Monday, September 01, 2014

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about all the ISIS yap last week. Those of us who remember the run-up to the Iraq War will know the drill.

The brethren's current fist-shaking reminds me that, had Al Gore been elected President -- excuse me, had he been inaugurated President -- we might not have had the clusterfuck we wound up with in Iraq; and if Romney had been elected in 2012, we might already be running back there full-strength. I know what George Wallace said, but to paraphrase Spencer Tracy in Adam's Rib, hurrah for that dime's worth of difference.

Friday, August 29, 2014

FRIDAY AROUND THE HORN.




Happy Labor Day folks. Take it easy, but take it.

•   Rod Dreher's going on again about how the atheists are persecuting the Christians. (The casus bellow this time is, two years ago Vanderbilt University kicked a Christian student org off-campus because they wouldn't sign a non-discrimination agreement.) This is from Dreher's gloss on some other Jesus freak:
He goes on to say that Christians — the untame ones – need to learn how to deal with the coming scorn with “a disregard which quickly turns the pathetic instruments of stigmatization into jewelry and art.” Why were the martyrs joyful? Because they were confident that from their suffering, new life would emerge. So too should we be...

“Blessed are you when they persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you.” What if we lived as if that were true?
Dreher, as you may know, lives off writing and royalties and is always fucking off to Paris. Some martyr! When they send the lions after Dreher I can see him trying to throw them off the scent with a coq au vin. "But it's free range" will be his last words.

Believe it or not, though, there's someone worse on this subject. Well, we can't be too surprised, it's Erick Erickson in the tertiary stage of whatever's wrong with him:
A lot of Christians have long thought they could sit on the sidelines. Only the icky evangelicals they don’t much care for and the creepily committed Catholics would have to deal with these issues and the people who hate those deeply committed to their faith. They, on the other hand, could sit on the sidelines, roll their eyes, and tell everyone that they didn’t think it was that big a deal. They were, after all, on birth control or watching whatever trendy HBO series is on or having a cocktail or perfectly willing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
Do conservatives never drink cocktails? Or are my cheap beers now rendered "cocktails" just because I, a filthy liberal, am drinking them? Well, I always suspected P.J. O'Rourke was full of shit.
...You may think you can sit on the sidelines. You may think you can opt-out of the culture war. You may think you can hide behind your trendy naked Leena Dunham t-shirt while you sip trendy drinks talking about trendy shows and writing columns demanding Christians be forced by the state to bake cakes, provide flowers and farms, and offer up photographs of gay weddings. But not only will you one day be called to account to your God...
Yeesh. Here's a serious question: Does this sound like a spiel you'd expect from a movement that was gaining adherents? (Also: Did someone actually show Erickson this shirt? Well, at least his friends have a sense of humor.)

UPDATE. In comments, right out of the gate, (the good) Roger Ailes: "I think Eerick Eerikson could pull off a trendy naked Leena [sic] Dunham tee-shirt. And by pull off, I mean masturbate into."

•    But I thought conservatives loved it when businesses got tax breaks to promote job growth... oh, it's communist TV shows, nevermind. Key phrases from Dennis Saffran's City Journal article: "contemporary progressivism is an upper-middle-class movement that caters to the social libertarianism of coastal elites," "crony capitalism," "corporate welfare," etc. Key missing phrase from his article: "trickle-down."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CULTURE WAR IS TOO IMPORTANT TO LEAVE TO THE CULTURE WARRIORS.

I've mentioned before that Armond White had a good record as a legit if insane film critic before he joined  National Review. I suspect they hired him because he occasionally says mean things about liberals (either that or there's a reeeaally big Spielberg fan over there that I don't know about), but the readership seems not to be responding well to him. I think that's because White is not sort of doctrinaire doofus they usually go for  -- not like Jay Nordlinger, for example, and his "this is really a lovely scherzo in Beethoven's Ninth, it reminds me of how liberals love Castro" horseshit. White is on a mission, and unlike his colleagues he doesn't appear to have read it from a telegram from the High Command.

For example, while NR's Jesus freaks were all in spasms about The Giver, because it's supposed to be anti-abortion or something, White gave them "The Giver: Pseudo-Rebellion for Conservative Sheep." The comments to that one are lovely (sample: "I'm going to see it tonight. Cal Thomas recommended it and I value his opinion on any subject. This movie reviewer? Never heard of him").

