Goldstein's boys love it, until a person claiming to be black shows up in comments, whereupon they immediately forget that there's no such thing as blackness and start attacking black people ("And what do you say about a 70% out of wedlock black birth rate? Is that unmentionable? Whitey’s fault?"). Even on MLK Day, apparently, there are some neighborhoods people of color ought to avoid.

More surprising is the National Review tribute, where some of the brethren actually admit that American conservatives were once hostile toward MLK:
Aside from the general dislike that conservatives held (and hold) toward civil disobedience under most circumstances, there are a number of other reasons left unaddressed by [Rick] Perlstein for why conservatives cannot embrace King without reservation....
If Perlstein left those reasons unaddressed -- I'm thinking of one in particular -- I'm sure he was just being polite.

They'll Do It Every Time -- celebrating the King holiday by explaning why he shouldn't have a holiday and so forth. If I wish they could just stop pretending and say what they really feel, it isn't entirely because I would like to see their electoral disasters increase -- it is also out of fellow-feeling, because the strain of trying to seem respectful appears to be wearing on them something awful.

UPDATE. Mark Krikorian says the best thing about the recent Mike Judge movie Idiocracy is that it makes fun of black people. Every day is MLK Day for some people!

Monday, January 15, 2007

PLEASING THE AFFILIATES. I have always said that this blogosphere thing is a joke, but even I must admit it has some advantages over print media. For one thing, we are not subject to deadline pressure, which prevents us from having to file such crap as Mark Steyn had to cough up for this Chicago Sun-Times column on Nancy Pelosi:
I would wager that, when the young Nancy Pelosi had ''five children in six years,'' a hefty percentage of that parenthood wasn't planned. She is, in that sense, philosophically at odds with her party -- and, indeed, with her congressional district. San Francisco now registers more dogs that it does schoolchildren.
See, it's funny because Pelosi is a hypocrite because she got knocked up and she's from San Francisco where you're supposed to have abortions. OK, so it's not funny at all. If you were up on your right-wing methodology, you'd know satire doesn't have to be funny in the -- what's the academic term for it? -- intentional sense.

But wait a minute -- Steyn has a follow-up:
Lest you think I'm being my usual homophobic self, I hasten to add that for once I'm not: It speaks well for the Bay Area that they had to embrace the gay life to match the collapsed birth rates European cities have managed to achieve heterosexually.
Ha ha ha! Because, see, they're all fags.

Read the whole thing if you're nostalgic for women's lib jokes ca. 1971. I don't know how many of the Sun-Times' readers suffer from that sort of nostalgia. I doubt it matters. The lucky Steyn has scored one of those right-wing affirmative-action journalistic sinecures that are supposed to take some of the edge off conservative media criticism. To paraphrase the old joke: you know it's bullshit, I know it's bullshit, but business is business.

Friday, January 12, 2007

ANOTHER MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA. St. Rudy Giuliani (with added bombast by Newt Gingrich) explains that what Iraq needs is for Rudy to go chase away the squeegee men.

Okay, not quite. But he does want to turn the Green Zone into a Business Improvement District:
The week before Christmas, the Pentagon asked Congress to approve a supplemental $100 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the estimated $500 billion spent to date. The administration should direct a small percent of that amount to create an Iraqi Citizen Job Corps, along the lines of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression...
Of course, during the Great Depression, America had not literally been attacked by the Martians from War of the Worlds, who then, under political pressure back on Mars, rushed to institute the CCC. But other than that the analogy holds!

I can't wait till they send St. Roo over there to run the Iraqi Citizen Job Corps:

ST. RUDY: Alright, men, I know you've been poisoned by a culture of dependency. For too long you depended on running water, electricity, and civic order. But now those of you who have boots will pull yourselves up by the bootstraps, and those that don't have boots will wake up and smell the coffee. In fact you'll all wake up and smell the coffee!

In the absence of water to make actual coffee, ST. RUDY has BERNIE KERIK spray the room with Demeter's "Fresh Coffee" scent.

ST. RUDY: Today we're going to sweep the streets! Where's that kid I sent for brooms?

