Monday, July 03, 2006

DEAD RABBIT SOCIETY. I see Bloomberg has taken the dishonored name of Bernie Kerik off a jail. I strongly disapprove. First, I don't much like memory-holing. Second, it's not like Kerik committed treason -- his malfeasance may vitiate his accomplishments, but it doesn't contradict them.

Mainly, though, I think that New York pays too little tribute to its great legacy of corruption. To comprehend New York, you cannot limit yourself to its Little Flowers; you must also admit its crooks, swindlers, and con men. If we bamboozle our children into believing that our labyrinthine laws and codes, and our culture of bribery and patronage, were created solely by good men doing right as they saw it, they will grow up with a dangerously limited sense of human capacity. Better they should be made to confront our crookedness than be led to believe this is the best we could do.

Were it in my power, I would name a few high schools after Boss Tweed and George Washington Plunkitt. Donald Manes would get a small park. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. has a Boulevard; can we not spare a small byway for his son, the Congressman from Bimini?

And if we can't get Kerik's name back on the Tombs, Alex "Clubber" Williams might make a fitting substitute.

The legacy of these men and many like them is all around us. It seems ingracious not to acknowledge it. After all, we gave Reagan an airport.
THE STATE OF AMERICAN CONSERVATISM TODAY. John Podhoretz predicts that the Right, currently divided and weakened, will "find renewed unity against the New York Times and the Supreme Court."

Yes, that shows the health of their movement -- brawling amongst themselves until somebody hollers, "Impeach Earl Warren!" and "Revoke Walter Duranty's Pulitzer!" Then ensues a bracing rally of fist-shaking and finger-wagging that attracts all America to their cause.

We know, and I think even Podhoretz knows, that all the conservatives have to do to guarantee Republican success in the next election is what they have done to win elections for years now: scream 9/11! and FAGS GIT MARRIED! Then all their incompetence and depradations will be whisked from the consciousness of the people, who will flock to and beseech the Daddy Party to literally and figuratively save their asses.

Some prominent conservatives hate to admit this seamy reality, and so invent vengeance-movie plots in which the liberals go too far and the American people recoil. (Like in 2004 with that fatty-fat Michael Moore: he made everyone so sick of the Democrats that his movie set attendance records -- I mean, that the electorate stingingly repudiated John Kerry, giving him a mere 49% of the vote.)

I'd be ashamed, too, but I hope I could better avoid the outright self-delusion to which they have succumbed. Why isn't victory enough for these guys? Were I in their shoes, I would just lay low and count the proceeds from my shell game.

If they keep squawking like this, people might actually get suspicious.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

THERE'S NOWT WRONG WI' GALA LUNCHEONS! I'VE HAD MORE GALA LUNCHEONS THAN YOU'VE HAD HOT DINNERS! Someone named Linda Hirshman apparently wants more women to work rather than raise children. I'll probably never read her book, as there is a whole lot of Henry James I haven't gotten to yet, but I am amused by the responses she has engendered among the male advocates of women as babymakers.

First prize goes to Reihan Salam at The American Scene, who takes the position that work, even the highly-paid sort, is overrated, in sociomological terms:
When we talk about "flexible work arrangements," you have to wonder if we're forcing corporations to accommodate the demands of family life, or really of human life, or if we're in fact forcing families to accommodate the demands of the corporations, by privileging a very specific, culturally-bound definition of what a working life ought to be.
Promising start, but alas, Salam fails to follow through by advocating as well a four-day workweek, unlimited beer subsidies, and my God-given right to make my living doing this stupid blog and macking on the ladies pursuant to a sociomological paper of great importance on gender relations.

He might have got me on board then. As it is, he seems to think that the ladies should avail the ratrace-exit strategy of breeding and raising young'uns, leaving us menfolk on our own. A rum deal, if you ask me.

Salam takes the issue very personally, too:
My parents would have much preferred that I pursue an academic career, not because it would be particularly lucrative but because they value the life of the mind. Are my parents buffoons? Or traitors to some broader cause? They felt the same way, I should point out, about my sisters, both of whom are completing post-graduate degrees.
There is something hilarious, at least to working stiffs like me, about a New Republic editor using Professor Mom's and Professor Dad's fond hopes that their boy would one day inhabit an ivory tower -- a dream, alas, deferred -- as a stick to beat working women. He is joined in this maudlin tack by his co-lunatic, Ross Douthat:
So, for instance, when I think about my career, I think about it in terms of competition and self-definition - I want to be publicly defined as a success, and ideally as a greater success than others in my peer group - and also in terms of service to my future wife and children, whom I want to provide for to the best of my ability. I think about my duty to society from time to time, too, but it's not something that drives me the way my ego and my desire to support a family do.
That's nice. When I think about my career, I think about food, rent, clothing, etc, and the possibility that I may end up in a cardboard box if I do not propitiate my creditors. I guess liberals really do occupy another universe from conservatives.

