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Leave Jerry Falwell to Heaven: I Mourn for Richard Paul!

To: Nick Gillespie From: Tim Cavanaugh Subject: Leave Jerry Falwell to Heaven: I Mourn for Richard Paul!

Mickey Kaus' permalink-challenged blog starts us off with an unpleasant reminder that the Republican presidential candidates are still debating. I've been enjoying the massive candidate turnout and the consequent range of views in these debates, which the Republicans especially need. So I'm sorry I missed this fantastic Washington Post editorial making the case that the real problem is too many choices in these debates. Because if there's one thing the glorious history of the Soviet Union taught us, it's that societies always do better when their choices are limited to only those few that are accepted by legitimate authorities.

The best part of the WaPo piece is that it singles out Ron Paul as an extraneous candidate, while (just to show that the Post's ed board can let its hair down too!) waggishly suggesting viewers should vote off a candidate at the end of every debate. Which of course would leave the field with…Ron Paul, the only candidate who can credibly argue that he gained after the first debate. Mark my words: Paul will be the Jerry Brown/Alan Keyes/Howard Dean figure in this race: He'll gain and gain and build up excitement until the actual votes come in, and he'll be the last non-winner standing. Meanwhile I look forward to more detail on Mike Huckabee's views on evolution, Sam Brownback's rejection of the heliocentric system of planets, and whether Tom Tancredo believes in angels (or at least in angels trying to enter the U.S.A. legally).

But alas, as noted in Swampland, there's another angel in Heaven tonight. I suppose I should join the speculation on what the political spin will be about Jerry Falwell's death, but there's obviously a more pressing question: Who will be the first editorial cartoonist to work the infamous picture of Jerry on the Heritage Island waterslide into a cartoon of him watersliding his way…into Heaven? And a more important question: Where will Richard Paul find acting work now? And the most important question of all: Why didn't I know that Richard Paul died nine years ago?

Leave Jerry Falwell to Heaven: I mourn for Richard Paul!

And yet who mourns for Glenn Greenwald, who brings home the gold with the day's most exciting clause: "Eric Alterman, who notes that he plays poker with Edsall…"? This is in the context of some pretty heavy-duty sleuthing (about a matter that, in true blog style, is left pretty much unexplained and uncontextualized), which notes that this Edsall fellow (I think he invented a car or something) "has an 'unusual tic' where he makes 'ironic' statements so seriously that people frequently misunderstand his meaning." Holy Moses, do I know how that feels! Greenwald calls us all into the drawing room to offer his solution to the mystery:

"I've become convinced, more or less, that Edsall made that comment sarcastically, not seriously."

There are only two words you can say to a conclusion like that: In-deed!

Michelle Malkin, who only makes unironic statements but makes them very seriously, helps out on the Falwell beat, providing a roundup of reactions from believers and non-believers, the most credible of which is this from Marc Ambinder: "In recent years, the media overstated Falwell's power considerably…"

The cheerleadin', tramoline-jumpin', blonde-preferrin' firecracker also scores a little hit against ABC over its trumped-up Jose-Padilla-al-Qaeda-job-application scoop. I'm not optimistic about the MSM's ability to adapt to the challenge from new media (partly because, as you noted yesterday, big media outlets continue to turn double-digit profits, so the threat is pretty exaggerated), but you'd think that by this point big news outfits would have dropped the preening, secrets-of-the-temple vocabulary of statements like "obtained by ABC News' Law & Justice Unit" and "The document's authenticity was confirmed to ABC News' Law & Justice Unit." These days I'm often distressed by attacks on the MSM (usually in a "you don't know the half of it" way), but this really is just ABC bragging about the size of its Unit. Point: Malkin!

Oh and don't forget to check out the job application: Would you hire him? Even after the bad experience of hiring me?

