Tuesday, October 30

The Search For The Perfect Contraindicator

David Brooks, "The Upside of Opportunism". October 29

IN which the Opportunism in question is Mitt "Windsock" Romney's, and the Upside is, why, it's Yours and Mine, America!
To get re-elected in a country with a rising minority population and a shrinking Republican coalition, Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate. To get his tax and entitlement reforms through the Democratic Senate, Romney would have to make some serious concessions: increase taxes on the rich as part of an overall reform; abandon the most draconian spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget; reduce the size of his lavish tax-cut promises.

Or, if it's the Tuesday Before The Election, It Must Be Time To Paint The Republican As David Brooks.

("Shape-shifting nature"! I'm surprised Brooks didn't cite a sociological paper to back that one up.)

Leave us remind everyone, one more time, that 2012 is the election season when Republican mouthpieces actually became desperate enough to announce that lying on the campaign trail means absolutely nothing, that it's the ultimate reckoning that counts. I'm sure they'll be generously applying that rubric to both party's candidates from now on.

You'll also note, of course, that in BrooksWorld there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that a) Republicans, however nutty, are going to flat-out cut 3% of GDP off the national budget and then b) stand willing to take the responsibility for it, although c) that is, apodictically, an immediate, roaring success for the national economy.

In other words, precisely the opposite effect of the last 24 years of Republican economic engineering.
Republicans would like to take the reform agenda that Republican governors have pursued in places like Indiana and take it to the national level: structural entitlement reform; fundamental tax reform.

Oh, I'm sure they would. And when the national economy becomes as amenable to flimsy PR manipulations in place of real results, I'm sure they'll be eager to take Mitch Daniels back at OMB.

Fuck: Mitch Daniels raised the sales tax in Indiana 17%. He did that to pay for capping property taxes, a showy little soak-the-poor accomplishment he got away with because it's Indiana. He slashed spending across the Procrustian board, because he had a compliant state legislature, and because Indiana doesn't have any aircraft carriers or nuclear warheads. Thank God. And, as a result of this Economic Miracle Finaglin', Indiana's unemployment rate is 8.2%, compared to the national rate of 7.8%, and it's right in line with the rest of the region. Except for Ohio, which is at 7%.

So thanks, Mr. Brooks. But if you're just gonna make shit up, I'd prefer to stick to butchering reality. Those flights of sociological fancy of yours are downright disturbing.

Saturday, October 27

Olio: And The Definition Of Contemporary American Optimist Is Someone Who Believes Things Are Only Getting Worse Edition

•Hey, we always knew they didn't lock up enough people in the Likens case:
[Eighty-seven-year-old psychologist Edward] Strain is not surprised Paula Baniszewski changed her name after the murder. Asked if he would do the same, he replied: "Oh hell yeah." Several surviving jurors from the case also agreed this week.
"I think she needed space to move on frankly," Strain said. "She wanted to live."
Oh, yeah. As one would.

They caught up with Paula  this week, forty-seven years later, working in Iowa as a teacher's aide for the last fourteen years. Seems she'd left "Felonies? Well, there was that one time I helped torture a sixteen-year-old girl to death in Indiana, but I did my three years" off her job application.

Some anonymous tipster phoned police. Someone who couldn't live with the knowledge anymore. Someone unlike Paula.

She'd been registered to vote in Iowa for the last fifteen years. Quite possibly feloniously; I'm sure the state's Republican majority will be chasing that one down with vigor. This blog's No Praeteritio Rule prevents us from mentioning that Paula was herself a Republican.

We don't have a rule against linking to ourselves, though, so here's my piece on the fortieth anniversary of the death of Sylvia Likens, at the hands of many, and the plaster-cast of Paula Pace, née  Baniszewski, placed on the hand she'd broken in the daily ritual of beating her rival.

• Is there really an audience for Brooks' pensées ? How long would it take you to drop his course once he started lecturing? (My personal record was 15 minutes, the time spent by a macroeconomics professor to describe in practiced and apocalyptic terms the horrible, crushing workload he was going to inflict on the class, and anyone who didn't like it "should leave now." So I did. I thought it might make him feel a little better about himself, which he obviously needed. Besides, I had the syllabus handout in front of me, and it was about half the reading of the average humanities course, so I suspected that the shit he was full of was half the result of Biz School students' work habits, and half that he didn't know what he was talking about. And I wasn't having either.)
First, let me describe what moderation is not. It is not just finding the midpoint between two opposing poles and opportunistically planting yourself there. Only people who know nothing about moderation think it means that.
Moderates start with a political vision, but they get it from history books, not philosophy books. That is, a moderate isn't ultimately committed to an abstract idea. Instead, she has a deep reverence for the way people live in her country and the animating principle behind that way of life. In America, moderates revere the fact that we are a nation of immigrants dedicated to the American dream -- committed to the idea that each person should be able to work hard and rise.
Yeah, she.  Leave us note, here that a) no one with any sense thinks self-described political moderates in this country are anything other than Rockefeller Republicans. The position is "historical" in the sense of "long dead", but it's not an historical movement, and it sure ain't a movement based on History. The American Dream is just another Fifties-era fantasy Reagantots like Brooks were sold in infancy, and now they're trying to unload while there's still some value left.

Not to mention that a lot of immigrants didn't come to this country willingly, didn't have an opportunity to accumulate possessions, or look at white women. And we'll quit mentioning this when guys like Brooks show the slightest sign of understanding it.

• God help me, I had to read this Weigel codswallop twice, because the first time I thought it was whomever wrote the headline ("Finally, a Winning Benghazi Argument") deserved killin', and that's not the sort of mistake you wanna make.
Republicans spent a month arguing that Barack Obama had lied about the circumstances at the Benghazi consulate on September 11. That was a heavy carry, because it wasn't really true -- Obama had referred multiple times to "acts of terror." But the new criticism of the Obama response dials the clock back to the day of the attack, and it's compelling. Charles Woods, the father of Benghazi victim Tyrone Woods, has been calling up conservative talk radio to explain how his sun rushed into the fray and was denied back-up.

Let's say this again, Reader: suppose you were trying to make a decision about something you planned to keep for a couple of years: car, exterior paint, a spouse. Wouldn't "it wasn't really true" be the end of your deliberations? In fact, if you were being objective, or honest, god help you, wouldn't you just say "wasn't true", not "really wasn't true"?

What's the difference between Brooks and Weigel? Neither can keep their Republican peckers in their pants when there's an election, or a Big Issue nearby. (Unless a loss is a forgone conclusion, when they become sudden bipartisans). Their "moderation" is of the Springsteen Poster or No Real Objection to Gay Marriage type; that is, it's a personal affability, not a political stance. The most you ever hear from them is the sound of a sad head-shake when John "Missing In Action" Boehner is forced to say something really kooky. And, professionally, this allows them to a) pretend they're not Republicans and b) pretend that they are Republicans, but it's possible to be a Republican in the current century and not be sullied by the base. At one and the same time.

The major difference, I think, is that Brooks has the aura of a lifelong third-chair school band trombonist who's been convinced by Ronald Reagan that he's the really smart, hip one, not those hippies with their vans, and bongs, and all-night sex orgies, and Weigel is the guy who grew up imagining Bill Clinton as an ultra-liberal, and shag carpeting as a rhetorical argument against All Things Sixties.

Friday, October 26

Words Don't Mean Things. And Allow Me To Explain.