IRAQI 1: Pardon, oh lisping one, that was my nephew, Achmed. I saw him just now outside the window, dying in a hail of gunfire.

ST. RUDY: Your nephew died a hero, sir. We'll carve his name into a memorial sometime in 2016. Alright, who wants to go get the brooms?

Nobody moves.

ST. RUDY: Listen, people, those orange jumpsuits aren't going to pay for themselves! Would you rather sit here all morning and read articles from City Journal out loud?

One man raises his hand.

IRAQI 2: I would be happy to go, sir, if I could have American soldiers to protect me.

ST. RUDY: Soldiers to protect you! I suppose you'd like food stamps, too!

IRAQI 1: (his mouth watering) You have stamps made out of food? Allah be praised!

The Iraqis rush ST. RUDY, who is protected by KERIK and others with tasers.

ST. RUDY: I was wrong about you people! You're not capable of self-reliance! To hell with you, I'm going to Somalia -- I understand a lot of the problems there are caused by black people!

(Regrettably, I am too lazy to find a .wav file of The Little Rascals closing theme, which should be played here; use your imagination, like I did when I was your age.)

UPDATE. Thanks Tild~ for the illo!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF. Lord knows there is plenty of comic potential in the President's speech, and some of his fans have been making the most of it. Like noted Sadly, No commenter Ann Althouse:
I doubt that President Bush has any capacity to inspire Americans about the war in Iraq. I vaguely wish that he could.
Well, that'll get them up and out of their seats! Brave troops, muzzily march to your vague doom!
He's made his decision, and I think people need to support what he's doing and not undercut him by revealing to our enemies that we can be worn down and demoralized. Yet it doesn't bother me that much that Americans are not fired up by presidential speeches. We don't like war, and we especially don't like to live with a long war that doesn't reward us with distinct successes from time to time. We express our dissatisfaction, but I think most of us realize it's the President's responsibility to get us through this. Electing Democrats to Congress can be read as an expression of dissatisfaction, but does it also mean that we expect or even want Congress to interfere with the President's plan?
It's like this stain in my blouse. From my perspective it sort of looks like the continent of Africa, but from your perspective, it would look like something entirely different. You might see an arrowhead, or a flame. Or you might say, "That's some big stain, Ann." Wait, what were we talking about again?

But strangely, some of the more reliable laugh-getters leave me depressed. From Infinity-to-the-tenth-power-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters, I expected a yuk-fest, especially after Bush told Peters' beloved grunts and swabbies and whatnot they were now free from "restrictions" -- kill and kill again, General! But there is something rote in Peters' performance. The last thing one expects from our favorite kill-crazy madman is equivocation, but Peters' opening is painted in pastels as pale as Althouse's:
...Will the plan work? Maybe. It's a last-hope effort based on steps that should've been taken in 2003, from providing basic security for the population to getting young Iraqi males off the streets and into jobs.

The added 20,000-plus U.S. troops to be phased in over the coming months will make a tactical difference in Baghdad and Anbar province - but that may not translate into strategic success...
Of course, there's one topic on which Peters never disappoints, and that's the media, which he predictably and pre-emptively blames for the failure of Bush's shitty plan:
Our troops can stand up to any enemy. But I'm not as certain President Bush can withstand the onslaught of an enraged media - and any prospect that we might be turning the situation around will certainly enrage them.
But even this doesn't have the old Peters kick -- it's almost as if he's phoning it in.

Maybe it's just me. Because, when you think about it, the loss of lives this crackpot scheme will bring isn't all that funny.

UPDATE. Oh thank you Michelle Malkin for bringing teh funny! Such a cute widdle Iraqi boy-with-US-flag! Next time put a Hershey bar in his other hand -- if he has one -- and we'll run that baby on page one!

UPDATE II. Thanks also to John Podhoretz! You tell 'im, hoss -- that guy can't use that word, that's your word! Like "politically correct," "feminazi," and "America"!

