Friday, October 31, 2008

THE WORD, THE FLESH, AND THE LOPEZ. Kathryn J. Lopez, stiffening her resolve and laying her hand upon her breastplate like a true, confirmed bride of Christ, stoically enters the blue belly of the beast -- the satanic Al Franken campaign. A godly woman keen for electoral martyrdom, she is determined, though one small part of herself is exposed and vulnerable to the devil. Can she complete her mission before temptation o'erweens?

She starts well; so strong is her holy ardour that she can use even the devil's own tools against him.

"Isn't Cardinal O'Connor an a**hole?" she quotes Al Franken at the top. Brandishing other cherry-picked Franken laughlines, she scoffs: "I don't find them funny. Can Minnesota voters?"

She appeals to the better nature of the sober-sided Squareheads, assuring them they are as cautious of the near occasion of sin as she, maybe because Jim Lileks is the only one she knows.

But the polls remain unmoved. So she must abandon flattery, and go straight to fire and brimstone. Attend the story she tells the prairie folk, a flashlight under her chin:
The author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot is not only a crude, mean comic, but he's within shooting distance of possibly unseating Republican senator Norm Coleman. Yes, that's right: While the rest of us are getting used to the possibility of an Obama-Pelosi-Reid Washington, there's more to the worst-case scenario.
(Pause as the lightning flashes, and count to three...)
There could be a Senator Al Franken in the United States Senate.
Thunder! She must be relentless now. Franken "ridicules the Resurrection," she cries, "excoriating the Eucharist and Confession." He doesn't even give a fig for stem cells! He thinks "porn and even child abuse and sexual violence are just one big joke." Hear her, sons of sodbusters! "The choice will not only be a signal from Minnesota, but a defining of the Senate down...."

Alas, as the Church teaches us, even a small imperfection may lead to downfall, and at the crucial moment Lopez falters:
I know the Senate's performance can leave a lot to be desired, but it’s still no joke.
Thus is our heroine's spell of righteous indignation, even with a full head of steam, and her hold on the crowd broken in an instant. Her mission has been scuttled by an uncontrollable rhetorical tic -- nurtured through the long, fat years of Reaganism, it is now so strong that it can overcome even the loftiest spiritual motivations. Thus is Lopez the Culture-Warrior defeated by K-Lo the Hack.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A FINE EXAMPLE OF THE GENRE. There's a whole lot of rightwing crazy going on these days -- the now-famous Atlas Shrugged dilly claiming Obama is the son of Malcolm X; the Jesus freaks praying over the Wall Street bull; the 23 percent of Texans who think Obama is a Muslim. These are delightful, of course, but I am more a spellbound observer of human venality and stupidity than of madness, particularly among the cast of the Thimble Theatre that is the subject of this blog.

Thus my favorite brain-bleed of the day is Jonah Goldberg's. He cheerfully reproduces a quote from a White Power nut who approvingly quotes Obama, then learns that the Obama quote is bullshit. His response is purest Goldberg:
The Obama campaign says Metzger's quote is false. But their "fight the smears" page also makes it sound like Obama's discussion of race in his book isn't remotely troubling, and that's nonsense. Maybe we can discuss more tomorrow. I'm off to dinner with some Bucknell students.
A simple acknowledgment would have been sufficient, but Jonah will never just stick his foot into a bucket when he can also attempt to march, nose upturned, into the ballroom with it. The final desperate evasion is the sort of thing by which critics in the future, when all our links are broken, will identify it as authentic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"I DON'T THINK ANYTHING I'VE EVER DONE IS WRONG." Ryan Sager is pretty unequivocal about the libertarian part of the conservative coalition:
Two years ago, I wrote a book imploring the Republican Party not to follow its worst elements off a cliff -- not to evolve, in short, into an insular party with little-to-no appeal outside of the rural, the southern, the Evangelical. As the McCain campaign flames out in a ball of Rovian disgrace, scorching the center in an attempt to fire up the base, it's difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the battle for the soul of the Republican Party has been lost.
But conservatives don't need any more bad news, and the Ole Perfesser comes along with some reader email to ease the pain:
If the libertarians are disgusted with the GOP and conservatives are disgusted with the GOP... is there a theory which would explain both trends? Yes. I think you can blame the MSM. Seriously.

GOP politicians are still politicians and they learn early not to fight with those who buy ink by the barrel. Conservatives who expect that the GOP is going to step in front of the MSM-driven train to defend principle are destined for a letdown. Few are going to commit political suicide and those who do aren't around next term to do it again. Conservatives don't need a new party. They need a new news media.
But we thought the blogosphere was the new news media. It's been four years since the Perfesser assured us that CBS "suffered a crippling blow" from Rathergate, and that "the ability of the Big Media to maintain preference falsification by presenting a unified message is already long gone." Surely by now the blogosphere must be America's Most Trusted News Source.

Heh, as someone once said, indeed. As we have noticed before, the media remains the right wing's favorite boogey-man. And now that things are looking grim for them, they ascribe new, sinister powers to the MSM menace. Its influence is no longer limited to the sheeple -- it's also actually driving Republicans away from conservatism. They didn't leave the party, the party left them.

I've spent most of my life running away from adult responsibilities, but even I could never have pulled off, or even thought up, something as bold as this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

THE BIG-LEAGUER AND THE BUSH-LEAGUER. The conservative heretic hunt proceeds apace. Witchfinder General The Anchoress thinks that Peggy Noonan, of all people, is angling for a job as Obama's Press Secretary:
Some of us have rather suspected that Peggy Noonan -- over the past few months -- has been playing pretty for a seat at the Obama table. Hey, a girl wants to be relevant, right?...

Hey, if Noonan manages -- like a few others from the right -- to successfully anchor herself within the coming regime, more power to her, I guess.
She's talking about the same Noonan who said that Obama represents the awful "New America," for whom "Politics is life," who sue smokers, and for whom "love of country is a decision... What you breathe in is skepticism" and "Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely antique." She also asked, "Are the Obamas, at bottom, snobs? Do they understand America? Are they of it?" Hell of a way to curry favor, I'd say.

