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Friday, February 27, 2009

Postscript to extra special guest post

Hello, American Airspace!  This is George Will of the Permanent Punditry, here once again with another important message.  President Obama’s redistributionist budget will mark the end of American prosperity as we know it.  Reverting to the politics of class resentment, reviving the failed “soak the rich” policies of Democratic administrations past, Obama promises to raise taxes on “the wealthiest five percent” of Americans.  Independent studies show, however, that over 73 percent of Americans believe that they fall into that category, and another 27 percent plan to do so in the foreseeable future.

More important, however, is the effect this recidivist redistributionism will have on job creation.  If Obama’s utopian schemes proceed as planned, then it is very likely that two years from now, many hardworking journalists and television personalities throughout the greater Washington area will have to scale back dramatically.  Many who are accustomed to dining at Citronelle may have to settle for The Willard Room instead, thereby destroying untold millions of American jobs.

Obama’s budget promises to reanimate the corpse of an idea that died an unmourned death with the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Surely that’s not the kind of change we can believe in.

Posted by Michael on 02/27 at 03:49 PM
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another extra special guest post

Hello, American Airspace!  This is George Will of the Permanent Punditry, here with an important message.  You know, these are confusing times.  It’s not always clear what to believe—or whom to believe.  Every day, for example, we hear alarmist reports from dark green doomsayers, warning us of some kind of catastrophic “climate change,” complete with disappearing ice caps and stranded polar bears.  But every day I have a tall glass of cool, refreshing iced tea, and there’s just as much ice in my glass today as there was in 1979, as measured by the University of Illinois’ Cool Refreshing Beverage Research Center.

And every day we see men hugging.  When did that start?  I don’t know about you, but I watch baseball precisely so that I don’t have to sit through embarrassing spectacles like the one we saw in Congress the other night.

But there’s one thing I do know, and that’s the market.  Last month, I pointed to McDonald’s strong fourth-quarter earnings as “a small sign of a big phenomenon”—namely, that “people change their behavior” in tough times.  “That’s the market sorting this out,” I said.  And that’s why I want to speak to you today about Alpo.

Yes, Alpo.  For the real meat lovers in your family, it’s a great source of protein, and unlike the costly prime cuts favored by liberal elites, it stores well, so it can be kept on the shelf until that special occasion arises.  And it’s not just for dinner anymore!  Between meals or for an after-school snack, your family can also enjoy Alpo Variety Snaps, which come in a variety of tasty natural flavors

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that based on my track record, I must have some undisclosed financial interest in Ralston Purina, a subsidiary of Nestlé.  Perhaps you imagine that my wife lobbies for them; perhaps you even suspect that I helped to coach Alpo for its big debate with Pedigree.  Well, put your worries to rest.  For once, I have no conflicts of interest.  I simply believe in my heart, as a conservative, that as Barack Obama plunges this country deeper and deeper into the worst depression since the one caused by FDR, people will have to change their behavior accordingly.  And by “people,” of course, I mean “other people.”

So if you’re one of those other people—or if you love someone who is—won’t you try Alpo today?  Thank you.

Update:  Welcome Red State readers!  A friendly reminder to my interlocutors on the right:  yes, I know I look and sound like an “intellectual.” That’s my role in the Inner Party.  I wear bow ties and I toss around phrases like “sine qua non” and words like “supererogatory” and “interlocutor.” But don’t let that scare you!  On the most important issues of the day, I’m squarely with the Stupids, and just to prove it, in my latest column, I double down.  On, Palin!  On, Jindal!  On, Santelli and Plumber!

Posted by Michael on 02/26 at 12:08 PM
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Official GOP response to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression

Marsh mice.  Losers!  FDR’s fault.  Mag lev.  Heh.  Heh heh.  Also, Katrina.

Update:  Later that day, the ether kicked in.

Posted by Michael on 02/25 at 10:10 AM
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Extra special guest post

Hello American Airspace readers!  This is Stanley Kurtz of the National Review.* I suppose you’re all wondering why I haven’t written anything on the Internet since early November of last year, when I posted “What We Know About Obama” and “Senator Stealth,” a pair of groundbreaking essays that culminated my months of painstaking research into Obama’s decades of training for ACORNist jihad, his time in the “New Party,” a radical-left splinter group dedicated to the violent overthrow of American democracy, his indoctrination into the Gamaliel Foundation’s separatist, anti-American theology of liberation, and his missing senior thesis at Columbia—all of which explains the so-called “financial crisis” he and his cronies have engineered in order to catapult him to power.  As my original research showed, “the Gamaliel Foundation was founded in Chicago in 1968 to assist the Contract Buyers League, which worked to assist African-American home buyers in the city’s West Side.” It’s all there in plain sight: the plot to destroy the American financial industry by channeling funds to losers and deadbeats—hatched, appropriately, in 1968, the year Obama met Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Malcolm X in a sleeper cell in Hyde Park, the very place to which Obama mysteriously returned years later as a so-called “law professor.”

