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I didn’t know conservatives wrote poetry!

[ 16 ] September 8, 2012 |

The mysterious conservative poet known only as “Taboola” posted this masterpiece at the National Review:

If you can’t see the tiny print, that reads:

You may like:
Jon Voight ‘feeding’ daughter
Angelina Jolie 10 eye-catching looks
From last night’s MTV.
Is Karolina Kurkova
the most attractive swimsuit?
Hottest member of the GOP:
Sarah Palin.
Photo actress Aisha Tyler to Romney:
“You do not, Senator Lee.
Obama’s idea to amend Constitution
A One night stand. Harmless fun?
Or a Van Jones at Democratic Convention:
“I’m Being.”

That’s not bad, but I prefer the poem he or she published in The Daily Caller better:

For the visually impaired:

You may like:
Former Vietnam POW: I would approve
Fear
Laziness
and dishwashing.
CNBC host Kudlow:
Obama would rather Fluke argue
“A vote for Obama is a vote for cute overload!”
Animal videos that will make
Grenades, machetes sold at store
adjacent to
Jeb Bush: “If Clinton’s
‘the first black president,’
I’m Micheal Steele!”
New Generation of GOP?
Has.

Feel free to capture and share the poetry of “Taboola.” Like any good worker, he or she will perform on demand. All you need to do is hit “Refresh.”

“Wikipedia informed Roth that it would require ‘secondary sources’ to verify his assertion that his novel was not inspired by the life of Anatole Broyard.”

[ 70 ] September 7, 2012 |

That seemingly innocuous statement is from the “Inspiration” subsection of the Wikipedia entry on Philip Roth’s novel The Human Stain. I write “seemingly innocuous” because it points to a problem central to both Wikipedia’s operating ethos and literary analysis. Speaking to the latter first: this isn’t a case about what a text means or what its author intended it to mean so we can avoid the hairier arguments about whether meaning resides within a text or is communicated through it. This argument is about source material. Where something came from instead of what and how it means. According to a Wikipedia-approved secondary source, Michiko Kakutani, The Human Stain

is the story of a black man who decided to pass himself off as white. This premise seems to have been inspired by the life story of Anatole Broyard—a critic for The New York Times who died in 1990—at least as recounted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his 1997 book 13 Ways of Looking at a Black Man.

Kakutani’s review meets all Wikipedia’s criteria for a “reliable source.” Except it isn’t. She said the “premise seems to have been inspired by the life story of Anatole Broyard,” which indicates that she’s no more familiar with the source material than anyone else. Charles Taylor’s review of the novel at Salon constituted the other “secondary source” for the Broyard connection and made its way into the Wikipedia entry thus:

Taylor argues that Roth had to have been at least partly inspired by the case of Anatole Broyard, a literary critic who, like the protagonist of The Human Stain, was a man identified as Creole who spent his entire professional life more-or-less as white.

But as with Kakutani, Taylor’s evidence—mistakenly identified in the Wikipedia entry as an argument—is also pure supposition:

There’s no way Roth could have tackled this subject without thinking of Anatole Broyard, the late literary critic who passed as white for many years.

Given the “strength” of the “evidence” provided by these secondary sources, there’s no need to perform a detailed literary analysis to determine that the connection to Broyard didn’t warrant inclusion in the Wikipedia entry. Since no one else would the task fell to Roth’s biographer:

Read more…

DISCONVENTION!

[ 30 ] September 6, 2012 |

[Previous installments of Sekocom, Inc. games include DISADVENTURE!, DISADDENDUM!, DISMORALIZED!, DISINSOMNIA!, WHARTON!, GRADING! and DISBELIEF!. This installment holds no candle to those but since its sell-by date is fast approaching I figure better late than never.]

Copyright (c) 1980, 1982, 2006, 2012 Sekocom, Inc. All rights reserved.

DISCONVENTION! is a registered trademark of Sekocom, Inc. Revision 23 / Serial number 8940729

West of Apartment Complex

You are standing in an open field west of a white townhouse, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.

> e

The door is locked.

> fuck door

I strongly advise against that course of action.

> fuck you

We only just met.

> open door

The door is still locked.

