Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE ETERNAL VICTIM/BULLY. Timothy Dalrymple is concerned that you can't get young wingnuts to attack gay marriage as easily as you can get them to attack abortion. His concern is puzzling for a couple of reasons.

First, he thinks the abortion thing is all but won. In defense of this proposition he shows a stirring video (starring David French!) "touting the growing momentum in the pro-life movement amongst the young." Other than that, he's got nothing except the closeness of the national split on the issue, and his own unwillingness to imagine what might happen in this country if abortion were made illegal tomorrow. (He probably imagines a Great Awakening, but I assure him the folks who would be Awakened, and what they would be Awakening to, would not be quite what he imagines.)

If he thinks he can get the female majority of Americans to give up their rights so easily, why should he worry about getting the straight majority to persecute homosexuals again? Should be a piece of cake.

Second, he's got the same built-in excuse for the failure of the fag-hating movement as all conservatives have on all subjects where public compliance is not total. He does have to pretend to cogitate a bit before he gets to it, which exercise has it own delights:
It’s tough to construct an argument against gay marriage without appealing for justification to scripture. It’s not impossible. One can appeal to natural law...
Stop, yer killing me (and my unborn child). But after this flailing, he gets down to it:
There are other factors as well. (a) There have been, in movies and television in particular, relentless efforts to stigmatize anyone who disapproves of homosexual relationships... (c) the gay rights lobby has very successfully made the argument that equal treatment in matters of marriage is a matter of basic human rights, in line with the Civil Rights struggle...
We come to it at last, and inevitably: the anti-gay-marriage movement is being oppressed! By Hollyweird, and by the liberal conspiracy to convince ordinary Americans that the guys who, fifty years earlier, they all beat up for fun are actually some sort of victims. But wait, Dalrymple hasn't waded up to his nostrils yet:
Consider this little bit of anecdotal information. As an editor and director for a large religion website now, I can tell you: It’s substantially easier to find Christians and evangelicals to write on the abortion issue than it is to find ones who will write on same-sex marriage. Academics in particular are terrified that anything critical of homosexuality or same-sex marriage will come up before hiring or tenure committees. One of the first subjects we addressed in our “Public Square” at Patheos was the same-sex marriage debate, and nearly every person I approached to write on the topic had to ask himself or herself: “Am I willing to give up the next job, the next promotion, the next award, because of my views on this topic?”
Stop and think a minute. First, these are "Christians and evangelicals" we're talking about -- in other words, Jesus freaks. They live, indeed thrive, in a land of megachurches, child-raping priests, and wealthy preachers whose primary occupation is the exploitation of ancient prejudices and superstitions for financial and social gain.

And for them hard times are good times. They're recession-proof. The same sordid rackets that sustained them in the time of Mencken are still in operation and more profitable than ever. There's no need for these guys to worry about the next job, the next promotion, the next award. The Jesus industry churns them out by the buttload. Hell, Dalrymple's got an intellectual-type job; the standards obviously aren't high.

So it is hard to imagine why Dalrymple or anyone would cry and complain that the academy is prejudiced against them. Haven't they got their own Bible colleges and such like? In fact, more than once I've said that conservatives in general, who are always belly-aching about the pernicious influence of Harvard and Yale and what not, should turn from the Satanic influence of such book-l'arnin' institutions, and get after happily and busily building their new City of God at Liberty College and Bob Jones.

Sigh -- they ain't making Christians like they used to. The early ones suffered all kinds of martyrdoms; the current crop are martyrs only in the comically pejorative sense. As filled with the Holy Spirit, as convicted of salvation and the rightness of their causes as they claim to be, they still bitch and moan that some snobby school won't give them tenure, and that they have to run to some fundamentalist funder to keep up their lifestyle which, from what I've seen, doesn't include a vow of poverty.

Jesus was a forgiving sort, but if he laid eyes on this lot I suspect he'd at least be tempted to go money-changers-at-the-temple on their sorry asses.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

YOU THINK YOU'VE GOT PROBLEMS? You may have heard already, but one of the geniuses at Rumproast, a fellow who blogs under the name StrangeAppar8us, has had a real and terrible misfortune. Now, we all have hard times, and those of us who are lucky in our friends have help getting past them. But StrangeAppar8us, I have been told, has suffered a traumatic brain injury and been left blind, apparently permanently. And I don't think he has doormat daughters like Milton's to whom he can dictate his excellent material. So he's gonna need a lot of help to get through, and to pay the gargantuan medical bills our best-in-the-world health care system has bequeathed to him.

