Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HERE'S A LITTLE SOMETHING I did for Jonathan Russell's excellent Drunk & Unemployed site. I do like to get off the political topics sometimes, and onto the verities.
YOU KNOW WHO ELSE EXPEDITED PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS? It always pays to scan Instapundit, even with the B team in session. Ed Driscoll yells, "ALL HAIL AMERICAN CAESAR!" and following his link we hear:
As you will recall, the beginning of the end of liberty in Rome commenced with Augustus Caesar who compromised the authority of the Senate through the force of arms and basically the Senate became a facade. America is poised with this proposed bill, to morph immediately from a Republic into an empire with the privileged eunuchs of the Senate as window dressing and a dictator – the first American Caesar – at the country’s helm.

And leading the progressive charge is Chuck Schumer (D-NY). No big surprise there. Schumer is an elitist Marxist and a first class progressive who hates America almost as much as he loves power.
What in hell? Go look at the bill he's talking about; it appears to allow the President to appoint such exalted officials as the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Congressional Relations with less than usual interference from Congress. (My scan was not thorough, but I didn't notice Supreme Court Justices or Secretaries of State among the expedited appointments.) Not perhaps the best idea, but at a time in which Republicans block appointments regularly and, it seems, capriciously, understandable.

Yet the Caesar comparison has really caught on among the brethren: "Senate Seeks to Create Caesar?" "Senate Seeks to Create Caesar – S. 67," "Hail Caesar?" "Senate Seeks to Create Caesar," etc.

Oh well, at least they stopped calling Obama Hitler for a minute. And I must approve this new avatar of liberal fascism, on grounds of novelty at least, and hope they can take it further. Maybe when Obama steps up for Planned Parenthood, they can start calling him Caligula. He had something to do with sex, right? There was that movie with Malcolm McDowell.

These guys are very, very late to the Caesarism party.

UPDATE. Some of the belligerati show the usual obsession with "Obama’s string of Czars. Czars that he was supposed to downsize or get rid of. Czars, which in my personal viewpoint, were and still are illegal under the Constitution. But progressives never go away, they just shift..." I don't remember hearing stuff like this in the day of William Simon, Energy Czar under Tyrannus Nixon. But then, the Bircher element had not yet been mainstreamed.

UPDATE 2. The comments are extra terrific on this post -- thanks especially to all those who remember how the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire really worked, and to Angry Geometer, who reminds me that the weak Obama-Caesar imagery making the rounds totally misses the easy layup:

Sunday, May 08, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the longer-term rightblogger reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden. It's as you expect, but don't run away, there's still comedy gold in there. Also it's weird to see all the memes (politicizing the event, water burial bad, Islamic rites bad, where are the pics, etc) stacked up together, even if you just stick with the ones that have gained traction.

I will say that since Jason Mattera took over, Human Events seems to have gone absolutely batshit. Or am I misremembering how bad it was before?

Friday, May 06, 2011

ARTHUR LAURENTS, 1917-2011. He was both talented and lucky. He was writing plays back when daring themes could more easily get mounted on Broadway, had a bumpy but ultimately fortunate passage through the blacklist, and hooked up with geniuses to create West Side Story and Gypsy. From those two masterpieces we mainly remember the tunes and performances, but the stories and dialogue on which they hung are very important, and that was Laurents.

Tonight I particularly think of the book of West Side Story. It was stylized, as were the other elements, to distill the coarseness of street-talk into something more poetic and cleaner for the stage, but in so pleasing a way that no one could reasonably complain about it. The "womb to tomb, sperm to worm" yap is frankly ridiculous and was probably at least ten years out of date when it was written. But it sings; it has the feel if not the particulars of vernacular speech. Thus it remains listenable even in our much cruder age. (When Lou Reed updated it, he brought it closer to the speech patterns of our time, but did not improve upon its rhythm nor its pathos.)