> FUCK DOOR

Fine. After a vigorous rutting, the rusted hinges snap and the frustrated door bends until its disappointed timbers give up and finish clattering themselves to the ground alone. You are standing in an open field west of a white townhouse, with a open door and an unsatisfied pile of wood. There is a small mailbox here.

> e

You are in the kitchen of the white townhouse. A table seems to have been used recently for the preparation of food. Next to it is an empty chair. A passage leads to the west, and a dark staircase can be seen leading upward. To the east is a small window which is open. On the table is an elongated brown sack, smelling of hot peppers. A clear glass bottle is here. The glass bottle contains: A quantity of water.

> w

You are standing in an open field west of a white townhouse, with a open door and an unsatisfied pile of wood. There is a small mailbox here.

> look wood

The pile of wood refuses to return eye contact.

> FUCK WOOD

Haven’t you done enough already? Leave the poor pile of wood alone. Just go east.

> FUCK EAST

You cannot have sexual intercourse with a cardinal direction.

Read more…

Does the existence of conservative “individuals of color holistically demolish the Left’s paranoid, feverish, and disgusting fantasy that white Republicans speak with white bigots through some tribal Caucasian dialect[?]“

[ 53 ] September 6, 2012 |

No. You don’t need to be a white Republican to appeal to white Republicans: you merely need to tailor your rhetoric so that it appeals to white Republicans. Doesn’t matter what color you are. It’s not about the person on the stage: it’s about the audience that person’s appealing to. Meaning Deroy Murdock’s entire post is beside any and all points:

If Republican operatives truly are brilliant enough to use secret code to convince white bigots to pull the elephant lever in November, they should have been smart enough to control the podium at their convention in Tampa, Fla. As a black man, the Republicans’ racial code never penetrated my ears. However, my eyes worked just fine. And what I repeatedly saw were minority faces on my TV.

The racist dog whistles must have gone silent even for Labradors when a black woman and former secretary of state named Condoleezza Rice addressed the convention for nearly half an hour in prime time Wednesday night, just before vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan gave his acceptance speech, arguably Tampa’s finest. Similarly, and also in prime time, a Hispanic senator named Marco Rubio (R., Fla) introduced the Republican party’s presidential standard bearer, Mitt Romney, while 30 million people tuned in …

And Rice and Rubio were far from alone. Black Republicans such as Representative Tim Scott of South Carolina; Saratoga Springs, Utah, mayor and congressional nominee Mia Love, and former Alabama representative Artur Davis (an ex-Democrat) all addressed the convention and were televised, at least on C-SPAN. Leading Hispanic Republican speakers included Texas Senate nominee Ted Cruz, Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuño, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, and Nevada governor Brian Sandoval. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also wowed the crowd. She is an American of Indian descent, another ascendant minority group.

These amplified, televised, and loudly applauded individuals of color holistically demolish the Left’s paranoid, feverish, and disgusting fantasy that white Republicans speak with white bigots through some tribal Caucasian dialect.

His argument amounts to “Because people of color were on the stage the rhetoric couldn’t be designed to appeal to white people.” Except Murdock and his italics prove that argument wrong: if these people of color were “loudly applauded” then whatever rhetoric they used was effective on their audience. This is Rhetoric 101: all rhetorical appeals are effective on a given audience in a particular historical situation. It’s called “the rhetorical situation” and Murdock’s defined the Republican National Convention as one in which a person of color living in 2012 could muster up a message that appeals to a Republican audience. What does their audience look like? According to FOX News and the Washington Times it looked like this:

Read more…

Covering the convention coverage

[ 104 ] September 6, 2012 |

The consensus on Clinton’s speech last night seems to fall between “world-historically awesome” and “the speech by which all future speech will be judged and found wanting.” I wouldn’t expect anything less from the best Republican President in recent memory. But what’s interesting to me isn’t the content of the speech—whatever it was I didn’t watch it—but the reaction of conservatives to a successful speech by a prominent Democrat. Consider who’s discussing the two most popular transcripts according to memeorandum:

For your convenience I clicked on all of the possible links to conservative blogs or news organizations. Notice something? Either it’s taking them a very long time to devise an effective strategy to counter Clinton’s rhetoric or they’ve decided that refusing to write about it will make it go away. In their defense there’s a good chance they’re correct—not because they’ve chosen to ignore it but because conventions aren’t important anymore—but I can’t pass up the opportunity to note the wonderful irony of watching the party of Manly Men Who Make Money and War paralyzed into a panicked silence when confronted by the molehill they’ve mistaken for a mountain.

