Thursday, March 31, 2011

GRANTLAND RICE CAN REST EASY. National Review Online now has a sports blog. Here's something by Fred Schwarz:
You won’t see many cricket items in this blog, but yesterday’s India-Pakistan match, which India took by the narrow margin of 29 runs on its home pitch at Mohali (there, don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?), had geopolitical ramifications, as these two fierce rivals (in sport and everything else) completed the event peacefully and amicably, with the two nations’ prime ministers watching the action together. Predictably enough, the Obama administration has released a statement praising the match as a diplomatic breakthrough; soon, presumably, we can expect the president (who must be quietly mourning the loss by his beloved Pockystahn) to announce a global sports initiative aimed at building world peace through hitting, kicking, and throwing balls.
These people ruin everything they touch.
LOOK AWAY, LOOK AWAY. The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus is trying a new approach, at least so far as I know:
The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus filed a lawsuit Monday against the state of Georgia seeking to dissolve the city charters of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton and Chattahoochee Hills. Further, the lawmakers, joined by civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery, aim to dash any hopes of a Milton County.

The lawsuit, filed in a North Georgia U.S. District Court Monday, claims that the state circumvented the normal legislative process and set aside its own criteria when creating the “super-majority white ” cities within Fulton and DeKalb counties. The result, it argues, is to dilute minority votes in those areas, violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
DeKalb's mostly black; Fulton's more mixed -- per Wikipedia:
The demographic make-up of Fulton County has changed considerably in recent decades. The northern portion of the county, a suburban, predominantly white area that is mostly Republican, is among the most affluent areas in the nation] The central and southern portion of the county, which includes the city of Atlanta and its core satellite cities to the south on the other hand, is predominantly African-American, overwhelmingly Democratic, and contains some of the poorest sections in the metropolitan area.
The new cities were all created since 2005, and are very white. At issue is whether the courts, which have ruled on traditional political redistricting under the Voting Rights Act, can also do so on the incorporation of new cities.

Let's see what the brethren have to say about it. Occidental Dissent:
A bunch of African-Americans (niggers) think the new Atlanta suburbs in Fulton and DeKalb counties are “too White” and have filed a frivolous lawsuit against the State of Georgia in federal court to revoke their city charters.

The African-American plaintiffs claim their “voting rights” are being violated, not because Bull Connor or the Klan is stopping them from voting, but solely because they are outnumbered by racially aware, White conservatives who understand the politically incorrect connections between “diversity,” crime, and fiscal irresponsibility in Fulton County...

No one in their right fucking mind wants to live under the incompetence and corruption that comes with an African-American controlled city government. While niggers aren’t exactly zombies, they have overrun Atlanta in much the same way. They also have reinforcements coming from up North.
Up next:
But let's not judge the issue on these fringe figures. Let's look at what mainstream rightblog Jammie Wearing Fool, frequently linked at Memeorandum, has to say about it:
Black Legislatures File Lawsuit To Disband Majority White Cities

No, that headline is not wrong. Now I don't want you folks in New England or the Midwest getting too excited just yet. This sort of thing can only happen in the south because of the most onerous piece of legislation ever passed, which is used until this day to keep whitey in his place, called the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
By the time it filters up to Ole Perfesser Instapundit and the other big-timers, of course, it'll be about "hypocrisy" or some shit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

JUST SO LONG AS YOU SPELL THE NAME RIGHT. I guess the big news is Bill Maher working blue. Here are some of the rave reviews, accent on the rave:

"Bill Maher doubles down — calls Sarah Palin the ‘c’ word," breathlessly reports The Daily Caller. "It’s a liberal favorite and they are nothing if not predictable," says Lori Ziganto. "Foul mouthed name calling from the LEFT," hollers Flap's Blog. "Bill Maher, Turd Merchant extraordinaire," says the self-unaware Underground Conservative, "is all yours, members of the Hate Left. You own him." "Always interesting when people struggling for acceptance and tolerance are so flippant about the trashing of others," says Howard Portnoy of a positive review of the performance. Some of the brethren call for Maher to be beaten up.

Glynnis MacNicol is on the right track for a while: "Sounds like a typical comedy show, which obviously is not to say it's okay, simply that comedy shows are frequently raunchy, offensive, and in bad taste." But then: "It's not like there's a lack of substantial ways in which to criticize (and mock) Palin." It seems she, like the rest of them, believes a comedy act should be like Meet The Press.

I guess they've somehow managed to miss Richard Pryor, or they'd be posting bleeped-out videos of him and complaining about Obama's reverse racism.

Monday, March 28, 2011

THE LIBYA SPEECH. Obama made his case for intervention, and along with Juan Cole's it looks pretty good. But I still respectfully dissent.

Though the differences between this action and the Iraq invasion are obvious, so is at least one similarity: The likelihood that, however much we tout the handoff to our allies, we will remain involved in Libya for years. Bosnia is the more positive example, and Obama hinted that Libya, tucked between two nascent democracies, would go similarly. This is a fond hope, as the region remains volatile, and I fear the new Libyan government will have need of our "intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications" -- and some other things that went unmentioned this evening -- for a long time to come. And under the circumstance I don't see how we could refuse.

I do see the benefit in our involvement, and appreciate Obama's kinder-gentler model of support for home-brewed revolutions as opposed to the Orwellian "Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country" approach of Bush and the neo-cons. And it's certainly consonant with what Obama laid down in his Cairo speech. It'd be nice to get people on that side of the world thinking of us the way South Americans thought of us in the days of Simon Bolivar, rather than the way they thought of us in the days of Pinochet.

But for all its advantages, this approach still leads back to the same place we've been stuck for nine years -- and, seen a certain way, for much longer than that. I can believe Obama is very different from the imperialist Westerners who've been fucking over small states for generations, and still believe that the best way for him to show his difference is to stay out of their affairs insofar as possible. We don't have a great track record since World War II, and while Obama appears to think that the best way to fix that is to do foreign intervention right this time, I would prefer a cooling-off period. Always leave 'em wanting more.

The thing is on, anyway, and we'll see how it goes. Maybe it will turn out that "the values that we hold so dear" can be transmitted by targeted bombing runs. I hope so. It would certainly be a new thing in my lifetime.
BACK ON THE CHAIN GANG. The passing of Joe Bageant at a relatively young age is a damn shame in any case, but it's sad for more than his fans that his work hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. AlterNet has several of his articles, any of which could be recommended, but I especially like the one about the sex offender in whose Kafkaesque post-release treatment Bageant found a case study of the efficiency and cruelty with which the state squeezes citizens whose rights no one will defend. It's least-of-my-brothers stuff in the manner of Nelson Algren from a self-proclaimed redneck who saw how inhuman our way of life has become, and how good we've gotten at fooling ourselves about it. I don't always agree with his conclusions, but he looked at the world as if he were part of it, a perspective conspicuously absent from the writings of most of the manicured sociopaths who get taken seriously these days.

UPDATE. Speaking of sociopaths, though I can't vouch for the condition of his nails. Sample: "Much like Adorno’s 'Authoritarian Personality' or Hofstadter’s 'Paranoid Style,' Bageantism is a faux-analysis, a make-believe political sociology..." This by way of explaining that Bageant didn't know what real people were like. Self-awareness is not McCain's strong suit. Neither is class.
ROLLING BLACKOUT. This weekend I told you that World Net Daily heard Bill Ayers making a blazingly obvious joke about writing Dreams for my Father and reported, in all seriousness, that it meant "Ayers admits (again) he wrote Obama bio." Though I doubt such people listen to me, I figured word would get around somehow, common sense would prevail, and that would be the end of that.

Guess what's on Memeorandum today?

From super-edumacated Jeff Godlstein to the shortbus commuters Weasel Zippers, nine out of 10 wingnuts agree: It's not a joke unless it's about Michael Moore being fat.

