Lileks is still pissed that his local paper hasn't responded to his second-hand snitching on the imams who got kicked off the plane. He is sure that, given the association of one of them with a suspicious charity, they are murderous devil-dogs, and yet, the paper will not investigate. Possibly because they were released without charges, suggesting that no crime was committed and therefore there is no story, but the mighty squeaker of Minnesota will not be swayed by such logic. He knows terror is afoot, and what's more, Keith Ellison is probably involved somehow, because Keith Ellison is a Muslim, and they're all the same, those Muslims. Best of all, Lileks promises more of his impotent flailing about over this non-issue tomorrow! Watch this space for a boring response.

Speaking of Keith Ellison, the fellow has, by virtue of being America's first Muslim elected official, thrown the right wing for a loop. For you see, those people are terrorists! Terrorist terror terrors of a terror faith that believes in terror with a side helping of terror multicultural woman-hating war jihad destruction circumcision slavery contempt western-hating force their values down our terror! Clearly they mean us harm, as evidenced by Ellison's desire to take his vow of office using a Q'uran, instead of the book we like! Dennis Prager lays it right on the line:

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

That's right! If Keith gets his way, he will undermine American civilization. Prager, whose son has a black friend but it's okay because he's a Christian, goes on to compare the Q'uran to Mein Kampf and make the claim that Ellison taking his oath on the Q'uran will do more damage to America than the 9/11 attacks. Then a cuckoo-bird springs out of his forehead and flies away.

Elsewhere on Town Hall, some creature named Don Kroah kick-starts the War on Christmas season with a bang, Bill Murchison claims the existence of the Religious Right is entirely due to crazy liberals trying to ban God from public life, and Frank Gaffney says the Iraq Study Group is doomed to fail because it is headed up by a cabal of Jew-haters.

It's morning in America!


Lileks Watch, Day X

So apparently, six Muslim men were removed from a flight and detained for questioning in Minneapolis following a conference. And what is the man from Fuddles, MN pissed about? Is he pissed that six people missed their flight and were humiliated by the cops for no reason? (You know he would be if it had been him.) Is he pissed that American citizens were racially profiled by a busybody passenger who flipped out at the very existence of scary Musselmen? Of course not. He's pissed that the initial version of the story on his local news failed to mention that the men were Arabs, even though wire reports did mention it, and the local story has since been changed.

Adding "police snitch" to his c.v. alongside "pathetic, impotent mother hen", Lileks goes on to report, and I swear that I am not making this up, a friend of his was at a sales meeting, possibly (!) at the same hotel as the Muslim conference, and one of the speakers was praying really loudly! And, to add to the sheer soul-chilling horror of this terrorist enclave, the next speaker had the gall to claim that Muslims suffer persecution in America! Could THIS, wonders the scarediest cat in the Midwest, be the reason that the six imams were so peeved at being dragged off a flight they'd paid for against their will and questioned by the police even though they hadn't done anything wrong? COULD BE! So, of course, he (Lileks) phoned the newspaper, to tell them what his friend had said.

No, really.

"I phoned the info in to the paper, as a good citizen. Wonder if there’s anything to it." He really did this. He called up, I dunno, the city desk, and told them what his friend had said happened at a hotel that was maybe the same as the one where these guys were, maybe. I haven't checked the Strib's website yet, but I'm sure there'll be a banner headline: "LOCAL GUY SAYS FRIEND SAYS MAYBE MUSLIMS BECAME AGITATED DUE TO LOUD PRAYERS AT CONFERENCE". He's a journalist, folks!

However, in the interest of saving him some fact-checking time:

1. "My friend who was maybe at the same hotel as a conference these guys maybe were also at" is not a particularly good source, even as background.

2. Praying loudly is not a crime.

3. Claiming that your group is persecuted, likewise, is not a crime.

4. Therefore, becoming agitated by the claim that your group is persecuted is not a crime, and is likely only going to be reinforced by encountering persecution immediately after hearing that your group is persecuted.

5. Last on our list of things that are not crimes is being pissed at getting hauled off your flight and detained by the police for no reason. If that were a crime, being a pissy middle-aged crank who constantly complains about bad customer service would probably also be a crime, and James Lileks would be in prison.

6. Possibly the only crimes committed were by the airline and the police.

7. Since none of the things done by the speakers or the imams were crimes, reporting extremely nebulous connections between them are not newsworthy. In any way.



Internet tube dump

- Lileks today has a delusional, semi-cranky and very boring spiel about the improvement vectors of downtown Minneapolis and how he has no choice but to use Netflix. He concludes by scoffing at the concept of greenspace, claiming that you could raze every downtown and replace them with trees and it would make no difference to the environment, a claim that would be well-served by some sort of evidence, but which he seems to regard as self-evident. He concludes that "climate change" is the secular equivalent of "peace be upon you" (that's "sala'am aliechem" -- act like ya know), by which he seems to mean "meaningless, possibly contradictory and at any rate affiliated with something sinister and evil."

