Monday, January 31, 2011

R.I.P. JOHN BARRY. The veteran film composer has died. His resume is extremely varied -- from the pseudo-medieval chants in The Lion in Winter to the witty score for The Wrong Box to the theme from Midnight Cowboy -- but today everyone's talking about his Bond movie scores. I recall, in my days as a young film nerd, having my attention directed past the jangly guitar theme to the moody orchestral stuff. One of my fellow nerds claimed the Thunderball score contained the greatest romantic music of the 20th Century. I wouldn't go that far, but it's remarkable how much feeling Barry could work into a big-budget assignment that required him to be acceptable to the masses, and which might have led other composers to offer something less than their best work, out of panic or contempt. I never get the feeling from Barry that he's faking it, even with cheese like Born Free. That's as much as you can demand from any popular artist and, most of the time, much more than you're likely to get.

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Egypt crisis and the fluctuations in rightblogger reactions to it. For a while they were going in a "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" direction ('member that?), but now they're all very upset that the Bad Muslims are taking over, and blame Obama -- whom they were earlier deriding for not getting behind the groovy revolution fast enough -- for fucking up that great thing we had going with Mubarak. You can't win!

The switcheroo has led to some muddled responses. Ole Perfesser Instapundit, having no truck with consistency anyway, just sort of rambles, blurting out sour nothings like "This is a tough problem, but nothing Obama has done so far has inspired any confidence," and occasionally some good ol' country-lawyer revisioning:
Had we pushed the overthrow of tyrannical Arab regimes post-Iraq (as some unsuccessfully urged) there might have been a wave of truly democratic revolutions, with Iraq explicitly the model, leading to Egypt as the “prize.” We are now seeing, at least potentially, such a wave, but the U.S. has been propping up Mubarak — thanks, Joe! — the Saudis, and other despots since we lost our pro-democracy mojo in 2005 after the Cedar Revolution, for reasons that are still not entirely clear.
"Reasons that are still not entirely clear"! It's something to see Reynolds, who gets all the talking points when they're still wet from the mimeograph, stalling until the labs can cook up some clear reasons why Bush didn't just go swinging through the Middle East like Errol Flynn, dishing out democracy. I'm betting they'll have something to do with tyrants knowing that their best friends the Democrats were about to take over Congress, and nothing at all to do with America's finances.

For straight pinheadedness I direct you to Reliapundit, whose prediction for the fate of Mooslimland includes goodies like these:
El Baradei is probably not a jihadist, but he is most definitely a postmodern leftist who sees the USA and the West as evil - just as Obama's mentor at Columbia --- Edward Said --- did!...

And, he probably thinks he is using the Iranians to promote a postmodernist and socialist and UTOPIANIST world...

YES: the postmodernists think that the USA and Israel and fossil fuels are so very evil that getting rid of them would be worth destroying the present world economy and bringing on a totally global and viciously kinetic final battle to WW4.
Reliapundit also observes that "Iranians invented chess and are patient chess-players - patiently moving pieces in position over years," which probably occurred to him as he was trying to get one of the marbles from his Chinese Checkers out of his left nostril.

UPDATE. It's true, apparently -- there's nothing that can't be made worse by the contributions of Ross Douthat, whose new column tells us this:
The long-term consequences of a more populist and nationalistic Egypt might be better for the United States than the stasis of the Mubarak era, and the terrorism that it helped inspire. But then again they might be worse.
That's pretty much the summary, if you add "Arabs suck," as Douthat describes Nasser and Mubarak in monster-movie terms -- no matter what they did, it came out jihad! (I bet Ataturk was even worse.) Also anti-Americanism: "For many young Egyptians, restless amid political and economic stagnation, it’s been a short leap from hating their dictator to hating his patrons in the United States." The next day, Douthat's paper ran BBC poll results that show Egyptians like the U.S. a lot more since Obama was elected. Douthat, alas, will never improve; his faith in Jesus insulates him from any instructive feelings of humiliation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

YOU DIDN'T WANT THAT AMERICAN DREAM ANYWAY. Ack! Remember when Ann Althouse was pretending not to believe that America once had a middle class that included blue collar workers who were able to support their families on a single income? David Harsanyi (surely you remember him -- big libertarian!) goes her one better -- he sort of acknowledges that such a state of affairs existed, but insists it was horrible compared to the dynamic depression we're in now:
Really, was this country ever about being proud that your children ended up in the same plant you slaved in for 30 years? Even with a promise of a union pension and -- if you're lucky -- an "occasional" promotion, it sounds like a soul-crushing grind you'd want your offspring to escape, tout de suite.

Luckily, in the real world, history tells of a story filled with dynamic movements of people, class climbing, churning innovation, booms and busts, and widespread embrace of risk taking...
...ending in a collapse of the banking system due in large part to "churning innovation" in financial instruments. But that was just the wow finish -- for decades the middle class has self-evidently been squeezed until the entry fee, which had once just been a willingness to (to coin a phrase) work hard and play by the rules, became a college degree, a second income, a willingness to work round the clock and on holidays, and the normalization of the sort of financial manipulations in which, once upon a time, only brokers and con men engaged.

And that's for the lucky ones.

Go ahead, Dave -- go among the unemployed and marginally employed and ask them if they think a steady job is an intolerable oppression that they're fortunate to be rid of. Hell, ask the fully-employed people who're hanging onto solvency by their fingernails if they're enjoying your churningly innovative thrill-ride.

I've always assumed these people were raised in Skinner boxes, but I'm beginning to think they never got out of them.
EGYPT ME, EGYPT YOU. Al Jazeera, whose live feed you can see here (thanks Skinny John!), is reporting that Egyptian cops are beating up reporters. And they're on their way up to the Al Jazeera studios in Cairo. ("I will stay on the air as long as I can... until we are forced off the air.")

It's almost curfew time, so this should be interesting.

UPDATE. I'm so old I remember the Iranian Twitter revolution -- which achieved little concrete political change, though it did lead in an uptick to avatar modification -- so I'm not making any calls on this. I do notice that some conservatives are worried that the uprising, should it take, may not be to America's liking*. But the mainstream play for conservatives is to act enthusiastic about it, as they did with the Orange Revolution and the Cedar Revolution. Remember those? Many medals were given out then for supportive blogging! But the world seems not to have gotten much freer because of them.

UPDATE 2. State media reports Army's been ordered into the streets to put down the protests, says AJ. Just saw a bunch of protestors flip over an armored personnel carrier.

UPDATE 3. *At National Review, Michael Rubin really wants it both ways: "A reader points out that while Biden’s 'Mubarak is not a dictator' comment is risible, the vice president was correct that Mubarak should not step down, because what comes next — a Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship — could be worse." There's a man who knows how to spread his chips!

And would you believe it, the situation reminds Victor Davis Hanson of In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, and Stop Loss. And Michael Moore! It's become a major Hanson tic. He'll be applying these topics to world events at his rest home, assuming perhaps unfairly he's not in one already.

UPDATE 4. "GOOD NEWS," says Atlas Shrugs, "EGYPT ARRESTS MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADERS." Apparently Mubarak is cleverly engineering just who will chase him out of the country and take over. Probably he's working with the most pro-democracy faction. What a patriot!

Good continuing coverage at Mother Jones.
SHORTER RADLEY BALKO. A Tennessee university fired a gay coach. Students protested, and the school agreed not to discriminate against gays in the unlikely event that they ever let one get by them again (the fired teacher didn't get her job back). This proves that the Civil Rights Act is useless and should be repealed.

