Thursday, September 30, 2004

To The Great Consternation Of Conservatarians

It turns out that there is a Fourth Amendment after all.

Conservatarians will say that the court has here undermined the Great Crusade aganist islamofascism, while Libertarians will agree with the court, but will secretly add that really, Ashcroft torching the Fourth Amendment is no better or worse than, say, the government using tax monies to fund Head Start programmes. All freedom is equal, after all.

Yes, I'm doing this to aggravate digamma in a friendly way. But I mean it, too.

Joining An Exclusive Club (double entendre not intended)

Roll Call's Mark Preston joins Mike Krempasky as finalists in the competition of Most Unintentionally Hilarious Santorum References. Preston probably wins but I'm biased toward Krempasky who saw fit to personally elaborate on his cluelessness here on my blog.

No And Yes

Dear T-Gun teases me by sending a story about "Hippy Fascists". Funny, but So. Very. Wrong.

How shall I counter her point? This will have to do.

Edit: Yeah, I know my reply is a non-sequitur. What can I say? I got nothin'. Maybe my point was that I can't be outdone with outrageous political links. Yeah, that's the ticket.

The Coolest Thing Since Hipgnosis

"100 of the world's most celebrated artists chose their favorite musicians and created ...The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were"

Very Nice. I found this via Kurt Vonnegut's website. Vonnegut contributed a cover for Phish, by the way.

Added: Just what is it about Debbie Harry that is so alluring to better artists? The above cover is simple, excellent, gorgeous. Yet the masterly H.R. Giger also chose to work with the Blondie Girl. There is indeed a beautiful plasticity in Debbie Harry -- in her image and in her (and her co-writer, Chris Stein's) music. Is this the draw? I suppose it's rare enough that one finds superficiality appealing and so it's irresistible when it happens: the artist as the beguiled, a compulsive.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

So Long, Tenure

What a dumbfuck. Of course, he's in North Carolina, so it's no guarantee that he'll be disciplined, and in fact, I hope he isn't.

It's better that he'll be harassed by students. And humiliated.

(Via Atrios.)

Don't Let It Die

Atrios, bless him, keeps hammering at the "liberals" who went along with the Iraqi Operation. This time it's in the wounding conclusion to an entry defending Kerry's viability as a candidate. As such, it's a sort of an after-thought. But then again, it's not.

And, I would add, if Peter Beinart hadn't been the editor of the New Republic these past few years, Iraq might actually not be the subject of this election.

Damn right. This particular censure needs to be repeated until after the election -- kept alive, but not necessarily expanded. Yet. The election and unity is what matters most now but win or lose, after the election some people deserve a bit of time in purgatory of the sort that this guy, to his enduring credit, has put himself through.

I'm not advocating figurative trials; I'm advocating intense and precise criticism which will hopefully activate some guilt and self-searching.

Well, You're Both Brain-Dead Fatfucks But The Similarities End There


Rather more detailed Jonah-bashing may be found at TBOGG's.

Hysterical Documents

A batch of Reagan letters has been put up for sale and, as the author mentions, they hint at the "hidden side" of Dear Departed Ronnie, our designated senile old TelePrompter Reader of the 1980s, whose combined mean-spiritedness and idiocy has proved to be such an inspiration for the Bushies.

he letters to George Murphy span a period beginning in the late 1970s and ending in the early 1990s. In one, Reagan dismisses the nation's biggest newspapers as biased liberal distributors of "daily poison."

In others he offers help in "deep-sixing" Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), "the playboy from Massachusetts"; accuses Walter Mondale of "lying through his teeth"; and lambasts President Carter over a disastrous attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran.

In later letters, Reagan expresses disbelief over the "fuss" created by the Iran-Contra affair, and castigates a Democrat-controlled Congress for repeated investigations of Republican presidents.

"Well they haven't gotten the noose around my neck, and they won't because I've been telling the truth," Reagan said.

Reagan and Murphy, both conservatives, appeared together in the 1943 screen version of Irving Berlin's musical "This is the Army," and made parallel jumps into politics. Both were presidents of the Screen Actors Guild (news - web sites). Murphy served as a U.S. senator for California from 1965 to 1971.

The two continued to correspond after Reagan left office. In one 1990 note, Reagan complained about declining morals in Hollywood.

"If it was what it used to be the Guild members would refuse to read lines with 4 letter words and profanity," Reagan wrote. "I'm sure we would have ruled out the nudity and sex too."

It's all in there in the correspondence, that which many of us knew so well, and all along: the agreed-upon deceit, the self-pity, the revisionism, the paranoia, the crudity of thought, the willingness to engage in dirty tricks. Yeah, Good Old Ronnie, who could always make up for such things by smiling and being "optimistic".

Just Sayin'

Props to The Hegemo, from whom I've stolen many links over the past year or so.

Our George: Not Exactly A Southern Baptist

There was no teetotaling Damascene conversion for George Washington, who was unlike our current leader in so many other ways, too.

Everyone knows Ol' George grew hemp, but did you know that he, like Uncle Jesse, operated a still?

Wingnuts, so often wrong on the subject of the Founders' religion, are also wrong on the Founders' habits: to find people in history that resemble the Religious Right, one just has to look in other places. Like, say, in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Hugo Black

A few years ago, I went through what was on the net at the time about, as well as through Roger K. Newman's biography of, Justice Hugo Lafayette Black, and saved my favorites of Black's sayings and writings, which I reproduce here.

To the extent that you still enjoy the Bill of Rights in the Age of Ashcroft is largely due to Hugo Black and a few others on the Warren Court of the 1950s-60s.

A brief biography may be found here. Some of his memoirs are collected here. Here is the entry on Black at Oyez; this is the Black bio at the Supreme Court History site. And last but not least, this is a copy of one of Black's lectures on the Bill of Rights.

Quotes are from Black's personal life, his Senate career, as well as his long residence at the High Court.

"I do not believe the word 'person' in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations."

"the history of the [14th] amendment proves that the people were told that its purpose was to protect weak and helpless human beings and were not told that it was intended to remove corporations in any fashion from the control of state governments... corporations have neither race nor color...[the amendment] was intended to protect the life, liberty and property of human beings."

"First in the catalogue of human liberties essential to the life and growth of a government of, for and by its people are those liberties written into the First Amendment of our Constitution. They are the pillars upon which popular government rests and without which a government of free men cannot long survive. History persuades me that the moving forces which brought about the creation of the safeguards contained in the other sections of our Bill of Rights sprang from a resolute determination to place the liberties defined in the First Amendment in an area wholly safe and secure against any invasion -- even by the government."

"..the First Amendment does not speak equivocally. It prohibits any law 'abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.' It must be taken as a command of the broadest scope that explicit language, read in the context of a liberty-loving society, will allow."

[The First Amendment] "rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society... Freedom to publish is guarnteed by the Constitution, but freedom to combine to keep others from publishing is not."

"Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a state church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force or influence a person to go to or remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or nonattendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the federal government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by laws was intended to 'erect a wall of separation between Church and State.'"

"The only thing that troubles me at this present time is the effort of many people, allowedly backed by most of the press, to plunge this country into a new war with Russia. Such a thing is especially frightful to contemplate... There seems to be a widespread opinion that what this country should do is to attack Russia at once, destroy her cities with atomic bombs, and thus win an easy victory. Even if this could be done, the prospect of our engaging in such a wholesale slaughter as we did at Hiroshima is not inviting to a man of peaceful instincts." (1946)

[Harry Truman has] "no background or understanding .. no fundamental philosophy and very little knowledge of history."

In the Context of Loyalty Oaths and the Spying on Neighbours Climate of the 1950s:

"..whenever the test oath was in vogue, spies and informers found rewards far more tempting than truth. These experiences underline the wisdom of the basic constitutional precept that penalties should be imposed only for a person's conduct...
Like everyone else, individual Communists who commit overt acts in violation of valid laws can and should be punished. But the postulate of the First Amendment is that our free institutions can be maintained without proscribing or penalizing political belief, speech, press, assembly, or party is the heart of the system on which our freedom depends.

Fears of alien ideologies have frequently agitated the nation and inspired legislation aimed at suppressing advocacy of those ideologies. At such times the fog of public excitement obscures the ancient landmarks set up in out Bill of Rights. Yet then, of all times, should this Court adhere most closely to the course they mark."

