Sunday, January 31, 2010

'The White Ribbon' and Comparative Politics

Okay, as promised, here's a little update on The White Ribbon. I went to last night's late showing at Irvine's Westpark 8:

I saw Spiderman at Westpark in 2002, but the theater's an art-house cineplex now. Below is a poster of the Village Voice's movie review "Certainty and a Sure Hand Behind The White Ribbon's Unsolved Mystery":

The White Ribbon is Michael Haneke's first German-language film since the original Funny Games (1997) and, addressing what used to be called "the German problem" while dodging the filmmaker's own likeability issues, it's his best ever.

A period piece set on the eve of World War I in an echt Protestant, still-feudal village somewhere in the uptight depths of Northern Germany, The White Ribbon—which won a deserved Palme d'Or at last May's Cannes-fest of Cruelty—is as cold and creepy and secretly cheesy as any of Haneke's earlier films, if not quite as lofty. Instead of sermonizing, Haneke sets himself to honest craftsmanship. Detailed yet oblique, leisurely but compelling, perfectly cast and irreproachably acted, the movie has a seductively novelistic texture complete with a less-than-omniscient narrator hinting at a weighty historical thesis: It's Village of the Damned as re-imagined by Thomas Mann after studying August Sander's photographs of German types while perusing Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism.
Actually, it's still called "the German problem," at least for students of comparative politics and international relations. No doubt such descriptions are unfashionable in the postmodern academy, but a key problématique in comparative political science is in explaining transitions to democracy, especially among the nations of the advanced industrialized West. The German case is perhaps the most fascinating for late-developing democracies, which for Germany doesn't come until after WWII. Perhaps more than any other nation before the 1920s and interwar period, Germany's political culture of paternalistic authoritarianism overdetermined the political regime toward the rise Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. As Lawrence Mayer has written, in Comparative Politics: Nations and Theories in a Changing World:

Among the themes in the German culture that have been identified as conducive to the emergence of the Nazi dictatorship are the following: a submissive, authoritarian culture; an anti-intellectual and antirational romanticism; what has been called Volkishness -- a combination of anti-intellectual romanticism and a distorted form of populism and xenophobia; an exaggerated form of nationalism with a corresponding rejection of internationalism; a glorification of war and martial values; a hostility to the West and modernism and their values; and a deeply rooted hostility to the Jews.

Several scholars conducted immediate postwar studies whose data indicate a strong strain of authoritarianism in the German familly and in other social relations, such as those between teacher and student, employer and employee, and even husband and wife. Related to this is the finding of the classic Civic Culture study that, compared to the citizens of the Anglo-American democracies, citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany felt less competent to participate effectively in political activity.
Mayer goes on to stress that such an explanatory scheme is grossly inadequate in explaining the enormity of the origins of Nazi totalitarianism, and Germany was not uniquiqely isolated in its oppressive cultural attributes when compared to Eastern European regimes. But in the totality of things, this cultural composite, which came together with the specific geographical factors contributing to a sense of German praetorianism in the 19th century, provides a powerful framework for understanding the regime prior to the 1920s and 1930s, and of course for explaining the reengineering of German culture after 1945.

Thus, with this in mind, the critical acclaim for
The White Ribbon is entirely understandable. It's not just the film's cinematic exellence and powerful acting, but its complete authenticity of historical presentation.

Readers might check the review at the Los Angeles Times as well, "
'The White Ribbon': Michael Haneke Attempts to Explain the Seeds of Nazism in his Cautionary Tale."

Obama One Year Fail

From the Kansas City Star, "President’s Ineptness Quite Clear After a Year":

What happened to the bright dreams, the hope and change? A year ago, fate handed President Obama one of the most tantalizing political opportunities in history.

His party enjoyed a blowout election. The Republicans were leaderless and devoid of ideas. The Democrats had hefty majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama had stratospheric approval ratings and the support of a nation profoundly fearful of the future.

And then he threw it all away. He outsourced chunks of his job to a left-wing congressional leadership that has learned nothing and forgotten nothing for the past 35 years.

What came next was one appalling legislative blob after another: the stimulus package that hasn’t stimulated, the cap-and-trade monster, the health care power-grab.

When Obama assumed office, he was still something of an enigma. Many asked: Who is this guy?

Well, now we know a lot more. The bottom line: He isn’t a good politician. Politics is an art, and Obama’s basic competence is highly suspect. He lacks the personal radar an effective politician must have — the instinct to know when you’re on solid ground and when you’re tilting at windmills. Obama has spent a year tilting at windmills.

The “art of the possible” isn’t static. With steady accomplishments, an effective leader can expand the zone of the possible. A winner draws new adherents, builds coalitions, acquires new strength for the next challenge.

For a weak leader, the opposite applies: His credibility shrinks, and so do the ranks of his followers. His ability to accomplish anything becomes doubtful.

This is the vicious circle that now ensnares Obama. He has succeeded mainly in uniting his opposition and dividing his own camp. House and Senate Democrats are openly sniping at one another. The hard left — Obama’s base — is writing him off as inept.

The sense of disarray was only reinforced by his State of the Union speech ....
More at the link.

Cartoon Credit:
Flopping Aces.

A New American Tea Party

Wordsmith asked if I bought a book last night while out shopping. He suggested March Thiessen's, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. And I almost bought it, but thought I'd hold off after deciding on a copy of John O'Hara's A New American Tea Party: The Counterrevolution Against Bailouts, Handouts, Reckless Spending, and More Taxes.