Jennifer Rubin, "Richard Mourdock and media misrepresenttation." October 24

Mona Charen, "Rape, God, and Liberals". October 26

I MADE the mistake of turning on the local news yesterday morning, not because I meant to hear what they had to say, or sound out phonetically, about Richard Mourdock, but just because I was still on FOX from watching Game One of the Series the night before when I hit the power button.  

Lemme just say this about the local FOX affiliate news: a decade or more ago the always illuminating combination of greed and desperation gave someone in upper management the age-old delusion brilliant idea that a Young, Hip morning newscast would draw in the delusional desired Young, Hip audience. This being America, they did not go out and find Young, Hip talent, or Hip, Young writers; they swiped the Morning Zoo format, sanitized it for television, staffed the studio with something like a dozen careerist graduates of the Communications departments of various Middle Western land grant colleges, and directed them to behave as if a) every day was Casual Friday; and b) they were slightly buzzed.

The results were even more gruesome than that sounds. If possible. The thing had all the wit and charm of a backyard barbecue three houses over in some godawful treeless subdivision, at just the point where everyone's had at least three beers and somebody decides to crank up the radio. It sorta broke up the same way, as I recall: you looked up and realized there were just six people left, then four, then they had new graphics, and the host and hostess were seated at a desk, slightly hung-over, trying to hide their sheepishness, and trying, with even less success, to behave like adults.

They've never recovered; the effect on their news division was much like the effect on Egypt when Nasser had all the intellectuals taken out and shot. I immediately hit the button on the remote than sends you to the previous channel, which turned out to be CBS, and before I could punch in some other number--this was all pre-coffee, fer chrissakes--got to hear their Top of the Hour pitch for the upcoming interview with a woman who was conceived when her mother was raped.

And who was bravely speaking out for brave Richard Mourdock.

In an audio interview.

Channel 8 used to be the gold standard of local news, back when "local news" meant a half-hour of people reading news, weather, and sports, not ninety minutes of Jack in the Box openings. It's fallen on hard times, and has made a rather clear effort to gain viewership by stovepiping Republican talking points. I don't know if this is cynical, manipulative, or both. I do know that these people willingly rode along with the dumbing-down of the news, beginning with the Happy Talk format of the 70s, and now, a generation later, if they want to convince the audience of some ideological point or other the result is a sea of virtual blank stares. Petards are for hoisting.

At any rate, the story was a Channel 8 exclusive, and, at any rate, it turns out that:

• The facts of the case rely exclusively on the woman's say-so. (I'm not suggesting we doubt her, but I am suggesting this was perhaps reason to do some reporting, try to interview the mother, that sorta thing.)

• She was adopted, under circumstances left unexplained, making her a) whiteness and b) health, proper number of limbs, and relative trainability important factors in today's market.

• She met her mother twenty years ago, which is when she got the story.

• She now spends her time as a "Pro-Life" speaker.

• The rape occurred in 1972.

• That's prior to Roe v. Wade. Abortions were illegal in Indiana.

• The fact that an abortion was not a legal option is dealt with by having the mother consider an illegal one.

• This point--that the mother and rape victim still had the option to terminate the pregnancy, only at extremely greater risk--seems to get lost immediately.

As is so often the case in the Faux Balance world, an instance which screamed for real balance didn't even get the Faux treatment.

IT'S hardly surprising that the attempts to walk Mourdock back have avoiding addressing his actual point; that's been the stock in trade of Right to Lifers for forty years. Mourdock wasn't asked about his metaphysical beliefs. He used them to answer the question. He said, essentially, that there should be no exceptions to a total ban on pregnancy termination except the life of the mother. He said, essentially, "Well, we've had two months to refine what Todd Akin said, so here goes: he was wrong about that 'no-pregnancy-from-rape' thing, and spot-on otherwise. Thank you very much."

And this, as has been pointed out many a time since, is the Republican position on reproductive rights. And it's theocratic malarky. And, despite all the comments that "at least Mourdock is standing on principle" it's bullshit. Point me to the Bible verse where God exempts the mother when her life is threatened. It's not principle. It's the lowest form of political convenience masquerading as principle. People who actually have principles about the issue ought to be the loudest complainers.

I found it instructive to consult two of the premier Beltway voices for Ladies Against Women. First up, Jennifer Rubin, Ben Domenech Chair of Applied Lunacy at WaPo Test Prep:
For a moment, let’s understand what Mourdock meant by that. Like some pro-life Americans, Mourdock believes that all life is sacred and, absent a risk to the life of the mother, it is murder to abort the unborn child. Man from the moment of conception, these people believe, is made in God’s image.

Thanks, Jenny. But, y'know, I fucking got that from what Mourdock said. The moderator didn't ask him for a plerophory on conception, he asked about a rape exemption to the anti-choice views the entire fucking lineup of Senatorial worthies--including the fucking Libertarian--espouses. In response Mourdock claimed God as his wingman. Not only is that much fucking clear, it's the only part of the answer that is. Calling a zygote "Life" does not change the equation. Contrary to the convenient Manicheism of Right to Life supporters, there are many people who believe that Life does begin at conception, but that a mother may have the right to terminate a pregnancy anyway.

One of those people being Richard Mourdock. He would require that the mothers life "be in danger" first.

Like Rubin, dour and dull life defender Mona Charen thought the real problem was Democrats (and their Puppet Media) having a contrary opinion, and expressing it.
The very fact that a couple of ill-chosen words by pro-life candidates have become lightning rods this election season betrays the overwhelming bias of the press on this issue. Most Americans consider themselves to be pro-life. The pro-life posture is accordingly the mainstream view. An August CNN survey found that 52 percent say abortion should be illegal in all (15 percent) or most (37 percent) circumstances. A May Gallup survey found that more women call themselves pro-life (46 percent) than pro-choice (44 percent). But the press allies with the Democrats to smear pro-life candidates as “extremists.”

Yes, because anything 15% of the population tells a pollster it believes in can't be extremist.

Look, if you're gonna lecture everyone on willful misrepresentation, maybe you should try to achieve something like accuracy. Like, instead of squinting in order to make that crowd you estimate look homogeneous, you could tell us how many Americans believe, point blank, that every rape victim should be forced to carry her little gift from God to term, then support it for eighteen years, and maybe leave herself open to lawsuits from her rapist over visitation and child rearing practices?
It’s obviously a ghastly thing for a woman to be raped and to find herself pregnant as a consequence.

But the liberal answer — abort the child or else be accused of approving of rape — is a slimy abuse of tragedy and a disgrace to civil discourse.

While portraying the "liberal" position as "abort the child" is the very essence of civility.

Fer cryin' out loud. Moudock's moral principles, or excuses, are irrelevant to the argument. We're talking about a Constitutionally-protected right; at minimum your side has to admit that is the case before there can be any discussion, civil or no. I'll just wait here. In the meantime, the past forty years has driven the extremist religious maniacs of your party above ground, and they have no concept of discourse on this issue. Nor of internal consistency. Those of you in the business of milking them for votes have tried to keep 'em quiet about it, or at least on message, but the message was always ill-considered, illogical, and emotional. When George W. Bush was riding high in 2004, this element decided it could show itself as anti-abortion in all cases, and anti-contraception into the bargain. If you wanna talk about principle, there's where the principle lies. And you know that forcing rape victims to carry fetuses to term, let alone banning rubbers, is a huge electoral loser. A coalition breaker, in fact. That's who has really responded to this summer's White Male rape defenders. (Sorry for the incivility.) That's what you think is unfair.

You want civility, Ms Charen, civility defined as a continued free ride for the religiously mazed on the issue, unfettered by the rules of logic. What you emphatically do not wish is discourse.

Wednesday, October 24

That's A Total Distortion Of What I Wish I Had Said

YESTERDAY evening, before Teabagger and Future U.S. Senator Richard Mourdock volunteered to do what local media has refused to get him to do, open his mouth and let the crazy pour out like nougat, the big local political news was that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had blocked the state from defunding Planned Parenthood.

Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement, since "7th Circuit Court of Appeals" is too wonky or elitist-sounding for local media types. So the Dean (Broder) of Indiana political correspondents, Channel 8's Jim Shella, simply referred to "the federal courts", in that convenient shorthand which has allowed his favored party* to run against them for forty years without confronting anything resembling the principles of law. Shella dealt with the tricky question of the state attempting to eliminate access to Constitutionally-protected reproductive rights (like it's ever referred to that way) with the sort of misdirection play which used to wow 'em back when Red Grange was running through defenses: he introduced a clip of then-Governor Mitch Daniels "explaining why he signed the bill into law". The ensuing clip was of Daniels insisting that no one would lose access to health care as a result (“The charges that anybody would lose access to health care are not true. I know folks are concerned they might be, but they’re not.” End of clip). My New Shorter OED has two entries for reason as a noun, and thirteen entries under the common one, none of which remotely turns that into "a reason". 

These are the same lexical shenanigans which turn Daniels contention that something wasn't going to happen when it assuredly, absolutely would happen, and as a direct result of his signing the bill, into an "answer".

I'm not saying this is Shella's contention; it's how abortion politics have been played so long as he's been around, which is too long. The (understood) reason for the bill was the punishment of Planned Parenthood as an abortion provider, or facilitator. The (understood) reason for Daniels to sign it, aside from his own caged position, is that no Republican is free to do otherwise, and, since he was a) no longer going to be on a state ticket; and b) no longer planning to run for President, and thus could no longer corral the whack job "wing" of his party, the thing had landed on his desk. Daniels' reason faked addressing concerns about the defunding's effect on women's health. A lack of concern with access to healthcare is entirely within Daniels' rights, and consistent with his public philosophy; it's just something he doesn't wanna be called on. Restricting access to Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms is not his right. So that, once again, the way we remain "balanced" in reporting somehow requires us to stand everything on its goddam head.

Which brings us to Richard Mourdock, Dick Lugar Killer and Teabagging Senatorial hopeful, a couple hours after that broadcast, in the final Senatorial Debate of the season. (And, by the way, Lugar at this point would be twenty points up. In two weeks Mourdock is gonna be wearing his hat as a codpiece.)

Richard Mourdock is a lunatic. If he's not completely unhinged it's only because he didn't come with hinges in the first place. This is not even open to debate. The only question which is open is how he (that is, the vast ocean of non-Hoosier lunatic money he compiled) got Indiana Republicans to join in in the primary, and what this says about the folly of democratic elections.

The three candidates (Mourdock, the Republican-Democrat, and the Libertarian) are asked about abortion, because of course they are. (No one is ever asked to describe the landscape of the surrounding fantasy world where a Senator's opinion about abortion means squat, to the law, to the ethical questions involved, or to the sorts of political gyrations and elimination of half the country's population which would be required to change the status quo.) All are agin' it, because of course they are, including the Libertarian. This will not be a story, because a) the Libertarian is just there so that people will figure the two actual parties are better than staring into the blackness of the Abyss, and b) because it would be wonky and boring to point out that the Libertarian party is as statist as everyone it complains about. And Mourdock says that, even in the case of rape, pregnancy is still a gift from God. Because of course he did. Seriously. Of course he did. This is actually how these maniacs refined Todd Akin's message over the past two months. 

Mourdock was forced to come out afterwards to assure the voting public that he thinks rape is bad. This is the sort of non-apology apology which used to be considered de rigueur, and simply rote, but which recent events have turned into a needed clarification. 

Now, if you're like me, you watch Indiana politics, if at all, as a sort of spring training for dealing with your crazy relatives at Thanksgiving. If you want the political side of this, other than the increasingly moldy news that everyone in the Republican party is clinically insane, it's that Mourdock is the one Republican Senatorial candidate Willard Mitt Romney has seen fit to make a campaign commercial for, which he did a couple weeks ago. But, then, you already knew about Romney's decision-making skills, didn't you? One-third of the Senate is up for reelection, and Romney chooses to help a guy who not only was dancing around in a tinfoil fool's cap all season, but one you'd take one look at and remove your children from the playground he was sitting near. Not to mention that the Teabagging Mourdock campaign has become desperate enough to play ball with Mitt Fucking Romney. 

My own concern, though, is with God.  What's up with Him, now? Fer chrissakes, the man had 66 books, at least three versions of the Ten Commandments, not counting the twenty or so that follow those and are generally ignored even more fully. He's got Seven Deadly Sins, an equal number of Virtues, thousands of historical exemplars, untold thousands more ahistorical exemplars, and the world's biggest sales force; He Himself gets to choose who becomes a writer, a painter, a composer, a scientist, a dialectician, plus he's fucking tax exempt. He Personally chose Al Gore to invent the internet, yet the internet is just a global porn factory. So I'm told. 

Yet He never just came out and said "No abortions, ever. My will. Oh, except to save the life of the mother, once I allow the general acceptance of antiseptics, sometime in the 19th century. Got it?" For the sacred life of me, I can't understand why the central tenet of Christianity remained impenetrable for 19th centuries, especially with all those hair-splitters, pinhead-dancers, and secret coders poring over every Word. I mean, the Man's a fucking loon.

Or His spokesmen are.


* Look, I got no idea how Jim "Dean" Shella votes. But I've heard him say "kerfuffle" on the air, which is as big a tell as saying something about States' Rights has been for a couple centuries now. Let's say this: it might as well be a one-party state, and which side do you imagine puts on the best press buffet? Jim Shella is not going to lead the charge to eliminate faux balance. In Indiana, that's being objectively pro-gun-totin' religious maniac. 

Sunday, October 21

All's Well That Ends With A Merely Short-Term Chilling, Racially-Motivated Voter Suppression Campaign Put Up By "Mistake"

THE Freedom Defenders at Clear Channel have announced that dozens of the above billboards will be removed immediately, since the Freedom Defenders at Whatever Anonymous Family Foundation Which Was Accidentally Permitted To Fund Them Contrary To Clear Channel's Own Rules has--wisely, we think--decided it would rather remain anonymous than further its voter education efforts in the open.

The billboards have been erected in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Columbus, Ohio, and elsewhere, in what the headline writers described as "predominantly poor neighborhoods", which is the faux-balanced way of pretending the targeting might not have been racist.

And, since our own No Preteritio policy is enforced by the same legal team that vets Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings' contracts, we're not going to mention that the odds of Clear Channel accidentally contracting to put up anonymous political billboards targeted at You Know Who are identical to the odds of Clear Channel accidentally revealing the name of the foundation in question. It's just math. Contracts are hard. I'm sure they don't understand what they're signing half the time.