But Noonan said some bad words about Sarah Palin, which to The Anchoress is proof of treason. In a way you can't blame The Anchoress. She doesn't understand that Noonan's loyalty is not to a set of principles but to a brand. Brand Peggy is a comfort brand for conservatives and seeks to ease their minds; if something went wrong with some Republican campaign, it was not the conservatism, but some bad choice. She isn't going to work for Democrats, as her most recent column (about "flinty elderly Republicans from New England, home-schooling mothers in Ohio, libertarianish Republicans in Colorado, suburban patriots outside the big cities... the beating heart of conservatism") amply proves, any more than Tony Bennett is going to start covering the Vivian Girls.

But she is going to protect herself, and she wants to leave the impression that she has been true to the cause while others deceived themselves. Republican candidates come and go, but Peggy will be at the hearth with a blanket on her lap for years to come, talking to a large audience about the good old days.

As a crazed dead-ender, The Anchoress can't grasp this: for her every battle is Armageddon. But she works a small market. Noonan is playing in the bigs, and though she may sometimes descend among the people for effect, she will always return to the skybox when the paychecks are being distributed. Whatever she tells the rubes, she knows where the "beating heart of conservatism" is really at.

Monday, October 27, 2008

BREAKING! OBAMA THUGS DRIVE VOTERS TO POLLS IN SOCIALIST "CAR POOLS"! Supporters of Barack Obama got an email from the campaign today suggesting, "Ask your Boss. Ask your Professor. Take Election Day off and volunteer to make history" by helping Obama voters get to the polls, as volunteers do in every election.

So far, so what, you might be thinking -- unless you're Michelle Malkin:
Obama campaign to worshipers: Ditch work and school on Election Day for The One

The pursuit of “Higher Purpose” requires Obama followers to skip out of their jobs and play hooky from school — while others pick up the slack.
Welcome to “redistributive change!”

As for Obama followers without jobs: Just do your “thug thizzle.”
Wait until she hears about their plans for an Obamamaniac love-fest known as "the victory party."
SPOILED. How about that. I was just talking about how rightbloggers don't like to acknowledge their own errors, and a fresh example jumps out at me. Glenn Greenwald investigates a claim by National Review's Ed Whelan that the Washington Post failed to report Joe Biden's "international crisis" comments. Greenwald, using the clever expedient of the Washington Post's own search feature, discovers the quote in several Post articles.

Greenwald is understandably snarky in his report. Nonetheless you'd think Whelan, as a seeker after truth, would be grateful at least for the information. Instead, he flips out:
Never mind that I had done what strikes me as a sensible search (and one that should have yielded more results that Greenwald’s) and had expressly stated my lack of confidence in the reliability of the Post’s search engine. Never mind that, when informed by a reader that he recalled seeing the quote in the Post, I used his information to find one article and promptly (within an hour of my original post) added a correcting update. Never mind that the fact that the Post previously quoted Biden doesn’t detract from the strangeness of the “Impolitic” feature in this morning’s paper. Never mind that there are mountains of evidence of media bias in covering the campaign...
Etc. He also calls Greenwald "unhinged."

Like juvenile delinquents, these people have been shielded from the consequences of their actions for so long that when correction comes, they take it pathetically hard.
MY NEW VOICE COLUMN is mainly a recap of the Ashley Todd affair. The speed and zeal with which rightbloggers jumped on the fraudulent charges are interesting, in a familiar sort of way, but their willingness to absolve themselves of any responsibility for their own credulousness is fascinating. As it happens, the blogosphere model of bad reporting has become so great a part of our discourse that the Todd story got big play from the beginning, and so did its exposure as a fraud, which intensified the spotlight on the bloggers, who generally behaved as any incompetent player might upon suddenly discovering that a huge audience has seen him end his big dance solo with one foot in a slop-bucket: They manfully played it off as part of the routine. It won't teach them anything, but it might have some effect on the people who read them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

SHORTER ROD DREHER: A friend of mine is having sex and enjoying it! Can't you see this proves that sex cannot be private, it must be regulated by whatever Church I happen to belong to at the moment! Why are you all laughing at me? Oh, yeah, well laugh at this -- AIDS!
HELL HATH NO FURY like a rightblogger scorned. Kathleen Parker has a, er, slight piece on Sarah Palin, whom Parker had previously denigrated to the ire of true believers. They are newly incensed, but we doubt any reaction will top that of Riehl World View:
Note to Kathleen Parker: Before you go off like that again, you might want to change your Buckley School photo (at right) to something other than one that says, "Hey, I'm getting older but I'd still love to meet some young would be journalists out of Harvard who love to f/ck!"

Or perhaps that glasses sliding down the nose Charlie Gibson look is now a little more befitting your stature assuming you've put on a little weight?
Mrrroww! I bet he'd like to carve a "B" on her face.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

THEY'VE GOT TO GET THEMSELVES BACK TO THE GARDEN. A few years ago I noted that National Review's Stanley Kurtz really wanted America's safety net destroyed so that family values could be revived. Apparently, now Joel Kotkin hopes for the same result from economic chaos:
Forced into belt-tightening, Americans are likely to strengthen our family and community ties and to center our lives more closely on the places where we live.

This trend toward what I call "the new localism" has been underway for some years, driven by changing demographics, new technologies and rising energy prices. But the economic downturn will probably accelerate it as individuals and corporations look not to the global stage but closer to home, concentrating and congregating on the Main Streets where we choose to live – in the suburbs, in urban neighborhoods or in small towns.
Kotkin also lauds the impoverishment that forces more young adults to live with or seek funds from their parents ("This clustering of families, after decades of dispersion, will spur more localism"). And higher energy prices will make us all locavores! The New Depression will be great for families, if you don't count the scrofula and abandoned babies (but at least their ragged parents won't be able to afford abortions).