"The First Amendment presumes that free speech will preserve, not destroy, the nation."

"My belief is that we must have freedom of speech, press and religion for all or we may eventually have it for none. I further believe that the First Amendment grants an absolute right to believe in any governmental system, discuss all governmental affairs, and argue for desired changes in the existing order.
This freedom is too dangerous for bad, tyrannical governments to permit. But those who wrote and adopted our First Amendment's unequivocal command that freedom of assembly, petition, speech and press shall not be abridged."

"The motives behind the state law [of censorship] may have been to do good. But the same can be said about most laws making opinions publishable as crimes. History indicates urges to do good have led to the burning of books and even to the burning of 'witches'".

"I believe the First Amendment forbids Congress to punish people for talking about public affairs, whether or not such discussion incites to action, legal or illegal. As the Virginia Assembly said in 1785, in its 'Statute for Religious Liberty,' written by Thomas Jefferson, 'it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace..'"

More Bill of Rights Stuff:

"I read 'no law abridging' to mean no law abridging. [The First Amendment] has thus fixed its own value on freedom of speech and press by putting these freedoms wholly 'beyond the reach' of federal power to abridge... While it is 'obscenity and indecency' before us today, the experiance of mankind -- both ancient and modern -- shows that this type of elastic phrase can, and most likely, will be synonymous with the political and maybe with the religious unorthodoxy of tomorrow. Censorship is the deadly enemy of freedom and progress. The plain language of the Constitution forbids it."

"It is my belief that there are 'absolutes' in our Bill of Rights, and that they were put there by men who knew what words meant, and meant their prohibitions to be 'absolute'".

"Our First Amendment was a bold effort this principle -- to establish a country with no legal restrictions of any kind upon the subjects people could investigate, discuss and deny. The Framers knew, perhaps better than we do today, the risks they were taking. they knew that free speech might be the friend of change and revolution. But they knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny... Loyalty comes from love of a good government, not a fear of a bad one."

"the men who founded this country and wrote our Bill of Rights were strangers neither to a belief in the 'right of revolution' nor the urgency of the need to be free from the control of government with regard to political beliefs and associations... This country's freedom was won by men who, whether they believed in it or not, certainly practiced revolution in the Revolutionary War."

"As time goes on, I am more persuaded that one of the worst blows struck against free speech in this country [was Justice Holmes's] cryptic statement about 'shouting fire in a crowded theater'. It is used everywhere to justify [the restriction of] First Amendment freedoms."

"It wouldn't bother me if there were no libel or slander laws. They infringe on free speech."

"The basic premise of the First Amendment is that people must be left to say their prayers in their own way, and to their own God, without express or explicit coercion from any political office holder. There are not many people with religion and intelligence who will think this constitutional principle wrong on mature second thought. To those who think prayer must be recited parrot-like in public places to be effective, the sixth chapter of Matthew, 1 to 19, might be reflected upon, particularly verses 5 through 8."

On Vietnam:

"It's immoral, our national interest isn't involved and the domino theory is silly."

"Vietnam is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country: it's insanity."

On Rexford Tugwell's nomination to undersecretary of agriculture:

In everything he has spoken, in every word he has uttered, we find him striking a sledge-hammer against inordinate profits, against long hours, against children in factories... I am not for Mr. Tugwell solely because the President has appointed him. I am for him because I think he represents a school of political thought of which the country has long been sorely in need... which will not deify money and property to the extent of adding to the destitution and human misery of the men, women and children of the United States who produce the wealth which the people themselves are entitled to have."

On national healthcare:

"I am firmly convinced that the health of the nation should be of national concern....Whether the betterment of national health can be worked out better by a system of national hospitals, or by a system of state and national health and accident insurance, nobody knows, but humanity and social justice demand that it must be studied -- it should also be studied from a viewpoint of national defense."

On Faith:

"I can't exactly believe, and I can't exactly not believe."

More jurisprudence:

"I am just old fashioned enough to believe that the Constitution means exactly what it says."

"The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach."

"The layman's constitutional view is that what he likes is constitutional and that which he doesn't like is unconstitutional."

"Compelling a man by law to pay his money to elect candidates or advocate law or doctrines he is against differs only in degree, if at all, from compelling him by law to speak for a candidate, a party, or a cause he is against."

"The very reason for the First Amendment is to make the people of this country free to think, speak, write and worship as they wish, not as the Government commands."

"I am not now, and have never been, a railroad, power company, or a corporation lawyer. I am not a millionaire."

[The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment's] first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion."

"Laws are made to protect the trusting as well as the suspicious."

"Without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, freedom of speech means you shall not do something to people for views they have, express, speak, or write."

"The history of governmentally established religion, both in England and in this country, showed that whenever government had allied itself with one particular form of religion, the inevitable result had been that it had incurred the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who held contrary beliefs. That same history showed that many people had lost their respect for any religion that had relied upon the support of government to spread its faith."

"The time has passed for promises and plans to desegregate.. [the court's duty] is to extirpate all racial discrimination from our system of public schools NOW."

On famous jackasses:

[JFK as Senator] "hasn't done anything yet. Whatever he is, he is no liberal."

"Dear [Fellow Associate Justice] Bill [Douglas]: If they [Gerald Ford and Nixon's other cronies] try to impeach you, I'll resign [from the Supreme Court] and be your lawyer. I have one more hard trial left in me." (1970)

On Life and Education:

"It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self."

"I hope you can do some part of your college work outside the particular section in which you have been reared. This will subject you to ideas and habits quite new to you, broadening your intellectual horizons. People in each section of our great nation tend to have their ideas fashioned by their own immediate environments -- that is they become provincial in their thinking. A man with a good education shakes off this habit, learns that no person, group, or section has a monopoly on knowledge or truth, and then has a chance to live a wiser and happier life. In this connection you might get some good thoughts from the story of the cavemen which you can find in Plato's Republic Book VII."

Black overcame his racist upbringing. He was an autodidact of the best sort and of the kind that is the bete noire of Academe as well as the punditry. He believed in the New Deal and was sensitive to the corruption of previous Courts and pretty much made it his life mission to correct those corrupt decisions so that the Bill of Rights could apply to everyone as the Framers intended. He didn't win, but he did much good work. Hugo Black is a severely underappreciated American.

[Revised 5-8-07]

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

No, Where The Hell Have You Been?

Since my steady readership has grown from three to roughly a dozen, I feel that I owe an apology for not blogging the last few days.

Now, I could be truthful and say that this weekend was an important one in the RETARDOworld, and add that I had to go to the farm for a few days as well, but, in taking a page from the recognised Masters, why should I tell the truth when it's much more fun to lie out my ass?

So, yeah... that's the ticket.

I was, uhh, at a blogging convention. Of course, it was held at a top secret location; of course, only lefty bloggers were invited (the Legion of Frum and their fuckin Darth Vader helmet-looking spaceship are mortal enemies and need not apply).

Many of us attended. Progress was made. The catering was atrocious. Yes, someone took pictures: of me, General Glut, Ms S.Z. of World O'Crap, Roy of alicublog, TBOGG, Sully (foreground; and no, I don't know who invited him), Pete M. Window (posing here, Atrios to the right), Norbizness, and even the entertaining but deeply troubled Dr. Sebly F. No graced us with his presence until he started to do things with ping-pong balls that taste forbids me to describe in greater detail.

Yes, the entities of Fafblog "were" also "there". Others chipped-in their two cents, of course, but I'm running past deadline and so cant be expected to post pictures of everyone, though I will say that everyone is a superhero as well as one of Jesus's sweet sunbeams. But you knew that.

Anyway, what did we discuss and decide? Well, it goes without saying that the dialogue was shrill; it also goes without saying that I must keep much of it secret. But we did decide to persue further action on one front.

Forthwith, in the interest of saving precious bytes, not to mention the already atrophied American attention span, let the awful rightwing parents who commodify their children hereby establish a peer-to-peer network based on the "Gnatella" platform, thus facilitating a quick exchange of anonymous, blonde, completely imaginary kiddies via whom and with which these 'wingers can manufacture "whimsical" -- and massively implausible -- stories that without fail miraculously conform to the Ideal Republican Worldview.

