Monday, August 30, 2010

A Loser's Game

Baseball players deal with strife in odd – and terrifying – ways. One potential Hall of Famer told me recently that when he’s in a slump, he dreams of himself swinging a bat underwater and flailing about until he drowns. Though [Paul] Konerko’s mental anguish never reached that extreme, his nadir two years ago forced him to confront the reality so many never can: He’s going to fail 70 percent of the time, and he’d better figure out a constructive way to do it.

“There’s so much failure in this game,” Konerko said. “Getting too high isn’t a problem for most guys. Getting too low can be. It was for me. It’s been an ongoing battle. For a good couple years, I’ve been more rational how I view the negatives, the failures, and that’s only helped me get better. You kind of get tired of beating yourself up.

But it's natural to do so.

The "Fail Even When You Succeed" aspect of baseball is what gives it poetry. It's also what draws wretches -- players and spectators. It's why, as Deion Sanders shrewdly noted, there are so many alcoholics who are lifers in the sport.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

George Soros As A Bedwetting Retard's Version Of Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Scott, the supposedly more sane one of the three Powertools, fap-blurbs a spy novel written by something called Michael Walsh, who, it turns out, is one of the many wingnuts stuffed into Andrew Breitbart's internet clown car. Check out this description of the novel's villain:

As in Hostile Intent, Devlin's principal opponent is the shadowy, reclusive international financier, Emanuel Skorzeny, a German-born billionaire who harbors an enormous animus against western civilization, in part occasioned by his own morally complex past. Skorzeny despises the west for what he views as its terminal cultural weakness, and believes that society is no longer worthy of the great cultural treasures earlier generations of have bequeathed it. Although he has dedicated his life to making money, riches are not an end in themselves, but a means to a larger end: the euthanization of the west.


Naturally, the book is dedicated to the " and women...whom we put on the front lines of a shadow war that dare not even speak its name, and the enormous personal sacrifices - including the ultimate sacrifice - that they must make in order to defend us". Double lulz!

Holding Zhdanovian hackery -- of any variety, wingnut or "leftist"* -- in absolute contempt, I totally applaud this attempt at wingnut "literature". I'm thinking: Tom Clancy, with even worse prose but less masturbatory arms-technophilia mixed with a sort of late period Dos Passos sensibility. In other words: part Get Off My Lawn, part jock-sniffing, part Liberals Are Traitors.

A possible passage from the text:

Devlin, who used to battle the enemy at, now had the very enemy at his mercy; and in a race with a for real ticking timebomb, heroically used a XK-7 technique to extract valuable information which he was certain was legal no matter what the filthy traitors back home said, the stupid pussies.

"WHooo are you??" Skorzeny wailed in terror.

"Harvey --uh, Manfred...jen..sen...den," Devlin heroically replied with the quick wit he'd sharpened to a razor-edge from years of snarking at communist negroes on his blog. Then he methodically attached the electrodes to various pain-points on Skorzeny's withered body, the genitals, the hooked nose..."

"Jesus' will be done," Devlin silently reassured himself. As an afterthought, all the while fighting the distraction, he added: "Someday, if I and fellow thankless freedom fighters do jobs like this right, I'll be able to say that outloud, in America, without a liberal persecuting me for it!" He pulled the switch...

Hey, that's entertainment!

*Srsly. Read that link. I have never seen a more enthusiastic avowal of Aesthetic Stalinism in my fucking life. Also, too: an obvious irony in all this. The scarequotes are around "leftist" because these people wouldn't know socialism -- which, among other things, implores one to not think with one's blood (i.e. selfish or groupuscular "identity") but with one's class -- if it were somehow served to them as a chocolate gravy cheeseburger doughnut. Yet, of course, they are identical to the historically worst sort of socialists in their means, which is not due to design so much as to their stupidity and a weird sort of convergent evolution but still: isn't it weird to find self-identified liberals or leftists gleefully adopting a trait of the darkest form of socialism and it not be its at least theoretical advancement of the working class?

Adding: Am I being unfair? Am I just out to hurt someone's precious feely-feels? No. Search "The Simpsons" -- as in, the TV show -- in that site, then gasp in awe at their consistency-in-the-Emersonian-sense. Then compare that attitude to the similarly butthurt, similarly philistine nutjobs at Bozell's NewsBusters and, discounting for ideology, get a micrometer to measure the difference. Aesthetic Stalinists, I tell you.

Added: fixed some stuff. Also, also, too: yes, hellholes.