- Speaking of sinister and evil, over at Town Hall, Rick McCullough is up in arms at someone he says is filled with "wickedness in worldview", who "contradicts nearly every tenant* of the Christian faith", "inhumane, sick and sinister", "who represents the views of Satan", who is "anti-God", who "has a long history of defying the intended morality of scripture", an advocate of "the unfruitful works of darkness" and a fulminator of an "evil worldview". No, not Hitler! Barack Obama.

- For some reason, NetFlix seems to think I would be interested in this. It's called "Hip Hop Homeroom", and it purports to teach math to kids with a funky flavor. I note that it stars the lead actress from the deeply disturbing Lazytown show, and does not seem to have any black people in it.

*: It's TENET, you assholes, seriously, enough already.


Have I mentioned that his son has a black friend?

In another lovely example of deliberate stupidity or utter ignorance, Dennis Prager, in the course of an otherwise tedious column about the Iraq War, lets drop this pile of offal:

We have not won the war in Iraq because of something completely unforeseeable: widespread massacres of Iraqi civilians by other Iraqis and Muslims. We have never seen mass murder of fellow citizens in order to remove an outside occupier. No Japanese blew up Japanese temples in order to rid Japan of the American occupier. No Germans mass murdered German schoolchildren and teachers to rid Germany of the American, British, French and Soviet occupiers.

Yeah, that was TOTALLY UNFORESEEABLE! Who could possibly have foreseen that? I mean, other than dozens of middle east experts? And think tank members? And college professors, political commentators, diplomats, and even a handful of members of George H.W. Bush's cabinet, who argued against an invasion of Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War for, among other things, precisely that reason? I mean, who, other than anybody who had bothered to study the history and sociology of Iraq since its modern inception, could have possibly imagined that its distinct ethnic and religious sects, having been kept in place during a volatile period by outside interference and a succession of dictatorial strongmen, could possibly have erupted into sectarian violence if the government and military suddenly vanished overnight, mass unemployment occurred, and a disorganized occupying power failed to secure the borders and address the power vaccum? You'd have to be some kind of Amazing Kreskin to predict that, unless you'd read the dozens of papers, studies, editorials, speeches and even books that said it would happen! And who has time to read stuff when you're planning a major war?

And it's not like this had ever happened before, at least not in WWII, which is the only war right-wing conservatives ever talk about! The Germans and Japanese didn't do it! Of course, they were generally more religiously and culturally unified than Iraq, and were occupied by much stronger, more organized forces with a well-thought-out victory plan and a clear exit strategy, but still! And, okay, the Russians did exactly this sort of thing -- killing their own people and destroying their own infrastructure -- but that was against German occupiers, not Americans! So how could we have possibly known about it? Asked a German or a Russian? PLEASE. They didn't even support the Iraq War!

If only it had happened in some other war, then we could have planned for it. Like, I don't know, if only there had been some major war, say in southeast Asia, one that took place maybe 30, 35 years ago, where a bunch of insurgents carried out a covert war against their own people, massacreing civilians, destroying buildings, launching terror attacks, and fighting an unconventional guerrilla conflict, in order to demoralize and destabilize an outside occupier. If only that had happened! But it didn't, of course, because Dennis Prager says we have never seen that, and he has an honorary law degree from Pepperdine University, people!

Town Hall vs. Gown Hall

So, apparently, Elton John said something about how if he could, he would ban organized religion, because he has somehow gotten the crazy idea that it frequently has a deleterious effect on society. Luckily, Town Hall has it employ dozens of people whose job it is to be outraged over this sort of thing, and I guess Brent Bozell had the day off, because the task fell to Michael Medved.

Now, this is pretty typical boilerplate stuff -- "it's liberals who are the real intolerant ones" -- but there's one paragraph that's noteworthy in its titanic sense of deception or cluelessness, depending on whether you think, when conservatives say stuff like this, they are liars or simply ignoramuses. Take a look:

Imagine the indignation if a religious leader suggested that we need to “ban homosexuality completely” --- or urged an outright prohibition on atheism? It’s true that many believing Christians want to persuade gays to overcome their same-sex urges, or try to get non-believers to replace their doubt with faith, but no factions in the varied array of conservative religious groups has called for “banning” ideas with which they disagree.

HA HA HA HA, yeah! Just imagine if, in some crazy fantasy world, a religious leader suggested banning homosexuality! IMAGINE THAT HAPPENING, and then, I dunno, imagine flying cars and space robots, because there's no way that would ever happen! A religious leader who suggests banning homosexuality? Come on! That can't have happened more than, what, six or seven hundred thousand times in the 200+ years of American history during which homosexual acts were actually against the fucking law, until a Supreme Court decision struck down anti-sodomy laws in 2003. I mean, shit, as long as we're living in Cloud Cuckoo Land, why don't we just imagine that there are religious leaders who regularly picket the funerals of people who have been beaten to death for being gay? Why don't we pretend, in this imaginary land of make-believe, that it is the official position of every major religion in the country that homosexuality is a sin for which you can spend eternity writhing in tortured agony in the pits of Hell? Why don't we just go complete wig-out here on Fantasy Island and imagine that homosexuals routinely encounter discrimination, prejudice, physical and verbal abuse, and the possible loss of their livelihood if they admit to their sexual preference? I bet in Super Freak Out Made-Up World, the military is so skittish about homosexuality that they're not even allowed to talk about it, and gays can't get married, largely due to lobbying by religious leaders! I'M SURE GLAD I DON'T LIVE IN THAT WORLD, HO HO!

