But Where Will the Neocons Get Their Torture Porn?

They’ll have to go back to watching their Abu Ghraib tapes because the new season of “24” has been postponed indefinitely — another salutary effect of the Hollywood writers’ strike.  Make it permanent, guys!


Democracy is on the way, hitting like a tidal wave

Yee-haw! It’s the Right Brothers with their rocking tribute to our patriotic president, George W. Bush. They break the moron-o-meter, but, say what you will, there’s a lot of truth in that line I’ve used as my title: democracy (and the heroic bombs that bring it) does indeed hit like a tidal wave.

Cinema = Oppression

Clark Stooksbury lets the ludicrous Stanley Kurtz have it. Kurtz is a prime example of how certain conservatives now display all the traits of the victim mentality conservatives once despised. They find oppression in every piece of pop-culture detritus that doesn't affirm their own worldview.

Kurtz is frequently in hysterics over a television show called "Big Love," which is apparently about polygamy, or what Kurtz calls "polyamory" (a bastard neologism of Latin and Greek roots, something else I can't stand). Like most people, I have never seen this show. It's on HBO — premium cable. I don't even have basic cable. And do you know why? Because I don't like the tripe that passes for mass entertainment. I have a hard time feeling oppressed by something that I don't watch and don't pay for.

But Kurtz thinks those of us who do the sensible thing and shut off the noise boxes ought to feel oppressed — be afraid, be very afraid:

Conservatives need to face the fact that our position in this culture is genuinely precarious. If we lose our hold on power, we’ll scream bloody murder on our outlets at everything the other side does. Yet those screams may only confirm our helplessness. The deep cultural dimension of our political battles makes an ordinary transfer of political power far more consequential than it was in the days when America had a bipartisan foreign policy and a broad cultural consensus.

How the blazes does Republican control of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court translate into a more conservative culture? If America has suddenly become more conservative in its film, radio, and television in the age of Bush, I haven't noticed. And if Kurtz means that a.) Republican governments can censor culture he doesn't like and b.) Republican governments forestall liberal efforts to use the force of law against conservatives in the culture, I have bad news for him: any aggrandizement of the state that can achieve a.) will, at some point in the not too distant future, also undermine b.) When you make the state a censor, you give it power not only to prohibit what is wrong but also what is right.

Kurtz ought to know that, and I'm sure he does. But the culture war has become the equivalent of the old bloody shirt, a symbol to wave about to raise up the voters while distracting them from what's actually happening in government. Bush and his pet Congress are in no sense conservative — not with their Wilsonian wars, their schizophrenic and feckless immigration policy, their trashing of constitutional and traditonal liberties, and their record-breaking spending. Conservative voters should not give them a pass just because they dislike "the Da Vinci Code."

The rats and the sinking ship

From Variety, per Drudge:

At the same time, a few conservative hosts are joining in the chorus of Bush administration criticism on issues such as the Dubai port-management deal, lending some credibility to their claims that they don’t simply parrot Republican National Committee talking points. At the very least, political passions make for a lively debate, the life’s blood of programs such as Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes.”

Both TV and cable talkers are also finding ancillary topics that play to a conservative base. The so-called “culture wars” and “liberal Hollywood,” for example, figure to get a vigorous workout in the wake of the Oscars…

I wonder how long the usual suspects can continue to beat that particular dead horse. There are a few ways in which the “culture war” is quite real, but for the most part it’s a means for Republican flacks to pull off a bait-and-switch, distracting their base from hard issues of economics and politics — politics as in what the government can do to you — and instead getting the base riled up about pop-cultural ephemera and impotent academic leftists. (Not all academic leftists are impotent, of course, but honestly, few enough students actually in sociology classes take their professors seriously; no one else does at all. Look to the law schools if you want to know where the real danger lies. For that matter, look to the Chicago School of Economics, too.)