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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Second night

First, folks, a few words about irony.  I have employed irony on this site before, back when I was a few miles left of the DemocRATS, that is, a couple of days ago.  But irony is an ill wind that bites the hand that feeds our country’s fashionable liberal cynicism.  So you are now entering the no-irony zone.  You have been warned.

Well, day two at the RNC was a mixed bag.  On the one hand, we showcased our diversity.  We did tolerance and moderation last night, and in so doing, we opened a six-pack of tall-boy whoop-ass on those French-speaking Democrats and their “intimate friends” in the theater industry and the anti-Christian media.  When we do tolerance and moderation, we take no motherlovin’ prisoners!  But tonight it was all about diversity.  Michael Steele himself was incredibly diverse.  The liberal media won’t admit it, but black Republicans are actually much more diverse than black Democrats.  You see, since most African-Americans are Democrats, black Democrats are basically just party-line groupthinkers.  Black Republicans, by contrast, think for themselves in a way that truly diversifies diversity.  And that’s why we put them front and center when we have our conventions-- because, unlike the Rats, we respect them as individuals rather than as members of a group. 

And then the highlight of the night, the man we all came to see, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Schwarzenegger spells “diversity.” For while the Democrats think Hollywood is the heart and soul of America, Republicans know that the heart and soul of America is someplace else, like a small town in a swing state, or in a quiet, modest house in the country where immigrants are working hard to better themselves by farming the land or pumping iron or something.  Arnold Schwarzenegger symbolizes that heart and soul, having risen from humble immigrant iron-pumping origins to fame and success and announcing his candidacy for governor of California on The Tonight Show-- the classic American immigrant’s dream.  And as Arnold put it so eloquently tonight, immigrants don’t have to fear the Republican party-- the Republican party loves them.  And they don’t have to agree with everything in the Republican party, like, for example, the part of the party that doesn’t love immigrants at all, because we “can respectfully disagree and still be good Republicans.” Now that’s diversity-- and tolerance too!

How do you know you’re a Republican, Arnold asked?  If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, instead of the people being accountable to the government, you’re a Republican.  Well, no kidding!  Again, you won’t hear this from the liberal media, but independent studies have proven that the Bush presidency has been the most accountable presidency ever-- and more than twice as accountable as Clinton’s.  In fact, you could say that the “W” in “George W. Bush” stands for “We Have Been Extremely Accountable.”

Also, Arnold said, if you think your family knows how to spend money better than the government does, you’re a Republican.  Damn straight, Kindergarten Cop!  In the past year, my family has initiated a bold new spending program designed to bolster the alternative-rock industry, and next year we’re unveiling our plan to provide health care for all Americans except the ones who don’t live with us.  Also, don’t forget to check out the new Bérubé Turnpike we’ll be building in a town near you.  It’ll be a toll road, so that we can raise the funds for the light rail system we’re working on for 2009.

Some of you might doubt that my family can pull this off.  Well, some of you might just be economic girlie-men!  The kind who get their panties in a bunch about a little deficit here and a little job loss there!  You people don’t have health care?  You can’t afford a visit to the dentist, you say, and you’ve got this inflammation that you’re worried about?  You’re a bunch of fags!!  Why not just go to Hollywood and become DemocRATS, you lily-livered gum-inflamed liberal whiners?

