Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Goldberg Variations

One peruses the missives from the Doughy Pantload at one's own peril, I suppose, but sometimes you just can't help but rubberneck past the car wreck. It is in that spirit that we ponder some of the DP's recent brilliance from his ClownHall archive.

DP on immigration policy:

So this seems like a propitious time to ask: What if illegal immigrants were crack?

It's not such a crazy comparison, by the way. There's a reason why the drug war and illegal immigration have similar scripts, even though the actors reading the lines change.

Well, when he's right, he's right. It's not such a crazy comparison, just a stupid one. But okay. Let's let Jonah run with this insipid analogy, futile as it is.

But for me the most interesting similarity is the issue of futility and will. Drug war doves claim that you can't win the drug war because you can't defeat the laws of supply and demand. As long as there is demand for drugs, there will be a supply, and no acceptable amount of militarization of the drug war will change that. This argument gets flipped on its head when it comes to immigration. Suddenly, militarization is essential to the top priority of cutting off supply.

Notice all the non-sequiturs and inane contentions in just that one paragraph. "Drug war doves claim". Well, no less a conservative icon than Bill Buckley has said that the War On Some Drugs has been an expensive, messy exercise in futility. And the people who have been preaching the gospel of militarization on immigration policy are undoubtedly the same asswipes who think putting up 400 yards of T-posts and three-strand barbed wire out in the desert outside Yuma is a productive way to spend a weekend. Talk about stupid symbolism, the photo-op of Bush fingering that ridiculous fence is one of the dumbest fucking things I have seen in quite some time, and Bush has worked overtime to keep the larder full on that count.

But yeah, if Mexicans were crack, we'd change our attitude about immigration. And if Goldberg's aunt had balls, she'd be his uncle. Or his mother.

The DP on the economy:

Even if you think President Bush deserves the pasting he's getting in the polls on Iraq, domestic spying and other front-page gloom, it's hard to deny he's getting a raw deal on the economy.

This passive-aggressive trope is a staple of the Doughy Pantload œuvre. Implicit in this pastiche is that only a fool or a radical thinks that Bush deserves opprobrium for his handling of Iraq, or for wiping his ass with the Constitution, or for any number of other things which are of Bush's creation entirely. We are at war because Bush insisted he knew where the WMD were, and that their use was imminent. Bush is data mining the electronic comings and goings of millions of Americans -- not just "suspected al Qaeda members" -- because these people have made it abundantly clear that they will only observe the laws they feel like observing, and they are openly defiant of any and all attempts to curb the power of the unitary executive.

Unless and until a Democrat happens to sneak past the Diebold gauntlet, anyway. Then we'll hear nothing but how we must respect the rule of law, the will of the people. Well, two-thirds of those vaunted people think these guys are way out of line. To the Doughy Pantload's way of "thinking", that means we should all move to Utah or Wyoming and get with the program.

Anyway, the economy.

Just look at the numbers. The economy grew 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2006 (and for the 18th quarter in a row). Manufacturing is surging; construction spending is breaking records. The Dow is surging. Unemployment is 4.7 percent - lower than average for the last four decades. More than 5 million jobs have been created since 2003. Personal incomes are up more than 6 percent in the first quarter, and so is consumer confidence. Housing prices have risen dramatically, and - knock on wood - it appears the boom isn't ending with a crash, which means that all that increased wealth won't vanish the way the 1990s stock market boom did.

It's hard to believe that this column is not even two weeks old; it reads like something from last May. Real wages are stagnant; prices are way up, and not just on gas. Housing starts are fading, and construction is where much of the economic boom was concentrated. The Dow is listing, not surging. The rise in housing prices has stalled in parallel with the number of housing starts, and a lot of families with adjustable-rate mortgages are about to get pinched by all those incremental rate increases over the past year.

But since the DP's entire existence is expensed, you wouldn't expect him to know any of that. Like his holy wampeter in the White House, the DP has led a charmed life, going from a celibate matriculation at Goucher to a sinecure at various founts of conservatard wisdom. This tends to render null and void any economic insights he might pretend to have.

The DP on the media's Katrina calumny:

On a recent edition of "Larry King Live," liberal Republican Congressman Christopher Shays, eager to put some distance between himself and the president, explained what he thinks is George Bush's real albatross.

"Let me just say that I think the thing that has hurt the president most is not Iraq. It's Katrina," Shays said. "People saw an arrogant but confident administration, but when they saw Katrina, they saw arrogance and frankly incompetence, and that was very unsettling."

