Monday, June 29, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightbloggers and Michael Jackson. I focused on their odd consensus that public interest in Jackson at his demise was some sort of plot to enslave Iran and give aid and comfort to President Obama. It may be unfortunate that Americans are so fascinated with celebrities, but that so many conservatives attribute this evident and well-documented national tendency to liberal media bias shows once again that paranoia is now their unifying principle.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM. I am grateful to Jeremy Osner for pointing out that while all the squares are still into Obama birtherism, real gone cat Jack Cashill is into alterna-conspiracy, specifically the Bill-Ayers-Wrote-Obama's-Books thing. Actually up till recently Cashill has been the only active explorer of this literary crime and cover-up, though mainstream conservatives sometimes like to pick up on it to enhance their street cred.

But now he's got help.
About a week ago, however, I heard from a new contributor. I will refer to him as "Mr. West." Like most contributors, he prefers to remain anonymous. The media punishment that Joe the Plumber received has much to do with this nearly universal reticence.

A week before that, I heard from another excellent contributor, Mr. Midwest.
Build a better crackpot, and the world will beat a path to your door -- in discrete geographical segments, apparently.

Scoff as we will, Cashill, Mr. West, Mr. Midwest, and perhaps Mr. Pacific Northwest, Mr. Venice Beach, and Mr. Marvin Gardens have made real progress. For example, both Ayers and Obama misrender Sandburg's "Hog Butcher for The World" as "Hog Butcher to The World." If you would point out that many of us make the same mistake -- including, for example, Reason's Nick Gillespie -- that just shows that you're in on the deception. Maybe Gillespie proofread Obama's books -- he's a libertarian, and you just can't trust those people.

Also: like Ayers, Obama writes about the Mekong Delta -- and "Given Obama's age, 'Mekong Delta' was not likely a part of his vocabulary." (Wait -- didn't Obama go to Normandy Beach recently? How'd he know about that? It was way before his time. The plot thickens!)

And both Ayers and Obama use the word "baleful" -- Cashill says, "I had to look it up," which is to him further evidence of its singularity.

Cashill gloats over his accomplishments:
To this point, I have just skimmed the 759 items in the bill of particulars in my case against Obama's literary genius. Not familiar with the term "bill of particulars?" Uncertain myself, I looked that one up too.
You'll want to get on at the ground floor with this one, folks. Cashill and all his contributing jursidictions are going places,

Saturday, June 27, 2009

FELCHIN' WITH CRUNCHY ROD DREHER. It was a treat to scroll through the latest Crunchy Rod Dreher stuff and find a post that begins, "In the most recent Eminem thread..." Boy, there's a phrase I haven't seen in a while!

This bit of internet retro came up because Dreher had earlier read somewhere that a mass murderer had chanted Eminem lyrics during his slay-fest, and despite admitting up front that "it's wrong, of course, to blame Eminem or his music for these murders," he proceeds to do just that ("That's on you, Marshall Mathers. Live with that, Mister"), and to also titillate the faithful with some of the allegedly psycho-enabling lyrics (a popular gambit with this lot).

Later it is pointed out to Dreher that the psycho in question did not spit Eminem lyrics at his terrified victims. This leads Dreher to announce that he is "backing off -- somewhat -- the force of yesterday's post," which of course means a longer, more fevered rant to follow. First he tries to bring aboard liberals, as he perceives them, by denouncing the horror that is "24" ("its valorization of torture was having enough of an effect on troops in real life..."). Then, black kids laugh at a severed head in a movie theater! Clearly a sign of End Times, like the Haunted House at a fairgrounds. And then, along with more Bill Bennett vintage horror stories, comes one of the great Dreher couplets of all time:
I wonder what higher faculties of the soul are nurtured by contemplating Eminem's couplet in which he discusses ejaculating into someone's anus, then eating the semen. (Sorry to shock you, but if we're going to talk about this, let's be clear what we're talking about).
Watch that slippery slope, Rod -- soon you'll be running a midway tent and promising suckers a glimpse of the Depredations of the Liberals for only one-tenth-of-a-dollah. Oh wait -- change the last bit to "click-through" and he already is.
POLITICAL MORALITY EXPLAINED. Lisa Schiffren, National Review:
At the moment, I take the somewhat more nuanced and subjective view that it mostly matters when it steps over some kind of (inherently arbitrary) line, in which a major psychological flaw is revealed by dint of the nature of the infraction.

Senator Ensign didn’t cross that threshold. Spitzer, McGreevey, and Edwards all did. We learned about their characters from their sexual behavior. Mostly their practices just confirmed what we already knew to be the essential nature. Spitzer was an arrogant bully, Edwards a phony and a narcissist, Bill Clinton a sex addict. We have learned about Mark Sanford that he wasn’t entirely the hard-ass politician who fought budget growth in South Carolina so well. He has a mushy romantic side and a need to escape.

Whatever. If [Sanford] cares to, he can recover. I bet he won’t choose to do so.(Just as he has yet to choose to return to his marriage, except under immediate duress.) Which will be a pity. Because he had all of the right ideas. And these days, I would take a flawed Christian, with a failed marriage, who believes in liberty, markets, and low taxes, over what we have, no matter how good a family man President Obama might be, any day.
Or to paraphrase Nixon: I'm saying that when Republican Presidential timber does it, it is not morally illegal. Interestingly. Schiffren is not always a thorough-going shill for the Religious Right (at least when she's got a more secular candidate to promote), but when the chips are down she's always ready to call them off the bench and into the game ("I'm hoping that my embittered countrymen, clinging to their God and guns, will defeat candidates who flout their values").