But may we just mention, now, how the Republican voter suppression--sorry, voter fraud suppression--routine--you'll forgive my assumption about the anonymous foundation's political leanings, contrary to this blog's practices--underlines the fact that these rich bastids and their rodential henchmen don't know the first fucking thing about real people? Good Lord, the idea that poor people really imagine that stuffing a ballot box would make things better for them! How far removed from reality do you have to be? Isn't this, really, at the heart of our national "debate" over the superior personhood of corporations? Sheesh, just look at the sorts of people who run them.

Friday, October 19

Petards Are For Hoisting

HERE'S the thing about D'ines'h D'Souza: he found himself a nice little sinecure in America defending the Raj. That comes with a price, of course. Not in swallowing the understandable anger and disgust the Anglo-American Man's Burden must engender in its erstwhile subjects; that sort of thing seems to go down easy with second or fifth-generation mandarins. It's just that, inevitably, someone with D'Souza's rh'torical gifts has got to figure (and rightly so) that These People Are Dumb As Stumps, and go looking for further fields of plunder. 

Lacking Hitchens gifts, D'inesh had to settle for life as a Toolbelt to the neocons, and pan for gold among the evangelical dross, jettisoning his Catholicism somewhere along the way. Sorta.  (Again, fortunately for D'Souza, in those circles one can now be a best-selling Christian apologist without taking sides on the Reformation, which has apparently been relegated to the intellectual dung pit alongside the Trinitarian debate, the question of translation, and the George W. Bush administration.)

However, as you probably already know, this seems to've gotten D'Souza in a spot of bother when some of the more morally inflexible members of the flock objected to his apparent dalliance with his new, mid-twenty-something "fiancée". 
Finally, near 11 p.m., event organizer Tony Beam escorted D’Souza and Joseph to the nearby Comfort Suites. Beam noted that they checked in together and were apparently sharing a room for the night in the sold-out hotel. The next morning, around 6 a.m., Beam arrived back at the hotel and called up to D’Souza’s room. “We’ll be down in 10 minutes,” D’Souza told Beam. D’Souza and Joseph came down together, and Beam took them to the airport.
This information eventually gets to Warren Cole Smith at World ("Todays News/Christian Views"), and all H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks breaks loose. Yesterday D'Souza resigned from his post as President of Kings College (Manhattan) after its board met for two days drafting his resignation. ("So it could move on," of course. Nothing to do with his time in the limelight.)

Then, of course, began the CYA Tour (FOX, Christianity Today); one wishes at such times to have Jesus's super-hearing, or ability to change into a fly on the wall, in order to've checked in on the rebranding efforts. ("Look, it's not too late to change your name to Bobby.") D'Souza came out swinging, calling Smith, World, the event organizer, the attendant event-roving moralists, and the hotel night clerk a pack of liars out to destroy his career. Because that's what Christians do; the Bible tells 'em so. Oh, wait, I mean "Conservatives"

The really fun part of that was his interview with CT:
When CT asked D'Souza directly for his response to charges of infidelity, he responded: "It's absolutely not the case that [pause] . … Look, the issue here is that World is attributing to me an admission that I never made—is attributing to me a quotation that I never said. That to me is the problem. … They are just claiming based upon my non-assertion that I did something that I didn't do."
This naturally led Christianity Today to headline the article "CT Exclusive: Dinesh D'Souza Denies Infidelity."  

There's also this bit for those of us who're terminally amused by the work of theologians:
D'Souza, a former CT columnist, said he did not know that Christians generally do not approve of engagements prior to divorces being finalized.

"I asked a lawyer whether there was anything wrong in being engaged while separated but prior to being divorced," he said. "I was told there's no problem with that and actually that happens all the time. I proposed to Denise and we became engaged."

"I believe I have good biblical grounds for divorce and was going through the legitimate process," said D'Souza. "The thing I will admit: I did not have any idea that it is seen as wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced even though separated. … That was a true error of judgment, but it was truly a case where I didn't know better."
The man was raised a Catholic. I guess that means he'd be more familiar with the etiquette of annulments. 

Anyway, look: when you were thoroughly intellectually depantsed by Stephen Colbert it was a warning to invest soundly and keep your head down. 

Just too much money to be made on the Obama: Voodoo Anti-Colonialist trail, I guess. Well, we're not morally judgmental in these parts, or not so much, but we do like to get to the truth, Dinesh. So, Exhibit A--that thing on your head:

Totally doing her, weren't cha? Jumble up your theology anyway you like, it's still a sin to tell a lie.

Wednesday, October 17

1) You're Confusing The First Amendment With The Fifth. 2) If You're Going To Do So, Opt For Silence.

"Reddit will not ban 'distasteful' content, chief executive says". October 17

THAT would be Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, who is described as a former Facebook engineer. The optimist in me had previously imagined that "former Facebook engineer" was mostly seen on autopsy reports as a contributing cause of death.

Oh well. Can we just note here that the distressing thing about the Michael Brutsch affair, which is, otherwise, just a marginally entertaining diversion for the First Amendment absolutist with a well-developed sense of poetic justice, has been the bullshit First Amendment defense? If you wanna defend the First Amendment, try telling the fucking truth:
"We also think that if someday, in the far future, we do become a universal platform for human discourse, it would not do if in our youth, we decided to censor things simply because they were distasteful."

Apart from the things you already censored when widespread public exposure--the sort of thing Free Speech is supposed to encourage--threatened your corporate asses? Oh, and:
However, Mr Wong - who used to be an engineer at Facebook - said the website would continue to enforce a policy to not allow "doxxing", a term given to the process of outing a member by posting personal details online.

"We will ban the posting of personal information, because it incites violence and harassment against specific individuals," Mr Wong said.

Some Speech is freer than others.

I know, I know, I'm hardly the first to revel in the hypocrisy. Reddit has bravely stood up for the integrity of the cow it milks, and fuck the people who own the pasture they're grazing it on. Its habitués defend the sacred right of anonymity--which ain't anywhere in the Bill of Rights, kids--without which they'd face consequences or something. As one prominent over-ripe juvenile just did.

From Wong's memo to the troops:
"We stand for free speech," he wrote. "This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it. Not because that's the law in the United States - because as many people have pointed out, privately-owned forums are under no obligation to uphold it - but because we believe in that ideal independently, and that's what we want to promote on our platform.

"We are clarifying that now because in the past it wasn't clear, and (to be honest) in the past we were not completely independent and there were other pressures acting on reddit. Now it's just reddit, and we serve the community, we serve the ideals of free speech, and we hope to ultimately be a universal platform for human discourse (cat pictures are a form of discourse)."

The only possible sense in which some future world will be better off for free sharing of information is if that includes all types of information. And that includes identity. If you wanna defend a principle then live by it.

Also, sir, the only way to defend the First Amendment is to understand it. All content is legal. If you're simply the publisher, or the agitator, or the provocateur, then you've no First Amendment excuse for banning anything. Just potential legal fallout to protect the delicate tissues of your rectum from. You're not fighting for free speech. You're fighting for the scheme you came up with to make a buck off it. Otherwise you'd dig in your heels with Creepshow. This is the standard, and sad, libertoonian routine:  proclaim your undying support for absolute freedom, but don't return your Social Security checks.

And, y'know, if you really think this is a fight (or that yet another organization with corporate megalomania is going to remain "true" to its "values" when there's a breech in the vicinity of the bottom line), champion the right to privacy, in the Constitutional sense, and fund the fight against the sort of economic tyranny which allowed Mr. Brutsch's employer to fire him for exercising his God-given right to invade the privacy of young girls, and make anonymous racist comments because he found them amusing. And because you find them so uplifting to the Human Condition.