Why is mentioning “food stamps” or “Chicago” a racist dog-whistle? Because conservatives made it one.

[ 105 ] September 5, 2012 |

Conservatives have a problem with history. It’s not just that their preferred rhetorical appeals harken back to a Golden Age that only existed on the television shows they watched while their mothers or their maids slaved away in the kitchen—though that’s clearly problematic—nor is it just that they rely on a cursory examination of ill-worded search results to construct their devastating critiques of the evils of everything to their left to hilarious effect. So it’s not just that their fake history is a projected concoction or that their understanding of actual history is wanting that I take issue with: it’s that their understanding of their own history is facile they can’t tell the forest from the seas.

Case in point: the oblivious guffawing about “food stamps” or “Chicago” being metonyms for racism in conservative circles. That this seems as obvious a gambit to liberals as mentioning black people and swimming pools is beside the point: they’re crying “No foul!” so it needs doing. (Sigh.) To establish the metonymic “credentials” of “Chicago” I could go back to the anti-labor sentiment that prevailed during the time of the Haymarket Riot or the anti-immigrant sentiment that prevailed two decades later or the anti-machine politics sentiment that prevailed during the reign of Daley the First or the anti-left and anti-anti-war sentiment that prevailed during and after the 1968 Democratic National Convention but I won’t. To do any more then note in passing that Chicago’s always functioned as a convenient punching bag for conservatives would a waste of time.

Because there’s a particular moment in the history of conservative metonymy that bears mentioning in the light of the “unbelievable” or “outrageous” claim that associating President Obama with “food stamps” or “Chicago” might constitute a “subtle” form of racism supposedly only detectable by liberals. But before we get there we need to perform a simple Google search for “food stamp president” and quick scan of the results. Conservatives are clearly trying to create an association between President Obama and food stamps. It doesn’t matter that the majority of food stamp recipients are white because conservatives aren’t building a factual argument—they’re making a rhetorical appeal. The very fact that movement conservatives embraced the image of President Food Stamps indicates the success of the appeal. Why would liberals claim that there’s a racial component to that appeal? Is it, as conservatives argue, simply because the President is half-black and any policy or entitlement linked to him is speciously yoked to his color?

Of course not. Only a person pig-ignorant of recent history would make such a claim. So here’s where we stand:

  1. The President hails from Chicago’s South Side.
  2. Conservatives have successfully branded Obama President Food Stamps.

Where’s the racism? How about we ask the Most Blessed Saint of the Modern Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, who said the following of a woman from the South Side of Chicago during the 1976 campaign:

She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.

Not only did Saint Ronald invent the myth of the “welfare queen” with this remark, by doing so through the image of a woman from the South Side of Chicago he explicitly made it a racial issue because the South Side is 95 percent African-American. I grant that Saint Ronald could’ve done everyone a favor and summoned this mythical woman from the dark depths of a Harlem or a Compton or any other area that even the most ignorant contemporary conservative knows is overbrimming with black folk. But he didn’t. He chose the South Side, which in 1976 still brought to mind images of noted rabble-rouser Martin Luther King, Jr. marching in support of public housing. To whose minds were and are those images brought? The largest block of voters in the Republican Party: old white people.

These old white people just happen to be the same who pine for the Golden Era when Saint Ronald ruled the land. When they claim that the linking President Obama to food stamps or Chicago isn’t racially coded they’re either age-addled or lying. They remember Saint Ronald and are still moved by references to his rhetorical appeals. That they deny knowledge of how the unadulterated appeals themselves worked points to either dementia or dishonesty. So let’s add this up one more time for them:

  1. The President hails from Chicago’s South Side.
  2. Chicago’s South Side is 95 percent African-American.
  3. Saint Ronald linked the South Side to food stamps.
  4. Conservatives have successfully branded Obama President Food Stamps.

What do you get? I get a rhetorical situation in which conservatives can negatively signal Obama’s blackness to their core constituency of old white people in two interrelated ways that can both be directly traced back to Saint Ronald. Meaning that not only is Obama’s blackness connected to food stamps and Chicago via an established rhetorical appeal, that appeal bears the authorizing imprimatur of the Most Blessed Saint of the Republican Party. The only way contemporary conservatives can credibly claim that there’s no racial component to mentioning Chicago or food stamps would be to disown Saint Ronald. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

There’s pathetic and then there is this.

[ 130 ] September 4, 2012 |

Someone sent me a link to this and asked me to analyze it:

What is this monstrosity? It’s a Chris Muir print

signed by the following giants of the Blogosphere: Michelle Malkin, Glenn and Helen Reynolds (Instapundit and Dr.Helen), Bill Whittle (Afterburner), Jeff Goldstein (Protein Wisdom), Ed Morrissey (Hot Air), Robert Stacy McCain (The Other McCain), and Mandy Nagy (Liberty Chick).

Where to begin the hilarity? If this is a play on “The Last Supper” why did Muir put Eric Holder in the Jesus-spot? Why didn’t he put Obama in the Judas-spot? How about the self-aggrandizing placement of the folks around the table: Sarah Palin and President Obama are equals, as are Michelle Malkin and Nancy Pelosi. Jeff Goldstein’s just as influential as someone who could be Chris Matthews. (It’s difficult to tell because Muir can’t use the cartoon filter in Photoshop any better than he can draw.) But we needn’t even worry about where people are at the table because the real hubris is that they’re there at all.

The mind boggles.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, the poorly drawn Democrats (and John Roberts) are affiliated with the phrase “Exitus Acta Probat,” which can also be found here:

That’d be the coat of arms of that most traitorous of Americans—George Washington.

The joy of holding virtual office hours (via AIM) for students enrolled in multiple online courses

[ 20 ] September 4, 2012 |

STUDENT: Can I write an essay about the rising cost of unnecessary oil platforms off the Korean coast?

SEK: I don’t see why not. But, um, what are you writing this for?

STUDENT: Your class.

SEK: My class?

STUDENT: Shit, which one am I talking to?

SEK: Not the one who’s teaching you anything about Korean oil platforms, but luckily for you, the one who won’t be offended you just wrote “Shit.”

STUDENT: Fuck, I won’t make that mistake twice.

Is there a blog in this course?

[ 9 ] September 3, 2012 |

As most of you know, my brand of film theory is heavily indebted to David Bordwell and neoformalism. So it should come as no surprise that I believe Bordwell’s compilation of posts from 2012 could very well function as an online film theory textbook, especially when read in tandem with similar compilations from 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. If you ever have to teach a course in film or film theory — or if you’ve ever wanted to take a seminar on film or film theory — now you have the material you need to do so.

Yes, Governor Christie, I’m sure this will impress him.

[ 213 ] August 29, 2012 |

You have to feel for Chris Christie. The biggest political speech of his life and he backdrops himself thus:

If that looks familiar, that’s because if you have anything resembling taste it damn well should:

Christie loves him some Springsteen. Grew up listening to and idolizing the Bard of the Badlands. The feeling’s mutual:

Despite heroic efforts by Christie, Springsteen, who is still a New Jersey resident, will not talk to him. They’ve met twice—once on an airplane in 1999, and then at the 2010 ceremony inducting Danny DeVito into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, where they exchanged only formal pleasantries. (Christie does say that Springsteen was very kind to his children.) At concerts, even concerts in club-size venues—the Stone Pony, in Asbury Park, most recently—Springsteen won’t acknowledge the governor. When Christie leaves a Springsteen concert in a large arena, his state troopers move him to his motorcade through loading docks. He walks within feet of the stage, and of the dressing rooms. He’s never been invited to say hello. On occasion, he’ll make a public plea to Springsteen, as he did earlier this spring, when Christie asked him to play at a new casino in Atlantic City. “He says he’s for the revitalization of the Jersey Shore, so this seems obvious,” Christie told me. I asked him if he’s received a response to his request. “No, we got nothing back from them,” he said unhappily, “not even a ‘Fuck you.’”

