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Not Your Father’s Predator

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

You’ve got to be kidding me:

Could he kick Dutch’s ass? Probably not. I just hope he fights dirtier than he sails.

By casting Adrien Brody in PREDATORS, producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal have opted for an action lead somewhere between the ripped Arnold Schwarzenegger and the physically unspectacular Danny Glover. For those of you hoping Rodriguez and company would go the body-builder route (hey there, AB King!), they did bring in noted ass-kicker Oleg Taktarov! Is that enough beef for ya?

This, my friends, is not change that we can believe in. Predator was spectacular because, among other things, Carl Weathers played the geeky, pencil-necked bureaucrat. It was not a film that would tolerate Adrien Brody. Bill Duke would bleed him real quiet and just leave him there, just for the presumption.


"We would have defeated them, but for the power of their art."

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

The wake of the NEA non-scandal is about as deep and dispersed as that of drifting rowboat in mid-Atlantic chop . . . unless that’s your boat and you have a telescope trained on your trail like Michael van der Galien and the folks at Big Hollywood,* in which case you’ll mistake the chop for wake and start praying you hold out better than the Andrea Gail. Once you regain your composure, you will write a post much like the one van der Galien—whose Big Hollywood archive proves something or other about how profoundly white people feel about everyone not one shade shy of albino—wrote and make claims like this:

Federal agencies are turned into propaganda tools. This is something we haven’t seen in the U.S. since, well, ever.

Technically, van der Galien is correct: even though the Federal Writer’s Project, Federal Theatre Project, Federal Music Project and Federal Art Project not only existed, but had the word “Federal” in their names, if “we” were a 25 year-old Dutch conservative, “we” never would’ve “seen” anything like that “in the U.S. since, well, ever.”

Because “we” aren’t—and because we don’t believing that having “seen” something is the only valid evidentiary standard—we’re not overly concerned with the grievous threat Kalpen Modi and his ilk pose to the future of the American Republic. We should, however, concern ourselves with the fact that van der Galien wants to steal our artists and force them to create conservative propaganda:

[T]here is a reason the administration spoke to artists on the August conference call and was willing to take the risk of exposure: artists influence the people. The effect isn’t always immediate–it may take years for artists to truly influence society as a whole–but it’s there. If you want to “transform” society you need artists on your side … Breitbart has taught us that the strategies the left has used to discredit the right can be used against them. We have to act on that, continue to do what Breitbart and some here at Big Hollywood have been doing. But we have to do more than that: we have to destroy and create.

If you didn’t chuckle at the phrase “Breitbart has taught us,” you have no soul. That said, the fact that the art or culture even exists only occurs to conservatives when politics are involved. When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize, for example, conservatives were saying things like “[nobody] takes this stuff seriously anymore” and “I can’t remember the last time I read a literary novel by a living writer or attended a play by a living playwright.” Pinter winked into conservative consciousness long enough to be summarily dismissed, then faded back into the staticky irrelevance of the living.

Had he lived long enough to have participated in that conference call, though, he would’ve blitzkrieged his way into their tactically fearful hearts and onto their lying lips like Hitler on Poland.

*By “folks,” I mean everyone who’s written about the NEA non-scandal except for Jayne “Animal Mother” Cobb because he lives fifteen minutes down the 91 from me and I value my life.

Win Or Go Home

[ 0 ] October 6, 2009 |

Although the Tigers choking was definitely against my Yankee-hating interests (and I was cheering for them anyway), it should be said that regular-season playoffs are awesome.

…as that call on the amazing DP in the bottom of the 10th reminds us, the Caray who does these games for TBS is atrocious (although at least Darling is good.) And the chances of the Yankees advancing to the second round continue to approach 100%…

…and the Twins win the Cannon Fodder Bowl, congrats. Any Tigers fans inclined to bitch about the blown call on the Inge HBP should recall Laird swinging at ball 4 with the bases loaded…

Perry Moves To Protect Arbitrary Death Panel

[ 1 ] October 6, 2009 |


Not surprisingly, in response to a Forensic Science Commission that had the temerity to hear evidence about the execution of an innocent man he allowed to proceed after a less-than-cursory review, Rick Perry has responded by firing three of the insolent subjects who might bring actual evidence to bear against his royal prerogative to arbitrarily kill people. But, don’t worry, he’s convinced about the evidentiary value of tarot cards astrology arson analysis that can’t distinguish between intentionally set and accidental fires. And, besides, evidence of arson is beside the point:

Even without proof that the fire was arson, [Perry] added, the court records he reviewed before the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in 2004 showed ‘clear and compelling, overwhelming evidence that he was in fact the murderer of his children.

