Sunday, July 27, 2014

Remembrance of Doghouse Rileys Past

One year ago today the blogosphere lost a unique voice, and World O' Crap lost a friend of many years standing -- Douglas Case, the Hoosier Sage, better known around the intertubz by his nom de net, Doghouse Riley.  In memorium, I went through the Wo'C archives --- at least, those that survived the Great Hack Attack of 2010 -- and collected just a few of the pearls he so generously strewed through our comment threads over the past decade...
Okay, I hate to take away from larger issues, such as “what sort of shenanigans are involved in someone hiring Meghan Cox Gurdon as a writer?” or “who is it imagines there’s an endless market for the sort of self-absorbed blatherings you can’t escape at a family gathering?”, and I’m not even going to mention that May 1 column where she asks why, if black people are flocking to Obama it isn’t the most natural thing in the world for white people to hope one of their own finally makes it to the Oval Office, except she frames it as the sort of question no obviously well-mannered white suburban columnist would dare ask, since, y’know, they all have the good sense to pretend not to be racist anymore. I’d just like to know how one “assembles” loaves of bread in the morning for baking in the evening, and who it is thinks a baguette should be soft. But I’m easily distracted.
What is the deal with Ben Stein? 
Stein’s the Wayne Newton of American letters. He was resurrected during the brief, then-campy fashion for the hopelessly unfashionable about the time Disco died, and, like Newton, he somehow managed to overstay his welcome by a good half-century, becoming convinced of his own popularity into the bargain. He’s a cautionary tale about American culture–embraced for his role in a movie by its fans, who were to young to know, or care, what being a Nixon apologist actually entailed–as well as a living example of how people actually believed at one time that Ronald Reagan was just a gag we were pulling on ourselves, that we’d all have a good chuckle, then go home and forget all about it.
O god I hate bar culture. 
And I apologize, sincerely, to those of you who don’t, because what you enjoy is the bonhomie, or the skills of a good mixologist, or maybe just the rank smell of desperation and the shedding of IQ points by those with few to spare, and that’s not what I hate. 
I hate the debasement of taste, the TGIFridayfication of perfectly decent spirits that came about when adults stopped drinking and marketers swooped in to secretly turn everyone into a 19-year-old in the guise of turning everyone into a 22-year-old. Flavored martinis! Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican St. Patrick’s Day! Mixed drinks named by a panel of morning zoo personalities! Gimme a Blow Job! Har har har. 
Oooh, and great news–Bacardi has managed to take the Mint Julep, a drink which once desecrated honest bourbon, and not just transpose it for their execrable product, but produce a special “rum” for the purpose, so pre-Korsakoff’s alcoholics can feel like connoisseurs! I swear to god, if we just put Bacardi’s marketers in charge of Iraq there’d be lines around the block at every recruiting station.
Same thing happened to decent pot smoking in the 70s, when the Thai stick and Primo Bud morons moved in. 
Ironically, a provocateur is someone who "provokes trouble, causes dissension or the like; an agitator." 

Ironically, that's not what "agent provocateur" means.

Ironically, someone at something called "American Thinker" wrote that. 
Well, I thought I said this yesterday, but Lileks’ material is no funnier than it should be, and since I’m five years older I can attest that by the time he turned up, the “Look, humorously anachronistic kitchen design!” bit had already died of old age, despite being cared for by people who did it much better. 
To me the problem is his borrowing on the other side of the equation: he adopted the “I’m a slightly goofy Everyman, which makes my tiniest notion a lot more sensible than those eggheads who thought up the metric system” newspaper columnist tone that others had already stolen and done better, and he applied it to material that requires a certain amount of real, not mock, self-deprecation. Your own kitchen is going to look like it’s wearing sleeve garters and a handlebar mustache before long. 
Kitsch is funny because of the uncritical acceptance of bad or indifferent commercial “aesthetic”. It’s really not possible to make fun of shag carpeting or June Cleaver’s green bean casserole and simultaneously celebrate the Clorox Rotating Toilet Wand, on sale this week at You Know Where.
Humor, oh yeah. Why, just today Jonah uncorked “Disgruntled? Is anyone ever just ‘gruntled’?” I mean, how’s the Left supposed to compete with that? 
Of course the real difficulty in dealing with the Pantloadian wit (I have to admit that before this hour I was innocent of anyone ever referring to Steyn as “funny” in the comedy sense) is that it only becomes humor after its delusions of seriousness have been utterly demolished. It’s like telling the waiter that was the worst onion soup you’d ever tasted, and having him reply, “It was zabligione! It was zabligione!” and run sobbing into the kitchen. 
Anyway, I’m sure gonna miss these guys when they’re gone, and like Mark Twain, I think I’ll ask for a piece of the rope as a souvenir.
Roll call of Republican Presidential speechwriters since 1968: Bill Safir(e), Pat Buchanan, John McLaughlin, Ben Stein, Peggy Noonan, Tony Snow, David Frum, Marc Thiessen, Gerson.

