Monday, July 30, 2007

HOW BULLSHIT WORKS, PART 5,858,351,117. Psst -- liberals are calling themselves progressives because they want to bring back eugenics via global warming and stem cell research. Pass it on! And if anyone asks, you didn't hear it from me!

(Oops -- almost forgot the glibertarian angle.)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

MUST-FLEE TV. I finally watched one of those vlog things. Jesus Christ. Jonah Goldberg and Peter Beinart on comedy? If bongs had floated up into view, that would at least have provided an excuse.

For the record:

Goldberg acknowledged that Jon Stewart is "funny," but "what a lot of liberals are not appreciating is, come a Democratic President, Jon Stewart is going to be pretty funny about Democratic Presidents." Then who'll be laughing, traitors?

Goldberg: "On the whole humor is still much more helpful for conservatives than it is for liberals" because humorists are "equal opportunity guys and I have a couple of friends who are in the comedy business" who are of the fabled "conservative... actually libertarian" tribe, which Goldberg further qualifies as "Giuliani-type."

Goldberg: "People like Michael Moore or Al Franken don't help liberals all that much" because Franken is "dour and dark and kind of nasty," whereas Rush Limbaugh is a big ball of sunshine.

Not content to wait for Jon Stewart to make fun of future Democratic Presidents, Goldberg warns that "Jon Stewart can get into trouble... when he tries too hard to make the left-wing bloggers happy." So when I laugh at Stewart, America scowls? Thank God I don't have cable.

Goldberg says "I don't think it necessarily speaks particularly well for liberals they keep having to recruit comedians to do their arguing for them." I don't know, I thought Slappy White's keynote address at the 1992 Democratic Convention was pretty awesome.

"Humor right now still is in many respects in terms of the way we live our social lives more of an asset for conservatives," reiterates Goldberg, using as examples himself ("I win a lot of points with audiences"), Limbaugh, and noted right-wing funnyman Dave Chappelle.

On the whole Goldberg seems to think liberal humor is creaky and preachy ("going after televangelists and preachers is so old"), while attacks on "political correctness" are as fresh as springtime.

Beinart pretty much gawks at the camera and goes "muh muh muh muh" at intervals.

No wonder Republicans are crapping out of the YouTube debate.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

SHUT UP AND SING. TBogg has a lot of fun with this Rockanomics site. I can't say I'm in complete agreement with his assessment. The proprietors are clearly mad, but so what? Music is for everybody, even and perhaps especially the disturbed. Neither the "house band" nor The Right Brothers (whom they closely resemble) are my style, but they don't sound any worse than a lot of other old-fashioned bands. I don't relate to "Open Season," but I don't relate to "Cop Killer," either, and they both rock pretty hard.

The bloggy parts of the site are expectedly tedious, but the parts that have music... have music. My standards are blessedly low, as are the standards of rock and roll itself. Goethe's dictum that there's nothing worse than active ignorance doesn't apply to rock. As a sprat I had my "California Uber Alles" and "Beat on the Brat." These are not works of measured analysis, but cool tunes.

The state of arts education being what it is, I have to applaud anything that motivates people to play. Long-term it may even have a civilizing influence on them. I've seen more than one anti-social type redeemed by immersion in a useful craft. Why might it not work on anti-socialist types?

But that is all to one side; the lively arts need no justification outside themselves. We shouldn't let the odd Horst Wessel Lied sour us on Euterpe. Her charms are for us all.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

ATTENTION COMRADES! Previous meme "Scott Thomas does not exist" is no longer operative. Please to substitute "Scott Thomas Beauchamp is a bad man" or "Scott Thomas Beauchamp is Oliver Stone" or "Scott Thomas Beauchamp is a semiotic construct" or "We'll get Scott Thomas Beauchamp fired" or whatever damn thing you can think of.

UPDATE. Comrades show initiative! Conservative commentator tells Beauchamp to " get busy watching your back." I've heard of dolchstosslegende, but I thought it was supposed to go the other way round.

UPDATE II. "Scott Thomas Beauchamp is a bad writer" is apparently the libertarian angle. Armed Liberal quotes a soldier who says if we insist on acknowledging the existence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, our soldiers will never become "a new Greatest Generation" (i.e., useful propaganda for Republicans). Hollywood is blamed. Filmed in der back!

UPDATE III. The libertarian response continues via Jane Galt, who offers a few puzzling restatements of the anti-anti-Beauchamp POV ("Well, everyone who's talking about this is evil"), hems and haws, then, perhaps sensing the quagmire rising about her (and that's another bad thing about us, we use words like "quagmire"), declares:
But as I say, my passing interest in the entire thing, which is animated almost entirely by the fact that I have spied some of the editors involved at cocktail parties, is not very great; somewhere below the neighbour's termite infestation, but above my urgent need for curtain rods and bookshelves. This will almost certainly be my last post on the subject.
Thence, of course, follows another post, in which she talks about famous frauds and the difficulty of fact-checking, which would be a relevant addition if the news were that Beauchamp had been shown not to exist, instead of, well, what actually happened.

This is a customary reframing of events: point out the ridiculous reactions of a number of well-regarding idiots, and you become a "TNR defender." Thereafter, if the New Republic drops a gum wrapper on the sidewalk, so to speak, you will take the fall, at least in the Second Life inhabited by such people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

AFTER THE FARTING: JONAH GOLDBERG CONSIDERED. At National Review, Jonah Goldberg says liberals are hypocrites. Oh, one asks wearily, pre-emptively shielding oneself from the spray of cracker crumbs that will accompany the reply, how so? Because
Liberals in the 1990s argued – sometimes with nuance, sometimes starkly – that the bright line for intervention was genocide... I am open to [John Derbyshire's] prediction that genocide may not be in the offing if we leave Iraq. Ultimately, none of us knows. But what I find fascinating is the growing acceptance among liberals – who are often quite strident about the need to intervene in Darfur, for example – that even if our departure results in genocide, that’s not reason enough to stay... For liberals to have supported Kosovo or who now agitate for intervention in Darfur on the grounds that America should put steel in the words “never again” to suddenly say that genocide largely caused by the US is irrelevant is astounding to me. And it won’t be forgotten. The next time liberals want to stop mass slaughter in country X where we have no interests, it will be pointed out to them that they abetted slaughter in Iraq when our vital national interests were involved.
In other words: liberals like to say they care about genocide, but they obviously don't, because they want to leave Iraq, which stands poised at the brink of genocide (or maybe doesn't, he isn't sure) thanks to the efforts of Jonah Goldberg et alia.

Goldberg is a little like a hostage-taker who, when seized after a ten-hour standoff, wants everyone to know that the hostage negotiator's arguments were really intellectually inferior to his own.

And I'm sorry, but whatever you think of the Kosovo intervention, Iraq makes Kosovo look like we gave everyone in Serbia ice cream and then flew them to heaven in a private jet.

I have a better way of preventing genocide in our client states, and stage one involves the removal of Jonah Goldberg and his colleagues from spheres of government influence via the election to government office of non-retards.
PLEASING THE AFFILIATES. "THINGS ARE JUST AS MUCH FUN AS EVER over at Protein Wisdom," blurbs Ole Perfesser Reynolds. I go over to the recommended site and see a long post by one of the second stringers (PW proprietor Jeff Goldstein being engaged, perhaps, in one of the long bouts of anomie that seem to naturally follow the logorheic fits for which he is known) making jokes about Amanda Marcotte's vagina. I sometimes wonder if the Perfesser and I are seeing the same internet.

I also see one of the Perfesser's pals hauled out to say stuff like "Like some modern opponents of globalization and free trade, the Nazis viewed economics as a zero-sum game between nations." I guess Godwin's Law is just for the little people, or had perhaps been overturned. Now I'm doubly eager for the Second Amendment revival to reach my town, so I can compare my opponents to Hitler while brandishing a gun. Who knows? The Perfesser's life may turn out to have been a net plus in the end.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BABY STEPS. "The Takoma Park city council has unanimously approved a resolution urging Congress to go forward with impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney."

Lotta people working in or for the Federal gummint live in Takoma Park.

