Friday, July 01, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


For the weekend of the glorious Fourth, the obligatory.

• At The New Criterion James Bowman is mad that obituaries of the recently departed Michael Herr often refer to Herr's Dispatches as "the definitive account of the war in Vietnam." Stuff and nonsense, huffs Bowman; it was instead a definitive liberal media put-up, as was Herr's contribution to Apocalypse Now. Says Bowman:
Neither the book nor the movie tells us anything about the war that the media, echoing the anti-war movement, hadn’t already told us. On the contrary, both existed to confirm our prejudices about the war as senseless, savage, insane, and criminal.
How else would people get a negative impression of war, if not from mendacious liberals? Bowman also laughs at Herr for having a nervous breakdown over the war, which Herr saw close up as a correspondent ("[we] were all 'traumatized' by Vietnam just like poor Mr. Herr..."]. Bowman is "well known for his writing on honor," according to his bio, which mentions no military experience. I'm pretty well accustomed to conservative culture-war gibberish, but it's always something of a surprise to find it in their actual cultural journals; it's as if Film Comment contained nothing but YouTube comments.

Good old Nancy Nall reminded me about Jim Lileks the other day and I realized I hadn't read him in a while. So I pulled up a 2016 Bleat more or less at random and there he is complaining that the Oxford American had chosen to write about Terry Southern:
But the hangers-on - who had limited talent, if any, and whose purpose was to flatter the guy who Did That One Thing, would somehow believe that they were part of a great creative era because they had gotten high with the writer while he talked about Mick Jagger, who was interested in this project. Mick Jagger, man! He knows Mick! And the people to whom he's telling the story think then his dope must be really good.

There's a deadness at the heart of the period. Endless hours of unlistenable psychedelic music, endless pages of unreadable prose, cheap movies...
This from a guy who apotheosizes old matchbooks. Here's part of a more recent one:
Lest you think all Traders Joe clerk-customer interactions are a model of sparkling wit and bright banter, I had a disconcerting exchange the other day...
Yes, it's another in Lileks' endless series of insufficiently understanding service workers. They're still letting him down! He told that rapscallion about "Halt and Catch Fire" all right. Then on to Brexit:
The idea that a transnational organization is superior in its nature to a government that arose organically from a thousand years of culture and reflects the national will and character is wishful thinking, and there's one big example that comes to mind: the USSR. No, the EU is not the USSR, but given their druthers they'd love the scope of control the USSR had. Over the proper things. For the Good of the Many, of course.
You should see those gulags where they sent people who wouldn't use metric! Well, that visit will do for a few years.

• I have Monday off, so like many of my fellow citizens of this wretched neofeudal society I am being crushed with work to make up for that tiny respite, so that does it for this week's 'round-the-horn. This weekend celebrate your country as you see fit: as something to be seized by the dictatorship of the proletariat, by radical Islam, by the glorious sexual revolution or whatever -- remember, it's our dreams that make us Americans!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PERMANENT REVOLUTION.

Hey, guys, am I wrong or was the "Sexual Revolution" back in the 1960s? Wikipedia says it went "from the 1960s to the 1980s," which seems a bit long; I think once birth control pills came out, that was pretty much the whole ballgame.

Reason I'm asking is, conservatives have been using the term a lot lately and speak of it as something that's still going on. Here's Rod Dreher when the Texas abortion decision came down:
The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Supreme Court will never let any state restriction stand meaningfully in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Ever. No federalism, no democracy, not when it comes to defending the Sexual Revolution.
Now, we all know Dreher is crazy, but he's far from the only wingnut talking about the Sexual Revolution as a live issue. When SCOTUS refused to hear the case of the pharmacist who wouldn't dispense Plan B, National Review's David French seethed, "to anti-Christian bigots, it is intolerable that Christian professionals exist unless they bow the knee to the Baal of the sexual revolution..." Also at National Review, we have Mary Eberstadt, who says liberal women's reactions to the Texas decision ("quasi-religious euphoria, a gnostic rave... intoxicated as maenads in the Bacchae") proves "secularist progressivism" is now "a religious faith grounded in theology about the sexual revolution," in the service of which we liberals gather regularly to celebrate abortions like Masses or Quaker Meetings:
The cold-blooded, untoward jubilation over yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is one more proof that in the matter of abortion, as in all else pertaining to the perceived prerogatives of the sexual revolution these days, the secularist-progressive alliance does not wage politics as usual. It instead orchestrates a bloodless religious war — bloodless, that is, apart from its central sacrament.
Elsewhere: "The Sexual Revolution, Like All Revolutions, Leaves A Wasteland Behind" (Brett Stevens); "virtually all of the opposition to Christianity and to religious liberty today derives from Christianity’s opposition to the sexual revolution" (Gene Veith at Pantheos); at Commentary, B. Richardson and J. Shields suggests campus rape is "the necessary price of the sexual revolution"; "Total destruction of everyone and everything that stands in the way of final annihilation of Western Christian foundations is the goal of the sexual revolutionaries," says some doofus at American Thinker. Etc.

