Friday, October 24, 2014

FRIDAY ROUND-THE-HORN.

•   Jonah Goldberg is doing his usual propaganda from a slightly higher horse than usual today:
You may boil down your beliefs to a series of ideas, but odds are that every lesson you ever learned came at the end of a story, either one you lived or one you watched unfold. All great religions are taught to us as stories. Every great journalistic exposé came in the form of a story.
Much like great novels, which, Goldberg earlier informed us, are "inherently conservative."
We evolved to learn through stories. We may as well be called homo relator, or storytelling man.
What's Latin for "bullshit"? Goldberg then tells us that while the things conservatives believe are ideas and the revealed word of the living Reagan, everything believed by liberals is just a bunch of stories (maybe fairy stories, har har why you gettin offended), including those so-called "studies" by so-called "scientists" with their "environmentalist" Gaia myths about how pollution is bad for you. ("If science could settle, man would never learn to fly or read by electric light," puffs Goldberg. Wait'll you stupid eggheads see the money he'll make on his fart-powered Cheeto-stuffing machine!)

Another example:
For much of the summer, large numbers of Americans insisted that the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was one kind of story. It was a tale of institutional racism in which the police are the villains and young African-American men the innocent victims. This was the storyline many in the media wanted, and it was one they were determined to get. 
Now, as a grand jury goes about prying fact from fiction, the story is falling apart as a matter of legal reality. But you can be sure the story will live on for decades to come. That’s in no small part because...
...of centuries of actual African-American experience?
... because many decent Americans have locked themselves into the belief that the heroic chapter of the civil-rights movement can never end. The story must go on so they can continue to cast themselves as the heroes.
Gotta love that "decent" -- when you're telling black people they're just playing the victim, Goldberg seems to think, throw in a nice word and no one can complain.

•   I see Rod Dreher has identified a new liberal-who-hates-liberals-which-proves-liberals-suck. I thought Mickey Kaus had that market cornered. For half the column Dreher quotes the guy copiously, then tells us he read somewheres about another guy, "a white man who had grown up in a hardscrabble way... and he was expected to deprecate himself and apologize for his Straight White Male Privilege," so see, it's all true. The very best part of this plea for you-other-guys to be tolerant:
It’s not that I believe conservatives are free of these things; it’s that in my own world, it’s usually the liberals who behave this way.
Also he doesn't seem to get Woody Allen jokes.

•   Oh God, Ross Douthat drew the short straw at Dracula's castle and thumbsucks over why liberals have a lot of newspapers and TV shows while he's stuck with Fox News. Allow me to synopsize his three possible reasons:
  1. Liberals are "open-minded" and conservatives are "conformist sheep." Ha ha, as if!
  2. The only people who read The New Yorker and junk like that are arty-farties and other members of the "liberal clerisy" who live on welfare/Soros checks, while "well-educated and well-informed conservatives are often businessmen" who "treat their media consumption mostly as a source of information rather than identity," so there. Plus liberals can waste their time reading about foreigners and operas because they don't have any children to beat.
  3. Damn liberal media!
Too bad the free market isn't giving him the media empire Douthat really wants -- one that everybody thinks is smart and cool. Then Douthat could quit the New York Slimes and join it!

•   If someone told me years ago that one day a big-time wingnut hack would be denouncing appeals for calm during a public health emergency and telling people science is bullshit -- well, actually, I would have believed it; I've always been pretty cynical.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

SICK, SICK, SICK.

I knew Heather Mac Donald was ridiculous, but Jesus:
The public-health establishment has unanimously opposed a travel and visa moratorium from Ebola-plagued West African countries to protect the U.S. population. To evaluate whether this opposition rests on purely scientific grounds, it helps to understand the political character of the public-health field. For the last several decades, the profession has been awash in social-justice ideology. Many of its members view racism, sexism, and economic inequality, rather than individual behavior, as the primary drivers of differential health outcomes in the U.S. According to mainstream public-health thinking, publicizing the behavioral choices behind bad health—promiscuous sex, drug use, overeating, or lack of exercise—blames the victim.
That's why, instead of fooling around with pump handles, John Snow should have just had cholera sufferers put in the stocks for spreading miasma.
...The public-health profession has a clear political orientation, so it’s quite possible that its opposition to a visa and travel moratorium is influenced as much by belief in America’s responsibility for the postcolonial oppression of Africa, and suspicion of American border enforcement, as it is by a commitment to public-health principles of containment and control.
The philosophy behind this is that anyone who wants to help people is some sort of freak and therefore can't be trusted despite their training and accomplishments in the relevant field, and we should instead listen to political hacks like Heather Mac Donald.