Enough about you.  This night wasn’t about you.  It was about a President who knows how to terminate terrorism.  That’s right, you wanted to know if Arnold would say “terminate,” and you got your answer-- we will terminate terrorism.  Terrorism will come at us in a big truck carrying crude oil or liquid nitrogen or something, and we’ll crush it in a drill press or maybe shoot it and shatter it into a million pieces, but then the terrorists’ metal forearm will survive and provide scientists with the basis for creating a whole new kind of artificial intelligence, or the liquid-metal terrorist will re-form and we’ll have to shoot it with one of those huge exploding bullets and make it fall backwards into a vat of molten steel, and then we’ll have to send ourselves back into the past (that is, the present) to protect ourselves from the terrorists who want to start a global thermonuclear war, but then it’ll turn out that the war happens anyway, which is kind of complicated, because we thought we’d avoided it when we shot the liquid-metal terrorist with the huge exploding bullet and he fell . . . never mind, that’s not the point, the point is that leadership is all about “making decisions you think are right, and then standing behind those decisions.” Even when it looks like your decision to invade Iraq was based on the advice of a notorious kleptomaniac who was possibly serving as a double agent for Iranian mullahs, you stand behind your decision, because leadership is all about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind them.  Um, I said that already.  But that’s all right, because it makes it even more true!!  And I stand firm in repeating what I said about leadership!! 

I do have two quibbles with Arnold’s speech.  One, he said, “you don’t reason with terrorists, you defeat them.” Maybe this is one of those moments where he’s respectfully disagreeing with the President, who recently told us (and I’m paraphrasing from memory here) that we can’t win a war on terrorism in a way that winnably defeats terrorists because this is a different kind of conflict than the kind of conflict in which you win a war, but that doesn’t mean we won’t win.  But I think Schwarzenegger should have consulted the President about this.  And two, he said that “we do not fight for imperialism, we fight for human rights.” I know I’ve only been a Republican for 24 hours now, but I have to press the “respectful disagreement” button here.  Screw human rights-- I’m in it for the imperialism.  You may be happy right where you are in Sacramento, Arnold, but me, I want one of those no-bid contracts.

Next up were the twins, Barbara and Jenna.  And here, I think, is where my new party revealed a genius I didn’t know it had.  For years, progressive-left literary types like me used to taunt Republicans: “nyah nyah, nyah nyah,” we suggested, “you don’t know anything about surrealism, nyah nyah, never heard of the European avant-garde, la la la la la la.” We thought we were the last word in urbane sophistication, and that Republicans could not begin to comprehend-- or even catch-- our allusions to figures like Bréton and Bataille.  But then along come the Bush twins, and ooh la la, surrealism is born anew!  “My Dad already had a chief of staff-- and his name is Andy!” said Jenna.  It is beyond humor, it is beyond your petty-ironic Democrat understanding.  “Our parents’ favorite term of endearment for each other is Bushy,” they said, following this with “we had a hamster too, but our hamster didn’t make it.” What does this mean? you ask.  Foolish liberal Democrats, fretting about “what does this mean, this strange talk of bushes and lost hamsters.” It is not about meaning.  It is about the irruption of the unconscious into the very fabric of everyday life, where the eye becomes an egg and the hamster disappears into the bushy undergrowth, there to be transformed into the heart and soul of America.  Hah!  Now we find that Republican diversity is even more diverse than Michael Steele and Arnold Schwarzenegger-- it extends even to the domain of live performance art, where Barbara and Jenna Bush evoke Bréton and Bataille and Beavis and Butthead in an intertextual performance that leaves you girlie-men cultural-studies Democrats gasping for air.  I especially liked the bit about how their parents taught them to respect everyone.  Except the people we run against-- them we slime! Heh.  Heh heh.  Heh. 

After Arnold and the twins, Laura was a serious letdown, I have to say.  She was not very diverse, and she was not very surrealist either.  She did manage to point out that her husband was the very first president to support stem cell research, slapping down that liberal-media Big Lie about how Clinton authorized the research and Bush declared a moratorium on it, and she did manage to be strong and emphatic, not at all shrill and smug like Hitlery, but why did she have to go and mention Vaclav Havel?  He’s a foreign leader, and as Rudy G. told us last night, foreign leaders suck eggs.  “Democracy requires the participation of everyone,” Havel told Laura.  Screw that participatory shit! We have an election to win here.  No wonder nobody clapped at that line!  Diebold their lame asses, I say, and if there’s a black DemocRAT in Florida who wants to vote, he (or she!) better be ready to recite the Constitution backwards and prove that his (or her!) grandfather wasn’t a Democrat (or a felon, assuming you make the distinction!).  And then we have to hear about the President shedding tears as he’s hugged families who’ve lost loved ones?  What the hell is this, Oprah?  First of all, George Bush would have to have really long arms to hug entire families.  And second of all, let’s leave this sensitive, family-hugging crap to John Kerry, whose campaign is based entirely on hugging, nuancing, and reasoning with terrorists.  From my leaders I want to hear more about terminating terrorism with huge exploding bullets and time travel, and that’s why I can’t wait to hear Dick Cheney speak tomorrow night.

