Sunday, September 14, 2014

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about Obama's ISIS speech and the brethren's reaction, which was outraged that it didn't contain enough hatred, especially of Muslims, because come on, they can't talk smack about blacks, they can't talk smack about gays or Hispanics, you gotta give them something or it's, like, persecution.

Friday, September 12, 2014

THE STUPIDEST THING EVER WRITTEN UNTIL JONAH GOLDBERG WRITES SOMETHING ELSE, PART INFINITY.

Obama says ISIS is neither Islamic nor a state; about the second bit, Jonah Goldberg says [squish of foot landing in bucket, crash of head striking cabinet and dishes falling out]:
...reasonable people can quibble. The terrorist army that calls itself the Islamic State is certainly trying to build a state — and not just a state but a super state, or caliphate. They’re not there yet; their delivery of social services seems spotty at best, though they do collect taxes and uphold the law (in a fashion). 
More relevant, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a state. Morally, this weed stinks just as much whether you call it a state or a soccer league that rapes, tortures, and murders people on the side. And legally, statehood would matter — and not very much — only if the U.N. and other bodies agreed to recognize the fledgling caliphate’s legitimacy. That’s not going to happen even if the Islamic State opens up post offices and DMVs on every corner.
So, ISIS is not a state. Moving along: about the Islamic part, Jonah Goldberg says [clunk of bucket-footed running, kee-rash of body tumbling down cellar steps]:
As for its not being Islamic, that’s at best unclear, if not just clearly wrong. And the fact that the majority of its victims are Muslim is irrelevant. Lenin and Stalin killed thousands of Communists and socialists...
Yeah, and what about those altar boys those priests raped? I suppose those priests suddenly turned Protestant! Not that I blame the church, it's rilly holy.
The president faces the same dilemma that bedeviled George W. Bush, and I sympathize with him. It is not in our interest for the Muslim world to think we are at war with Islam, not just because it is untrue...
Remember that thing I said about "clearly wrong"? You don't? Good.
....but more specifically because we desperately need the cooperation of Muslim nations. That’s why Bush constantly proclaimed “Islam means peace.”
But...
(You might want to soak your head in ice awhile before reading the rest of this.)
...it also seems flatly wrong for an American president to be declaring what is or is not Islamic — or Christian or Jewish.
Yeah, if we can't say America is a Christian nation (butitisdon'tworryFundieswejusthavetosaythat) I guess we can't say it isn't a Christian nation either. Fair's fair.
Given the First Amendment alone, there’s something un-American in any government official simply declaring what is or is not a religion.
Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.
Bush’s formulation in his September 20, 2001, address to Congress was better: “The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.”
And it's better because (TK) (Sorry KLO lunch went a little long and the intern went back to prison).
Regardless, I’m not the kind of purist who would object to Obama’s version — if it worked. Aeschylus first noted more than 2,400 years ago that the first casualty of war is the truth.
Remember that "not just because it is untrue" thing I said before? Oh shit, you do remember? Farrrrrt.
And if saying that the Islamic State is guilty of religious false advertising makes it easier to win a war, that’s fine by me. 
But does it work?
QUESTIONS REMAIN
...In fact, maybe it’s a mistake to concede the point up front? Instead of Americans trying to persuade Muslims of the world that terrorism is un-Islamic, why shouldn’t Muslims be working harder to convince us?
I don't see Mo-hammed or whatever his name is over there doing anything to convince Jonah Goldberg he's not a terrorist. I just see him making Jonah Goldberg's sandwich. Extra bacon, please. [(whispers) You can tell how big a jihadi they are by their reaction.]
Think about it. Whenever a tiny minority of bad actors hurts the reputation of its ethnicity, faith, or cause by doing terrible things in the name of its ethnicity, faith, or cause, the responsible thing is for the moderate, decent majority to cry “Not in our name!” or “They don’t speak for us!”
How about a #NotAllMuslims hashtag? Thank you, good night, more September-October 2011 retro bullshit to come.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

YOU SUPPLY THE WAR, THEY'LL SUPPLY THE PROSE POEMS.

