Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday Night Nostalgia Blogging

Matt Yglesias posted classic '90s video "Bitter Sweet Symphony," and it got me to thinking about other iconic rock songs of that era. Nothing really screams mid-'90s to me more than this Nick Cave classic, which actually popped up on the soundtrack to classic '90s film Scream. I give you, "Red Right Hand":

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Zach Galifianakis, you slay me...


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Fustest with the Mostest?

The Republicans are now at the point of actually whining publicly for war. They got their way for about six years and had a grand old time starting two unwinnable, grisly Middle Eastern wars and decimating what remained of America's middle class. But the country has started to turn away from them a bit, their rival party is threatening to actually force an end to the infinite war they worked so hard to start, and things have gone downhill quickly.

Rudy Giuliani is out there debasing himself, making thinly-veiled Gangland-style threats against citizens who may consider voting Democratic. (As a prosecutor, Giuliani used to go after mobsters, and if movies have taught me anything, it's that legal practicioners who spend too long around the criminal element eventually become seduced by the mystique and power.) "Look, I'm not trying to threaten you or nothing, but if you vote for one of those other guys...I can't be responsible for unfortunate accidents that may happen to befall your person or place of residence, you know what I'm saying? Fuhgeddaboutit."

Now, some asshat hauls out the above quote on the floor of the goddamn House of Representatives! Seriously!

On Monday, Rep. Ted Poe took to the House floor to discuss foreign policy matters. To make a point, the Texas Republican invoked the words of Civil War Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest: “Git thar fustest with the mostest.”

Oh, yeah, and one little note about famed Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest...

The quotation got some floor watchers’ attention pretty quickly. Forrest is a controversial figure who was one of the Klan’s first grand wizards. Although the Civil War hero (if you were a Confederate, that is) ultimately abandoned the Klan for its violent tactics, he continues to kick up dust.

Roll Call here refers to the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux fucking Klan as a "controversial figure." I'm not sure that's really the word for one of the Founding Fathers of a universally loathed and constantly ridiculed hate group. David Duke and Daniel Carver aside, there really aren't that many people left who will openly and fervently pro-KKK position. And with good cause! Doesn't that then bring an end to the group's "controversy" and kickstart its "infamy"?

Anyway, a lot of liberals online have noticed...hey, that's odd...A Republican in 2007 just quoted the first Grand Wizard of the KKK on the House floor. Carpetbagger Report went so far as to look up the actual quote and discover that Ted Poe misquoted the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

And, just as an aside, the quote Poe used was wrong.

[A]ccording to historians, Forrest didn’t really say the line that’s so often attributed to him. “Do not, under any circumstances whatever, quote Forrest as saying ‘fustest’ and ‘mostest’,” Civil War scholar Bruce Catton wrote in his 1971 book, “The Civil War.” Catton wrote that Forrest actually believed the essence of strategy — and the proper quote — was “to git thar fust with the most men.”

What’s worse than quoting the founder of the KKK on the House floor? Quoting him incorrectly.


I think, amusing though it may be, focusing on the origin of the quote "fustest with the mostest" misses the point entirely. Yes, Ted Poe is a complete moron who doesn't realize that he should not idolize America's Noteworthy Racists just because they totally have the most kickass trading cards.

But in principle, there's nothing wrong with quoting a known racist on the subject of military tactics. We can't possibly be held responsible for all the beliefs of individuals who may have said something quoteworthy or done something important. Anyone citing Nathan Forrest on the subject of race relations or modernization would be completely wrong-headed, but the guy was regarded highly as a general.

No, I don't really care that the guy quoted a notorious, significant racist from America's past (which is saying something, because our history is chock full of ordinary, unremarkable racists!) Instead, I think we're all missing the significance of this event.

Shockingly, on this issue, I agree with right-wing hack Captain Ed:

It's more than a little ridiculous to say that using this quote indicates some kind of support for the KKK. It's an anecdote used by people to talk about military strategy, as Poe clearly did, instead of some invocation of racism. It's not particularly bright of Poe to quote Forrest -- especially since the quote is essentially meaningless as well as fabricated -- but discussing Forrest's military acumen (which was considerable) doesn't mean people support the Klan, a point that is rather obvious when considering authors such as Catton who catalogued Forrest's strategic thinking.