Here's the link. Do what you can; I did.

Monday, November 28, 2011

R.I.P. KEN RUSSELL. I can't leave his death unmentioned. A lot of people couldn't stand him -- John Simon, perhaps most prominently; on the subject of Russell, Simon was like an evangelist on Satan; after viewing a stage production Russell mounted of Madame Butterfly, which apparently ended with a sea of neon American corporate logos blotting out the Japanese landscape, Simon ended his review, "Russell should be forcibly restrained."

Well, it's been years since Russell's heyday, and we've had since then many lurid spectacles, but nothing like his. Compare Baz Luhrmann 's Moulin Rouge with, oh, I don't know, Lisztomania. While Jim Broadbent singing "Like a Virgin" is, I grant you, in admirably bad taste, it's nothing compared to Richard Wagner as Frankenstein Hitler, Rick Wakeman as Thor, or Roger Daltrey as someone who could possibly compose a symphony.

I think the difference is that Russell was a more serious filmmaker, in the way we used to understand filmmakers to be serious. Luhrmann's film, for all its frenzy, is a depressingly calculated gesture -- sure, Belle Epoque, American Pop, that's like chocolate-covered caviar, they'll eat it up. When Russell tickled the crowd, it wasn't because he was pandering -- he actually seemed to think Ann Margret straddling a phallic pillow while covered in baked beans made a great statement, and if it was only the stoners who swooned, well, so much the better for the stoners. It just happened that Russell's rise coincided with a baroque period in popular film, and so there was nothing to stop him -- certainly he wasn't going to stop himself. I can see how the idea occurred to John Simon.

If you want to see him in a slightly lower gear, try the early biographies he made for British television of Dante Rossetti, Isadora Duncan, et alia. I understand some of his late films are interesting, but I'm not familiar with those; maybe some of my readers can speak up for them.
THANKS, TIM. Long hard day, but what the hell, I can spare a few minutes to do a post -- but no more than that, so I better go where the ducks are. Ah, here's a copy of the Washington Examiner. Let's find Timothy Carney's column...
Secular Left's intolerance of religious freedom
Dreamland, here I come.
Social liberals claim they promote tolerance, preventing oppressive Christian conservatives from "imposing their morality" on everyone. But the state of the culture war in America today is almost exactly the opposite: The secular Left is using the might of government to make it harder for religious people to live their own lives according to their faith.
They're going to make health insurers cover birth control, which Carney interprets as "The Obama administration is deliberately making it illegal for Catholics to live as Catholics. This is standard fare from today's Left."

Only 10 o'clock. Not bad! But I need a button, Tim; what other social liberal attacks on freedom have you got?
In many states, a homeowner breaks the law if he refuses to rent his basement one-bedroom apartment to unmarried couples.
And in some places, he even has to rent to black people.

Thank you, good night!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightblogger defense of Black Friday. They forgot about Thanksgiving pretty quick; they don't seem to relate to it as well as they do to the mass-consumerism of the day after. Also Black Friday boosterism is alleged to piss off the hippies though, as often happens with these things, they're the ones who seem pissed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

DEFINING REALITY DOWN. Matthew Continetti, one of whose previous adventures in Great Thought was considered here in 2009, has done a little essay on Occupy. He thinks the Occupy protests are all about anarchism; he also thinks the utopian socialists of the 19th Century were anarchists, as is Noam Chomsky, because he wrote an introduction to a book about anarchism. Not content to mangle history, Continetti portrays the Occupy movement, as his fellow propagandists have been doing since the beginning, as one grand festival of sexual assault and protestor violence. Thus when he wants to connect the two, he just says, well, bad things happened at the communes, and bad things have happened at the Occupations; I rest my case. The thesis might be shortered Hippies Smell Because Socialism.

But his essay has one usefulness -- Continetti shows us at one point how logic works in his brave new world:
Apologists for Occupy Wall Street may say that these “black bloc” tactics are deployed solely by fringe elements. But the apologists miss the point. The young men in black wearing keffiyehs and causing mayhem are simply following the logic of revolutionary anarchism to its violent conclusion. The fringe isn’t the exception, it’s the rule.
"The fringe isn't the exception, it's the rule." Once upon a time even rightwing propagandists wouldn't be caught dead using a blatantly ridiculous paradigm like that. Ours is truly an age of wonders.

