Hitch Strikes Again: Quote Of The Day

Christopher Hitchens in his Fighting Words column on Slate, running down former New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith in the wake of Smith’s criticisms of John McCain’s temper:

He combines the body of an ox with the brains of a gnat. Indeed, if his brains were made of gunpowder and were to accidentally explode, the resulting bang would not even be enough to disarrange his hair. He moved from being the most right-wing Republican senator from New Hampshire, switching to the U.S. Taxpayers Party after a distinct absence of what we call “traction” in his presidential run of 2000, tried to rejoin the GOP when he saw a nice, fat chairmanship become vacant on the death of Sen. John Chafee, failed at that, lost the nomination in his own state, moved to Florida, endorsed John Kerry in 2004, endorsed Duncan Hunter for the Republican nomination in December last year, and was last spotted on the Web page of the Constitution Party: a Web page that’s tons of fun to check out. And this cretinous dolt, who managed to do all the above without bringing out so much as a sweat on his massive and bovine frame, is the chief character witness against the impetuous McCain. Nice work.


I Can’t Believe I’m Saying This


I’m not glad Hillary Clinton won in Pennsylvania, and won by juuuuuust enough of a margin to justify hanging around for a while as her aides petition the Board of Regents at MIT to change the laws of mathematics and thereby make it possible for her to win the Democratic nomination.  I was really hoping she’d win in a squeaker and that her campaign would fold amidst an avalanche of calls for her to just…go…away…already before both candidates are too damaged to be elected.  I’m one of those Republicans who would like to see a race between the two best candidates on the premise that its best for the country, rather than one of those Republicans who wants Hillary to get the nomination because she’ll be the easiest to beat.  Ergo, I want her to be dumped unceremoniously on the side of the road.

However, since she hasn’t been so dumped yet…and saying this feels in my mouth like chewing on a rusty nail…I’m glad she raised $10 million in the 24 hours since she won Pennsylvania.  And here’s why:  it would really suck if the only reason a semi-viable candidate, in an American election, had to quit was solely because he or she ran out of money.

I was watching MSNBC as the Pennsylvania result came in, and even as the pundits were discussing her victory, they were also lauding Obama’s campaign for spending so lavishly in Pennsylvania, forcing Clinton’s campaign, which was and still is considerably less flush than Obama’s, to do the same.  The talking heads – including Air America’s Rachel Maddow who you’d like to think would eschew such distasteful cynicism given that she’s a left wing liberal and therefore hates money – were all saying what a strategically smart move it was, because it basically meant that yes, Hillary won the state she needed to win, but exhausted her treasury in the process and now can’t go on.  So even though she’s just proven that she does have an appeal to a fairly significant Democratic voting bloc (I can’t believe I’m sticking up for her…this post is plunging me into an existential crisis), her message will be inevitably silenced because…she’s out of money!

And here’s the thing – nobody on TV seemed even bothered by it, nor to grasp the rather dispiriting and lamentable significance of what they were saying.  It was eerie and disquieting:  In America, the world’s greatest democracy, all you have to do in order to get a party’s nomination is grab an early lead and then outspend your opponent, or make him or her “bleed to death” as one of them so Putinishly put it.  If that’s Obama’s “new politics” then this is one twentysomething who isn’t along for the ride.

So Hillary, here’s hoping your campaign, and indeed your entire political career, comes to a quick end because the electorate wakes up to the fact that you are a dishonest, opportunistic, paranoid boor, or because the real truth behind your myriad shady financial transactions finally comes to light, and you and your insufferable nymphomaniac husband are never heard from again.  Any of those reasons would be fine.

Just not because you ran out of money.

A Big Night For ATITP On Monday Night RAW

 Miiisterrrrr Civilizer…Civilizer

I must say, I never thought I’d be dictating the rhetorical direction of the Democratic primary back on February 27th of this year, when I suggested that Barack Obama take The Rock out on the campaign trail with him to close the Senator’s stump speeches with a little “If ya smell what Barack is cookin'”.  And yet there it was, Monday on the special 3 hour RAW on USA, Barack Obama himself closing his pre-taped message to the rasslin’ fan voters with “Do you smell what Barack is cookin'”!

