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Katrina non Hurricana

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday December 12, 2009 12:28 PM

Katrina van den Heuvel, editrix of The Nation, seems to have quantum-jumped into some parallel world on Wednesday, where she heard an alternative Obie give a different Nobel speech, a speech nothing like what the pathetic banal Obie in our poor world gave. Here's Katrina, on NPR (where else?):

President Obama is an ethical realist. It was a speech grounded in realism with elements of idealism.... building on the quartet of major speeches he's given in this past year beginning to layout [an] Obama doctrine.... So, it was an important speech and directly you could see why the Nobel Committee awarded him this prize....

[It]was a complex speech. It was a, kind of a speech that could be taught in a college course on just war and America's role in the world.

Wow! It "could be taught in a college course"! Say no more! The man is one of us.

Being President may make you stupid; but liking the President gives you a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Katrina is probably not a born fool, but deep commitment and hard work have made her a virtuoso of fatuous gaga.

I looked again at Obie's speech -- wondering, perhaps, if it had transmuted into the text Katrina heard while I wasn't looking. It hadn't. But I did notice that among its many bellicose gestures, there were quite specific threats to Iran, the Congo, North Korea, Sudan, and Burma, all mentioned by name (except Sudan, which is unmentionable; its partition is already complete on the lexical plane, and something called Darfur looks like the new Kosovo).

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As Hans Magnus Enzensberger remarked in his book Civil Wars, “When the moral demands made on an individual are consistently out of proportion to his scope for action, he will eventually go on strike and deny all responsibility. Here lie the seeds of brutalization, which may escalate to raging aggression.”


I indulged in a little ad hominem attack on Ms. Van den Heuvel in the crass little back pages of Common Dreams.
To fully source my spittle-dispensing, I had read Gus Russo's magnificent Mob book about the marvelous connections between the overworld of politics and the underworld of Chicago mobsters. Ms. Van den Heuvel's grandfather was none other than Jules Stein, the mob-connected, mob-supported, extortion-violence beneficiary head of MCA, the near-monopoly entertainment agency of the Sinatra generation. Her father, New York establishment lawyer William van Den Heuvel, received, again according to the world-class reporter Russo, questionable support in his rise through the political meritocracy.
Now, we all have our shameful forebears, but when a post-60's enormously wealthy liberal starts getting all pugnaciously war-like and power-crazed, I wonder how far the echoes of head-bashing and face-crushing can last. The money, of course, derived from this type of business, last many, many lifetimes, allowing progressives to have weekly confirmation of their meritocratic goodness, and Ms. van den Heuvel to use all available means to keep that mug absolutely, age-defyingly taut.
The reason I am producing this minor venom is that she keeps thinking she is liberalism's spokeswoman, and I, for one, object.

Mob princess supports organized crime--nice scoop, dude.

Maybe Katrina can do a Christmas album with Cokie Roberts. How cool would that be?


That's the thing, these progressive/liberal celebrities are at worst upper middle class thus have a vested interest in keeping the existing class and imperial structures intact. And I think liberalism is in fact the artifact that results from one trying to reconcile this with the desire to think well of one's self. Calling it hypocrisy is perhaps misleading because hypocrisy implies at least the existence of principles.* Whereas these folks don't seem to have any that aren't antisocial (e.g., getting exposure on NPR and so on). But they sort of affect that they do, to the extent they understand them, to be seen and see themselves in a more benevolent light. (My experience has been liberal professional types are fairly open in their cynicism when speaking off the record.)

*I also think manners are often conflated erroneously with principles.


Thus mjosef:

[Katrina] keeps thinking she is liberalism's spokeswoman, and I, for one, object.
Why? I can't imagine a more suitable spokeswoman for liberalism. She's the quintessential liberal -- as she puts it, a "realist" with "elements of idealism".


"It was a rebuke to the unilateralism, the jingoism of the Bush years. This speech had a humility and grace while confronting the paradoxes"

well wasn't it ???
i'll admit her praise seems oddly inflated
i note from the transcript she made a quick exist after her lead of encomium

this is pure gravy for me however
"humility and grace while confronting the paradoxes "

confronting THE paradoxes

now that's merit class work
for sure

the obama decider cocktail
is made very dry indeed

8 ounces of realism and just
a whisper of wilsonian vermouth

It takes a lot of effort and money to prevent discussion, deny obligations, and derail reconciliation in our country, and maybe that's why major media had to consolidate so drastically between Bush 1 and Bush 2. I mean, even with the willing help of pseudo public ombudsmen like 60 Minutes, PBS, and NPR, it isn't easy to fool all the people all the time when evidence to the contrary lays scattered about the landscape like rancid buffalo carcasses during the wasting of the Great Plains.

