Tuesday, August 30

Tuesday Olio

• Shorter David Brooks, "The Haimish Line". August 29:

Slumming can be a lot of fun, if you're a college student or on an African safari.

I do my best to hide it, but between you and me I'm not exactly enamored of American culture (and the feeling seems to be mutual). I turn on the teevee news, or, if you want an example from the former world of literacy, click open the Times, and I'm confronted by idiocy within forty-five seconds. Not merely the idiocy of other people's enthusiasms, but aggressive, intentional, over-boiled tripe. There are any number of "refinements", but this culture has essentially become, in the words of my friend Gary, a dichotomous, good-natured bar-wager struggle between the forces of Beer and Pussy. That tastes differ is not a question for debate. What we probably should be discussing, though, is whether the sum total of all bottom-feeding pleasures justifies the cacophonous and constant attempt to make a buck by lowering them.

Is there a voice anywhere for this? Maybe in academia; maybe Louis C.K. It has to be expressed sardonically. Because it sure ain't gonna cut through the clatter, and it ain't gettin' on the nightly news to make them look like they haven't been doing their jobs for the last forty years. Receding daylight has allowed, or forced, me to tune in local morning news for bicycling weather; I have, in the last two days, witnessed not one, not two, but three stories whose entire point was to inform early-AM viewers of a sale or coupon opportunity available at a fast-food abasement.

Which brings us yet again to Brooks, and to the Times: how, in the middle of this, does the nation's most influential editorial page come to feature the staged worldview of Mr. Scoutmaster?

• What's the emoticon for "rolls eyes skyward and prays for Slate-specific Deluge"? Weigel:
So let's adjust our outrage-o-meters. Cuts-for-aid is the new normal.
No. Let's roll back the thirty years of moronity at least far enough to call it what it is: the latest expression of how far gone the Republican party, and its sycophants in the Press, truly are.

Look: maybe the American public can be boiled by degrees without even noticing, like a frog, for the benefit and amusement of the top 2% of wealth holders (and their sycophants in the Press). But that doesn't make it wise, sensible, or sane, let alone normal.

Y'know, pace Michele Bachmann, His lunatic spokesinmate, God's Latest Message wiped out a lot of Republicans; the ones he sends to the Gulf, or the Prairie, often wipe out little but. It's either our collective will to assist our countrymen in an emergency, or it's not. If not, then let's vote, up or down, to enshrine the principle of 19th century neglect once and for all. In daylight, with Republican fingerprints all over it.

Yeah, we have a budget. Yeah, it's not unlimited, unless we're buying bombs, or buying replacement bombs. Our present deficit was caused by the Bush Tax Cuts, chiefly owned by the Republican party from 2001--2009, which is still the principle partner. In the 21st century, where many of us live, natural disasters do less damage to persons, thanks to technology, and much more damage to property, thanks to incontinent development. So who gets hurt? 1) People directly underneath; and 2) Business.

I honestly don't know which is worse: the cynical games-playing of the hard-core Right, or people like Weigel who think it's all good for a chuckle.

And this is what one always wants to know about candidates who flourish the Good Book or who presume to talk about hell and damnation. Do they, themselves, in their heart of hearts, truly believe it? Is there any evidence, if it comes to that, that Perry has ever studied the theory of evolution for long enough to be able to state roughly what it says? And how much textual and hermeneutic work did he do before deciding on the "inerrancy" of Jewish and Christian scripture? It should, of course, be the sincere believers and devout faithful who ask him, and themselves, these questions. But somehow, it never is. The risks of hypocrisy seem forever invisible to the politicized Christians, for whom sufficient proof of faith consists of loud and unambiguous declarations. I am always surprised that more is not heard from sincere religious believers, who have the most to lose if faith becomes a matter of poll-time dogma and lung power.

Michele Bachmann, by the way, blasphemed in speaking for God, then consciously blasphemed in saying she was just joking. Heard anybody mention that? Or is it excused under the Crazy meme?

And remember when she proved she was a Serious candidate in that first debate, by speaking in complete sentences? Does Weigel?


Li'l Innocent said...

I wonder if the rubes for whom Hitchens says Perry's currently tailoring his sanctity aren't so accustomed to being shouted and huckstered at that it's only hucksterism - the louder and the less considered, the better - that can make them feel really comfy about a candidate?

Having been brung up pretty far from the camp-meeting style of holiness, and having been taught from an early age to distrust advertising, wondering is all I can do.

Murfyn said...

surprised that more is not heard from sincere religious believers
Fred Clark at Slacktivist is a self-identified Xtian who has a lot to say about the religious right etc. A weekly feature is a chapter-by-chapter review/takedown of the Left Behind series.

Kordo said...


Yes, Mr. Riley, you will never be allowed within a thousand miles of a national "news" broadcast. To my mind, that fact alone says all one needs to know about the social utility of said broadcasts. Take what comfort you can in the fact that the stuff you've written has, in fact, been read. And appreciated, if that means anything. At least until the massive EMP burst from the nukes wipes it all away. Doesn't seem so comforting, now that I think about it. I enjoy your work, for what that's worth.

You handed Saint Neckbeard his ass the other day. That was a thing of beauty.

On a long enough timeline, everyone's life-expectancy is reduced to zero. I guess that can be comforting and scary at the same time, depending on mood.

I find that Marijuana helps. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

James Stripes said...

Good gracious man, don't turn on the teevee for weather. Just ask Google, it knows everything.

I've given up on the Times. At least the Wall Street Journal doesn't pretend to be balanced.

R. Porrofatto said...

Take what comfort you can in the fact that the stuff you've written has, in fact, been read. And appreciated, if that means anything

I don't know how comforting it is, but seconded, thirded, and infinitied.

Prairie Curmudgeon said...

L'I: "I wonder if the rubes for whom Hitchens says Perry's currently tailoring his sanctity aren't so accustomed to being shouted and huckstered at"

From rubeville I'd say they are mostly isolated and immunized from such hucksterings. They live their lives mostly in their own echoes, share their thoughts and feelings only with the like minded and shut out others who might confront them with contrary views. These folks do dominate their local communities, many congressional districts, and as an extension via minority rule in Congress, the nation. They haven't gained everything but they have sure spiked the secular roadways with their own brand of IEDs.

Anonymous said...

National Weather Service website is the best, paid for by that wasteful government spending: