Tuesday, October 10, 2006

MORE RINGING ENDORSEMENTS OF BUSH NORTH KOREA POLICY ROLL IN! "...we may be left with no choices other than war and blackmail." -- "Captain" Ed Morrissey

I bet they're tickled that this pushed Foley off the front page! Now, instead of looking like teen-sex enablers, the Republicans look like our unsmiling concierges to the Apocalypse. Much more mediagenic!

Meanwhile, Mario Loyola (whom I imagine as a young Andy Garcia in the first half of The Godfather III, a hot-tempered enforcer ready to start stabbing at the slightest nod from his boss) is going the "It's all Clinton's fault" route. The die-hards' portrayal of the former President has become over-complicated, though: it's hard to envision even the Clenis killing real Americans at Ruby Ridge and Waco, running drugs through the Mena Airport, selling us out in Darfur, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, and getting his dick sucked all at the same time. If I were they, just before blowing my brains out, I would try to offload some of these atrocities onto a different straw man. How about Richard Simmons? Nobody likes him.

UPDATE. Reader Mary Caliendo points out that McCain has picked up the blame-Clinton ball. The Senator also asks China to "step up to the plate." If he means the plate piled with riches we constantly serve up to the Red East in return for their sweatshop labor, I'd say they were there already. And it will be interesting to see -- if we get to see -- how China might respond to pressure from the U.S. on this: do they fear our wrath as much as we fear the loss of their cheap manufactures, or their grip on one trillion U.S. dollars?

Monday, October 09, 2006

NYUK, NYUK, NYUK. So how's the Most Powerful Nation on Earth doing against the Axis of Evil -- or, as I like to think of them, Moe, Larry and Curly? Iraq -- originally the Curly of the outfit, though now downgraded to Shemp or perhaps even Joe Besser status -- has been "liberated" and "pacified" -- that is to say, it's a basket case, where daily life has become so dangerous that authorities recently had to stick a flak jacket on Condi Rice before escorting her from Baghdad Airport. Even the Donald Rumsfeld publicity bureau known as OpinionJournal today declared in an offhand tone that "if another 10,000 or 20,000 or however many troops would reassure Iraqis in the months ahead... then by all means President Bush should deploy them."

Iran, the Larry of the outfit, is treading water, with Ahmadinejad working a global charm offensive while riding herd on his opposition back home.

And North Korea, proving a worthy bearer of the mantle of Moe, just blowed up a big bomb. Remind him to kill us later!

We all knew this was coming, given the ham-handed U.S. approach to NK nuclear negotiations. Though previous administrations had managed to maneuver North Korea away from H-bombs, Bush treated and spoke of the Korean nuclear situation in oh-well, whattaya-gonna-do terms, as if it were out of his control: "I think what we have to do is plan for the worst and hope for the best."

Now Kim's got a working bomb, and naturally the conservative response is: we have GOT to keep the Democrats out of office, or they might fuck up even worse than we have! "...we know what the Democratic Party and its media surrogates will want to do -- begin a comprehensive and multi-lateral campaign to BLAME BUSH!!!" cries Dean Barnett. References to 9/11, WWII, and Awakening the American People to their Grave Peril naturally follow.

"When the conflagration comes, it will burn as surely as night follows day," intones Josh Trevino from atop a plinth, toga rippling in the wind. "The puerile predator in Pyongyang will do no less. We have failed to prevent: now it falls to us to deter, and in time, avenge." Avenge what? Maybe he means the North Korean "slave state," generally; Trevino once lived near it, of which joyous days he still has happy memories of "leftist students assaulting our housing compound," apparently forging a lifelong bond between Trevino and his noisy neighbors. Or maybe he seeks vengeance for this: if we nuke North Korea, maybe the radiation will seep over into Seoul, and that guy Trevino couldn't get arrested in '05 will finally get his.

Others also appear optimistic -- not for the imminent bloodshed, but because of the possibility of Republican political advantage. "Mr. Kim drives Foley off the front page -- or does he? Well, he better," sez Roger L. Simon. But his heart's not in it -- not like the old days of the Iraqi cakewalk and flag lapel pins! "Foley was starting to get boring," yes, but still there is a "fundamental lack of seriousness of a great part of our society, especially in the political and media classes" -- not like Simon, playing Stratego with Victor Davis Hanson and Michael Ledeen all night long! "In a way I hope the Democrats win in November, so that they are forced to face reality." Wow -- he's so rattled, he's forgotten we're all traitors!