America moves ahead!  And this blog will follow.

Posted by Michael on 08/31 at 06:22 PM
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A Quarter Million Readers Can’t be Wrong

That’s right, you all can’t be wrong.  At some point this morning this site will cross the 250,000 mark for the year-- not bad for a little academic blog run by one guy who didn’t figure out how blogs worked until about two years after all the cool kids on the block had one.  And have you seen?  Academics are already beginning to distribute questionnaires and surveys about academic blogs, which means that the MLA panel on “The New Blog Intellectual” cannot be far behind, which means that blogging will soon be so over and will have to be replaced by something even cooler, like slogging or flogging.

But let’s not worry about that today.  Let’s worry about something else, like the right’s assaults on academic freedom-- compellingly documented and dissected by Bryan Pfaffenberger, the fearsome Pink Bunny of Battle.

Posted by Michael on 08/31 at 03:17 AM
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Monday, August 30, 2004

First night

In all honesty, I have to say I’m impressed. 

Ed Koch’s endorsement of Bush was amazingly powerful.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ed, he’s the guy who ran for Mayor of New York in 1977 on the slogan, “Westway Must Never Be Built,” and then, within minutes of taking his hand off the Bible, realized that Westway kicked ass and should definitely be built-- while the city went about the important business of closing a couple of municipal hospitals in Harlem.  Not every politician would have had the courage of his convictions on this-- most ordinary New York Democrat machine pols would’ve stuck with the platform that got them in.  But not Koch-- he bucked the system in ‘77, man, and he’s still buckin’ today.  For a quarter century, the name “Ed Koch” has been synonymous with integrity and rectitude.  He’s a beacon of sanity and light in dark times.  If he says George Bush is our man, I think Democrats should sit up straight and listen.

And then McCain.  What is there to say about McCain?  McCain is McCain.  The quintessential maverick, quintessentially mavericking all those other sucker-quintessential pseudo-mavericks who try to bring that weak shit to the hole.  When he called Michael Moore a “disingenuous filmmaker,” I realized that my own piddling critiques of Moore were so much dust in the wind.  As McCain explained in his post-game interview with CNBC, Michael Moore’s film suggested that Iraq under Saddam was some kind of Biblical paradise, and that’s so wrong it’s just . . . just . . . disingenuous, is what it is.  Isn’t it weird that Democrats won’t say anything bad about Saddam?  Rock on, John.  The disingenuous must die!!  Die, disingenuous Democrats, die!!

And then, listening to the testimonies and watching the montages after McCain’s speech, I began to think about my own prejudices as a liberal-left blogger.  Seriously, the last time I had a substantial debate with one of my liberal-leftist colleagues about the Bush presidency, it was at an American Studies panel at Tiny Elite Liberal University titled, “Republicans-- Do They Merely Give Voice to the Vilest Elements of American Society, or Are They Themselves the Vilest Elements of American Society?” At the time, I argued strenuously in favor of either the former or latter position, but now that I’ve finally seen some actual Republicans up close on TV, I’ve had to reconsider.  These people really seem very nice, once you get to meet them.  They’re not wild-eyed ideologues-- they’re just ordinary folks, sitting there in Madison Square Garden, trying to have a good time.  They’re as sensible as you or your grandmother, and all they want is for people to love one another, inclusively, in a big tent that is inclusive.  They love their country, and you should too.

And then . . . Rudy G.

