Autorantic Virtual Moonbat

Posted by Jeremy Brown

At Harry’s Place I found an oracle of wisdom you simply must visit: a moonbat robot. You can ask it any question about any subject. Read the FAQ’s below, but then go ask some questions:


Is the AVM a “he” or a “she”?

It thinks gender is a social construct, and will be extremely offended if you assign it a sex. So, go ahead and do it.

Does it matter what I type?

Not much. Other than occasionally sneering at some word or phrase it doesn’t like, the AVM largely ignores all inputs, and rants about topics at random, just like a real moonbat.

I’d have posted it here, but I don’t want to turn Michael’s blog into a whimsical funhouse, or rather, I don’t think that was my mandate.

UPDATE: Actually, what am I saying? Michael’s the one who posted a picture of Rudy Giuliani in drag just before flying off to Libya for Turkey Day. But one feels a pull to be over-formal when guesting on someone else’s blog; I think I have a small sense of how Michael felt guest blogging on Instapundit.

Michael’s Latest on Tech Central

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Check out Michael’s latest column on Tech Central Station. It’s an important subject that is not all over the blogs at the moment. This one’s about Belgium’s banning of the popular right wing political party, Vlaams Blok. Michael ties this in to the larger picture of a Europe at an uncertain crossroads, the unpopularity of discussing the growth of Islamist fundamentalism in Europe, and the dangers of a liberal society unwilling to think its way out of the false dichotomy “between left-wing fantasy and right-wing lunacy.”

Or read it and tell me how my teaser is missing the real crux of the piece. But read it.

Intercontinental Fact Check

Posted by Jeremy Brown

You’re too nice to say it so I’ll say it to myself: ‘lighten up, Brown.” Well I will. I will try to contain my peculiar brand of gloomy optimism. But by way of transition, let me share the following tidbit. Ali, who blogs at Iraq the Model, has done a little fact check on a post by Juan Cole:

I was surfing the net as usual to find out what’s happening in the world, as I rely mainly on the net instead of TV now When I came across this article by Dr Juan Cole that made me feel ashamed of myself. This man who doesn’t live in Iraq seems to know more about the history of Iraq than I do.


He also provide a link to another article by a professor of Arab studies in the university of Colombia and use it as a reference to back up his theory. What Dr. Cole was trying to tell us, as you can see in his article, is that Fallujah is celebrated in Iraq’s history as a symbol for the large rebellion/revolution against the British back in 1920. His source, Dr. Rasheedi goes as far as considering Fallujah the start point of that event and says in his article:

“To restore Iraq to their control, the British used massive air power, bombing indiscriminately. That city is now called Fallujah.”

Finally Ali remembers that yes, indeed this was the version of events he’d learned…in a film funded by Saddam Hussein:

So anyway everything looked ok and my mind regained its peace, as everything the two well-informed professors said seemed to match perfectly with what Saddam’s hired director sowed us in his movie!

So what is the version of events that is commonly understood among Iraqis of Ali’s community, and in a historical text (by a sociologist/historian named Dr. Ali Al Wardi)?

No revolution inside Fallujah, no bombing at all and not even the leading role they described for the tribes near Fallujah in the revolution that magically turned to be inside Fallujah in their posts.

Anyway, I don’t know which is worse; that the two experts in Arb world didn’t know about Dr. Al Wardi and his writings or that they knew but chose Sadam’s version of Iraq’s history!?

Thesis Question for PHD Candidates in English Lit.

Posted by Jeremy Brown

This one is chiefly for those specializing in 19th century English writers, but anyone can play:

If you can call someone a little Dickens and expect blushing and giggles, then why do things turn so ugly when you call someone a little Trollope?

Ok, that was just to prove that Michael is on vacation this week. I will now return to serious blogging. I invite your comments though.

An Assassination Would Have Been Embarrassing Too

The pride of the Chilean police and its power elite might have been chafed a tad had Bush been assassinated while visiting, so I’m pleased on their behalf that such a faux pas did not occur:

U.S. officials said Chilean police had been chafing for a week about a demand by Secret Service agents that they control the president’s space, even when he was on sovereign turf. Now, it was payback time.

In the fracas that ensued, amid a flurry of half nelsons, one Secret Service agent wound up jammed against a wall. “You’re not stopping me! You’re not stopping me! I’m with the president!” an unidentified agent can be heard yelling on videotape of the mayhem.

The president, who is rarely alone, even in his own house, turned and walked back to the front door unaccompanied, facing the backs of a sea of dark suits. Bush, with his right hand, reached over the suits and pointed insistently at [Secret Service shadow, Nick] Trotta. At first the officials, with their backs to him and their heads in the rumble, did not realize it was the president intervening. Bush then braced himself against someone and lunged to retrieve the agent, who was still arguing with the Chileans. The shocked Chilean officials then released Trotta.


Marcelo Romero, a reporter with Santiago’s newspaper La Cuarta, said: “All of us journalists agree that President Bush looked like a cowboy. It was total breach of protocol. I’ve seen a lot of John Wayne movies, and President Bush was definitely acting like a cowboy.”


By Saturday night – though it had not been announced – Chile had already begun calling the guests to the dinner planned for Sunday at La Moneda, the presidential palace that was the site of the coup that overthrew Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973. The dispute over the dinner on Sunday centered on the question of whether the Chilean guests would be required to go through metal detectors before dining with Mr. Bush, a standard practice for the Secret Service. The Chileans told Mr. Bush’s delegation that the practice was humiliating. “Can you imagine someone like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court having to submit to an inspection by gringo security agents in order to get into our own seat of government?” asked one of the disinvited Chileans, who spoke on condition that he not be identified. “That’s an affront no Chilean was going to tolerate, and Lagos had no choice but to act the way he did.”

So, no U.S. sponsored coups, no Chilean facilitated U.S. presidential assassinations, but a few bruised egos. All in all I don’t know what anyone is complaining about.

Plus, they had fried fish which I also had for dinner last night. And if the Crackerbarrel had seen fit to screen me through security, I’d have taken it in stride I think.

Learning Their Names

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has launched a website offering online access to their recently completed database of over 3 million names of Jewish victims of the Nazi holocaust (via The New York Times).

It would not have been possible, of course, to gather the names of all six million Jewish victims:

The half-century effort could not identify all the six million, Mr. Shalev said. In large parts of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, no documentation was kept by the squads who shot to death entire Jewish populations of some towns or by Nazi troops who dispatched ghetto inhabitants to death camps, where they were gassed upon arrival. In Hungary, most of the lists of the 437,000 Jews rounded up by the Hungarian police and sent to Auschwitz in a period of 56 days in 1944 were never located, Mr. Shalev said.

But the opportunity to truly understand the sea of humanity that was removed from the earth but, more importantly, to be reminded that these were people, not just victims, is an incredible thing:

Mr. Roth spoke about his grandfather, Shimon Rosenwasser, who was killed at Auschwitz. Mr. Roth remembered him “as an observant Jew but also an outdoorsy type who owned a lumber business and could pick up a hatchet and cut a tree down.” He hopes his own grandchildren will learn about his grandfather from the Web site.

“These were human beings,” he said, “who lived, laughed, cursed, fought, who did the things human beings do.”

I have no specific knowledge of having lost family members to the holocaust, and I knew that my tenuous searches for people named ‘Bron’ or ‘Brunn’ or ‘Braun’ wouldn’t enlighten me, nor would searching for Levines for any trace of my mother’s side of the family. Probably no distant relatives are there waiting for me. But the exercise has been very affecting. Even if you’re not Jewish, try entering the names of Jewish people you’ve known or admired. It’s a way of reaching into this awful history and rescuing its victims from anonymity.

And it occurs to me that one way to honor the lives of the people in that database might be to learn about the lives of people still living in Darfur and see what we might be able to do. This is a good place to start.