UPDATE. In comments, Angry Geometer considers Balko's punchline -- "This is just one example. But it's a pretty compelling one" -- and says, "I'd hate to see this dude at the roulette table."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE. In and among her abortion ravings, The Anchoress always finds time to check out American Idol (in which she periodically pretends not to be interested). Lately the show's had segments about a singer who's taking care of his brain-damaged fiancee, and another who got knocked up and found out her baby was going to be disabled but had the baby anyway and loves her. The Anchoress reflects:
This is either the most cynical exploitation of human drama for the sake of ratings that we’ve ever seen, or it’s a downright providential celebration of the inherent worth of every human life (and the right to live the life one has, no matter what the challenges) and a far-reaching lesson in the transcendent power of love.
Guess which The Anchoress decides it is? (Bear in mind, this is American Idol she's talking about. After the mom sings, Jennifer Lopez says, "It brought tears to my eyes, and that's the first time that's happened today.")
Gotta tell you that after reading the filth of the utter disregard for humanity contained in the Grand Jury Report against Kermit Gosnell and his abortion clinic, these videos feel like pure gift.
This is mainly what you need to know about The Anchoress: She's always going on about how you can't trust the lamestream media/MSM, but she believes 110% in American Idol.
OSCAR CATCH-UP, PART 1. Black Swan. The Exorcist in tights. Instead of the struggle of God and the Devil, we have the struggle of the White and Black Swans driving our poor little girl unto her indignities. (The Swan fable is even spoken aloud for us at the beginning by the hilariously elevated ballet master with a vestigial sweater around his neck.) The film puts our ballerina Nina through much grisly (though hallucinated) physical trauma that compares nicely with Linda Blair's spinning head and crucificial hate-fuck. And since it's just about artsy people rather than a major religion, the dark forces get to win.

Darren Aronofsky, who likes to show the ugly-real's losing struggle with the seductive-unreal (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler), goes heavy on the fantasy here. The showmanship is dazzling, but I think he lost his grounding. Fantasies are powerful when they heighten a real-life feeling shared by lots of people. But Nina's need to be perfect is neurotic rather than transcendent; while performers may project enough of their own experiences onto Black Swan to buy it (and that may be why it's so acclaimed), ordinary people will wonder why she didn't go to a doctor when she saw feathers growing out of her skin. I don't think they'd question, say, Lust for Life the same way, because corny as it is, there they can see and feel where the drive comes from.

The acting's fine. Natalie Portman's persistently childlike affect is perfect for Nina; Barbara Hershey's game for Monster Mommy; Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel are appropriately ludicrous as the life-force and the cock-of-the-walk, respectively. And thanks so much, Winona Ryder, for the unexpected laughs.

The Fighter. The last half-hour threw me (mild spoiler), as I didn't see the turn-around coming. I mean, what suddenly made family love real to all these people, who had previously expressed it only with insults and jealous rages, and motivated them to come together? Christian Bale's so good that I almost believed his pitch to his brother's girlfriend Charlene to come back and make things right, but with everyone else it was like, "Wuh-okay, guess here's what we're doing now." It's really just something you have to buy to get to the feel-good ending.

Maybe David O. Russell thought this hey-ho-let's-go approach had worked so well in the beginning that it should work at the end. And in the rest of the film, it does work. We get thrown into the story so fast that momentum carries us. The brothers' relationship we at first have to take for granted and on faith, but over time we get little glimpses of how growing up together might have been for them: Dicky the crazy cut-up, Micky the quiet, industrious plodder -- and Mom the breeder/empire-builder who decided long ago that Dicky was going to be the ticket out for them all. We get enough information that by the time the relationships break, it doesn't have to be explosive -- it's just right, and thereby dramatic.

In this context the more conventionally-developed romance between Micky and Charlene takes on added weight: You get the feeling that family was just something that happened to Micky, while Charlene is part of his underdeveloped adult life of choices and forward movement. No wonder his family hates her -- and that Micky clings to her like a life-raft.

All the acting is terrific (though at one point I wanted to yell STOP IT, YOU'RE MAKING ME GRIND MY TEETH at Bale), but I give special props to Marky Mark, who also produced the picture. I saw an interview recently in the Hollywood Reporter with filmdom's biggest producers, and Wahlberg was in there. He was very, very focused on the job of making the picture the best and most successful it can be, no matter what. His performance in The Fighter is unshowy, even slightly withdrawn. Wahlberg's a pretty good actor, and he knows what a star needs to get over in a big picture; I get the feeling he took one for the team here. For some reason that really impresses me.

UPDATE. In comments, Jay B. demurs: "I thought Bale was overrated, actually. The clip of Dick and Mickey at the end shows what kind of juice the real guy had -- he was more charming in thirty seconds than Bale can ever be, and funnier too. Bale can act, but, for me, he can't connect. His eyes are empty." Hmm. I thought Bale was going full crackhead, which would make anyone a little opaque, but come to think of it I've never seen him do a lot of relating onscreen -- whenever I see him, all I can think is, "You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my taste..." Anyone else?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM, PART 499,010. David Harsanyi has an article at Reason -- which, surely you know, is the nation's preeminent libertarian magazine -- about abortion. Synopsis: That guy who killed those babies in Philadelphia was just doing what all abortionists do, there are more late-term abortions than you think, "Does life really begin on the say-so of a single person—even the mother?" Nat Hentoff, Ron Paul, "41 percent of pregnancies in New York City were terminated with the destruction of the nascent human being," etc.

Since this is a libertarian magazine, Harsanyi drops little notes here and there to indicate he's not being pro-life exactly (those people are "folks I generally don't hang with," dude), he's just asking questions, such as "How many Americans instinctively turn to the pro-choice camp because pro-life proponents aggravate their secular sensibilities?" If you're inclined to answer, "Dunno -- how many people turn to the pro-life camp because Jesus told them to?" you're obviously beyond Harsanyi's reach. And that's too bad, because he's just trying to be reasonable:
It's unfortunate that abortion is a social issue, because it is science and reason that can turn the debate...

I'm certainly not under the delusion that every problem has an answer. But if the pro-life movement is going to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation, it's not going to need more God. It's going to need more reason.
Reexamine your premises, baby-killers -- like those global warming alarmists, you're the ones flying the face of science!

Reaching to clasp hands from the other side of the conservative-libertarian divide, National Review's chief theocon Kathryn J. Lopez talks about "Abortion as a Tea Party Issue":
Has our financial mess brought us to the brink of getting beyond the culture wars?

It’s a question that we might see play out on Capitol Hill in the coming months as the new majority seeks to make the late pro-life congressman Henry Hyde proud, by defunding Planned Parenthood and prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion.
Lopez brings in an expert to explain that "forced payment for abortions is not just or even primarily about abortion but about experts in Washington instructing us about how we make decisions about sensitive matters." Yeah yeah, to-may-to, to-mah-to, so long as they can save those fetuses. Later on, there'll be another angle they can apply to abortions that, though privately funded, can still be shown to contradict the wishes of the Founding Fathers -- maybe because they were foisted on an unwilling America by activist judges or the "elites" or "ruling class" or whatever.

