Late entry in the Begala Awards for over-written lefty angst goes to my friend, Katha Pollitt, who still can’t get over W’s victory. Life in this capitalist hell-hole is so bad, who can blame Pierre Salinger for staying in France?: ‘[A]ccording to Newsweek, there are now 1 million slaves in America, mostly women and girls–cleaning houses, making clothes, servicing men sexually to pay off traffickers and pimps. Ask yourself what kind of man would fuck a slave, some Chinese or Albanian or Thai teenager in a plywood cubicle with a mattress on the floor. Do you think he cares if you write a letter to your congressman? Maybe he is your congressman… ‘If there’s a depression, will we have enough money?’ Sophie asks as we turn out the light. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ I say. ‘Everything will be fine. We can always sing in the subway.”- The Nation, January 22. Oh come on, Katha. If worst comes to worst, I’m sure you could get a gig at the American Prospect.
Anyone as amused as I am that there are two Powells in W’s cabinet, father and son? I wonder when the last actual familial link was in a cabinet, since Jack and Bobby. I have no reason to believe that Michael Powell is incompetent or unqualified, but it does strike me as odd that no red flags have been raised. Talk about affirmative action! And then this morning’s New York Times contains a story about Strom Thurmond’s son, Strom, getting a pass for U.S. attorney because of his father’s name. I know we now have an hereditary presidency, but could someone please draw the line somewhere?
Two late entries in the hetero pedophilia craze. A friend reminds me of Jon-Benet Ramsey and the little girl pageant circuit. Can you imagine a similar pageant for boys? These shows essentially involve dressing up, sexualizing and then parading children as objects of desire and beauty. Since the full extent of these pageants’ existence was exposed in the Ramsey case, was there an outcry over the pedophile overtones? Nuh-uh. Can you conceive of a pageant which dressed up little boys in thongs or erotic costumes and gave them grades for how hot they were? Not exactly. And yet, as Eberstadt implies, girls are even more vulnerable to experiencing violation in this fashion than boys. On the movie front, how about last summer’s hilarious teen-age movie, American Pie. The climax is a teenage boy finally making it with his best friend’s mother. Budweisers all round! The movie was a mainstream hit, especially with teenage boys. Oh, well, never mind. Bashing gay men is far more acceptable to the editors of the Weekly Standard.
W is changing the city, running around whipping up apathy. Three cheers for tedium! For more, see ‘Valium City,’ my latest TRB, opposite.
Drudge links to a London Evening Standard story about a 15-year old who is getting breast implants for her sixteenth birthday. Her eleven year old sister is planning on the same. Her dad is all in favor. Her mom is paying for it. Hmmm. I wonder why. The new, post-modern wave of hetero pedophilia chic continues. But will the Weekly Standard have the courage to take a stand? A nation waits …
I remember when George magazine first started. JFK Jr came down to Washington to chat up hopefuls to staff the thing. My old friend Rich Blow was wooed to go work for it. He asked me one afternoon in Dupont Circle what I thought. I asked him what would be on the cover of a glossy magazine published in New York about Washington politics. He had no idea at the time. Neither, it turns out, did John Kennedy. There are only so many times you can get Cindy Crawford to dress up as the nation’s founder. The magazine contained, from time to time, some good reporting. But conceptually, it was nuts. To put it mildly, you can’t convert Washington into Hollywood. D.C.’s stars are, in general, ugly, over-weight, and best seen in private and very dark lighting. Glamorous they are not. Try as he might, John Kasich is no Matt Damon and Barbara Mikulski is no Anne Heche. Trying to publish a Premiere magazine about the beltway was a sublime piece of folly made possible solely by the celebrity chic of JFK Jr. At its best, George was a pioneering way to milk the celebrity culture in a new way: By subscribing, you felt somehow connected to the Sexiest Man Alive. Why he even took his clothes off and wrote an editor’s letter. Unfortunately, the kind of people who want to be connected to the Sexiest Man Alive are not the kind of people likely to be interested in the doings of the House Appropriations Committee. So you ended up with this extremely weird mélange of style and content that couldn’t be rescued even by an untimely dip into the sea near Martha’s Vineyard. Another indication that a new era is coming, methinks. And not a moment too soon.
