In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Immigration Update
  2. More on Making Books
  3. Modernizing the Mideast
  4. "The Triplets of Belleville"
  5. Is Bush a Conservative?
  6. Anti-Capitalism: With Us Always?
  7. Elsewhere
  8. Jess
  9. Q & A With Jim Kalb, Part Three
  10. Q & A With Jim Kalb, Part Two

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Immigration Update
Dear Friedrich -- Steve Sailer shows what's wrong with Tamar Jacoby's new open-the-borders immigration book (here). The Telegraph reports that an official Dutch commission has concluded that the country's 30-year effort to turn itself into a multicultural society has failed, here. Victor Davis Hanson pokes some large holes in Bush's immigration proposals, here. Peter Brimelow (here) thinks Bush ought to be impeached: "The Bush proposals are mad, totally nuts, they will simply flood America with Third Worlders and result in its becoming like Brazil," he says. And, hey, I just noticed a new book on a theme I've been pounding away at myself. It's called The Presumed Alliance: The Unspoken Conflict Between Latinos and Blacks and What It Means for America, by Nicolas C. Vaca. (It's buyable here.) Hostilities between blacks and Latinos: something we never had much of before, that's inescapably with us now, and that's almost certain to get worse. And it's entirely due to lax enforcement of that lousy 1965 immigration law. Best, Michael UPDATE: Alan Sullivan comments here. UPDATE UPDATE: Steve Sailer has a provocative new piece about Europe's approaches to immigration challenges here, and he points to a fascinating Bruce Bawer article about Muslims and marriage patterns in Norway. "Members of most non-Western immigrant groups are, in overwhelming numbers, not only marrying within their own ethnic groups," Bawer writes, "but marrying partners - often their own cousins - from their countries of origin ... The trend, in short, is toward increased segregation, not increased integration."... posted by Michael at January 24, 2004 | perma-link | (25) comments

More on Making Books
Dear Friedrich -- Interesting tales about what it's really like to make a book: Andy Kessler writes for the WSJ about self-publishing his book, here. David Sucher recalls what it was like to bring his own excellent book to the public here. Philip Greenspun lays out the details of his own publishing story here. Reading these accounts got me thinking: If I had a nonfiction project that might be a book, I'm not sure a book is what I'd choose to turn it into. Why? Because books aren't electronic, and these days most information is accessed electronically. If I thought that by turning my material into a book I might change my life in a good way -- by making a zillion dollars, say, or by earning tenure -- I might well decide to publish a book. But if my book prospects looked more typical -- pathetic advance, few reviews, many frustrations, lousy sales -- I'd choose to put my material online instead, where it could at least be found, looked at, and made use of. If the real point of writing is to contribute to the larger conversation, why consign your work to a dusty, lonely shelf when you can give it a public life instead? A note here: I'm as lousy a predictor of the future as the next guy. But when I do get lucky and connect, I find that I hit on a topic about 2-5 years before it turns up as a subject of general discussion. And I gotta say that I'm feelin' the heat here about this particular line of thought. So I'm going to go out on a limb and make a Blowhardish prediction: in a couple of years, you'll start noticing that numerous nonfiction writers are agonizing out loud about whether they should be turning their material into books, or into online resources instead. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at January 24, 2004 | perma-link | (9) comments

Modernizing the Mideast
Dear Friedrich -- Dig this: some Saudi Grand Mufti or other has actually said, "Allowing women to mix with men is the root of every evil and catastrophe." And he said it not in private but at an international-finance get-together. The Financial Times reports here. These people do have trouble with the modern world, don't they? Which reminds me of something that bugs me about media coverage of mideastern affairs. It seems to me that 'way too little is made of how, er, nonmodern these people are. Many Westerners seem to be under the impression that mideasterners can be talked to and bargained with as though, under the robes and behind the dark spectacles, they're just like us. My impression is different. It's based on very little experience, admittedly. Still, a zillion years ago I spent a month with friends in Morocco; one of us was Moroccan, so we saw more of the real Morocco than most tourists at the time did. What most impressed me about our adventures was how really primitive the country was. Most of the population seemed to be living in the Dark Ages; I found it terrifying that they had access to any modern technology at all. (Hey, did you ever read about New Zealand's Maori people? Ferocious inter-tribal fighters who, for centuries before Euros arrived, inflicted and survived feuds and raids on each other. But when the Euros arrived and the Maori suddenly had access to guns? Well, they just about wiped themselves out.) I found it terrifying not just that some of these Moroccans had guns; I found it terrifying that so many of them had transistor radios. Who knew what they were making of what they were listening to? I was a kid at the time, but I still remember thinking: "It's going to take generations, and not decades, for these people to enter the modern world." From the FT's story about the anti-woman Mufti, it sounds like progress is being made at about the rate I guessed it would be. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at January 24, 2004 | perma-link | (11) comments