For Later Citation

[FAIR USE and that that]

Pasting some passages from John Judis's "The Unnecessary Fall", an excellent piece even though published by the most useless rag in all of "liberal" journalism:

In the United States, politics pivots around the allegiance of the middle class, even as its identity has changed from yeoman farmers and mechanics to store clerks, office workers, x-ray technicians, and small business owners. They are, in Bill Clinton’s words, “those who work hard and play by the rules.” They are the central characters in a populist rhetoric that goes back to the early republic. It depicts the middle class as embattled and threatened either from forces below (impoverished immigrants, welfare cheaters, ghetto rioters) or above (Wall Street speculators, state bureaucrats, K Street lobbyists). Populism can be embraced by Glenn Beck or Tom Harkin. It is intrinsically neither left-wing nor right-wing.

Politicians, such as Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, who found a way of using populism’s appeal during downturns have enjoyed success, while those who have spurned it have suffered accordingly. If, in circumstances like the present one, you don’t develop a populist politics, your adversaries will use populism to define you as an enemy of the people. That’s what Carter discovered during the stagflation of the late ’70s. And that’s what has happened in the last 20 months of the Great Recession to Barack Obama and to the Democratic Party he leads.

Obama took office with widespread popular support, even among Republicans, and some of his first efforts, including the $800 billion stimulus, initially enjoyed strong public favor. But that wide appeal began to dissipate by the late spring of 2009. Disillusion with Obama fueled the November defeat of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia. By January 2010, it was a crucial factor in Republican Scott Brown’s astonishing victory over Martha Coakley in Massachusetts.

In the postmortem debate over these defeats, some Democrats have blamed Obama’s dogged pursuit of health care reform while the economy was hemorrhaging jobs. That may have been a factor, but the real damage was done earlier. What doomed Obama politically was the way he dealt with the financial crisis in the first six months of his presidency. In an atmosphere primed for a populist backlash, he allowed the right wing to define the terms.


As Obama was delivering his inaugural address, the financial crisis was already in full swing; and it was already apparent that financial speculation, outright fraud, and irresponsible and sometimes illegal housing-loan practices had played a very large role in precipitating the crisis. The public was up in arms. But, instead of rallying the public against the “money changers,” as Roosevelt had done in his first inaugural, Obama, taking a leaf from Jimmy Carter’s infamous “malaise” speech, put the blame on the public as a whole. “Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age,” he declared.

Over the next month, Obama would periodically criticize bankers after embarrassing revelations–at various times calling the bonuses they gave themselves “shameful” and an “outrage”–but, after hearing complaints about his rhetoric from the bankers, he would back off. At a private meeting on March 28 with 13 Wall Street CEOs, the president, his spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “emphasized that Wall Street needs Main Street and Main Street needs Wall Street.” And, in his Georgetown speech, Obama returned to his theme of collective responsibility. The recession, Obama said, “was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street.”

Obama’s policy followed the same swerving course as his rhetoric. One week, he would favor harsh restrictions on bank and insurance-company bonuses, but, the next week, he would waver; one week, he would support legislation allowing bankruptcy judges to reduce the amount that homeowners threatened with foreclosure owed the banks; the next week, he would fail to protest when bank lobbyists pressured the Senate to kill these provisions. But, more importantly, Obama–in sharp contrast to Roosevelt in his first months–failed to push Congress to immediately enact new financial regulations or even to set up a commission to investigate fraud. (When Congress finally appointed a commission in July 2009, Obama and his party put a milquetoast Democratic politician, former California State Treasurer Philip Angelides, in charge of it.)

Obama’s appointments also conveyed an impression that he wanted to let Wall Street off the hook. He appointed Timothy Geithner to be treasury secretary. Geithner claimed that he was not part of Wall Street, but, in his capacity as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he had served under a board of directors headed by JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. As New York Fed president, Geithner had been partly responsible for the decision to let Lehman Brothers go under, for the unpopular tarp program, and for American International Group (AIG) paying back its Wall Street creditors with government money. Geithner chose as his chief of staff a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs. Retiring Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan told me, “Most Americans were reading about the massive compensations and bailouts, and the administration largely hired people from the culture of Wall Street.”

By the spring, Obama’s apparent tilt to Wall Street had sparked a right-wing populist revolt in the country. The newly formed Tea Party movement, Beck and Fox News, and a host of right-wing bloggers were leading the charge; but, in a less extreme form, the general public shared their anger. In an early April New York Times/CBS News poll, the public disapproved of Obama’s aiding the banks by 58 percent to 33 percent. In this same poll, public approval of Obama’s handling of the economy began to fall. Pollsters who did focus groups also traced disillusionment with Obama’s economic policies to his handling of the financial crisis.

