March 24, 2008 - March 17, 2008
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
P.S. to Patterico
Glenn Greenwald... down in flames.
. I followed the links today (h/t Malkin, Reynolds) to
Patterico's takedown of Glenn Greenwald. For any InstaPunk readers who
don't know what I'm talking about, here's the background. A blogger at
the Huffington Post
an attempt to "assassinate" Dick Cheney in Afghanistan failed. Then a
veritable flood of Huffington commenters exclaimed their anger that the
attempt had not succeeded. Some conservative bloggers then inferred
that such comments reflected a sizeable constituency of leftist opinion
in this country. Glenn Greenwald, a fairly famous liberal blogger,
wrote a column at Salon
arguing that rightwing bloggers always blame the lefty blogs themselves
for nasty comments by isolated crackpot readers, who are representative
of nothing and should never be cited as such.
replied with a thoroughly documented post (read the whole thing) that
quotes the heart of Greenwald's piece and observes:
These comments are staggeringly hypocritical, viewed
in the light of Greenwald’s extensive history of spotlighting anonymous
comments at conservative blogs to reach broad-brush conclusions about
the entire conservative movement. Greenwald is a prime practitioner of
this “transparently flimsy and misleading method” of tarring the other
side. And, in marked contrast to Greenwald’s tender concern today for
whether ugly leftist comments “are representative of the blog itself,”
Greenwald is famous in conservative circles for highlighting extreme
comments on conservative blogs — comments that in no way represent the
views of the posts to which they are responding, or of the bloggers
He proceeds to quote at length numerous examples of Greenwald's own
behavior and provides links to multiple others. He concludes by
referencing a Huffington Post
blog entry not mentioned by Greenwald which did, in fact, call directly
for Cheney's death by heart attack, a positioned echoed by countless
commenters who heartily endorsed the sentiment.
Patterico's piece was so devastating that I was curious to see whether
or not Greenwald had responded, so I looked at the Salon column
, which featured
four updates but no mention of Patterico. I did, however, find these
juicy morsels of liberal cant:
It is also worth nothing [sic], as
several commenters did, that most of the largest right-wing blogs do
not allow comments at all precisely because they know the monstrous
sentiments that would spew forth...
Ann Coulter previously expressed sorrow that Timothy McVeigh did not
bomb The New York Times building, and she also called for the murder of
Supreme Court Justices. As Blue Texan notes, she is one of the featured
speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week,
along with Vice President Cheney and three separate GOP presidential
candidates -- as well as Michelle Malkin, who is very, very upset by
the remarks from the anonymous HuffPost commenters today.
Patterico's argument is powerful enough not to need to deal with these
details, but I think they are worth speaking to as a sort of mop-up
operation after the slaughter.
The statement that "most of the largest right-wing blogs do not allow
comments" is as disingenuous as everything else in Greenwald's post. By
"most," he means Michelle Malkin and InstaPundit (as one of his first
commenters immediately specified), because there are dozens of popular
rightwing blogs with very active comment sections, including such
biggies as Hugh Hewitt, Little Green Footballs, Protein Wisdom, Ace of
Spades, LaShawn Barber, The Anchoress, et al. Greenwald fails to
mention that Michelle Malkin was compelled to disable her comments
section because of the many obscene, disgusting, and frightening
attacks on her from the left, which have been abundantly documented
And InstaPundit has explained more than once that the tendency of the liberal MSM and lefty blogs to attribute
commenters' remarks to the blog author without clear differentiation
is the reason he doesn't allow comments. I might add that in
InstaPundit's case, he is more linker than thinker in terms of his
format, which seriously diminishes the value of comments -- these
undoubtedly accrue to the benefit of the posts he is linking to
. In a
word, Glenn Reynolds's "no comments" policy is actually quite generous
to his fellow bloggers.
