Thursday, July 29

That Thing In My Pants And Other Dangers

APOLOGIES for a less-than-sparkling interest in politics this week; it is the Dog Days, after all, and I missed all the really funny bloggers explaining to the Netroots how to keep saying "Fucking Lying Shitheel Acephalic Racist Fucks" every day and still keep it fresh. I'm not sure where our governor is summering, but I wouldn't be surprised if he and the boys are working on alternative explanations of how he turned the state's $500,000 deficit (dollar amounts adjusted according to how big you need it to be to make a point) into a half-million dollar shortfall and counting. Just in case "it wasn't my fault" doesn't soar like a turkey buzzard. Things are so bad economically that not only did he send out the Indiana State Auditor to do his 'splainin'--no easy task, since he had to create the position first--but he's had Lt. Governor Becky "GED" Skillman doing all the ribbon cutting this summer, celebrating more of those vaporjobs we'll be getting in 2013. And we hadn't seen Becky in so long I typed "Stillman" before I caught myself. Daniels missing a ribbon-cutting opportunity to claim credit for someone's employment is like Payton Manning missing a snap. He once turned up at a new Starbucks, fer chrissakes.

Mostly I've been rediscovering the joys (and perils) of riding a bicycle that actually goes forward when you pedal it, mostly, as well as something of the challenges faced by the recently awakened long-term coma sufferer. Supposedly dangerous toe clips, which I've cycled in for forty years without incident, have been replaced by pedal-and-special-shoe-interlocking propulsion systems, which prevent injury by making riding prohibitively expensive; everything on the modern bike can be repaired with an Allen wrench, meaning you can't buy a cycling multi-tool for your emergency bag that doesn't contain seven items your tenspeed relic doesn't need; and bike mechanics are all too young to drive. So far I've spent about what I bought the bike for in maintenance and safety--that's without fixing the brakes, yet, but I really don't use 'em--which led to the following:

DR: Forty bucks for a helmet! I rode for thirty years without ever thinking of a helmet!

PW: You weren't fifty-six years old then.

There's plenty that's good, and cool, as well, and the internets are full of helpful advice and amateur repair theatricals, but clothing, fer fuck's sake, you cannot buy a cycling jersey that doesn't look like the hood of Dale Jr.'s Sprint Cup car. Or "cor", as they say in the announcer's booth.

And the roads and the traffic are worse, or I'm much older, or both. The tally so far is two flats, neither really explained--I have learned to repair and remount a tire, which may not seem like much, but try doing it in the grip of congenital schlemielity--two permanently tingly thumbs from riding over cobblestones disguised as asphalt roadways, and a taste of sidewalk the other afternoon which I tried to blame on my Poor Wife stopping short in front of me, but was actually poor braking technique combined with no brakes. Not even enough rash to wear as a badge. But it reminds me that this is the coolest tattoo I've ever seen:

So yesterday, after flat #2, I went looking for bomb-proof tubes, which none of the local shops stocked on the grounds, I guess, that it reduced the number of flats they get to repair. And I didn't find any ("We can order 'em for you," said one young shaver. "Thanks, I don't know what I'd do otherwise," I muttered.) so I bought a standard tube and came home and went to replace it, which is when I discovered that the bead jack I avoiding buying was absolutely essential on the grounds that my bike now uses tires which are the teensiest bit small, thanks to all the modern inconveniences such as the goddam Balkanization of tire sizes I'd missed out on up to now. So I went back and got one, and came back home. I was set up to do this from the living-room couch. My Poor Wife sat down beside me, because, speaking of tingly things, she just really enjoys watching sweaty and swearing men accomplish things with their brawny arms, another reason, if one were needed, to question how she wound up with me. And the bead jack didn't know anything about my Karma, apparently, because it performed flawlessly, and the thing was done in like two minutes. I set the wheel aside, and had a sip of coffee, and heard a weird sort of noise coming from my nether regions. This, lamentably, is not really all that odd. I thought at first it was just a peculiar stomach rumble, but there was a weird sort of squeaky component, a sort of rubbing leather or plastic sound, and I checked my belt, and the contents of my pockets, but couldn't find anything. I stood up and shook myself. Nothing. I sat back down and it started up again. I'd sort of decided to just ignore it. Had another gulp or two of coffee, stood up, and out a leg hole fell a Great Black Wasp, S. pennsylvanica, aka a Cicada killer.

It's "non-aggressive", says WikiAnswers. Like you gotta tell me that.

Tuesday, July 27

When The Moon Is In The Seventh House

David Brooks, "The Long Strategy for Obama Democrats". July 26

PLEASE stop:
I was a liberal Democrat when I was young. I used to wear a green Army jacket with political buttons on it — for Hubert Humphrey, Birch Bayh, John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. I even wore that jacket in my high school yearbook photo.

Have Douthat show you how to post a picture.

Look, somebody's missing the joke here, and god knows it could be me. But it's Brooks who keeps doing this, over and over, as though even if he doesn't imagine he's fooling anyone he thinks "I Was a Teenaged Liberal" is the fucking Comstock Lode of political insight, the Rosebud of the Op-Ed pages, the Friedman cabbie people believe in. So if taking this semi-seriously even for a moment misses the point, I apologize.

But by the time Main Line Davey turned 15 Jimmy Carter had secured the Democratic nomination and a huge lead over Gerald "Nixon Pardoner" Ford. Does Brooks ever claim to have been a Carter supporter? Admit a pubescent admiration for George McGovern? That button collection sounds more like something he'd swiped from his Yellow-Dog Democrat grampa's bureau drawer in the dark. Humphrey? Student Drivers for Hubert Fucking Humphrey? Just a big fan of Full Employment, or of his brave 11th-hour opposition to bombing Vietnam? Birch Bayh--something in his twenty-five minute campaign really spoke to your adolescent self? FDR? Where'd you even find an FDR button in 1976? By the mid-70s Roosevelt was a plaster saint, a face in the change drawer, an American icon, not a rallying-point for Budding Young Socialists.

Let's just say that were I sitting across the felt table from Bobo here I'd figure "Franklin Roosevelt button" was either a Tell of the first order or a shrewd little leg-pull, and I'd take my chances betting against shrewd. It's Brooks' post-Conversion Friedmaniac pals who think an FDR button would have been the height of teen rebellion during the Carter administration; for everyone else in those days the New Deal was sensible, fluoridation was reasonable, and Army BDU jackets were five years out of date, unless you were a Vietnam vet who lived in yours.

It’s a magic green jacket. I can put it on today and, suddenly, my mind shifts back to the left.

Hey, at one time I had an authentic Wehrmacht field cap, but I couldn't put it on and receive uncoded messages from Dick Cheney.
I start thinking like a Democrat, feeling a strange accompanying hunger for brown rice.

Oh, har har har! Sorry I ever doubted you, Dave; you can talk the talk.
When I put on that magic jacket today, I feel beleaguered but kind of satisfied. I feel beleaguered because the political winds are blowing so ferociously against “my” party. But I feel satisfied because the Democrats have overseen a bunch of programs that, while unappreciated now, are probably going to do a lot of good in the long run.

I'm guessin' the upcoming list isn't going to feature a lot that would have excited a fifteen-year-old Humphrey liberal at Radnor.
For example, everybody now hates the bank bailouts and the stress tests. But, the fact is, these are some of the most successful programs in recent memory. They stabilized the financial system without costing much money. The auto bailout was criticized at the time, but it’s looking pretty good now that General Motors is recovering.

There's that Good Ole FDR influence.
But the magic jacket-wearing me is nervous about the next few years. I’m afraid my party is going to get stuck in the same old debates that we always lose. First, we’re going to have the same old tax debate. We’re going to not extend the Bush tax cuts on the rich. The Republicans will blast us for killing growth and raising taxes as they did in 2000 and 2004.

Check the pockets. I think your jacket is tuned to the Democratic Leadership Council drive-time show.
Then we’ll get stuck in the same old spending debate. We’ll point to high unemployment and propose spending programs too small to make much difference. The Republicans will blast us for bankrupting the country with ineffective programs, and the voters are so distrustful of government these days that they’ll side with the Republicans on that one, too.

Okay, screw this. Look, the one proven way we can avoid getting "stuck in the same old spending debate" is to elect Republicans, who then bankrupt us without criticizing themselves for it. You, Mr. Brooks, backed blank-check military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this you were both dead wrong and remarkably unfettered by your own widely-trumpeted "principles", but these are beside the point. If you believe in busting the Treasury for your pet ideas, then you cannot scream bloody murder when a Democratic landslide does the same. As for the voters, well, let 'em vote. If eight years of unmitigated disaster weren't enough for us, then let's learn the lesson all over again.
So I sit there in my magic green jacket and I wonder: What can my party do to avoid the big government tag that always leads to catastrophe?

I dunno…fight you assholes? Just kiddin'.

Here's an idea: next Halloween, instead of wearing your hippie jacket try finding a pair of magic eyeglasses that see into the present. You wanna talk catastrophe? Try the long-term effects of Reaganomics, which you championed. Try the hysterical reaction to 9/11, which you championed. Try sixty-five years of incontinent military spending, which both sides facilitate but your side claims as a birthright. Try the trendy denigration of any and all spending for the general welfare--even that which rescues us from the brink of disasters caused by unregulated corporate rapine. Championed by whom, again?
It occurs to me that the Obama administration has done a number of (widely neglected) things that scramble the conventional categories and that are good policy besides. The administration has championed some potentially revolutionary education reforms. It has significantly increased investments in basic research. It has promoted energy innovation and helped entrepreneurs find new battery technologies. It has invested in infrastructure — not only roads and bridges, but also information-age infrastructure like the broadband spectrum.