Well, more bombs in the Mideast. I didn't like the Libya intervention and I don't like this. But I generally disapprove these half-assed sand-diving expeditions; what's the conservatives' problem? From my first quick scan of the commentariat, they appear to think Obama shouldn't be trusted because his bloodthirst is insufficiently ostentatious, and because like that other pussy George Bush he refuses to denounce Islam the way that, after Pearl Harbor, FDR denounced Shinto and Confucianism. We're gonna have a loooong Rightbloggers column on Sunday.

My favorite so far is -- surprise! -- Jonah Goldberg. I reproduce his post in its entirety:
Good luck, Mr. President
I thought that this was a fine speech, grading against the curve of my expectations. But my expectations were low. The problem for me, and I suspect for others, is that it’s very difficult to see him as anything other than a political creature. It’s obviously the case that he is doing this not because the facts on the ground convinced him he had to do what was necessary to protect America but because the polls and the political climate convinced him he had to plug a hole in the hull of his presidency. I really have no problem with politicians being led by the people, when the people are right. And I think they are here. But I have serious doubts that Obama has any desire to stick it out beyond the moment the American people stop paying attention. I hope I’m wrong.
It's perfect in its way, from the title and lede that are shown almost immediately to be disingenuous, to the piss-trickle ending. I'm beginning to think these single-long-paragraph posts of his are dictated to an intern while Goldberg tries to time the microwave so his Cheetos get hot without melting the bag.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HAYEK GET YOUR GUN.

The Libertarian Moment, ladies and gentlemen:
Sen. Rand Paul’s position atop the isolationist wing of the Republican Party has fueled his political rise, but his supporters are far more enthusiastic than the general public about any American military action against the Islamic State. 
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 44% of the people who hold a favorable view of the Kentucky Republican want the U.S. to become more involved in world affairs. About a third of Mr. Paul’s supporters said the country should become less involved and 17% said the current level of engagement is appropriate.
Senator Paul himself has found the moment opportune for a fit of war fever, leaving Rep. Justin Amash as the new front-man for libertarian foreign policy (look, big pixels at Reason.com!): after the lumbering hulk of Dick Cheney read the riot act to Congressional Republicans, Breitbart.com recorded this:
Amash disagreed with reporters that Republican hawks were coming back into the party. 
“Did you see my election?” he replied.
As goes Michigan's Third Congressional District, so goes the GOP! Hold on, the follow-up is even better:
Another anti-interventionist Congressman, Rep. Thomas Massie R-KY, was a little softer towards Cheney, politely telling reporters that he wouldn’t criticize the former Vice President after he took the time to visit with the Republican conference. 
“His advice was mainly to spend more money on the military,” he said, adding that he believed that Congress should “spend less money on everything.”
They're playing good crap, bad crap.

Always remember: it's a scam. Libertarians don't really care much about the social issues that many people associate with them. And in foreign policy they are clearly in accord with traditional U.S. political realities, i.e. full of shit. The limited-gummint they're serious about is very specific: They want to transfer as much of the economic power that currently resides in our government (the "takers") to a few rich fucks (the "makers"). And to get this economic power, they have to first get political power. That's why Paul's doing a war dance with the statists. What the hell, it's just going to cost some human lives, and since when have libertarians cared about those?

UPDATE. Speaking of Cheney, Dan Froomkin spots a lovely correction in the Times:
An earlier version of a summary with this article misstated the former title of Dick Cheney. He was vice president, not president.
"Easy mistake to make," says Froomkin.

UPDATE 2. In comments, LookWhosInTheFreezer:
Somebody must have told Paul that ISIS is pro-union and supports minimum wage.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

THAT'S WHAT THE NEW BREED SAY.