Wherever there's a loony New Jerusalem, there always is Crunchy Con Rod Dreher:
I want Kotkin's vision to be true, and I can see economic necessity forcing these kinds of changes on American society. Americans may not become "their better selves" by choice, but because they have no choice.
To be fair, he sees a point in Matt Frost's demurrer before concluding hopefully that "we'll make a transition that looks something like what Kotkin envisions, but it won't be smooth, and there will be a lot of pain."

Isn't there some unsettled stretch in the Mountain States where we can put these people?

UPDATE. Fixed link.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When Laurie Coleman, wife of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, hauled her trash to the alley at 7:30 this morning, a chilling sight greeted her.

Spray-painted in black on the wooden siding of the garage in the couple's Summit Hill neighborhood, in letters nearly a foot high: "U R A CRIMINAL RESIGN OR ELSE! PSALM 2"...

Also vandalized in similar fashion: U.S. Sen Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, John Kline, Michele Bachmann and Jim Ramstad. Klobuchar and Ellison are Democrats; Coleman, Kline, Bachmann and Ramstad, Republicans.
(Emphasis added.) Garage vandalism as told by wingnuts:
Norm Coleman's Home Vandalized By Leftists-- 3 Other GOP Homes Marked...

But, don't expect to see the media to condemn the "angry left" for these attacks.

It doesn't work that way.
OK, so Gateway Pundit is the sad, intense member of the gang who always screams "OK BOSS!" a little too loud -- let's check in with the more responsible RedState:
...precisely the sort of thing that would make people scream "theocracy! Christianists!" if the target was a Democratic Jew. Also: note that this is Norm Coleman that we're talking about, he who recently ended running negative campaign ads. Apparently, this sort of thing just encourages a certain subset of Minnesota Democrats.

Anybody think that this attack will get any kind of meaningful, mature response from Al Franken?

Nah, me neither.
(Actually Franken promptly condemned the vandalism, but as long as RedState's making shit up, they must figure, why not go all the way.)

OK, RedState also looks like the type that's always secretly itching to play Night of the Long Knives. So let's look at Fox News, which doesn't restrict itself to Coleman -- it also reports the vandalism against John Kline, Michele Bachmann and Jim Ramstad... hey, where'd the Democratic victims go? Must be an oversight.

They really aren't even on the same planet with us anymore. I expect them to develop conservative math, physics etc soon, and refuse to take part in our godless science.
SHORTER MARK HEMINGWAY: I'm not eating shit, you're eating shit! And BTW you're lowering the tone of the debate!

Monday, October 20, 2008

DEAD-ENDER ETIQUETTE. Barack Obama goes to see his sick grandmother. Gateway Pundit sends his regards:
Obama used his grandmother on the campaign trail this year including comparing her to racist, anti-AmeriKKKan pastor Jeremiah Wright and calling her a "typical white person":

But, Obama will take two days this week to see her in Hawaii.
All class, these people.

UPDATE. Betsy's Page: "Despite his trumpeting her supposed racism before the public in order to excuse his time in Reverend Wright's church, I'm sure she's filled with pride and love to see the grandson she helped raise be on the cusp of being elected president."

If passive-aggression were an Olympic sport, Betsy would be Nadia Comaneci.

UPDATE II. Wow. What a douchebag.

UPDATE III. This guy is also pretty amazing:
Unfortunately, since we're dealing with someone who's running for president, there are some questions that need to be asked. I don't want to ask them, but is something else involved?
Then he links to a Freeper who thinks Obama's just trying to steal some documents.

There are more like this, but there's only so much Republican strategy I can take this close to bedtime.
DUH. Rightwing legal genius Todd Zywicki explains that Sarah Palin's apparent inability to answer simple questions is proof of her superior intellect, whereas Joe Biden sounds smart because he is really stoopid:
Some thoughtful people simply have a tendency to confuse intelligence with the ability to be glib, or more precisely, to bs. And I think that is much of what it comes down to--if Palin doesn't know the answer to a question, she just isn't that good at making something up. Biden, by contrast, is a master bs'er, as his debate performance exhibited. As a general rule, the less informed he was about the answer to a question, the more assertive he was in answering it...

I have to say though, given the choice between someone who gets flustered when she doesn't know the answer to a question versus someone who doesn't know the answer but just makes something up, it is not obvious to me that the latter is smarter or better able to lead the country.
I see that Zywicki is a Professor at George Mason. His students who read this post have a distinct advantage over their classmates: they know they need only answer questions, "Uh, chee, boy, I'll have to get back to ya," to be credited with a first-rate intelligence.

Oh, there's one other requirement: they have to be right-wing.

Zywicki also says that people who don't see Palin's brilliance "have to have an awfully low opinion of the voters of Alaska and the overwhelming majority of Alaskans who approve of her job as governor." With any luck, we'll see in a couple of weeks what Zywicki thinks of the voters of America.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, this one about the trickling-up of slurs that you usually find on the most venomous rightwing blogs into the mainstream Republican campaign. The students have become the masters, as it were. If this were happening four years ago, those guys would be trumpeting their influence on national politics. You can understand why they're not so quick to do it now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

HEART OF DORKNESS. Roger W. Gardner of the dramatically titled Wake Up America takes in the fall foliage in his sleepy New England town. It sounds lovely -- "Clean white wood frame houses, tall slender church steeples rising up into a cloudless blue sky," etc.

But Gardner can't fully enjoy it. Though it is a "great undeniable reality," his mind keeps turning to "a competing reality, that not-so-reassuring reality I left behind me on my computer" No, he doesn't mean World of Warcraft. He means "creeping sharia and pending Socialistic doom." He wonders:
Do these people who I pass on my way to the store look frightened or vulnerable? If I stopped and asked one of them if they were living in fear of al Qaeda right now, what would they answer? If I stopped and asked that man who is raking leaves in his front yard if he's worried about America losing its national sovereignty or the encroachment os Islam into our Judeo/Christian culture, what would he say?
Probably, "You want the state mental hospital; it's just up the road."