Remember all that "Tea Party Avoids Divisive Social Issues" stuff? Psych! All they had to do was remove abortion from the category of "social issues." The effect's still the same, though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SOTU, SO WHAT. Well, that was nice and anodyne. I understand the necessity -- the House is now flooded with Republicans, and Obama doesn't want to give them any handles to grab. And he didn't; the yap about Sputnik sounded silly from him, but it sounds sillier coming from the amateur stand-up comedians of the right. The whole thing was evasive that way -- telling the Republicans that he wants to cut government too, har har, and talking about how "contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be" and how we're all going to argue but finally come together as if it's a sitcom premise -- Democrats! Republicans! Always a-fussin' and a-feudin', but when Al Qaeda comes to dinner, they join forces!

At least he told them he wasn't going to compromise on universal health care coverage -- though that would be more impressive if the Democrats hadn't already compromised like mad in Congress before the bill was even passed. This Administration is a blessing after the last one, and will probably look like a Golden Age after the one that comes next (if we survive it), but that's grading on a ridiculously steep curve.

Also, I don't see what the point was in electing an anti-American socialist Kenyan if he's gonna talk so fucking much about what a great country this is.

UPDATE. Paul Ryan just ain't cutting it. Nobody gives a shit about his three children and their alleged sufferings under a budget deficit. "Stimulus spending spree" isn't a very cutting charge after the President's gooey-sweet speech. And the "picking winners and losers" stuff isn't going to play well with millions of people who've been losers too long and know just looking at this obvious, lacquer-haired factotum for great wealth that if he's the one to pick, they'll be hurled into an even lower circle of hell.

And oh my Lord, "Share our principles," "the wisdom of the Founders," etc. If this doesn't lead to an offering by the Franklin Mint, it's a waste of time. People voted for Republicans because they were desperate, not because they're in love with their Revolutionary War reenactor schtick. Why didn't he think to give them something tangible -- like a co-branded half-price promotion with Dunkin' Donuts? "Buy a dozen donuts and John Boehner treats you to coffee!" Idiots.

UPDATE 2. Crap, it's late, haven't they got that dizzy queen Michele Bachmann's head screwed on yet?.. Oh Jesus, it's a freakin' forum in which Bachmann is only the nuttiest participant? Why are the other participants all mumbly young dorks talking policy? It almost makes you miss the guys in tricorners and knee-britches waving flintlocks and yelling "WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!"

UPDATE 3. Commenters tell me Bachmann's got an actual rebuttal going on, but I don't get CNN and the web outlets aren't working. I'll take commenter dex's word for it: "like coming back from the bar at 2am to watch infomercials in hell."

UPDATE 3.5. National Review's Fartmaster General Jonah Goldberg says, "I was truly surprised by how lackluster and clichéd Obama’s speech was," as if his profession of surprise and use of every liar's favorite word, "truly," will convince anyone he's recording his genuine response. (No doubt he was out back of the shop during the speech, impressing the interns by operating Kinect with his butt.) The rest of his post is about as believable. Despite heavy competition at NatRev, Goldberg's only real challenger is Mona Charen:
“America’s standing has been restored.” Still sniping at George W.? This must be some kind of record for gracelessness.
They keep this awful Reagan-era relic in a closet nine months out of the year for a reason.

UPDATE 4. Ann Althouse:
[Quoting Obama] Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion....
When was that true? Who is he talking about? I'm 60 and I don't remember that ever being true.
I can remember vividly the tract-house neighborhood I grew up in, filled with factory workers who supported families and houses and cars on single incomes. And as I got older I saw some of them retire from the companies they started working for as young people, and collect pensions; they didn't have to become greeters for Wal-Mart. Many middle-aged people in America recall such events. Maybe Professor Althouse doesn't remember because then, as now, she was inattentive to what was going on around her. Alternatively, maybe she's just full of shit.

UPDATE 5. Looks like Obama got high viewership and approval numbers for the State of the Union -- which explains the redoubled stridency of conservative attacks on the speech this morning.

Several commenters step up to say they, too, remember single-earner, blue-collar families who managed to achieve the American dream in pre-Reagan days. Clearly these are false memories, as everyone knows that bastard FDR not only prolonged the Depression but also left America broke and powerless after World War II, with most citizens living in hobo camps. Read Amity Shlaes' next book to learn all about it!
WINGNUTS OCCUPY THE OSCARS! (PART I) The Oscar nominations are out, and so are the rightwing Zhdanovites. Roger L. Simon:
“The King’s Speech” – a conservative movie – leads Oscar nominations

“The King’s Speech” – an unabashedly pro-royalty, anti-fascist film – has received the most Oscar nominations (12) for this year’s Academy Awards. Does this mean that the normally liberal Academy has had a political conversation to the Dark Side? No. It shows that good filmmaking can sometimes trump ideology.
I guess he thinks a liberal film, conversely, would be anti-royalty and pro-fascist. (Like what? The Patriot?) Here's the saddest bit:
But it may reveal more than that. Movie business liberalism is only skin deep. It is all very much a show for self-aggrandizement. Deep down, they respond like the rest of us. They just won’t admit it. Unless the movie’s as good as “The King’s Speech.”
So Hollyweird liberals aren't even really liberal -- they're just pretending to be, out of pridefulness; but their sham is exposed by the magic of the movies, as seen through the kaleidoscopic chemical cascades in the brain of Roger L. Simon. Hollywood ending!

I'm surprised to see that other conservatives have also rushed to claim The King's Speech. (Conservative Lesbian, for example, headlines her review "Traditional Values Take Center Stage." She should share her idea of traditional values with the House GOP leadership.)

I saw and reviewed The King's Speech, which I enjoyed despite some risible bits. And I must say, if you wanted to stick politics onto it, you could just as easily take this one the other way.

To begin with, isn't the whole preoccupation with a speech impediment anti-conservative? It's the sort of therapeutic subject liberals allegedly love -- an affliction other people neither share nor understand, leaving the sufferer isolated and moody until he is "healed" and brought into the sunshine of a supportive community. If that doesn't sound like a pitch for one of Michelle Obama's fascist fat camps, I don't know what does.

In the course of the movie we are sensitized to (or, to use the nomenclature, blessed with "awareness" of) the problem. Thus we learn to care about yet another type of victim, just as we learned from other movies and TV shows to care about victims of autism, Tourette's, brain damage, depression, etc. Isn't looking at people as victims what liberalism is supposed to be all about?

Even worse, the film has excited yet another special interest constituency -- stammerers have glommed onto the movie as a fund- and awareness-raising tool. Why, next there'll be a fucking ribbon for it. Then it'll be classified a disability, and the speech-impeded will get their own set-aside information and customer service desks where they can stutter and stammer to their hearts' content without people yelling for them to get on with it.

Admittedly the King overcomes his problem eventually, but look how he does it! He actually goes slinking off for help for his problem! Fancy a Live Free or Die Tea Partier going off to a therapist -- with taxpayer money, yet! Why, a real rough, tough conservative King would just beat up any subjects who dared be unimpressed with him. (Maybe that'd be the Schwarzenegger version: "S-s-s-s-metimes ze v-v-v-v-v-vords f-f-ail-me [Head butt].") His tutor turns out to be an actor -- you know what they are -- who refuses to call him Your Highness and talks to him about his feelings and his childhood. The therapist even encourages him to yell and swear as if he were in a Primal Box. By God, it's a wonder the King didn't wind up gay and soaking in hot tubs at Esalen. They call this conservative? It's just Rain Man with royals.

Plus their beloved Winston Churchill is presented as yet another Timothy Spall grotesque.

Okay, now I'm warmed up for the conservatives who say The Social Network is about the magic of entrepreneurism.

