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November 17, 2008

Joe the Author
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:33 PM *

So Joe the Plumber has a book in the works, entitled Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream. It’s coming out on December 1, 2008.

Joe’s coauthor, Thomas N. Tabback, has also written a book called Things Forgotten (2008, $19.95, but available at $9.95 here). It’s a novel about an amnesiac Bronx policeman who relives events in Canaan more than 3200 years ago through the eyes of one Nahar, son of Nahath.*.

Both books are published by a company called PearlGate Publishing, based in Austin, TX. I can find no further reference to them on the web. I presume that they use some other company for the physical production of the books.

Joe’s book can be pre-ordered for $14.95, or you can get a signed copy thrown in for free if you buy a one year Freedom Membership in Joe’s new website/forum/blog for $19.95.

My read on this? Tabback has written a book and self-published it, and is looking for some publicity. He has the bones of a decent website, but must not have been getting the traffic or the consequent sales. I trust that the additional eyeballs will lead anyone who might be interested in the book to buy it.

Meanwhile, I think Joe was looking for someone to help him with the mechanics of getting a book together and out the door while he launches his online community and citizen movement (old version of the site here). I’m sure the site will stand or fall on its value to its members.

* You can view sample chapters by clicking on the image of the book on this page. (Note the highly appropriate title font.) I would class it as well-researched, but not gracefully written.

Comments on Joe the Author:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Freedom Membership isn't free, clearly.

#2 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 07:57 PM:

All of this from the man who assured us that he wasn't seeking fame and thought the whole thing would blow over by morning... I'm certainly happy to see that he remained true to his principles and didn't sell out for a fast buck. I am truly proud that he has become the newest yardstick by which the world's citizens will measure Americans...

I can haz sirrup ov eppacack now?

#3 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 08:52 PM:

And we'd spend money to read what this chap says/writes/blogs/whatever, why?

#4 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 08:55 PM:

edward, no stirrup cup of ippycac for you. It won't clear out all of what's clogging your pipes. Have some charcoal. (And what's going on? Treating an oleander for poisoning?)

#5 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 08:57 PM:

oh, papyrus.... what abusive photoshoppery have you been coerced into this time?

#6 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 09:10 PM:

I still think he's a couple of cans short of a six-pack.

#7 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 09:16 PM:

Whoah. The "We are Joe" membership makes me think of the Borg.

Also, is the whole flag illustration really meant to bring to mind those charts that show progression? Is this We Are Joe The Movement thing going to make people's heads get smaller and eventually turn red?

#8 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Bruce @ 6: I'm not so sure he's got the plastic thingy to hold them together, either.

#9 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 09:44 PM:

Bruce@6: One of those godawful "American" beers, too, which taste like water and are marketed with Manly Men Doing Manly Things. Oh, wait! It's becoming clearer -- the only possible beer this could be: Busch Lite.

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Um. The statement on the front page is superficially unobjectionable, yet still manages to slightly creep me out. Maybe later....

#11 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 10:17 PM:


What kind of right-wing celebrity can't get a deal at Regnery?

#12 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 10:18 PM:

Make that PearlGate Publishing. Somehow, in my mind, it instantly transformed into PublishAmerica.

I'm sure it's an equally good publisher, though!

#13 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 11:02 PM:

Freedom Membership isn't free, clearly.

Freedom Membership's just another word for you got cash to lose.

#14 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 11:22 PM:

"PearlGate Publishing" evokes some weird combination of Christian fundamentalism and a sordid political scandal involving oysters.

#15 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 11:38 PM:

Self-published, yes.

PearlGate Publishing
12 White Magnolia Cir
Austin, Texas 78734
United States

Registered through:, Inc. (

Created on: 15-May-08
Expires on: 15-May-09
Last Updated on: 15-May-08

Administrative Contact:
Tabback, Tom
PearlGate Publishing
12 White Magnolia Cir
Austin, Texas 78734
United States
(512) 906-0992 Fax --

Technical Contact:
Tabback, Tom
PearlGate Publishing
12 White Magnolia Cir
Austin, Texas 78734
United States
(512) 906-0992 Fax --

Tom Tabback
7932 Park Ridge Dirve
Fort Worth, Texas 76137
United States

Registered through:, Inc. (
Created on: 22-Dec-06
Expires on: 22-Dec-09
Last Updated on: 25-Jul-08

Administrative Contact:
Tabback, Tom
7932 Park Ridge Dirve
Fort Worth, Texas 76137
United States

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 12:10 AM:

Abi... I’m sure the site will stand or fall on its value to its members.

Reading that two seconds after the description by Jim of a nudist colony of the dead has conjured strange images in my mind.

#17 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 02:54 AM:

David Harmon @ #10: I do like the bit about reminding the new government that we-the-people can and will hold them responsible, but it kind of makes me wonder where Joe and we-the-people were when the old government could have profited by that reminder.

#18 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 02:58 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #1: It's "free as in free speech, not as in free beer", as the saying goes.

(There's got to be a smart comment I can make tying that observation in with #6 et seq., but it's not coming to me.)

#19 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 04:33 AM:

I have the impression that to some extent, this "Joe movement" might be meant as a kind of welfare replacement for low income conservatives in inmediate trouble- didn't he say something along the lines of "we can help each other a lot better than the government can"? Probably won't work, of course.

#20 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 06:27 AM:


Perhaps the book didn't pass Regnery's careful vetting procedures... :-)

#21 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 06:41 AM:

From the website:

However, we would like to remind him and all of our elected officials that they hold office to serve the American people.
May they hearken to our voice if ever we feel our basic freedoms are being threatened, for it will be loud and clear.

We will be watching. We will be listening. Together, we can and will hold them accountable.
When I saw this the other night my first thought was "Yeah, where the %^^&* were you for the last 8 years?"
#22 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 08:00 AM:

I have not got a head like a ping-pong ball...

#23 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 09:39 AM:

Jo @ 22: That's because your head has something in it.

#24 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 09:47 AM:

Craig R. @ 21

His freedoms* weren't threatened then; ours were. Didn't you know that democracy is strengthened by denying left-wing pinkos their rights?

* The Four Freedoms:
 1. Freedom to have someone be inferior to you.
 2. Freedom to shop.
 3. Freedom to be immune to the consequences of your own choices.
 4. Freedom from thought.
#25 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 09:53 AM:

Is this guy's fifteen minutes of fame over yet? Gotta be close.

#26 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 10:02 AM:

This guy (Joe W.) makes P. T. Barnum look bashful.

Chaper 1 of Tabback's novel looks okay, although I'm not sure I'd have gone with the Biblical introduction.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Dr Paisley #13:

Freedom Membership's just another word for something more to sell.

(O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?)

Paul A. #18:

'Free speech'? As In 'Free to imagine I can buy a company with no money in my wallet?'

#28 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 12:18 PM:

Serge: I paused to reflect upon its juxtaposition with Macdonald's poison article....

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 12:28 PM:

Mark @ 28... So, we now have valuable members, nudist zombies and Ronald MacDonald?

#30 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 12:29 PM:

If he gets enough folks to pony up the cash, maybe he'll finally make enough money to be adversely affected by Obama's tax plan.

#31 ::: Fiona ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 01:10 PM:

He's just trying to help the economy by giving the right wingers something to buy. Goodness knows, the lift-wing news media and publishers have suffocated the voice of real America long enough.

(sarcasm intended, if not done well)

#32 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 01:59 PM:

The Terms of Use page is fun. They don't seem to know about the Fair Use Doctrine.

Looking a WHOIS, has essentially the same registration info as except it was registered by Tabback on October 23, 2008.

#33 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Love this graphic of Tabback's: Does this illustrate pressing flowers, of is some sort of comparison intended?

#34 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 02:07 PM:

online community and citizen movement

Sounds suspiciously like Joe the Community Organizer to me.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 02:51 PM:

"I Am Joe's Member" sounds suspiciously like a Reader's Digest article.

#36 ::: Flippanter ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 03:00 PM:

There might be an amusing contrast to be drawn between the position/status of Tabback the Self-Published, as an outsider artist (as some extremely patient graduate student may even now be crafting a dissertation outline to propose), and that of Joe the Self-Aggrandizing, as a putative "outsider" hemi-demi-semi-politician, and the assumed shortfall between Joe's promises and representations to members of "forgotten" classes (like Tabback) and what those classes actually end up collecting on in the end, but now that I've written that much it sounds too much like work.

#37 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 03:45 PM:

James, #35: *dissolves into helpless giggles*

I swear, everything is hitting me funny today. Some nit in a bright-red Miata tried to bull his way in front of me on the freeway earlier; normally that kind of behavior pisses me off, but there was just something about this itsy-bitsy toy car trying to do it that somehow made it funny instead. I wanted to pat the poor thing on the head and reassure it that someday it would grow up to be a real car!

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 07:06 PM:

I wonder if Joe will recount the time he was unemployed and getting welfare payments.

