Friday, June 29, 2012

DON'T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR SINGLE PAYER. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the ACA, a dog's breakfast of industry bribes that enables minimal coverage for all Americans, I have been enjoying the weeping of the wingnuts. I'm keeping my powder mostly dry for Sunday night's Voice column, but here's one of my current favorites: Paul Krugman wrote a typically reasonable column about the ACA, calling it "an act of human decency that is also fiscally responsible. " Near the end he says,
But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal to help Americans with pre-existing conditions, Americans who simply can’t afford expensive individual insurance, Americans who lose coverage along with their jobs. But it has long been obvious that the opposition’s goal is simply to kill reform, never mind the human consequences. We should all be thankful that, for the moment at least, that effort has failed.
This is how libertarian T.P. Carney, whose sad case we have considered before, reacted:
The butthurt is strong with this one.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SHORTER NICK GILLESPIE: How about if we call them "Food Stamp Queens" instead? Maybe then people won't notice we're assholes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

IT'S A SMALL WORLD. At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson snarls at the proles and their déclassé leader:
Could somebody please get Barack Obama to shut up about “outsourcing” until some undergraduate aide has explained to him what the word means? As it stands, the president is showing himself an ignorant rube on the subject, and that is to nobody’s advantage. 
The Obama campaign, as you probably know, has been running ads denouncing Mitt Romney’s role at Bain Capital, in which Romney made various business deals that had the effect of making a whole lot of money for Bain’s customers while also allowing a lot of dirty foreigners to eat, and God knows the world would be better off if a billion-some Chinese were hungry and desperate, that being an obvious recipe for global stability.
I think there must be some small, special sub-audience at rightwing publications, possibly comprising Megan McArdle and a couple of her commenters, who think that normal Americans watching their jobs and their whole economy circle the drain should give a shit about the Chinese the way rich investors do.
Because the Obama campaign knows that one of its most important constituencies is economically illiterate yokels — a demographic to which the president himself apparently belongs — it is on the airwaves claiming “Romney’s never stood up to China — all he’s ever done is send them our jobs.’’ (Whose?)
"Whose?" You know, to people like this, Americans today are like Mau Maus, Apaches, or any other dispossessed indigenous peoples; when they demand back what was theirs, the Williamsons snort and wonder how these wretches could possibly claim such a right --  was it they, after all, who built this perfectly lovely foreign office, pavilion, and fountain? Well, maybe their labor built it, but the thinking was all the colonizers' -- all the wretches did before was live on it, fulfilling in no way the demands of global capital. "Whose?"

What Williamson's defending is well-explained in BusinessWeek, where they don't have to try as hard to bullshit anyone. The magazine discusses the trend away from sending jobs to India (you will note they use "offshoring" and "outsourcing" more or less interchangeably):
[Latin America and eastern Europe] are challenging the subcontinent’s dominance in outsourcing as American corporations increasingly ship higher-level jobs offshore. India had substantial advantages in offshoring’s first phase: plenty of English speakers to staff call centers and enough tech talent to run remote data-processing and computer support centers—all at about a 60 percent discount to stateside workers. But having wrung substantial costs out of back-office functions, U.S. companies are exporting skilled white-collar jobs in research, accounting, procurement, and financial analysis. 
Because these jobs aren’t mass-processing functions, India’s forte, there are greater opportunities for countries such as Argentina and Poland, which have higher labor costs than India. Using an outsourcing firm to hire an entry-level accountant in Argentina, for example, costs 13 percent less than a similar U.S. worker, while an Indian worker would cost 51 percent less. But many employers moving higher-end jobs offshore care about more than just getting the lowest wage. “The higher-value outsourcing jobs require a greater understanding of business context and a higher amount of interaction with clients,” says Phil Fersht, chief executive officer of HfS Research, a Boston outsourcing research firm. 
Cities such as São Paulo have large groups of young people with engineering and business school degrees who speak English and are capable of doing everything from developing video games to analyzing mortgage defaults for U.S. companies...
In other words, having laid waste to American blue-collar jobs with cheap equivalents overseas, they plan to do the same with executive and even lower-management functions. (C-suite types, of course, needn't worry.) You have to spend a bit more up front, but in the long run it's worth it! 

The same people who used to bitch about foreign aid are now telling us we should be happy that our livelihoods have been wealth-extracted, because some of the skim went to workers in other countries. Are these fuckers still wearing American flag pins? The things should be setting their lapels on fire.

UPDATE. Some commenters recognize Williamson's POV as a libertarian schtick. Yes, it is -- see McMegan Junior Grade Katherine Mangu-Ward sneering at protectionists who "make the case that American jobs are intrinsically better or more valuable than Chinese jobs" and their "skewed, provincial view of the world."