And beyond the language, Laurents had the balls to retell the R&J story in a setting that few people even wanted to acknowledge, and to do it full-on, without stinting on the romantic gush. If you want to consider how tough that was, think of more coddled, contemporary attempts like O or the Ethan Hawke Hamlet. They had the advantage of doing something everyone would consider artistic and excuse when it failed, and in a constricted style that at least looked cool; Laurents and his comrades were flying blind onto a Broadway where the big hit was The Music Man. He and they risked fatal ridicule with their lushly-scored, dance-heavy gang-war slum musical. That they succeeded should tell us all something about reaching beyond the shoddy expectations of our own low, mean era.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

DEBATE NIGHT. I only saw the last half, and by it I am put in mind of Yeats' Purgatory: "And she must animate that dead night not once but many times! Oh God," etc. What I saw was a travesty of a mockery of a sham. I should forebear to judge -- maybe Part 1 was like Plato's Symposium -- but the last 45 minutes were just sad. This being early innings, the Fox interlocutors had no fix to throw, and so grilled the candidates mercilessly on their Republican orthodoxy, leading either to abject surrender (like Pawlenty begging forgiveness for once supporting cap-and-trade) or bizarre, defensive self-promotion (Gary Johnson has been to the mountaintop! And if he won't get there with you, it's because you haven't passed the physical!).

As usual, Chris Wallace came hard at Ron Paul, who wonderfully endorsed getting gummint out of the heroin business. My admiration of Paul grows apace, and if I really had the courage of my convictions, I would back him to the bitter end, which would be about a year after he was elected President.

Republican crackpots and the Luntz instapoll love Herman Cain. Yes, Herman Cain! But don't relax yet, somebody will actually run for President in 2012 on the Republican line and, since we may all be living in our cars by then, he or she could win. My call, as usual, would be Sarah Palin. But it won't be any of these guys even if we go full Weimar.

Prankster is pranking the Jane Corwin campaign in NY-26. The Atlantic finds a pixel trail leading to the Scott Walker prank-call guy, Ian Murphy, who is challenging Corwin on the Green Party line. I can't say whether I endorse him, but I will say that he has the right temperament for the job.
A SAD CASE. While most of her fellow wingnuts focus on how Obama proved his hatred of America by killing Bin Laden, alleged psychotherapy professional Robin of Berkeley still has the birth certificate in her teeth. Its taste lifts her to allegory!
Imagine this scenario: You're divorcing your spouse, but he or she refuses to release personal financial records. You both hire attorneys. In fact, your ex spends a substantial amount of money on legal fees to avoid the release of records. Your spouse enlists the help of officials and governors all over the country to keep the information well hidden.

And one day, years later, your ex releases the sought after documents. You scratch your head in wonderment. Why did this person hide them in the first place?

You consider the possibilities: maybe it's a power trip -- your former mate trying to yank your chain and control you. Perhaps your ex is being passive aggressive and punishing you. Or maybe your former spouse is trying to make you look bad and stupid. And it's also a possibility that even though your ex released paperwork, the documents aren't the real deal.
Since the explosive revelation that Obama's birth certificate is in fact a birth certificate, the investment of American citizens in the birther nonsense has shrunk to a tiny rump. So it's really as if the documents in question revealed that the plaintiff is not in fact married to the defendant, and that she has been wasting the court's time and will be escorted kicking and screaming from chambers by the bailiff.

Maybe Robin sees it all slipping away, as her fantasies about Obama have escalated:
Personally, I've thought long and hard about whether I've ever known anyone like him before. I've had contact with sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and felons. And yet I've rarely beheld anyone as slippery as Obama.

When I think of Obama, my mind drifts to a physician I once knew, a smooth-talking pillar of the community. And yet the most disturbing things were happening behind closed doors.

Each one of his five children, one by one, tried to commit suicide. Even as the children descended into madness, the doctor was cool as a cucumber. In some horrifyingly sadistic way, he seemed to enjoy his children's collapse.