"The Triplets of Belleville"
Dear Friedrich -- Although I'd been looking forward to the animated movie The Triplets of Belleville (here), I didn't write about it after seeing it because ... Well, I liked it, didn't love it. I loved the movie's Euro-graphic-novel visual style, and its funky-shocking interludes. And I loved its avant-garde-circa-the-'20s storytelling; in the way it handles narrative, it's like that early silent Rene Clair movie "Entr'acte." "Triplets" is a charmingly, and genuinely, experimental movie. But my interest flagged here and there; I even dozed off a few times, although I didn't find that unpleasant. The film was so well-done that I haven't been able to figure out why I wasn't more enthusiastic about it. I wonder if it's simply because I've always had trouble with long-form animation. Animation ... the ultimate artform ... where everything can be manipulated ... what could be more creative ... blah blah: I know how those arguments go. In practice, though, my sense of delight starts to flag after about 10 minutes; at any extended length, I seem to find it much more interesting to watch real people. (This is one reason I'm not psyched about the directions computer technology is taking movies, by the way. Computers turn movies into pixels, thereby allowing creative people to get inside and tug things around; they essentially turn real-life movies into a subcategory of computer animation. And, as I say, I simply find it easier to sustain an interest in real-life movies than in animated movies.) But that's just me, and people better than I -- Terry Teachout (here), Nate Davis (here) and Cinetrix (here) -- have loved "Triplets." If you haven't seen it yet, don't miss renting it on DVD. I'll be eager to hear how you react. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at January 24, 2004 | perma-link | (2) comments

Is Bush a Conservative?
Dear Friedrich -- What exactly is conservative about George W. Bush? The question seems to be in the air. John Leo scratches his head here. Jonah Goldberg, here, points out that under Bush, "overall spending from 2001 to 2003 grew at 16 percent and discretionary spending went up 27 percent. That's double Bill Clinton's rate." In Fortune (here), Anna Bernasek calculates that, as Boomers move into retirement, the country may face as much as $44 trillion in underfunding. That was no typo: $44 trillion. As Bernasek says, "It's more than four times the size of our GDP, and 1 1/2 times the size of the entire world's GDP. If we had a fire sale of all our nation's assets today—stocks, bonds, and real estate—we could just about pull in $44 trillion." Even the WSJ is reeling, here. And Andrew Sullivan (here) is now referring to the Bush/Rove approach as "the strategy of bankrupting the country to appease various interest groups." Speaking of Andrew Sullivan, how do you react? Steve Sailer can't take him seriously, but I find Sullivan a brilliant scamp and troublemaker -- a born category-scrambler. (Underneath whose perversities are a lot of convictions I respect.) I don't read him expecting to agree or be persuaded. I read him for the dazzle and the sense of play, and to be provoked. And I find that he seldom disappoints. FrontPage's Jamie Glazov has interviewed Sullivan here. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at January 24, 2004 | perma-link | (8) comments

