Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears... Oh My

Well... right off the bat... make that O'Rourke and Coulter and Beck, if'n ya would.  And please excuse me, Dorothy.  I had to get that out o' the way.

A short time ago one of my Daily Reads put up a post about Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck, to the effect that one of the authors of this two-person blog... Naked Writing... likes these two (excuse the term) asshats.  The other author(ess) does not.  A difference of opinion, which is always good blog-fodder, especially among those who favor civil discourse and can disagree without being disagreeable.  Old Iron and KC make it work, which is a rare thing on the inner-tubes.  
 
We digress.  Anyhoo... to set our stage... I happened to remark on that post that I don't like these two right wing pundits either.  I could have sworn I mentioned P.J. O'Rourke in my comment as the ultimate purveyor of scathing, eviscerating, wickedly humorous right-wing snark, but my memory is apparently shorter than my breath these days.  I did not mention Mr. O'Rourke; instead I called up the spirit of William F. Buckley, Jr. who was no slouch when it comes to skewering the Left in an erudite and civil manner.  That said, I know I invoked P.J. somewhere of late... I just can't remember exactly where.  And this, Gentle Reader, is how too-clever-by-half introductions go all to Hell in an instant.

What we mean to do is point our friends to a recent piece by Mr. O'Rourke in the Weekly Standard, to wit: Not Dead Yet -Introducing the pre-obituary: a few choice words before you go.  A couple of excerpts:
I have an idea for a brand new type of newspaper feature. And gosh do newspapers need one. No industry in living memory has collapsed faster than daily print journalism. You can still buy a buggy whip, which is more than can be said for a copy of the Rocky Mountain News, Cincinnati Post, or Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

[...]
One bright idea isn’t going to solve the problems of the American newspaper industry, but it’s one bright idea more than the American newspaper industry has had in 40 years. What I propose is “Pre-Obituaries”—official notices that certain people aren’t dead yet accompanied by brief summaries of their lives indicating why we wish they were.
[...]
Jimmy Carter is 85. We must hasten to throw the Camp David Accord in his face before he heads to his eternal camp-out with Anwar el-Sadat. Gore Vidal is 84. There’s no chance he’ll end up in the same place as Bill Buckley. We ought to take up Buckley’s gauntlet and slap Gore’s face here and now. Noam Chomsky is 81. Why should Satan have all the fun? We own pitchforks of fact aplenty with which to prod his living flesh. Norman Lear is 87 and will be married to Maude forever any minute now. (Although Lear may find himself forgiven. He never meant to make Archie Bunker a hero and a role model, but perhaps the road to heaven is paved with bad intentions.) Ed Asner is 80. Put him together with Ben Bradlee (88) and Alan J. Pakula, director of All the President’s Men (died in 1998, darn it), and you have the villains in the tragic tale of the American newspaper’s self-congratulatory ossification. Ross Perot also will be 80 soon. We owe him one Bill Clinton-sized philippic. Ralph Nader is 76. High time that someone, metaphorically, flipped him in a Corvair. And Paul Ehrlich is 78. In these days of the graying workforce, baby bust, and demographic decline, surely he needs a population bomb in his underpants.
That, folks, is how it's DONE.  Coulter and Beck may have flashes of occasional brilliance (I'm being kind here) but they are mostly purveyors of lowest common denominator sarcasm at best, and... at worst... viciously insulting invective that demeans their targets while pandering to the cheap seats for laughs.  Red meat, in other words.  O'Rourke, on the other hand, is genuinely funny and entertaining.  He's also adept at the language -  a serious writer who uses wit to make deadly serious points.  And he does so by rarely employing the words "communist" or "socialist," unless he's talking about REAL commies or socialists... like Castro, Mao, Stalin, or Che Guevara.  He does use "leftist" and its variants a lot, though.  A spade IS a spade.

