Since the liberal blogosphere remains completely oblivious to what I warned about yesterday, and the corpses are being cleared from the Field of Vengeance (“If you criticize it, we will KILL”), I will highlight older fare that some readers might be more familiar with.
Joe the Plumber and Sarah the Palin are back in the nooz agin. Since I already have said what needs to be said, I will say it again.
J the P is running for congress, against the Democratic Congresswoman who defeated Dennis Kucinich in last Tuesday’s primary. S the P is back in the spotlight playing her same old “victimhood” game while making idiotic and racist charges against the President of the United States of America.
Thus, from January 11, 2009:
Meet Joe the Plumber and Caribou Barbie, ladies and germs.
Each week, their hilarious misadventures tickle the funny bone of a nation. Watch their ZANY, madcap antics, a virtual LAFF RIOT of thrills, chills, spills and dollar bills.
Just think of our past episodes:
- Joe the Plumber ‘writes’ a book in only a few days! Now, he’s Joe the Author!
- Caribou Barbie’s fellow mother at the shotgun wedding-to-be is arrested for selling Oxycontin* (* recommended by Rush Limbaugh!).
- Caribou Barbie and hubby buy silk boxer shorts! (Just by the by, how come nobody’s followed up on the fact that you can’t donate used undergarments or socks? I doubt that those were thrown away, and imagine that the Palins got to KEEP that stuff. The rest was donated, allegedly, by the RNC — who paid for the kewl togs for the Alaskan hogs — to ‘charity’ after the election. But I betcha there’s a lot of lingerie and silk boxers that remained in Alaska.)
- And now, Caribou Barbie stars in even more side-splittin’ gosh-darned hilarious zany madcap antic shenanigans!
- And Joe the Plumber goes to Israel as a WAR CORRESPONDENT!
Honestly, are we talking about real people here, or is this an episode of The Simpsons? (One guess who plays Homer.)
Worse, what does it say that so many are befuddled by this cult of mediocrity? That any job can be done by any telegenic moron?
His Persiflage, Plumber Joe
It sometimes seems as though the very concept of competence is under assault by a well-oiled Media Machine.
Consider this bit of idiocy from Roger Simon, founder of Pajamas Media, and a novelist and screenwriter in his actual day job:
January 7th, 2009 4:27 pm
Joe the Plumber: Mr. Smith Goes to Jerusalem for Pajamas TV
By now many of you have heard that Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is leaving for Israel tomorrow to be a war correspondent for Pajamas TV. This has created quite a brouhaha in the media – cable television, newspapers, wire services, etc. Everyone from CNN to gawker.com has something to say about Joe heading for the Middle East. He will appear on Fox and Friends tomorrow morning before his departure.
To be honest, some (maybe much) of this reportage is pretty snotty. Nora O’Donnell of MSNBC – herself a MA in international relations, lahdeedah – fairly frothed at the mouth at the prospect of the unqualified Joe having the temerity to report news in a foreign land. Those hipoisie over at Gawker weren’t too charitable either.
Evidently, a lot of people are annoyed that Joe’s fifteen Warhol minutes aren’t quite over yet. Or perhaps they’re threatened that a common man can be a reporter simply by asking common sense questions – no Columbia J-school degree required. (Hemingway didn’t have one. He didn’t even go to college, as I recall.) But the larger question is the role of expertise in general. Of course, experts are valuable, but so are those who ask the seemingly too obvious questions of the supposedly uninformed – dumb questions that can end up having more value for the public than all the experts combined. Sometimes, anyway….
Now, consider what Simon posits as a serious argument in favor of Joe’s journalistic credentials:
Hemingway didn’t have a college degree.
Joe the War Correspondent doesn’t have a college degree.
Therefore: Joe the War Correspondent = Hemingway.
I’m not being “cute” here: this is the actual dumbass argument offered. So, let’s look at Hemingway’s writing education, just to make sure that he’s as clueless and inexperienced as Joe the Plumb-bob. From my old editor at The Kansas City Star, Steve Paul:
Ernest Miller Hemingway was 18 years old when he walked into the newsroom of The Kansas City Star and began his writing career. Straight out of high school in Oak Park, Ill., Hemingway pounded the streets as a cub reporter at the newspaper for six and a half months, from Oct. 17, 1917 to April 30, 1918. From here, with World War I in progress, he joined the Red Cross ambulance service, headed for the front in Italy, was seriously wounded, fell in and out of love and willed himself into becoming a literary giant….