I b'lieve that's all I have to say.
Another prime example of the results of spending all your time seeking the approval (and donations) of people who already agree with you, as Tabor appears to imagine he’s constructed a trap out of a couple of willful misapprehensions of Darwin, like it doesn’t occur to him that if it hasn’t worked in 150 years it’s unlikely one more column will do the trick. Hail to thee, rapidly aging Young Jessie Helms! Nobody you talk to knows any better, and anybody who knows any better takes one look and laughs. 
a radical piece of legislation which would go beyond Roe versus Wade in declaring abortion to be a fundamental right, such as the right to free speech. 
But that’s exactly what it is. Precedent is law; Court decisions are Constitutional law. Your right to be read a Miranda warning, say, or your right not to be forced to pray in public school, are as “fundamental” as any in the Bill of Rights. (I happen to think this is partly a shortcoming of rights advocates continuing the argument over abortion as it was pre-Roe, and partly, maybe mostly, the result of how the argument has been scripted in the Press for thirty-five years, as though these “moral” arguments are somehow the crux of the matter.) 
My own hope this holiday season is that some day acts of love will become so common that the world will take little notice. 
 Y’know, I hear the chicks really dig a guy in uniform.
Here’s the thing: I’ve made my peace, in a manner of speaking, with the anti-fluoridationists and the unrepentant racists and the penis substitutionists and the simpering jackboot lickers in the years since I first saw an Impeach Earl Warren billboard; such people are actually out there, despite everything common sense would tell us. But I’m goddamned if I can figure out the “damned feminists keep me from getting laid” routine, especially when coupled with “and the threat of child support” since a) the Right keeps insisting we’re a “center-right” country, which would at least raise the question of mathematical probability, not to mention the fact that I can walk through any mall in town and see dozens of women obviously unspoiled by political philosophy, not to mention that on certain sides of town I’d be hard-pressed to see anything but; and b) I thought these guys were the Personal Responsibility crowd. I guess that only goes for the responsibility to make sure the gummint keeps queers from marryin’. 
I mean, all else aside, who exactly do you think you’re kiddin’,dude? 
Aragon: What’s here? the portrait of a blinking idiot. 
Good Lord, is Ross even aware that several of his sentences have broken loose and are beating the shit out of his helpless premise? “Bush was right about Social Security”? Tell me, which was he more right about: that letting people stake their entire Social Security claim in the stock market, circa 2006, was a foolproof small-government ticket to a worry-free retirement, or that we couldn’t possibly wait to solve a theoretical problem which was yet thirty-forty years away, because waiting would force the government to inject massive amounts of cash into the system on short notice, which we all know would violate the sound fiscal principles Republicans stand for?
 On Ann Coulter modeling mink:
Yeah, there’s nothing like evoking a more glamorous, genteel era by being as patently offensive as you possibly can. 
And really, what else screams “I’m feminine, dammit!” like a couple pounds of makeup and the pelts of a few wily minks you outsmarted? 
Attach a few live ones to her. That’s a calendar I’ll buy.
On Jonah Goldberg:
See, this is why, when I’m in the mood for scrambled history I turn to David Brooks: the calories are just as empty, but there’s less lard and he rarely tries to garnish it with hacked-up bits of FDR.For chrissakes, “Wilson was the first progressive president?” What, TR and Taft don’t count because they were Republicans? Does he imagine his audience didn’t finish junior high? Okay, so that’s justified. But, sheesh, “pathetic” is something for him to aspire to. 
Honestly, the Times owes that Gelernter hack an apology.
On Ben Shapiro:
Y’know, now I stop to think about it, it’s been a joy to watch Benji grow from ersatz teen brainiac to college witling right through to premature senility and rumored joblessness. And to realize, in the bargain, that he had six or seven years there to simply come to his senses and figure out how to behave like a normal person, and chose, instead, to be the only person in America, probably apart from his parents, who believed the Ben Shapiro Myth. Or cared. 