Oh, and above all: thanks for bravely making this stuff available on the internet. Dunno what I'd do without ya.

Monday, October 15

Fun With Monogamy, Vol. MDLVI

MY Poor Wife is home for Fall Vacation. It fell to me to keep her entertained yesterday morning, and in desperation I hit upon VH-1's Totally 80s, just in time for "Push It". 

Me: Which was your favorite, Salt, or Pepa?

PW: I don't remember. Which one is the lyricist?

Political Science Discovers Problem For Which "Non-functioning Third Nipple" Is The Solution!

William Saletan, "Foreign Exchange: On defense and foreign policy, Democrats talk like conservatives, and Republicans talk like liberals".  October 12

OKAY, maybe you accept Slate's double-special-triple-reverse wrong-footed contrarianism as something resembling a marketing idea on some theoretical planet (if you do, kindly explain it to me). Maybe you accept it as a continuation of the sort of blithering nonsense teevee leftists like Michael Kinsley started spouting in the 80s after their party suffered two disheartening loses to a transparent half-witted huckster like Ronald Reagan. And/or  after they'd listened to the half of their party which cooperated with "Psycho Dick" Nixon blame '68 and '72 on the other half.  Dishwater centrism apparently seemed like a decent place to tread water in those days, at least to a certain brand of careerist. Admit your sin, boy! Just confess a grudging admiration for all that the Gipper has accomplished, and you'll be drawin' paychecks from one billionaire or another forever.

So maybe you're a lot more generous than I. That still doesn't explain Saletan. Nothing does. For the life of me, "Republicans talk like this, Democrats talk like this" had to be getting tiresome to college sophomores by the mid-80s, didn't it? How did it come to be so ingrained in so many people? I don't get it. I mean, it's not like you're still listening to Night Ranger or something. It's not like there was some special Huey Lewis Fan cachet that got you laid, and you still wear as an amulet. You should have been questioning that Faux Balance bullshit then. You would at least have understood it was a political construct, not a philosophical one. You would at least have understood that the reason the American right wasn't given coequal status in our political debate before Nixon was that it was clinically insane, then as now. It was dead wrong about Civil Rights, it was dead wrong about the Cold War and Vietnam, it was dead wrong about the Culture War. Then as now. In the 70s people surveyed the wreckage of America's grand idea of Itself, the flotsam and jetsam of Jim Crow, Watergate, and the enormity of our attempt to reinstate colonialism, and said "Let's run for cover at Ozzie and Harriet's place." Or just elect Ronald Reagan.

I don't get it. I understood what they were up to then; I sure expected the following generation to call bullshit. One fucking look was enough to tell you who was on the wrong side of Civil Rights. And why, and why they still are. One fucking look tells you all you need to know about the history of the US in Indochina; why does the fabulous version still hold sway? (Why does one of those POW/MIA flags fly over my local post office, a monument to cheap political theatrics and zero attention spans?) I'm sorry to go all Old Joe Biden on you, but look: you were supposed to outgrow your fascination with Ayn Rand before you turned 21, and by the time you were 22 you were supposed to understand that the proper response, in retrospect, was embarrassment over the whole thing. If you didn't, for some reason (serious concussion, brown acid, bad potty training), then you were at least supposed to understand you were reading an atheist, not wait until you were a 40-year-old dairy cowtown Congressman to have it explained to you. And I do not believe that, as an adult, you take a critical look at the question of reproductive rights and conclude that the answer is to split the difference. It isn't. That's the one thing we do know. You believe one thing, or you believe another. If you're gonna turn out this sort of drivel insisting on some faux intellectual consistency in entire political parties, then kindly display some yourself. Either abortion is murder, or it ain't, and if you believe it is, then make arguments about exemptions to murder. Everyone who says "Abortions should be available, but there should be some restrictions to make them difficult or impossible to obtain"--the majority of Americans, so say the pollsters--is, simply, ill- or un-informed, and/or a liar. Anyone encouraging the idea as an objective compromise is that, and worse.
Here’s what we learned from last night’s vice-presidential debate. On domestic policy, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stand for self-sufficiency, compromise, and reducing the government’s rate of growth. Barack Obama and Joe Biden stand for generosity, firmness, and maintaining projected spending. On foreign and defense policy, it’s exactly the opposite. Obama and Biden stand for self-sufficiency, compromise, and cutting back budgetary increases. Romney and Ryan stand for generosity, firmness, and higher spending growth.

So fucking what? People who believe that everything ought to proceed according to some supposed truism (who have been known as ideologues since the 19th century) are often the first to abandon those ideas when there's a buck to be made. Is there really anyone who argues this way? No. Is there really anyone whose argument can be fairly characterized this way? No. There are Republicans who want to eliminate all social spending, at least ideologically. Are there any Democrats who want to eliminate all Defense spending?

Good Lord, it's as if, having excised Hypocrisy from the list of sins, lest the modern-day parishioner take his money and go home, we find some cartoon version to make fun of when we're pressed for a topic for this week's sermon. What intellectual difference is there between this and Rick Santorum's notion about gay marriage and sex with household pets? There are clear, substantive arguments about social spending and about defense. It's possible to want to raise one and lower the other, and remain consistent. And th' fuck are we explaining inconsistency to the Reverse Corkscrew Non-Contrarian Contrarians at Slate?
If you watched the debate to find out where the candidates stand on specific issues, the exchange was informative.

I take it that's some sort of journalism in-joke?
But if you hoped to find out which ticket shares your values, good luck. You can vote for the party of self-sufficiency, flexibility, and slower spending growth, or you can vote for the party of compassion, clarity, and sustained financial commitments. But first you’ll have to decide whether you want those principles at home or abroad.

"Principles". What distinguishes the beliefs of the self-described moderate Republican from stupid shit the party he votes for actually does.

Thursday, October 11

A Thousand Words

Gregg Segal for TIME

OKAY, look, I don't disparage anyone's workout program, unless it involves simultaneous phone usage or sudden dead halts on the trail ten yards in front of my bike while I'm doing 22 mph. (And the evidence suggests that both of those things are important parts of somebody's patented informercial program.)

But, really, nice legs, Congressman Stork. Did Time-Life ship the workout DVDs one per month, and you cancelled after thirty days so you'd owe nothing? And keep the free gift? And it didn't occur to you you were sitting down all the time?

You'll forgive me; I've been subjected to not one but two of Governor Schwarzenegger's book tour blabfests lately, and the man's an idiot. And I was reminded of a time when men didn't pose like this, let alone do curls all day, unless they were auditioning for Italian gladiator flicks. Joe DiMaggio didn't look like that. Neither did Joe Louis. You could barely tell that Wilt Chamberlain had muscles, and he was one of the strongest men in the world in his prime. I still don't know how Ahnuld went from laughing stock to Grade-A Hollywood beef, but I know this: it severed the connection between working out and athletic grace, and guys like you came along, guys who apparently were carried everywhere until age eighteen, and decided that doing a few sets of curls made you "buff". 

You wanna work out in order to look like you work out, fine. It's a perfect match for your ideology. It's just too bad you can't use some of that Koch brothers juice to buy yourself a pair of Double Ds. And if your staff is too busy reading Atlas Shrugged to stop you from doing things like this photo shoot, well, good. But shut th' fuck up about it already, Birdlegs. Working out doesn't deserve any more praise than brushing your teeth does. 

