Thursday, November 13

Why We Fight

• This isn't a news blog, and the only reason it's anything even slightly close to timely is that I find something every day to piss me off, not to mention that I then go on about it interminably, so even if there were news items they'd wind up five page scrolls down in short order. So I didn't mention the Frontline piece on Lee Atwater ahead of time, but I did set the DVR, and it's well worth your time to check local listings or hunt it down somewheres (Here's the PBS page link). It's remarkable what the addition of Joe Conason and/or Eric Alterman can do for teevee coverage of political issues. Maybe they should be on more, and veteran confidence men like Howard Fineman less not at all. Mary Matalin will be the very definition of a useful idiot once somebody discovers a use for her. Tucker Eskew sounds out words as he reads. Seriously. I mean, maybe he's dyslexic. But the thing about it is, every time you hear that, "All y'all Northerners thinks we's scuggins, but that's just when we gitcha," it either comes from, or is said about, someone who by every objective standard available sounds like a fifth-grade remedial reader. I agree, people are quick to judge, but that is just as natural as, and generally more understandable than, the speech patterns of people born below the Ohio (or, in Indiana, south of US 40). But in the aftermath (protects self from Evil Eye) of George W. Bush it's time at least some of the onus travelled back to the other side. I treasure Southern English. But the glories of regionalism are not an excuse for someone in the communications business to act as if there are no rules about speaking clearly which prohibit the actual taking of naps between syllables. My Poor Wife watches that Paula Deen--if by "watches" one means "occasionally lights on for more than her customary 0.6 seconds"--quite possibly just to annoy me. "Naoh-uh whee-ur a'go-an-uh t'aad-duh sum-uh gahhhlic." It's a fucking half-hour show, lady! Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time understanding someone when, by the middle of every sentence, I've begun to keep count of how many extra syllables they've added minus the ones they threw away out of spite, caprice, or pernicious whimsey. 

Anyway, a remarkable document, and even if you lived through it the first time an inducer of nausea (Reagan says of Michael Dukakis, "I won't make fun of an invalid"; Press Corps chuckles). Anyone prattling about bi-partisanship in 2008 ought to be required to view it in its entirety, and write an essay, before he opens his mouth again. O'Rourke thinks Americans love liars because April 15 comes around every year; I suggest that the casual immoralities of daily American life, while instructive of our national and international behavior, in fact fall so far short of the utter amorality of these people--the Bush Crime Family particularly--that the latter is a different, and unexpected, species, and they'd all be tarred and feathered if the public really knew, and could afford tar and feathers anymore. Atwater shived Ed Rollins in the prison shower to get his job; the Finemans of the world then allowed him to pretend he didn't know anything about the Willie Horton ads, even though everyone knew. This is not padding your deductions; this is padding your deductions while indulging in posterior intimacies with the examiner's wife, in his office, with the door open. Some people are gratified by Atwater's supposed Death Bed apologies; I'm just grateful he fittingly remained a Drama Queen to the end. Ed Rollins' story about Atwater's Bible, which the producers were too sensitive to let end the piece as it should've (compounding the error by letting Howard Fucking Fineman spew platitudes), is absolutely worth the price of admission, and the time spent looking it up.

• Kentropic, in comments yesterday, proposes--jokingly--David Brooks as the second American to switch ends of the American political spectrum, which reminds me of a couple of things. An earlier draft of that thing yesterday mentioned Brooks by name, and asked exactly what Liberal credentials he might dig up for us. He was old enough to vote in 1980--how'd that go? And I realize that's not confirmable, but is anything in his past? Maybe he tells the tale in one of those books I'm always intending to read just as soon as one washes up on an island I've been deserted on. He spouts that "parody" of William Fuhbuckley like a Freak Flag, though it seems (okay, reluctantly, it's here, complete with "Hilarious" in the head so you'll be prepared. Do not click.) mostly to demonstrate that Brooks somehow remained a sophomore until 1983, and I mean high school sophomore. Those of us who tenant the slums of political blog comments are, of course, quite familiar with the Youstabee Liberal who cannot seem to come up with a single believable sample of his former belief system, as though your later embarrassment at having been an REO Speedwagon groupie would cause you to forget what a guitar sounds like. But Brooks never gets called on this, though I can't imagine who it's supposed to impress. And this gave me the thought that there might be some sort of Lord Raglan Hero Pattern for Former Liberals, though it would have to account for the milquetoast Brookeses and the retired radical dope smokers.

The new phone books are here, and they only cost a billion dollars! Hoosiers had barely had enough time to stop gawking at the retractable ceiling of our billion-dollar Football Barn before we opened our new billion-dollar Airport Terminal Barn, and the teleprompter readers couldn't be more excited, let me tell you. They kept reminding The Folks At Home that this was the first new terminal since 2001, which tells you something, namely, that if no real city needed a new terminal in that period, Indianapolis sure didn't. The goddam thing's been in the planning stages for thirty-five years, which tells you a couple more things: it's probably 8.2 times even worse than the new Football Barn, and the graft trail would require a team of archaeologists and a baying of bloodhounds to begin uncovering.