Bonus it-figures from Mangu-Ward's item: "Matt Yglesias blogs about the story here, and his analysis is spot on." Yglesias, whom Chuck Gilligan more recently finds defending Apple's $22,800/yr as the correct wage for "geniuses" (those of us who are not geniuses will of course have to make do with less), will in the Romney Administration join the New York Times as its token liberal columnist.

Monday, June 25, 2012

SHORTER ROGER L. SIMON: Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, Living like an animal! The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master! I will perfect my own race of people. A race of conservative filmmakers which will conquer the world! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, following some of the more miserable rightblogger Pride Week posts. The Rod Dreher one is a pip -- a long passive-aggressive whine about how unfair it is that the New York Times is nice to gay people, and Rod Dreher has to put up with it week after week because the New York Post is a piece of shit. I couldn't get too deep into it, or I would have included this:
The point is, even though its fortunes have been diminished over the past decade, as have the fortunes of all newspapers, the Times has unparalleled power because it has the attention of elite opinionmakers. Media bias exists not in telling people what to believe, but in framing the context for which an event or phenomenon can be understood. A paper as powerful as the Times may never tell its readers that America should go to war with Freedonia, but if it devotes hugely disproportionate coverage to the wickedness of Freedonia, and the noble efforts of anti-Freedonia Americans, then we should not be surprised when public opinion moves steadily in favor of war with Freedonia. All decent people support war with Freedonia, right? What kind of unpatriotic Americans oppose war with the wicked, liberty-hating Freedonians? You see how this goes.
That's one hell of an example. I know the Times has supported imperialism in its own way many times, but given that at the start of the last big war, when you could at least hear some dissenting voices at the Times, Dreher was all in for the big win, that takes balls, or whatever Dreher has instead of balls.

Friday, June 22, 2012

SHORTER BYRON YORK: Obama didn't like the dull, soul-sucking corporate job he briefly held before devoting his life to public service, whereas Mitt Romney loved the choice gigs to which his status as the son of a governor entitled him, and firing people. I think we know which candidate Americans will relate to. [pushes in nose, rolls out lower lip, sticks out tongue]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

JESUS, FREAK. Mmm, that was a nice dinner. Wonder if there's something about the Terrible Obamatyranny of Birth Control for Catholics at National Review this evening... Oh, here we are, Michael Potemra:
The U.S. publication of the new biography Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, by John Guy, could not be more fortunately timed: The recent controversy over the changing of HHS rules in a way that erodes previous protections for religious freedom has put the issue of church-state conflict near the top of the American agenda.
I wonder if they'll use this as a book cover blurb.
We all grew up with the story of the angry King Henry II thundering to his associates, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” As Guy points out, this phrasing is apocryphal. More reliable reports render what the king said as follows...
I see Potemra's a student of Amity Shlaes' "when in doubt, pad it out" journalistic method.
King Henry’s men got the message. (Which, incidentally, makes the assassination of Becket the first recorded instance of an executive-ordered drone strike against a domestic opponent.)
Seen a certain way, the graduation of Potemra from Catholic torture enthusiast ("Was it appropriate for a Catholic TV network to provide a platform for a torture advocate? In my view, the answer is yes") to opponent of drone strikes would be an advance. But that would presuppose you could believe anything Potemra says about morality.
The fate of the four assassins offers a cautionary tale about power and loyalty. Far from rewarding their deed, King Henry soon turned on them, and they ended their lives in exile; in the words of a chronicler cited by Guy, they “spent out their lives” in the East, “in fasting, vigils, prayers, and lamentations.” Just two decades after their assassination of Becket, a visitor to Jerusalem found their graves there, with the epitaph “Here lie those wretches who martyred the Blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury.”
Like I said, these guys are all about wish fulfillment. The Administration moves heaven and earth, so to speak, to provide contraception to non-observant employees of Catholics without requiring the Church to pay for it, and Potemra, having expanded this in his mind to an assault on his religion, warns by dire insinuation that all who serve the tyrant Obama -- yea, even unto Kathleen Sebelius! -- will be exiled and buried in unconsecrated ground.