UPDATE III. Paul J Cella -- now that guy cracks me up:
What prevents me from supporting President Bush amounts to this: I do not trust his judgment. Put another way, a man whose judgment has been demonstrated to be so suspect cannot claim my trust.
Alternately, my trust I do not in him entrust, because I judge his judgment untrustworthy. Conversely, were he judged trustworthy I would trust his judgment. Or judge his trustment. Also funny: Democrats are "cynical" to oppose the Iraqi quagmire because "everywhere else we look, Democrats are urging that we 'do' something for somebody" like poor people and chicks, so why not people in other countries we've recently blown to shit? Also funny: "Alas."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SHORTER THE ANCHORESS: You're Dems if you do and Dems if you don't!

(For the record, I have always thought this war was bullshit -- see my archives, or even the original alicublog, for confirmation -- and I think we should get the fuck out, no matter what the wets and water-treaders think.)
SHORTER AUSTIN BAY: Slow news day -- think I'll invent a meaningless catchphrase.

(Fave sentence: "As a noxious odor spread through Manhattan, reasonable people feared either an extensive natural gas leak or a poison gas attack." Many of us, however, just assumed Jonah Goldberg had a second breakfast burrito.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

MORE ADVICE FROM YOUR MORTAL ENEMIES. Some weeks ago, ferociously anti-"raghead" Gates of Vienna waged white jihad on Keith Ellison, a Muslim and a Democratic candidate for Congress. "Minnesota, weep for your children," said Dymphna. "This candidate is a piece of work." "Mr. Ellison’s fealty does not lie with the U.S. Constitution," said Baron Bodissey. (Yes, these are their names -- they're into Nordic roleplay.) "...his past, plus his present associations, most definitely point in the direction of 'Koran First, Constitution Second.'"

Well, now Piece-of-Work Ellison is Congressman Ellison -- sworn in on a Ko-ran, by Odin's codpiece! -- and Dymphna is offering him advice: take a stand on "the plight of women under sharia law — especially in Iran and Pakistan..."

The cause is commendable, though the utility of a freshman Congressman's denunciations would be in this case probably nil, at best. Still, Dymphna calls for Ellison to speak out, because -- get this -- "your public stance on the predicament of Muslim women is vital to the progress of reforming the view many Americans have of Islam at the moment."

Gates of Vienna (an "Islamophobic and Proud of It" button featured on its sidebar) offering to help Keith Ellison improve the image of Islam in America! By Loki's ampallang, that's a good one.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.
Keep an eye on this one. Both the outcome and the coverage should be interesting.

UPDATE. Commenter LA Confidential Pantload points to this RedState post, in which "Socrates" (I imagine RedState staff meetings as sad Symposia with giant bottles of Mr. Pibbs instead of wine) argues that we've been too nice to our "defeated" "enemy" in Iraq (you know, the erstwhile flower-strewing freedom-lovers). "Victory is incomplete until the loser internalizes the outcome," he says. But DeBa'athification, hanging Saddam, and turning the nation into a hellhole haven't led to the right sort of internalization, so what will? Maybe something like the Pol Pot Year Zero formula, after we get the future corpses to help us erect the derricks. For added laffs, check out ol' Soc's interpretations of the American Civil War and WWI.
TEACHING THE MSM A LESSON. Kerry photo funnies enjoyed by rightwing assholes (ha ha! Soljers stuk in irak hate Jon Cary!) shown to be bullshit. Ole Perfesser (via correspondent) says the real story is how that Cary -- I mean Kerry, ha ha -- has "special talents" for looking foolish.

Jamil Hussein, long derided by rightwing assholes as non-existent, is produced. The Ole Perfesser says the real story is that Media Matters listed Patterico among about a dozen other rightwing assholes.

Rightwing assholes flout Bush/Pelosi poll comparison which turns out, you guessed, to be misleading. (They tried something similar a few months back.) The Ole Perfesser turns it into a thought experiment: "I'm guessing, though, that these numbers would be getting a lot more press attention anyway if the party affiliations were reversed."

The knock I hear these guys constantly making on Main Stream Media is that the MSM's malfeasances, however small in the scheme of things, make all their stories hard to trust. They have a point. The MSM should work tirelessly and shamelessly, as the Perfesser does, to spin even obvious reversals into victories for their political affinity groups. Trying to actually report is difficult, and you can easily screw it up; but doing such work as the Perfesser does takes very little skill and there are no standards, apparently, against which to judge it. And there will always be a select group of people who will believe what you tell them, no matter what. And you never have to leave your basement!