Sadder still is Freedom Eden, who seems to sense that something's amiss but won't say so, and goes for the bank shot in desperation ("Ayers had to know that bringing up the controversy at all was not something that would help Obama"). Tell the truth and shame the devil, FE.

Kudos to John Hawkins for gently telling them what the joke was and whom it was on.

UPDATE. I see at Right Wing Nut House that Goldstein is defending his position the way all great men do --
As someone who knows a thing or two about interpretation...
-- by asserting his credentials. Schoolly G continues:
...I don’t need John Hawkins or Rick Moran to point out Ayers’ tone of sarcasm. What I’m interested in is the rather pointed tone of the sarcasm - it’s too deliberate, and the question seems too staged - and suggesting that, while Ayers wants to joke it all away, he also very much wants credit. It’s who he is. It’s who they all are.
Goldstein should consider a new career as an Investigative Heckler. He can go around to comedy clubs and yell, "I KNOW WHY YOU SAID THAT, YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY!"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the conservative answer to Earth Hour, called Human Achievement Hour, in which the faithful blazed their lights and fired up their appliances to demonstrate opposition to environmentalism.

In a late entry I missed, Peter Karwowski declares victory:
I did notice that common sense is definitely taking hold.

Driving home at about 9:00, I didn't notice any lights dimmed along the stretch of Yonge Street between Richmond Hill and North York. In fact, when I got home at about 9:15, I took a spin around the block and lo and behold, lights were on everywhere. In fact, it seemed that some houses aside from mine had extra lights turned on to celebrate the occasion.

It was heartwarming.

At that point, I got home and turned out the lights. The point has been made.
My own neighbors were wearing jackets or coats outdoors today, which they must have meant as a sign of disbelief in the Global Warming Fraud. I mean, what else could it mean?
RENT SEEKING. Nicole Gelinas is still beating the drum for an end to rent stabilization in New York, but now she has a new angle -- stabilization advocates should give up because anti-stabilization has already won:
If you look at how much government-protected tenants pay, they’re not getting a break. Sixty-two percent of “rent-stabilized” households paid between $800 and $1,750 monthly in 2008. But 56.8% of vacant non-regulated apartments rented in the same range.

Man bites dog: What the pols and the market have done worked.

Former Gov. George Pataki allowed vacant apartments to escape regulation above $2,000, so between 1994 and 2009, nearly 100,000 units have become unregulated — spurring landlords to invest and compete for tenants. Government bureaucrats have been reasonable about allowing landlords to raise the rent on “stabilized” units, and landlords have maintained them better.

New York has what the pols have long said was their goal: a healthy market...

If the rules expired (with some exceptions for the elderly and poor), chances are things would remain much as they are today.
That is, the apartments still cost an arm and a leg to rent -- and you're much less likely to luck into a deal than you used to be -- but every so often your landlord might re-grout your shower tiles. Thanx, free market! You're every bit the miracle we expected.

So why is she even talking? I thought at first she just wanted to gloat at the rent-poor peons (this is a person, after all, who thinks New Yorkers don't pay enough to ride the subway). But it soon became clear she's in it for the class war:
New Yorkers have gotten tired of people who’ve gotten cheap apartments because of connections or luck...
No poll data cited, of course. This is conservative boilerplate on the order of their anti-union propaganda -- it's based the notion that, if someone else is getting a break, citizens ought to feel resentful and punitive, instead of asking why the system can't be fixed so that they could get similar breaks for themselves. Don't ask for more, in other words -- only ask that others get less.

And in case you were tempted to take her seriously:
In “mixed income” buildings, one person can pay $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom while the person down the hall pays $1,200, not because of appreciable differences in income but because of chance. If the market was allowed to do its job, that $1,200 may go up — but that $3,000 would also likely go down.
Does anyone on God's green earth believe that a landlord getting $3,000 a month in New York City is going to lower the rent, ever? Only if the city collapses -- which a few more years of this bullshit might accomplish.
YA GOTTA DUMB IT DOWN FOR THEM, BILL. You may remember the conservative notion that Bill Ayers ghost-wrote Dreams from My Father for Obama. Back in 2009, Ayers joked with a wingnut about the claim ("if you can prove it, we can split the royalties") -- which the wingnut took as an admission of guilt.

Like many such articles of faith, though its media moment in the sun has passed, the brethren still believe, and collect signs and portents they imagine support it. Now there's this joking exchange at the end of a recent Bill Ayers appearance:

From the transcript :
Ayers: I think [Dreams from My Father]... is quite good.

Question: Also, you just mentioned the Pentagon and Tomahawk …

Ayers: Did you know that I wrote it, incidentally?

Question: What's that?

Ayers: I wrote that book.

Several audience members: Yeah, we know that.

Question: You wrote that?

Ayers: Yeah, yeah. And if you help me prove it, I’ll split the royalties with you. Thank you very much.

Laughter and Applause
Guess that joke never gets old. I got that transcript, and the video, from World Net Daily. And guess what their headline for it is?
Ayers admits (again) he wrote Obama bio
It's too bad Ayers didn't think to say that if anyone believed he wrote the book, he had a bridge he'd like to sell them; he'd be a rich man now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

STAND UP AND CHEER. The makers of Atlas Shrugged: The Movie are soliciting video clips of fans saying "I am John Galt" so they can be "part of Atlas Shrugged history," i.e. marketing.

Having seen these entrants, I will say that if they scrapped the story and just strung together 90 minutes of these clips, I believe we could get it into some European festivals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

TEA PARTY POOPERS. At Big Whatever, Phillip Dennis tells those RINOs to shape up or ship out:
“What is it about the November election that Republican leadership doesn’t understand?” That is the first question I ask any Republican elected official who works in Washington. Each response from the numerous conservative Congressmen has been some variation of “they just don’t get it.” The [unnamed] Congressman who I met with said basically what I already knew, “House leadership has no plan to cut spending, repeal ObamaCare and is not conservative"...

I asked a few friends in November if they really believed John Boehner or Mitch McConnell would ever vote to defund or repeal ObamaCare. Each said “not a chance” at that time. So I give a final word of warning to the Republican leadership: The tea party is not your friend nor are you ours!
Meanwhile at National Review:
Tea Partiers Favor Romney

Mitt Romney captures 24 percent of the Tea Party vote, according to a Pew poll released yesterday. Mike Huckabee came in second...
Some revolution.
LANFORD WILSON, 1937-2011. He died yesterday morning. Wilson hadn't brought out a new play in years, but a revival of The Hot l Baltimore is now in previews at Steppenwolf in Chicago, and his most popular plays are still done regularly by resident theaters. They're crowd pleasers, and they come by their pleasing fairly. Wilson had a great gift for what you might call poetic realism if that term didn't sound so high-falutin'; his characters are grounded and believable even when (as often) they're eccentric, but their language is musically, painstakingly tuned. Any of them -- a stoner musician, a mountain man, an accountant, a prostitute -- might suddenly launch into an aria that will have you momentarily forgetting everything else, immersed in the power and beauty of the words.

Back in the late 70s I had some friends at the Circle Rep, and so got to see Fifth of July and Talley's Folly in their first incarnations, sometimes from the tiny lighting booth in the back. The Wilson play that knocked me out, though, was a little-known one-act called Brontosaurus, about a wealthy, worldly New York antique dealer who takes in her teenage nephew, who has become a suburban mystic-ascetic and a living rebuke to everything the dealer believes. I don't know if anyone can match the fire Jeff Daniels and Tanya Berezin brought to it, but someone ought to try.