See also the book preview at John Wiley & Sons.

And by the way, Thiessen's book looks great, but at $30.00 I'll probably wait for it in paper.

RELATED: Glenn Reynolds, "
More Impact is What's Next for the Tea Party Movement" (via Memeorandum). Also, Dan Riehl, "Will The Tea Party Movement Fragment?"

Anticipation for Kings of Leon at Tonight's Grammys

From the Los Angeles Times, "Kings of Leon: Pop's Unlikely Royal Family is Back at the Grammys":

Kings of Leon has become the emblematic band of the new decade by resurrecting the sound and spirit of rock's classic era for a generation that doesn't view the music as necessarily heroic or transformative. Combining the blues strut of the Rolling Stones with the jitters of post- punk bands like Joy Division and, more recently, the reach of U2, the Kings of Leon do what great pop does -- they transcend any specific root or subculture to make something universal. And "Use Somebody," with its churchy chorus and what Caleb [Followill] calls its "double meaning" of mercenary lust melting into loneliness and soul hunger, was a perfect anthem for a troubled year like 2009.

Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga might wind up trumping the Kings for Grammy statues, but "Use Somebody" stands as a song that's crossed borders and made many unlikely fans. It's one of only four rock songs in recent history to top four Billboard charts at once, including the mainstream and alternative Top 40 tallies. No less than Jay-Z called it his favorite song of last year in a recent Village Voice interview, saying it was rivaled in his book only by the Kings' more carnal but equally lofty "Sex on Fire" (which last year earned the Grammy for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals).

Artists can't stop covering "Use Somebody." Nick Jonas and Nickelback both perform it in concert; English soul songbird Pixie Lott, avant-pop chanteuse Natasha Khan ( Bat for Lashes) and Jay-Z protégé Bridget Kelly have recorded it; Nashville emo band Paramore scored a YouTube hit after performing it live for the BBC.

"It was a perfect song for us to cover because I enjoy singing anything that's soulful," said Paramore's lead singer, Hayley Williams, in an e-mail. "All Caleb's vocal lines are extremely soulful. It could almost be any genre. And that versatility really shined when we were able to strip the song down acoustically. It didn't affect the power of the lyrics or anything because good art is good art no matter how someone translates it."

All this praise makes Caleb Followill uncomfortable. He's recently taken to telling journalists that he wants to "shoot himself in the head" when he hears "Use Somebody" -- he's sick of it and prefers to listen to late Texas troubadours like Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley, whom he claims as a current main influence. Yet he admits that he hit on something special when he followed through on the phrase he first uttered to his siblings on a desolate night during a long tour.

"It's kind of a hook," he said. "When you see it on paper and you think, it's Kings of Leon, he's going to be talking about some one-night thing. But really it's just the opposite of that. At the end of the day no matter who you are, you're gonna have those moments when you need someone to help you out."
RTWT at the link.

Scott Brown Interview With Barbara Walters on 'This Week'

For the moment, this was the only clip I found of Scott Brown's interview with Barbara Walters on 'This Week':

Obama's Question Time

I was actually watching this -- or at least the TV was on -- the other day when President Obama met with congressional leaders. Folks have been calling this "question time," which is of course the British parliamentary practice of the PM taking questions from the members in the Commons. Just about everyone was making a big deal of Obama's effort yesterday, but frankly I'm so tired of the Narcissist-in-Chief I didn't pay much attention and I ignored the blogospheric attention. I'll be more thrilled about these meetings if the president indeed proves that he means that he's open to other ideas:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shopping the O.C.!

Okay, some pics from the day's shopping excursion with my son, American Power Progeny #1. This is Tilly's at The District in Tustin. That's Borders on the right, and upstairs is a bowling alley:

My son bought five shirts, but I got a couple for myself as well. I was stoked to find this Independent Trucks t-shirt in XX-Large!

I like this mall, but we had gift cards to Barnes and Noble, so off we went, headed south to the Spectrum Center. But did you know that The District is part of a massive development project located at the old Marine Corps Air Station at Tustin? I snapped this shot as we were about to get on Jamboree north. The blimp hangers housed military blimps used during WWII coastal missions. I watched Pearl Harbor (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin) over the Christmas holidays, and I noticed the film's scene for the launch of Doolittle's Raid on the Japanese mainland was filmed at MCAS Tustin. (A pretty cool Saab commercial from a few years back was filmed there as well, and many others I imagine.)

Here's the Spectrum's carousel:

I checked my blog at the Apple store. I asked an associate about the iPad. They're pretty affordable, actually, and there are accessories like keyboard docks so the unit can be used for traditional blogging or writing:

The Spectrum also has a huge ferris wheel. I took my boy on it when he was smaller, when the center opened a few years ago:

I bought some new slacks and a couple of casual button-down shirts at Nordstrom's. I'm down a few pounds, but I could use to drop a lot more (and thus I'm holding off on a suit for work until later):

Here's Barnes and Noble. That's AmPower Progeny #1 walking inside:

My boy bought a DVD and he was impatient to watch it. So, I took him home and then went back to the mall to get something to eat and buy some shoes to go with my new pants and shirts. If you come to SoCal, let me know and we'll have a nice healthy lunch at Wahoo's Fish Tacos:

On business days, at lunch time, the line wraps around to the left of this woman and her daughter, and then out the front door into the mall (I'm standing in the doorway):

But you can have a seat while you're waiting, on this bench, made of skateboards:

Beautiful Lupita was nice enough to let me take her picture!