Really, I don't know why our media isn't worse than it is, considering the current incentives.
HISTORY'S GREATEST MONSTER. This whole post, by Malkin storeminder Dafydd ab Hugh, is a gem, but here's the best bit:
The Iraq war -- indeed, the larger GWOJ (global war against jihadism) -- is as much a propaganda war, a war of ideas and "memes," as it is a shooting war. Paul Josef Goebbels understood the power of propaganda; so too did Tojo, Walter Cronkite, and so does al-Qaeda, of course.
I eagerly await future installments of this fever dream, in which the author uncovers Walter Cronkite's rape rooms and concentration camps. Not to mention the "Black Rock Death March."

Walter Cronkite as a peer of Tojo and Goebbels! Defeat has made them even more hilarious.
ALL I CAN SAY IS, if some of the big, big money I make every day with alicublog has run off in Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser's direction, well, blogging's like manure -- it's no good unless ya spread it around!

Previously, in her comments section, Dr. Mrs. OP has also claimed that Glenn Greenwald and I bought her a boat. If the IRS is reading this (and it is!), I just want to say that, judging from my actual traffic numbers (and what I know blogads and adsense actually pay), her claims are rather fanciful. (Though she may have a separate arrangement with Mr. Greenwald that I don't know about.)

UPDATE. Dr. Mrs. is onto me: not only am I a blog-millionaire, but the real power behind the Ann Althouse Army known as Sadly, No! It's only a matter of time before she figures out that I'm the brains behind this whole damn operation. Atrios -- Edroso in Latin! Kos -- Edroso in Greek! Pandagon -- Edroso in drag! My name is legion!

If you want me I'll be hiding out on Skull Island till things blow over.

UPDATE II. DMOP points out that I only gave her enough money to rent a boat. It's still going to look bad in the tabloids, though.

Friday, January 05, 2007

CHAOS THEORY. Adam Gopnik reports on Mayor Bloomberg's big plan for the City's next 25 years. Just as my eyes were glazing over -- "It is hard for people who don’t know what the city was like in the seventies or the early eighties to understand [blah blah blah]... Despite even 9/11... [blah blah blah]... New York is in good shape, and getting better..." -- Gopnik takes an unexpected turn:
What seemed a little odd about the plan, and the speech, though, is that the one thing that leaves many New Yorkers worried, or at least uneasy, was nowhere mentioned—perhaps because the Mayor doesn’t notice it, perhaps because that worry is a little metaphysical and almost poetic, resistant to oratory or city budget numbers. It is the sense that the city’s recovery has come at the cost of a part of its identity: that New York is safer and richer but less like itself, an old lover who has gone for a face-lift and come out looking like no one in particular. The wrinkles are gone, but so is the face. This transformation is one you see on every street corner in Manhattan, and now in Brooklyn, too, where another local toy store or smoked-fish emporium disappears and another bank branch or mall store opens. For the first time in Manhattan’s history, it has no bohemian frontier. Another bookstore closes, another theatre becomes a condo, another soulful place becomes a sealed residence. These are small things, but they are the small things that the city’s soul clings to...
Gopnick is a little overcautious and over-poetical, which is understandable -- he's a establishment type and the territory he's approaching here is very far from where such people normally like to be seen. The earlier, blahblah part of the essay is their real comfort zone: how wonderful that Starbuckses have replaced the crack houses, and that Disney took Times Square. No one wants to speak against safety, comfort, and the good will of the tourists who swell our economy with their vacation budgets.

In fact, if the subject is broached at all, it is always in the triumphalist terms taken by James Traub in 2003, when he suggested that now that New York had "got its swagger back" thanks to Saint Rudy (and "if that was Yuppified, I'd take it"), we could will "more theater, more cafes, more bookshops" into being and make the transformation complete: clean streets, and a cultural renaissance in the bargain!