No less than in publishing, The State of the Youts is a staple of the propaganda industry. The idea isn’t so much to sell to the kids themselves, though, as to vampirize their vitality. Just as the glossies’ perennial kids-today spreads aren’t pitched at the youngs but at the post-youngs who enjoy a little taste of something fresh and supple, so political mags use the kids to give their movement a youthful patina.

One popular gambit is to assure oldsters that the kids are alright, i.e. just like them only with firmer butts. The latest such offering from Libertarian flagship Reason, which has of late gone all-in on millennials (check out “A Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton Prez Race Would be a DISASTER for Millennials” by Nick Gillespie), is Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s “Rise of the Hipster Capitalist.”
From riot grrrl 'zine publishers to Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, anxiety over selling out to the mainstream dominated the cultural discourse of people who came of age in the '80s and '90s. Baked into the concern was an intrinsic sense that art and social change could only be corrupted by capitalism. 
Millennials, generally considered to be those in the late teens to early 30s right now, simply do not wrestle with this issue.
They’re good capitalist kids, not like those rotten Gen Xers, and will make their bobo parents proud! Also, like all model Youts, they’re plucky in the face of adversity:
For those millennials who do have jobs, wages have stagnated or dropped… Millennials have adjusted their expectations accordingly. Job security and retirement benefits seem as quaint and anachronistic as floppy disks and fax machines. And only 6 percent of millennials think full Social Security benefits will be available to them, according to a Pew Research poll from March 2014, compared to 51 percent who think they'll get nothing.
Libertarians seem to have a love-hate relationship with this economy. On the one hand it’s bad, and they can blame it (like all bad things) on Statism; on the other, it depresses wages and wage expectations, so they can spin our current neo-feudalism as a rich environment for opportunity capitalism. And that’s how it works here:
Yet members of Generation Y, as millennials were once known, are still remarkably optimistic about controlling their own destinies, despite the mess of 21st century America. 
Why so optimistic? In part, because they’re young and fashionable, which tends to buoy one’s spirits. Brown tells us about a bunch of young small-business starter-uppers, and makes sure we know they are not uptight business drags but awesome dudes and dudesses from the hippest Brooklyn precincts: For example, Greenpoint  -- where Brown once “lived across the street" from a bright young thing with “boundless enthusiasm for taking on new, unpaid creative work” -- and Bushwick  -- where Brown “lived in a warehouse that had been converted into a semi-legal residential space”; her roommates were showing their no doubt magnificent artwork, but not in some half-assed hippie way: Their “planning from the get-go involved not merely showcasing their art for the local creative community but luring in wealthy buyers.”

So how’d that go? Who knows? Whether successful or not-telling, Brown’s hipsterpreneurs seem uniformly the sort of young-people-with-money who can afford to dick around with socially-conscious dream businesses: Before co-founding the wonderfully-titled BeGood, Brown tells us, “Mark Spera was burned out on his corporate job at the Gap. ‘I couldn't imagine the idea of sitting at a desk all day.. I was considering getting into a nonprofit and he was considering traveling abroad.’” The new breed, says Brown, “chose to take huge pay cuts to pursue their dreams and make a business out of their passions.” Sounds like they didn’t have to worry too much about money, or about getting funding even in these tight-lending times.

For those who do have to worry about it, there are other hipsterpreneurial opportunities:
In the Buzz Marketing Group/Young Entrepreneurs Council survey, 33 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old respondents had a side business. (This included activities like tutoring and selling stuff on eBay.)
Selling stuff on eBay! No word on how many of these second-tier-and-lower millenials have a side business in begging for change or going through their girlfriend’s purse.