This would solve a multitude of problems. For one, it would prevent the apparently real children from commiting matricide and/or patricide when they are grown enough to realise how they've been made pawns to an agenda, not to mention to creatively-bereft pundit-parents. I must admit that this benefit was seriously debated by our group, on the grounds that even though the childrens' dignity is something to be protected, who are we to intefere with what their (just) reactions would be ...?

For another, it would make it so that the fake children would have a back-story instantly known by all, readers and writers alike, therefore saving valuable time of both by allowing the author to get on with the ideological lecture, instead of burning up precious brain cells in creating the verisimilitude upon which fake anecdotes are founded.

We voted on the motion. The ayes won. There was much rejoicing. Norbizness said "enuk-chuck" and instantly added fifty feet to his height. I swear that several didn't hide the fact that they then stared up under his loincloth. Seb did the ping-pong thing. Fafnir transformed into a purple moose while Giblets became a giant ice dildo. Roy and I then commenced to rock the place to its foundations, 'cause we're cool like that. Yeah.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Shorter National Review

Shorter Michael Ledeen:

George Will is neither reactionary nor revisionist historian enough to come to my sage conclusions on Iran.

I love how Ledeen uses South Africa and the Philippines as positive examples of Reaganite regime change. Clue to Mr Ledeen: Ronnie propped up those regimes.

Shorter Nadiya Kravets:

Russia's Single Economic Sphere is something Americans should fight, since S.E.S. is like a Far Eastern European version of NAFTA. Oh, wait..

More evidence of the creep of "American Exceptionalism" into conservative writing. Countries flexing economic muscles to influence neighbours are by nature evil -- unless it's America doing the flexing.

Shorter Jonah Goldberg:

Had the CBS memos been authentic, they wouldn't have been relevant.

Question for Lucianne, Jr: How the fuck can anything "faintly smack.. of collusion"?

Shorter Victor Hanson:

The 1960s, United Nations, PBS, Bill Clinton and Neville Chamberlain are all horrible, and Dan Rather is proof.

Hanson deserves some kind of award or title, perhaps "Most Convergent-Minded Reactionary Hack" for linking wingnuts' favourite targets from the last 60 years together in one column purportedly on the topic of Dan Rather's sins.

Shorter Byron York:

I dug up a better media scandal to compare to Dan Rather's than you guys could find.

Yeah, Dateline:NBC. You didn't really expect him to mention John Stossel, did you?

Shorter Ramesh Ponnuru:

With Bush's Social Security Scheme, you don't have to worry about benefits as long as your privatised SS investments do well.

Shorter Document:

The PATRIOT Act rocks, and without it we'd have been attacked again like 9/11. So renew it, or we'll all die.

Demagogery sounds so much better when put in diplomat-speak.

Shorter Rich Lowry:

We'd win more states if it weren't for those meddling Latinos.

Lowry is educating the choir here, so to speak, and so to crack the intra-party code he employs I suggest the use of infrared-state goggles.

Shorter Denis Boyle:

I can provide 10,000 reasons to hate France, each less truthful than the one before it.

Boyle nicely uses total casualty figures of the UN-led French-supported mission in Congo to "rebutt" American military casualty figures in Iraq. It's also nice to see that Boyle finds the reactionary-credentials of Niall Ferguson (who is the most rightwing Briton around) wanting. I say "nice" because it provides us with essential information with which to place Mr Boyle on the ideological spectrum.

Shorter James S. Robbins:

My interpretation of the polls leads me to conclude that everything is peachy in Iraq, except for the socialistic answers Iraqis gave the pollsters on issues like health care.

Mr Robbins doesn't consider the possibility that those Iraqis who think their country is on the right track might think so because of the insurgency. I also like the "aww, aren't they a bunch of sillies?" tone he adopts when trying to present the pro-socialist Iraqi answers to the NRO readership. Paternalism is a real laff-riot.

***From the Dept. Of Belated Footnotes:

Disclaimer: Shorter concept inspired by busy, busy, busy from an idea by D-Squared; disclaimer concept gleefully stolen from Sadly, No!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Terrible Twos

World O'Crap reminds us that TBOGG recently had a birthday.

Helpfully, she also provides a photos of the rogues gallery that largely comprises TBOGG's html dartboard.

I hope they look forward to the terrible twos as much as I do.

To steal a phrase, may his targets cower.

Cultural Commissars

Roy at the superb alicublog makes several salient points on Brent "Youppi" Bozell and his clones in specific terms, and on Conservative art criticism, in general.

Brent Bozell clone Tim Graham announces that "giving Emmy awards to 'Angels in America' is transparently political and anti-religious." Boy, I don't know why the nets don't turn their Emmy beat over to the guys from Fox and Friends -- soapbox cranks on awards shows are a barrel of laffs!

Even laffier, not to mention taffier, are the linked ravings of the original Bozell on Angels in America: "Artistically," he bravely begins, "it's a sprawling mess... a parade of blasphemy and profanity, a concerto of conservative-bashing... It’s exactly what playwrights and actors love – self-consciously writerly, intellectually preening, over-emoting..." Oh, and "Theologically, it’s even worse." Just in case you thought theatre criticism was Bozell's only stock in trade.

Part of the problem with these guys on art, any art, is that they confuse John Simon's old Tonight Show appearances with Hazlitt and Dr. Johnson. They think dyspepsia and outrage are criticism. And they think ideology is an artistic standard.

Of course I think all this is pretty much spot-on, with a small caveat we discuss in the entry's comments (Roy agrees that Simon's critiques do not draw from quite the same toxic mudpuddle as Bozell & Co.'s), and upon which I'd like to elaborate.

Bozell and his kind are this country's equivalent to the old Soviet apparatchiks: they don't know a fucking thing about art and only write criticism to enforce the party line. I'll steal from Hitchens to make my point; Hitch's target here is the much-dread Norman Podhoretz, who is virtually identical to Bozell in motive, method, and "taste". First Hitch quotes The Pod's book Ex-Friends:

When on a visit of my own to Prague in 1988 I was taken to meet Vaclav Havel,...the first thing that hit my eye upon entering his apartment was a huge poster of John Lennon hanging on the wall. Disconcerted, I tried to persuade Havel that the counterculture in the West was no friend of anti-communists like himself, but I made even less of a "dent" on him than [Allen] Ginsberg had made on me thirty years earlier.

Now to explain...

The above anecdote occurs in the chapter on Allen Ginsberg, the most recently dead of Podhoretz's exes...Podhoretz thinks that Ginsberg was a serious and gifted poet, that his views on family and society were destructive, and that (great wailing walls of glossy video in every heterosexual pornography shop notwithstanding) anal sex is something that facinates only homosexuals. The last point is an obsessive one in the neo-conservative school, incidentally...


The Russian exile writer Vassily Aksyonov...once wrote that Podhoretz reminded him of all the things he had left the Soviet Union to escape. He had, said Aksyonov, the mentality of a cultural commissar. As the Ginsberg essay demonstrates, he has the soul of one as well. And the literary sensitivity and imagination: most of the chapters here are regurgitated in great chunks from previous jeremaids such as Making It and Breaking Ranks

Hitch then goes on to quote The Pod slagging Norman Mailer, in two different books, which are identical save for a single careful revision that "shows", well..

This is not just boring and tenth-rate. It is sinister. Like Andrei Zhdanov, Stalin's literary enforcer, Podhoretz doesn't content himself with saying that a certain novelist is no longer in favour or no longer any good. That would be banal. No, it must be shown that he never was any good, that he always harboured the germs of anti-party feeling, that he was a rank rodent from the get-go. Then comes the airbrush, the rewritten entry in the encyclopaedia, the memory hole. But even Zhdanov's hacks would have made the effort to employ some new phrases and new disclosures.

This works just as well on Bozell, Medved, Derbyshire, Adesnik, et al. But it doesn't, as Roy ultimately agrees, apply in the same way to John Simon.

Consider this recent review of Simon's in New York magazine:

The culture project, which gave us the valuable prison documentary The Exonerated, now offers Guantánamo: “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom,” about British citizens detained at Guantánamo and the injustice and brutality prevailing there.


...Guantánamo is both too short to cover all aspects of the problem and too long for audiences impatient with so much talk and minimal action: Chairs and cots can constrain dramatic development. Ultimately, too, excess worthiness can be as anesthetizing as excessive wordiness.