I had the chicken tacos with black pinto beans, brown rice, and water with lemon. The service is wonderful:

I'll have some pictures of my new clothes tomorrow. I'm heading back out right now to the movies, to see The White Ribbon. I should have a report on that as well, so check back!

Tea Party Nation

I've been out all day, and I've got some photos from my shopping trip. Check back for those a little later. Meanwhile, the New Yorker's got a piece on the rise of tea party populism (and the threat to Obama). See, "The Movement: The Rise of Tea Party Activism." It's not that great a piece, actually. But with the main thesis suggesting that the tea partiers are for real, it's a step in the right direction.

My first immersion in the social movement that helped take Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat away from the Democrats, and may have derailed the President’s chief domestic initiative, occurred last fall, in Burlington, Kentucky, at a Take Back America rally. My escort was an exceptionally genial sixty-seven-year-old man named Don Seely, an electrical engineer who said that he was between jobs and using the unwanted free time to volunteer his services to the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, the rally’s host organization, as a Webmaster. “I’ve never been a Webmaster, but I’ve known Webmasters,” he explained, with a chuckle, as he walked around a muddy field, near a horse-jumping ring, and introduced me to some of his colleagues, one of whom was a fireman. “And he’s also our finance guy.” Being the finance guy, from what I could gather, entailed volunteering a personal credit card to be used for the group’s PayPal account. The amateur nature of the operation was a matter of pride to all those who were taking an active interest, in many cases for the first time in their lives, in the cause of governance. Several of the volunteers had met at Bulldog’s Roadhouse, in a nearby town named Independence, where they assembled on weekdays for what you might call happy hour, were it not for the fact that Bulldog’s is a Fox News joint and five o’clock is when Glenn Beck comes on, warning from a studio that he likes to call the “doom room” about the return of a Marxist fifth column.

Seely wore a muted plaid shirt, rumpled khakis, and large, round glasses that seemed to magnify his curiosity, a trait that he attributed to his training as an engineer—an urge to understand the way things work. He told me that he used to listen to Beck on the radio, before Beck got his Fox show. “I didn’t like him,” he said. “He was always making fun of people. You know, he’s basically a comedian. But the reason I like him now is he’s kind of had a mind-set change. Instead of making fun of everybody, he started asking himself questions. His point was ‘Get out there, talk to your neighbor, see what they feel. Don’t sit back under your tree boohooing.’ ” The Bulldog’s gang was a collection of citizens who were, as one of them put it, “tired of talking to the TV.” So they watched Beck together, over beer, and then spent an hour consoling one another, although lately their personal anxieties had overtaken the more general ones of the host on the screen, and Beck’s chalkboard lectures about the fundamental transformation of the Republic had become more like the usual barroom ballgame: background noise. “We found that you really have to let people get the things off their chests,” Seely said.

Burlington is the seat of Boone County, and the rally took place at the Boone County fairgrounds, on an afternoon that was chilly enough to inspire one of the speakers, the ghostwriter of Joe the Plumber’s autobiography, to dismiss global warming, to great applause. A second-generation Chrysler dealer, whose lot had just been shut down, complained that the Harvard-educated experts on Wall Street and in Washington knew nothing about automobiles. (“I’ve been in this business since 1958, and what I know is that the American public does not want small cars!”) The district’s congressional representative, Geoff Davis, brought up the proposed cap-and-trade legislation favored by Democrats, and called it an “economic colonization of the hardworking states that produce the energy, the food, and the manufactured goods of the heartland, to take that and pay for social programs in the large coastal states.”

Boone County borders both Indiana and Ohio, and was described to me by a couple of people I met there as “flyover country,” with a mixture of provincial anxiety and defensive skepticism—as in “What brings you to flyover country?” The phrase is not quite apt. Home to the Cincinnati airport, which serves as a Delta hub, the county owes much of its growth and relative prosperity over the past two decades to large numbers of people flying in and out, not over. But Delta’s recent struggles, and rumors about the impending contraction of its local subsidiary, Comair, have contributed to a deeper sense of economic anxiety. “You go to the warehouses around the airport, probably at least a third or twenty-five per cent are empty,” Seely said. “We need to give somebody a break here, so people can start making money.” As it happens, the largest employer in northern Kentucky today is the I.R.S.

Another Bulldog’s regular, a middle-aged woman dressed in jeans, a turtleneck, and a red sweatshirt, stood beside some stables, hustling for signatures to add to the Tea Party mailing list. “I tell you, it’s an enthusiastic group,” she said. “Talk about grassroots. This is as grassroots as it gets.”

“And she works full time,” Seely added.

“Not as full time as I’d like.”

About a thousand people had turned up at the rally, most of them old enough to remember a time when the threats to the nation’s long-term security, at home and abroad, were more easily defined and acknowledged. Suspicious of decadent élites and concerned about a central government whose ambitions had grown unmanageably large, they sounded, at least in broad strokes, a little like the left-wing secessionists I’d met at a rally in Vermont in the waning days of the Bush Administration. Large assemblies of like-minded people, even profoundly anxious people anticipating the imminent death of empire, have an unmistakable allure: festive despair. A young man in a camouflage jacket sold T-shirts (“Fox News Fan,” for example), while a local district judge doled out play money: trillion-dollar bills featuring the face of Ben Bernanke. An insurance salesman paraded around, dressed as though guiding a tour of Colonial Williamsburg. “Oh, this is George Washington!” Seely said. “Hey, George, come over here a minute.”