What's behind it? I guess some of the more forward-thinking ones want to make sex look dull by associating it with revolutionary practice, like rifle cleaning and awful Chinese opera, and hence undesirable. But mainly I think it's because, as this blog continually shows, they can't help but fantasize political motives in every area of life, no matter how inappropriate, where they feel themselves at a disadvantage, such as culture and consumer choices. If only they could create an affirmative-action equivalent of sex, the way they come up with oddities like "The 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs" to make themselves feel better about art!

Alas, even if they're married and keep the lights off, any time they feel like fucking but don't really want to make a baby, or are tempted to stray from the kind of strict genital protocols of which Robert P. George could approve, they know they're living the sexual revolution. And the more society tells them it's no big deal, the bigger a deal it becomes for them.

No wonder they're so crabby.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WORST OF A BAD LOT.

I know there are lots of other candidates and we do have fun with them, but sometimes I think the guys at Power Line are the worst -- it's just I don't look at them much as I do the other rightbloggers. alicublog faves such as Jonah Goldberg are fun to watch, because they're flummoxed, bamboozled, and scared by the truth into falling down three flights of stairs in an entertaining fashion. But the Power Liners are cold-eyed propagandist shits who aren't so much flummoxed by the truth as committed by whatever mad scientist created them to obliterating all traces of it. It's like the difference between the border guards at the beginning of The Grand Budapest Hotel and the border guards at the end.

Fortunately, they're lawyers, so their arguments are transparent to normal people as bullshit. Today, for example, I noticed a June 21 post by PL's Paul Mirengoff in which he responded to a thoroughly vetted and well-supported Politifact post, "Donald Trump said, 'Crime is rising.' It's not (and hasn't been for decades)," by:
  • Calling Politifact "a biased liberal operation";
  • Insisting "Trump, in this instance, is correct. Crime is rising."
  • Supporting his claim by:
    • Citing a poll that says the percentage of Americans who “personally worry about crime and violence" is up. and "this dramatic increase in concern surely reflects a change in the facts on the ground — i.e., increased crime and violence." Right you are if you think you are!
    • Citing rising crime stats in FBI's "preliminary" numbers for 2015 which, though unvetted by the Bureau, nonetheless "still represented the FBI’s best estimate as to whether crime was increasing as of the beginning of 2016." Which is rather like saying that the famous chart of the status of the British Pound after Brexit shows, because of a couple of rising blips near the end, that Brexit has actually launched the rise of the pound:

So I dropped by Power Line tonight to see what their headline was, and found this by John Hinderaker:
TRUMP HOLDS BIG LEAD AMONG WHITE VOTERS
No doubt. But Clinton in the latest poll leads by 12. So?
One thing is worth pointing out, however: even in this outlier poll, Trump holds a ten-point lead among white voters, 50%-40% (down from 57%-33% in May!). It is remarkable that even at his low ebb, Trump wins by a near landslide margin among white voters, a majority of the electorate. Not many years ago, that would have assured him of victory.
Jesus, I know these guys think black votes should only count three-fifths, but really...
This is why Democrats are so anxious to “fundamentally transform” the United States through mass immigration from Third World countries. Only by building up the minority population do they have a chance to stay competitive. But that still wouldn’t be enough, even if the Democrats got most of the votes cast by minorities, if minorities voted in anything like a normal pattern. In order to win, the Democrats need to roll up ridiculous margins, like the 90%-8% lead that Clinton holds with blacks in the ABC/WaPo poll.
He doesn't support this math with anything but, if he and his candidate Trump keep talking this way, 90% should be a cinch.
Racial conflict suits the Democrats. In fact, they need it to have a chance of remaining competitive.
Lucky for them they're running against you.