P.S. Salam says that "The top earners in America are overwhelmingly Ozzie-and-Harriets, two-earner couples living in the suburbs." I was just a little boy then, but I don't remember Harriet having a job.

UPDATE. Salam also quotes David Gelertner, who suggests that liberals are hypocrites because they looked down their snooty noses at corporations in the days of Vance Packard and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (!), but now champion wymmyn in the workforce.

Gelertner's essay is called "Things the 60s Got Right," but he only mentions this one Thing, perhaps because his editors disallowed blowjobs-for-activism as portrayed in the film of The Strawberry Statement.

Friday, June 30, 2006

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT AMERICA. As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, I guess it's a good time for us traitors to think about what might constitute a good American holiday.

LOCATION. Any public place where barbecue is on offer. Up hereabouts it's infernally hard to get good barbecue, so I'm not as interested in the quality of the meat as I am in the quality of the scene. Are the people happy? Does the searing smell of Meat-is-murder increase their happiness? Is the band playing, are hearts light, are men laughing, do children shout?

The residents of the Drug House down the block (magnet for loudly talkative men in oversize basketball jerseys, broken front door, throbbing car stereo) sometimes roll out a Weber and grill chicken parts and dogs on the sidewalk, but I doubt I will be invited. I have other offers cooking, so to speak. But if they fall through, I will be content to see the folks gathered at the north end of McCarren Park, coolers stocked and opened, family-size-paks opened on blankets, grillin' like a villain and enjoying the sunshine and the blessings of liberty.

MOVIES. The 'plexes will be busy. I may choose to enjoy Young Mr. Lincoln alone so that no one can see me cry. It's just about my favorite movie, certainly the best on American themes. It is set in the interval between Lincoln's early political failure and his apotheosis, when the young man was trying to make his way as a country lawyer and thinking about life, and it is riddled with historical foreshadowing of the baldest sort. The plot has Lincoln working on a murder case involving two brothers (whose Maw, a witness, won't finger one or t'other; "it'd be like choosing between 'em"). At one point Lincoln rides along on a mule and plays a new tune on his Jew's-harp that his companion says "kinda makes you feel like marchin'"; the tune is "Dixie." He meets Stephen Douglas ("Mr. Lincoln, I trust I shall never make the mistake of underestimating you again") and Mary Todd ("You said you wanted to dance with me in the worst possible way, and that is exactly what you have done"). And at the end he walks to "the top of that hill" where a storm is beginning to rage.

This is the romantic, Sandburgian Lincoln who regards his fellow countrymen with love but also with a very large grain of salt. He suspiciously bites a coin offered for his services, and foils a lynching by offering violence ("I can lick any man here!") and then eloquence ("Don't want t' put that log down, boys? Ain't it gettin' kinda heavy?"). He stands among but not of them, deliberating loftily but folksily over a country fair bakeoff as he would in the time of Civil War. It is easy to forget that this was not always the settled view of the Railsplitter; The American Mercury had earlier published a very good essay defending Douglas' view of federalism against Lincoln's (I have lost my copy but I believe it was written by Stephen Vincent Benet, who also wrote the 1930 Griffith sound film of Lincoln's life). We know Ford was interested in legends, though (see truth, legend, Liberty Valance); we know, from The Informer (and maybe from The Whole Town's Talking and Judge Priest), what Ford thought about justice; and we know it was 1939. If there was ever a confluence that might encourage a filmmaker to say what he thought America was, that was it.

Or I may watch JFK. It's utterly ridiculous. ("Daddy, are they going to kill us like they killed President Kennedy?") But who but a patriot could have made it?

MUSIC. I wish I had the Bear Records compilation of Uncle Dave Macon. As it is I'll have to make do with some tapes. We played an Uncle Dave tune in an old band of mine: "Go 'long Mule, don't you roll them eyes/y'kin change a fool, but a doggone mule is a mule until he dies." He was the shit. This is from Shelton and Goldblatt's The Country Music Story, a horribly compromised official telling but no less interesting for it:
David Macon was born in Cannon County, Tennessee, in the township of Smart Station on October 7, 1870. He was of a large family of prosperous farmers who moved, when he was still young, to open a hotel on Broad Street in Nashville. It was here that Uncle Dave was bitten by the virus of show business... According to [Judge] Hay, it was not until Macon was forty-eight years old (which would be in 1918) that he left his farm and decided to become a professional musician...