UPDATE. The playwright Robert Patrick (Kennedy's Children, The Haunted Host) lived and worked with Wilson back in the day, and has a lovely video reminiscence here.
FORTUNATE IN HIS ENEMIES. In case you're wondering why Obama's doing well in polls despite the fact that America is a fucking mess, take a look at this report from Brian Bolduc at National Review's The Corner:
I just spoke with Michael Openshaw, a member of the North Texas Tea Party. Because I couldn’t fit his comments into my story, I thought I’d add them here. Like other tea partiers, Openshaw takes a pass on the constitutional question — “I’d leave that to constitutional lawyers” — but jumps at the chance to reprimand President Obama for his recent behavior: “You launch a war and go off to Rio?”

More interesting, however, were his comments on the prospect of a Tea Party protest of the Libya campaign. “To go out and publicly rally while our service people’s lives are on the line is not something we’re willing to do,” Openshaw says. “We respect them too much — not the so-called commander-in-chief. You will not see us out there waving signs.” For more tea partiers’ reactions to the military effort, see here.
Not everyone will recognize that "launch a war and go off to Rio" as part of the curious propaganda drive to present the President's recent diplomatic mission as a vacation. But the "so-called commander-in-chief" bit will certainly stir in the imaginations of many normal, middle-class Americans an image of a guy wearing a Napoleon hat and a strait-jacket.

Openshaw clearly can't help himself, but if you read The Corner regularly, you know that such news-like dispatches as Bolduc's are not so much journalism as company-newsletter copy -- they usually consist of a NR guy asking a prominent Republican why Obama sux, and the Republican going on about why Obama sux for several paragraphs, with the NR guy occasionally inserting stuff like, "Prominent Republican cautioned his fellow Republicans against over-confidence" and "Prominent Republican pointed to a recent Rasmussen poll..." etc.

That Bolduc or whoever thought Openshaw, an obvious crackpot, would make a good representative of a major conservative constituency goes a long way toward explaining why people are reluctant to turn on Obama.

UPDATE. Much argument in comments as to whether Obama in fact sux. To badly paraphrase an old saying, he's worse than anything except the current alternatives. But that may not be good enough in 2012; the traditional triangulation devices by which Democratic presidents survive may not function so well in a crap economy. Then all the Republican candidate will need is a convincing line of bullshit -- not a sure thing from what I've seen so far, but doable.

This is why I'm not counting out Palin, despite her current trench in the public's affection. If things stay/get bad enough, even her mindless optimism may convince a desperate nation to take a chance on her. Hell, a few years ago they voted for a black guy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

THE FORGOTTEN MAN. Libya is doing strange things to the brethren. Dan Riehl comes out against the neo-cons!
Below is how Kristol, Kagan and Co. began co-opting the Reagan legacy in 1996 for neo-conservatism. Call it human rights, or democracy, in some ways, the foreign policy of the neo-conservative below - one I doubt we can afford going forward - has more in common with today's Left as described by [Stanley] Kurtz, than it does with Reagan's. In a sense, some number of intellectuals from the Left broke with them years ago. Unfortunately, their intellectual tradition seems to have landed them in the very same place all these years later. Sure, the politics are different given the D vs R divide. But that's simply the window dressing. The foundational principle is inherently the same - and progressive - one could argue, its merely expressed differently purely for political purposes.
Guess what word doesn't appear once in the peroration? "Bush." Which makes sense, because when W was the neo-con of the hour, Riehl was writing stuff like this:
It's unfortunate, I don't think I've ever seen such a lack of leadership in Washington as we are seeing today. Senator's and Representatives who proudly stood up to take what now appears to have been only a purely political stand by supporting and voting for a war they evidently never had the courage to see through. But not Bush. Foremost among many, he seems almost alone now, determined to stay the course.

Mistakes? Misjudgments? Certainly, though if one takes history apart, his are no more significant, or costly than so many of nearly all Presidents who have gone before. His crime is not so much what he has done, but what he will not do - turn away from a pledge he made to America post 9-11.
Riehl's got the right idea. While guys like Victor Davis Hanson are tying themselves into knots trying to explain how Obama's bullshit is different from Bush's, Riehl's just making like Bush never existed. And why shouldn't he? His audience is just as eager to forget.

UPDATE. Riehl's Bush defenestration process can be observed in an earlier post:
If we want to invoke 20/20 hindsight as argument, the single greatest threat to America when Reagan entered office was the Soviet Union. When he left office, that huge and dangerous enemy was destroyed - a thing of the past. Whatever his reasoning, and I've never second guessed it before this, Bush can not say the same for al Qaeda. Instead of focusing more exclusively on Afghanistan and the Pakistan border area, he widened the war to Iraq. I supported it then and still do.
In other words, mistakes were made, and Riehl continues to endorse them while admitting they were mistakes. Because why not? It's not like anyone's paying attention, and if one day a Republican is dropping the bombs, Riehl can say he was for it both before and after he was against it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

GOOD NEWS FOR MODERN MAN. I have to thank Kia for turning my attention to "Defiant Chastity" by Andy Nowicki. The essay starts with fulminations against them sexed-up kids:
If many immigrants to the United States are drawn to the economic opportunities and political freedoms promised by this nation whose very existence rests on the premise of “liberty,” they soon find their children under the spell of a very different kind of “American dream”—one with an unsavory hip-hop soundtrack and a pornographic storyline. In this debased cultural environment, boys learn to be groping, grubby, hedonistic “pimps” and “playas,” and girls learn to be angry, agendized *feministas* and brazen whores, if not both.
I'm going to make T-shirts thus emblazoned: "A *feminista* in the faculty lounge, a brazen whore in the bedroom." I bet I could sell a lot at church socials.

Among the sexual dissenters, Nowicki finds "the 'contemporary Christian' scene" an "all-too-brittle and toothless cultural phenomenon... relentlessly and determinedly bland, cleansed of bad words and racy content, the fare favored by this crowd is usually harmless, shorn of all rough edges." And what's good clean fare without harm?

He is more sympathetic to "one subspecies of the burgeoning punk scene called 'straight edge'" -- Sorry, Ian, like many another pioneer you've been erased from history -- "which makes clean living -- no booze, no drugs, no sex -- a kind of mandatory creed." But though the sXe kids "bring a needed sharp and pointed aesthetic... they generally lack a metaphysical orientation for all of their behavioral prescriptions."

Now it's time for Nowicki's big reveal:
Does chastity stand a chance, when such wholesaling bulldozing of traditional notions of restraint is so ubiquitous? Strangely enough, it does, at least among one particular, and rapidly growing, demographic: Mormons.
Yes, laugh, but Napoleon Dynamite and "Killers frontman and songwriter Brendon Flowers" show the LDS has youth appeal. So: Should right-thinking young'ns line up and get right with Joe Smith?
Lest the reader misunderstand: I am not Mormon, and I’m certainly not advocating a mass conversion to the LDS creed as crucial to any kind of moral resurgence among youth. But I certainly think that the example of Mormondom as a vigorous culture with a transcendent vision which advocates a sexual morality greatly at odds with the free-for-all of mainstream culture represents a model worthy of being followed, regardless of one’s personal beliefs.
"A Catholic in the pews, a Mormon in the bedroom." We'll have a Cafe Press store full of these shirts yet.

Oh, coda:
Indeed, if a hearty culture of chastity and temperance is to re-emergence, it will likely have to take the form of what Catholic author Peter Kreeft has provocatively called an “ecumenical jihad,” uniting moral conservatives of all faith traditions, including atheists and agnostics, against the blight of permissiveness which reigns in America and the West generally today.
I'm guessing that in ecumenical jihad, you get the 72 virgins, but you can only take them to the movies and then shake hands goodnight.