Anti-Capitalism: With Us Always?
Michael: Aw, darn, you beat me to it again. I was going to say something about Barry Schwarz's article on how too much choice often reduces happiness, rather than maximizes it. (Mr. Schwartz's article can be read here.) I just want to say that I strongly suspect (based, of course, on nothing but gut instinct) that this trend is related to the topic of my recent posting, Do We Really Have a Market Dominant Majority? which can be read here. That posting was about how rare it is, even in a thoroughly capitalist society such as our own, to meet people who make speculative investments or are entrepreneurs (the two activites that constitute what might be called 'Higher Capitalism.') Reading Mr. Schwarz's article, it feels to me as if the avoidance of unstructured situations in consumer life (i.e, too many choices makes us emotionally uncomfortable) also explains why so few people play an actively capitalist role in the economy (i.e., speculative investment and entrepreneurship imply too many choices and hence, are emotionally uncomfortable.) Of course, this doesn't explain exactly what is about making unstructured choices something that turns people off. Nature? Nurture? I dunno. (Although I note that nurture, or culture, certainly seems to play a strong role.) You could say that it's simply a prudent genetically-based avoidance of risk, but if that were true, who would ever learn to, say, ski (an activity that is all about risk and its management)? I think it is important to note that this pattern of avoiding unstructured problems is far more an emotional reaction than an intellectual one: I don't think that people can't solve unstructured problems, they just don't like to. In any event, this 'bias' may go a long way toward explaining the highly ambivalent feelings that people who live under capitalism have towards 'Higher Capitalism.' Of course, I still think that anti-capitalism arises at the most profound level from the state of constant change engendered by the marriage of capitalism and advancing technology. This, I suspect, is the ultimate 'burr under the saddle' that makes capitalism (as useful as it is) somewhat emotionally repellant even to dedicated capitalists: it serves as a constant reminder of our mortality. And who likes to be reminded of his own mortality? Like the poor, I suspect we will have anti-capitalism with us always. Cheers, Friedrich... posted by Friedrich at January 24, 2004 | perma-link | (12) comments

Friday, January 23, 2004

Dear Friedrich -- * I've noticed fun and substantial reactions to our interview with Jim Kalb from Thrasymachus (here) and Squub (here). I also notice that, at his own blog, Jim has been exploring some of the questions that got raised, here and here. If anyone spots other continuing discussions of the interview, please let me know. * Polly Frost may not have been blogging much recently, but it seems she's been up to creative mischief anyway. She's written some erotic-horror short stories and will be presenting them Sunday (as in tomorrow) at a Greenwich Village club. Here's her announcement. You'll have to scroll down a bit for details. * Wired magazine reports that a Sundance favorite was edited in Imovie and made on a budget of $250, here. * Aaron Haspel is breaking windows and throwing cherrybombs again -- and I say that appreciatively. Here he rates the blogger-humorists, and here he pulls apart some critic cliches, most of which I make plenty of use of myself. * I love James Kunstler's "Eyesore of the Month" page (here). He's got a rare knack for spotting, displaying and commenting on very American forms of ugliness, disregard, and cluelessness. * In case anyone's still skeptical about my observation (here) that the culture has done a remarkably fast U-turn where the goodness or badness of carbs are concerned: Newsday reports here that sales of OJ have slowed so rapidly (due to people cutting back on easy carbs) that growers are threatening to sue the author and publisher of a low-carb diet book. By the way, I just spotted the first magazine I've noticed (aside from promotional rags such as Atkins') devoted entirely to low-carb livin'. Its website is here. A question? When Ford discovers a bad flaw in one of their cars, it's often front-page news, and Ford itself often comes in for a beating on the op-ed pages. So why, when the health-tips biz reverses direction, are similar sounds of outrage and betrayal not heard? It couldn't be because the media outlets that normally broadcast outrage are themselves part of the health-tips biz, could it? Just a hunch ... * Intense, weirdo, more-downtown-than-you actor/director Vincent ("Buffalo '66") Gallo turns out to be a Republican, here. I wonder what he thinks about Bush's budget plans. * Peter Cuthbertson suspects that a reading of Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" is likely to turn a person into a conservative, here. * Nietzsche fan that you are, you won't want to miss Patrick West's article about him in Spiked Online, here. * The New Urbanist Peter Calthorpe talks here about some of the reasons why American towns and cities are the straggly, sorry-ass things they so often are. (In his view, one of the biggest culprits is the single-home-mortgage tax deduction.) Calthorpe can get a bit Volvo-eco-hippie-ish, but he can also talk a lot of sense. An example: "To think of the street as just a utility for cars is so absurd. And yet that... posted by Michael at January 23, 2004 | perma-link | (2) comments