The Ann Coulter reference is hilarious because it's the first thing all
lefties cite when someone calls them on their constant over-the-top
about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the truly vile debasements lefties
spew at them every day. "But look at what Ann Coulter says," they
shriek. "She wanted McVeigh to blow up the New York Times! And you think
Coulter's the first outrage the lefties cite because they don't have
that many other examples to
cite. If she didn't exist, they'd have to invent her. Who else? Pat
Buchanan? At any given time, a majority of conservative bloggers object
more strenuously to his excessive rhetoric than liberals ever do.
Protein Wisdom and Ace of Spades? They're comedians, and you can see
that because they're actually funny. Michelle Malkin? She may take
extreme positions, but her vocabulary is
a very far cry from the intensely obscene and scatological screeds you
can read every single day at Firedoglake
the DailyKos, Democratic
Underground, Atrios, and the babes
John Edwards hired to run his blog.
You can actually hear Michelle blushing when for the sake of accuracy
she quotes such language from a lefty post. She may be an iron lady in
terms of politics, but she is most definitely a lady. Oh, and yes, she
does make fun of people she disagrees with. How awful.
Which, come to think of it, is the real
distinguishing characteristic between the firebrands of the left and
the firebrands of the right. There are plenty of verbal attacks
launched by both right and left in the war of words that constitutes
political discourse. You couldn't have a free political system without
them. What matters is the quality and tenor of those attacks. Political
passion is fueled by emotion, and emotion in an adversary situation
results quite often in extreme analogies, ridicule, unfairness, and
even cruelty. Yet there is a vast difference between employing verbal
wit as a weapon of ridicule and employing the foulest
cusswords available to describe one's political foes and to wish for
physical destruction. The latter is not wit, which it resembles only
insofar as word choices have the power to shock. When endless
repetition makes them a
thudding refrain used again an again and again without any attempt at
irony or illuminating juxtapositions, it's merely gutter-mouthed
drivel. Its only intent is to injure, not to educate, persuade, or
delineate. A simple test: is there an actual punchline anywhere in
sight? Or is there only an irrational need to scrawl the ugliest
possible graffiti on the biggest possible wall?
Ann Coulter, for example, is a political satirist and at her best a
political humorist. She can be mean, indeed, but there is always a
punchline, an actual definable point she is making that pertains
specifically to the topic she is addressing. You can easily prove this
to yourself because she almost never uses dirty words of any kind.
People are offended by her point of view, not the graphically violent
nature of her imagery. Therefore, the substance of her inflammatory
effect is ideas, not lists of the repulsive consequences she's wishing
on her enemies. When she made her crack about the
terrorists not targeting the New York Times building -- and she did use
the word 'building' -- she was inviting everyone to imagine what tack
the lords of the NYT would have taken in the War on Terror if they'd
had their own landmark headquarters destroyed. It's irreverent, yes,
and perhaps in dubious taste, but it's an exercise in wit, not a prayer
for the violent death of all NYT journalists.
Compare this to the comments Patterico cites in response to Tony
Hendra's "prayer" for the death of Dick Cheney. There's no actual
learning point in the post itself. Its whole purpose is the shock it's
supposed to induce, and the affirmative recognition the writer expects
-- correctly -- to receive from his audience. It's a form of
masturbation, as are the comments, quite a few of which are confined to
the word "Amen."
This is exactly the same sentiment we have seen countless times from
the left. From those who attempted verbal rape on Michelle Malkin as a
"filipino whore," repeating ancient schoolboy speculations about the
shape of her private parts, to those who wished Laura
Ingraham to die
from her recent experience of cancer. Qualitatively, these kinds of
abominations are no different from the sentiments of those who openly
advocate the assassination of the President and Vice-President or, more
sneakily, defend the appropriateness of media vehicles which advocate
the same thing.
Disagree? Well, I propose an exercise to be perfomed by those who have
the software and expertise to carry it out. The exercise is this:
Search six months' worth of content, posts and comments, of the 20 most
popular blogs on the right and the left. The search criteria are George
Carlin's infamous "7 Dirty Words."
I am absolutely certain that the left will far exceed the right in the
number of usages of all these words, which will go a long way toward
proving that it's the right which is still concerned with ideas while
it's the left that's obsessed with the lowest kind of hateful invective.
Anyone care to take up the challenge?
