Friday, July 30, 2010

ANOTHER DAY AT THE PLANT. The Ole Perfesser finds a outrage:
TIME: The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated? “Yes, the spill killed birds — but so far, less than 1% of the number killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago..."
A few hours later, the Ole Perfesser finds a outrage:
UH OH: Did The Government Cause The Gulf Oil Spill? “A new report by the Center for Public Integrity, based on testimony from people on scene and Coast Guard logs..."

The White House isn’t talking about this.
To recap, the BP spill was no big deal -- scandalously caused by the Obama Administration!

We blog writers like to think of our work as conversations with the reader, but some of us are the guy in the filthy parka having his conversation at the top of his lungs on a streetcorner.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PLEASING THE AFFILIATES. I see we sometimes have a Fred Thompson ad here at alicublog (example, far left). Always happy to take their money, but we can always run our own versions. If you have other punchlines, please leave them in comments.

UPDATE. Aw, thanks commenters, partic Whitstone ("What did I know, and when did I know it?"), cleter ("Sea monkeys ain't primates, son"), willf ("Maaatlock!"), Travis G. ("Y'ever watch an old man eat soup?"), and Halloween Jack ("You ain't never caught a rabbit, and you ain't no friend of mine"). But go look, they're all winners.
HOW COME THEY CAN SAY N****R AND WE CAN'T? PART INFINITY. President Obama, who has previously referred to himself as a "mutt" because of his mixed racial heritage, referred to both black and white folks as a "mongrel people" on The View today. It's the sort of End of Race thing that normally passes without incident.

But here it was uttered by ObamaHitler the Racist, so skreeeee!
On the View, off script, off teleprompter, Barack Obama declared blacks a mongrel race. He will be fitted for a pointy sheet later today.

Can you imagine the uproar if any white guy had called Black Americans MONGRELS? The libs would be blowing the roof off the sky, that’s how bad it would be... Anyhow, just amember that it wasn’t The Self Defense Guy who called Black Americans mongrels, it was President Barry hisself. [dips snuff, pulls on jug]

What was he thinking?!? I mean, was he channeling Robert Byrd or Harry Trumann or something? That statement reads as if it were a press release from the KKK! Can you imagine the mess I'd be in if blah blah blah...

Of course, if I had called Obama a mongrel on this site, a bunch of assholes would have called me a racist. I hadn't thought to do so before, but I will be referring to him as the Mongrel in Chief from here on in. So much better than Sea Monkey.
There's already plenty of them, mostly to the effect of ooh, ah'd get in a heap o'trouble if'n ah was to say thet 'bout one o' them "African-Americans"!

As these comments show, of all the enormous advantages these people imagine black folks have over white folks in this country, the one that seems to madden them most is the freedom to speak frankly about race, of which they imagine they have been deprived by the New Black Panthers or something. Of course, no one's stopping them from saying boo, but they aren't just satisfied with the right to say whatever they want about it -- they want to be approved of and taken seriously, and have their stories of white oppression made into stirring TV movies.

And they can, of course, enjoy this validation in the select klavans of Rightblogger World. Call it a virtual Dixie! Hopefully they will restrict themselves to such self-selecting communities, and leave the rest of us free to move forward.

UPDATE. Oh, for... Doctor of Chiropractic Melissa Clouthier:
Yes, most Americans are racially mixed people. Most of us do not refer to ourselves as mongrel. In addition, many Americans enjoy going into their history and know their geneology. This is an American activity not exclusively the provenance of black mongrels.
I think she meant to write "province," but got so excited by the excuse to say "black mongrels" she got confused.
Man. What is wrong with out President?
Out President? You mean he's gay too? It's worse than we thought!

Clouthier also essays a volley of non-sequiturs at Amanda Marcotte, which is like trying to take out Wonder Woman with Jello cubes.
THE RETURN OF THE SPERM DONOR MENACE! Back in May the folks at Family Scholars opened what appeared to be a brave new front in their usual war against gay marriage: Alerting their constituents to the menace of sperm donation. As detailed here, they found a young woman sired by a sperm donor who was mad that marriage-deprived gay people got to claim victim status while she, who had suffered the stigma of turkey-baster parentage, had neither fund-raisers nor pride parades of her own.

I doubted this risible schtick would lead to anything, but apparently Family Scholars are still working it. And in furtherance of it, they're even pretending to be open to same-sex marriage. That's how big a deal this is!

Family Scholars has a "My Daddy's Name is Donor" tag under which they file extensive complaining on the subject ("he’s not just a sperm donor, he’s my father"). Though Family Scholars has traditionally been hostile to gay marriage (because Won't Someone Please Think of the Children), at least one anti-sperm spokesperson says she's open to a parlay with the marriage equality people.

"I do believe it’s possible to have two mothers, or two fathers," says Elizabeth Marquardt in the craftily-titled "The Compromise I Think I Could Accept," "...But I do NOT believe that having two mothers means you do not also have a father out there, somewhere." So states that made it possible for fatherless victims of donation to harass their donor-daddies might get a prize from Elizabeth Marquardt:
That is, jurisdictions that ban anonymous donation of sperm, eggs, and wombs -- and with it, the erroneous idea that children are just made from random gametes and don’t care where they come from -- could also institute legal same sex marriage.
Generous of her, ain't it? But Marquardt's follow-up suggests she was just toying. Among her added reservations: "I worry that the next step will be recognizing poly arrangements and group parenting rights." Experience shows that once they start talking like that, there's no dealing with them.

But though the deal between them and their imaginary gay friends seems to be off, Family Scholars is still standing athwart the tidal wave of donor jism, crying "Glub!" They currently seek publicity with anti-donor glosses on the new film The Kids Are All Right, which involves a sperm donor whose contribution has enabled a lesbian couple to have a kid. Marquardt takes to Opus Dei stroke book First Things to explain that "The Kids Are Not All Right." (They must not pay editors very much at First Things; I'd have gone with "Dykes Do Cum Shots, Kids Get Hangover" or something like that.)

The movie, she allows, is OK as a movie -- it's "rich on particulars and complexity," by which Marquardt means the lesbians have some faults. But not enough, alas; nor do they drop down a trap door into hell at the end like Don Juan, nor repent and promise to accept cock as the only legitimate conveyance of love juice. So Marquardt decides that "despite the attempts at realism, the movie is a fantasy," and devotes the rest of her review to the sorrows of fatherless beaker babies:
And what about those whose sperm donors have no interest in being fathers? In the COLAGE guide, one young woman says, “My donor doesn’t seem to be particularly into the whole father thing with me, and it caused me quite a bit of pain trying to get him to be.” Another says: “I grew up having certain expectation of what roles my [sperm donor] . . . would play in my life and when [he] didn’t fulfill those expectations, I was hurt.”
I would like to be more sympathetic toward them, but I lost my father quite young, and would be embarrassed to go about in public as a grown man blubbering about it, let alone blaming it on science. And though I tend to be pessimistic on the subject, I would say that if the anti-gay-marriage team is reduced to tugging at heartstrings with adults who weep because some guy who jerked off into a cup with their mommy's name on it 20 years ago won't take them fishing, they can't be doing very well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

OUR SICK SOCIETY, BY O.J. SIMPSON. The latest National Review guy to write a book about how Obama is HitlerStalin is Stanley Kurtz. He begins his sales pitch by implying that he's been sequestered in a secret underground lab lest his enemies meddle with his death-ray:
Given my various adventures during the last presidential campaign, it seemed best to remain discreet until now. The goal has been to minimize any possible interference with my research, which has proceeded non-stop since 2008.
By "adventures" he seems to mean "delusions," in this case that anyone gives a shit about Bill Ayers anymore. At this point if Kurtz revealed that Obama and Ayers toured the provinces singing "Fit As a Fiddle and Ready for Love" no one would care except the people who scream every time Obama has a scheduling conflict.