“I’m back for the Second American Revolution,” the man said. “My weapons this time will be the Constitution, the Internet, and my talk-radio ads.”

If there was a central theme to the proceedings, it was probably best expressed in the refrain “Can you hear us now?,” conveying a long-standing grievance that the political class in Washington is unresponsive to the needs and worries of ordinary Americans. Republicans and Democrats alike were targets of derision. “Their constituency is George Soros,” one man grumbled, and I was reminded of the dangerous terrain where populism slides into a kind of nativist paranoia—the subject of Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay linking anti-Masonic sentiment in the eighteen-twenties with McCarthyism and with the John Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s contention that Dwight Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” The name Soros, understood in the context of this recurring strain—the “paranoid style in American politics,” Hofstadter called it—is synonymous, like Rockefeller or Rothschild, with a New World Order.

The Soros grumbler, who had also labelled John McCain a Communist, was dressed in jeans pulled up well above his waist with suspenders, and wearing thick, oversized shades. When he saw my notebook, he turned to Seely and asked, “Where’s he from, supposedly?” Informed that I live in New York, he replied, “There’s a nightmare right there.” What he had in mind was not a concentration of godless liberals, as it turned out, but something more troubling. “Major earthquake faults,” he said. “It’s hard in spots, but basically it’s like a bag of bricks.” Some more discussion revolved around a super-volcano in Yellowstone (“It’ll fry Denver and Salt Lake at the same time”) and the dire geological forecasts of Edgar Cayce, the so-called Sleeping Prophet, which involved the sudden emergence of coastlines in what, for the time being, is known as the Midwest. I asked the man his name. “T. J. Randall,” he said. “That’s not my real name, but that’s the one I’m using.”

Seely saw our encounter with the doomsayer more charitably than Hofstadter might have. “That’s an example of an intelligent person who’s not quite got it all together,” he said. “You can tell that. But he’s pretty interesting to talk to.” Seely’s own reaction, upon learning where I’d come from, had been to ask if I was familiar with the New School, in Greenwich Village. His youngest daughter, Amber, had gone there.

I asked Seely what Amber thought of the Tea Party. “We kind of hit a happy medium where we don’t discuss certain things,” he said, and added that at the moment Amber, who now works for a nonprofit that builds affordable housing in New Orleans, was visiting his son, Denver, who is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering at Mississippi State.
RELATED: A pretty bizarre piece from Tea Party Nation defending their TFUBAR convention. Also, from Gateway Pundit, "Eric Odom on Tea Party Nation Organizers: They Don’t Know What’s Going On & Haven’t From Day One (Video)."

The Left's Lynch Mob Rush-to-Judgment on James O'Keefe

From yesterday, FWIW, a MSM report at CNN, "Activist Proclaims Innocence in Landrieu Office Incident." Also at Los Angeles Times, "Activist Issues Statement About Landrieu Incident."

See O'Keefe's entry at Big Goverment yesterday, "
Statement from James O’Keefe."

Media Matters is pathetically freakin' over this whole thing, the smear-masters they are. See, "Not-So-Breitbart and the Story of James O'Keefe." And who knew that the ACORN sting was a white supremacist power grab? Desperate much?

But as I've reported here, the real story's been the left's lynch mob rush-to-judgment. The radical left's Marcy Wheeler has yet to retract her scurrilous libels. But see Kyle-Anne Shriver, for the overview: "
James O’Keefe Reveals an MSM Drowning in its Own Leftist Ideology."

Plus, at Big Journalism:

* "Correction Request: Newsweek."

* "
Correction Request: Talking Points Memo."

* "
Correction Request: Los Angeles Times."

* "
Correction Request: Associated Press."

* "
Correction Request: The Atlantic."

* "
Correction Request: The Huffington Post."

* "
Correction Request: MSNBC."

* "
Correction Request: CBS News."

* "
Correction Request: Daily Kos."

* "
Correction Request: The Hill."
I'm heading out to go shopping ... more blogging tonight!

Alessandra Ambrosio's St. Bart's Photo-Shoot

At Fox News, of all places, "Pure Ambrosio: Alessandra Ambrosio's St. Bart's Shoot." And at Celebrity Gossip, "Alessandra Ambrosio: St. Bart's Beach Babe":

Alessandra just had a baby, it turns out. But sheesh, I'd have been happy for her to keep a little of the mama-fat. A little too skinny for me, but I'm sure Gator Doug and Troglo don't mind. And I know R.S. McCain's got no quibbles!

But Without All of These Things I Can Do ... Without Your Love I Won't Make It Through...

"Who knew Rush Limbaugh could bust a move?"

That's from
Mary Sue at Ruby Slippers, laying down the news on Rush Limbaugh's boogie creds. Mary Sue's got some Lady Gaga at the link, but if memory serves me I think she really digs The Clash. So check it out:

The "Train in Vain" Wikipedia entry is here. Incredible music.

Tall Women and Heightism

Folks recall my post, "At 5' 6½", George Stephanopoulos Debuts at Good Morning America - UPDATED!!"?

I didn't think that much of it at the time, but
Rusty Walker raised some objections, so I've been thinking about the issue of "heightism." For an interesting take on that, see "Dating Dilemma: Am I A Heightist?":
I’m sure there are all sorts of goes-back-to-the-Stone-Age psychological and physiological reasons. A taller man may subconsciously suggest to a woman that he’s more likely to provide for her than, say, a shorter dude. True or not, animals conditioned to believe one thing over untold millennia are hard to reprogram. The guy I went out with who was 5’10” was shorter than me, sure, and neither of us minded, but he was a big guy, stature-wise. The 6’6” guy I dated weighed 300 pounds and was a professional offensive lineman. I liked feeling uniquely small(er) than him and, well, girly when we were together. But it seems like I’m leaving out a hell of a lot of fish in the sea by casting my line this way. What if the man of my dreams is 5’6”—and I can’t see him because I’m too busy scanning the room for the tallest guy in the crowd?