This is the sort of thing that would make James Poulos take up laudanum.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about rightblogger reactions to the Libya adventure. Among the artifacts I didn't have time to get to: at Right Wing News, "The Real Reasons Behind Libya Attack: Petrobras, Soros, 3 Women, “New” U.N. Agenda." Oh, it's deep, people -- wheels within wheels!
Just before he flew to Brazil for his “vacation,” Obama had given permission for Brazil and Petrobras to install a first-ever large, underwater oil storage container in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama is in Brazil now attempting to curry favor for us to buy oil from Brazil. Is bombing Libya and interrupting oil drilling operations there going to improve George Soros’ investment in Petrobras? Is this what this is all about?
You may have been turned off by the author's characterization of Obama's diplomatic mission as a "vacation" (in quotes, though!), but ya gotta admit, making war on an oil-producing Arab nation is something no Republican president would do.

UPDATE. The themes I noticed remain viable, I see. "...our commander-in-chief is an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates," says Mark Krikorian. And I must say, it's something to have Mark Steyn and Michael Potemra nodding along with the Daily Kos. If only it could last!

Friday, March 18, 2011

FERLIN HUSKY R.I.P. He specialized in the lush and lugubrious type of country music I grew up on. This one's prime to me. If you can resist lyrics like "Memories and martinis are mixed up every evening in a honky tonk on Losers' Avenue," I'm not sure we can be friends. Dallas Frazier and Arthur Leo Owens wrote it, and Husky gave it that fine maudlin sound.

UPDATE. A lot of complaints in comments that country ain't what it used to be. Sure, but as I noticed in Texas, there are a lot of players out there who are damn fine, though they rarely break nationally -- too much roughage, I expect. Someone is trying to introduce Hayes Carll into the national bloodstream (I even saw him on Letterman!) and more power to them. I would recommend "Drunken Poet's Dream" or "She Left Me for Jesus." (I also admire that he arrived at these acoustic sessions obviously hung over.) This man can serve in my beloved Country any time.

So, who'll be first to write the inevitable outraged column? Neo-neocon? Someone at American Thinker? The Washington Times? Everyone?

So far the commentary seems limited to search term scammers and social marketing thumbsuckers, but you know it can't last.

UPDATE. A nice surprise! It's a day and a half later, and there's been no movement on this issue. You'd think someone at least would demand that Obama apologize (h/t Hunger Tallest Palin in comments). Perhaps I misjudged this internet. Also in comments, Whetstone lays out the probable cause of the TT.
HACKTACULAR! When Obama was playing it close to the vest on Libya, Ole Perfesser Instapundit nagged and nagged and nagged. Now that there's a U.N.-backed joint military action, the Professor reacts:
They told me if I voted for John McCain, we’d be bombing Arab countries while the supporters of the bombing promised that we’d be greeted as liberators. And they were right!
Etc ("as he looks increasingly ineffectual elsewhere, Obama will take a more aggressive foreign policy approach..."). Reynolds also runs this alarming squib,
HILLARY CLINTON: "Fed up with a President 'who can’t make up his mind.'"
This is the lead fragment from a Daily story, which the reader later learns (if he or she continues, which is unlikely) comes from an unnamed "Clinton insider." (I thought Mark Penn had retired.) It's several grafs before reporter Joshua Hersh starts used sourced quotes, including one from Foreign Policy magazine that repeats an alleged quote from a "diplomat." That's meta!

Oh, look what Benjamin Weinthal just said at National Review's The Corner. Last week Weinthal said, "President Obama and his NATO and EU allies ought to swiftly introduce a no-fly zone over Libya... Obama has an amazing opportunity to end his zigzagging in the region and show that America’s democracy language is not merely empty rhetoric." Today Weinthal says,
Sarkozy: Europe’s Proponent of Bush’s ‘Freedom Agenda’

To get a sense of how President Obama’s Libya (and Mideast) strategy is stuck in a foreign-policy rut, one only needs to look at how French president Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be the only formidable leader on the world stage.
I've got mixed feelings about the Libya crisis myself (though Tim Carney tells me that as a fan of big government I should be in favor of intervention). It would be much more relaxing for me if, instead of judging it on the merits, I could adopt positions randomly, guided by whichever POV made more effective propaganda against some politician at any given moment.

UPDATE. Foreign Policy returns with a named source:
"In the case of Libya, they just threw out their playbook," said Steve Clemons, the foreign policy chief at the New America Foundation. "The fact that Obama pivoted on a dime shows that the White House is flying without a strategy and that we have a reactive presidency right now and not a strategic one"...

"Gates is clearly not on board with what's going on and now the Defense Department may have an entirely another war on its hands that he's not into," said Clemons. "Clinton won the bureaucratic battle to use DOD resources to achieve what's essentially the State Department's objective... and Obama let it happen."
I enjoy the suggested image of Clinton and Gates wrestling on the floor of the Oval Office while Obama sits there going "Duh," but it seems to me that the cooperation of the Arab League is consonant with Obama's outreach to Middle Eastern nations, and that waiting (or conniving) to get it was sort of the opposite of "flying without a strategy." But what do I know, I'm not in the tank -- I mean, a think tank.

UPDATE 2. In comments, Chocolate Covered Cotton makes a good case for staying out:
This is a civil war. One in which the gov't being rebelled against really is awful, and in which the rebels' side really does seem the right one, but it's still no more our concern than the similar civil wars around Africa for which we have no interest in intervening. The only thing that makes Libya different is its oil.
Yeah, funny how that's always a deal-breaker.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

INGRATES. Back in 2007, Michael J. Totten of the lapsed liberal pro-war brigade was telling us in Commentary that, even though a lot of Iraqis still didn't have clean drinking water and many of their villages were rubble, things weren't going so bad, really, not like those stupid liberal reporters were saying.

Today Totten has an op-ed in the New York Post about Libya and why we're not going to put in a no-fly zone:
Here at home, liberals fear and loathe the very idea of another Iraq, which to them is "Vietnam" conjugated in Arabic...
Just had to get that out of the way. But Totten says conservatives aren't quick to get with the program either (apparently he hasn't been paying attention to William Kristol, for which who could blame him).

Now guess whose fault that is.
Few expected Iraq to transition smoothly to a stable democracy after so many years of repression, sanctions and war -- but if Iraqis hadn't responded with such a vicious campaign of violence against our soldiers and each other, the thought of helping Libyans who suffer under similar circumstances wouldn't frighten or disgust quite so many of us.

Iraqis didn't have to attack us after we toppled Saddam Hussein. Contrary to what some seem to believe, guerrilla warfare and terrorism weren't the only options available...
Americans are disgusted by our nation's endless adventure in Middle East, and it's all the Iraqis' fault. The nerve! Back in 2003 we even told them, "Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country," and for some reason they still haven't thanked us.
This may be a good time for Arab leaders and opinion makers to ask themselves what they can do to win over the hearts and minds of Americans.
Judging by what's been going on over there in recent weeks, I'd say they stopped asking that a long time ago.

UPDATE. Some commenters pick up on Totten's deranged-ex-boyfriend vibe ("Why don't you love me, you bitch! I burned your house down for us!" -- Leeds Man). Others notice this weird passage from the op-ed:
Americans fret constantly about whether or not we're doing the right thing to win the hearts and minds of the Arabs. That's one reason Obama was elected (though I can't help but wonder how many Libyans wish John McCain were in the White House right now).
"We do?" "It was??" "You can't???" responds Jason.

I'm just sad that Totten, who has done a lot of reporting from the Middle East, has come to this. I guess he's the modern equivalent of the retired Raj officer who snarls in private clubs that he lived among the blighters for years and they're all worthless savages, every man jack of them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ALL SERIOUS OFFERS ENTERTAINED. The tsimmis at NPR has got conservatives demanding that the subsidized station make some rightwing affirmative action hires. Offering himself for this detail is one Mark Judge, who says he'd "take a job at NPR to balance things out."