Kurtz' spiel for Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism is all about the CoC's socialism: "RADICAL-IN-CHIEF marshals a wide array of never-before-seen evidence to establish that the president of the United States is indeed a socialist... the book confirms that the president’s harshest critics have been right about his socialism all along."

I will reserve judgement, as I haven't read it. But this is the strongest example of consider-the-source I've seen in a while.

Kurtz has proposed destroying Social Security so that families will be forced to put young'uns to work and keep aged, infirm grandparents at home, thereby promoting strong family life.

When San Francisco prevented military recruiters from working their high schools, Kurtz proposed that Congress pass a "resolution of censure" against San Francisco.

He said that conservatives couldn't be blamed for ignoring bad news from Iraq because "conservative distrust of the media’s very real bias has inclined us to dismiss reports about problems in Iraq that are real. In the end, I think the media bears fundamental responsibility for this."

Kurtz has said that Hollywood studios are uninterested in making money, preferring to fritter away their billions on radicalizing youth, which surely would be news to Tinseltown trade-readers. In fact, Kurtz thinks country music has also been infiltrated by Reds ("the cultural left has decided to use CMT to try to proselytize the South"). And don't get him started about hip-hop:
Perhaps most interesting of all, rap has been taken up by many of Europe’s discontented Muslim youth. Their infatuation with hip hop is a sign of Europe’s broader failure to assimilate Muslim immigrants to mature democratic mores, again because of a multiculturalist sensibility parallel to the one that emerged at Cornell nearly forty years ago.
On sex, Kurtz has described "conversion from liberal to conservative politics" as "the ultimate aphrodisiac," and says "the most potentially stable form of multi-partner union" is "a man and two bisexual women. That union does reduce jealously, and also points to the potentially powerful bisexual constituency for multi-partner unions."

The idea of Kurtz writing about anyone else's "radical" ideas is rich like Coffee-mate.

UPDATE. Thanks, bgn. for typo alert.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I HAVE HERE IN MY HAND...In addition to going on and on about the now discontinued Journolist, the wingnuts have taken to publishing alleged lists of participants.

I am alerted to this by Foster Kamer back at the old firm, who has been named as part of the conspiracy. Foster, basically a media reporter, is politically astute, especially considering that he is not yet old enough to shave, but he has about as much business on such a list as Dave Barry. (It might make sense if they needed a dick joke consultant, but any liberal worth the name should able to come up with dick jokes on demand.)

Also, Kamer says he was never on Journolist. So does fellow nominee Cenk Uygur.

I know some names that should be on that list and are not. I am making this public now because I could use the publicity of an appearance before a Congressional committee as a hostile witness.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the maddening Shirley Sherrod case, and how the rightbloggers have essentially taken the position that the least culpable party is the guy who put up the doctored tape. It's as if someone framed a blameless citizen for murder, but no one cares about that, and everyone instead focuses on the gendarmes who briefly detained the wrong man.

There are so many little niggling schticks being used in this case -- many of the "I don't spell my name with an 'e,' your argument is invalid" variety -- that I couldn't use many of them. One of my favorite outtakes is Big Government's Jeff Dunetz, who didn't see why the NAACP's Ben Jealous was so huffy about the misleading tape: "Mr. Jealous had access to the entire tape," sniffed Dunetz, "but he never bothered to look at it before he blasted Ms Sherrod." And this guy is from Breitbart's own site! You at least have to admire his nerve.

Also all balls at Big Government, Alexander Marlow, who says, "to not see Sherrod on television Sunday morning sends a clear signal the mainstream media no longer feels allowing the public to get to know the real Shirley Sherrod advances their agenda." I guess they were afraid she'd lose control and start screaming about Whitey.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

These chairs were mostly full at showtime, I swear.

I was looking forward to Al Franken's close, but Linda Chavez-Thompson is kicking ass on Rick Perry. (Blue Texans represent!) So they're running late and I'll probably miss him. Well, to tell you the truth, he was never the same after he split with Tom Davis. Party car leaves in 20 minutes for the House of Blues.

Oh, the panel went okay. There was humor, pathos, conflict, and the human drama of athletic competition. I don't think I said anything too stupid. Well, there were the anti-Semitic outbursts, but you know, when you're working a Democratic crowd you have to give them that stuff; I'm sure reasonable people will understand.

Elizabeth Warren was fine; she was eloquent, even in the job-o-work position of pushing the Administration line to the Nutroots, and she made those charts and graphs sing. I'm sorry I couldn't get you a picture, but mine came out all shaky; Brad Reed kept jostling the table with his erection.
VEGAS: SLOW MORNING EDITION. The kids are filing out of the auditorium now, and I just asked some lady how Nancy Pelosi's speech went. "Excellent," she said. "She's always candid." Always candid! Like she was proud that she'd seen Nancy Pelosi a bunch of times, like Nancy Pelosi was Iggy or something.

I must level with you folks: When my girlfriend texted me early this morning (obviously timing her message so it would waken me just as my hangover had reached its peak of ripeness), there momentarily rose to the bubbling surface of the cauldron of my skull the shadow of a thought that, as long as I was conscious, I should wash up, go see Nancy Pelosi, and report back to you. I am, after all, your eyes and ears at this convention; if it weren't for me, all you would know of this thing would be MSM lies, or actual coverage, which is even less fun.

But you know what? No one's paying me to do this, and seeing Nancy Pelosi is low on my list of earthly delights. When I'm on my deathbed, a few years from now, I'm not going to lament missing Nancy Pelosi. Missing Motorhead, or the Second Coming of Christ -- those I would regret, those would be worth getting up early for. But not this.

I haven't even been going to the panels. I mean, I poke my head in now and again, but usually it takes only about three buzzwords to fry my synapses sufficiently that further attendance is useless, and some of these guys have managed it in a single sentence. (I do expect to see Elizabeth Warren in a few minutes, though. I have to ask her if she got the flowers.)

So instead of seeing Nancy Pelosi, I slept another hour, then breakfasted at my leisure on Mountain Dew, a tuna sandwich, and Advil. Outstanding decision! I feel almost mammalian now. I don't even mind missing the the video poker version of Obama, which I assume they added to spice up the program.

Friday, July 23, 2010

VEGAS: STRAY THOUGHTS. Saw Matthew Yglesias here. The fucker is tall! Well, tall compared to what I thought he was; from his writing I imagined someone around five foot, with the voice of a mosquito. I didn't say hi. Let the fucker come to me.

Listened over box lunch (why didn't I steal a couple and put them in my room? I'll die in Vegas!) to Eliseo Medina from SEIU talk about Arizona (and general Republican) use of racism as a campaign tactic (and the kind of Democrats who "think the way to win is to be timid, to be afraid, and not stand up for anything") and Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights talk about both components of the half-empty LGBT glass. Both were well-spoken, but when those of us of a cynical turn of mind look at the agenda of things like this, and see so many interest groups talking about how they're getting screwed, we can see why honkies think liberals are whiners and why many Democrats insist on telling the honkies, no, forget all those weirdos, we're really doing it all for you -- that is, for the middle class that you all think you belong to. But as things get worse, it may be that more honkies will realize that they're not really any different from the other kinds of people on whom power has been beating for years.