For those who already knew something about Greenwald and his own
history as a nonrepresentative "sock-puppet" commenter on behalf of his
blog, you'll get a huge kick out of Wuzzadem
treatment of today's contretemps.
Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link (& for correcting my attribution error), and thanks for all the early
interest in the challenge. But we do need to pool our resources here a
bit. Some of you know how to go about searching in a systematic way.
(Is it really best to do this through Google, or to identify the target
sites first and process their copy individually? You tell me) Others
know which sites track blog traffic in order of popularity. I'm fairly
sure that Malkin, Reynolds, and Hewitt are in the top 20 list on the
conservative side, and I'm also fairly sure that DailyKos, Atrios
(Eschaton), Democratic Underground, Moveon.org, and Firedoglake are in the top 20
on the left. But my intuition is no substitute for an actual ranking by
a site that does this as its mission. People who know something, please
put in your two (or five or ten) cents. You can also feel free to argue about who is left, right, or otherwise, although I'll pretty much insist that Andrew Sullivan is neither and shouldn't be included in this experiment.
As to the commenter who pointed out that there will be leftist
offenders on righty sites and vice versa, I think we have to live with
that. The lefties are notorious for outright banning of righty
commenters who disagree, and the righty commenters seem to gang up on
lefty trolls until they go away of their own accord. Either way, it
seems safe to assume that most commenters at a given site are more
likely to agree with the blogger than oppose him. Rest assured, there
will be offenders on both sides of the divide; I'm merely confident
that there will be a very significant difference in the totals.
Whatever you can offer, however slight, will be appreciated. Thank you.
The internet is indeed a miraculous thing. The results are in, thanks
to the News Buckit. We have no idea how much work and sheer
intellectual firepower was involved, but we're grateful nonetheless.
Our analysis of the results and what they actually signify is here
Thanks again to Glenn Reynolds for making an idle question into a
fascinating real-world experiment. Oh. We almost forgot. Those of you who are here because of Alicublog's post, do read the latest post. You'll find it a special treat if you can somehow make it to the last paragraph.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Oscars 1: Missing the
evening's BIGGEST star -- Marlon
Brando William Howard Gore.
Even the MSM reviewers were uncharitable about the Oscar telecast. The
pronounced it "a bore and a horror." Variety's Tom
said, "this year's Academy Awards ultimately proved a stately
unspectacular-bordering-on-dull affair, with host Ellen DeGeneres'
traditional shtick feeling a trifle small for the industry's biggest
stage." The NYT's Alessandra
began her review this way:
“Aim lower,” Ellen DeGeneres joked
about her unexalted childhood ambitions, and last night the Oscars did.
And Hollywood gossip blogger Nikki
I've had a better time watching my
clothes in the laundromat dryer.
This show was officially painful. I lost the will to live watching
it... I say enough is enough. Who isn't sick of getting stuck sitting
through an ass-killing show that runs on and on beyond reason with no
entertainment within it to speak of? As a comedian friend told me: "If
this goes on any longer, they're going to be reporting next weekend's
Friday night box office, the obituary package is going to be out of
date, and the ballots will be going out for next years' awards."
Somehow, they just didn't get it, despite the fact that collectively
their reviews surfaced most of the relevant evidence about what was
going on. Finke came close to unravelling the mystery when she
As a friend emailed me, "this was like
a Reagan era show." That was
the low-tech level of this year's broadcast. Which makes me wonder in
disbelief why the very rich Oscar telecast seriously stinted on
tonight's production values. Did Bernie The Accountant abscond with the
show's hefty budget? It was lacking in razzle-dazzle.
Shales was getting warm when he observed that:
Ellen DeGeneres, doing a crisp and
unpretentious job in her first gig as an Oscar host, said at the outset
that this would be "the most international Oscars ever," and that
prediction seemed to come true. But it meant that many of the films
cited were largely obscure to the national audience. Weren't the Oscars
invented to honor American films? Apparently not anymore.
Stanley actually reported two key points but failed to put them
together, beginning with the "aim lower" quote. The second was this:
Al Gore, whose star turn in the
documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” won the film an Oscar, took the
stage early in the evening to announce that, for the first time, the
Oscars were “green”...
