Really, but for the flag floating on the roof, but for the two soldiers on sentry-go

detective15.jpg

update below:The Qana Conspiracy Theory

In anyone but Alfred Hitchcock’s had directed Vertigo (1958) it would have come off as unbelievable melodrama, better suited for television with welcome commercial interruptions. Hitchcock has a plan, to draw us in, tell an improbable story and make it all plausible. First he has to give us faith in the veracity of Detective Scoottie Ferguson. Scottie is the modern man, a detective who deals in facts, hard evidence. He has the kind of built in credibility that an airline pilot has when he says that he has seen a UFO, even skeptics will give him a chance to tell his side of the story. We may not believe people can be possessed by spirits or somehow reincarnated, but we listen because of Scottie’s professional status. So if Scottie thinks Madeleine might be part ghost part human the audience is willing to tag along and give a brave(established with opening sequence) nice guy with a fear of heights the temporary suspension of disbelief. After-all Scottie is a detective, if anyone can get to the bottom of the story he can. Hitchcock also uses Scottie as a symbol as a man obsessed. Obsession like other emotions is universal but when it comes to the opposite sex it is not usually a feeling that we’d like published on the front page of the paper. Some obsessions are benign like putting in all nighters to write the best thesis, Scotties is not quite that benign. The audience should be more then a little uncomfortable with Scottie lurking around, but only marginally so and we’re a little bit afraid for him. Why is that. Hitchcock has wrapped Scottie in a cocoon of goodness, he’s a cop, he’s almost been killed chasing the bad guys, he’s tall and strong, but afraid of heights. His secretary treats him like a mischievous twelve year old. If Scottie gets little carried away, acts a little outside social norms its our duty as compassionate observers to give him a little slack; so when Scottie gets to the point where he is making over Judy into Madeleine, its both disturbing and fascinating. That is Hitchcock getting his hooks into the audience, but he is not taking us anywhere we don’t want to go. We’ve all heard the damning indictment that movie makers are manipulative. A director that can’t manipulate his/her audience shouldn’t be making movies. That is part of the art of Vertigo, constantly leading us up to key sub-climaxes where the viewer joins in the quest for the next clue, the next revelation. We mentally shout at the screen to tell us more. You can’t make that kind of emotional investment unless the director, the screenwriter, and the cast has strung us along.

In case some reader may not have heard it from a thousand other sources the conservative movement is the boat of a thousand leaks. I’m not talking about the Whitehouse leaks or the media leaks, I’m talking about the ideological leaks. Sure, if I had comments some conservative would surely drop the tiresome big tent line, but it is more then that. The tent is being held together by spit and old glue. At least that is my best guess. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there are untold hundreds of elite left of center northeastern intellectuals, well then what do you call the William Buckleys, George Wills, Willam Safires, and David Brooks.

THE LOW POST: The Mansion Family

“The conservative mansion has many rooms. In one chamber there are the resurgent Burkeans . . . In another chamber are the staunch Churchillians . . . But I wonder if amid all the din there might be a room, even just a utility closet, for those of us in yet another rightward sect, the neocon incrementalists.” — David Brooks, “Onward Cautious Soldiers,” The New York Times, July 23, 2006

So David Brooks wants to go into the closet with his fellow neocon incrementalists. And I thought The New York Times was a family newspaper!

There are many people out there who are baffled by the career of David Brooks, but I am not one of them. Any man willing to admit in print that he can get a boner surveying the “awesome resumes” of marrying Ivy Leaguers on the New York Times wedding page (“you can almost feel the force of mingling SAT scores,” he coos in his book Bobos In Paradise) is always going to occupy an important spot in the American media landscape; the ruling class always needs its house bumlickers. And Brooks does the job well, although at times I think he’s so craven that he does his masters a disservice. I mean, seriously — a mansion of conservatism? Why not go all the way: The yacht of Republicanism has a great many berths . . .

Brooks and the others mentioned are many things, but they are not going to be riding shotgun in Charlie Daniel’s pickup or knelling next to James Dobson in this lifetime. They all vote the same, but can anyone really make the case that when these guys enter the voting both and the visions they have of what they’re voting for are mirror images. Other then blind allegiance to the holy grail of tax cuts, what exact policies would each of these individual members of conservatism vote for. Or better, if each could be God or George W. Bush for a day and with a swept of their magic Con-wand what would America look like. We’re talking about the difference between rodeos, palatial cathedrals, and country clubs. So if they all had equal powers we’d get the elite cowboy cathedral or some multiheaded monster. The Taibbi article in Rolling Stone is a rip at Brooks, but even more so at the DLC and while Taibbi might disagree It would seem that the Republican Party has much deeper fissures then the DLC and the netroots. Think of the DLC as your crusty old grandfather, he may be stubborn and set in his ways, but he can be reasoned with, the same cannot be said of conservatives of any stripe.

Update: The Qana Conspiracy Theory

It really doesn’t matter what the medium was, newspapers, radio, or direct mail for as long as I can remember and certainly longer then that, the right-wingers of America have been swearing to the nation that they are the ultimate arbiters of the truth. The right-wing blogs continue the promise of truth and never quite deliver. It turns out the internet is just another medium to torture the truth, ironically they use the net as the modern version of the inquisition. They only tell America what they believe, what they feel, the facts be damned. The doublethink righties create a narrative and make events fit that narrative, and so it goes with Qana. Some highlights from the WaPo article,

Confronted with photographs of dead children, Israeli Insider’s Korvet insisted they must be something else: “The victims were non-residents who chose to shelter in the building that night,” he writes. “They were ‘too poor’ to leave the down, one resident told CNN’s [Jon] Wedeman. Who were these people?”

That question has been definitively answered in the mainstream press. Almost all of the victims belonged to two extended families, the Hashems and the Shalhoubs, who lived in the area, according to the independent accounts of The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid and the Daily Star’s Nicholas Blanford.

snip

Confederate Yankee, a onetime guest blogger for washingtonpost.com, sees “evidence of a most revolting Hezbollah fraud.”

snip

How did Hezbollah truck in bodies to the Qana site without the pervasive Israeli aerial surveillance catching it on film? Israel has released footage of what it says are Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from the area. Presumably, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is not covering up the story.

As for EU Referendum’s claim that a Lebanese rescue worker seen in many photos from Qana was a “Hezbollah official,” I e-mailed co-author of the site, Richard North, to ask for his evidence.

“All I have to go on is gut instinct,” North replied.

(emphasis mine)While tempting for rational people to ask, don’t they get tired of being wrong 99% of the time, same your breath. When you live in a self affiriming echo chamber you never see yourself as wrong.

We have all also heard the term fiscal conservative, a term of art, of mass merchandising that has never had any meaning in the real world. I’m a fiscal liberal, I’m pro spending in accordance with a reasonable progressive tax rate, spending the money as smartly as possible and keeping the books balanced, I’ll leave it to the spinners of conservatism to come up with a name for a predicament that they alone are responsible for, What’s the real federal deficit?

The federal government keeps two sets of books.

The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.

The set the government doesn’t talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government’s accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

Congress has written its own accounting rules — which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel.

Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household.

A growing number of Congress members and accounting experts say it’s time for Congress to start using the audited financial statement when it makes budget decisions. They say accurate accounting would force Congress to show more restraint before approving popular measures to boost spending or cut taxes.

“We’re a bottom-line culture, and we’ve been hiding the bottom line from the American people,” says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a former investment banker. “It’s not fair to them, and it’s delusional on our part.”

The rain, which fills the roads yonder with such disgusting mud, and digs such deep ruts, here is nothing more than an elegant, aristocratic shower, reviving the red of the bricks and the green of the lawns, polishing the leaves of the orange-trees and the white feathers of the swans. Everything glistens, everything is peaceful. Really, but for the flag floating on the roof, but for the two soldiers on sentry-go before the gate, one would never suspect that it is the headquarters of an army. The horses are resting in the stables. Here and there one sees a groom, or an orderly in undress uniform, loitering about the kitchen, or a gardener in red trousers placidly drawing his rake over the gravel in the great courtyards.

from The Game of Billiards by Alphonse Daudet