This sentiment is pervasive among Democrats and the press. Time magazine writes matter-of-factly that "the government's inept response to Hurricane Katrina" is a major liability for Republicans in '06. Howard Dean and other Democrats mention Katrina as a staple talking point.

First is Goldberg's dismissive reference to Shays as a "liberal Republican", since in his parlance, moderates are "liberals". Only someone who has allowed themselves to be radicalized by the current skew to the right, where the previously marginal is now de rigueur, could have such a bizarre worldview.

But whatever. In the DP's world, the notion that the feds response to Katrina was inept and incompetent is just a creation of Howard Dean's fevered imagination, aided and abetted by the notorious lefty libs at Time, where a kneepad appeaser like Joke Line is the house liberal.

But it is worth reminding people that the Katrina they think they remember wasn't the Katrina that actually took place. In fact, it is difficult to think of a bigger media scandal in my lifetime than the fraudulently inaccurate coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Where to begin? As I've written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn's words, "bands of rapists, going block to block"? Not true. The tales of snipers firing on medevac helicopters? Bogus. The yarns, peddled on "Oprah" by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans police chief, that "little babies" were getting raped in the Superdome and that the bodies of the murdered were piling up? Completely false. The stories about poor blacks dying in comparatively huge numbers because American society "left them behind"? Nah-ah. While most outlets took Nagin's estimate of 10,000 dead at face value, Editor and Publisher - the watchdog of the media - ran the headline, "Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane."

In all of Louisiana, not just New Orleans, the total dead from Katrina was roughly 1,500.

Was the initial coverage of Katrina breathless and sensationalistic, given to outrageous claims and spectacular body count estimates? Sure. So was 9/11; I distinctly recall initial estimates of up to 25,000 potential dead. Considering some 50,000 people worked at the WTC, that was not a terribly farfetched speculation, given those initial moments of uncertainty and apprehension.

And considering that New Orleans was not considered fully secure until the Blackwater guys got there and imposed a martial-law lockdown on the place, I doubt we'll ever know 100% of the facts and statistics about Katrina. A lot of people are still missing; there may be many who are presumed to have moved in the sudden diaspora, but died and were never found. We don't know, and neither does the Pantload, not that it stops him.

One thing people know for sure, that no amount of Doughy circumlocution and obfuscation will ever repair: when the whole country was waiting with bated breath for a certain Category 5 storm to hit New Orleans, knowing full well that a lot of people simply would not be able to get out in time, their preznit was in San Diego, comparing Iraq to World War 2 and pretending to play a fucking guitar. Just as he sat in a classroom waiting for someone to tell him what to do when he first heard that the World Trade Center had been hit.

Yessirree, that there smell is the smell o' leadership.

It is dishonest and disingenuous, to tragically understate the case, that Goldberg persists in this fantasy scenario where this administration has not been either indifferent or incompetent (or both) about every major challenge they've encountered, and that a consistent majority of the American people are just not being fair in their dwindling estimations of Bush, both as a man and as a leader. Goldberg's only fallback, the same as that of his cohorts, is that we've all been duped by the pernicious liberal media.

Can't have it both ways, son. If we're so stupid that we can be gulled by the likes of Soledad O'Brien and Wolf Blitzer, then how can we be so all-fired smart and wise about everything else? It's a conundrum that these simps have never quite been able to answer.

Finally, the DP on Al Gore:

In a recent write-up of Gore's visit to the Cannes Film Festival to promote his new film on global warming, which premiered Wednesday in Los Angeles, Huffington hailed the "new Gore" as the "hottest star in town," beating out Bruce Willis and Tom Hanks.

Gore told Huffington that this was his second trip to Cannes. "The first was when I was 15 years old and came here for the summer to study the existentialists - Sartre, Camus. ... We were not allowed to speak anything but French!" This, gushed Huffington, "may explain his pitch-perfect French accent." Perhaps. Though according to David Maraniss' biography of Gore, the former vice president's 15th summer was spent working on the family farm. Remember those stories about how Al Sr. said, "A boy could never be president if he couldn't plow with that damned hillside plow"? That was the same summer.

Apparently, Poppa Gore thought a boy who couldn't both plow a field and parlez French existentialism could never be president either. Then there's the fact that young Al got C's in French at his tony Washington high school, St. Alban's. That's some school if a kid who can intelligently discuss Sartre's "La Nausée" and Camus' "Betwixt and Between" in apparently pitch-perfect French still can't earn a B in French class. Mon dieu!