Monday, January 24, 2011

JUST A REMINDER. Happy March for Life day! This is from Kathryn J. Lopez' recent anti-abortion observance:
“Frankly I had thought that at the time [Roe v. Wade] was decided,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg told The New York Times Magazine, “there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Now that’s something that should raise alarms: She let the eugenics slip show...
I am showing you Lopez's transparently willful misrepresentation of what Ginsburg was talking about, which has nonetheless become wingnut gospel, to remind you that these people really do think it's murder, and therefore feel justified in doing anything to stop it. Lying's not their limit, either, but except for a couple of rogues, most of them have not yet seen Jesus drop the hanky for Killing Time.

But given the times we live in, how long do you figure that will last? I see RedState is looking for loopholes:
We will not endorse any candidate who will not reject the judicial usurpation of Roe v. Wade... The reason for this is simple: once before, our nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support.
But if they don't do like Erick Erickson says -- bang bang! all bets are off. Also interesting: The post's attempt to compare Roe to the Dred Scott decision:
And thus the Supreme Court drew a line and declared that those humans on the “person” side were entitled to the right to life, and those on the “non-person” side (as defined by the Court) were not. The combined effect of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton was that a line was drawn at physical location within a woman’s womb.
Amanda Marcotte says it best: "Anyone who calls a woman a 'physical location is a misogynist, full stop." (What, you mean your uterus isn't on foursquare?)

In case you sheeple aren't swayed by the moral crusade, Robert W. Patterson attempts an appeal to your pocketbook with "How Roe v. Wade aborted America's economy." Apparently before you killed them, Jesus had meant for all those unborn victims to create jobs! So this depression isn't Lehman Brothers' fault or even Obama's, it's William J. Brennan's.

Also, says Patterson, abortion "gutted America's exceptional marriage culture, which Adam Smith noted was vital to our economic prospects.... by sanctioning a new 'choice' for an unmarried pregnant woman, the Court also gave the unmarried father the choice to 'op out' of the previously unavoidable consequences of his actions: marriage and child support." Who knew the shotgun wedding industry was that important to America's economy? There's still hope, though, in my Xtranormal video campaign to convince paupers to "get hitched and grow rich." Fund me lavishly, wingnuts, and I will make it happen! (photo via.)

UPDATE. Some disagreement in comments as to whether these people do in point of fact believe what they're saying. "If they did," says zuzu, "they wouldn't be so squeamish about 1) making exceptions for rape and incest; and 2) holding women criminally responsible for murder." Plus, adds BigHank53, if you put a convicted abortion-seeker's "demonstrably fertile ass in jail, somewhere there will be an empty kitchen without her bare feet in it, and the baby Jesus will cry."

There is also much speculation as to what the antis are really motivated by: A desire to subjugate women, or a desire to subjugate poor women, or a desire to subjugate poor people in general -- take your pick, I can believe any of it. There are also references to race suicide loons like Mark Steyn, and BryanD lectures the ladies on their reproductive responsibilities. This thread has everything!

UPDATE 2. Just had to add this -- Kathryn J. Lopez tells us what she did Sunday evening:
Speaking on — I kid you not: “The Virgin Mary, Saint Monica, and Sarah Palin: Embracing a New Feminism” at Georgetown’s beautiful Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life yesterday...
I think it's cute that she told us she wasn't kidding; I never would have doubted it for a second. I also wonder that she didn't include a martyr-saint in her Palin presentation -- maybe she thinks Palin herself fills the bill; Palin seems to think so -- but it makes sense that she did include the world's biggest nag.
TALL TALES. One of the big reasons why I really miss Norbizness's blog is his "The Left Is Attacking The City" posts, in which he chronicled the most egregious blanket statements made by conservatives about "The Left" -- a creature which, like the Loch Ness Monster, is known mainly by the descriptions of affrighted drunks. (e.g., Michelle Malkin's "How the left is faking an epidemic of hate crime." We are? I don't see it on my calendar.)

Had Norb not departed like Daniel "D-Day" Simpson for whereabouts unknown in 2008, what fun he might have had with National Review's Socialistfinder General Stanley Kurtz. It seems Glenn Beck's attacks on the aged and formerly obscure academic Frances Fox Piven have made her famous enough to receive death threats, and some people have complained about this -- which just shows, Kurtz cackles as sudden flashes of lightning illuminate his secret laboratory, that the The Left has made a "Strategic Blunder":
The hope of silencing Beck in the wake of Tucson has lured the left into a strategic blunder. They’ve decided to turn Piven into a martyr. Yet in doing so the left has tied itself to Piven’s wild writings and over-the-top radicalism... It’s not Beck who’s tarring the left with the Brush of Piven’s radicalism. They’re doing it to themselves.
Actually, comrades, I think where we went wrong was not knowing who the fuck Frances Fox Piven was in the first place. Had we been aware, we might have preemptively denounced her, or at least refrained from trying to defend her from the threats of patriotic mouth-bretahers, before Kurtz made his play. But our ignorance has left us open to attack as unwitting accomplices. Just being of (or in, or around, or in proximity to) The Left makes us responsible for her opinions, in much the same way that Republicans are responsible for the opinions of their fellow party member Ted Bundy.

(When and if Piven is assassinated, I predict the shooter will be non-partisan crazy. You can take that to the bunker!)

UPDATE. In comments, Xecky Gilchrist: "Who's this Piven? I thought we were all worshiping Ward Churchill, still."
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Obama-Hu Jintao dog-and-pony-show at the White House. I took it light, as the event itself was not super-meaningful, rendering the rightblogger reaction to it a froth upon a froth. Still, it was fun -- I even managed to sneak in my own version of Ann Althouse's White House Flickr stream photoanalysis. (Someone really should put together a book of those. It'd be like Gerald Gardner's Who's In Charge Here?, only for schizophrenics.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

McMORE McMISERABLE McMEGAN. I hate to get back to her so soon, but commenter Josefina directed me to this American Public Media Marketplace program featuring Megan McArdle, where she said this about the U.S.-China economic relations:
McArdle: I think that, you know, as China has gotten more successful and more powerful, you're just naturally going to see both from American businessmen and American politicians more hostility towards China, and indeed more hostility from them to us [? - ed.] and I think the sort of corollary to that is that, you know, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," and as people worry more about the fate of, you know, competition from businesses outside of the United States, they're going to feel a little friendlier toward the businesses inside the United States, and I think that may be part of what we're seeing.
Ummm… okay. Then:
Host: But let me ask you this though, Megan -- isn't it true that we're sort of in this whole mess together, the Chinese and us, and we can spout off rhetoric and we can have Congress saying this about currency valuations and all that but, fundamentally, they have to love us and we have to love them.

McArdle: Y'know, I think this is one of the hardest concepts to explain in economics, no matter how often I say to people, "Why are you upset that the Chinese want to give us excessively cheap goods?" This is like a free gift from them to us*. And we should be like, thank you, happy birthday!

[chortles all around]

Heidi Moore: We have nowhere to put them!

Host: That's right, we're running out of storage space.

McArdle: That's definitely true in my house!

[Chortle, chortle, chortle]

But people really don't see it that way. They see it as these greedy foreigners conspiring to come and take our jobs. They don't look at the other side, which is that, when the Chinese come in and they're more productive, they enable us to have more goods for less work. Politicians aren't good at explaining it, they're not even necessarily good at understanding it, and that's led to a lot of tension on both sides.
Amazing, American politicians are not good at explaining why Chinese slaves making goods for 10 cents an hour, and bringing those goods at a low tariff to U.S. markets, are good for a job-starved American economy! Those politicians must be pretty dense -- McMegan gets it done with funsies and libertarian charm.