Cousin Minnie Pearl recalled the "Opry" tent shows with Uncle Dave during World War II. "Uncle Dave used to carry a black satchel with him on those tours. In it was a pillow, a nightcap, a bottle of Jack Daniels [Tennessee Sour Mash bourbon] and a checkered bib. He was quite a ladies' man, which proved to me that some men never believe themselves to be irresistible, no matter how old they are..."
And how. Get a load of Uncle Dave. But he had something for the folks and maybe the ladies too: Old Judge Hay said that when Uncle Dave came onstage, "we moved the microphone back so he had plenty of room to kick." He certainly sounds like he was kicking. In the stuff I've got, he croons/gargles the verses, but when the choruses come in (usually accompanied by what sounds like an old Confederate regiment), he roars and wails like there was no such thing as electricity.

You may wonder what a city boy like me loves about country music. It's simple... oh, were you waiting for an answer? Because that was it. Of course, being a stuck-up type, I prefer old men hollering into gramophone horns to the new breed, but improvements in technology and costuming don't necessarily mean that nobody feels what Uncle Dave felt anymore. When Anna Nalick sings "Breathe," for example, I think she has it: under that awful Mariah Carey melisma I hear that old Patsy Cline plaint. It's a pissy modern recording, but I don't care: she's there. At this moment there are hundreds of singers, most of them playing in the most bought-off formats you can imagine, in a bar or a wedding band, opening up and letting something out. If that ain't country, Tejano, blues, rock 'n' roll, dancehall, emo, etc., etc., etc., I'll kiss your ass.

I might also find time for Neil Young's Hawks and Doves, which just sounds better and better every year: "Got people here down on their knees and prayin'/Hawks and doves are circlin' in the rain/Got rock 'n' roll, got country music playin'/If you hate us, you just don't know what you're sayin'/Ready to go, willin' to stay and pay/ (big, fat minor chord) Yew-ess-AAAAY! Yew-ess-AAAAY!..."

READING. "The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man..." -- T.J.

On our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor, dudes: rock over London, rock on Chicago. Thy banners make tyranny tremble when borne by the red, hot, and blue.

UPDATE. Tad Gallagher has a lovely and deeper reading than mine of Young Mr. Lincoln. His is also a more manichean reading of Lincoln's morality. But if Abe is "not above a bit of dissimulation, cheating or force to get things done," as Gallagher says, I can't see that his visual connections to the infinite (mainly via the river) are as binding as Gallagher makes them. Ford's Lincoln is certainly attuned to the elements (like the new moon that reveals Jack Cass' lie), but that doesn't make him Nature Boy: it just makes him a more complete human being than his adversaries, who are mainly about social connections. Ford, like countless authors before him, created a balanced hero who could upend his unbalanced adversaries. He was not about destiny (though he was equipped, at the end, to face it) but about common sense.
TWO CAN PLAY AT THAT GAME, SCARY WEB LADY! "Democrats do tend to be less patriotic than Republicans. There, I've said it out loud," writes veteran right-wing harpy Mona Charen. Her conclusion is based on an American Enterprise Institute aggregation of polls which asked, "If you had the opportunity to leave the United States and live permanently in another country, would you take it?" and got more yesses from Dems than from Reps.

Charen probably missed the second part of the report, in which several American corporations were asked, "If you had the opportunity to take your plants out of the United States and put them permanently in another country, would you take it?" The answers might surprise her!

But I understand the relocation-friendly Democrats' responses. For one thing, Democrats tend to be aware that countries such as France offer their residents months of vacation time, great food and wine, and a functional civic life. As long as we're being hypothetical, what sensible person would not be tempted into exile by that? If it's good enough for Tom Paine, it's good enough for us. (Now if only we could get such a paternalistic government to adopt us! Yet these Londonistaners have surprisingly rigorous standards. Maybe if I walked around Heathrow screaming for jihad, Ken Livingstone would eventually invite me round for a pint.)