Zeyad’s Frightening Report

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Zeyad, the Iraqi dentist who blogs from Baghdad at Healing Iraq, reports that fighting has moved into Baghdad. Zeyad finds himself at the heart of a very frightening situation and he blogs a first hand report that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up:

Fierce fighting has been going on in several areas of Baghdad for the last 4 hours. I was supposed to leave for Basrah this morning, as soon as I walked out of the front door I was face to face with ten or so hooded men dressed in black carrying Ak-47′s and RPG’s. They had set up a checkpoint right in front of our door.


We watched them from behind the door with my mother frantically trying to get us inside. There was an exchange of fire and someone was bellowing “Where are the National traitors? (referring to the National Guards) Let them come and taste this.” More shooting followed.

First, I think I can speak for all readers of this blog in saying I hope Zeyad and his family stay safe during this turmoil.

My next reaction, now that the wave of sympathetic fear has made its journey through my gut, is to zero in on the single phrase, among so many jarring phrases, that I am convinced characterizes what is going on now: ‘hooded men’.

Here in the U.S. even White northerners like myself don’t need to be reminded to be put off by the image of hooded militia running through residential neighborhoods looking for people to slaughter and terrorize.

Here is a look back at the ‘race riot’ in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921:

This happened in the racially and politically tense atmosphere of northeastern Oklahoma. The area was a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity at that time.

By June 1, white mobs had invaded the segregated black part of town and destroyed the Greenwood district, known nationally as the “Black Wall Street” for its economic success. Hundreds of people were killed; dozens of businesses, 1,256 homes, many churches and a hospital were destroyed, in an area covering 35 blocks. Estimates of the dead range up to 300. After the governor declared martial law, black people were rounded up by the National Guard and put into the baseball stadium. Several black families, such as Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher’s, fled for more peaceful cities.

Contrast the target of U.S. military operations then with the targets now. Again, Zeyad:

A jet fighter was now screeching over our heads and it let off some flares apparently in an attempt to scare away the ‘Mujahideen’. They left their positions for a while and slowly people started to come out. Parents nervously dragging schoolchildren behind them and youngsters who were undecided whether to move on or return home.

And Strategy Page offers some important context on what is now going on in Iraq (via Instapundit):

American troops now control all of Fallujah and have found extensive evidence of terrorist and criminal gangs using the city as a headquarters. Evidence was found of torture chambers, and video sets used for filming the execution of kidnap victims. Moreover, the body of a woman, thought to be foreign aid executive (Care International) Margaret Hassan, was also found in Fallujah. A video of her murder was recently released by her killers, and it appears that the killing was done in Fallujah. Without Fallujah as a “safe area” for keeping hostages, killing them, and getting away with it, the terrorists have to do their dirty work in cities where there is a strong police presence, and nearby American troops. That’s what’s happening in Baghdad, Mosul and other cities right now. The gangs are trying to control neighborhoods in these cities, and are not succeeding.

There’s no denying that the current flareup in the fighting is disturbing to read about and is a horror for the people involved in it. But I don’t see how anyone can deny that this is a struggle for the advancement of Iraq’s future as a free, potentially democratic state. This is a struggle that we have every reason to hope will succeed and, I think, much justification for being cautiously optimistic about.

Nazis are from Mars, Fascist Jihadists are from Venus

Posted by Jeremy Brown

This is my first guest post on Michael’s blog so I don’t mind explaining myself a little before I tell you what the title of this post means. The first thing is that I am very much in favor of a two state Israel/Palestine solution. But to me this means two independent, democratic states, each intolerant of terrorism.

I’m no knee jerk supporter or opposer of Israel and I’m wary of Arial Sharon’s motives, but I think the security wall was a necessary measure. There is a lot that’s right with an ugly wall that helps save innocent people from being brutally murdered. What I dislike about the wall is that it has violated the 1967 borders it should have stayed within.

And I shouldn’t have to state this for the record, but I oppose fascism, terrorism, and anti-Semitism regardless of context. This gets back to the title of the post.

But first, here’s an example of anti-Semitism in one of its oldest formal manifestations: the ‘blood libel’ (an all-purpose method of demonizing an entire race or religion by spreading the idea that they sacrifice babies to drink their blood for religious rites. So this too makes context irrelevant, though blood libel seems to have endured as a form of anti-Semitism almost exclusively).

If anti-Semitic blood libel was good enough for 1st century Greece then why shouldn’t it still be happening in 21st century Westchester, NY (via Solomonia):

This Saturday (Nov. 20), a fundraiser will be held at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York, raising money to bring a Palestinian art exhibit to the New York metro area. Here’s one of the paintings from the proposed exhibit (previously shown in Houston, TX), portraying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon collecting and boiling a young Palestinian’s blood:


Also included in the exhibit would be art and text that glorifies terrorist murder:

[t]o several of the artists, the subject of the martyrs is an all-important topic. A true martyr is anyone who gives his life in service of his people, including…suicide bombers that attack Israeli civilians.

I can anticipate the objections some people will have to my characterization of this, so let me say that I have little patience for those who denigrate the Palestinian populace as a whole. But I can think of no greater insult to a nation, race, or creed than to purport to represent the soul of its culture through the words and images of its most sociopathic element. Let’s see Palestinian art that tells ugly truths, that challenges comfortable assumptions, by all means. But — does this really have to be said? — let’s please not make apologies for the murdering fascistic militants who are just as poisonous to the future of a free Palestine as they are to the future of Israel.

To continue with this notion that there is no socially redeeming form of fascist terror, no kinder gentler terrorism, I was going to share a few thoughts about the murder of Margaret Hassan and the strange things a few people are saying about her killers, but I’ve taken up a lot of real estate here already. I’ll just say that Robert Fisk is deluded to the point of dementia if he is truly trying to parse out the relative levels of compassion between one group of terrorist kidnappers and another.

Other abducted women were freed when their captors recognised their innocence.

But not Margaret Hassan, even though she spoke fluent Arabic and could explain her work to her captors in their own language.

If anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan’s murder?

What more ruthless way could there be of demonstrating to the world that the US and Interim Prime Minister Iyad Alawi’s tinpot army were fighting “evil” in Fallujah and the other Iraqi cities?

At best this is a case of confusing survival strategy with journalism (in the same way that you might want to know which guard at Auschwitz was less likely to summarily shoot you than some of the others but you’d be wrong to impute compassion or human decency to such a person) and at worst it’s…well it’s classic Robert Fisk. Here’s a bit more from Norm Geras.

Programming Note

After talking about it for six months it is finally time. I’m going to Libya. And I’m leaving first thing in the morning.

Keep checking in on the blog, though. Jeremy Brown will be guest-blogging for me while I’m away. He’s one of the few people in the world whose opinions comprehensively overlap mine. He writes well. And he’s funny. So there will be plenty of fresh content here until I get back after the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Be nice to Jeremy while I’m out. Be nice to each other. And if anyone in the White House is reading this, please, if you plan to bomb Tripoli, wait until I get back. K? Thanks kindly.

UPDATE: Guest-blogger Jeremy has this to say on his site:

Well it’s Thanksgiving, a time when tens of millions of American tourists will be shlepping over to Libya with their families for yet another cookie cutter holiday festival.

See. I told you he’s funny.

Travel Writing

My worst kept secret is that I would rather write about travel than politics — although I enjoy political writing, too, or I wouldn’t bother with it. This year I finally got to do a little travel writing. And if things go my way, next year I’ll write even more.

After I returned from Tunisia a few months ago I wrote two essays about my experience. The first was about the people. The second is about the country.

That second essay was put into deep freeze because the election overshadowed practically everything else. Now that the election is over it’s finally time to publish it. So here it is: Crossing the Fossa Regia. Please read this one. I worked hard on it.

Rudy in ‘08

Okay, so a poll four years in advance isn’t worth a whole lot. But it isn’t worth nothing, so let’s look at it. Turns out Rudy Giuliani is the GOP favorite for president in 2008.

