Friday, August 31, 2012

READY FOR HIS CLOSE-UP. Every possible gag has been played on it, so I will only try to imagine what was going on in Clint Eastwood's mind. I like to think he went back in reverie to the 1972 Academy Awards, when he was shoved onstage to cover as MC for a tardy Charlton Heston and, after a Sergio Leone standoff with the cue cards, hissed at the cameras, "This ain't my bag, man."

Eastwood has better acquitted himself at the Oscars since, but he may have been thinking lately that, back in '72 when the hippies were taking over Hollywood (and he was talking like a hippie himself, to his shame), he really had a chance to turn things around, to tell the longhairs where to get off, but he lacked the skills and hell, maybe the guts to do so -- all those people, watching at the same time! No retakes! -- and wilted under the pressure.

Since then, however, he had been elected Mayor of Carmel, and attended many dinners where critics pantheonized him; the world still laid roses at his feet, even though his voice was now just a husk and when he got all action-heroic for the cameras he looked like he was taking a stress test at a cardiac clinic. Part of him knew better, but another part of him -- the Hollywood part -- thought that if they loved him that much, he could do this thing and make them buy it. Never mind the script. He only had to do ten minutes. And hell, it was just television. He'd been a TV star before most of these punks had been born. Now that he was a living god, not only a star but an auteur, he could glide out there like Orson Welles doing Carson and everything would just fall into place. And if it didn't, well, there was always jazz piano.

I mean, I don't care, do you? If he makes Gran Torino: The Early Years I'll still go see it. Politics is bullshit, and it deserved what he gave it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

JUST LOOKING IN. Being of sound mind and body, I have not even tried to watch convention coverage, though in a moment of perversity I sought out the transcript of Chris Christie's speech. First, I was surprised to learn that the delegates applauded his father's use of the communist G.I. Bill to go to college. (Mark Levin was right -- the RINOs have taken over.) Second, I have to commend Christie on the line, "They [the Democrats] believe in teachers' unions . We believe in teachers." That's up there with, "Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country" as an example of fine political dada.

But almost as good was Christie's closing: "Leadership. It takes leadership that you don't get from reading a poll. You see, Mr. President, real leaders do not follow polls. Real leaders change polls." Well, sure; Christie's got a 54% approval rating despite a 9.8 state unemployment rate. Such is the power of incumbency when the opposition is weak -- which is mainly why Obama has a 14 point lead in Christie's own state. The governor probably doesn't know it, but he ended his speech by defining the Republicans' problem. Now we'll see if anyone in Tampa has a solution.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Not much will be happening on this blog for a week, or at Rightbloggers for two weeks, as Kia and I are on honeymoon. See you after. P.S. Couldn't be happier. photo (cc) Nobuhiro Izumi.

UPDATE. We are now in Barcelona for the hmoon. I seldom go to old Europa anymore since booking agents stopped paying me to yell over "music" at concert venues. We could have gone to Pismo Beach and it would have been fine, because wherever she is, there is Eden, but this ain't bad. Will write more when I have more to tell (and bandwidth to tell it) besides "Roy glowered at the cashier and wished he knew how to challenge prices in Catalan, or at least knew how to say, 'I'm from New York, cabron, or at least I used to be, and furthermore I am sick with a knife.'"

Mainly tho: Thanks for your beautifully expressed best wishes, which we both appreciate vastly. And to my foreign readers who have been bitching about the months-long restrictions on comments: I see what you mean and deliverance, I hope, is at hand.