Republicans, on the other hand, by and large believe that everywhere outside America is a vast Islamofascist darkness where beer is served warm, and people go to plays that do not contain music by The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons. Also, they probably wouldn't dare say out loud that they'd ever move out of the good old U.S. of A. Who knows who that pollster really works for? Mawmaw din't raise no fool!

Fear and stupidity are often confused with patriotism. I assert that there is a difference. But why should you believe me? I have watched many a subtitled film, and drunk many a Dago Red. I am obviously soft on self-emigration, and one to watch.
WHO NEEDS CENSORS? WE'LL DO IT OURSELVES! The latest rightwing fashion trend is slurring liberals by saying they're just like conservatives -- dead conservatives, that is, whose other uses are past. As seen here previously, Miles Gloriosus compared "netroots" liberals to the John Birch Society, and today the Wall Street Journal compares Bill Keller to Colonel McCormack of the Chicago Tribune. How I look forward to a long National Review essay on the new Joe McCarthy, John Conyers.

The editorial, which targets the New York Times for treasonous reporting, is revealing in other ways:
According to Tony Fratto, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he first contacted the Times some two months ago. He had heard Times reporters were asking questions about the highly classified program involving Swift, an international banking consortium that has cooperated with the U.S. to follow the money making its way to the likes of al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.

Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story.

The Times decided to publish anyway, letting Mr. Fratto know about its decision a week ago Wednesday. The Times agreed to delay publishing by a day to give Mr. Fratto a chance to bring the appropriate Treasury official home from overseas...
Seems like the Administration had a pretty good heads-up on the story. So if its publication was going to be so very dangerous to national interests, why didn't the Feds get a judge to issue a restaining order against the Times? It's not unprecedented.

Failing that, they could have firebombed the printing presses. This is war, people!

The editorial defends the Journal's own reporting of the story, not on the but-Mom-they-did-it-first basis already floated by other wingers, but on the grounds that WSJ's version of the story was fed to them by Bush's people as a way of getting, if not ahead, at least abreast of the Times' coverage. John Peter Zenger may not be proud, but Lee Atwater certainly must be.

Perhaps, contra Dr. Johnson, patriotism is actually the last refuge of a hack.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

JOSH, YOU WERE SAYING ABOUT THE NEW BIRCHERS? "In fact, we may have just witnessed the SCOTUS overreach that loses us the war... after Kelo and Raich and McCain-Feingold, I’m not even sure the Constitution much matters anymore... I don’t wish to sound too conspiratorial here, but it seems to me that a case can be made that under Lederman’s reading of this decision, we’ve now effectively empowered an alliance between the intelligence community and the press to determine our national security posture by setting up the conditions where leaks will be even more effective and more coveted by partisans who disagree with a given administration." -- Jeff Goldstein on the Hamdan decision, or the boogey-man -- hard to tell which.

Of course I'm not being fair. Just because Goldstein is constantly praised to skies by the Perfesser and many other significant figures in the right-blogosphere doesn't mean he's a mainstream conservative. There are other explanations. But they're very unflattering to a large number of people.
SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY. The doctor says I'm not crazy after all -- (proudly) I'm a contrarian!

UPDATE. I can't leave mad enough alone. This rat's nest is full of choice pellets, but this one just has to be noted:
Voters know it's hard to do a risky thing like define marriage as a legal entity that can take place only between an adult human male and an adult human female. That actually would take some guts.
When I read that, I almost ran out into the street screaming "WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS PEGGY NOONAN?" so powerful was my need for an explanation. I got over it by imagining her thought processes at this stage of the composition: Wait, what if someone brings up FMA? Why is that better than the flag-burning amendment? Well, because it's... it's... glug, glug, glug, glug. Because it's hard! It's not just between a man and a woman -- it's an adult man and an adult woman. And they have to be human!

Best Moment of Ngnyyyaah: "Bush the Younger would breastfeed the military if he could."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

DAMNED IF THEY "I DO"... World Magazine:
One would think that homosexual or lesbian "marriage" would stop at just that: the union of a same-sex duo. Now, however, some gay Muslims are seeking lesbian wives in order to satisfy family pressure without "coming out of the closet." But is this 'heterosexual' union, devoid of any commitment beyond "friendship" and intramarital celibacy, really marriage?
Wait a minute. So homosexuals can't even marry members of the opposite sex? Maybe the author is convinced that gay citizens are rolling in "special rights," and should give up rights of the more mundane sort in compensation.

But what am I saying? It's liberals who are the real homo-haters. Zip, flop, slap!