Maybe she thinks she's doing them a favor here by constructing the sort of pro-hypocrisy brief that would immediate provoke howls of derision if offered by a preacher or churched Republican official. I wonder, though, if they'll appreciate it. It's been a long time since the Terri Schiavo crusade, and a lot of church folk have probably figured out that Schiffren would also support a flawed Satanist, with a failed marriage, who believes in liberty, markets, and low taxes, over what we have.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

YOUR BEST ENTERTAINMENT VALUE. Between RedState demanding liberals "shut up" about Mark Sanford, and Michelle Malkin insisting that not even conservatives are allowed to make jokes about him, rightbloggers are, in the immortal words of Boss Jim Gettys, making even bigger fools of themselves than I thought they would. Also, via Gettys: if it was anybody else I'd say what's gonna happen to them would be a lesson to them. Only they're gonna need more than one lesson -- and they're gonna get more than one lesson.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MAKING IT PERSONAL. I'm of two minds about Mark Sanford. On the one hand, of course, ha ha ha. On the other, it is something to see a person with so much money, power, and status -- not to mention a strong identification with the Christian faith -- so unmanned, as it were, by passion. All of us have seen, and some of us experienced, l'amour fou, and know how disruptive it can be, but it's still a surprise to see even so titanic an ego as a successful politician must possess shattered by it. You don't have to think much of Sanford or his probity to marvel at the bizarre lengths to which this largely epistolary romance drove him.

Of course Sanford has picked up the pieces as well as can be expected, and put on an interesting show in his press conference. Aside from blunting the impact of his admission, the strategy of devoting so much time to self-analysis and a survey of all the people he'd "let down" and "hurt" -- which really made Clinton's TV confession look austere by comparison -- put the emphasis on his character outside his unfaithfulness, and his sincerity, such as it is. This may, once the shock wears off, help at least some of his supporters get past this. Even I was temporarily distracted from the fact that Sanford had concocted an elaborate scheme to conceal his actions, and only spoke up because he had no other options left. It was not so much a Swaggart strategy as an Oprah strategy: when it's over you hope the audience learns enough about you to focus on that, and not what you've done.

There's been a lot of praise, from left and right, of the decision to keep Mrs. Sanford off the bandstand, but even if (as I suspect) it was her decision rather than his, it was probably good for Sanford, considering how much attention has been lavished on the humiliations of Silda Spitzer, Dina Matos McGreevey, et alia.

As to the way operatives will work it, The Perfesser is a reliable indicator of rightwing spin, and his link to a comment at Roger L. Simon's blog is very instructive:
Think carefully, now. In all honesty, what’s going on here -- and what Simon says -- is exactly the purpose of the media’s initial stories here...

...if the Republicans and their supporters and associates form up a circular firing squad and fall into an orgy of self-loathing and recrimination, that will totally destroy their effectiveness in opposition to Team Obama and his media whores. Take them totally off message. It will be like Abu Ghraib all over again...
The novel comparison of Sanford's Argentine mistress and Abu Ghraib aside, the right will fall back on its traditional position that any conservative's malfeasance, even one that cuts to the heart of their alleged religious principles, is merely another point of proof that liberals and their media enablers are the real source of all evil. You can hardly blame them. The mysteries of the human heart can be very frightening, and the temptation to solve them with an easy answer very great.

AMERICAN PSYCHO. Jules Crittenden:
Matthew Cooper at The Atlantic mulls what today’s questions asked and unasked, re crises rampant and crises dormant, say about news and the presidency — Iran and health care’s hot, two wars and GM failure’s not. More proof of our national case of ADHD, at the highest levels. Cooper also remarks on the weirdness of some Obama utterances, like his personal smoking struggle analogy today, that it’s like being in “AA.”
"You like Huey Lewis and the News?" "They're okay."
Sounds innocent enough. He does have a penchant for odd jokes, weird remarks, non-sequitorial behavior, both at the overly personal and the grandiosely presidential levels, though. Don’t make me bring up that Hot Dogs for Mullahs Strategic Initiative again. Or the gee whiz guys letter to the Russkies. Or the gifts to the Brits. Or that strange love letter to Jacques Chirac. Or that time he horrified Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes by laughing about the recession. Or large parts of the entire press conference today. Then there was that weird bow to King Abdullah.
"Yes, Alan?" "Why are there copies of the Style section all of the place? You have a dog, a little chow or something?"
I dunno about you, I’m looking forward with a shudder to more profound weirdness as this presidency continues. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of that yet. To paraphrase the late, weird Hunter S. Thompson, when the going needs a pro, this pres gets weird.

When they're really crazy, it only takes some little thing to set them off.

Monday, June 22, 2009

HE APPROACHES THE STATE OF RIGOR MORTIS. The people's outrage is felt:
Skateboarding Where Great Men Once Walked

At the risk of giving them ideas, maybe we could let them shoot a porno film in the Lincoln bedroom. I’ll bet that hasn’t been done before either!

Remember when the White House and the executive office buildings were places of decorum? Remember when the President of the United States regarded the Constitution with respect and our capitalistic form of government was the envy of the world?

Right now, people are risking their lives for the glimmer of freedom, and Tony Hawk is in the White House tweeting about Frosted Flakes

I know, I know. I’m not exactly busting apart that “Republicans are a bunch of no-fun white guys” stereotype. Still...

Am I an old fart or am I right to be pissed...
He eats ice cream, they get mad. His wife has a garden, they get mad. It's like The Angriest Dog in the World learned to type.

UPDATE. Great comments, and all I can add is, "Second term, Ozzy."

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightblogger analysis of Obama's Iran reactions. They started by declaring all his declarations insufficient, which must have been too dull a course to maintain, as they quickly got to the shark-jumping stage with the Great Obama Ice Cream Massacre.

As for their recommendations, I have yet to hear one of these cowboys demand Obama send a deputation of bloggers to parachute into Tehran with sacks of Blackberrys. Surely they must have a Charlie Beckwith of their own. Maybe Confederate Yankee?