These accomplishments aren’t big government versus small government; they’re using government to help set a context for private sector risk-taking and community initiative. They cut through the culture war that is now brewing between the Obama administration and the business community. They also address the core anxiety now afflicting the public. It’s not only short-term unemployment that bothers people. What really scares people is the sense that we’re frittering away our wealth. Americans fear we’re a nation in decline.
Golly, something that's just become apparent, huh? We haven't frittered away our wealth; we were forced to sell it at a loss to Wal*Mart and Halliburton and General Electric. It's the fact that "the business community" can operate its own culture war--while avoiding paying for the two real wars it is happy to profit from--which is the problem. It's the fact that "greasing the skids for private profit" is seen in some quarters and Op-Ed holes as the One Legitimate Function of Government which is the problem. It's the fact that someone can spend twenty-five years getting paid to urge the country to take its collective hands off the wheel and let Goldman Sachs drive, then blame the passengers for the unexpected crash and walk off like nothing happened which is the measure of our decline.

We're in decline because we've been sold a bill of goods. We've been sold on the idea that we could only be safe if we outspent the combined nations on earth militarily; we could only be free if we if we deregulated business and hoped massive profits got us jobs somewhere; we could afford to run a civilized society in the 21st century only some people fell down the rathole and we ignored their cries for help. Who's been doing the selling? "The People" are angry about the decline of the US of A, but those same People supposedly cheered every goddam step that got us here. And this is the Democrats fault, not because they cowered from the mythic might of Reaganism rather than oppose it, not because they sold the birthright of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for multi-million dollar campaign war chests, but because they're the party of Big Government, according to the other party, the one that was doing all that shit.
Eventually, I see a party breaking out of old stereotypes, appealing to entrepreneurs and suburbanites again, and I start feeling good about the future. Then I take off the magic green jacket and return to my old center-right self. A chill sweeps over me: Gosh, what if the Democrats really did change in that way?

Worse, what if they behaved like Democrats for once? But, hell, you want a real chill, consider eight more years of your bozofest of a party back in control. There ain't enough olive drab in the country to keep us warm from that.

Monday, July 26

Richard Milhous Nixon, Imperial President-for-Life

I MADE the mistake this morning--let's just call it an experiment in foregone conclusions--of seeking out and tuning in CNN, which may've had something to do with the fact that over the weekend I'd seen Wolf Blitzer talking to Valerie Plame, and he brought up the Great Soviet Spy Exchange of Aught Ten ("Was it a good idea?" he asked), and after Ms Plame said something he mumbled something about "that red-headed spy", which tells you all you ever needed to know about Wolf Blitzer, CNN, and the state of American journalism.

And yet I tuned back in; in my defense I was just killing time before the cat had to be pilled and I could go out riding. And Perky Hair is talking to Overseas Spook Sniffer with a British Accent (boffo demo, that; MI-6 meets White Man's Burden). And Hairdo says something like "Of course the question we all want answered is 'Will this [the Wikileaks Afghanistan document release] compromise our national security?' " And George Lazenby replies with a five-minute switchback that attempted to turn that into the sort of question we all might want answered, let alone one which hadn't been, already (see Ghraib, Abu, national security risk of photos from), in the living memory of Newscaster Barbie, even. And failed. And I actually felt a little sorry for him, or would've if this sort of charade wasn't his chosen profession; it's gotta be tough trying to lie on American television with an upper-class British accent these days, when you're following Tony Hayward, and when the flat-accents do it natural as drawing breath. It's gotta be like honoring the Marquis of Queensbury, getting kicked in the nuts, and overhearing the American announcer questioning your Euro-sensibilities while you puke on your cornerman's shoes. (I had to wonder, for a moment, how the Ticcy High Church English of William Fuhbuckley would fare these days.)

Anyway, two supposed journalists, zero concern for the basic mission of Journalism, unless the Goverment approves. Where's that New Teabagging Spirit? At some point Hairdo introduced the heroic words of the heroic National Security Advisor General James Jones as he heroically took a bullet intended for the last twelve Presidents excepting Carter:
The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.

Let's just be clear, here. Wikileaks isn't telling the Afghanis something they didn't already know. Nor Pakistan, nor "the Taliban". We're already giving them all the encouragement they need to want to kill us, while vastly shortening the aiming distance. The only people who might be finding out something new are Americans, and you've already made it abundantly clear their opinions don't count.
Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents

Meaning no one connected with 'em used a telephone, or email, which amount to sending you guys an open invitation? Wow, my respect for Wikileaks just took a big jump.
These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.

Ix-nay on the aspriations-hay there, General. And if you're gonna adopt the William Westmoreland playbook, you might wanna look into how it worked for William Westmoreland first.
The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy

"Hey, that's not even the pooch we screwed!"
with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years. This shift in strategy addressed challenges in Afghanistan that were the subject of an exhaustive policy review last fall. We know that serious challenges lie ahead, but if Afghanistan is permitted to slide backwards, we will again face a threat from violent extremist groups like al Qaeda who will have more space to plot and train. That is why we are now focused on breaking the Taliban’s momentum and building Afghan capacity so that the Afghan government can begin to assume responsibility for its future.

And our security.

Well, not that I'd dream of telling you guys how to do your job, General, but have you considered winning the war in less time than it took for two World Wars to end? Maybe there wouldn't have been so much space for Our Enemies to plot and leak.

Thursday, July 22

But The View's Nice

Ruth Marcus, "Tom Vilsack's classy apology". July 21

YET another example, where none was needed, that anyone using the term "classy" couldn't get within twenty-five yards of actual class.

I’ve got a pre-existing soft spot for Tom Vilsack,

Sure. He's the ginchiest US Secretary of Agriculture since Clayton Yeutter.
but I thought that was a model apology to the un-fired Shirley Sherrod.

Lemme just ask here if anyone knows exactly when Fucking Life Itself was knocked permanently off its axis.

It was a model of settling on a story and sticking with it. It's not like we needed another.

Y'know, I endured--just barely--eight years of the Reagan administration, and 300-some-odd million of us are enduring the results, and back then no one could get over just how well Ol' Dutch communicated. Of course, he never did an apologizing, and "no one" meant the lapdogs of the Washington press; the Wonder of it All required that you ignore what he was actually saying, and it had to be edited for clarity by someone with a pre-existing soft spot for American Imperialism. So, pass, thanks. It's tough enough finding substance these days, let alone insisting on it.
Apologizing is hard for all of us

Well, BP's been apologizing all fucking summer. David Vitter apologized to Rachael Maddow last week. Joe Wilson apologized. Seems to me apologizin's a piece of cake compared to doing your job correctly and resisting the urge to pop off at any provocation.

If I'd been the one fired from my job by a guy who couldn't be bothered to do his, if my penalty (for doing nothing except be attacked by racists) was loss of my income and a public branding, and his was standing in front of a group of reporters for ten minutes demonstrating his magnanimity, and the apology was being delivered to me, personally, then maybe, maybe his ability to appear sincere would be important to me.

But I'm just a schlub, and Tom Vilsack is the guy Barack Obama tabbed to run the Department of Agriculture. And in that capacity he fired a poor underling simply because she was being targeted by racist assholes like Andrew Breitbart and the racist assholes at FOX. He didn't even bother to look--that's the fucking crux of his wonderful apology--and, of course, he's too important to've spoken to Shirley Sherrod himself, or to've opened her personnel file. So for me apology doesn't cut it, no matter how classy.

That's not to say I don't think he was sincere, or that I don't think he's a good man. It's to say that if you're going to make snap decisions based solely on political considerations you're responsible both for the failure to be diligent and the politics. I didn't really hear much about that part of it at that presser. He's a professional politician. Thousands of rank amateurs in this county heard "released by Andrew Breitbart" or "wall-to-wall on FOX News" and knew immediately that the overwhelming odds were the thing was a sack of shit. He was handed a transcript, of an edited video, and dove in headfirst. If he's held to the same standard as lowly employees, he shouldn't apologize, he should resign (and let the President decide whether to accept). Of course he's not held to the same standard; he's a big shot. They don't resign for mistakes unless doing so is part of the plea bargain. But if he takes "full responsibility" then whomever handed him the transcript and didn't say, "This piece of shit from Breitbart is all over that piece of shit FOX" should be gone. And he ought to be apologizing to everyone who votes Democratic. Compare the Bush/Cheney administration, which didn't even apologize for putting Pentacostal yearlings in charge at Justice, and which, lest we ever forget, got the people it shot in the face to do the apologizing.

How this happened is between Vilsack and Ms Sherrod. Why it happened in the first place is something I'd like to have explained. Y'know, before we all "move forward".