Still, it is needful to be reminded that the United States and Britain can be just as unjust, as inhuman, as our most despised and detested enemies. And under the joint direction of Nicolas Kent (at whose London Tricycle Theatre the show originated) and Sacha Wares, physically of necessity static but emotionally moving, a deserving dozen actors perform with unexaggerated intensity and whatever humor can be squeezed out of horrid circumstances.

I submit that one is unable to find such fairmindedness in anything written by the commissars mentioned above. In fact, were they to review this docu-drama, I'd wager that all of them, to a man, would manage to work into their "criticism" some sort of doubt that the matters dramatised actually happened, and/or that the matters dramatised are exaggerated. The directors and producers would be suspected of hating America. The word "propaganda" would be forcefully employed. The object of the exercise (the Party Line) thus served, the aesthetic value of the flick would then be addressed, if at all, by a few tacked-on banalities.

It's true that Simon's a homophobe; it's also true that he's a cultural reactionary. But he writes excellent English, has a legitimate aesthetic, and without fail displays knowledge of his subjects. All of this makes him unlike the commissars, as does his adherence, this wounding, flagrant piece notwithstanding, to the rule of art criticism: as much as possible, critique the art not the artist; but if you must critique the artist, be honest about it. Moreover, in art criticism the value of the art is not wholly determined by the ideology of its creator, nor indeed by the ideology of the work itself.

I admit that our side too has problems with this -- for instance, in the movement to ban Mark Twain from schools because he used the word "nigger" -- but misguided PC can't hold a candle to the Right's commissars. Hell, I can admit that Anthem is a fine little novella by all measures, as a for instance. But most commissars are still trying to find new ways to slag the The Grapes Of Wrath (don't get them started on Ten Days That Shook The World) while at the same time trying to deal with all the smutty pinko homo atheistic messages they percieve in contemporary art.

In a sense it is a culture war. Bozell and clones desire an art world that is ideologically pure. Art of course would then go out the window, but that's no concern to those who are intrinsically artless anyway.

Update: Matthew Yglesias observes the same phenomenon.

Update 2/5/05: Wolcott evicerates Harry Stein's fawning review of Commisar Medved's self-pitying memoir, and correctly notes that The Pod's persecution complex is the original template upon which so many Far-Right Kulturkampfers have based their style.

The United States of Florida

Fuckola. It's bad. Real bad. Read it.

Thanks to poly for the link.


Completely unrelated, but go here and watch Peter Jennings (!) catch Bush lying. I would say that the press is starting to do their jobs but I know better. Still, this is a pleasant aberration.

That Blow Shit Up Part Of Wilsonism Rocks, But The Self-Determination Part Is A Real Downer

Roger L. Simon gets major wood over Max Boot's latest column in the L.A. Times.

A better appraisal of Boot's argument can be found at Busy Busy Busy.

I won't go so far as to say that it is clever of Boot and his fellow neoconmen to claim "Wilsonian" heritage, but I will say that it's paid dividends, if only because most of his fellow pundits are too stupid to catch the lie.

In fact, even some "liberals" are quite taken by Boot's sophistry.

In practice, what Boot advocates is more like this, which merely underlines the truth that neocon foriegn policy is cobbled from Theodore "No triumph of peace is quite as great as the supreme triumph of war!" Roosevelt, not Woodrow Wilson.

But you don't have to listen to Rummy, Cheney, and Wolfowitz ever occasionally and always accidentally tell the truth about their schemes. Just listen to Michael "Americans are a warlike people who love war" Ledeen a while, or to Krauthammer, Brooks, Podhoretz, Paul Johnson, Frum, et al. Boot's no different, he's just slightly better at Public Relations, at least in his newspaper essays.

The real Boot is to be found in his turgid homage to Rooseveltian imperialism, the oxymoronically-titled The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, where he takes care to mention the Anti-Imperialist League, founded by genuine dissidents and intellectuals (rather than by bogus dissidents and intellectuals, which neocons have always been) only once, and apparently then only to dismiss them as isolationist "mugwumps"; perhaps he's taking a cue from TR whose "genius" he admiringly quotes condemning "flapdoodle pacifists and mollycoddlers."

It's true that Boot legitimately finds things that only a neocon can admire in Wilson:

General John J. Pershing personally led more than 10,000 soldiers deep into Mexico in persuit of Villa and his band. The punitive expedition almost sparked a second war between the U.S. and Mexico, but it was good training for World War I. (My Emphasis.)

and certainly Wilson's nearly-instantaneous breaking of his promise to keep America out of WWI (which is what elected him, after all), brings forth a smile from the pursed machiavellian lips of the average neocon, not to mention a gasp of ecstasy.

But what made and makes Wilsonism different from TR's foriegn policy, and indeed from that of the neoconmen, is its emphasis on self-determination. Ho Chi Minh, as a young man, was present at Versailles and was inspired by Wilson's rhetoric -- inspired to fight for self-determination of the Vietnamese, and thus to fight against the Japanese and French imperialists. Alas, as Eisenhower famously noted in his diaries, when it was America's turn to be imperialist menace to Vietnam it was because good United Statesmen couldn't tolerate a socialist, and legitimate, democracy in Southeast Asia. Thus we nicely drove Ho into the arms of Stalinist commies, and quite lost what remained of our souls in doing so.

Ho, of course, wasn't the only one inspired by Wilson -- one could point to Nehru, Nasser, Julius Nyerere; several who sought self-determination and a "third way", which naturally the US and the Soviets made a preciously difficult task. Where Wilsonism prudently aims to aid revolutions/reconstructions from below (and thus employs "consent"), TR and the neocons aim for revolutions/deconstructions (or, to be more historically accurate, counter-revolutions) from above, a dynamic that quite bluntly underlines the fact that its advocates don't give a flying fuck what the particular country's citizens desire, but instead rather heavy-handedly assumes what would be best for the meddling power for the inhabitants. One doesn't need Habermas's ponderous explanations to realise that this very model is about as anti-democratic in spirit as one can be. More to the point, it's rarely practical. No one likes to be invaded, occupied, and then be forced to accept a government imposed by a foriegn power.

The true analogue to the neocon version of world order, specifically with regard to the Middle East, is not Vietnam (though I admit the domino theory of both is telling), but the Spanish-American War. Both were inspired by dubious "threats", both were presented as crusades for freedom, as liberations from autocracy. Both produced reprehensible behaviour in the press. Both were prosecuted with a demagogic undercurrent of racism, tribalism, and sectarianism. Behind both were "Vulcans" who had clear strategic and materialist aims, but who necessarily had to keep these aims quiet while letting the politicos bloviate about "freedom" and "liberation" which it would prove that few among them were actually willing to give to the affected peoples. The parallels are obvious.

The Project for the New American Century is, in effect, the voice of so many Admiral Mottis who tell Bush that the American Military is the ultimate power in the universe and that they suggest its deliberate use, ASAP. With 9/11 came qualified consent from the masses, which the neocons and their President promptly and inevitably abused. This, too, is analogous to the Spanish-American War, in which the US, after promising self-determination to the Filipinos, quickly welched on the deal, inspiring a rebellion which was incredibly bloody and then a "pacification", which Boot predictably glosses over, that was unequivocally genocidal. Iraq has not reached this level -- yet. But the "Heart of Darkness" level has been reached, thank you very much: Abu Ghraib is to Iraq what the "water cure" was to the Philippines. One can only wonder what General Taguba thinks in his quiet moments.

But Kevin Drum is not the only "liberal" who is pleased to be, so to speak, under Boot's heel. When people like, say, Tariq Ali rightly suspected that motives for going into Iraq were less-than-pure, one senses that if the "liberals" listened at all, they only did so long enough to roll their eyes and then quickly click to The New Republic to read the latest justifications. I'm sorry to say that several of them, to the extent that they looked for historical analogues to the Iraq Operation, went no farther than reading about the recent history they'd lived through, like the Balkan War, which is something of a historical and geopolitical duckbilled platypus. That was that, and so they signed up. This is understandable and forgivable of young bloggers like the Pandagon guys and Matthew Yglesias, but less so for Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum, to name two who should have known better. But then with the exception of the Pandagon guys, these bloggers aren't very "liberal" at all, but actually "centrist", a euphemism for the softly conservative.