Dear Friedrich -- Did you run across the news that the artist known as Jess died at the age of 80 earlier this month? Ken Johnson wrote a lovely and appreciative obit for the NYTimes, but it's now pay-per-view. Here's the good obit Kenneth Baker wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle. Have you seen much of Jess' work? An amazing artist, well-known in San Francisco but much less so in the rest of the country. I don't feel that Jess had a rough time of it -- his work is in collections at the Met, at MOMA, and at other major artplaces. So I can't play the satisfying game of railing against the cruel world for its injustice, darn it. The reason I think it's a pity that his name plays almost no role in the standard postwar-American-art story is simply that I suspect a lot of people would enjoy his work. I was wowed by it myself. Yet, despite being a bit more tuned into art-things than most people, the only reason I ever encountered Jess was that a friend who knew him personally browbeat me into paying attention. Jess was a one-of-a-kind artist. Maybe that's the reason he isn't better known; he wasn't a member of any art team, and he represented no larger trends or tendencies. You couldn't point to his work and say, See, that's what Conceptualism, or Ab-Ex, or Neo-Geo is all about! He wasn't an example of anything; he was about as singular an art phenonenom as can be. There wasn't much to Jess' biography. He was gay; he started out adult life as a scientist and an engineer; he found atomic bombs and atomic power so upsetting that he lost faith in science; he ditched his last name and cut off most contact with the outside world; and he turned to art. He shared a house and his life with the poet Robert Duncan. Ken Johnson compares Jess's work to that of Max Ernst and Joseph Cornell, which is a good and smart comparison; it was nothing if not visionary. As far as I'm aware, most if not all of Jess' work was meant to be hung on walls, but he worked in strange and often hard-to-categorize ways. Some of his "paintings" incorporate what looks like thousands of pieces from jigsaw puzzles; others are made of coils of oil paint so skeins-of-yarn thick that it probably makes more sense to think of them as colored relief sculptures than as paintings. People who object to modernist art because it looks like a kid could do it would be taken aback by Jess' paintings. The workmanship and labor are plenty apparent, even obsessively overdone; some of his paintings took him years to complete. His imagination seemed to enjoy feeding on visual material that's often considered unfair game for modernist art -- "literary" material, such as illustrations from Victorian children's lit, or pictures from science textbooks. He had tons of wit and made many collages; his... posted by Michael at January 23, 2004 | perma-link | (7) comments

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Q & A With Jim Kalb, Part Three
Our conversation with the traditionalist conservative Jim Kalb continues. This is part three of three. (Part one is here; part two is here.) You're encouraged to leave questions and comments -- Jim has generously agreed to respond in our comments thread. *** 2Blowhards: I think that, while many people are sympathetic to the critique conservatives make of liberalism, many of them are also suspicious of what conservatives would like to replace liberalism with. They fear stuffiness, intrusiveness, bossiness. Conservatives are often accused of wanting to legislate morality, for example. Is that wrong? Kalb: These concerns are based on the modernist idea that society is basically something rationally administered from above. On that view social order is forced on people from outside, so the natural response is to want as little of it as possible. Conservatism though stands or falls on the idea of tradition, on the ordering of social life by things that grow up somewhat autonomously and with their own standards and then become part of how people understand themselves and their world. Legislation can support those things but it can't be the main factor. So it's not basically a matter of forcing things on people but how man can live naturally as a social animal and how to get there. If such ideas make no sense then conservatism makes no sense. I'd be a libertarian if I thought that. 2B: Among my own beefs with leftists is their enthusiasm about government. They seem to see the political dimension not just as one aspect of society but as its determining factor -- the skipper of the ship, steering it in very specific directions. And of course they like dictating outcomes, sigh. How does the conservative see the role of government? Kalb: Tradition is only relevant if you expect things more or less to run themselves without constant central direction. So you can't really be conservative unless you favor limited government. In general, I'd say conservative governments have less of a tendency toward tyranny than liberal or leftist governments. A government that accepts things that have grown up and become authoritative among its people won't look at itself as a power above society. That makes it less likely to be abusive in some gross way. It's harder to give a positive conservative doctrine of government, since it develops so differently in different times and places. In America conservatism emphasizes particular traditional expressions of limited government, federalism and law. What's good in America or Switzerland may have to be modified in China or Finland. The background and conditions are quite different. 2B: Conservatives speak up for tradition. But what do they do when, say, progressive taxation or affirmative action -- policies they disapprove of -- have become traditions? How to distinguish between real and false traditions? Can there be any trustworthy way to do this? Kalb: Particular traditions have to be consistent with the well-being of tradition in general. So something as rationalizing and homogenizing as affirmative action can't be conservative... posted by Michael at January 22, 2004 | perma-link | (43) comments