I don't know which panel it was, but I wandered into one of these rooms and some guy was pointing at a graph with a bunch of dots on it and talking about "technology" and "interconnectivity" and how this was the solution to some damned thing. I have learned to accept, if grudgingly, lots of concepts that at first baffled me -- compound interest, Sonic Youth, and so forth -- but this is one that I still can't take to heart, not because it's untrue but because everyone talks about it so much that it has become the Powerpoint equivalent of World Peace. Also, in general I think people should spend more time alone and quiet.

Oh, get a load of the Wall Street Journal:
LAS VEGAS—Progressive activists gathered here for Netroots Nation are trying to get their groove back...

A woman stood up and asked: "Why is it with a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, and a Democrat in the White House do we need to be worried about this?"

It's a question being raised by many in the Democratic Party's liberal base...

...the energy in the electorate right now is on the other end of the political spectrum, captured in the conservative tea party movement and threatening Democrats' majorities in Congress.
Cackle. No better is the Washington Post ("Democratic rifts apparent at liberal Netroots Nation conference" -- hey, it's not like Netroots fired one of its key people or cancelled its Vegas convention because of the "heat.") Steve Freiss calls Netroots Nation "part pep rally, part support group." Etc.

If you went by this coverage, you could easily miss that many of the panels are about tactics for victory, and attended by committed activists who've already shown that they can get shit done. It's not just rah-rah -- it's mainly a trade show. And these people are coming off a pretty hot streak.

Maybe if we wore costumes people would take us more seriously. The Minutemen look is taken, alas, by the Tea Partiers, so I vote for Vikings.


A packet of Advil (Thank fuck! This costs five bucks in the lobby), attached either accidentally or not to a flyer for the book The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes by John Prendergast with Don Cheadle.

Street value: $0.50 or $5.00, depending.

Brochure for AAM (Alliance for American Manufacturing), which "brings together a select group of America's leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers" to "promote creative policy solutions" of various sorts, all aimed at bettering the lot of the Working Man.

Street value: $0.00.

Brochure for the NEA. "If I were a Wall Street banker," says an adorable little kid, "would Congress listen to me?"

Street value: $0.00.

Flyer offering a "Netroots Special Offer" on "Blue State Digital's Online Tools" (i.e. web building for lefty activists).

Street value: 20 percent off, or, for most people, $0.00.

A notepad embellished with promo for the Union Jobs Clearinghouse, laying a palimpsest of "Putting People to Work Since 1997!" on your grocery lists, phone messages, etc.

Street value: $0.00.

Palmcards from, Emily's List, GLAAD, and Rock The Vote.

Street value: $0.00.

Confusing sticker for Arizona Senate candidate Randy Parraz, resembling a convention pass "authorized" by "Jan Brewer" and "approved" by "John McCain." I think it has something to do with immigration.

Street value: $0.00.

Perfectly clear "F*&#! THE RIGHT" (that means "fuck") sticker from

Street value: $0.00.

Flyer advertising AlterNet's Dangerous Brew: The Definitive Party Reader. Contributors do not include me.

Street value: $0.00.

Perhaps coincidentally, a bag of Lipton Tea embossed with Working America promo.

Street value: $0.50.

SEIU refrigerator magnets ("Grass Roots," "I am part of the," "Lesbian," "Diversity," "Hope," etc).

Street value: $0.00.

Button from American Manufacturing that says "Keep It Made in America."

Street value: $0.00.

CD from Mercer Street Records and the Enough Project, Raise Hope for Congo, with contributions from artists including Mos Def, Meshell Ndegeocello, Norah Jones, and Sheryl Crow ("My Name is Mwamaroyi").

Street value: $0.00.

Big book, Generation We: How Millenial Youth Are Taking Over America And Changing Our World Forever (and looking around the room, that's a message this crowd will be very happy to hear; the average attendee age is 13).

Street value: $1.00.

"Totally vegan" Bubble Genius soap bearing Netroots Nation logo.

Street value: $0.00.

Lifesavers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, marked "Don't Suck Up to Power."

Street value: $0.25.

The bag appears to be made out of natural fibers and earth-friendly.

VEGAS 2. Just hauled my ass across the baking highways -- actually a very nice cab driver dragged it; more on that in a minute -- and caught a little of Van Jones. He's pretty damn eloquent, and he believes in that hope stuff that's supposed to be, like, over. I am mostly impervious to this sort of thing, but in addition to being optimistic Jones is smart -- a rare combination! -- and breaks things down well. He said something in the interview segment about the Shirley Sherrod bullshit that jumped out at me; he compared it to his own situation, when he had to split the Obama Administration last year because of some untoward remarks. (He said he didn't want to be a "banana peel" for the President while he was trying to move health care.) He likened media assaults like hers and his to poison viruses and said "we don't have the antibodies yet" to process them: But he expects they will develop (though "in the short term it will be tougher, because there are financial incentives to be more shrill, to be more senational").:
If in fact five percent of the public have an experience like mine, lost their job because of something on Facebook or whatever... then it will stop, because enough people will have seen it and enough people will have had it happen to them or to a friend, that there will be a completely different level of wisdom that emerges in the culture and society... [If] you have confidence in your country, you have confidence that we will adapt as a culture to these changes in our technology.
He sort of makes it hard to be grumpy, but somehow I'm managing. It seemed to take forever to get out of Downtown (and cash money -- I've spent more on cabs than on gambling, or anything else). Also my room at the Rio isn't ready and I could already use a shower -- ask the lovely people I've attempted to engage in conversation! But my driver, a friendly old guy, diverted me with stories of his own life. He wanted to get out of Vegas, but family issues prevented it. He wasn't complaining, though; his mantra was, "I'm the same as anybody else." I took this for a tic at first, but the wisdom of it unfolded for me. I find I'm most unhappy when I walk through this world like a deposed prince looking for his lost kingdom. Maybe it's not just me, either. Maybe that's what the whole Vegas thing is about -- trying to get the universe to acknowledge that we are so Queen of the Slots or Lord of the Buffet or some damn thing -- and maybe that's why I'm not into it.

Oops, gotta get the gift bag before they run out!
VEGAS 1. This has been very interesting in its way. Flying in, I had a nice conversation with a young man who is an associate manager for a large retail chain. He is here to do inventory in one of the chain's outlets and then drive several hundred miles with his "team," as he does several times a month. He lives in Salt Lake City, and pays about 650 dollars a month to rent a nice house just outside of town. He likes the place, though he says there's not much to do there and the bars serve 3.2 beer. After five years of faithful service and first-place rankings in his category, he expects to be reassigned this fall to the Southeast, where he would only have to cover Georgia and South Carolina.

I liked the guy, though he operates under an entirely different set of assumptions than mine, and smelled slightly of poo.

I went to the Rio and found some of the Netroots people I'm supposed to work with, and had the usual problems relating. I lost them at one of the casinos, then came back downtown and wandered Fremont Street, taking in the garish light shows and buying a bunch of chips that I lost in games I didn't understand. Vegas, baby!

Tomorrow, some ground-level Netroots coverage.

UPDATE. I ain't even kidding. The ladies at the tables wielded that spatula thing like the devil flash-frying my soul. I thought I knew how to play Blackjack! Apparently there's more to it than I thought.