Wednesday, July 21

Olio: Everything's Going To Be Fine, I'm Sure Edition

• You Want All This on Your Tombstone, Lady, You're Gonna Have To Order a Bigger One, or Why I Never Miss Blogginheads::

Maureen Tkacik, discussing the Olivia Munn tsimmes with Lizz Winstead:
I mean, it seems like it would be a very, um, specific and y'know like again I, I, I, I, I kinda don't really have a very strong opinion about this one way or the other, but, y'know I, I used to work at Talking Points Memo, that's a, y'know, a kind of um, geeky political wonky, I mean it's like Daily Show, the staff is like Daily Show without having had a sense of humor necessarily about, uh, what you're writing about, although a lot of people do, to their, um, to their credit. And y'know it was very, it, it was all dudes. And it's because they have these autistic brains fer, uh, y'know, like very obscure political facts and that kind of stuff can come in handy um, y'know or it's necessary for producing a show like the Daily Show to kind of have, um, photographic memory fer uh, y'know, really, y'know, arcana that sometimes I personally can't bother caring about, um, but I also think that, so I think that there's probably a little bit of that, um, which is just sort of like a way that the brain stores information, um, tends to be, y'know, the, uh, seems to be a disconnect and, and, uh, the way that I, uh, y'know, kind of process and absorb information, and, uh, uh, I've found in my career to be slightly different from your average, um, y'know, political, uh, wonk. Um, and I don't know, y'know, there's, there's just a lot, there's a lot to talk about there. But it doesn't have to do with that Christopher Hitchens question whether women are funny. I think that this tapped into that, y'know, vein of controversy and unfortunately, um, y'know, it, uh, y'know, what got lost was that I think that Olivia Munn is pretty funny actually, as it turns out.

Personally, y'know, I tend to typographical conservatism, but I have to admit after trying to transcribe that thing that 20th century punctuation is wholly inadequate for the demands of the 21st. Is there an emoticon for, like, incontinent eye-rolling?

• I was watching Tour de France coverage Monday night while riding the stationary bike--it's like getting a hummer while watching porn*, except sweatier and not fun--and there's a biggish flap because Contador grabbed the Yellow jersey by passing Andy Schleck when the latter's chain slipped, which is at minimum a racing faux pas; you're not supposed to take advantage of someone else's equipment failure. There's some hubbub afterwards, and Contador claimed he didn't realize what was going on, though he clearly did. And they toss back to the studio, and one of the yammerers--it wasn't Phil Liggett or Bob Root, is all I know--says something along the lines of:
The Euros have been slow to adopt American innovations, like being noisy, wearing garish colors, and chewing with your mouth open, and they insist on clinging to these outdated Marquis of Queensbury rules.

And all I could think of was This is precisely what has happened to this country; there's no goddam question that if it had happened to Lance Armstrong, in his prime or yesterday, when he was trying to win one last Stage, they'd've been screaming for instant replay, judicial review, and the judges' scalps. Conversely, I don't recall anyone complaining when the um, y'know, Euro-arcana of cycling rules worked in favor of Lance and his USPS hench-teammates, and I have no doubt that, given the opportunity, the same guy'd be complaining that NBA players travel all the time.

Einstein said that Piaget was obviously a great genius, because no lesser man would have noticed something so simple (as a child's notion of the conservation of matter). Piaget also noted that by age four most children have rejected the fanciful in Aristotle's Physics, which nevertheless ruled the West for 1600 years. Had Piaget's focus been the other way 'round, and had he lived long enough, perhaps he could have explained how the modern American adult comes to embrace, even celebrate, half-baked ideas which should have been driven out of his head by puberty. Oh, if only more shit blew up! the Tour would grab a bigger audience share in the USA! Wild Wild West, baby! Somehow it just never occurs to these fucks that you can't stop things at A Little, Highly Photogenic Cheating, or that bicycle racing would rather quickly become a combination of NASCAR, ice hockey, and mountaineering without that poncy Marquis gettin' in the way.

And when did this fucking start? We came out of WWII with a belief in Fair Play intact. Sure, we were fucking hypocrites about it, and international bullies, but it was still there, as a standard; today you'd have an entire screaming political party complaining about trampling the rights of Swiss bankers.

• I don't know which national news program my Poor Wife had on last night--or, as always, why--but I was treated to three minutes on how white people--now politically powerless--have been forced to endure, in rapid succession, an African-American AG blatantly refusing to indict a black man, and an Ag Dept. functionary admitting she might've made a race-based mistake 25 years ago. This, of course, on top of the NAACP ruling that all white Americans are crackers. Whatever reporter was "covering" the story--how come our comedy shows are written by y'know, a kind of um, geeky political wonky, and our political news is reported by hair care product pitchmen?--made sure to note that last week the NAACP had charged some Teabaggers with racism, which caused me, inadvertently, to yell back that if they though it was a story now, perhaps they could have covered the charges themselves, at some point, or even, like, y'know, now.

And, of course one is reasonably certain that at this very moment, stronger stomachs than mine are digesting numerous instances of the Right complaining that all this is being brought up to make it look racist.

• My favorite private chuckle last week was when Indiana State Auditor Tim Berry was sent out to spokesmodel the sheepish, Summer-doldrums-timed announcement that the state's Rainy Day Fund, Mitch Daniels, Savior, was down to its last half-billion and wouldn't survive next spring's crackpot fest known as the Indiana General Assembly. This is not a surprise, nor is it particularly funny, as people and institutions are both in real pain, but you had to love the sudden appearance of Berry--I'd never laid eyes on the man before--as the Bad News bearer in place of Presidential Hopeful Daniels (and you've got some mighty tiny shoes to fill there, Tim). It was Daniels who, just last spring, hijacked the legislative process (and a done deal) to "preserve" the "Surplus" he'd "created"; now, with no place left to hide, the campaign is on to Plan B ("Not his fault"), and some functionary is sent out to say, with a straight face:

"It's a Rainy Day fund. And in case no one's noticed, it's raining."

Y'know, Tim, the only person standing in the downpour last March and saying it looked pretty dry to him, and he could really go for a Tenderloin, was…your Boss.


* I'm guessing.

Monday, July 19

What Th' Hell, It Beats Talking Politics. Or Saying Anything Meaningful, Or Well-Thought-Out. Or Consistent. Or Getting To The Buffet Late.

David Brooks, "Mel Gibson Has A Personality Disorder I'm Able To Diagnose At A Distance And Which, Perhaps Surprisingly, Is Absolutely Not Informed by His Wealth or His Religion". July 15, 2010

David Brooks, "Sure Mel Gibson Seems To Be A Religious Bigot but the Real Threat to Civilization Is That Syrupy Mitch Albom Stuff". March 9, 2004

THIS might come as a surprise to you, say, if you just stumbled in for the first time, but I really have no use for Mel Gibson, aka The Australian John Travolta, or any of his movies I've been subjected to (I was paid to see that second Mad Max flicker, which I believe I described afterwards as "a Must See, assuming you think Tom of Finland was insufficiently apocalyptic"). If it's your $12 bucket o' popped pig feed n' petrochemicals, fine. I don't care. He's some guy who's made an inordinate number of movies I've seen ten minutes of without ever once caring about the eleventh. He made a bunch of money on faux-Celticism, but so does the Signals catalog. He made a bunch more money on faux-American military history, but so does the History Channel. He made a bunch of money with that Jesus slashfic, but so does You Know Who. I don't care. There's far too little theological mumbo-jumbo in the world, if you ask me. Which isn't to say there's not too much theological mumbo-jumbo enforced on other people, just that I wish everyone so inclined spent his time making movies and not foreign policy.

So he's a woman-beater, a racist, an anti-Semite, and a peabrain. There's a whole friggin' network of 'em on cable. This concerns me to the extent that I don't approve of such things, but not to the extent that I care because it's coming from a celebrity this time. As far as I'm concerned reaction belongs to his specialty market; let the people who treated him as the modern St. Sebastian, and his movie as the latest in a series of modern miracles which usually place Christ on a corn chip, deal with the real Mel Gibson. Preferably privately.

What doesn't need to happen--meaning, of course, what's guaranteed to--is a bunch of illiterates who could care less otherwise condemning his behavior just because it's on their fucking teevees, and behaving as though it's the first instance of lying scoundrelism they've had the misfortune to run into. Or, worse, using it as an opportunity to crank up the unlettered pop-sociology, and send the Times a bill.

Ladies and gentlemen, David Brooks. Like most other non-Christian "conservatives", and like all public moderates in the US of A who hope to turn a profit, Brooks is required to believe, or to pretend to believe, that Christianity is a universal force for good, a friendly neighbor who minds his own business and keeps his fence in good repair, and Family-Sized barrel of health-bestowing apples only rarely subject to worminess. When Gibson's personal and theological anti-Semitism was alleged to have reached the screen in The Passion, Brooks dismissed it with the counter-assertion that Mitch Albom's "schmaltzy psychobabble" was much more terrifying, because, y'know, Everybody Knows only a few whackjobs really believe all that fire and brimstone malarky, whereas as this touchy-feely spirituality stuff is everywhere ("As any tour around the TV dial will make abundantly clear"), insidious, and insufficiently respectful of authority.

Like much else in American "conservatism" generally, and specifically in Brooks' Boboland Leo-Strauss-with-a-Smiley-Face posturing, this is so jaw-droppingly self-contradictory that the charitable explanation involves pubescent sexual humiliation, twelve years of stolen lunch money and impromptu incarceration in one's own locker, followed by a life-long seething rage forced to content itself with sniggering references to psychological categories too arcane and polysyllabic for one's tormenters to catch. Jesus may've been clear about what was to be rendered to which Authority--more likely they fixed that in re-write--but then it was that same Authority which offed him rather unpleasantly for a bad case of sassmouth. Luther died in the middle of the 16th century, and since that time something like 50% of professed Christians have believed--at least by show of hands--that their relationship with the Almighty is personal.