So why the silence?  Some people say I was too depressed by the election of this fringe-radical figure to the Presidency; others fear, with good reason, that Obama had me targeted for elimination, just as he’s now targeting the beleaguered (but unfathomably brave) Rick Santelli.  The truth, however, is that I have been engaged in further intensive study of Dreams from My Father, and that some of my efforts have been necessitated by the regrettable fact that a few of my conservative colleagues have been saying some very questionable things about this most revealing book.  Why, even my friends here at the National Review have entertained Jack Cashill’s preposterous claim that Obama’s first book was actually ghost-written by Bill Ayers.  That’s just crazy talk.  We absolutely have to be more rigorous and discriminating in dealing with this elusive, shape-shifting trickster figure who now occupies—however unjustly—the Oval Office.

Take, for example, the oft-cited passage from the introduction:

When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it usually is a discovery, as I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose—the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds. And if I were to explain that no, the tragedy is not mine, or at least not mine alone, it is yours, sons and daughters of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island, it is yours, children of Africa, it is the tragedy of both my wife’s six-year-old cousin and his white first grade classmates, so that you need not guess at what troubles me, it’s on the nightly news for all to see, and that if we could acknowledge at least that much then the tragic cycle begins to break down . . . well, I suspect that I sound incurably naive, wedded to lost hopes, like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns. Or worse, I sound like I’m trying to hide from myself.

Here’s how some of my colleagues have dealt with this passage: they take the line “I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites,” and they follow it with “I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother’s race.” That’s not right.  The second line is taken largely from Steve Sailer’s judicious and perceptive review of the book, not from the book itself.  Last year, that fabricated quote made its way around the world as part of our ambitious under-the-radar e-mail smear campaigns.  Clearly, it was intended to inflame racial animosities by attributing those animosities to Obama himself; and with millions of voters—though not quite enough voters—it seems to have done the trick.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  I have nothing against fanning racial animosities by way of e-mail smear campaigns, which is why I didn’t criticize this fabrication at the time.  But now that the worst has happened despite our best efforts, and “President” Obama has begun to implement his stealth program, I think it is time for conservatives to review their tactics, and return to the forms of textual manipulation that have served us so well in the past.

Besides, as conservatives, we should be working to maintain high intellectual standards.  Apparently, the Internet allows anyone to “check” fabrications like this, and apparently some people actually go to the trouble of doing it.  That just makes us look bad in the end.  We don’t need to make up new sentences!  We don’t need to add anything at all.  The way to deal with upstarts and frauds like Obama is not to put more words in, but rather to take words out.  Thus, “I suspect that I sound incurably naive, wedded to lost hopes, like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns” becomes

I suspect that I sound . . . like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns.

There’s no “plausible deniability” there, because Barack Hussein Obama, General Secretary of the ACORN Income and Property Redistribution Program, wrote every word.

Similarly, when Obama writes “even the trauma of bank failures and farm foreclosures seemed romantic when spun through the loom of my grandparents’ memories” (13), the proper, conservative thing to do is to trim this down to “bank failures and farm foreclosures seemed romantic.” That passage, in turn, can be used to explain why Obama joined the Galadriel Foundation and, together with Bill Ayers, Fr. Michael Pfleger, and Marcus Garvey, began to implement a three-decade “slow dipping device” plan to destroy the U.S. banking and housing industries: as he himself admits, he was, and remains, an incurably naive Communist who finds bank failures and farm foreclosures romantic.

The most damning passage in Dreams from My Father, however, deals with Obama’s shadowy arrival in New York City.  From the opening of chapter six:

I spent my first night in Manhattan curled up in an alleyway. It wasn’t intentional; while still in L.A., I had heard that a friend of a friend would be vacating her apartment in Spanish Harlem, near Columbia, and that given New York’s real estate market I’d better grab it while I could. An agreement was reached; I wired ahead with the date of my August arrival; and after dragging my luggage through the airport, the subways, Times Square, and across 109th from Broadway to Amsterdam, I finally stood at the door, a few minutes past ten P.M.

