Friday, April 30, 2010

THE WRONG CROWD. There was a big demo against Wall Street yesterday in New York. Needless to say, it was not run by Tea Party patriots. The unions called it, and cops say 6,000 showed. (I don't doubt they had that many at the very least -- I've seen them at work before and they can really get the peops out. AFL-CIO claims 31,000.)

I also see that, in a hilarious reversal, the Perfesser and other Tea Party fans are already trying to talk down this large, orderly, and successful protest as an affront to democracy. From his flustered tone, it appears even Perfesser Reynolds' insulated consciousness may have at least faintly sensed the irony in this.

Reynolds loves to gas about how Tea Party protesters are better than lefty protesters because, being rightwing, they have "real jobs"; how frustrating it must be for him to not be able to use it against the union guys, most of whom probably expend more sweat in an average workday than the Perfesser emits in a year of saunas at his health club.

The Perfesser also likes to brag about the few black folks who show up at the TPs. But it looks like this New York union event had, as these things usually do, a much healthier minority turnout than the Tea People ever get. Maybe in the Perfesser's view this is too much of a good thing, so to speak.

So his recourse is to call the protesters "thugs" "goons" because they peaceably confronted some bankers. Way to plump your populist cred, Perfesser! Maybe if a few more demos like this one get attention from the press, he'll go back to his traditional attitude toward protest.
THESE KIDS TODAY. Gunaxin is among my favored junk sites, but I was stunned to see them do Family Circus with naughty captions without even mentioning the Dysfunctional Family Circus. Even worse, at this writing their commenters reveal no awareness of DFC, either.

It makes me wonder: Do they know about Crayon? Ultimate Band List? Has the internet been around long enough that we have to teach youngsters about its early history?

Fuck -- I'd better find some agreeable college, design my own Continuing Ed curriculum in Internet History, and get out in front of what promises to be a great educational boondoggle! I'll be running an Ivy department in no time, and then I can just collect checks and fart out posts like the Perfesser. About time I got a sinecure! I'm a known entity!

BTW did you know SpinnWebe is still online?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

CONCERN TROLLS. I subscribe to the Goldberg File 'cause I just can't get enough, and today the boy genius does a major shirt-retuck of triumph over a topic of recent interest:
Well, so much for "epistemic closure." The supposed Right Wing Industrial Complex... marches and thinks in complete lockstep... Just when this argument was about to implode from its own idiocy, a Godzilla-sized foot called "immigration" came stomping down on the delicate dorm-room-philosophical Bambi. Conservatives are split on the issue... Karl Rove, alleged leader of the homunculi within the right-wing colossi, Marco Rubio, the golden boy of the tea-party movement, and Jeb Bush, heir to the Bush dynasty, are just a few of the dissenters from the right-wing mob of unindependent minds.
You'd think the coffeehouses of the Right were ablaze with impassioned discussion of this issue. Hardly. The demurrals of these two candidates for office and one Republican political operative have been extremely watery, and are obviously made not to extend debate, but to cover asses. Take Rubio's allegedly bold stand:
"From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation," Rubio said. "While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens."
He has concerns! Well, that'll touch off a firestorm. More likely it'll keep the Cubans in his home state from thinking he's a total fink.

This state law gives everyone in America a chance to posture over it, and thus is is catnip to prevaricating politicians of every stripe. Rubio, Rove, and Jeb Bush can't do shit about changing it*, but if they purse their brows and talk concernedly about how they're concerned, etc., citizens might get the impression that they're actually human -- and, in the precious seconds this misapprehension lasts, consider voting for them.

National Review's Jim Geraghty took a tack similar to Goldberg's earlier this week, when he suggested that Republicans' "Kindler, Gentler Arguments Against Arizona’s New Law" were actually more useful that those of Democrats because they were nicer ("there’s no accusations of hateful motives, no demonization of the proponents..."). Geraghty is of course in favor of the law -- but, with becoming tact, he acts like he's sorry about it ("I wish the Arizona immigration law wasn’t necessary"). That way you know he's considered every side of the issue before coming down on the one nobody ever doubted that he would take.

I'll be happier to accept their claims of open-mindedness when they they stop driving actual free-thinkers out of their party. As for the claim that Democrats should argue their points as National Review writers prescribe, I think there are fewer of them willing to consider the friendly advice of their mortal enemies than once there were. But maybe Joe Lieberman's still listening!

*UPDATE: Oh shoot, I forgot to add this: It's like Megan McArdle voting for Obama.
YOU'RE JUST LIKE ME, AND I MEAN IT IN A BAD WAY. Linked by Rod Dreher (always a bad sign), Kenneth L. Woodward at Commonweal tells us how the New York Times is just like a religion. It's one of those "I know you are but what am I" Liberal Fascism arguments -- oh yeah, you say the Church is always telling people what to do, but the "the Times exercises a powerful magisterium or teaching authority through its editorial board," ha ha.

The big differences Woodward doesn't mention are 1.) The Times can't damn its readers to an eternity in Hell, and 2.) if the Times had anything like the Church's record in protecting and enabling child molesters, it would have been closed down by the authorities years ago.

This sort of thing reminds me of the crappy "we're not so different, you and I" arguments given by fictional criminals like The Joker. No, asshole, we're not the same; you're a fucking supervillain, and none of your high-school Nietzsche bullshit changes it.
CULTURE WAR IS NOT OVER, IF YOU WANT IT OR NOT. Digging through some of my back numbers this evening, I came across old posts about World magazine, the rightwing Christian pub balls-deep in the culture war, which told readers that Prince was only okay to listen to if your English was so poor that you couldn't make out his sexy lyrics, that "baseball fosters the right mentality for sustaining a war on terrorism," and other gibberish.

These days I keep hearing that the Right is soft-pedaling such cultural issues in favor of a Tea Party anti-socialism pitch. I wondered if World had gotten the message. Thankfully, it appears they have not.

Take Marvin Olasky's Easter column. First he fills in the back story, Anne Rice style: In New York in the 1870s, a famous abortionist lived on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, enjoying "immense dining rooms and parlors furnished in bronze and gold" -- a clear victory for Satan. Then St. Patrick's was built, giving Jesus the upper hand. But then John D. Rockefeller, in an obviously Satanic challenge, built his Center:
At ground level the face-off has also been apparent: A two-ton statue of Atlas, the god in Greek mythology who carries the heavens upon his shoulders, faces the doors of St. Patrick. What holds up the world -- the economic and technological power housed in the skyscraper, or the faith of the cross?

Most people don't contemplate such questions...
But Marvin Olasky does! For years the Easter Parade has been a big deal on Fifth, and despite its Godless nature -- Irving Berlin certainly wasn't writing about Jesus -- Olasky approves; but this year the Parade wasn't all it might be, permanent-things-wise:
This Easter the mixture of refinement and ostentation that defined earlier parades was gone. Many women wore flowery hats, but men on display were less Hello, Dolly! and more Salvador Dali dada: They wore three-foot-high apple blossom branches, or tuxedo coats with shorts, or multi- colored bushy beards accompanied by white dresses.
Bearded men in dresses! What would Bing Crosby say? But it gets worse:
I wondered about the absence of the young: On a perfect-weathered day, sunny and 70, why were 90 percent or more of the strollers over 40?
Were the kids all in McCarren Park worshiping the vaginal tree? Well, on the plus side, Olasky saw a lot of them at Mass in the Hunter College auditorium; but on the down side, many cleaved instead to the latest ally of the abortionist and the Rockefellers: "I saw many other 20-somethings lined up to enter a glass cube: the above-ground part of Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th."