One such voter writes:
I’m telling you, it was straight out of Norman Rockwell’s 'Freedom of Speech' in that council meeting tonight. It was really, really good, I was very proud of us.
This looks kinda like an Instapundit post, doesn't it? Hehindeed.
MY YOUTUBE DEBATE. I have a better computer now, and will abuse the privilege by posting YouTube videos.

I've already told you fuckers The Penetrators of Syracuse, New York were gods, and here is the proof:

Whassamatta -- as the janitor told my friend Simon when he recoiled at the taste of angel dust in the joint the janitor had given him -- you don't like it? Okay, down the road I'll provide a Lester Bangs-style essay on the band that will at least confuse you. For now I'll just leave you with a few, harmless words... just a bunch of letters scrambled together, but their meaning is very important...But soft, the matin grows nigh! Adieu.

Monday, July 23, 2007

BELIEF SYSTEM. Don Surber reports on Rasmussen reporting that liberal bias rules the news -- sorta:
The current survey finds that 30% of American adults believe the Associated Press has a liberal bias and only 12% believe it leans the other way. Local television news is viewed as having a liberal bias by 30% and a conservative bias by 17%. MSNBC is seen as being a bit more to the left—33% say it has a liberal bias and 13% say the opposite. For CNBC, 29% say it has a liberal bias and 14% say a conservative bias.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) say local television stations deliver news without bias while 36% say the same for the Associated Press.
Hold on: Only 30/30/33/29 percent see AP/local/MSNBC/CNBC news as liberal-biased? After decades of conservative propaganda to that effect? I would have thought the notion would by now have as much support as the existence of angels (79 percent per FOX News), but the current numbers are closer to the 37 percent support FOX found for belief in astrology.

Someone's not getting his money's worth.

In case you're wondering what I mean by propaganda, you can find a good example in Surber's own post:
My pet theory is that as they rise in stature and income, the muckedy-mucks at AP start attending more upscale parties, where the Old Money Socialists and the Scholarly Professors push a political agenda that holds since American institutions are not perfect, they must be replaced.
Who wouldn't be moved by that? I can see it myself: the red velvet curtains, the crystal chandeliers, the mahogany furnishings; the Old Money Socialists in their wide-lapel suits and Pierre Trudeau haircuts sharing a glass of baby's blood with the gowned and mortarboarded Scholarly Professors; and the AP men of rising stature and income (the stature- and income-deprived AP men having been dispatched to comb John Edwards' hair) standing by with steno pads, asking how they might better effect the destruction of American institutions with their wire reports.

And I never get invited to those parties.
UNHINGED. Ann Althouse reacts badly to Greg Sargent's brush-off with a huge, intemperate post that accuses Sargent of quoting her accurately and includes genuinely spooky passages like this:
Now get up off your ass and write a real response to me. I'm sick of these cranked out non-responses that pretend you've suffered no real attack. You have!
Then she demands an apology. How long before Sargent finds a boiled rabbit in his kitchen?

UPDATE. Comments are rather hot. I have to say I cannot endorse cracks on Althouse's appearance. All women are beautiful, for one thing, and Professor Althouse is decidedly not an exception.

I was raised for the most part by a single mother, and am perhaps oversensitive on that account to this sort of thing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

HOT AIR. Roger Scruton makes a case for conservatives as stewards of the environment based largely upon hatred of liberals, represented here by Mao, György Lukács, and other such like. As is typical in such arguments, Scruton uses "little platoon" environmental successes -- like the disposition of a dump in his small Virginia town! -- as an example of how the whole problem can be solved.

It is almost embarrassing to have to point this out, but America's large-scale successes against its large-scale pollution problems have been overwhelmingly won through the use of state power, as with the late-20th-century regulation of air quality in Los Angeles. When people started blowing black snot, LA didn't ask polluters to please think of the children -- county supervisors enpowered pollution control officials to create regulations suggested by scientific research. State officials got in on the act, and eventually so did the Feds. Car and gas companies got the message and began retooling to meet both regulations and regulatory threats. (So much for Scruton's claim that "Environmental movements on the Left seldom pause to consider the question of human motivation.") Neither urban California nor America became as a result unproductive Sovietized wastelands, but healthier places to live.

Scruton wants to portray the effects of industry on the environment as if they were theoretical issues, leading to such humorous sentences as "First, the damage done to our environment is connected in many people’s thinking, and to a great extent in reality, with the activities of business," and to his association of environmentalism with "the cult of the victim." Mises, Burke, and Hayek are mentioned; the current Administration's notorious politicizing of science is not.

The article is merely a pernicious fantasy dressed up with grad-school citations. I wonder if even Scruton thinks it serves any purpose other than filling a need for a "conservative" position on an important issue. They have to have one, I guess, and apparently all it needs to do is criticize what liberals have been doing, not matter how successful they have been.
GET YOUR WAR ON. TBogg sees and raises on the "Generation 9/11 vs. Boomers" narrative that conservatives are starting to push.

I often wonder where such ideas originate, particularly when they relate to absolutely no verifiable facts. I wouldn't be surprised if this one were based upon a stray finding from a recent New York Times poll, which sees the young'uns "leaning left" in many areas, but adds:
But when it came to the war, young Americans were more optimistic about the outcome than was the population as whole. Fifty-one percent said the United States was very or somewhat likely to succeed in Iraq, compared with 45 percent among all adults.
Maybe some ambitious worker in the Ministry of Truth gleaned from this factoid an opening: if the kids are more inclined than their elders, if only by six percentage points, to believe that the Iraq adventure will prove successful, this point of difference might be marketable. Young people famously prefer to dress, rock, and recreate themselves differently than do the old folks: maybe they can be encouraged to see war boosterism, too, as a hallmark of youth.

By this theory, the Weekly Standard and little-read blogs are only a start, and the campaign will follow through in more popular arenas:
  • AST Dew Tour Iraq -- the sands of the Mesopotamian desert come alive with the sounds of FMX racing.
  • Jackass Baghdad -- Johnny Knoxville walks into an IED.
  • And, of course, Qube TV.
If that doesn't work, there's always the draft.
THE NEW MAGISTERIUM. Thers had this first:

Newsbusters discovers that production of the show "24" (heretofore hailed in rightwing circles as double-plus good) is going "carbon neutral," and Kiefer Sutherland is doing a global warming promo.

Newsbusters commenters immediately start downgrading the show.

Thers' analysis is very astute -- their list of beliefs that render one unacceptably "liberal" expands in new and nuttier directions all the time. I would only add, as is my tedious wont, that this is exactly what you can expect when people start thinking about "culture" as something aligned with their political agenda: they recreate little Inquisitions in their minds, and the pleasure centers that should be receptive to such treats as "24" become subject to their review.

Little children are taught right and wrong, and it follows they will learn to disdain certain childish pleasures, such as screaming in public or late at night. But as adults we are expected to evaluate our training; sometimes this means making new rules, alas, but in the main adulthood is about finding sensible exceptions to the strictures of social life (e.g., screaming is acceptable when exhorted by a DJ or orgasm). We don't grow up by sealing off pleasures but by maximizing them intelligently. This development also affords grown-ups the ability to appreciate mixed blessings. Fat Russian novels can be hard to read but rewarding to finish. Disillusionment may deprive us of the joys of childish faith, but we may find new ones in a mature exploration of our beliefs and of the world around us. And we can enjoy the work and even the company of people with whom we happen to disagree.

These guys apparently missed a step.

A heathier approach to the news is found at fansite Blogs.4Bauer's "24 ways that Jack is carbon neutral":
  1. Every day he eliminates at least one carbon emitting life form.
  2. Cordite is safe for plant life.
  3. The Jack Sack, among it’s other amazing properties, absorbs carbon dioxide...
If this be conservative, it's the sort of conservatism I can get behind.
In my Dallas Morning News column today, I defend Pope Benedict's recent official statement describing my church as "defective," and Protestant churches as not churches at all...

I end by saying I'd rather be on the side of those Christians and non-Christians who are willing to tell me respectfully that my beliefs about God are wrong, instead of those who would say, for the sake of diplomacy, that nobody can say what's true about God. At least the former know what's really at stake.
This changes my understanding of ecumenicalism: it's about churches united not by common beliefs, apparently, but by a common enemy, the dreaded agnostics -- some of whom aren't even being diplomatic about it -- into a sort of Coalition of the Willing. Though the partners consider each other defective, and even not churches at all, they will yet convene to smite the heathen.