UPDATE 2. And deliverance comes from an unnamed commenter, who says: "Instead of going to, give the address as (ncr is 'no country redirect') This keeps you on the US site, where the commenting works as it should." We've checked and it works. Hurrah and thanks, whoever you are.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

RAPE: WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CHOICE. Given the Akin mess, it was inevitable that we'd get columns about the happy rape babies whom evil liberals want to murder. Timothy P. "The P. is for Libertarian" Carney:
Jenni was conceived when her mother was raped by a boyfriend as a teenager. She is a human reminder of an uncomfortable truth denied and minimized by people on all sides of the abortion issue: Rape can result in pregnancy, which means it can create innocent babies...
Her smiling face and growing family -- she has three kids of her own -- is also damning to pro-choice people who argue that abortion is a necessity for a woman impregnated by rape.
The last bit is very clever, as the actual pro-choice argument would be that what's "necessary" is that raped women have the option of abortion; Carney prefers that you think of fantasy feminazis demanding mandatory abortions.

Throughout Carney draws moral equivalence between Todd Akin and pro-choice people:
One consequence of this mindset in Prewitt's opinion: Most states lack laws explicitly denying the rapist-father's potential custody rights. Prewitt attributes this to denial -- both by the likes of Akin and by those who can't conceive of a rape victim wanting to raise her child.
On one hand we have a guy (and his party) who want to force women to bear their rapists' children; on the other hand, we have people who don't. Clearly both should be ashamed. But Carney solomonically allows that once the rape baby emerges, the father should be denied custody. Look, ladies, he's meeting you halfway.

Throughout the column the rapes are downplayed and gotten over quick -- there was some unpleasantness, yes (in one case multiple incestuous rapes over a course of years which netted the perp all of 18 months in prison "due to lack of evidence"), but in the end someone made it into the world and grew up to be a pro-life speaker, and that's what matters, isn't it?

This poor world is full of snares and traps, and when we dodge a bullet (or scalpel, as it were) we must be grateful. But we should also try to make our post-partum lives less of a nightmare, which is the part folks like Carney always seem to miss.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

RACE TO THE BOTTOM. Godly Rod Dreher, writing from his months-long Paris vacation, on the Pussy Riot sentence:
These three nasty pieces of work will do their prison time, then be released and emigrate, where they can make a handsome living going into Western venues, conducting orgies in museums, shoving chicken legs up their privates in supermarkets, and parading before Western liberals as free-speech martyrs. The Slag Solzhenitsyns. Now that’s a great name for a feminist punk band. Such decadent times we live in.
Before you start yelling at him, look at what he said in another recent post about how hard the state makes it for him to homeschool his kids (which is total bullshit): "In other words, to protect my ability to educate my children in a conservative way, I’m learning a strange new respect for libertarianism."

Libertarianism! The one thing that could make him worse, and he's managed it!

How is it even possible for one person to be such an asshole? It's like the guy takes lessons.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the whole Biden "put y'all in chains" thing. The whole is overflowing with stupid, so I couldn't get it all in -- here's something
from one of the guys arguing that Obama and Biden hate black people, "Why the Republican Party is a better fit for African Americans," containing a show-stopper about Romney's July NAACP appearance:
The truth sometimes is supposed to hurt and Mitt Romney stuck the needle filled with truth serum deep inside the vein of every single member of the audience when he spoke at the NAACP. 
They should put this on flyers announcing future Romney appearances. Sounds better than The Tingler!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SHORTER JOHN FUND: White Republican Thad McCotter submitted false petitions to get on the ballot three elections running. Say, do you people know the difference between election fraud and voter fraud? No? Ahem, as I was saying, this just goes to show that we have to stop black people from voting without photo I.D.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

HOW GOES THE CULTURE WAR? Well, we have Allahpundit yelling at Devo for writing a song that makes Mitt Romney look bad, and Michael Moynihan yelling at "leftist" travel book publishers for saying nice things about dictator-run countries in the travel books they're trying to sell to people who want to go visit those countries. (These days I don't see how conservatives even pretend to understand capitalism.)