Such types do not consider that the bargain went a little differently: the economic boom came with high rents, and the high rents made cultural activity much more difficult at the cheap end, where dreams are born. Ateliers, theatre and dance studios rentals are prohibitively expensive; so are apartments, and it's hard to attain the kind of critical mass that breeds a bohemia when you have to work all day just to sustain a marginal existence, and take two trains to an affordable crib far from anything. The evidence is all around us. The dirty 70s birthed punk-rock, hip-hop, Martin Scorsese, etc; our clean and sober era gives us the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and artisanal cheese shops. Our venues are mostly expensive barns that need star acts to keep afloat. Showcases are a luxury. New York is more than ever a place where the Best of Everything does a four-night stand, not where it is manufactured.

That is what they wanted and that is what they got. I rather expect it will only change when things get tough again -- when the tourists forsake us, when another President tells us to Drop Dead (rather than doing his own four-night stand, as Bush did in 2004 with the Republican Convention), when the bottom falls out of the housing market, when people can come to New York with practically nothing and make something out of it.

No one wants to think so, because we have been taught that economic growth is the wellspring of all good things, and that we can have it all, even a Traubian renaissance. It is hard to tell a booster that some kinds of growth come from the mulch born of decay. Our businessman mayor's plan contains many necessary items, but some things you can't plan -- especially if you don't really want them, not at the cost they would demand, and you couldn't admit it in polite company if you did.

But even if you did want them, and had the bad taste to say so, it wouldn't really matter, because if they came they would come the way such things always do -- by accident, and against our best intentions.

UPDATE. Comments on this one are fascinating. Don't misapprehend me: I'm not trying to tell you how much better it was back in my day. I wouldn't have minded coming of age in the New York of Allen Ginsberg and Marlon Brando, either, or that of Warhol and Lou Reed. From what I can tell, most postwar sub-generations of New York had something we don't have now. You may disagree. But I do wonder what features of this era future sub-gens will look back upon with nostalgia and admiration. Bottle-service clubs? Dave Matthews in Central Park? Hopefully I can hold my position long enough to find out. In every sense, things can always get worse.
MORAL GUIDEBOOK -- COPIOUSLY ILLUSTRATED! Ace of Spades will link you to hot pics of a naked cheerleader, but first you have to listen to a lecture:
Something has seriously gone wrong in this culture. God knows I'm not a super-strict virtuecrat or anything, but a steady diet of MTV sex shows, Sex & the City, and the like now has many, verging on most, young girls pretty much behaving like gutterwhores...

I don't think the ubiquity of porn has much of an impact, because in order to sell this behavior, you have to sell it as cool, chic, hip, an attractive "lifestyle choice"...
Etc. The commenters are all over it: "I blame the Boomers. Judging by her age, I'd bet her parents were just enough a part of the Summer of Love that she (and her peers) grew up in an environment that was pretty much 100% sexually indiscriminate..."

And in the background, a soft, ceaseless chorus of wankwankwankwankwankwank like crickets in the country.

Ah well -- They think up so many new ways to be ridiculous that it's kind a relief to see them working the classics.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

WHEN ALL YOU HAVE IS A JACKBOOT, EVERY PROBLEM LOOKS LIKE A CULTURE WAR. "As for Don McLean's 'classic' ["American Pie"] -- I still hate it but with less gusto after learning that it is in fact anti-hippy" -- Dean Esmay.

Please, nobody tell the poor guy about "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" -- or, given he's an Elvis Costello fan, "Tramp the Dirt Down."

Everything is politics to these guys. Imagine a life like that! It's almost sad enough to stop me from making fun of them.
SHORTER PETER WOOD: Anger makes Democrats very unattractive, which is why nobody voted for them in 2006.

(I must add that a semiotic deconstruction of the Works of Jon Chait was about the last thing I ever expected to read at National Review Online. It was annoying enough when these people were tugging our sleeves, pointing at Michael Moore, and going, "See that fat guy? That's what you look like." On the other hand, it will be interesting to see what happens when this meme is force-fed to the base: imagine a national network of warbloggers and other operatives trying to rouse the populace against Jonathan Chait Democrats. If that doesn't work, they can do the one about how Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock was even worse.)
A LIBERAL MUGGED BY AUTHORITARIANISM. I make fun of libertarians sometimes, but really, like most of us these days, I'm something of a lipstick libertarian myself -- you know, all about maximum freedom until you push my statist buttons. For example, I support laws against child labor, yet insist on a right to consensual sodomy. What a hypocrite I am!