Should these combined forces succeed in overcoming agnosticism, I look forward to their afterparty, which should be very rowdy. (I say "look forward" in a rhetorical sense, of course, since I will thankfully be dead by then.)

Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Spike Milligan having a bit of fun in 1972. All the "Last Goon Show" clips at YouTube are well worth it; this one gives Milligan a star turn.

There is no overestimating the Goons' effect on... well, everything.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

THE WAR AT HOME. At the Weekly Standard, Dean Barnett speaks to some fine young men in the military, and that's always nice. Less nice is the angle of his story, entitled "The 9/11 Generation: Better than the Boomers."
In the 1960s, history called the Baby Boomers. They didn't answer the phone.

Confronted with a generation-defining conflict, the cold war, the Boomers--those, at any rate, who came to be emblematic of their generation--took the opposite path from their parents during World War II. Sadly, the excesses of Woodstock became the face of the Boomers' response to their moment of challenge. War protests where agitated youths derided American soldiers as baby-killers added no luster to their image...

But now, once again, history is calling. Fortunately, the present generation appears more reminiscent of their grandparents than their parents.
Huh? What can this possibly mean? That more young people are serving their country now than in the Vietnam era? As has been pointed out by the Heritage Foundation (!), vastly more Americans went to Vietnam than have served thus far in Iraq, and I doubt the age difference between the two populations is so vast as to support Barnett's judgment by volume.

Many of the Vietnam attendees were of course forced to "answer the phone" by the draft. Maybe Barnett counts that against them.

The only Boomer boogeyman cited in the story, besides the unnamed Woodstock hippies, is John Kerry. Non-Boomer Charles Rangel also takes a hit. Both have exemplary service records.

That Barnett couldn't get a story about young servicemen into the Standard without this meretricious frame is -- well, I was going to say hilarious, but as I've been writing about it I've come to think that the better word is creepy. These days the dead-enders can't content themselves with even a simple portrait of courage and valor in the U.S. Armed Forces without a heavy dose of hatred toward their domestic opponents. When they say "Iraq" and "the enemy," they're thinking about Democrats. That's their war now.
ME, OR YOUR OWN LYING EARS? Talking Points Memo has uncovered footage of Rudolph Giuliani stirring up the NYPD at a 1992 rally. This is old news to longtime citizens, but it's nice that outlanders have been treated to this glimpse of Giuliani's approach to group dynamics.

Those fans of reasoned discourse, the Ole Perfesser and Ann Althouse, have leapt to Giuliani's defense. Perfesser Reynolds is typically gnomic, but Althouse goes in for heavy deconstruction:
I've watched it. He's not "screaming" "bullsh*t." Nor has he "come unhinged" (as TPM puts it)...

Shouting is not "screaming."'s a normal and useful word. I'm sure cops appreciate it. Using it doesn't make you crazy, and I'm positive TPM doesn't think it does. TPM is simply trying to hurt Rudy's chances with conservatives so he won't get the nomination and get his chance to win over liberals...
First, a report on how the cops "appreciated" Giuliani's speech from Sydney Schanberg:
The police were angry at the first African-American mayor of New York, David Dinkins -- in particular his proposal to create an independent, all-civilian review board to examine citizen complaints about police rudeness and rough behavior. The word "nigger" was heard loudly several times from the crowd. A number of protest signs called Dinkins a "washroom attendant." Giuliani in his remarks at the protest, which was organized by the police union, whipped the crowd to even fiercer heights by reciting a list of Dinkins’ policies and, after each one, starting a chant of "Bullshit! Bullshit!" About 1,500 of the demonstrators eventually stormed onto the Brooklyn Bridge and tied up traffic there for an hour...
As to Althouse's semantic argument, that is best understood within the closed system of modern conservative analysis. In that rarefied field, it is liberals who scream -- or, more classically, "shriek" -- and make other unmanly sounds, while conservatives speak only in a deep voices swathed in homespun, which is why Fred Thompson is Giuliani's primary competition for the Republican nomination.

Their arguments are easier to understand in their own special language. Translation to simple English usually wounds them terribly.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I WISH I WAS IN BAGHDAD! HOO-RAY! HOO-RAY! An inspirational tale from Iraq dead-ender Michael Yon:
An Iraqi Colonel was generous enough to offer that he believed it to be just a mistake that “God is Great” was left off the flag that was used on the slides. But the Iraqis all agreed that nobody was going to sign anything that displayed an Iraqi flag without the phrase “God is Great"...

Seeing “God is Great” written on the Iraqi flag might provoke some to protest “Why did we come here just to stand up a country who would write such things on their flag?” But I sat there in that meeting, which was completely civil and professional, and I thought about another flag, the one flying over South Carolina. Some people call that flag “heritage,” while others call it “hateful,” “painful” and “demeaning.” And today in that meeting, I thought about the descendants of slaves who are now top military commanders in the American Army, and in that moment I knew that Iraq could make it.
I think that Yon has hit upon a winner: selling the Allah Akbar flag to conservatives by comparing it to the Stars and Bars. Will the folks at, say, Little Green Footballs go for it? Well, he's already got a taker at National Review.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

RAPER'S DELIGHT. Rod Dreher relates the latest sex-abuse headline story, and declares:
What kind of culture produces such boys? [Answer: a culture where men live by the depraved values celebrated by hip-hop music. You raise generations to venerate that kind of morality, and this is exactly what you can expect.]
Then he relates, by way of back-up, a story about his own near-abuse at the age of 14 (i.e, 1981) while with a "school group on a weeklong summer trip to the beach." I admire Dreher's candor, but I have to ask: what hip-hop song inspired his assault? "The Message"? "That's the Joint"? I doubt Schoolly D made it down to Louisiana in 1981. And Dreher himself describes his '81 tormenters as "preppies and jocks," which class of teen morons were not in my experience early adopters of rap music.

Lots of us were bullied in school long before the emergence of the Sugar Hill Gang. Yet some of us think it all comes down to gangsta rap. You don't suppose race has anything to do with it, do you?
"LET'S ROLL" YOUR OWN. Jason Apuzzo is issuing one of his occasional calls for right-wingers to make their own movies. Regular readers will know that I have endorsed such an approach: I would much rather see a Unification Church production of Petreus: Man of Iron than another silly rant about how Hollywood is engaged in treason. It doesn't matter much what particular belly-fire spurs artists to action; whether they are animated by vanity or a cause, if it gets them to do something constructive, and employs talents, it can't be a total loss. Many otherwise shiftless musicians have been driven to greater productivity by fealty to indie rock or the straight-edge scene or the kids who, once united, would never be divided, or some other tommy-rot, and we got some nice records out of it.

Still, at the risk of killing their buzz, I continue to ask what this is supposed to mean:
You would think conservatives/Republicans would understand this. You would think they would’ve learned by now that what happens on the battlefield isn’t the whole story. You would think they would’ve learned a lesson from World Wars I & II (entertainment industry rallies public support for war = we win) or from Vietnam (entertainment industry undermines public support for war = we don’t win), but apparently not.
I have to side with the conservatives/Republicans on this one. No one has ever explained the mechanism of action for this formula to me. When Hollywood was allegedly losing Vietnam for us with such potent weapons as The Strawberry Statement, Nixon was twice elected President. Which is the more reliable indicator of political will? Despite what Apuzzo apparently sees as a barrage of hippie celluloid bombs, the Silent Majority stood by their man and his Vietnamization plan. And political forces, including Watergate (the actual Watergate scandal, not All The President's Men or any other movie), brought about the end of Nixon and of the war.

In the current war, George W. Bush is standing firm and the Democrats can't get anti-war traction -- so the war goes on, despite the existence of V for Vendetta and Jarhead. What happens in Iraq is determined by Washington, not Hollywood. Apuzzo says, "We need stuff like The Passion, stuff like 300, Team America, whatever. Edgy, in your face films." Well, we've had those films; which battles did they win?

Culture works in mysterious ways, yet these guys constantly mistake it for a simple tool -- something like a sledgehammer for the soul. Still, if it keeps them busy...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ANOTHER REASON TO HATE THE OLE PERFESSER. Glenn Reynolds shore finds global warming a knee-slapper when Al Gore mentions it, but when a fellow nerd says we have to get to Mars in 46 years because the world is a-comin' to an end, the Perfesser grows credulous.