They were very nice about it, very professional. When I swung around to check, they weren't laughing out loud at me. Of course, in our age of technological marvels, they may well have been texting LOLs and OL DRUNK IZ DRUNK to each other.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

STAY TUNED FOR ANOTHER HARD-HITTING EXPOSÉ. I'm leaving today for that Netroots thing. It is my fond hope to attend some panels there before ruining my own, and take some shitty pictures and provide regular dispatches here.

Not sure how it'll come out. For one thing, I've never been to Vegas before, so I may get distracted. In theory, I should be impervious to its charms; everything I've heard about the place reminds me of Times Square and the middle section of A.I., which is not my kind of scene. Plus I keep imagining douchebags in backwards baseball hats and designer sunglasses yelling "VEGAS, BABY!" and trying to ball cocktail waitresses. But who knows? I did move to Texas, so obviously I have some tolerance for massive vulgarity, and even Fred Flintstone succumbed to gambling fever.

Also, in group situations I sometimes don't mix as well as I might. From what little I know of them, Netroots people are positive, forward-looking progressive teenagers like Matthew Yglesias, who like to trade recipes for Valhalla and play with their foursquares and whatnot, whereas I am an old grump who drinks and sees in every glittering event the Fall of the House of Usher. So my entries may tend toward "Another door closed in my face, security called. Oh well, at least there's porn in my room!"

If you have any Vegas tips I'd appreciate them. I'm staying downtown tonight and on the Strip Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GIRL TALK. The Ole Perfesser's links to stuff about gender are always good for a laugh, even when they're not to posts by the Ole Dr. Mrs. This thing by one J. T. Ellison is no exception.

The title may have attracted the Perfesser -- "'The End of Men'? -- I May Have Married the Last Manly One" has that combination of whining and triumphalism that distinguishes modern conservatism. But there's plenty else to sink your gums into. Ellison tells us that, while her man is both butch and romantic, other men are "a bit too much in touch with their feminine side," hint hint. So far so Palin, and so what, but then, God help us, Ellison provides us with her own history of sex roles:
In the beginning, women had to be protected, because they were the only way to propagate the species. Since men can't nurse, the dynamic was born – men hunted, women tended the home fires...

The pattern that developed stood for a millennium, until the men started going a wee bit overboard and took away all of the rights of women as partners in a human world -- education, voting, you know, the little things.
Took away these rights? Maybe I was out sick for the week of Western Civ class where they told us how pre-modern women gained such rights. Tell me, was it in the medieval period? I bet the male peasants were pissed when they found out they were getting their rights second!

Anyway, women got these rights back somehow, but in the process got stuck with nancy boys. "I think it's safe to say the end of man began with the death of manners," sighs Ellison. What caused that? She doesn't say, but you won't be surprised to learn that women are to blame:
We're all in love with the idea of the perfect man, but when we find one -- that casual, smart, witty guy who's cool and somewhat reserved -- we toss him over in favor of a man who'll go shopping with us, who understands the difference between Louboutin and Choo.
Apparently it's the hag that makes the fag, not vice-versa. Oh, and:
The past few generations have been so busy worrying about Janie getting a fair shake that no one's bothering to teach either of the sexes proper manners.
Also to blame: Sex and The City. (Isn't it always?)

She ends with some uplift:
Real men do exist. They're out there. It's not too late. We can teach them how to treat us. They've shown themselves malleable.
Fellow guys, if your testosterone isn't sending you a Run Like Hell message at this point, I prescribe a few dozen raw oysters.
RACE, TO THE BOTTOM. The absurd hit piece "So Much For That 'Conversation' on Race" in Politico today -- in which the White House, having been caught out by the rageaholic race-baiting techniques of Andrew Breitbart, is criticized for racial insensitivity by Erick Erickson and Abigail Thernstrom, and Obama's record on helping black people is compared unfavorably to Bill Clinton's -- shows just how it works:
  • Right-wingers gin up a controversy allegedly proving that the Obama Administration is anti-white;
  • Obama, rather than telling them to kiss his black ass, bends over backwards to accommodate them;
  • The establishment tut-tuts over Obama's incompetence while the wingnuts go looking for more Black Panthers to scream about.
I don't make Obama for a wimp, so I assume he doesn't tell them to kiss his black ass because he's taken the measure of white insecurity and decided the nation just couldn't take it if he did. I have to admire his restraint. In his place I'd be running around with a torch yelling "Ungawa."

UPDATE. In comments, Hunger Tallest Palin breaks it down: "'And so with great sorrow, I must conclude n!gger n!gger n!gger!'" See also.

UPDATE 2. The method its further exemplified at Gawker, where commenters pull hoary routines like "As a Democrat who voted for Obama... under the bus," and suggesting we avenge Shirley Sherrod by voting Republican.

UPDATE 3: Oh Jesus -- Shorter The Anchoress: May the good Lord show Sister Sherrod the error of her ways and get her to renounce the NAACP, hallelujah!

Wonder if she's seen this?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM, PART 636,888. Judge Andrew Napolitano had libertarian pitchmen John Stossel, Virginia Postrel, and Nick Gillespie on Fox yesterday. There's a tape, but let me save you some agony:

Postrel said that because "you have to have 51 percent to govern," she encourages libertarians to make alliances with the Big Gummit parties (though she makes it clear that the Democrats are not a real option -- "I would even like to see libertarians in the Democratic party if the Democrats will let them in," haw haw) because "I want libertarians to have a seat at the table." She explained the utility of this:
So, for example, during the Clinton Administration, not a libertarian administration to say the least [laughter] but because during that period the internet first became a big public issue, and a lot of the people who were involved with high tech were kind of Democrat leaning but libertarian oriented people, that made a big difference.
She doesn't say how these techies' libertarian orientation made a big difference, especially since such people went on to donate massively to the statist Obama campaign and continue to contribute to Democrats. Maybe Postrel looked into their souls and divined that, the next time something like ARPANET comes along, they'll join her in denouncing the egregious waste of taxpayer dollars.

Gillespie referred to polls "showing that about 60 percent of people say they want a government that provides fewer services but spends less money," thus "the financial crisis is clarifying a lot of things for people, and they're understanding that government is not the limit to what you can do with your life..." The coordinating conjunction seemed weird, so I checked around and this was the closest thing I could find:
Specifically, according to a June 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll, 60% of Americans say they would favor "additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Who knows, maybe he meant a poll conducted among citizens with tricorners and Gadsden flags which has been censored by Journolist etc.

Napolitano asked Gillespie why libertarianism is "suddenly in vogue" and -- with a we-so-naughty chuckle --"why is it acceptable to have these conversations on national television." Rather than replying, "Because we're on Fox, duh," the Fonzie of Freedom explained that "politics is a lagging indicator of where American society and American culture is... what we're seeing I think is politics catching up to where America has been going for the past 20, 30 or more years." Unfortunately he did not cite as evidence the growing superstardom of Nick Gillespie, but he did manage this:
A key factor to libertarian ideas is the idea of choice, that you should be allowed to experiment with your own life, with groups, trying to come up with new ways of living. We've seen that massively in most of our lives.
And what relevant example sprang to his mind?
You can go to a Starbucks and get a million different coffee drinks. Everywhere you go you get more individualized service, better service, more responsive service, innovative service. I think what we're seeing is that finally politics, again a lagging indicator, is catching up to where America has been.
Makes ya proud, don't it? From a nation of shopkeepers to a nation of baristas -- serving freedom! And some people say libertarians lack poetry.