Well, to each his own historical fantasies; I would rather fast forward some centuries to the day Henry VIII finally threw the Whore of Babylon out of England. Good times!  And Harry the Eight lies in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
DO WE HAVE TO BRING HIM? It's charming that Chris Christie likes to go to Springsteen concerts, and it speaks well of him that he can enjoy the concerts despite disagreeing with Springsteen on matters of politics, an admirable trait well beyond the reach of Max Boot and a million other miserable kulturkampfers. Where it all goes wrong in Jeffrey Goldberg's essay is here:
Christie believes fiercely that Springsteen would understand him if he only made the effort.
As would Princess Leia, no doubt.
But here’s what I told him I imagine Springsteen might ask: “Governor, do you really believe it’s a level playing field? Do you really believe that marginalized people even have access to opportunity?”

“Look,” Christie said to the imaginary Springsteen...
I have an overactive, indeed feverish, imagination, but I stopped pretending to challenge my artist heroes like this when I was a little boy. The "I bet if I said to him" style is not exalted by application to rock stars. I love Evelyn Waugh and even if given the opportunity (e.g., in hell) would not dream of trying to talk him out of being Evelyn Waugh so he could reform and spread the good word about single payer. There really is a difference between a nerd and a dork.

Much as I dislike Christie, I blame Goldberg for this. He's insufferable. He seems genuinely hurt on the Governor's behalf that "Springsteen studiously ignores Christie at shows" and that Springsteen "doesn’t seem to care that Christie is the sort of Republican many Democrats find appealing." He bets Springsteen is "confused" that his fans vote for Christie, as he does not have the sophisticated electoral analytic skills of Jeffrey Goldberg at his disposal. (Here's his resume, though!) Plus this:
I asked him if he thought Springsteen was a hypocrite. This suspicion has scratched at me ever since my discovery, a dozen years ago, while visiting Boston to interview one of his guitarists, Steven Van Zandt, that Springsteen and his band had parked themselves at the Four Seasons.
Christie tells him off there, and probably enjoyed having a straight man set him up for his subsequent rant about bootstrap economics. Which, along with Goldberg's opportunity to get funky with a rightwing heartthrob, is really the only reason why this extended bro-hug exists.

UPDATE. Lovely comments. whetstone asks why I disliked Goldberg's article: "I thought rich asshole boomers Jeffrey Goldberg and Chris Christie having a Civics 101 dialogue with Invisible Bruce Springsteen while waiting, pining for their hero to toss a sweaty bandana their way was exactly the Waiting For Godot 21st-century America deserves." You know, I can't argue with that.

Several commenters share Keith's intuition that "so many Republicans have this unspoken assumption that all rich people should vote for them, and that the ones who don't are hypocrites or class traitors." Well, yes. The other latest culture-war boohoo is that Jon Stewart is rich yet he "openly criticizes, condemns and mocks rich Americans," which of course is hypocrisy. I don't know why these guys don't choose literacy as their standard for hypocrisy instead: "Jon Stewart knows how to read and write, yet he attacks Mitt Romney, who also knows how to read and write. What a phony!" That would leave Jonah Goldberg as the only one above suspicion.

I could fill the page with your genius, but
No More Mister Nice Blog also had a good swipe at Goldberg's essay and his commenter Victor's reaction should be backed up:
"I compartmentalize," Christie says.
I guess that's what happens when you have 4 stomachs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ANDREW SARRIS, 1928-2012. Back in my youth I was a film nerd. My high school buddy Jim and I would call each other up when the TV Guide came out on Wednesday and gleefully inform each other that Hatari! was on Channel 11 on Monday. I went to the opening runs of major directors' movies; when I got to New York, I went to the opening nights. I haunted the Thalia and the Carnegie Hall and the Bleecker Street Cinema and Theatre 80 St. Marks, looking for promising curios and oddities. If I went with someone, afterwards we'd get coffee and we (or at least I) would talk feverishly about the movie, whether it was good or bad; if alone, and I frequently was, I would call someone up and bend their ear about it.

Over time I acquired a lot of other things to pay attention to and drifted out of that particular nerddom. But I carried a few valuables away from that experience. First, I was able to feel unashamed love for something most people just think of as time-filling junk, but which I knew was valuable. In a world like the one we live in, this is good training.

Second, it gave me something to be interested in and find out about from writers who were experiencing it and talking about it at the same time I was. The theater was a sometime thing, and literature happened a long time ago, but the movies were always running, in museums and in grindhouses, and some smart people were writing about them.

There were several critics I followed, but Andrew Sarris was my favorite. It had less to do with his style -- there were plenty more stylish, or in any case flashier, film writers -- than with his seriousness -- not sententiousness or solemnity, but the sense you got right from jump that Sarris was seriously interested in the problem of a film, and in the problem of film history which that film, like all of them, had something to do with.