So far my personal favorite has been Mark Rhoads of Illinois Review:
I am not really sure why exactly, but many of my liberal (sorry, aka "progressive") friends seem caught up this last week in following and actually rooting for good guys-the democtratic opposition in Iran...

Even a busted clock is right two times a day and when the hard leftists actually come down for real freedom, conservatives I think should applaud and welcome that and I do even though I don't understand why this cause for freedom in Iran captures their imagination on Twitter but the cause of other freedom-loving people does not. It must be hard for them not to find a reason to blame the US first for something bad.
Way to build a coalition, buddy! It gets even better when some trolls pretend to support the Iranian government because it's anti-abortion and Rhoads gets mad ("Sorry for the typos. A stroke will do that to you"). Sometimes the blogosphere is almost as much fun as Public Access.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

BEHIND THE VEIL. Not all of the nuttiness you'll find at The Anchoress' site comes directly from her. I was intrigued by a link she dropped -- "See now, this is a bummer. And the whole weekend ahead feels like ugh." -- and decided to try it. I found something called "'Afflicted For Four Hundred Years' -- NYC and the Apocalypse."

It's about how New York has been under a Bible curse ("...they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve") since Henry Hudson sailed down into New York four hundred years ago. The author finds significant that one account of Hudson's voyage is set "on a hot, fair day, the 12th of September[!!!], 1609..." He credulously cites the debunked David Wilkerson 9/11 prophecy, and basically says that New York will be drowned because our society is inclined to "worship more (time/attention/love) at the altar of money than the altar of God."

At the same time, he insists that he is "slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan when it comes to economic conservatism," but adds, "I have also worked for some time in and around Wall Street -- in the deep, dark heart of the engine room that drives American capitalism, There are fine human beings there, to be sure, yet the system is ugly. Truly ugly. And that was when I was profiting from it. (Still am, if truth be told)."

That last touch, for me, adds a little crackpot poignance to it: the guy apparently believes in God's imminent judgment on our worship of false gods, but feels no need to divest himself of investments consecrated at their altar. Much be one of the elect.

It's worth going into their comments and links sometimes to remind yourself that the popular religious-right bloggers, wacky as they are on their own, are actually the more sociably acceptable faces of a large group of nuts who up till recently had some significant influence over the affairs of this country.

Friday, June 19, 2009

THE DAY THE WORLD TURNED DAY-GREEN. So let me see if I have this straight: We're going to save Iran with Twitter. Oh, and Facebook going Persian. And the guy who was supposed to be Tweedledum to Ahmadinejad's Tweedledee is now George Washington. And the usual dumbbells are calling for the stupid hippies they hate to side with the Rebel Alliance.

It's all bullshit. Iran's a theocratic shithole going through a paroxysm that might eventually lay the groundwork for a genuine Western-style democracy. God bless them. But to pretend that changing the color of your avatar has anything to do with this is childish. And to imagine that the conversion of people who once disdained Mousavi and are now among his most fervent supporters is sincere is worse than childish. It's cheap domestic politics dressed up as high principle, and will have the same effect as the video above had on apartheid in South Africa nine years later -- which is to say, shit.

Great tune, though.

P.S. Does anyone remember what an enthusiastic warblogger Andrew Sullivan was back in the day? If so, do you not see in his current enthusiasm a reversion to form?

UPDATE. Very lively comments. I take the point that the Sun City vid had a specific tactical purpose -- that is, to embarrass Western musicians like Elton John and Queen out of going to Sun City -- and that the UN boycott added public pressure on the South African government. We can argue about how valuable that effort was to the overturn of apartheid; it may be argued that every little helps, and that mine wasn't the best choice.

I do believe that the video added to an inflated wider perception of the worth of cultural products as munitions against tyranny, and led to the unfortunate impression that artistic outrage makes authoritarians shake in their boots. While I often enjoy such efforts, from "Ohio" to The American Tea Party Anthem, I am with Tom Lehrer on the limits of their utility. Also I think popular music does its best work against repression by just being what it is, and that its citizens' desire for bootleg Rolling Stones records did more to shake the Soviet Union than any number of anti-Communist Hollywood movies.

As for calling Iran a theocratic shithole, I agree that calling anyone's country a shithole is impolite. But Iran runs all its laws by the Guardians Council, which is sort like the Supreme Court as operated by Fred Phelps' church. This leads to the sort of democracy we are seeing practiced on the skulls of protesters at this very moment. There are worse things than impoliteness.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In 8 years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, I dreamed about the man once, and it don’t remember feeling good or bad about it.

In 8 years of Bush’s presidency, I may have dreamed of him once. I think I did, but don’t really remember....
Oh my God. She isn't. She can't be. When people reach a certain stage of insanity, don't they lose the ability to type?
I was surprised to wake up this morning, ’round 7 AM, from a dream so full of the goodness of Obama, the love of Obama, the grace of Obama, that I was strongly repelled. If I were the time to consider mass-hypnosis, I’d have wondered about it.
There follow outtakes from Wild in the Streets starring Obama which The Anchoress claims to have dreamed. (The general idea is that he is charming but wicked.) Now, if you or I have dreams that provoke or upset us, we imagine that our mind is ill at ease, and endeavor to bring it ease, with therapy, or meditation, or pills, or prayer, or strong drink, etc. How does The Anchoress respond?
I suspect the dreams are occurring because the man is never not on television.
Then she tells us about how much more Obama the mind-rapists are pushing at her than they did Clinton or Bush. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that, pending the investigation I'm sure some media center is conducting as we speak, the odds that Obama has been on TV more in the first five months of his Presidency than Clinton or Bush were in their ninety-two months in office, apiece, are very long.