I would have to say, in all humility, that tonight was a validation of my long-running position that politicians and their aides would do well to incorporate one of the primary tenets of professional wrestling if they want to rejuvenate American politics – cut promos.  And yet, at the same time, these three particular politicians perhaps discredited this position, because these three promos were freaking terrible.  (You can watch excerpts, including “Do you smell” here)  Stiff delivery was a big problem, for one.  Seriously, you could almost physically see the following thought floating across Obama’s face:  “Who in the aw-shucks heck is Randy Orton and why did I just bring him up?” (Points to Orton, though, for being mentioned twice, by both Democrats)  And Hillary, good Lord.  A for effort because she really did seem to be good-humored about doing this, but she had even more tortured wrestling allusions than her opponent did.  “Hill-rod?”  I don’t even know what that meant. 

Also, both of the Democrats were smiling!  You do NOT smile when you’re cutting a promo unless you are the cocky heel, and you don’t play the cocky heel if you’re trying to win an election!  And not only did Barack smile, he broke kayfabe at the end, but I think I’ll blame his video editor. This is basic stuff, people.  Lincoln never would have pulled a hayseed move like that. 

McCain had his own problems but, amusingly, his cadence, facial expressions, and tone of voice indicated that he was definitely trying the hardest to sound like a real wrestler.  I think he also had the best catch-phrase drops, referencing Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Triple H, and Stone Cold Steve Austin all within about 20 seconds.  Memo to McCain though – when you’re the establishment white guy Republican going up the first black Democratic candidate for President, or the first woman, I wouldn’t call yourself “The Man.”  He did have the line of the night, however, when he aped the Hulkster’s famous “Whatcha gonna do when Hulk Hogan and all the Hulkamaniacs run wild on you?” and turned it into a hilariously codgerish “And whatcha gonna do when John McCain and all his McCainiancs run wild on yeh.”

While the promos might not have been the strongest, I can ultimately take deep satisfaction from the fact that in a historic national election, all three major candidates felt compelled to assume the pulpit of American professional wrestling and reference the following men in an attempt to win the nation’s highest office: 



For the record, Senator McCain also promised to introduce the terrorists to this man:

Best foreign policy idea I’ve heard yet.

Truly We Are Living In Humanity’s Golden Age


Blabbermouth.net Posters Are The Worst Kind Of People

 King Civilizer 

So somewhere around age 14 I decided I was going to be a heavy metal and hard rock fan.  I don’t know how it happened, but there in the midst of a Midwestern suburban upbringing, private schools, and several pairs of Dockers, I decided it was going to be up the irons from here on out.  There really wasn’t any rebellion element, as I thought even then, as now, that teen-age rebellious behavior is embarrassing and indicative of an inability to introspect and nurture an independent self-concept.  When I went to the record store to buy “Kill ‘Em All,” I was typically wearing Gap khakis and a collared shirt, and then went and hung out with people who dressed the same but who might have listened to Dave Matthews, or (eeugh) Tupac, and engaged in weekend activities such as not smoking pot and not planning to gun down everyone in our 6th period English class on Monday.  So I listened to Metallica, Ozzy, Tool, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, etc pretty much in a vacuum.  I recommend being a metal fan only under those circumstances.  Want to see what I mean?  Go to Ozzfest.

There’s really no eloquent way to say this so I’m just going to come out with it – a lot of the people there are pretty screwed up.  Going to an amphitheater hosting Ozzfest is like walking into a convention center that double booked meetings of Campus Spree Shooters of Tomorrow and the Oxycontin Enthusiasts – hyperaggressive, faux-gothy bros playing human pinball down in the mosh pit blended with navel-gazing kids who evidently paid $50 to go see their favorite bands and not smile once, even when Ozzy plays “No More Tears” and Zakk Wylde does the solo and it’s awesome because he plays part of it with his teeth and then Oz brings out this huge mother of a water cannon and squirts the first row and howinthefuckdoyounotcrackasmilewhenhedoesthat?! 