After a bellyful of that, it’s almost refreshing to look at an example of the more traditional conservative kids-today yak, like John Hawkins’ “Millennials, Hollywood Is Lying To You About Work And Success.” Don’t worry, despite the addressing, Hawkins isn’t really talking to millenials at all, but about them to other wingnuts – partly because that’s how greybeards talk in the presence of punk kids (Look at him, I got him a nice razor but he won’t shave!) but also because it makes a nice hook for discussing the outrages that really exercise Hawkins, and which these punk kids are too dumb to understand:
However, we've done something even worse to these kids. We've left far too much of their education in life to Hollywood, musicians, and college professors who've passed on a skewed view of the world. 
Unfortunately for them, reality doesn't care about boring, mean or "uncool." It just keeps rolling on like a threshing machine, cutting anyone who ignores it to pieces. 
Many's the time, in this the autumn of my life, I’ve sat on a riverbank and thought of life in just that way.
With that in mind, do you REALLY want to know why America has been so prosperous? Want to know why we're a superpower?
Whoops, pops is talking to you again, kids.
It's because of Judeo-Christian values, Western culture, a Puritan work ethic, patriotism, capitalism, small government, adherence to the Constitution, and a capability and willingness to use our military to decimate enemies of our country. 
None of those things are being celebrated in songs by Lady Gaga, movies by James Cameron, or in women's studies courses at American colleges. 
The whole thing pretty much goes on like that. Between the two of them, I have to give the edge to Hawkins, who at least doesn't embarrass himself by pretending to like his ostensible subjects, or by telling us about his groovy years in Crown Heights.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A SHORT TOUR OF THE CULTURE WAR BATTLEFIELD.

Well, boys, how's the culture war going?
How Big Government Ruined Parks and Recreation
Clickbait for sure, among a certain population! Spencer Klavan (Jesus, Andrew has a brother? I weep for the Republic) complains at PJ Media that the show "has devolved from incisive comedy into aggressively unfunny propaganda." See, once it was about "the morass of self-importance and illogic that results when people get together to plan other people’s lives for them" -- that's conservative for "small-town government," folks -- but then "the writers replaced it with a dogmatic fantasy world based on the unexamined conviction that everyone needs a hyper-attentive government mommy. That’s when Leslie Knope became a hero, and Parks and Rec became about as entertaining as a health code referendum."

Wow, so they beefed up the role of the star? And a cynical supporting character became more cuddly? Just like in nearly every sitcom that lasts more than three seasons? What a bunch of statists!

But courage, kulturkampfers -- it's not all liberal fascism on the TV; here's a show that Matthew Rousu of The Federalist says teaches a conservatarian message:
What TV’s ‘Suits’ Tells Us About The Job Market 
...Ross and Spector form a great team. They trade witty rejoinders and provide incredible service for their clients. But in the United States, for the most part, it is illegal to practice law without passing the bar exam. That Ross is practicing law illegally — and what he must do to avoid being discovered – provides part of the show’s drama. While I find the show entertaining, it troubles me because these types of situations happen in real life. There are people who would be good at a job, but restrictions make it illegal for them to work...
Yes, it's the old licensing-restriction rap, with which max-freedom fans sometimes get liberals to agree five minutes before they call them hypocrites for thinking polluters can't regulate themselves. Mentioned in essay: Uber. Not mentioned: State medical boards.

Meanwhile at Acculturated, Erin Vargo:
Drugs are ruining EDM...
Which is like saying sugar is ruining cake, but go on:
...and not only as a matter of individual health and safety (a sobering topic in and of itself). Drugs at EDM festivals ensure that Calvin Harris is virtually indistinguishable from a remix DJ at a wedding party.
[pause, suppressing laughter]
Sure, he showed everyone a good time, but the event wasn’t really about him or his skills and talents and creative capacity.
[pause, stabbing myself in the thigh with a pen] For our reductio ad wingnut let's go to The Federalist's Rachel Lu:
Is it possible that Clueless Dad (that tired old television trope) is going into decline? He’s long since outworn his welcome. And General Mills seems to have gotten the message. 
Their new commercial for Peanut Butter Cheerios...
For some reason I'm reminded of the end of The Incredible Shrinking Man, though it's not so much the "closing of a gigantic circle" as a disappearance up one's own asshole.