Look at that drivel. It’s the product of about as fine an education one’s parents can buy in this country. “Knowing who Jimmie Johnson is” is the best he can do?
I’m from the motorsports capital of the universe. I like motorsports. I even watch NASCAR on occasion, not that it really qualifies; if you start talkin’ that Authentic NASCAR shit around here it won’t be long before somebody offers to help you pull your head out of your ass. 
And Benji’s from California, birthplace of drag racing, and a state with its own stock car and open wheel traditions. You’d think if he was so all-fuckin’ real folks an’ all he might reference his own traditions instead of that Counterfeit Confederacy crap. 
I’m mad about the Em Ess Em inquisition of “Joe” “the” “Plumber” (I don’t even trust Republican articles or conjunctions anymore) m’self: they pillory the man just because he was so convinced of the correctness of his own view, which, needless to add, was the wrong one, that he felt required to make shit up to prove its superiority. That clearly amounts to punishing him just for being a Republican (see Palin, S.; Goldberg, J.).
Sheesh, does this stuff go through some central lab where they test for accuracy and excise anything that qualifies? How difficult is it, really, to understand the concept of treason? It’s the only crime defined in the Constitution, fer chrissakes. There’s a famous precedent that no one could be tried for treason after the Civil War because the United States never recognized the CSA. The Rosenbergs were executed for espionage. 
And, in Ethel’s case at least, wrongly, on ginned-up evidence which still could not rise above “paltry”, and while withholding evidence that would have exonerated her (as well as exposing our spying on our ally in WWII, and without Presidential approval). 
Of course it’s long been recognized by anyone paying attention that these most American of Americans turn out to have little knowledge of, and zero respect for, her actual laws, or, for that matter, her actual citizens. But their salient feature–aside from their numbers and political clout having thus far prevented them from becoming a subcategory in the clinical diagnosis of psychopathy–is their willingness, even preference, for lying even when the facts might make their case.
If Jesus hadn't wanted you to be scorned he'd'a given you better arguments.
Malkinses is the rock-thrower from the tenth row of the mob, the eighth person to attack the prostrate victim, so she kicks a little harder to make up for being a physical coward. 
That’s merely commonplace. What’s remarkable is that she, like Goldberg, rapidly approaches forty years of age with no sign of having ever progressed beyond her high-school Reaganism, of having ever learned to construct an argument or evaluate one; in fact, it’s what both have been rewarded for all their adult lives. And it shows. If the Malkinses’ vileness or Goldberg’s stupidity ever required rebuttal that day is past. Today it is sufficient to simply point at them. And warn the children.
On trolls:
I knew there was something I missed about junior high school. And this isn’t it.
On Kyle-Anne Shiver:
This very positive force [fear] that innately urges all human beings to guard themselves from disasters, big and small, is one of the strongest protections we all have 
So, yours wasn’t working throughout the Bush administration, or did you just switch it off? 
There are probably not too many Americans over the age of 50, who do not remember the black power moment at the Olympics of 1968 and the fear those raised fists could evoke in the shadow of American cities inflamed by riots and uncontrolled violence. 
Yes, because who among us is not a cosseted white suburbanite who’s been nursing racial fears for five decades? 
(I have to give Kyle-Anne some props for using “inflame” to mean “set fire to”, but then I’m a big fan of Late Middle English, and anything that speeds its return I deme quemeful.) 