There's the nub, ladies and gents. Last night's Oscars were the first
step in preparing us for the brave new world of a global community
turning back the clock on technological civilization. Viewed from this
perspective, the production was a brilliant artistic triumph, a long,
subtle intimatiion of what we have to look forward to in the
inconvenient future Gore and his allies are seeking to bring about.
It's a world that's going to be slower -- much slower -- as we wean
ourselves away from gas-guzzling high-performance automobiles and 600
mph jet planes. We're going to have to learn how to be patient as we
wait for our dull little electric cars to recharge themselves in the
garage. What we used to expect to transpire in two hours will expand to
four and then six hours, just like the Oscar telecast.
Low-tech will become exciting again. That's precisely why in an age of
computer graphics miracles, the Oscars offered us in their place
multiple mime performances -- low-contrast silhouettes behind a white
screen that beckoned us back to the days of magic lanterns and shadow
boxes. We'll rediscover, in increments, the pleasure of appreciating
one sense at a time, hence the retro master stroke of a "sound effects"
choir recalling an era of radio entertainment remembered these days by
no one but the Garrison Keillor fans of NPR's Prairy Home Companion
We'll even learn to read again. In manageable steps. First, we'll
acquire the skill of reading rather than watching movies, which is one
of the reasons why so many of the Oscar nominated films were
imponderable subtitled affairs from third world nations like Mexico.
Furthermore, Shales's comment about honoring American films --
"Apparently not anymore" -- is also apt. Hollywood is going to lead the
way in helping us all realize that the bigger, bolder, better mindset
of America has to be jettisoned in favor of the smaller, weaker,
inferior mindset of the peoples outside our borders who hate us with
every fiber of their beings. That's what we'll learn to aspire to,
thanks to vehicles like the Oscar telecast's many collages of dull old
foreign films, despairing foreign documentaries, and even depressing
short foreign animations.
It's all good. In coming years, more ambitious progress (?) will be
achieved. The greening of the globe will no doubt eventually reach even
the wardrobes of our actresses as they start to add up the miles of
carbon waste associated with flying European designers in and out of
Los Angeles for dress fittings, and they'll preen on the red carpet in
shirtdresses purchased by catalogue from Penney's. And it won't
represent any kind of serious loss to us, either, because by then the
inexorable backward-ticking of the clock will have returned the Oscar
telecast to black-and-white, perhaps even on a small, fuzzy screen
powered by a low-voltage picture tube. Nirvana.
The Oscars of the Future.
Don't worry, though. It'll probably take a while to get there. You know
how those evil conservative reactionaries are, always holding up progressregress.
Oscars 2: A Star is
Jennifer Hudson is on her way.
DO COME TRUE
. Yes, there were a lot of foreign ladies in beautiful
glamorous dresses on display (Cate Blanchette, Kate Winslet, and Helen
Mirren come to mind), but the brightest star of the evening was the
newest, ingenue Jennifer Hudson. Asked by an ABC correspondent if her
Best Supporting Actress Oscar had "sunk in" yet, she replied charmingly
that she'd only just gotten used to being cast in the movie Dream Girls
, so the answer was "No."
We'd like to help out, because you can never start planning too early
for a glorious future on top of the Hollywood "A" list. Especially if
you're a woman. When men win an Oscar, their mailboxes are immediately
inundated with a tsunami of the best scripts penned by the most
talented screenwriters in the world, and they're forced to start making
important pictures that can alter the course of history -- or at least
a few weird voting blocs in the next national election. All that
sitting on the couch reading brilliantly significant scripts can be
hazardous to one's health. That's why Jack Nicholson is almost as
humungous as Marlon Brando now and why Tom Hanks got so portly there
for a while. It's what we call a log in the water, and it's something
much to be avoided.