UPDATE. Per Josh Trevino, liberals are becoming John Birchers, too. (Hilariously, JT's very first commenter, a RedState legacy pledge, argues that there were so Commies overrunning the State Department, and the New Deal was alien statism.) This argument assumes that Bill Buckley came out of the wilderness and cleaned all the Welchade off the movement, and American conservatives thereafter proceeded in powdered wigs and tricorners to let freedom ring. An alternative description of their methods is summarized here
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is there anything more oddly self-negating than generally statist liberals arguing for the New York Times by citing Jefferson saying he'd rather have newspapers without government than a government without newspapers? As if they'd ever pick newspapers and libertarian utopia?
First reaction: Huh?

Second reaction: Fancy Tim Graham, who wants the FCC to regulate according to Jesus, calling anyone else "statist."

Third reaction: Oh, I'll just stop being such an old fuddy-duddy, and play too! Isn't it oddly self-negating that people who are very stupid, such as Graham, should criticize anyone whose IQ runs to positive integers?

UPDATE. Changed the link to Graham's nonsense. Original was a secondhand source and not work-safe, which is a first for this site.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

SHORTER BRIAN CARNEY: Compared to the gulags, slavery really wasn't so bad.
HE HAS SLIPPED THE SURLY BONDS OF REASON. More and more, the blogosphere strikes me as a high-tech care facility for nuts and retards. In today's Grand Rounds I consider the case of James Pinkerton, who turns from playing Culture War to playing Spaceman. He posits a "space-ark" to save some human specimens (presumably including James Pinkerton and a ratio of ten females to each male) from the inevitable destruction of the earth.

Space exploration is of course Nerdvana for rightwing poindexters, perhaps because they are aware that the environmental policies they are successfully promoting are dangerous to planetary life (of course this assumes that they are evil instead of stupid, which is in no way a settled issue). Pinkerton manages in this article to cite "global warming" as a credible threat to the planet -- though one month ago, when Al Gore was making that same point, Pinkerton was laughing it off. That's how serious he is about getting a seat on that rocket ship -- he's even willing to alter his usual line of bullshit for a ticket.

Bonus fun -- Pinkerton blames our abandonment of the space race on dirty hippies:
It's no coincidence that back in the 60s, as support for the space program was falling, the desire to get high was, well, rising. That is, as technological forms of tripping faded away, trips of the pharmaceutical kind took off. And in the wake of psychedelic drugs came the efflorescence of New Age religion and, yes, one must also say, the explosion of the Internet. To put it another way, stargazing gave way to acid-dropping, and then to navel-gazing, and then to web-surfing. What a long strange trip it's been, indeed.
To recover America from its drug/God/web addiction, Pinkerton volunteers to be shot into space. I say any excuse is a good excuse. He can leave tomorrow, and take his nutty buddies (including the Transhumanist robot laywer) with him.

Monday, June 26, 2006

AND IF THE FACTS AREN'T ON YOUR SIDE, POUND THE TABLE. Bill Keller is a bit of a blowhard, but even he deserves better than this:
A deeper error is Keller's characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: "It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly."

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It's the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry. (A bit more on this topic can be found here.)
Not being an academic myself (except in some dark, steamy minds), I may just be missing whatever point the Perfesser's trying to make. Is he trying to say that reporters are not in fact "people"? Or maybe he thinks newsmen have fewer, or less inclusive, First Amendment rights than reg'lar folks.

Because, otherwise, it doesn't matter if Bill Keller and all the Times staff walk around in ermine capes and call each other Majesty. They and we either have the right or they/we don't. There are no shitty-attitude exemptions in the Bill of Rights.

This guy is a law professor. Think about that.

Bonus Laff: Austin Bay:
Some of us –- the majority of Keller’s critics -– are American soldiers and citizens who recognize dangerous, arrogant stupidity when we read it printed on his front page.
I'm no majoritarian, but that sounds like such an impossibly small group, I don't see why we should bother about them.

UPDATE. Perhaps attempting to make himself look smart by comparison, the Perfesser reproduces some comments on the subject that are even stupider than his own. Top prize goes to Andrew McCarthy: "The Times prattles on about what it claims is a dearth of checks and balances, but what are the checks and balances on Bill Keller?" Thank God the Founders in their wisdom foresaw the terrible danger represented by Bill Keller, leading, more or less directly, to the National Security Act of 1947.

For more fun, read McCarthy's whole second-person bilge noir -- "No, you have only one defense: Intelligence. Superpower power is useless..." -- then, the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist! McCarthy adds that "national-security secrets" are "the public treasure that keeps us alive." It is not surprising to learn that these people literally worship ignorance.