Then Gardner sees the portents: "They are the signs of Obama." But even worse -- yes, worse than that! -- he sees another sign;
An innocuous little sign, weather beaten and torn at the edges -- it's been up there for quite a while now. "No room in this town for hate" it reads. And I shudder to myself... We have no room here for hate. And without hate we are vulnerable to those who hate us...
Later Gardner acknowledges, "sometimes I feel so out of place." I marvel that he has yet to move to a survivalist camp. There he might find plenty of cleansing hate, and take in foliage close-up, from his treehouse.
STORYTIME. At National Review Jay Nordlinger tells a tale (actually he tells two others as well, but this is by far my favorite):
Have a friend who was in Riverside Park (Manhattan) with his baby daughter. A woman came up to him and said, "Are you a registered Democrat?" He said no. She said, "Well, you can register right now — it will just take a second. I have the necessary paperwork here." He said, "No, actually, that's not it — I am registered. It's just that I'm a registered Republican." He said that the woman gave him a look of hate such as he had seldom seen — sent a shudder down his spine. She walked away, still glaring, bitterly, without a word.
That's nice. I have one just like it:
Whilst strolling through Central Park (New York) I was approached by a man who asked me if I was really going to vote for "You know who," and then he pushed in his nose, pushed out his lower lip, and stuck out his tongue. When I told him I had no idea what he was talking about, he poked my arm and said, "You know -- the N-I-G-E-R!" When I told him to piss off, he let out a fart of a foulness I had never smelled before, and as he shambled away he shook his fist at me and said, "You haven't heard the last of this, or my name isn't Jonah Goldberg, B.A.!"
I have plenty more. Naturally most of them involve cab drivers.
THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE. On "Meet the Press," they just showed a clip of John McCain announcing to a rally that he is "not George Bush" -- news the presumably Republican crowd cheered loudly.

Andrea Mitchell talked about a "remarkably negative" Obama ad -- negative because it shows McCain bragging about how often he sided with George Bush.

In 2000 there was a lot of yapping about the limited involvement of Bill Clinton in Al Gore's campaign. (In fact we've had some of that this year about both Clintons' limited involvement in Obama's.) Yet nobody finds it remarkable that the Republican Presidential candidate is running, actively and like hell, from the sitting President from his own party. In fact, they cluck over Obama's bad taste in bringing it up.

Wingnuts who love to play "Name That Party" don't notice this embargo on President Bush's political affiliation. And the Liberal Media are, as usual, useless, both as the liberals they are alleged to be and as media (ditto).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

MORE DESERTIONS. A Politico story reveals that people think the Republicans have fucked the country up so badly that even voters who don't like black people are thinking of voting for Barack Obama.
“I wouldn’t want a mixed marriage for my daughter, but I’m voting for Obama,” the wife of a retired Virginia coal miner, Sharon Fleming, told the Los Angeles Times recently.

One Obama volunteer told Politico after canvassing the working-class white Philadelphia neighborhood of Fishtown recently, "I was blown away by the outright racism, but these folks are … undecided. They would call him a [racial epithet] and mention how they don't know what to do because of the economy.”
This is really bad news for McCain, whose election-eve strategy, I expect, is to appear on CMT in front of a Confederate flag with "Dixie" playing in the background. As FiveThirtyEight puts it, "In this economy, racism is officially a luxury. How is John McCain going to win if he can't win those voters?"

Of course conservatives see it differently. In their view, this proves that it's Democrats (and their lying, cheating [racial epithet] friends) who are the real racists:
So refreshing to see the Democrats openly admit they're racist scumbags...'s OK for them to be racist, so long as they project their racism upon Republicans with their incessant cries of racism. Naturally, it's fine if 105% of blacks (with ACORN's help, naturally) vote for Obama. We can't call that racist, because we'd be racist for pointing that out.
I know we liberals are supposed to be angry and violent, but after the sword is handed over at Appomattox, let us grasp hands o'er the bloody chasm, because fellows like this are going to have a very difficult Reconstruction.
EXIT STRATEGY. K-Lo effuses:
[Sarah] Palin didn't need Greek columns. People react to her because they believe she represents what the Greeks established.
I'll refrain from the obvious, but I will say this is the best idea I've heard yet for resuscitating Palin's popularity. Look what it did for Tristan Taormino.

UPDATE. Added word to improve setup. For more porn-related Palin laffs, see TBogg. Palin's many inadequacies have distracted us from the peculiar effect her feminine charms have on male wingnuts -- see musical-comedy enthusiast Mark Steyn's post:
Re the pantyhose'n'leeches post, an observant reader corrects me:
Palin doesn't wear pantyhose Mark. That's one of the reasons the old fems don't like her—unlike them, she actually has legs good enough to to bare.
Alas, I wouldn't know. I saw Governor Palin in Laconia*, NH yesterday and — clearly stung by the allegations that her white outfits are racist — she turned up in black pants and a blouse of brownish-beige hue. In my section of the crowd, the moderate, centrist, undecided, independent swing voters expressed a preference for skirt and cleavage.

(*Laconia is best known for its annual Bike Week, by which standards the Governor was extremely overdressed.)
I'm comfortable with all manner of kink, but really, this mix of humiliation and upskirt fantasies just doesn't do it for me. I'm now less interested in attending one of the NRO Cruises.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NOT SUITABLE FOR TREATMENT. Conservatives are in a weird, anxious state. Some of them appear even worse off than that. The Anchoress:
A friend of mine, noting the Buckley endorsement of Obama on the slimmest of notions, said, “there is a strange undertow of events, lately.” Yes. Things are so strange because there is disorientation - and this disorientation is because the supernatural is in play - it’s been in play for a long time, of course, but the painless coup is almost complete and there is almost an anticipatory frenzy on the side of the presumptive victors...