Now, aside from the natural deference to the extreme end of the Crackpot Scale which is part of the protective coloration of the public moderate, there's the little matter that back in Aught Four Brooks was trying desperately to change the subject because, if nothing else, those foolish backwards Christian literalists no one takes seriously were needed at the polls that November. So much so that he uncorked the N-word:
We've got more to fear from the easygoing narcissism that is so much part of the atmosphere nobody even thinks to protest or get angry about it….

''Plagued by anxiety, depression, vague discontents, a sense of inner emptiness, the 'psychological man' of the 20th century seeks neither individual self-aggrandizement nor spiritual transcendence but peace of mind, under conditions that increasingly militate against it,'' Christopher Lasch wrote in ''The Culture of Narcissism.'' Lasch went on to call the therapeutic mentality an anti-religion that tries to liberate people from the idea that they should submit to a higher authority, so they can focus more obsessively on their own emotional needs.

Maybe somebody somewhere can seriously explain why Lasch is so goddamed popular with people who are fucking capitalist in their marrow; for the life of me I can't understand why they imagine he's always talking about someone else, or that anyone who professes monotheism is exempt. All I can come up with is that The Culture of Narcissism had its fifteen minutes right around the rise of Reaganism, and that in the Pop arena it somehow became confused with Tom Wolfe's "Me Decade" in the minds of perpetual AV nerds. Narcissism! That's it! That cheerleader who laughed at me when I asked her out, those long-haired bong aficionados who pantsed me in gym class, are all in Love with themselves! The culture is swarming with 'em, save for a few intellectual superior specimens like myself!

Never mind that Lasch was speaking of something else, not aggrandizing Self-love but an empty shell helpfully filled by ubiquitous commercial jingles and artificially-induced free-range covetousness. Never mind that in every other fucking instance Brooks, et. al, find self-love the highest ideal of Mankind, and junk capitalism its most important sacrament. Narcissism! It wasn't so much an observation, or a critique, as the assumption of a scientilicious buzzword as the last word in the Reaganite war on dirty hippies and, occasionally, the mocking laughter of pom-pom bedecked high-school desirables.

And even missing that point completely you're still left with a mass personality quirk driven by the junk capitalism at its core. Th' hell does Brooks want? No fences and no rabbits? Or all his lunch money back, with interest? Let's swap the horns of the Gibson/Albom dilemma for Amoral Unfettered Capitalism vs. this Brooksian laissez-faire where the Consumer is supposed to reverently keep to his place in the monotheistic Grand Scheme, but the Producer is free to do as he pleases until he gets caught, at which point Brooks will tsk-tsk the board of Goldman Sachs, or the constructor of shoddy deep-water drilling rigs while noting that Regulation, or The Ten People You Meet in Heaven, are a thousand million times worse. Dunno about you, but I'd choose the former.

Here, incidentally, is Brooks for the Time Capsule:
In their book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell cite data to suggest that at least since the 1970s, we have suffered from national self-esteem inflation. They cite my favorite piece of sociological data: In 1950, thousands of teenagers were asked if they considered themselves an “important person.” Twelve percent said yes. In the late 1980s, another few thousand were asked. This time, 80 percent of girls and 77 percent of boys said yes.

That doesn’t make them narcissists in the Gibson mold, but it does suggest that we’ve entered an era where self-branding is on the ascent and the culture of self-effacement is on the decline.

Says the guy who uses self-effacement the way carnival sideshows use a barker.*

And this is Brooks' favorite piece of sociological data (Ladies and Gentlemen, the Prosecution rests!) from which he draws the conclusion that we can't draw any conclusions, but if we could they'd back him up absolutely.

It was certainly interesting to read these in reverse chronological order, approaching the second knowing that to Brooks, now, the unambiguously, irrefutably, and indefensibly nasty psychopath Gibson has been revealed to be (rather than the cranky anti-Semite and "narrow sectarian" no reasonable person would take seriously), can be explained by…wait for it…

His narcissism.


* The correct term is "talker"; alternately, and more fittingly here, "lecturer".

Friday, July 16

Friday On Doghouse Riley's Doggone Good Food Blog™

Despised Hoosier Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

3/4 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. savory
1/4 t. coriander

[Those're my proportions for the spice mix. Doesn't mean you dump all of it on the meat. And use what you like. A little salt and pepper is plenty good enough.]

1 egg
2 c. bread crumbs
4 T. freshly grated Romano *
4 T. olive oil

Combine bread crumbs and Romano in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg thoroughly. Slice tenderloin into eight pieces, about 2 inches thick. Pound flat enough to read through. Season both sides. Dip into egg, then crumb mixture and coat both sides well. Tenderloins may be refrigerated at this point, but I prefer to cook them right away. Heat olive oil (hot, not smoking) in two skillets and fry tenderloins about 2 minutes per side. Smack grandma if she reaches for one without asking.

Home-made buns, you say? Try these.


* secret ingredient

Thursday, July 15

You Go First, Part MDCCLXXII

Sarah Palin Whoever Palin, Inc. pays to translate the electrical activity in her head into complete thoughts sentences, "Sarah Palin: The Charge of Racism: It's Time To Bury The Divisive Politics of the Past: Before We Run Out of Colons: By Sarah Palin" July 13

Sophia Nelson, "Should Black Folks Give The Tea Party A Second Look? Yes, the Tea Party movement is overwhelmingly white. But this writer says the black community should stop being emotional and consider the facts. July 14

I'M busy installing block-and-tackle in my garage, which is curious because I'm not sure what block-and-tackle is, exactly, and the only time I've ever operated a pulley in my life was during one of those grade school demonstrations somebody's father rigged up on the Seven Basic Machines. Are there seven? Or am I confusing that with Wonders of the World, Ages of Man, Levels of Troy, Words You Can't Say on Television, and/or Commandments? Seems like it's always Seven for some reason.

Here's the interesting thing about block-and-tackle: what you call "rope", what we call "maize", the sailor knows as "line" until it is riven by a block. Then it's a rope. The amazing part here being, once again, that even the illiterates in the old days were smarter than we are today, and had a much more interesting vocabulary.

Anyhow, I couldn't let these two go another day without some well-deserved reaving, so, in reverse order:
As a black woman in America,

Tell ya what, Ms Nelson; I was trusting that was inherent in that "Black Folks" bit above.
I have remained largely silent about the Tea Party movement and whether the movement itself is ''racist,'' as it is being charged by many in our community, including the leadership of the NAACP.

Though, interestingly, you thought Harry Reid should resign, and said so. So let's just note that your reticence suggests something other than quiet forbearance as a general principle.
As a community, we should take a step back for a moment and learn how to stop making emotional judgments and consider the facts about the Tea Party movement.

Maybe it's just me, Ms Nelson, but I've always felt that Americans of African descent--okay, that's actually all of us, but you started it--have a pretty goddam good sense of when they need to listen to angry white mobs and when they should observe from a reasonable distance.
I think we can all agree that the Tea Party movement, as it stands today, is overwhelmingly white, working to middle class, and overwhelmingly disdainful of President Obama and his policies. My concern with the movement has always been that it was too monolithic.

Just not "monochromatic".
In my opinion, the biggest challenge with the Tea Party movement, like the Republican Party, is that it is 99 percent white.

Challenge for whom? Non-white Americans have had 400 years of practice listening to organizations that are at least 99% white: Congress, Business, Slave holders, the officer corps of the various branches of the armed forces. Could it work the other way, even just this once? It's telling that this grassroots teabagging festival wasn't too concerned about racial makeup before it got called on it, just as it's telling the Teabaggers didn't discover the Federal deficit until it was handed to the current President. It's telling that the congruent Birther Gang--which was jettisoned, to the extent that it has been, only after it became a freakin' embarrassment to anyone with a double-digit IQ, not because it was unmistakably racist from the get go, is 99% white, too. And it's telling that The Root chooses to illustrate your little plea for understanding with a prop African-American Teabagger, not any of the thousands of alternatives.

But here is my concern: Black Americans for all intents and purposes are in an economic depression right now and have been since 2007, when the housing and economic crises first started to manifest. Yet we seem to be sitting passively by as the black middle class experiences the greatest loss of wealth ever. Folks, we need to be clear, with black male unemployment at 35 percent to 50 percent in some American cities (Great Depression levels) and sisters leading heads of household at alarming rates, we need to get aggressive about a black economic-empowerment agenda that should not be dependent solely on what the government can or cannot do for us.

Hey, if middle class, careerist, glamour-shots-posting African Americans wanna sign up to be Teabaggers they're welcome to do so. If you got yours, now, demand your already minimalized tax rates be lower still. Go Down, Moses! Demand that Black Folks, Po' Folks, and much of the middle-class of whatever stripe continue to get its medical care in the emergency room. Go ahead.

And excuse the rest of us if we recognize that an economic depression is precisely the time for people to look for their government to begin doing things for them, and not just for defense contractors and western mining interests and the owners of massive communications empires it cossets in Bull market and Bear, the supposed benefits of which have to trickle a loooong way to begin reaching even middle-class blacks. Go ahead, lady; just spare us the lecture which pretends Teabaggers have struck some hitherto undreamt-of chord.

Acting Former Governor Palin?
I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.”

Y'know, whoever you are, I don't suppose you can help yourself by this point, but arguing that Teabaggers are just standing up for the Constitution is prima facie evidence of your tone deafness. Telling African-Americans you're only defending the Constitution is like telling the Cherokee you're just standing up for Contract Law.
The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling, and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand.

Tell ya, what, Ex, I'll believe you mean it when you tell the Sons of the Confederacy it's time to move on.
President Reagan called America’s past racism “a legacy of evil” against which we have seen the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights.