UPDATE. Commenters point out that Chomsky is an anarchist, though if this is indicative of his anarchism it seems unlikely to lead to the black-flag revolution Continetti seems to envision. Some also assert that the Occupy movement is at least functionally anarchist; if that's true, then so are outdoor rock concerts and pot-luck suppers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


WHY ARE YOU MURDERING YOURSELF? James Fallows is appropriately outraged at the police violence at some Occupy sites. Here's how James Taranto plays it at the Wall Street Journal:
Fallows sees the Davis incident as a political boon for Obamaville...
This Occupy moment is not going to end any time soon. That is not just because of the underlying 99%-1% tensions but also because of police response of this sort--and because there have been so many similar videos coming from cities across the country.
Read the Fallows piece, or even Taranto's quote from it, and you'll see immediately how tendentious this interpretation is. But it doesn't stop there:
What Fallows is predicting--perhaps hoping for--
Oh Jesus Christ. what blogger "Zombie" calls a "Kent State moment." Kent State is the Ohio university where, in 1970, National Guardsmen fired their rifles at a mob of rioting student-protesters, killing four. "Why would these left-leaning pundits and activists hope for fatalities amongst the protesters?" Zombie asks rhetorically:
But that's not what they're hoping for. . . . When a leftist hears the words "Kent State," the immediate association is that fateful day when the media published an iconic photograph of an anti-war martyr that was the final tipping point that convinced the majority of Americans to oppose the war.
But wait. Let's say, heaven forbid, that the Obamavillians get their "Kent State moment"...
So, building from a bogus premise, Taranto gets another wingnut to say that "leftists" want a "Kent State moment," and then attributes the sentiment to the "Obamavillains."

And then he just keeps running with it: "if Fallows and other bien-pensant pundits think the Obamavillians will advance politically by seeking confrontation with the police..." and "If the American public has any sympathy at all for the Obamavillians, there is no surer way of squandering it than to follow Fallows's advice and pursue a strategy of confronting the police."

I know they try to fool their readers, but it's something to see one of them doing it in a major newspaper so badly, so transparently, and with so little hope of success. Do they even believe they have normal readers anymore, or is Taranto just hoping Jonah Goldberg will send him a nice note? And does Murdoch -- oh, hell, we all know what he thinks.

The blogging thing really has been a net loss for journalism; the race to the bottom has run so deep that we now have Wall Street Journal writers publishing stuff that would make Jeff Goldstein think of trying a second draft.

Monday, November 21, 2011

KEEP THE CRAP COMING. I'm way late on everything these days, gentle reader. I got me a job with a long commute, and between that and domestic bliss I hardly have time to run over here, yell JONAH GOLDBERG FARRRT, and take my bows. But I must get this one done. You all know World O' Crap? It's one of the few reliably funny current-events blogs, and its Smiler With a Knife, Scott Clevenger, is having a spot of bother, cash-flow-wise. And it's not just he that's got trouble, but also some poor woman who I assume is his mistress, and someone called "Moondoggie" who I assume is his mentally deficient adult son. It's a dark picture which you can limn a healthy green via his Pay Pal button. Please do, it'll make me feel good about myself, not to mention you.
IT'S THE NEW STYLE. Every once in a while I come across some young rightnik and wonder what he's been up to. James Poulos we last considered here in his role as interlocutor for a Jonah Goldberg video fart-fest, from which no one could come out smelling good. Well, Poulos has been spreading his seed, lately with this article in Foreign Policy. I found it so unobjectionable that I had to wonder whether I'd misjudged him and everything else. So I went to his First Things blog:
With the recent death of Steve Jobs we should applaud the expansion of the use of technological i-devices he provided, in that we are more and more connected. But out of wedlock births seem to be on the rise nonetheless.
Okay, I feel centered now. (Update: Poulos didn't write this one, apparently; someone named John Presnall did. So hereafter I'm changing the proper names. Poulos actually quit PMC over a year ago. Maybe he's gone legit! I'll look into it.) Presnall isn't like those total internet madmen you shy your kids away from when they come stumbling down the bandwidth -- he's more like parfait crazy; there'll be a sweet, foamy layer of stuff about the problems of constant, empty connectedness in the internet world, and then suddenly BAM, flash mobs, technocrats and JOE PATERNO:
Meanwhile, people die. These dying people still care about sports—even college sports. They may be stupid in their concern, but the immense amounts of money that college sports generate for the apparatus of colleges and universities gives prestige to such important things that the tenured genii of the future provide for humanity. Or at least that is what I saw on the commercial advertising the greatness of any given particular school during the typical televised football game. The TV ads showed multicultural pictures of scientists dressed in lab coats and safety glasses.

All this reminds me of Pascal’s observation regarding the dress that the nobility must don in order to maintain their authority—their nobility is secure in their purple and ermine, i.e., sterile white lab coats with beakers in the laboratory background. ...
You know -- oh wait, gotta get this in:
But I am a product of all his “higher education” nonsense, and as a teacher I am pressured to perpetuate it.
Yeah, thanks, Professor. Postmodern conservatism, like postmodern anything else, is a great racket -- while Jonah Goldberg is attempting things that resemble arguments, however superficially, and embarrassing himself in front of anyone who can grasp their inferiority to other actual arguments, including those held by Ralph and Alice Kramden, Presnall doesn't have to bother -- he can just throw up signifiers of discontent with our lousy liberal society, where an accused child rapist enabler proceeds naturally from scientism-multiculturalism. Or is it vice-versa? Whatever.

Or maybe they're all doing that. Come to think of it, Victor Davis Hanson may be the granddaddy of the postmodern conservative mash-up. Curse these tenured radicals!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, following up on the continued rise of Newt Gingrich. A rightblogger consensus seems to be forming that Gingrich's lack of popularity is proof of his seriousness as a candidate. Also, he hates the Lame Stream Media so hard that he's bound to win, just as Sarah Palin was bound to win before she decided not to even run, for reasons none of them have figured out yet.

Among the outtakes, Doug MacKinnon:
Gingrich understands that Americans have to work harder and harder to not only take care of themselves and their families, but support the various freeloaders the Democrats enable in search of easy votes.

As such, they simply don't have the time to go to their favorite websites, blogs or conservative talk shows to always get honest reporting or facts.
I return again and again to this image of Mr. and Mrs. America crawling home after an 18-hour day at the collective solar energy farm and plopping down on their pallets, too exhausted to turn on the computer and read Mark Steyn, and I weep with laughter for my country.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, AND YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU LIE. So Steven Hayward is doing one of those New Conservative things, sort of like Ross Douthat's Sam's Club conservatism, only newer and fresher so the suckers might not catch on.

For starters, Hayward swallows hard and admits that when Ronald Reagan cut taxes but didn't cut spending on anything except bums and black people, fun as it was, it wasn't really doing much for America. Well, except for this:
And yet, conservatives resist facing up squarely to this grim reality for a variety of reasons, some of them having to do with their undeniable successes of the last two generations. The first and most significant triumph was the creation of the conservative movement itself, which arose from the far fringes to the center of American political life in little more than a generation.
So all us College Republicans got jobs. Sweet. Look out, here comes another success:
The reduction in income and investment tax rates is of a piece with a broader reinvigoration of market processes...
Damn right it reinvigorated the market, which became so robust that a few years ago it ate all our money and jobs. The hits keep on coming:
Despite these cases of incomplete or counterproductive results, the conservative reinvigoration of markets and the discrediting of central planning was a positive correction to liberalism worldwide...
Because liberals suck.

That really could be the end of it, but like all bullshit visionaries Hayward has to do the reaching-out thing where both the enlightened conservatives and the liberals-who-suck have to come together to realize Steven Hayward's revolutionary plan:
Requiring the American people to actually pay for all of the government they receive is, as Niskanen and others have convincingly argued, the most effective way to limit its growth. Right now the anti-tax bias of the Right results in shifting costs onto future generations who do not vote in today's elections, and enables liberals to defend against spending restraints very cheaply. Instead of starving the beast, conservatives should serve the check.
Sane people who've been around the block can easily see right down to the marrow of this thing, which is: After years of conservatives looting the treasury, everyone's out of money, and you the punters will pay the bill. You liberals should like it, though, because we're going to "expand the current $1,500 per child tax credit to something closer to $5,000, which would wipe out a large portion of payroll tax liability and raise household after-tax income considerably." And that's whatchacall progressive. Oh, but you have to spot us the Paul Ryan Welfare-into-Coupons-for-Codgers plan. Fair's fair.