No matter what happens, we are entering a new era, and I believe everyone knows it. With the prayer and fasting, I am “in training” making myself ready for whatever comes, because whatever comes is going to be very different; it will jar us from all of our complacencies.

So, yes, I feel very peaceful right now...

Surely someone over on that side of the asylum wall has taken note of this election-induced lunacy. Let's see what Rod Dreher has to say:
What if McCain manages to win this thing after all?

Seriously, what do you think would happen? I think the left would howl with rage. I'm only being slightly hyperbolic. They will be so angry and disappointed that it will be very, very hard for President McCain to get anything done... To have gotten so close to power, and to have such a good candidate, and in such a favorable Democratic year, and to lose? Really, it's hard to imagine how they'll react.
But imagine he must. Anything's got to be more pleasant than what's happening right in their own front yard.
THE PASSION OF JOE THE PLUMBER. McCain promotes Joe the Plumber to national punchline. So reporters look him up -- that's part of the job, you know -- and report their amusing findings.

Rightwing bloggers will tell you what the real crime is:
They've done more investigations into Joe the Plumber in 24 hours than they've done on Barack Obama in two years . . . .

A reader emails: The harassment of Joe the plumber is the singular biggest mistake of the Obama campaign...
I've been around so long, I remember when Joe Biden was Obama's biggest mistake. And when making fun of McCain's multiple houses was Obama's biggest mistake. And when not picking Hillary was Obama's biggest mistake. And when bitter/clinging/guns was Obama's biggest mistake. And when attacking Rush Limbaugh was Obama's biggest mistake. And when attacking Andy Martin was Obama's biggest mistake, etc.

Given his multiple biggest mistakes, it's amazing the guy's so far ahead he has to warn supporters not to get complacent. Perhaps this, too, is his biggest mistake.

We've around this mulberry bush so many times that the Ole Perfesser forgets to leave out the really embarrassing part:
And reader Donald Gately emails: "Joe the Plumber is the new Linda Tripp, apparently... media elites... out of step with mainstream America..."
Time for Joe to give a press conference at the foot of the Linda Tripp memorial on the Mall, which commemorates the day decent Americans rode Bill Clinton out of town on a rail. Maybe this reference is meant to signal to his readership that this trick doesn't always work. Or maybe he's preparing them for the alternate universe to which they'll all repair when the Dark Time comes.

People are starting to talk again about an October surprise. But at this point I doubt anything can surprise us.
THE "LOST" CAUSE. I've never seen a candidate do worse than McCain did tonight. But let's see what the kids at The Corner thought:

From the beginning they were restive. Kathryn J. Lopez came in early by wishing "He so should have opposed the bailout." (Ramesh Ponnuru explains that it's more expedient to lie about that.) Jonah Goldberg also proposed an alternative response -- as usual, a nonsensical one.

They loved Joe the Plumber. John Hood called him "a new American hero." K-Lo said Joe's her hero. Stephen Spruill was reminded of Swing Vote -- given its grosses, another sign that we are among dead-enders.

They had trouble keeping the ball aloft. "What's the deal with the McCain strategy of repeating the same phrase three times?" said Michael Graham. "Freeze, scalpel, hatchet zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz," said the easily bored Jonah Goldberg, who wanted McCain to talk about gay marriage. Sorry, Jonah, wrong decade.

When McCain said he wasn't Bush, K-Lo was overjoyed, but die-harder Ponurru said, "isn't Obama right?... I prefer more of the Bush program to the Obama program myself."

Poor John Hood complained that Obama was laughing at McCain. Laugh and the world laughs with you... or, probably in this case, vice-versa.

The clearest sign of how out of touch they are is Michael Graham's "YES!!! Finally!!!" when McCain said that Obama's concern for the health of women having abortions is a joke. "It's a huge winning issue that reaches beyond the pro-life base." Maybe if Graham ever wandered outside that highly specific base, he'd rethink that.

But even the brethren had some clue that this battle can only be won in the hypothetical: Stanley Kurtz laid out a long alternate-reality McCain response having to do with ACORN and Bill Ayers. Mark Steyn let slip the deepest wish of the tribe by revealing that, as regarded the charges of negative campaigning by McCain, "if the dissatisfactions with McCain expressed to me at the Palin rally in Laconia, NH today are anything to go by, there's a 60-40 probability that any cries of 'Kill him!' at a GOP event are directed at our guy."

That's tonic for the troops right there. The war-cries and whining go on, but Ponnuru put a fitting amen to it: "I’m going to go back to watching the first season of "Lost." Probably good preparation for next year." Theirs is a Lost Cause, indeed -- and like the more famous one, only redeemable by deep feelings about black people.

Monday, October 13, 2008

REPUBLICAN NADIR WATCH. I just saw David Frum on Rachel Maddow, pleading for a better tone to politics (!), and actually quoting Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

This is the same David Frum who defended Ted Haggard on the astonishing grounds that it was morally better to be a hypocrite than a homosexual; who has declared that if a rightwing comedy fails, it is less important that it fails to amuse than that it fails to "create a conservative institution with cultural power"; who didn't care whether we got Bin Laden because, he said, it wasn't as important to bring justice to the perpetrators of mass murder as to fight a "war with the ideas that animated those people," and many other such outrages against both civility and reason. The idea of this ham-handed political thug playing the meek lamb and quoting Gandhi would be infuriating if Frum were not observably swirling down a drain that was created by himself and his colleagues.
NEW VOICE COLUMN up, taking the pulse of rightwing bloggers, who as you will see are reverting to form in more ways than one: not only spreading smears and policing apostates, but also celebrating (out loud!) the golden era before No-Legs Rosenfeld socialized the country.