(Of course the violence which actually inflamed inner cities in 1968, as we use the term nowadays, was the violence that separated Martin Luther King from his previous ability to use oxygen.)I also remember that those fists were attached to names–Tommie Smith and John Carlos–and that non-scary white Australian silver medalist Peter Norman (whose name I had to look up) wore a patch signifying his support. And I remember the real reaction–beyond people like Kyle-Anne, whose boot-shaking had, no doubt, been a more or less permanent condition since the mid-50s–was, in fact, what we seem to do best: an easy suburban outrage unburdened by fact or understanding. And I remember that Avery Brundage, the IOC president and one of the slimiest bastards ever to not rule an Axis power in WWII, threatened to throw the entire US Olympic team out if the two weren’t expelled. 
And, of course, it turned out that America need not have worried; Ronald Reagan would soon make People’s Park safe again, and in four years George Foreman would begin the conversion of the Olympics to a quadrennial flagasm. 
And Tommie Smith and John Carlos, like Jim Hines (100m) and Lee Evans (400) would spend a good portion of their lives giving back to their communities.
And Andy McCarthy–a former Assistant US Attorney–wants to get to the bottom of a story which does not just include, but hinges on the idea that one’s parent, even if a natural-born citizen, must also be at least 21 years old if the other parent is a foreign national? 
I’ve said it before: if you really expect me to jump on the Obama bandwagon the first thing you have to do is convince me this country is worth saving.
On Orson Scott Card:
Oh well, thought I. I’ve already seen Prince Caspian and there’s nothing else remotely interesting in the theaters. 
Th’ fuck? The man’s sixty years old. Does he not have air conditioning or something? 
I mean, I can’t remember saying that any time after my 21st birthday, and that was before videocassettes and cable television.
Jesus, you should pardon the expression, Rod Dreher’s religiosity is somehow more transparently pathetic than Doug Giles’ carnival hucksterism. Though it is nice to see that whack-job Protestant fascism and Mainstream Methodism Roman Catholicism“Orthodoxy”, or whatever Rod’s cult du jour is at present, can find common ground in their deep, dark longings.
I like to spend at least half of any Andy Garcia movie trying to figure out what movie he thought he was making.
Those that trumpet immigration, diversity and change are the last ones to judge such matters, however, because they tend to be cultural relativists whose moral foundation is even vaguer than the slogans they disgorge. 
Before I came to this I was afraid Selwyn had lost his Thesaurus. Or just worn it out. 
It is sobering to consider how great the odds that Young Selwyn Duke, at some point or other, received passing grades in both American History and English Composition.
feeling the vice grip of a gasping economy. 
And like the man said, extremism in defense of economy is no vise.
But isn’t homosexuality like race? No. Race has nothing to do with behavior
Y'know, Doc, I realize that we eradicated racism in this country too long ago for you to remember it (and many thanks, again, to all you white Southern evangelicals who made it possible), but the fact is that institutionalized racism was never about skin color, either, to hear the racists tell it, but the collection of behaviors--shiftlessness, promiscuity, lack of mental agility, inability to tell one's place, the tendency to ogle white women--which skin color just happened to predict with near 100% accuracy.
1) No one has ever topped the two James Whale Frankensteins.  
2) Nothing to do with Halloween, but the most chilling moment in the whole genre is in the ice goddess segment of Kobayashi's Kwaidan, when the woodsman decides to tell his wife the story he swore never to tell, and her sewing stitch freezes in mid-air. 
3) Who ever sat through the first Halloween let alone the tenth? Talk about playing tennis with the net down. For a long time my life's goal was to yank the key out of that Casiotone and make John Carpenter swallow it sideways.
1) If that's John Carradine at sixty I'm in much better shape than I realized. 
2) What I remember about Billy the Kid vs. Dracula was that it was one of the few bad movies I couldn't sit through, no matter what I had on board, and that it co-starred caffein pitchlady and marriage counsellor Mrs. Olson, before she lost her American accent.