And of course, Michael is right -- conservative groups never try to ban things they don't agree with. That's why pornography is legal and accepted everywhere, just like drugs. That's why abortion is such an uncontroversial topic. That's why voluntary euthanasia is legal and practiced in every state of the union. That's why suicide isn't a crime. That's why there are no bans on the sale of sex aids or drug paraphernalia. That's why you can turn on network TV anytime day or night and see nudity, and hear the use of curse words. (I bet in the imaginary kingdom where religious people call for banning homosexuality, the government has a special committee whose job it is to levy fines against networks who broadcast things that religious people find morally unacceptable!) That's why there have never been laws on the books in America against homosexuality, polygamy, pornography, substance abuse, miscegeny, or women voting. That's why you can buy liquor 24 hours a day, and why you can buy anything on Sunday anywhere in the United States. And certainly, no one would ever think of banning atheism outright, as long as we never, ever elect an atheist to public office and don't interfere with the tradition of forcing schoolchildren to say a loyalty pledge every morning that includes an affirmation that our country is ruled by God.

Medved goes on to make the equally hooty claims that Christian conservatives never advocate censorship, that they rarely if ever attempt to impose religious symbols in public places, and they "make no attempt to block the teaching of Darwinism or random natural selection". Man, I hope he can send postcards from wherever he's at.


It's late afternoon in America

Over at Town Hall, they're so demoralized by the G.O.P.'s election losses that they can't be bothered to copy-edit anymore, as evidenced by the headline of Michael Medved's latest blog post:


Elsewhere, Doug Giles visits Texas, from where, to my lack of surprise, he originally hails. He makes an exciting list of why Texas is so great, which, coincidentally, is similar to my reasons why it is not so great:

1. Texans are proud of the U.S.A., and aren't constantly cheering that "the US sucks" like liberals do.

2. Texans work hard and aren't into government handouts, unlike Floridians. Shockingly, this is not true, as Doug could have discovered in five minutes of Googling; Florida has a lower unemployment rate (3.8% to Texas' 5.3%) and receives less government aid ($18b to Texas' $25b). But if he'd found that out, he wouldn't have gotten to complain about all the people loitering and "trying to suck off the entitlement tit".

3. Texans go to church. I'm pretty sure that people go to church in big numbers in Florida too, but my guess is that for Doug, Catholics don't count.

4. Texans love guns. There's a lot of Floridians who do too, Doug; they're called cocaine dealers.

5. Texans are nice and don't curse. Unless they're the President.

6. Texans have "an utter disdain for all Islamic miscreants who wish us ill" and don't "sterilize their contempt and their wishes for death to all those who would try to derail the American dream for them, their children and their children’s children". You know, really, this is what I love about Texas too, how they don't try and hide how much they want other people to die. And they're so nice!


Annti-Christ Superstar

Town Hall finally catches up to the elections, and despite the claims of a certain oblivious Minnesota shopper, there's a lotta rancor. Most of them (like Rich Galen) are pushing the "Democrats didn't win, Republicans lost" angle, and there's also plenty of denial that this had anything to do with the Iraq War, despite bountiful evidence that it did. Herman Cain* claims that "compassionate conservativism" -- defined as a government that thinks the less fortunate should be helped, as long as it's someone other than the government who helps them -- was the big loser in this election. I failed to see much compassion or conservativism from the 109th, but Herman is all bitter that now Bush will probably push through his amnesty for illegal aliens. Failing to lock up and deport impoverished immigrants, he says, is neither compassionate nor conservative. (Marvin Olasky, who coined the term 'compassionate conservative', agrees, lamenting the loss of Rick Santorum, a.k.a. Our Churchill, whose clear-eyed vision of unrelenting war against Eurasia has now been muddled by a foolishly short-sighted electorate.)

Big Bill Buckley likewise pushes the "Democrats have no ideas, they just won because they aren't Republicans" schtick while misusing the word 'categorical'; no less august a personage than Tony Blankley provides Lileks with a little of that rancor he couldn't seem to find by bitching about the "liberal, anti-war, activist, Internet-driven anti-Bush voters" who will now force "highly aggressive oversight hearings (and perhaps radical health care reform and tax-the-rich legislation)" down our throats. Cal Thomas has lots of rancor to spare, deciding that the best tactic is to start preemptively bashing the Democrats before they're even in office about all the ways he knows they're going to fuck up, and Lileks' best friend forever Hugh Hewitt blames the whole fiasco on John McCain.

On an ordinary day, the Most Batshit Column Award would go to Larry Elder*, who is still flogging the John Kerry Iraq thing. But today is not an ordinary day. No, today is a special day. Today is the first day in a long time that the harridan from New Canaan has woken up to a Democratic majority in Congress.