Whether I am as much a hypocrite as the Lip Libs of The Corner or the Ole Perfesser, I leave to be judged by my non-existent God. I will say that Hit and Run is one of my favorite blogs, and that the only thing that kept me from wasting a whole morning raging over Victor Davis Hanson was this eloquent David Weigel analysis -- or should I say dialysis? In any event he sure takes the piss out of the old clown.

See, they do too have a sense of humor! Now they just have to stop standing too close to you when they talk.

UPDATE. Oh, and the Hit and Run commenters -- who all have girlfriends "away at college," and adult acne* -- are also brilliant. Fave line so far: "'Think tank' has become a byword for 'place where people who are wrong about Iraq work.'"

* This is a joke. My site is full of jokes like this. Due to my complex psychological makeup, gentle ribbing is one of the few ways I can show affection. Yet despite my curmudgeonly pose, I love all my fellow creatures, especially when I'm on mescaline.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

BUT OLD MAN RETARD, HE JUST KEEPS ROLLING ALONG... "If Syriana is profitable it’s thanks to overseas sales, and I’m sure terrorist recruitment centers everywhere." -- that ever-reliable source of culture-nerd nuttage, Libertas.

(Any random Libertas post will lower your esteem for kulturkampfers by several degrees, no matter how low it is already, but if you're pressed for time just read this one about how all post-60s Republican Presidents had a sense of humor, and all post-60s Democratic Presidents did not. Money shot: "SNL did a very funny skit about Carter.. It portrayed him as naive, cowardly, and small. Had Akroyd shaved the mustache and added a dash of anti-semitism it would’ve been perfect.")
BLACK AND WHITE TURN IT ON, FACE THE NEW RELIGION. At the Weekly Standard Joseph Epstein's talking about American Presidents who are "believers" and American Presidents who are "unbelievers." All our Presidents have professed some sort of faith, of course, and Epstein himself -- overcome, perhaps, by a spasm of sequential thought, or a glance at his word count -- declares that "I do not know American history well enough to run through all 43 of our presidents, designating the believers and nonbelievers among them." But he recovers quickly, and says he can hit the target from Truman onwards:
Truman wasn't supposed to possess anything resembling belief; when he came to the presidency at the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he was considered a politician of the ward-heeling type, beholden to the Pendergast machine in Kansas City. Yet he was called on to make some of the most significant decisions of the 20th century--including that of dropping atomic bombs on Japan--and it is impossible to imagine him making that decision without deep belief in its rightness. As it happens, the decision was one that every American serviceman, even ardent liberals among them, viewed as the correct decision.
You can already see the pattern emerging here: where biography, or any empirical evidence, fails to show True Faith, it may yet be inferred from positive results -- if it's good, it's the product of belief!

But the longer this goes on, the sloppier things get:

"Dwight David Eisenhower had no strong beliefs that I can make out... Eisenhower believed in order... But his belief was cool... To be a true believer, passion is required." (Translation: He really dicked us with that military-industrial complex thing, and integration. No True Faith for you!)

"John F. Kennedy was a non believer... Had he lived longer, Kennedy might have come to belief..." (Translation: I want to say he burns in Hell but we have to throw aged Catholics a few bones or the Republicans are fucked in 2008.)

"The great irony of Johnson's career is that the man everyone considered the operator par excellence until he ascended to the presidency was brought down by his own genuine beliefs." (Translation: Thank God they can't blame him on us!)

"Difficult to imagine Richard Nixon actually believed in anything." (Translation: They can't even blame us on us!)

"Gerald Ford was on the scene too briefly to establish any strong beliefs, let alone act upon them. Yet, beliefless though he may have been, he seems to have been the right man at the right time..."

Jeeeesus fucking Christ, who needs it? In the end, belief is shown to be of ambiguous utility -- "If Churchill was a believer, so was Hitler." Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad; sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't.

Why then does this miserable, seemingly useless essay even exist?