Hemingway was “apprenticed” as a cub reporter, which is how newspapers used to train journalists. The question is one of “profession” and “professionalism”:
The scholars would ask for the [Kansas City Star] library’s clippings on Hemingway and C.G. “Pete” Wellington, the assistant city editor of The Star in 1917. Hemingway credited Wellington with changing his verbose high school writing style into clear, provocative English. The scholars also requested “The Star Copy Style” sheet, a single, galley-sized page, which contained the 110 rules governing Star prose. Hemingway later would recall the sheet as something “they gave you to study when you went to work and after that you were just as responsible for having learned it as after you’ve had the articles of war read to you.”
Hemingway would always remember the style sheet and its core admonition: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.”
“Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing,” Hemingway said in 1940. “I’ve never forgotten them. No man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides with them.”
The “Copy Style” sheet was a bible, containing eminently practical rules.
I commend to you the “Copy Style” sheet excerpt on the site, too. But my point is this: Hemingway was trained in a tough trade by seasoned veterans. He was shown how to write, and apprenticed in his profession.
Try to preserve the atmosphere of the speech in your quotation. For instance, in quoting a child, do not let him say “Inadvertently, I picked up the stone and threw it.” [Style Sheet]
[2012: Too bad Greta Van Susteren didn't bother reading it. If you go back and reread her posts yesterday, the writing is not merely below a ninth grade level, but is execrable even adjudged AT that level.]
Hemingway was “one of those who make great demands on themselves,” to quote Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, who neatly summarized Simon’s argument and its absurdity very precisely in 1930:
When one speaks of “select minorities” [i.e. "the media elite"] it is usual for the evil-minded to twist the sense of this expression, pretending to be unaware that the select man is not the petulant person who thinks himself superior to the rest, but the man who demands more of himself than the rest, even though he may not fulfil in his person those higher exigencies.
For there is no doubt that the most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.
This reminds me that orthodox Buddhism is composed of two distinct religions: one, more rigorous and difficult, the other easier and more trivial: the Mahayana- “great vehicle” or “great path”- and the Hinayana- “lesser vehicle” or “lesser path.”
The decisive matter is whether we attach our life to one or the other vehicle, to a maximum or a minimum of demands upon ourselves.
The division of society into masses and select minorities is, then, not a division into social classes, but into classes of men, and cannot coincide with the hierarchic separation of “upper” and “lower” classes. [Revolt of the Masses, 1930]
Hemingway clearly fell into one class. Joe the Plumber falls into well, an obvious class, as well.
This is the absurdist concept that education, training, experience — “competence”– don’t matter. It is more than a dumbass putdown of journalism — which, while it may have its faults, and too-frequent gaffes is far preferable to the howling chaos that would exist without it — but is, in fact, the conscious and deceptive use of what I can only term a very evil and malevolent lie: that anyone can do any job, you know, like president, or war correspondent. See? Joe the Plumber is going to show up them fancy pants journalistic city slickers.
Except that Simon isn’t a stupid man. Misguided? Perhaps, but not a moron, prima fascie. Novel writing and screenwriting require more than a little sheer skill in the difficult discipline of writing. But Simon is suggesting here — by his own logick — that Joe the Novelist and Joe the Screenwriter would be at least as good as Simon himself on Joe’s first shot out of the box.
It’s worse than absurd or ridiculous — it is a conscious, intentional lie.
What kind of person pushes the meme that any dumbass can do any job?
This isn’t a news story. It’s an episode of South Park.
Here’s the regard that Simon holds for those in that profession Hemingway apprenticed in:
And remember Simon’s bray:
Evidently, a lot of people are annoyed that Joe’s fifteen Warhol minutes aren’t quite over yet. Or perhaps they’re threatened that a common man can be a reporter simply by asking common sense questions …
Yeah. Joe the Plumb-bob is Hemingway. Gotcha.
But, you see, old Roger has another reason for pumping up Joe’s notoriety (it was a nice publicity stunt for grabbing headlines, kind of like having porn star Mary Carey run for governor during the bizarro recall-Gropenator election in California a few years back. She wanted attention, and she got it.)
Roger Simon’s hired Joe as his centerpiece for their big rollout of Pajamas TV at the CPAC Convention in February:
Isn’t that a fine kettle of weasels?
Did you wonder if Malkin is in cahoots? Wonder no more. Here’s Her Dumbassery on Joe the War Correspondent:
Joe the Plumber heads to Israel
By Michelle Malkin • January 7, 2009 12:52 PM
Joe The Plumber will cover the Gaza conflict for PJTV. He’ll be there for 10 days. Stay safe, Joe! [Quoting the International Herald Tribune, the "Global edition of the New York Times" (its overseas edition), but Malkin doesn't want to deign to credit the news organization she bashes on a continual and hysterical basis, so she steals the quote and credits "link"]
Joe the Plumber is taking on a new job.