It could be awkward, though. How do you kiss a guy who’s six inches shorter than you? I don’t know. But I guess, in a way, love is like porn. I’ll know it when I see it.
Read the whole post (which includes a link to Jeff Wong and Erin Martin's wedding announcement).

Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds.

I Accept Dana Pico's Apology

It was a misunderstanding.

Dana has written a post, "
An Apology to Donald Douglas":

There are times in which my sense of humor covers things which other people do not find humorous, and I’ve run up on a couple of those instances. The first, which our friend from as far away as it’s possible to be, New Zealand, has mentioned frequently, was a snarky comment that said it would be better for Republicans to win elections through cheating than for Democrats to win elections honestly. The Phoenician upbraids me both frequently and often for that one, but I’d point out here that it was just snarkiness.
That's very good of Dana to apologize. But I'll just make an observation: Snark is generally designed to go beyond playful ribbing, and sometimes when folks snark, especially with those on the same side, they put little a "snark alert" in parentheses to avoid misunderstandings. I read David Denby's Snark about a year ago. As he notes there, "some of those who professionally attack others intend their words to be strong enough to 'make their victims disappear - go away, give up, even kill themselves'."

Dana's a good man, and for that reason I was all the more surprised at his snarky comment at the post. I accept his apology and I'm glad this was a misunderstanding and not something worse.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fourth Quarter GDP, the iPad and American Power

There's some debate over the significance of today's revised GDP report, indicating that economic growth reached an annualized rate of 5.7 percent for the 4th quarter. And while it may well be the case that consumer purchasing power is still way down, and unemployment is still super sticky upwards, the large measure of gross product nevertheless reminds me of some of the big boom numbers during the 1990s. We had at that time the longest sustained expansion on record, and that period marked the emergence of a universally acknowledged quality of American preponderance globally. While the end of the Cold War left the U.S. as the single "pole" atop the global hierarchy of states, by the end of the decade the U.S. had pulled out such a phenomenal lead in all the major indices of great power capabilities, expectations were for decades of unrivaled mastery in the international realm.

Just a few years later, especially after a couple of years of the Iraq war, and especially at the end of 2008, with financial crisis and the virtually unprecendented steps taken by the U.S. government to restore confidence, many commenters were quick to trumpet their predictions of impending American decline. I never personally buy the doomsayer scenarios, because they've been recycled from earlier eras of cyclical economic change, and they're totally predicated on the emergence of a utopia of global governance.

In any case, I always remind my students to never count the U.S. out of the race for international preeminence. Frankly, I'm not convinced that the 21st century won't be a repeat of the 20th -- an American one. I'm reminded of this debate not just by the surging GDP numbers (of which there will be more, in a couple of years from now, especially), but by this week's huge buzz over Apple's iPad. (See Midnight Blue for the specs, "
iLove the iPad.") This report is especially interesting in terms of the market-moving implications of Apple's dominant innovation, "The iPad Big Picture" (with emphasis added):

There was a meta-message in today’s Apple event, not about the iPad in particular, but rather about Apple as a whole. Jobs’s brief preamble included a bit of extra emphasis on the fact that the Apple now generates over $50 billion per year in revenue. (Apple also emphasized this $50 billion revenue thing in their PR two days ago announcing their Q1 2010 financial results.) He also said that when you consider MacBooks as “mobile” devices, Apple generates more revenue from mobile hardware than any other company in the world; the three competitors he singled out were Sony, Samsung, and Nokia. The adjective he used was “bigger”.

Lastly, there’s the fact that the iPad is using a new CPU designed and made by Apple itself: the Apple A4. This is a huge deal. I got about 20 blessed minutes of time using the iPad demo units Apple had at the event today, and if I had to sum up the device with one word, that word would be “fast” ....
In the late-1990s, the American economy saw explosive economic growth as the first huge Internet-related technology-era matured and the leading sectors of the economy -- think Silicon Valley on top of a soaring service-sector juiced by globalization -- outstripped U.S. competitors in the first-mover fields then driving the intense pattern of intenrational integration and growth. Watching all the buzz this week over the iPad was one thing, but just last week market reports suggested a wider pattern of long-term dominance for Apple, in phones, music, and related services. It's still early to say, but these kinds of developments at the macro level (economic growth) combined with those at the micro level (industry innovation and market dominance), are generally encouraging for the larger questions of American world leadership in the years ahead.

Dave Mason to Play 'The Canyon', in Agoura Hills, April 23rd

I can't make it to the Eagles at Hollywood Bowl (Stogie thinks I should go, but it's Easter week, and my wife and I are planning a family vacation), but I am getting excited to attend a live concert again soon. I just got a notice from Ticketmaster that Dave Mason will play The Canyon in Agoura Hills on April 23rd. That's north of Los Angeles, so it's way too far away for a nightclub act. But Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" was a staple on FM playlists in the '70s. So enjoy this clip, which features Mason on "Midnight Special":

The Canyon looks like a hot club, by the way ...

Hot Patriotism!