I'm declaring Noah Shachtman's Danger Room the winner for the second day in a row, but only because—unless I missed something—he's the only one of our subjects who has acknowledged that we're checking him out. He also speculates that we may be actual members of the tribe rather than just rootless cosmopolitans, but I have already made clear that I'll need to be further along in my political career before I discover the inevitable Jewish ancestor; it's all part of my plan to become the first black president.

Shachtman does an interesting dissection of a David Sanger Iran's-nukes-are-just-around-the-corner story. These deconstructions are basically like Vorticist exercises where you never get to the bottom: I couldn't tell you what exactly Judith Miller got wrong in her reporting, and I suspect not many other people could either. The only thing that lingers in my mind is the way every one of these panics comes with a new set of terminologycentrifuges, yellowcake, fuel rods, etc.that you have to affect some instant expertise about.

Shachtman also comes up with a description that reproduces the whole blogs-vs-MSM tension of our painful exercise this week:

While the U.S. military battles itself over what to do about YouTube and blogs, Al-Qaeda has embraced digital media with both arms — and is releasing propaganda videos online at a record rate.

Since my Jewish cred has already been called into question, I might as well go all out and say I think the story of David and Goliath is dumb because it presupposes that Goliath is a) not the talking dog the Lutheran Church says he is; and b) destined to fail. It's true al Qaeda is lighter and more adaptable than the U.S. military, the bloggers are lighter and more adaptable than CBS, YouTube is lighter and more adaptable than Sony, and so on; but at some point you have to say, Where's the (kosher! kosher!) beef? Size still matters. You can get pretty rich betting on the ability of big, dumb second-wave institutions to endure long after their feisty and maneuverable challengers have run out of gas or been assimilated. Resistance is futile–but then so is pretty much everything.

To: Tim Cavanaugh From: Nick Gillespie Subject: Mickey Kaus Thinks Mitchum is a Deodorant

It's late as I'm writing this—just five minutes before thermonuclear disaster, if the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists can be trusted (earlier this year, the retro group arbitrarily pushed their clock ahead two minutes but are still demanding $3 off their Domino's cheesy bread—a meal deal is a deal, even if it's being delivered by a bunch of irradiated zombies)—so forgive me the scream of consciousness prose style. Not only is it late in the day, but I actually put something back on the grocery store shelf today because it contained trans fat. Which means it's late in my life, though unfortunately not late enough to prevent me from having to file. I'm not fully convinced that trans fat even exists. I mean, how the hell did we go from not giving a shit about trans fat to locking down old-school Crisco like it was heroin (which really isn't so bad)? The trans fat hysteria strikes me as a tad too similar to the Great Chlamydia Scare of 1988 (or maybe it was just my great chlamydia scare of 1988): a never-before-heard-of sexually transmitted disease that is almost always asymptomatic? What will those antibiotic pushers think of next? How naive do they think we are?

Which is another way of saying that, like you, "Rudy" Ruettiger, and Vince Foster, I miss the '90s. The 1990s, the 1890s, the 1790s–it doesn't really matter, because anyway you slice it, they all go down in history as pre-Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory and Good Times Novelty Blogge, so they all go down a little more smoothly than the current era. (By the way, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that he boosted the title How Would a Patriot Act? from Timothy McVeigh.)

Do you still remember the '90s, Tim? A time when you, like Emilio Estevez, could dream that your best work was still ahead of you? Or maybe just that your worst work was behind you? I don't know when the '90s started exactly—probably some time after Time's Karen Tumulty reported on George H.W. Bush buying those tube socks at J.C. Penney—but I know they ended definitively when Newt Gingrich took Wendy the Snapple Lady as his fifth wife.

At least you're getting paid to read this crap and those blogs—from what I understand, the patrons of Jewcy are paying for this, although as part of their membership fee they also get one birthday call a year from a Z-list celebrity who happens to be a member of the Chosen People. Really, is there any better way to celebrate than by having Corey Feldman call you for bail money even before the check from your grandmother clears? I for one was appalled that the FCC in its recent report on "Violent Television Programming and Its Impact on Children," singled out the post-Feldman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as small-screen terrrorists, capable of giving kids nightmares.