How will Jesus and Olasky be rescued from despair? By war on Muslims!
Will the Easter battle for the future feature not the cathedral and the statue, but the auditorium and the glass cube?

Maybe, but here's an O. Henry twist to this column: Will those latter two form an alliance against the Kaabah, an ancient granite cube in Mecca that is the center of the Muslim world? The cathedral and the skyscraper won World War II. What can the auditorium and the glass cube do?
And once their combined forces destroy the infidels, the auditorium and the cube can duke it out for supremacy! I'm surprised he didn't work in an NBA Finals theme.

Please remember that however the conservative spin doctors try to spruce up the public face of their movement, these guys are still back there being absolutely mad.

UPDATE. Commenters are especially excited by Olasky's symbology. "Wasn't it an apple that brought about the Fall from Paradise?" asks Halloween Jack. "(The company's symbol, after all, has a bite out of it, and always has; oh, and hey, it used to be rainbow striped, and we all know who's got that symbol these days, eh?)" Wheels within wheels, people!
NOT YOUR REAL FRIENDS. Proud as I am of my raw courage in the face of Islamicist oppression, I have to admit Glenn Greenwald has a very good point. "The various forms of religious-based, intimidation-driven censorship and taboo ideas in the U.S. -- what [Ross] Douthat claims are non-existent except when it involves Muslims -- are too numerous to chronicle," he says, but unlike most people who talk like that, he provides a nice little list of examples (including some productions of Terence McNally's gay Jesus play shut down by violent threats made right here in my lovely new home state).

He also reminds us that Douthat's buddy Jonah Goldberg is a big fan of censorship (which I've noticed also), and that Douthat agrees with him. It's almost as if these people aren't really interested in free speech, and have perhaps some ulterior motive for pretending that they are. Well, I sort of suspected that when they didn't rally to the defense of my farting Mohammed cartoon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FOR SOME REASON THIS FAKE AD IS BOTHERING ME. As a new resident of America proper, I am cultivating an interest in ephemeral crap. This, apparently, is an 80s-style commercial created for Toy Story 3:

My intention is not to razz the makers, who did a pretty good job, but I sense something is off here and I'm not sure what.

I think it's that the bear isn't given any distinguishing qualities at all, either in copy or in interaction with the kids, other than his implied eagerness to receive affection. See this and this for comparison. In my experience even dolls are supposed to have a USP.

It's bugging me for some reason. What do you think?
THE GLIBERTARIAN ARGUMENT FOR THE ARIZONA IMMIGRANT LAW: "A reader says he’s suprised to see me support the Arizona bill. Well, I really don’t — that is, I don’t know if I’d have voted for it if I were in Arizona. I’m mostly reacting to the fact that — as demonstrated by Linda Greenhouse — the opposition displays that special combination of self-righteous outrage and bone-deep ignorance that really sets me off." -- The Ole Perfesser. Take that, hehindeed, Radley Balko!

Remember: They don't have any principles -- merely a sense of entitlement, resentment when it's challenged, and rage when it's thwarted.
ONE MORNING I SHOT AN ELEPHANT IN MY PAJAMAS. I just shot a rattler this mornin' that was threatening my cat. Ain't no thang around these parts; we all has firearms. Then I ate me that rattler and made mah woman a necklace out of his bones.

What? I have just as much evidence of my feat as our Governor has of killing that coyote. Neither of us had our security detail around.

There are some differences, I admit. I'm not running for reelection, which (along with my natural modesty) is why I'm also not dressing up my story with quotable quotes like "he became mulch."

And I don't have fans like Michelle Malkin to use my alleged accomplishment as proof that politicians she doesn't like are less than men:
This could cost Texas Governor Rick Perry the endorsement of PETA, but to save the life of his dog, it’s worth it...

In a related story, Florida Governor Charlie Crist screamed like a woman and jumped on a chair when he saw a mouse run out from under his tanning bed.
If you find that outburst about Crist weird and unseemly, remember: the sourcing is every bit as good as Perry's and mine.

I advise Mitt Romney, if he wishes to remain politically viable, to announce that he killed a dog -- not by strapping it to the roof of his car, his usual method of canine torment, but with his bare hands -- or with a scalpel, so he can work it into a metaphor about health care.
THIS IS JUST NICE: Some folks in Kuala Lumpur yelling "WAR CRIMINAL" at Tony Blair.

May he never be shut of them. Asshole. Now can we get someone to follow around Andrew Sullivan, too? (h/t Prog Gold)
WHERE I'M CALLING FROM, PART 3. I continue to like this "Texas" I find myself in. I haven't forgotten, however, that it's politically... retrograde. Our Governor calls Obama and health care "socialist" as casually as you or I might call Williamsburg "over," and loves to cheer the folks at home with talk of seceding from the Union. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss David Paterson.

And Perry isn't even the worst of the lot: There was some kind of bizarre Gathering of the Nuts last weekend at Tyler, where the purty roses come from, with Perry, Glenn Fucking Beck, and State Rep Leo Berman, who called Obama "God's punishment on us." No word in local press reports as to whether a cross was burned at the event, though maybe that happens too frequently thereabouts to merit notice.

Perry is a graduate of Texas A&M, and I note with interest this reminiscence from a speech he gave at the 2005 Muster:
We toted my footlocker up to the dorm, and then dad went outside and pulled George [Shriever] under a tree and delivered a message: “Make a man out of him.” It’s too bad dad felt compelled to say that, because my fish hole ended up being next door to George Shriever and Roger Matson. At any hour of the night, George would not knock loudly on the wall, my signal to come running. Sometimes he needed his brass shined or his sink cleaned or his bed made. Often, he just wanted me to sing him to sleep. But whatever George wanted, I did. I was his fish.
Well, I suppose old Yalies sound just as strange talking about their homoerotic rituals, too.

Here in Aggieland there's an alt-paper called the Maroon Weekly; I guess it's the local equivalent of the Voice. Instead of Tom Robbins or Wayne Barrett, though, here's what we had in this week's editorial section:
This past week, Obama took the first major step towards banning guns from all United States citizens...

Yes, you read that correctly. We will be subject to gun laws not created and voted on by our congress.

International laws that were adamantly opposed by the Bush administration, who preferred to use national gun control legislation. International laws that have been developed and promoted by organizations such as the United Nations and individuals such as billionaire businessman George Soros...
This nonsense, straight out of the emails your grandma has been sending you (and proven bullshit), is what the weekly whee-funtime paper thinks the kids will go for. They're probably right. Though there's a big college here, we don't have the traditional pinko collegetown thing going on. Most of the local entertainment district's storefronts are distressed and art-directed to look like Old West saloons and whatnot; the big dance club, Daisy Dukes (!), looks like a grainery. When the kids go out, they dress like they're going to appear in a Ke$ha video. It's like an alternate America where beatniks and hippies never existed, and youth style went straight from Elvis to backwards baseball caps.