Philadelphia (MS) Freedom…
He condemned any sort of racism, as all good and decent people do today.

Yeah. I remember how careful he was, whenever he told that Welfare Cadillac Queen story, to mention that race had nothing to do with it. All 6,436 times he used it.
He also called it a “point of pride for all Americans” that as a nation, we have successfully struggled to overcome this evil. Reagan rightly declared that “there is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country,” and he warned that we must never go back to the racism of our past.

Yeah, we needed to move forward, beginning with erasing what candidate Reagan called the "humiliation of the South" caused by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Prince among men. Just because he inherited the Goldwater wing of the party, the one which invented the Southern Strategy, doesn't mean he couldn't, and didn't, go out and lie baldfaced about the thing. Because, you know, racism is certainly so evil that no good man would ever admit what a profitable enterprise it was for him personally.

S'funny; y'all are so busy being Not Racist that it never ever occurs to you to listen. Just once.

Wednesday, July 14

Fun With Monogamy And Pathologically Oversized Craniums, Vol XIV

MY Poor Wife helps me shop for a bike helmet as I bring the '77 Raleigh Super Course out of mothballs*.

ME: "Universal fit" my ass! Look at this thing. Gyro says it fits 98% of the population.

PW: The other 2% are you and the Elephant Man.


* It's a great bike, which cost me about $200 back in the day, which was a lot of money for me, but it had all Sun Tour components, a big step up from similarly-priced stuff. And it's cleaning up remarkably well for having spent the last twenty years in garages and basements. I never sold it because by the time I was too spoked to ride in traffic, and there no longer was any farmland in Marion county that wasn't a half-hour's drive away, the long contagion of the mountain bike had set in and nobody wanted a racing bike. I dunno if anyone does now, either--and I'm not selling--but, god bless the internet, it's now easy enough to find other people out there who pine away for this stuff, most of whom are too young to've known it except as an antique. I feel like Rip Van Winkle. If this works out--no test rides until a complete tune-up is finished--I'm breaking out the Yamaha CA-400 tube amp and the Yonex racket with the head smaller than grandma's stove.

Tuesday, July 13

Borrowing Your Way Out Of Debt, Pt. 2

OH, indulge me for the nonce! Like you have a choice.

I b'lieve I've mentioned this before, but one reason to maintain a national interest in such a paltry backwater carnival as Indianapolis is that the crooks running the show, and the Press which provides them with face-first lapdances, ain't nearly as sophisticated a gang of liars as the national boys, and the seams are that much easier to spot. (Okay, so the nation's insiders hain't been all that sophisticated for the last thirty years, either. I'm old. Just play along.)

So, Our Story So Far: In the 50s and 60s, the peaceable sleep of Naptowners, like much of the rest of the country, is disturbed by angry Negroes; decent, hard-working white people run for the border (of Marion county, in this instance). In the late 60s Republicans, on a Nixonish roll, gain control of the mayor's office (in the person of dynamic young waxwork Dick "Eagle Scout" Lugar), the City Council, and the Statehouse, and they react by extending the city limits to the edge of the county, incorporating all those white voters and maintaining political control for the next quarter-century. The next thing they did was to…

[Okay, y'know, I'm not the guy to bound this shit in a nutshell, but here's one: Lugar, who we sent to the Senate two lifetimes ago, and who has rewarded us by doing absolutely nothing but fluff his own resumé since, was asked by local teevee about the extension of unemployment benefits on the eve of the Senate vote a few weeks ago. And he muttered something about negotiations, and then said, more clearly, that he expected a deal would get worked out. Well, it didn't--oh, shit, please sit down retroactively--and after the vote Lugar was nowhere to be seen; Choirboy Pence did the heavy lifting of explaining why Republicans who voted against it were really the compassionate ones. So now there's another vote coming up. Indiana's unemployed are hurting, and they aren't being helped by the fact that undercounting them and explaining them away is now a full-time job for Mitch Daniels 2012, Inc. And now Lugar shows up again, microphone held reverently in front of his melting waxwork kisser, to say that he'd really, really vote for the thing if it was just a matter of compassion, but there's the troubling matter of all these budget-busting add-ons he's too busy to name. And this is a guy who--like 98% of his Senate colleagues over the century he's been there--has rubber-stamped $ trillions in Defense Spending, and $ trillions more in supplemental Good Wars, and no one with a microphone can even be bothered asking the fucking question.]

Anyway, the Lugar administration also gets the General Assembly to create the Capital Improvement Board, which is a private corporation with the power to tax, something the Republican party has long stood for. The intention--this much is just fucking nakedly out there--is to artificially prop up land values in the Downtown area which white people have left in droves, before all the 100-year leases begin expiring around 1990. First they build a Convention Center, and the funding (a food and beverage tax voted in by those tax-loving GOPers) does so well that they find they've got lots of extra money and no legal recourse but to retire the construction bonds early, so, of course, they just ignore the law and start building other shit, much of which benefits the nascent Simon Mall, Development, and Boondoggle Group. Eventually the city gets into the Pro Sports game, building The Late Market Square Arena when the Pacers get tired of playing in the Bovine Exhibition Hall at the State Fairgrounds, then building an inflatable Dome and stealing the Colts in the middle of the night in order to justify the cost of all that helium, then a new minor league baseball stadium, on accounta MLB said the old one was dirty.

[By the way, how many of you live in a locality with a minor league team? Do they play in a palace, or a glorified dirigible hanger with bleachers? Yet MLB turned up--just as both the NFL and NBA would--just in time to tell us the place was substandard and they might be forced to move. And no one asked where there was a spanking new minor league stadium waiting for a new tenant; we just built a grand new baseball palace, a minor-league Camden Yards, downtown, and left a grand old baseball palace, a copy of Wrigley Field (it's where Eight Men Out was filmed) out on the westside to fucking rot. My dad saw Babe Ruth barnstorm there, and Jimmy Foxx hit one into the lights. Mortecai "Three Finger" Brown and Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched from that mound, and the whole Big Red Machine minus Bench and Rose played together there in the 60s. Woulda cost much less to restore the place than build the new manse (which is a great place to watch a ballgame, no question), but the question was never in doubt. Downtown property values, Come On Down! Er, Up!

[Which reminds me, by the way, that the Daniels administration is on the verge of junking Ernie Pyle's Boyhood Home, now a state historic site, because it isn't turning a big enough profit. I can't say it often enough: this malignant motherfucking dwarf wants to be Your Next President.]

Then the Pacers needed a new arena, because the old one faced the wrong way, and, of course, the Colts needed a new billion-dollar football barn which seated exactly the same number of people, but in more expensive seats. Then the Pacers wanted a better deal because the Colts got one, and then the whole PR machine of gubment, quasi-gubment, and local teevee and free buffet samplers got into the act and purely fucking manufactured a legitimate and contractual threat that the Pacers might leave unless they got an extra $15 mil a year.

So last evening I checked all three local teleprompter festivals, where the newly announced giveaway was the Lead Story. All of 'em asked the Man on the Street what he thought of the deal. All of 'em found the public without exception overjoyed that the city had managed to stave off the loss of a professional basketball team which ranks 27th among 30 in attendance.

And this was concluded, on Channel 13, by a look at their online poll: 80% of respondents saying it was a bad deal. Presumably they all stay indoors, or, as is more likely, there's now two Americas and one of them happily dwells the other side of the Looking Glass until absolute disaster moves 'em two feet.

Monday, July 12

Spending Your Way Out Of Bankruptcy, And Lying Your Way Out Of Responsibility

WE had a yard sale this weekend, so I'll be recuperating between now and the early stages of rigor mortis. I do recommend it as a cure for any residual hope you may still have for the country.

Just kidding; I'm sure you don't have any, either. Honestly, I'd probably be okay with being governed by the first fifty names in the phone book, whereas the then merely cadaverous, not-yet cadaveric Bill Buckley would have permanently dropped anchor somewhere outside the Three Mile Limit after about twenty minutes. For one thing, I'm actually familiar with the level of competence you could expect, while Buckley would've taken it square in the choppers. And for another, we've all now seen who these people voted for in the intervening forty-five years, while in 1965 Buckley imagined he'd always have the well-deserved cloak of minority status to protect him from the law of consequences. (Although, now that I think on it, back when Buckley said it residential and commercial listings were published in a single section, so what he really meant was he'd rather be governed by fifty owners of AAAAAA Realty, and AAAAA Pest Control, and Your Local AAMCO Transmission Specialist than the Harvard faculty. Though I still say he've set sail for the nearest monarchy within a fortnight. Back when he was more nearly lifelike I used to demand he go dine with the first fifty names in the Boston directory and get back to us if he survived with his witticisms intact; now I'd pay the freight just to see any of these types, but especially Jonah Goldberg, spend a month enjoying the entrepreneurial beneficence of the owner of AAAA Pretty Good Cleaners as his newest Fluffier Trainee.)

