Saturday, March 18, 2006
CASEMENT STEPS (OR, LAME PUNS YOU THINK OF FOR HEDS WHEN YOU NEED TO GET A POST OFF IN A HURRY):
P O’Neill looks into Sullivan’s latest Hibernian embrace.
posted by Sully 3/18/2006 06:11:00 PM
AS C.S. LEWIS PUT IT, EVERY AGE IS WARNED AGAINST THE VICE OF WHICH IT IS LEAST IN DANGER:Don’t even think about seeing “Mission Impossible: 3.”
posted by Sully 3/18/2006 05:54:00 PM
Friday, March 17, 2006
SOUTH PARK REDUX:
We’ve long hated the cable industry for, among its many other sins, simply existing. We’ve preached to anyone who will listen that its days are numbered, that not only cable packages but cable channels themselves are relics of the limitations of past technologies, that the day should come when you could, for a nominal fee, get the video of any episode of any program you wanted to see delivered via your broadband connection and just skip even TiVo.
We’ve always used South Park as the example of something we’d pay that for. So it was nice to get it for free. However, Sullivan should warn people that that link he has takes you to the chance to watch the entire episode. You better have the better part of the next half hour free.
That said ... if Parker and Stone didn’t at least think enough of Isaac Hayes’s continued services to the show to give him a heads-up that this episode was coming (one wonders if they were even aware he was a Scientologist in the first place), they deserve everything that has come upon them since. The episode does not so much satirize Scientology as hijack jetliners and crash them into it. It is, in its attitude toward the religion in question, as unambiguously derisive and provocative (not in the good sense of that word) as the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were to Islam.
And, unfortunately and inevitably, the overkill on what is a pretty soft target to begin with detracts from the episode as a whole (Frank Zappa sent up Scientology better, less directly, back on Joe’s Garage). It doesn’t really get going until the “Tom Cruise won’t come out of the closet” plotline kicks off about midway through. Fortunately, that part is funny enough that we give you the cliché advice to have finished consuming all potables before you get to it, unless you have a thing for Windex and rags (The R. Kelly spoofing is actually the best part of the episode).
Really, Parker and Stone should have saved this for one of the show’s very last episodes. Given the popularity of Scientology in Hollywood, did they honestly not expect some sort of coordinated reaction like this? And when you take such a vicious poke at Tom Cruise not just as a Scientologist but as a possibly closeted homosexual, two thin skins he has diligently wrapped himself in, you can’t be surprised when he reacts like he does. It’s one thing for the show to savage George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg so effectively that they junk their plans to do a Special Edition of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s another to go into the collective Hollywood bar and knock a thousand hats off, all at once.
If we were Parker and Stone, we’d simply say that being spared Cruise doing publicity for the second sequel to a movie which was a pretty rotten turd to begin with might not be such a bad thing.
All that said, we think from this ep, the first full-length South Park we’ve seen in quite a while, that the show is pretty safely on the far side of the shark. The problem with such determinedly iconoclastic humor is that, when its creators finally realize it’s become their day job, the sense of daring and fun evaporates and, like this episode, it just looks mean.
posted by Sully 3/17/2006 11:23:00 AM
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
FABLES FOR OUR TIMES:
Nice cartoon. Which blogger could it be referring to? (Thanks Atrios)
posted by Sully 3/15/2006 09:44:00 AM
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Islamophobia Watch not only responds to Sullivan’s claim (OK, the right-wing blogosphere’s claim) that they had something to do with the Telegraph editor getting canned, they add that there might have been some pragmatic reasons:Publishing Alasdair Palmer’s article without checking the facts may have been an act of incompetence on Sands’ part, but we doubt this was the cause of her dismissal. A rather more pressing reason was the dramatic slump in the paper’s circulation that accompanied her nine-month period as editor.
posted by Sully 3/14/2006 12:16:00 PM
WHY SOUTH PARK REPUBLICANS ARE NOT IN ANY DANGER OF BECOMING THE DOMINANT FACE OF THE PARTY ANYTIME SOON:
The whole Isaac Hayes thing should make abundantly clear that Sullivan was willfully clueless regarding the Danish cartoons.
What he leaves out of his little blurb is that Hayes is himself a Scientologist. Whatever you think of Scientology, you cannot deny that it means enough to some of its adherents that they might not take well to it being mocked as thoroughly as South Park does.
Parker and Stone’s response (putting the bigotry on Hayes because he never objected to their other religious mockings, even though Chef isn’t a part of every episode), which Sullivan seems to assent to, is ... well, it makes us wonder how much of an invention Cartman’s character really is. It’s exactly what the little fat sociopath would say. It’s the line of every bully who responds to someone who will no longer put up with it, “Where’s your sense of humor?”
One needn’t be a Person of Faith to see the unresolved contradiction between Sullivan’s laments about the left not taking faith seriously and his proclamations of the importance of Catholicism in his own life on the one hand and this attitude that everybody should be able to abide the nasty mocking of their own religion on the other. If “nothing is sacred,” even the belief that nothing is sacred cannot be sacred, either.
posted by Sully 3/14/2006 11:25:00 AM
Monday, March 13, 2006
Don’t miss P O’Neill’s solid takedown on Sullivan vs. Krugman and himself over at Best of Both Worlds.
Also via that link, here’s Angry Bear on how Sullivan has no clue, economically. And Brad DeLong piles on: “On May 14, 2001, for example, we have Sullivan lionizing Bush not despite but because of his mendacity. Sullivan, you see, thought presidential lying was really kool.” (see side for this link).
posted by Sully 3/13/2006 12:49:00 PM
JUDE THE OBSCURE:
We’re not surprised that Sullivan frames his Wanniski quote in such a way as to include a sly attack on The Krugster (Is he suggesting that Krugman should have been intellectually honest to include Wanniski?)