So much for the Republicans being the party of fundamentalist whackjobs. Giuliani is a blue-stater. He was a member of New York’s Republican Party and New York’s Liberal Party, but not a member of New York’s Conservative Party. When he campaigned for mayor of New York City he campaigned in drag, saying he was a Republican pretending to be a Democrat pretending to be a Republican. (Rent Victor Victoria if you don’t get the gag.)


(Above: Mayor Rudy Giuliani in drag.)

I’d vote for him with pleasure, without hesitation, without apology, without feeling conflicted, and without holding my nose. He’d win, too, in a landslide. He’s a Republican (of the RINO variety) who was elected and re-elected in one of the staunchest bastions of left-wing politics in the country. Talk about your cross-over appeal. Joe Lieberman is only a bat boy in Rudy’s league.

James Dobson, Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Fallwell would finally, at long last, get the political nightmare they’ve deserved for a long time – a cosmopolitan socially liberal Republican president. I’d love to see them form their own party where they can talk to themselves about how godless, decadent, and depraved everyone else is.

Giuliani is neither red nor blue. He’s purple, like most of America. I can’t think of anyone (except perhaps for Barack Obama or John McCain) who would be better able to rally the country. Unlike George W. Bush he really is a uniter.

If he runs I will register as a Republican for the first time ever – I am still a registered Democrat – so I can vote for him in the primary. Then I’ll vote for him as president if he wins. What better way to relegate both reactionary leftists and religious right fundamentalists to the political oblivion they deserve.

Hitchens on Kissinger

Vanity Fair has finally decided to publish at least one of Christopher Hitchens’ essays online. It’s a rip-roaring barn-burner about Henry Kissinger’s complicity in Latin American fascism. (I do not use the word lightly. If the shoe fits, and in this case it does, the swaggering generals will wear it. Read the whole article if you think I’m off-base.)

Gene over at Harry’s Place says:

I expect Hitchens’s rightwing cheering section will be more subdued about this piece than they have been about his attacks on the antiwar Left. If they acknowledge it at all, that is.

Since I am not exactly a member of Hitchens’ newfound right-wing cheering section (I’ve been a fan of his for almost a decade, back when both of us were lefties) the fact that I both acknowledge and endorse his latest piece probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. But for whatever it is worth, count me as one person who is not on the left who strongly suggests you read it.

To whet your appetite, here’s a powerful preview.

Sometimes, in spite of its stolid, boring commitment to lying, a despotic regime will actually tell you all you need to know. It invents a titanic system of slave-labor camps, for example, and it gives this network of arid, landlocked isolation centers the beautiful anagram of gulag. (Adding the word “archipelago” to that piece of bureaucratic compression was the work of an aesthetic and moral genius.) The stone-faced morons who run the military junta in Burma used to call themselves slorc (State Law and Order Restoration Council), which was hardly less revealing. The Brezhnev occupation regime, imposed on the romantic city of Prague after the invasion of 1968, proclaimed its aim as “normalization”: a word eloquent enough in itself to send every writer and artist either hastening across the border or entering “internal exile.” The British colonial official who thought up the term “concentration camp” (because, after all, the discontented Boer families of South Africa needed to be “concentrated” somewhere, if only for their own good) was an innocent pioneer of this lethal and revealing euphemism. In the end, the mask will grow to fit the monstrous face that lies underneath.

A possible exception to this is the word desaparecido, which was the special new expression that was added to the bulging, ugly lexicon of terror and dictatorship in the 1970s. In English, it simply means “the one who has disappeared.” But when pronounced in Spanish it possesses, at least to my ear, a much more plaintive and musical tone. It’s as if you could hear the lost ones crying out, still. It has an awful, lingering attractiveness to it, which becomes chilly and almost pornographic when you reflect how long and how loudly they were made to scream before they were dispatched, and buried like offal or garbage.

Read the whole thing, please.