Though mad, The Anchoress possesses sufficient faculties to recall that she has talked a lot about how the press never missed an opportunity to denounce Bush, so this new idea that the former President wasn't on TV much will need some explaining. Here's her offer:
Bush got as much negative coverage as could be written, but little videotape. Toward the last two years of his presidency, if I remember correctly, he would 60-90 seconds on the nightly news shows, if that much.
I'm trying to remember what she's talking about. Maybe whenever the subject of Bush came up, the MSM Propaganda Teams showed a scarecrow wearing a sign that said STOOPID BUSH, and jiggled in while someone went "Yuk, yuk, duh-huh" in the background. Or maybe they showed footage of Hitler instead.

I hope The Anchoress will explain it at length sometime. Meanwhile here's a little of her close:
Obama is literally ever-present. Like our sins he is “ever before our eyes,” wherever we turn...
Her minders at First Things must have sent her back to soften this:
And no, I don’t need 100 emails scolding me for calling the president “sin.” I’m not. I’m just having fun and playing on Psalm 51, there, but take it as you like it; people believe what they want to believe.
The passive-aggressiveness is vintage Althouse, but on the whole I'd say The Anchoress, under the pressure of having to produce every day without the excuse of prayer circles or whatnot to relieve her, has turned into a Crazy Jesus Lady for our time. As my regular readers will know, this honorific was once bestowed upon Peggy Noonan, but as I noticed some time back, she has either lost her tendency toward hallucination or soft-pedaled her pretense of it, and behaves now more like an ordinary, glib hack. The Anchoress seems to have Crazy and Jesus and Lady in equal measure and plenty all around. I think it's time to hand her the crown.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ANOTHER ONE JUST LIKE THE OTHER ONE. I am delighted to learn that Conor Friedersdorf -- a junior leaguer who wants to be James Poulos when he grows up -- has been retained by The Atlantic. To write about "ideas." I thought they'd send him out on missionary work, maybe to the San Fernando Valley to turn porn starts, for seasoning before giving him a sinecure. But things move fast in this our modern age.

To be scrupulously fair, he isn't always annoying, but his first essays don't bode well. This is from "Iran, Twitter, and The American Information Elite," the 10,000th item this week about how we're all going to free Iran with twitter and maybe a benefit concert:
And those out of the know? They aren't any longer just grandmothers, the apolitical, and the middle manager in Scranton who gets all his news at 11 o'clock after the game. Now people who watch The Daily Show, subscribe to The New Yorker, and read the CNN subtitles as they run on the 24 Hour Fitness treadmill possess radically less information than a self-selecting group of their fellow citizens, granting that they mostly catch up on any given piece of information in a matter of days.
In other words, thanks to this foreign catastrophe, rightwing social-media nerds are the cool ones at last -- suck on it, Jon Stewart dweebs! For the next few weeks, whichever candidate the priests who run Iran will allow to be its President, all U Street will resound with Friedersdorf and his buddies acting like the guys from Entourage, bellowing "I swear by my life and my love of it, we own this town" into the night.

He also asks whether science fiction is our "Richest Literary Tradition," then says with a straight face, "Sam Jordison thinks so, assuming that the metric used is how many new words a genre contributes to the English language. His post is at its best when it delves into particular linguistic contributions." Now, it's possible he noticed that the Jordison article is a jokey space-filler ("Firstly, I thought it might be useful to have a tiny nanotech robot that flies around your mouth cleaning your teeth for you. This I would call an 'enanimal'") and was just playing along. Likewise maybe he had already heard of Long Bets, or other famous philosophical and political wagers, or human nature, and only wrote this to keep his commenters on their toes.

Actually I have nothing against young Friedersdorf, and wish him well. It's hard to keep up a couple of blogs, and don't I know it. The real joke is that The Atlantic keeps taking on these enthusiastic writers, either very young or (in the case of Sullivan) slow-witted, who though perfectly well educated write about America, human beings, and the world as if they just took a three-day crash course on them and are willing to wing it. Which is how they can talk about restoring society to a feudal state as if it were a neat new idea they just came up with, and such like.

Hunting of the Snark is both meaner and funnier about this, which is why I waited till the end to tell you about it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

BUSINESS AS USUAL. I confess to being a little skeptical about the "Green Revolution." Not that I don't think it would be great, but I've seen what became of the "Cedar Revolution" and the "Orange Revolution" and other allegedly internet-powered uprisings. I also know what tireless self-promoters the social media types are. If Eli Lilly came out with a cure for cancer they would somehow attribute it to Twitter.

Nonetheless I have to reproduce here my favorite snarl on the subject by American Power, exercised that Andrew Sullivan dared to draw parallels between George Bush and Ahmadinejad:
This is a sick, awful man. I will continue blogging on Sullivan's totally bankrupt nihilism. Spread these posts, readers. This is nothing short of journalistic terrorism. Sullivan's words are intended to injure, even kill, all under the cloak of the First Amendement.
Now there's a man with a mission -- or maybe just emissions. And way to keep your eye on the ball! Them Eye-ranians can wait till AP dispenses with treasonous fellow citizens.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the David Letterman-Sarah Palin thing and how it represents a new direction for the Right, namely into straight-up political correctness. As we have shown here, endlessly, they have already been working with PC tropes for a while. But with this crusade they have pledged their troth so hard against inappropriate laughter that I don't see how they can back off and have their old chortles about silly feminazis killing their good times.

Not because that would be logically inconsistent -- that never bothers them -- but because this time they're really feeling it. Go look at where "Fire David Letterman" is on Google Trends. They're loving this outrage, feeling the power between their legs and willing to ride it wherever it takes them. I predict you'll be hearing less from them about how liberals are the real enemies of free speech -- at least until the heat is off.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

LINE OF THE WEEK. "We would not have toilets if a capitalist had not taken a chance, held his breath and flushed." -- The Anchoress.

