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January 11, 2008

please ignore me

I have the sniffles.

Should I be posting this on Facebook instead?

I forget.  If I only had a teenager to remind me of the protocol on these things.  Or a socialite.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:34 PM

paultard: that's clever, yes?

Let's take a brief detour and look at GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul.  True, at this point in the game he's not positioned to be much more than a trivia question answer ten years from now, but the rangy Texan gained a measurable amount of buzz, specifically among those who spend time on these Internets.  But why?

Wired's Tony Long discusses:

It's not hard to understand Paul's appeal to the internet cognoscenti.  He's a libertarian (to use the word in its simplest form), and if any political philosophy can be said to broadly appeal to inveterate online devotees, that's the one.  And he brings impeccable libertarian credentials to the table, which manifest themselves in some very beguiling ways.

And all a libertarian is these days, or at least all a Ron Paul libertarian is these days, is a Bush-triumphalist who took the Administration's slide in public support personally.  All of a sudden, the primaries are here, and not one member of that dazzling field of talent is actually repudiating the past seven years -- in fact, each cozies up to it, eager to inherit the Bush legacy.  Well, except for one dude, this crazy-talking fella with strange ideas about quitting the Iraq War and keeping the government out of your personal privacy.  Which ideas sound just jim-dandy to the micromajority of spurned Bush voters, as long as someone will call the president the asshole that he is.

Hence, the Paultards.

A goodly number would very much like to see this libertarian in the White House in a year's time.  Sadly, Rep. Paul is not the man for the job, and it his libertarianism that primarily makes him a very bad idea.  Again, Tony Long:

You can't be a good president in the 21st century when your chief concerns are the sovereignty of the American taxpayer and his right to bear arms.  It’s too insular.  Isolationism is no longer an option, and hasn't been for years.  The world is too small and you can thank, or blame, technology for that reality.  The stakes are far too high, as we've learned since Sept. 11, 2001, to act like we can do anything we damned well please anytime we damned well feel like it.

That's a pretty good reason not to support a fellow for president.  But here's a better one -- as this The New Republic story details, Rep. Ron Paul has a checkered history with the Paultards 1.0 he gathered in the 90s -- neo-Confederate, racist, paranoids:

Most voters had never heard of Paul before he launched his quixotic bid for the Republican nomination. But the Texan has been active in politics for decades. And, long before he was the darling of antiwar activists on the left and right, Paul was in the newsletter business.  In the age before blogs, newsletters occupied a prominent place in right-wing political discourse.  With the pages of mainstream political magazines typically off-limits to their views (National Review editor William F. Buckley having famously denounced the John Birch Society), hardline conservatives resorted to putting out their own, less glossy publications.  These were often paranoid and rambling--dominated by talk of international banking conspiracies, the Trilateral Commission's plans for world government, and warnings about coming Armageddon--but some of them had wide and devoted audiences.  And a few of the most prominent bore the name of Ron Paul.

Topics of the Ron Paul newsletters, as researched and reported by TNR's James Kirchick, include priase of David Duke, invective aimed at the LA Rioters, AIDS-baiting gay-bashing and a general belief that the nation would be better off had the North let the Confederacy secede.  Spokesmen for Paul claim that he had little or no oversight of these newsletters, or at least the ones with the more incendiary content.  This is not far from the "I've never seen that shit before in my life, and I have no idea how it got in my car" defense.

I doubt any of these arguments against Rep. Paul will convince his hardline supporters not to buy any more blimps, but I do wish they could pause their fervor for a second and realize that their candidate is not only uniquely unqualified to be president, he also has checked some peculiar baggage.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:50 AM

January 10, 2008

ray bradbury is badder than chuck norris

In the past few years, the way Ray Bradbury would remind us that he is not dead yet was to get a little cantankerous concerning the title of Michael Moore's most successful movie.  I didn't wholly agree with Mr Bradbury, but, then again, he is Ray Bradbury and I am not.  If I ever get within genuflecting distance of Something Wicked This Way Comes in the words I toss around, then I am a lucky man.  Therefore, Mr Bradbury got a pass, because his work is one of the reasons we like the things we like.

I'm happier to report, three and a half years later, that Mr Bradbury is not only still alive , but remains a very bad man, this time in a way that I fully support.

You've just been struck by Ray Bradbury, AMPTP.  Fall down, already.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:43 AM

January 9, 2008

new hampshire: spiting the polls

Once I get over being stunned by the outcome of the New Hampshire primary, I am going to make comparisons between these presidential elections and last year's NCAA college football season.  (i.e., no college football team could manage to stay ranked No. 1, or No. 2 even, for very long, as upsets were the par for the course.)

This naturally raises the question of whether the presidential election should end in a two party showdown, or some kind of eight-candidate playoff.  After all, they work so hard trying to get elected, you'd hate to see one left out because of some quirk of the BCS.