And at Power Line, Steven Hayward asks, "WHY IS THERE NO LIBERAL AYN RAND?" He's taking off from Beverly Gage who, slightly less stupidly, asks, "American conservatives have a canon. Why don’t American liberals?" Sure we have a canon -- it's called Western literature. And it beats the snot out of the sad, long-form political pamphlets wingnuts like to name-check. You will learn more about the human condition from the works of novelists, playwrights, and poets than you ever can from a thousand power freaks' blueprints for the mass production of Procrustean beds.

And frankly, I think these alleged smart guys steep themselves in PoliSci because Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky and the rest confuse them and make them feel bad. They know they're smart, yet here are all these famous writers making them feel all this stuff their parents told them is wrong and bad. Much better to follow someone who writes with a slide rule.

Let these freaks thumb their suspenders, go "Well, as Hayek says..." and call themselves edumacated. We that have free souls, it touches us not.

UPDATE. Excellent comments on this, with references to Singapore, Orwell, Jeffrey Sachs, et alia. Both Sides Do It raises a good demurrer:
Political philosophy is almost entirely a liberal project.  In some sense liberal political philosophy fuckin' created Western political culture.  Human rights grew entirely out of liberal institutions consciously advancing specific liberal political conceptions...

That's really the reason those assbutt Republicans can even ask that asinine question in the first place. There is no liberal Ayn Rand because whereas conservatives have the One True Canon, there are multiple liberal traditions and conceptions of the political good. Almost as if liberals cared about advancing the best argument and finding the best conceptions of political organization instead of rationalizing a political order that made you feel superior to other people.  
I would add that when conservatives grab hold of the better class of writers who write about politics and ideology, they tend to dirty them up. Their Orwell reclamation project is a fine example, but there's also Burke who, among other things, denounced the crimes of Warren Hastings -- crimes which your typical rightwing imperialist would not even recognize as crimes, because they happened to have been committed against dark-skinned foreigners. That Burke is not in the same universe as Ayn Rand, or as Burke's current, dimmer fans.

UPDATE 2. I had to add this, from a Facebook post response by one Brian Middleton:
For some reason this made me think of Austen's "Emma," and specifically the scene where Emma is thoughtlessly rude to Miss Bates at the picnic. When Knightley points out to Emma how hurtful she's been, she is deeply ashamed of herself. 
Here's why this is an essentially lefty moment: Miss Bates is completely powerless. She is poor (as Austen characters go), with no stature or influence in their little community. There is no practical downside to insulting her. Yet Knightley points out that her very powerlessness entitles her to more, not less, consideration and respect, and Emma implicitly agrees.  
That is not a thought that any true acolyte of Ayn Rand would ever entertain. And yet we're not talking about Shaw or even Dickens; we're talking about the quintessential chronicler of Tory society, whose works almost entirely ignore the real poor and barely acknowledge the emerging middle class. But she understood the basic, great social principles involved: be kind to those less fortunate than yourself, and don't mistake your superior fortune for superior worth.
I would add that the "basic, great social principles" should not be the exclusive property of any particular ideological group, but since conservatives seem eager to disown them, I don't see why we shouldn't pick them up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RALLY KILLER. This is by far my favorite blog post at National Review:

And yes, it's that "G. Reynolds."

Poor Matthew Shaffer. In this blog established "to track dramatic political events in North Africa and the greater Arab world," he put up ominous posts about the region for almost two months, including this one from February 10, 2011, in which he predicted, "Even if Mubarak does step down, unless some ingenious plan to hand all power to the military is concocted, he will be deferring to Vice President Omar Suleiman," and this one from February 23, 2011, about Obama's speech on Libya, in which Shaffer wrote, "NRO’s Jim Geraghty summed it up on twitter: 'Ya hear that, Gaddafi? You keep pulling these stunts, and we’ll continue to evaluate all options! So you better think twice!' and 'BOOYAH! Hillary Clinton to Geneva. Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh, Colonel.'"

I wonder what made them give Reynolds the keys so late in the game? Maybe he had a post from Pam Geller he thought needed wider distribution, but was distracted by a flock of nanobots.