I think the Perfesser is secretly rooting for global warming to make the planet uninhabitable, so the technocrats he expects to be ruling the world in ten years will rocket him and all his nerd friends off to a cool outer-space vivarium, where he will enjoy the attentions of Montana Wildhack.

If that doesn't make my case, consider this:
YOU CAN HATE CROCS ALL YOU WANT, but they're damned comfortable, and they protect your toes in a way that sandals don't. That's why I like to wear 'em on dive boats.
Forget, if you can, that this is eerily close to Dan Ackroyd as Tom Snyder telling Mick Jagger on SNL, "I don't wear 'em 'cause they're ladies' things -- I wear 'em 'cause they're damn comfortable!" Surely you good people agree that any middle-aged man who wears crocs should be buried alive under a giant pile of fanny packs and cargo shorts.

Monday, July 16, 2007

BAD FAITH. Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds opens Daniel Brook's The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America, finds a passage about a gender studies major, and decides the book is about silly elitists being silly.

Like Reynolds, I haven't read the book, but I have a hunch it has more to do with the following:

"Consumer borrowing posted a hefty increase in May, reflecting the biggest jump in credit card debt in six months."

"Ratio of mortgage debt to housing value hits new record."

"According to the College Board, the volume of private loans taken by students has escalated by 27 percent annually since 2000-01, to a total now of $17.3 billion."

"Nearly half of all workers saving for retirement have savings that fall short of the $25,000 mark, according to the 2007 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Matthew Greenwald & Associates... A full 25 percent, meanwhile, said they had no savings at all - retirement or otherwise."

I could be wrong, though -- maybe it's all about a small group of wacky artistes who for some reason don't share their fellow citizens' economic confidence. But common sense is usually a reliable guide in these matters.
SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE! Just when, under the numbing spell of his Target travelogues and widdle-girl colloquia, you forget what you had against James Lileks, he comes up with this:
But it was Friday. And that’s pizza night. So I went to the freezer and pulled out the Manhole of Promise, something I’d found at the grimy grocery store the other day: Geno’s East. I don’t want to get into pizza wars here... But for decades Geno’s has been the Ideal, the very definition of pizza. I had my first in 1975 when I visited a friend in Chicago. He was Italian, too, so he’d know about these things.
You blink and stir, roused by the apprehension that he isn't kidding, and then:
It took 50 minutes to cook. It had a pop-up timer. Assuming as we must the diminished standards that apply to the genre, I have to say: worthy of the name. I almost wept after the first bite -- a thick lake of sauce, aggressive sausage, perfect crust. I had a vision of myself weighing 300 pounds after a year-long diet consisting of nothing but three of these a day, fat and sweating and glistening with grease extruded through the pores, shunned by all except the dogs that gather to lick my fingers after I have finished with the first pass, and I thought: it would be worth it.

Good pizza.
The guy who doesn't think Harold Pinter is so great is having an orgasm over frozen pizza.

You can't reason with people like this. Best to pull out of Minnesota now and let their warring tribes (The tribe of Frozen Geno's East versus the tribe of Frozen Tree Tavern, perhaps) fight it out for supremacy.

UPDATE. Gavin at Sadly No says This Shall Not Stand.
SHORTER JAMES G. POULOS. Better people should starve than be helped by unbelievers, who annoy me terribly.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

SOCIAL REALIST. I've said previously that I prefer artful documentaries like Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control to overtly propagandistic ones like An Inconvenient Truth. Some of my commenters in that instance made the sound point that there's a place for films that are in essence propaganda for under-acknowledged truths; my only answer to that was and is that whatever the social utility of such films may be, they don't serve the purpose of art. The preservation of the icecaps may take precedence over the preservation of aesthetic standards, but I like to think we can have both.

I think what Michael Moore does is sui generis and has aspects of both documentary forms. Clearly it's propaganda: Moore lets his opinions and prescriptions hang out. And he's not above pulling the gimp string to lead you to his conclusions. But he makes movies, not animated slide-shows. He talks causes, but he shows effects -- human effects that engage viewers on a level beyond the political.

Roger & Me, for example, is a great ground-level portrait of capitalism gone feral and the resulting disintegration of a community. The vignettes of depraved money-men and deprived citizens, and the gulf between them, comprised more than a object lesson; it was a story to break your heart. To say Moore's Flint, Michigan is a filmmaker's creation -- as much as was Capra's Bedford Falls and Pottersville -- is not to deny the reality of what happened there, but to acknowledge the success of Moore's art.

Up till SiCKO, I thought that Moore had been regressing a bit artistically. There's a lot to like in Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 911, but the issues in each case are so large that the human consequences tend to get ground up by them. Even as I was moved by the anguish of Lila Lipscomb, and enraged by the obliviousness of Charlton Heston, I resented the use of them as ways of bringing it all back home, so to speak, at the climax of those films. It seemed to me as if American gun culture and the Iraq invasion needed so much explanation -- and they got compelling explanations in both cases -- that the people who suffered from them got short shrift. It was as if the scope of Moore's agenda interfered with his stories.

The American health care mess is another huge subject, and SiCKO takes the time to tell us what's wrong with it. But Moore has found an ingenious way to tell his story -- which turns out to be only coincidentally about health care.

There are the expected hard cases and historical background. We learn about people killed or doomed to poverty by our system, and the perverse financial incentives responsible. (And boy, just when you thought there wasn't anything more to hate about Nixon...)

But there aren't a lot of "gotcha" ambush moments. Instead, halfway through the film Moore seems to abandon the litany of despair to go to other countries where we meet people who are well-served by their systems, because their governments acknowledge that health care is a human right. And hearing their stories, and especially observing their lives outside the hospitals and clinics, we come to realize that health care is only part of the difference. What's remarkable (and sometimes infuriating) about these subjects' attitudes is that they take their superior care for granted. They expect more from their governments than we do -- and, the film implies, that's why they have it and we don't.

Even hostile reviewers seem to pick up on this. The claim by National Review's Rich Lowry that Moore is "the Riefenstahl of socialism" is hysterical but telling. Lowry is acknowledging the power of SiCKO's real story -- the story of a civilized world that, in some important ways, has left America behind, not by dint of socialism but by a different understanding of what the old Labourite Tony Benn calls by its right name: democracy.

SiCKO strikes me an inspired bit of Social Realism -- not my favorite genre (being an old-fashioned American, I prefer "me" stories to "we" stories) but at its best (Clifford Odets and Diego Rivera) it's got the force of true art. As to Moore's policy prescriptions, I leave it to him to defend them -- he clearly doesn't need anyone's help. But he did make a very good movie.

Friday, July 13, 2007

THE STUPIDEST THING EVER WRITTEN UNTIL JONAH GOLDBERG WRITES SOMETHING ELSE. Matthew Yglesias points out, rightly, that it was the actions of liberals, not of libertarians, that got the Civil Rights Act passed. Jonah Goldberg adjusts his toga and responds:
What's refreshing about this is that Yglesias is honestly and correctly admitting that liberals have no problem imposing their morality on others via a powerful and intrusive state. I wish that most liberals were as honest...

Liberals and progressives before them wrote the book on social engineering and even the most comstockish Republicans are pale imitators.
To restate, simply: Goldberg and his cheerleader Glenn Reynolds think that ensuring the voting rights of black people is "imposing morality," before which such conservative ideas as, say, making abortion and contraception illegal "pale" in comparison.

In the immortal words of Woody Allen, I don't think his spinal cord reaches his brain.
NEGROPHOBIA. NAACP invites Republicans to debate, only Tom Tancredo shows up. If they can't face down Tavis Smiley, how're they going to handle Osama?
OUR CHANGING WORLD.Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds on the firefighters who are fighting back against Giulianification:
RUDY GIULIANI: Not so much Swiftboated as Dan Rathered?

Between this and the silly stuff about Fred Thompson, Democrats are looking more nervous about 2008 than you'd expect.
A rightwing college perfesser denounces goddamn liberal firefighters! This is truly an age of marvels.

Neither the Perfesser nor his linkee indicates awareness that New York City firefighters do not need Hillary Clinton's help to hate the son of a bitch Giuliani. Background here and here.