I guess she thinks her economic system of choice is one with her God, from whom all blessings flow, so to speak. As a capitalist tool myself, having worked for profit-making companies most of my adult life (which is more than many at National Review can say), I really think The Anchoress would do the cause more good if she didn't overpromise on its behalf. Part of the reason the Democrats got in is that Republicans kept telling people the market was a miracle, and then the loaves and fishes turned into stones. This gave them the whiff of con-artists. So when they tell people that Obama is tearing up the roots of the Tree of Life, it doesn't enhance their credibility.

If they were serious about winning on the issue, they might talk more about corporate welfare, on which score Obama is clearly vulnerable. But that would admit a flaw in the divinity of capitalism. So they revert to the woe-unto-thee approach, and hope they can convince people that our troubles have more to do with Karl Marx than with cronyism and fraud. It's certainly worth a try, considering that not enough people on the other side are interested in addressing the real problems, either.
LEGACY PLEDGE WEEK AT NATIONAL REVIEW. National Review's having their annual (or is it monthly?) pledge drive. Let's see how it's going. First. a show of gratitude from Peter Robinson:
You make an extremely valuable point about the Progressive Movement and the New Deal, Jonah, and you make it splendidly.

If every time I miscalibrate an event in American history I prompt such a lovely, knowledgeable little essay from Brother Jonah, I'll plant half a dozen errors in every episode of Uncommon Knowledge from now on.
So shocked was I to find an admission of error at The Corner, let alone one so covered in slobber, I had to go see what had prompted it. Turned out Jonah Goldberg had informed him that the Franklin Roosevelt Administration started "a scant 12 years," rather than "a couple of decades," after Woodrow Wilson left office.

Those of you puzzled that Robinson would respond so obsequiously to Goldberg for correcting a date should know that Goldberg is a rightwing legacy pledge and therefore his every fart is worthy of great respect. Also, Goldberg took the opportunity to rehearse one of the speeches he gives at junior colleges ("The point here is that we shouldn't concede that the New Deal was the continuation of a venerable American tradition. Rather, it was the continuation of a radical" etc), for which he has to be applauded if you don't want to find itching powder on your office chair.

The mistake was made not by Robinson, but by one of his interview subjects, pimped by Robinson thus:
To learn how Woodrow Wilson and FDR begot Woodstock and free love, click here.
How could one resist? Throughout the day Goldberg rattles his cup for donations, emphasizing that National Review, like other rightwing magazines, doesn't make enough money in the free market (and never has) to continue raging at welfare bums without spare change from rich crackpots.

I expect they'll get it, as they scratch an important itch among the moneyed and mad -- or, as one sucker is quoted, "Some take Prozac; I read NRO." I have a sneaking suspicion most of them use both, and wash them down with gin. But it's an ill wind that blows no one some good, and somewhere Roger L. Simon is sobbing into his Oscar nomination certificate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RIGHTWING HOLOCAUST MUSEUM SHOOTING ANALYST WILL TELL YOU WHAT THE REAL CRIME IS. (With apologies to The Onion.) Terresa Monroe-Hamilton on today's atrocity:
Sure, today it was a nut job who should have been shot and killed like the rabid dog he is, but tomorrow? It could be some hard working stiff who can’t stand seeing his kids go hungry, or some tired mother who has lost her home and doesn’t know where to go. Obama can tell Americans to eat cake all he wants, but sooner or later this squishing of America and the crushing of American’s under his fascist heel will cause Mr. and Mrs. average American to finally scream, “We have had enough!” And when that day comes, you won’t be able to say it was a random act or that it won’t happen again. When that day comes, the French Revolution may very well be rerun and it won’t be pretty.
I gotta admit: I knew there'd be a lot of crazy shit written about this, and there has been, but this one really exceeded my expectations.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

THE INAPPROPRIATE LAUGHS KEEP ON COMIN'! Following on the conservative War on Letterman, we have an interesting new angle from the formerly sane Jim Treacher. It seems Letterman made a joke about Palin's visit to Yankee Stadium, where "her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." I figure he was talking about Bristol, and so, apparently, did the nice middle-American tourists who gave the joke a big laugh. And so did Jim Treacher. Because that's the only way the joke makes sense.

But then it was revealed to Treacher that Palin was actually accompanied to the Stadium by a different, 14-year-old daughter. Suddenly he was retroactively outraged! "A state governor went to a baseball game with her underage daughter," he bf's (this seems to be the new style with these guys), "and a national talk show host made a joke about the girl being sexually assaulted by one of the players."

And all the other wingnuts pile into the clowncar. Touchingly, Riehl World View shows some awareness that Letterman was talking about what everyone originally thought he was talking about, in which case he merely finds the joke "poorly researched." I don't know how Saturday Night Live has run so long without an army of fact-checkers.

The next move for them will be either 1.) to denounce the audience members who laughed at the joke and demand they mail Palin their apologies, or (more likely) 2.) to find some anonymous correspondent who says he was there and nobody laughed, but NBC added the laughter later as part of a Rathergate-style conspiracy.

This would be a good place to add a disclaimer decrying child rape etc., but I'm done engaging the Star Trek chess bullshit maneuvers of these freaks. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

UPDATE: OneNewsNow: "So why won't Megan Fox be criticized by the mainstream media? " Because she's hot as fuck, dumbass. Oh, and hey, show this one to Treacher, in case he's looking for a new crusade.

UPDATE 2. Jim Treacher is actually in the comments section, ladies and gentlemen, doing the "audience challenge" bit. Thanks and try the veal!

