Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lefty-Backbiting Brouhaha

You'd have to have been living under a rock the last 24 hours not to have caught the Lefty-Backbiting Brouhaha over at Tom Watson's place. An individual traveling under the monicker Pachacutec posted a screed at FireDogLake in which he said of Democratic Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, "She can slurp the gnarly nub of power with the very best, gamely grinning to the gushing finish: a working girl's working girl."

Tom called him on his misogyny:
But in a world where a hero like Mukhtar Mai of Pakistan overcomes court-ordered gang rape and a corrupt regime to help educate the children of her attackers, we kid ourselves that we're advanced enough, cool enough, hip enough, or evolved enough to throw around this low-brow gender-based garbage and think it won't stick - to us, to the left, to the Democrats, to our candidates, to our movement.
Tauscher is an evil, crabbed, nasty individual; no arguments here. In general, I ignore blogs of both the right and the left that wallow in rancorous denunciation of whoever's happened to piss them off in the last ten minutes, and I believe the health and well-being of my liver is the better for it.

In Tom's comments, however (fascinating reading, BTW), Pachacutec managed to piss me off but good:
Face it. We [at FireDogLake] do punk rock posts and you're into Guy Lombardo.
OK. Passion of the moment, blah blah. Anybody can look stupid when angry. Happens all the time.

I'm not particularly offended by the blatant misogyny employed to characterize Tauscher. I see worse fifteen times a day on Comedy Central. I think Tom's comment thread contains a lot of rote lifting of skirts and automated feminist scolding. If you're offended by the word "cunt" as a term of opprobrium, you'd probably better stay out of Britain, where it's extremely common currency among both sexes. As I've observed before, the blogosphere is a tiny, tiny, tiny little cross-section of the American voting public, and what some idiot hothead said on FireDogLake in November of 2006 has zippy chance of becoming an issue in some future election.

No, what pisses me off about Pachacutec's awful, hateful screed is the fact that he went for the cheap laugh by calling his object-of-the-moment a whore. And then turned around and called it "punk."

Pach', kid: Punk happened. Note tense. This weekend I loitered in Claire's Boutique at Tysons Corner Mall while young Betty rooted around for some bauble or another. I was not particularly surprised to find, in among the Hillary Duff-branded bracelets and the Aly and AJ-branded earring collections, a stand dedicated to Green Day-branded necklaces and wristbands for the delectation of teenybopper girls. These treasures came complete with adorable photos of the eyeshadowed lads looking all disaffected and pissed-off, their American Idiot hand-grenades featured prominently on the cheapjack teenaged gauds.

Punk is deader than goddamned Vaudeville. Fuckin' get used to it.

The notion that you can shock, vilify, curse, and gob the bourgeois into recognition of their fundamental uselessness has played, kid. We're shocked, vilified, cursed and gobbed every fucking day by the slime oozing out of our TV sets. We're numb. We've been épaté'd so many times by so many lazy goddamned "revolutionaries" that the sight of some self-appointed artist's hairy moon shining out over the waistband of his dropped pleather pants provokes precisely nothing. We've seen the act, chum. It's easy. It's cheap. It's the laziest, crappiest, most slothful kind of self-indulgence a person can grant himself.

You wanna know how to be a fucking revolutionary, Pachacutec?

How about this: The most revolutionary act you can perform in this fell, death-infected year 2006 is to act like a goddamned adult.

Isn't that just blisteringly clear? Could that be any more self-evident? They act like children, Pach' -- all those bulletheaded, leather-lunged, lantern-jawed jocko-homos down at Little Green Footballs -- if you play their game, you are no better than them. If you, through intellectual laziness and sloppy thinking, go for the cheap laugh at a perceived enemy's expense, you are no better than them. Misogyny's got nowt to do with it -- it's just goddamned lazy to call your opponent a whore and expect to get laffs-n-applause for it.

To continue your metaphor, Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians played in tune, with precision, and were ashamed -- as adults, professionals, are ashamed -- when a note was clammed, a cue missed, a beat dropped. I once gloried in punk's shambolic sloppiness; but it's become the accepted norm. Now it's just fucking lazy, Bad Musicianship.

We -- that's you and I, Pach' -- we can do better than that.


Anonymous said...

comin' at ya' from Guy Lombardo's hometown, it goes without saying I'm with Ned. My kid's mohawk and general punkitude are just poses.

Speaking of Poses, thank Bobby for turning me onto Loudon when next you speak with him.

"Drunk and wearing flip-flops on fifth avenue..."

I know the feeling.

roxtar said...

I'm gonna go all objective for a minute here.

"She can slurp the gnarly nub of power with the very best, gamely grinning to the gushing finish: a working girl's working girl."