In short, thanks to the persistence of human stupidity, this urgent worldwide crisis promises to be as hilarious as any other.

UPDATE. At Ace of Spades HQ, poster "Dave from Garfield Ridge" (who reveals, to our horror, in comments that "my day job touches on a lot of what I write about...national security stuff...") repeats the new wisdom: "The big lesson today is the most obvious one, a lesson most any reader here could have imparted long before we got here. Namely, that any nation that wants nuclear weapons will eventually get them, and will get them by any means necessary." Gee, if they've felt that way since "long before we got here," when Bush gave his original Axis of Evil speech, why didn't he just say, "We give up"?

Actual sensible commentary here.
SHORTER ANN ALTHOUSE. Good news! The voters don't blame Republicans for Foley -- they blame fags!

UPDATE. Crunchy Rod Dreher steps up to give Althouse a run for her funny. Dreher quotes a guy who thinks the Foley case shows that the GOP "elites" -- i.e., the kind who use a knife and fork when they eat -- are out of sync with regular Republicans. Dreher agrees, with a twist:
I socialize with many conservatives who are one way or another elites, and even if they (like me) oppose the demands of the gay rights movement (e.g., gay marriage) for reasons of political or moral principle, we honestly aren't made uncomfortable by being around gay people. It's not even an issue, so gay protests that conservatives are burning with fear and loathing of gays strikes me as way overblown, and an attempt to avoid actually considering our arguments on their own merits.

But to be fair, this comment makes me think about how unrepresentative my relationship with gay folks is of the typical conservative's.
Sounds like he feels bad that he isn't made uncomfortable by the mere presence of homosexuals -- because even that limited level of tolerance separates him from the Salt of the Earth and the Common Clay. Maybe it's time he went back to Bible Camp to learn how to be more judgmental.

UPDATE II. My favorite Dreher commenter:
But personally (and this has nothing to do with the legal argument against gay marriage) I find homosexuality even more revolting than a man (or woman) having sex with an animal. Hey, does this make me a bigot?
A: Yes.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Regular readers may have noticed that I don't discuss my sex life much. Though it would make, as I think most people's would, a rich tale, full of drama and comedy and pathos, I yet cling to the old-fashioned notion that a gentleman never tells.

Not everyone feels that way, though:
I like various positions! With the lights on and off! In the daytime and the nighttime! In the ocean and in the windowseat! I like sex on Sunday mornings! Can I get an “AMEN” for Cunnilingus? AMEN for cunnilingus! Can I get a “You know how to whistle, don’t you” for Fellatio? “You know how to whistle, don’t you?” Can I get a “Ride’em Cowboy” for my husband? Yippeekayae! Can I get an “arghghghghg” for Readi Whip and maraschino cherries? Arghghghghghg! What, no brownies?
This noisome display is not from The Vagina Monologues, but from The Anchoress -- normally a reliable right-wing scold who speaks of sex primarily as an agent of death, who has been driven to this uncharacteristically lurid extremity by the Foley scandal.

Her idea -- and that of the comrades to whom she links in her post -- is, near as I can figure, that by finding humor in the current Congressional tsimmis, liberals have abandoned the high ground -- or the deep rut, depending on how you look at it -- of sexual liberty, which she now claims for herself.

As a sometime author of erotic fiction, I find The Anchoress' effort lacking in both style and prurience. Still, to each her own; at some early stage of sexual awakening, plain declarations of enthusiasm may provide sufficient titillation.

As for the political effect -- which I suspect is the real animator of this exhibition -- she needn't have bothered. As I have tirelessly observed, the Democrats have been cast, and well cast, as America's horndogs, and it will take more than a few Instant Messages to dislodge us. Besides, the election is only a month away, and near the event we may expect Republican operatives to haul out the FAGS A-GITTIN' HITCHED! banner to rally voters to their cause. Whatever amateurs may think, the pros know that there is more to be gained by promoting hatred of other people's sex lives than from celebration of one's own.

Speaking of amateurs, this phenomenon is mainly interesting as an expression of discontent among right-wing bloggers.

Sex-hatred has been a key factor in the Republican strategy for quite some time -- whether couched in terms of gay marriage, rainbow parties, wardrobe malfunctions, the Clenis, or any other available mechanism for welding Democrats to a realm of human life that apparently still baffles and disgusts a large number of voters.