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Q & A With Jim Kalb, Part Two
Our conversation with the traditionalist conservative Jim Kalb continues. This is part two of three. (Part one is here.) You're encouraged to leave questions and comments -- Jim has generously agreed to respond in our comments thread. *** 2Blowhards: What was it like going through Yale Law when you did in the '70s, having the convictions you do? Kalb: My convictions were a lot less concrete at the time, although I did find the place ideologically pretty alien. I just didn't believe in any of it. I responded by taking myself out of the loop as much as possible and doing a lot of legal history. The place was flexible enough that on the whole I could enjoy it. 2B: We've been mighty abstract so far. What might be a conservative way of thinking about and approaching a concrete, in-the-news type topic? Kalb: How about immigration? On a conservative view the key to immigration would be cultural and political coherence. America isn't just a legal framework or a means to an end, it's the American people and their common life over time. The American people isn't simply an aggregate, it's a complex unity. So even though America can absorb new citizens, without a generally stable population there will be problems because it won't have the coherence and specificity to be a concrete object of loyalty. It will be an ideological proposition rather than a country. I'd rather have a country to love than an ideological proposition to sign on to. I should add that without a stable population there can't be the common habits, understandings and loyalties that are needed for the American people to deliberate and act in a somewhat sensible way. Self-government becomes impossible. Which may be one reason American elites like wide-open immigration and ordinary Americans don't. 2B: In one of your online papers, you distinguish between liberalism, libertarianism, and conservatism. Jeremy Shearmur once talked about how, in his view, there are three main political traditions: conservatism, liberalism (subdivided into market liberalism, ie. Republicans, and welfare liberals, ie., Democrats), and socialism. Is that a taxonomy you can live with? Does it conflict with yours? Kalb: I don't object to Shearmur's taxonomy. It's a little different from mine but not really at odds with it. There are different ways of sorting things out. I mostly sort out politics by looking at ultimate standards of what's good and bad. So when I say "liberal" I mean a tendency that makes equality and satisfaction of individual preferences the standards for what's good. On that line of thought welfare state liberalism and ideological libertarianism are variations of the same thing. Both are basically concerned with satisfying individual preferences and both take all preferences as equal in worth. They contrast with conservatism because conservatism says the human good is more complicated than everyone getting what he wants. In the paper you mention (here) the emphasis is on methods more than goals. I say there that a "leftist" is someone who favors bureaucracy,... posted by Michael at January 21, 2004 | perma-link | (36) comments