UPDATE II. More traitors call on the Bush Administration reveal its secrets!

Friday, June 23, 2006

MORE MEXICAN HIJINX WITH A TUPPENNY ASCHENBACH. At night on the byways of the resort where I serve as camera monkey, I see gaggles of drunk children. Well, they may be over 18. They may even be over 21. But they exude a mist of callowness and AXE Body Wash. They're well-behaved, not stumbling or vomiting. I puzzled over this and finally decided: any young people here will be from well-off families. It flashed me back to high school, when I had rich friends who would serve weed and booze in the east wing while the parents were dozing in the west. Flaming Youth -- same habits, worse clothes and music. (Or maybe these "teenagers" are all 30 years old -- like in the original Halloween! -- and I need new contact lenses.)

The Ugly Americans are less ugly than I expected. I had anticipated that the people who would come to such a place would look like old Ralph Steadman caricatures of vacationers at Disneyland -- fat, sullen, and stupefied. But the face of bourgeois privilege has undergone a makeover. Even folks from the fruited plain are going to health clubs now, and many of our new sybarites are toned, or at least can walk more a half-mile without getting winded. In fact, I notice that my own attitude has changed since childhood: once I thought fat, shambling Americans were a disgrace to our country and its Council on Physical Fitness; now I admire them for bucking a tide.

I got briefly to Playa de Carmen and witnessed its reduction of the Mexican national character to drunken frogs and their ancient Mayan sidekicks renting scuba equipment to white people. Hawkers, ugly t-shirts, McDonald's, Ben y Jerry's, and mercenary local characters/photo models: it reminded me St. Mark's Place with better set decoration.

More antes, I mean despues. Caramba.
WHERE I'M CALLING FROM. I declined to mention where the Company was sending me for a few reasons. First, I try not to make this thing too personal, aside from the medical reports, which I believe journalists would agree constitute "health & wellness reporting." Second, it's embarrassing: I'm taking pictures of sales representatives at a resort in Cancun. No, I'm not a photographer, but they were short a man and the field operations manager learned that I have opposable thumbs.

I have never been to a resort of any kind, and longtime readers will not be surprised to learn that the suburban-sybaritic experience has filled my head with an endless film loop of Death in Venice as interpreted by Aaron Spelling. Also The Gentleman from San Francisco: "...nor did any one who know what lay deep, deep, beneath them, on the very bottom of the hold, in the neighborhood of the gloomy and sultry maw of the ship, that heavily struggled with the ocean, the darkness, and the storm..."

If my mouth weren't full of overcooked food I would scream. As it is, I wait helplessly for the Mexicans to rise up and murder us all. I know they have machetes. I'm seen them used to trim bushes.

They seem cheerful, and less acute minds than mine might imagine they prefer wearing clean linens and fetching margaritas to subsistence farming or starving in dusty hidalgos. But like all bright minds, I have been dreaming of apocalypse for the past several decades, and my luck's got to change sometime.

Excuse me now, I have to get on a tour bus and read name tags.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ANOTHER DAMN INTERRUPTION. The tedious demands of work (cannot these philistine employers realize I better serve the commonwealth as a synapse in the giant processing brain of the blogosphere?) cause me to travel for a few days. I'll try to get to the "business center" to post when I can. Meantime patronize the lovely people who populate my blogroll. Or read idiots yourself, and have your own special processing fun in comments!

UPDATE. Christ, comments are smarter than me! I would give up, but the doctor says I gots a obsession com-pul-si-ble synthdrum, real bad.

Monday, June 19, 2006

THIS SORT OF EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. In their lengthy, imbecilic "debate" about the importance of fathers (coming up next: was "The Flintstones" a total rip-off of "The Honeymooners"?), John Derbyshire says:
To take your last point first: Are you suggesting that if I hold a certain opinion about politics and society, and if I then read a sheaf of research studies that seem to me to be sound, but that contradict my opinion, then I should hold on to my opinion and ignore the science? Sorry, no sale.
Jonah Goldberg replies:
Yes, to a certain extent I am asking you to have your politics shape your opinions and frankly, I am at a loss to see how you should think otherwise, let alone why you should be so boastful about it.
As always, Goldberg's weak verbal skills leave his gist less than clear, so it's hard to tell whether he has totally missed Derbyshire's clear reference to fact-based information, or has acknowledged but refused to address it.