The top conservative bloggers, despite their self-portrayal as men and women of The Peepul, tend to be professional word-workers with some education and prestige (law professors, speechwriters, journalists, students, etc). They have to know this Republican freakishness about sex is all bullshit. But they have gone along because it has been good for their Party and the non-sex-based causes it supports -- endless war on Muslims, low taxes on rich people, and such like.

By a willful misreading of the current scandal-twisted situation, some of them see an opportunity to speak up for sex without abandoning their Republican affiliation. This opportunity is so rare, and so delayed, that when they finally feel themselves free to speak out for sucking and fucking, it comes out explosively, in a pressurized stream of clumsily suggestive gibberish.

For all the harm their reign has done our country, let us be grateful at least that we are not so afflicted.

Friday, October 06, 2006

TIGERS 6, YANKEES 0. Mr. Rogers, where was this shit when you pitched for us? I ain't seen curves like that since they closed Billy's Topless.

I liked the Tommy Lasorda commercials, too. Lasorda's blog is just okay, though I love when he says stuff like "Go out and vote for Nomar, it is your duty!" I wonder what it would be like if comments were unmoderated. (What a pity Earl Weaver isn't around to do podcasts.)

UPDATE. Actually Tommy can curse pretty good too when a pitcher's giving him a hard time during a fucking World Series game. (The organ music is a wonderful accompaniment.) But Weaver had more style.
LITERALLY. David Brooks says, oh yeah, you liberals think the Foley scandal is bad, well, there's an underage seduction in The Vagina Monologues but you liberals love that, don't you?

Stunned onlookers point out to Brooks that The Vagina Monologues is a play, whereas Mark Foley is a real person. Ann Althouse -- she takes pictures, you know! -- responds:
The third letter notes Brooks's omission of the "simple point" that what Mark Foley did was "real" and "The Vagina Monologues" is "make-believe." But, again, the enthusiasm for "The Vagina Monologues" is very real.
There are a lot of things you could say to this. You could try to explain to these people the concept of fictional characters. You could try to explain that not every character in every scene speaks for the author. You could try to explain that these cows are very small, while those cows are far away.

It would all be a waste of time. Some kinds of ignorance are so obviously the result of hard, patient work that all you can really do about them is marvel at God's creation and move on.

UPDATE. I just had to haul this comment on up to the front of the class: "Millions of people enjoyed Silence of the Lambs, and yet if a Republican were caught engaging in murder and cannibalism, you can only imagine how the hypocritical liberals would react."

UPDATE II. Comments at Professor Althouse's place also augment the hilarity, but in a different way:
Didn't the left give us performance art and haven't leftists, in their never ending pursuit of absolute equality, instructed us the everything is art and that we're all artists?
When'd we do that? I've got to start coming to more of the meetings.
SHORTER CRAZY JESUS LADY. Now that I no longer work for any of the people Bob Woodward is exposing, it's amazing how much better his writing has become.
YEAH, WE GOOD. I have a cold and lots to do but I can't keep myself from watching these Mets. They're pumped bigger than usual, but not out of proportion -- their playoff jam is a natural extension of their regular-season jam: more clapping and arm-flinging between plays, but outside of that the same easy, team-wide shit-eating grin at being part of a very good machine.

I only got one game in at Shea this year, but even over the TV their pleasure this season has been radiant. It's very different from 2000, when the madman Bobby Valentine pushed by force of cap-chewing will a bunch of pretenders into the World Series, only to watch them crumble against the hated Yankees. I'll always respect Bobby V for that -- it was a brilliant specimen of the ridiculous persistence that keeps Mets fans sane in the long off-years. We've had shitty teams and shitty seasons, but sometimes, just as we're saying to hell with it, we come back from the concession stand to find we ain't done so bad after all. 2000 was the apotheosis of Orange and Blue* hope against hope.

But in the past few years the Mets have gone another way. They've reinvigorated the farm teams and shown something resembling patience. Look how Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya have nurtured the present crew. Who knew it was a good idea to lose Mike Cameron and gain Carlos Delgado? Dumbass me, I thought that was a wash. I thought Tom Glavine was a bad bet from day one, and expected we'd trade him away in the new era -- but look at his line tonight! And whatever the Skipper has been saying to Reyes and Wright ought to be recorded and kept in a vault for future generations to Talmudically ponder. And Julio Franco! 48 goddamn years old! Makes it to first and bats in a run! I haven't trusted an old man on the Mets since Derek Bell pulled up lame in 2000 -- and he was only 33.