For instance, do lawyers who reference Hugo Black support the Klan as well? If not, why not? Poe referenced Forrest's military strategy, not his views on race. Referencing Black's viewpoint on law should also then connect to his activities in the Klan ... right? That's the Carpetbagger standard.

In what is surely a career-first, Ed is exactly right on this count. The Carpetbagger here sets a standard no one could keep to - taking personal responsibility for any fool thing a person you're quoting may have done or said.

However, as is his trademark, Ed still manages to be sort of wrong, because he refers to Poe's remarks as "not particularly bright" when it fact they are "nonsensical to a degree that is, for an elected official serving in the United States government, pathetic." Poe reaches back into the Civil War era for a citation that essentially translates from Dumbfuckistani into "whoever gets more troops and more guns quickly wins."

Ooooohhhh, brilliant insight, Herodotus. I'll just forward that urgent memo to Petraeus and I'm sure he'll get right on it.

The point, folks, is not that a racist made up this quote, but that it's meaningless and it's the best these guys can do at this point. He's saying that we have to remain in this war indefinitely even though we're clearly losing, and when the opposition questions this bold statement, the response is "well, we should just focus on getting the most people there with the most guns quickly, even though it's already more than 4 years after-the-fact, and then we won't have to give like you cheese-eating Surrender-crats want to."

That argument's thinner than Flint Marko's character arc. And that's what's insane. That anyone would have the temerity to stand up in the midst of America's greatest foreign policy blunder EVER, in front of his colleagues and a national television audience (well, alright, C-SPAN) and announce that we have to stay in Iraq because iffin' you dun't get thar furst then, well suh, you're enemys might up and git thar befores you does and then you cain't vury well have no shot at winnin' that thar war, now can ye? I don't care if he quotes Cardinal motherfucking Richelieu on the floor of the House - it's the grasping-at-straws Fantasyland spectacle of grown men and women literally begging the American people to prolong a senseless war that I find so distasteful.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Great Moments in Conservative Humor

Wow...I don't even know what to say about this Weekly Standard "parody" piece. It's such a miserable, disgusting failure in the Humor Department, I actually kind of feel bad for the editorial board of the Weekly Standard. It's not so much that I'm embarrassed for them, because anyone who would publish this thing is clearly beyond shame. No, it's more a feeling of pity, really. Somewhere out there, someone thought this thing was funny. And not just funny, but funny enough to warrant publication in an actual old-fashioned paper magazine. Not a blog! The kind of thing that actually costs money to produce!

It's a response to former NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey's decision to enter the priesthood. McGreevey, of course, resigned from office and then admitted to having a homosexual affair with a staffer. Get it? He's a ghey and he wants to enter the priesthood! Because there certainly aren't any priests who like boys! What a ridiculous notion.

Already a thin premise for a joke, no? I'm not sure if Episcopalian priests have to maintain a celibate lifestyle (I'm assuming not), but regardless, it's not like your personal sexual preferences have a lot to do with the job description. As long as you generally look down on it, that is.

But even so, gay priests are hardly the far-out stuff of comic fantasy. Rather, they're an everyday reality. And I'm not just talking about the Diddler Priests! There are plenty of non-pedophile gay guys who become priests, just like there are gay men in every conceivable occupation. (Yes, gay mechanics! And construction workers! Get the fuck over it!)

But, okay, we're talking about The Weekly Standard here, not The Onion. Got to lower one's standards from the beginning. Still, they managed to underwhelm.

The joke is, McGreevey is a gayer and thus woefully inappropriate for the priesthood (that's TWS' take, not mine). So let's think up a lot of other, similarly "inappropriate" situations.

Idi Amin Enrolls in Culinary Class
Former Ugandan Strongman Wants to 'Humanize Cooking'

Believe it or not, they're actually leading with the A material. Idi Amin-cannibal jokes. Hi-larious.