Which brings us to the sort of culturo-political crapola that intruded on what quiet time I managed despite having half-literate and barely hygienic Hoosiers paw through our unwanted junk this weekend, because that included the sloppy second of two (paging Andrew Ferguson!) Mitch Daniels humjobs in the Sunday Racist Beacon's Metro section. This one, in the "Behind Closed Doors" column (which used to be the dishy, political- reporter-with-mild-anonymity "insider" section, and is now a sort of intentionally homespun Society page, deliberately shorn of anything remotely smelling of Snoot, written by people who desperately need that next free Republican* buffet) which relayed his Five Favorite Books. The Bantam Menace had been asked to compile his list for, on the Fourth of July, which suggests either that FiveBooks is about something other than literacy, or that they're working their way through governors and have finally gotten to the Lesser Midwest. Anyway, please keep your seat belts fastened:

• Friedrich A. "Pop Quiz" Hayek, The Road To Serfdom

• Milton "Now Utterly Disgraced and Discredited, And With Your Help, Mitch, In Case You Missed It" Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

• Charles "Kleagle" Murray, What It Means To Be a Libertarian

• Mancur "Because I Might Get In Trouble If I Named Leo Strauss In Mixed Company" Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations

• Virginia "The Faith Popcorn of Libertarianism" Postrel, The Future and Its Enemies

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next President of the United States:
This I know had a big effect on me because I had never run for public office before. I surprised myself by choosing to do so and then began thinking and speaking of why and what we were going to do if successful. My entire theme for years has been about making major change in our state. It was some of the books on this list that helped me to see that the real reactionary movements in a country like ours are what we call the left. These really are the forces of status quo: they may travel under different banners or masquerade as something else but these are the folks who are more often than not trying to freeze in place arrangements that worked well for the ‘ins’. So Olson shows you how that happens, Postrel shows you how this happens, Hayek shows you how this happens….

They struggle to put a label on us because we look a little different and we don’t throw around the terms that are usually used in politics. I sometimes use her nomenclature – dynamism versus stasism. And you’re right, despite what I just said, there are plenty of people who we would describe as conservatives these days who are very uncomfortable with the risks and the uncertainties that come with an embrace of competition and change and simple rules. I think in general the Olson-like structures that we have to guard against in our country today tend to be those that favour the large interventionist state we built. I’m including here, by the way, the incumbent businesses who love the way in which it suppresses competition and puts up barriers to entry.

Okay, let's linger for a minute, here. We already knew Daniels was trying to pull his "Shucks I don't wanna be a politician, pause, but okay, if you think I'm the most-forward looking guy in the country I'll let you do the work" routine on a national level this time. What's interesting, in such a dynamic character, is he's still running that game long after the results are in, and trusting that not enough people will ask about, or know, the difference. Certainly not the Racist Beacon, which ignores the real news this week that Indiana's job losses under Miracle Mitch are the 5th worst in the country so its Ace Political Columnist Matt Tully (sorry, kids, it's Print Edition Only, which worked so well for the Times) could explain that if we all pull together and give him unimpeded majorities in both Houses again he can fund All Day Kindergarten like he promised six years ago and become the Education Coyly Un-Announced Presidential Candidate. Y'know, so that everyone would forget what he's actually done to First Grade onwards.

And does Daniels put one and one together from this weighty collection? Does it ever seem to have occurred to him that the trendy insistence of his drug-dealing youth that The Left was the Stasis Quo, and Business the Land of Dynamic Forward Thinking may've collided with Olson's group dynamics over the past four decades (as if it didn't before) and produced, well, Mitch Daniels? Does he note that the majority of his single decade not suckling at the government teat was spent at Eli Lilly, which had hired him for his insider experience? Now the man knocks Lilly for colluding with Big Healthcare. What did he imagine he was getting paid for back then? Research? If this is your goddam essential reading list, why is it the only jobs you've ever created in your life are the extra stenographers hired to help facilitate the lawsuits over your FSSA fuckup?

Honest to fucking God, if you're that big on Dynamism why'd you go to work for Dick Lugar?

What sorta fucking liars are we, that we can no longer recognize lying when it hits us square in the phiz? It's metastasized to liver, lights, and marrow. Somehow or other this week I learned that a) cycling's Team Sky has a Head of Marginal Gains; b) people who appear to've gotten no closer to actual basketball than a pair of plaid Chucks nevertheless insist that LeBron James' new career as a reality-show nitwit bodes well for Teabaggers (don't ask, and, okay, it's the Atlantic, so technically I'm cheating); and c) Indianapolis has something called the High Performance Government Team which, it turns out, is not the jokey name for the City-County Council's staff coed softball team, but is an actual committee tasked with recommending Mayor Gomer "One-Term" Ballard close libraries and parks, the better to give the Pacers more tax dollars. (Didja get that? A team which might be expected to produce High Performance has a Marginal Improvement Group, and a group where Marginal Improvement would be, well, an unprecedented leap forward, has a High Performance Team. And these people walk around loose.)

Oh and yes indeedy--as they say in the Yard Sale game--in the biggest surprise since the generally westward direction of last night's sunset, Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board--a supra-government non-agency which only last week was $45 mil in the hole--following a year of tough negotiating it had no obligation to undertake, managed to actually talk the Indiana Pacers out of 15 million no-representation taxpayer dollars, which is to say we're only giving them $10 million annually instead of $15. This while letting them keep 100% of the take from non-Pacer events at the fieldhouse we built for them on their demand. And we only had to toss in $3.5 mil for "capital improvements" on the ten-year-old Basketball and Occasional Billy Joel Concert Palace, though this, they explain with a straight face, has the "potential" to "increase by up to $4.7 million" which either means "it could rise to $4.7 million" or "it could rise to $8.2 million"; one never can be quite sure when the locals start trying to use English. The largess is going to be paid for by…oh hell, let's let the un-biased folks at the Racist Beacon explain:
For this year, the board's efforts to cut its spending and increase revenues have provided enough money to make the $10 million payment, said CIB President Ann Lathrop. As of May, the CIB had brought in $3.8 million more in revenue than budgeted and spent $7.5 million less than budgeted.

Much of the additional revenue came from additional sales and income taxes from an expanded sports district passed by the legislature as part of an assistance package last year, and from events such as the Final Four NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Lathrop acknowledged that sustaining those revenue sources, even with the new hotel and convention space, will depend on the economy, but she said the board also is working to cut costs over the long term through things such as information technology consolidation and energy cost savings.

For one thing--I'm just spitballin' here--we could turn out the lights when the Pacers are on offense, as this wouldn't hurt their shooting percentage much.

Anyway, the CIB "finds" $11.3 mil by not picking your pocket quite as quickly, and gives the money to the richest guy in town, while cautioning you that it might not be able to duplicate the one-time swindle next year, because you might be looking. But good luck with that.

And long-term survivors of this blog might recall that the "government" "side" of the "negotiations" was supervised by that same Lt. Col. Gomer Ballard, USMC who was the first recipient of the Teabagger Seal of Really Obnoxious Approval, back in '05, in a state whose spiritual leader and libertarian brainiac wants to be your next President. It sorta makes surviving another Yard Sale seem less than worth it.


* Seriously; I guess Democrats in Indiana can't afford an open bar or something. Not that the Racist Beacon hasn't always been an anti-fluoridationist yellow sheet, but it used to make an effort to appear fair. This week "Behind Closed Doors" led off by savaging Blue Dog Democrat Brad Ellsworth--the party's nominee for Evan Bayh's Sinecure--because his initial, anti-Washington campaign ad fails to mention that he's been a US Representative for the past eighteen months, during which time the Republic fell to ruin thanks to his votes. This is like singling out Ke$ha for being a talentless self-promoter. We've got a governor who runs against Washington despite having personally wrecked the US economy, and the Racist Beacon can't get over how cute his li'l manhood is when it's angry. Dan Fucking Burton has been running against Washington for thirty fucking years, fer chrissakes, and they shilled for him for twenty-six, until he stiffed 'em on a dinner tab or something.

Friday, July 9

Amity Schlaes, The Mayflower Madam Of Economic History

Amity Schlaes, "Obama threatens to follow in FDR's economic missteps". July 9

An expert on luxury lifestyle, high-end retail and exclusive service delivery in restaurants and professional services environments, Barrows consults with owners and managers and trains staff to improve brand experiences.

That fellow seems to possess but one idea, and that a wrong one.
-Doc Johnson

OH, to be a staffer trained by Sidney Biddle Barrows-Hoffman Herself to improve brand experiences! Which, if I recall correctly, polls say is why 73% of staff get into the fast-paced world of brand experience in the first place.

Okay, first, I googled the woman simply because I can never remember if it's "Sidney Biddle Barrows" or "Sidney Barrows Biddle" or "Sidney Burrow Biggles", which is how I think she should be remembered: as the last person in America where you even bothered to wonder how the three names they used to signify their rank were arranged. And you did so just to make sure the indictment wasn't quashed for technical errors.

It's unfortunate, really, that America was already over by the time she got her fifteen minutes; she woulda stood as the perfect metaphor for the Reagan economy, except you were sick of bringing her up because the nets were yammering about her ten minutes a night, every night, in their early efforts to attract the all-important Tabloid Mentality demographic. And today it would be interesting to note that while prostitution itself remains an object of moral opprobrium, all pimpin' had to do to become respectable was attach itself to the luxury brand experience.