This guy has a nose for opportunity, if not the means to follow up. Some years back, under the more right-fashionably pretentious name Mark Gauvreau Judge, he was pushing a swing dancing revival as the answer to sexual promiscuity. When this wore out, he affected to be interested in rock so he could yell at Eminem and Madonna, and made his way through the world peddling similar culture-war bullshit to the Wall Street Journal about the power of exorcism and other tediosities. Eventually the work died up and Judge tried to sell a new movement called "metrocons," which was so lame even other social cons wouldn't go for it.

Now Judge has washed up at the Daily Caller, and clearly wants to be one of the shock troops leading the Long March Through the Institutions. He claims that he "once wanted to freelance for Slate," and scoffs at "bilious media critic" Jack Shafer's contention that liberals tend to flock to such jobs and make better candidates. "But hey," adds Judge, "they hired Dave Weigel, the Journolist libertarian who — shocker! — has turned out to be a liberal" -- which, while a ridiculous mischaracterization of Weigel, does show prospective commissars that Judge can remember and repeat even long-forgotten talking points, which may gain him an advantage when the wimp-asses at NPR eventually surrender to them a wingnut sinecure.

If you think Judge is too much of a buffoon for this work, consider that CNN hired Erick Erickson, who I'm not confident can tell time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightblogger reaction to the disasters in Japan. The main idea: We need more nuclear power plants in America, since the meltdowns in Japan aren't as bad as they could have been, and with the Tea Party days of free-market safety standards upon us, we're sure to handle them responsibly.

As we have seen, big-media conservatives have been on this case too. I know they're supposed to be Bizarro Alinskyites, but they seem to have badly misapprehended the idea of "never let a crisis go to waste." Either that or they're going for a Springtime for Hitler effect.
WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE TRACTORS? You may recall a few weeks back that William Jacobson found I had picked the wrong number from a story about union demonstrations, which I then corrected, leading an invasion of trolls to insist the correction meant that my whole article was wrong. Professor Jacobson said this gave him a "great morning."

This weekend there was another huge union protest in Madison, and the Professor went in search of more morning thrills. Here's what he came up with:
The New York Times reported that "Farmers descended on the Capitol in Madison to protest the budget bill, trundling around in a brigade of tractors," and featured a photo of someone on a tractor in its story about the protest yesterday in Madison.

A brigade of tractors? I realize The Times probably was using the term figuratively, but even so, since a brigade typically is 3,000-5,000 soldiers in number, certainly The Times was talking big numbers of tractors in Madison, right?
The Professor determines there were only 50-60 tractors, which means that the references to a brigade had been "fanciful exaggerations by people who bitterly cling to the glory days of the 1930s union movement, not realizing that the world has passed them by." Sure, something like 100,000 people attended, but there weren't enough tractors, and that's the important thing. Soon the Professors' minions will be out demanding apologies.

I'm sure Jacobson got another good morning out of this, but he's kind of like the guy you see standing on the corner every morning grinning to himself; eventually you figure out that what at first looked like a positive attitude is just plain imbecility.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

IF ONLY HE'D BEEN AROUND WHEN THE DUKE MADE THE GREEN BERETS. I have sometimes wondered what happened to Christian Toto, a culture warrior whose nonsense but rarely comes to my attention. I see now that he has a website, at which appears his review... of the reviewers!

"Is ideology invading ‘Battle: LA’ reviews?" asks Toto. While admitting that saying the stupid-looking new film "isn’t perfect" is "like saving Julian Assange has trouble keeping secrets" (LOL, #TCOT!), Toto judges the real offense to be evil liberal film critics:
But perusing a few of the critical responses to “Battle” yields something else “wrong” with the film. It doesn’t march lockstep with some critics’ ideological fault lines.
Above and beyond the amazing gall of a kulturkampfer complaining about other people politicizing the arts (hey, at least these critics saw the films first!), it turns out Toto's selection is heavily padded. Here's Toto's bias example from the Washington Post:
Did somebody mention Iraq? “Battle’s” depiction of block-by-block urban combat against an implacable, enigmatic foe evokes Baghdad at its bloodiest. But director Jonathan Liebesman (whose background is in horror flicks) isn’t interested in allegory, nuance or social comment. He just wants to line up platinum-plated space-squids to be blown away.
The critic compares Marines doing an Iraq-style mission to Marines doing an Iraq-style mission. Propaganda! Also:
And Roger Ebert, an avowed liberal, hated the film so much he called anyone who disagreed with him an “idiot.”
An avowed liberal having strong opinions is a sure sign of treason. And Toto seems not to know that comments such as "the film is plainly cut from the mold of old-school military propaganda films and rejected 'Call of Duty' missions" are what we on planet earth call "jokes."

Taken all together, the message seems to be, "Liberals totes kept me out of the Film Society of Film Critics. I'll show them!"

UPDATE. Toto complains in comments. He thinks I was suggesting that he hadn't seen the film; the passage in question refers to the modus operandi of other conservative critics, which was perhaps unclear. Sometimes I neglect to explain my jokes for newcomers. Speaking of which, Toto continues:
Your example of a joke isn't a joke, it's a colorful way to express an opinion. Jokes are funny. This comment isn't.
It seems explaining the jokes wouldn't have helped in any case.
BEYOND PARODY. I was joking that now would be a good time for Republicans to push for nuclear power. But Media Matters shows us that some of them have already done so at Fox Business.

These lunatics are saying that the Japanese reactors got through the tsunami "without a dent," which proves that we should get nuclear plants up and running now. Among the choice quotes: "Regulations don't make ya safe, safety makes ya safe!" Also they claim wind power is more dangerous than nuclear because a hawk flew into a turbine.

I've tried for years to figure out what motivates them, but I'm leaning toward the explanation that they were sent by aliens to destroy the human race. (h/t zpleat)

UPDATE. Ole Perfesser Instapundit doubles down, publishing an alleged letter from a constituent who tells us he's in Tokyo. While "alarmed at the nuclear crisis unfolding in Fukushima," the reader points out no skyscrapers collapsed, "so let’s not trash nuclear energy and Japanese engineering, please." If you question the safety of nuclear power, you're attacking Japanese engineering! Years of claiming people who oppose their politics are therefore opposing America have left them with this mental tic, I guess.

Most normal people are actually celebrating Japan's rigorous building codes, which probably saved many lives and are the sort of thing modern conservatives consider Big Gummint, fascist, etc.

UPDATE 2. Commenter MikeJ observes, "Any time something horrible happens Republicans will say we need to have more of it right here. The only thing surprising is that so far I haven't heard any Republicans argue that we should have an earthquake."

Friday, March 11, 2011

DISPATCHES FROM THE CULTURE WARS. Drew Patterson in L.A. alerted me to this attack on Glee by an admitted fan of Glee, California Family Council CEO Ron Prentice, who hath repented.
I fell prey to temptation. My ears were being tickled. But I have corrected my path!

Last night, I watched Glee for the last time. A television show about a group of high school students in their school’s musical performing club, their teacher (Will Schuster), and other faculty members of the school, Glee has devolved into a worldview-training course. And its worldview is without hope.
Devolved? You mean it started out like Seventh Heaven with pop and show tunes? Prentice would have you believe so:
Standard to the majority of television series, the first season impresses viewers with good story lines, and in this case, exceptional musical talent. Then, more overt worldview messages enter into the scripts.
Apparently Glee caught this Christer with Grease, Les Miserables, and Madonna sing-alongs, and then to Prentice's shock it suddenly turned out to be full of homosexuals and teen couplings. It has to be a conspiracy!

My guess is, other members of the council walked in on Prentice dancing around the TV to "Sweet Transvestite" and singing into a hairbrush, and he had to come up with something.

Speaking of O Jesus, The Anchoress finds "Another Reason to Defund PBS": The Sesame Street parody of Mad Men.
Mad men, sad men and … happy men?