Because belief is a big deal for conservatives -- it's one of their distinguishing market equities, a point of difference that has helped win elections for their candidates. But now that conservatives are in a bit of a trough, and liberal Democrats are starting to claim the benefits of religiosity for themselves, they have to work a little harder to hold onto that equity.

These guys can't just yell "Jesus" anymore and expect rubes to come running. But they can get one of their culture-critic types to chew over the issue of belief intellectual-like, dropping along the way slurs against people they don't like. It's the total cynic's version of "taking the high ground" -- like Jerry Falwell retreating from his Moral Majority lightning-rod to concentrate on running Liberty University, or Albert Brooks aping the psychologist in Real Life ("Oh, you think you're the only one who can write things down? Well, I can write things down too! Here, look -- 'I... never... said... that'").

It's a way of looking thoughtful without taking the trouble to think.

I can see why they'd want to rebrand along more upscale lines, but this may be a bad fit, like selling Ovaltine as an energy drink. Still, the American People have bought worse crap.
SHORTER JIM LILEKS: As I was saying, the death of Old Media can't come soon enough for blog giants such as mysOH SHIT THEY SOLD MY MEAL TICKET! Uhhhhhhhhh you know what the New Owners need? Someone who can write long about bullshit. (Flirtatiously fans himself with an old matchbook.)

(alicublog tipster Nancy Nall observes, "Like he'd be able to find 'the assignment desk' at the Strib with a GPS and spy satellites.")
ALICUBLOG KEEPS THE DORKALICIOUSNESS FRESH! Responding perhaps to our recent themes, the Ole Perfesser insists that he's not a dork, you're the dork! Then he shoots himself up with Nanobugs that will keep him alive forever "with godlike powers."

On the count of three, everybody retuck your shirts!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

DORKUS MALORKUS. Lots of talk here lately about dorks and nerds. Consider it our way of extending the holiday mood. We are laying off the truly evil propagandists for a minute to enjoy the motley and jingling bells of guys who just get a little too into their RPG.

For example, Paul J Cella, defending the honor of the Great American Midwest:
...a great but dwindling arc of towns and small cities which another Midwesterner, Willmoore Kendall, liked to refer to as the “Appalachia-to-the-Rockies” America — are regularly the target in our national media of derision, contempt, and sanctimonious criticism. These censures come from various quarters: from the entertainment media cometh the contempt; from New York the derision; from Washington the sanctimonious criticism.
Oh, one is tempted to interject, cometh the fuck on. But wait for it...
And so again we encounter the evidences in our beloved land, of what C. S. Lewis called the abolition of man.
Ding ding ding! C.S. Lewis check! Quick search for Chesterton, Gandalf, Frazetta -- well, it's a short piece by Cella standards. And who needs nerd namechecks when he brings original sentences such as this:
Can our Liberals learn nothing of the infuriating complexity of mankind from this fact: that Red America, to them the fount of nigh every prejudice, has given us men who embody the very virtues they avow their longing for in our statesmen and policticians?
Canneth Lord Cella learneth that William O. Douglas, George McGovern, and a whole lot of other liberal traitors were not created in Liberal City test-tubes, but born and raised on the Plains or the Prairie? Wouldst this bloweth his mindeth?

'Swounds, what a dorknerd.
IN THE TIME OF LEPRECHAUNS A WIZARD, NOBLE, SPRANG! Happy New Year! One of my 7,655 resolutions is to waste less of my readers' time and get right to the money shots. Simple juxtaposition for comic effect with be frequently employed.

In that spirit, Gates of Vienna tells us about some sort of Nordic Golem who will rise from his centuries-old sleep to kill darkies for us:
Now, if even a trace of the blood of the Men of the North runs in your veins, or if you have lived long enough among them to have acquired some of their spirit, the hair on the back of your neck will rise when you read these words, and you will say, “Yes! This is the hero, the man who will defend us during the troubles that are surely coming.”
"Baron Bodissey" sets the scene with some snips of Ted Hughes poetry written for Heavy Metal magazine back when it was good.

Which put me in mind of this 21 century poet:
In a mighty earthen crock
A Lord was boiled with his beef!
His bloated eyes popped from his head
And were stolen by a thief!
More here. This is easy and fun!