That whole "both sides" thing keeps coming up; Moore says "if we really step back and look, we haven't been good to China, either, and they haven't been good to us…" and then talks about how "we are not always in the right." In other contexts, trying to see both sides in a dispute between the U.S. and an unfriendly foreign power gets you accused of treason. But it's different when you're talking about arrangements by which rich middlemen stand to gain from the diminished bargaining power of American workers.

And they call us rootless cosmopolitans!

UPDATE. Susan of Texas informs in comments that McArdle addresses this issue in her own comments section. The whole thing is priceless, but here are two excerpts:
We'll leave aside the notion that lifting Chinese and Indian workers out of dire poverty is a despicable and disloyal act.
Again the idea that we Americans are just being greedy with our copious jobs, and need to be taught to share! I thought McArdle had off-loaded this particular brand of bullshit to Katherine Mangu-Ward.
The firms that move often feel forced to move because of competition from firms in lower-wage areas where the taxes and regulations aren't so onerous.
Taxes and regulations! Somehow I knew it would come to that. If citizens chafe at being told by libertarians that they deserve to lose their jobs to the Chinese because, unlike us, the plucky Sinos have the moxie to work for a handful of rice and exemption from beatings, maybe they'll go for it if it's restated as the fault of Big Gummint.

*UPDATE 2. Fixed two mis-transcribed prepositions here which made McArdle look even worse than she was.

Friday, January 21, 2011

POLISHING THE TURD. You know the "He's My Friend" number from The Unsinkable Molly Brown? Molly's coarse Leadville pals invade a society party, and declare in a jes'-plain-folks way their affection for one another, and that they'll beat up anyone who messes with them ("If I should yell, 'They got me, Seamus,' he'll come chargin' in!"). The big gag comes near the end, when the music slows down and The Grand Duchess, who drips with jewels, speak-sings in a plummy aristocratic voice her own high-falutin' version of their refrain ("And if anyone dares to presume to display a disparaging frown, they'll have me to reckon with").

Similarly, after weeks of rowdy conservative argh-blargh about how everyone is persecutin' them for Tucson and how Charlie Krauthammer's gonna take 'em to the woodshed, the music grows quiet as Megan McArdle rises from her throne to ahem:
The right has a legitimate grievance here: every time there's some potential act of terrorism, it seems that people feel perfectly free to assume that it must have been a right wing lunatic who committed it. The same people who urged us not to rush to judgement after the Fort Hood shootings didn't see anything wrong with Bloomberg's speculation that the Times Square Bombing--a bombing actually committed by a Muslim terrorist wanna-be--was probably committed by a militia member. And now this.

I am in general impatient with the notion that "discrimination against (fat people, Christians, Catholics, gays, transvestites, etc.) is the last acceptable prejudice." As you can see by the list, there still seem to be a lot of acceptable prejudices left. But this rush to indict conservatives for every incident of mass violence where motives are unknown blah blah blah blah...
The post is 1,455 words long. (Well, I never said it was a show-stopper.) You will see, especially if you read the whole excruciating thing, that the rightwing persecution folk-tale has reached a new stage of development: It's not just about Tucson anymore, but about endless, unfair, blood-libelous attacks on peace-loving Republicans stretching backwards and forward to eternity -- proven, as is customary among her people, by a single casual comment by Michael Bloomberg. (If she'd gone on much longer she would have had to tell the one about how liberals use targets on maps too.)

McArdle's contribution adds no new facts and insights to the topic, but it is delivered with the wrinkle-nosed hauteur she traditionally affects when something excites her moral outrage (usually poor people getting away with something*), which puffs up her prose slightly more than usual. And it does appear under the stately banner of The Atlantic. It is, in other words, a fancy alternative for people who think there must be more to life than Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and so reach for the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Deluxe.

When that gets tiresome, there will be other versions to keep their resentment hot: Xtranormal videos, a Declaration Entertainment film, and perhaps a mini-series in the manner of Roots.

* Yes, she's still writing about "jingle mail" in 2011.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Palin's 38% favorable rating is her lowest (by two percentage points) since she became a well-known political figure after the 2008 Republican national convention, and her 53% unfavorable rating is her worst by a point. Palin has been a central figure in the recent debate over whether political rhetoric -- including hers -- was partly behind the Tucson shootings. Last week, she responded to these allegations by posting a much-publicized video response on the Internet. The recent news has not done much to change Americans' opinions of Palin, though.
National Review:

A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Nicole Gelinas at The Corner:
All New Yorkers start out the Christmas season optimistically festooning their trees with the ornaments that, during the non-Christmas months, took up half the apartment in storage boxes.
When did everyone in New York start having Christmas trees? This December the town looked the same to me as it has at the end of any other year -- full of small, mostly treeless apartments. (Then again, most of my friends are godless; maybe among the Catholics of Bayside, tannenbaums are de rigueur.)*

Having thus established its vital importance, Gelinas gets after the city's tree-collection policies. At year's end, she says, Mr. and Mrs. EveryNewYorker know "the dark day is coming" when "they will have to lug their dry tree down their building hallway and into the elevator to deposit it on the sidewalk..." (Elevator?)
All good New Yorkers know, too, not to be late in this chore. There’s a deadline for Christmas-tree collection — and nobody wants to miss it. Green New Yorkers justify having bought a real tree with the knowledge that the city will recycle the trees, making them into mulch for our parks. If one misses the recycling deadline, though, one faces the shameful private realization that one’s tree will instead decay over eternity in a landfill.
I will add here that this whole idea of Gothamites as slavish environmentalists also contradicts my long experience. Those who do separate cans and bottles, for example, generally do so because the building management (which does not want to get fined for non-compliance) badgers them about it, not from love of Gaia. Neither do the overflowing trash cans and crap-strewn alleys in certain of our jurisdictions suggest eco-fascism.

I assume Gelinas is pitching this to the rubes who love to hear how we're all latte-sipping homosexual eco-freaks who secretly wish we were living in Oatmeal, Nebraska and eating at Sizzler.

Anyway there's been some slowness with Christmas tree trash collection. Here Gelinas really affects to get inside our heads:
Citizens know that they followed the rules, and that the city was supposed to have picked up the trees. They know, too, that the huge snowstorm was nearly a month ago — meaning that it should not be an excuse.

Yet the trees remain, collecting bits of tissue and trash in the cold. New Yorkers are now thinking as they walk past each small, forlorn pile, “Mr. Mayor, if you’re going to leave trees on the sidewalk, at least bring us fresh trees.”
Listen, New York is full of comedy writers -- surely we could come up with better material than that.
More important, people are thinking: Does this mean something? Why hasn’t Bloomberg picked up the trees? Why hasn’t anyone said anything about it? What else is going undone, unnoticed, sliding into chaos? Call it the pine-scent version of broken-windows policing.
You mean like in 2006? (That story is from The Sun; it appears the Christmas Tree Menace is a -- you should pardon the expression -- rightwing evergreen.)
The trees are a challenge, too, for Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith... as the guy in charge of general operations, [Goldsmith] is also already New Yorkers’ face of failure on Sanitation’s abysmal snow-removal response to the December 26 blizzard. So when people see the trees, they think of Goldsmith. (“That’s the guy who didn’t know it was snowing — and now he’s left the trees out to rot.”)
So I'm getting a picture of a city full of craven tree-worshippers fretful that their trees won't be properly mulched, and who reflexively curse "Goldsmith" the way they used to curse Hitler or John V. Lindsay. I guess Gelinas and I live in different New Yorks.