Oh, and if anyone is prevaricating about the love of firefighters, it's Giuliani. As is so often the case, fluffers of conservative bully-boys grow most accusatory when they're chin-deep in their own bullshit.

Still, it is nice to see that just repeating the numbers "nine" and "eleven" won't get you into electoral heaven anymore -- not without a fight, anyway. And that's my positive thinking for the week! Enjoy the mood swing while it lasts!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

THEY'RE KIND OF CUTE WHEN THEY'RE MAD, LIKE THAT LOLCAT THAT SEZ "GET OFF MY LAWN"! Dean Esmay pleads with readers to help stock his library of snappy comebacks to anti-war questions:
After five years of repeating these facts, I've completely lost patience with doing it yet again for friends like Ali. Would some kind soul please, please, PLEASE sign up for this wiki and provide the documentation so I don't have to do it yet again???

Because I have a life, and problems of my own, and I just can't make myself do it all yet again. For the umpteenth time.

You've swallowed a bunch of Americaphobic garbage, Ali. Saddam was not our guy. We did not arm him. He was not our tool or our puppet. We didn't give him tons of money. And if you show me one more time (as so many have) how Donald Rumsfeld shook Saddamn's hand on one occasion, I'll give you 50 of Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt shaking Stalin's hand.
Because we didn't have anything to do with Uncle Joe during the Second World War. It was like he never existed. We just woke up one morning and found a receipt for Eastern Europe. WTF?
I'm tired of having to answer the Americaphobes. I really am. My patience for it is at an end.
And yet he goes on writing! That shows dedication, or something.
HMMM, MAYBE I'LL GO SEE THAT MICHAEL MOORE MOVIE AFTER ALL. Andrew Stuttaford (usually described as "The Second-Least-Mad One" in National Review's publicity materials) quotes a tipster's news report that "almost one in ten patients in Scottish hospitals is suffering from an infection such as MRSA, a survey suggested yesterday." Stuttaford titles the post "Sicko" (get it?) and his correspondent says that the socialistic Scottish hospitals compare poorly on this score with those in a privatized hospital chain.

I have an even better idea. Let's compare the Scot Soc hospital to our own free-market germ centers:
Groundbreaking Report Shows Alarming MRSA Infection Rates At U.S. Hospitals...

SAN JOSE, Calif., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers Union called on hospitals today to take more aggressive steps to protect patients from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in light of a new study showing that the superbug is much more common in hospitals than previous estimates had indicated. The consumer group also urged states to require hospitals to report their infection rates, including how many patients are acquiring MRSA during treatment.
(That's the differece between us and the Socialists, I guess: we hide, or don't trouble to find out, our MRSA infection rates -- which course of treatment, studies show, instills a feeling of security and well-being in our health-care industry.)
The report released by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) found that MRSA infections are 8.6 times more prevalent than previous estimates and that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria is found in all wards throughout most hospitals. The APIC study is the first nationwide analysis on the prevalence of MRSA in U.S. healthcare facilities. It is based on data collected from more than 1,200 hospitals in all 50 states...

Hospital-acquired infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, or "staph," are among the most common and the problem is clearly growing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1974, only two percent of staph infections in health care settings were MRSA; by 1995, the percentage was 22 percent; and by 2004, nearly 63 percent of all staph infections in healthcare settings were MRSA...
Good thing Stuttaford didn't see this first, or he'd be telling us that MRSA is really no big deal and that anyone who tells you different is trying to scare you off capitalism.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

AND HOW COULD I EVER REFUSE? I FEEL LIKE I WIN WHEN I LOSE. Like all culture warriors, Ross Douhat likes to bitch about smutty pop art ("the next thing you know Aniston is parading naked through the apartment, showing off her waxed . . . well, you know... I think we're crossing a pretty significant threshold with the waxing phenomenon"). But he also has the temperment of a consensus builder, and takes pains to find anti-waxing allies among liberals, as when he praises Thomas Frank and "a left-wing assault on thongs and other pieces of slut-wear."

Working the other side of the street, Douthat is slightly more interesting. To his rightwing brethren, he has even made the sensible suggestion that "cultural conservatives would do well to roll up their sleeves and start writing some entertaining television shows and movies and books of their own. People will watch them, read them, love them, be changed by them..."

Alas, perhaps sensing that such an outcome is unlikely -- at least until the AEI starts giving grants to stand-up comics and playwrights -- Douthat devotes most of his choir-preaching to celebrating signs that the filthy-dirty culture yet contains nuggets of conservative truth, as when he posited "Sex & The City" as a testimony to "the resilience of poor battered old heterosexual monogamy." (One wonders how this revelation would impact Sex & The City tourism. Not much, I expect.)

This is Douthat's approach in his recent essay for the religious-conservative First Things. Rather than summon the faithful to develop conservative cable-TV shows, he tells his readers, first, to admit defeat in the small battle over nudity and obscenity:
Today those battles are all but finished, and the religious side has lost...

The result is the unrestrained and unrestrainable popular culture of today, where every concept, no matter how lowbrow or how vile, can find a platform and an audience...

Small wonder that America’s movies and music and television shows make us enemies in traditional societies around the world—and small wonder, too, that many cultural conservatives, despairing of their country’s future, embrace withdrawal from the world into a narrow, well-defended Christendom, where their families and their faith can be protected from the lowest-common-denominator swill that washes against the walls outside.
But hold, hold, the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, for even among the swears and tits Douthat knows that his Redeemer liveth:
For all its profanity and blasphemy, the new culture arguably takes religious issues and debates more seriously than it used to in a more decent, less decadent era...

True, God has to compete with Paris Hilton and Family Guy for attention. But at least He’s in there fighting.
Thence comes -- along with citations of Samuel Huntington and the Holy Bible -- a rundown of TV shows that Douthat expects to please his co-religionists because they are, in his estimation, morally tethered. For example:
The Sopranos dares instead to explore the terrible banality of evil, depicting ordinary people held prisoner by their habits and appetites who choose hell instead of heaven over and over again, not with a satanic flourish but with an all-American sense of entitlement... The show offers a vision of hell as repetition, ultimately, in which the same pattern of choices (to take drugs, to eat and drink to excess, to rob and steal and bully and murder) always reasserts itself, and the chain mail of damnation—in which no sin is an island, and gluttony is linked to violence, sloth to greed, and so on—slowly forges itself around the characters’ souls...
As far as it goes, this analysis is not objectionable. But why, despite Douthat's use of loaded terms such as "heaven," "hell," and "satanic" (why the small "s"? Doesn't Douthat believe in Satan?), could it not be shared by someone who doesn't go to church, but still believes in right and wrong? What makes it an argument against a John Edwards Presidency -- or anyone else's? What is "The Sopranos" position on abortion, evolution, gay marriage, or anything else that interests the readership of First Things?

I should be giving Douthat consensus-building credit for expanding the definition of "cultural conservatives" to mean "everyone who likes popular TV shows." Only I expect that Douthat has it backwards -- that he takes "everyone who likes popular TV shows" to be "cultural conservatives," and that he also believes that these shows are part of Divine guidance toward a new Great Awakening.

As I have repeated unto tedium, the problem with ideologues who engage the arts is that they do not know what art is. They're like the Six Blind Men of Hindustan: they "see" it as a hammer for smashing their enemies, a barometer for judging the political climate, etc., and their interpretive ecstasies prevent them from appreciating its simple and essential blessings.
The struggle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement is, of course, an eternal literary theme. Still, one can't help but notice the astonishing manner in which Gordon Brown has taken a page directly from Harry Potter — and the just released film of Book Seven, at that. Specifically, Brown's strong desire not to call Islamic terrorism by name echoes the insistence of the head of the Wizard government, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge — to refer to their mortal enemy, Voldemort, as "he who must not be named." So, even greater kudos to J.K. Rowling, who understood back in the 90's that the world's youth needed a rousing tale of heroism in the face of evil...
Schiffren, it should be noted, is also the author of this classic 2003 article about Commander Flightsuit subtitled, "Women voters agree: President Bush is a hottie!" In other words, she is stupid for a living.
RAISING THE LEVEL AND TENOR OF DEBATE. The great minds at National Review's The Corner agree: gay people are teh gay. On the Democrats' upcoming GLBT debate, Lisa Schiffren observes that not all of the Party's constituents are down with the gay agenda, and then, seemingly unable to control herself, female-ejaculates: "How do you keep the coalition together when it gets this personal and icky?" One imagines she does not find, say, conflicts over nuclear energy policy "icky," unless the protons are having sex with other protons.