Image snagged from GSGF:

SEIU Tied to 'Tea Party is Over' Smear Outfit

Remember Scott Erik Kaufman's attack on Michele Bachmann and the tea parties? Well, he's aligned with folks like this, "The Tea Party is Over":

It turns out this smear outfit is financed in part by the SEIU. As Gateway Pundit notes:

Lee Doren did his research and found out who is behind this anti-freedom website:

I just came across a new website titled:

It is paid for by the American Public Policy Committee. Well, according to, the two donors for American Public Policy Committee this year are Patriot Majority and Patriot Majority West.

However, according to, the
2nd largest contributor in 2008 to Patriot Majority was SEIU and other top Unions around America.

It figures. When the SEIU is not out cracking heads and stomping on tea party vendors they’re working on other ways to destroy the tea party movement. They will do anything to force their radical agenda on America.

Scott Eric Kaufman: If You Smear My Grammar at Least Edit Your F**KED UP Prose and Use Spell Check

Apparently, Scott Eric Kaufman actually holds a Ph.D. in the "Philosophy of English." Don't know if he actually holds an academic position. He can't write for shit, so it'd be no surprise if he's unemployed.

I'm block-quoting his entire post at
Lawyers, Guns and Money, just in case he decides to proofread later and make corrections in a belated attempt to appear less an asshole than he is. See, "Phony Political Scientist Sees Morons at Fake Indepedence Hall and is Impressed":

With all apologies to J.D. Salinger, I can't resist reading Donald Douglas's account of a Michele Bachmann event at Knott's Berry Farm in Holden Caulfield's terms. This is contemporary conservatism boiled to the bone: some morons convince of a phony of their patriotism by speaking before a replica of an actual American institution. Douglas's photo-essay captures what history signifies when you subscribe to Tea Party logic even more starkly than those fake patriots who demonstrate their solidarity with the Founding Fathers by showing up at rallies with tea-bags.

Did I say rallies? I meant "sparsely-attended speeches by purported conservative celebrities in the most conservative county in the country," because as Douglas's own photos
attest, David Horowitz and Michele Bachmann have little drawing power within spitting distance of the birth place of Richard Nixon. Not that Douglas would care, mind you, because he can't tear his authentic eyes away from all the ersatz history. Even his grammar becomes ambiguous in the presence of all this fakery:
As you can see, the park's Independence Hall is an exact replica of the original historic landmark in Philadelphia, PA. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed there.
The Decleration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed in Knott's Berry Farm's Independence Hall? According to Knott's Berry Farm, they most certainly were:

Douglas then produces:
[a] shot of the [Knott's Berry Farm's replica of the] bell's famous crack.
The faked crack on the fake Liberty Bell is famous? All morons hate it when their grammar reveals that they're morons.

Not that it's just the grammar, as his caption to
this picture demonstrates: "[t]he sweeties at the gift counter, in 18th century dress." If you press your ear against the monitor, you can almost hear him declaiming: "That is too an authentic 18th century windbreaker!" But perhaps the best part of Douglas's account is the definitive evidence that Tea Party patriots don't know from English. He notes that Michele Bachmann
came to California straight from Washington and the last night's SOTU. She reminded the crowd that this time last year the big talk was Joe Wilson's "you lie," while this week it's Samuel Alito's "not true," and she turned that into a little chant to fire up the patriots in attendence.
If that chant sounds like Douglas suggests it does—"You lie! Not true! You lie! Not true!"—then those patriots sure told Joe Wilson a thing or two.
I guess quite a few folks have a problem with historical replicas, but you might notice that when SEK quotes and ridicules he omits the hyperlinks. For example, with reference to Philadelphia's Independence Hall, the link (and thus context) is at my original passage: "Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed there." That's "signed there," as in Pennsylvania, yo!

Besides that, how's this for a piece of F**KED UP writing? "This is contemporary conservatism boiled to the bone: some morons convince of a phony of their patriotism by speaking before a replica of an actual American institution."

If "convince" is being used as a verb, it needs to precede an object. For example, "This is contemporary conservatism boiled to the bone: some morons convince OTHERS of a phony ... patriotism by speaking before a replica of an actual American institution."

(And from Aaron Baker's comment at the post, "Could you please unjumble 'some morons convince of a phony of their patriotism' for us?")

And while I don't normally stress typos and misspelled words, if someone's going to smear me with dishonest distortions of my grammar, they might as well at least use a spell-checker: "The Decleration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed in Knott's Berry Farm's Independence Hall?"

Never said that, Scott. But your "Decleration of Independence" is priceless.

You're in good company, in any case. See "
The Moral Abomination of Robert Farley."

P.S. I personally think
Charli Carpenter has demeaned herself by joining LGM as a co-blogger.

Appreciate Life (Our Moral Foundation) - Nothing is More Important

I don't see it, but there's a link to my blog posted somewhere at Think Progress (the entry's on CBS' decision for a pro-life Super Bowl ad featuring college football star Tim Tebow). Reading it, I genuinely can't remember seeing so much hatred in one blog post, for example:

Religion is to the human spirit as fecal matter is to the body. From time to time it must voided and it’s traces thoroughly wiped away ....


Spare me all this pious christianista bullshit.

Pam Tebow had a CHOICE.

A choice she and the other God-smacked wingnuts want to take away from every other woman.
Societies have been aborting pregnancies for millenia...

Get over it and mind your own f ucking business...

Dobson, the Bushes, the TREASON-baggers, and all their affiliates:

ALL call themselves “christian”.


See what I mean ... there's some intense hatred pent-up in that thread, and that's just a tiny sample!