UPDATE 3. Dan Collins has threatened to tell my editors at the Voice about me. Hopefully he won't come bursting in, clutching a copy of alicublog, during one of the editorial department's child-rape parties -- that would be awkward for us all.
LAUGH AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU... How many conservatives does it take to appreciate a joke? Erin Manning, Rod Dreher's second-string scold, on an amusing Bud Light internet commercial in which a poor schlub trying to buy some porn with his beer gets mortified in front of a girl and on national TV:
You could certainly argue that this commercial doesn't exactly show porn purchasers in the best light...

But there's no question that the advertisers who created the campaign thought that people would find this really funny--and especially, that people who buy their product would not mind seeing it associated with a guy who attempts a casual purchase of some nasty porn--and that's trouble, according to some:
(Long quote from a Time thumbsucker)
Any causal observer of the culture has seen the attempted mainstreaming of pornography unfold over the last couple of decades... and now, apparently, it's okay to use porn to sell beer.
Whereas before they only used measured appeals to reason.
Yet as Cathy Rose of the Family Research Council points out, porn hurts real people...

In that light, is it really a good idea to use porn to sell beer -- even if the would-be porn buyer comes out looking really, really bad by the end of the commercial? Not if it makes light of the suffering and exploitation porn causes, and not if the takeaway is that all kinds of regular people think of porn as harmless entertainment.
If someone complained that a joke in which someone slipped on a banana peel made light of the suffering caused by household accidents, I bet Manning would rush to denounce the humorless PC scold.

In related news, David Letterman made a crack about Sarah Palin's "slutty flight attendant look" in a Top Ten bit. After explaining how not-outraged he is, comedy critic Say Anything, as you were probably expecting, loses his cool and barks, "I just wish liberals like Letterman has the cojones to go after Obama in the same way. They don’t. Because they’re intellectually dishonest." Come on, buddy, we laughed when you came in.

Allahpundit says, "You missed your calling as a writer for Playboy, Dave." "Is David Letterman deranged?" asks the understandably Lonely Conservative. "Letterman is such a spiteful, mean-spirited, liberal, Democrat hack," boldfaces-for-angry Freedom Eden. "Watch Conan O'Brien. He's liberal, of course, but he's not as angry and dishonorable as Letterman." Presumably she used a geiger counter to determine this -- but have a care, Comrade Eden, for comrade Fullosseous Flap has already condemned O'Brien Palin wrongjoke, and O'Brien has indulged laughtraitor Tina Fey!

"Letterman has officially crossed over from funny to mean," says Gateway Pundit, catching boldface fever. "This guy is a jerk... The list included Palin buying crack and keying cars..." Then:
More... Did Letterman just call Palin a hooker?

[Commenter] Elmo thinks so:

Actually ... now that I've looked at it...
"After a wink and a nod, ended up with a kilo of crack."


Turning a trick for a taste/rip. AKA a "strawberry" (in 80's parlance). Most any streetwalker of the period. Who cared not a whit for money. Simply and just the next dose of rock cocaine.
Certainly the feminists will be outraged when they hear about this.
Not if they've ever seen Rusty Warren. Knockers up, GP!

Our favorite, though we admit we haven't waded completely through the slush pile, is the lecture from Freedom - An American Blog, best imagined with a church organ playing softly in the background:
While the press is conveniently exempt from the sort of restrictive provisions that apply to charities, and can therefore mix in politics with news or comedy or whatever, it is generally reasonable to expect that entertainment and news should, in general, be fair and not be slanted so as to give one political party or candidate an unfair advantage. When a candidate is specifically targeted with patently false statements that are disguised as “comedy” it becomes transparently clear that the individuals involved are attempting to circumvent the election laws using a loophole which can then be used, through their media platform, to create a false impression of their party of choice’s opponents.
And to think, these guys used to worry about the Fairness Doctrine! But it's all good -- Captain Freedom loosens his spats and supplies his own Top Ten list, only about Letterman! A sample:
3. Recently found out that “Torah” is NOT a Nickelodeon show and that the Bible was not first written in 1980?
2. Angry that his makeup artist can’t make him look like a teenage mom?
1. Thinks the Bill of Rights were nothing more than a Top Ten List that isn’t funny?
He seems to have mixed up the Top Ten format with that of "Jeopardy!" But give him credit: at least he made an effort. Most of them seem to have decided that they will combat inappropriate laughter with throat-clearing explanations of why these outrages aren't funny. That's okay. There's always room in the show for Margaret Dumont.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A JERK-OFF. Contender number one, in this contest and in our hearts, Jonah Goldberg, in response to a letter about the anonymous blogging thing:
No. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay weren't amateur pundits. Seems like a pretty big category error.

Update: Several readers take offense to my use of the word "amateur"...
(Authors point out that the Federalist Papers were not works for hire, etc.)
Both complaints miss the point. First, yes there are professional and amateur pundits. Who disputes this? Are the professionals always better than the amateurs? Of course not. But some people do work as pundits for a living, some do it as a hobby.

The second point is technically fine, but misses the larger and more important point. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were anonymous not because they wanted opine on the news of the day for fun. They were anonymous because they were heroically successful revolutionaries trying to secure a republic and a constitution. Whatever the merits of this Blevins guy, he ain't Madison, Hamilton, or Jay, even if he does call himself Publius. My point was that the comparison is silly, and my point stands.
Summary: Goldberg disputes the accepted meaning of "amateur" because he meant something bad by it, and thus maintains it cannot apply to people of whom he approves.

Next up, The Anchoress, with a picture of Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni:
But I have to admit, my first thought on seeing the picture was “suppressed, seething rage.” A little less vivid than Althouse’s first commenter’s. All of Mrs. Obama’s attractiveness is subsumed by an outward manifestation of an inward (and thus sincere) sort of ugliness. It made me feel bad for Mrs. Obama who sometimes seems like a most unhappy woman.
Summary: The Anchoress stares at news photos until Jesus reveals unto her the slurs she must share with the world.