Faultline on the Right

The Democratic Party is in shambles. John Kerry was, in all likelihood, unelectable this year. If he managed to make the center happy he could easily have handed a fatal number of peacenik votes to Ralph Nader.

The Republican Party, too, is on a collision course with itself. It may face a similar dilemma in 2008. Michael Crowley writes about the right’s new kingmaker, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

He’s already leveraging his new power. When a thank-you call came from the White House, Dobson issued the staffer a blunt warning that Bush “needs to be more aggressive” about pressing the religious right’s pro-life, anti-gay rights agenda, or it would “pay a price in four years.” And when the pro-choice Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter made conciliatory noises about appointing moderates to the Supreme Court, Dobson launched a fevered campaign to prevent him from assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which until then he had been expected to inherit. Dobson is now a Republican kingmaker.

Surprisingly, though, this isn’t a role he’s traditionally sought or relished. An absolutist disgusted by the compromises of politics, he sneers at those who place “self-preservation and power ahead of moral principle.” He has always kept his distance from Washington. Unlike Reed, a canny strategist above all, Dobson has talked about bringing down the GOP if it fails him. Yet as the gay-marriage movement surged this year, Dobson’s moral outrage over the direction of American culture went supernova, asserting in his recent book Marriage Under Fire that Western civilization hangs in the balance. But now Dobson faces a difficult trial. He must decide which he hates more, Washington politics or cultural apocalypse.

Dobson is gearing himself up to play one of two roles in four years. He’ll be the right’s Michael Moore. Or he’ll be its Ralph Nader. If the Bush Administration surrenders to his agenda he will disgust and alienate a solid two thirds of the country. And if the Bush Administration blows off the religious right, as Republican presidents usually do, he’ll take his ball, go home, and lead a sizeable chunk of the GOP into the wilderness.

If he decides to stay in politics I hope he creates yet another “third” party to act as a nut magnet. The GOP could use the enema.

James Dobson is Pat Robertson without the anti-Americanism. He’s a loathsome individual who has zero appeal on the moderate right and even less on the left — assuming that’s possible.

He threw his political muscle behind Randall Terry and tried to get him a seat in Congress. (Terry’s most infamous quote: “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good! We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country!”)

He thinks gays are hell-bent on destroying Western Civilization.

Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. This is a time for concerted prayer, divine wisdom and greater courage than we have ever been called upon to exercise. For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family. The institution of marriage, along with an often weakened and impotent Church, is all that stands in the way of its achievement of every coveted aspiration.

It’s fitting, then, that he compares legal steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor. He thinks doctors who perform abortions ought to be executed.

I could go on, but why bother? You get the idea. James Dobson isn’t Mr. Popularity in the political center. And the political center decides who will be president. Wall Street conservatives, cosmopolitan neocons, right-libertarians, and right-leaning Independents are not going to stand for his nonsense.

If Dobson is happy with the next four years he’ll go out of his mind during the following four when the Democrats retake the White House. Or the Republican Party will tell him to shut up or pack. I think today would be a good time to tell him to shut up or pack, but of course I would say that. In any case, Bush doesn’t need the man’s pull anymore. It’s his job to lead the whole country, not the absolutist nuts on the fringes.

UPDATE: James Dobson doesn’t want doctors who perform abortions executed. It was his pal Randall Terry who said that. Sorry for the mix up.

The Politics of the Superhero

I haven’t seen The Incredibles yet, but after watching the trailer online I intend to. Even without seeing the movie I find some of the commentary about it a bit strange.

Suzy Hansen and Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote a piece about who’s saying what for the New York Observer.

The first hit of the Bush II years, The Incredibles pulled in $70.5 million in its first few days. The movie is about a family of superheroes forced by the government to go into a superhero-relocation program, suppress their awesome powers and hide out in the beaten-down, charmless miseries of suburbia—among tract homes, leftovers, cubicles, commutes, and dreary elementary-school commencement ceremonies in which every kid is celebrated for being “special.”