You had probably passed out by the time Mickey Kaus did link to our exchange (it was already after noon), putting him in second place after Noah Shachtman in terms of noting what the goyim over at Jewcy are up to:

"Vigorous Sucky writing with Gillespie and Cavanaugh. (They know they're being vigorous. It's like watching the creaking John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart pretend they are young cowboys in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. Still good!) … 2:08 P.M.

I don't know what's more disturbing: that Mickey wrote about Chrysler after we mocked him on that score yesterday or that he doesn't really know his Western movie history. Liberty Valance came out in 1962, when Wayne was only 55 years old and still a decade and a girdle away from dancing with Bea Arthur on Maude and almost 15 years away from starring with Stewart in The Shootist, when the two guys were almost as old as Mickey is now. I'm not saying Mickey is a wuss—indeed, I don't even know what that term really means—but he probably thinks Mitchum is a deodorant.

In any case, I think I've cracked the Kaus code, which is somewhat less-interesting than the Da Vinci Code or even Morse Code: Mickey only allows himself to think and write in phrases that could legally appear on vanity license plates.

I agree with you that the biggest—and most ignored story—of yesterday was the realization that Rev. Jerry Falwell lookalike actor Richard Paul had been dead for close to a decade (a close runner-up: that "Eric Alterman…plays poker with Edsall.") The former Carter Country star had quite possibly the most fully achieved dewlap in Hollywood this side of post-Shining Time Station Alec Baldwin. I had spent the better part of the past decade petitioning Falwell to do a one-man show about Paul (no relation to the great and good Ron Paul, though perhaps Richard is in a slightly better position to grab the GOP nomination for 2008). Alas, I realized too late that petitioning the Virgin Mary to intercede probably wasn't going to work on a Baptist.

The question that Michelle Malkin dodges on her blog isn't why Falwell died yesterday but why did it take him so long? I knew he was a goner once he blew the whistle on the Murderer from Hope in 1994's The Clinton Chronicles (god, one more reason to miss that decade). As I recall, Falwell wandered through that shockumentary like Raymond Burr waddling through Godzilla: 1985 or Gene Kelly rollerskating while reciting Coleridge in Xanadu: The Rev. possessed complete control over his instrument as he revealed how the bodies were piling up at the Mena airstrip like so many kilos of Latin American coke. (Side note in the style of Kaus: Are there any people more odious than those who insist on being prefixed by the honorific "Reverend"? Maybe those who dub themselves "Ambassador"? Are you listening Sharpton? Keyes? Yglesias?) And by the way, why is Miss Firecracker referring to Abdullah al-Muhajir by his American name, Jose Padilla? I give Malkin a week before she's signing off with "Allahu Akbar!" and doing her cheers in a burka. Game, set, match, Brother Tim; we lost the battle with radical Islam the minute we started wearing helmets when we rode our bikes. Do you think Bin Laden wore a helmet in the caves of Tora Bora? Richard Paul's death likely signalled the start of The Rapture (when's the last time you saw a "If the Rapture Comes, This Car Will Be Driverless" bumper sticker?). The alleged dirty bombers have won, the clock is ticking ever closer to midnight, and here's hoping those Atomic Scientistsand the rest of useven get a chance to try Domino's new foldable pizza (finally, a chain pizza you can fold!) before Xenu, or whoever Muslims pray to, returns…

Continue reading… "Drunken Sailors and Moonbats"

Previous Movable Snipes:

Jonathan Ames and Amanda Marcotte [Jewlicious, The News Blog, Gothamist, The Revealer, Maud Newton]

John Derbyshire and Daphne Merkin [James Wolcott, Reason's Hit & Run, Design Observer, Kesher Talk, Matt Yglesias]

Michael Helke and Fiona Maazel [, , , , ]

Spencer Ackerman and Melissa Lafsky [Captain’s Quarters, Feministing, TNR's The Spine, Jossip, Wonkette]

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