I notice also that the brethren are now so steeped in Obama rumors that they're getting insular about them, treating them more like prized collectibles than as urgent dispatches to rouse the sheeple. Ace O'Spades bats around an "Obama girlfriend" story: "Fire is being held as those who know the story try to get someone of import to break it," he informs us -- wingnut insider baseball! The subject is a "major, big-time fundraiser" who "for reasons unfathomable, suddenly shut the shop down and decamped to a little Caribbean island." Now why would a rich person do such a thing? "The story has a Fred Baron. Not The Fred Baron. But actually -- an even better Fred Baron." Who's either Fred Baron? David Horowitz' Discover the Networks (the paranoid successor to Follow the Network, now dark) has Baron I as a former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and a bigshot in some Democratic Presidential campaigns. Wow, and Baron II is even better than that? Yes, he's from "the dirty Chicago political machine." And get ready for the big finish:
There's another big twist too, which I can't say anything about. I wouldn't even hint about it, really, even if permitted to, because it's so delicious it makes it nearly fantastical -- in the sense of "No one gets this lucky!" -- and actually would be used to denigrate the rest of it. But there is a chance it gets more interesting than even the Chicago Machine connection.
It's delicious, it's self-refuting, it's even more interesting than the Chicago Machine! This one goes on the top shelf right next to Barry is a Muslim and Barry is Not a Citizen, and the autographed Swift Boat -- fine objects of contemplation for when O'Spades is taking ease and hearkening back to the days when he was badgering bigger bloggers to run his stories.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

THE HOOVERVILLE TROLLEY. Jonah Goldberg lays out the new conservative POV on our present economic chaos:
...the tragedy is that this election year does look quite a bit like Hoover vs. Roosevelt (and given that choice, I'll take Hoover)...
Other comrades have taken up the call. Please help them spread this around. Maybe it'll trickle up and John McCain will start denouncing FDR and the Social Security Act.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CHARLOTTE HAYS DOES IT ALL. As I frequently tell you, Barack Obama is black and therefore could still lose this election. But if I haven't forgotten it, many of our conservative brethren have, for the moment, anyway. This has got them so flummoxed that some of their writings are like little Rosetta stones of rightwing bullshit, packing much vital information about the tribe and their lingo in a short space.

Take for instance this Charlotte Hays post at National Review. It's got everything! First, the mournful tribute to the Great Bush:
George Bush has probably had the hardest administration since Lincoln. I feel for him.
Then, equally mandatory with wingnuts these days, a swipe at the Great Bush:
But his speech on the economy just now was lackluster.
The enduring faith that spin can conquer all:
Neal Cavuto says he should stay from the cameras for awhile.
(To protect whom, one wonders -- himself, the economy, or the American people.)
McCain, on the other hand, can't afford to be lackluster.
OK, that old dry-drunk's on the slag heap, everyone pump up Maverick!
He has got to make the case that, at a time when some are (optimistically?) proclaiming the end of American capitalism, it would be dangerous to have Bill Ayers's pal reshape the economy.
There's a nice cocktail of rightwing memes: the treasonous Washington Post, by covering doubts about our system, is actually intentionally sowing them, and the last thing America needs with its hyperinflated market thus under siege is somebody whose gigantic circle of acquaintances includes a Weatherman.
McCain has also got to say that we have lots to fear but that fear itself is out of control and a contributing factor.
Following up a dark accusation with a plea to abandon fear is a classic conservative switchback, made more piquant by the idea of John McCain as the man to ease the American people through the New Depression.
He must find a way to call for confidence in America a way that the fear-mongering Obama campaign can't pillory.
Again, it's the socialist, market-crash-causing, Muslim, mad bomber Obama who's mongering the fear, and also pillorying ways of calling for confidence which haven't been discovered yet, but which will be if you remember Bill Ayers is a terrorist.
Tall order, but possible. Maybe.
And that's what you get a lot from them nowadays -- that maudlin, vaguely hopeful but mostly premonitory tone, like the odd moment in Sarah Palin's debate summation when she talked about a day in which, under a totalitarian Democratic regime, Americans would look back with longing on the Freedom That Was. It's straight out of old Goldwater-era pamphlets and John Birch Society parables. In their moment of crisis, conservatives are discovering and uncovering themselves.
THE ETERNAL ENEMY. Back in plummier days, Roger L. Simon cheerfully ticked down the last days of the MSM -- mainstream media, to the uninitiated. He would periodically announce "another crack in the mainstream media," assure readers that "people are tired of the forced blabber" of the MSM, and allow as how "I wouldn't be surprised if pretty soon they go on the 'endangered species' list."

What a difference a big lead for Obama makes: after Obama's Rev. Wright speech, Simon now informs us, "I knew we were living in a media-constructed lunatic asylum." Oh, the MSMers are still "pathological" and suffering from "personality disintegration." But they're apparently still very dangerous, which is a shock, considering how long Simon's been telling us they're on the skids.

As long as people need something to read on the crapper, there will be newspapers of some kind. And that's what Simon is banking on: a deathless enemy that is weak and declining when Simon wishes to portray himself and his comrades as strong, and flush with mind-warping power when he feels himself threatened. It's a nice racket so long as the suckers don't catch on.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

THE CORNER. The story now is that Obama is causing the stock market crash. Srsly:
Now, it's far more likely that the causation and correlation suggested by some readers is backward: the markets tank for non-political reasons and Obama does well as a result, rather than Obama does well and then the markets tank. Still, I think Pethokoukis' point that Obama's success may make investors more pessimistic about the future has some plausibility to it.
The Pethokoukis reference is to an article called "Is Obama Depressing the Market?" This is a new low, but even more than the other new lows we've seen in this campaign, it's ridiculously counterproductive. Chief Executive magazine declares that "Job Creators Prefer John McCain 4-to-1 Over Barack Obama," and the average American has to think: Job what? The chief petty officers of our ruined economy prefer McCain? If CEOs declared as strongly for air and sunlight, I think at this point most citizens wound opt to live in underground caves.