I can live with that, though. No place is cool enough for me; my Voice readers may recall that I was constantly complaining about the nanny state New York had become when I lived there. Griping's just one of the privileges of citizenship. Admittedly Texas is part of a larger and more destructive madness that will eventually consume and destroy this once-proud nation, but that probably won't happen till after I'm blessedly dead. Everybody wins -- me, and the howling feral children that will inherit this blackened continent.

In the meantime there's so much that is not political to enjoy. A couple of weekends back I went to visit a friend in San Antonio, which was serendipitously having its annual Fiesta (we took in the River Parade). I just got a taste but it was nice: The Riverwalk is much prettier than the pictures let on; I took a long walk down down South Flores and saw some of the gentrifying shabby-chic; El Mercado was like San Gennaro with Mexicans, and the Norteño, like all the music here, was splendid. Part of the fun of just scratching the surface is knowing there's still so much more left to dig.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MORE TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS. Yes, it's another post by The Anchoress about how the Democrats have broken the seventh seal and the end times loom.

Maybe she's beginning to bore even herself, though, because she puts some extra spin on it this time:
The only thing I am certain of right now is that what we knew of America before 2008 is not what we will know of America by 2012. I know that nothing is ever going to be what it was, and those on the right who think “if we can just get the right people in office, then everything will go back to normal,” are deluding themselves.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, etc. But here's how the crafty Dems and Satan will pull it off: First, they're going to make a Republican Governor of Arizona release the hounds on illegal Mexicans. Then all hell will break loose!
Meanwhile the Democrats and the press (if I am not redundant) understand how well they played the immigration card in 2006 -getting the right all hopped up in May to reap the rewards in November- and so they will be repeating that gambit – manufacturing parades and outrage once again, as they did before. The charges of “racist nazis” will fly; the press will fan the flames, and the situation will become toxic.

I expect that the right -which has done a very good job of ignoring deliberate provocation up to now- will end up losing its composure in this debate, and once that happens, once they let fly with their passions, they will be defeated.
I'm not sure what she means by "losing its composure," but it probably has something to do with Mexicans thrusting their jaws into redneck fists. So, you see, the Satanocrats will attack both Republicans and Mexicans with their passive-aggressive hopping-up of patriots!

Read around her post for extra lunacy: She believes, for example, that as the world falls into darkness the abbeys will become powerful redoubts (but this kind of wishful thinking is common among apocalyptics), and endorses the notion now popular with her fellow wingnuts that by drumming up the youth and minority votes, Obama is pursuing a "divisive strategy." Also there's her interesting idea that 2006 had less to do with exploding Republican scandals than with immigration.

But wackiest of all may be her contention that "I am neither Republican nor conservative. I belong to Christ first, not to a party, not to an ideology." Hell, in the very teeth of the Apocalypse she's spinning for the right, committed to making sure we know the poor Republican white people are (or rather, it is prophesied, will be) the real victims here.
A LIBERTARIAN MUGGED BY LIBERTARIANISM. As Arizona hunts down illegal Mexicans like dogs, it is touching -- in a hilarious way -- to hear Radley Balko wonder aloud at libertarian redoubt Reason that his good, freedom-loving friends the Tea Partiers could be in favor of such ungroovy measures:
There's obviously not going to be pure ideological unity at these events... But it's increasingly looking like the right's favored big government policies are a fairly important part of the agenda of a fairly large portion of the Tea Party crowd.
You're kidding! He'll get over it, I'm sure, as soon as one of his colleagues reminds him the Tea Parties have dozens of black people, or about the socialism of estate taxes.
TODAY ON BIZARRO WORLD: "[Civil rights legend] John Lewis, who spent his life presumably fighting for equality, now seems little better than racists such as David Duke, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton," says... a guy who calls his site Confederate Yankee.

He's a previous winner, too, and was recently seen accusing infiltrators of trying to tar the Tea Parties with Confederate flags, despite his own loyalty to the Fallen Standard ("a Confederate battle flag is supposed to be a sign of bigotry and racism according to the leftist orthodoxy...").

Rightbloggers still complain about "pro-Che colors," though Che worship is hardly a going concern. Yet they give their respectful attention to neo-Confederates -- no doubt because they're a major bloc of the Republican-conservative alliance. They apparently don't expect anyone to notice the contradiction; the question is, do they notice it themselves?

Monday, April 26, 2010

ALAN SILLITOE, 1928-2010.. I've never read his fiction, though I've admired the bracing films made of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, but by chance I recently picked up his autobiography, Life Without Armour, which is so far very good. Though not quite the Angry Young Man they painted him as, Sillitoe had indeed been working-class and done mucky jobs -- "my job was to hump hundredweight sacks of alum and flour to a vat and empty them in, stirring to an even broth with the requisite amount of hot water to make the paste. Overall and boots got caked with the stuff, and I would go home stinking like a pig" -- before he found success as a writer.

I'm more eager to finish the book now, and get to his others. He seems to have been very serious about his craft, and describes some of his writing education, including attentive reading-aloud at home:
The cadences of style became apparent enough to help improve my prose, a revelation which could no doubt have come sooner with a nineteenth-century education in the Latin and Greek classics.

Reading my work aloud was a good way of ensuring that it had the fluidity and clarity of good English...

Clear English could be enriched by idiomatic or personal quirks as long as they fitted in with the narrative and echoed my inner voice, the way things sounded to me even before I had a pen in my hand...

During this long winter it became obvious that I had not been working hard enough on style: every word, every phrase, every sentence -- in every story and on every page of a novel -- had to be broken up and had to be knitted together again so that no loopholes in the prose remained.
I am reminded, writing that out, that work is a constant refrain in the book; when Sillitoe was young, he said, he took care not to get a girl pregnant because "those who did not take such precautions asked for all they got, and a bit more. As Arthur Shelton's father said, 'When you get married, a penny bun costs tuppence!'"

Sillitoe picked his Desert Island Discs last year. Some nice considerations here and here.

UPDATE: If the writerly stuff interests you, you may like the Writers Guild East tweet updates on today's New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting seminar -- though it has more to do with careerism than craft.
TELL US ANOTHER ONE ABOUT "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" WHILE YOU'RE AT IT. Holy shit: An Obama official makes a joke about a Jewish guy outwitting a guy from the Taliban at a pro-Israel gathering, where it is warmly received, and the rightbloggers rush to portray it as anti-Semitic.

Leading the idiot derby by a nose*: The Anchoress, who pulls one that I haven't seen since high school:
Is it anti-Semitic?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Presumably, the Taliban member was of Arab descent, which would make him a Semite, as well. If one takes any of the views listed above, then the joke portrays both Arab and Jew negatively, and it is anti-Semitic.
Zing! After many lines of this kind of concise analysis, The Anchoress concedes that the joke may be what any listener whose head is not fogged with politics will know it is. But that doesn't let Obama off the hook: "...for all anyone knows, the White House might have omitted the joke from its transcripts because it was too pro-Jew for their tastes!"

What a miserable, joyless job Joke Patrol must be.