I assume they still keep the thing up because Jesus told them to be ready for the Big One in Iran.

(Actually a close second-favorite NR blog post is this one from Bench Memos, in which Roger Clegg rages that all the Wealth Creators have betrayed him with diversity -- at least it is for the moment; as they say on Egypt Watch, the situation is fluid.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the Paul Ryan gush. I know Charles Pierce is the go-to guy on Ryan's awfulness, but my column is more about the rightbloggers' hard-on for Ryan than on the man himself, so please read it anyway.

Didn't get into it much in the column, but the thing I really don't get is the assumption that Ryan is charismatic. He has mainly been shown to weave a spell in exactly one Congressional District (and at countless conservative dinner parties, where the standards are low). His sad-eyed overemphatic style seems more appropriate to a real estate seminar than national politics. But, as my lack of response to T.G.I. Friday's commercials prove, I'm not the target audience for this sort of thing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

COUPONS FOR CODGERS FOR VP. I thought it would be Rubio. You'd expect Romney to want to reach out to somebody besides The Base, but I don't see what this gains him -- except maybe Wisconsin, which is no small get. But Florida would have been much better.

It will also be the end of the Dump Rominee movement, but so what? The opprobrium of lunatics was probably a net plus for Romney in the long run. Now there can be no Sister Souljah moment in which Romney explains that he doesn't really want to destroy Medicare.

Romney's advantage in terms of welfare reform was that no one much believes that he believes what he says he believes, so there wasn't much fuss when he pitched a Ryanesque plan back in February. Now he owns it. And though the Ryan Coupons-for-Codgers roadshow excites true believers, it scares normal people. It's the exact opposite of outreach -- it's inreach. Or perhaps reach-around.

Mitt Romney is running against an incumbent in a shitty economy, so anything can happen, but it won't be due to this.

UPDATE. Many great comments. whetstone: "Well, if you think about it, it shouldn't be that surprising. Here, see if this headline makes it make more sense:  BREAKING: CEO BELIEVES THAT CLEAN-CUT YOUNG MAN WITH THE POWERPOINT GRAPHS IS GOING PLACES. Really, the choice of Ryan shouldn't surprise anyone who's ever worked with a consultant, or wondered how Megan McArdle ever found employment."

Friday, August 10, 2012

I am at the beach and stopped in at a candy shop in Palm Beach. As I went to pay for some frozen yogurt, I noticed a pack of gum at the counter stating “I Kissed a Republican” with a girl vomiting into the toilet. I picked it up and looked for the equivalent gum with I Kissed a Democrat but didn’t see one. I found both of them at Amazon however. Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be a “joke” but having only the former gum displayed at the counter is more of an insult to many customers who may be on the right side of the aisle. But for all I know, they sold out of the Democrat ones. I could have made a stink like I did here but I didn’t.
I remember when liberals were characterized as the people who were always being offended about every stupid little perceived inequity. Then we got the internet.

Al Gore played a very deep game.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

SNAPPY ANSWERS TO STUPID QUESTIONS. So Obama appeared with Sandra Fluke in Colorado and bragged on co-payless women's preventive care.  Let's see what Mark Levin thinks:
Later that evening on his radio program, syndicated conservative talk show host Mark Levin asked why contraception was suddenly a prominent issue for Obama, particularly with so many other more serious ailments plaguing the U.S. health care system. 
“All I can say is this — if I ever see Obama coming at me with a pair of rubber gloves, I’m running, Mr. Producer,” Levin said. “Because now he is an expert on all these things. Is Obama a gynecologist now? What is he?..."
Yes, Mark Levin, in addition to being a basketball player, stand-up comedian, crooner, and President of the United States, Barack Obama is a gynecologist. Ask the missus.
"...‘Now we all know that contraception is not just for family planning, but a way to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and other cancers.’ It’s still relatively cheap. But what about those drugs for ovarian cancer? Are those free? No. What about those drugs to deal with breast cancer? Are those free? No. Contraceptives are. What about the drugs for diabetes, for heart disease? Are those free? No.”
He's got a point. In a bipartisan spirit I endorse Mark Levin's call for free cancer, diabetes, and heart disease drugs for all Americans who need them. Let's see if we can't get Joe Lieberman on board, he loves this shit.
"....And the answer ladies and gentlemen is this: They’re harder to politicize. He believes this will help get the women’s vote. That’s how cynical this guy is. That’s how distorted their thinking is. Obama is not about you. Obama is about himself. And a great nation really doesn’t need to spend an enormous amount of time debating free contraceptives, does it?”
It sure doesn't, so feel free to shut the fuck up about it anytime.