Still, they are all coming around, in fits and starts. Yglesias sees a part of the historical analogy, but is still apparently blind to the rest of it. Now that The New Republic"s John Judis has written a book comparing the "petulant unilateralism" of Bush to that of TR, Josh Marshall has grasped the obvious, though it doesn't quite excuse his long-held belief in Recieved Opinion on Theodore Roosevelt -- as if there were not alternative analyses all along. That leaves Drum, who concedes the folly of Iraq but still finds the likes of Boot -- as opposed to naughty lefties like Robert Scheer -- to be "persuasive". Yeah, well, either the ideology Boot peddles is sensible and moral or it's not; and one either agrees with it, or not. And that judgement begins by realising that Boot is not actually peddling Wilsonism.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Greetings to readers of General Glut's excellent globblog.

Comrade General obviously learned from the sad examples of Pete and Seb, both of whom I was forced to blackmail into linking to my site.

Fair warning, Globblog readers: My blog isn't nearly as good.

Another One Bites The Dust?

It looks like Brett Marston has pretty much quit blogging, and though it doesn't bring me the joy that I felt when I heard that Milton Bradley had discontinued Stratego, I do feel a certain relief -- for him.

He's too nice a guy to join in the current slugfest, yet he's too honest to go the Kristoff "It's not nice to call Bush a liar even if he is one!" route. Besides, anyone would get weary of constantly debating dissemblers like Chafetz.

Actually, he mentions his circumstances have changed which explains his absence. I sincerely wish him the best.

In one of the rare recent posts, however, he mentions that he still reads Defective Yeti, an admittedly well-written blog with possibly the greatest logo/photo in the history of the blogsphere.

But I don't read it anymore. Its author is political -- though Marston is right to say that politics is not the thrust of the blog -- and what's more, to my mind his politics are excellent (progessive independent).

Which makes the Jonah Goldberg-love that much more mysterious.

But anyway, I'm not an apparatchik; I quit reading the Yeti because it's so bobo, and I don't mean politically. The author is much more talented and much much less ..well, retarded than Lileks, but I still see bleating as the blog's ultimate future: domesticity, suburbanism ..boring. Not that it's bad, it's just not interesting to me.

But then I originally read the Yeti for the movie reviews.

So long, Brett; and you too, albino Chewbacca.

The Only Hope For Democracy Are People Like Me!

Kristoff is still at it:

The only hope for stopping the mudslinging is if well-meaning people try to police their own side.

If they're intellectually consistent, Democrats will speak out not only against the Swift Boat Veterans but also against Mr. Kerry's demagoguery on trade, like his suggestion that outsourcing is the result of Mr. Bush's economic policies. Trade demagoguery may not be as felonious as an assault on a war hero's character, but it harms America by undermining support for free trade.

Yes yes, that's even-handedness. Hack.

We Had To Remove The Village's Kidneys In Order To Save It

Thomas Sowell is right. I mean, just read about these plucky Nepalese villagers whose kidney sales have not only crippled the nanny state Nepalese government, but serve as an entreprenurial beacon unto others.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

More Crazy & Stupid Than Crazy & Stupid

I've thought for a while now that the fucktardious nutbars who inhabit Roger L. Simon's blog are about as crazy as people can be without going the whole clown shoes/eye twitch/rainbow wig/loaded rifle in the belltower route.

In other words, almost as crazy and stupid as freepers. But now, with ol' Roger's help, they've outdone themselves. If freepers wear tinfoil hats, Simonites are mummified in Reynolds Wrap; if freepers are barely human, Simonites are barely simian:

Soro really should look at who he's currently financing. Many of them are true believer in the truth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Nevermind that it's been proven to be a forgery, it's the content of the forgery that counts.

How come no one ever talks about the Netherlands Antilles? It's the place where his hedge fund is's also the place where drug cartels launder their money and intl. online gaming companies are based. It's also completely shielded from external scrutiny. Why is this not commmented on more thoroughly?

George Soros is a very shady character who has avery ambiguous history. There are those who think he was being groomed as Armand Hammer's replacement by the KGB in the 1980s. Some people, like LGEN Sir Michael Rose, believe they have identified connections with the CIA.

Like his support for Eastern European democracy George Soros is a Jew when it suits him.

I am more focused on the havoc a bozo like Sorros has on society and especially my people and I'll repeat it drives me nuts! Some of the worst anti-Semites have been and are Jews. Turning on your own kind and even against your own interests, is one of the weirder elements exhibited in nature and I view Sorros in that light. Also remember many Jews in Europe walked to slaughter without even fighting! THAT IS WHAT THIS JEW (ME) WILL NEVER DO!

The answer for the average Russian was he was a Soviet era KGB creation. Soros fits a similar pattern. The question is what happened to these people once the Soviet Union fell apart?

If you think Soros hates his fellow Jews you should shudder at what he thinks of East European Christians:

Regarding "women's health" programs in Central and Southeastern Europe, for instance, one will look in vain for breast-cancer detection or prenatal or postnatal care. Soros' main goal is clear and frankly stated: "to improve the quality of abortion services."

Of course all of it is pure drivel. But I confess I do like the Armand Hammer theory: wingnuts quite forget that Hammer gave money to Nixon/Ford/Reagan but instead remember that he was far too cozy with the Soviets, and pretty much bankrolled Al Gore, Sr's later years.

The wingnuts hate Soros obviously because he gives money to anti-Bush organisations. But it's more than that. He's for drug-legalisation, which pisses off those Republican puritans who otherwise preach so much about personal freedom. He's against both far left and far right subversions of democracies, which pisses off the not-so-closeted theocrats and tribalists of rightwing, who quite like it that Bush claims to chat policy issues with Jesus and who also think that anything Ariel Sharon does or has ever done is okey fucking dokey. I also suspect that, as a pragmatic capitalist he, like Warren Buffett, thinks capitalism can put itself in danger by being too callous, which may eventually inspire a revolution from the other side. He doesn't like Israel's ongoing Manifest Destiny programme. And perhaps worst of all, Soros explodes the rightwing meritocratic myth that considers financial/CEO types Brainiacs whose rare intellects make them so deserving of their scandalous salaries:

Soros didn't accept the prevailing theory among economics professors, who held that markets are rational, that prices reflect every nuance of hard data and relevant information. He believed that investors influenced one another and moved in herds. Soros' trick was to try to understand that herd instinct. Most of the time he went along with the mob, but his real killings came from sensing when the trend would turn and getting out in front of the pack.

And how could he tell the timing of the crucial turning points? Like other investors, Soros had colleagues gather information and perform analyses. But he also had an extraordinary gut. He said that he would have an instinctive physical reaction about when to buy or sell. Normally his composure was cool and emotionless, but when he suffered from a bad backache, he took it as an ominous warning about problems in the market. "I used the onset of acute pain as a signal that there was something wrong in my portfolio," he once explained. "I rely a great deal on animal instincts."

Instinct. I expect that doesn't sit well with wingnuts who make a habit of sneering at the "stupid" poor and leftists. It's also worth noting that Soros, to his credit, wished to follow Karl Popper into political philosophy, but couldn't cut it and so had to settle for finance, where he became a master by not paying a dime's worth of attention to the "science" of it.

(Via TBOGG.)

*Edit --cleaned up some punctuation.

More Of This, Please

Kerry's Speech.

The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: We must make Iraq the world’s responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden. We must effectively train Iraqis, because they should be responsible for their own security. We must move forward with reconstruction, because that’s essential to stop the spread of terror. And we must help Iraqis achieve a viable government, because it’s up to them to run their own country. That’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.

On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous banner that read “Mission Accomplished.” He declared to the American people: “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective – a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve.

In Iraq, this administration’s record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment of historic proportions.

At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the President has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger.

The President often says that in a post 9-11 world, we can’t hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so.

I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism. I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror – and make us safer.

Today, because of George Bush’s policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans.

He and Edwards should say this all day, everyday, until the election.

Not only is all this sensible, and all his accusations true, but the effect is that Bush is dazed by this kind of punch. The moron's quick to anger and easily rattled, which neatly intensifies his notoriously inept and incoherent rebuttals. So rattle him more, please. And the sooner will steam roll from his ears as he babbles buh buh buh buh and, hopefully, says something that leaves the centers and undecideds scandalised.