*UPDATE. As commenter chuckling reminds me, a healthy percentage of New York's population is non-Christian. Maybe in the Gelinas version they're all getting Christmas trees in a desperate effort to assimilate.
THE PERFESSER REVEALS A NEW AREA OF EXPERTISE! Recently on Instapundit -- January 17:
THIS ESSAY ON PORNOGRAPHY by Natasha Vargas-Cooper in The Atlantic takes a rather dim view of men, going on and on and on about “the unlovely aspects of male sexuality that porn legitimizes.” Are there any “unlovely aspects” to female sexuality? And, if so, what social institutions legitimize them?
January 18:
IN SEARCH OF the Year Zero Face. Well, given that we prize women for sex rather than childbearing nowadays, maybe it makes sense that women want to look at what’s supposed to be their sexual, rather than reproductive, peak — age 36!
January 19:
REPORT: Men have upper hand in sexual economy. Maybe that’s what has Natasha Vargas-Cooper so unhappy.
BYRON YORK: Before banning ‘crosshairs,’ CNN used it to refer to Palin, Bachmann. I blame the network for creating a climate of hatred and violence. There’s blood on your hands, CNN!

Well, there’s some sort of bodily substance involved, anyway.
I'm not sure what the hell is going on over there, but I think he should spin these posts off to a separate blog. If he needs help, Dennis Prager could fill in. It'd be the perfect Tea Party sex column; they could call it "Pump Action."

UPDATE. In a Thursday morning post on "Palinoia," conservatism's new Restless Leg Syndrome, the Perfesser ejaculates: "Women are always meanest to other women." There's a man with something on his mind! That new column can't come fast enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A HELPFUL GUIDE. Here, gentle reader, is how you can tell people are talking bullshit about health care reform. Today's example is from neo-neocon:
The report states that up to half of Americans under 65 have pre-existing conditions that might serve to disqualify them from health insurance under the old system. That ignores the reality that most such people have insurance and will always have it, because group insurance bought through an employer takes all comers.

I don’t know what percentage of those people will actually ever be forced into the individual market, but it certainly would be a far smaller group than half of all Americans under 65. Even people who lose jobs temporarily are eligible to be covered through Cobra for quite some time (usually 18 months), and although Cobra is expensive, nevertheless some people manage to use it. What’s more...
First, she describes a situation as eternal -- "most such people have insurance and will always have it" -- that, in an era of increasing job insecurity and correspondingly decreasing worker power, anyone can see is about to join the one-earner middle-class family in the shadows of history.

Second, listen to her describing COBRA! "Although Cobra is expensive, nevertheless some people manage to use it." Can you imagine anyone who lost their job and suddenly started paying a thousand bucks a month out of terror of cancer bankruptcy talking about it that way?

By the time neo-neocon gets around to parsing the true meaning of "high" cholesterol, any attentive reader who is not actively looking to be gulled will see what's going on. The "tell" in all these cases is that the bullshit artists inevitably end up doing PR for the current, universally-despised system.

They kind of have to. I notice that damn few of them -- certainly not neo-neocon -- can summon the added nerve to argue for the superiority of the GOP health care plan.

That's also why HCR is a prime target for their Tea Party crap (e.g., as neo-neocon helpfully puts it, "the effect [Obamacare] is likely to have on the budget and the deficit, and whether it is constitutional") -- they have no meaningful argument against the utility of the thing, so they conjure up Gouverneur Morris lifting his flintlock and snarling, "Universal health care? Not on my watch!"

There's plenty about the plan Obama managed to muscle through Congress that you can reasonably debate. (Ahem.) But conservatives are not so much participants in said reasonable-debate as hooligans trying to disrupt it -- you know, like they were back in 2009. This time they're doing their yelling in the Op-Eds rather than the Town Halls. If they can't move repeal through Congress, though (and with so many Blue Dogs defenestrated, I rather doubt they can), we may expect the bellowing and fistfights -- and, who knows, maybe a little totally-unrelated-to-politics gunfire -- to recommence.

Monday, January 17, 2011

OBLIGATORY MLK POST. It's an alicublog tradition to call out some of our favorite conservative tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. on his Federal holiday. So far cowboy Alan Stang leads the pack, with his essay "UN-CELEBRATE MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY":
...the King holiday was proclaimed, after considerable, racist intimidation, when the nation knew hardly anything about him, not alone because it was inflicted so soon after his death, but because by court order the truth about him was suppressed. Yes, that is correct; we have a national holiday for a man whose wife got a court ruling that suppresses the facts about him until 2027 to spare the intense embarrassment she would have felt had the truth been revealed.
The fella's got a point -- after all, when word got out about Sally Hemmings, there went the Jefferson's Birthday Federal holiday!

Further into the column you can read some fascinating testimony from former Montgomery, AL Chief of Police Drue Lackey about the Freedom Rides:
Those four days on the road had turned into an habitual sex orgy by the time they reached the capitol. King was always seen on TV marching in the front row among clean, well-disciplined performers. It was all a sham. He stayed partying separately most of those days, and would only arrive in a chauffeured limousine for appointed press deadlines, leaving immediately after.
The Lame Stream Media shows white celebrities like Paris Hilton in sex tapes all the time, yet where are the photos of Martin Luther King snorting coke, banging whores, and vomiting in alleys? It's obviously a cover-up.
Most of the others put off at least until nightfall, what they had come for, as this mob had been bused in from across the country and around the world: unemployed Blacks, White students, party activists of both races, on promises of all the free food, booze and sex they wanted.

They reached Montgomery late on the afternoon of March 24, 1965, and spent the night at St. Jude’s where they had been invited. We kept security along with the National Guard, for the local Whites were up in arms. We witnessed them sleeping on the ground all together, and a lot of sexual activity went on throughout the night, with frequently changed partners. This is what the federal government sponsored: a bunch of communists and moral degenerates
So that's how they got those kids to walk into fire hoses and gunfire! You'd think they would have stayed home in Jew York and miscegnated in comfort.

Lackey is also the man who fingerprinted Rosa Parks when she was busted for what radio host James Edwards calls her "bus stunt" ("It never ceases to amaze me how lawbreakers [Parks, 'civil rights' activists, illegal aliens, etc.] are heralded as heroes," etc). Edwards, author of Racism, Schmacism (I'm not kidding), interviewed Lackey a few times in 2008; one of these days I'm going to have to snuggle up with a snifter of Hennessy and listen to them.

Bonus rounds:

• A black guy who says
King recognized the tyrannical nature of the government, and he would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Herman Cain, Allen West, and many others in an attempt to free not only blacks this time, but the entire nation from the very same government that was oppressing blacks during King’s lifetime.
That would be an interesting march, especially when King started regaling Limbaugh et alia with his plans for a guaranteed minimum income for Americans.

• At Human Events, Daniel J. Flynn tells us that liberals, labor unions, and Democrats are the real racists ("The New Harmony commune's exclusion of African-Americans, labor union cries of a 'yellow peril,'" etc), and African-Americans were in deep shit until they were rescued by Adam Smith:
A truly free market works as an antidote to racism. Though contemporary radicals would vociferously deny this, their forebears vociferously charged capitalism with negating racism... Capitalism and racism can't long peacefully coexist.
Exactly! Who can forget those black folk who sat down at segregated lunch counters, not because they were agitators or anything, but because the food there was so delicious and well-marketed that they'd risk a beating for it. Also, "the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott is one of many examples of money trumping bigotry during the civil rights movement," etc.