This has been snappy answers to stupid questions.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Anyone who doubts the enduring power of the mainstream media need look no further than the rise in Romney’s unfavorables in a recent Pew Poll. Yes, this poll is likely skewed, but the percentages are too extreme to escape the conclusion that a large number of Americans do not find Mitt “Mr. Nice Guy.” (I met him and thought he was perfectly okay — but what do I know?) Obama, on the other hand, is still considered a swell fellow. 
All this although the economy has been a disaster throughout his presidency and, for the last year, probably more, he has seemed a petulant prig when confronted with the slightest criticism. Not an attractive trait. 
You would think under those conditions those poll numbers would be reversed and the election polls themselves would show Romney with a gigantic lead, but no. Like a nation of ostriches, huge portions of the American public have swallowed the media/Axelrod line that Mitt Romney is a rich self-interested capitalist out of touch with the masses, whoever they are and whatever that means(it doesn’t matter as long as they vote for Obama), hell-bent on robbing from the poor to give to the rich like a reverse Robin Hood. 
In other words, a large portion of the American public has effectively been brainwashed. And the brainwashers are the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. The former is quite understandable since political parties cling to power by virtually any means when threatened. But for the media it’s another matter. Why do these people persist in their views in a situation where, objectively, almost any corporation or business would have been looking for new leadership long ago? Why are they so destructive to our society and ultimately to themselves? Don’t they have children and grandchildren?
The punch line: I got this via Ole Perfesser Instapundit, who quoted the same passage. On the Right, whining is winning.

(The rest of Simon's tantrum is rich too, if you go for that sort of thing: The journalists who brainwashed America know Obama is bad, he says, but "they can never never admit it" because they're embarrassed; their shame is then "projected out in rage," which is demonstrated by Simon's description of their behavior in the theater of his skull:  "They behave as a shrill gang, banging metal drums like lost characters out of Gunter Grass, 'Romney bad and rich! Romney bad and rich! Romney bad and rich!'... If Obama wins, they will rejoice on election day. But they will shortly be throwing up.")

Speaking of projected rage, further down the Instapage:
MOE LANE: Why Obama Hates Romney On A “Visceral” Level. “It’s not that Mitt Romney was born rich, gave it away, and got rich again that infuriates Barack Obama so. It’s that Mitt Romney had a father who loved him. And that is a thought that fills me with a terrible pity towards Barack H. Obama, Jr.”
Perfesser, it's only August. So far you haven't lost anything except your mind.

(Part 1 here.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Since leaving The Atlantic, first in March to work on a book called, I'm not even kidding, Permission to Suck, then to soak up some gravy from Tina's Brown's Money Pit, Megan McArdle has not been much heard from. Here's her last transmission from the mother ship:

This was her glorious follow-up to a pre-game post in which, pumped with impending Obamacare victory, McArdle harshed on Roe v. Wade ("Those progressives did not seem to think that American Democracy had been destroyed because some unelected justices had overturned duly enacted laws in 1973... Though I am pro-choice, I am not a fan of Roe, which I think was legally dubious and tactically unwise. But democracies are complicated things"), then on the New Deal ("I have been much amused watching people try to simultaneously defend the fruits of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s outrageous court-bullying"), and other objects of passive-aggressive glee-wrath.