Also: John Stossel gives Napolitano and "Glenn Beck" credit for spreading the freedom doctrine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

AESTHETIC STALINIST TRAINING CAMP. I see the little Zhdanovites at National Review are tackling Mad Men. Say hello to the new kid, Charlotte Simmons Natasha Simons:
Mad Men has lost its way a bit; Weiner, wrapped up in adoring his main character and the intricacies of a period he wants to evaporate, has fallen into a quicksand trap, not wanting to move on, despite his obvious political loyalties to the ’60s generation.
When all you have is a dogma, etc. Unable to leave well enough alone, Daniel Foster offers a response, in which he says people watch the show to indulge in the "the gray flannel and sharkskin tones we've been trained to find so stultifying" -- trained by whom I can't imagine; art directors, who as we know are all communists, have been crazy for this shit for years -- and that the conservative mindset was beautifully expressed by Tony Soprano.

When he realizes all the exits are blocked, Foster engages in a more sophisticated form of Goldbergism, aka Le Phart:
But since I have no interest in re-adjudicating the battles of the 60s, I prefer to embrace this schizophrenia rather than posit it as the horns of an existential dilemma.
That kid seems built to miss the point, but he will never miss a meal.
SHORTER ROSS DOUTHAT: It's time for white reparations.

UPDATE. Aw Jeez, Holy Rod Dreher:
One workplace of mine was proud of its diversity, but it had, as far as I could tell, not a single Pentecostal working as a reporter or editor.
That's because it's hard to take notes when you're snake-handling.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. This one's about the increasing similarity between rightbloggers and fringe figures like Alex Jones. The operatives are actually beginning to indulge the idea that the Democrats and the Republicans conspire to keep the sheeple down -- except, in their telling, it's actually mostly Democrats with a few RINOs collaborating, and the solution is not real revolution but a GOP Congressional sweep.

I'm not sure who's supposed to be conned by this. Maybe it's not meant to sway any voters; maybe it's seeded in by the high command and targeted at the blogbrethren themselves. Think about those people -- the Sissy Willises, the Mark Noonans, and other such like. Can you imagine being daft enough to pump so much creativity and personal energy into anything so tawdry as a partisan political campaign -- and for free? Their engines must run very hot indeed, and it occurs to me that keeping such crackpots on board may be worth at least a line item in the Republican budget. They're annoying, but they're energetic, and God are they loyal.

UPDATE. The schtick seems to be taking hold. At National Review Daniel Foster grabs a poll that shows "Washington elites" feel differently about the recession than us ordinary Joes. Soon he'll be dressing up like Tom Joad and soliloquizing, "Maybe a fellow ain't got things of his own, just a little piece of the Permanent Things," and "Wherever there’s legislation so's corporations can evade responsibility for their crimes, I’ll be there," etc.

Others speak of the impending demise of the elites in grand promo copy: "What you’re sensing is the leading edge of a transformation more far reaching than the discovery of the usefulness of fire," raves Daily Pundit, "or the transition into agriculture, or the advent of industrialization." Or sliced bread! "Whether you call it the Singularity, or the technological revolution, or simply magic, the fact is that we are in a virtuous spiral upwards as regards to what we know, what we can learn, and what we can do." Sounds like someone just saw his first 3-D Pixar cartoon! He should go build castles in the clouds with Bill Whittle till it wears off.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

STORY OF MY LIFE. The Voice blog on which I used to labor, Runnin' Scared, has won the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' AltWeekly Award for Best Staff Blog. I feel like Moses at Pisgah, or Gloria Grahame at the end of In a Lonely Place. Congrats to my erstwhile colleagues.

Friday, July 16, 2010

THE FEAST OF UNREASON, PART II. Oh Jesus, Jonah Goldberg on Mel Gibson, today:
But I'm much less inclined to buy this conventional wisdom that he's a mainstream conservative of some kind.
Jonah Goldberg on Mel Gibson, 2004:
It's funny, we can go on for weeks in the Corner judging what various liberals and/or celebrities do and say without anyone saying "Why is that your business?" But, every now and then, if someone turns their attention on what a conservative icon does, we get the "who's buisness is it?" complaints...
I know he's stupefyingly lazy, but couldn't Goldberg at least look himself up?
THE FEAST OF UNREASON. Mel Gibson was beloved of wingnuts back when he was expressing his drama-queendom by torturing Jesus onscreen rather than by demanding that his girlfriend blow him before he burns the house down. Now that Gibson is a laughingstock, how do they react?
OK, [David] Brooks is working his way around to discussing Mel Gibson, but, by golly, it sounds like… well, Obama.
Earlier I gave Moe Lane credit for having "some sense of shame, or at least awareness of what others find shameful." I can't say that for Commentary's Jennifer Rubin, or for an increasing number of these people.
SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY: Mr. English Prime Minister, heed the advice of this drunken Irishwoman: Everyone in America hates Obama, because he's too much like a schoolteacher and not enough like a Rotary Club speaker. Also he doesn't love America! But you do! I know you do! Show us, and you can be our new daddy! I won't even say anything about your damn liberal policies until your polls start to slip, if only you will let me sit at your feet awhile. Why, from this angle you look like Reagan! [vomits]
PROJECTING IN WIDE-SCREEN AND 3-D. It's increasingly clear that minority rights remain a sore subject for conservatives, and that their present strategy is to insist that blacks, gays, and liberals are the real oppressors.

Yesterday I showed you an American Thinker genius who explained how liberals were using homosexuals to steal straight people's self-respect ("The primary pathway the Left currently uses to decouple childhood sexual development from self-individuation is the gay rights agenda"). But AT's kind of a clearing house for crazy, so let's turn our attention to the opinion of highly respectable libertarian Ilya Somin, expressed during yet another tedious discussion of the "liberaltarian" schtick:
Most liberals do not in fact agree with libertarians on civil liberties, the war on drugs, and gay rights... On gay rights, libertarians favor laissez-faire, while liberals tend to favor antidiscrimination laws that restrict the freedom of private organizations.
See, it looks like liberals advocate more for gay folks' rights than conservatives, but they favor getting those rights through legislation, which is anti-freedom by definition, rather than by the magic of the marketplace. Why, if liberals had their way, we might wind up with another abomination like the Civil Rights Act! Forbid it, Almighty Paul!

Meanwhile the Washington Times tells us celebrity black people Barack Obama and Eric Holder are the real racists --and they have proof! Dictionary proof!
By now, the default judgment about the Barack Obama-Eric H. Holder Jr. Justice Department is that it discriminates intentionally on the basis of race. By the precise definition used in the American Heritage dictionary, the department is racialist.
Plus they have tiles on the triple word score! The WashTimes also says that the DOJ allocates its resources differently now than it did under Bush, therefore the black people who took it over are favoring their own over Whitey. Basically it's the Reconstruction section of Birth of a Nation written in code.

I may have to come up with a new name for this increasingly popular sort of hallucinogenically bad pseudo-argument based on race panic. "Honkydelic," perhaps.

UPDATE. To be clear, reverse-discrimination complaints by privileged white people have been with us for a long, long time. But these are normally dull, unimaginative "how come they can say nigger and we can't" pro-formalisms. Conservatives are really riled about it now and, as the cited posts show, escalating to a new level of hilarity. A golden age, friends!

UPDATE 3. Right on time: Moe Lane of RedState says Sheila Jackson-Lee is the real racist; also, that she's stupid, and that having a majority-black district will reliably produce a stupid Representative. In Lane's defense he tried to disguise his point with lots of extra words, so he does have some sense of shame, or at least awareness of what others find shameful.