most days he is able to conquer the puzzles in The New York Times in ink. 
Big deal. I'm pretty sure I could beat the snot out of Will Shortz with my bare hands. 
As for the rest of this warmed-over claptrap--I'm pretty sure that bit about "more Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act" was stuck into the mythos at some point the way Rand McNally invents bogus cities to catch anyone plagiarizing its maps--I guess "growing up in Waco in the 50s and 60s" exempts one from knowing anything about the 1948 election, or Truman desegregating the armed forces, but what's the excuse for missing the fact that the minuscule Republican party in the South until 1964 consisted mostly of blacks who could vote? The fight over seating its delegates happened right there on th' teevee an' ever'thing.

there is no legal reason why a nation at war must try to apprehend an enemy instead of shooting at him first. 
Sure there is, as everyone knows, including Yoo; shooting an incapacitated enemy combatant, or an unarmed and unresisting one, or one who has already surrendered, is murder. The man's as blithely unconcerned with black letter law as he is with human life. (The former may sound trivial compared to the latter, but consider that he earns his living at the law, whereas his status as human is subject to considerable doubt.) I wonder if he speeds up to run over jaywalkers. Just kiddin'. I'm convinced he does.
The killing of Yamamoto--which Yoo turns into one of those Bill Bennett Moral Tales for Children as Told By the Personally Depraved--is, in fact, proof that the matter used to be taken seriously; the intention was considered so borderline, so questionable, that the operation was undertaken only after it was submitted to the President for approval. And that's the killing of the commander of the Japanese naval forces during what was essentially a naval war (and, as you point out, a declared one at that), not the designated Second in Command of the Week whose threat to the United States consisted of mouthing off. 
And as long as we're on the subject we'll just note that the operation--a remarkable, split-second action in the face of severe risks--was carried out by uniformed members of the United States military at the direction of one of our greatest Presidents. Compare the near-random act of some CIA spook playing a video game and defended by a psychopath publicly masturbating to torture porn.
Casting his vote in the 2011 Miss Wingnut Pageant:
First, like most of the above I miss the imaginary Golden Age of America, though unlike them it's not a fictional amalgam of Parson Weems, Ozzie and Harriet, and 19th century labor practices I pine for, but the very real, if artificially rosy, days of my own youth. Back then you couldn't have come up with this many identifiable wingnuts in toto, let alone after winnowing the likes of Jonah Goldberg, Kathryn Jean Lopez, John Derbyshire, and Victor Davis Drusus Saigonius Hanson. Hell, in those days we had to scramble come up with more than three categories (Lyin' Red Baiter: Barry Goldwater vs. Dick Nixon; Angry Nun: Carl McIntire vs. Billy James Hargis; and Miss Anti-Fluoridation, which was the exclusive province of William Fuhbuckley after he threw all the other contestants out). Same thing every year, and, frankly, better times.
I guess I just wasn't meant for a time when wingnuts like Lileks and Genn would come up through a sort of farm system, like Texas' Miss America Corporation, and employ high-priced hair stylists and fashion consultants. It's like watching a bike race where everybody's coked to the gills on human growth hormone, except in this case it doesn't make anyone faster, or stronger, or, god knows, better looking, just tone deaf enough to continue.
So, Cal Thomas, the last surviving artifact of an optimistic time when we could say, "If we can just hold out until Cal Thomas dies of ugliness and impacted mucus this shit'll be over."
Fascism: it’s not as much fun as it sounds.
R.I.P., Doghouse.