We mentioned some time ago--you don't expect us to keep track of this stuff, right?--that an organization had turned up trying to change the name of the Indianapolis Airquotes International Airquotes Airport back to the original Weir Cook Airport, which yours truly enthusiastically supported for as long as it took him to learn (not long) that what these people were up to was not the elimination of the bloated, risible, Bureaucratic Megalomaniacese of its current moniker, nor the simple nostalgia that might help glue Place to Time, but Yet Another Glorification of All Things War. Col. Harvey Weir Cook was a WWI flyboy with the Hat-in-the-Ring squadron who is credited with seven kills, four of them balloons. (I am, by the way, trying to get the Airport Authority to give my Poor Wife's students some wall space to paint a mural depicting one of those heroic triumphs over Helium.  Or was it Hydrogen? I'll let you know how it goes.) There was no more chance that the Board was going to take "Indianapolis" out of the name of the place than they were going to ban price-gouging in the food court, but this gang realized that playing up the Honor our Veterans routine got 'em plenty of airtime, and in the end--after several loudly thumped stories from local "news" organizations which had ignored the name change the previous thirty years--the Board agreed to name the new terminal after the hero of the Battle of Tethered Child's Toy Alley.

This, of course, proved to Not Be Enough Wargasm; it never is. The next step was to delay the fucking opening of our badly-needed luggage-claims upgrade until Veteran's Day. And then they tried to fix it so the first arrival would be a planeload of Indiana Guardsmen returning from Afghanistan, but the timing broke down. Are we not, really, the last nation on earth which needs nearly unrestricted access to firearms?

It's Thursday. This thing has been the lead story on every local "news" program since last Friday. ("In a little over 48 hours the first plane will arrive at the New H. Weir Cook Terminal!" Could you, reader, even spit those words out, let alone while pretending they were important?) I swear to god I actually turned on the nets at 8PM Tuesday to see if they'd cut to a live shot of the first plane landing. And I was amazed to find they didn't.

And the culmination, make that nadir, came when one (or at least one) actually sent a reporter to Philadelphia so she could turn around and fly back and tell us what it was like. Just keep that in mind should you feel the need to use "Indiana is now a Blue State!" in conversation.


bill said...

Woo-hoo, REO Speedwagon! Takes me back to Naptown 1969. You don't want to hear about it and I don't want to talk about it.

Anonymous said...

I live in Des Moines, proud home of the Des Moines "International" Airport (where the big jet engines don't roar). The fact that there are no direct international flights out of Des Moines, not even a flight to the Canadian border, didn't faze the bunch of eejits who decided to change the airport's moniker a few years back. However, I'm happy to say they didn't spend anywhere near the kind of cash your state spent when they remodeled, and the place actually did need a good going-over.

Anonymous said...

Davis X. Machina said:

Balloon-busting was extremely dangerous involving firing tracer -- to set the balloons alight -- at close range, and then trying to avoid being taken down by the flaming -- no helium yet -- debris. Balloons also had point-defense antiaircraft protection that was, for its time, state of the art.

Baloon-busting resulted in at least one Medal of Honor, to Arisona's Frank Luke

kentropic said...

Yo, Dog: not David Brooks -- David *Brock*. Author of "The Real Anita Hill" and later, after his epiphany, "Blinded by the Right" and "Republican Noise Machine."

BTW, the inimitable Doghouse Reilly febrile diction ("th'fuck?!") is an instant classic. As is your appreciation of sumo! When's the next basho?

Anonymous said...

I caught the last fifteen minutes of that Frontline, and all I could think through the gagging was how sometimes I wish there really is a Hell, and that Atwater didn't get there slowly enough.

Regarding murky accents, I'll try to stay out of New York, 'cause if I ever get swept up in some CSI sting, it won't be long after my third "Eh??? - Could you speak English, please?" that they'd break out the rubber hoses.

Anonymous said...

Davis X beat me to it. Hydrogen.

Frank Luke was something of a nut case living up to just about every Hollywood "rogue hero" stereotype you can imagine.

No fighter pilot in WWI wanted to tackle balloons except perhaps Luke. It's not unlike how modern fighter pilots hate doing ground support missions: they're far more dangerous than air supression flight profiles.

Thus endeth today's aerospace history lesson.

Keifus said...

All right, I'm all for ridding the communication universe of the those turgid, pregnant Dixieland pauses (and, for that matter, of Paula Deen), but we gotta keep y'all. Y'all is great. And the world would be at a horrible loss without the fabulous locution, "Fuck all y'all," which regrettably, will never be uttered on the news.

K (yankee)

heydave said...

Shorter me: DSM's international airport makes me smile!

More shorter me: Paula Dean makes my ass hurt!

Anonymous said...

keifus --

"Fuck all y'all," which regrettably, will never be uttered on the news.

In a world where Floridian Joe makes six figures as a "news" commentator, there be hope, yea, there be hope ...