Read the whole linked article and see if you agree... or not.  It's marvelously entertaining and the premise he puts forward is a great idea... although I sincerely doubt any of our broadsheets will grab Mr. O'Rourke's suggestion and run with it.  They should.  Maybe they'd survive for a little while longer and give Jon Stewart some serious competition in the process, aside from what he already gets from The Onion.

18 comments:

  1. "pandering to the cheap seats for laughs"

    Sums up my take on just about all of the "important" political bloggers out there. A few folks are actually good, most other people with laudable traffic numbers are just riding the heavily greased rails of the anger train.

    Even little fellas like you and I have commented on it before - the visit numbers take a swift down turn as soon as you stop going political, which in this day and age is really just defined as "being a smartass at the expense of the other guy."

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  2. Ross Perot also will be 80 soon. We owe him one Bill Clinton-sized philippic.

    Nyuk!

    O'Rourke is a treasure, for sure.

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  3. ...just riding the heavily greased rails of the anger train.

    Doesn't that make ya wonder from time to time if the anger is REAL? I know I wonder. The second thing that occurs to me is that if the anger IS real, how can one live with one's self with that much hatred simmering inside? OTOH, maybe blogging about it is a safety valve. Still and even, I get tired of the same ol', same ol' every goddamned day. OK, Obama's an idiot. Got it. What else is new? And different?

    And you're right about the traffic. Mine has dropped by half since I quit being so political. I guess there's just not enough hate in the world.

    L-Andy: Yeah, O'Rourke IS priceless. I go back all the way to his days with the National Lampoon. Back when NL was good. Thank The Deity At Hand P.J. still is.

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  4. Not to turn this in to a blogging roundtable on your time, Buck...

    But, a lot of small-time bloggers (like me) keep up the drum-beat on "Obama is an idiot" because we have two or three people that we KNOW read our pitiful stuff daily that we are trying to convince. In my case, they are a couple of young ladies that I love and care about very much. A healthy dose of reality about leftists is in order in their situation.

    I have just about quit doing anything political, though...except for the occasional barb at ObozO, or Pelosi, etc.

    The echo chamber is deafening. You can hit forty-two blogs, and read the same thing over and over (or find the same dozen linked articles)...and I am still guilty of it myself from time to time. But when I am, it is because I'm preaching to one or two individuals that I know need to read it, and don't avail themselves of any other right-wing info.

    I read one or two screed blogs. I get a lot of info from them. But when it comes to politics, it's all being done by others, and being done much better.

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  5. I like roundtables. You make a couple of good points about educating the ignorant, in the "uninformed" sense, not in the disparaging sense. I don't have a problem with that... at all. I do that very same thing from time to time in conversation with kids... teens/young adults... who "go with the flow" and buy into the "cool" position without thinking. And that's easy to do, especially when conservative views are associated with Old Fogies like me. I'd include you in this space, but you're not quite there. Yet. ;-)

    My biggest issue though, is all the damned name calling... the "liberals are stoopid, pot-smoking, smelly hippies" and "conservatives are evil, greedy, racist bastards" stuff. It's a RARE political blog that will actually DISCUSS issues without stooping to insult or disparage. And I have serious issues with THAT shit. I suppose this is the one good thing we can say about the MSM... at least they're still civil. My $0.02.

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  6. Agreed! Before the 2008 elections, I posted something political dang near every day. I realized that probably nobody was reading it, but it was (as you previously mentioned) an outlet.

    And, I was guilty of "name-calling" for a good while after. But, as you know by now, I am not of the temperament to use foul language, or paint ALL libs with the same brush.

    When I discovered that one of the sweetest young ladies to EVER live was joining up with our clan, and was a political liberal who reads my blog daily, I had to begin to step lightly. I did not want her to think for one moment that I think SHE is a lazy, feckless, moron. Because she certainly is not...in fact, just the opposite. She just has a lot to learn about real life. And, if I did not do the occasional jab at leftism, she would not get it anywhere else.

    Okay...so this is an ALL ABOUT ME comment. Don't bother to thank me.