Did I write “mutual”? I meant the opposite of mutual. You have to wonder about someone who embraces a musician this deeply without listening to a damn thing he sings. The disconnect between lyric and listener is borderline sociopathic: if you spend your nights ears-deep in working-class tales of toil and despair and your days enacting policies that guarantee a future full of working-class tales of toil and despair, people may begin to suspect that you’ve embraced some strange form of patronage-by-poverty. They may begin to think that you’re trying to manufacture the social conditions necessary to create a newer, “better” Springsteen whose “convictions” won’t interfere with yours because you’ll have whispered the Gospel of the Free Market in his ear from the moment you turned him into a foundling. Not that you murdered his parents, mind you, they’re just not in his life anymore. And then years later, when you successfully run for President, you and your pet Springsteen will tour the country and your rallies will begin with your pet’s new hit, “Burn Down the U.S.A.,” a rousing tune about the virtues of small government.

People may begin to consider that you indulge in this pathetic fantasy because you’re as small of mind as you are large of body, and the man whose approval you so desperately seek won’t even begrudge you a “Fuck you.”

JUST IN CASE SOMETHING OR OTHER (WITH PRETTY DAMNING LYRICS):

Add Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore (and his scrotums) to list of people who don’t know what words mean.

[ 68 ] August 28, 2012 |

Must I post this video yet again? It appears I must:

“There were no workers that were forced to attend the event,” [Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob] Moore said. “We had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event. We had a pre-registration list. And employees were asked to put their names on a pre-registration list because they could not get into the event unless they were pre-registered and had a name tag to enter the premises.”

But I thought “WOW! HUNDREDS OF COAL MINERS STAND IN LINE FOR MITT ROMNEY!“? Do you mean to tell me that these coal miners were paid to not be “forced” to attend this “mandatory” event?

“Our management people wanted to attend the event and we could not have people underground during Romney’s visit,” Moore insisted.

“But why not still pay then their wage for that day?” [WWVA radio host David] Blomquist pressed.

“By federal election law, we could not pay people to attend the event,” Moore replied. “And we did not want anyone to come back and see where anyone had been paid for that day.”

“I’m not saying pay then to attend the event, I’m saying, ‘Hey look, we have to close down the mine, if you want to attend this event, that’s fine, but you’re still going to get a day’s pay for the work that you would have done,’” Blomquist pointed out. “Why not do that?”

“As a private employer, it was our decision and we made the decision not to pay the people,” the Murray chief financial officer said.

So they were not paid to not be “forced” to attend this “mandatory” event? Management just shut down the mines and didn’t “force” all the workers to attend this “mandatory” Romney photo-op. Why was this “mandatory” event that management didn’t “force” the miners to attend without pay so important anyway?

“We’re talking about an event that was in the best interest of anyone that’s related to the coal industry,” Moore added. “I do not believe that missing an eight-hour day, when you put it into perspective, when you think about how critical—critical this next election is, and how critical it is that we get someone in this office that supports coal—to give up eight hours for a career, I just don’t believe that there is anything negative about that.”

That makes sense: I can see why management wouldn’t think that there’s “anything negative” about forcing people working near or below the poverty line to “give up eight hours” of paid wages to attend a Mitt Romney rally. I’m sure Romney himself fully supported management’s decision, both in this particular case and all others. Because what matters more? Food on the table or a photo-op?

UPDATE: In the comments, kerry notes that this is par for the conservative course: “It’s kind of like their view of rape–if you weren’t physically dragged there and restrained, it wasn’t ‘forced’.”

Which makes Batman the liberal fascist of what now?

[ 21 ] August 28, 2012 |

For a split-second, I liked Grant Morrison a little, then I realized he’d made me jealous of Jonah Goldberg, and hated him all the more:

This exchange occuers in the third issue of Batman Incorporated, which unfortunately doesn’t end the “Is Batman a conservative?” debate by having the Batman repeatedly punch this Goldberg-proxy in the face. That said, Bulldog may not actually be a Goldberg-proxy, since we all know he’s a “monster-man,” not a “man-monster.”

ACTUALLY: Given that that’s Bruce Wayne in disguise in the green there and he’s chosen his own rogue’s gallery, I suppose it’s safe to say the Batman is, at the very least, implicitly punching the Goldberg-proxy in the face repeatedly. Damn it, now I’m tempted to like Morrison again.

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