UPDATE 3. Also in comments, zuzu reminds us that under Bush the DOJ Civil Rights Division became a living tribute to Alan Bakke. And thanks Hunger Tallest Palin for the proofreading!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

WE HAVE COME FOR YOUR CHILDISH ARGUMENT. While some conservatives are explaining how the NAACP are the real racists, others just carry on beating up gay people.

I told you last week about a new crop at American Thinker of alleged and amateur psychologists who sought to prove President Obama is nuts. This shrink squad is apparently a regular feature at that site.

For instance, now there's one "Andrew Foy, M.D." explaining "The Left's Psychological Assault on Independence." Doc Foy explains with charts and quotes from Hayek and Goldwater that liberals weaken their victims' wills with welfare, which "results in dependence (counterclockwise circle) and leads to the fiscal condition America now finds herself in." Foy prescribes voting Republican. No word whether this paper has been peer-reviewed, but I'm sure somewhere in the time-space continuum there's a gulag where it would go down a treat.

Astonishingly, Foy's is not the cream of the crop. That honor goes to "Bookworm," author of a monograph on how leftists are trying to faggot up your children.

At the outset Bookworm apologizes -- you can almost hear her professorial chuckle -- that her sex story will not have "voluptuous women in slinky, abbreviated clothes, or scantily clad men with rippling pecs and washboard abs." But if you're a culture warrior you might ejaculate anyway, as "this article focuses on the sordid, depressing, government-controlled side of human sexuality... from the viewpoint of a state intent upon gaining maximum control over that same individual." Insert your own Dominique Francon rape fantasy!

Back "before the 1980s, when the Judeo-Christian, Western tradition, though battered, was still ascendant," Bookworm tells us, patriots had the freedom to be straight. But then came the day of the government sex-slavers! Here the professor, perhaps hoping to soften up the crowd, denounces Islamic misogyny for several paragraphs before getting down to the real enemy:
What's interesting is that, because the Left expresses itself in terms of "freeing" people's sexuality, many people miss the fact that it is every bit as sexually controlling in its own way as Islam is.
Doesn't say why we would want to do this -- just plain evil, I suppose.
The practical problem for the Left when it tries to attack individuality as expressed through sexuality is the fact that a person's sense of an inviolate physical self develops quite early, during childhood...

The Left, therefore, needs to decouple self and body as early as possible in a person's development -- and it does this by bringing its own peculiar notions of sexuality into the realms of child-rearing and education.
Bookworm brings in as an example the 60s German pedophile ring on which Rod Dreher -- a kindred soul if ever there was one -- recently tried to blame the Catholic boy-fucking epidemic. Those guys were leftists, so they are connected by cords of wingnut ectoplasm to Obama's youthful acquaintance with Frank Marshall Davis, who wrote erotica and thus was also a child-rapist. And to what does this pervert magically connect?
The primary pathway the Left currently uses to decouple childhood sexual development from self-individuation is the gay rights agenda.
Can't get much plainer, can she? Which may be why she goes straight for the bigot disclaimer:
Many of us who believe that gays and lesbians should be free to pursue their personal lives free from discrimination...
Here I direct you to Bookworm's other writings on the topic, a quick skim of which will show that her primary feeling toward gay people, at least as publicly expressed, is hostility. (Here's a particularly fat slice of her loathing. Keywords: Gay Pride, "Piss Christ," "naked ugly boobs," "leather and chains." She might as well have written it under hypnosis.) And she especially wants them kept away from children:
Robin of Berkeley describes a group called "Gender Spectrum," which has the ostensible goal of allowing "transgender, gender bending, [and] gender nonconforming" children and teens to hang with each other and share their experiences. She rightly sees this not as an effort to promote tolerance, but as a way to make it "cool to dabble in polyamory and gender nonconformism," thereby "destroy[ing] the West by degrading traditional values."
We can laugh at this obvious lunatic, whose bubblin' crude is largely hidden from public view at a rightwing funny farm. I mean, it's not like she writes for the New York Post -- where Andrea Peyser today has a column about how a movie featuring a lesbian couple with children disgusts her and should, she is sure, disgust all decent people. Not that she's prejudiced, either. "Folks are happy with gays living together," she assures us. "But bringing children into the equation is a deal-breaker." Even if the equation is a movie.

Wow, glad this came after Pride Week -- it would have been a downer.

UPDATE. Edited for clarity, spelling.

UPDATE. Must commend D. Aristophanes' gloss in comments: "First we learned that lefties are the 'real' racists ... now it turns out that we're the 'real' sexists and sexual oppressors. I will not be surprised to learn soon that we're the real robber barons, evangelicals and Dick Cheney."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH AIRLINE PEANUTS THESE BLACK PEOPLE? The NAACP was mean to the Tea Party, so Tunku Varadarajan leaps to counter-attack. Perhaps he had already seen Sarah Palin's Facebook post explaining how the legacy of Ronald Reagan protects America from the racism of the NAACP, and figured he couldn't top that for gravitas. So he starts with a few jokes!
NAACP: Can we all agree that it stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Cynical Politics?
"Amirite?" was invented for material like this.
...can anyone deny that the “colored” part of the organization’s name is no longer preservative of anything that is at all meaningful?

Colored: Who the heck says that in the America of today, unless you’re a very, very old friend of the late highwayman (as in dedicated asphalt, not armed robbery) Robert C. Byrd? Which is why no member of this once-courageous black organization will spell out its full name. Everyone says, instead, “N-double A-CP”: To elongate the abbreviation is to expose oneself to derisive—or, worse, baffled—inquisition. (“Dad, Mom, what’s with the ‘colored’ thing?”)
Gotta admit, that's a novel approach. But he's obviously new to stand-up. He should have suggested alternatives, like the Funky Fresh Forum, or the National Association of Black People Who Admit Reagan Was Funky Fresh. Or maybe the Hitler Negroes. Depends on the crowd.

But anyway, what are they bitching about? As countless white rightwing panels on race have said time and again, these people are their own worst enemy:
If black Americans are suffering due to our current economic woes, Obama’s own policies are hardly helping them. The NAACP can’t bitch about “the Man” anymore because the Man is Obama.
See, Obama's like the crack peddler they reflexively defend out of sullen disrespect for Whitey. Yet they refuse to see it! Maybe more comedy gold will turn them around:
In fact, the Tea Party is a greater friend of black Americans, one might say, than the administration, and is much more representative of America than the NAACP. (There are many more black members of the Tea Party—however you define that movement—than there are, by definition, non-black members of the NAACP.)
The Tea Party has admittedly been a windfall to black conservatives, dozens of whom have found employment at their events. And now that they're fighting the NAACP, expect even more such job opportunities to open up! Just try to look cheerful at the auditions.

And that's about it as far as the carrot goes. Thereafter Varadarajan explains that the resolution will backfire on the NAACP and their precious Obama. Now, lest you think this is because America, as imagined by Varadarajan, will punish the head black guy for the statements of some other black guys, you couldn't be more wrong!

No, Varadarajan expects this result because Obama's complicity in the resolution is proven -- first, because Varadarajan feels it ("Let there be no doubt that nothing would have been tabled at this NAACP meeting without President Obama’s imprimatur"). Also, because Michelle Obama appeared before the group earlier, and though she talked about obesity, you know that somewhere in her jive was coded Kill Whitey language. Also, "Many in America already believe that she is a black militant in mufti, and her headlining of a gathering which cast the Tea Party as racist will have been noted by a good many ordinary, non-radical, middle-of-the-road Americans..."