We can imagine, after such a display, why she might turn her face from the world. But we would be wrong to ascribe a capability of shame to her -- though she may be convinced, by her agent or loved ones, to keep a low profile until better days emerge, McArdle still gets out once in a while to give the brethren a little touch of Megan in the night.

For instance, she's quoted in a July Michael Dougherty story at The American Conservative about conservatives who supported Obama. While McArdle didn't actually vote for the Kenyan Pretender because, she famously claimed at the time, she forgot to register, she still pleads, or rather whines, for forgiveness:
“Four years ago, I disliked McCain intensely; it seemed like the choice between Obama and someone with policies very like Obama’s except that he would also invade Iran,” says Megan McArdle of the Daily Beast. 
Considering how, as a libertarian, McArdle strongly stands against unjustifiable foreign intervention, that seems reasonable.
“Obviously, Obama has been way worse on civil liberties than I expected,” says McArdle. “I kind of can’t believe I was na├»ve enough to think that he would actually change anything—or even try to change anything, except for the incredibly stupid symbolic move of Guantanamo prisoners to U.S. soil, which he chickened out on anyway. But I was. Ooops.”
Ditto libertarian ditto torture etc.
“Overall, I wildly underestimated Obama’s arrogance and inexperience"....
At last we're on a topic she knows something about!  McArdle's quotes were later replicated in a Newsweek story by David Frum, so maybe that counted as her quota for the month.

Just last Friday McArdle surfaced again in the comments to, of all places, The Reality-Based Community -- or seems to have done so; we cannot neglect the possibility that some pitch-perfect parodist represented him or herself as McArdle. Without prejudice, then, we note MaybeMegan's remarks to Jonathan Zasloff's defense of Harry Reid's assertion of Mitt Romney's negative tax burden.

First, MaybeMegan does the Sherlock Holmes thing where she rounds up the "legitimate sources who could reasonably be assumed to actually have this information: 1) Mitt Romney 2) Ann Romney 3) Mitt and Ann Romney’s accountant," etc. Her point: A Bain investor could not, as Reid charged, have given Reid the info, because that "would be certainly criminal," and "possibly be in violation of privacy laws," for which crime the putative investor would, MaybeMegan says,  "certainly lose their jobs, licenses, and personal assets in the massive, successful civil suit that Romney would launch against them" as voters, ineluctably drawn to a Presidential candidate who sues the man who exposed his years-long tax evasion, cheered Romney to a dazzling victory.

MaybeMegan adds that Reid "himself not exactly personally impoverished." His cabinets are probably loaded with pink Himalayan salt.

As it happens, there are other commenters at the site, and some of them give MaybeMegan a hard time. MaybeMegan responds with McArdlean grace that Reid's charges "may be 'far from inconceivable,' but it’s also the sort of thing that a lying sack who dislikes Mitt Romney could easily make up..." She then explains that personal tax evasion is impossible and, when that fails to satisfy the crowd, attacks the idea that a Romney lawyer might have leaked the info, because "every one of those lawyers, etc, has very good reason not to leak: it’s at the very least a civil suit and being thrown out of the profession," and then attacks the idea that an IRS agent leaked it, because "an IRS agent that did this would be surprisingly easy to track down, and (IIRC) liable for all sorts of marvelous criminal actions once they had been found..." Whoever this person is, she sure likes talking about punishing people who may have said something about Mitt Romney not paying taxes.

Hereafter I may track McArdle and her possible doppelganger as the Fat Man tracked the Maltese Falcon ("after its long disappearance, the bird turned up again in Sicily. In 1840, it re-appeared in Paris, where by that time, it had acquired a painted coat of black enamel..."). I'd forgotten how much fun she can be!