They were overexcited in the 9th -- Reyes' throw pulled Delgado off the bag for the first out, and for the last. But they got the job done.

We're up 2-0 and our small-ball team is looking at the harder-they-fall Cards in the NLCS. It ain't '86, but it's pretty sweet.

Why to love the Mets, here. Why to hate the Yankees (like you need a reason), here.

* Yeah, I'm Old School.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

SHORTER MICHELLE MALKIN: If I can't post on websites that don't want me, the Islamofascists will have won.

(Why doesn't she just take her top off? I'll post her stupid video if she does.)
THE HE-MAN JESUS-HATERS CLUB. Remember the right-wing gibberish about the Amish schoolhouse murders? (Psst, just say yes! It's two posts down!) We can officially top it, now that John Derbyshire has weighed in on the treasonous, Jesus-emulating Pennyslvania Dutch grandpa who counseled some of that other-cheek* crap. In response to John Podhoretz' objection ("this story disturbs me deeply... I'm not sure I would want to be someone who succeeded in rising above hatred..." He needn't worry), Derbyshire writes:
A civilization that can't summon up some pretty widespread hatred for a man who lines up little girls and shoots them in their heads, after having been foiled in an attempt to molest them, is a civilization with a spring broken somewhere.
Here, the famously unstable Derbyshire seems to conflate "civilization" (in Derbspeak, the United States of America and all affilated homosexuals) with the Amish grandpa -- a brain-chemical rather than a philosophical issue, as even Derb must, when sedated, understand that ours is a society pulsating with inchoate hatred, and that much of it is discharged upon the perpetrator(s) of the criminal-outrage-of-the-week, albeit in absentia via dinner-table conversation or barroom braggadocio. (Those of us who have regular contact with Americans will recall how often we were told what Joe Citizen would do if he got his hands on Bin Laden, in those days before George W. Bush declared Bin Laden irrelevant.)

Leftover inchoate hatred then devolves upon wives, girlfriends, rival football teams, and perpetrator(s) of the celebrity-outrage-of-the-week.

You know you've reached some sort of a milestone when you make Rod Dreher look sane.

As I've said before, I'm not a Christian except in habits and morality. Derbyshire says he is one, and yet visits upon a perfect Imitator of Christ the sort of treatment he usually reserves for gay people. I would say it represents a new low, but I have been writing this for a few minutes, and I'm sure something worse has been published meanwhile.

* Duncan, don't even start. I checked the Sermon on the Mount, and the other-cheek stuff was not a typo.

UPDATE. A little clarifying on linkages added.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

THE END OF THE AFFAIR. The Foley scandal continues its widening gyre. Foley himself is becalmed in rehab, but no one cares about him. The Parties are surfing the gyre. The Republicans have the worse job, and are trying all kinds of wild shit to reverse its course. The Perfesser hehindeeds through the howling wind that it's really about gay hypocrisy, or pro-gay hypocrisy that's really anti-gay, or some damn thing. His comrade cries out:
Does anyone seriously think that the Democrats can position themselves as the party of sexual restraint? The party that will be tough on gay men, straight men, or anyone else who gives off even a whiff of impropriety?

Please - this is not a bidding war the Democrats can win and I am reasonably certain that, after years of "sex is a private matter", it is not a war the Democrats want to start.
But like most shouting into the wind, this is bootless. As previously noted here, the Democrats are considered the Party of libertine sex, as a thousand Leno jokes will attest. The Republicans have encouraged that perception, and positioned themselves as the Party of family values, and benefited from the comparison. When one of their own got caught out, no one thought the roles had been magically reversed. We just thought the Republicans had fucked up. Again.

Remember when the cry over Clinton was, it's not the sex, it's the lying/perjury/hypocrisy? Now it's not the sex, it's the fuckups. We expect our politicians to lie and perjure themselves and be hypocrites, but when Denny Hastert goes blundering around trying to explain Foley on the radio, it may be that the average observer is not reminded of Clinton or Gary Condit or Jim McGreevey, but of Rumsfeld, and "Brownie," and Abramoff: the spectacle of a Party that runs nearly all our government, once again giving mumbled, grudging responses when things go wrong on their watch.