Anyway, I clicked over to her Wikipedia entry, and at least now I'm relieved that being an expert on luxury lifestyle, high-end retail and exclusive service delivery in restaurants and professional services environments doesn't take so much of your time that you can't keep your own wiki updated. And I was reminded, parenthetically, that I often forget to give the 70s notion of restaurant operation--which faced down our unseemly democratic tendencies by bringing us the Server Who Introduces Himself By Name and Function As Soon As He Appears, the beauty-contestant's frozen smile and incontinent stream of over-familiarities as a substitute for quiet efficiency, and the idea that Customer Service Representative was just another name for Used Car Salesman--its proper place in the pantheon of Things We Should Have Realized Were Leading Inevitably To Ronald Reagan and Ruin, alongside Happy Talk News, Star Trek, and Barbara Walters. It's bad enough that you can't eat anything without wading through a Thesaurus entry ("Marinated Half-Grilled Pork Medallions in an Orange-Sandalwood Glaze, with Comfit de Marrons, Extra-Virgin Spring Greens, and finished with a Raspberry Mole Reduction"), but this has led to an entire generation-and-a-half imagining that Making Your Quotient or Adding On that Extended Warranty is not reason enough to go home at the end of the shift, run a warm bath, and cut your throat.

So, then; Sidney Burgess Biddie goes from providing a service some people could use, to peddling her memoir based on her scabrous excuse for Fame, to teaching waitstaffs how to convince the easily impressed that that dirty martini would be twice as nice with Grey Goose™. And this is considered an improvement.

And Amity Schlaes is considered an economic historian.
With unemployment high and the Dow Jones industrial average bumping about, the big debate this summer is how to prevent a double-dip recession resembling that of the late 1930s. Some say Washington should spend more, arguing that government austerity triggered the collapse in 1937 that erased previous gains. Others say that cutting spending now will strengthen the economy generally and preclude dramatic downturns.

Our question here is this: assuming, arguendo, that there was some reason to bring this up in the first place, or hock up a sinecured novella on the topic, why do we need to hear it again? Let alone twenty more times? Woman took her ivied English degree and her connections, not necessarily in that order, and perused the labor statistics for 30s, and wound up re-writing the same right-wing claptrap about the New Deal the previous seventy years had given us in spades. She noticed--as they all had--that there was a recession in 1937 (Sharp-eyed Lit Major!), and concluded--as they all had--that FDR had prolonged the Great Depression. The real effort in all this "research" was to find a set of statistics which left out the people the New Deal put back to work temporarily. Q.E.Fucking D!

She's added nothing to the record; she has no qualifications; she's been taken to the woodshed so often that only an aficionado of the genre could be bothered anymore. We've seen your cherry-red bum enough, dear! And so, of course, she has her own little minaret at the Post group, alerting the faithful to the latest threat to unregulated banking with the same old song and dance.

And this, of course, to an audience which largely equates any reference to Vietnam or Civil Rights in a discussion of current events as akin to injecting a lecture on fifteenth century modalities. Shouldn't this woman be explaining how it is her economic masters nearly brought down the global economy? Or, y'know, booking trips to the Greek Isles for lonely CEOs?

[Shit, I forgot: the Gershwin's Nice Work if You Can Get It, published 1937 and utilizing a popular English phrase of the day, as a pro-business commentary on the recession. The mind fucking reels, or would if one actually applied the mind to anything Schlaes says.]

Wednesday, July 7

Why We Fight, Vol. XXXIV

Robert F. Worth, "A Little Off The Top? Only If Tehran Approves". July 6

OKAY, I admit it: I was apparently born without the gene that produces endless mirth/outrage/enjoyment of Central Planning foibles. Or maybe it was just a reaction to my childhood. As a result, the entire career of Yakov Smirnoff has passed me right by. Sometimes I sit up at night wondering what might have been.

I suspect a genetic basis, because I have the same reaction to the tales of outrage/scandal/risible ineptitude of our own Federal bureaucracy, aka the Gubment; stories of $100 toilet seats, $500 hammers, buried but still functioning bureaucratic anachronisms ("There's a Federal Bureau of Gaslight Quality? What a country!"), or $400 million bridges from Wasilla to West Wasilla mostly leave me cold. Good for the occasional chuckle or fist-shaking, good to bring up to deflate claims that Ronald Reagan was a tireless foe of government waste, or that Sarah Palin is semi-competent or less than totally dishonest. Seems to me the point is to chuckle, or get angry, or whatever, for a minute, then try to figure out why such things occur (on your dime) and what might be done about it. Other countries, eh. If Sweden bans air guitar, say, well, it's up to them.

(Then again, I can't simply overlook the circumstances of my childhood, when this sort of shit reached a peak of sorts in the post-Civil Rights Act Midwest; I think it replaced saying Nigger in public. I well remember my alcoholic stepfather and my drunken uncle--my wife's brother; they'd bonded over Budweiser--trying to top each other with tales of Just How Intrusive the Census of 1970 Was Going To Be. The pending inquiry as to how many times per week you serviced The Wife was considered an absolute lock. The banning of cyclamates in 1969 was deemed the penultimate step before domestic concentration camps for paunchy white guys. By two guys who wouldn't have been caught dead drinking a Tab. So no, kids; the idea that Census takers are secretly noting how many incandescent bulb-crimes you're committing, and sending this information to the White House, is not exactly new.)

And here's the thing: we're supposed to be outraged, or doubled-over in hysterics, at the idea that Tehran* is trying to suppress Western influences, despite the fact that half our fucking country hates 'em too. Hell, if I had the goddam power there'd be Public Service Announcements claiming public cellphone use caused American battlefield deaths, and I wouldn't give a shit about accuracy.

Haircut tyranny? Try getting your teenaged ass a summer job in 1969 Indiana with hair over your ears. Try getting one today with too many tattoos to cover up. Or a turban. We farm our tyrannies out. What percentage of our school children are ordered into uniforms every morning? Because it improves the learning environment. Because it teaches the value of discipline so vital to getting a job. Hell, how many millions have we spent ordering Americans not to smoke Marihuana, when everyone's already in on the joke?

For that matter, try visiting the Wailing Wall in open-toed high-heeled pumps and a halter top. They won't let you do it. Trust me. They won't even let women do it.


* And, again, the Headline giveth and the body taketh away; we're five short paragraphs in before we're admitting the Draconian Haircut Ordinance is, in fact, a PR campaign, and one which probably signals the fact that "Tehran" has already figured out it can't force compliance. Is there some great difficulty about this I'm missing?

Tuesday, July 6

The Dim Switch

Delroy Murdock, "The All-American Light Bulb Dims as Freedom Flickers". July 2

OUR story so far: over the last couple decades the façade of democratic deliberation has been ripped off the World's Third-Worst State Legislature™, revealing, well, revealing the façade underneath, and without anybody noticing. The shining example was Beer Baronage, the "right" of major (and out-of-state) breweries to designate a single Indiana distributor (by law, state-licensed and incorporated in Indiana, though, so far as I know, none is yet leading a crusade for the state to free them from the odious bonds of running an effective monopoly) for a particular region, allowing him to dictate prices for that product within his distributorship. Previously, any beer brought into the state had to be offered to every distributor who wanted it, at published prices. That didn't stop breweries from developing cosy relationships with particular distributors, but it did encourage at least the theoretical Competition which Lowers Prices.

Now, there are two salient features about this, aside from the fact that in Indiana, as in the nation at large, there is so little real choice between Our Two Parties that they can collude in raising the fucking price of beer in exchange for corporate largesse without much fear of voter retribution. First, the process took about a decade from first public calls to examine our "archaic" liquor laws to fait accompli; this was slowed, somewhat, by an unexpected veto from then-Governor Evan Bayh. Second, a big driving force behind this was the Coors Brewing Company, formerly Coors & Mengele, which refused to bring its special proprietary blend of fermented pig feed and mule piss into our fair state until it got exclusive distributorships. Coors insisted it needed this--and I admit, they deserved it for being able to say so with a straight face--because its Pure Mountain Brewed product requires such special handling that only someone with trucks and a proper attitude toward vendor analingus could hope to understand it. This is akin to the ebola virus refusing to cross your state's borders until your legislators adjust their views on vaccination.

This is the same pattern as followed by: the state Lottery; the subsequent expansion of gambling to "river" "boats"; the extension of that to horse racing and to horse-track slots; fireworks; bigger fucking fireworks; and the relaxation of strictures on the sale of liquor into, first, pharmacies, then big-box retailers and grocery stores, including convenience stores, and carry-out sales by state breweries and vintners, and now the proposal to legalize sales on Sunday and permit cold beer sales in groceries, gas stations, car trunks, and parochial schools.

There has not been enough time since the expansion into liquor sales for corporate benevolent associations like Wal*Mart and Kroger to fully show their appreciation for all the hard work our citizen legislators do two months of every year, so the cold beer thing got tabled this past session. And instead of, or in addition to, increasing the available slush levels by one twelvemonth, the retailers have gone on the offensive, trying to enlist John Q. Clueless into their Freedom crusade.

And, look, maybe it sounds here like I'm defending some archaic and rococo, unreasonable legal bondage just for the hell of it. Because I am. But mostly, there's this: I have a big fucking problem with hearing how this is All About Freedom, especially when I'm hearing it from some out-of-state corporate mouthpiece with huge profits at stake. I'm all for Sunday sales, but then I've lived here almost all my drinking life without it ever becoming an issue. Just shut up about the Freedom shit, already. Freedom does not mean the freedom of huge conglomerates to buy legislation increasing their profits enough to cover costs and then some.

Or does it?

Anyway, Ladies and Gentlemen, Delroy Murdock:
As American as the grand slam, the Mustang convertible, and the constitutional republic, Thomas Alva Edison’s incandescent light bulb is among this nation’s most enduring gifts to mankind.