Fortunately, though, actresses who win the Oscar have an alternate
route that's a lot more satisfying for everybody involved. It's a route
so well established that it's becoming a kind of tradition. They can
forego all the dreary important scripts and star in big-budget
blockbusters as comic book super-heroines instead. Which pleases all
the men no end, and makes all the women jealous, spiteful, and secretly
adoring. Take a look at recent precedents:
Angelina Jolie, from
Tomb Raider I and
Halle Berry, from
X-Men I, II, and
Charlize Theron, from
Where did it all start? Some say one
thing, and some say another. There are those who give credit to:
Michelle Pfeiffer, who went from her Oscar-nominated roles in The Fabulous Baker Boys
to the Catwoman
role in Batman 2 or 3
; Uma Thurman, who
transitioned from an Oscar nomination for Pulp Fiction
to Poison Ivy in Batman 3 or 4
and thence to My Super Ex-Girlfriend
; or to bona
fide Oscar winner Jessica Lange, who did a highly costumed and
sometimes bare-breasted turn in Titus
which though not technically a comic book role was as close as you can
get to one in a movie version of Shakespeare's worst play. There are
even a few diehard film historians (you know how backwards they get
in their pontificating) who credit 9-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda with
pioneering the trend by playing Barbarella
when she was just the wastrel daughter of an Oscar winning
But it doesn't really matter how it started. What does
matter is that it's a way to
get great big paychecks without tearing your soul apart with a lot of
painful method-acting. If you can sit back contentedly in that makeup
chair for a few hours, you can still make a big bang on the
silver screen, which means big bucks in the bank. What's more, it's a
hell of a lot easier on movie audiences, too, because they don't have
to suffer through agonizing acting ordeals like, say, Leaving Las Vegas
Speaking of which -- and just to show you how acceptable the comic book
route has become -- guess who else is picking up on the advantages of
playing characters who talk in speech balloons:
Nicholas Cage, from
Las Vegas to
Obviously Cage, who's the nephew of film great Francis Ford Coppola,
was smart enough to realize that he doesn't want a case of Brando
lardbutt contracted by reading scripts written in words of more than
one syllable, either.
The sad thing is that this career option has only been open so far to
women (mostly) who can fit into a Size 4 super-heroine costume. That's
why it's time for another breakthrough performer to make her mark. We
believe Jennifer Hudson has the beauty and charisma to be the first
full-figured woman super-hero.
Hudson. Ready to be a SUPERstar.
We're not as up on comic books as we probably should be, but we're sure
the geniuses in Hollywood can come up with a fitting premise, maybe SuperWoman
) or The Calico-Catwoman
. Think of the
doors you could open for other talented practitioners of your craft.
All right. We admit it. We're trying to find a candidate to crash
through the superhero plausibility barrier. Does anyone realize that
it's been almost 20 years
since Jack Nicholson played a comic book character in Batman I
? Except for all his
intervening roles, of course. But that's not the point. In all
those other roles, he hasn't worn any masks or tights or capes or
utility belts, and we want the superhero world to be open at last to
crumbling old white guys who would otherwise bore us to death with the
kinds of movies made by crumbling old white guys. You know the ones we
mean. Where the crumbling old white guys are such wry and witty old
bastards that women 25 or 40 years younger find them irresistibly
attractive. Which is far more ludicrous than a comic book movie
starring Jack Nicholson as Jabba-the-Hut-Man, Harrison Ford as
Liniment-Man, or Sean Connery as Super-Scot.
There's got to be something
to do with all these ancient leading men still being cast as romantic protagonists by
ancient producers who think the Baby Boom will last forever. Contrary to the nonsensical delusion perpetuated by Hollywood, most old guys really do know that beautiful young women prefer men who are only a bit older than they are and could dandle an infant on their knee without making a doctor's appointment immediately afterwards. The celluloid transmutation of the Dirty Old Man into mesmerizing heart-throb is more embarrassing than appealing. If you
could help help us with that, Jennifer, there are a lot of old white guys who'd
be eternally in your debt.
Besides, we're the only ones -- apart from every black guy we know --
who don't think women have to be starving sticks with
breasts to be beautiful. We really would come to see your new
we'd even buy the giant-sized popcorn Jerry Seinfeld doesn't think we
should pay $10 for.