Which is probably why the anti-democratic movement in America has had to rely on segmenting it's war across a broad front of issues in order to prevent the electorate from comprehending they're all part and parcel of the same tyrannical package. While actively colluding to exclude us from the decision-making process on all public issues, they simultaneously promote the idea that we can be against one or two aspects of corporate tyranny -- i.e. war of aggression or nuclear power -- but the social system that enables these abominations is not up for discussion. Yet that is precisely what we need to talk about.

Subverting solidarity, undermining unity, hamstringing hope--this is what an overwhelming absence of independent media has done to our struggle for equality and opportunity in the US. As a ploy, though, parrying public participation has rendered diminishing ethical returns. As a point of vulnerability, we must be relentless in our attack.

Y'know, eight or ten years ago, had I seen Katrina van den Heuvel on any mainstream media punditry outlet, my nipples would have exploded with delight (to paraphrase Monty Python); as it is, whenever I see Ms. vdH blabbing on Olbermann's or Maddow's program, I just want to transubstantiate the essense of the back of my hand through the screen, into the electron beam, into the signal, up to the satellite, back into the downlink signal, through the camera's electron beam, out through the lens, and into the studio, where I can smack the shit out of her.

Al Schumann:
Maybe Katrina can do a Christmas album with Cokie Roberts. How cool would that be?

That's a picture perfect encapsulation: the evil of banality, as performed by the Empty Talking Heads.


If there was a Nobel prize for obsequious fawning and mindless cant, I'd bet on Ms Van den Hoople for the win.


"Maybe Katrina can do a Christmas album with Cokie Roberts. How cool would that be?"

Pretty damn cool indeed if they could sing "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue" together with Toby Keith. It would be a perfect trifecta of treacle.


this site clucks away
like nancy grace some times

the need to despise runs mighty deep
and when admixed with thwarted lust ..
oh dear i'm projecting again

Save the Oocytes:

I'm not sure you're projecting at all, op.

The realism meme was sufficiently drilled into our cortices by the three guests, but Fineman at least refrained from fawning over our emperor for wisely forsaking humanitarian ideals. What a strange country, where thievery is valued above all else.


There is too much misogyny on display here. Reaching through the TV to slap KvdH around?! Facelift jokes?

Ms. vdH's empty intellectualisms remind me at times of Eric Sevareid's commentaries on CBS, which is neither here nor there.


There is too much misogyny on display here. Reaching through the TV to slap KvdH around?! Facelift jokes?

Ms. vdH's empty intellectualisms remind me at times of Eric Sevareid's commentaries on CBS, which is neither here nor there.


Boink, if KVH reminds you of Eric Severeid, you lead a dull life.

Facelifts are not a joke. They are a capitulation to the reign of artificiality.

Anyone ambitious enough to ascend to the throne
of televisual prominence, man or woman, becomes a subject to that command. Men wear hairpieces, get sliced and diced; women like KVH and Laura Flanders get the scalpel lifetime club membership. It's the seductions of fame meeting human presentation. No misogyny there, my finger-wagging friend.

The problem, then, is that these robototrons then try to assume the mantle of liberal righteousness. For women, yes, the dilemmas of needing to be in the public gaze while appearing unlined are much more toxic than for men, who can look as amphibian as Larry King and still, somehow, be allowed in the studio.

Becoming tremulous in the face of logical truth is no response. Meryl Streep claims in a recent Vanity Fair article to have had no plastic surgery whatsoever. The NFL and MLB and Steve Nash claim to be performing-enhancing drug-free. How many lies do we, the consumers of pop culture, have to allow?


"lies" of vanity seem harmless enough to me

and old eric severalsides
made for a nice recollection

i'll accept the admonishment
of anon-hotep IV

though to comply is to give myself a PC face lift

anything to get "content " here

One thing that's gone unisex and almost universal among the merits is the hair-dye bottle. One wonders how many third world nation-states have smaller gdps that our he-she Grecian Formula salons.

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