Now, I’ve spent most of my life hanging around with effete English department liberal faculty, and as a result, I’ve always imagined Republicans as evil trolls who file their teeth at night and spend their spare time trying to figure out how to pass tax cuts for their ultrawealthy friends while passing the costs along to widows, orphans, and gay men with disabilities.  Tonight, I came face to face with those caricatures, and the caricatures won.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Rudy was great, and great Americans loved Rudy.

Rudy G. channeled Fafblog, declaring that George Bush can “see beyond today and tomorrow-- he can see into the future.” Then Rudy G. channeled Peggy N., declaring that Bush “has already earned a place in history as a great American president,” based on his resolve and his firm hardness in those first few goat-petting hours.  And then Rudy G. did this great segue to how the Germans set those 1972 Olympics terrorists free.  Also that evil Abu Nidal guy on the Achille Lauro:  he showed that terrorists would be met with appeasement, accommodation, and compromise.  Not by Reagan, who was president at the time and who was amazingly hard and firm when it came to terrorists-- no, no, Abu Nidal was set free by Europeans.  The very same Europeans who continue to live in Europe today! And you know what else Rudy said?  We’re gonna play offense, not just defense.  We’re gonna lead and not just follow.  Hell, yes!  As a hockey player, and as a blogger, I have to say this makes sense to me.

And John Kerry?  Kerry would try to appease those “foreign leaders” who opposed the removal of Saddam.  Boo!  Boo Kerry!  Boo bad foreign leaders!  But right here at home, it turns out, a construction worker hugged Bush really hard, and a Secret Service agent said to Guiliani, “if this guy hurts the President, you’re finished.” It’s hard to argue with that.

Folks, I’ll level with you on the level-- I did not know any of this.  I did not know that Kerry said he would have voted before against the $87 billion after he did not vote for it.  I did not know that President Bush stayed with those 9/11 construction workers “much longer than was planned.” Thanks to the liberal media and the hyper-liberal campus by which I am surrounded, I have been contributing to the left-wing blogosphere echo-chamber without once questioning my assumptions about the Republican party.  But today’s GOP really is a remarkable bunch.  “The best speech I’ve seen at a convention,” said William Kristol of Rudy Guiliani’s performance.  “He knew what he wanted to say.  The Wednesday and the Thursday and the Friday, and the construction worker hugging Bush, and all the other things he said,” said Fred Barnes.  How can you argue against someone who knew what he wanted to say?  You can’t, is the answer, and that is why, after only one evening of this convention, I’m willing to bet that this land is Bush land, where people know that they say what they say in the way that they just said it.

More tomorrow!  (Tomorrow) We’re Gonna Rock You Tomorrow!!! 

UPDATE:  Readers ask, “did Fred Barnes really say that?” Yes, readers, he really said that.  I watched the Fox wrapup, typing away on my spiffy new laptop, and Fred Barnes really said that.  We don’t make stuff up on this blog-- we’re not that imaginative.

Posted by Michael on 08/30 at 06:04 PM
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Reporting for duty

Hello again, everyone.  I’m back in town at last, having dropped Nick off at college.  Six days, two thousand miles round trip (plus a side adventure for Janet and Jamie to Champaign, Illinois so that Janet could conduct a dissertation defense and Jamie could visit his place of birth while I attended all the parent-orientation meetings down in St. Louis), and one lousy, hurried meal after another.  We’re exhausted.  But Jamie got a big kick out of visiting Nick’s new home (three guys living in a walk-in closet, more or less) and kept telling everyone that his big brother was going to college.

I didn’t have Internet access in St. Louis, so I came home to a raft of emails and the stuff of academic nightmares, namely, a course whose assigned room is clearly too small for the number of students in the class and whose syllabus is still in flux.  Why didn’t I have Internet access, you ask?  Because Janet booked the hotel, that’s why.  And so my dear wife and I had the following conversation at some point between Thursday and Sunday:

“I thought you said, after we got back from Paris, that we’d ‘learned our lesson,’ and that we wouldn’t travel discount any more.”