* Not meant as a reference to The Anchoress' Italian-American heritage, so please don't call the Anti-Defamation League.
I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW 'CAUSE I GET MORE HEROIC EVERY DAY. I see the organizer of that Draw Muhammed thing has backed out:
I made a cartoon that went viral and I am not going with it. Many other folks have used my cartoon to start sites, etc. Please go to them as I am a private person who draws stuff,
The associated Facebook page keeper has bailed as well ("This event was not supposed to be about hatred but its opposite").

Am I the only True Son of Liberty to stand for freeeeedom? I figured Mark Steyn would have churned out a graphic novel by now.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the state of rightwing opinion journalism as shown by those National Review writers who beat up a colleague (Jim Manzi) for betraying his class.

It's a little incident that says a lot -- especially when seen through the ever-shifting kaleidoscopic lens of Jonah Goldberg, whose history of gaseous emissions about the intellectual awesomeness of his movement might lead some readers to expect he'd be embarrassed by this whole sorry affair at his own magazine. Connoisseurs of Goldberg's style, though, will enjoy his particular method of evading reality in this instance.

I probably should be inured to such breathtaking hypocrisy by now, but it's kinda like life itself: However convinced you are that you've heard all the stories, they keep coming up with new angles.

P.S. There's something very special about Reliapundit calling Stephen Hawking an idiot, too -- especially when he points out that Hawking "was WRONG about black holes and admitted it," which the blogger seems to take as a sign of his own intellectual superiority.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I DON'T USE THE WORD "HERO" VERY OFTEN, BUT I AM THE GREATEST HERO IN AMERICAN HISTORY*. I see glibertarians are also pissed about the South Park Mohammed incident, and are doing a Spartacus -- that is, massing to diffuse the wrath of crazed jihadist nuts with a Draw Mohammed event. The promotional illustration they offer -- showing the Prophet as common household objects, at which no reasonable person could take offense -- shows that they have no guts at all compared to me.

Plus I was doing this shit years ago.

I fully expect that when the fatwas come down, these pussies will say, "What about Edroso -- we were just being free-speechy in a harmless way, but he made fun of religion, which we of course don't endorse!"

Enjoy your "freedom," posers.

* via.

Friday, April 23, 2010

THE REICHSTAG FIREFOX. It's a neat trick that Darrell Issa has managed, making the proposed reform of securities oversight all about federal employees looking for porn. Scared Monkeys makes the desired (if not quite logical, nor literate) connection:
It is comical an absurd for government to even consider pointing the finger at private business when it comes to scandal, waste, fraud and abuse... Who knew that SEC government financial “oversight” was a porn site? By the way who is going to monitor the monitors?.. Is it any wonder why used cars salesman know rate above government officials?
Statism plus porn equals propaganda gold! Or so it's hoped -- after the sex scandals of 2006 that helped rip them out of government, the GOP would love to put the shoe on the other foot.

I explained at the time why this sort of thing is unlikely to work, but times may have changed sufficiently that they will: Maybe after a few years of recession, the average citizen will be jealous that federal workers have jobs at which to surf for porn.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I AM A FREE-SPEECH HERO. This sucks. In retaliation, I reproduce my blasphemous drawing of Muhammed from 2006:

Come and get me, fatwads!

UPDATE: Althouse: "I have no end of respect for Stone and Parker. What brilliant artists! What political heroes!" Jesus, Professor, where's my encomium? I got the guy farting and smoking a cigarette!
SHORTER GAY PATRIOT*: Michael Steele's no good at being black. Here, I'll show you how it's done.

* UPDATE. Specifically, Nick aka "ColoradoPatriot from an undisclosed secret HQ," and no wonder.

A commenter to the site suggests Steele be replaced by Alan Keyes: "Not too welcoming of gays, but that’s not a problem in today’s GOP; it’s a plus." This, at a site called Gay Patriot. I've grown accustomed to conservatives embracing identity politics, but when are they going to get good at it?
DOGS RETURNING TO THEIR VOMIT. Remember, way back in early 2008, when conservatives were trying to disqualify Obama because he had "terrorist buddies"? One of the second-string names they threw around was that of Rashid Khaladi, not a mad bomber but a pro-Palestinian Columbia professor whose connections to Obama excited the ire of the Right.

But no one else gave a shit, and Obama was elected.

Now Roger L. Simon and the Ole Perfesser are trying to revive Khalid as an issue. Simon is demanding the L.A. Times release the Kraken videotape of a 2003 (!) dinner party for Khaladi which Obama attended.

The original LAT story reports some guests at the party spoke critically of Israel. "No word of the details of how Obama reacted..." says Simon. Perhaps the tape will show him giving the Israel critics a big thumbs-up, or raising the roof, or doing the Humpty Dance. (Or maybe he'll just look somnolent. They can always get on him for that!)

Also, the story's sole Obama quote "contains an ellipsis in the middle." Maybe he started screaming "Death to Israel" or "Crucifixion ain't no fiction/So-called chosen frozen/Apologies made to whoever pleases/Still they got me like Jesus."

Simon compares the videotape, which he acknowledges is neither government nor public property, to the Pentagon Papers, and demands it be delivered unto him. "Sometimes I want to yell and scream," he writes. Why don't you, buddy? It certainly won't affect your reputation.

UPDATE. Now how could I have forgotten the inevitable next step, of which commenter aimai reminds me -- a revival of the Michelle Obama "Whitey" Tape! Come on, guys, make me proud! I know you're hot on the Israel angle, but the fanciful MO audio file has always been way more popular than ol' Khaladi's among your who-us-racist-no-sir fans. And there's plenty more where that came from!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TO THE STAFF. When your Morning Memo message is that Tea Partiers are kind and helpful to their enemies, it is unhelpful to exult over getting those enemies fired.

UPDATE. Of course, the usual claims of conservative victimhood can still be made as you celebrate getting someone fired, as such tactics are not meant to convince the general population, who might find them unseemly, but to lift the spirits of other conservatives, who are unlikely to notice the obvious contradiction.
TODAY ON BIZARRO WORLD, Chris Matthews "comes out a buffoon" for his ridiculous claim that the Republican Party purges are "Stalin-esque," says... the author of a book called Liberal Fascism.
GUARANTEED VERBATIM. I see Bookworm Room has a post about how his stupid liberal friends (who, incidentally, all regret voting for Obama) won't listen to Rush Limbaugh. It even has dialogue!
Me: I challenge you to listen to Rush for a half hour.

Him: No. He’s an idiot.

Me: Have you ever listened to him?

Him: No.

Me: Then how do you know he’s an idiot?

Him: He is. He’s a wacko. He doesn’t know anything.

Me: How do you know that?

Him: Are you trying to make me mad?
Ho ho, such stupid liberals! Now who's intolerant? Heh indeed. (I wonder if they were all cab drivers.)

But wait! From my own verisimilitude labs, a conversation with a silly conservative who refuses to clean the poop out of his pants:
Me: Won't you just try it once? You'll be more comfortable and people will stop running from you in disgust.

Him: No. I fear change.

Me: Wasn't life better when you didn't have poop in your pants?

Him: Yes.

Me: Then wouldn't it be worth it to clean the poop out your pants?