Congressman Barney Frank, who defends Obama’s policies, acknowledges that the president’s political difficulties began with the revelation that AIG, which had received $170 billion from the government, had paid out $165 million in bonuses to the division that had brought the company down. Geithner had known about the bonuses but insisted there were no legal grounds to block them. (It then came out that Geithner had pressured Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd to insert a provision in the stimulus bill that protected the bonuses.) “The pitchforks were out. It added injury to injury,” Frank says. That’s when public opinion of Geithner plummeted. According to a Rasmussen poll, 24 percent had a favorable view of Geithner and 44 percent an unfavorable one.

The public’s view of the bank bailout and the AIG bonuses colored its view of the auto bailout, the stimulus, and health care reform. One of the rallying cries for the populist opposition to Obama was “where’s my bailout?” (Obama himself acknowledged that it was “one of the most frequent questions” he was asked in letters.) The auto program became a bailout for the GM and Chrysler CEOs; the stimulus became a bailout of government itself; and health care reform was a bailout for the uninsured–or “reparations,” as Rush Limbaugh put it. Wrote right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin, “hardworking citizens were getting sick of being played for chumps” by “moochers, big and small, corporate and individual, trampling over themselves with their hands out demanding endless bailouts.” Obama and the Democrats were successfully portrayed as aiding “the moochers,” but not the “hardworking citizens.” In American politics, that’s a recipe for political disaster.


Some in the White House political operation recognized in the late spring that the administration’s economic efforts were being defined by right-wing populism and tried to push Obama to take a more populist tack. A group within the White House began calling themselves the “pitchfork gang,” but they would find their attempts to convince Obama to get tough on Wall Street or on insurance companies undermined by Geithner and by National Economic Council head Larry Summers, who were worried about upsetting business confidence. “There was a continual tension in the White House,” says a person who was privy to the discussions. “One week, we would be very hot, and then, the next week, we would dial it back.”


Contrast Obama’s attempt to develop a politics to justify his economic program with what Reagan did in 1982. Faced with steadily rising unemployment, which went from 8.6 percent in January to 10.4 percent in November, Reagan and his political staff, which included James Baker, Mike Deaver, and Ed Rollins, forged a strategy early that year calling for voters to “stay the course” and blaming the current economic troubles on Democratic profligacy. “We are clearing away the economic wreckage that was dumped in our laps,” Reagan declared. Democrats accused them of playing “the blame game,” but the strategy, followed to the letter by the White House for ten months, worked. The Republicans were predicted to lose as many as 50 House seats, but they lost only 26 and broke even in the Senate.

Some commentators have noted Reagan’s popularity was even lower than Obama’s. But, on key economic questions, he did much better than Obama and the Democrats are currently performing–and voters expressed far greater patience with Reagan’s program. According to polls, even as the unemployment rate climbed, a narrow plurality still expressed confidence that Reagan’s program would help the economy. On the eve of the election, with the unemployment rate at a postwar high, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that 60 percent of likely voters thought Reagan’s economic program would eventually help the country. That’s a sign of a successful political operation. If Obama could command those numbers, Democrats could seriously limit their losses in November. But Obama has not been able to develop a narrative that could convince people to trust him and the Democrats.

Why has the White House failed to convince the public that it is fighting effectively on its behalf? The principal culprit is clearly Barack Obama. He has a strange aversion to confrontational politics. His aversion is strange because he was schooled in it, working as a community organizer in the 1980s, under the tutelage of activists who subscribed to teachings of the radical Saul Alinsky. But, when Obama departed for Harvard Law School in 1988, he left Alinsky and adversarial tactics behind.


He was not a typical blue-collar, bread-and-butter Chicago Democrat, but the kind of good government liberal that represents the upscale districts of the city, seeing in politics a higher calling and ill at ease with (although not in open opposition to) the city’s Democratic machine. He was also a post-racial politician who eschewed the hard-edged, angry rhetoric of Jesse Jackson. (That, too, is oddly reminiscent of Carter, who partly campaigned in 1976 as the white Southern antidote to George Wallace’s angry racial populism.)


These efforts to elevate Obama above the hurly-burly of Washington politics have been disastrous. Obama’s image as an iconic outsider has become the screen on which Fox News, the Tea Party, radicalright bloggers, and assorted politicians have projected the image of him as a foreigner, an Islamic radical, and a socialist. He has remained “the other” that he aspired to be during the campaign, but he and his advisers no longer control how that otherness is defined.