Well, I think we can -- hold on, Goldberg has another post!
This Open Letter to Obama is making the rounds.

Update: Sigh. Some folks are complaining that I am "disseminating hate" and approving speech that could incite violence. No. I was just pointing to an email making the rounds to such an extent it was moderately newsworthy. I don't agree with everything in the email, for the record. And, also just for the record, I don't recall concerns about the incitement of violence after eight years of the most extreme anti-Bush rhetoric imaginable.
Summary: I didn't mean nothing by it and besides, somebody else did worse.

Conclusion: Sports fans, The Anchoress brought quality gibberish, but you can never, ever count out Jonah Goldberg.

UPDATE: Thx correx Dave!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Playboy "hate-fuck" article and reactions thereunto. I have yet to find a ringing endorsement by liberals to the now-departed item, and very few blog posts that treat it as a problem in and of itself, rather than as alleged proof of liberal hatred of women, which shows how seriously it needs to be taken. As a liberal I am offended by the implication that Playboy represents our movement, and propose that we endeavor to identify ourselves instead with Black Tail, which would demonstrate our commitment to minorities.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

YOU KNOW IT'S MOSES, I KNOW IT'S MOSES; BUSINESS IS BUSINESS. Though some critics of Obama's Cairo speech are clearly deranged, there is plenty to criticize if you think of it as a definitive policy statement rather than as a overture to a skeptical audience. All the railing about it being a bunch of kumbaya is beside the point. Of course it was. There wouldn't be any point in coming on like Owen Thursday at Fort Apache. The question remains as to whether there's a point in coming on as conciliatory as Obama did. Time will tell.

I do find it interesting that Right Wing Nut House's Rick Moran, in his surprisingly sober assessment, sees fit to wonder if it comes up to Ted White's definition of a "great speech," as if Obama's might have been expected to shake the ground rather than to clear a path. This presumption is also seen in Obama's sterner critics, who think he was "naive"* and cavil that "he is following George W. Bush and every influential American politician, diplomat, and analyst." In a word, duh. Obama is attempting to relaunch America's relationship with the Muslim world without dismantling it. Such changes as he has made are already well known and relatively modest. His goal, so far as I can see, was to speak for his country before a foreign audience and set the tone for future relations. This is not naive but elementary, though it was promoted as a big deal. The results of his Administration's quieter work of diplomacy in Iraq, Iran, the West Bank, and elsewhere will be far more telling.

* I did enjoy Jihad Watch's comment that "Islamic law is silent about what Muslims must do when naive non-Muslim Islamophilic Presidents offer the [PBUH] greeting to Muslims." Apparently the practice is to take it politely. Again, duh.
Unlike Roger Ebert, we saw [Up] in 3D. And this triggered something of a disagreement as to whether 3D is the future of movies. Peter sort of endorsed Ebert's indictment of 3D...

I have to disagree. Yes, the standard goggles they hand out slightly dim the movie. On the other hand, there were moments in the movie when I crossed whatever the inanimate version of the uncanny valley is: I forgot I was looking at a movie. This despite the fact that I was watching a cartoon.

As we discussed this over dinner afterwards, it came out that Peter doesn't have good stereo vision. And though the plural of anecdote is not data, I wonder if this isn't likely to be a problem many film critics have. After all, the worse your stereo vision, the more compellingly life-like a movie is.
It's too bad McArdle wasn't around for the heyday of Percepto so she could tell us the critics' butts were just too insensitive to appreciate really good cinema.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

THE CHENEY-GAY MARRIAGE MOMENT -- WHOOPS, ALREADY PAST. There's a lot of heh-indeeding goin' on because Cheney went gay-marriage. It's nice that the old bastard came around, but does anyone see this affecting -- well, anything? That is, are conservatives and/or Republicans going to soften on the subject in consequence?

No such luck. I have seen a few dopes trying to make partisan hay of it, but they're in it for the hay, not the gay. For instance, Jonah Goldberg farts, "I'm a lot closer to Cheney's position on gay marriage than many of colleagues around here" -- that is to say, he's only been forced to oppose it because some Democrats don't, but admits to being pro-curious -- "but what I really enjoy is the cognitive dissonance this is surely causing out there among those who take it as a given that if Cheney's for it, all decent humans must be against it. It kind of reminds me of this scene," and then he embeds a scene from "I, Mudd," rather than just referring to it nonchalantly like us cool people do.

Though Goldberg enjoys the momentary illusion of big-tentism, I haven't seen any of the Republican real-people sites going for it. (Hell, he can't even get K-Lo to play along.) Take for example the commenters at
Cheney degraded his credibility with these comments

Can't agree with the former VP on this one. He's allowing emotions to overrule conservative principles

Yay, now I can marry my 12-year-old girlfriend, along with my married girlfriend, 8 other women at the same time, and a couple of really cute goats.
We'll take that as a no, and at Freeperville a hell, no. ("I think everyone should be happy when they’re married... Oh, you mean sodomite 'marriage.'" My favorite: "Mr. Cheney is of course biased ,because he has a gay daughter. Of course he would rather see her in a stable relationship han cruising the gay bars. cant blame him for that.")