**Update: Bush didn't take the advice:

We did not expect President Bush to come before the United Nations in the middle of his re-election campaign and acknowledge the serious mistakes his administration has made on Iraq. But that still left plenty of room for him to take advantage of this one last chance to appeal to an increasingly antagonistic world to help the Iraqis secure and rebuild their shattered nation and prepare for elections in just four months. Instead, Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech in which he glossed over the current dire situation in Iraq for an audience acutely aware of the true state of affairs, and scolded them for refusing to endorse the American invasion in the first place.

When "I'm Surrounded By Poles!" Is Not The Punchline To A Lame Gay Joke

(Not that all gay jokes are lame, though the best are often inadvertent.)

My former roommate and good friend, whose family has been incredibly nice to me for some reason through the years, is Polish-American. My current roommate's in-laws are Polish-Americans. My own S.O. is Polish and has tried, with remarkably little success entirely due to my density, to teach me the Polish language. In the last few years I learned that the man who built my house, my great great grandfather, came to America from Koenigsburg/Kaliningrad and may have been ethnicly Polish.

For such reasons and others, I occasionally read Polish News online. And so far as current geopolitical realities go, it's good to try to keep up with what's going on there.

It's also nice to read plain-spoken journalism larded with honesty, wit, and sarcasm -- no matter the country of origin (though it goes without saying that it isn't likely those qualities can be found in articles of American origin).

Stuff like this:

The slight tinge of cosmopolitanism characteristic of the president meets with resistance from groups attached to traditional Polish values. Brussels was recently visited by a delegation of local government officials from Gliwice in Silesia. The mission caused a conflict. The opposition claimed Gliwice county’s promotional budget had been severely depleted as a result. The delegates replied they had taken Poland’s age-old treasures as promotional items to Brussels: kie?basa and vodka.

The Catholic rightists are being touchy about Poland’s international image. The Polish Season in France included a report from the famous festival of Jewish culture in Cracow. The high-circulation Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik hit the nail on the head. “As its name clearly says, the Season was supposed to show Polish, not Jewish, culture,” the paper condemned wasting of public money to promote filthy mayufes instead of the beautiful and pure mazurka.

Making sure Poland stays in international headlines is Nasz Dziennik’s favorite, ex-chaplain of Solidarity, Prelate Henryk Jankowski. He’s in trouble because prosecutors are investigating whether accusations that he molested minors are true. Father Jankowski had no doubts as to whose doing this is and has said so: he is the victim of a Judeo-Communist conspiracy. Since the Judeo-Commies are rife in the media, a crowd of pious Poles battered a Polsat television reporter hanging around Father Jankowski’s church in Gda?sk. The police did not intervene, and the bizarre shabbos-goy from Polsat ran screaming to the prosecutors to complain about the behavior of the true Poles.
Gda?sk was prominent in the world media in times that were better for Father Jankowski, in August 1980, when Lech Wa??sa’s Solidarity was founded. Recently Gda?sk’s rightists motioned that the city’s central traffic circle be named after Ronald Reagan. According to his Gda?sk fans, Reagan was the man who made August 1980 possible. The only problem is, Reagan became president five months after the great August events.

There’s lots that divides the Poles, but some things unite them.
For example, a fondness for storks. In Poland, this large and heavy bird is a symbol of fertility and that’s the direction Poles should be going in. If Poland wants to dominate in the united Europe in accordance with its new constitution, by November 2009 it has to have produce 250 million new citizens. The appeal from Fakt daily, which published these calculations, was immediately answered by true Polish mothers: “We are prepared to give birth to children for Poland.” Europe beware, the Poles are coming.

There are other things to unite the Poles. Every seventh Polish man wears a mustache. This makes Poland the absolute leader in Europe, because only every 50th German and 400th effeminate Frenchman has a mustache.

A nation whose soccer players lose to Denmark one to five, and are out of breath running to get the morning paper, has to be best at something goddammit.

Mmmmm, that's some good writin'. By a Pole, who has taken great pains not to be a nationalist pig. Every stupid aspect of his countrymen is neatly skewered. Now it's true that Americans occasionally write things like this about other Americans, which in turn is sometimes accidentally published in mainstream media, but it's rare indeed when an American is so damning of so many of his culture's idiocies and that American is not in turn demonised for "freedom-hating", the pinko crypto self-loathing American cutdown that's the classic shortcut-to-thinking for the Right. You know it well...

So what did I learn from this article? That Poland has a great many religious nuts who are pretty much openly anti-semites. Well, yeah. That many Poles, even among the elite, are parochial nitwits. That the Polish rightwing has nearly the same firm purchase on historical fact as America's wingnuts, and that they too think very mythologically of Ronald Reagan. That the Polish Catholic priests have a problem with the same perversions as America's. That Poles intend to breed as incontinently as the average Kennedy. That Polish men have a late 70s American porn star's habit with facial hair. And last but not least, that Poles are out of shape and have a shitty soccer team.

This sounds exactly like the red states in which I live. But then I already knew that: "Josh, Polish men are like the rednecks of Europe -- only Russians are worse!"

I believe it. Welcome to the Ozarks. Mowie po polsku?

The Band of Brothers Hates America

Via Atrios, I see that a poster at Kos catches Grover "Income tax = The Holocaust" Norquist letting the cat out of the bag:

"Yes, because in addition their demographic base is shrinking. Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exeception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare."

This is no doubt shocking to garden variety True Democrats, who probably go on to think that Norquist is just an extremist. Such an analysis is true, but Norquist isn't, actually, extreme for a modern Republican.

Come on. Picture if a future Democratic President, post-Iraq, tries (not that he will) to put through programmes identical to the New Deal, and all at once. One can well imagine the squeals of anguish from the typical super-reactionaries of the right, as well as from the conservatarians and legitimate libertarians. This is to be expected.

But you'd also hears squeals from the "center", which is what soft conservatives or Rockefeller Republicans are now known as. I believe I am under no illusion in thinking that Drum, Yglesias and probably even Brad DeLong would be "suspicious" or "unpersuaded" by the sort of "socialism" that produces masterpieces like the TVA.

So Norquist, insane though he may be, is right in a sense: the genuine Democratic base, which does not regard the New Deal as socialist authoritarianism, is dying out. And it's being replaced by people who should be, in a system where parties were labeled honestly with regard to ideology, mild Republicans. It's a sorry state indeed, but then nearly 40 years of far-right hegemony (only briefly interrupted by the softly liberal Carter and the objectively conservative Clinton) will have that effect. Our work's cut out for US.

**Update: More Grover follies collected here.

No Mercy

You know what? Fuck you, Sully.

[Jimmy Swaggart] then goes on about those politicians who defend gay rights and dignity: "They all ought to marry a pig, and live with it forever... And I thank God that president Bush has stated that we need a constitutional amendment that says marriage is between a man and a woman." (Swaggart also claims he has nothing against "the poor homosexual." He'll just kill one if he gets a chance.) Watch this broadcast and see the forces that this president is riding toward victory on.

Yes, this is Bush's base; yes, Jimmy Swaggart is a detestable person. But do you really think Jimmy Swaggart has ever changed or ever will? Do you think his homophobia and political allegiances have altered in the least bit in, say, the last thirty years? He's always been like that. And he's always represented the Republican base. But then you have always been until now just another crusty coprolite left behind the elephants at so many GOP homo-hating parades.

How on fucking earth could you not know that these people have always detested who you are? You came to conservatism in, what, 1984 or so? At any rate you've partaken in unqualified cheerleading for the Republican party for at least 20 years, and as such, you had to have known its true nature.

It's not like Teddy Kennedy ever tolerated professional homophobes like Anita Bryant, but Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan sure as fuck did. It's not like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts and Ralph Reed ever said a kind thing or offered any support for Mondale, Dukkakis, and Clinton, but they sure as fuck did for Reagan, Bush, Dole and now Bush II.

This isn't a new phenomenon. Racism and homophobia were institutionalised in the Republican Party after the Barry Goldwater schism post-'64, when the traditionally tolerant (and in some ways, liberal) Rockefeller Republicans were put out to pasture. This effect can't be blamed on Goldwater himself, who was a sort of civil libertarian, but upon his heirs Ronald Reagan (with regard to homophobia) and Richard Nixon (with regard to "Southern Strategy" racism).