But his dudgeon speaks volumes. The idea that politics is the measure of everything on God's green earth is the central fallacy of National Review conservatism. As we never tire of pointing out here at alicublog, in their universe, movies, music, TV shows, football teams, and even sex are judged by their conservative correctness. So of course Goldberg is outraged. How could one of the comrades allow himself to deviate on so crucial an issue as the Meaning of Fatherhood? That's almost as ungood as failing to enjoy The Passion of the Christ.

Remember Godard's famous question, "How can I hate John Wayne for upholding Goldwater and yet love him tenderly when abruptly he takes Natalie Wood into his arms in the last reel of The Searchers?" That such an idea would never, ever occur to any of this lot -- indeed, it might cause their synapses to fuse like overheated electronic circuits -- really explains, more than their various political idiocies, why they are wrong.

UPDATE. Jay Brida in comments thinks we might be onto something: "Dare I say it might be the string theory of wingnuttia? It explains their culture, their beliefs and their oddly discordant strategy of appealing to fat libertarians and dominionists at the same time." Actually, I always thought that what brought these factions together was the all-you-can-eat shrimp bar. But that was an ignorant superstition. Science will bring us to the truth!

UPDATE. My wider point to one side, the Goldberg/Derbyshire mental-pygmy wrestling match has devolved to the hilarious. Derb here argues that sometimes abused children have it coming:
Rich would say (I mean, on the basis of his column, I suppose he would say) that THEREFORE parental abuse causes adult aggressiveness.

But that needs proving, and the mere correlation doesn't prove it. Two alternative explanations come to mind at once. (1) We have an aggressive adult from an aggressive parent (he beat the kid, didn't he?) Maybe aggression runs in this family. It doesn't even have to be genetic. It could be dietary, or religious. (2) The kid was obnoxious and difficult from the start. (Some are. Believe me.) The parent, who was perfectly average in aggressiveness, was driven to distraction (read: abnormally aggressive reactions) by the kid's intransigent naughtiness. So we're not looking at a parent-to-child effect at all; we're actually looking at a child-to-parent effect! Yet I am pretty sure I have never read a headline saying "Difficult Kids Provoke Parents to Abuse, Study Shows." Why not? Because our popular culture, and even big swathes of our academic culture, are Freud-soaked...
I imagine Joel Steinberg reading The Corner, and exclaiming, "That's what I've been trying to tell you people! The little cunt was staring at me!"

Meanwhile Goldberg just keeps bringin' the breathtaking:
I will simply say up front: I do not believe the science Derb is referring to or purporting to refer to. Perhaps I'll end up with apple cider in my ear, but if it means what Derb suggests it to mean then I just don't believe it.
If brains were dynamite, these guys couldn't blow a fart.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A WASTE OF TIME. Redstate emits one of those "Republicans must reclaim environmentalism" discussions.
In the wake of Al Gore's movie/political call to arms, I think that it is crucial for the Right to adopt the issue of environmentalism for its own. Politically speaking, stealing a popular, headline-generating issue from the other side is generally a very good idea. Policywise, it is an important step on the way towards imprinting one's own stamp on the substance of a particular issue...

...It seems to me, therefore, that a much bigger megaphone ought to be given to the free market environmentalist movement by Republicans, both as a means of shaping and preserving a victorious governing coalition, and as a means of having an important and prominent seat at the policymaking table...
As you may imagine, hilarity ensues in comments. Here is a nice prècis:
Environmentalism IS a conservative issue
By: Ed54
I never understood why we cede care of the environment to the Left. What could be more conservative than preserving and wisely using our public lands? What could be more evangelical than being good stewards of the world God made for us? What NRA member doesn't love to hunt in pristine woods or fields? What student of national security doesn't recognize that our gas money finances islamic extremism?
The Dems simply have built more credibility on environmental issues over the last 30 years, so they are taken more seriously when they argue the case for global warming. If we were to start seriously fighting to preserve the world we have, instead of mocking environmentalists as loony green lefties, our counter-arguments on Global Warming and Kyoto would gain more traction...

(sniff) (sniff) Anyone else smell Troll?
By: DAHmich
There seems to be an infestation tonight!
Also, much talk about how great it will be when global warming destroys New York and San Francisco, etc.

The biggest laugh, for followers of this particular scam, is the reversion to "free-market environmentalism." "Environmentalism is practiced by hunters, fishers, and the military," says a typical advocate. "Environmentalism was taught to me by the army. Environmentalism is not about hemp-wearing hippies chaining themselves to trees."