Now that's a nicely crafted sentence. And I suspect that had such a phrase had been turned in the direction of Babs Bush, or Laura Ingraham, or that psychotic harpy from Atlas Shrugs, it would have been cheers and giggles all 'round.

But to play the punk card is totally lame. Punk was pure attitude with little to back it up, and even the attitude wasn't particularly original. As Pete Townsend observed: "We were the first band to vomit in the bar."

Pachutec made a couple of significant errors. First, he laid this turd in his own party's punchbowl. If you have dead weight on your team, or a cancer in your clubhouse, you just cut 'em. See, e.g., Philadelphia Eagles Football Club v. Terrell Owens, E. Dist. Pa. (2005). You can't blister them like that if you are going to have to keep them around.

Second (and once again, history repeats itself), it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. He could have simply admitted to going over the top, muttered some sincere expression of his frustration re: DINOs, a glancing apology to any sex trade workers who may have been offended, and the tempest would have remained in the teapot.

But no. Instead, this incident has pulled the bandage away from the previously hidden fistula that has been the chronic affliction of progressive/left politics for as long as I can remember. Which, of course, is that we always ... always give our first allegiance to our own personal issues ahead of the ultimate objective.

It's the People's Front of Judea attacking the Judean People's Front, all over again.

Anonymous said...

roxtar, Tom's written three posts about this issue and one was about the left calling Coulter and Laura Ingraham whores, too. Basically saying ... Knock it off, you stupid idiots! Are you insane?

Which goes to Neddie's point. Really? That's the best you can do? Call Coulter a whore? Like, you can't think of something to say about what she actually says?

Great post, Jeddie.

Kevin Wolf said...

Damn, Neddie, you're right again.

Act like adults. Goddam, I love that. Isn't that just the truth?

Sort of related: I've seen articles recently on the "hip parents who have kids yet refuse to grow up themselves" psuedo-demographic and thought to myself, who gives a shit? What's this got to do with me, or those who don't make the salary that supports this "lifestyle"? What crapola articles are they going to write about these morons when, six fucking months from now, they get their first gray hair?

Sorry. Ranting.

Re punk music, I revere the Clash, as all thinking people should, because they took punk "attitude" and married it to political positions and pissed off vocals. They took punk out of Malcolm MacLaren's boutique and made something of it. Now, I guess it's back in the boutique.

And Guy Lombardo fucking rocks!

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY. We would all do well to bear in mind that Nov. 7th was not the revolution. The next two years are going to be tough even if the new majority was a monolith. Being from Rhode Island, I look at this in the context of ex-senator Lincoln Chafee,a Republican enabler reviled by his own party for being too liberal and now unemployed for being too Republican. They needed that (R) more than they needed a true believer in RI, and now they have neither. Tauscher may not be the pride of the Democratic party, but she's not the worst, either (Jefferson & Lieberman own the low end of the gradient, IMO). Anyone who thinks we're not going to see a lot of politics as usual are going to be severely disappointed. Just look at K st. & big pharmas maneuverings & tell me otherwise.It's going to take all of them to reign in the unitary executive, and even that may not be enough.

Anonymous said...

RE: Green Day... Funny, I saw the same exact thing at a claire's in St. Louis on Black Friday. (I have an 11-year-old.) The "Hilary Duff Stuff" I understood; the Pirates of the Caribbean stuff made sense. But, I just didn't see how the Green Day merchandise fit into it all. I always thought they were going for a strict 90s alternative vibe. Guess I didn't know much about them.

Anonymous said...

That was a very satisfying post!

I was in a Claire's this past weekend as well and noticed the Green Day right next to Dora the Explorer(???).

Anonymous said...

I was a punk rocker. I knew the punk rockers. And TREx, you're no punk. You're not even post-punk. You don't rise to the level of Green Day.

Guy Lombardo as a put-down? Hey man, Lombarbo swung.

You just swing and miss.

Neddie - thanks for the post, it's great.

Roxtar, I don't agree - I think it's stupid from a tactical perspective and gross frm my own POV to attack Coulter for her gender, sexuality, looks etc.

Just attack her lame-ass arguments. They're easy enough to swat.

Anonymous said...

We should come up with a better shorthand for: "Exhibiting a loathsome pattern of behavior that is characterized by worshipfully serving the interests of powerful people out of an apparent desire to gain their favor, aquire respect-by-association and/or simply feel important, while simultaneously, conspicuously, and falsely claiming to be solely motivated by allegiance to high values and principles."

So.... Somebody should do that.

On a related thought, there is a welcome and well-expressed article in Slate http://www.slate.com/id/2154567/nav/tap1/ today that advocates breaking the cultural taboo against hurling some well-aimed misofascistic epithets at certain deserving targets.

roxtar said...