OK, I take it back -- the guy actually is saying white America will punish Obama because some other black folks said somewhere else that a bunch of white people are racist, and that he approves of it.

I'm beginning to think that, having drummed Teddy Roosevelt out of the GOP, these guys will next go after Lincoln.

UPDATE. Thx proofreader for proofreading.
HOW BULLSHIT WORKS, PART 52,822. I see an anti-Obama billboard is in the news again. This one, in keeping with the state of our national discourse, compares Obama with Hitler and Lenin, generally drawing a funny-cuz-it's-true response from the conservative belligerati.

This brings to mind the previous political billboard cause celebre, a Bush "Miss Me Yet?" one in Wyoming, Minnesota (no, not in two states, in a town in Minnesota called Wyoming), which was alleged to have caused "lib fury," and was the occasion of many claims like this one that people across America "miss Bush, not because Bush was a great president but because he was better than Obama," though the billboard was financed by a group of businessmen rather than by a nationwide groundswell of children sending in their pennies to overthrow the tyrant via outdoor advertising.

It also reminds me of those Obama Joker posters that were also supposed to be a big deal, though they went up in very few actual physical locations -- they mostly manifested on the sidebars of wingnut websites, yet were also alleged to represent widespread popular hatred for the President.

I wonder if, during the 2006-2008 Democratic ascendancy, anyone thought to make billboards, placards, broadsides, flyers, palmcards, or anything like that suggesting that the Clinton years were preferable to the Bush era of national financial ruin. Probably not, because no one in their right mind would think such a puny stunt would get national press coverage.

Though if you even considered comparing Bush to Hitler, that merited a nice blast of Fox News outrage.

UPDATE. I knew this story could use some Jonah Goldberg and, bless him, he delivers.
Some folks are asking me what I think of the latest billboard controversy. At first I was under the impression from readers that it was Obama with a Hitler mustache. I think that sort of thing is awful and indefensible. But I misunderstood...

I don’t like this billboard either, and I don’t think the Iowa tea-party chapter behind it should have put it up. That said, it’s not as bad as Obama in a Hitler mustache...
Why doesn't Goldberg just claim he's made a Godwin densitometer out of a stapler, and post numbers that defend his otherwise incomprehensible assessments?

Extra points for Goldberg lauding the St. Louis Tea Party "for taking a higher road than the NAACP" by trying to sic the IRS on them.
VEGAS, ONE NIGHT ONLY! Forgive my not keeping up better. In the words of Toulain Vantrecs, I've been... ill. Since I've just disappointed you all so terribly, this is a good time to announce that I will appearing at this year's Netroots Nations in Vegas -- not, as I had hoped, performing my Tribute to Morty Gunty, Come On, Lady... I Laughed When You Came In, but on a panel that will include Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown and the Sadlynauts, Damon Poeter and Brad Reed.

This is a disaster waiting to happen. First of all, the topic of discussion, near as I can figure it, has to do with comedy and political blogging, a combination as propitious as bourbon and frogurt. Second, I know Reed and Poerter, or whatever they're calling themselves these days, and while they can be very funny in private conversation, you give them a soapbox and they'll start bellyaching about the "working man" like W.J. Bryan in a Chautauqua tent till even the union delegates have to retire in disgust. Also, and I believe this is no surprise to my regular readers, Reed is in the advanced stages of tertiary syphilis, and frequently not in his right mind.

I'm still not sure why they invited me -- it is well known among the shut-ins support group we call the blogosphere that I am both pathologically shy and a hardcore alcoholic, and when pushed into the spotlight have been known to self-medicate till both my personality and speech are so distorted that members of my own family fail to recognize me (though they may have just been pretending, out of embarrassment). So, though I would like to please, and have rehearsed several passages from the Toastmasters' Guide which my friends at Daisy Dukes say are sure-fire, I fear we're going to end up with something like this:

The panel was assembled by someone named Amanda Marcotte, who is originally from Texas. Women from there, I have learned, usually marry at age 15; yet Marcotte, 20 if she's a day, remains unwed and childless. (She recently moved to New York, where her condition is common and therefore less shameful.) She will be on the dais, and if I can form words I will make a point of asking her if she hasn't tried putting more effort into her makeup and acting less bossy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

HARVEY PEKAR. He was a professional curmudgeon who bragged, often aggressively, on his working-class roots ("One day I had to fight five guys") and "fucked up a great thing" with Letterman mainly because he couldn't stomach even the appearance of kissing ass. But make no mistake, Harvey Pekar was a poet. The American Splendor comics with which the recently deceased Pekar made his name are full of incidents and conversations that the rest of us might have found dull, or merely diverting, if we had viewed them without Pekar's illumination. As it was, he made even the mumbled how's-it-going talk from street corners and cafeterias sing.

I don't have any of them on hand, but I remember several American Splendor stories with pleasure. I'm thinking now of one episode in which Harvey runs into a bearded day-laborer buddy (I think Gary Dumm drew this) who tells him how he got a job by making it clear in the interview that "I don't give a shit." Even in real life the story would tickle you -- the laborer puts his feet on the interviewer's desk, looks him straight in the eye, and throws a match in the wastebasket, setting it on fire -- but Pekar and Dumm highlight many small unnecessary beauties in it that give it more than anecdotal life. For instance, the worker explains that he immediately quit the job -- "They wanted me to be a human screwdriver. Fuck that!" -- and makes a sharp chopping gesture which is emphasized in the comic by a motion line. The gesture pops for us probably like it did for Pekar when he was listening and watching, and tells us something about the character. (I still wonder about that guy. He wore old-fashioned glasses, and smoked a pipe.)

And so on, through fights at work, bad dates, cancer, talking to this guy he knows. The stories are pretty good, but it's the privileged moments that stick: The way Harvey plops Joyce's bag in the trunk and slams the hatch, the way his body twists when he yells at a co-worker (and how she calls him "sweetie" though she's totally pissed, which just makes him madder), or the way two girls look at each other when a co-worker tries to sell them pickled okra as a cure for lady problems. Sometimes it looks very proletarian -- after all, his was a working life, and even his artist subjects tended to live in squalor -- and we may be grateful that someone was making art out of the sort of world most of us live in, full of bills and bosses and disorder, rather than the upper-class fantasies most pop crap revolves around. But the joy is not only that he noticed them, but also that his ear and eye exalted them.

The Robert Crumb collaborations usually led, as one might imagine, to more Zen results (like the hospital vignettes: "Bitch, you bettah help me!" "Mister, you keep talking to people like that, you're gonna have a haa-aard way to go!"), which just point up Pekar's gift for detail. Crumb, who can be very astute about these things, said Pekar's work could be "so staggeringly mundane it verges on the exotic," which is only almost right, because the mundane is exotic, always, if you know how to look at it. Pekar knew.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. It's a post-mortem of the wacky conservative World Cup coverage -- from the imputations of anti-Americanism against soccer itself, to the pathetic insistences by rightwing nerdlings like John J. Miller that it was okay to watch the World Cup so long as you had your magic red-white-and-blue glasses on.

It's all good, or wretched, depending on how you look at it, but do spare a moment for the horrifying Matt Labash article I used as a framing device, "Living Like A Liberal." Labash strenuously imitates the style of P.J. O'Rourke, which should offend the sensibilities of anyone who has not been on cocaine and Reaganism continuously since 1980, and which I thought even conservatives had given up. Does anyone still think this "I shit in your rainforest! Hey, I was just 'letting it all hang out!'" crap is satire? O'Rourke always struck me as a transparently fake young fogey in the manner of R. Emmett Tyrell, buying the affection of older investors with spats, cravats, and unapologetic reactionary cant which at its most cruel probably looked to them like jokes, especially considering all the cocaine.