When seen from a distance of years, this alarmism will disgust and embarrass our descendants. But the spreaders themselves are only looking as far ahead as Election Day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WORST FAN FIC EVER:

Richard Fernandez at PJ Media:
And when the papers lionized Bill ever after for doing the ‘right thing’, she probably didn’t understand. That was the saddest part. I wish for sentiment’s sake that Bill had said: “although I have decided not to leave my wife, Hillary, it is I who bears the predominant responsibility for what happened. Leave Monica alone.” Would that he showed as much sand as Edward the VIII, who whatever his faults gave up the throne and took what was coming. “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”
I liked my Skyler White slash fic better. I'm curious; how is it that a presumably grown man doesn't know  people sometimes have affairs with people who are not necessarily the love of their lives?
But the truth lady, is that he was never worthy even to hold your hand... He had his chance on the Pelennor Field and left you to the Nazgul.
OK, never mind, I get it now.

I SAY! BUT SURELY YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIRE THEM AS WELL?

Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review rags on Wendy Davis and sees in her ordinary political maneuvering, as he sees in everything, the thin end of the Liberal Fascist wedge, resulting in this:
In this manner, too, have we come to discuss the ever-diminishing scope of private property rights, our debates centering nowadays not on whether individuals should have a general right to decide whom they will serve, but on why anybody would be asking these questions in the first instance. Think you should be able to decide who comes into your bar? Drop the act, Bubba, you must be in the Klan.
Cooke, relatively new to this country, seems not to have fully accepted that here in the states you can't just tell certain types to stay out of your bar ("the law says I have to serve him," like this man says), and that the sheeple have lived with this injustice for so long that they no longer question it. Well, that just gives Cooke another freedom to fight for!

Like Chris Christie expressing his impatience with the minimum wage, this is a useful reminder of what these guys are really about.

UPDATE. It's always nice to have someone who knows what he's talking about in comments, so take it away, Scott Lemieux:
Hmm, let's see what one radical Trotskyite had to say about the "general right" of "individuals" to "decide who they will serve":

"[I]f an inn-keeper, or other victualler, hangs out a sign and opens his house for travelers, it is an implied engagement to entertain all persons who travel that way; and upon this universal assumpsit an action on the case will lie against him for damages, if he without good reason refuses to admit a traveler." -Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

You'd think someone with an Oxford education might be aware of this, but...
UPDATE 2. Cooke's reactions to Scott -- basically "sputter, sputter, asshole!" -- are worth noting and indeed @squarelyrooted has noted them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SHUT UP AND... SAY, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO EXACTLY?

Well, I see conservatives are bitching that the Met dared to put on a well-regarded John Adams opera called The Death of Klinghoffer. Plenty of Zhdanovites to choose from, but let's go with John Podhoretz; he's been awful a long time without notice. He accuses the Met of trying to stir "controversy" with the 23-year-old opera:
The point is not that “The Death of Klinghoffer” shouldn’t be performed. Fine, let it be performed. When it comes to anti-Semitism, “The Merchant of Venice” is far worse. But then let it be protested as well without whining.
Because if you protest our protesting, it's whining; if we protest your protesting (say, in Ferguson), it's just reasoned debate.
No one gainsays the question when people protest the staging of “The Merchant of Venice,” because every honest person acknowledges what is profoundly offensive about it even as they admit it is an undeniably great work.
As witnessed by all the celebrity wingnuts protesting whenever The Merchant of Venice plays. Whoops, sorry, no Palestinians in that one! (Maybe he means this.)
Perhaps there are people who can honestly argue “The Death of Klinghoffer” is a work so aesthetically vital every culturally literate person must see it or be deemed a Babbitty boob.
Remember, whenever you make a case for a work of art and John Podhoretz doesn't like it, what you're really doing is insulting simple, salt-of-the-earth folk like John Podhoretz.
No, what they wanted was a nice, comforting, fake controversy, one of those controversies that makes something seem larger and more relevant. This is a violation of the true aesthetic purpose of an arts institution.
Spoken like a guy who used to review movies over a little meter that showed how "left" and "right" they were.

You know how you can recognize propaganda from other kinds of bad writing? By the inescapable sensation that it couldn't have made any sense even if its author had actually tried.

UPDATE. "I've never seen The Death of Klinghoffer, and the fact that Rudolph Giuliani has valiantly joined the protesters is not convincing enough for me to oppose its performance," says mortimer 2000 in comments. "Has Donald Trump weighed in yet? His take is always much more persuasive."