So, even if there’s no evidence of a crime, we can be sure Willingham was guilty of it! Well, that certainly improves my confidence that Perry’s review of the case was rigorous. Meanwhile, I hope authorities will start questioning Perry about the deaths of Molly Ivins and Ann Richards. Sure, I don’t have any evidence that they were homicides, but still, Perry must be guilty somehow…


[ 0 ] October 6, 2009 |

Proof that pretty much no amount of dishonesty can get your Respectable Pundit pass revoked as long as you’re a right-winger. Although it is at least a sign of progress that TNR would publish the definitive takedown.

the latest exhibit.

A ha! The People Are On To You, David Cameron!

[ 0 ] October 6, 2009 |

You’re damned fortunate that they’re dead tired of the Labour Government.

I have had the misfortune of experiencing the first couple weeks of teaching term, which means I’ve been working more than the standard five hours per week that we expect as academics. On top of these torturous demands on my valuable time, I have received considerable reward and pleasure in my role as accidental head of department, as we adjust to the wholesale restructuring that my institution of higher learning has implemented over the summer. Blogging has been an optional extra the past week or so.

It’s party conference season here in the UK. While I normally only pay passing attention to these, this year does matter, as it’s the last year before the next general election, due no later than early June. Two weeks ago were the Lib Dems, last week the rotting corpse of Labour, and this week, the New Conservatives.

Or not? As I suspected, the attraction to the Conservatives appears to have a lot more to do with dissatisfaction with Brown and the Labour Government than it does with what the Tories have to offer. Indeed, only 28% believe that the Tories have really changed and / or modernized under David Cameron. This explains why Cameron’s brand identity is stronger than his party.

They key point is in this (muddled and error-prone) paragraph:

Only 19 per cent are satisfied with the Labour Government, down from 25 per cent last December. By contrast, 42 per cent are now dissatisfied with Labour and would rather have a Conservative government, up from 35 per cent. In the middle are 31 per cent (up from 25 per cent) who are dissatisfied with Labour and would rather have a Tory government but do not want a Tory government. So, while 73 per cent are dissatisfied with Labour, 50 per cent would still prefer a Labour Government and 42 per cent a Tory one. This suggests that many Liberal Democrats and supporters of other parties would still prefer Labour to the Tories.

When interpreted correctly with my corrections, this would appear to afford an opening for Labour to, while not win, at least not be wiped off the electoral map. They should play the “wasted vote” card with Lib Dem supporters in marginal seats, and attempt to assuage the concerns of the nationalists (Plaid Cymru, the SNP), though I would not hold out much hope for this. Even so, while 42% is roughly the natural ceiling for Conservative support over the past couple of generations, 42% will readily translate into a stable parliamentary majority.

Positive for Labour is that they are favored to the Tories on a number of issues, such as spreading the inevitable budget cuts fairly and protecting “front line” government services from these cuts. However, Brown trails Cameron on the same measures.

If only Labour had ditched Brown for Alan Johnson, it would have definitely, rather than possibly, fought off doom.

Jonah Goldberg and the Case of the Haphazard Harking

[ 0 ] October 5, 2009 |

Steven Hayward’s Washington Post article on the brain death of the conservative intellectual movement damns the nearly-departed with the faintest of all possible praise:

The bestseller list used to be crowded with the likes of [Milton] Friedman’s Free to Choose, George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty, Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Charles Murray’s Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, and Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man . . . About the only recent successful title that harkens back to the older intellectual style is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which argues that modern liberalism has much more in common with European fascism than conservatism has ever had.

Considering the heft Hayward requires of the phrase “harkens back,” I thought it would be instructive to figure out exactly what it means. To the OED!

b. hark back. Of hounds: To return along the course taken, when the scent has been lost, till it is found again; hence fig. to retrace one’s course or steps; to return, revert; to return to some earlier point in a narrative, discussion, or argument.

Significantly, both to my mind and Hayward’s argument, the OED says nothing of what happens after the hounds recapture the scent. Hayward believes that Goldberg harked back his hounds until they caught the “very serious, thoughtful” scent of a Bloom or Fukuyama, then had his hounds track it till they produced an argumentative quarry “that has never been [treed] in such detail or with such care.”

The only non-fantastical element to that is the part where Goldberg takes credit for the labor of his dogs, because in truth, even if Goldberg did hark back his hounds to an intellectually serious scent, he chose not to trust the tug of their leashes and instead struck out in some random direction. How do I know?

I was one of those hounds. I answered Goldberg’s infamous plea for a Herbert Spencer scholar, the result of which was an email exchange that, sadly, lives on the dead drive of a desktop currently being used as furniture, but the gist of which went something like this:

Goldberg: I believe Spencer said this.

SEK: That’s a common misconception. He actually said this.

Goldberg: But some people who aren’t Spencerians said he said that.