With two (count 'em two) posts Jonah Goldberg outdoes Schiffren, himself, and a think tank working tirelessly for years to develop a new kind of stupid.

First, Goldberg the Political Strategerist:
Whatever the merits of such a debate, isn't the rational hope of every partisan Republican that the candidates pander relentlessly to the audience. If they pander the way they did by at the black debate, there are going to be some precious soundbites left for the general election.
Yeah, folks are already up in arms that the Democrats were nice to black people, and if we get soundbites of them being nice to gay people, that'd be almost as sweet as chock-o-mut ice creams. Maybe one of the gay people should be Muslim! Is Donald Segretti still alive?

Next, Goldberg the Just Plain Asshole:
Not that I'm endorsing it, but how long until some blogger photoshops the Dem candidates into the guys from the Village People? I say it happens by lunchtime, if it hasn't already.
I wonder if, when he sees this sort of thing, William Buckley sighs and thinks of nights at Bohemian Grove with Malcolm Forbes.

UPDATE. Mark Noonan of Blogs for Bush cues the scary music: this debate is all about Dem lust for Chelsea Gold ("greed for the large amounts of ready cash the gay community can dispense for political campaigns"). In a surprising twist, Noonan offers manly man-love to the gay voter:
For my fellow Americans who are gay -- I just advise you how Bill Clinton treated your cause in 1993 after you went flat out for him in 1992. You will be betrayed again, if you are fool enough to back Democrats in 2008. True, we conservative Christians might not seem the logical home for you, but you do know where we stand, we are ready to compromise and we will never, ever betray you. You might want to think about that as you watch the debate, and make your donation and voting choices.
So here's the deal, faggots: you vote Republican, and in return we agree to stun you with a sharp blow to the head before throwing you on the bonfire. You know we're good for it -- whenever we screamed "DIE HOMO" at you, we were always 100% sincere.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NEXT WEEK: THAT JACOBIN BASTARD JEFFERSON AND HIS SO-CALLED "RIGHTS." I see Pejman Yousefzadeh, like many another rightwing idiot in recent days, has become suddenly outraged by that bastard FDR. (Thanks to John Holbo for the tip.) Yousefzadeh's commenters have leapt in, full of Bircher brio ("Roosevelt was good at one thing, political machinations, aided by no limitation on ethics... even before Yalta..."); soon I'm sure the forum will resemble one of those Free Republic President's Day threads where Southrons and other assorted loons traditionally assail that bastard Lincoln.

My instincts tell me that this whole Roosevelt thing has been in the rightwing propaganda pipeline for some time -- that the plan was to start circulating a demonic vision of FDR as soon as there weren't enough Greatest Generation types left alive to refute it, thus removing one more cultural impediment to the corporate glibertarian paradise toward which all their labors are devoted.

But it is surely a tribute to the comic timing of the Universe that this meme was released just as Americans were starting to drift left on social issues, thanks to Republican incompetence. One can only imagine the reaction of citizens who -- having witnessed the unpleasant result of untrammelled conservative approaches to natural disaster, war, and social resources -- open their paper to find the same numbskulls who prescribed that poison medicine now declaring, "You know what was a bad idea? Social Security!"

BTW, I see another homo-hatin', childbirth-forcin', Republican cracker asshole has been caught with prostitutes. O Life Force, keep them cosmic jokes a-comin'!
DREAM FACTORY. I see Reihan Salam has amplified the old "More bad Muslims in thrillers" demand, waving The Sum of All Fears as his bloody shirt. It seems to escape the notice of such people that Hollywood is not a branch of the Federal Government.

No one has been able to explain to my satisfaction why the vast wealth of rightwing moguls cannot address what they imagine to be a crying national need. If Reverend Moon is still averse to moviemaking after Inchon, so much the worse for him. Let the folks who raised $360 million for Bush in 2004 dig a little deeper and finance the movies they want other people to make. Sam Goldwyn used to sell gloves, for crying out loud.

Whatever became of personal responsibility?

UPDATE. I see that Michael Fumento visited World O' Crap and suggested that WOC proprietor Scott, I, and a bunch of others who found him ridiculous "all split a gut laughing when those Twin Towers fell." No, asshole, as a New Yorker I did not find the slaughter of thousands of my fellow citizens humorous. And at first I treated ghouls such as yourself who battened on their deaths as objects of horror. But after a few years I learned to take you less seriously. How long can a man scream epithets in a cemetery before he loses the status of outrage and devolves into a figure of fun?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR POPCORN. Andrew Sullivan and Matthew Yglesias have already addressed this latest call for "Hollywood" to make propaganda movies for the War on Whatchamacallit. I feel obliged to add that author Michael Fumento is hardly the first conservative to make such demands. And this bit from Fumento's article helps demonstrate the central fallacy of their reasoning:
If I'm mistaken and there have been movies in which Islamists where the bad guys, please let me know. (If so, I'll bet they went straight to video.)
Maybe Fumento believes there's a Hollywood Central Committee that sends all anti-Islamist films straight to video. In real life, films bypass theatrical release when they can't find the backing for it. People who put movies on screens expect to see a return on their investment.

If the wisdom of the marketplace means anything to conservatives -- and they constantly tell us that it does -- you'd think they'd understand that an absence of war propaganda films indicates that few people wish to bet money on them. Fumento notes that "Hollywood went to war" in the Forties, but that was a time of greater centralization in all areas of American life, with the government at the apex -- not generally a conservative idea of Utopia. Would Fumento enjoy a new Office of War Information with a Bureau of Motion Pictures -- or a new version of the Creel Committee of World War I? Not with a Democratic Administration in office, I'll bet.

So, instead of government-issue rah-rah, we get movies based on Disneyland rides and Hasbro toys. That's capitalism, comrade. If you want Fallujah Diary, get Rupert Murdoch or Richard Mellon Scaife to finance it for you.

Friday, July 06, 2007

SHORTER BEN STEIN: George W. Bush may be a friendless failure, but you have to admit that he helped his buddy evade justice.

(Lots of howlers in this piece of shit -- for a good refutation of Stein's absurd portrayal of the Libby case, see here -- but I especially love this part: "In a simple phrase, once again, [Bush] did the right thing regardless of cost." That "cost," as it always is with Bush, being zero.)
THE FUTURE OF GIULIANI MARKETING. Though they forgot to mention what a great husband and father he is.

SPEAKING OF KULTUR KOPS: "Less than a month after the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C., the National Museum of Women in the Arts is opening a new exhibit on Frida Kahlo. She was, of course, an unrepentant Stalinist... This isn't an art exhibit -- it's a shrine, to a woman in the thrall of a murderous ideology."

This latest hackwork is by National Review's John J. Miller, author of "The Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: for these loathsome people, there is no art -- only propaganda they haven't spun yet.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

AND IF PRINCESS LEIA MET ME FOR REALS, I BET SHE WOULD REALLY, REALLY LIKE ME. Ridiculous Pseudonym at the Liberty Film Festival site recommends a new film with strong political content:
The films politics are decidedly pro-American, pro-military, and even *gasp* pro-freedom. [The director's] affection for the American military is obvious in every scene they’re in. They are uniformly portrayed as heroic, extremely competent, selfless, and even kind to Arab children. The theme of the film is spoken out loud more than once: No sacrifice, no victory...

...after all the relativist junk we’ve been suffering through, it does mean something to watch the fight for freedom portrayed with valor, good and evil distinguished, and the dreaded-until-needed military industrial complex save the day.

Am I complimenting the film’s politics because I agree with them? Maybe. Regardless, the world view presented in Tranformers is more than just one that I happen agree with, it’s...
No, that wasn't a typo. He's actually talking about that movie based on Hasbro dolls for boys as if it were Letter to Jane.

It may be that Ridic Pseud is playing a propaganda game: say that a sure-fire hit is pro-Bush, and then claim its inevitable success is a confirmation of Republican policies. That's the charitable interpretation. More likely, he's just the kind of guy who watches Citizen Kane with his fists clenched, outraged at its portrayal of big business.