You do, though, see a little troller boomlet among sites with no credibility to lose on this issue. Here's a ripe example from American Conservative Daily. They start with a giggle at the outgunned liberals:
Dick Cheney has thrown a monkey wrench into their talking points by speaking up on the mythical creature known as gay marriage and taking away a major talking point against the right hand of the Devil himself (at least in their eyes)
Then they give a shout-out to their imaginary gay brothers who know how to take a "joke":
Of course you realize that the left will ignore all this and just keep claiming that he is against “gay rights,” whatever those are. 10% off Vaseline perhaps? No, seriously, my gay friends always get a kick out of that joke when we start talking about those radical in your face homosexuals who are out there demonstrating for their “rights.”
And then, when all escape routes are sealed:
But I do take issue with Mr. Cheney over his comments. It actually is not a state issue. It is a religious issue. Marriage predated the “state” by quite some time. So I say if a church wants to wed homosexuals then let them. But I don’t want to hear them complain when their congregation reduces drastically in size.
This, then, is about the biggest shift conservatives can offer in the wake of the Cheney declaration: we'll conditionally allow that gay marriage is theoretically okay, so long as we can still agree that all decent people hate faggots and won't have anything to do with them, especially in church.

At the 2012 Republican National Convention, look for a film tribute to gay Republicans (including Roy Cohn, Mark Foley and Abraham Lincoln), after which Mary Cheney will appear to a standing ovation and denounce the hypocritical anti-gay Democrats before delivering a stirring speech in favor of the Anti-Witchcraft Amendment.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

RACE, TO THE BOTTOM. From the latest edition of Jay Nordlinger's pensèes:
Was on the subway two days ago (New York), and there was this woman across from me reading this little blue book. It had a silhouette on the cover -- Obama. And it was -- well, one of those “little” books. A little secular holy book -- Obamite devotions. You can overplay the creepiness of the response to Obama. But you can underplay it, too.
Translation: Nordlinger saw someone reading a book with a silhouette of a black person on the cover (Kara Walker?) and naturally assumed it was Obama, as Chauncey Gardiner in Being There assumed all the black people he met served the same function as his maid Louise. This Nordlinger found disturbing, but could not say why without using those words that make people mad these days, so he just got mysterious -- more mysterious than he meant, as his handlers did not explain to him that the people on the other side of the telescreen can't see him, so when he pushed in his nose, shoved out his lower lip, and stuck his tongue out, his readers missed the significance.

On the other hand, when he describes how he would like black people to talk -- "“Enough. Not for our sake; not in our name. Commit injustices if you must — but not for our benefit, thank you very much. Look to the individual, of whatever color. The time for 'compensatory discrimination' has passed" -- they sound very much like Jay Nordlinger. So we may assume that he would consider them equals if they turned into him, which while pathetic is better than I had heretofore expected of him.

He also tells one of those "Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet with the liberals and I saw one of the liberals and the liberal looked at me" stories and follows it up with "I have never been employed as a just-the-facts-ma’am reporter. But I have done such reporting -- and, you know, it’s not very hard." Eventually I realized he was referring to the preposterous story he had just told, which includes several sentences of imagined internal monologue ("What’s the point of getting the appointment and donning the black robe if you’re not going to strike blows for justice?"). If this is "just-the-facts-ma’am" journalism, I deserve a Pulitzer Prize for Spot Reporting. For this post.

I am grateful to Nordlinger, though, for explaining that "The People United Will Never Be Divided" is "an old Allende-ist slogan and song." I thought it was by Sham 69.

Monday, June 01, 2009

WHEN THE BOSS IS A CONCERN TROLL. The assassination of Dr. Tiller has led to much interesting commentary, but my favorite has been Megan McArdle's essay on why the one thing we should make sure not to do in response is more vigorously protect abortion rights, which would be provocative. "Well, it sure worked in Iraq," she mocks those who would do so. "I think Afghanistan's going pretty well, too, right?" It's an interesting analogy, and I'm sorely tempted to agree that if the people of Kansas don't want us there, we should pull out. On the other hand, I retain tender feelings for those poor citizens we would be abandoning to the Taliban, which I guess makes me a neoliberal. Say, this Iraq issue does become more complicated when you compare it to something it doesn't actually resemble in the slightest.

The best part of the whole essay is her announcement that she's pro-choice. It's like her endorsement of Obama during the campaign -- which her columns since the election have shown to be either the most quickly reversed decision in pundit history, or just a cheap way to buy cred. Pray God we don't have a rash of abortion doctor killings now, or McArdle will be forced to join Operation Rescue.

UPDATE. Holy shit there's more?
If you interpret this murder as a political act, rather than that of a lone whacko, than this should be a troubling sign that the political system has failed. So why do so many people think that the obvious answer is simply to more firmly entrench laws that are rightly intolerable to someone who thinks that a late term fetus is a person?
That settles it. Tomorrow I'm going to go out and firebomb a realtor's office because I believe the existence of such places makes apartment rentals prohibitively expensive, which I consider a serious human rights violation. Clearly McArdle will demand in response that the law be brought more in line with my homicidal fantasy. After all, I feel just as strongly about my god (his name is Sggzidrix) as the abortion nut does about his. And isn't that what both law and morality are all about?
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP on Sotomayor and the odd disqualifications on which her opponents has chosen to focus. Me, I thought her "wise Latina" bit was more of a character issue than a political one. I doubt she could have gotten far in her trade if she ruled as if the statement were an operating principle. I am more bothered by her tendency to lay out this kind of multicultural boilerplate gush at conferences ("My being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandules y pernil -- rice, beans and pork") to advance her career. It smacks of lazy careerism. If she's going to lean on her racial credentials she should at least talk about something interesting.

Nonetheless rightbloggers decided this passing comment is an important indicator of Sotomayor's judicial philosophy. If I were strongly opposed to her, I'd be bitterly disappointed by this imbecilic strategy. Do they really think this is going to sway public opinion? Actually, I take the view that they're less interested in making a case than in working out some race-based angst of their own.

Also swept through the early Dr. George Tiller material. The consensus seems to be as Tbogg had it. In comments I'm getting the usual guff about reading comprehension from the Protein Wisdom crowd, who portray the doctor's murder as a valuable lesson about the unfairness of the left toward Sarah Palin. This is the sort of 3-D chess that gives college a bad name.