But maybe the reason Krugman didn’t, and we’re surprised Sullivan didn’t bring this up, is Wanniski’s long history of defending Saddam. This doesn’t quite make him an impartial observer here (as opposed to Ritter, who had gone to Iraq many times and knew whereof he might have been speaking and had been lionized by the right for saying during Clinton’s administration that the administration was ignoring WMD evidence).
We’d bet Krugman knew about this and knew better than to quote an economist on whether Saddam had WMDs (If he had, don’t you think Sullivan would have eagerly made not only that point but dug up Wannsiki’s cozy history with Saddam the instant after he finished reading Krugman’s column?), much less one with a clear conflict of interest.
By the way, you will look in vain through that column for any use of the word “lunatic.” Our browser’s find feature did.
Also by the way, it is extremely disingenuous of Sullivan to now excoriate war critics for claiming they said they were no WMDs in Iraq before the invasion, at least not without simultaneously excoriating those who claimed that there without a doubt were. The latter, after all, have much more to answer for.
Most of us were not willing to make such overbroad claims without the personal expertise that someone like Ritter and Cook had (again, unlike the war proponents). To suggest that we should have done so is puzzling ... do you blast a poker player for not betting the stack before he got dealt a full house?
Imagine a situation where, say, the reverse would have happened. Suppose Saddam did have WMDs, we didn’t invade on the belief that he didn’t have them and/or wasn’t likely to use them against us, and the smoking gun did turn out to be a mushroom cloud. In that situation, how much credibility would the skeptics have had if their first response to being proved wrong was to challenge those critcizing them for being wrong to show that they had stated unequivocably that there were WMDs in Iraq we could have neutralized by military means. Would sound a little petty, wouldn’t it? (Actually, when al-Qaa‘idah hits the mainland US again, that is exactly how the Bushies will react to complaints that they haven’t done enough to stop bin Laden).
It betrays yet again that Sullivan is still far too like Bush in that his instinctive reaction to being held accountable is to try to spread the blame like soft butter on fresh toast. It is not a commendable aspect of one’s character.
posted by Sully 3/13/2006 12:03:00 PM
Sunday, March 12, 2006
FOR THE RECORD AS WELL:
You used “fifth column,” recklessly, Andrew. You cannot deny it no matter how hard you try. Saying shortly afterwards you wouldn’t use it again is not the same thing as what you should have done: admit it was a mistake to use in the first place.
But you did a service ... you acknowledged, even if inadvertently, that the Bush administration and the Mighty Wurlitzer’s real enemy, all along, through Afghanistan and Iraq, has been the domestic U.S. left.
posted by Sully 3/12/2006 06:37:00 PM
“I CAN STAND BEING WRONG ... WHAT I CAN’T STAND IS THEM BEING RIGHT.”:
We still wish we could find that Jules Feiffer cartoon somewhere online. Because Sullivan’s latest attempts to spin his pre-Iraq War cheerleading for Bush can basically be summed up with that punchline.
He has managed to do something we thought he had long since lost the capability to do (no, not that, the Boyfriend has already confirmed (confirmed ... love that choice of word) he lost that a long time ago and won’t be getting it back) — remind us why we started this blog in the first place.
This is beyond insulting:I’m now overwhelmed by how many people say they now opposed the war all along because they could see that the WMD issue was invalid. It’s amazing so few made the case at the time.Plenty of people did. But they did not all do it by saying there were no WMDs ... no, Andrew, they were too smart (even then) to fall into the trap the administration was trying to create. No, they just said the evidence wasn’t convincing. Or that it was plagiarized. We pointed to stories the Post and the Times, having correctly understood that Bush was going to have his war no matter what (as they admitted later), but wanting to both seem like team players and yet not abandon the traditionally skeptical role of mainstream journalism, buried on pages Axx while trumpeting the latest “exclusive” from Judith Miller above the fold. We read about how the intelligence community was being forced to come up with whatever it could to justify the war.
But we were ignored. Clutching the possibility of doubt to its breast as its saving grace, an administration populated with people who had never forgiven the CIA for underestimating Saddam’s WMD capability in 1991 waved us off with the stick reply, “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” And that was when they were remembering to polite — usually we were just denounced as “objectively” pro-Saddam and traitors.
We pointed to Rumsfeld and the Pentagon ignoring the State Department’s well-crafted postwar plan in favor of letting Ahmed Chalabi run things because Richard Perle had gourmet dinners with so much.
And we were ignored, or shouted down, in favor of the critics whose lame criticisms they cherrypicked (such as the ones quoted in Sullivan’s emailer) served the prowar narrative well. Imagine if the antiwar narrative had made a central place for Michael Ledeen’s oft-quoted line about how “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” (Not that that isn’t a lot of what Iraq is about, but to make that your primary reason to oppose the war would have been insulting to your putative audience’s intelligence).
Yes, we were right. Sullivan’s hysterical gyrating to make himself look the better person because (he tries to claim) Krugman would have hated Bush no matter what, and thus his own criticisms are more sincere, is even worse than the memory-holing of such criticisms he would be trying to accuse Krugman of if it had happened the other way.
Look at it this way ... Sullivan is trying to assert that principle, here, consists of changing your mind when the facts don’t go your way, whereas consistency of opinion is some sort of moral failing.
posted by Sully 3/12/2006 05:35:00 PM