The White House and cabinet officials he appointed have reinforced his aversion to populism. As Jonathan Alter recounts in The Promise: President Obama, Year One, Geithner and Summers repeatedly blocked attempts to get tough on Wall Street on the grounds that doing so would threaten the recovery itself by upsetting the bankers. For most of his first year, Alter writes, “Obama bought the Geithner-Summers argument that the banks were fragile and couldn’t be confronted while they remained in peril.” Its reluctance to come down on the bankers crippled the administration politically, making it far more difficult for it to get its way with Congress on a second stimulus program that would have boosted the recovery and Democrats’ political prospects. Bad politics can trump good policy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pantload's Gift -- Was Regifted?


While covering the rally, I witnessed sign after sign declaring Obama a greater danger to America's security than al-Qaida; demonstrators held images that juxtaposed Obama's face with images of evildoers from Hitler to Pol Pot to Bin Laden; others carried signs questioning Obama's status as a U.S. citizen. "We can fight al-Qaida, we can't kill Obama," said an aging demonstrator. Another told me, "Obama is the biggest Nazi in the world," pointing to placards he had fashioned depicting Obama and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi in SS outfits. According to another activist, Obama's agenda was similar to Hitler's: "Hitler took over the banking industry, did he not? And Hitler had his own personal secret service police. [The community-organizing group] ACORN is an extension of that."

The seemingly incongruous Tea Party propaganda recalled signs waved by right-wing Jewish settlers during rallies against Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his support of the peace process, portraying him as an SS officer and as the French collaborator Marshall Petain. In 1995, amid the provocative atmosphere, a young right-wing Jewish zealot assassinated Rabin. The Israeli tragedy was a cautionary example of targeted hatred leading to violence.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Buffett 1, Randroids 0

WARREN BUFFETT: Reasonable return is good enough, Charlie. I mean,
50 years ago, I was looking for spectacular returns, but I can’t-- I can’t
get them. We have-- we have eight or $10 billion to invest every year.
And we’re in the utility business, and it’s the same thing there. When we
build electric generation or something of the sort, we shouldn’t expect a
spectacular return. We’re building things that are essential to society,
and people need our services. They really don’t have any choice in the
case of the electric utilities, for example, and sometimes in case of rail.
And we should get a decent return on that. Enough to encourage us to keep
putting money into the business, but we’re not entitled to spectacular

I'll never say that a billionaire like Warren Buffett is the best guy EVAR or anything, but it would be a better America if more wealthy people were like him than like.. well, like the rotten soulless Randroid robber baron fuckfaces they are. And I don't say that because Buffett has famously pledged to bequeath his wealth to charity (a move progressives massively overrate), but because he invests the right way: long-term, and conscious of externalities and obligations.

Even better, he doesn't pretend that people have total freewill within this system. The Big Lie upon which libertarians in general and Randroids in particular base their entire venal world-view is that everyone is "free to choose" every transaction they take. Buffett, a utility owner, understands that people have to have electricity and that this gives him monopolistic or oligopolistic power over consumers, so he'd better deliver the product dependably, and he'd better not gouge people. Longtime students of Buffett will also know that he thinks this way not because of morally (maybe there should be a "just" in there) but because his "take the long view" business sense tells him the little people can't be abused for too long because if they are they will eventually throw the big people up against the wall.

This power structure is what Zizek means, incidentally, when he's talking about rent, which is what the common person is effectively forced to buy in order to function in society: food, shelter, electricity, water, health care... and also, more and more, certain technologies like computers and televisions (by the way, the Red Cross agrees that a TV qualifies as a "necessity") that facilitate what he calls "participation." When you have to have something you're not "free to choose" that something. It's at this point that the libertarian/Randroid will splutter something like "the Amish do it!", which is so ridiculous that it proves their bad faith. In my dream social democracy people like Buffett exist, own property, make money, are taxed accordingly; meanwhile, Randroids and libertarians, who believe there is "no such thing as society" get their wish and are removed from society -- straight to the fucking gulag.


WARREN BUFFETT: ... but we’ve got -- we’ve got almost 60 million
people living in households where 20 -- the top income is $21,000 or less.
That’s the top of the 60 million people. So we can do better. Now, we
have done better over time. I mean, we put in Social Security and we’ve
done things in the country that have worked in the direction ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Medicare and Medicaid.