History was made this week! For the first time in four election cycles, Democrats are not attacking the Diebold Corp. the day after the election, accusing it of rigging its voting machines. I guess Diebold has finally been vindicated.

Yeah, Democrats do only tend to complain about voting irregularities when they lose by a tiny margin, rather than when they win by a decisive majority. They're funny that way.

So the left won the House and also Nicaragua.

Democrats are commies, check...

At least they don't have their finger on the atom bomb yet.

The "atom bomb"? What is this, 1952?

Democrats support surrender in Iraq, higher taxes and the impeachment of President Bush. They just won an election by pretending to be against all three.

Democrats are cowardly appeasers, wastrels and anti-authoritarian rebels, check...I dunno, somewhere I missed the whole "let's surrender to whoever it is we're fighting in Iraq" position statements from Howard Dean, but I guess Ann Coulter knows best.

Jon Tester, Bob Casey Jr., Heath Shuler, possibly Jim Webb -- I've never seen so much raw testosterone in my life. The smell of sweaty jockstraps from the "new Democrats" is overwhelming.

Having spent the last five years complaining that we can't trust Democrats because they are insufficiently macho and war-crazy, Ann is now complaining that the Democrats we have just elected are too macho and war-crazy.

Having predicted this paltry Democrat win, my next prediction is how long it will take all these new "gun totin' Democrats" to be fitted for leotards.

Democrats are effeminate sissies, check...

Now that they've won their elections and don't have to deal with the hicks anymore

Democrats hate "real Americans" from the flyover states, even when they themselves are from those states, check...

Tester can cut lose the infernal buzz cut, Casey can start taking "Emily's List" money, and Webb can go back to writing more incestuously homoerotic fiction ... and just in time for Christmas!

Democrats are phony, degenerate baby-killers, check...hey, Ann, what did you think of Bill O'Reilly's smutty fiction? How about Newt Gingrich's? How about David Horowitz's? How about Dick Armey's? Bill Buckley's?

But according to the media, this week's election results are a mandate for pulling out of Iraq (except in Connecticut where pro-war Joe Lieberman walloped anti-war "Ned the Red" Lamont)

Okay, Ann, that's great, but I think we've already covered that Democrats are commies. Couldn't you blue-pencil this and call them homos?

Only for half-brights with absolutely no concept of yesterday is this a "tsunami" -- as MSNBC calls it -- rather than the death throes of a dying party.

Yes, it's true: for historically astute people like Ann Coulter, nothing marks the final death-rattle of a party on its way out than gaining majority control of the House and Senate. Remember when the Anti-Masonic Party swept into power in 1832, just before forever disappearing from American life? Or 1856, when the Know-Nothings stocked the Supreme Court and won 16 governorships during their final days? How about 1932, when the Communist League of America won majority control of the House just before being absorbed into the U.S. Workers' Party, or the shocking Senate gains by the New Alliance Party in 1992?

So however you cut it, this midterm proves that the Iraq war is at least more popular than Bill Clinton was.

Clinton's highest disapproval rating: 49.6%. His lowest approval rating: 42.0%. Bush's highest disapproval rating: 59.9% His lowest approval rating: 32.4%. Highest degree of public dissatisfaction with the Iraq War: 67%. Lowest degree of satisfaction: 29%.

In a choice between Republicans' "Stay until we win" Iraq policy or the Democrats' "Stay, leave ... stay for a while then leave ... redeploy and then come back ... leave and stay ... cut and run ... win, lose or draw policy," I guess Americans prefer the Republican policy.

They have a funny way of showing it.

The Democrats say we need a "new direction" in Iraq. Yeah, it's called "reverse." Democrats keep talking about a new military strategy in Iraq. How exactly is cut-and-run a new strategy? The French have been doing it for years.


*: I think there are 250 black Republicans in America, and every one of them is employed writing columns for Town Hall.

Awl politics

It'll be heavy today, folks, because today's the day that the conservative keyboard goons catch up with the election results. Remember, I am Right-Wing Jesus: thus I die, so that you may live. Let's start with Lileks.

First of all, I happened to look at something I've never actually looked at before: his bio, which I'd bet the deed t Jasperwood is self-penned, over at Newhouse News Service. It's got one big laugh line:

He is not reliably ideological, much to the dismay of his e-mailers

HA HA HA! "Not reliably ideological", you say? Okay, look, I'm willing to admit that Lileks isn't Ann Coulter, but for corn's sake a-jumpin' mighty, he's as ideologically reliable as an atomic clock powered by electrodes hooked up to the brains of every senior fellow at the Eagle Forum. I can't recall him ever saying anything even remotely liberal in the last five years. He's an economic conservative, a political conservative, and a social conservative -- he likes to deny this last because he's anti-censorship, but he hates smut, he hates cursing, he hates sexualization, he hates liberal perspectives, he's anti-abortion, he's anti-gay marriage (see below!), he's anti-multiculturalism, and he's against every other form of social liberalization I can think of. He's not even left enough to qualify as a libertarian. The fact that he self-identifies as non-ideological is proof of how totally clueless he is.