Another reader sends in a contemporary example of popular tolerance of heterosexual pedophilia. In David Mamet’s new film ‘State and Main,’ Alec Baldwin’s affairs with teenage girls are treated as a joke. At the end a lawyer takes a bribe of $800,000 not to press charges against him. Readers are hereby invited to send in similar examples of creeping pedophilia chic among male heterosexuals. The heterosexual rights movement has been strangely silent in tackling this subject as yet another social taboo goes down the plug-hole. Even mainstream straights have failed to condemn this movie adequately enough. Where is the conservative press when we need it?
Some have spun the rate cut as Greenspan’s endorsement of the Bush-Cheney line that the economy is going to hell and something must be done immediately to rescue it. The Fed’s rate cut, according to this argument, is a prequel to the Bush tax cut. But isn’t it likely that the opposite is actually true? Greenspan, like any good Randian, wants to see taxes lower. But he doesn’t want to see them lower out of a misguided attempt to jump-start the economy. One of Greenspan’s achievements has been to wean the Democrats away from Keynesian demand management. Why wouldn’t he now try and do the same to the Republicans? Greenspan is a deficit hawk before anything else. He doesn’t want to preside over a collapsing surplus or an inflationary boom in his last term in office. So he’s lowering rates now to reduce the pressure for a huge sudden tax cut, while not disavowing the potential for a phased-in modest tax reductions over the next two years. Subtle, and, I hope, effective. As long as Bush and Cheney get the message.
‘British political philosopher Isaiah Berlin once classified all thinkers as either hedgehogs or foxes. Hedgehogs have only one big idea; foxes have lots of little ideas. That analysis beautifully describes the difference between Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s styles of thinking…President Clinton thinks brilliantly about a lot of small things. Bush II is a thinker like Reagan. He knows only one thing – that conservatism must be a way to help the needy, not to pad the wealthy. Unlike his father, whose thinking style was more a collection of details like Clinton’s, Dubya keeps his attention focused on his central theme and lets others fill in the blanks. This difference in thinking styles was most in evidence during the Bush-Gore debates. Gore wallowed in specifics. He based his entire campaign on a collection of details – his prescription-drug benefit contrasted with Bush’s, his Social Security plan vs. the Republicans’ – while Bush spoke of concepts and more basic ideas. It wasn’t that Bush didn’t know the details, but that he didn’t much care. He knows, instinctively, that details don’t matter as much as big ideas do.’ – Dick Morris, New York Post, January 3, 2001.
Some great feedback. Thanks. A couple of points. Some have queried whether tolerance of heterosexual pedophilia is as prevalent among straights as tolerance of homosexual pedophilia among gays. The answer, I think, is that, for the most part, straights are far more indulgent of pedophilia than gays. Let me cite one example, which is a little more mainstream than an obscure American Psychological Association paper. Last year’s multiple Oscar winner, ‘American Beauty,’ had as its central plot a middle-aged man’s sexual attraction for his daughter’s cheer-leader class-mate. This won plaudits from the entire world, and, so far as I know, not a single dissent from its apparent tolerance of pedophile inclinations. (The merciful denouement was the man’s decision not to have sex with his daughter’s friend). Was that pedophilia chic? Surely it was. So why no mention in Eberstadt’s piece? Because it couldn’t be used to demonize homosexuals. Almost every day, I get unsolicited emails inviting me to look at teenage girls on pornographic websites. Not good marketing, I grant you. But Eberstadt has nothing to say about this, despite being hysterical about consensual sexual relations between legal gay teens. Have you taken a look at one of the most popular music stars of our time, Britney Spears? She’s a walking advertisement for pedophilia – a sexualized teen pin-up appealing to older and younger men. Does Eberstadt honestly believe that the footnotes of obscure gay periodicals are more culturally influential than Britney Spears? Of course she doesn’t, but when you’re simply trying to smear people, why let reality get in the way?