Oh, snap! A chance to slam Al Gore, environmentalism, and the French all at once? For the likes of the Doughy Pantload, this is like having a bottomless bag of Cheetos and an endless Simpsons marathon and a Kate Mulgrew blow-up doll with working orifices. Life just doesn't get any better, which is actually the problem.

In fact, there have been lots of new Al Gores. In 1987, Dick Gephardt groused that "maybe the next debate should be between the old Al Gore and the new Al Gore." In 1992, the press spotted the new Al yet again. The New York Times noted that "in Campaign '92, there is a new Al Gore - crisper, animated, more to the point, leavened with a bit of impish humor." In 2000, the new Al Gore did leave out his apocalyptic environmental messianism. But now the thinking seems to be that strident, green finger-wagging environmentalism would help him in '08. Good luck.

The truth is that there's always been just one Al Gore, a man betwixt and between his head and his heart, wanting to be both nerd-philosopher and poet-warrior - and coming up short on both counts.

It's almost as if Goldberg's a bit jealous, seeing as how he's always been his own impotent combination of those things -- a nerd-warrior, armed only with bad posture, a pocket protector, and an inexhaustible supply of cartoon arcana.

The fact is that Gore's film, especially considering its limited distribution, has gotten remarkable response, and is apparently quite valid scientifically. I'm not sure how many Rhode Island-sized glaciers falling off the antarctic ice shelf, how many drowning polar bears, how many inundated American cities Goldberg needs to see before he acknowledges that maybe Gore's three decades of study on the subject count for more than Goldberg's years of sneering commentary. But then, Goldberg's excuse for a brain, much like his doughy ass, has always been for rent, so it doesn't really matter what Goldberg actually may or may not believe. He believes whatever he's been paid to believe; the fact that he stays bought at least makes him something of an honest pundit, I suppose.

It's reminiscent of another existential play, originally written in French, so Gore no doubt knows it well. In "Waiting for Godot," Godot never comes - and we are never even sure who Godot is. But we get the sense that the nonexistent Godot is really a Rorschach test of sorts, revealing more about what the audience wants him to be than anything else. So it is with those waiting for Gore.

No doubt when Sartre opined "L'enfer des autres", he had useless douchebags like the Doughy Pantload in mind.

Update 5/29/06 7:46 AM PST: As Greg Sargent points out, Gore was telling the truth about spending time in France during his youth in the first place. Not that it matters. Like the memes about "inventing the internets" and "discovering Love Canal", what the Doughy Pantloads out there have figured out long ago is that accuracy is for suckers. The main thing is that you get the story out there and circulating, before the truth has a chance to get its shoes on. That what "serious" commentators do.

[Epilogue: Keep in mind, whenever you hear those plaintive cries for "civility" enjoined by the usual liars, that this is Goldberg's next magnum opus.]

A Hitler smiley-face, and an open-ended comparison between Mussolini and Hillary Clinton, as well as Mussolini and "liberals" in general. This is what counts as intellectual probity and/or humor in the conservatard playbook. You can take your calls for "civility", and you know exactly what you can do with them.


sister of ye said...

Now, I'd assume that Hitler smiley face was a portrait of the author. Nice of Jonah to provide truth in advertising.

Maybe he and GWB should be used as the scare stories for affirmative action. Oops, I forgot. Legacy admissions and promotions aren't "affirmative action." How silly of me.

Heywood J. said...

Yeah, that's always killed me, how these smug, privileged little assholes can work up the nerve to bitch about affirmative action, when their very existences are the literal disproof of the meritocracy they so fervently preach for the rest of us. Punks.

Anonymous said...

Heywood, I think Sartre's phrase was "l'enfer, c'est les autres."


Anonymous said...

Liberal ideology is violent at its core -- it is an ideology that continuously has advanced through force. From the Soviet Union to modern-day Venezuela, it is obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of history and world politics. Hitler wanted a strong central government, hated organized religion (and, in fact, abolished it), and promised health care for all... sound familiar?

But even on the micro-level it is clear; of all the violent protests you've seen in this country, doesn't it seem odd that they are almost all violent in the name of liberal causes?

Ultimately, this is a sign of weakness. Violence is unnecessary if one's political arguments are strong.

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