No, it wasn't about solemnity, though I can't think of a joke he ever made that I laughed at. Sometimes he'd drag his own life, or at least his obsessions, into the discussion, and though it was sometimes embarrassing (my friend Bob and I still keep up a running joke about his creepy appreciation of Jodie Foster: "My enchantment has turned to enchainment"), I knew he wasn't bullshitting me, that he wasn't bringing himself into the discussion because he wanted attention, but because he thought it would help explain why the movie in question interested him. He was trying to be clear about his feelings, so that they could be more than feelings and fit the purposes of criticism.

It was Sarris who made me an auteurist, and I still am. It isn't because it explains everything; it only takes a few Stephen Frears movies to convince you that some directors are just talented stage managers and that's all there is to it. And some of Sarris' auteurist conventions were comical ("Less Than Meets the Eye"), as he came to admit. But Sarris was getting at something with his auteurist criticism that, over years of looking at art of all kinds and sometimes making it, I have come to believe in even more strongly than when I was a semiotic-struck kid: That artists in their work express something more vivid and (sometimes) lasting and important than the obvious themes and sensations and craft; that they also express something like personality, which may have very little to do with the personalities they carry around in public, but which is likewise rich and multivaried and mysterious; that this personality is telling its own story, along with whatever plots and concepts the artist might be using; and that to really know an artist's work requires, more than clinical attention to details (though you better cultivate that too), openness not only to what the artist is telling you, but also to who they are.

This is the thing people are talking about when they say, if they mean it, that they love Mozart or Shakespeare or, for that matter, Alfred Hitchcock. And it's the real thing. Sarris did no little to show me that, and for that I loved him.

YOU KIDS GET ON MY LAWN! I see that Michael Gerson has a column about how Obama is the guy who really started the culture war. To Gerson, culture war is working out a way for non-observant employees of Catholic organizations to get birth control while Republicans try to keep it away from everyone, no matter who they work for.

But those of us who've been watching the war for decades know it's not about who Alinskied who, but really about wish fulfillment. Case in point -- Roger L. Simon:
Are Liberals the New Squares?
They've been working this angle since "South Park Conservatism," and it never gets over. And this one isn't going to break the streak:
I mean – do you think Deborah Wasserman-Schultz is hip? This is one of the meanest things I’ve ever put in print or online, but that’s the girl who was standing in the corner at the sixth grade cotillion and you said, “Oh, no. Do I have to dance with her?”
I can see a Simon reader asking "what's a cotillion?" and, after Simon's patient and dreamily nostalgic explanation, asking "Who's Deborah Wasserman-Schultz?"

But give Simon credit --  he seems to have figured out that selling Mitt Romney and Grover Norquist as hipsters is a losing proposition, so he comes up with ringers:
Of course, most can’t countenance this. They continue to believe that government spending is cool, that it is a good thing (how square is that?), but out of the corner of their ears they are beginning to hear a different song: 
Libertarians are the cool guys.
Alas, he never explains this; I like to imagine he was thinking this shot of the Potsie and Fonzie of Freedom would render all argument moot:

The libs don't know, but the Heartland Institute understands.

Surely no actually youngperson will go for this, so you have to wonder who Simon's audience is. The answer: Conservatives of a certain age who remember when the girls thought Alex P. Keaton was dreamy, Nancy Reagan had taste, and Poverty Sucked -- that is, when they were cool. They can't even pretend anymore, but they can sure sit around the klavern and tell each other how not cool the new jacks are. Which is kind of sad, because cool is something that it's only cool to obsess over when you're a kid. 

(I do hope Simon stays on this track, though, and tells us next week he's seen Girls and thinks Mamet's kid looks pretty now that she's stopped dressing like a tomboy.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the latest Obama Hitlerism (the immigration order) and the rightbloggers' latest John Wilkes Booth, Neil Munro.

One of the odder outtakes was Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, who accused Obama of "squandering opportunities for long-term consensus in order to gain short-term political advantage" -- and yes, he was talking about Obama's opportunities with the Republican Congress, whose members will now, per Mirengoff, be "even less likely than before to cooperate with the administration on this issue now that it has acted so high-handedly and in such a patently political manner." Yeah, Obama really blew it with John Boehner there. What might have been! 

UPDATE. Sheriff Joe Arpaio responds by arresting a six-year-old illegal. Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler says it's the fault of Obama and the MSM:
HuffPo headlined this story with that site’s customary balance and restraint:
Joe Arpaio’s Office Arrests 6-Year-Old Suspected Undocumented Immigrant
The headline more than suggests that Sheriff Joe has done something wrong and arrested a little girl all by herself.
Actually, the headline more than suggests (that is, it says) that Arpaio’s Office Arrests 6-Year-Old Suspected Undocumented Immigrant, because that's actually what happened. The other details appear in the parts of the story below the headline, which to be fair may not be something the Tatler's readers ever bother with.