Him: Scream, wail, you're oppressing me etc.
Does anyone believe these things? Even his fans must know it's made up.

Which reminds me: What's Alan Bromley up to these days? (Besides -- heads up, readers! -- a suspected malware site? Sample Bromley representation of Presidential dialogue: "Hey, Abbas, how ya doin', this is Hussein, yeah President of the USA… wazz up?" Bless him, he hasn't lost his touch! )

Monday, April 19, 2010

TODAY ON BIZARRO WORLD. A former two-term President decries extremist violence, and is told he "still doesn't understand the heart of the nation he led" by a guy who calls his site Confederate Yankee.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, following the recent Tea Party epiphenomena. The massive thing about this, to me, is the distance between the Partiers' reality and their self-image. They achieved something with their large, multiple public events on April 15, and didn't need to do much more than publicize the facts to make an impression. But the rightbloggers, for whom reality is never enough, had to push and shove their cause and make it ridiculous -- at least, with the help as such as I. I would feel kinda bad about it, if they weren't evil.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CUE "DUELING BANJOS." New York busted some gang bangers this weekend. Now, how can this be stretched into a rightwing screed? Whatever you're thinking, it's not crazy enough:
Thank goodness police broke up this evil plot by crazed militia types no doubt influenced by the wild-eyed tea partiers.

Oh, wait, it was the Crips and Bloods, those naughty Democrat constituents? Move along, nothing to see here. Well, I just hope they filled out their Census forms before they all were rounded up.
"Naughty Democrat constituents"? Man, that cracker dog whistle never loses its attraction for these assholes, does it?

Promoted by the Ole Perfesser, natch.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

SILVER LINING. Michael Moynihan does an I'm-trying-to-be-reasonable post at Hit & Run in which, while praising the Tea Parties, he admits that the participants include "a handful of people who desperately need someone to elucidate the differences between liberalism, social democracy, socialism, and communism."

Then his commenters mass to affirm that there is no such difference, especially when it comes to that damned Obama. Samples:
Jerry | 4.16.10 @ 7:10PM|#
Liberalism, Socialism & Communism all want income redistribution. Obama is the distributionist in chief.

Juan Peron | 4.16.10 @ 9:51PM|#
I'm liking this Obama.

The Libertarian Guy | 4.16.10 @ 11:29PM|#
Howzabout Obama =/= Mussolini OR Hitler?

But he's still a socialist.

Groovus Maximus | 4.16.10 @ 9:14PM|#
...Quite frankly, you ARE saying that tea partiers are potential terrorists.

Janet Napalitano and Reno have done their evil work well.
It seems this week everyone's got their positive-side-of-the-tea-parties angle. I was going to write about the upside of the close Ron Paul-Obama poll, which suggests at least a slim chance that these stealth Republican rallies aren't telling the whole story, and that some of the aargh-blaargh people are ready for real change. Then we could go ahead and get that collapse-of-America thing over with, and spare ourselves the nerve-wracking tension of waiting for it.

But after reading this thread, I'm more inclined to give thanks for the imminent collapse of that "liberaltarian" bullshit instead. Where did people get the idea that libertarians gave a fuck about the freedom of anyone except themselves and of anything expect capital? Libertarians watched the Republicans team up with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for years and no alarm bells rang for them. They clearly believe that all the liberty they need can be bought with more business tax cuts and deregulation.

Along with Megan McArdle's claim that rightwing academics are the new Freedom Riders and Jacob Hornberger setting the Wayback Machine for the libertarian paradise of 1880 (seconded by Bryan Caplan, who reminds women especially of how much freer they were then), the H&R thread reminds me what libertarianism is really about: Rightwing dorks who don't want to get caught sneaking off to YAF meetings. (Why do you think McArdle supported Obama, then acted surprised when he came up with a health care plan? Inattentiveness?)

I was going to wait until they started telling me that Mitt Romney actually comes out of a Mormon tradition of tolerance or some shit, but I figure they can just go fuck themselves right now.

UPDATE. This never gets old!

Friday, April 16, 2010

BUT YOU JUST WAIT, THEY'LL FIND YOU YET, AND WHEN THEY DO THEY'LL PUT YOU IN THE ASPCA, YOU MANGY MUTT! For "the happiest people you would ever want to meet," Tea Partiers sure get mad when you don't kiss their ass. Obama suggested they should be thanking him for cutting their taxes, and a bunch of them went apeshit. Their consensus, as articulated by Don Surber, is that "Obama mocks the people," because mass demonstrations are a reliable measure of the pulse of a nation -- or have recently become so (back when Iraq War protesters were having them, of course, they meant only treason).

My favorite so far is Scared Monkeys. "Do you ever remember a President being so flipped and condescending?" he roars. Actually Scared Monkeys seems to be the one who's flipped, fantasizing Obama saying, "Yes, the peasants should be thanking me and kissing my ring" and, every couple of sentences, declaring the Kenyan pretender will get his:
Mock the Tea Party and We the People all you want Obama … We will Remember in November!...

I wonder just how amuzed you and your ilk will be come this November after the midterm elections? Think you will be laughing then President Obama? Or wondering what political tsunami just hit you?...

...a super majority of Americans think you waste their tax dollars.... [Hey, he quoted me!]

I wonder just how much trash this low rent President will be talking when he finds out election eve November 2010 that Republicans swept the elections in a landslide...

Personally, I say provide Obama with a thank you in the midterms and 2012 elections. A message to Barack and the Democrats … We will remember in November!
The punch line appears early in the post:
One thing is for certain, Barack Obama cannot take criticism.
SUPERMAJORITY. I've found a possible explanation for the certainty of Tea Partiers that they represent "The People" even though their candidates lost badly in the late elections. Rick Pearcey, "Former Managing Ed of Human Events & Assoc Ed of Evans-Novak Political Report," tells readers why the recent federal court ruling on the National Day of Prayer must be resisted by any means necessary:
It is important to recognize that the defining mainstream of America -- as set forth by the Declaration and Constitution -- is that of freedom under God, not restrictions under decisions handed down by secularized courts that have lost their way...

This ruling is an example of a by-definition extremist federal court that has reached a decision in the oppressive secular mainstream but not in the liberating American mainstream. That's why courts like this, decisions like this, and organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (which filed the case) must be resisted and overcome if America is to repeal tryanny and replace it with freedom.
"Oppressive secular mainstream" -- now that has potential. It suggests that there can be a "mainstream" that is illegitimate, and which must be resisted in favor of a "defining mainstream" that is definitionally more legitimate no matter what its size.

The allegedly non-existent organizers of the TPs ought to hire Pearcey to explain this to reporters, perhaps with electoral maps showing where the liberating-mainstream districts are located.

Oh, and yes, the color-codings are in the original.

Read All About It: If you liked this Pearcey piece, you may also enjoy his "‘'Faggot'’ Easy to Defend." It has Ann Coulter, a claim that since you liberals are all relativistic you can't get mad etc., and great thickets of authentic rightwing gibberish. For connoisseurs only!

UPDATE. On that note: From Sarah Ferguson's coverage of the Freedom Federation Summit (warning: sound at FFS site) --

Why do we even have elections, anyway?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

AFTER T-DAY. Scanning the headlines at Big Hollywood after a long absence is kind of disorienting:
SUCKER PUNCH SQUAD: Villain in Will Ferrell’s ‘The Other Guys’ Is Friends With….Dick Cheney!