More from his bio:

James Lileks was born in Fargo, N.D., and educated at the University of Minnesota. He used his English major to secure a lucrative position as a convenience store clerk, but eventually made his way into respectable journalism.

The charming self-deprecation is quickly undercut by the ludicrous self-flattery. The man from Fuddles, MN isn't a respectable journalist, any more than I am. He's a humorist and an editorialist and occasionally a critic. He's not a reporter. If he's a journalist, Gene Shalit is a journalist.

he writes from a center-right perspective that worries more about terrorism, Iran and Hamas than gay marriage or cussing on "The Sopranos."

See, this is funny, because he writes CONSTANTLY -- including today's column -- about how he's opposed to gay marriage. He think's he's at least quasi-liberal because he supports civil unions, but he only supports them in the sense that he doesn't think they should be banned, the way gay marriage should be banned. And I could find half-a-dozen columns by him without even trying hard where he complains about filth on the teevee.

(But that Janet Jackson flashing on the Super Bowl? Not a good sign.)

Case in point.

Lileks is television critic for the American Enterprise Institute magazine

Oh, man, I did not know this. I almost want to pick up a copy of this conservative think-tank's rag just to read what passes for TV criticism in their view. I'm sure it features lots of complaining by Lileks about Battlestar Galactica's leftward turn.

Anyway, his column today at the Bleat: he starts out by saying he's sad to see Rumsfeld go, although he doesn't say why. He also says "people whose opinion I respect" called for Rummy's resignation long ago, which is akin to his constant claims that "there are legitimate arguments" for ending the war with Iraq or abandoning the Patriot Act, even though he never says what those arguments are or who is advancing them or why he doesn't accept them. He goes on to pout that we probably aren't going to invade Syria now (which means, I guess, that the constant lethal attacks America suffers at the hands of Syrians will continue unabated) and yammers about his new adventures in consumerism before getting right to the meat.

Trolled around some radio and websites today, and noted something interesting: no rancor.

Oh ho ho, you lying sack of shit, Lileks.

Well, you say, this reflects the circles in which you choose to move, and I suppose it does

In other words, you deliberately avoided all the places you usually go, so that you didn't have to hear them bitching and moaning.

but the places I haunt were not brimming with outrage and fury and tales of Diebold deviltry or voter suppression.

Obviously, as my next post will make clear, he wasn't reading Town Hall.

If anything, mixed among the rue and worry, there was something unexpected: Relief. I’m serious: no one said as much, but I have the feeling that many on the right & center-right are relieved to have this Congress repudiated, as much as they dislike the potential effect of the alternative. Two more years of the same would have been two more years of tentative dithering, culminating in another appeal to hit the polls lest the Republic crumble. But we haven’t seen an innovation in policy or rhetoric since the last election.

As Lileks' guru, Hugh Hewitt, has made abundantly clear, this is going to be the official stance of the right after their complete drubbing at the polls. Even Rush Limbaugh is jumping on this train. Despite the fact that the voters handed a resounding defeat to the G.O.P., sparing some of their fiercest outrage for solid war boosters and social conservatives, the absurd position of these Thursday morning quarterbacks is that the Republicans were defeated because they weren't effective enough -- that is, because they weren't pro-war enough, that they didn't pass enough socially conservative legislation, that they didn't do more to slap down Democrats at ever turn. As this must-read column by Matt Taibbi makes stupefyingly clear, that's nonsense; this Congress was unprecedented in their slavish devotion to the president, their unilateralism, their determination to shut out the opposition. Sure, they were lazy, incompetent and ineffective, but in terms of giving the man at the top what he wanted and freezing out the Democrats, they were top-notch. Arguing that what the voters wanted was MORE conservative action is ridiculous; if that's the case, they might as well give up, because barring a complete transfer of power to the executive branch, they're not getting any better than they got. What the voters wanted was LESS of the conservative cronyism, corruption and kowtowing they got from the 109th, and to spin this as a case of voters wanting a purer form of right-wing ideology is delusional in the extreme.

It is the adult thing to expect you will get half of what you want in politics

Oh, really? That's not what your colleagues think, James. They've spent the last 20 years bitching that any time the GOP loses a vote, it's because liberals are a bunch of traitors who want to destroy America.

As everyone is fond of saying, we need two parties

Oh, really? That's not what your pal Hugh Hewitt thinks, James. He wrote a whole book about how the GOP should make it so they never lose an election again.

I was surprised to learn that the gay marriage amendment in Wisconsin included a ban on civil unions – that strikes me as overkill, to be polite.

"My homophobia being affiliated with the more flagrant homophobia of others makes me uncomfortable."

As I’ve said before, my qualms about redefining marriage have nothing to do with anyone’s sexual preference

Word? So you wouldn't mind, then, if we just made a law stating that from now on, whenever heterosexuals get married, it gets called a civil union? Or are you, heaven forfend, trying to protect a special right that others can't have, which is what the right always accuses the gays of trying to do?

it strikes me as unwise to undo a long-standing institution NOW, PERIOD

Yeah, that's what they said in 1860.

and there’s the issue of child-raising and adoption and whether the state should favor one arrangement over another


or, inevitably, whether the state should permit a private institution to favor one arrangement over the other.