Better still is Preston's family-court-judge lecture to the little Salvadoran refugee girl's parents:
We also shouldn’t exonerate the little girl’s family in all this. Six-year-old girls don’t make the decision to cross borders on their own, they don’t hire the smugglers, they don’t make this trek unless some adult has made the decisions for them. These family decisions to abandon one country and break the laws of another, and continue to break those laws every day, don’t start with the six-year-old...
You and I, we look at this story and see a desperate act by a poor family to give their daughter a better life; Bryan Preston sees it as a young punk shoplifting citizenship because her mother didn't read enough Charles Murray.

Friday, June 15, 2012

HOT AIR. They're actually arguing anti-sharia legislation at National Review, with Ramesh Ponnuru surprisingly against it. Torture enthusiast Andrew C. McCarthy is of course for it, and brings in one David Yerushalmi, "the principal author of the model legislation," as a ringer. Yerushalmi is a pip. He starts out like this:
As a lawyer versed in the jurisprudential traditions of our own constitutional and common law, in the Talmudic law followed by orthodox Jews, and in usul al fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence, I thought I might touch upon the utter incoherence of Mr. Schmitz’s arguments.

Given Mr. Schmitz’s style of disputation, it would be useful to take note of the architecture of Mr. Schmitz’s essay as we critique it.
The stage directions "[scratches cheek with walking stick]" and "[ruffles cape]" seem to be missing. How does this guy win cases? I know ordinary people would look at this cloud of gas and think, "Christ, what an asshole"; maybe judges have a higher tolerance.

Anyway he keeps pumping it out, and eventually gets around to explaining that the Constitution is insufficient to defend Americans from sharia law because of 1.) libel tourism, and 2.) some lady who lost a custody hearing because "the court enforced a Pakistani Sharia court’s judgment of custody in favor of the father even though the mother had argued that she was not provided due process because had she gone to Pakistan to contest the case, she could have been subject to capital punishment for having a new relationship with a man not sanctioned by sharia. "

Libel tourism is not enabled by sharia but by the lower libel bar in England; maybe Yerushalmi should really be defending Americans from the malevolent influence of the Church of England instead of Islam. As for the poor mother, her rough luck appears to be that her old man skipped to Pakistan, and the U.S. court had no authority to make Pakistan a safe place for her to be, so he, untrammeled, got a judgment that the court felt compelled to uphold. But courts uphold unfortunate custody judgments all the time, even without minarets in the background. It's not like a judge has authorized someone getting his hands cut off because some local ayatollah demanded it.

One of the most ridiculous things about Very Serious conservative magazines is that whenever rightwing nuts come up with some boob bait to rouse the masses politically, they come up with lapel-pullers like Yerushalmi to make it look legit and intellectual-like. The average punter will presumably just see the big block of big words and go, "See, that there funny-boy lawyer says Mooslims suck cause-a joo-ris-pru-denshul." But it all falls to pieces when you actually read them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

THICK AS THIEVES. So Michelle Malkin and Juan Williams were on Sean Hannity's Fox show, and Williams was, as usual, playing the good liberal, patiently reciting facts while Hannity bellowed bullshit at him and Michelle Malkin made faces.

It's a living, folks -- and a very good one; as you may recall, back in 2010 Williams was fired by NPR for remarks he made on Fox about being ascared of Muslims, whereupon he was immediately given a two million dollar contract with Fox. Not bad pay for a ten-minute bellow every so often.

After Williams told Hannity, who yelled counterpoint, that Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Valerie Plame case did indeed show that Plame was a covert operative,  Malkin got to recite a set piece in a funny voice: "All you can do, Juan, is say 'Plame, Plame, Plame,' and 'Blame, Blame, Blame, Bush Bush Bush." No, honestly. Go see, it's on around 5:30 in.

This seems to have roused Williams, who told Malkin, "I'm a real reporter, I'm not a blogger out in the blogosphere somewhere, I'm gonna tell you something..." And on he went about how reporters "in a free society, in a free press, reporters go and talk to officials..." which I'm sure is what he thinks journalism is.

Hannity yelled at Williams some more, then graciously gave Malkin "the last word." And what a last word it was. "The American people are sick," said this tribune of the people, "of the kind of snotty condescension from liberal elitist journalists like Juan Williams who tell us that the rest of us are not doing our jobs." Then she demonstrated what that job was, telling us that when Eric Holder was "shamefully approved and nominated to be Attorney General, he had already had a long record of bastardizing national security and the rule of law..." whereupon her skull split open and jets of blood and bile shot out of it, more or less.