WARREN BUFFETT: But a prosperous country should not just be
prosperous for the people like me who are wired in a particular way at
birth -- no credit to me -- but I happen to know something about capital
allocation. It wasn’t, you know, I could have instead -- I could have been
-- I could have been wired, you know, so I was, you know, I don’t know -- a
great ukulele player. But there’s more money ...

The above quote shows that Buffett understands and rejects the social Darwinist root of libertarianism; the following quote shows he understands and rejects the libertarian/Randroid denial of society infamously enunciated by Margaret Thatcher:

WARREN BUFFETT: And you don’t want to mess up the market system that
works to bring out of people what their best talents are, but the market
system is not perfect in any kind of distribution of wealth. And taxation
is a way where you get to the excesses of what the market system produces
and where you take care of the people that get the short straws. In a
country as prosperous as we are, nobody should get a really short straw.

CHARLIE ROSE: You know, some people are going to hear you say that
and they’ll say, "Warren is talking about sharing the wealth. There he
goes .."

WARREN BUFFETT: Well, I’m talking about sharing the prosperity.

CHARLIE ROSE: You’re ...


WARREN BUFFETT: I’m prosperous because of the society around me.
Stick me down in some poor country and I’ll walk around and say I allocate
capital, you know, and they’ll say, so what? What we need is a guy with a
strong back. You know, and I don’t have a strong back.

CHARLIE ROSE: But can you row a boat or something?

WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. Something like that.


WARREN BUFFETT: So -- so society -- listen, when a couple of
middleweights fight it out on Pay Per View this weekend and get $49.95 from
me, or whatever it maybe, and I can’t remember their names two weeks later,
you know, they are benefiting not because of their own talent that much,
but because some guy invented television and then invented cable
television, and learned how to change a stadium of 15,000 people into a
stadium of 300 million. So they benefit from society. We all do. And
some like me benefit enormously from society, you know. I can’t do it by
myself. Stick me on a desert island, you know, you do not want to be on
the same island.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Fascist Clown

From Zizek's "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce" speech at Cooper Union:

Look at have a chief of state (de facto), who consciously ruins his own authority, makes fun of himself, it's really like -- Michel Foucault, in his late seminars, spoke about eblouissement...Groucho Marx in power, clown in power -- this is effectively approaching. For example....I can't -- I couldn't believe it... a couple of weeks ago, Berlusconi's press representative, a lawyer, said it's a filthy lie that Berlusconi is impotent: he's ready to prove in court he's not impotent. I'm just asking -- what? how? you know what I mean..... I see this as an all-around tendency, this eblouissation of power, loss of the dignity of power.

From Zizek's essay in the LRB, "Berlusconi in Tehran":
The last tragic US president was Richard Nixon: he was a crook, but a crook who fell victim to the gap between his ideals and ambitions on the one hand, and political realities on the other. With Ronald Reagan (and Carlos Menem in Argentina), a different figure entered the stage, a ‘Teflon’ president no longer expected to stick to his electoral programme, and therefore impervious to factual criticism (remember how Reagan’s popularity went up after every public appearance, as journalists enumerated his mistakes). This new presidential type mixes ‘spontaneous’ outbursts with ruthless manipulation.

The wager behind Berlusconi’s vulgarities is that the people will identify with him as embodying the mythic image of the average Italian: I am one of you, a little bit corrupt, in trouble with the law, in trouble with my wife because I’m attracted to other women. Even his grandiose enactment of the role of the noble politician, il cavaliere, is more like an operatic poor man’s dream of greatness. Yet we shouldn’t be fooled: behind the clownish mask there is a state power that functions with ruthless efficiency. Perhaps by laughing at Berlusconi we are already playing his game. A technocratic economic administration combined with a clownish façade does not suffice, however: something more is needed. That something is fear, and here Berlusconi’s two-headed dragon enters: immigrants and ‘communists’ (Berlusconi’s generic name for anyone who attacks him, including the Economist).

Kung Fu Panda, the 2008 cartoon hit, provides the basic co-ordinates for understanding the ideological situation I have been describing. The fat panda dreams of becoming a kung fu warrior. He is chosen by blind chance (beneath which lurks the hand of destiny, of course), to be the hero to save his city, and succeeds. But the film’s pseudo-Oriental spiritualism is constantly undermined by a cynical humour. The surprise is that this continuous making-fun-of-itself makes it no less spiritual: the film ultimately takes the butt of its endless jokes seriously. A well-known anecdote about Niels Bohr illustrates the same idea. Surprised at seeing a horseshoe above the door of Bohr’s country house, a visiting scientist said he didn’t believe that horseshoes kept evil spirits out of the house, to which Bohr answered: ‘Neither do I; I have it there because I was told that it works just as well if one doesn’t believe in it!’ This is how ideology functions today: nobody takes democracy or justice seriously, we are all aware that they are corrupt, but we practise them anyway because we assume they work even if we don’t believe in them. Berlusconi is our own Kung Fu Panda. As the Marx Brothers might have put it, ‘this man may look like a corrupt idiot and act like a corrupt idiot, but don’t let that deceive you – he is a corrupt idiot.’

