Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Tough Times for a Vague Concept

November 12, 2008

People simply won’t stop writing about what has happened to conservatism, and what, if anything, should be done about what has happened to it. Almost all of it is extremely tedious, horribly mixing up a number of distinct questions, each of which would be boring enough on its own. Many of the people who are ostensibly worried about conservatism are in fact worried about the word ‘conservatism’. Specifically, they wonder how it came to refer to what religious wackjobs think rather than what they think. Others talk about conservatism as if it is a real object out there that needs to be watered and turned toward the light from time to time, and fear that its nature is somehow being altered.

These are both incredibly stupid things to worry about, and it is only by conflating the two that they can be rendered so murky as for their irrelevance to be made undetectable. How else could Andrew Sullivan write an entire book about conservatism being “hijacked by Republicans”? Have neocons infiltrated the OED? Are they tinkering with Platonic forms?

Republicans aren’t fucking up conservatism, they’re fucking up our country. Whatever set of beliefs or attitudes you want to label ‘conservative’, it’s as easy to believe or hold them now as it has ever been. I’m just as convinced that heroin should become legal, and that public funding for the arts should become illegal, as I was eight years ago. I think most people would agree that those are some crazy conservative beliefs I hold; the fact that a bunch of jerks who don’t hold them are also considered crazy conservatives doesn’t mean anything has been hijacked. It simply more evidence of the fact that in a country where every conceivable political philosophy has to be hammered into a one-dimensional scale that goes from liberal to conservative, the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are always going to be ambiguous, and that discussions about the nature of liberalism and conservatism are always going to be inane.

The one good article I have seen on this subject comes from PJ O’Rourke. He clearly takes the fact that both he and the people who have been running the country have the term ‘conservative’ applied to them a lot more seriously than I do. What he sees as a missed opportunity, I see as evidence that most Republicans never cared about the conservatism to which PJ subscribes as anything more than a talking point. But, leaving that aside, it’s good stuff, and, as always, he’s very funny. Some excerpts:

To go from slime to the sublime, there are the lofty issues about which we never bothered to form enough principles to go out and break them. What is the coherent modern conservative foreign policy?

We may think of this as a post 9/11 problem, but it’s been with us all along. What was Reagan thinking, landing Marines in Lebanon to prop up the government of a country that didn’t have one? In 1984, I visited the site where the Marines were murdered. It was a beachfront bivouac overlooked on three sides by hills full of hostile Shiite militia. You’d urge your daughter to date Rosie O’Donnell before you’d put troops ashore in such a place.

The left has no idea what’s going on in the financial crisis. And I honor their confusion. Jim Jerk down the road from me, with all the cars up on blocks in his front yard, falls behind in his mortgage payments, and the economy of Iceland implodes. I’m missing a few pieces of this puzzle myself.

Under constant political pressure, which went almost unresisted by conservatives, a lot of lousy mortgages that would never be repaid were handed out to Jim Jerk and his drinking buddies and all the ex-wives and single mothers with whom Jim and his pals have littered the nation.

Wall Street looked at the worthless paper and thought, “How can we make a buck off this?” The answer was to wrap it in a bow. Take a wide enough variety of lousy mortgages–some from the East, some from the West, some from the cities, some from the suburbs, some from shacks, some from McMansions–bundle them together and put pressure on the bond rating agencies to do fancy risk management math, and you get a “collateralized debt obligation” with a triple-A rating. Good as cash. Until it wasn’t.

Or, put another way, Wall Street was pulling the “room full of horse s–” trick. Brokerages were saying, “We’re going to sell you a room full of horse s–. And with that much horse s–, you just know there’s a pony in there somewhere.”


Matthew Yglesias, Radically Conservative Black-Supremacist?

October 7, 2008

from left to right, Wu-Tang Clan frontman Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah, Harvard alum Matt Yglesias, and the surprisingly tall Method Man break it down

The question posed in the title of this post is not one you hear every day, but bear with me. Most Yglesias readers probably passed over this comment the other day without giving it a second thought:

… the conservative movement is, at this point, 85 percent dullards and 10 percent clever charlatans.