Wednesday, October 10

The March Of Science

SADLY, word comes too late for me, but maybe you can use it:

Why Sex Doesn’t Gross You Out When You’re Aroused
Getting turned on overrides women's natural disgust response, a study suggests, making them more willing to do things they otherwise wouldn't
By ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN  September 14, 2012 | If you think about it, sex is actually sort of disgusting, what with all the sweat, saliva, fluids and smells. So much so that a group of researchers from the Netherlands got to thinking, How do people enjoy sex at all?
According to their small new study, people — at least women — may be able to get over the “ick” factor associated with sex by getting turned on. Sexual arousal overrides the natural disgust response, the researchers found, and allows women to willingly engage in behaviors that they might normally find repugnant.

Model Citizens

IT seems depressingly familiar to anyone who lived through the Reagan administration--but then I've long urged future historians to dub the past thirty years The Era of Depressing Familiarity--to consider how Mitch Daniels became a budget hardliner, an economic genius, even, by massively increasing public indebtedness. It's also telling that he didn't get away with it during the first Bush administration, but soon figured out how--and where--he wouldn't get called to account: Indiana! Daniels will leave state government with accounts at best no better than they were when he arrived (though so rearranged that no one will ever be able to tell the difference), and at worst, well...

(This, by the way, ignores the $8.8 billion effect of Federal stimulus money, which doesn't count against a 63-year-old Rand fanboy the way a closetful of methed-up male prostitutes don't count against a televangelist: if you're theologically opposed to a thing, practical experience is inconsequential.)

Daniels left OMB in 2003, having presided over the worst recession in American history since the last Republican administration, with a "popular" "wartime" President and a Vice-President ineligible to succeed him (due to that special copy of the Constitution only he could read specifying that the President must be human). I have nothing beyond blind contention to prove that Daniels saw an opportunity to take his rightful Randian command of the planet, but it was clear from the beginning that there was going to be a determined PR effort to "balance" Indiana's budget, beginning with declaring the state in debt, which it wasn't. * It was, mirabile dictu, all solved in a single session of the Indiana General Assembly (and by the way, if any problem can be "solved" in a single session of the Indiana General Assembly it cannot rightly be described as having been a problem). Daniels and his henchlegislators examined state accounts, and determined the amount of shin that needed to be amputated to fit the bed. This is, of course, something you can try at home, except you might find that in your case lying won't get you through missing meals. But if you manage to get through that, say, if Barack Obama gives you $8.8 billion, and you find a few million "misplaced" by your own budget office, you might rely on the fact that signs of mismanagement and inadequate nutrition often don't show up until your two terms are over.

Anyway, now we've reached that tricky little point where Daniels' fan base, fer instance the cremains of the Indianapolis Star, are forced to point out a few shortcomings here and there (without blaming the Guv) so that incoming Governor by Acclamation Mike "Choirboy" Pence has some wriggle room. So all the sudden now we don't have the money required to actually build I-69, and that coal gasification plant might not actually make money for anyone not already on the Republican Train O' Gravy, and such. It's even possible our $2 billion arrears to the Feds will turn back up on the spreadsheet next spring, just in time for the legislature to declare ketchup a vegetable, declare vegetables a luxury item, and sell our share of Lake Michigan. And cut taxes.

Meanwhile, though, a couple matters have come across the wire. Indianapolis turns out to be the eighth-most expensive city for tourists, thanks to all the taxes we've put on hotel rooms, restaurant meals, rental cars, and the like (y'know, things actual residents never, ever use). The news brought Indiana Senate budget czar Luke Kenley out long enough to explain that this was really good news, because revenue. Kenley did not explain how it was that any American in his right mind, if there is such a thing anymore, absent a case of NFL fandom crossing into psychosis, couldn't find at least thirty cities he'd rather visit that the mere tax savings wouldn't get him to.

The second was a report on the indebtedness of Indiana cities, led by Indianapolis' $1.8 billion ("that's billion with a 'B'", one helpful local teleprompter reader explained), followed by our neighbors-to-the-Solid-White-North, Carmel, at $895,135,486. The talking hairdo did not point out how close this came to A Billion With A Bee, nor that it belongs to a Land of Dreams with 10% of Indianapolis' population. The matter did come to the attention of the Carmel city fathers though--and we do mean "fathers"--who pointed out that debt was just ducky in Carmel's case because "we can afford it". I am not making that up. They also claimed that the debt calculation program was flawed, as it mixed in all sorts of things (like "water improvements" and "huge White Elephant Performing Arts Centers designed to attract Sheryl Crow and--I am not making this up, either--'Supertramp's Roger Hodgson'") which aren't paid for by taxpayers, just people who choose to use water.

I just wanna point out that I've been watching this for forty years, in the Reddest of Red States north of Dixie** and east of the Great American Desert, and I've yet to see any area under complete or essentially complete Republican control that has any problem whatsoever with deficit spending. Just other people's ideas about deficit spending. Not news, I know. I just wish they'd fucking admit it.


* Not according to the way the books had been kept for at least a generation, and may I remind you that the first of two Democratic administrations which had a hand it that was Evan Fucking Bayh's. This is Indiana, fer chrissakes. People had not been flocking here for the plush interiors of our Welfare Cadillacs and our featherbed socialist unemployment "benefits". Or the quality of our schools, for that matter.

** Depending on your definition.

Monday, October 8

Yesterday's News Today

SO in the past week What's Left of the Indianapolis Star suddenly noticed, at the 7-3/4 year mark, what the Daniels administration has really been up to.  Sunday brought the shocking news that Daniels will leave for Purdue in a couple months having spent the $3.8 billion dollars the "state" "received" for leasing the Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years. And that money has managed to build well over half the program's centerpiece, paving over all the wasted farmland, wetlands, woodlands, and backyards between Evansville and Indianapolis to complete the unfortunately named I-69, unfortunate not for the sexual connotation, but because it suggests a consensual type of sodomy, and one which is pretty much the opposite of what was actually involved.

All that's left, really, is to figure out how to get the thing to Bloomington, so we can be completely flummoxed finding the $1.2 billion needed to complete it from there.

But fear not, children, your Master speaketh:
"The entire history of this project -- I'm talking about since we got started -- is of cost reduction and underestimates," Daniels said. "My instruction was, 'Build a road, but don't overbuild a road.' And so the cost of whatever remains, will, I think, be quite manageable."

[Forgive me for sleeping as much as I could, but I could swear that during the great Toll Road Swindle of Aught Five we were told that I-69--which sane people have been fighting (and stopping) for thirty years, opposed only by Republicans and Democrats--was going to be completed for just a fraction of what we pocketed on the Toll Road Deal. And then it was insisted that the sudden stop the project made was intentional, and that money was really only for materials, aside from that part of it which was missing due to falling interest rates, which no one could have foreseen, especially an economics genius and Rand fanboy like the Bantam Menace. Now it's "Well, my boys have given you a great start"???]

This follows last weekend's astonishing revelation that the state's natural gas ratepayers are likely going to wind up another $1.2 billion in the hole on the big Coal Gasification Plant deal that was just too lucrative for the state to pass up. And one which wouldn't have existed without the state signing a 30-year deal to buy natural gas from Leucadia at $6.60 (2008 dollars) per million BTU, because Leucadia sure didn't wanna use its own money building the plant, and no sane people would loan it any. Natural gas now goes for three bucks, and is projected to remain below $5 until 2023.