Hayward's very good at this -- he can even say stuff like "the experience of welfare reform suggests that there has been no 'race to the bottom' among the states to eliminate basic assistance programs" with a straight face despite its obvious absurdity. So he may get a book tour and a few C-SPAN appearances out of it. After all, he's already got one sucker. They can't all be as stupid as Dreher, of course, but in political writing, unlike politics, you don't need anything like a majority.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE ETC. Veronique de Rugy is always solicitous of the rich, and at National Review today she again attempts to wring tears from their lot, this time in the matter of income mobility:
After the first year year, roughly half of those who were millionaires (reporting over a million dollars in adjusted gross income) at some point between 1999 and 2007 were still millionaires. After two years, 15 percent — roughly 102,000 millionaires — retained that status. This decreasing rate of remaining millionaires persists, and only about 6 percent — roughly 38,000 millionaires — were millionaires for all nine years.
At her companion piece she tells us the former millionaires "face substantial downward income mobility over time." Perhaps they're all sleeping under bridges; I wish I knew where; what stories they must have to tell!

Then de Rugy refers to Stephen Kaplan, who says that "when you only look at data that stops in 2007, it obscures the fact that the wealthiest 1 percent took a sizeable hit after the financial crisis — their share of income went down to 17 percent in the last two years." Neither he nor de Rugy tells us how much that is in actual dollars, but it must be awful; in fact it may be that the former millionaires who are sleeping under bridges look down on them. Want a Kleenex?

It's an interesting thing to talk about while people are being thrown out of parks nationwide. Or does she even notice things like that?

UPDATE. Several commenters smell a rat. "According to her train of thought," says Nylund, "someone who made 10 million a year for 10 years, then retired, ceased to be a millionaire." Shhh, you're spoiling the magic of millionairism! Once you get into that club, you are not like other people, and so must be separated from them, your traces kicked over, and your finances disguised with bullshit statistics.

Monday, November 14, 2011

MORAL DEGENERATE. Just last week Daniel Foster was pissed because some mean liberal implied that the Penn State pedophilia scandal had something to do with white male hegemony. I knew right then and there that Foster was not expressing moral outrage but jealousy, and that the only reason real rightwing craziness hadn't ensued on the subject was that the central committee had been caught off-guard and had yet to work out an angle.

And so it turned out. Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has already torn up the idiotic Walter Russell Mead column about how the liberal 60s caused Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky, but there are other examples floating around, though none so ripe, to my mind, as the one at Bookworm Room:
Agrarian and frontier societies are, of necessity, self-reliant. (Yes, even Europeans once knew how to make do.) Right up until the 1960s, what separated America from other nations was that, until very recently in historic terms, it managed to be an amalgam of Western intellectualism and frontier self-reliance... And, by gosh, if self-reliance is the standard, those pioneers were virtuous.
You see where he's going: back in colonial times there weren't any child molesters! The usual villains are trotted out: Roosevelt, who "jump-started the notion of a comprehensive welfare system," and Obama, who because he disdained the Republican philosophy that "if you get sick, you’re on your own" shows "hostility to the classic American dream, one that believed it was a virtue for people to make it on their own."

But then it gets deep, brothers and sisters. Bookworm brings us "headlines in both England, where the dependency rot runs deep, and America," showing that in ObamaRoosevelt's America/England, "people abjure individual action," and that's how you get raped kids. These stories are about people failing to rescue distressed citizens, and this line from the peroration gives you a clear picture of Bookworm's reasoning:
That’s just two stories, right? What if I add a third, again from England?
Three! Holy shit, you're right, we're all moral degenerates! Eventually there's nothing for it but the Reich card:
Looking at these few examples, I can’t help but think of another culture that allowed itself to lapse into such a bureaucratic mindset that citizens either passively watched or actively engaged in the most heinous acts. I’m thinking, of course, of the Nazis.
By now Bookworm has worked himself into such a lather that he has to tell us how he'd have beat up Jerry Sandusky with judo or something ("I do martial arts because I really like it — but I also do it so that I can act").

