Monday, December 22

Xmas Olio Cookies

• First, rilly, rilly, what Gavin said.
But in any case, the reason I’m mentioning Jonah and his latest column is that together with this thing of Mirengoff’s, you can really see the success of the slow, at first aspirational, ultimately decades-long and richly financed conservative project of piling up cooked information and slanted analyses, paper after column after article after study, until they almost literally have no historical or social referents that aren’t ideological.

Read the Whole Thing, as they say. All we would add is that once you get to Goldberg and The Power Trio you're talking about people who have chosen to participate not so much as shills or swindlers (though there's plenty of that) but, evidently, as their one hope for pubescent coolness. Although in Jonah's case we're convinced there was some sort of Manchurian Candidate thing going on as well. The "Conservative" intellectuals of the 1950s--we use the term relatively--were either Christian apologists or capitalist mouthpieces, or Christian capitalism mouthpiece apologists. We are not surprised to find them clever, or slippery; we are not surprised to find a small but fanatical following among sophomores. What we are surprised to find is that sort of thing extending into middle age without even the most diaphanous suggestion of later reconsideration. To us this reeks of the pantsed and de-lunch-monied AV club/hall monitor dweeb who sadly came along at just the wrong moment, when his social and physical high school superiors were all smoking dope and listening to Styx; when the politics of corporate greed had advanced George Eff Will and James Watt as pocket-protector-wielding role models; and who has worn his candy-assed superiority and sexual grudges on his sleeve ever since.

Well, we'd also add that we don't consider Goldberg the Stupidest Man in Stupidville, just the guy who says the stupidest things, an achievement which generally requires a college-wiseacre manqué.

• Thank you, CBS, 60 Minutes, and the decades-long ineluctable odor that is Leslie Stahl, for last night's daring exposé of airport security annoyances, proving once again that at least 80% of the news value of a piece is determined by how much it affects upper class careerists and the people who pen their scripts, get their coffee, and hope someday to be them. Stahl started off by sneering that the Transportation Security Administration had "launched an image makeover and PR campaign" (this is, for all I can tell, Stahl's one and only claim on the term talent, since it's the function she performed during the Carter administration: pointing out, sometimes divining single instances of spin, news-shaping, and PR while simultaneously standing nostrils-deep in the culture of Spin, News-shaping, and PR). Never mind, of course, that the reason such activities are necessary might be summed up as "Leslie Stahl and other dipshits with a national forum". She followed that up by devoting almost the entire segment to a conversation with outgoing TSA mouthpiece Kip Hawley, interrupted by occasional complaints from Security Expert and TSA Critic Bruce Schneier.

Thus we had gone, in the space between Promo and Air, from grousing about the grouses that the traveling public grouses about, to allowing The Experts to duke it out on their behalf, minus the grousing or the grouse. Though, for my money, when Schneier appeared to accept the notion that what UK police had foiled in 2006 was a genuine threat of terrorism by shampoo bomb, and not puffed-up horseshit, it became more a question of whether we were listening to competing sides of an argument or competing sales pitches.

Just for the record: we are willing to tolerate uninformed carping, but not from the same people responsible for the situation in the first place. Your climate may be too hot in summer, or too cold in winter, but if you think it is both the problem is that you're talking when you should be moving. Who panicked in 2001 and asked the guvment to take over daily life? Who reinstalled the fear-mongering, Constitution-stomping Bush administration in 2004? You complain about being force fed a shit sandwich, but you're the ones who crapped on the toast. Griping that grandma gets patted down is sheer hypocrisy; this reduces the panic to its racist roots. Seven years ago we were at the mercy of the Islamic arm of SPECTRE; today, apparently, the people who would blow us all up conveniently line up at airport security in ghutras, looking shifty and swarthy and carrying satchels full of Prell. It's all Bureaucratic Kabuki? Who th' fuck voted to turn over the whole business to the Bureaucracy? Or, for that matter, voted to turn over voting to the same bunch? What did you think was going to happen when you handed a few hundred million to law enforcement and rightist sinecures and asked them to go all authoritarian on someone, while you promised not to be too squeamish about how they did it? Aggressive reasonableness?

• I wish all of you could have enjoyed The Dome Blows Up Week, as covered live by every local channel with a "news" operation, as much as we locals. The Dome--still, officially, The "RCA Dome", or The Rubble of the RCA Dome, which is evidently how everyone is legally required to refer to it on the grounds that the Radio Corporation of America paid someone else some money for the privilege. (The replacement Football Barn, ill-conceived, mis-aligned. and at least seven times more expensive, is officially Lucas Oil Stadium, on the grounds that a producer of over-priced lubricants, and not the fun kind, even, paid the goddam ownership of the Colts for the privilege, even though the Colts put approximately zero dollars into the thing. The adoption of the morning-zoo-esque nickname "The Luke" by, among others, the Racist Star's sports columnist, has prompted angry responses from readers offended by such casualness when so much fucking money changed hands. No, really. And these people are allowed to vote.)