I pressed the buzzer repeatedly, but no one answered. The street was empty, the buildings on either side boarded up, a bulk of rectangular shadows. Eventually, a young Puerto Rican woman emerged from the building, throwing a nervous look my way before heading down the street. I rushed to catch the door before it slammed shut, and, pulling my luggage behind me, proceeded upstairs to knock, and then bang, on the apartment door. Again, no answer, just a sound down the hall of a deadbolt thrown into place.

New York. Just like I pictured it. (113)

What jumps out about this passage?  One thing, certainly, is the baldfaced lie in the first sentence; for as one astute conservative blog has pointed out, “there aren’t any alleys in Manhattan.” Advantage, blogosphere!  (That blog, “Sweetness and Light,” has recently been named CPAC’s Blogger of the Year for 2009—and I should add that the citizen journalists of S&L are singularly discerning political commentators in their own right.) But the final sentence is arguably even more important. “New York.  Just like I pictured it.” It’s not merely a sneering, dismissive line about a great city that was viciously attacked by murderous fanatics, uttered by a callow youth who had spent his first twenty years jetting from Hawaii to Indonesia to Los Angeles; it’s also, crucially, evidence of plagiarism.

Yes, plagiarism.  Incredible as it may sound, the American people were basically hornswoggled by the liberal media into electing Ward Churchill as their President.

For as I have discovered after spending almost four months researching this seemingly insignificant passage, the phrase “New York.  Just like I pictured it” actually derives from a 1973 song written by Stevie Wonder, called “Living for the City.” The line in question has been mysteriously expunged from official Internet transcripts of the song’s lyrics, but my research has revealed quite clearly that this line is spoken by the protagonist of the song, an unnamed black man from Mississippi who is subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison for drug dealing.

No doubt Obama counted on the “stealth” aspect of this obscure song and felt secure in the belief that no one would ever pursue the matter so far as to reveal its source.  But after spending almost four months researching this seemingly insignificant passage, and after spending almost four months researching this seemingly insignificant passage, four months researching this seemingly insignificant passage, I have uncovered ironclad evidence that should bring down the illegitimate Obama presidency, and end for once and for all its bloody reign of romantic-Communist terror.

I have alerted Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times to my findings, and since he has lately been a beacon of light and sanity as the Obama hordes seek to shroud all in murk, I have every reason to believe that this important issue will soon receive the full-court-press treatment it deserves.

I thank Michael Bérubé for the use of his blog and for the opportunity to address you today.  And I ask you to spread the word far and wide, so that we can initiate impeachment proceedings with all deliberate speed.
_______

* This is not true.  This post was not really written by Stanley Kurtz of the National Review.  And Lee Siegel never really guest-blogged here, either.  Alas.

Posted by Michael on 02/24 at 10:02 AM
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Jai ho!

I’m off to do some real work again, and I won’t be back until Thursday.  I hope to have a nice surprise for you all tomorrow, though—a parody guest-blogger whose groundbreaking work on Barack Obama is truly breaking new ground.  In the meantime, I’d just like to point out that if a furren song like “Jai Ho” can beat a good American song like “Down to Earth” that uses real English words, then clearly this famous chart needs to be updated so that it goes past 100.  Welcome to the Obama Era!  I do hope somebody over at Big Hollywood noticed that A. R. Rahman spoke of “the power of hope” in his brief but pointed acceptance speech, because that was code.  Code for what?  Oh, like I’d tell you here.

Posted by Michael on 02/23 at 09:20 AM
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Friday, February 20, 2009

ABF Friday:  Selling Out Edition!

Aha! Steven Dowling’s essay on Iggy Pop and selling out is now up at the BBC News Magazine.  Cool.  I should start selling BlogAds again!  Maybe some of you out there need car insurance.  But first, a few stories about selling out, just as I promised.

At some point in college I encountered the following exchange—whether by participating in it, listening to it, or reading it, I really don’t remember.  But it went like this.  George Benson appeared on TV singing “This Masquerade,” and someone in the room responded by saying, “feh, George Benson, sellout.  Hope he’s hired someone to count all that cash.” Whereupon someone else replied, “oh, really?  WTF do you know about George Benson?  Are you going to tell me you were avidly following his career from the moment he left Pittsburgh?  Do you have a copy of his version of Abbey Road?  Or was Breezin’ the first you ever heard of George Benson, so that now that you know his name, you can accuse him of selling out?  Because maybe, just maybe, the guy likes playing for large appreciative crowds and appearing on TV instead of being consigned to eighty-three point seven FM?  In which case, who are you to begrudge him?”