The comic premise here is actually sort of difficult to discern. Idi Amin enrolling in a cooking class is certainly inappropriate. He's a mass murderer, so it would be morally improper for him to have a lot of free, liesure, enjoyment time to take a cooking class. What's more, he is rumored to have eaten people, and I suppose a cooking class could theoretically give him ideas on how to make humans more appealing and flavorful. But still...a long way to go for a joke. It does manage to shit on equate homosexuality with cannibalism (Idi Amin eating people and Jim McGreevey fucking dudes are roughly comparable negative qualities in the joke).

But there's no direct connection. Idi Amin enrolling in a cooking class isn't really anything like Jim McGreevey going to seminary. Also, I don't understand the concept of encasing all of the jokes inside mock newspaper clippings. Why would Idi Amin enrolling in a cooking class be newsworthy? Because he's dead? But wouldn't the headline then read: "Zombie Idi Amin rises from dead, enrolls in cooking class"?

I say, yes.

America's Most Wanted Names O.J. Simpson Co-Host
Ex-Football Star's Comments Sure to be Incisive

Again with a '90s reference. That's 2 in the first 2 jokes. These guys publish a news magazine. Is it to much to ask that they be aware of something that has happened in the past decade?

Anyway, the only way this joke makes logical sense is if you think homosexuality is off-putting in the same fashion as double-homicide. O.J. is not, actually, an inappropriate host for a show about wanted criminals. He has, in fact, been a wanted criminal. TWS editors are kidding, but they are actually correct - O.J.'s comments about evading the law in the aftermath of committing a horrible crime would probably be insightful.

Having him host "America's Most Wanted" would not be inappropriate, it would be in poor taste. So the only way the comparison here makes any sense is if you think James McGreevey showing his face in public and leading a normal life is in poor taste.


Kim Jong-Il to co-chair U.N. Commission on Human Rights
Priorities Include Population Control, Loyalty

Maybe this would work for me if it weren't being written by the Weekly Standard guys, pundits who actually endorse things like torture and therefore have no moral authority to attack Kim Jong-Il, in jest or otherwise.

At least they got their basic comic premise right for the first time! Just as Jim McGreevey, an openly gay man, would be an awkward fit as a priest in the eyes of bigots everywhere, Kim Jong-Il would be an awkward fit at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. As would George W. Bush, for the record.

Joseph Goebbels Tapped to Head Radio Free Europe
Will Focus on Minority Rights, Living Space

So, thus far in our "parody" newspaper, we've had homosexuality equated to (1) cannibalism, (2) double murder and (3) ruthless authoritarian rule. Where else is there to go but National Socialism?

Seriously, Goebbels? You guys really want to equate Jim McGreevey's attempt to move on with his life and find religion with the Nazis rounding up European Jews? What the fuck has got to be wrong with someone for them to even come up with this?

And no, that's not a rhetorical question. I really want to know, medically, what has to happen to a human brain in order for it to forge a connection between a gay guy who's all about Jesus and the Nazi propaganda minister. Someone call House.

Bill Clinton to Serve as Judge for National Cheerleading Competition
Former President to Present "Spirit Stick"

Two points about this one, then I'll wrap up this week's GMCH.

(1) This joke totally violates the comic premise of the entire page. Bill Clinton, known horndog and lover of all women, would be an ideal judge for a cheerleading competition. That would not be an awkward fit. The only reason the Weekly Standard guys threw this in is their continuing obsession with Bill Clinton and his engorged member, even though he has not held public office in 7 years.

(2) The editors of a national news magazine running a dick joke on the last page strikes me as inappropriate and potentially offensive. ("Spirit Stick"? Old white guys are gross...) Why is it okay for them to inject frat-boy sexuality into the culture but not okay for Bill Clinton? He was a perv and a psychotic who degraded the office of the President. But to my knowledge, he never used a position of power in the mass media to distribute bad dick jokes. To my knowledge, anyway...