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Q & A With Jim Kalb, Part One
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- I wrote yesterday about how, despite being a non-PPP (Predominantly Political Person), I got interested in rightwing thought, and about how eye-opening and stimulating I found my adventures to be. I also wrote a bit about how helpful I found the online writing of the traditionalist conservative Jim Kalb. Today, 2Blowhards is pleased to kick off a three-part q&a with Jim. Jim has one of the most remarkable web presences I'm aware of. While many first-class writers are putting their fleeting and incidental thoughts up online, Jim has given his online writing the kind of commitment, work, and care that most writers save for books; even his blogwriting is more considered and measured than what we're used to. With his papers, his blog, and his discussion board, Jim has put together a resource that's quite the equal of a first-class book. (It's in fact quite a lot better than many on the subject that I've looked at.) How lovely that his work, offered in this form, also offers the benefits of electronics, being updatable and responsive. It's also, of course, freely available. I'd gab a bit about how I see a connection between the modest voice, the searching and undogmatic mind, and the deep convictions that Jim shows in his thinking, and the helpfulness and openness that he demonstrates by making such substantial work available online. But I might get a little misty-eyed, so I won't. I'll sum up by saying that I find Jim's work, among other things, a fascinating combination of firmness and flexibility -- which isn't a bad way, come to think of it, to describe a prime conservative virtue. Jim grew up in the Northeast. He studied math at Dartmouth, law at Yale, and philosophy at the University of Wisconsin; he did a stint with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan; and he worked for an insurance company in Boston. He was a Wall Street lawyer for quite a while, but for the last few years has mostly been reading, writing, and maintaining his blog and websites. Jim is married, has three college-age children, and, as he says, "enjoys artsy and outdoorsy things." When I asked Jim where his interest in politics came from, he volunteered this answer: "I became interested in politics because I came from a politically active family (Republican party politics, libertarianism, mainstream feminism) and wondered what it all meant. Puzzling over that meant puzzling over culture, philosophy and religion too. Eventually I became a traditionalist conservative and a Catholic convert, although looking back that's really where my sympathies always were. " Fast Blowhardish note: In publishing this interview, I'm not trying to convert anyone to conservatism. A non-PPP I am and will always be. My agenda here is simple. It's to present a topflight mind whose work I've enjoyed, and to coax readers into taste-testing some unfamiliar but fascinating thoughts. I can't imagine not getting a great deal out of the encounter. I also want to urge... posted by Michael at January 20, 2004 | perma-link | (29) comments

Monday, January 19, 2004

Adventures in Rightie Thought
Dear Friedrich -- As you know, I'm anything but a PPP (Primarily Political Person). In fact, I've always been suspicious of PPP's. Politics has never seemed like anything but an unfortunate necessity to me, and -- deep character flaw, I suppose -- I have zero instinctive sympathy for anyone who would want to get involved. "What kind of weirdo would want to do that?" -- that's more or less how I respond to anyone who's in politics. Heck, all I had to do was leave the Republican small town where I grew up to discover that I was an arty guy, not a political guy. Nonetheless, there politics was, always demanding attention. For a long time, I figured myself for a lefty, if of the dissenting-from-within variety. It's a given in the world I inhabit that arty, far-out people (like me!) are lefties. Arty equals lefty; creativity owes its very existence to leftiness -- these are foregone conclusions both. The fact that there's little that annoys me as much as socialist (or socialist-esque) approaches is something I found inconvenient -- but, hey, that's why extremist organizations exist. So, where politics was concerned, I found inspiration and company among anarchists and environmental radicals. (I ran into simpatico and interesting people in both camps, BTW.) My thoroughly unexamined conclusion about my political convictions was along the lines of: I guess I'm just a truer lefty -- a leftier lefty -- than the people I spend nearly all my time among. But what did I care anyway? The point's to get on with life. But something kept nagging at me. It was the voluptuous pleasure so many of the lefties I knew took in demonizing something they called "the right." They'd get this gleam in their eyes; they'd start muttering about racism and sexism; they'd start feeling all rabid and charged-up ... It seemed like the behavior of lunatics; what it reminded me of most was the way depressed people try to raise their spirits. (Interesting how many lefties -- so pleased with themselves for being so liberated -- turn out to struggle with bad, long-term depression.) Anyway, it bugged me. I started paying attention, and I started noticing something else dismaying: the righties who were being denounced, ripped apart, and cursed were often my people -- "my people" in the sense of my family, my childhood neighbors, my friends from public school: the kind of people I grew up among, Republicans almost to a soul. People I love, in other words, and who (whatever their faults) are among the kindest, most pleasant and generous people I've known. I've never seen them not wish other people well; whatever voting lever they pull, on a person-to-person level they're far more human and welcoming than many of the vain, cockatoo lefties I now live among. The time had come, I knew, for me to plunge into rightie-ism. What the hell is it, anyway? And not, "What does rightie-ness symbolize to a convinced lefty?" That was... posted by Michael at January 19, 2004 | perma-link | (19) comments