I’ve always liked that response, and wish only that I could remember whether it was actually directed at me.

A few years later, I was playing drums in Baby Opaque, a band that was a kind of distant offshoot of the DC hardcore scene (“distant” because we were two hours south of DC and didn’t play hardcore). Apparently some people still remember us, but at the time we played to such tiny crowds that eventually we put up a poster reading, “come join the three or four people who will join us. . . .” I narrated the band’s brief history at the end of this post from 2006.  In that crowd, as I’ve mentioned many a time, Hüsker Dü was routinely accused of selling out for signing with SST.  No, not for signing with Warner—for signing with SST.  SST’s revenues, I believe, were approximately one-billionth of a percent of, say, Columbia Records’, but the success of Zen Arcade in 1984 meant that suddenly, more than five thousand people were listening to Hüsker Dü, which in turn meant that there would soon be new Hüsker Dü fans some of whom were measurably Not As Cool As We Were.  The horror!

Of course, further down that indie-rock road lies Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain’s deeply conflicted relation to commercial success.  As for me, I got tired of hauling ass and flailing away on drums for audiences of three or four every few weeks, and decided to devote myself full-time to graduate school, where the money was better.  That’s a joke, son.

But it’s not just about the money.  There are two more substantial reasons why I’m not fond of the discourse of “selling out,” and they both have to do with the idea of the counterculture.

One is that the “mainstream” is not, in fact, a static thing.  There is no Man out there looking for cool and interesting subcultures to co-opt, deracinate, and drag into the corporate matrix.  (Well, OK, there is in Undercover Brother, which you can think of as a breezin’ version of Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo.  But otherwise, no, there’s no Man.) Rather, the relation between “mainstream” culture and subcultures is, to coin a phrase, dialectic.  And that’s why “popular” culture is so much blacker and queerer than it was fifty years ago.

The other is elaborated nicely in Joseph Heath’s and Andrew Potter’s Nation of Rebels.  (Also known in Othercountriestan as The Rebel Sell.) In my discussion of Heath and Potter in the forthcoming and eagerly-awaited-by-three-or-four-people The Left At War, I note that Heath and Potter argue

that countercultural thinking itself starts from a fatally incoherent premise.  In postwar countercultural critiques of mass society, the enemy is inevitably conformity– embodied by the organization man, the man in the grey flannel suit, the people in the ticky-tacky houses that all look just the same, the well-respected man about town doing the best things so conservatively.  Rebellion against conformity, then, is construed as a challenge to the entire structure of corporate capitalism, which allegedly would prefer to mass-produce us all just as it mass-produces cheeseburgers, Levis, and Top 40 songs.  Strangely, however, it always turns out that rebellion against conformity, whenever it becomes attractive enough to a critical mass of people, fails to challenge the logic of the market, instead producing new niche markets for everything from organic food to extreme sports.  And it turns out this way because capitalism has no necessary investment in conformity; market diversity, from the seller’s point of view, is just as good if not better.  By the same token, a counterculture that urges its members to break away from social mores and march to a different drummer is a counterculture that winds up subscribing to one of mainstream America’s most cherished topoi: that individuals need to rebel against “society” in order to discover and express themselves.  Although Thomas Frank was right to note the rise of “hip consumerism,” therefore, it was something of a mistake to characterize it as corporate America’s “conquest of cool.” “Cool” was always already marketable, and the assumptions of the counterculture were always as American as McDonald’s apple pie.

Speaking of McDonald’s: I am totally in favor of the late Paul Newman selling out by having his salad dressing sold at your local Mickey D’s.  See, McDonald’s is eventually going to try to sell salads, right?  And those salads will have dressings as well, right?  And if it’s a question of whether that dressing will be Gloppy Goo made by Kraft or Newman’s Own where the profits go to various lefty-approved causes, give me some of that Newman’s Own.  And to Jonathan Franzen, I would say never mind about that Oprah; if I ran the world, writers who are (cough, cough) solidly in the high-art literary tradition would have their books included in Happy Meals.

That said, the Iggy ads are still icky.  Though as I note in Steven Dowling’s piece, it’s nice to know that if my car collides with Mr. Pop’s anytime soon, he is indeed covered.

Posted by Michael on 02/20 at 11:58 AM
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