Hippies would seem here to stand for government intervention, which is so disgusting to Redstaters that they can barely bring themselves to even mention it, let alone endorse it. And this allows them to ignore the plain fact that the important environmental improvements of the past half-century -- and badly needed they were, too -- came from government intervention.

These fellows like to think themselves tough-minded, yet they cling to the childish fiction that corporations with no financial incentive to do so will, once freed of the government yoke, magically turn into "stewards of the environment," and that the free market will heal the earth, sky, and water. ("If enough people were bothered enough by the air quality in these cities," writes one such, "the problem would take care of itself as people moved away" -- another subscriber to the Perfesser's notion of America as one giant urbless Suburb.)

In fairness I should note that Redstate is all about getting Republicans elected, and that there is no real reason for them to concern themselves with environmentalism, as all that is needed to return their champions to power is a big pre-election ballyhoo about fags getting married and Democrats being traitors. But I guess that leaves them a lot of time to kill, and a large online diary for those who have a bad conscience (or a conscience at all) to fill.
FEEL THE LOVE. The Perfesser mentions "OUTMIGRATION FROM NEW YORK," and my ears perked: At last! How soon can we return to those days of high crime, low rents, basement performance art and open containers I miss so much?

Then I read the actual Times article and realized it was about OUTMIGRATION from upstate New York, not the City. What a disappointment.

Many commenters on the same story at Vodkapundit are less careful readers and, after some very interesting reflections from past and present upstaters, they get down to the business of slagging the City. One, after admitting that "New Yorkers are smart, tough, hard working, and a lot of fun" (he neglects to mention our hip, black clothing, and our habit of lapsing into an Italian accent in times of stress), tells us that down South "Unemployment for educated professionals with a good work ethic is essentially zero" ("good work ethic" presumably means "white face and no desire for health care") and invites us to "Move to Texas. Have a baby. Shop at Costco. Vote for Bush." This sort of invitation to reform never ceases to charm us. In return, I invite the commenter to move to New York and start using hard drugs.

The commenters also notice that we live in small apartments. One compares New York City unfavorably to Miami. Weather seems to be a big factor. "I'm sorry," says one, "but the weather in NYC isn't that good.... better than upstate, but that is like saying a broken toe is better than a broken tooth.... I don't want either." Those of us who came here for the balmy breezes off the Gowanus must be feeling pretty silly.

Personally I'm glad they're back to hating us again. Even Jim Lileks, who enjoys taking pictures of our old buildings, now thinks of New York as a place ripe for riot and rebellion -- ah, would that it were so!And I expect the recent report of a pre-empted poison gas attack on our subways will not excite their former protestations of love and support.

Of course, the 40 percent cut in our Homeland Security funding was a pretty big hint, too.

Friday, June 16, 2006

FIRST RULE IS/THE LAWS OF GERMANY. My reaction to "Hadji Girl" is: fine, go ahead. I'm a free speech absolutist, and I recognize the Sweater Kittenz tune as a worthy companion to "Nigger Loves His Possum," "Pray I Don't Kill You, Faggot," and the oeuvre of The Mentors, Rapeman, and The Goldwaters. (Not to mention the old shanty "New York Girls," which it thematically most closely resembles.)

In return, I don't want to hear any more shit from these people about Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks, Checkpoint, "All Things Considered," or anything else relating to their long-standing, phony Culture War. Fair's fair.

I don't expect them to take the deal, or even acknowledge that there is a deal. Culture warring requires a constant state of amnesia. In their way of looking at things, newspaper reporting is stark troop-killing treason, but a Marine prosecuted by Marines for his cheerful song about killing Arabs is proof that some imaginary entity called The Left is out to censor them.

What a failure of imagination that shows. In their younger days, no doubt, they emulated schoolyard bullies, and sucked up to the strong as they pummelled the weak; their adult politics certainly reflect this. But let them put a foot outside their customary arenas of power, into places where words are taken more seriously than fists, and they fumble for recourse into the dimmest recesses of their rucksacks for a tattered copy of the First Amendment, which they blunderingly misinterpret in their own defense; and, once the challenge is forgotten, they stuff the scrap forcefully back, and deride all further mention of it, until they again feel the chill breath of disapproval upon their necks.

The White House, two houses of Congress, most Governorships and a healthy chunk of the zeitgeist in their control, and still they bitch and moan that they are misunderstood. What a bunch of pussies.