Then Gallagher gets going. And fuck. Bremerton is a military town and a conservative one: It’s more than just a slide into obscurity that delivered Gallagher to the Admiral rather than, say, the Moore in Seattle. You see, Gallagher is—how best to put this?—a paranoid, delusional, right-wing religious maniac. I HAD NO IDEA.“Hey, President Obama,” he spits out the name like a mouthful of burning hair. “You ain’t black. I don’t care what you say—you’re a latte. You’re half whole-milk. It could be goat milk—you could be a terrorist!” I am too busy losing my mind to catch the next joke, which is about Ted Kennedy’s brain cancer. Aaaaand we’re off.
Joe Klein, furiously humping Glenn Greenwald’s leg:
Greenwald — who, so far as I can tell, only regards the United States as a force for evil in the world — has laid out the incredible notion that the liberation of the Kurds, which Jeff celebrates (and so do I, and so do civilized people everywhere) as a happy byproduct of George W. Bush’s dreadful war in Iraq, can be compared to the Nazi seizure of the Sudetenland . . . .This is obscene.
“I’m entirely depressed about the state of my craft. Newspapers and magazines are losing readers, young people aren’t reading them. You know, I watch as my colleagues get laid off and fired — it’s kind of like being gay in 1982, half the people I know are dying, they’re being, you know, they’re being cut off.”
Instead of dealing with anything hard, the article juxtaposes the musician’s wealth with her desire to be an outsider and promote social justice, as though those things were incompatible. I must have missed the part where we don’t want rich people to care about others.
…Instead of examples like these, which could shed light not only on M.I.A.’s effect on politics but also politics’ effect on M.I.A., the article focuses on (mis?)characterizing her lifestyle. She eats French fries? Likes olive bread? Lives in Brentwood? I don’t really care. I’m not compelled by the argument that her greatest political failure is claiming to care about people while being rich.
Money, it’s a hit
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit
— Pink Floyd
Friedrich Engels was a rich kid, but Karl Marx was happy to take the money Engels earned while working for his father’s business, along with the royalties from his book, Conditions of the Working Class in England, to survive and write his own somewhat influential works. Clearly, the important question was whether Engels was just slumming to raise his profile though.
Now, I’m not particularly interested in M.I.A. or Sri Lankan politics, and of course there are plenty of ready-made-for-mocking bored dilettantes who think it would be like totally rawkin’ to be a revolutionary guerrilla leader and inspire the masses with their deep thoughts or cool fashions or whatevs. But Hirschberg’s incredibly lazy framework is just as stupid and irritating — a knee-jerk assumption that money inevitably compromises ideals, and a rarely-stated but always-implied notion that personal purity is more important than actions performed. I suppose switching the focus to a vague and ultimately unknowable question about what the subject really feels deep down in their heart of hearts is a way to keep an endless, pointless argument going, a way to give the appearance of transformative action while remaining comfortable and jaded. Mark Ames once acerbically noted how entrenched this mindset is in what passes for a radical left in America:
“Armed with nothing more than a movie camera, Moore shames a corporation into making a moral decision. What’s odd about this sort of engagement, though, is that it avoids the hard work of forming movements that could press for change. No need for that when Michael Moore, with just his camera, microphone, and baseball cap, can come to the rescue.” The envy here is so apparent that it almost makes you cringe. It worked! Oh shit! It’s not supposed to actually work! Leftism is all about academic conferences and papers, not changing policy! It should take 30 or 40 years, not a few weeks or days. That is what is so “odd” – rather than “pressing for change,” Moore actually changed, upsetting the olde guild.
The author of this article, Kevin Mattson, is an American academic, a left-wing Ohio University professor, so you can imagine that his life is excruciatingly dull, his impact on his frat-jock students somewhere between nil and negative-nil, and he doesn’t want to think that somehow, this late in the game, he’s the one who’s gone about it all wrong. Moore makes Mattson and his type look like chumps and frauds – in fact, he threatens their pat jobs as much as the Right because he might flush them out of their campus offices. Mattson even admits so much: “Moore’s defenders will claim I’m jealous because I lack a camera and large audience and my views are consigned to small magazines. I grant the point…I am not against humor (ask my friends). But I am worried about what happens to the vision of the left when it plays on the grounds of the sound-bite society.” Yeah, if we all just set up more committees and publish more obscure articles in more obscure magazines, the Revolution will finally come. Just ask Mattson’s friends, they’ll tell ya.