Anyway.  Not well, the Ozzfest crowd.  My happiest day, musically, was when I got a job that paid well enough for me to pop for pavillion seats, thereby allowing me to avoid an inordinate amount of mixing with the hoi polloi on the lawn.  But while their behavior, when you’re up close and in person, is bad enough, things are ten times worse when they attempt to employ the written word.  When you actually get a window into their minds, you realize very quickly that metal fans are the worst kind of fans to have.

None are more irrationally unforgiving.  Pop fans will put up with anything.  People still buy Ashlee Simpson albums, even after she Milli Vanilli’d her Saturday Night Live performance and, in a classy move, tried to pass it off as a miscue on the part of her band.  Matchbox 20 has a bunch of fans, and when they come out with a new album, you never hear about a mini-revolt of people who complain about their new sound.  Madonna hasn’t come out with anything notable, much less good, in decades, but every time she releases new music people are all over it.  Red Hot Chili Peppers?  They’ve churned out the same mid-tempo balladish music for the past 3 albums and you never hear anybody bitching about them. 

But metal fans?  Holy shit, if you’re in a metal band and you wear the wrong t-shirt in a promotional photo, the internet explodes.  So when you make a record that doesn’t sound exactly like your first one, if you start to sing a little more rather than scream everything, if you downtune a guitar that you usually don’t downtune, you can kiss at least one third of your fan base away – and that one third that’s defecting is going to be extremely vocal about it. 

It’s incredible.  They will sling conceivable permutation of the word “faggot” – “fagit,” “fagot,” “faghit,” etc.  If you have the letter “S” in your name, it will be replaced with a “$,” cleverly implying that you have sold out – i.e. “Lar$ Ulrich.”  While we’re on the subject of Lars, he and his band mates have been labelled “MetalliCA$H,” “Selloutica,” and of course, “gay.”  Your band has lost it, fallen in love with getting on MTV, you’re a bunch of clueless, out of touch poseurs.  You are suddenly the worst band that ever took to the stage.  Everything you do from here on out will suck.  All your fans are mallcore loser sheep queers.  They wouldn’t know real metal if it smacked them across the face.

Metal fans are a complete liability – if I had a band, I think the only way I could get through the day would be to carefully avoid any kind of user-accessible media; it’s bad enough to have to deal with some guy who couldn’t sing or play guitar to save his life tell you that you suck, but when they tell you in a poorly punctuated message board post where every third word is misspelled and every second word is a puerile dick joke, I think I might sink my career by releasing an album called “Screw You If You’re Buying This.” 

Meet China’s Olympic Goon Squad


You’re the new family in the neighborhood.  You’re planning on throwing a big backyard barbecue for everyone on your block, because you really want to make a great first impression on your new neighbors and there are some really nasty rumors floating around about you…that you only let your kids watch episodes of Father Knows Best on DVD and don’t let them use the interwebsnet for anything, even school, or you blindfold and beat them if they get a B on a math test, or you’re the ones who were shooting dogs and cats in your old neighborhood, including the tagged and registered ones, and grinding up their penises into a tonic because yours didn’t happen to work properly.

So you’re gonna throw this big soirée so the whole neighborhood can come over and see for themselves that rumors are all they are, and that you’re really a swell hybrid of draconian communist governance and unrestrained, exploitative capitalism bunch of people who you don’t have to feel nervous or queasy around, and you’re going to be great neighbors that your guests are going to want to get to know better.  This party is going to be so awesome, so wonderful, so by-God (actually you don’t believe in God but pardon the expression) cozy that the assembled throng in your back yard won’t even notice the sulfuric runoff in your koi pond.