I think they kinda made that decision a while back, when they said that a private institution can't favor one race over another, yeah?

Surely we are still able to say that a male-female dynamic, all other things being equal, have an advantage.

Why in the world would we be able to say that? By what measure? Especially with "all other things being equal", which, as we know, they never are.

You inevitably get sidetracked on a discussion of bad hetero couples and great gay couples, which is interesting but irrelevant

So, in other words, the question of whether or not gays are capable of being good parents is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not gays should be allowed to be parents.

we're talking about state policy here, and if you wish the law to regard the absence of a mother or father as irrelevant, tell me why that's a good thing.

This is the biggest piece of bullshit sophistry since his last column. The question of gay parentage and gay marriage has nothing to do with a mother and father being irrelevant; it has to do with whether or not a parenting arrangement, with the needs of the child being met, can be successful without both a biologically male and biologically female parent. Which means the presence of successful parents where both are male or both are female is supremeley relevant, and this dodge about "regarding the absence of a mother or father as irrelevant" is supremely irrelevant. What needs to be asked in any parenting situation is simply this: is the child being adequately cared for? Giving a shit whether there's a male and a female partner, or if they are legally married, or if they are of the same race, or if one is tall and the other is short, that's all bullshit cosmetics. The important factors are whether the child is loved, whether it feels safe, whether it is well-fed and well-raised, whether it gets a decent education and a stable home life, whether it is economically provided for. Where exactly does the question of 'traditional marriage' or 'male and female' enter into these questions?

Anyway. Point is, I think the majority of Americans wouldn’t balk at civil unions, and I think the same majority would accept laws that afford gay couples the right to have the same benefits as unmarried hetero couples via medical visitation, insurance plans, etc.

You do, huh? Strange those laws aren't already in effect, then.

Unlike 50 years ago, most people know someone who’s out. That tends to soften hearts.

Unless the heart-softening takes the form of allowing gay marriage, in which case it's right out.

But when the matter of civil unions gets twinned with redefining marriage, it appears people will vote against the redefinition regardless of the secondary consequences. Preserving the traditional definition trumps any vague sympathetic acquiescence to some flavor of statutory equality.

So, in other words, people are kind and warm-hearted and giving, unless you actually ask them for equal rights, in which case they will make the obvious choice and favor reactionary conservativism over actual legal equality. You're a pip, Jimbo. And clearly not reliably ideological!


The President is a demmy-craaaat!

Well, no, he isn't. But, as cynical as I am about the prospect of any major change coming about as a result of the elections (the real damage has already been done with the spineless behavior of the Congress we've had the last six years), ain't nothin' bad about the results of yesterday's elections.

And, of course, that means: whiny conservative columnists! Let's watch.

Some of the comments at Free Republic (via Wonkette):

This is a truly disgusting night. Outside of 9-11, I cannot think of a worse day. I really want to hurt somebody.


The Jihadi’s have won. They have proven they have a stronger will than America. They are now emboldened.


OBL has won, who would have imagined that the MSM/DNC would succeed in giving Saddam and Sons, OBL, Bill Maher, Keith Olberman, and John Kerry a victory. We have no choice now, the commie vampire media must be destroyed.

Lileks, possibly joking but it's hard to tell with him anymore, on why he's not blinded by partisanship:

For those of you who sent...peppery email about what a shill/hack/tool I am, I would have voted for Lieberman if I lived in Connecticut.

Over at Town Hall, we haven't gotten the really juicy columns yet, because most of this stuff was written yesterday before the elections were decided, but the mood is still pretty negative all around, ranging from pouty (Paul Weyrich) to delusional (David Keene) to rabid (Michelle Malkin) to surprisingly reasonable (Michael Medved, of all people). I'm sure tomorrow will bring some pretty hilarious columns (Ann Coulter should be coming to bat this inning), but for now, I have to amuse myself with Phyllis-Schlafly-in-training Carrie Lukas telling the women of America, who she apparently believes have never voted before, that having elected Democrats, they are going to learn a hard lesson about how putting the left in power only leads to disempowering women, in the form of repealed upper-class tax cuts, a higher capital gains tax, federal assistance with daycare, guaranteed health care, and an increase on the minimum wage, "none of which benefit women". HA HA HA

Anyway, congratulations, Nancy Pelosi! Don't fuck it up, god damn it.


I'm voting for PUSSY!

It wouldn't be an election without James Lileks being an asshole! Let's watch.

First, our man in Fuddles makes it clear he's against negative campaigning, as long it's against something he supports:

One ad has the seniors worrying that the politicians who “wrecked the economy” (seriously, that’s what they say)

Seriously! Can you believe these jerks? With unions dead, pensions non-existent, individual business ownership plummeting, savings rates at a national negative, a record number of people uninsured, a growing number of permanent unemployed, the budget deficit nearly unmeasurable, the trade deficit getting worse, real-dollar income stagnant, the manufacturing base vanished, the income gap higher than anywhere in the world, and the whole country, from the government to corporations to indviduals, living on borrowed money, a couple of gloom-and-doomers have the gall to say that there's something wrong with the economy!

are “talking about privatizing Social Security again.” Gah! Issues are being discussed! Alternatives proposed!