While I also find more recent rightwing schtick such as The Mildly Concerned Ivy League Grad annoying, it has at least the saving grace of novelty. I had assumed that O'Rourke impersonators would be as rare as Gonzos manques by now. Alas, there's at least one of 'em left to be stamped out.

Also, Labash thinks Bowling Alone is a liberal bible, and that people who prefer actual maple syrup to Aunt Jemima are just being contrary. I don't know if you can even sell that one in the cowtowns anymore.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE SHE'S SEEN. Yeah, we have been a little content-light here, haven't we? OK, let's do a Sunday post. Culture war? Why not, it's a popular favorite.

Darleen Click gets mad at Joel Stein for some mild jokes about Indians (the subcontinental kind, not the Native-American kind):
Imagine if this appeared in National Review written by Jonah Goldberg... Of course, this is Joel Stein in Time so any attention by the MSM to this rather bizarre “humor piece” is even less than Clinton’s defense of Kleagle Byrd.
Goddamn librul racists! Stein is called out by Kal Penn, whom Click says "strikes the appropriate sacastic response" before remembering that Penn is the former Associate Director of the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement, and thus a racist, too, by definition. Rewriting being against the rules at Protein Wisdom, Click just forges ahead:
Penn doesn’t quite get it. Leftists get a pass when it comes to engaging in racist stereotypes because their motivations are always pure. Non-leftists are never motivated by anything but the most base of hatreds.
If only Penn had said that -- or even Ramesh Ponurru! But they didn't, so the job of explaining liberal racism falls to Click. Sigh. Why don't minorities appreciate how hard conservatives are working for them?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

THE CONSERVATIVE REVIVAL, PART 43,899. At The Corner, Mike Potemra thinks he's seen another sign of American revival:
I had no idea, until seeing this commercial, that there was a roller-derby league centered in Manhattan. I went online to see when the next match was; turns out it’s Saturday night at the Hunter College gym. Tickets, unfortunately, are sold out. You read that correctly: The Saturday-night roller-derby match is sold out, in 2010, on the Upper East Side. The limits of the possible are changing in this country, continually, and not just in politics. If you stop and think about it, every day should be the Fourth of July.
No one warned this poor dork that the Gotham Girls roller derby shows, which I had the pleasure of watching last year, are more modern, punk rock, and girl-powerish than your average conservative culture cop could countenance. "This probably isn't a family-friendly entertainment," warns comrade Daniel Foster. "... the girls of the league have handles like 'Surly Temple' and 'Angela Slamsbury.'" (This is where Mom drops the meatloaf and Dad angrily rustles his newspaper.)

Foster also quotes from his own coverage of Gotham Girls as "a cub reporter writing arts & culture for a New York weekly," in which role he observed,
At what point did Gen-X’s fervent commitment to irony become indistinguishable from Gen-Y’s earnest enjoyment of kitsch?
You can see why National Review snapped this guy up.

Comrade Potemra is on the spot: Admit doubleplusungoodness, or attempt to defend the aggressively-named warrior princesses? He takes the coward's way out:
You mentioned both irony and kitsch; maybe roller derby succeeds in working at different levels simultaneously? And, come to think of it, maybe it always did? Quite coincidentally, I was reading yesterday a Franciscan religious tract from 1951...
Go ahead and read it all if you dare, but I warn you: it's the sort of thing at which even Ross Douthat might throw up his hands and cry, "Oh barf."

I wonder which of these boy geniuses will be the first to write about how hypocritical it is that he was refused admittance to a lesbian bar.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.

More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.

By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent.
But I thought ACORN was to blame. You mean the biggest culprits are actually rich white people?

Somebody tell the Tea Party guys -- I'm sure they'll readjust their outrage accordingly.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

SHOOT-OUT AT THE FANTASY FACTORY. You may have been wondering what that crazy bastard Bill Whittle's been up to lately. Around the time we first heard of him, Whittle was trying to build a city in the sky. That didn't pan out, and he retreated to making lunatic videos for PJM.

But now -- with trumpets from The Ole Perfesser! -- comes Whittle's big play: Declaration Entertainment.

In a promo reel, Whittle explains that the hippies ruined Hollywood. "Everything I learned about the Vietnam War, I learned from Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone," says Whittle. "From them I learned Vietnam was an unwinnable quagmire fought by drug-addled psychopaths, serially murdering innocent villagers just for fun."

That may not be what you got out of Apocalypse Now and Platoon, but you don't have the advanced mind Whittle has. Look, he's already moved on to another Hollywood target: "You know who the reliable standby enemy is in Hollywood films today?" he asks. "You are. "

At last! I thought when I heard this. The doctors told me the voices weren't real, but I knew they were after me and I was right!

Alas, Whittle's fantasy turns out to be more reliably Republican: "If you're pro-business, pro-military, pro-Christian, and for limited government and individual rights and responsibilities, then you and everything you believe are the enemy of Hollywood films today."

He turns the show over to a montagist who explains that Hollywood became godless, not because of hippies so much (Whittle must have been out for a smoke break when they made this), but because U.S. films are now using "capital from all over the world." Much like the rest of American business, we'd say, but it's worse in films because it means that, "instead of making American movies and then selling them to the world," these rootless cosmopolitans "make the world's movies and sells them to Americans."

And "it should be no surprise that the values that make it to the screen are very different than the ones Americans are used to seeing." This is punctuated by a little cartoon movie-going child blushing, and cartoon Mom and Dad covering his eyes, to underline the point: Not only Coppola and Stone, but also makers of sexed-up movies from Porky's to The Hangover are part of the anti-American flicker-bombing campaign!

And that's where Declaration comes in: They promise films without "anti-heroes standing up against tradition" or "greedy businessmen or CIA bad guys." (They don't promise not to show tits, though. Maybe they plan to take that up after the launch.)

How do you get these retro films? Just become a member! You'll go "behind the scenes" to see "your movies" being made. You can even "win chances to appear in the movies themselves" and tell moviemakers what you want them to film...

If this begins to sound more speculative than actual to you, your momma didn't raise no fool: Declaration says it will fund its movies with membership fees. As soon as enough of these come in, they'll get straight to work on The Joe McCarthy Nobody Knew. "Declaration Entertainment is not another production company," says Whittle, "it's a movement, it's a revolution..."

And unlike in other revolutions, you don't have to man the barricades -- you don't even have to attend a Tea Party. You just send in your money and Declaration's propagandists will do the heavy lifting for you. You can get in on the revolution for as little as $9.99 -- but there are also "executive membership packages" for $10,000, $50,000, and $100,000 which include perks like autographed scripts and on-screen credits. (Throw in a few more bucks and maybe they'll cast your niece!)

Based on this, Declaration promises to do for filmmaking what Pajamas Media has done for blogging -- that is, burn through its seed money and piss everybody off.

I see a way forward, though: DE should offer films with a high-weirdness factor which can be enjoyed by both serious patriots and giggling, stoned unbelievers -- like Michael Moriarty's Hitler Meets Christ. Plus there are old movies they can get cheap, like the recently revived If Footmen Tire, What Will Horses Do? , or even remake -- how does a new version with Bo Derek grab you?

These are economical work-arounds that can, with a little creativity in the bookkeeping department, keep Declaration afloat until the Republicans get back in and resume dishing out patronage.