When the Foley scandal subsides, no lingering taint of sex madness will adhere to the Republicans. The stink of failure may grow a smidge more ripe, though.
THE ELEPHANT, THE BLIND MAN SAID, IS VERY LIKE A LIBERAL CONSPIRACY. Hugh Hewitt directs our attention to this analyst of the recent Amish schoolhouse shooting, who closes:
How a culture finds a balance between love and weakness, fear, aggression and violence, is a puzzle that is not easily solved. I wonder if a more mobilized society, one which deems it appropriate and acceptable for all members of the society to have the right and the knowledge to defend themselves, will not eventually be the avenue of wisdom.
So, there's your answer: if the Amish schoolgirls were packing heat, none of this would have happened.

Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser, asked about the incident, says, "I mean, we focus so much on the mental health of girls and women, and we’ve neglected a lot of the boys and men in this country. You go into a school, and a lot of times, the boys’ psychological and mental health is sort of neglected." Damn bitches, hoggin' up the mental health care. Every time I go to my court-mandated therapist appointments, they're all looking at me like, what's this guy doing here?

Columbine Dad tells Katie Couric that it's all about abortion. (Hat tip to God Is For Suckers.)

This guy's just nuts.

If you're wondering why these guys think the Foley scandal is a Democratic plot, this will give you a hint. For them, everything bad that happens in life has something to do with a little bag of fetishes labelled "liberalism." That's why they can go on mouthing rank absurdities while the rest of us are giving them that Springtime for Hitler stare.

UPDATE. Red State commenter: "President Bush has called a meeting next Tuesday of 'experts' to figure out what can be done. I hope this is not just a political move to appear to be in favor of protecting kids, but is actually designed to get real results." I wonder if he was trying to be funny.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

WHY IS JANE GALT? A few posts back I challenged Jane Galt's notion that if we don't like our present economy, it means we also don't like iPods and 2-way wrist TVs and all the other great innovations of our times. Now she says this means my readers and I are Marxists with "a deep emotional need for things to be getting worse in order to justify their political beliefs."

Obviously arguing with her is a waste of time, but I will leave one question: if I think the Marx Brothers are funnier than Adam Sandler, does that mean I prefer the Great Depresssion to the Clinton Boom?

Monday, October 02, 2006

ANIMALS CAN BE BRED AND SLAUGHTERED Reihan Salam reviews Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. The premise of the film, he says (I haven't yet had the pleasure), is that “yuppies” won’t breed, so slack-jawed yokels who like fart jokes will inherit the earth and manage it very badly. Sounds pretty funny. Here’s Salam’s reaction:
…[Judge is] telling thoughtful Americans that we can't expect other people to solve our problems for us. If you're alarmed by the callousness and the crassness of our culture, which you certainly should be, do something about it. Lead or follow. Getting out of the way is not an option. Failing that, you should at least try to outbreed the people you hate most.
We’ve seen this idea before in conservative circles: that The Right People are underbreeding and thus allowing the Wrong People to dominate. Of course, usually the Right People are portrayed as the White People. I don’t think Salam’s saying that, but what is he saying? That smart people should “outbreed” stupid people? That “yuppies” should outbreed the underprivileged?

It is rare and sort of charming when they show faith in any branch of science at all, but even I know that genetics is more complicated than that.
WHY I AM A DEMOCRAT. A Republican talks to underage boys about taking off their underwear, and conservative bloggers agree: Democrats are immoral.

"How can -- why should? -- Democrats resist doing everything they can to hurt Republicans with this?" says Professor Althouse. Why, you could more easily separate fornicating dogs than detach Democrats from such scandal. "Of course, there's profuse salivating over on the pro-Democrat blogs," says the Professor. "Democratic leaders in the House have made their moves..." But in the end, Democrat saliva is, like everything else produced by Democrats, hurting the country:
So it seems in the run-up to the election we won't have to talk about Iraq and terrorism and detainees anymore. Let's talk about sex.
Such is the dream life of Althouse when Bill Clinton is not making her think about cigars. (She's not the only one. Dean Barnett's response is, "I’ve never met a person in private life who indulged his appetites with as much vigor as Bill Clinton did" -- further proof, as if it were needed, that Dean Barnett doesn't get around much.)