Monday, June 27, 2016

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Brexit and the curious enthusiasm of rightbloggers for the result. Since most of them (like me!) know fuck-all about British politics, it would seem they relate mostly to the rightwing ressentiment the vote suggests. Professional shit-stirrer Perfesser Glenn Harlan Instapundit Reynolds writes in USA Today, "A lot of [British] people felt powerless, and the political system not only didn’t address that, but seemed to glory in it." I wonder how the political system "glories" in it; maybe they got their BBC cronies to run ads mocking the outlanders for their poor fashion sense, in much the same way American conservatives believe that TV commercials make men look stupid to promote feminism. Anyway, as usual the moral is Donald comin', yo ("America, too, is experiencing a populist upheaval, of which Donald Trump’s candidacy is more of a symptom than a cause"), and if you elites don't get Right in a hurry you'll deserve the catastrophe that ensues -- namely, voters shooting off their nose to spite their face while rich people keep getting richer.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

NO, THAT'S NOT WHAT WE MEAN BY BOOBOISIE.

Yeah, so someone told me there was something at The Federalist that --
Men Did Greater Things When It Was Harder To See Boobs
[Blink. Blink.]
While some have made the case that Kim Kardashian and her friend Emily Ratajkowski have made boobs boring, breasts are in fact are so potent that they may be hastening our decline. Breasts and female nudity have always been eye-catching to positively distracting, depending on your sex. The sheer boobitude immediately available either through online porn, Kardashian’s Twitter feed, and Tinder (otherwise known as Uber for boobs) has rapidly accelerated to the point that men have stopped creating because there’s so few obstacles to seeing them.
I won't string you good people along: this really is Amy Otto's argument -- that men aren't sufficiently productive because they can see tits -- and it never gets any less stupid. She eventually gets around to saying people are also having too much actual sex -- naturally, it's basic wingnut theology -- but she sincerely seems to think that looking at internet porn and sex are, basically, the same thing. No, really -- look:
Men also used to marry younger and in larger numbers to lock down their very own real-life woman. Now, why bother doing the decent work of marrying and raising a family if you can swipe right and see a new pair every night?
Beating off is pretty good, Amy, but actual sex with a partner is an exponentially different and preferable experience. Trust me, I've done the research. Otto's proof points for the social ravages of sex aren't so hot either:
Further, take note that the prime age for invention used to be one’s early twenties; often, scientists and other folks were not as productive in later decades.
Yeah, back when life expectancy was 40, people tended to hurry up. Maybe what we should really be doing away with is antibiotics! (Actually we sort of are.)
Now, that is often not the case: “There’s a boom in inventions by people over 50,” John Calvert, executive director of the United Inventors Association, told the New York Times
The article she cites is from last year, so who knows, maybe since then a bunch of pre-teens have created snapchat plugins that have bent the curve.

I should leave this ridiculous thing alone, but here's a final mango for y'all:
This may sound a bit Trumpesque, but to Make America Great Again we may need to Make Seeing Boobs Rare Again. Men did great things often in pursuit of women. Eric Clapton, in desperate love with George Harrison’s wife Patti, wrote the famous rock anthem “Layla” in pursuit of her.
Because before 1970 Eric Clapton had never seen a woman naked. Well, at least not a grown woman.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

HOW YOU GONNA KEEP 'EM DOWN ON THE FARM AFTER THEY'VE SEEN THE FARM? PART 296.

"The New York Times Shows Why the Blue Model Is Doomed," says Walter Russell Mead. The Times ran a story, see, in which some guy left "hot, crowded Austin, Tex., and moved into an apartment on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Me., with a commanding view of Casco Bay only steps away." OK, good for him. So?
This is told as a fantastic story of human empowerment and social transformation, which it is. More and more of us are escaping the tyranny of location; thanks to the telecom revolution we can work where we want and when we want. 
The rise of telecommuting will lead to better, richer lives. Families will be stronger. The environment will benefit from less commuting. All good. 
But it also represents the death of the political philosophy and economic system that the Times is otherwise prepared to defend to the last: the blue social model. If this revolution continues—and it will—fewer and fewer people will be stuck in big, high tax, over-regulated cities. While some will still choose to live there, many, especially those raising children, will not.
Quite apart from the "three's a trend, unless you're on deadline in which case one will do" angle, I have to say I'm amazed that conservatives are still doing this. We live in an era of mass migration to the cities. It's not like New York, San Francisco, Philly, Minneapolis, et alia, are emptying out. In fact rents in most big cities are going up -- and surely conservatives know that when people pay more for something it's because they prefer it.