Is it too difficult for Sesame Street to teach the concept of gladness? While watching this video, everything in me was screaming, “glad! GLAD! You’re GLAD MEN!”

They missed an opportunity to make education dynamic: “This makes me happy! This makes me GLAD!”
Of course if they had, she'd be yelling about this.
Add “glad” and you’ve given the children the concept of a synonym, plus a fun rhyme, and you’ve added a little wordplay for the adults.

Instead, this is dumbed-down, and maddeningly less than it could be...
A rightwing fake nun watching children's television has no right to complain about anyone or anything else being dumbed down.

But let's not just pick on the Jesus people when there are plenty of quasi-secular conservative intellectuals to pick on. In this regard, National Review's Phi Beta Cons blog is a treasure trove. Carol Iannone reads Antonia Fraser's account of her mostly happy life with the late Harold Pinter, which fills Iannone with literally incoherent rage:
Ha ha, but the laugh is on us. So while Pinter was enjoying his high-level marriage of refined intellectual equals in the British upper class, he was inflicting on his servile public a dark vision of obscure miseries, casual cruelties, inarticulate vulgarity, strangled miscommunications, and menacing silences in sordid rooming houses.
Also, centuries earlier, Shakespeare wrote tragedies and then went out to pubs and told jokes. And wrote comedies! Later, Inannone follows up:
A reader wants to know my point in my Pinter post.
You could go read it, but it doesn't get any funnier than that opening.
NOW SHE TELLS US. Peggy Noonan used to love Donald Rumsfeld ("these days he seems, as leaders go, a natural... As a communicator he's clear as clean water," etc) but now she's mad at him because he seems to have spent his recent memoirs deflecting blame from himself for the clusterfuck in Afghanistan. In fact she wants to take that book of memoirs and "break its stupid little spine."

It's not her last violent thought. Eventually our Crazy Jesus Lady gets around to talking about why we are in Afghanistan, despite our citizens' disgust at the enterprise. Followers may recall that Noonan was as recently at 2009 telling us that "Afghanistan is a great American undertaking," but was very unclear as to what the goal of that undertaking might be; she talked about what other people were thinking and saying (actually, mainly that they were thinking and saying indeterminate things), and implied of course that Obama had it all wrong, but didn't give us her own view on the subject, other than it was great and American and an undertaking.

Well, in today's column Noonan offers a little clarity:
If you asked most Americans why we went into Afghanistan in the weeks after 9/11, they would answer, with perfect common sense, that it was to get the bad guys—to find or kill Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda followers, to topple the Taliban government that had given them aid and support, to destroy terrorist networks and operations. New York at the time of the invasion, October 2001, was still, literally, smoking; the whole town still carried the acrid smell of Ground Zero. The scenes of that day were still vivid and sharp. New York still isn't over it...
Yeah, yeah, cut the bagpipes and get on with it.
...America wanted—needed—to see U.S. troops pull Osama out of his cave by his beard and drag him in his urine-soaked robes into an American courtroom. Or, less good but still good, to find him, kill him, put his head in a Tiffany box with a bow, and hand-carry it to the president of the United States.

It wasn't lust for vengeance, it was lust for justice, and for more than justice.
As you may have noticed long before now, that box was never delivered, and now Noonan says:
The failure to find bin Laden was a seminal moment in the history of the war in Afghanistan. And it was a catastrophe. From that moment—the moment he escaped his apparent hideout in Tora Bora and went on to make his sneering speeches and send them out to the world—from that moment everything about the Afghanistan war became unclear, unfocused, murky and confused.
I wish someone had told us at the time that we were just there for the head of Osama Bin Laden and that, once we had established that we weren't going to get it, we could split. Oh well, too late now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

MOVING TARGET PRACTICE. Standing up for white men in America, Robin of Berkeley. She was filling out an "application to be a provider for an insurance panel" (presumably because she's a licensed psychotherapist) and the application rudely asked if she were gay or Asian.
What also occurred to me while filling out the application is that every special category exists aside from that of a white, straight male. If someone is gay or a woman or a person of color, the welcome mat is laid out. But what about an ordinary Joe, a working-class stiff from Toledo?
I think a working-class-stiff set-aside would liven up any insurance panel, particularly if they waived the professional requirements... oops, next graf suggests she's talking about college admissions:
How does he get into college when all the recruitment efforts are aimed at others?
Cut to a factory clerk longingly gazing upon the gates of his local college, then hanging his head dejectedly as he remembers that college is for differently-abled lesbians of color.
Some young men turn to the military as a way of accessing needed funds for college. What are the consequences?

They are, in fact, grave: white, working class men are at much higher risk of being mortally wounded in the battleground than their privileged counterparts.
Privileged counterparts including non-white working class men? Whoops, new thought follows:
And while the working class risk their lives, the snooty elite go to college on daddy's dime.
You get the picture: The admission privileges allegedly enjoyed by minorities are easily conflated with the privileges enjoyed by rich people. The only ones left holding the bag are poor white men.
After decades of grievances, we haven't turned into a fairer nation; we're simply an angrier one.
Well, some of us are clearly angry.
In the age of Obama, aggrieved groups have joined together to demand their rights, endeavoring to put the white man under their thumb.
Unsurprisingly, there are no evidentiary links in that section.
Now men are marginalized and demonized. They are given the demoralizing message that they are unnecessary.
OK, we've made the leap from poor men to men in general, now let's take it a step further:
The United States would cease to operate if conservative white males went on strike tomorrow (not necessarily a bad idea, by the way). We'd do just fine shorn of most of the metrosexual crowd -- the college professors and the activists. But we'd crash and burn without the manly man. It's he who does the essential work that others cannot, like patrol our streets, extinguish fires, and drive tractors.
Conservative white males! If George Will, Mark Steyn and Charles Krauthammer throw down their tools, the nation will be consumed by flames, leaving only the vanishingly small coterie of metrosexuals who put Obama over the top to ask one another, "Which end goes on the hydrant?"
As a former progressive, I know how tempting it is to blame others for our own problems.
No comment.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

ANOTHER MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA. Charlie Sheen has been fired, and I weep that Two and a Half Men, the sitcom of our age, is no more. But like my mother always said, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and put vodka in it. Here's my pitch, Charlie: Bring back Playboy After Dark. Check out this vintage clip from the show of Hugh Hefner discussing philosophy with LeRoy Neiman:

The Playboy Penthouse as Plato's Cave! Now imagine Sheen taking Hef's place and discoursing, in an After Six tux and with a goddess on his arm (oh, right, two goddesses), on the "worldwide renaissance of me." It's a snug fit, no? Sheen, having none of Hef's savoir faire, will be more jagged and obscene, and more apt to inflict Korn on his guests than the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Shel Silverstein, and Lenny Bruce, but we must make some concessions to the times.

Also he should get this guy to tend bar.

Monday, March 07, 2011

(TBOGG AND SADLY NO EACH DID ONE, SO I GUESS I MIGHT AS WELL TRY A) SHORTER ROSS DOUTHAT: Let's go back to scaring kids out of having sex. This time it's sure to work!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Charlie Sheen phenomenon and the rightblogger reaction to it. There was sufficient insanity to fill the bag, so I left out some interesting bits, like Conservative Oasis' o-tempura-o-s'mores Hollyweird lament:
We have as a country regressed intellectually I think. We don’t, I believe, still treat ourselves to the penchant of a mild mannered, wise and thoughtful reprise to a more gentle and innocent introspection of ourselves. We want to be wowed. We don’t think about why, or the consequences. We just want to be wowed. Show me the freak show! Show me the daredevil that is really jsut a dumbass! Show me the disintegrating millionaire Hollywood asshole! Show me the whore, the junky, the youthful superstar sweetheart that has turned into the bitch who shows her crotch as she gets out of the car!
This monlogue should be spoken in an increasingly loud and strangulated voice by Harris Yulin while holding a Polaroid camera in a cheap motel room.