Meanwhile The Ole Perfesser says Foley's Pedopublican antics are a net loss for the New York Times, and Daily Pundit says the 16-year-old was asking for it. That provokes deep thought among Stop the ACLU's commenters: "I don’t know if flirting with a 16 year old is legal in Washington DC or at the federal level. There are states it is legal for an older individual to have sex with a 16 year old..." See, this is why I read law blogs: news I can use!

It may be that the Foley IMs only skirt felony. What these guys affect not to realize is why the spectacle of a Republican nailed for sexing up teens is so funny and resonant. It has little to do with legalities, or even right and wrong. On the off chance that they really don't understand, I would recommend a reading of Tartuffe.

Or, if they're impatient or illiterate, they can have this explanation: when you work for, and identify yourself with, a bunch of homo-hatin', sex-averse moral scolds, it's freaking hilarious when you're caught stroking it to male teeny talk. That's why the "B-b-b-b-but Gerry Studds" rejoinder doesn't work. We're Democrats -- we have to get laid constantly, by whomever or whatever is available. It's in our DNA, like treason.

The narrative of our current politics is admittedly all fucked up, and stacked absurdly against the Party of Jefferson. But it does have little compensations like these.

Friday, September 29, 2006

IN PRAISE OF INVECTIVE. I've had the phrase incomplete in my head for years, but finally thought to search it online, and found the prize. From a 1983 New York Times article on "Literary Invective" by the late Walter Goodman -- almost certainly where I first saw it -- comes this ancient judgment by Horace Walpole on Samuel Johnson:
...prejudice and bigotry, and pride and presumption, and arrogance and pedantry are the hags that brew his ink.
Regular readers will know how I value le mot brutally juste, and this is about as good as English has to offer, though Goodman gives others:

Carlyle on Emerson: "a gap-toothed and hoary-headed ape ... who now in his dotage spits and chatters from a dirtier perch of his own finding and fouling."

Dr. Johnson on Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son: "They teach the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing master."

And Mary McCarthy's famously palpable hit on Lillian Hellman, which inspires Goodman's essay: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"

Ahhhh, that's good invective, or, to use the current term, snark. Top-shelf writing can be animated by any sort of passion, including contempt. Contempt can also animate the speed-rack stuff, of course. But what a difference in results between the high and the low! Bad angry writing leaves only a sulfurous match-stink, whereas the right combination of author and animus makes an incandescent glare. It burns off obfuscating details, revealing the underlying folly of its victim.

Take, for example, this immortal precis by H.L. Mencken of the speeches of Warren G. Harding:
He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of tosh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.
You needn't know Harding, specifically, to appreciate this, but if you have any experience at all of boosterish political prose, you will know how true this hits the mark. The confident opening pricks your ears. The metaphors suit both the blandness of the subject and the imbecilic vigor of the execution. The final decompounded words are sharp flamenco steps that tamp the dirt on the grave of the unfortunate subject. This is not mere insult. This is artistry enlisted in the service of spite; and, like all true artistry, it exalts its purpose.

Not everyone approves, of course. The Pajamas Media people recently held a playdate to consider "How Partisan Is Too Partisan?" Readers of PJM websites -- including those of frequent alicublog subjects Jeff Goldstein, Roger L. Simon, and of course the Ole Perfesser -- will be unamazed to hear that the difference between good and bad partisanship is, in the participants' estimation, roughly the difference between the party they support and the party they don't:
...there is a difference between "smart partisanship" and a much less attractive alternative that relies on invective rather than argument and employs the widespread use of insults and obscenities. This is a problem the left continues to struggle with given that the new media revolution (to use a pretentious phrase) has taken place almost entirely in the last five years under the tenure of George W. Bush and given voice to a core of the most active liberal partisans who A) believe he wasn't legitimately elected in the first place...
Etc. The ideological bias I can forgive -- we are all sinners, and that remains true even when we are reminded of it by ideologues. But that they can sit, study, and spew on the subject without recognizing (much less celebrating) the rich historical tradition of political invective confirms something I have long suspected: that they write as poorly as they do because they do not even know what good writing is.

Indeed, the few right-wing writers they sometimes have the nerve to celebrate for their skill are either logorrheic buffoons who compensate for their lack of style and substance with MLA gibberish and feeble absurdist tropes, or addlepated wordsmiths whose streams always proceed from, meander around, and return to the same tiny backyard pool of chlorinated cliches.