Fearguth said...

There was only one Doghouse Riley, dammit!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Same thing happened to decent pot smoking in the 70s, when the Thai stick and Primo Bud morons moved in.


P.S. A totally unbiased selection of mine.

Weird Dave said...

I know I've said something like this before but the fact that David Brooks still has a column for the New York Times while Mr. Riley was taken from us far to soon is, to me, good evidence that in this world there is neither justice nor a loving God.

R. Porrofatto said...

Thank you. I was hoping someone would mark the anniversary and this was a gift. Anyone unfamiliar with Doghouse's talents would find it hard to believe these gems just came from comments threads. With such fluency, knowledge, and wit, I was always surprised he didn't have his own author page on Amazon.

Sheri said...

Thanks for assembling that, Scott. It make me laugh. It made me get teary to think about what we have lost. It made me smarter just by reading it. Truly, he is one of the good dead ones. I just wish I believed in reincarnation, because there are wingnuts being hatched every day that I wish Doghouse could take on. And, best of all, he was more than brilliant, he was a really good person.

grouchomarxist said...

[H]e was more than brilliant, he was a really good person

That's about the finest epitaph anyone could desire. And I agree with it, totally. Damn, how I miss that guy.

Kordo said...

Please forgive the typos; I'm still crying while I write (yes, guys can cry, too; I also bawl at The Lion King, so shut up)
I always marvelled at the lack of comments Riley's posts collected. I thought it meant he wasn't being read; a situation I tried to fix by broadwaving his work to everyone I knew. Atrios, Digby, Roy Edroso...these invaluable writers have comment threads Voltaire himself would be impressed by.
Then it hit me: it wasn't that he wasn't being read, it was that when he decided to give a subject his full attention, he said what needed to be said. You could use his prose to teach a English Composition class, but you'd run the risk of discouraging potential writers by showing them the standard they have to live up to.
Goddamnit, I miss the man. I wish I'd had the chance to buy him a beer. It warms my heart to know so many other people miss him, too (Weird Dave, I love ya, bro)

Li'l Innocent said...

Thank you a dozen times and more, Scott, for this. What a tireless champ of humanity he was. I started reading his blog pretty late in the game, and don't remember any of these great comment exerpts, but they are prime, tough, funny, nimble-minded, badass-goodsouled Doghouse.

I used to feel that the only possible cosmic excuse for the columns of Brooks/Douthat were what he used to do with/to them.

I used also to read his sulphurously righteous posts about Indiana politics and the Indianapolis public school system (I hope his wife is doing all right) in an effort to learn what a local activist conscience sounds like. I didn't really understand half the background to the issues he held forth about, but it was wonderfully educational. Remember his topic headings? "Midwestern States Ruled by Surly Megalomaniacs with Napoleonic Complexes". "White People in the News". "Luddite on Aisle Four". "That'll Be With Lube, and Thanks for Asking".

We still need you, Doghouse.

Kordo said...

Since I've already embarassed myself by double-commenting, I don't see the point in shying away from block-quoting. Scott has done fine work collecting these comments (comments! These are just the guy riffing!), but I just had to share one of my favorites:

Scott said...

Then it hit me: it wasn't that he wasn't being read, it was that when he decided to give a subject his full attention, he said what needed to be said.

Exactly. As I said over at Ivan's place, commenting on a subject after Doghouse had sunk his teeth into it felt a bit like running onto the field after the Super Bowl and playing a game of flag football.

Jim Donahue said...

Maybe we could all chip in and buy a monkey's paw on eBay and bring him back? A zombie Riley would be a better writer than a "living" Pantload.

Woodrowfan said...

I was really looking forward to his skewing the Pence administration in Indiana, alas..

Chris Vosburg said...

A very nice bit o' work, Scott, thanks for that.

I'm pretty sure Riley'd have something blisteringly funny to say about the news that Sarah Palin is launching a pay-teevee Sarah Channel, all-Sarah-all-the-time, where for $100 a year you get to hear a drunken bimbo share the voices in her head with you.

Or maybe it's just as well he's not here to see it. RIP Doghouse, I miss you.

Carl said...

Thanks for the reminder of why he was so vital to Blogtopia (thanks, Skippy!)

And is it dusty in here suddenly?

Helmut Monotreme said...

Thanks for writing this. I miss Doghouse every day when I look at my bookmarks, where 'Bats left/Throws right' is still prominently featured.

Anonymous said...

Helmut, me too. I have nothing new or interesting to say about the genius that was Doghouse but felt I must add my voice to the chorus of those who miss his work daily.
I wasn't sure where Indiana was when I began reading Doghouse, but I soon became deeply invested in its gubernatorial politics.
He is sadly missed.

Iko said...

Thanks, Scott.

Doghouse is my favorite writer of the 21st Century.

Anonymous said...

Doghouse is, indeed, dearly missed & will never be reproduced. We could never get that lucky.

I have nothing left in my brain that would even be worthy of paying a paean to Doghouse, thus I leave it to the literally-skilled among us to do it a billion times better than I ever could, as y'all have already done.

Mary & Scott, I hope that y'all got my sympathy/commiseration e-mails.

Love to all, and all respect to the one & only Doghouse Riley.