Friday, March 04, 2011

JONAH GOLDBERG, GAY MARRIAGE, AND CHARLIE SHEEN: LINKBAIT FOR SURE. For your edification and my sins, I have examined a video interview by James Poulos of Jonah Goldberg on the subject of -- shudder -- gay marriage.

Poulos is bothered that judges may legislate America into gay marriage. But he's an intellectual, so not for him the usual goldurn-activist-judges yak.

"The problem isn't that judges are usurping the role of legislators," he says, "but that they're really usurping the role of philosophers. So as far as I see it, there's no way to get the gay marriage outcome through the courts without basically importing a new metaphysical view into the law as it stands."

Goldberg seems to like this "metaphysic" thing -- sounds fancy! -- and so lunges, grabs it, drops it, and watches it roll through a sewer grate. This section I reproduce entire:
…we now expect judges to do things that judges are not particularly well inclined to do. If you're gonna have people decide on a new metaphysic, if you're gonna have people decide, what were the crazy Kennedy decision about the sweet mystery of life kind of thing where they're gonna define what it means to be a human being in the universe? Then why have guys who go to law school do that? I mean it's sort of crazy. Why not have philosophers on there or theologians or just all-around really wise people from different walks of life?
This confirms my suspicion that Goldberg writes his columns by dictation.

Ultimately, Goldberg would "just push [gay marriage] all the way down to the most local level possible and if states or communities that don't want to recognize gay marriage don't want to recognize it, then they don't have to and vice versa." So he's sorta okay with gay marriage so long as it comes with states' rights. Or vice-versa, which I suspect for him means "whatever."

Poulos rolls a clip of Robert Scheer discussing gay marriage and saying "people define their own sense of happiness." Aha, says Poulos: "That leap from separation of church and state to separation of our individual sense of happiness from the content of the law, this is, as you I think hinted, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey all over again" -- now Goldberg's thinking, I gotta call this guy next time I forget junk like that -- "the plurality opinion there, about sort of the mystical experience of defining your own personal happiness. The idea, though, that law has no authority to reflect an understanding about the meaning of life, that itself is a metaphysical or religious idea, isn't it?"

"This is more your stomping ground than mine," says Goldberg, clearly dazzled. "I mean, but you cannot get out of the business of establishing sort of sweeping truths -- if you say the court can't impose sweeping truths, you're essentially establishing a sweeping truth, and all those sophomoric games we can play. The thing that bothers me about this -- or one of the things, I should say…"

Among the subsequent flailings: Atheists in the 19th century would find gay marriage absurd; Barney Frank is a hypocrite because he doesn't support polygamy; and "the difference between men and women are according to every biological textbook grounded quite firmly in nature."

Also, it's "ultimately an argument about elite populism," a term new to me, which Goldberg helpfully explains: "There's just a lot of people who now have decided that they want to redefine what the institution of marriage is, and because they have numbers and influence on their side they can make an argument that actually doesn't persuade very much I think on purely rational terms simply because it's a matter of power politics." So: Elite populism occurs when lots of people support an idea, which yet remains an elite opinion because Goldberg doesn't agree with it.

Poulos interprets the Frank anecdote as a sign of "tension that exists on the left," presumably between the left's warring monogamist and polygamist factions. Then he asks Goldberg what he thinks marriage is for.

"Historically, up until about five minutes ago, marriage was for forming the core basis of the family, right?" says Goldberg. "I mean I think that's sort of evolutionarily, historically the most obvious statement. It was a matter of forming a unit of two, a team of companions..."

Poulos, showing some spine, says yeah, but what does Goldberg think? The ploy seems to unnerve Goldberg:

"I'm more open-minded about some of this stuff," he stammers. "I mean marriage ultimately is what people who are married say it is, right? At some point a lot of these political institutions, they take on the meaning that people invest in them. And I am not the guy you want to have on if you want to me to make can objective have voice of God theological argument for the institution of marriage, even though I have great respect for that version of it…"

I'll be damned: Goldberg has imbibed some of that new metaphysic, and become a squish on gay marriage! But you know it can't last:

"In the Judeo-Christian Western tradition, marriage has meant something very specific for a very long time," he remembers to say, and so "from a libertarian perspective, I have great amount of trepidation about reaching in and just yanking out and messing around with an institution like that --"

(Libertarian perspective? Forget it, he's on a roll.)

"-- when you don't know what all the consequences are. It brings to mind Chesterton's famous parable about the fence…" Oh God.

"I hear your view on this," says Poulos charitably. He agrees that everyone's going gay and "this was captured in the Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are All Right," which he finds "an icon of where I think we're at in terms of mainstream culture right now. But culture is a funny thing, right, it can be stubbornly unofficial in some ways." (I pause to appreciate this rare acknowledgement by a culture warrior that culture may not be, at least on some occasions, within reach of his lance.)

"So you can have a very tolerant or even celebratory culture toward gay marriage," Poulos continues, "where nevertheless people tacitly understand that there is some kind of qualitative difference, between a gay household and a family with a biological dad and mom and kids…" Ah, rapprochement -- you can have your gay marriage, so long as we can keep our disgust at it.

"So a lot of conservatives I think would ultimately settle for that if that's where it ended," Poulos offers, "but not a lot of liberals would settle for that, I don't think."

Goldberg seems to recognize his cue, but not what to do with it. He points out that he's been in favor of civil unions for 10 years, but are the liberals happy? No, he says; "you have the left bring up hospital visitation rights for gay couples" -- Goldberg actually smirks at this -- " for 20 years now, when this has almost always been --" A spasm of uncertainly seems to seize him: "I think there were some real horrible cases in the very beginning, but for the last 15 years it's been a complete red herring made-up thing, but it so offends people's sensibilities that you can't have the people you love in the hospital room that they want to bring it up." It's amazing how conservatives suffer in the struggle for equality, and the visitation rights thing hardly ever happens.

Suddenly Goldberg remembers he's anti-gay-marriage again! "Let's not call these things marriage," he says, "because marriage is this word and this institution with this other meaning and history." Not only that, Obama's "lying in public" about his "evolving" stand on gay marriage, because really "he's in favor of gay marriage but he wants to get there incrementally." Between this sham anti-gay-marriage stand and Goldberg's forthright if sporadic anti-gay-marriage stand, it's clear which America would endorse if liberals hadn't hornswaggled them with elite populism.

Then Goldberg remembers when gays were against marriage and just wanted to get fucked at the Ramrod, presumably based on his extensive interviews of them, and denounces Andrew Sullivan for his "pro-cruising and anonymous gay sex position, which he was in favor of simultaneously while supporting marriage, which always seemed to me a pretty damning contradiction." Poulos gets excited, states that bourgeois straights as well as gays "especially want to do this kind of oscillating back and forth between the comfy enclosures of their domestic zone and the experience of transgression that they swore off as a full-time lifestyle when they went bourgeois. Case in point, Charlie Sheen…"

Charlie Sheen! Goldberg does his bit to make things worse: "One of the reasons why we're in trouble in this country is that we don't have as healthy institutions as we should, to create more decent people," he says. "Though I still think this is an inherently decent country with vast reservoirs of -- not to keep repeating the word -- decency to draw upon, but when you have people like Charlie Sheen…"