I cannot imagine such people would recognize a literary brickbat if it split their thick skulls -- in fact, having thrown many such, I can attest they would not.

Still. We are not here to deride -- at least not in the main -- but to celebrate. Let me know what invective has pleased you. The subject or the politics does not matter. If the slur is sure or the sneer sheer, share please. Let us give praise to the belittlers, and pet the rich coat of savage beastly speech. Let us exalt the humblers of the exalted.

UPDATE. Comments are especially good here, full of great quotes and observations. I was glad to see a ripe, contemporary denunciation of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. We all love the glorious Ninth, but one is forced to admit that the critic has a point, and if we honestly disagree we must, at least in our own minds, answer it. Sometimes harsh criticism provides shocks that are not just tittilating, but salutary as well: they force the mind to encounter a contradictory point of view (as with, say, Christopher Hitchens on Mother Teresa). There is much to recommend the more patient and polite kind of criticism, but when attitudes have hardened, the discussion can always use a swift kick in the ass.

It may be that there is more than one reason for all the shrill language in political blogs, and one may be that many of us have little faith that our opponents are listening to us, and that we are trying to get their attention, or someone's at least. That's not unprecedented. The Chernow biography of Hamilton I mentioned before, along with some commenters, reminds me that the pre- and (especially) post-Revolutionary American Press was often savage, and Hamilton himself did not disdain the employment of slander.

I should say now that I was unfairly hard on Lileks in this post. He is actually very good at word management, as his non-political writing shows, and his skills do not disappear when he lectures us traitors at the Bleat. But he cannot leave snark enough alone, and his creditable insults are usually cool raisins in an overbaked rage, which is why he can be so much fun to make fun of. Goldstein remains worthless on every level.

Musical and literary insults are mentioned in comments, as is Dorothy Parker's theatre criticism, but I feel duty-bound to add Diana Rigg's No Turn Unstoned, a collection of mostly British stage reviews that are hair-raisingly mean, and Michael Green's The Art of Coarse Acting, nominally a celebration of hammy, incompetent playing (one chapter heading: "How to Steal the Scene, Even Though Unconscious").

The Ole Perfesser: It's only foreigners -- I think -- who get tortured, so the real losers here are the Democrats, Andrew Sullivan, and, I guess, the poor schmucks who get tortured. Heh.

Ann Althouse: What? Do I approve of what? Tor-what? Wait, I want to make sure I have this right! Did you just say "Bush is evil and I'm a very stupid Bush-hating partisan"? I can't hear you, I'm doing eight different things while I talk to you! What? (hangs up)

Eugene Volokh: What? Do I approve of what? Torture? Oh, hell yes. I always have, domestic and foreign varieties. And don't let the boner fool you, I've given it a lot of thought.

The Anchoress: In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, if George Bush likes it, how bad can it be?

The Bull Moose: America has always been unique in that it acknowledges the human rights of its enemies as well as those of its citizens. We gotta cut that out.

Jonah Goldberg. Oh, you don't like torture, but you don't like racial profiling either! Well, which is it? Because you can't have one without the other. Farrrrrrrrt.

Curiously, a lot of the more rabid brethren have had nothing yet to say on this topic, probably because they're too busy ejaculating.

Fairness demands I point out that our nemesis Rod Dreher has come out against the trend -- though I do see that his minders are starting to walk him back.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

GRATITUDE. Jim Lileks tells his readers where to find some guy he doesn't like. Scan the comments they've left for a rare glimpse into the mental state of his constituency. (Sample: "I guess you only favor the first amendment when it's your free speech. In the hood they'd call you a punk, maybe a bitch." Signed, "Anonymous.") If Lileks didn't post links to the bathroom, they'd all piss themselves.

This is my asshole way of thanking alicublog's own commenters, who have been doing great work here, especially in recent days. Whether or not it's a conscious attempt to make up for gaps in my own analysis, it often has that effect. Bravo.

Coffee break over. Everyone back on your heads!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

JESUS HATES YOU, PART 4,581. The last post drew some commenters upset with Democratic responses to Republican outrages, specifically in the current matter of state-sanctioned torture. "I'm somewhat reluctant to pile on the Democrats," says one such, "but I do wonder: if they won't stand up for Habeus Corpus, what the hell good are they?"