We who have free souls, it touches us not. Rightbloggers, on the other hand, immediately declared victory over the hated Lame Stream Media. "OUCH: Epic," hehindeeds Ole Perfesser Instapundit. "Michelle Malkin Smacks Down Juan Williams," asserts The Rightnewz. (No, I never heard of them either, but then I never heard of All American Blogger before he was crowned the Breitbart Laureate of Blogs.) "Whoa!" declares Jim Hoft, "Michelle Malkin ABSOLUTELY Destroys Juan Williams..." etc.

But my favorite response is that of Jammie Wearing Fool: First, because he actually says, "Yet another nail in the MSM coffin." Boy, does that bring me back. How long's the internet been on the verge of killing the MSM now? Ten, twelve years? And yet Williams, as much as Citizen Journamalist Malkin, is still yapping away on the TV -- and making, I am sure, quite a bit more doing it than she is. The MSM is still kicking; journalism, well, that's something else.

But better still, Fool says this:
Considering it was bloggers who came to this boob’s defense after he was canned by NPR, condescendingly referring to Michelle Malkin as “just a blogger” tonight on Hannity wasn’t exactly showing his thanks.
Thanks? Oh, Fool, don't you know? In the immortal words of Bill Fields, never give a sucker an even break.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT. This Bloomberg article is mostly -- like, about two-thirds -- about a famous inspirational quote ("Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not...") traditionally attributed to Calvin Coolidge, and how it probably isn't Coolidge's, but history's funny that way and "the only sure thing one can say at this point about Coolidge and 'persistence' is that our article is not definitive. It is an update. More to come."

Now what sort of lede can you put on that, besides "only read if you're really bored"? Here's the one that appeared:
The White House messed up its history. That’s the contention of critics who pointed to references recently appended to the biography pages of past presidents on the White House website.
Turns out the "messed up" bit of history wasn't the "persistence" thing, but a "Did You Know?" that asserts Coolidge was "the first president to make a public radio address to the American people." No, says the author, it was actually Warren Harding. Which leads naturally (at least in the mind of longtime conservative columnist and How That Bastard FDR Sank America into The Great Depression author Amity Shlaes) to the following:
What the Barack Obama White House did was introduce its own comments and facts to the extant biographies of the presidents on the White House pages. Some commentators such as Seth Mandel at Contentions, the Commentary magazine blog, interpret the effort to draw such parallels as an intrusion on past presidents. Mandel sees the Obama administration comments as evidence that the president, like many of his young devotees, doesn’t “have much memory of the political world before the arrival of The One.” You can agree or disagree with this criticism.
It's like a form of ideological Tourette's: You can't complete a pop history thumbsucker, or a movie review, or a grocery list without spitting up an attack on Obama. Thank God for wingnut welfare, which keeps people thus afflicted from having to beg in the streets.

Oh, by the way:
On this day in 1922, President Warren G. Harding, while addressing a crowd at the dedication of a memorial site for the composer of the "Star Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, becomes the first president to have his voice transmitted by radio. The broadcast heralded a revolutionary shift in how presidents addressed the American public. It was not until three years later, however, that a president would deliver a radio-specific address. That honor went to President Calvin Coolidge.
But that's from the History Channel -- what do they know?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Breitbart Awards last weekend and the rightblogger attendees' attempted panty raids on Netroots Nation. Between Ace of Spades' bizarre refusal of the blogging award and the rightbloggers' weird obsession with Netroots, it's quite a circus. Henceforth, if someone says to me, "Why are rightbloggers supposed to be interesting? They just seem like ordinary Republicans to me," I'll show them this story.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

In what labor officials and lawyers view as a ground-breaking case involving workers and social media, the National Labor Relations Board has accused a company of illegally firing an employee after she criticized her supervisor on her Facebook page.... 
The case involves Dawnmarie Souza, who had to prepare a response to a customer’s complaint about her work. Ms. Souza, the board said, was unhappy that her supervisor would not let a representative of the Teamsters, the union representing the company’s workers, help prepare her response. 
Ms. Souza then mocked her supervisor on Facebook, using several vulgarities to ridicule him, according to Jonathan Kreisberg, director of the board’s Hartford office, which filed the complaint. He also said she had written, “love how the company allows a 17 to become a supervisor” — 17 is the company’s lingo for a psychiatric patient. 
The labor board said that her comments “drew supportive responses from her co-workers” and led to further negative comments about the supervisor. Mr. Kreisberg said: “You’re allowed to talk about your supervisor with your co-workers. You’re allowed to communicate the concerns and criticisms you have. The only difference in this case is she did it on Facebook and did it on her own time and her own computer.”
In case you're wondering why anyone cares about the future of that grody old thing called the labor movement, be reminded that when it's gone, you won't be able to talk about your boss where he can hear you. And he can hear you anywhere.