SEK: They did. But it’s a nineteenth-century caricature based on a misunderstanding that’s been thoroughly discredited by 110 years of scholarship by people whose work is based on reading Spencer instead of repeating rumors about him.

Goldberg: You are not providing me with the citations I need to substantiate those rumors. Please don’t write back.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying, as Scott noted, that if Liberal Fascism: Two Words Next To Each Other is what your leading lights produce when they hark back to your intellectual tradition, not only do you need brighter bulbs–you might want to have the whole house rewired.

Points That Really Should be Obvious

[ 0 ] October 5, 2009 |


“…any political movement that places The Bell Curve among its most important intellectual accomplishments can expect to have very few people of color in it.”

Remember the great permanent Republican majority talk in 2000? Grimly entertaining memories…

Olympics in Brazil

[ 0 ] October 5, 2009 |

Mr. Trend has an outstanding post that explains what the selection of Rio means in the wider arc of Brazilian history.

With all due respect, however, it’s obvious that Trend discounts the fact that a ACORN Chicago Olympics would have at last clarified the vast scope of Bill Ayers’ influence in Obamerica. When we measure the dubious value of Brazilian national pride and economic development against the undiluted joy that seven years of wingnut journamalism would have given us, I don’t see how anyone could score the IOC’d decision as a net positive for humankind.

Proudly Joining Woody Allen

[ 0 ] October 5, 2009 |

Guy whose primary work in film involved casting soft-porn flicks calls rape of 13-year-old “a little thing” in rising to the defense of Roman Polanski. Further commentary is presumably rendered superfluous.

Economic Regulation at the Court

[ 0 ] October 5, 2009 |

Adam Liptak notes that this term’s docket has a large number of cases about economic regulation:

By the time the justices left for their summer break in June, a majority of the cases they had agreed to hear — 24 of 45 — concerned business issues, according to a tally by the National Chamber Litigation Center of the United States Chamber of Commerce. The corresponding numbers last year were 16 of 42.

The nature of the cases has changed, too. In recent terms, the business docket was studded with cases about employment discrimination, federal pre-emption of injury suits and the environment. With the exception of a single employment case, all of those categories are missing.

In their stead, important questions about bankruptcy, corporate compensation, patents, antitrust and government oversight of the financial system will confront the justices.

Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, No. 08-861, for instance, concerns an issue that has engaged the court since the New Deal: at what point does the lack of presidential control over independent agencies violate separation-of-powers principles?


In Jones v. Harris Associates, No. 08-586, the Supreme Court will decide what role the courts should play in regulating the compensation paid to investment advisers for mutual funds. In affirming dismissal of the case, a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, said the issue was a variation on the much-discussed question of whether the markets could be trusted to set executive compensation.

There are other examples. While these cases tend to attract a lot less attention than “social issue” cases, they’re very important, especially in this political and economic context. I agree that this increases the potential for confrontations between the Court and the political branches. They’ll also give us a good idea about whether Sotomayor is less pro-business than the other more liberal members of the current Court.

2009 Baseball Challenge Final Standings

[ 0 ] October 5, 2009 |

M. Ricci has won the 2009 LGM Baseball Challenge Tourney decisively, taking both segments. Congratulations are due; also, M. Ricci should contact me regarding prize info. E-mail available on the profile on the left sidebar.

1 Free Leonard, M. Ricci 4213 9420
2 O’Quendo’s Irish Rovers, J. Murray 4180 8132
3 Headless Thompson Gunners, S. Hickey 4080 8717
4 Glen Ellyn Stein Hoisters, T. Mohr 3856 8103
5 LawDawg, D. Howard 3813 8853
6 kodos423, k. crockett 3777 7829
7 Split Lip Rayfield, P. McLeod 3613 7583
8 Fanged Monkey, J. M 3577 7562
9 Theibault Moor Orioles, J. Theibault 3546 7771
10 Minneapolis Homebrewers, J. Kenny 3534 7137
11 Spikes’ Polish Warriors, B. Thomas 3533 7752
12 Cincinnati Bearded Ducks, R. Farley 3466 6776
13 NW USA All-Stars, N. Beaudrotq 3455 7374
14 Iowa City Spacemen, J. Austen 3437 7493
15 Austin Electric Chairs, E. Loomis 3410 7939
16 Ducking Minerva, M. Power 3403 6976
17 Smith, P. Smith 3329 7490
18 gj manatees, b. junge 3317 7312
19 TooMuchCoffee, P. Daley 3268 6929
20 Anarchist Sucklings, m. christman 3264 6955
21 Tizzod, T. Bennington 3245 6320
22 Unfounded Rumors, E. Udall 3205 7337
23 Evan, E. Robertson 3165 6633
24 SemiCanadianTough, K. Houghton 3111 6194
25 Amsterdam Rugmakers, D. Sparks 3090 7223