    But, I hear ya' about the low-brow approach. That's why I can barely listen to Limbaugh any longer. It's the same old...even though I don't see him as a below the belt hitter.

    Hannity, NEVER! Beck...I used to get Beck on the radio years ago (before he went on TV), and I liked his show. It was entertaining, and pretty thoughtful...sometimes quite deep, and thought-provoking. But what I've seen of him in recent years is downright odd.

    Still in all, they do have a place in converting the ignorant. Actually Limbaugh's tone (when I listen) is not as harsh as it once was IMHO.

    Aaaaahhhh...I'm just rattling here. Point well made, sir.

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  7. I think much of the anger is manufactured. For a lot of people it has simply become a part of what they do. But as usual, the genuine sadness is in how voracious the public seems to be for it.

    Call it one of those typical universal injustices. You take a blog like Sippican Cottage, which has some of the finest prose anywhere to be had, and his readership is probably a laugh compared to the droves who flock to a political spite site.

    You wonder, if Hemingway or Steinbeck or Dickens were 21st century bloggers, and their sites were nothing but samples of their literature, would they have much of an audience? I doubt it. Granted, all three of those guys, if they lived in today's world, would probably have heavily political blogs. Hemingway the least, I think, but Steinbeck and Dickens? Those two might have missed their callings as literary geniuses because of the pull to play politics against itself for a wide audience.

    Jay-soos, I just rambled on there.

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  8. Buck, I discovered O'Rourke a few years ago in a car mag I subscribe to. As a matter of fact, he's got an article in Car and driver right now about the good old American Jeep that I haven't yet read. He's alway intelligent and witty and can hold his own in any debate (I've seen him a few times on the Maher POS show). There, I did it myself. Called Maher a POS, or at least his show.


    But let me add to the thread debate or Roundtable here. Like Andy, I do defend Coulter at least and to some extent Limbaugh, though for not the same reason. They (especially Coulter) can be pretty vile but, I think Conservatives need s--- slingers too. Here's my thinking on this. I'd say about 90% of the entertainment (tv, movies, etc.) produced is by pro leftist "artists" who take any chance they can to smear conservative ideas, middle class red state Americans, etc. So when Coulter does it back to them, it drives them insane. They hate her. Which to me means she's doing something worth doing.

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  9. Still and even, I get tired of the same ol', same ol' every goddamned day. OK, Obama's an idiot. Got it. What else is new? And different?

    Thus the issue with bloggin/bloggers. I get tired of them quickly. Of course Old Iron & I do the joint posts on issues we feel are important - to us. And yes, I get the brunt of it... but that's OK. Very few of the linkage love and my daily reads are political blogs because like mentioned many times above - its the same ol same ol. Tiring. I'm discovering gems of non-political bloggers who have a gift with words and writings - so that balances out the scales a bit.

    EXCELLENT article my friend, ya done great!

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  10. Jay-soos, I just rambled on there.

    But it was GOOD rambling and we likes that. I'm thinking a lot of small-time political bloggers fancy themselves as modern-day Dickenses or Hemingways, at least that's one of the impressions I get. I have NO doubt that the three historical figures you cited would post the occasional political rant if they were alive and blogging today. There are many modern day authors who also blog and not a few of them are political.

    L-Andy: Your example hits the mark, I think. Aside from what I wrote above I get the distinct impression that most political bloggers have few, if any, friends on the other side... all their days are spent in the company of those with like minds in both the virtual and corporeal worlds. And ain't it amazin' how our sensitivities change once we venture outside our comfort zones? I think I might have an easier time of it than most righties, mainly coz I used to be a Lefty. Before I grew up.

    re: Limbaugh. A friend of mine and I used to spend part of our lunch hour every day out in the parking garage listening to Limbaugh on the car radio for about a half-hour while burning a cigar. That was back in the mid-to-late '80s when he was still relatively fresh and oh-so-new. I haven't listened to him in years, mainly coz he ain't syndicated in this part o' the world. Well that and I don't listen to broadcast radio AT ALL. Period.