It's okay, though; any Hoosiers who manage to stay alive for thirty more years will be reaping in big bucks, according to former Daniels adviser, premier Indiana Republican fixer, and, yes, Indiana project director for Indiana Gasification LLC, Leucadia's "subsidiary", Mark Lubbers:
"You can find price forecasters across the board," he said. "That's why the [Indiana Utility Regulator Commission] said the only thing certain is the uncertainty of the price.

And the certainty of the deal being rammed through.
But virtually all of the recent evidence weighs heavily on the side of gas prices above $7 when the (substitute natural gas) plant comes on line in 2017."

Yeah, what a shame for you, then, that they're so unreliable.
Lubbers said the debate about Vectren's "absurd" estimates ignores other factors, such as Indiana Gasification's commitment to cover up to $150 million of any losses. The company also "guarantees" $100 million in savings by the end of the 30 years, Lubbers said.

If those savings aren't realized, Indiana Gasification can cover the shortfall in cash or extend its contract with the state at a lower price. Absent those two things, the state could force a sale of the plant to make up the difference.

Oh, man, I guess I was gettin' all excited over nothin'.

I'd just like to mention, once again, that the state remains in arrears over its (badly managed) unemployment insurance program, and still owes the feds $2 billion, so far as I can tell; it sure wasn't addressed in this year's Double Plus Good and Union Busting budget, which nevertheless managed to achieve a surplus somehow; these guys are good. Much like the one we're so confident of for next year that Daniels and Republican lawmakers have already been thinking out loud about how best to return it to this year's voters.

As for Indiana's largest Ag college, I know they recently stopped an already completed renovation of Daniels' office, right after he noticed the public got wind of it. I sure hope someone took the opportunity to count the spoons.

Saturday, October 6


I ADMIT it, as a guilty pleasure;  I read Gregg Easterbrook's "football" column at ESPN, especially now that he's decided to sneak a little football in every week.

Okay, truth is that I was a little flummoxed when Easterbrook cut his workload a few years back, from "commenting on every game played that week" to "mentioning three or four marquee games, in-between libertoonian 'government waste' snark, This Week in Illogical Movie or Teevee plots, and Reader Mail. Oh, Plus "Obscure College Score of the Week", your sennightly reminder that Pierre Garçon attended Mount Union. The goddam thing is still 7000 words long.

Then there's "Christmas  (now 'Unified') Creep", in which the observation that retailers push the opening of whatever moneymaking idiocy is next on the calendar earlier and earlier, until Xmas starts in September, Washington's Birthday sales occur the previous August, and nobody's sure when Tet is. This is such a wellspring of Funny it's been going on for like five years now, despite the fact that the concept was already ancient back when Easterbrook and I were hippies.

We'll get to that in a moment, Reader. In the meantime, let me just note that this is precisely what I find so incomprehensible about facile libertoonianism. This is precisely the way "Enlightened" self interest works. It's what Capital, large and small, does: it gobbles up whatever's handy, and bulldozes whatever's inconvenient. Old growth forests and common sense are just obstacles. The only difference is that you think ass-raping logic is just kind of amusing, while doing the same to the Gulf of Mexico is defensible.

And don't get me wrong; I'm glad, thrilled, even, that Easterbrook decided to admit Global Warming is real, and largely man-made, a good twenty-four months ago. And, personally, if you really wanna spend time arguing that CFLs are no better than incandescent bulbs, be my guest. Just a) do the rest of us the courtesy to recognize which side you're on, and how strange your bedfellows (see under Hitchens, C.). That Jim Inhofe was on your side should have been enough. And b) if you're smart enough to believe in technology, then you're smart enough to realize what its real track record is. Saying that technical innovation is our best hope for reversing climate change, or ameliorating disaster, is functionally the same thing as saying it doesn't exist in the first place.

These Kids Today! No. 1: The mainstream media are run by graying Baby Boomers. When young, they viewed themselves as extremely open-minded, in addition to being the first generation ever to discover sex. Now their collective attitude toward today's young, the Millennials, may be described with the technical term "harrumph."

Gregg Easterbrook was born in March of 1953, which makes him even older than I. And which should have given him some perspective on the Sexual Revolution, including the fact that it was led by people from the previous generation.

Of course the true timetable, as with civil rights, gender equality, gay rights, and opposition to US military adventurism, doesn't work for today's social moralist (or social immoralist, apparently). Beatnik punching just never caught on.
Over the summer, TMQ noted the MSM have proclaimed a shocking, sweeping trend of "hooking up" that supposedly means out-of-control carnality among those of college age

Okey-dokey. I guess I spent my summer somewhere else. Not to mention wasting the time it took to scan the first eight pages of Google results for "hooking up" in the Dreaded Em Ess Em. (Nice tell, by the way.) Hanna Rosin wrote a piece the Atlantic carried; among the many things she and its publisher, Jay Lauf, are not, is "Boomers".  That was about it; everything else was on YouTube, unless Tom Wolfe got a mention somewhere. I sit through NBC News most weeknights, unless I can get the remote away from my Poor Wife, and if Brian was going on about this I must've missed it.
-- though studies show that sexual activity is in shallow decline among the young.

Though, as always, we might note that "studies of activities among the young" basically tell us what sort of shit lies The Young pull on the people who study them.
Assuming hooking up even exists as some new social phenomenon -- it sounds an awful lot like meeting at parties -- graying MSM editors view it as empty sex without commitment. And sex in a sleeping bag at Woodstock differed how, exactly?

And who said this, exactly? Maybe next summer you could take notes.

I'm all for exposing hypocrisy. Provided we can, y'know, attach it to a specific hypocrite. The real hypocrisy here is someone in my age group pretending that every Boomer was a "hippie", or that "hippie" and "free love" weren't gag lines and "Woodstock" a soundtrack. Maybe it was different in far-out Buffalo, but in the suburban midwest, if you were born in 1953, your coming of age took place in the metaphorical 50s, not Swinging London. I admit that the smattering of proto-hippiechicks at my high school lightened my own journey, but for most people it was backseats at the Drive-In and a clear distinction between Good girls and Easy. I went to one of the five largest high schools in Indiana, and in 1972 it was a big scandal when one of my fellow seniors got knocked up.

Which means that we haven't exactly proved either the hypocrisy or the underlying Hippiedom. Plenty of car Nazis and religious maniacs in my vicinity. Dunno if any of 'em grew up to control the Dreaded Em Ess Em, Gregg, and nice tell. The odds that people at the top of the MSM trade today were incontinent orgiasts are no better than even. I do know that most of the people I know who were, or are, stereotypically hippielike are still rather joyous sensualists, or seem to be, and have always been aware of the frictional play between parenting and admitting the adventures--and the tidal pulls--of one's youth.

It's the fucking religious bastids who're hypocritical about sex, Gregg.

And as for the Dreaded U No Whut, yeah, it sells adolescent sexual fantasies (much like your column sells juvenile cheerbabe T&A) as well as hypocritical outrage that can't wait to see the accompanying photos. This isn't something new. Neither is its hypocritical manipulation. It's just Jobs Creating at work. Try to be a little understanding.

