Tuesday, March 29, 2005

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Kerry in '08! Come on! Who's With Me?

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss While you were busy filling glass bottles with gasoline for your Terri Schiavo-related riot, there was a revolution in Kyrgyzstan. U.S. press coverage seems to link this revolution to the similarly bloodless affairs in Ukraine and Georgia, but there's a key difference: the Kyrgyz rebels are former Communist insiders, and the regime they toppled is that of a liberal, Western-style reformer.

Wrong Man, Right Mustache A letter signed by 59 former diplomats has been delivered to Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The signatories, including diplomats from every administration from Nixon to Clinton, urge Lugar to oppose the nomination of ivory-'stached neocon John Bolton to the post of ambassador to the UN. Personally, I think the idea of appointing a man who has vowed to destroy the UN to serve on its Security Council is one of President Bush's rare Dadaist touches.

Property: No Longer Theft We've all had a good chortle about the crass consumerism of Christian stores like Not Of This World, but what about the runaway shopaholism of those consummate state-smashers, the anarchists? At this year's annual Anarchist Book Fair in San Francisco, the intellectual descendants of Emma Goldman and Buenaventura Durutti came together to express their opposition to all forms of hierarchy by purchasing books, CDs, and t-shirts that say "Fuck Your Fascist Beauty Standards." As Joey Cain, the organizer of the book fair, puts it anarchistically: "A Bush election is very good for anarchist consumerism." You see? The president is getting the economy back on its feet.

The Triumphant Return of "Jeff Gannon," Ace Reporter! "Jeff Gannon," known to his parents and gay softball teammates as J.D. Guckert, has been invited to appear as a member of a National Press Club panel on issues involving blogging and journalism. "Jeff" is remarkably well-qualified to discuss this issue, since he posted GOP press releases on a blog called Talon News and was given a White House press pass in exchange. The fact that "Jeff" is not technically a journalist (and has, technically, been a male escort) does not seem to deter the National Press Club. The panel will also include phony reporter Ana Marie Cox of "Wonkette" fame, making this the first time in history that Cox will be in a room full of reporters and not be the least qualified person there.

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants The problem with the Left - liberals, progressives, populists, anarchists, what have you - is that it's no fun. The Left contains many well-meaning people (and many not-so-well-meaning people), but when it comes to cutting loose, you might as well be at a Young Americans For Freedom mixer in Indiana, circa 1963. The Left has far too many sacred cows to be effective at undermining the rapacious Bush administration and its allies, whose only sacred cow is Capital. Follow the above link for proof of this: A selection of Lefty writers desecrating the great work of Ambrose Bierce, one of America's most vile, embittered, and magnificent journalists. The well-meaning Lefties attempt a rewrite of Bierce's famous "Devil's Dictionary," in which he spelled out the nihilist worldview in a way so witty and charming that even the people he attacks (that is, everybody) can't help but laugh along with him. Bierce had no friends or allies, and spares no one from his disdain: He not only goes after religion and politics, he goes after basic human relationships, as when, for example, he defines the word "Befriend" as "To make an ingrate." Bierce vanished in Mexico before World War I, and his masterpiece has long been in the public domain; indulge your wicked sense of cynicism here. But his successors have done a poor job matching the man's bile, because they only direct it at one source: Bierce recognized that all politicians and parties are equally contemptible, an insight the Left can't stomach (Bierce's definition of "Radicalism": "The conservatism of tomorrow injected into the affairs of today"). Here's Arlie Hochschild, by contrast, breaking out the satire: "Environmental Protection Agency: Economic Predators Inc." Nurse - please! My sides are splitting! Or, how about Tom Engelhardt defining "Patriotism": "How Americans love their country. A trait so positive you can't have too much of it, and if you do, then you are a super-patriot which couldn't be better." A cutting insight, there, Tom. But contrast that with Bierce's definition of the same word: "Combustible rubbish read to the torch of anyone ambitious enough to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first." The lesson: real satire has no friends, not even Naomi Klein.

-Consider Arms