It's amazing King and all those other civil rights workers got shot -- didn't James Earl Ray and those guys know what a financial bonanza desegregation would be? Musta been socialists.

UPDATE. Michelle Malkin honors the day by demanding "Give the race card a rest," yelling about Al Sharpton, and listing what she considers examples of liberal "race card demagoguery" (sample: "DREAM Act radicals bitterly accused opponents of xenophobia and race traitorism"). Malkin probably wonders why no one invites her to give toasts at weddings.

Oh, and here's a guy who admits he thought in 2008 that Obama was going to "take our nation irrevocably down the multicultural path," but is pleasantly surprised to see him thwarted by "the rise of the Tea Party." When the honkeys in tricorners triumph, he predicts, "then will come the day MLK's dream is fulfilled." Just ask Glenn Beck.

UPDATE 2. In honor of MLK, William Teach beats up environmentalists:
Personally, I don’t doubt that MLK would have simply patted the eco-nuts on the head like a rather slow child still trying to master See Spot Run at age 10, since he seemed to be the kind of guy who wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings by pointing out what nutjobs they are.
Yeah, that's what King would be doing, all right. He'd also have a pick-up truck with a gun rack and a "The Next Time You Need a Cop, Call a Hippie" bumper sticker. It just follows naturally from what we know about the guy.

Later Teach invents more King insults for enviro-freaks, and adds, "do I really have to mention that Dr. King spoke more about equality, rather than 'social justice'?" I guess Teach isn't talking about the MLK who said, "Capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor," but about the one who sounds so convincing reading Teach's lines.

UPDATE 3. Thanks, commenter Jeff, for pointing out Jay Nordlinger's tribute at National Review. Nordlinger notes that King applauded the Presidential election victory of Lyndon Johnson, who signed the Civil Rights Act, over Barry Goldwater, who opposed it. Nordlinger adds this historical gloss:
An older MLK might well have been ashamed of that rhetoric, or at least regretted it. For one thing, Goldwater’s view of government and economics was the opposite of fascist: was the classical-liberal view.
Maybe the MLK of Nordlinger's imagination -- like that of William Teach's, and all the other speculators -- is actually one who escaped the assassin's bullet in 1968, turned 82 this Saturday, and suffers from advanced Alzheimer's Disease.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, in which I try to get some perspective on the continuing Tucson disaster by focusing on one of its small but telling epiphenomena: The wildly increased rightwing rage at Paul Krugman. Krugman, like a lot of people, points out that Rep. Giffords and Judge Roll were threatened prior to being shot, and that this is worth considering when we talk about the atmosphere that engendered the shootings; wingnuts go apeshit. I see more than one reason for it.

One of the things they focus on is Krugman's citation of the Michele Bachmann "armed and dangerous" comments. As I mentioned last week, supplying the context for Bachmann's remarks actually shows them to be more provocative than advertised, not less. But the conservative consensus is that Krugman is libeling the poor woman with her own words. Hoystory, for instance, claims "Krugman took that Bachmann quote so out of context that if she weren’t a public official Krugman and the Times might find themselves facing a false light libel suit."

Hoystory also says that "the last time the media went this wrong for so long was probably the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing when hero Richard Jewell was falsely tarred as the bomber." I'm surprised he didn't bring up Bruno Hauptmann and the Lindbergh Baby. Can you imagine being so absurdly paranoid that you think a decades-long conspiracy has been successfully pursued against you by a bunch of underpaid writers and editors? It'd be more dignified to claim your were being stalked by janitors.

UPDATE. Readers do the updating I'm too drunk to do! For example, they point out that the actual Atlanta bomber turned out to be a Christian Identity nut and abortion clinic bomber. "If The Media had simply accused right-wing gun nuts of that one," says Doghouse Riley, "they'd've turned out to be right."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

GRATITUDE UPDATE. I remain humbled by the collection Jay Brida took up for me last week. I want you good people to know that the coin toss came up heads, so I did not exhaust the proceeds on one final, glorious round of hookers, blow, and suicide, despite the urgings of my army of hangers-on.

No, I'm in a nice sublet now, in the East 60s, of all places -- right where I worked in the late 70s. In some ways the neighborhood hasn't changed much: it still has lots of weird little shops selling replicas of Etruscan bronzes, giant, vaguely Asian vases, and other things rich people liked 50 years ago. As a young punk I hated that swells-in-amber ambiance, but now I find it charming. At least these people don't go chasing trends -- they're too comfy. (Lot of wine shops here, too.)

Both my lungs and my outlook are much, much better. I'm cooking meals, doing work, and scrabbling after opportunities like someone much younger and dumber.

So thanks again and all around -- first, to Jay for conceiving and doing the thing, and most ably; we've discussed it, and he will be taking down the Edrosothon PayPal button soon, and devoting his spare time to composing his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award speech. If you still want to give me money, I've added my own PayPal to the alicublog sidebar. Great for late-night drunk-donating!

I also thank my friends around the internet who spread the word, including James Wolcott, Tbogg, the Sadlynauts, John Amato, Scott Lemieux, Ian Welsh, Gary Farber, Cogitamus, Susan of Texas, Scott "World-o-Crap" Clevenger, Batocchio, DJG-E at Balloon Juice, Tom Tomorrow, Nancy Nall, and probably some other people I've missed and whose names I'd like to know (Update: Like PZ Myers!). If PBS had a fundraising team like this, they'd be making $50 million versions of Thomas Hardy novels and giving their subscribers gift bags stuffed with cashmere scarves and iPads.

Mostly I'd like to thank the donors -- scores if not hundreds of them, most of whom gave amounts which, though not huge, probably represent more actual sacrifice than the bazillions the Koch Brothers ladle out every year. Their generosity has been both a help and a lesson to me. Jay has explained the logistical and privacy issues to me, so I'm only writing back to donors who added personal notes to their contributions. (If you sent me something without a note and would like some acknowledgement, drop me an email and I'll send you a "Whattaya Want, a Medal?" certificate suitable for framing.)

And on that note: It seems I'm ahead of the trend again, as several other wonderful bloggers have come down with a bad case of the brokes. Lance Mannion, one of the very few internet writers worth reading on cultural subjects (he's not just another wannabe Harry Knowles, he's Manny Farber with the stick out of his ass), is experiencing shortfalls. And Gary Farber, one of the most relentless bloggers of all time (now at Amygdala and Obsidian Wings), is putting up a brave front but I know for a fact that if you give him money he will spend it on keeping himself alive, which is a noble cause.

Oh, and Diane of Cab Drollery is on the verge of losing her home. One of the douchebags at The Jawa Report made fun of her request for money (despite the presence of a great, honking PayPal button on their own sidebar), which should double your incentive. It did mine; I just sent Lance, Gary, and Diane a little something. Because I understand that Getting therapy works best in combination with Giving therapy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF SARAH PALIN AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES AT THE CATO INSTITUTE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE REVEREND SUN MYUNG MOON. Lawyers, Guns & Money informs me that the Washington Times has gone Sarah Palin's blood libel malarkey one better, declaring that recent criticism of La Palin is "simply the latest round of an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers."

A pogrom, yet! Their persecution mania was already so far beyond parody that I hardly know what to call this new frontier the WashTimes has achieved -- science fiction, perhaps.