And as far as my personal feelings on the results, and the unwillingness of said results to conform with expectations, I say that there's no use closing the barn door once the narrative has already escaped.  Whether it's bad technique on the pollster's part or a New Hampshire electorate so tired of being polled that they started to lie, it's clear that we should start to expect it when we least expect it.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:20 AM

January 8, 2008

two out of a million experts agree

On this afternoon of the New Hampshire primary, the Yahoo! Headline Box brings it with the faux science:
• Message, not gender, may be turning voters off Clinton

Note also the side order of "may" -- nothing makes you look smarter.

The hed links to a Reuters article which would otherwise lead one to believe that today is a slow news day:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Voters are not turning their backs on Hillary Clinton because of doubts about a woman in the White House but rather turning on to the optimistic message of her rival Barack Obama, according to some experts on gender and leadership.

Let me rewrite that to be a little more exciting, yet no less unassailable factually:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Titivil) - Voters are not turning their backs on Hillary Clinton because of a sneak attack with a steel folding chair but rather turning on to the optimistic consumption of adult beverages, according to some experts on professional wrestling and whiskey.

I'm not disagreeing that the thesis explaining the erosion of Clinton's support is inaccurate -- I'm just saying that presumption is really really fun and I'm just happy to be here.

BTW, has anyone argued yet that The Onion has forever tainted our consumption of current-events related entertainment product?  If not, I'm throwing my hat on the chopping block.  It's great to be funny, sure (though, kids, if you're doing it to meet girls, you should probs learn guitar (or turntable) instead), but once the staid style of the characteristic American news headline was revealed as prone to satire and parody, it became impossible to look at a headline and not wonder to oneself behind which misplaced comma the punchline was hidden.

Kinda like the Allegory of the Cave, but with semiotics instead of supergeniuses.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:53 PM

i read comic books behind my own back

While y'all are all worried about New Hampshire and the Obama/Clinton double turn, I'm sitting here catching up on some fanboy comic book snark -- you know, a little humorous sarcasm written by underwear pervert fans for underwear pervert fans.

First, there is this, which is a mash-up by Chip Zdarsky between a page from Alan Moore's/Dave Gibbon's "Watchmen" and a certain retroactive continuity (or "retcon", as we say) involving a certain friendly neighborhood something something whose twenty-year marriage has been that-never-happened.  If it's a little too comic-booky to find funny, then, take my word for it.

And then there is this, which is maybe a little more accessible, though infinitely more fanboy, as it haterizes on one of the more... identifiable, let's say, comic book artists of the 1990's -- Rob Liefeld.  Liefeld is famous for having a brief, very successful career that is not almost universally mocked and derided.  And if you click through, you can see why.  Some fave comments:

"You know what?  I’m not drawing that other hand.  Too tricky.  Pfft what are you talking about? No one’s going to notice.”

If I had a nickel for every time Liefeld had his characters standing behind something so he didn’t have to draw their feet, I would still not have nearly as much money as Rob Liefeld.

That gun is totally bending in the middle, right? It’s not just me?


And as a shout out to all my Facebook friends, take two of these and call me in the morning.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:14 AM

January 7, 2008

bill kristol laughs as he gets paid for that

In weeks past, there was some hubbub over the hiring of neocon leading light William Kristol as a contributor to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times.  You may not have noticed it.  That's not your fault.  Kristol, while staggeringly insipid, is waay inside the Beltway, like at the gravitational center of the Beltway, where someday the Beltway gravity well will collapse and leave a Beltway black hole which will someday consume all matter in the metro DC area.  And the NYT Op-Ed page, while not inside the Beltway, actually patrols the perimeter of the Beltway, repelling all non-Beltway hostiles.

So if you didn't hear about it, maybe you are lucky?  Me, not so lucky.  I did hear about it and do not approve -- not so much as a blanket opposition to Kristol (who, as co-founder of both the Project for a new American Century and The Weekly Standard, I pretty much oppose, on a blanket basis), but more as I am not convinced that Mr Kristol's tone and writing skills are appropriate for the NYT's Op-Ed page.  Sure, its writers have opinions (hence the "Op"), but they rarely stoop to partisan hackery.

Mr Kristol's first column ran today, and he did not let me down.  Greg Sargent has a nice dissection of the actual wordsmithing of the piece, counting the ways that it is pure stank.  It would serve a Writing 101 course well, as it leaves cliches laying around like piles of oily rags, and then lights a cigarette.  Mr Kristol should invest in some steel-toed boots, in case he drops one of those sentences on his foot.

And my beef with the piece is that the hook of it is, "Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term?"  Unironically outdated cliche aside, that is some classy shit, framing this (facile) concept, who will carry the GOP torch into the election, in the negative, especially in light of the reason that I'm leery of discussing out loud anymore unless there is wood within knocking distance.  Plus also Mr Kristol should leave the first person plural to those other doughy gasbags who make their millions by playing populist/dumb.

At least I've got something to look forward to, on those lonely Monday morning commutes.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:05 AM