Okay, just for the record: the artificial hoopla over the American-led Age of Invention really needs to be tempered at this point by some small recognition of the multiple quagmires it has led us into, Gulf-wise and elsewhere, and by the fact that nowadays we mostly invent attractive snack-food wrappers, cellphone aps, and excuses. Second, it's always a good idea to sorta look something up: Edison was not just a prolific inventor, but a vengeful reprobate and a borderline (at least) psychopath. Not to mention the fact that his original bulbs still burn; a far more important invention, as American as the Grand Slam breakfast, the King-sized cigarette, and the flexible definition of torture, was the planned obsolescence that made the things so profitable, and incidentally rescued our country's nascent landfill industry.
Today’s federal government, naturally, had to hammer something that has hummed along nicely for 130 years. In one of his most shameful moments, former president George W. Bush foolishly signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. EISA establishes performance criteria that Edisonian bulbs cannot meet. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains: “These standards, which begin in 2012, will eliminate low efficiency incandescent light bulbs from the market.”

1) The goddam story's three years old. 2) Could you please just fucking stop arguing like this? Or start making the argument and living by it? The telegraph, and the crank telephone, and the single-bladed razor all work as well as they ever did, too. Meanwhile, cigarettes, asbestos oven mitts, DDT bombs, and leaded gasoline have all developed quirky little hitches in their performance, based in no small measure on their unfettered use and pervasive marketing. Either we do something about this, or we don't.
Few Americans realize that federal busybodies plan to snatch their traditional bulbs. Sylvania’s December 2009 survey of 302 adults found that “awareness of the 2012 100-watt bulb phase-out” is just 18 percent (error margin: +/- 5.7 percent).

'Scuse me, but So fucking what? The Public resides a block down the street from Total Oblivion. It thinks Sadam Hussein planned 9/11, too; I don't recall that giving anyone on your side much pause, though it did give Dick Cheney an opening. Federal busybodies are presently trying to deprive decent Alabamans of their God-given beach tar, and I don't recall anyone saying anything other than "Hurry the fuck up!"
To discover CFLs’ negatives, try setting a romantic mood with a dimmer switch. This is, at best, a hit or miss proposition.

This is not what my father died for on Omaha Beach, or might've if he hadn't had that heart murmur.
Scarier still, just drop one onto your kitchen floor. Its internal mercury is highly toxic. If spilled, it requires something approximating a Superfund cleanup.

Nice fucking try, Chuckles, but maybe you should put it in a mass email and claim it happened to your neighbor's cousin.

Yeah, mercury's toxic--you can add thermometers to that list of 130-year-old gizmos that don't work so hot anymore--but there ain't much of it in a CFL bulb. There's more in a fluorescent tube, which I don't recall any of you guys complaining about before now. You shouldn't break one. You should not be casual about cleaning one up if you do, but "Superfund" is pure bullshit, not that that doesn't mean it matches the rest of your argument well.
CFLs should be discarded at recycling centers. Hundreds of millions of busy Americans, however, will toss these dangerous bulbs in the trash, atop table scraps and junk mail.

Y'know, who is it argues in favor of McDonald's right to scald old ladies, and screams about the unfair burden placed on poor manufacturers by oppressive demands they label their products honestly? That'd be you. In the next paragraph.
As June 25’s Washington Times detailed, 91 pages of brand-new FTC rules force manufacturers to label the front of CFL packages regarding brightness (in lumens) and annual energy cost (in dollars). Packages’ sides or rears must disclose bulbs’ lifespan, color appearance, wattage, voltage, and mercury content. This information may — but need not — appear in English, French, and Spanish.

My God! Forced to read 91 detailed pages in order to produce a merchantable item. Why, those bastids in Washington are almost suggesting someone might be dishonest somewhere without their oversight.
As page 86 of these June 18 draft regulations illustrates, the FTC knows precisely what these labels should say...

Y'know, lemme just say this: I've been replacing incandescent bulbs for at least two years now, as the old ones burned out; I think there's one, seldom used, in the basement still to go. I've yet to replace a CFL bulb, which should tell you something right there. I used to keep a stock of 40s and 60s on hand, bought in bulk; I don't keep any back-up now, because they don't fucking burn out. The original package ratings were wildly misleading; since they changed the requirements you can pretty much pick up a bulb and know what it'll do. So there was a small adjustment to lower lumination levels caused by inaccurate labeling. Problem solved, now, thanks to government busybodies. And yes, there's a small delay before they come on. I talked my family doctor out of some sedatives, though, and managed to live through those dark, terrifying days.
“I think the incandescent light bulb was one of the great contributions to the art of architecture in the 20th century,” says Howard M. Brandston, a legendary lighting designer renowned for relighting the Statute of Liberty before its rededication on July 4, 1986….

“If the federal government insists on banning the incandescent lamp, it significantly will decrease the quality of life in every home in America,”

Okay, Mr. Legendary Lighting Director; before I start running for my life, could you give me a hint about how?
“The CFLs cannot be dimmed properly."

Jesus Christ, again with the dimming! Did Paul Revere install one in the Old North Church or something?
"When you dim one, the spectral power distribution and color quality of the lamp make people look cadaverous. Most people who wear makeup will not need to do so to look like the Bride of Frankenstein.”

Dude, that look is hot right now. But stock up on fucking candles, already.
“Here we have the government entering all of our homes. Our homes are our castles,” says Brandston, a former adjunct professor of architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a founder of its Lighting Research Center. “Now they are telling us how to light our homes, and they are putting onerous burdens on us in terms of handling these toxic CFLs. The government should not enter our homes, tell us how to live, endanger our health, and ruin our quality of life.”

I'm just glad no former adjunct professor of Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytech clued him in about fluoridation; the resultant explosion of his head would be a real Superfund cleanup site.

Monday, July 5

Will Someone Please Knock William Saletan Up Already?

William Saletan, "When Kagan Played Doctor: Elena Kagan's partial-birth abortion scandal". July 3

ONE More Time: it's not the human capacity for lying that surprises me. Nor even the borderline religious fervor with with it's carried out in the public press these days (like Oscar Levant, who knew Doris Day before she became a virgin, I'm old enough to remember the Press before it was liberal). Instead it's the sad, if not wholly unexpected, recognition that we've raised an entire generation of Americans who think "Lies" and "(Begrudged) Facts" are the two sides every argument is supposed to have, and are therefore entitled to equal amounts of our attention. Or else they're lying about it.

Take that title. Please. Within a few paragraphs we'll be allowing as how Kagan didn't "play doctor"--that is, she neither gave nor altered any medical advice--and by this time we'll have dispensed with the "scandal" bit, albeit inadvertently.

And by the half-way point Saletan will be lecturing the rest of us on what is and isn't science--but that partial-birth abortion routine will remain, cocked and loaded.

So let's start there, and let's begin by saying I Don't Fucking Care. The suggestion that an entire Collegeworth of physician specialists is in on a game to crush the Life out of viable fetuses twenty-four hours before delivery, on the grounds that doing so "before" "birth" obviates a moral dilemma over Killing a Child--and all in the name of earning a few bucks--is not merely beyond the pale; it's beyond fucking tin foil. If unchecked physicians regularly behave in a way we're more accustomed to seeing in tom cats, political operatives, and oil company executives then we're in much bigger trouble than this.

And, shit, we probably are, but that's in no small part because, somehow, believing that you can crunch the bones and quaff the bodily fluids of a 2000-year-old carpenter of whom there's not one jot of evidence apparently not only gives you some divine corner on the Cosmic Right and Wrong market, it gives you the right to tell everyone else to shut up.

I Don't Fucking Care. I don't know whether D&E was, or is, overtly or cryptically, considered no better or worse than alternative methods. God, you should pardon the expression, Knows I've heard the opposite often enough. Dunno if that was considered true in 1996 and not now, or if it still goes. I Don't Fucking Care. It's between a woman and her health-care provider. Not between a woman, her health-care provider, and some lyin'-ass columnist who styles himself the last word in Compromise on the subject (that last word--please remain seated!--being "Everyone should just agree with me"). I'm gonna just go out on a limb and say that if D&E is, I mean was a regularly-selected method for late-term abortions it's because that was considered medically indicated, and not because the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Satan & Partners, LLC.

Of course it's probably enough to note that Saletan's sources on the right are The National Review,, the Media Research Center, and the "respected conservative blog" Power Line. (Is it not enough evidence of what we've become to note that calling something a "respected conservative blog" is enough reason to disrespect it?) But then let's have a look at how the faux balance thing plays out. Kagan, who, we remind you, at worst got the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to agree to political wording in a political document designed not to cause one single D&E to be performed, but merely to preserve the option of doing so in furtherance of a woman's Constitutional rights and a doctor's medical judgement, a political document necessitated by the wholly emotional, phony PR campaign rhetoric of the opponents of those rights, is, according to Saletan:
being cynical about it. "There was no way in which I would have or could have intervened with ACOG, which is a respected body of physicians, to get it to change its medical views," she told senators on Wednesday. With this clever phrasing, she obscured the truth: By reframing ACOG's judgments, she altered their political effect as surely as if she had changed them.

While the gang at the National Review, et. al.:
are being naive about the relationship between science and politics

Not, mind you, cynical; not judged in the light of the previous administration's gaming climate science at NASA, or urging we "teach the controversy" over settled 19th-century biology, or, well, its crocodilian concern over partial-birth abortion. Nope. Just poor shorn lambs huddled together in a cold wind and not quite understanding where it comes from.

And this despite the fact that one side is either telling the truth or fudging it, while the other is continuing a forty-year jamboree of lying its ass off in pursuit of enforcing its own version of morality over common sense. And some guy who can't tell the difference has appointed himself referee?