To Podhoretz's charge that the Met's staging is "a violation of the true aesthetic purpose of an arts institution," tigrismus answers, "It's the Metropolitan Opera. Their 'true aesthetic purpose' is to perform opera. Which they did." Sorry, comrade, the new idea is that all citizen-art will first be approved by rightwing fussbudgets -- maybe in this case we can call them anti-social justice warriors. Of course, as coozeldad reminds us, such a protocol would drastically reduce the available options: "These morons top out at Richard Strauss or whatever they can hum along to. Anything other than that is art fags."

Lulz also to cole -- "Can't wait to read Kevin Williamsons's review! I hope it involves plenty of phone-throwing!" -- but really, as usual the commenters have my own work beat, go look.

Monday, October 20, 2014

BUTCHING IT UP.

As he's the king of the rightbloggers, it may be instructive to excerpt a number of Instapundit Gelnn Reynolds' posts from today:
7:00 AM: TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Lehigh Acres woman arrested for sex with 15-year-old... 
7:48 AM: THAT’S DEEPLY DISAPPOINTING: Cathy Young: The Federalist Society Caves to “Rape Culture” Orthodoxy... 
10:38 AM: AS THEY SHOULD. THE NEW POLICY IS A POISON PILL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION. Harvard Profs Hate New Campus Sex Laws... 
12:27 PM: LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Welcome to Oculus XXX: In-Your-Face 3D is the Future of Porn... 
12:42 PM: TINA BROWN: Women Feel “Unsafe” With Obama... 
1:00 PM: THIS IS UNSURPRISING: Women Prefer Male Bosses Even More Than Men Do... 
2:44 PM: TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE! (CONT’D): Woman claims she was sexually assaulted, admits it didn’t happen... 
6:39 PM: FORBES: #GamerGate Is Not A Hate Group, It’s A Consumer Movement. Related: #GamerGate Makes the Left Uncomfortable Because Gamer Gaters Have Adopted the Left’s Tactics... 
9:38 PM: JUSTINE TUNNEY: “The 900 pound elephant in the gamer/sexism debate, is they’re really just attacking autistic people for clumsy social propriety"...

9:47 PM: SHOCKER: Vegetarians Have Much Lower Sperm Counts...
You may perceive a pattern. The Perfesser has never been a fan of women's lib, but in the past has been content to occasionally float fanciful cointelpro, like his wingnut versions of Cosmo, and to dream of robowhores. What else could he do? Electorally, he was outnumbered. But this election season, with the Democrats' war-on-women strategy growing long in the tooth, the Perfesser seems to see an opening, and to believe that the Angry Nerds of G-gate will bring some fresh energy to the Lost Cause, if they can be spurred to action by tales of virago manrape, lesbo-liberal anti-fuck squads, and such like. Either that, or he figures the midterms are a cinch for the Republicans, and hopes he can convince them afterwards that he delivered an important constituency, one that should be rewarded with an Anti-Witchcraft Amendment or something like that.

The rest of his posts are mostly about Ebola, which just makes it perfect.

UPDATE. The night of the following day: "21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Why I Visit Prostitutes," "SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE CAREFUL ABOUT BODILY FLUIDS, I GUESS: Monica Lewinsky: I was 'patient zero' in Internet bullying," etc.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

EVERYTHING OLD IS NUTS AGAIN.

We seem to be entering a Republican retro phase. For one thing, just like in '01 the GOP brethren are all keen for Boots on the Ground in the Middle East (Operation 'What Quagmire?'). They're even talking about WMD and citing the New York Times as evidence. Somewhere Judy Miller is laughing her ass off.

Also, a scant six years after capitalism shit the global financial bed, we're seeing a resurrection of capitalism-rocks boosterism straight out of the Reagan era. Regulate financial institutions? Hmmph! scoffs Veronique de Rugy, veteran richie apologist, at the Daily Beast. "Regulators are often captured by the industry they regulate at the expense of everyone else," so let the banks police themselves, just as corruption among the cops means we should leave street gangs free to sort out their own affairs. (Talk about little platoons!)

Hernando de Soto in the Wall Street Journal actually ties Yay Capitalism to ISIS:
As the U.S. moves into a new theater of the war on terror, it will miss its best chance to beat back Islamic State and other radical groups in the Middle East if it doesn’t deploy a crucial but little-used weapon: an aggressive agenda for economic empowerment... 
As anyone who’s walked the streets of Lima, Tunis and Cairo knows, capital isn’t the problem -- it is the solution.

"I get a closer, cleaner decapitation with Gillette!"

De Soto tells us that Shining Path was defeated in Peru mainly by capitalism ("These new habits of mind helped us to beat back terror in Peru and can do the same, I believe, in the Middle East and North Africa"), and only incidentally by increased force of arms and oh yeah, authoritarian rule funded by the U.S. via tariff relief and narco-war military aid. Well, at least in this case there's no functional democratic tradition to topple, and the next wave of Chicago Boys can implement their Shock and Awe Doctrine with a clear conscience, assuming some friendly unipolar superpower can keep their offices from being blown up by whoever replaces ISIS (but what are the chances? We'll be greeted as entrepreneurs!).