The Dome, part of the Dick Lugar inaugurated Let's-Revitalize-Downtown-In-Time-For-The-Land-Leases-Expiring-Between-1980-And-The-Turn-Of-The-Century Program, cost $82 million in 1984, or back when public announcements of project costs came in within 70% of actual (by comparison, the Barn was announced at $500 million, and may have cost twice that). That's $162 million in today's dollars, or $6.75 million for every year the thing was in operation. That's not counting what it cost to knock the thing down, or how much we had to pay the Colts for putting them in the difficult situation of moving to the new place we built after they threatened to leave town if we didn't. It's not as though the thing hasn't been controversial; it's merely as though there's no time to cram that sort of information into a 90 minute nightly newscast. At one point in the live--that's live--ninety minute countdown to twenty-five seconds of a dust cloud rising in downtown on a Saturday morning, one brave teleprompter reader--they are, of course, reduced to winging it in such circumstances, with predictably ugly results--actually addressed the question of a city which can't afford to put more police on the streets, keep its neighborhood schools open, or stop dumping raw sewage in its waterways--though he didn't explicitly tick those items off, mind you--spending untold hundreds of millions on sports palaces with a life expectancy of the average electric razor by replying--replying, of course; imagine the career arc of the local news hairdo who refused to act as a Civic Booster or corporate shill!--that the old Dome was simply unequal to the task of meeting the incredible growth of football attendance since its inception. The new Barn, in case this makes you wonder, seats, given the most favorable choice of numbers for the argument--5000 more for football. It may actually be less than half that many; at any rate, that's a $ quarter-million per additional seat.  That's some growth. Of course, in reality, that has nothing to do with why the place was built; skyboxes, and the increased revenue from them for the Colts, does. We're not necessarily arguing the point; we just think that it should be possible for the average news-hairdo in Indianapolis to unearth that information without spending more than the average amount of time at the water cooler, and to act accordingly.

We've had two City Halls in the last century, and we've found a series of uses for the old one ever since the city moved out. Just sayin'.

• These would be the same hairdos who, over the weekend, were faithfully reporting that Mr. President-elect Obama's Hawaiian vacation would be marred by his having to deal with his aides' possible connection to Blagojevitch, Inc. (the woman who read this when I was watching came to a screeching halt at the name, as though it were the first time she'd seen it) while simultaneously pointedly ignoring the fact that the city's homicide total had equalled 2007's, the mayoral election year when they had a big countdown tote board with flashing lights and skimpy-costumed spokesmodels on either side to announce each additional infamy. We're sure this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the current (Republican) Mayor is the same guy who as a candidate last year excoriated the then-(Democratic Republican) Mayor for those same fucking numbers. Say, what're we blowing up next weekend?


StringonaStick said...

It strikes me that all this need for high-priced skyboxes, etc. may be yet another manifestation of excess cash floating about in the economy; you know, that period that ended just a few months ago.

Years ago I argued against the voted-on funds for our new-stadium-or-else-we-leave-town sports emporium/skyline detraction with a local businessman who was beyond shocked that I didn't support this expenditure of public funds. My argument was that once all the schools in the state were up to snuff, then we could afford to spend on stadiums. The words barely bounced off his skull, such was the apparent impact of my logic. The fucking thing got built too, and naming rights were sold to a now seriously reduced in size mutual fund company, one of the first to be nailed for market manipulation. That seems fitting.

Candy said...

Similar thing here in Des Moines. For many, many years one came to Vets Auditorium downtown for concerts, athletic events, conventions - it was the heart of the state. Suddenly, we needed a brand-spanking new Arena! (Nevermind that they'd built a "convention center" that mostly sat empty and we had the Civic Center downtown for plays and smaller shows. Well, the powers that be (or were) got their say, and we got the Wells Fargo Arena! (a.k.a. the Wart) with the attached Hy-Vee Hall.

They didn't get away with tearing down the old Vet's,mainly due to sentimental attachment, although they did manage to demolish some wonderful old theatres of the kind you don't get to visit any more which were in the way of progress, as it were. Over the last couple of years, the new place has most definitely not paid for itself, as we'd been repeatedly assured by those same powers that be they would, and among other brilliant ideas they've had to boost things they've been wanting to build some sort of fabulous hotel complex, neverminding again that the Wart is within walking distance of three large hotels. Well, talk of this has died down as times have worsened, and one would think that no more money would immediately be shoved down that particular rathole. Meanwhile, Vet's, the Wart, and the old convention center mostly sit empty, while the Hy-Vee Hall gets the occasional trade show or Jehovah's Witness convention, and the Civic Center gets traveling plays and concerts.

But wait! Now they want to spend umpteen million dollars to renovate - you guessed it - Vet's Auditorium. I'm not an advocate of armed insurrection, but if some of these "planners" heads wound up on a pike over this I probably wouldn't weep. Judging by comments I've read if I were a member of these powers that be, I might be worried.

heydave said...

I could continue this rant in terms more suited to the mad driving skillz of my fellow humanoids, but for now I'll just wish you all happy holidays.

BTW, I certainly thought of you Dog as I watched the Dome go down. It's almost funny when it happens elsewhere.

Take care folks and see you next year.

dave said...

Hey...give Lesley Stahl a break. She can also play the piano alongside autistic savants! If we thought HER piece was bad, wait till we get a load, and I do mean load, of ABC's new series "Homeland Security, USA" coming in January.