God these people are whacked! But that's probably a pretty good background for talking about some developments on the pro-life front, in any case.

My friend Jill Stanek is blogging at Big Journalism now. See, "Update on Newsweek's flagrantly false story on the March for Life." And, "What the MSM Got Wrong About the March for Life: Most Everything Important."

Plus, check this awesome viddy from Red Virginia Conservative, "Media Malpractice at March for Life":

My wife and I have been lucky with our family and our health. When our youngest son was born (he's seen below from last Halloween), my wife had some complications at the delivery. The umbilical cord was wrapped around my son's neck, and the doctor was struggling in bringing him into the world. (I remember my wife having to push much, much harder and longer than when my first son was born.) Anyway, my son wasn't breathing for minute or two, although it seemed like forever. My wife was crying and totally distraught. I was confident that both my wife and son were in good hands and all would be fine. But I do remember finally taking a breath myself when I heard my son's first cry. This story probably doesn't compare to all the other phenomenal stories of pro-life heroes dealing with the survival of right and dignity in the protection of the innocent. But it's the first thing that came to me this morning when reading all the hate at Think Progress, and then Jill Stanek's articles on the left-wing anti-life propaganda campaign.

As I've written recently, nothing is more important to the future of this nation than the protection of life, from conception to natural death. This is the political battle that's foundational to all others, from healthcare to national security. It's not a matter of taking away women's rights, as the hate-addled commenters above would have folks believe. It's about living a live of goodness and morality, and standing to fight for principles when all really is on the line.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Responds to State of the Union

From Midnight Blue and Mike's America:

I love this guy. Like I've said before, I wish we had him out here.

Obama is the Katy Perry of Politics

From Kathleen McKinley (also at Right Wing News):

Pres. Obama is the Katy Perry of politics.

Let's face it. Katy Perry cannot sing. Just as Pres. Obama cannot govern. But both are stars anyway. We just like them. Katy is fun, bubbly, and pretty, But even auto tune cannot hide the fact that Katy can't sing a lick. The first time I watched her sing on TV I wondered if everyone in the audience would start laughing soon ....

It's the same with Obama. The speeches, the words, the teleprompters all give us the show we want to see. He's so darn "articulate," to use Vice President Biden's term. He's so darn good with the words that we all pretend that maybe he can actually govern and lead. That maybe he can actually get this economy going and bring America together.

They are both fun to watch. But sadly, neither Obama nor Katy can do what they are trying so hard to do.
This is, of course, a wonderful chance to post Katy Perry bikini shots!

Interview With Michele Bachmann at 'Red County'

The link is here:

See also, "Can't Kill the Buzz of Liberty: Thoughts on Independence Hall."

Can't Kill the Buzz of Liberty: Thoughts on Independence Hall

Actually, this seems like a comment from folks like snark-ass JBW:

Dear Dr Douglas: If you want to see the Liberty Bell, or the place where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed, we have the originals here in Pennsylvania; you don't have to see faux copies.
But actually, that's from Dana at Common Sense Political Thought. I read his blog, and I admire is daughter, PFC Pico, and I link to him often - and most of all I wish I could have coffee with him in Philly. So, God bless him, why he was moved to post a little put down like that is beyond me. But it does serve as a catalyst to write about yesterday's event at further length.

I noted a couple of days ago that I hadn't been to Independence Hall at Knott's Berry Farm since I was in 5th grade. My class went there on a field trip. It's interesting that I've never forgotten the experience. I especially enjoyed seeing the replica of the Liberty Bell. As a local tourist website notes, "Walter Knott's deep love of country and home drove him to build the country's only brick-by-brick replica of Independence Hall." And that's the thing. Why would a Southern California entrepreneur spend his own money, in the 1960s, to build an exact version of the Pennsylvania State House, where our founding documents were signed? It's one of the most powerful affirmations of American exceptional one can make. Other people sure haven't taken that contribution for granted, as the Knott's Wikipedia entry notes, "Independence Hall was so well recreated that it was used in the 2004 film 'National Treasure'." And because admission is free, the facility is a phenomenal historical resource for our local communities. No doubt untold numbers of Southern California children have toured Independence Hall with their families and with their teachers and classmates. And I know many of those with less advantage -- and thus without the financial ability to travel to Philadelphia -- would never ridicule this fabulous historical recreation as a cheap "faux" copy. We're are blessed to have so cherished a replica here at home.

Of course, I'm sure Representative Royce knew exactly what he was doing when he invited Representative Bachmann to attend a rally at Knott's Independence Hall. The tea parties, and our few congressional leaders who really understand them, reflect the spirit of 1776. When I met Opus yesterday I told her and her friends that I've never participated as much in American politics as I have in the last year. I've been a political junkie for 25 years, and a political scientist almost as long. But I've learned more about our political system this last year -- and especially about the mass media! -- than I ever did inside a classroom.

And going to Knott's Berry Farm yesterday felt like I'd gone full circle from my childhood. That was forty years ago, and never would I have thought back then how much I'd come to love and appreciate our institutions so much. I teach the meaning of the Declaration of Independence every semester, and I can guarantee you that way too many students don't appreciate the fundamental philosophical foundations embedded in that piece of parchment. Many of them don't know that Jefferson's handiwork ties together a long line of Western political thought, handiwork that at that time was preserved for the ages in the founding of a new nation. They certainly don't know that later freedom fighters, like those fighting for liberty in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, would read the Declaration of Independence at their own revolutions from tyranny (e.g., Prague in 1989).