Berlusconi's clownish style may seem new to Zizek -- and indeed it may be new in Europe which is, after all, the historical home of serious fascists* -- but it's old hat for we Americans. Zizek has fun with the type (I suspect he takes immense pleasure in comparing Berlusconi to Ahmadinejad, and who but a fascist clown could blame him?) and apparently Foucault, a generation ago, toyed with it as well, but the first real aficionado had to be our own Mark Twain (whom Zizek quotes in another connection) and the first one to make a career of fascist clown appreciation was, of course, H.L. Mencken. Then there was Gore Vidal, Hunter Thompson (who himself became a sort of caricature of a fascist clown in his old age), Al Franken, and, during the 80's, Christopher Hitchens.

Of course we have a tradition of fascist clown watchers because we've had a tradition of fascist clown rulers: for Twain there was the entire McKinley administration and then, finally, Theodore Roosevelt in his own right -- the prototype, as it were, of the archetype; for Mencken there was Harding, Coolidge and (so Mencken thought) Bryan; for Vidal, Hitchens, and Thompson there was Nixon (and cronies such as Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy), Reagan, and Poppy Bush; for Franken there was Dubya and of course the mouthpiece of the Fascist Clown party, Rush Limbaugh.

A fascist clown is a living laff-riot, a strawman come to life, Chaplin's Little Dictator irl, like, for real. It's almost impossible to take him seriously -- until he has you tortured, bombs your country, or simply grinds you into poverty.

I think it was when Mr. Burns was building the sun-blocker ("since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun!"), that his sycophant and until then co-conspirator in various evil schemes Mr. Smithers finally said something like, "Sorry, Mr. Burns, but you've just crossed the line from everyday villainy to cartoonish super-villainy" and opted out. That's exactly what fascist clowns are: cartoonish supervillains, except they're for REAL! Gordon Liddy might have slipped on a banana peel while putting poison in your medicine bottle or garroting you on the street**, but the comedy factor wouldn't make you any less dead. That's the danger of fascist clowns, they lull you into a sense of disbelief; "this cant be real, he can't be serious!" you say, right before you are economically, constitutionally, or physically murdered.

* but wasn't it Dorothy Parker who said that Hitler could have been thwarted at the start if people had only laughed at him? My brain hurtzes.
** actual methods of assassination Liddy was trained to and conspired to do.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Nazi Child Molesters

Ahh, here's George Fwill proving the point I've long argued that becoming a fan of a sports team is a choice and that choosing to become a Chicago Cubs fan is an exercise in stupid idiocy, moral obscenity, and psychological retardation:

"I grew up in Champaign, Illinois, midway between Chicago and St. Louis. At an age too tender for life-shaping decisions, I made one. While all my friends were becoming Cardinals fans, I became a Cub fan. My friends, happily rooting for Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and other great Redbirds, grew up cheerfully convinced that the world is a benign place, so of course, they became liberals. Rooting for the Cubs in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I became gloomy, pessimistic, morose, dyspeptic and conservative. It helped out of course that the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, which is two years before Mark Twain and Tolstoy died. But that means, class of 1998, that the Cubs are in the 89th year of their rebuilding effort, and remember, any team can have a bad moment."[4]

Obviously, the choice to become a Cubs fan is a demonstration of the will (no pun) to self-pity. There is an ostentatious psychology at work here: a Cubs fan is an attention whore of the "woe is me" variety; Cubs Nation is the tennager's LiveJournal of baseball fandom; as a species Cubs fans are insufferably lachrymose louts. It's also no accident that so many Cubs fans are wealthy and politically conservative, and I'm not just talking about the horrible drunken lawyers and Lincoln Park Trixies one sees at the ballpark. They live ruthlessly, adopt a totem of supreme victimization, then comes the paradox: the initially and ("superficially") superficial stance becomes so embedded in their identity that it's just as much a part of the whole as their Republicanism or their religion. These people can't be "winners" in their personal life unless their team loses -- and no team loses like the Cubs.