UPDATE. The first comment, by Alexander von Humbug: "Maybe Megan (not MaybeMegan) tried to become the Doctor's companion, but the TARDIS rejected her for overall dumbshittery and created MaybeMegan in her place. The two McM's are now locked in an eternal, deadly, and incomprehensible battle for an autographed copy of the first edition of Anthem."

Sunday, August 05, 2012

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Battle of Chick-fil-A. It struck me that, no matter how much some prominent conservatives said that it wasn't about gay marriage, they kept talking about it, and about how gay people were trying to take away their rights. It seems there isn't a persecuted minority in the country that isn't trying to do that to them. Maybe they just don't know how to make friends.

I didn't have time to get into all their cries of persecution when somebody was mean to them about this, but I did enjoy Anne Sorock's report at Legal Insurrection, "Chicago Chick-fil-A Kiss-In protesters 'chalk' homeless street preacher." At first I thought she meant some sort of poisonous gypsum cloud of terror, but it turned out that protesters had approached "an elderly African-American homeless man, who was reading his bible aloud" at the protest, some mouthed off to him, and "someone from the group wrote on the sidewalk in front of the homeless man, 'He’s Really Gay Deep Down,' with an arrow pointed to where he was seated." Sorock's commenters got the message: "The Left likes to play the Hitler card. Remember, he was gay, too." "The 'gay' Nazis were some of the most deadly, hard-hearted and barbarous of all." "Here is what you will get if marriage is re-defined as they want … anyone who dissents after that will be subject to a GLBT version of Kristallnacht..." Well, now we know who's keeping The History Channel in business.

UPDATE. Commenters come up with some fine gay Nazi film titles, including Queen Rommel of the Desert (Mark B.), The Pink Panzer (KC45s), and Triumph of the Will and Grace (Spaghetti Lee).

Thursday, August 02, 2012

SHORTER MOLLIE HEMINGWAY. I found a reporter whose comments on Facebook about Chik-fil-A made me and my buddies look intolerant, so we got him shut down and maybe fired. That'll show people who the real free speech supporters are.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

GORE VIDAL, 1925-2012. I'm busy all day, alas (why do they make me work? Can't they see I'm a national treasure?) but I wanted to quickly note the passing of Gore Vidal before my elegiac tone is marred by exposure to rightwing grave-pissers (well, to more of them, anyway). For me the big thing about Vidal was his ability to write popular fiction (he was madly popular for years, despite constant, bipartisan efforts to marginalize him) in the late 20th Century that came up to the standards of literature without straining for them in the sententious way of many best-seller list-climbers. He clearly wanted fame and attention, and knew he was entitled to them, but he wouldn't toady the muses to get them, nor anyone else.

He wrote with the easy grace and supreme confidence of an aristocrat -- which he sort of was, too, being kin to political royalty. There have of course been many aristos who wrote very well; Vidal had some of their qualities, and you could see them in his work. (Such as the aristocrat's sense of inviolability, which mirrors the imperviousness an artist must develop if he is to survive.) And it was fortified by his less ermined experiences, too, such as serving his country in the Army during World War II (which is more than many of the idiots who liked to call him a traitor could manage) and as a politician, and hacking for Hollywood, which I must say he handled like a champ -- no Barton Fink whining for him; he got some great stories out of it.

I hope to have more later. Meantime, read Burr or Palimpsest or Dark Green, Bright Red or anything by him, and make sure you have a copy around of United States, his collected essays, to remind you of what American writing can be when nothing is holding it back.

UPDATE. Changed "Navy" to "Army" -- thanks, commenter robo, for reminding me that Vidal served on an Army supply ship. I offer my apologies, and also these old alicublog links: A passage from The Best Man of which Peggy Noonan reminded me;  a review of his 2000 novel Washington, D.C.; and a parody of his later novel, The Golden Age, done with love.

UPDATE 2. In comments, Roger Ailes: "Gore Vidal made Michele Bachmann a Republican, but Marcus Bachmann made her a woman!"