The Ohio man, who became famous during the U.S. presidential campaign after asking Barack Obama about his tax plan, is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for a conservative Web site called pjtv.com.
Dubbed “Joe the Plumber” by McCain’s campaign, Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher was held up as an example of an American worker who would be hurt economically by Obama’s election.
Wurzelbacher says he’ll spend 10 days covering the fighting and explaining why Israeli forces are mounting attacks against Hamas.
He tells WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants “go over there and let their ‘Average Joes’ share their story.”
Predicting death wishes for Joe from the left side of the blogosphere in 3, 2, 1…
PJTV’s Gaza Update page is here.
Castro and Hemingway, Cuba, 1958
The original story was broken by the Toledo, Ohio NBC affiliate:
By Jennifer Taylor
Tuesday, January 06, 2009 at 10:14 p.m.
HOLLAND, OH — The world’s most famous plumber will travel to Israel to report on the fighting.
On the campaign trail he’s known as “Joe the Plumber.” When he heads to the Gaza Strip, he’ll be Joe Wurzelbacher, “War Correspondent.”
“If given the opportunity to do some good however minute it may be, or could be something really good, you gotta take that chance. You have to do it,” says Joe Wurzelbacher.
Wurzelbacher will travel to Israel to report for the conservative website, pjtv.com. He intends to get the, often lost, Israeli reason for the offensive against Hamas.
“It’s tragic, I mean it really is. I don’t say that in any little way. It’s very tragic, but at the same time what are the Israeli people suppose [sic] to do,” says Wurzelbacher.
The 10-day journey hopes to answer that question, by talking with Israeli citizens without a politically correct filter.
“I get to go over there and let their “Average Joes” share their story, what they think, how they feel, especially with world opinion, maybe get a real story out there,” says Wurzelbacher.
Joe knows the danger is very real, but believes his civic duty is once again calling him to do something bigger than himself. “Being a Christian I’m pretty well protected by God I believe. That’s not saying he’s going to stop a mortar for me, but you gotta take the chance.”
Now, compare and contrast with this ad:
Yeah. But Joe the War Correspondent just said what it was that he was going to report. These skunks who scream about the “bias” and “PC” of the “MSM” a/k/a “Liberal Media Elite” don’t have any compunction about being biased themselves.
If we don’t hear what we want to hear, then we’ll read someone who tells us what we DO want to hear. Facts be damned. Competence be damned.
Joe on the campaign trail 2008
But Roger Simon tells us that Joe the War Correspondent = Hemingway. From CNN [emphasis added]:
After graduating from high school, Hemingway moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to work as a cub reporter for the Star, covering the local beat that included fires, work strikes and crime. His stay there lasted from the fall of 1917 to the spring of 1918, but he cited the experience as invaluable.
Years later, Hemingway would point to the Kansas City Star stylebook as the guideline he had followed throughout his literary career. It instructed its writers to use “short declarative sentences,” something Hemingway would trademark in his streamlined prose.
Or perhaps Joe’s just a living sock-puppet whose operational life is fast winding down. Perhaps the Pentagon-inspired psy-ops folks who created him are loaning Joe the Plumb-bob to the Israeli army’s psy-ops folks. Kind of a media-symbol lending library, you know?
Now: think about it. This story is insane: ALL other media are getting it wrong, but dumbass Joe, the Common Man, doin’ his “civic duty” is going to go to Israel and get the story right.
This isn’t a news story. It’s an episode of Family Guy.
Joe the Dense.
And, if nothing else, this acts as a preservative for Joe’s 15 minutes — before it starts to stink. Like a fish, it’s rotting from the (skin)head down.*
[* Look: how is it that Joe the Skinhead just happens to embody every Aryan Nation attribute but one ... er, membership? But it's a great way of stoking the fires of that Republican demographic that's askeert about the future of the White Race. I mean, Joe is 90% a visual symbol with only about 10% putting his foot in his mouth. What is obvious to a 5-year-old escapes the notice of a journalism degree, evidently.]
There isn’t anything about Joe the Plumb-bob that bespeaks competence: not even, particularly, his plumbing. Think about that: not interested in getting a plumber’s license — an apprenticeship not unlike that Hemingway undertook at the Star – he’s happy to be seen as a symbol for those who would pony up the cash. Have fame; Will travel.
But only if you can argue that competence and training don’t matter. Only if you can argue — as some did before Dubya ascended to teh White House — that ANYbody can do the job.*
[* You know the old joke: "I was told, growing up, that anybody could grow up to become president. And looking at George Bush, I guess anybody did."]