UPDATE. John Rogers, Transformers screenwriter and proprietor of Kung Fu Monkey, tries to explain reality to the Liberty Film Fest guys, a noble if misguided effort.

UPDATE II.Ridic Pseud challenges Rogers and his fellow liberals to make the kind of movies Ridic Pseud wants to see, which would prove their patriotism. Pseud's commenters talk about how all liberals are traitors anyway, and there is an interesting debate about whether evil liberal filmmakers use shots of bad characters wearing crucifixes (aka "The Scene") to corrupt our youth, or whether the actors insist on wearing the crosses, a decision which directors apparently cannot override. One learns so much from these insider reports!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

LILEKS GOES SURREALIST. After six post-Nineeleven Fourths of July, prairie content provider James Lileks is tired of fantasizing about dusky hordes coming here to blow things up, so he fantasizes instead about Englishmen going to Africa to blow things up.
There’s probably a statue of Cecil Rhodes somewhere. Who knows what instructive lessons could be imparted if they blew it up with a few hundred complicit Londoners, of course, just to put a period on the point. Surely they know there are a few score scribes in the West itching to pound out a bitter screed about Legacies Coming Home, and the fact that we bloody well had it coming.
I have no idea what this means. Nor am I so sure about this --
The future, however, contain a very big question, and it’s not one we haven’t faced before: together, or apart? Except now the terms have been redefined: “together” implies that we must throw our weight in with a portion of the world that seems intellectually incapable of apprehending the concept of a greater foe, and takes refuge in the dream of “disaffected” or “disenfranchised” physicians disconnected from a greater meme. “Apart” has come to mean we define our culture in opposition to another, and confront it with values we truly believe to be superior, and do so with full knowledge of our own flaws. Yesterday was the anniversary of Gettysburg, a day in which the divisions were horrible and bloody, and had to be hammered out to make the great experiment whole again. Rent apart, we had to work our way back to the whole. This is different. We have to come together, in order that we may stand apart, and defend the things in which we believe.
-- but I think he either means he and his buddies need to win a civil war against us liberals before they can go kill more Muslims, or he and his buddies want us to help them kill Muslims, and when they're all killed, then they'll kill us.

In any event, seldom have I seen a less enticing call for unity. Can't he at least say there'll be cake?
WORLD'S WORST SPEECHWRITER. "Armed Liberal" Marc Danziger writes the acceptance speech that he thinks the next Democratic Presidential nominee should give at the Convention. As you might expect from the Iraq War bitter-ender, it is hilariously wrong. Here is my favorite part:
I'm very concerned about nuclear attacks - especially one that can't be readily traced back - on U.S. soil, or on the soil of one of our Western allies...

I want to make it clear that any detonation or attempt to detonate a nuclear weapon on the soil of the US or any NATO or SEATO ally which involves a weapon whose origin we cannot readily trace will be considered to have come from North Korea or Iran. This is potentially an existential matter for the leadership of those countries.
The Democratic nominee for President basically tells the American people "Heads up for global nuclear war." I smell landslide!
LOOK, HERE'S MORE OF THE SORT OF THING I WAS TALKING ABOUT IN THE PREVIOUS POST. WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY! At National Review, Mark Steyn and Michael Ledeen celebrate Independence Day by moping over how foiled terrorist attacks don't seem to bend people to their will anymore. Steyn -- who perhaps, being Canadian, started drinking early -- delivers this stupendous graf:
The Arabization of Islam and the Islamization of Europe provide an ever bigger comfort zone for the bad guys to operate in. Substantial numbers of British Muslims share the same goals as the terrorists: they wish one day to live under Islamic law in the United Kingdom. The Gordon Browns of this world will huff and puff that they'll never give in to the "men of violence", while incrementally making the very same concessions to the men of non-violence.
Apparently these Gordon Browns are incredibly crafty: talking tough to criminals, but making "the very same concessions" (?) to people who have committed no crimes! Is there nothing this Prime Minister won't do to ensure dhimmitude? Next I suppose he'll be saying all citizens can vote!

Ledeen is even better, condemning Brown's "obvious intent... to reduce the whole unpleasantness to a policing problem, which is what they did with the I.R.A..." Yeah, Britain should have handled the RA like we did Nineeleven: by invading suspected suppliers of aid and comfort to their enemy, whose citizens kept slipping over their mutual borders -- namely, Queens, New York! I would have loved to see Representative Peter King with a pint in one hand and a shillelagh in the other, fighting off the Anglo pigs.

Then Ledeen actually (through the agency of a correspondent) reverts to a conservative pick-me-up that I haven't seen in some time: a scene from Dirty Harry, followed by analysis ("The Left doesn't get this of course because Marxist materialism denies belief systems altogether, so they therefore must assume that all human behavior is derived from economic determinism.")

I don't know why people are so worried about dhimmitude; dummitude is obviously the clearer and more present danger.
HAPPY FOURTH. Kathryn Jean Lopez conducts a forum at The Corner about whether or not today's Google masthead is patriotic enough. This sort of thing reminds me of why I love America: here, even the hopelessly retarded may find a place in the sun, and sometimes even a sinecure.

Thank God America is, as the old Heinz ketchup commercials uses to say, thick and rich! And may she remain so till the end of my natural lifespan. After that, I leave the mess to you folks and the robot Glenn Reynolds. (PS, and I plan to gobble up your tax dollars as I slide into blissful senescence, too, thanks to that statist bastard FDR! Libertarians, kiss my ass and so long, suckers!)

I will celebrate the Founding with some Vicodin and the traditional playing of my favorite patriotic music. Ready to go, willin' to stay and pay -- U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

GRIZZLY, MAN. As previously reported, a recent surgery has diminished my mobility, which will prevent my July 4 attendance upon Rescue Dawn. I'll get to it soon enough, I guess, but I would have liked to give Werner Herzog, hero of my youth, a box-office vote on the occasion of his first big-ticket American opening since Nosferatu. I have been astonished to see a TV ad, as well as a full-blown Hollywood website, employed on the film's behalf, and that both give the impression of a two-fisted adventure flick with lush, heroic music and derring-do -- especially as I understand Rescue Dawn to be based on the source material for Herzog's more modest Little Dieter Wants to Fly.

If this gets over, I look forward to many more transformations of vintage Herzog films into major motion pictures:

Kaspar, starring Adam Sandler as the lovably retarded Kaspar Hauser, whose discovery at a local shopping mall brings lessons in life and love to the inhabitants of a Southern California suburb. Kaspar confounds the local gentry with his whimsical observations, as when he tells a pompous professor (Gore Vidal) he's "kinda like a tree frog" and blows his cheeks out and farts. Drew Barrymore provides love interest; Tom Waits shines as Kaspar's piano-playing sidekick, and provides the theme song, "Rum Toddy Rum Toddy Rum Toddy Rum."

Heart of Cheese. Residents of a mythical mountain village that has lost its life-sustaining formula for ruby glass learn to create new lives for themselves as makers of artisanal cheeses, fabricators of granite counter-tops, and tour guides, under the guidance of a mysterious stranger played by Tom Hanks. Controversial ending reveals that the village is actually Scranton, Pennsylvania. Cameo by Lars von Trier as a derelict who runs around screaming angrily at everyone in Danish.

Buckman, The Wrath of God, starring Robin Williams as a zany suburban dad who loads his complaining family into an RV and takes them on a madcap trip to the depths of the Amazonian jungle, acquiring along the way quirky native guides George Lopez and Carlos Mencia.

My Best Fiend. Jack Nicholson as Klaus Kinski butts heads with John Krasinski as Werner Herzog, a hapless Gen-Y video director adrift until the holy fool Kinski gives his life meaning. Sample dialogue: HERZOG -- Come on, Klaus, this is crazy. I don't want to shoot you. KINSKI -- Yes! Oh, yes, that's EXACTLY what I want! Shoot me! Shoot me now, you stupid fuck! HERZOG -- Okay, look, you're acting just like like... KINSKI -- Like what? Like WHAT? Say it, you spineless little shit! Say what's in your heart! SAY IT! HERZOG -- OKAY LIKE MY DAD! OKAY? YOU WANNA BE MY DAD? WELL, THERE ARE TWO BULLETS IN THIS GUN, DAD! ONE FOR YOU AND ONE FOR THIS PRODUCTION! (breaks down, weeps) KINSKI -- (kisses his forehead) Okay! Oooooh-kay! I think I see some potential in you, Herzog! Now (claps him on the shoulder)-- let's get ourselves some syphilitic prostitutes!