‘Glee’ Sucker Punches Republican Fans

HOLLYWOOD INSIDER: Hate the Pope, Love Polanski

Hrm…? The Leftist Entertainment Media’s Sure Excited About Will Ferrell’s New Movie
You forget that there are enough people out there with this utterly distorted sense of grievance -- this notion that Hollywood is a branch of the government and, like all the other branches, is constitutionally obliged to fulfill the desires, not of its paying customers, but of an agitated "patriotic" minority filled with alleged boycotters of its product, or be crusaded against -- to sustain a website.

But it occurs to me that this is kind of how the Tea Party operates, too. Its members' notions of their own importance come from the attention of the same MSM outlets they usually profess to hate and disbelieve. The government is not taxing most of them very differently from the way they've been taxed for years, but now that Democrats are in office they're suddenly mad as hell about taxes.

And though they're railing against officials who were democratically elected by majorities or pluralities of their constituents, they are not surer of anything than that they represent the true will of the people. It's normal for the defeated opposition to feel confident of victory in the next election, but these people seem to believe that they won the last one.

That's probably why they go for the Revolutionary War get-ups; they honestly think the elected government wasn't elected, at least by any voters they would recognize as fellow citizens, and that the people voted in a year and a half ago are usurpers -- from Kenya or wherever.

Democrats were alleged to have felt that way about the contested 2000 Presidential election results, but they never behaved anything like this.
WHO WAS TODAY'S BIGGEST ASSHOLE? Ben Domenech, gay-judge-hunter? (Or the CBS News exec who published his stuff?) Or the Cali financial planner who took to the Wall Street Journal to revive the old Go Galt schtick, only with even more whining?

Ah, let's give it to Dreher. He's always a safe choice.
JOLLY GOOD SHOW. Watching what I guess amounts to the PM Debate in Britain. The moderator is running a tight ship, but that and the jarring intro make this look too much like a game show. Will the Leaders Debate losers hug the winner at the end?

First module is on immigration, and while all three contenders agree immigration is a good thing (Mark Steyn is screaming at his telly, "TALK ABOUT THE DARKIES!"), Cameron wants a cap; Clegg says he wants to make sure hospitals and football teams can still get immigrants, and Brown says he's handling it.

Ah, Cameron's talking about "people who don't want to work." Steyn has risen! And telling stories about a homicidal burglar who "could be out of prison in four and a half years." Ooooh, was he a sooty?

Not that I know shit about shit, but I would think Brown benefits (yes, I know only his own constituents vote for him) by being called "Gordon" by the others. It does more to humanize him than the poor man can do for himself.

Anyone else watching this?

UPDATE. Aw Jeez, Clegg tells a story about a guy whose house was burgled while he attended his father's funeral. He should have brought out a little music box and played sad music.

UPDATE 2. Liveblogs! Libs here. Funny Socialist Scots here. WSJ here. Dr. Samuel Johnson (in period drag!) here.

UPDATE 3. "Right of recall"? "A House of Lords that is elected rather than hereditary"? What a wrecker this Brown is! Has he ever held office before?

UPDATE 4. Ha! "I met a young lady the other day who said she was sick of being used in madeup anecdotes."

UPDATE 5. Dear God: Gordon Brown talks for two minutes about supporting the troops. First the pubs started selling Budweiser, now this! America ruins everything!
You know I'm the last person to want to cut the Catholic Church any slack over clerical child sex abuse.
Says Rod Dreher. Yes, that Rod Dreher.
But it must be said, especially these days, that it's not only Catholic bishops who have failed to halt the sexualization of children. We are all complicit. As awful as the Catholic bishops have been on protecting kids, children would be far better off in a culture run by the moral convictions doctrines of the Catholic bishops than the one we have, run by the moral convictions doctrines of commercial interests.
If only we had the theocracy Dreher desires, priests would stop raping little boys.

Oh, wait, it gets better:
As awful as the 1950s church was, with abuse of children going on behind a veil of sacred secrecy, is it really true that kids back then were worse off than kids today, in terms of the moral environment?
You know, he's got a point. Even if your little boy was caught by one of the chickenhawk priests and fucked in the ass, he still wouldn't have heard a single rap record.

Better still, the update: After the expected, "Don't you n00bs know I was personally agonized over this thing, and that trumps any number of tore-up little-boy anuses?*" he gets to the money shot:
We sexualize our children, then are shocked, shocked when people treat them like sexual objects.
Why he didn't just call the post "Whores! You're all Whores of Babylon!" I'll never know.

(* Not a direct quote.)

UPDATE. Commenter Aaron Baker correctly points out the similar and similarly idiotic argument of Ross Douthat, ably plunked by Henry Farrell here. The Right's Catholics and Catholics Emeritae are accustomed to pin all sex crimes on Dirty Fucking Hippies. And they don't bother to change strategies when the fault obviously lies closer to home. Infallibility will do that for you.
SHUT-INS. For a bunch of people who claim -- and have claimed every year since the invention of blogs -- that the Main Stream Media is in its death-throes and soon everyone will get their news from Instapundit and Jeff Goldstein, they sure do spend a lot of time harassing newspapermen.

My favorite part of the post is Scott Johnson's straight-faced observation, "If you have been following the underlying controversy with any care, you know that Mr. Farrell has the better of this exchange," which is rather like saying, "You will notice that no one has refuted the arguments of the homeless man yelling at Fifth and Main." Also amusing are the entreaties of the poor Washington Post ombudsman, trying to get Farrell to recognize that he is not talking to a gigantic straw man named MSM but a real person with a specific job ("The McClatchy story is of no interest to me. As ombudsman for The Washington Post, I am concerned solely with the journalism of The Washington Post").

Forget journalism -- if you've ever worked in customer service of any kind, you will probably recognize Farrell's type. It was once hoped the internet would rechannel the energies of such people from the phone lines of working people to the electronic void, but it appears their need is, like the universe, ever-expanding.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SHORTER MEGAN McARDLE. Government is not the solution, it is the problem, unless traffic is making my customary bike route less pleasant, in which case government is the solution.

(Or to put it another way, "As a resident of DC, I'm certainly overjoyed to hear that violent crime has fallen to a level where we can spare valuable police resources to fight the silent scourge of . . . unruly traffic circles.")

UPDATE. Commenter mds summarizes: "Previously, she attacked the sanctity of contracts, because one of the parties thwarted her. Then she seemed to imply that affirmative action was needed for conservatives in academia. Now she's demanding that the heavy boot of the government security apparatus be deployed to smooth her way. 'Are you sure you're reading that libertarianism manual correctly?'"
FYI. You probably already had some idea of this:
A growing number of conservative groups are bankrolling startup news organizations around the country, aggressively covering government and politics at a time when newspapers are cutting back their statehouse bureaus.

The news outlets usually receive their money from right-leaning, free-market organizations...