Neither is the "intellectual" branch of the GOP blameless: neoconservatives have always believed that homosexuality destroys "manly" virtues like jingoism patriotism, and that it subverts religion, which is what binds the masses in a sort of "ethical" docility. Now I'm sure a habitual Strauss apologist like the much-dread Chafetz will deny it, but the fact is that this was the view of Leo Strauss.

Most, I think, are aware that Allan "Woodstock = Nuremberg" Bloom, who functioned as a bridge, as it were, from Strauss to Krauthammer, Boot, Fukuyama, Kirkpatrick, et al, died of AIDS, and the neoconservatives tried for quite a while after to hide this fact out of embarassment and --yes-- shame. Their ideology demanded that they held back from bestowing any sort of posthumous sympathy on their comrade, much less become open to any kind of reappraisal of their values.

Anyone could see then how neocons treated their own (who was admittedly closeted but who also was a notorious race-baiter, and as such had his own double-standards to ponder along with his apostacy to Straussian dogma), and so could, provided that they were not lobotomised or willfully blind, determine the extent of their sympathies for "regular" homosexuals.

You have no fucking excuse for just coming round to seeing what has been painfully obvious to everyone else for years. The Republican Party, as a rule, hates gay people. Are you really that slow on the uptake, Sully? I rather doubt it. And so I'm thinking, your tolerance for "Derbyshire award winners" is actually rather higher than most people's. So either you're stupid, or you're cynical and potentially opportunistic. Which is it?

**Update : Even disinfopedia links to a Bloom bio that still wrongly describes the nature of Bloom's final illness.

***Update 2: It should be obvious that this post is mostly just a pathetic attempt to get SullyWatch to notice me.

****Update 3: Yay! It worked!

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Crime And Punishment


Venezuela's electoral authorities say an audit of the vote on President Hugo Chavez's rule found no proof of fraud.

"The results of the audit were very positive... allowing us to turn the page," said National Electoral Council director Jorge Rodriguez.

Mr Chavez won 59% of the vote in the 15 August poll, sparking claims of vote-rigging from the opposition, who refused to take part in the review.

It is the third time that international observers have endorsed the result.

The audit was carried out by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council and international observers from the Carter Center and the Organization of American States (OAS).

Mitigating Factor ONE:

Chavez, rightly, says "Fuck you, gringos."

Mitigating Factor TWO:

The US has tended to avoid direct criticism of President Chavez, whose country is a major oil supplier.


he Bush administration's decision to stop supporting $250 million in loan requests that Venezuela has before international financial institutions has gone virtually unnoticed. Yet, by invoking such sanctions now, Washington risks making another mistake in dealing with Venezuela's mercurial strongman, President Hugo Chávez.

In announcing its decision earlier this month, the White House cited Venezuela's role in the international trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. The administration deserves credit for making this issue a high priority.

There are, however, serious questions about the motives behind the decision. The trafficking rationale seems particularly odd.

Conclusion: You're not a democracy unless you're for sale, and at our price. Also, being a friend to the poor and letting your petrodollars fuel infrastructure and education projects instead of lining the pockets of our campaign contributors foreign investors and multinationals really pisses US off. For another thing, never meet Castro or say a nice word to him; it tends to piss off a valued constituency. If Nixon II Bush II wins in November, and you haven't cleaned your act up, we may have to give you the "Allende" treatment.


SANA’A - After much delay, Prime Minister Abdul-Qader Bajammal on Wednesday announced the cancellation of the oil deal concerning the sale of the state’s share of oil in Block 53, in the Governorate of Hadhramaut.

See also here, here, and general background here.

Mitigating Factor ONE:

SANAA: Yemen’s army on Friday killed an anti-US Muslim preacher who styled himself as a "Prince of Believers" and led a near three-month bloody rebellion against the authorities from the mountainous north of the country. The defence and interior ministries said in a joint statement that the death of Sheikh Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi had brought the deadly rebellion to an end and that all military operations in the vast Saada province near the border with Saudi Arabia had now ceased.

Mitigating Factor TWO:

A Muslim cleric fighting extradition to the United States has been remanded in custody after appearing before magistrates by video link.

North London-based Abu Hamza al-Masri faces 11 terrorism-related charges, including involvement in the 1989 Yemen kidnapping in which three Britons died.

Mitigating Factor THREE:

Verdict on USS Cole suspects Sept. 29, US wants justice

The Penal Court concerned with crimes of terrorism decided to pass the verdict against the USS Cole suspects on September 29th, while the suspects still deny the accusations against them of involvementments in terrorist attacks, claiming they were subjected to torture.

Bonus Points:

‘Yemeni socialists backed rebel leader’

SANAA: The Yemeni government said yesterday that a rebel preacher from a minority Shiite Muslim sect who was killed by the army last week had been receiving help from parties outside Yemen.


Robert Hindle, the World Bank’s Country Manager based in Sanaa said that Yemen is demanded to do much more in its economic reforms. He emphasized that the World Bank could not continue providing the same level of funding and assistance, if the country did not implement the necessary reform measures needed and agreed upon.

See also here.

Conclusion: We've "altered the deal; pray we don't alter it any further." Or, put another way, we don't like it when you prevent multinationals from buying your resources for pennies investing in your petroleum industries, but if you persist in killing whom we want killed -- or in extradicting whom we wish extradicted -- then we'll let you off with a strong warning, this time. But stop that democracy shit, it's too expensive for US when you do that. You know, like with Mossadegh. What did you say? Iraq? Democracy? Bwahahahaha that was never the plan; we just had to replace the puppet. It happens from time to time. So shut up.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Archaeology & Anthropology

AJA Online

Ancient American


Anthropology In The News

Anthropology Supersite

Antiquity Online


Archaeology Fieldwork

Archaeology News

Archaeology Online



Catal Hayuk

EMuseum of Anthropology


Hampton Heritage

Oriental Institute @ UC

Tikal Digital Access Project

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Jack Shafer reveals himself as a hack in this Slate tome attacking Lewis Lapham and Lapham's fears of conservative "non-profits", which Shafer laughs off as delusional and hypocritical. But what is more interesting is Shafer's tacit admission that he himself is a purveyor of Recieved Opinion, and that any editor who does not follow his example is an eccentric, unstable fool:

If Lapham finds right-wing ideas so uniformly bankrupt, "both archaic and bizarre," as he writes, why did he spend so much intellectual energy advancing them during his first tenure (1975-1981) as editor of Harper's? Lapham's piece anticipates those charges by noting that back then, "the magazine" (not the editor?) published articles by "authors later to become well-known apologists for the conservative creed, among them George Gilder, Michael Novak, William Tucker, and Philip Terzian. …" This is a deceptively short list considering the number of cons, neocons, free-thinkers, gold-bugs, and libertarians who contributed to the magazine. Lapham conspicuously neglects to name his onetime Washington Editor Tom Bethell, a supply-side touter and big-government critic who contributed at least a dozen stories about the budget, congressional pensions, welfare, the arts and politics, energy, the press, and other topics. Other Harper's writers who pitched right for Lapham the first include Ken Adelman, Paul Craig Roberts, Mark Lilla, Peter Brimelow, Lewis E. Lehrman (on bringing back the gold standard!), Michael Ledeen, Jude Wanniski, Norman Podhoretz (on appeasement!), Ben Wattenberg, and James Q. Wilson.

Harper's popularized so many right-wing economic and environmental ideas that Rob Stein might want to add another slide to his PowerPoint presentation naming Lapham an emeritus member of the conservative message machine.

I joke. But barely. I imagine that what drew Lapham to these writers was his taste for heresy—he's always loved starting fights on the playground and then bringing them back into the classroom. It's difficult to convey how unkosher these writers were in the late '70s, a time when liberal Democrats ruled Washington and the liberal establishment ran the media. Publishing contrary pieces gave Harper's an ecumenical edge because alongside the right-wing shit-stirrers, Lapham ran pieces by the brightest on the left—Richard J. Barnet, Edward Abbey, Andrew Hacker, George McGovern, Alexander Cockburn, Walter Karp, Michael Harrington, and William Shawcross, to name a few.