Eventually, of course, the superheroes—up against it in a dangerous world—release their superpowers, break free of Anytown, U.S.A., and explode with enough personal initiative to make The Fountainhead look like a bedtime story. They’re superheroes! The film is inspirational, a hopeful jolt for anyone feeling like they’ve buried their own superpowers, like they’re losing in this big, crushing society. But the funny thing is that even though the film’s primary target seems to be suppressed America and its credo pure libertarian, among the joyful recipients of its message are New Yorkers—and all blue staters—who, God knows, feel like losers these days.

But it’s hard not to be suspicious of the winners. Any winners, for that matter, and that includes The Incredibles. While The Incredibles’ battle against conformity and mediocrity screams anti-oppression to some, it’s obviously Randian to others. In that sense, the film is being touted as the latest proof that, on top of everything else , the right wing has even wit and creativity on its side these days: This is a world turned upside-down!

Whoa. Superheroes are right-wing? Anytown USA, conformity, and charmless suburbia are left-wing? Really? When did that shit start? The sixties really are over if that’s how it is.

The article quotes everyone’s favorite bitch-slap boy Ted Rall.

It’s kind of ironic that superheroes now have these fascist, right-wing connotations.

Now I really can’t wait to see the movie. I’m dying to see how Mr. Incredible and the supercool black dude (he makes instant ice) make knee-jerk leftists think of Hitler. I’m gonna need a large popcorn for this one.

But there’s this:

Is it simply that, after four years of being beaten up with good-versus-evil rhetoric and post-9/11 fear, somehow all superheroes seem vaguely Republican to us?

I have never, ever, not once in my life, thought of superheroes as Republicans. Although I guess I can sort of see it now. John Kerry wanted to do many things in office, but saving the world wasn’t one of them. I always thought it was liberals who wanted to save the world, not Texas Republicans, but alas and alack it’s a bizarro world as they say.

I’m not making fun of the article. It’s really quite interesting. The authors note how Superman was a liberal in the Roosevelt mold, how Batman could be construed as a centrist, how a liberal superhero would never be chased into Canada by a Republican president. The whole thing is worth reading.

And check out what The Nation had to say about it.

Bird’s biggest achievement in The Incredibles is to have inflated family stereotypes to parade-balloon size. His failing is that, in so doing, he also confirmed these stereotypes, and worse. Helen mouths one or two semi-feminist wisecracks but readily gives up her career for a house and kids; women are like that. Bob’s buddy Frozone, the main nonwhite character in the movie, can instantly create ice; black people are cool. The superheroes are in hiding because greedy trial lawyers sued them into retirement; and, while concealed, they chafe at their confinement, like Ayn Rand railing against enforced mediocrity. The family is the foundation of our society. Freedom is on the march.

I can see the point (assuming it holds up in the actual movie) about the stereotypes. But what, exactly, is the problem with showing the family as a foundation of society? It is at least one of the foundations, whether that family is nuclear (2.5 kids and all that), single-parent, double-lesbian, or whatever. What’s the complaint?

And what, pray tell, is wrong with freedom being “on the march”? Movies about superheroes who don’t rise above mediocrity and who take freedom away would make lame audience-pleasers. Here comes Super Nanny! She snatches smokes, censors cable, bleeps out bad words, and turns down the volume on stereos! No. Americans don’t pay money for that kind of superhero. If that makes us “right-wing” then, well, whatever.

More Advice

I’m sure most Democrats are sick to death already of the unasked-for post-election advice. They’ve had to put up with a lot of it. No doubt the tables would have been turned had the Republicans lost.

Still, conservatives could use a little post-election advice as well. I suggest starting here.

Voting coalitions are ruled by the least commited members. So the question to the cultural conservatives is: do you want 2004 to be the Republican high water mark or would you like to extend the string.

If the right-wing culture warriors get cocky (and some of them already have) they’ll rue the day. It’s real simple. Here’s why.

Did any of you remember Bush asking for the RINO vote in the last days of the campaign (“you may not agree with all my positions but I want your vote”)? So you going to throw them off the bus now that you have won? That is not nice. People remember.



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