“I didn’t say that when we got back from Paris.”

“Uh, actually, you said it as we were detaching ourselves from the bungee cords that strapped us to the outside of the fuselage of the Air India flight from Paris as it touched down in Newark this past June, so yeah, you did say it when we got back from Paris.”

“Well, I meant that we weren’t going to travel discount any more except the very next time, then.  And besides, we didn’t even get a discount.”

OK, so the conversation didn’t go exactly like that.  But you get the idea.  Anyway, everything seems to have gone well, except that certain items seem to have been damaged or lost or damaged and then lost in shipping.  Janet did the traditional last-minute maternal-burst-into-tears, and Nick and I did the traditional father-son farewell knife-fight in the parking lot outside the dorm.  Much fun!  He has really learned to toss that knife from hand to hand with élan.  We love him and wish him well.  Send him telepathic support when you get a moment.

Now back to work:  RNC blogging!  You asked for it-- so it begins tonight.  Thanks to everyone who sent bourbon.  I will not fail you.

Posted by Michael on 08/30 at 09:23 AM
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Breaking news

Janet and I just got back from Philadelphia, City of Bloggerly Love, where we saw Prince play the best show ever played by anyone.  Curious-- the two Big Things I saw this summer were Prince at the Wachovia Center and Elvis Costello at Lincoln Center.  Talk about a study in contrasts.  But more on that later.  And no, I haven’t forgotten my promise to file a report on Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? It looks like I’m going to have to break that report into parts, but we’ll see.

Anyway, that’s not the breaking news.  The breaking news is that we’re packing up and driving Nick to college, woo woo.  I’ll be back in a week, at which point I’ll call the official press conference, but in the meantime I wanted to announce to all my faithful readers the big news:  in order to pay Nick’s tuition, I have agreed to accept the position of Director of Homeland Security.

Like I say, it’s not official yet, so don’t go talking to the media.  But entre nous, I’d be really grateful if you could suggest (a) new colors for terror alerts and (b) names of Democrats who should be put on the no-fly list.  Thanks much, and I’ll be back soon.

Posted by Michael on 08/24 at 08:17 AM
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Monday, August 23, 2004

Blog business

Apparently the Washington Post is having some sort of blog contest.  Nominations close September 3.  The categories are:

Best Rant
Best Democratic Party Coverage
Best Republican Party Coverage
Best Campaign Dirt
Best Inside the Beltway
Best Outside the Beltway
Best International
Class Clown
Most Original
Most Likely To Last Beyond Election Day

It appears that there has been some oversight, for I can find no way to nominate anyone in the critical category of political hockey blogging.  So tell you what:  head over to the WaPo and nominate some of the many fine blogs from my blogroll, or maybe Fafblog, which I keep forgetting to add to the mix.  But tell ‘em I sent you.

In other news, a friend writes to say, “I hope you’re going to be watching the Republican convention.  You owe it to your blog readers, as I’m sure I’m not alone in being someone who will get physically ill if I have to watch that crap.” This is a friend, I ask you?  Someone who wants me to shorten my lifespan by watching Zell and Cheney and Prez Cheez Whiz talk all week about their firm hard compassionately moderate compassionated steadfastness?  Someone who will affix the Clockwork Orange eyelid-opening devices to my skull, turn on the TV, and make me blog about the experience?

What did you think about that compassionate moment of good hard firm All-American regular-guy compassion?  Judy?  Tucker?  Cokie?

-- I thought it was extremely compassionated, Wolf.  This is not some Swiss-cheese-eating candidate with a credibility problem and a history of mental illness.  This is a man with a clear, compassional vision for America that is also strong and hard.

I have to put up with four days of this all so that he can avoid getting physically ill?  What am I, a prophylactic blog?

You tell me, folks.  Do I have to go through with it?

Posted by Michael on 08/23 at 02:23 AM
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