In some ways, Obama reminds me of this physician because both are masters of disguise. While presenting pristine public images, they keep their real selves behind lock and key.
Well, he and the Missus are forcing Sasha and Malia to eat vegetables; surely there's a child abuse case to be made. Beadle, apprehend the Kenyan Pretender; Mrs. Robin of Berkeley Hussein Soetoro demands it!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

7 Minutes Vs. 16 Hours: How The Media Reports Delay

George Bush was relentlessly mocked for waiting seven minutes (actually waiting for his security detail to ready the exit and for his vehicle to be readied) before leaving the school he was visiting. He calmly finished reading My Pet Goat for the kids before going to his now-ready helicopter.

On the other hand, after Obama was told (most likely for the fifteenth time) that the CIA was really, really, really quite confident that Osama bin Ladin was at that compound in Abbottabad, he decided he needed to sleep on it.

Sixteen hours later (hours during which Osama might have fled-- bear in mind, his courier's name had just been outed by WikiLeaks), he made up his mind.

How does the media report this?
They report that, in stark contrast to his predecessor, Obama killed Bin Laden.

Further down, Mr. Spades shows why they're really paying him the big bucks:
If everyone including Jimmy Carter would have ordered this, then I'm afraid I don't see why President Made a Poopie should be so praised for doing what everyone else would have done. That is, why praise him for being ordinary?
Similarly, why do people cheer the achievements of pro athletes? If Mr. Spades had spent his younger days honing his athletic skills instead of lecturing his playmates on the evils of the Frankfurt School, he too might have been World Series MVP. Yet people act as if it's some big deal.

In a few days I expect Mr. Spades will be running fan fiction about President John Bolton giving the order to kill Bin Laden in a totally awesome way that transforms it from a boring administrative detail into something really heroic. It'll be like how Han Solo says "I know" to Princess Leia before they freeze him in carbonite -- the perfect reading, which you didn't realize until you saw a President you despise do it the wrong way.
IT'S NOT AN ANIMAL, IT'S AN ABORTION. I challenged Wonkette and their puckish redistrubution of the world's worst political videos a few weeks back. But this music video featuring Miley Cyrus -- whose honor I defended a few years back -- is beyond challenge, and perhaps even beyond the ability of mortal man to ken. It may be the worst cover of all time, not because of the pathetically unimaginative handling of the source material, but because it takes a song that cleverly inverted the idea of youth culture and almost mathematically re-inverts it so that it becomes the very thing it was meant to mock.

There are many good tunes that Cyrus and her hired guns could have defiled as badly, but if they had, the songs themselves would have emerged from the smoking ruins more or less intact. This performance actually destroys the song. I don't think I can even listen to the original anymore without remembering this version and vomiting. Were he alive and confronted with it, Lester Bangs would have spontaneously exploded into flying gobs of Romilar-soaked viscera. It makes me wish not only for my own death, but that of the planet, and that it could be hurled into the sun so no trace of this atrocity would remain to defile the universe. (h/t wwtdd.)

UPDATE. In comments, many say they've seen worse, and some offer proof. I have to admit, the Stone Roses Complete Stone Roses* version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" offered by hells littlest angel is pretty weird:

It has the same obstinate deafness to the beauty of the original as the Cyrus cover. (The YouTube comments are lovely though: "WTF IS THIS COCKSWEAT ??") Now this Celine Dion/Anastacia version of "You Shook Me All Night Long" contributed by fish I didn't mind so much:

In fact, I think Celine Dion being a Bad Girl is just adorable. (I don't know this Anastacia person. Why is she dressed like Chewbacca's girlfriend?) I guess I'm more affected by the Cyrus version because it's Kurt Cobain, who meant a lot to me. Maybe if I had the same feeling for AC/DC and Joy Division these videos would disturb me more. As it is they just seem like strange choices rather than a genocidal campaign against art.

Oh, years ago I saw some TV profile of Raquel Welch featuring bits of her touring act. I wish a video were available of Rocky's version of "Born in the U.S.A." from that tour. Dancing butchly and bellowing, she was obviously trying to impersonate Springsteen, but looked and sounded more like Mammy Yokum.

All of the team's suggestions for Miley Cyrus' follow-up number are excellent.

*UPDATE 2. GeoX informs me that the Complete Stone Roses is not the Stone Roses at all, but a tribute band. With its own videos!

UPDATE 3. There are times when I wonder if I should have approached political writing seriously in my youth, but then I read Matthew Yglesias...
But even though I absolutely love Nirvana I’ve come to think that these particular kind of values that Cobain stood for were hideously wrongheaded. After all, Cobain literally killed himself. He wasn’t so much keeping it real and being authentic as he was a severely depressed heroin addict who really needed some help in life. A brilliant artist? Yes. But a horrible model of how to think about life. He ought to be thrilled that the songs he wrote continue to mean something to people and to be played.
...and thank God I didn't. It's probably just as well I didn't go to Harvard, either. Christ, what a Wally.

Monday, May 02, 2011

BONUS OUTTAKE. Since I had just about finished the Voice column I was working on when the OBL announcement required me to write another, I have posted the thing here. It's about the Obama birth certificate, Trump, the nerdprom and so on. Seems a world away from where we are now, but that will change, and who knows, these ridiculous things may again attain relevance. Some of the faithful are keeping hope alive and waiting for a signal to swing down from their survivalist treehouses and reenter the fray.
I won’t go so far as to say that Obama was thinking about politics above national security here, but...
Oh go fuck yourself.
MORE ON OBL. In the cold light of day, having done the column, I thought about going down to Ground Zero (Steven Thrasher went in the wee hours and filed a fine report). But I never like going there. The last time I was compelled by events to do so, it was mobbed with stunned, sad people, and men in uniform poked up out of the crowd, standing on military vehicles with guns at the ready. I prefer this to that, and I'm sure there are some people for whom the death of Bin Laden brings comfort and a sense of justice done. Let them have it.

I'm just glad the fucker's out of the way. I appreciate the delivery on promised retribution -- the government's and Obama's -- and I can imagine why no one wanted a Nuremberg trial. I did, though. The guy'd been telling his side of the story in tapes from a cave, I thought, now let him tell it in the dock. As to inflaming the faithful, I figure if we can countenance it with Mohammed cartoons and stupid crap like that, we could have certainly done it in the cause of justice.

Surveying the usual idiots today, I find their message discipline remarkable. I note there is as yet not much conspiracy theorizing. I would actually be sympathetic to claims of a fix; governments lie, and if you bet that way at least you have a case. The notion widespread among the brethren that everyone deserves credit except Obama is just bullshit.

(At The Corner, Michael Potemra says, "on this day, I join everyone in saying, 'Good work, Mr. President, thanks — and we’re proud of you.'" Join everyone? He must not read his own site. Which I can understand. Potemra also calls Bin Laden "not a 'soldier' in a 'war,'" but "a murderer of innocents, and thus a common criminal, whose misdeeds were great enough to merit for him the end of a noose." Where was this kind of thinking before the rush to war, when we needed it?)

UPDATE: Claudia Rosett:
Bin Laden’s death is great news, but the president, in his rush to claim credit, made a mistake in delivering it himself. Osama bin Laden was a pied piper of mass murder, and every effort should be made to avoid in any way dignifying anything about him. Rather than using the presidential pulpit to break the news, President Obama should have left it to one of the U.S. military commanders or spy chiefs whose men took the real risks in this operation. (Recall how President Bush, rather than grabbing the center stage, and thus dignifying the ex-tyrant of Iraq, left it to Paul Bremer to announce the capture of Saddam Hussein.)
I'd forgotten that. I do remember this:

But, you know what? No worries and all's fair:

(h/t Michael Scott)

UPDATE. The old college try from Jim Geraghty: "I get the feeling that grassroots conservatives feel better about President Obama’s authorization of this operation than grassroots liberals do." Does he get this feeling from the same place he gets his paychecks? I wonder which of his colleagues created this tribute:

Couldn't be Goldberg; he's probably still in the snackroom telling an intern, "OK, now make Obama's nose wider."
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about rightblogger reactions to the death of Osama Bin Laden. Not much more to say about it now -- been up late doing a total rewrite. Good night.