You bet! That's why people get so upset at the notion of privatizing social security: we just can't stand alternatives being discussed. We are filled with rage at the very idea of having options. It's not that privatization is a stupid, wasteful option that will totally screw low-income people and enrich corporations, NO! It's that we won't abide issues being discussed.

we cannot even bring up the matter of letting younger workers voluntarily exert private control over the property they are required by government to relinquish

Hi! My name is Paul Craig Roberts. Won't you join me for a discussion of how taxation is slavery, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the devil? That sentence has to be the most chickenshit, deceptive description of taxation I've ever read.

Like many, I’m resigned to losing most everything I’ve put into Social Security, or seeing the promised returns whittled away to farthings and ha’pennies.

Like many, I mistakenly believe that Social Security is in crisis. Or possibly I am lying.

So I save for my family, and invest.

Luckily for me, I am a famous nationally syndicated columnist and writer, and my wife is a corporate lawyer. But I assume that EVERYONE can afford to save and invest. Right? Right?

Well, I’m also told we don’t save enough; should I now save less? No, you say. Save more. Invest less. Okay, well, everyone invest less, and let’s see how that works.

Fun fact: The periods in American history marked by record highs in investment -- the early 1890s, the mid-1920s, and the late 1990s -- were immediately followed by crashes, recessions and/or depressions. And while they were prosperous eras, other periods of prosperity NOT followed by crashes and recessions -- specifically, the 1910s, the late 1950s, and the early 1970s -- featured only moderate or low investment levels. Of course, not being an economist, I draw no conclusions from that; I'll leave it to experts like James Lileks.

Likewise, the ascension of Keith Ellison will thrill the good and decent folk, because he is a Muslim, the first in Congress, a stately rebuke to George Bush, who hates Muslims and wants Jesus to come tomorrow waving the Danish cartoons and shouting BOOYA.

Ha ha! I have used an absurd exaggeration to make it seem like there is no such thing as prejudice in America, and the fact that there are almost five million Muslims in America and there has never been a single one elected to national office of any kind is JUST FINE AND NOTHING TO EVEN TALK ABOUT, no more than the fact that there are almost forty million blacks, represented in the Senate by Barack Obama. I bet if Keith Ellison was an astronaut, Jimbo would be happy for him.

Mr. Ellison’s past as a member of the Nation of Islam and his associations with CAIR are irrelevant

James is being sarcastic here, because he states later that these are "racial-supremacist organizations". CAIR is basically the Muslim version of the NAACP, and the Nation of Islam, while nutty to devoted atheist God-scoffers like me, is no more so than, say, the southern Baptists or the Mormons, and presumably Mr. Lileks would get pretty sniffy if anyone dared go around questioning the desirability of a white candidate based on nothing more than his membership in the LDS church.

his opponent is a Republican, which means he got this far by using the power of Satan to send crows to pick out the eyes of his opponent’s children

This is a hilarious bit of hyperbole, considering that in the exact same column he goes out of his way to imply that if we elect a Muslim to congress Palestinian suicide bombers will come over and spatter our childrens' brains all over the side of a bus. But can he top this with a gargantuan, whopping irrelevancy? You bet he can!

Mr. Ellison has stated that he is for gay marriage, and I kept waiting for someone to poll the people at his mosque about that. I see many churches in my neighborhoods with rainbow flags, for example, and I’m truly curious how many mosques are gay-friendly. You’d think it would be a story, but it just sort of...doesn’t exist. It’s not that hard: go to the mosques or the coffee shops, say “Keith Ellison is for gay marriage; do you approve?” and print the reaction.

Let's look in some depth at why this is stupid.

1. It is possibly the most irrelevant thing I have ever heard. What possible difference to Keith Ellison's suitability as an elected official does it make whether or not Muslims approve of gay marriage?

2. Why would it be a story how many mosques are gay-friendly? Is it a story how many temples are gay-friendly? (The answer: not that many.) Is it a story how many Catholic churches are gay-friendly? (The anwer: even less.) Is it a story how many Baptist churches are gay-friendly? (The answer: none.)

3. Assuming that this apparent media cover-up of the Muslim gay marriage stance issue were unveiled, and reporters scoured every one of the mosques in St. Paul and reported on the evening news that indeed, the majority of Muslims in Minnesota did not support gay marriage, Lileks would smile smugly and make a 'voila!' gesture with his hands, having proven...what, exactly? That Muslims, like a majority of Americans of all kinds and a vast majority of all religious people everywhere, oppose gay marriage? Who doesn't know that? Or that Keith Ellison, a Muslim, holds opinions at variance with other Muslims? Who cares?

4. In fact, isn't that a GOOD thing? Lileks cowers in fear behind his basement water-sculpture because he's afraid the Islamists will come and impose their vile, backwards religion on America, so shouldn't he support a Muslim candidate who doesn't toe the party line on these matters? Surely he's not admitting that he'd be happier if his own stereotypes where fulfilled and Ellison was up there shouting "Death to America" next to his veiled wife and daughters and his handless ex-shoplifter brother-in-law.