Who knows what they'll make of White's last few efforts: First, he describes 2004 as "the year film culture broke" because it saw "the media’s lynch-mob excommunication of Mel Gibson and his film The Passion of the Christ, soon followed by the Cannes Film Festival’s ordination of Michael Moore’s anti–G. W. Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11." So far so compatible, but White works up a rich froth that might have even the regular punters backing away from the podium:
It was moral vandalism, sullying ideas and totems sacred to many. Such a fundamental offense devastated civilized behavior in ways many still have not realized. It drove a wedge between the public and the elites who make movies; the very ground we walked upon as enlightened, cultured people was scorched like Ground Zero at the World Trade Center... 
From 2004 on, even “entertainment” movies were made and received with deleterious political and moral bias.
This is loony and conspiratorial even by culture-warrior standards, but wait, there's more: Later White listed "20 signs of a broken film culture," a list of entartete kunst including some films I'll bet National Review readers like, including The Dark Knight ("used the Batman myth to undermine heroism, overturn social mores, and embrace anarchy"), Knocked Up ("Judd Apatow’s comedy of bad manners attacked maturity and propriety"), and Lincoln ("Spielberg succumbs to Tony Kushner’s limousine-liberal cynicism to valorize Obama-era political chicanery"). Comments to that one so far are also delightful ("How many times are they going to see the comments and realize we don't like him?").

There are all kinds of ways to look at this, but the big point for me is that people who are serious about the arts -- not serious about using the arts as a way to spread the usual dreary propaganda, but about the arts themselves -- are not just capable of surprising readers, but extremely likely to do so. And that's terrific. I hope National Review surprises me and hangs onto White so he can rave away like this on their dime. Who knows, maybe one or two of them will be improved by his example.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DEATH CULT.

Some of you may remember my column last Spring about what I characterized as the new conservative position on climate change: roughly, "Hey, everybody dies (literally)". In other words, even if you stupid libtards are right, environmentalism is futile and we should just all prepare for an earlier-than-expected deliverance unto the loving arms of Jesus.

Mind you, my analysis was largely based on extrapolation of the texts. But it turns out RedState kingpin Erick Erickson is willing to say so out loud:
I Simply Do Not Care About Global Warming
We’re all going to die or something according to the latest hysteria from the United Nations now that government bureaucrats have sufficiently added hype and hyperbole to the IPCC report on global warming a/k/a climate change.
Folks, I do not care. Let me assure you that the world is not going to end and we are not going to cause ourselves to go extinct. This report is written by a bunch of people who believe in the evolution of humanity, but somehow think mankind is unable to adapt to changing circumstances. 
The simple fact is that, if they are right and the world is warming, there is nothing we can do short of economic Armageddon to stop it. We’ve already told most of the third world they have to hide under nets or die of malaria because we do not want them using DDT. We should not now tell them they have to turn off their electricity and never improve their existence because of global warming.
The DDT thing is total bullshit, by the way --  scientific management of a dangerous chemical is not politically-correct reckless endangerment, it's the opposite of it. But does Erick Erickson care about your so-called "science"? Erickson then gets to his secondary argument, which is eat it you stupid libtards:
This is all orchestrated left-wing crap that a bunch of private jet setters and twitter liberals can worry themselves over. I have never once met a person who treats global warming as the most significant issue of our time and is a well adjusted, happy person. From Al Gore to the nuts on Twitter who’ll fill up my timeline in outrage over this, they are maladjusted, angry people in need of prayer to a realer God than Gaia. 
Epistemic closure? We didn't know the half of it. Expect a series of these "who gives a shit" items, and not only from Erickson, on banking regulations, race relations, foreign policy, etc. As my archive shows, all these guys have left now is resentment, racism, and rifle worship; it's about time they abandoned argument altogether. At least it'll be an improvement over that "conservative reform" bullshit, in that they'll no longer be pretending.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SILENT UPON A PEAK IN DERP-IEN.

A. J. Delgado's scolding of Nicki Minaj is so duh-what that I'm not even going to add my own jokes. I mean, everywhere you drop the hook you catch a beauty. Here's my favorite:
This openly sexual, anything-goes mentality may have taken off several years ago, with Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” in which the non-bisexual Perry nonetheless suggested to girls that experimenting with bisexuality is sexy and playful. (The truth is, bisexual acts when one isn’t naturally disposed are a dangerous opponent to morality and female empowerment, as it is often done purely to please a male onlooker or due to the influence of drugs and alcohol.)
Feel free to offer your own exegeses in comments. Yeesh. She makes Martha Bayles look like Anton LeVey.

HOW TO PISS OFF A PROPAGANDIST.

As reported by Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog, retired Air Force colonel Morris Davis, who's sick of wingnuts pretending Obama's a traitor ("battling faux patriots" is one of his hobbies), posted a tweet tailor-made to attract that crowd: It claimed Nixon and Bush had attended the funerals of generals killed in action, and Obama was breaking tradition by skipping the funeral of Major General Harold Greene, who was recently shot dead in Afghanistan. Turned out the claim wasn't true, and Davis had only made it to prove a point I make here all the time: that for many conservatives "too good to check" and "stop the presses" are pretty much the same thing.