Roxtar, I don't agree - I think it's stupid from a tactical perspective and gross frm my own POV to attack Coulter for her gender, sexuality, looks etc.

I didn't mean to imply that it would have been effective or otherwise OK to launch such an attack against Coulter; only that the backlash would have been (IMHO) far less vigorous. Your overarching point, however, is well taken. it is the kind of tactic that tends to blow up in one's face. And in light of the relentless rain of self-inflicted blows sustained by the GOP in recent months, we hardly need to spit in their ocean of embarrassment.

And BTW, where's Mick Ronson when you need him?

Anonymous said...


You talkin' to me?


all the (somewhat older, paunchier) dudes, (still) carry the news

not to mention the reference to the real TRex

Anonymous said...

Tom W.: Naw, just throwing that out to the world at large, because I agree that 'slut' and its kin don't serve (but I'm laming out of coming up with an alternative myself).

While I'm here, here's a link to that Slate article that works.

Neddie said...


Why do we need shorthand for it? I think a grownup would say,

"A pattern of behavior that is characterized by worshipfully serving the interests of powerful people out of an apparent desire to gain their favor, aquire respect-by-association and/or simply feel important, while simultaneously, conspicuously, and falsely claiming to be solely motivated by allegiance to high values and principles, is loathesome."

I'd probably be tempted to throw "fuckin'" in there to modify "loathesome," but I'm a punk rocker.

Neddie said...

QRED again:

Read the Slate piece (slow work day -- yay!) and it's a killer:

"The relevance of Third Reich Germany to today's America is not that Bush equals Hitler or that the United States government is a death machine. It's that it provides a rather spectacular example of the insidious process by which decent people come to regard the unthinkable as not only thinkable but doable, justifiable."


Anonymous said...

When I read that "punk" comment at Tom's place, I was knocked out of my chair by the sudden burst of ego that blew, airbag-style, out of my monitor.

Great line. :)

I agree that 'slut' and its kin don't serve

The word "slut" doesn't bother me.

Not that I want to be called one! No I don't!

Cuz if you guys want to be the Lawrence Welk and Guy Lombardo's of the bloggysphere, then I want to be Patsy Cline.

And would anyone call Patsy Cline a slut? I think not.

Neddie said...

GB, you can be Slutsy Cline of the Gloggosphere if I can be the Letcher Henderson. We'll Mimbo the night away...

Anonymous said...

I fall to pieces when you talk like that, Jeddie.

Anonymous said...

Hey none of that!

Anonymous said...

I just downloaded my own version of "Sweet Dreams Of You" --

Man! Can I sing!

Elvis had nothin' on me!

Anonymous said...

Of course, Elvis was always more popular than me. Always got all the attention. I was never *good enough* for everybody. I never got as much credit as him.


Anonymous said...

Hey Slutsy- I thought your internets name was just, "Mean, Mean Slut"!?!??!

Anonymous said...

I forgot when I was "mean, mean slut" over at Mannion's!


Boy, was that embarrassing!

TW, it was just a screen name joke. Do not be alarmed. Mannion did not call me a mean, mean slut. I had changed my screen name from...oh, whatever. Boring story.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Anyone ever seen four guys in a POS van driving 200 miles to do a 40 minute gig for beers in front of 12 uncaring poseurs lately?

The Figgs out of NY always do an allages basement show in town before they hit the nightclub for their gig.

Punk's still alive, in the clubs and the basements and in the 13 year old kids picking up their dad's unused guitar out of boredom... Green Day were punk, and maybe still are, but the music machine has co-opted them, it's all assimilation.

The Mekons opted out 15 years ago, and are still making brilliant music, but because they won't take the bait, the machine ignores them...

The Clash (and I love 'em, don't get me wrong) would have been swallowed whole just like Green Day have been, but self destructed first. It nearly killed Mick Jones and did kill Strummer.

Anonymous said...

And yet you missed my clever screen name - for shame!

Anonymous said...

I caught it, Blingy.


Hey, Blingy. You're all over the Internets with this little dust up. You're handling it all very well.

Neddie said...

A-an' I get no props at all for "Letcher Henderson"??? There's no justice.

Temp. Cos.:

Anyone ever seen four guys in a POS van driving 200 miles to do a 40 minute gig for beers in front of 12 uncaring poseurs lately?

Musos were doing this in 1920, and have never stopped, and I hope they never do.

'S not really what I meant by "Punk is dead." We're operating under different definitions of the word.

I mean the ideology of Punk is dead -- the notion that a population can be shocked out of complacency by anarchist artists. Capitalism deadens any and all effective (ie., popular) dissent by instantly swooping in and appropriating the language of the dissenters and selling it to the punters as "the latest cool thing." It's happened hundreds of times since 1977, when I watched what I think of as "real" Punk become a toothless fashion statement in approximately 15 minutes (April 23, 1977, to be exact).