And yet, not one of them would allow Joe the Plumb-bob to perform brain surgery on their children.
This isn’t a real news story. It’s an episode of the Three Stooges.*
[* 2012: now insert "congressperson" for "reporter" and you'll have spanned four years without changing anything except a word.]
And what are the other crazy relatives in Alaska doing?
Well, when we last saw them, Caribou Barbie’s daughter Bristol (named for the bay they pull fish from) was knocked up, good abstaining little Christian girl that she is, and her shotgun wedding beau was airlifted at GOP expense to the Republican National Convention so that teen premarital dumbass sex (couldn’t figure out birth control) could be repackaged as somehow moral and admirable.
Well, Bristol has dropped foal, naming the kid “Tripp.” And her shotgun-husband-to-be’s mother was arrested for selling (allegedly) Oxycontin, recommended High of Rush Limbaugh.
Then, there was the scandal that the arrest was put on hold until after the election. Then, somewhere in there, the turkey-slaughtering interview, and the GOP psy-ops story that the arrest WASN’T held off until after the elecition, because who could doubt the book-censoring, anti-evolution, holy-roller maverick whose every utterance, seemingly, is a lie greased with hokum and deep-fried in a rich batter of first-runner-up, TV sportscaster in a microscopic market, winking to the camera bunkum and hooey.
Who could forget her statement that the report that found her guilty of ethical violations in the case of her ex-brother-in-law “completely exonerated” her?
Who, evidently, remembers?
Well, Caribou Barbie strikes back, with an interview by a nutball who has decided that the MEDIA stole the election by making everybody vote for Barack Obama.
Come on. This isn’t news, this is an episode of “The Biggest Loser — Families.”
But here it is, in all its shining putrescense. Oh, wait, that’s the iridescence of the blue flies swarming over the fresh ordure of America’s Newest Favorite Family Hijinks!
I keed you not:
Palin says she’s been exploited by Couric and Fey
January 9, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says CBS News anchor Katie Couric and comic actress Tina Fey have been “exploiting” her.
Palin also is questioning whether Caroline Kennedy is getting better treatment from the news media in her quest for a Senate seat than Palin herself received as Republican John McCain’s running mate.
Palin reflected on her campaign for national office in an interview this week with conservative radio talk-show host and filmmaker John Ziegler. Clips are posted on YouTube.
Palin gave Couric a rare interview at the beginning of her campaign, and Fey frequently impersonated Palin on “Saturday Night Live.”
Palin says she thinks there may be a “class issue” involved in the press coverage of Kennedy and her own bid for office.
There’s much, much more, but who has the time?
Ted Stevens Airport, Anchorage, Alaska
Although, in justice, we ought to take a moment to admire the easy sophistry of the simple-minded, as Sarah Palin protested loudly to the media that her daughter and her knocker-upper weren’t high school dropouts. They were taking correspondence courses to get their GEDs!
Uh. And that report that she said exonerated her in Troopergate™ actually found her to be guilty. But what’s a little truth among idiots, after all?
Joe the Plumber = Hemingway, remember?
FBI surveillance document on Hemingway’s visit to the Mayo Clinic for
electroshock treatment to “cure” his paranoia that the FBI was following him.
And, breaking news, Joe the Plumb-bob has arrived in Israel to make grand pronouncements (which is odd, frankly, for a reporter):
Amanda Terkel / Think Progress:
Joe the Plumber: ‘I think media should be abolished’ from reporting on war.» — Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” is currently in Israel covering the war for the conservative site PJTV.com. When asked what he has learned from his new experiences as a journalist …
I’m sure his verbal burble makes for gripping reading as he comes galumphing through the tulgey wood.
But what possible purpose can this serve, this political equivalent of being Amish? They withdraw from a world of facts to a world of their own imagining, and it used to be that we put people like that in rubber rooms so they didn’t hurt themselves, instead of breathlessly watching their progress via tabloid headlines.
When you promote a culture of ignorance, and pretend that whole professions are instantly available to a non-licensed plumber, you are promoting, what? A society in which no one takes pride in a job well done?
People who don’t know how to make things with pride pretty soon don’t know how to make things at all. And suggesting that education and competence don’t matter promotes exactly that.
And let’s not forget the kooky cousin, afflicted with the political equivalent of Tourette’s Syndrome, Ann Coulter, who isn’t alive unless she’s saying the most hideous (and quotable) things about her political “foes” that will get her headlines so that her latest book of libels and calumnies will sell well.
Oh, on second thought, let’s DO forget her.
Except, you could CANCEL the Beverly Hillbillies.
2012: Very little to add, except “American Attention Span? ADD.”