The current rightwing talking points are expressed with refreshing psychosis by The Anchoress:
There is a reason that this untried, unprepared, not-especially-glib-after-all man has been thrust into such extraordinary prominence at this time. There is a reason why so much seems to be coming together to work in his favor. There is a reason why world markets are collapsing just before this very important election, and why they will continue to do at least until after the vote.
This is the voice of the dead-ender who has found herself in her preferred environment: cornered, her back against the wall, no longer even socially restrained from giving voice to her darkest fantasies, she can at last bust loose. And she's only getting warmed up.

It promises to be quite a spectacle: a battalion of shirtless dorks who think they've turned into the Hulk, threatening to smash.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

END TIMES. These are dark, dark days at The Corner, where they now insist that "consorting" with Bill Ayers "alone disqualifies Obama from being president." Mark Levin cries:
How can anyone who actually follows this stuff, who reads Freddoso, Kurtz, and scores of other reliable sources of information, conclude that Obama is not some wild-eyed radical?
This is rather like saying, "How can someone who lives in a urinal not smell like piss?"
DEBATE NIGHT: MANCHURIAN CANDIDATES. I did some liveblogging at the Voice, and also a quick roundup of the usual suspects. I thought Obama did okay, but judging by their bitter responses our rightwing brethren seem to think he won, though they don't have the bad taste to say so.

I sympathize with their dolor. Obama was low key and, it must be said, sometimes evasive, but it got him over. I still think that Zen lady at the end deserved an answer, not a stump summation. But McCain did the same thing, and I am pleased that Obama was willing to game the system on his own behalf -- by any means necessary, comrade! Where he took time to explain himself, he was eloquent, at least by TV debate standards. It was wise for him to expect viewers to comprehend his detailed explanation of McCain's insurance portability scam and how it would lead insurers to shop for the least consumer-friendly state in which to do business -- it is traditional to treat them as idiots, but many voters have had to examine credit card statements, mortgages, loan statements, and other such documents, and will respond to a friendly warning about the fine print. (I wonder that McCain didn't jump on Obama's mention of Delaware as an opportunity to attack Joe Biden. Probably he was too busy rehearsing his other slurs. That guy's not very quick on his feet.)

I will add that I had an interesting conversation with Julia about this afterwards, in which she brought up the similarities between McCain's sense of entitlement in these events and Bush's. I think the reversals of fortune that both these worthies suffered in their lives affected the ways both of them have run for President, but to dissimilar effect. Bush's natural self-regard was amplified by his ascent from alcoholism into fundamentalism: it merely gave him a better excuse for the self-regard he already had going in. McCain of course had the more severe and genuine reversal, and I thought his explanation of that at the Republican Convention was convincing: he had been broken down and put back together, in a more meaningful way than AA or whatever achieved for Bush. It was the most attractive moment of his candidacy. But if it gave him a new, better reason to believe in himself, it isn't something that comes across in the campaign. When he accused Obama tonight of talking tough and said that he himself wasn't "gonna telegraph my punches," it was as if he were talking about somebody else -- what kind of man announces that he doesn't telegraph? This may be the problem with the more aggressive campaign that Rick Davis led him into: it forces him to act like a common jingo. I don't think it suits him. Bush of course is ridiculously lacking in self-awareness, and that was his strength in 2000 and 2004 -- his inability to admit error made him look forthright. Might it be that McCain is unconsciously telegraphing, so to speak, a painful awareness that he's not the man he's been asked to play on TV? I hope so -- that man may yet be President.

Also: isn't it interesting that putative Obama supporter Megan McArdle really wants McCain to work the Bill Ayers angle? Now there's someone who hasn't come to terms with what she really wants. Maybe her days on a basketball team constitute her conversion narrative. Whatever it was, it wasn't enough.

Monday, October 06, 2008

GOON SQUAD. After all this time, I've come to think of my rightwing pets -- the Ol' Perfesser, the Crazy Jesus Lady, Jonah "Frrrt" Goldberg, et alia -- as something like real people. So I can't help but feel some embarrassment for them right now. At The Corner right now, do a search of "Ayers" and you'll get over 100 matches. Now consider that this outburst of interest in a minor New Left character is prompted by nothing other than the McCain campaign's decision to publicize him as the key to Obama's personal corruption.

These boys and girls are writers and editors at a prestigious magazine, yet they can be dragooned into this service as easily as felons into a road gang. Sic transit gloria Buckley. Even the loftier ones who try to change the subject ("I think Ayers and Wright are both fair game... But the attack that is most relevant to an Obama presidency concerns his ties to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid...") still have to submit their papers to the proctor to make sure they've repeated the name as required. In the end they're all just low-level employees of the Ministry of Truth.

Oh speaking of which, I did a wrap-up of the week in wingnuttery today. It covers stupidity, racism, and homophobia -- sort of a conservative trifecta.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Barney Frank used to live with a top executive at Fannie Mae. Though this had been reported as far back as 1992, conservatives are working it hard now, perhaps feeling that if their attempt to blame the financial crisis on black people doesn't work, they can get some traction blaming it on manlove.

"PART OF WHY THE USA GOT IT UP THE YOU KNOW WHAT," bellows The Astute Bloggers. "HOMO BARNEY FRANK WAS SLEEPING WITH MALE FANNIE MAE EXEC FOR YEARS." Ace O'Spades is of course on it like Lindsay Lohan on Samantha Ronson, and his commenters spray milk (at least we think it's milk) out their noses ("This sickens me on so many levels"). Dad29 assails "back-door-banditry" and asks, "Why should THEY worry about imposing a huge national debt on children?" (Please don't tell Dad29 they're allowed to adopt now, or he'll wear out his slur thesaurus.)

Musical-comedy enthusiast Mark Steyn tries to join the fun but fatally buries the lede, so his readers will probably be more incensed that "the 'gay mafia'" are "allegedly in control of 'Doctor Who' at the BBC," and burn their action figures in protest.

The next step, I suppose, will be Sarah Palin talking about Obama palling around with gay people.