Friday, April 29, 2011

TEAM PLAYERS. "Lionel and I censored ourselves in the interest of the greater good, " laughs Roger L. Simon of himself and PJTV colleague Lionel Chetwynd, "because we did a show about Atlas Shrugged, which we're gonna do today, but we didn't want to hurt the film because we're good team players so we decided to hold off." But now that the movie has "tanked," they're free to tell us it stinks.

Their fellow conservatives denounce this politicization of the critical process. Accuracy in Media finds it "noteworthy" that these critics "would ignore this particular movie while reviewing scores of others arguably less relevant to today’s current events." The New York Post's Lou Lumenick quotes a commentator who finds their failure to file "even more deplorable than that taken by the distributing company to withhold an invitation to its opening for reasons of editorial politics, operating policy or anything else." "Too bad the movie's already been out for two weeks," scoffs Ray Gustini of The Atlantic Wire.

Oh, whoops, sorry, they're talking about the New York Times. But I don't know why they're so upset that the Times hasn't reviewed the film. Haven't bloggers rendered the Lamestream Media irrelevant?
THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE. John Cole seems mildly excited that Paul Ryan has expressed a willingness to reduce or eliminate oil subsidies -- bucking his own party, and a previous incarnation of himself -- but worries that the GOP will get unearned points for it.
This, something pretty much every liberal the last few decades has proposed, will be hailed as courage...

In no sane world would they ever be subsidized- it’s simply insane. And smarter folks have been pointing this out for quite some time, and are simply ignored.

But now that a Republican has suggested it, I guess it is “serious” enough that something might happen.
I can put his mind at ease. This will never happen. Maybe some Potemkin plan will be erected for show which moves the money around a little. But seriously? Come on. Obama proposed cuts in the industry's subsidies and tax breaks at the last State of the Union, and I didn't see Republicans running to endorse it -- quite the contrary.

And though some lefty sites are enjoying Ryan's retreat from orthodoxy, I'm not seeing the rightbloggers rush to second his motion. This bit from American Power represents the furthest reaches of their criticism of the oil biz -- namely, that its behavior encourages socialists:
It's hard to defend big oil if they adopt market positions that appear completely against consumer interests. There's an economic logic to trends, even economic necessity. Yet the bummer is that massive oil company profits feed the progressive left's demands for higher corporate taxes, and hence demands for ever larger spending initiatives...

Again, until the demand flattens out a bit after the peak summer travel season, it's going to be easy pickings for the communist left's attacks on big oil.
As far as actually withdrawing any of their perks, Bridget Johnson's perspective is representative:
With gas prices hitting $3.90 today, Dems are undoubtedly singing an alleluia chorus at the revived opportunity to swing the “Big Oil” bat once again.
ExxonMobil can sleep soundly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE END OF A BIRTHIC DAY. "MORE: But the question remains: Why did Obama, who has proudly vowed his administration would be the 'most open and transparent in history,' wait so long?" -- Ole Perfesser Instapundit.

"President Obama coughed up his birth certificate today. So, the question is: How is this good for Obama?" -- Melissa Clouthier, RedState.

"THE NEW BURNING QUESTION... But it does raise the perplexing question: If this was possible all along, why did the WH take such sweet time releasing it? Could it be that this White House, continuing a tactic used by Democrats for years, actually liked being able to cast their opponents — often through guilt by association — as paranoid nuts? No, that couldn’t possibly be it... Update: For the record, I don’t actually think this is the 'new burning question' in the sense that it must rise to the top of the national conversation. I just think farrrt faarrrrrrt farrrt fart." -- Jonah Goldberg.