"If you have a laptop, a wireless card and a flip cam, you're as powerful as The New York Times," said Jason Stverak, a former North Dakota Republican Party director who runs the year-old Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in Bismarck and advises news outlets like those in Harrisburg and Boise.
The AP story is timely, as we have a big story from Now!Hampshire called "Source: State Dems scrambling to deploy tea party ‘crashers.’" Their nameless informant -- who, like the jiu jitsu practitioners who used to advertise on the backs of comic books, "sought anonymity for fear of reprisals" -- allegedly told N!H that former Democratic State Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan -- who, the website reminds us, "has been attending meetings of the [Mancester] Board of Mayor and Aldermen to glower at Mayor Ted Gatsas" -- is "heading up" a tea party infiltration scheme.

This is not the self-admitted CrashTheTeaParty operation of Josh Levin they're talking about, but an alleged false-flag operation run by a prominent Democratic attorney known mainly for pursuing unremarkable legal action on her party's behalf.

Nonetheless the story is immediately and unquestioningly believed by the sort of people who would find this sort of thing immediately and unquestioningly believable ("Setting the Stage For An American Neda" -- Confederate Yankee).

Now!Hampshire, by the way, was started up by Patrick Hynes, described by National Review as "one of the bright minds behind, now" He has also worked as a political consultant; Andrew Cline of the Union-Leader describes some of Hynes' prevarications in that role ("Hynes identified himself as 'executive director of Responsible Environmental Policy for New Hampshire'... Turns out the group did not exist").

Hynes was previously head of something called New Media Strategics, which attempted to manipulate blog chatter in less direct ways. But hell, why bother with middlemen? The great thing about the internet is, no one knows you're an operative, particularly if you take pains not to let them know.

UPDATE. SIster Toldjah finds more liberal perfidy in a North Carolina ordinance prohibiting the TP People's Gadsden flags from being mounted on long poles:
That’s strange, because the only times I ever see flags used as weapons is when radical leftists set fire to them.
How did I miss this flaming-flag weapon? It sounds rilly cool, and should be in a 3-D movie.

UPDATE 2. Sullivan denies it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FOTO FUNNIES. Back when President Bush tried to give German Chancellor Andrea Merkel a shoulder rub she clearly didn't want, The Anchoress wanted to know what all the fuss was about:
(And btw, just as an aside, that one-second shoulder-squeeze by Bush? He should have kept his hands to himself – that’s always the smarter thing to do – but I think Merkel’s reaction had more to do with not expecting a the squeeze than her feelings of being “violated and almost raped” as some hysterics are carrying on.)
Today she saw a picture of Obama pointing in the general vicinity of Canadian PM Stephen Harper, and three guesses:
The look on Harper’s face, I can’t read. He’s either cowed or repressing his own anger. He appears to be looking directly at Obama’s finger. He is making a fist. Anyone want to supply a caption?

I miss the swaggering cowboy. He may have been tongue-tied; he may have screwed up with an errant backrub, but the didn’t boy to royalty, he didn’t give embarrassing gifts to allies, he didn’t show the Dalai Lama the back door. He never said to a visiting ally (paraphrased) “I’m gonna go have dinner with Laura, and if you decide to obey me, I’ll be around.”

He didn’t shove his finger in the face of another country’s prime minister.

But he was considered the boor.
She doesn't have the slightest idea what's actually going, but instead of just making jokes about the picture as custom dictates and as even rightwing frostbacks are doing, she grimly denounces Obama for humiliating the guy. Then, as if suddenly noticing the audience giving her the old Springtime for Hitler look, she springs to an impassioned defense of Bush, before ending:
Oh, puke.
This, I believe, we can take literally.

UPDATE. The rest of the brethren, meanwhile, are trying to unravel the mystery of the President's daughter's soccer game:
Even three days later, there are still no pictures of the president from Saturday's game. The USA just disarmed to Russia, Poland's president and 95 others were killed hours before, and there were many international leaders in Washington, D.C. for the nuclear summit set to begin on Monday, April 12.

And we shouldn't raise even more questions on his whereabouts? According to the MSM, the answer is yes.
But that's okay, comrade! The lousy MSM is dead, and it's up to Citizen Journalists like you to pore obsessively over Google Maps and girls' soccer league schedules. Track the coordinates of Castro, Chavez, and Michael Moore, too, and never, never give up! Write when you strike gold; we'll be waiting at the bar.
SHORTER JONAH GOLDBERG: I can plausibly-deniably see why my fellow conservatives are pissed at Obama's nuclear policy. Sure, no President has ordered a nuclear strike since Truman, but what about Bill Pullman in Independence Day? Plus I'm too lazy to read this, but from what little I know it makes Obama worse than Bill Pullman. And this was his senior year in college, the apex of a man's intellectual development! Faarrrrrrrrrrt*.

(*Note to syndicators: If space is an issue, this sentence can serve as the Shorter.)
WHERE I'M CALLING FROM, PART 2. Oh, yeah, Junior Brown at Gruene Hall was excellent. I assume his hot-dogging on the guit-steel, rolling his eyes back in his head, etc., are a thoroughly customary schtick, but the crowd seemed very happy to see it however many times they'd seen it already.

I love his tunes and his Ernest Tubb voice. I also admire that he has his missus in the band -- great way to double your share, guy! -- and that they've managed not to kill each other. (Years ago I played briefly and traumatically with my former life partner; when Junior started fiddling with Mrs. Brown's equipment mid-show, I flinched, expecting flying debris.)

The opener was A.J. Downing and the Buick6, who seemed to be taking it easy, which was fine as it made it less daunting for Mary and I to practice our two-step. (She reported later that a woman in the ladies' room told her, "You two are just learning, aren't you? That's so cute!" Terpsichore was never my stock in trade, but as a veteran showman I was stung to the quick.)

We had to miss the Chilifest in Snook for this, but that's just as well, as the event generated 41 arrests and 167 citations, according to our delightful local paper, the Eagle -- DWI, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, etc. The local PD "had judges on call to issue warrants for people who refused to give breath samples after being pulled over on suspicion of driving drunk." That's worse than Saint Patrick's Day on Staten Island!

The Eagle has provided me with a great window on Texas folkways. Just before Easter it carried a story from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about a local megachurch's membership drive:
Bay Area Fellowship, the largest church in Corpus Christi, is giving away flat-screen televisions, skateboards, Fender guitars, furniture and 15 cars -- yes, cars -- at its Easter services next week...

“We’re going to give some stuff away and say, ‘Imagine how great heaven is going to be if you feel that excited about a car,’ ” lead Pastor Bil Cornelius said. “It’s completely free -- all you have to do is receive him.”
This whole thing is wonderful, but I would like to give reporter Denise Malan a special Pulitzer just for her rendering of this expert-opinion section:
Michael Emerson, a sociology professor at Rice University and co-director of its Institute for Urban Research, said “Wow” several times as Bay Area’s giveaway was described to him.
Rice, locals will have you know, is the Harvard of the South.

I have also been talking to people, all of them so far as nice as pie. Last weekend I got to talk to a machinist about his trade, the fortunes of which ebb and flow with the oil industry; his company makes parts and devices used in drilling. He showed me a ring he'd made on the job out of titanium. And he told me about things he'd seen as an amateur pilot, including a training flight in which his instructor pulled down hard on the throttle to keep the craft in which they were riding from striking a tree -- not due to operator error, but because the engine was balky. (An experience like that would keep me out of airplanes and possibly daylight for quite some time.) We discussed pets and he told me about how a raccoon had gotten the better of one of his dogs. "If a dog fights a raccoon and it's near the water," he had heard, "the raccoon will win every time." We had no occasion to talk at all about politics or the internet, which was a great relief.