At first glance, this seems like pretty standard fare from Matt. A slightly closer look leaves the reader wondering: is Matt having a bad math day, or is there a segment of the conservative population he doesn’t want to talk about? Does he think five percent of conservatives are neither stupid nor evil? Certainly there is very little evidence for that elsewhere. So what’s the deal?

This is yet another instance in which massive ignorance about the theological underpinnings of hip-hop among the punditry undermines their ability to provide insightful political commentary. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with this subject would immediately recognize that Yglesias is alluding to the belief system of the Nation of Gods and Earths, better known as the Five Percenters, after the final group in a division almost identical to Matt’s. Take it away, Wikipedia:

Five Percenters also teach that Black people specifically, and the entire world population more generally, can be divided into three groups:

  • The 85%, easily led in the wrong direction hard to be led in the right direction, who are the humble masses, mentally deaf, dumb, and blind to the truth about themselves and the world in which they live.
  • The 10%, who understand much of the truth but use it to their advantage to keep the 85% under their control through religion, politics, entertainment, economics, and other methods.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Anal Required

October 1, 2008

Via Ben Smith, a timely Craigslist ad:

Looking for a Sarah Palin lookalike for an adult film to be shot in next 10 days.

Major adult studio.

Please send pix, stats etc. ASAP

Pay: $2000-3000

No anal required

A Double-Shot of Palin

September 30, 2008

Two new Palin interviews are available: another segment with Couric, and the first in her series of interviews with right-wing talk radio hosts. Some fun excerpts:

HH: Governor, you mentioned the people who are struggling right now. Have you and your husband, Todd, ever faced tough economic times where you had to sit around a kitchen table and make tough choices?

SP: Oh my goodness, yes, Hugh. I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office.

As it turns out, she is likely to weather this storm just fine:

Their combined income of nearly a quarter-million dollars last year was five times the median household income for Wasilla’s 7,000 residents. They own a single-engine plane, two boats, two personal watercraft and a half-million-dollar, custom-built home on a lake that is worth three times the average of other homes in town.

Not too shabby.

Read the rest of this entry »

The VP that Might Have Been

September 25, 2008

Today’s interview footage reminded me of a joke that someone told me was making the rounds in Anchorage a few weeks ago:

McCain’s aides come to him to tell him that they’ve found him the perfect vice-presidential pick: Sarah Palin. He’s never heard of her, so they give him a full run-down of her story and her qualifications for the job. McCain mulls it over for a minute, then says, “You know, I really prefer blondes, is Paris Hilton available?”

(In fairness, the Alaskan who told me this is not Sarah Palin’s biggest fan, though she is a Republican, so I couldn’t guaruntee that this is in very wide circulation over there.)


September 25, 2008

Our blog’s moratorium on obvious jokes.

Sarah Silverman is Funny

September 25, 2008

Like me, you’ve probably been wondering why pundits haven’t been using the term ‘douche-nozzle’ this election cycle. Never fear:

(h/t Ben Smith)

We’re Suspending Snarky Post Titles until the Economy Improves

September 25, 2008

Frederick and I occasionally speak outside the confines of this blog, and earlier today he warned me that a wave of obvious “I’m suspending x” humor was on its way. Once again, he was leaning correctly:

we need to suspend the Red Sox. Years ago, long before headlines like “Red Sox clinch playoff spot, Yankees eliminated” were even imaginable, we never had this kind of problem. We should suspend Tampa Bay as well. We’re not sure why but it just seems like the thing to do. Something about Florida real estate.

For me, the best part of reading this article was learning that finance folk are referring to the Hank Paulson-Ben Bernanke duo by the nickname “hanky-panky”.

Letterman’s Revenge

September 25, 2008

Here’s the video. Letterman seems like a pretty childish guy, but this isn’t good for McCain, especially the live coverage of a direct lie he supposedly told:

A Moment Indeed

September 16, 2008

Move over Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s past just got really creepy:

(h/t Failblog)