One of the most common attacks you hear on famous advocates for causes like Moore and Al Gore is that they’re filthy rich, so you can’t trust anything they have to say (and how jarring it is to hear this sentiment from Republicans! I always ask my wingnut relatives, “So, you’d listen to him, then, if he gave all his money and possessions to charity and spent his time holding forth from a park bench, or would you in turn just mock him for being a lunatic?”) But unfortunately, media access and the chance to reach an audience requires money, power and connections, things that tend to be in short supply when you renounce Leviathan and retreat to a hermitage in the wilderness. How often does lasting social change occur without some big money eventually lending support? It’s a pretty story and all, the one about the Noble Proletariat Sustained Only By Purity of Vision and Strength of Heart, but it’s also a fucking myth.
The funny thing is, none of the ten are surprising or disturbing to me. What does make me despair is seeing commenters on the Smithsonian’s website, of all places, arguing that they ain’t descended from no ape, or citing the Climategate faux-scandal as proof against climate change.
Sometimes you find remnants of idealism in the strangest places.
The problem not only with fundamentalist Christians but with Republicans in general is not that they act on blind faith, without thinking. The problem is that they are incorrigible doubters with an insatiable appetite for Evidence. What they get off on is not Believing, but in having their beliefs tested. That’s why their conversations and their media are so completely dominated by implacable bogeymen: marrying gays, liberals, the ACLU, Sean Penn, Europeans and so on. Their faith both in God and in their political convictions is too weak to survive without an unceasing string of real and imaginary confrontations with those people — and for those confrontations, they are constantly assembling evidence and facts to make their case.
But here’s the twist. They are not looking for facts with which to defeat opponents. They are looking for facts that ensure them an ever-expanding roster of opponents. They can be correct facts, incorrect facts, irrelevant facts, it doesn’t matter. The point is not to win the argument, the point is to make sure the argument never stops. Permanent war isn’t a policy imposed from above; it’s an emotional imperative that rises from the bottom. In a way, it actually helps if the fact is dubious or untrue (like the Swift-boat business), because that guarantees an argument. You’re arguing the particulars, where you’re right, while they’re arguing the underlying generalities, where they are.
Once you grasp this fact, you’re a long way to understanding what the Hannitys and Limbaughs figured out long ago: These people will swallow anything you feed them, so long as it leaves them with a demon to wrestle with in their dreams.
— Matt Taibbi
I thought of that passage while reading this. I’m not sure I agree with Taibbi that the personality type in question doesn’t want to be free from doubt; I suspect they may just be too stupid to realize that their own neuroses and lack of intellectual integrity are what prevent them from achieving a relaxed peace with insecurity and uncertainty. It’s not that radical of a concept to recognize: it’s much easier to blame the entire rest of the world for your unhappiness than to take a close look at yourself.
At any rate, Williamson’s screed is an impressively compact example of the genre, in terms of pounds of bullshit per square inch of blog post. We’ve got the nonexistent War on Christmas, the obligatory ACLU-takin’-away-mah-freedom trope, and the whinging about secular, cosmopolitan elitists from someone who would never dream of leaving the big city to practice what they preach and move to East Bumblefuck, Alabama, where they could marinate in Real Myrrhkinism all the live-long day.
As George Carlin famously said, the only good thing to come out of religion was the music. I love a lot of choral music myself, even though, to paraphrase Zarathustra, I want to meet the man more godless than I so that I may delight in his instruction. I have yet to encounter a fellow atheist who would bother to make a scene, especially at a party or as a guest at someone else’s house, over having to listen to Christmas carols or J.S. Bach, but I have indeed known people who base their Christmas shopping around which big-box stores greet you with “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”, or who make sure to underline the “Christ” in the cards they send to you, knowing full well you don’t share their beliefs.
Obviously, it’s no shock that people who would turn a time of year devoted to good cheer in myriad forms into a partisan pissing match are miserable fucks all year-round. My wingnut relatives are the type of people to politicize absolutely everything, from food to sports to vehicles to lifestyle choices, even though the topic does nothing but provoke them into railing bitterly about enemies real and imagined. Sometimes I feel bad for people who don’t have the self-awareness to stop furiously obsessing over topics that only make them even more discontented, who simply don’t know what to do with themselves if they’re not picking a fight they can never win. Other times, though, life’s too short and there’s too many good things to enjoy.