Wednesday, October 3

I Think We Have Time For One More…

Ross Douthat, "Mitt Romney Should Be the Disingenuous New Republican I Talked About In My Book Four Years Ago and Promptly Abandoned". October 2

FOR yesterday's David Brooks, "Let Mitt Romney Be David Brooks", see The One and Only, in case you haven't already.
Going into Wednesday’s debate, there’s one poll number that Mitt Romney should be most worried about. It’s not the tracking polls, or the RealClearPolitics polling average, or any of the usual measurements. It’s the percentage of Americans who believe that his policies will favor the rich over the poor and the middle class.

Okay, Ross, so the "real" title of this thing is "What Mitt Should Tell the 47 Percent", and already you got him worrying about sixty percent. Not that I expect anything Republicans have to say to add up.
This assumption — that the wealthy Republican candidate is inevitably a candidate for the wealthy as well — is a big part of what’s been killing Romney’s campaign. Because of the president’s advantages with minority voters and younger voters, Romney has always needed to perform well with economically-anxious whites — and above all with non-college-educated white voters across the Midwest.

First of all, Ross, the fractured assumption here, if there is one, is the long-standing Republican one that the great swath of White Protestantism from the Alleghenies to the Rockies was, is, and always will be objectively pro-feudalism. And too, um, unsophisticated to ever figure it out. It is neither; we are about to get yet another chance to see if you "smart" Republicans are able to figure that out. My money, again, is on No.
A smarter Republican campaign would have recognized early that this would be Romney’s biggest problem, and showed a more populist side from the beginning. As I’ve argued before, Romney could have embraced the assistance for underwater homeowners sketched out by his own economic adviser, Glenn Hubbard, or the break-up-the-big-banks reform championed by the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis, or the family-friendly tax reform promoted by National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru.

Cripes, how many sides of his face do you think the man has available for talking out of? He was Mitt the Panderer in 2008; that's the tag your people stuck on him. This time he decided to be Mitt the Very Most Conservative You Can Be And Still Not Say Anything. Leave us remember, when this thing is over, that you, Brooks, and, well, the rest of your fucking party advised the man to be wholly malleable and 100% phony in order to win.
Here are some examples of what Romney might say tonight, if reassuring working class voters were actually his most important goal.

(It ain't)
On taxes, for instance, his argument should go something like this:

My goal is lower rates across the board, so that all Americans can keep more of their paycheck every month. But let me make this promise now: Whatever shape tax reform ultimately takes, under my administration, no middle or working class American will pay a penny more in taxes than they do today. Not a penny more. And to prove that I’m serious about protecting working families, tonight I’m calling for a four-year extension of the payroll tax cut, so that Americans don’t have to worry about seeing their tax bills go up an average of $1000 when the cut expires next year. President Obama hasn’t taken a position on this issue, because he doesn’t mind if your taxes go up so long as he gets to spend the money. But if I’m president, I’ll protect your paychecks, and stop this tax increase in its tracks.

Is he gonna promise to cut discretionary spending across the board the 90% or whatever it takes to make these ridiculous "No Taxes. And No Deficit. And No Fences and No Rabbits" pledges actually work?

Yeah, I thought not. S'okay, maybe the President will just stand mute after that "he just wants to spend your money" jab.
tonight I want to speak to Americans who don’t have health insurance, or struggle to pay for it, and make this pledge: Under my administration, you will not be forgotten. I promise to create a tax credit, worth thousands of dollars, to help people who don’t get insurance through their employers. I promise to expand high-risk pools where people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage more cheaply than they do today. When I was governor of Massachusetts, we cut the number of uninsured by more than half.

Oh, Mitt, why did you hide your light under a bushel for so long?

Thousands of dollars in tax credits to the moochers who don't pay any taxes in the first place! Where do we sign?

(Ross, is this, really, the sort of shit they spend all day at AEI dreaming up strictly for use as talking points ?)
The reality is that Medicare is going broke, putting our promise to our parents and grandparents at risk,

Or all of them who're presently under the age of eighteen, anyway, assuming we do absolutely nothing with the healthcare system in this country ("We're number 37!") in the intervening forty-seven years.
and the Obama White House hasn’t done anything about it.

Snubbing, in the process, the Republican Plan.
But if you want the program saved, I promise to do exactly that. Not by cutting benefits for existing seniors, the way this president has done. Not by putting a team of bureaucrats in charge of figuring out who gets treatment and who doesn’t, as he wants to do.

Dear Lord, this man writes for what was once the New York Times.
But first, by asking wealthy Americans – the Warren Buffetts and Bill Gateses and others like them — to put a little more money toward their medical care, so that everyone else’s costs don’t have to rise.

Problem solved!
And second, by getting insurers to bid against one another to drive the cost of Medicare down, so that you can get the same benefits at a lower price.

Southwest, Your No-Frills Surgical Provider! ™
Let me be clear:

Well, so long as you're trying everything...
If my plan doesn’t work, the government will be on the hook, not seniors.

Bail Out General Hospital!

By the way, Mitt, I mean Ross, I do b'lieve the rest of the country has seen exactly who gets stuck with the bill when Republicans put the government "on the hook" for something.
Nobody, I repeat nobody, will be left without coverage. But I believe that it will work – and doing nothing, as the president prefers, is simply not an option.

Y'know, Ross, maybe this would work, except for the possibility of flimflam…
Is there some flimflam in these promises? Of course – but not any more than presidential candidates often offer. Do they clash with some of the statements Romney has already made? Here and there, but not in impossibly dramatic ways.

Leave us remember, Reader, October 2, 2012, the date that Ross Douthat announced he was so desperate to get Mitt Fucking Romney elected that he declared Fuck It, Nothing Means Anything anyway.

How far th' fuck gone do you have to be?

Monday, October 1

Monday Olio: Let Romney Be Romney!

• So at this point Mitt's gotten free advice from Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, and Harold Stassen, probably, in addition to the millions of bucksworth he purchased on the open market. (And Jennifer Rubin, but that's not advice, it's a colonoscopy.) And leave us note here that all that talent accounts for one (1) actual victory in a national election. And that that one is the one which cemented George W. Bush's reputation with the RNC.

• Anyway, here's mine:  Hire a stand-in. Professor Irwin Corey's still kicking.

• And another, in the form of a general maxim: Whistling past the graveyard's never kept anybody out of one.

• Your man's a dog. And not a friendly, lovable mutt or a scary, throat-removal dog, but one of those prancing purebreds with its own special haircut. This race is over. Sure, sure, it ain't over til it's over, and Michael Dukakis was ahead at this point (ahem), and whatever else you wanna tell yourself, rather than tell yourself that your brand sucks, and is nowhere near as popular as you pretend it is, a conclusion which is based, apparently, on taking Reagan's approval ratings in 1982, comparing them to 1989, and assuming continued growth at that rate ever since.

You can keep telling yourself that Obama's vulnerable, that his domestic record is abysmal, and keep looking for reasons (in the main, Mitt Romney) you're not crushing him, but so long as you keep denying what thirty years of Republican rule actually brought to this country you're going to be caught in that endless spin cycle. He's the guy your own people judged the most electable from that crowd of mixed nuts of yours. And rightly so. Just not electable enough, because this time four years isn't enough time for everyone to forget just who screwed up the most, and who benefited.

• And another thing, maybe you shouldn't'a gone Full Metal Socialism three weeks into the Obama administration, and you'd have something more now than Paul Ryan claiming Librul Media bias, fee chrissakes. The Wake Up Call! It's coming from inside the house!