Oh Jesus -- Charlie Sheen is what's wrong with America! Him and gay marriage! Goldberg rolls off to a second lunch, leaving Poulos to editorialize about Marxism, democracy, Plato, and Charlie Sheen, and to declare that "gay marriage is a salient issue but it's not a root issue," and to predict is "homosexuality will only be as mainstreamed, in America at least, as far as Christianity will allow it to go. Judging by the sea change in sexual attitudes we're already witnessing in the churches, that might, at least in the very near future, be rather far indeed." Always leave 'em laughing! Next week: Natalie Portman's fetus and the left's tension over abortion.
SHORTER CHRISTIAN SCHNEIDER: I must admit the protesters in Madison, Wisconsin are polite. But let me put this flashlight under my chin and tell you stories about rowdy protests many, many years ago. And today... those dirty, violent hippies... ARE IN MADISON PLOTTING REVOLUTION! Scared ya good, didn't I?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

FIRST TIME AS FARCE, THE SECOND TIME (AND ALL THE OTHERS) AS FARCE. Back in the fall of 2009, Maggie Haberman of the New York Post was telling the world that, according to understandably unnamed sources, disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer was "considering a run for statewide office next year." His speculated target was either Kirsten Gillibrand's Senate seat or the exalted office of state comptroller. The story was seized upon by other news outlets, despite Spitzer's denials and the general ludicrousness of the idea. The Post delightedly printed the blog musings of Ashley Dupre, one of Spitzer's former hookers, who was said to be "responding to a front-page Post exclusive about Spitzer contemplating a return to office" but mostly defended herself from the scorn of non-prostitutes. The paper followed up with responses from women whom Dupre's remarks outraged or at least annoyed. "Rrrrrrrrr-oww!" went the lede. "The claws came out."

This nostalgic moment is inspired by an item in today's Post by Fox Business reporter Charles Gasparino, who claims the "political class" is "buzzing about [Spitzer] running for mayor in 2013," which he will allegedly attempt as "a self-financed independent, a la Mike Bloomberg." Gasparino says he was told of this ambition "by several prominent city Democrats."

Gasparino also heard that former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso wants to run for mayor, too, in an apparent grudge match against his former tormentor. (Grasso hasn't confirmed, though Gasparino says "I know Grasso is game.") Spitzer has allegedly been inspired to a mayoral run by "his ego-inflating experience as a CNN host (despite its lousy ratings)" and the softball treatment he received in the movies Client 9 and Inside Job.

The column is padded out with a denunciatory recap of Spitzer's career (including a claim that Spitzer "might have actually abetted the [2008 financial] crisis" because as state attorney general he brought charges against the CEO of AIG), and ends with the bold prediction that "Spitzer will chicken out rather than face the possibility of a more balanced depiction of his record."

Reactions to Gasparino's column are rolling in: "One gets the sense [Spitzer] is just biding his time until he can get out of the media business," says The Business Insider. "That out may come in the form of a NYC mayoral run in 2013, according to Charlie Gasparino." "Charles Gasparino says the former brothel client may run for mayor of New York City in 2013," says NewsMax.

"Pretty astonishing, I know, that disgraced ex-governor -- and low-rated talk-show host for CNN -- Eliot Spitzer would be thinking about running for mayor of New York," says The Cable Game. "But FBN's Charlie Gasparino has the story in today's New York Post, and reprinted in The Business Insider, including additional names of who might run for the mayorship in 2013." What more proof do you need? "With Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) as the Democratic candidate, this could be the best political race ever," says Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.

Some people say that America suffers because our citizens don't follow current events in the news, but increasingly I'm convinced that it suffers because they do.
HBO Making A Male “Sex And The City”?
It's to be masterminded by Doug Ellin, creator of Entourage. Fuller vs. at The Huffington Post:
"It's something I've lived with my friends," Ellin said. "People were thinking that 40 is the new 20 and their life is all set -- and all of a sudden they woke up one day and had no money."
Wow, relevance. It's refreshing to see the everyday problems of little people --
Set to star in a role modeled after that conundrum is Ed Burns, who will play a wealthy banker who finds himself holding the bag after his bank collapses.
Whoops. In the first ep, Burns decides whether to use his severance to finally get his Ph.D, or on a big blowout for himself and his buddies on Whore Island. Then, everyone goes artisanal-shaving-gear shopping!

And yet we couldn't get the characters of Peter Bagge or myself on TV. Hmph.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

TESTIFYIN' FETUS. I'm surprised the plan to have a fetus appear as a witness at an Ohio legislative meeting hasn't reminded anyone else of this bit from That's My Bush:

That's My Bush!
Anti-Abortion Leader
Tosh.0Funny JokesThe Comedy Awards

Yeah, it's in bad taste, but isn't everything these days?

UPDATE. Thanks, I guess, to commenter Jason for alerting me to the webcomic Umbert the Unborn, about a remarkably well-developed and talkative fetus. It includes a kids page featuring Vita the Viable. The whole thing makes me sorta wish I'd been D&C'd so I wouldn't have to witness it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

FREEDOM! HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FREEDOM! I see Kay Hymowitz is on book tour for Manning Up, talking about how men have been so badly damaged by feminism that they've retreated into PlayStation and porn.
Let’s call it gender bait and switch. Never before in history have men been matched up with women who are so much their equal — socially, professionally, and sexually. By the time they reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors — in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. They very reasonably assume that the women they are meeting at a bar or cafĂ© or gym are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.

That’s the bait; here comes the switch. Women may want equality at the conference table and treadmill. But when it comes to sex and dating, they aren’t so sure. The might hook up as freely as a Duke athlete. Or, they might want men to play Greatest Generation gentleman. Yes, they want men to pay for dinner, call for dates...
Like women weren't confusing to men before the Dawn of Co-Ed Soccer. Anyway, fewer Americans are getting married, which is an undesirable result for some reason (pitchfork proctors in Hell couldn't get me to read Hymowitz's book, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the idea that marriage increases your earning power), and so must be nagged into it.

This theme has become a popular favorite, at least among the deepthink crowd. Little Miss Attila feels it too, and insists everyone else agrees, even liberals:
Right now, we live in a culture in which the structure of male-female relationships is broken, and everyone senses it. When I talk to my lefty friends, they acknowledge that as well, but they would really like it to be the fault of corporations, so they tend to talk a lot about “making sex into a commodity.”
I haven't heard this argument yet at the liberal clambakes I attend; maybe it's currently big in Portland and destined to sweep the nation next season.

LMA tries to be playful about it ("I, for instance, planned to be a sexually active spinster all my life, until I fell in love..."), but her prescription is less sex. "We have to get back to a place wherein 'sexual freedom,' as a cultural norm, actually includes the freedom to say 'no,'" she stresses. You'd think freeborn Americans already enjoyed this right, but apparently the "culture" took it away from them, so that "what was possible became a mandate."

Thus, I suppose, "Manning Up" starts with admitting that we are powerless against culture, and have to be liberated from it by new ways of thinking: "Erotic restraint has to be acknowledged as the wiser course," says LMA, "rather than treated as weirdness." She doesn't say how this change will be affected -- maybe national Promise Rings legislation, or a new edition of Nancy Reagan's Dating Do's and Don'ts.

No such discussion is complete without the contribution of Dr. Ace O. Spades, who tells those man-hating feminists at length that they're the ones to blame for prostitution being illegal, and that they're only hurting themselves with a "Sexual Arms Race" that "leads to increased pressure on other women to behave, sexually, in a way they would prefer not to." (Again with the strange compulsion to be sexy against their wills! I thought conservatives were the personal-responsibility people.) Ace hurtles to a spectacular and perhaps literal climax:
Silly third-generation feminists watched Melrose Place and didn't realize it was fantasy inverted-world wish-fulfillment, but in fact was describing actual reality, or at least the way the world could be and should be, if dirty men weren't screwing everything up by insisting that Heather Loclear settle down and marry someone.
Little Miss Atilla thinks this post "did, I think, have a few stereotypes hitchhiking through it, but still made some good points." So they can work together! The strategy planning sessions should be awesome.