So, when we rally at events like this, no one takes for granted the real Independence Hall in Philadelphia. We wish we could be there with our fellow patriots. Michele Bachmann was so powerful yesterday in her effusive thanks to all the people who took time out from their busy lives to reaffirm the founding principles of our nation. She noted that it's going to take people like this to take the country back. David Horowitz, who gave a brief speech before Representative Bachmann was introduced, argued that the November 2010 elections were the most important elections in his lifetime. He even had to stop himself and admit, that yes, all elections seem like they're the most important ever. But he noted that the congressional midterms this year are an unmatched epic moment for Americans to apply the brakes, to slow the real push to Democratic-socialism in this country. This is not hyperbole. This is from a man who was one of the leading 1960s activists, one who knows real communist agitators and one who doesn't apply a lot of spin in his analysis (Horowitz rejects the "birther" talk and all that).

In any case, I just needed to vent about this -- since you can't kill the buzz of liberty! I told my good friend Jan at Vinegar and Honey that next to my family, I'm most happy when I'm with my fellow tea party patriots. I've been so enriched and strengthened this last year, with all the activism and comaraderie, I can't express how meaningful it's all been. My faith in America is constantly renewed. My hope is that my friend Dana at Common Sense Political Thought will keep these words in mind as we move forward in 2010 and work to rekindle the promise of events that took place nearly 235 years ago in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keep Your 'Lectric Eye On Me Babe...

Well, Bob Belvedere left a comment at my Bowie post from the other night, but if I've still got fence-sitters, this clip of "Moonage Daydream" should be decisive. I don't know exactly, but when I reached rock musical sophistication in my mid-20s, I just had a thing for David Bowie. He's British, for one thing. And Americans have always had a soft spot for at least a couple of British bands, whether it was the Beatles, the Who, Elton John, or the Sex Pistols. We love 'em. I think Bowie was such a huge influence on the later rage of the "New Romantic" genre, and of course gothic rock and some punk, that I glommed onto to him (with one of my best friends, Steve Stone, who's now dead, sadly, from a heroin OD sometime back). And of course I mentioned previously I saw Bowie in concert at the US Festival in 1983 (see, "'Jesus Christ! Where'd You Get that Cadillac?'"), so that was something of a pinnacle of experience at the time. When you feel like you've reached the mountaintop there's much less urgency to later experiences.

Anyway, Bowie is cool as Ziggy Stardust here. Something about his early vocals that had an extra "Cockney" clang to them. But it's Mick Ronson who ultimately steals the show at the clip. This is Jimmy Page spaced-out (or Jeff Beck, Ronson's hero). And perhaps even better if you prefer your rock all glammed up. When Rolling Stone does those periodic fluff pieces on the
greatest guitar songs of all time, you can discount it if Ronson's gig on "Moonage Daydream's" not included (as he is here, but can't find him here). Look at the women screaming and crying for Mick in the audience. Not since the boys from Liverpool toured the U.S. had you seen that kind of emotion.

And sorry for holding out on the babe blogging of late. Check Theo Spark and Washington Rebel for some of the hot stuff. Plus, check my good friend Anton's post, "Australia Day – January 26th 2010, with a little music there as well.

Rally at Independence Hall: Michele Bachmann in the O.C.!

As promised, here's my report on Michele Bachmann at Independence Hall, Knott's Berry Farm, in Buena Park. The location's just a few miles south from my campus. The event was from 3:00 to 4:00pm, and it was just incredible. As you can see, the park's Independence Hall is an exact replica of the original historic landmark in Philadelphia, PA. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed there. Here you can see contemporary patriots getting ready for the rally:

Here's the West Coast's Liberty Bell inside the hall:

A shot of the bell's famous crack:

Patriots inside the gift shop (the original Independence Flag took up the whole wall):

George Washington and Betsy Ross:

The sweeties at the gift counter, in 18th century dress:

Heading back outside, I introduced myself to David Horowitz. He would speak in just a few minutes to kick off the event:

Still waiting, I went back inside the hall for a couple of more pictures:

Amazing historical authenticity:

The Declaration of Independence (at the time, a piece of work in progress, to borrow from POWIP):

Back outside, Mr. Rooster and Mama Hens:

Here's Mr. Horowitz:

Representative Michele Bachmann waits before being introduced:

She thanked Congressman Ed Royce quite graciously and enthusiastically:

Representative Bachmann gave a rousing speech. She came to California straight from Washington and the last night's SOTU. She reminded the crowd that this time last year the big talk was Joe Wilson's "you lie," while this week it's Samuel Alito's "not true," and she turned that into a little chant to fire up the patriots in attendence. She was especially emphatic in stressing the president's defiance of the American people. Passing healthcare was not about improving lives, it was about Obama's personal agenda:

Down in front of the podium, Congressman Royce came back up for a Q&A:

Michele Bachmann's a political goddess. Lots of folks crowded around as she finished speaking. She posed for just a couple of pictures, and then was whisked away by her escorts/handlers:

My picture with Representative Bachmann will have to wait. But to my everlasting joy, I met Opus #6 of MAINFO:

She took some pictures as well, from right down in front (I'm in the picture at left). It turns out Opus headed straight over to the Lincoln Club fundraising dinner. She's mobile blogging the event. See, "Michele Bachmann Speaks in Newport Beach," and "I Am Sitting a Few Seats Down From Chuck Devore in Newport Beach."

You've gotta love the O.C.!!

UPDATE: In a correction, I've posted the right picture of the Declaration of Independence above.