Steve's got his own angle, but for me the most interesting thing about the incident was the reaction of Byron York, who got stung by the colonel's tweet. In his column York describes the evolution of the story at length, and gets very stiff whenever discussing Davis:
On Sunday, I sent a note to Davis asking why, given the credibility that comes with his military career and law school position, he had distributed information he knew to be false. As he had in his earlier tweet, Davis claimed the falsehood was "sarcasm"...
Here's York's closing graf:
There are several lessons to be drawn from the affair. The first, and most important, is to be skeptical about everything one sees on the Internet and make a good-faith effort to ensure that information one passes on is accurate. I will certainly redouble my efforts on that score in the future. The second lesson is that when one makes a mistake, correct it as quickly as possible, more than once if necessary. And the final lesson, narrower but still important, is: Never trust a word Morris Davis says; it might be "sarcasm."
Now, York's one of the more high-class conservatives when it comes to this sort of thing -- that is, rather than just circulating any old bullshit, as so many of the low-rent types do, York prefers to explain why hearsay and innuendo is sort of okay if it's for his side, as in this classic bit:
Rick -- Sure there were lunatic preoccupations in the Clinton years. The boys on the tracks story, for example, was a peculiar fascination at the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Mena was something similar for The American Spectator. There were others, although most conservative publications simply ignored things like the "Clinton Chronicles." Clinton himself found some of that stuff useful, and cited it in his public remarks, because it allowed him to cast his opponents as nuts. Hillary used it too -- in the famous "vast right-wing conspiracy" appearance on the "Today" show in 1998, she world-wearily said that the right was "accusing my husband of committing murder, of drug running." 
On the other hand, what about the stories that were grisly but true? Clinton led a colorful life and hung out with colorful people. Troopergate was probably the most bitterly denounced of all the anti-Clinton stories, and some of Clinton's defenders wrote off anybody who took it seriously as a hater and a kook. But the core allegation of the story -- that Clinton used his Arkansas security team to facilitate his philandering -- was true, and the story was, in retrospect, the most accurate predictor of the kind of behavior that Clinton so disastrously exhibited in the White House in the Lewinsky matter. So the haters and the kooks were right on that one.
This kind of classy mendacity, however, is a world away from circulating Snopes-worthy falsehoods -- especially when you're duped into it and then caught at it.

That would make York mad enough, but I think he was extra pissed off because he had been burned by someone with "the credibility that comes with [a] military career and law school position" -- that is, the kind of brass hat a conservative should be able to count on to provide York and his buddies with solid anti-Obama ordnance.  Once a wingnut could just accept on faith that all the uniformed types were on their side, but now each one must be vetted before York can trust him. Think how discouraging a thing like that must be!

UPDATE. Forgot this other York classic: "I didn't intend to rekindle the old [Vince] Foster-suicide questions... But I do agree that the Clintons did everything in their power to make it look suspicious." That's how the pros do it, folks! Original posts here and here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Obama's golfing and how it's destroying America. The brethren have been on about this since 2009, of course, but for various reasons it's a hot topic right now.

Friday, August 22, 2014

FRIDAY AROUND-THE-HORN.

•  Hey, guess who got in on Ferguson: Maggie Gallagher. I'm not kidding! If you know her work as head of the Anti-Sex League, you'll know her passive-aggressive style, which she replicates here: A lot of shit about Michael Brown ("'That Indian clerk he roughed up was so small. He must have been so scared'") and love for the cops,  followed by a bullshit plea for tolerance:
We have to find a way out of tribalism, back to America.

During my years leading the fight against gay marriage, there were so many efforts to paint a picture of me as motivated by anti-gay hatred, and there were so many people hoping I would respond in kind. Some who opposed gay marriage even criticized me for refusing to strike back. They saw my gestures of respect for gay-marriage advocates as a desperate attempt to placate, rather than as a refusal to become the caricature my opponents hoped to make me.

To make something good improbably come out of Ferguson will require work from both sides of the racial and political divide.
If this were a vaudeville sketch, this is where the cops and the protesters would stop fighting and unite to beat up Maggie Gallagher. Also in the article: "I don’t want to respond with tit-for-tat stories about race," followed by tit-for-tat stories about race, and many other such examples of the Gallagher method which lead me to believe that even the racists won't be returning her calls.

•  At The Federalist, Daniel Payne is disgusted that Richmond, Virginia joined the National School Lunch Program so those little moochers statists like to call "children" will get free food:
It’s bad enough that we’ll have more students belly up to the government food trough (if you’ve never had a taste of “free” government lunch, consider yourself lucky); instead, consider RPS Superintendent Dana Bedden’s positive gushing about the new program: “I like it for the health and nutrition aspect, but this also removes the stigma of free lunch. Everyone can eat.” 
Ah, “stigma:” one of the last great impediments to full-blown government dependency.
Whereas if we had the little bastards clean toilets for their gruel, it'd be morally-educational. Alas,  "The Left wants the citizenry as dependent upon government as possible," says Payne. Because what other possible reason would they have for using tax dollars to feed children?

•  The strenuous efforts of Reason editors to pump up their moment in the media spotlight despite the avalanche of demurrers and protests from the conservatives on whom they rely for coalition -- here's the latest one from lawn-order scold John Podhoretz -- have convinced me that the Libertarian Moment is something  like the Summer of George.