Obviously, the centerpiece of any good barbecue is the food, specifically the steaks.  No doubt your guests will ooh and ah as you have the thick, pink, marbled prime cuts brought out from the kitchen and ceremoniously placed at the grill where you will commence the preparation of a delicious meal.  Now, this presentation is where you set the tone.  There’s a lot you could do here…have the wife carry them out on a silver platter (or the husband…just kidding!  You don’t have much regard for the rights of womenfolk around your house.), or sprinkle flower petals along your path to the grill.  Or maybe release some doves – people like doves; they’re peaceful and whatever.


Or, uh, yeah…you could hire a bunch of ex-military, cracked-out Hell’s Angels with poor impulse control to “escort” the steak to the grill and put any protesting vegetarians standing nearby in a nerve hold.  That’s a good idea too. 

Obama Makes A Good Point, Everyone Jumps All Over Him


I think one of Slate’s most astute observations about the Democratic primary has been to track the way the Obama and Clinton campaigns take calculated umbrage at things said by the opposition campaign about their candidate, hoping to score some political gain.  And up to this point, that’s been the exclusive way that umbrage has been employed – one campaign gets huffy about something the other did, said, or implied.  Examples abound – there was the Obama campaign groping for the fainting couch after Geraldine Ferraro opened her idiot yap (her ticket lost by one of the widest margins in history, why would she be tapped as a surrogate, again?), Clinton wanting to meet Obama in Ohio at high noon after he distributed a critical flyer, Obama’s campaign getting all righteously indignant when Mark Penn referred to Obama’s youthful dalliance with cocaine, the Clinton campaign going Force 10 crazy after Samantha Power called her a “monster,” etc.

And now the Clinton campaign has decided that getting offended on its own behalf is so three months ago, and it’s time to shine ass by getting offended on behalf of the voters.  At a fund-raiser in Pennsylvania, site of Hillary Clinton’s latest “last stand” (sidebar:  anybody else agree with me that Hillary Clinton is like that furniture store that has like 3 “Going Out Of Business” sales every year?), Obama was addressing the raw feelings among working class voters in Rust Belt states, and made the following statement, the horrifically offensive, Mussolini-esque part highlighted in bold:

“Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

As class-related statements go, I wouldn’t really rate that one near Ronald Reagan’s “poor by choice” comment on the Incendiary Meter – as I read it, Obama basically said “Go into states that have historically been supported by blue-collar economies like manufacturing, and you’ll find that economic decisions made by previous administrations have left the citizenry behind through outsourcing and trade deals that didn’t look out for the American worker.  And this has been happening for a full generation now, and these people are upset about it, feel like their government treats them as disposable in the face of foreign trade and interests, and so they get pretty pissed about it and start looking for fulfillment, community, and meaning elsewhere.”  I’m kind of surprised the remark kicked up the shitstorm that it did.

But boy, did it.  Hillary Clinton didn’t wait long, and despite the fact that she didn’t take a lot of time to prepare, her comments are nevertheless hilarious, well-crafted self-parody that matches Stephen Colbert with ease.  “Senator Obama’s remarks were elitist and out of touch,” she said, campaigning about an hour away in Indianapolis. “They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans.”  

Only Hillary Clinton, just a week out from releasing tax records that showed she and Slick made $109 million since 2000 – the top one hundreth of 1 percent -, would attack Barack Obama for being “elitist.”  (sidebar No. 2  – Hillary actually said, by way of comment on the embarassment of riches “my husband, much to my surprise and his, has made a lot of money since he left the White House, by doing what he loves doing most — talking to people.”)  And I don’t know about you, but when I think of the elitist comments, Hillary’s assertion that she’s “not the kind of woman who stays at home baking cookies” leaps to mind pretty quick.  Yes, it’s quite a common touch she’s got.

Clinton also points out “I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakable faith in America and its policies.”  I also was raised with Midwestern values…still live in the Midwest, in fact.  And somehow I missed the part of Midwestern values education where it recommends marrying and covering for a serial philanderer so that you can climb a political ladder.  But maybe there’s an advanced class in Midwestern values taught somewhere in Clinton’s carpetbagged adopted home of New York that a rube like me hasn’t been privy to.  And the fact she didn’t invite me to sit in leaves me feeling kind of…offended.