Screwed-up people everywhereBut I ain’t got time to care!I feel lovely– Suicidal Tendencies
The 50cm long Asian swamp eel was allegedly inserted into the unnamed man’s bottom, after he passed out drunk, by pals playing a prank on him.Medics said the eel had devoured his bowels.– The Sun
Eels up inside yaFindin’ an entrance where they canEels up inside yaFindin’ an entrance where they canBoring through your mind, through your tummy, through your anus, eels!
Daniel Engber righteously stands up for the right of the husky, the portly, the pear-shaped to serve in our military. Well, thank the gods. I can’t tell you how much sleep I’ve lost, worrying that we don’t make it easy enough for the maximum number of young people to sacrifice their lives for the glory of the corporate imperium.
When it comes to body fat, the regs declare that too much flab connotes, first of all, “a lack of personal discipline.” Another document suggests that it “detracts from soldierly appearance.” So excess weight isn’t just a health problem—it’s a personality flaw. Oh, and it makes you ugly.
I don’t want to suggest that the military discriminates against the thick-bodied alone. The high standards of appearance apply to skinny people, too. And short people. And tall people. (Forget Prussia’s army of giants: If you’re a man who’s over 6-foot6 or a woman over 6-foot, you can’t join the Marine Corps.) Those with severe, untreatable acne may also be excluded from military service, along with anyone with an insufficient number of teeth, extra fingers, or severe ingrown toenails. Some of these requirements seem to have more to do with keeping neat and trim than fighting off baddies in the desert. It doesn’t matter if you can do as many pushups as the next guy. Without the “self-discipline to maintain proper weight distribution and high standards of appearance,” you’re not welcome.
Well, it probably does help pacify the wogs more easily when they can clearly see that they’ve been invaded by a race of perfectly sculpted superbeings to whom resistance would be futile, but still. In addition to “insane, bloated, resource-consuming, world-straddling, hellspawned colossus death monster”, you can now add “lookist” to your denunciations of the U.S. military. Of course, if you’ve been reading the brilliant and entertaining Jennifer Michael Hecht (and you should be), this wouldn’t be too surprising:
Through studying history, I came to believe that gyms are occupying precisely the role they did in Ancient Sparta and in Fascist Germany. Being obsessed with bodies is actually a pretty rare thing in human history and we’re in lousy company.
…So what is the real story with gyms and gym bodies? What does the cult of exercise really mean?
Whenever it pops up in history it means the same thing. It always means: We are strong even though the peons do all the real work for us. We have special arenas marked as leisure where we get muscled at play.
…When we see this behavior in Ancient Sparta (where the population of Helot slaves outnumbered the Spartans) and in Fascist Germany, and we see the art of those two cultures focusing on the beauty of the toned but clean and uncallused body, we know what we are looking at. It’s more than shallow, it is military, it is deluded, it is oppressive, and a bit grotesque.
Well, that’s unnerving to consider, but never fear. Other experts aver that the majority of Americans remain too fat for fascism.
I’ve said before how I’ve really felt weary of politics (and the same old political blogs) for a while now, and that hasn’t changed. But let me just say this now: I do appreciate the effort Michael “Humpty Hump” Steele has been putting in to make sure I stay entertained. From an endless supply of gaffes to blowing the RNC’s money on lesbian bondage nightclubs and lavish getaways for meetings, he’s really gone above and beyond, and I salute him.
- The Tiger Woods soap opera.
- Tasteless, overpriced bacon from Whole Foods.
- The state of California’s economy.
In the space of a few short minutes, these topics were all strung together in the course of a stemwinder delivered by my brother. The common thread? Liberals were somehow partially or totally to blame for all of them.
I wish I could remember how, exactly, he backed up his claims, but these kinds of incoherent, shouty tirades have such a disjointed, surreal quality to them, much like dreams. They seem to make sense when you’re in the middle of them but when you reach for words to describe them later, it’s like trying to grasp smoke in your hand; sort of like oh hell it’s too disheartening to even think about it for too long in fact I don’t even feel like finishing this sente
I don’t know what everyone else’s problem is, but I, for one, have never had the urge to conflate my sexual desires with my culinary preferences. Please, people, keep your bizarre projections to yourselves.