Monday, April 12, 2010

SHORTER MEGAN McARDLE: I and my fiance wanted to buy a home and there were these paupers renting it. And they refused to leave! Said they had "rights"! What is this, Russia?

UPDATE. R. Porrofatto goes through McArdle's list of real estate demands in comments, making the jest even creamier: "...she finally found one house in an urban area with little traffic and no public schools, teeming with nightlife but very safe, from acceptable housing stock and isn't a condo, with such visible access to the Metro that she doesn't have to look at a map to know about it, and the damn unicorn who lives there refuses to let her see it."
ROBBED AGAIN. The awful Kathleen Parker has won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. You may read some of her anodyne, conservative-MoDo columns here.

Kathryn J. Lopez enthuses and disingenues:
I know many readers here frequently disagree with her. I do too! I know she has been unfair to conservatives — and the truth — at times. But she has also been open to us and it. She has a perch at the Washington Post that she has undeniably used to highlight issues and views that wouldn't otherwise get attention there.
Lopez fails to mention that prior to her mainstreaming, Parker was a commentator at the National Review, where she speculated that Obama related to Reverend Wright's anger at honkies because he was mad at his own white grandmother, and engaged in other such gibberish, including Delphic utterances like this:
The bottom line is Barack Obama is a cool cat. That's it. He is the saxophone.
This awkward pass at the President-to-be was, to those who can smell such things, a warning that she would be going semi-rogue in defense of her own career, briefly spelling David Brooks and Michael Gerson as the conservative conservatives love to hate with mildly disapproving statements aimed at Republicans, before settling into her niche as a vendor of formless and gormless soft-right editorial mush.

Parker also wrote a book about how America has "produced a new generation of children tattooed, pierced, angry, depressed, obese" by its discrimination against the beleaguered minority known as men.

About the best you can say for her is that she once inspired Dan Riehl to one of his more repulsive emissions.

I would have given the prize to former New York Times reporter, now homeless person Mark Hawthorne. (If you enjoy his recent work, by all means read this 1991 Times article on him, discovered by a Gawker reader.)
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightbloggers who ran with an obviously bullshit story about Sarkozy calling Obama insane. This is a study in miniature of how they do, all of the time. If some fact-shaped object appeals to them, they'll bite it no matter how bad it smells. One almost gets the impression that truth doesn't matter to them.

UPDATE. When you follow stuff like this all the time, you get a humor bonus when rightbloggers pretend to be mortally offended that McClatchy reported the Republicans at SRLC are "unified by hatred of Obama. "All it claims is some alleged hate for Obama by Southern Republicans with no explanation for it at all," says Riehl World View. "So, where’s the proof of this 'unified' GOP 'hatred'?" says Obamaganda, etc.

Yeah, where are they getting this outrageous accusation that Republicans hate Obama? it's like those cartoons where dogs chase cats. How can they be so sure? Where is their data?

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Last weekend we took in the Grit 'n' Groove Festival in Luckenbach. Among the entertainers: Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleaves, James McMurtry, and our host for the evening, Ray Wylie Hubbard, who sorta struck me as the David Peel of Austin.

The only one I wasn't crazy about was Chris Robinson, yeah that one. Nice voice, but it was like Linda Rondstadt singing "Party Girl." (The crowd was much more polite toward him than we would have been back in the Old Country. I don't know whether that was because Hubbard is friendly with him, or because Texans are courtly, or because Robinson is actually good and I don't appreciate it because I, like all New Yorkers, am an asshole.)

Had bratwurst and Shiner Bock, and plenty of it. Tonight, Junior Brown at Gruen Hall. Looking forward, but I'm kinda sorry to be missing the Chilifest.

Aw hell, this Texas ain't half bad.
AS I WAS SAYING. Maybe I was too hard in the previous post on bloggers with pretenses to journalism. Take the recent death of the Polish President in a plane crash at Smolensk, for example. Many rightbloggers are soberly compiling the facts as --


Never mind.
DEFINING JOURNALISM DOWN. Cleaning the mailbox (amazing how clogged it can get even when I'm not working my ass off) and found a note from Mr. Miller of Blogoland about a TechCrunch story from last week entitled, "52 Percent Of Bloggers Consider Themselves Journalists" -- this number representing a four-percent increase from the year before. (Note: I'll only add his remarks on the subject if he permits me, as they were part of a private conversation.)

At first I wondered: Why would anyone want to be considered a journalist if he could possibly avoid it? Everyone hates journalists. They certain don't trust them.

I considered that, for many of these fools, the title might still be a step up. Then a better explanation came to me.

First, a general answer: These days an unprecedented number of people in several fields want cred for something they can't or won't actually do. To some extent 'twas ever thus -- administrators who do not practice nor know anything about the sort of work they supervise, for example, have existed since before the dawn of management theory. But management theory sure increased their number.

And technology has done the same in other fields. How many more musicians, for example, do we have now than before who can't actually play an instrument? I don't mean as in, "You don't play no guitar, boy!" I mean they just program machines to do it for them.

Now, a lot of them get great results, so it's not a bad thing in and of itself. But it also gives a lot of less-capable people the idea that, with the right equipment, they can do just like the big boys do. too.

Similarly, because they have the electronic wherewithal to publish as news sites do, a lot of bloggers consider themselves "journalists" even though they've never covered an event, nor engaged any information (whether first-, second-, or third-hand) with anything like journalistic rigor.

That may explain why they think they're entitled to be called journalists, but it still doesn't explain why they would want to own it, given journalists' low status.

The Citizen Journalists it has been my curse to contemplate most are the rightbloggers, so I mediated on them for an answer, and came to this:

They want to be journalists not so much to elevate their own reputations as to lower that of journalism.

I've talked a lot here about the seemingly contradictory self-image of rightbloggers: on the one hand, all-powerful and poised at any moment to destroy the MSM with the awesome force of their Citizen Journalism; one the other, helpless victims of media malfeasance.

Clearly the big papers and networks are losing money, but it isn't like Joe Wingnut's House o' Slander is getting rich off that. People can still tell the difference between the Daily Bugle and some guy yelling about Nobama socialism.

But they have reason to hope that this situation won't last. As more papers fold or diminish, it may be that people will notice that the journalistic conventions to which they were once used are going away, as the old ice-wagons and Fuller Brush Men did, and mentally abandon their expectation of them, as clearly no one has the money to keep that coming anymore.

To help speed this transition along, we have bloggers increasingly delivering in breathless tones the BREAKING news that something that didn't happen happened, or vice-versa. This, their confidence announces, is the new journalism -- braying and blarghing, 24/7. It only remains for the punters to admit it.

It's possible that these guys actually don't understand that what they're doing is substantially different from what, say, reporters at the Washington Post do. I doubt they miss that fact -- but they may at least intuit that, if they keep yelling loud enough, maybe other people will.