Well, that's quite a bit to digest. For one, the classic Nixon-Reagan talking point of late 70s "liberal media" hegemony is a real thigh-slapper, as opposed to the intended joke in the text, which is a real cricket-chirper. But the gist here is that Lapham's virtue -- publishing a genuine variety of left and right -- is a sin in Shafer's eyes, because of course it's much better to print "centrist" (actually, soft conservative) orthodoxy like what is commonly found in Shafer's Slate, whose general editorial line is yet another sorely-needed clone of The New York Times.

There's much more here boiling above and beneath the surface -- Shafer's boss Michael Kinsley has had a long-going row with Lapham and one hopes that Shafer got a nice bonus on this month's check for his hachetry -- as well as in the opportunistic use of the Randian/Conservatarian sillies of Reason's "gotcha moment", after which they immediately commenced to self-congratulatory backflips for "catching" Lapham accurately guessing at the Party Line at the Republican National Convention (as if there was ever any doubt -- look at the fucking platform!).

Anyway, great job, Shafer. I have no doubt there'll be a shiny new X-box under your Christmas tree this year, affixed card signed "Love, Michael."


Thanks to Rodger A. Payne's excellent blog, I have learned that Hesiod has come out of retirement, a pleasant surprise. If I had to place him, I'd say that Hesiod's most like Atrios: neither profound nor witty, but *extremely* resourceful, very "on the pulse", and, obviously when not retired, indefatigable.


I forget how I found this, but in The New Yorker is a piece that underlines all that is wicked in America: The New York Yankees and Republicans.

Then, in the Bronx, there’s the imperial George Steinbrenner, no master of nuance. Steinbrenner gave money to President Bush, and pleaded guilty long ago to funnelling cash illegally to Richard Nixon. (He was eventually pardoned by Ronald Reagan.) He might well be called a compassionless conservative. (Manager Joe Torre, a friend of Rudy Giuliani’s, is the compassionate one.) Or, as the Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy observed the other day, on the phone from Oakland, “There’s definitely kind of a Steinbrenner-Dick Cheney connection. They seem to be like-minded guys.” The Yankees resent the luxury tax that has been imposed so heavily on them by the commissioner’s office. Very Republican.

Of course it's not that simple (I'd say sabremetricians are becoming *very* "Republican" and that the Red Sox, too, are guilty of following the Robber Baron model). To his credit the author admits as much but is still to be commended for making the general argument, which is delicious if rather obvious. Still, he didn't connect the most glaring dots: that the Yankees and Republican governments penultimate similarity is in the fact that they are the biggest bullies in the histories of their respective fields.


A must-read companion piece to James Wolcott's series of snappy blog entries on the Kitty Kelley book is Matt Taibbi's latest:

Kelley's book is – unintentionally I think – a surprisingly tender portrait of a small, loyal group of vicious undead fiends, persevering against all odds in a world of the callous, uncomprehending living. Kelley does what no other writer to date has really done for the Bushes: she actually makes you admire them for their remarkable ability to remain consistently cold, calculating, predatory and unscrupulous in generation after generation after generation.

In one of the great laugh lines of this or any other biography, Kelley sums up the Bush charm by quoting (third-hand, mind you – there's that damn credibility thing again!) none other than Richard Nixon:

"The writer Gore Vidal recalled a conversation with his friend Murray Kempton shortly after one of the journalist's periodic lunches with Murray Kempton. Kempton had mentioned George Bush [Sr.], and according to Vidal, Nixon had responded: "Total light-weight. Nothing there – sort of person you appoint to things – but now that Barbara, she's something else again! She's really vindictive!" Vidal characterized the comment as 'the highest Nixonian compliment.'"

But then Richard Nixon hadn't met W.


As a book, The Family will merely affirm the worst suspicions of both those who hate George Bush and those who hate the Evil New York Liberal Media. But a few people who aren't too fond of the president might just change their minds. If you are the kind of person who roots for the monster in horror movies, expect to come away from The Family as a devoted Bush fan.

Do read it all, it's very very good.

Kitty Update: Read this. (Via UncleHornHead.)

Another Kitty Update: Here. (Via Fagistan.)


Atrios notes that Ahnuld has hired a few recycled advisors, one of whom being Arthur Laffer, whose theories were embraced by Reagan who then went on to menace the populace with "voodoo economics".

This is important not just because of Schwartzeneggar, but because Bush/Cheney basically subscribe to the same stuff, hence huge deficits and minimal taxing on the rich and super-rich.

I've been reading in and out of Garry Wills's Reagan's America the last few weeks, and I think it's useful to copy out the reference to Laffer:

...In his third year Carter did not respond to danger signs by pinching in an economy he could relax toward his November deadline the next year. As Emma Rothschild pointed out, he did many of the right things economically, but at the wrong time electorally.He added more jobs than Reagan would do in his first term, but his boom came in his first year while Reagan's came in his election year. Cumulatively, Americans would not be better off after four years of Reagan than they had been after four years of Carter; but Reagan's recession hurt his party only in the congressional elections, and was forgotten by his own race, when recovery had begun...

There were deeper problems than surface manipulataion could deal with, and Reagan's campaign addressed these. Not only was there runaway inflation in the Carter years...But the Seventies brought simultaneous inflation and stagnation, defying conventional economic prescriptions...There was little agreement among the experts.

So the amateurs took over. Several editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal--Robert Bartley, Jude Wanniski, Paul Roberts--had beome enthusiasts for the ideas of a weirdly persuasive academic showman named Arthur Laffer. The Laffer theorem was as least as old as Montesquieu, and beyond challenge in itself--the claim that tax revenues can be so high as to dry up their source. Wanniski had Laffer explain this to one of President Ford's aides (who must have been rather dense) by drawing an igloo shape on a napkin to explain the trajectory of tax returns. The drawing was not only simplistic but tendentious--a lopsided igloo, or one melting to collapse in one direction would better describe the irregularities of the curve. Yet, from Jude Wanniski's unparalleled publicity campaign, built around this doodle, the mystique of supply-side economics grew.


There was much in the supply-side analysis to appeal to Ronald Reagan. It trusted the market, distrusted government, and believed in growth. But when Jude Wanniski tried to get a hearing from the Reagan camp in 1976, he was not successful. John Sears stood in the way. Reagan had already fallen for a "funny money" speech from Jeff Bell, and Sears wanted no more risky departures from the Republicans' earlier loves--the "old-time religion" of a balanced budget, or Milton Friedman's monetary policy. But by 1980 Sears was looking for something new in the era of stagflation, something that sounded aggressive and hopeful, to strike a contrast with Carter's economic stance...By that time Laffer's views had been adopted by congressional Republicans who supported the Kemp-Roth tax cut, and Sears encouraged Congressman Jack Kemp to travel with Reagan, to change his mood as well as his views, stimulating him with Kemp's own hot-gospeler's belief...


[David] Stockman promised to give Reagan's dream the substance of things countable. Reagan would sell the program but he expected others--principally Stockman--to formulate it...Stockman quickly found out (but did not show) that he could not "square the circle" after all, which is what "Reaganomics" had promised to do...He had to show that the government would ease up...The projections were, thus, everything. But they were bleak. He had to change them...He was running out of devices and none gave enough yield; so, as he told Laurence Barrett, "We had doctored that one, just the way the previous administration doctored the Wharton model. They're absolutely doctored." But never before doctored on such a scale...

The numbers did not have to be authentic, in the Stockman view. If only people believed them, they would come true as a consequence. Thus faith had to be engendered by whatever legerdemain...As Stockman [said], "We got away with that because of the novelty of all these budget reductions."...But soon he was drowning in his own flood of figures, each uncheckable against the other, all aimed at fostering confidence rather than meeting tests of probability. The con man finally loses his own confidence when he cannot remember what is true and what is not in his own spiel: "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers."...At last he had to resort to what Senator Howard Baker called the "magic asterisk," a footnote attributing improbable future reductions in the out years to unidentified "future savings." The Reagan team was beginning to admit what its own Vice President had charged in the primary campaign, that supply-side theory is "voodoo economics."

What Stockman had come to fear most was his own program's success...But Reagan would not change his mind on the part of his program that he loved most by now...Reagan's own certitude and charm had made him, scarily, unbeatable."