Speaking of entrepreneurs, here's Reihan Salam at Slate with "In Praise of Amazon -- Jeff Bezos’ company is not the problem with American capitalism. It’s the solution to our economy’s ills" -- and boy, doesn't that call to mind "you mark my words, [it] will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA." Salam thinks we don't give enough credit to our Titans of Industry:
Most of us believe that patents—legal monopolies that entitle you to all of the benefits from your invention for a limited period of time—are an OK idea because you have to give people some ex ante incentive to do the hard work of creating new things. You and I might both believe that the U.S. patent system has gotten way out of hand, but it’s hard to argue that patents are always a terrible idea. But what about the incentive to engage in the kind of complex coordination that creates enormous value, that raises productivity and delivers lowers prices, that can't actually be patented?
There's something wonderful about Salam having to hurriedly gin up some respect for the patent system so he can use it to show the littlebrains how important intellectual property is -- you dopes love this so-called "inventor" who just wants to clean up the environment or some junk, well how about someone who invented a way to crush his competition and capture markets? Shouldn't he get a fancy certificate, too, along with protection from the FTC?

Next they'll all start wearing red suspenders and smoking cigars again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

INEPT EVEN AT SPREADING PANIC.

One of our most esteemed conservative writers approaches the important subject of Ebola:
While disposing of a body in a mass grave, one man in a hazmat suit turns to another and asks, “When did we run out of body bags?” 
“Two days ago.” 
Fortunately, the scene is only from the movie Contagion, though it’s probably close enough to what is going on in parts of West Africa right now.
Surprise, it's National Review legacy pledge Jonah Goldberg, talking about something he understands (a stupid movie) and something he doesn't (everything else, except maybe delis with the best deals on Cheetos and Mom's List of Names of Librul Fascists I Can Use). Boy, I bet West Africa's like that movie Contagion -- not very popular and it stinks, amirite!

After some pro-forma slurs on Gwyneth Paltrow, Goldberg suggests that liberal Hollyweird has been covering for Obama fake-epidemic-wise:
Contagion broke away from the shackles of the genre. Ross Douthat put it well in an essay for National Review, calling it a “pro-establishment thriller.” Government officials, the scientists, even the military were all competent and determined to do the right thing. 
It was a fascinating departure from the speak-truth-to-power cinema of the Bush years and even Hollywood’s paranoia in the Clinton years. (In the movie version of The X-Files, FEMA was a villainous cabal.)...

Given the timing, I think it’s no accident Hollywood produced Contagion. After all, Obama was going to restore faith in government.
Thus were the lofo sheeple lulled into a false sense of security by a liberal disaster movie. But now we know the CDC is stupid because some people in Texas got Ebola.
We now have our own version of Contagion playing out in real time.
From the Wikipedia on Contagion: "The Minnesota National Guard arrives to quarantine the city... Meanwhile, the death toll reaches 2.5 million in the U.S. and 26 million worldwide..." The current Ebola situation in America is more like Terms of Endearment than Contagion.
The disease is different, of course, and so is the response. Still...
Just wait a second and contemplate the Oh For Fuck's Sakeness of that.
...Still, I have little doubt that the real-life players at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health are as well-intentioned as their cinematic versions.
What the fuck does that even mean? That's like saying, "Oprah Winfrey is not really like Lizzie Borden. Still, I'm sure she has nice table manners, just like Lizzie Borden."
But they aren’t nearly as reassuring. They keep telling us they know what can’t happen right up until the moment it happens. They put the theory of their expertise ahead of the facts on the ground...
In other words, unprecedented event is unprecedented, so scientific protocol is worthless and we're all going to die like in that movie. I know some scribble has to occasionally appear under Goldberg's name from time to time, but there are so many wingnuts trying to panic the country with Ebola now that I assume conservative movement leaders take it seriously as a propaganda theme -- aren't they concerned that Goldberg's clowning might spoil it?

UPDATE. In comments, mortimer2000 brings us back to 2006, when Goldberg was telling us to "Give Bush a Break" over Katrina:
And of course there were real tragedies involved in that disaster. But you know what? Bad stuff happens during disasters, which is why we don't call them tickle-parties... 
Long before Katrina, New Orleans was a dysfunctional city in a state with famously corrupt and incompetent leadership, many of whose residents think that it is the job of the federal government to make everyone whole...
It's not as if he's completely inconsistent -- in both cases, he clearly can't give a shit about the people who are suffering.