Hear, hear. Though I usually remove myself from the desolate business of politics on the ground, and do not take any interest in Democratic primaries unless Al Shapton is on the ballot, I will say that people realizing what a bunch of crap candidates their Parties' machines turn out is an unalloyed good.

The Republican variety never get this, of course. Rod Dreher recently had another of his fits about feckless Republicans and the mess they've made of things, but you know he'll always vote a straight GOP ticket -- he's as much as said so: "Is that what GOP leadership comes down to, in the end? They deserve to lose. They really do. But I don't think the country deserves the Democrats, at least not the Democrats we have now."

Regular readers of Dreher will wonder why he keeps turning from the light. 'Bortion, of course; "Given that the Democratic Party cannot be counted on ever to oppose the extermination of unborn life," says Dreher in another post, it's understandable how his co-religionist colleague simply cannot vote for Democrats, ever.

This is followed by the usual handwringing about the horrible things the Republicans are doing.

This is the sort of thing that, out of all reason, makes some Democrats think they can engage fundamentalist Christians in those areas which, their studies tell them, should make them attractive to fans of the man from Galilee. And no doubt there are some few devout souls out there who may find the party of torture, corporate greed, and Macacaism a bad fit with their sincere beliefs.

But for the real face of the energized Jesus people, I go with Dreher every time: crunchy, comfy, and, anytime the teeter-totter is poised between reason and ignorance, listing leeward with the yahoos. Let's look at some of his recent posts:

As you may have heard, a German opera company made sport of Mohammed, and got shut down. People with brains might in this case find common cause with the rabid Little Green Footballs in decrying this outrage. Dreher finally does, too, but only after a lengthy and instructive demurrer:
This jackass [director] was being deliberately provocative, and to what end? So many contemporary artists think nothing of defecating on the most deeply held religious beliefs of a very great number of people. In fact, it's seen as a mark of legitimacy in their circles. There is a nasty, spiteful part of me that takes pleasure in the squirming of these artists under such circumstances. I went to see Terrence McNally's blasphemous but ersatz and boring gay Jesus play "Corpus Christi" in NYC a few years ago, on assignment for the Weekly Standard, and saw hundreds of Christian protesters peacefully demonstrating outside the theater. McNally and his supporters thought they were being so brave. One wonders what they'd do if they had to worry about Christians being as demonstrative about blasphemy as they do about Muslims. A vicious little part of me likes to see them squirm. I have to confess this.
Then he says he knows it's wrong, terribly wrong, in the manner of Mr. Davidson in Somerset Maugham's Rain. I gasp; I understand.

But an hour later, Dreher is less equivocal about Muslim shopkeepers in Brooklyn who won't sell beer -- and Christian pharmacists who won't sell birth control:
I have to admit that I admire these guys for making a stand that costs them money, for the sake of honoring their religion. Though I would be deeply annoyed if I lived in their neighborhood and wanted to buy a six-pack. Do you see any kind of parallel in principle between these men refusing for reasons of conscience to sell beer, and the Christian pro-life pharmacists?
Then, another brief, watery on-the-other-hand.

Let us be clear. For all his granola idiosyncrasies, Dreher is typical in his belief that worship of Jesus is largely about hatred of free-thinkers, beer-drinkers, non-procreative-sex-havers, etc. He tags his rants with little beg-offs because he knows the time is not yet right, but looks forward to the day when he won't have to, as any good millenarian must. His is not a God of Love but a God of Wrath, and he is very sure against whom that Wrath is directed.

It is all well and good to show fundamentalist Christians the ginormous disconnect between the teachings of their professed Savior and the actions of the Party to which their votes reliably go, but I would suggest Democrats go hunting where the ducks are: that is, among the large number of citizens who may not be enlightened, but who are not stark staring mad either.

UPDATE. Speaking of that opera, is there any subject that is not debased by the input of Ann Althouse?
Now that some Muslims have made it painfully obvious that religion-taunting is not an easy game anymore, abandoning it expresses fear, not respect for religion. And continuing to disrespect the religions that don't lash back only highlights that cowardice. Poor transgressive rebel artists! How are they to shock the middle class anymore?
As someone who has taken the lead in anti-Mohammedian blasphemy, I have to say, fuck you and your stupid Bible, Professor. Go watch some more "Project Runway."