5. Can he possibly be suggesting that Ellison is a hypocrite for holding views at variance to that of most people of his faith? That he's some kind of phony Muslim because he supports gay marriage? Because, man, I got news for you, Jimbo: this sort of thing, it's actually pretty common. Why not do a poll of all the elected southern Baptists in America who are willing to admit that, according to the explicit teachings of their faith, all Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and agnostics -- and possibly even Catholics and Mormons -- are going to go to Hell where they will burn in fiery torment forever and ever. NOT MANY I BET! Or, here's a fun thing for you to do, with your outrage against the media cover-up of how Muslims don't like gay marriage: go conduct a poll about how many mainstream Catholic churches are officially in favor, thus defying the teachings of their faith and the infallible judgment of the Pope. (I'll save you some time: the answer is "zero".) And yet -- AND YET -- there are a large number of Catholics, some of whom are elected officials, who are in favor of the death penalty! It's a scandal! Someone call the National Review!

6. Besides, even if this did somehow make Ellison a hypocrite, James Lileks wrote a column recently, during the Mark Foley scandal, in which he said that hypocrisy was no big deal, and that there was absolutely nothing surprising or wicked about the fact that some people exhibit behaviors that are at odds with the official teachings of the organizations to which they profess allegiance. So, surely he is not turning right around and making the exact opposite of that argument against a political opponent, because that would make him a giant asshole.

7. Or...or...and I don't even like to think of this, because it's so fucking dumb, but honestly, it's the only possible alternative explanation to this batshit paragraph I can think of...does Lileks think that Ellison is some sort of Muslim mole, who's just SAYING he supports gay marriage to get elected but once he's in, he'll peel off a rubber mask to reveal Osama bin-Laden underneath, and say "HA HA HA, American fools! In fact, I, like 99% of the other members of Congress, actually oppose gay marriage! But now that you've elected me, I will force my hardcore jihadist beliefs into law, with the help of the other 434 members of the House, who, I'm assuming, will vote with me on stuff like gas chambers for Jews and mandatory Ramadan fasting, since we're together on the whole gay marriage thing."

This has gone on way too long, and it kinda makes me think I need to leave the guy alone for a while, but let's let him finish with a delightful bit about how electing Democrats will lead us down the road to national extinction ONE GODDAMN DAY after he wrote that it probably won't even matter who wins:

I expect the next two years to go poorly, I’m afraid. Then again, I’m often wrong; perhaps it’s possible for a country to win a war with apologies and investigations. Perhaps we’re not at war at all; perhaps Iran and the jihadists are merely an illusion conjured up by the puppetmasters, just as they turned Iraq – the veritable Monaco of Mesopotamia – into a Threat, and just as they defended Israel against the brave Defenders of the Apartment Buildings in Lebanon. I really should relax. I mean, if you’re driving down the road and you see a car coming towards you head on in your lane, there’s no reason to worry. You’re in the right. What else matters?


Happy What's One More Dead Iraqi? Day!

What else do James Lileks and I have in common, other than being big windy blowhards oblivious to how much we annoy people with our clueless pop-culture vaporings and gasbag politics? We have both worked with Miss Minnesota.


If Town Hall can be used as a bellweather of the GOP mood with elections on the way, things look bleak for the Republican Party. The whole website has the stink of desperation to it, with barely an issue to call their own; nobody even dares to mention the Iraq mess, and the best they can do is lonely Donald "Who?" Lambro saying that if the Democrats win you can kiss off your upper-class tax cuts. OH NOES, says America, as they reach for the (D) button. Well, there's always John-Kerry-bashing, as a full six columns (Thomas Sowell, Nathan Tabor, Michael Barone, Suzanne Fields, Ruben Navarrette and Kevin McCullough) devoted to his stuck-in-Iraq speech just as if Kerry was running for something. (Barone helpfully points out his failure to grasp metaphor by saying "the statement is literally untrue: No one is 'stuck in Iraq' unless he or she volunteers".) But as usual, the prize peach is Doug Giles, who is always willing to go one step beyond and become a total right-wing cartoon, as he does when he rewrites John Lennon's 'Imagine' as an anti-Muslim ditty. Good on you, Doug! Others talk, you deliver.


When Town Hall lets you down, of course, there's always WENN entertainment news at imdb.com to get you through the day:

Hollywood hardman Russell Crowe has blasted the US legal system for making a big deal of his phone assault in a New York City hotel last year...he says, "Where I come from, a confrontation like that, as basic and simple as that, would have been satisfied with a handshake and an apology... Your (US) legal system is very open to be misused."

Yes, that's the problem with the American legal system, all right: it's open to flagrant abuses, to the point that if a famous celebrity beats a hotel employee with a phone, the celebrity could actually be arrested.

There's also this delightful headline, which proves that sometimes a guy can actually come around to the same opinion everyone else in the country has already held for the past 20 years:

George Lucas: "I Don't Want To Make Movies Anymore"