"If it was anybody else I'd say what's gonna happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you're gonna need more than one lesson -- and you're gonna get more than one lesson." -- Boss Jim Gettys, Citizen Kane.
GALTIAN SUPERMAN SPEAKS. (UPDATED.) The producer of the Atlas Shrugged movie, business for which has fallen off, tells the Los Angeles Times that he will fight to the last to bring Ayn Rand's vision to the promised 1,000 screens and follow up with the final two parts of the trilogy.

Just kidding:
"Critics, you won," said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," which covers the first third of Rand's dystopian novel. "I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2"...

Though the film has made only $3.1 million so far, Aglialoro said he believes he'll recoup his investment after TV, DVD and other ancillary rights are sold. But he is backing off an earlier strategy to expand "Atlas" to 1,000 screens and reconsidering his plans to start production on a second film this fall.

"Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?" Aglialoro said. "I’ll make my money back and I'll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two? Maybe I just wanna see my grandkids and go on strike."
On strike! That'll show 'em.

It seems the perpetual motion machine runs on whine.

Here's a video of Aglialoro and other members of the creative team talking about the film last week ("This book, this movie… it's a liberation of the human spirit," Aglialoro says). The discussion is hosted by Nick Gillespie, who reacts eagerly to the filmmakers' sunny assessment of the movie's fortunes: "Does it seem somehow in keeping that the critical reception might be mixed but the audience response is huge? Because this seems totally in keeping with Rand's reception, which is there's something about her work that an audience gets that escapes the gatekeepers and the Wesley Mouches of the world."

UPDATE. Comments are choice. "Randianism: the sound of one teenager slamming a door in your face--forever" quoth aimai, who also collaborates with wiseguy cleter on a Galt-speech film starring Wallace Shawn, to be called My Dinner with Atlas. lacp posits Plan 9 from Galt's Gulch.

BigHank53 asks the relevant question, though: "Remember how the critics slagged Sucker Punch, 300, and The Phantom Menace, and those movies sank without a trace? Do Objectivists ever take responsibility for anything?" Just so. Rand's characters never bitched so much about their reversals, even when they were caused directly by hostile moochers, looters, scalawags etc. This guy gets bad reviews for his lousy movie and suddenly he's Josef K.

UPDATE 2. Almost forgot: There's a "Support the Atlas Shrugged Movie(s)!" Facebook page. I'm not sure it's not a parody. One of the members suggests: "What about a fundraiser all of us could contribute to, for marketing funds for the movie, so the word gets out to other people?" Boy, is she unclear on the concept.

UPDATE 3. I'm beginning to rethink this Aglialoro thing, thanks to commenter Brian H, who has discovered a 2007 Milford (MA) Daily News report on a Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation and Expansion grant bestowed upon Aglialoro's company, Cybex:
Several officials noted the long process of the Medway Industrial Park project, which began in the 1970s. The town nearly lost Cybex, which recently opened a new $15 million facility in Minnesota.

"Cybex had been looking to state government for several years, or frankly, it had to leave,'' said John Aglialoro, Cybex's chairman and chief executive officer.

But within months of taking office, the [Derval] Patrick administration awarded Cybex one of the MORE grants, Aglialoro said.

"Our global competition would certainly maintain a dry eye if they learned the Medway facility was shut down,'' he said. "For America to compete effectively, businesses must work with local, state and federal entities.''
Doesn't sound lke the Rearden way to me. But I don't blame Aglialoro -- in fact, the more I think about it, the more I admire his nerve.

Like I always say, if you can swindle zealots into paying for your art, then swindle, comrades, and God go with you. And now that I know Aglialoro was full of shit coming in the door, even his ridiculous pretense of moral high ground is less offensive to me, and in fact has something glorious about it. I confess that when Oliver Stone was passing out "Open the Files" buttons during his talk-show publicity appearances for JFK, I was thinking: Greater love hath no man than this, that he would pretend to be an idealist for the sake of his project! That a drug-addled monster of ambition like Stone would play so well the reformer struck me as a miracle of artistic devotion. If Orson Welles had learned that trick, we might have been blessed with five or six more masterpieces.

Maybe, in the service of his mission, Aglialoro has a similar plan to shake down the dummies who pony up for National Review cruises and crap like that. You can imagine it: Liberal film critics have tried to silence Ayn Rand. But they won't get away with it -- if you give generously. I would prefer to think of him as a modern-day Fran├žois Villon than as someone dumb enough to actually believe this Objectivist horseshit.

"I guess the Obama administration felt they had milked all the political advantage they could out of refusing to release the birth certificate," huffs Rob Port of Say Anything. This familiar blaming-the-victimology is seen elsewhere -- including a post from, get this, Tom Maguire, for years king of the passive-aggressive crypto-birthers:
My Official Editorial Rumination was that there was no reason for the White House to hide it other than Obama's practice of managing his brand by hiding everything (leaving critics and skeptics unsure which haystack actually conceals a needle which may or may not exist.)
I'm sure Comrade Obama appreciates Maguire's cooperation in that strategy.

Others use the occasion to declare a big win for Donald Trump, whom the release leaves without his one reliable source of publicity, and obliged to explain to the plebes why a thrice-bankrupt blowhard should be their next President. Well, at least those investigators he sent to Hawaii got a nice paid vacation out of the deal. ("Hello, boss? We're hard on his trail! Soon as I finish this stinger -- er, report -- we're on our way to Bimini to explore the Adam Clayton Powell connection!")

But where there's dumb, there's hope! PunditPress:
Why they waited until now and why they released it to TwitPic is unknown at this time.

Update- The White House website also has this picture as the birth certificate, which for some reason, is a different color...
Cue the Colorists! Nah -- the next phase of Operation Confuse-a-Con will be led by Obama's Alinskyite soulmate, the trickster Bill Ayers.

UPDATE. PunditPress seems to have altered its post. Have to wait for the cache.

UPDATE 2. William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection takes a Questions-Remain approach:
Succumbing to the realization -- which I also predicted -- that the "Birther" strategy was failing, the White House has purported to release this morning a "long form" birth certificate.
Perhaps sensing that the purportance was not going his way, he amplifies:
Update: For some reason people have seized on the words "[i]t looks to me like a 1961 version of the short form" as a reflection of skepticism on my part. That was not my intent. I merely wanted to point out that the document doesn't look all that different than the document previously released, although it does have some additional information.

My comment at Politico's Arena:
The document goes a long way, if not completely, towards quieting the issue...
To the last ditch with Colonel Mustard! The night before he was telling people that birtherism was Good News for Republicans:
Obama may be winning in some circles, but the polling indicates that increasing percentages of Americans -- including substantial percentages of independents -- do not believe Obama was born in the U.S. or are unsure. I'll have more on the polling tomorrow, but you never hear about the numbers for independents, you only hear about the numbers for Republicans.

Hint, go out to dinner with four independent voters; then try to guess which one of them thinks Obama was born elsewhere. Because if the polls are accurate, one of them does.
Easy. He's the one with the bib.

UPDATE 3. In comments, Cargo: "The conspiracies will continue as long as the President remains black."

Thanks also to mark f for alerting me to Jonah Goldberg's related mouthfart:
Distractions, Silliness Are Our Enemy

So proclaimed Obama in his “I am a grown-up” press conference just now. He railed against “distractions” and “silliness” that prevent us from grappling with our very serious problems. Then, he left to go tape the Oprah Winfrey show and hold a fundraiser. No word on when his next tee time will be.
I can't fault his reasoning here, because he doesn't supply any; it's just a bizarre tantrum. (I was going to call it an embarrassment, but Goldberg has never shown any capacity for that emotion.) And he keeps the tone up in his own comments section:
Stan - Troll much? I've never endorsed birtherism, I've been blistering in my criticism of Trump, and all you're doing here is tu quoque b.s. By the way I'd rather be a member of a party that flirts with birtherism than trutherism.
Which Democratic Presidential front-runner endorsed trutherism, again? Somebody throw Goldberg the rubber doll to wrestle till he calms down.
TIMOR MORTIS CONTURBAT ME. It's already a big death week for music. I thought I was unacquainted with Hazel Dickens, but apparently that was her heart-rending voice in Harlan County U.S.A., which I hold in my memory to this day. At least she made 75. Phoebe Snow was just 58 when she passed and had been sick. I saw her in the early 70s; she didn't move much, just stood there and skeined out that distinctive sound, which would often start big and then turn into husky static and evaporate. That trailing-off was her signature, which is kind of eerie considering how she went out. No one should have so much death and sorrow in her life, not even an artist.

For me, though, the chill wind really came with the news that Poly Styrene had died of cancer at, gasp, age 53. I saw her and X-Ray Spex at CBGB in 1978. James Wolcott was there too -- I was probably further back from the stage than he, because my stoner friends were not in the mood to be rushed and I lost my reservation. But I could have been out on the sidewalk and her presence still would have reached me. She was physically ample but in no sense heavy, and bounced with obvious pleasure every time the music started. Her voice was strong and from the gut, but though angst was the style in those days, she clearly delighted in her power and shared it with the crowd cheerfully. She lit that dank hellhole right up. It was one of those occasions in which showmanship and animal spirits are indistinguishable. I remember her full of life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THE LONER. Thanks to Plonsky shop teacher Leyla Bandy I got to see Neil Young's solo show at Avery Fisher Hall last night. The audience appeared to be mostly middle-aged executives dressed like roadies. But who knows, I haven't seen him in about 15 years, so maybe that's his crowd now.

The old guy played some acoustic hits at the top to remind everyone he was Neil Young, and then strapped on the electrics and began to diverge. When I first listened to Le Noise I figured Young was doing a Nebraska -- stripping down to get to the essence. Or maybe he was tired of splitting the take with Crazy Horse. But this show convinced me that what he's tired of is the restrictions of playing in a band, including having to keep up a steady rhythm. He sped up "Ohio" till the choruses and then slowed back down for them, as if playing that riff was too pleasurable to rush. (Does he still get high?) In other songs he appeared to become enamored of a groove and stick with it till he was satisfied that it was wrung out. He deconstructed "Cortez the Killer" so that every line came with drawn-out guitar embellishments, and when he did the outro straight it seemed almost parodic -- like cheering Cortez "dancin' across the water" was the lame mainstream move. (He played many of the instrumental passages of "Cortez" to a wooden Indian upstage.)

And that was great. He's Neil Young, he can do whatever he wants. He did perform pretty normal versions of "After The Gold Rush" and "I Believe in You" and such like; the crowd swooned, and I suppose I did too. He's in pretty good voice, too -- despite a little thinness at the tippy-top and some unexpected downward modulations, it's surprisingly clean and expressive still. If you just wanted classic Neil you got enough of that.

But while he's happy to open up his treasure chest for the punters, he never comes onstage to pander. Some decades back I saw Young start a Meadowlands show with acoustic faves, then put on the headset mike and sunglasses and sing to tapes, which utterly stilled the swaying seas of buckskin. Later he asked the crowd, "Do you wanna go back?" Everyone roared that they did. "How far back do you wanna go?" he asked -- and he brought out the Shocking Pinks to play rockabilly. As I watched concertgoers stream through every exit door in the auditorium, I thought: This man will never be a nostalgia act. So far I've been right.