Even Dwarfs Started Small, starring Wee Man, with the rest of the Jackass regulars performing with shoes attached to their knees. Pint-sized crooks have king-size fun tormenting the president of their institution, the Billy Barty Correctional Facility for Little Criminals, with shopping-cart races and human slingshots. Extra laughs come in the end credits, showing Herzog's leap into a cactus and subsequent death. Last words: "No, iz better zis way."
I think I'm giving up on FoxNews. The channel has become far too aggressively lowbrow, stupid, and carnival-barker-ish for my tastes. My tastes aren't exactly elevated, but I do have limits, and FoxNews has violated mine.

Almost every time I have the channel on I feel stupid, because it's so clearly chasing the stupid demographic. And I'm not part of that demographic, and do not wish to be treated as part of that demographic.

Maybe this is how it's been getting ratings all along and I never noticed. Well, I'm noticing now.
Next week, another illusion shattered as Mr. Spades steps on a crack, then calls his mom to see if she's alright.

Monday, July 02, 2007

HOPE FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE. Mark Krikorian, one of National Review's foremost immigrant haters, files a report on an anti-foreigner roundtable he attended:
We were talking about how schools no longer do much of a job of patriotically Americanizing anyone, American kids or immigrant kids. I noted that limiting immigration was necessary in such an environment because, however poorly the schools are doing in this regard, American kids at least inherit a certain amount of American-ness from their parents, whereas immigrant parents are bringing their kids to school specifically to be Americanized.
I like to imagine these immigrant parents picking their kids up after school and asking, "So, Little Majmuna, what did you learn today about America?" "I learned to fight the patriarchy," replies Little Majmuna, "and oral sex."
Linda Chavez disagreed, saying that the level of future immigration is irrelevant because, without rolling back multiculturalism and racialism in society in general and the schools in particular, the grandchildren of today's Americans will be no more American than the grandchildren of today's immigrants.
No more American than the grandchildren of today's immigrants? But we've got to have some advantages! I know: how about we be much, much bigger assholes?
THE FUN NEVER STOPS WITH THE FUN FACTORY. I'm recovering from ACL surgery, and so have time to retrace old steps. Wuzzadem, I thought -- haven't visited it in a while; is it still nuts? Why, yes, yes it is: here Wuzzadem correspondent "Mrs. R" denounces a movie (which she hasn't seen, natch, as per the Kultur Kop protocol) in which liberals save baby seals or something:
Redford, plays the wise and ruggedly denim-clad professor who does his best to dissuade a young student from leaving school to join the military.

"Rome is burning, son. The problem is not with the people who started this..."

"The problem is with us. All of us..."

"Do nothing."

Ah, yes, do nothing. Sound advice for any occasion, especially ones involving wild-eyed jihadists wielding meat cleavers and rocket launchers.
A quick look at the web clip which provides Mrs. R's sole point of reference shows that Redford says "All of us who do nothing." Regrettably none of her readers play Jane Curtin to Mrs. R's Emily Litella, instead joining in her full-throated roars against the filth shown at the Sundance Festival.

Later Mrs. R notices news of a carjacking and declares, "When the Rule of Law Breaks Down... The public is no longer safe. Period." Not sure what she means: Los Angeles is in a state of anarchy? Liberals hijack cars? Maybe the carjacker was on his way to the Sundance Festival. It's awfully hard to tell.

That was fun. Maybe later I'll drop by Roger L. Simon's place.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

BETRAYAL. In 2003, back when he was calling us all traitors, Andrew Sullivan suggested that Bush might be Winston Churchill:
The truth is and we may as well admit it: we have failed to convince the world, just as Churchill failed to convince the world in the 1930s. And as 9/11 recedes a little, we are even tempted to falter in this dreadful analysis ourselves. The difference between now and the 1930s, of course, is that we may now have Churchill in office - but before the world has become convinced of his rectitude...
(Sorry for the secondary sourcing, but it has become very difficult to find Sullivan's pro-war posts online.)

Today, Sullivan says Bush is "The [Neville] Chamberlain of Our Time," and that Churchill is "Bush's nemesis."

Bush's current unpopularity among his erstwhile fans is worthy of note. Only 61 percent of Republicans currently approve of his performance -- per Fox News, "the lowest rating ever among this group." But even more telling is the high-level defections among his top print and web supporters.

To take only the two most egregious examples, Glenn Reynolds, who still thinks the war's going great, seldom has a kind word for the man who made it happen anymore. In 2004 Peggy Noonan swooned that warrior king Bush had two testicles, but when it became clear that the Democrats would sweep in 2006, she accused him of betraying conservatism.

It may be that they understand something Bush clearly understands: reputation, legacy, all of that junk can go hang so long as the money rolls in.

Think about Colin Powell, once arguably the most respected man in the United States. In 2003 Bush sent Powell to the U.N. with a bunch of fuzzy pictures and a scary story to sell the Iraq War. That nonsense being now exposed, Powell's a joke. No one's ever going to talk about him running for President again.

Like a lot of other people, Powell has mildly turned on the Bushies. But like the late protestations of Sullivan, Reynolds, and Noonan, Powell's gripes count for nothing but a bit of post-facto positioning, a quick step into a doorway just as the dawn breaks.

Because no one involved in this chicanery is losing money. The War has been a cash cow for its instigators, as Halliburton Watch daily shows. Hell, even Katrina was a gold mine for Kellogg Brown and Root. The Administration's widespread privatization of what were once government services has made it easier than ever to line the pockets of pals and contributors.

Everyone knows this by now, and still the patty-fingers goes on, because no one has either the jam or the guts to really take them down. Cheney's legal dodges are now legendary, yet the Congressional Democrats stumble around them like the officers of Reno 911.

Americans will recall this Adminstration without fondness, if they remember it at all. But so what? The Treasury's been looted, and the government crippled. We don't remember George Bush the First fondly either, yet he and his son still have their fortune, and when the hurley-burley's done they'll still have Kennebunkport, or Paraguay, while Cheney will spend his remaining centuries cryogenically frozen in a man-sized safe, emerging only for septuple-bypass operations and quail hunts.

And their onetime enablers, journalistic or otherwise, will give them the Nixon treatment. They'll quietly accede to the general negative opinion, while striking up the band for someone exactly like them.
OH, DON -- MUST I REMIND YOU THAT WE'RE GODLESS? Don Surber notes that an Anglican bishop has called recent flooding in Britain "the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused." (The padre also blames homosexuals, natch.)

Give Surber credit: You and I and a hundred monkeys typing for a thousand years would never come up with his analysis, "Will Gore and Obama embrace these religious leaders?"
Well, that makes as much sense as blaming someone who drives an SUV, flies in a Gulfstream jet or consumes 12 to 20 times the electricity a normal person uses — all of which Gore does.

Same principle: Man’s actions lead to global catastrophe. If there is one consistency over the millenia it is that doomsayers blame natural disasters on man’s self-indulgence.
Gore suggests that spewing pollutants into the air causes environmental damage; "doomsayers" suggest God is angry and is smiting us. That's a false equivalence a bright 12-year-old could tear to shreds without taking his eyes off his video game.

Amazingly, the post gets worse. Obama is cited because he's in favor of Democrats reaching out to religious people. No, I'm not kidding. Then Surber's analysis turns theological: "I suspect this won’t happen. There is a cafeteria approach to religion in America: I’ll take this edict, this commandment and that sin, but not those." So, it would seem, only the fecklessness of the faithful stands in the way of consensus between the Democrats and the Get-Ready Man. Finally Surber decides to drop some science on all you tree-hugging peaceniks:
By the way, the Sun’s activity is the biggest factor in Earth’s temperature. Lots of luck trying to stop solar flares and the like.
Ha ha! You fools! We're all doomed anyway!

Somewhere former Republican Presidential contender Pat Robertson is laughing his ass off.