Beg, borrow, or, perhaps best, steal a copy of Tom Frank and The Baffler's "Commodify Your Dissent." It's a bit dated in its references (it came out in the mid-Nineties), but it's even more true now than then.

And have a guvlat on me.

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Punks are cunts.

Anonymous said...

Terrific post, Neddie. You really got the bit in your mouth on that one.

Punk *is* dead. On the other hand, there's dynamite music out there that sounds like nothing but punk.

I went to the Departed recently (great movie) and was thrilled by a song in the early going. It was I'm shipping up to Boston by the Dropkick Murphys.

I'd never heard of them before (I know, I should get out more), but it reminded me of what I always liked about punk: that straight-ahead rock and roaring lyrics. I never did find the posturing very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Mike K,

The first thing I did when I got home from seeing The Departed was download Shipping up to Boston.

And there's only one way to play it.


It's great.

Bobby Lightfoot said the C-word! Bobby Lightfoot said the C-word!

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Sometimes Humor twists your arm. Humor Knows Best. Humor will out. Sometimes you have to trust Humor and believe that if it is indulged, everything will end up O.K.

Lives are shattered for money and cocksquirts ever' damn day. It's time some precious lives were broken for Humor.

For humor. I'm here, Humor. Take me like the Blushing Humor Handmaiden Bitch that I am. Take me across th' kitchen island. Sweep away th' fruit bowl and th' soccer schedules with a firm brush of your masterful and knowing hand.

I trust you, Humor. I'm in your hands. I surrender to you. It's going to be...O.K.

Anonymous said...

Jeez. I came over here to hide out from alla the fireworx over at the Watson's and FDL's places, an' whaddeye find? "Punks are cunts."

It's a losin' fight!*

*J. Durante

Phoenix Woman said...

I wonder what the Brits who read this blog and Wolcott's blog and Tom Watson's blog are thinking of this whole dust-up, being that "twunt" (from the words "twat" and "cunt") is now such a common British term among both sexes (as for example here) as to be almost not a cuss word any more ("fuck" having reached that point about a decade ago).

Susie said...

Dittos, Neddie. Dittos.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Neddie. When you blog, you ruin the internet for the rest of us. This is really a great post. I've been thinking about it for a few days now...still great. Have you ever had the experience of having a sort of half-baked feeling-on-the-edge-of-an-opinion that you can't quite articulate, and then you read something that just PERFECTLY crystallizes your vague intuition and makes it clear and rational and succinct? This does that for me: "The most revolutionary act you can perform in this fell, death-infected year 2006 is to act like a goddamned adult."

Anonymous said...

Also, Blue Girl's other name is Cheaty McBakeOff-Pants. Period, end of story.

Arvin Hill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arvin Hill said...

Debord kicked off Society of the Spectacle with this:

“But for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence . . . truth is considered profane, and only illusion is sacred. Sacredness is in fact held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.”

~Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity

Which explains the endurance of punk fashion and a million other things.

The greatest thing about punk - the thing lost in its commodification - was the DIY ethos. Too bad. Our hyperspecialized binary culture could use an injection of do it yourself. Can't sew disorder without it.

The fashion aesthetic always seemed too cartoonish and desperate to be cool. In that manner, the scary KORN kids we ridicule today are very much like the objects of their imitation. Now with dextramethorphan! But that's fashion for ya.

I'm glad to have missed the vortex of punk - the actual lifestyle. It would've killed me. Besides, nihilism is so much richer in middle age.

Punk, an often unfairly maligned musical genre, deserves a more spirited defense, but as everyone here already knows, the debate itself is as cliche as mohawks and nose piercings.

As for the brouhaha: In stark contrast to Neddie's musings and love of language, that's the kind of intralefty discourse I did not miss during my last seven months (mostly) offline. No offense intended, truly.

Rock on.

Anonymous said...

between the 'cunts', 'whores' and photoshopped pix of pols in blackface, FDL is the kind of ally the leftosphere could do without... IM[unsolicited]O.

belledame222 said...

with allies like that, who needs enemas?

>1. Even though I'm fine with that word, many people aren't, and that will probably keep people from reading the rest of my post and getting the point, which is the only thing that matters when you blog.

wouldn't you think?

belledame222 said...

>Re punk music, I revere the Clash, as all thinking people should, because they took punk "attitude" and married it to political positions and pissed off vocals.>

well, yeah, and also: they fookin' kicked arse.

i defy anyone to not get excited by the intro riff to "Ever Fallen In Love With Someone."