Friday, October 03, 2008

COMB IT WET OR DRY? We've examined Jim Lileks' problems with haircutters before. Longtime fans will appreciate his latest attempt to find a stylist who satisfies:
Went to get my hair cut. The nasty sullen stylist wasn’t in, hoorah. The lass who cut my hair was new to me, so we had to find some common conversational ground. Settled on dogs. Then I learned she’d been a stylist on a cruise ship, so that opened up a vast rich rolling field of discursive opportunities . . . or so I thought. Turns out it’s a bit like cutting hair in a mall, except sometimes it rocks back and forth a bit. The drive home after your shift is quicker, though.
I am but a simple peasant, and even I know that if you consider your stylist a "lass" there is no way you will leave the chair with cheer unless she reaches under your bib and jerks you off, which clearly did not happen here.

Previously Jimbo sassed the local do-gooders:
The new Westin Hotel and Condo, bitterly opposed by some. Why? Because it’s tall. People who moved out here didn’t want tall buildings.
Can you imagine? Don't they know that relentless building is the engine of our nation's prosperity? But even Jimbo sees stores in his beloved Southdale Mall shutting down -- "the area next to it is the Abercrombie & Fitch, surrounded by heavy black shutters that give off the GO AWAY PARENTS vibe of a teen’s closed bedroom door." And the barberettes aren't doing it for him. Where o where is the succor of Scottsdale? We guess, like all our dreams of uplift, gone with the boom. Now Jimbo finds himself in a mall that is contracting, not expanding. No wonder offers so few new posts these days. When you're simultaneously a fan of the go-go boom and a nostalgist, how painful it must be when future is slamming you from the front and the past, once safely secured in old matchbooks and photos of men in hats, looms to remind you that it was not just a showroom of pleasantly retro styles, but a real place where the Dow never reached 10,000 and the money was never easy, and where you may soon be forced to live.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

DEBATE! I'm gonna try drunk live drunkblogging this thing from the Voice site. As a mainstream media website, it's not as easy to use as Blogger, so I may have to come back here, but please check it out anyway.

UPDATE. Made it! Both combatants were obviously coached: Biden to refrain from smiling or condescending and to focus on McCain, Palin to be perky, drop her g's, and rattle off talking points wherever possible. Biden solemnly made his case, and Palin gosh-doggonily evaded hers. I can't say how Americans will take this, but I do think it will have something to do with whether or not they think this election is important. If they do, nothing can help McCain, and if they don't, nothing will stop him.

UPDDATE II. Ann Althouse: "On the split screen, when Biden is speaking, Palin looks like she's brimming with ideas she's just waiting to express." Advantage: Bughouseosphere!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'M THE ONE WHO DROVE HER OUT OF HER SEAT. I'M THE ONE WHO PROVOKED THE LETHAL BARRAGE OF T-SHIRTS... BUT THERE'S NO POINT IN PLAYING THE BLAME GAME. Some days back Kathleen Parker wrote at National Review that Sarah Palin should depart the Republican ticket for the good of the party. Parker is a reliably conservative writer who sometimes takes a mildly contrarian angle, presumably to preserve her marketability.

With the Palin column she went a little far, though, and to hear her tell it (at the Washington Post -- mission accomplished!) got a predictable response:
I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn't, I should "off" myself...

I'm familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.

Some of my usual readers feel betrayed because I previously have written favorably of Palin. By changing my mind and saying so, I am viewed as a traitor to the Republican Party -- not a "true" conservative.
These columns tend to run long, and seasoned fans of the genre will have already guessed where she goes from here, but let's pull a quote anyway:
The mailbag is about us, our country, and what we really believe.

That we have become a partisan nation is no secret. This week has provided a vivid example of where rabid partisanship leads with the failure of Congress to pass a bailout bill vitally needed to keep our economy from unraveling.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a partisan speech, blaming the credit crisis on the Bush administration (omitting the Clinton administration's role in launching the subprime lending debacle). Republicans responded by voting against the bill.

Everyone's to blame, by the way.
This reminds of me of something Menachim Begin said about the outcry over a massacre of Palestinians by Lebanese Christians, allegedly with the complicity of the IDF: "The goyim kill the goyim, and then run to hang the Jews."

For conservatives, everything is the fault of liberals, except when there is no possible alibi for conservatives. Then it's everyone's fault. These days, even bipartisanship is mostly an angle, something to be tried when all else fails. No wonder it didn't take them long to warm to Maverick John McCain.

UPDATE. Here's the lesson Crunchy Rod Dreher took from Parker's column:
If liberals are concerned about this -- and they should be -- then they should urge the Obama campaign to stop mobbing radio show phone lines to stop discourse when Obama critics appear on talk shows.
If one of those Freepers throws a brick through Parker's window, I suppose Dreher will call for the arrest of David Plouffe.

UPDATE II. Commenter Jay B says, "You know, other than coming to the near-certain realization that we'll soon be in a depression and i'll probably lose my job and my family will be destitute -- this has been one of the best weeks in awhile."

I take his point, though I wouldn't say it was objectively "good" in any way. I think what makes us bomb-throwers and objects of opprobrium among our right-wing brethren is the fact that we can see the justice of something that may harm us. Again, I don't wish for collapse, just as I don't advocate "surrender." But when our country does something stupid it's just going to catch up with us. That's not a happy result, it's just the one you can expect when you pretend that what isn't so is so. If there's any upside to what's happening, it's that revelation is a good thing, however dearly purchased.

But asserting that up is up and not down makes you a traitor among those who have made a career out of denying the existence of gravity, centrifugal force, and other forms of objective reality, and made common sense a form of treason.

It's not so new -- Malcolm X, I believe, said something about chickens coming home to roost and got a hard time for it -- but I don't remember it being so complete as it has become in recent years. No wonder when Paulson comes to Capitol Hill demanding a bribe for the good of the country, they're so confused. The last bit of sense they had left was in their wallets, and now they're being asked to give it up.