    Dan: Your point about Coulter is moderately well-taken. If she has ANY raison d'ĂȘtre at all that would be it. But Mom always told me "two wrongs don't make a right" (among other things). I'm seeing her POV more and more often these days.

    KC: Thanks for the props! I'm in your camp (obviously) on this one.

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  11. I've always liked O'Rourke, but this piece you've highlighted is a bit light on something important: Justification for why I should join P.J. in wishing these people dead.

    Maybe tomorrow as time permits, I can follow your link and study it in-depth. Meanwhile, this passage from Annie wins hands-down:

    The reason Democrats are obsessed with controlling the courts is that unelected judges issuing final edicts is the only way liberals can attain their insane policy agenda. No group of Americans outside of Nancy Pelosi's district would vote for politicians who enacted laws similar to the phony "constitutional rights" liberal justices proclaim from the Supreme Court.

    President Obama would rather surrender his authority as commander in chief to the Supreme Court than get blamed for deciding to treat terrorists as if they're Paris Hilton facing a drunk driving charge. Let the court do it.


    Of course if you already have a good grasp of all the ways left-wing values are bad for our country, this may not mean much. But it has to be explained somewhere. It bores people when you examine it meticulously, like a software engineer. Don't ask me how I know this...

    But frankly, people who complain Ann Coulter is explaining things in an incendiary way, IMO, just don't want those things explained. I view this as a part of the fight the left has already won. They're getting our permission to dictate to us what we aren't allowed to discuss.

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  12. I'm a huge fan of P.J. Boy, can he write.

    I pretty much despise Beck and can only tolerate Colter in small doses.

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  13. Just as a public service for you, Buck, you can hear Rush on KBIM 910 out of Roswell, or KGNC 710 out of Amarillo. Both should be easily audible in Portales.

    KGNC was the station my mom had on in the kitchen, on the radio on top of the fridge, for my whole childhood. They covered the Amarillo Sandies of the Texas League. I can still hear the announcer's voice announcing a home run: "And it's bye-bye baseball...."

    P.J. is a good read, and not a bad public speaker, either. It's good to go get his stories of his earlier life as a lefty, too.

    I got to hear him speak back during the Clinton years, when Whitewater was the big story. I told him that the difference between Whitewater and Watergate was that no one died from Watergate. His eyes got big, his jaw dropped, and he said, "You know, you're right."

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  14. But frankly, people who complain Ann Coulter is explaining things in an incendiary way, IMO, just don't want those things explained. I view this as a part of the fight the left has already won. They're getting our permission to dictate to us what we aren't allowed to discuss.

    We shall agree to disagree. I think Steyn, Krauthammer, and VDH, just to name three, do a good job of "explaining things" in a rational, non-vitriolic manner. As far as your "like a software engineer would" statement... we've talked about this before. One word: "editor."

    Daph: We're pretty much on the same page except I can't handle Coulter at all any longer... although I will watch her on "Red Eye." Mainly coz I love the show and can overlook her boorishness.

    Gordon: Thanks for the tip. ONly one problem: I don't own an AM radio. I'll see if they do netcasts... Great story about O'Rourke!

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  15. Oh, I understand, Buck. It's funny, in this day and age, to realize that standard technology of our youth is optional now. Many folks, myself included, now have no home phone.

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  16. Many folks, myself included, now have no home phone.

    Me too. ;-)

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  17. Ann Coulter is in the business of writing and selling books. Everything she does on TV and radio is to further that end. The speeches she gives are an attractively renumerative sideline to the book business.

    I still enjoy watching her. She has a way of getting to the point very quickly and bluntly. Often that technique produces better discussion than you'd see otherwise.

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  18. Often that technique produces better discussion than you'd see otherwise.

    Or better shouting. (big-ass grin goes here)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask.