Evil Forces in the World

Reflections on ''Evil Forces in the World,'' as well as occasional remarks concerning ''Good Forces in the World.''

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Small consolation can be found here. "A Sentence Of Sorts in Kongsinger" is excellent for dancing. The title, though, is horrible. Completely horrible.

This might be a good time to briefly discuss Top Tens, or rather miscellaneous favorites. I always trust Hua Hsu, and you should too. Please consult his "I'm Just Bumpin' My Music" list, which rightly gives pride of place to T.I. Some punk made off with my copy of King before leaving for a war-ravaged hellhole. As much as I love the album, and war-ravaged hellholes, it never occurred to me to, say, hang from the wheel of a helicopter and snatch it from her, though that would've taught her a good lesson about the perils of petty theft.

Gorilla vs. Bear always has solid lists.

To no discernible end, I will share my actual 2006 Top Twenty based on the actual number of times I've listened to various songs released this year. This is likely to reflect poorly on me.

1/Supersystem
Pure genius.
2/Be Your Own Pet
Wow! The lead singer had a stomachache when I saw them perform. I was standing next to a loud heckler, and the lead called her "ugly," which was apparently enough to send the heckler packing. What a wimp. At first I thought the confrontation would escalate, but alas the lead vocalist had the mike, and she was skinny and pretty enough to give her barbed remark added sting. People are terrible. I would've killed the heckler with kindness. And chances are Hitler would've overrun me with his Panzer divisions.
3/Get Him Eat Him
I only bought this album because at least one member of the band is Asian, so I don't know how they got on this list.
4/The Hold Steady
At first this was for research, seriously, but it's pretty damn catchy. The trouble is that the dude is quite possibly some kind of crypto-misogynist, and all of their shows are what the wags call "sausage-fests" and not, as a good friend pointed out somewhat crudely, ... wait, term was actually so crude that I can't repeat it. Instead, I will use my preferred "sausage-fest" counterpart, "slam ranch," as in, "a ranch full of slam." Another good friend proposed releasing an album titled "Pre-K Naptime Slam Ranch," which ought to have landed her in jail, except she's cool. I'm losing the plot here.
5/Band of Horses
A friend of mine recommended this to me because they were apparently friends of his friends. I thought it sounded like something a young woman I thought was cute (from certain angles) would like it. And before you know it they were huge! I had nothing to do with their success, suffice it to say.
6/Islands
I like them more than any of these other bands.
7/The Fiery Furnaces
This is only here because I listened to "Police Sweater Blood Vow" over one hundred times.
8/Cold War Kids
9/Dirty Pretty Things
10/Bound Stems
Friends of friend! Missed their show for completely tense and awkward evening. Would have been much better spent rocking.
11/Phoenix
No one else would dance to the new album. Everyone danced to the last two. Messed up, man.
12/YYYs
13/Silversun Pickups
Beautiful bassist, very tall.
14/The Stills
Everyone else at this show was about ten years old. My companion was really young-looking (despite the fact that she's only slighter younger than I am), and so I literally looked like a criminal deviant.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Uh, a-huh, eh-huh, slip-slip-slip
Buh-bippa-dripple-dap, dippy, my hippies
Like Joe Trippi
Bundle donations, my name blippy
I trip lights fantastic
Dennis
Hastert, he no menace
Bastards,
Others flaws aside, he's a friend of the Kurds
Birds is
Walkin' by
Slappin' they thigh
And laughin'
I'm havin'
A heart attack, got the knack
In my knapsack, load it on your
Gun-rack, spice-rack
Attract many mice, clack-clack
Drac-
ula, You know I be cooler
Schooler, rap you on knuckles with my
Ruler of the Free World,
Garton Ash, Tash is Lush Life
You Know it's hype
Like a stovepipe hat
Fancy that
Wearin' top and tails and nails is mad nappy
Nailbeds look shabby
Crabby, like Garbo
Mad Marxist like Harpo
Go ahead and eat them Alpo
Turn you over to po-po
He too dope, yo
Soap yo'
Mouth out, Kraut-
Teutonical lout, Schroeder
Silver Spoons together like Ricky, Slick
Willie,
Feel me?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Main shlapple, everytime I rizzy-rapple
Bapple, you know how I like it, scripple
Fibble, defibrillate as I
Raise
your pulse rate,
Iceskate over your face,
You wish you were wielding a mace,
Meanwhile I
Preach it like Ma$e,
"Hallelujah Killa," Cold Case
File, wild
See animal fangs in my profile,
camoflauge pants with mad
Style, inna
Winna, bronzed but never bronze
Fonz, leather jacket, blue jeans "Eeeeeeey"
Say,
Milwaukee post-apocalypse, J-Kwon go "Tipsy,"
Like Jan Jackson with the nipple slips,
Don't crunch them like Vanilla wafer Nips
Fool

Monday, November 08, 2004

Hey, I'm blogging at www.TheAmericanScene.com for the indefinite future with some very good, very smart friends. Please come check it out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Slappo-drappo, dapple
My cranapple
Make an example of every
Ample, cornucopia
Cappadocia, regulate the area
Like OSHA,
Hoosier,
Keep drinkin' hooch, Hopper,
Dennis, kick back,
Admiral Stennis

This is a remarkable story, and well worth reading. I can't say I'm a fan of Koh, but I'm grateful to him for having, via a circuitous route, brought this to my attention:

As you can imagine, mid 19th Century Yale was not an easy place for Yung Wing. His Yale class had only 98 members. It had precious few people of color, no women, and virtually no non-Christians. As the only yellow in a white world, Yung Wing was, at best, a curiosity, at worst, a freak.During his freshman year, Yung Wing wore his Chinese tunic and wore his hair in a topknot, but by second year, he was dressed and groomed like an American. Like many freshmen, he sweated over his studies until midnight every night. He worked so hard that he took little or no exercise. He had almost no social life. His sophomore year he almost flunked differential and integral calculus, which his autobiography said he absolutely "abhorred and detested." To pay his tuition, he worked as a waiter in his residential college, as well as a librarian in one of the college debating societies. Yet remarkably, in the words of an admirer, the Rev. Joseph Twichel, he "made a sensation that was felt beyond the college walls by bearing off repeated prizes for English composition."

That is what we call "slammin'." Well done, Yung Wing! Show them how it's done! This man seriously delivered. The story continues.
Around 1.6million viewers saw the scene on Tuesday during the programme’s hour-long 10pm slot.

Five spokesman Nick Dear yesterday insisted: “Rebecca was not chosen for some sort of titillation. The vet decided that she was the most competent person to do it.”

But Five and Ofcom were bombarded with complaints. Cabbie Ian Millar, 32, of Salford, Gtr Manchester, said: “It was horrible. I could barely watch.”


And yet somehow you managed. If this isn't a force of evil, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Dude, this is ill:

September 29, 2004 -- VAL Kilmer's new play, "The 10 Commandments," which opened at the Kodak Theater in L.A. on Monday, is a riot — but not intentionally. One attendee told Defamer.com: "[It was] one of the strangest pieces of theater to come down the pike in a while . . . Val Kilmer as Moses is mind-bogglingly bad . . . he talk/sings, prances around in a Pharaoh outfit and even a red burka at one point . . . most of his stage time is spent on his knees or lying around while the other performers try not to embarrass themselves too much, considering they are in an Egyptian disco. The burning bush went out a few times as well." But Kilmer isn't just playing a prophet — he's also teaming up with Richard Perry on a movie where he'll play a producer who discovers a 15-year-old singing sensation. Barbra Streisand's goddaughter, Caleigh Peters, 15, is trying out for the role, which mirrors her own life. "Caleigh just did a demo with Hilary Duff's producer," her rep says. "Barbra Streisand listened to it and says it's amazing. She's shopping it now."

It's so fresh I have to leave it alone. What to say? Where to begin?

Monday, August 30, 2004

Ferguson is right

Jonathan Last writes the following, in a riff on Niall Ferguson’s “Republicans for Kerry” piece in the Wall Street Journal:

Niall Ferguson has a typically engaging and thoughtful piece over at OpinionJounral. He posits that a Bush defeat might actually be good for conservatism.You should read it, because it's Ferguson, and he's always a fine read. But his larger point is, while very clever, completely wrong.

The smartest thing Fred Barnes ever said to me is that if there's one Iron Law of Politics, it's this: Winning always beats losing. When you win, problems recede, divisions smooth over, and you control, at least a little bit, your own direction.When you lose, problems are magnified, divisions become more pronounced, and--worst of all--you become even more susceptible to events outside your control.



This is, in the best conservative tradition, a paean to stability over uncertainty. Go with the devil you know, or rather go with the devil who is at least rhetorically committed to your own designs, and not the devil who emphatically is not. The logic is impeccable, and there’s every reason to believe that it’s right on the money. Being wooly-headed, I disagree even so.

I’m reminded of the McCainiacs, a species thick on the ground at the Standard in 2000. Right before the McCain insurgency collapsed, a moment rued by my right-leaning and left-leaning friends alike, William Kristol and David Brooks penned a wide-ranging essay on “the politics of creative destruction.” I will now excerpt large portions of it shamelessly:

There aren't many concepts as beloved by conservatives as the great economist Joseph Schumpeter's notion of creative destruction. Capitalism is superior to socialism because it is dynamic: Old forms and structures have to change or give way -- or be destroyed -- so new ones can prosper. Government shouldn't get in the way and try to prop up faltering businesses and industries. But Schumpeter's concept doesn't apply only to economics. It applies to politics as well.

These days it applies to the Republican party. To stay with business terminology, the Republican party has been losing market share. In 1984, Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale by 18 points. In 1988, George Bush beat Dukakis by 8 points. Four years later Bush lost to Bill Clinton by 5 points and four years after that, Bob Dole lost to Clinton by 8 points. On the congressional level, the Republican party had a great anti-Clinton triumph in 1994, but failed to translate it into a governing conservatism. The Gingrich revolution petered out, and the GOP lost seats in each of the last two congressional elections.



The midterm elections notwithstanding—appropriate in light of the highly unusual circumstances: a national emergency, an opposition so pathetic and hapless as to have shocked large swathes of the previously undermotivated bourgeois left into disciplined, concerted political action, a talented slate of candidates drawn from a shrinking pool—there’s no reason to believe the drift into permanent minority status has ended. Rove’s efforts to woo growing demographics are a faint memory. Consider the WSJ’s front-page analysis in today’s paper:

The nation's face is being reshaped in ways that aren't helpful to the Bush effort. The Hispanic population is exploding in size, and Hispanic voters are heavily Democratic. Other nonwhite ethnic groups are also growing. If all demographic groups split their votes this fall as they did in 2000, the Bush team estimates that Mr. Bush would finish with three million fewer votes than Democratic candidate John Kerry. In 2000, Mr. Bush lost to Al Gore by 500,000 votes in the popular vote. The growth in Hispanics largely accounts for the bigger gap.



It gets worse:

Other trends also put bumps in Mr. Bush's road. Younger voters who grew up in the era of Bill Clinton rather than Ronald Reagan seem harder for Republicans to reach. Also, Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg notes that birth and demographic trends make them the most diverse generation yet: Just 65% of them are white, compared to 90% of seniors 65 and older. Early on, these youngest voters were the most supportive of the war in Iraq of any age group. Now they are the least.

Among women in 2000, Mr. Bush was 12 points behind Mr. Gore, but as president he seemed to narrow the gender gap after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Republicans spoke hopefully of "security moms." Yet polls show the gap has widened again. Meanwhile, Democrats are mounting an unprecedented effort to register unmarried women -- an estimated 20% of the electorate that tends to be less educated, less affluent and Democrat-leaning.

Many Arab-Americans and Muslims, who once seemed an emerging Republican constituency, are upset over Iraq. Among senior citizens, Mr. Bush had hoped that with the new Medicare prescription drug law, he'd more than make up the four percentage points by which he trailed Mr. Gore among voters 60 and older. Instead, polls show roughly half of seniors oppose the law, and a majority oppose him.



And so the Bush campaign is relying on what you might call a 50.1 percent strategy of turning out the vote among evangelicals. That might work this time around, but my strong suspicion is that it will never work ever again. When you’re shooting for 50.1 percent of a demographic snapshot, you might end up with 49 percent or 51 percent and carry the day. But the snapshot will be unrecognizable in four years’ time, and you’ll be royally screwed.

I mean, you’ll be royally screwed in the absence of “dynamic scoring,” but as we know, all kinds of probabilistic gobbledygook is happening every minute, a butterfly flapping its wings, etc. The nature of this campaign will reverberate. Ask Pete Wilson.

Take the various constituencies identified by Jackie Calmes and John Harwood in the WSJ: Will younger voters welcome a harder-edged social conservatism that gets exurban evangelicals to the polls? Will unmarried women, another growing constituency? If the loss of Arab-Americans and Muslims is an inevitable result of pursuing a robust foreign policy, it’s a price worth paying—I’d rather the Republicans lose than abandon a policy of forward engagement. The problem is that there will be no compensatory gain among, for example, Jewish voters, a constituency eyed by the Bush campaign: despite expectation that backing the Sharon government would yield considerable gains among Jewish voters and donors, the vast majority have remained solidly behind Kerry. Indeed, Sen. Lieberman, who expected to yield considerable support from the Jewish community fell far behind Dean in his fundraising efforts, maintaining an edge only among the religiously orthodox and the very conservative, many if not most of whom were partisan Republicans. Keep in mind that Jewish voters tend to be wary of the religious appeals that energize evangelical voters. Might there be compensatory gains among, say, Asian Indians? Hardly. First, there aren’t very many, and so they’re outgunned on political and financial clout. Second, they are, like most Asian American ethnic groups (even younger Vietnamese Americans, the most reliably Republican of them), trending left. As for seniors, well, that’s a wash.

So what does "dynamic scoring" tell us? That 49 + 1.01 sometimes equals 43. A second Clinton administration, anyone?

Back to “Creative Destruction”:

Reagan won, and created a new governing majority, bringing the now famous Reagan Democrats and independents into the fold. That majority has served the country well. But times and issues change. Busing is gone. Crime is down. Soviet communism is dead. It's hard to argue that the country is being strangled by taxes and regulation when the economy is chugging along at nearly 7 percent growth. And though it took them three presidential defeats to do so, the Democrats finally reengineered themselves, and they started winning. In the last two presidential elections, the Republican candidates were left with about 40 percent of the vote -- the Republican base and little more.

Along comes John McCain. Either by accident or by design, he has become an agent of creative destruction. He has the temperament -- to say the least -- to challenge the old order. He has attracted support from a diverse group of people -- independents, Democrats, and reenergized Republicans -- who are largely unmoved by old Republican themes. It's fair to say that the McCain campaign has done a poor job of persuading members of the old structure that it is in their best interest to change, and it's also true that the destructive effects of the McCain campaign have been more evident than the creativity. But it is always that way at first. The iconoclastic phase of creative destruction comes first; only then does something new have space to bloom and prosper.



This is where, to the strains of mandolins, we wistfully consider what might have been. Right. Anyway, Brooks and Kristol proceed to sketch a viable “McCain majority,” paralleling the Reagan majority:

Electorally, the McCain majority coalition would take in the independent voters who have grown more numerous in the information age. During the 1990s, two outsiders briefly (and remarkably) led in presidential preference polls: Ross Perot in mid-1992 and Colin Powell in late 1995. As a reformer, McCain aims to be the thinking man's Perot. As a patriot, he aims to be a politically engaged Powell. The patriotic reform impulse, which flared up in 1992 and 1995, has reemerged in the McCain campaign. Even if that campaign now falls short, this sentiment could be at the heart of a new conservative governing majority.

This new majority -- whether led by McCain or someone else -- would include mainstream conservatives in the North and South, bicoastal independents, and the midwestern bourgeoisie. Whereas the Goldwater Republicans jettisoned the northeastern Republicans, McCain would jettison the most self-caricaturing leaders of the right. If forced to explain this in realpolitik terms, he'd probably say, you can't win the large group of swing independents needed for electoral victory unless you disavow the Robertsons and Falwells (while striving to retain the religious conservative grass roots). By framing his moral crusade as a patriotic rather than a religious movement, McCain could create an alliance between the independents and most social conservatives. He might fail this time; some of his recent rhetoric was harsh. But general election match-up polls pitting both Republicans against Gore suggest that the potential McCain majority may be the only governing majority available to conservatives.



Who can seriously question this diagnosis? The bitter-enders, of course, who believe that everything is perfectly fine with the Reagan majority, despite the fact that large numbers of Reagan voters are dead while others, in the wake of welfare reform and the economic expansion of the 1990s, have returned to voting straight Democratic tickets, leaving behind a Reagan minority. The conclusion of the article remains relevant:

Either way, it is now clear that the Republican party has more to fear from stability than from change. Conservatives from Burke on have always emphasized that it is necessary to evolve in order to conserve. Conservatives should have the courage of their Burkean and Schumpeterian convictions. They shouldn't fear the creative destruction that is now necessary to a healthy party and movement; they should join it and shape it.



Then again, what the hell do I know?

In case it's not pellucidly clear, I think Ferguson is roughly right, which is not to say I always find him engaging, but that's another story.