Eventually he's all seethed out, and his mood swings skyward:
Fortunately, despite socialist government’s best efforts to mandate inaction (or, at least, to give people an excuse for failing to get involved), all is not lost. There will always be decent people who do get involved.
And then he starts telling us another kind of story -- tales of derring-do, heroism, moxie! You hope then that he'll realize that the ugly stories he repeated a few grafs back aren't an indictment of his fellow countrymen -- that ours is a big country with lots of different kinds of people in it, good and bad. We have no idea whether the heroes and villains were liberals or conservatives, only that all were tested and some found wanting -- surely that will remind him that not everything in this life is about his crappy little politics.

Recently, a motorcyclist trapped under a car was lucky enough to find himself in the presence of proactive people, unconstrained by analysis paralysis, government regulations, or career worries.
For him, that's the significant thing -- not that men were brave, but that in being brave they rose above the welfare state. Oh, and also:
Barack Obama has stated clearly that his goal is to create precisely the bureaucratic, dependency culture that makes Penn State’s (and Nazi Germany) possible.
A million 60s-vintage Jerry Rubins gibbering in unison couldn't beat that.
UPDATE. Commenters sure had fun with this. "It's like No True Scotsmen," says Spaghetti Lee, "but the Scotsmen in question are the cast of Trainspotting." DKF notes that "Republicans have created their own culture of dependency on strawmen." Some of the commenters talk about what things were really like back in the early days of the Republic -- hint: it wasn't all virtuous self-reliance and knitting -- but this is overkill; the past, present, future, and any conceivable fantasy/parallel universes are bound by no rules of logical consistency when rightbloggers are in this sort of dudgeon -- so long as they get in two buzzwords per paragraph and at least one affirmation of moral superiority before the close, the means of conveyance is practically irrelevant.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the next President of the United States, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich doesn't seem like a fit candidate for rehabilitation to me, but what do I know -- look at Nixon.

Here's one that didn't make the cut, from NewsBusters:
Newt Gingrich Accused of Hating Mankind by 'Conservative' Kathleen Parker

Moments after being introduced by Face the Nation host Bob Schiiffer as a "conservative" columnist, the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker on Sunday referred to Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as a "misanthrope" - aka a mankind hater...
Reminds me of the Gore Vidal joke about the candidate who circulated a rumor that his opponent's sister was a thespian. And Gingrich, we are told, is the intellectual candidate.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I DON'T SEE ANY METHOD AT ALL, SIR. Regarding last night's GOP Presidential debate, I have not much to add to Charles P. Pierce's righteous commentary, except to marvel aloud at the hallucinatory quality that these events (what was this, the 32nd of them?) have achieved. My simple human interest in observing these cornpone con artists at work on their national profiles has not only waned, but evaporated; I could only spare about 20 minutes for this one; it was as mentally fatiguing as a bank of televisions simultaneously playing sermons by different evangelical preachers.

I will say that while Pierce is on the money regarding the principals' expressions of childlike faith in The Market, I do not see evidence that the magic of capitalism rises for any of them to the level of a theme that might define and animate a campaign, let alone the current Republican Party, as it did for Reagan. The idea, if we can call it such, that the market will fix everything is pretty comical in the midst of a worldwide depression, and I doubt even the candidates (with the possible exception of Paul) believe in it; they're only trotting it out because it's one of the concepts market-testing has shown will excite the GOP dead-enders from whom they are trying to cadge primary votes.

If the Free Market con was prominent in their stew of non-sequiturs last night, it's only because their other paternosters are almost exclusively negative -- hatred of Mexicans, hatred of hippies, hatred of the poor, hatred of sex, hatred of themselves -- and somewhere in their playbook it says Reagan had a sunny disposition because it's always morning in America. So every once in a while each these wretched, miserable people, sensing he or she was missing something important, would testify to the healing power of economic freedom, receive approving seal-barks, and then get back to the resentment-stirring that comprises the rest of his or her schtick.

Given all this, neither the latest confirmation of the magnitude of Rick Perry's ignorance, nor the parlor game of wondering when Herman Cain will just get it over with,  put his hand up Michele Bachmann's skirt, and offer her the Vice-Presidency, can make these debates interesting to me anymore. I'll just wait for the general, when one of these poor schmoes will have to talk to a human being.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF? The Washington Examiner crime section:
Occupy DC becoming increasingly violent, police say...

Citing injuries to five people outside the Washington Convention Center on Friday night, the mayor urged the demonstators to show restraint so that their protests are not discredited by violence. [italics mine]
If you're one of the few people who read several grafs further down, you'll see this:
Four of the injured people appear to be protesters themselves.
That's how the pros do, and by "pro" I mean propagandist.
SHORTER JOE SCARBOROUGH: Barack Obama has taken a lot of Wall Street money, and his policies have made Wall Street very rich. So it's an outrage that he called Wall Street bankers or somebody like that "fat cats." Now, you know me, I'm a free-market guy, so you'll understand that I'm not asking for a genuinely anti-bankster President -- I just want one who'll take their money and kiss their ass... What, I'm still short? I'll just make my description of that scene from Casablanca longer and harder to follow. I mean it's not like they haven't all seen it.

Monday, November 07, 2011

ALL THE GOOD THINGS HAVE BEEN TAKEN. Kia showed me this Megan McArdle column about the Occupy arrestees who spent a lot of money on rent and mortgages, and at first I couldn't see what was so awful about it, besides the usual awful McArdlisms, like compulsive goalpost moving -- you know, from some people having expensive homes to "a $795,000 one-bedroom apartment" to "the people at those protests-- [throatclearing]at least the ones who get arrested[/throatclearing]--really are, on average, unusually affluent." Like they moved to a park because the Hamptons were overcrowded.

But then I focused on this stuff:
Many New Yorkers believe that they should be given some sort of income tax abatement because of the expense of living there (with the lost revenue being made up from "really rich" people, natch). Slightly less affluent New Yorkers frequently believe that landlords should be forced to offer them "reasonably sized" apartments at a modest fraction of their income, because after all, otherwise they couldn't afford to live in New York...

...In fact, perhaps society should get busy making it up to you for all the hardships...

... After all, to state the obvious, that apartment costs so much because many, many people want to live in New York...

... Living in a blue state is a choice.
And then it hit me. She's not limiting herself to the simple point that some things are expensive and if you don't have the money you can't have it. She's talking about the desire to live in New York -- not just to move there, but to keep living there if you'd been there a while without getting rich -- as if it were the desire to live on Park Avenue -- no, better, to live in a fairy palace on a cloud, in fact, a palace and a cloud you wished to steal from your betters. It's not just that you can't afford New York -- it's that you're insolent to even think you should be tolerated there. You just don't deserve it.

If you've seen more than a few movies and heard more than a few songs and read more than a little history, you know New York's place in American culture. All kinds of people have lived there, cheek by jowl; not always comfortably, but enduringly. The poor haven't always had the best time of it, but they persist -- indeed, they still come by the boatloads to live there -- as do the middle-class and the rich. It's part of what even outlanders know and admire about it.

But over the past few decades, despite the legacies of an era when some more enlightened people ran the place, the city's been pushing the poor further out and giving them a harder time. And in recent years the middle class has been getting it, too -- by 2009, the Center for an Urban Future found, it took $123,322 to sustain a traditional "middle-class" life in the city. As the idea of raising a family in the city on a working-class job (with some comfort and occasional vacations, to boot) receded from living memory, those who would and should have been the backbone of the city learned to do with less, or to leave. And the rich, who had always had plenty, scooped up what they had to surrender.

To McArdle this isn't a tragic or even a negative development. It's the natural order of things, or maybe a course correction -- after years of everyone having at least a little something to live on, the Invisible Hand woke one day and realized that freeloaders and ne'er-do-wells were breathing some of the air He, in His wisdom, had reserved for the wealthy, and is righteously putting an end to it. After that He'll do something about their crazy idea that they're entitled to water -- once it's all been privatized, maybe they'll finally take the hint and just lay down and die, perhaps consoling themselves in their last hours with the Freedom of Religion, which the Invisible Hand is pleased to allow them, as it has no market value.

As someone who lived in New York for decades on the (relatively) cheap, I had a box seat for this turn of events. I knew what was happening was worse than unfortunate, but being in the middle of it, and very busy most of the time, and not wishing to be completely consumed by bitterness, I couldn't devote much time to thinking about the injustice of it. But some people have taken the time. Young as they are, they can see what's happening, because it's been accelerating so absurdly that you'd have to be blind -- or bought off -- to miss it. And that's why the worst people on earth are so mad to break them.

UPDATE. Amanda Marcotte rips it up.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the rightblogger escalation of the Occupy movement from a bunch of stupid hippies to the Manson Family.

BTW sorry for the paucity of posting here lately. Been busy working, which is good because it pays and bad because it's work. More later.