UPDATE. Some pushback in comments. "Okay, I guess her boss was or is or still is a dick," says one commenter. "I guess the rest of the world needs to know this thing, this bit of trivia about a meaningless conjunction of egos. Is libel still protected speech? Can the dick have a future after the internet?"

This reminds me of the tsimmis among rightbloggers over the restraining order on Aaron Walker. Walker's involved in that Brett Kimberlin mess, and a judge has prohibited him from blogging about Kimberlin for six months. His colleagues are up in arms over the ruling, which they consider an abridgment of Walker's free speech rights.

Being one of those more-speech types, my sympathies are with Walker. And I say, if he has a right to talk unkindly about Brett Kimberlin, surely Dawnmarie Souza has a right to talk unkindly about her boss on her own time and her own dime. Maybe if there's anything left over from that fund they're taking up for Walker, they can send it on to her.

UPDATE 2. Whet Moser informs us he has written (and very well, I would say) about the NLRB's interpretation of protected employee Facebook speech. I find the Board's standards -- which tend to favor "concerted" speech meant to spur or further discussion of grievances, but to exempt "griping" from protection -- insufficient.  Whet's summation is, "if you're going to go on Facebook and say terrible things about your employer, boss, or co-workers, think first, and most importantly, think like a lawyer." I'm sure he calls it right, which is why I'm so against it; I prefer a society than protects human rather than lawyerly activity.

Like M. Bouffant, I propose a third way -- gut the bosses, bathe in their blood, and feast on their herd and kine. Everybody wins! 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

ON WISCONSIN. Well, at least no one has to pay for a recount.

The one significant and ominous thing about the Wisconsin recall election is that most of the voters in a state that is not in the deep South think the problem with our economy is that garbagemen and schoolteachers make too much money.

If this is really the way things are going, then our future will be neo-feudalism, distinguished from earlier variants only by the populist buy-in with which the lords will occasionally refresh their mandate by pointing out to their serfs that someone covered in shit like themselves -- not a celebrity, banker, or manager -- was nonetheless able to build an addition on his house or buy a new car a few years early.

Nothing is certain, but the Almighty has pulled the U.S. out of a lot of jams in the past 236 years and no lucky streak lasts forever. Buy Gold, and by that I mean Cuervo.

Monday, June 04, 2012

THEY'VE GOT THE BUNS BUT WE'VE GOT THE NUMBERS! Garance Franke-Ruta says most people overestimate the gay population of our great nation, and conservatives rejoice -- it's the break they've been looking for! Because if there's one thing they believe about Americans, it's that they're bandwagoners who'll ditch any cause if they think they're outnumbered. "FAR MORE ABNORMAL THAN THEY COMPREHEND," howl the Brothers Judd; "Media Admit Propaganda Overstating Gay Population," cries Culture News. "Will suppression of the truth continue?"

John Hinderaker of Power Line says it's because the liberal media has put so many gay people on TV and, casting about for a more malevolent reason than that gay people are fabulously theatrical,  compares homosexuality to murder -- liberal-propaganda wise:
I can think of at least one analogy to the misapprehension of the frequency of homosexuality that Gallup documents. Some years ago, I saw survey data on how likely Americans believe they are to be murdered. The result was that in general, people vastly overestimate the likelihood of violent death. No doubt the reasons are similar to why they overestimate the incidence of homosexuality. As I recall, that research showed that the more television people watch, the more likely they believe they are to be murdered.
It is something to see a conservative renounce the steady diet of cop shows that has helped his team terrorize the electorate into voting law-and-order for so many years. But wait till the next "Ooga Booga, Obama's black flash mobs are after us" rally is called; they'll flip back around right quick.

At National Review, Mark Steyn reacts just as you'd expect a big old Canuck who loves show tunes would react. Crumbs, Mary, isn't there a Muslim somewhere you can bitch about?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightbloggers' fun with the Elizabeth Warren Indian story; their diligent attention has convinced most Massachusetts voters that it's meaningless and helped raise Warren to about even with Scott Brown in the polls. I'm beginning to think they're on the Warren payroll.