This is an old routine for the brethren. For years I've been following Joel Kotkin's crusade to make everyone hate urban life and move to the suburbs and exurbs like Real Americans, or to pretend this has already happened, all evidence to the contrary. And Mead's "rise of telecommuting" reminds me of Ole Perfesser Instapundit Glenn Reynolds himself pushing hard for telecommuting 11 years ago as an alternative to commie light rail. Reynolds actually proposed as a benefit of telecommuting that unions don't like it "because it's harder to organize workers who aren't all in one place."

Which, incidentally, reminds me of one big reason why people flock to the cities: Because that's where the jobs are. Some of you may remember a few years back when conservatives were trying to send poor people to North Dakota to soak up those big oil boom bucks (or to get a long-haul trucking job -- but that was always an obvious fraud). During that boom, capitalism did what capitalism does and drove housing prices in boom towns sky-high. Michael Warren at the Weekly Standard called these oil-boom immigrants "The New Pioneers" -- "The oil boom that began in 2007 has transformed this area of sleepy ranching communities into America’s new energy powerhouse," Warren gushed, and he said that whether you were young or old, whether you were an able-bodied pipe-fitter or "a receptionist at a man camp, those groupings of dorm-like lodgings for temporary workers that flank the highways of the Bakken," there was a place for you in this bright economic future-land.

Well, fast forward a few economic cycles and things ain't looking so great. Thanks, @jfxgillis, for pointing out this September 2015 Bloomberg story of what happened in the Bakken:
Fracking’s success has created another glut, and crude prices have fallen more than 50 percent in the past year. Now North Dakota’s white-hot economy is slowing. More than 4,000 workers lost their jobs in the first quarter, according to the state’s Labor Market Information Center. Taxable sales in counties at the center of the nation’s second-largest oil region dropped as much as 10 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data from the Office of the State Tax Commissioner show... 
With the region’s drilling-rig count at a six-year low of 74 and roughnecks coping with cuts in overtime and per-diem pay, the vacancy rates in Williams County man camps are as high as 70 percent. Meanwhile the average occupancy rate of new units in Williston was 65 percent in August, even as 1,347 apartments are under construction or have been approved there.
It's all well and good for Mead to tell people that telecommuting's where the boom is now, sonny! But you actually have to provide the jobs to back that up, and unless I'm missing something there is no boom in internet jobs that pay a living wage.

So why do guys like Mead tell people -- people who probably trust him; they aren't reading his shit for the scintillating prose style -- that cities are over and they should avoid them? That's easy. Look how people in the cities vote. The only hope for wingnuts is to keep their dwindling pool of supporters in the outlands -- cut off from culture, from minorities and foreigners, from the experience of living among crowds without packing heat all the time, from anything that would show them that one could have a pretty good life without fear, isolation, and bigotry. (And if you can't guarantee that your peeps will stay in Fritters, Alabama, at least give them the idea that they can live the dream on the internet, so it doesn't matter whether they relocate by choice or necessity, they'll still be isolated, and you may yet keep them in the fold.)

Then you can keep dangling the Next Big Boom in front of them -- some Eden of free enterprise where they'll be able to shoot off guns and make a living with their hands and no goddamn unions or homos. And they won't know it's a con. How would they? 

Monday, June 20, 2016

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Orlando, and the ways rightbloggers have been fucking it up. They're alway prone to self-pity, especially when guns are involved,  but what's making this worse is that the public is turning away from them, which is driving them nuts.

They have no one but themselves to blame. Take John Podhoretz's rant in the New York Post last week. Remember what President Obama said right after Orlando about the victims' families:
God give them the strength to bear the unbearable. And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change. We need to demonstrate that we are defined more -- as a country -- by the way they lived their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.
Podhoretz's response: “That’s just disgusting. There’s no other word for it." Huh? Podhoretz was mad because Obama hadn’t said Radical Islamic Terrorism/Rumpelstiltskin, and furthermore, Obama had implied the attack had something to do with the furshlugginer gays. “The attack on the Pulse nightclub was an attack on us all, no less than the World Trade Center attack,” Podhoretz huffed. Because Mateen didn’t care those people were gay — except to the extent that he was Muslim, in which case of course he was a terrible bigot, because all those people are every bad thing you want them to be! As an American with an AR-15, though, anti-gay thoughts certainly never crossed his mind.

If you're wondering how we got to the point where that the NRA is actually declaring that the Republican Presidential candidate has gone too far for gun rights -- even though Trump's drink-and-draw proposal is endorsed by no less exalted a gun-rights enthusiast than John R. Lott -- this is why. Conservatives have been making themselves ridiculous for years, and it was inevitable that over time a majority of normal people would notice.