I understand Palin is going to address the nation on Martin Luther King Day. I fully expect her to sing "We Shall Overcome," and to refer to her Fox News desk as the new segregated lunch counter and to Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow as the new Bull Connor and Lester Maddox. Hell, maybe she'll complain that liberal censors prevented her from completing her tribute of Dr. King by performing in blackface.

UPDATE. Commenters are enjoying the theatrical angle suggested by the title. "We could call it Moron/Sad for short," says Susan of Texas. Michael Bérubé suggests William Kristol for the role of the Marquis de Sade and Michelle Bachmann as Charlotte Corday. But Rob W wants a rewrite: Wingnut on the Roof ("If I Were a Fox Host," "Kingmaker, Kingmaker," "Pro Life!" etc).

Friday, January 14, 2011

HOPPED UP ON GOOFBALLS! Longtime readers will remember Barry Rubin, the Pajamas Media guy who claimed his kid's school was actually forcing its soccer team to lose on account of Political Correctness until interim coach Barry Rubin taught the lads how to play like capitalists.

Unfortunately Rubin's story was not picked up by Adam Sandler for a heartwarming film comedy, and he has been forced to go back to the PJM drawing board. This time he offers a darker dystopian fantasy about a lost generation of racially-oversensitive children.
A pre-teenage boy, living in the United States with his affluent family from South America, attends an American public school in the eastern part of the country...

Recently, he was raising money for the homeless with a friend at a school fair. At the first of the tables he passed, the salesman invited him to take a look at his merchandise — soccer balls and shirts. The boy became very upset.

“That’s racist,” he complained to his friend.

“Why?” asked the schoolmate.

“That’s what they think of us Mexicans. All we are interested in is soccer and tacos.”

In other words, he innocently had turned a simple situation — a guy wanted to sell merchandise, for charity, to boys of a soccer-crazy age — into a racist incident.
And that little boy grew up to be Baracko de Obama-Jimenez! And it's not just the Hispanics, folks, though they do make for the most lurid anecdotes ("one eleven-year-old girl from another South American family told her classmates: 'We hate America, but our parents are making us live here'") -- no, thanks to "indoctrination" in public school, even white children know nothing about America except that it's a racist hellhole. Take a look at the evidence -- that is, unimpeachable eyewitness testimony from Coach Barry:
  • In one fourth grade class, "their sole reading on September 11 was a story on how Kenyans reacted to the event — with no identification of who had carried out the attack."
  • "A math exercise in which the teacher uses a deck of playing cards, each of which is marked 'Vote Obama' on the back."
  • "On Memorial Day, son draws pictures of soldiers during free time in school; teacher confiscates, makes and files photocopies, and warns him never to do that again."
My favorite: A young man doesn't even know what "The Star-Spangled Banner" is ("Daughter helpfully sings, “You know, ‘Oh, say can you see …!’ Son: 'What’s that?'"). Presumably the school has forbidden male children to attend baseball games, lest they grow up heterosexual; or maybe this particular incident took place in California, where all ballgames commence with "Canta, No Llores."

With the kids all hopped up like this on Political Correctness, you'd expect them to be having non-stop rumbles and socialist petting parties. I figured Rubin had to have seen at least one misguided youth hauled in for killing puppies like Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause. Alas, all Rubin produces are grim warnings about the future, where a "mentality of perpetual victimhood, endless grievances, and bitter divisiveness is set to cripple the United States." (You know -- like the Sarah Palin media team.) Oh, Coach -- you're never going to get to Hollywood this way! Can't you at least give us a villainous Julian Assange having Sex By Surprise with the homecoming queen? You might as well -- it's far too late to worry about making it believable.
SHORTER RON HART: Liberals are hypocrites to complain about violent imagery. After all, they make jokes.

(The real punchline: Nick Gillespie thinks this is astute.)
DON'T YOU FUCKING LOOK AT ME! I see at National Review Daniel Foster is pissed because CBS asked people in a "stupid poll" the question, "Do you think it is ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the government, or is it never justified?" Most of the respondents were true sheeple, eschewing violent action under any circumstances, with Republicans marginally more likely to take to the hills with their shootin' ahrns than Democrats.

"So I guess I’d be among that 28 percent" who would rebel, bravely asserts Foster, brandishing a dinner roll. "But then, so would Hobbes, and Edmund Burke for that matter." He knows not what course others may take, but thinks the weak sisters in the poll haven't thought the question through:
But what does surprise me is that 76 percent of respondents, including 64 percent of Republicans, think it is never right to take up arms against the government. Ever.

What about if the government canceled the next election and started seizing first-born; or arbitrarily disappearing whole classes of citizenry; or summarily abolished private property and confiscated all our belongings at the tip of a bayonet? Not even then?
Har. But the question, however awkwardly phrased, is relevant because a lot of people currently do believe the government, under the Muslim pretender Obama, will cancel the next election, seize their first-born, etc. Rather than call out specific cases of such like among the gomers and gun-nuts who now comprise the GOP base, I could just put a link to my whole blog, but for now I'll content myself with the Insurrectionist Timeline and stuff like this:
Mitch McConnell Accuses Obama Of Plan To Seize Internet

..."Today, the Obama administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, will move forward with what could be the first step in controlling how Americans use the Internet by establishing federal regulations on its use," said McConnell.
This kind of crap goes on all the time, in both the high and the low registers of the outrage apparatus. I expect when CBS revisits their question in a few months -- after the Giffords situation has cooled down, and Obama has committed some fresh outrage, like further weakening America by extending unemployment benefits or something -- the shooty-shooty numbers will be higher.

Foster's complaint and the ones that are sure to follow once the central committee gets the memo around are part of a whole How Dare They movement to delegitimize even the mildest notice (aka the "blood libel") that the Republican Party has gone plain nuts. I'm reminded of Frank Booth, all ethered up and hissing "Don't you fucking look at me!"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CUE THE CRAZY JESUS LADY. I see that the President has made his speech, and the apparatchiks are working the Wellstone Maneuver -- the time-dishonored schtick in which conservatives pretend to be outraged at the upbeat tone of memorial services held by their mortal enemies.

Of course, it ain't over till the Crazy Jesus Lady sings -- by which I mean Peggy Noonan, who stuck the Triple Lutz of the Wellstone Maneuver back in 2002, actually pretending to be Senator Wellstone, and condemning his friends and family from heaven for their insufficient solemnity.

It was one of the lowest performances it has ever been my misfortune to witness, and it worked like a charm, helping to elect the horrible Norm Coleman to Wellstone's old seat. So Noonan must be greatly tempted to go for the hat trick. I can almost see her words crawling across the page:
Why can't I speak? My God, this must be what Terry Schiavo felt like! If I ever get out of this accursed bed, I'll mend my abortionist ways and fight for the rights of all God's children. And a balanced budget! And there's something else I'll do: Denounce everybody who didn't spend that memorial service blubbering like John Boehner at a supermarket opening. The very idea of those Demonrats cheering -- and that Kenyan pretender presuming to speak -- I'll tell you, the doctors think I'm fighting for my life, but I'm actually quivering with rage!
Etc. Of course, there's a danger, in that while Wellstone was dead, Giffords is not. If Noonan does go for it, there's a good chance Giffords will return to good health, fly up to New York, and kick her Crazy Jesus ass up and down Fifth Avenue.

Well, I'm convinced. Go for it, Peggy! I'm sending a bottle of Old Overholt and a scapular to your office for inspiration.