They're still out there doing cultural outreach on the basis of the story, too -- e.g. Wizbang: "Elizabeth Warren helped family flip wigwams for heap big wampum." Don't ever change, guys.
BEYOND EMBARRASSMENT. Kudos to Jamie Kilstein for his clever stunt of challenging Jonah Goldberg, who had yammered about beating the socialism out of young people, to beat the socialism out of him for charity. (h/t  Chad Denton.) But I hope Kilstein didn't expect to penetrate Goldberg's thick skull with his point. You may recall that in 2010, after Goldberg asked why Julian Assange hadn't been garroted yet, John Cook asked at Gawker why Goldberg hadn't been punched in the face yet. Goldberg responded as if Cook had challenged him to a fistfight. I doubt Goldberg has the intellectual gifts to understand the simple irony of Kilstein's challenge.

Oh, before you bring it up, yes, I have considered the possibility that Goldberg is only pretending to be that stupid, on the reasonable assumption that his own followers are even stupider. But after years  of reading his crap, I no longer give him the benefit of the doubt; mental insufficiency is my go-to explanation, though I will entertain arguments for animal fear, low cunning, and desperation to access Cheetos.

UPDATE. In comments, speculative fiction by Waingro: "Look, I don't even know who this Kilstein person is and I don't want to get into the weeds about this. Are there any NRO readers who know what a 'fight' is? I'm not looking for a dissertation, just a brief synopsis. Maybe just send me like 3 bulletpoints. And make sure there are no big words. Anyway, whatever this guy just said, I think it only reinforces my original point. I'm sure he thinks he's being very clever and droll, but I don't have the time to respond. If someone wants to write a response for me and have it submitted under my name, just e-mail. I can probably enter you in a raffle for the NRO cruise in return."

Friday, June 01, 2012

NEW DISPATCH FROM THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE. Here to explain the latest innovations in conservative culture war strategy, Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds:
Well, the notion that right-leaning pop culture is driven by politics but left-leaning pop culture is not is transparent twaddle. Leftist political messages have simply become so established in pop culture that people treat them as part of the wallpaper–which is, of course, the Gramscian strategy.
This is an obvious winner. Reynolds should engage flying squads to barge into theaters where people are laughing and enjoying themselves, and cry, "You are the victims of a Gramscian hoax!"

But culture warriors cannot always be on defense -- they must provide something the proles can enjoy. What have you got for us, Perfesser?
One place where conservatives–and particularly libertarians–do pop culture well is in the science fiction field.
Sure, why not. But it's got to be the right kind of SciFi, not the negative stuff  -- say no to SFINO!
Of course, academic-writing-seminar types have been proliferating in the science fiction world (often creeping in via fantasy) and some worry that they’ll ruin the field. But I don’t think so. There’s too much of a fan base for more traditional science fiction. In fact, with the new “Human Wave” movement of prohuman, protechnology science fiction, there’s big pushback against dreary literary antiheroes and dystopian futures.
Hear that, troops? Keep your tits 'n' lizards sagas upbeat and protech, and there'll be some robowhores in it for you comes Der Tag.

The punchline is, the Perfesser's offering is just part of a whole "symposium" on the theme, "Are Conservatives Bad at Pop Culture?" The Big Brain in Charge claims that "Here at Acculturated, we are less interested in politics than we are in how the virtues — like creativity, beauty heroism, responsibility, joy, and generosity, to name a few — play themselves out in the popular culture." But it begins with Ann Coulter longing for more black and Hispanic skels on Law & Order, and the rest of the entries are mostly boo-hoos over how unfair it is that liberals get to wear berets and live La Vie Boheme while the poor conservatives are ignored and have to write cult-crit that nobody reads.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: For these people, culture war is war on culture.

UPDATE. Kudos to commenters, even those who just want to talk about science fiction like a bunch of nerds.

Also, some of you pointed out that Lee Siegel's essay introduced a bit of sanity to the sympfest. Another Luke describes it as "essentially a turd in the punch bowl, from the opening sentence, which labels the entire subject of the symposium 'just another way for conservatives to indulge their strange masochistic fantasy of being inferior to liberals,' to the bit where he calls conservatives' belief in a left wing agenda driving pop culture 'a delusion bordering on a hallucination.'"

kth explains how deep the liberal-artistic conspiracy goes:
That clumsy invocation of Gramsci would imply, not just that most big Hollywood types are left-leaning, but that they got into showbiz specifically to bring about the revolution. No doubt that's why George Clooney joined the cast of The Facts of Life thirty-odd years ago: no doubt it was a humbling task for the aspiring insurgent, but you have to look at the bigger picture. They also serve who only stand and wait.
SHORTER DAVID FRENCH: Once we made the tragic mistake of allowing people to use birth control pills in direct contradiction of the Founders' wishes, gay marriage was inevitable.