#39 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Bruce @24

Those "Four Freedoms" seem to be right on when dealing with a certain segment of the public, unfortunately. As long as you can buy all the crap you want at Wal-Mart, and have someone to p*ss on, life is good.

What idiocy.

#40 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Thanks to all for reading the clip and taking the bullet for the rest of us.

Even some of the comments make want to find my brainwash.


#41 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2008, 10:30 PM:

"Joe the Plumber" is about as authentic as a forged $20 bill, or "I am X from Niger/wherever my some-family-member-or-other died and my money is locked up send me your financial information/money and I will pay you Big Bucks..." If there's reincarnation perhaps he was profiled by William Randolph Hearst in a made-for-Hearst-publication-made-up-sob-story....

I wonder what the next phony the Republithugs are going to plant and spring?!

#42 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 01:39 AM:

Kathryn, #33, he's probably hoping stuff seeps down into his book.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 07:23 AM:

Paula Lieberman #41: While I have received spam e-mails from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, Spain, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, and France, and a snail mail dead bank customer scam letter from Spain (by coincidence the imaginary dead relative bore the name of an actual dead relative of mine, the fact that said relative passed on the the Great Perhaps 37 years before the letter was sent being a mere bagatelle), I have never received a scam missive from Niger. I don't know of anyone who has.

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Jim Macdonald #44: I was wrong. I admit it.

#46 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 12:33 PM:

My recent Sir or Madam Can you Help Us letters have purported to come from Hong Kong, Nigeria (two of them), and South Africa. The one from Hong Kong informed me that it had gotten my name from an attorney's website and that it needed a legal representative to assist in setting up a company. Everything was spelled correctly and it actually sounded quite impressive, for a scam.

#47 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 02:15 PM:

This all reminded me that I wanted to read Joe the Vice President-Elect's book. I have now ordered it at the library. Hooray!

#48 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 05:59 PM:

The ToS seem to be in consonance with Fair Use. Commercial reuse was prohibited, but not other uses; per se.

It looks like some bog-standard boilerplate to me.

#49 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 02:01 PM:

The Beeb has the story now.

Usual failure to understand the publishing industry, of course.

#50 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 02:42 PM:

This all has the feel of the manufactured POW/hero in Wag the Dog.

("Courage, Mom!")

#51 ::: scyllacat ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 08:52 PM:

Ah, Dr. Paisley, I may have to filk that now. Thanks for getting me started.

As usual, I have nothing to say everyone else hasn't already said. Thanks for the update.

#52 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 10:38 PM:

Abi writes in #49:

The Beeb has the story now.

Usual failure to understand the publishing industry, of course.

I'm not so sure. The article says:

The deal is not likely to come close to the $7m (£4.65m) figure rumoured to be on offer for a book by the former Republican vice-presidential hopeful, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

So not complete failure.

#53 ::: fractured ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 11:10 PM:

So the guy is trying to make a buck before his time runs out, sounds very American to me.

#54 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 04:50 AM:

sounds very American to me.

How so? Do you mean "very American, unlike the behaviour of people from other countries, who hate making a buck"?

#55 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 10:51 AM:

I'm getting increasingly confused as to what Americans are supposed to be at all, to be honest.

Mad Max and the Meltdown -

Apparently the financial crisis is because people aren't saying Merry Christmas to each other?

Amazing stuff.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Sylvia, #55: I see that you have a UK e-mail address. Let me fill you in on two cultural things you're missing about that WSJ article.

1) There's a rabid right-wing pundit named Bill O'Reilly who, for the last 2 or 3 years, has been making good money off talking about a nonexistent "War on Christmas", whereby people are supposedly terrified to wish other people a Merry Christmas for fear of giving offense. The mustard seed of truth at the root of this ridiculous fantasy: over the past decade or so, a lot of retailers have become more aware that not all of their customers are Christians, and have gone over to using the more-generic "Happy Holidays" instead. (This includes Bill O'Reilly's host network, Fox News -- their website prominently features the phrase.) One common, and inevitably false, accusation is that some retail chain or other (I think Target was the last one attacked) has actually forbidden its employees to say "Merry Christmas" to customers.

The thing about this is that NO ONE EXCEPT O'REILLY AND HIS CULT actually believes such a thing is happening. Ordinary people in the US go around wishing each other a Merry Christmas on a regular basis. What the "War on Christmas" meme is really about is that some people would like to outlaw any recognition of religions other than Christianity. But O'Reilly and his nutcase assertion get a lot of traction in conservative media outlets, of which the WSJ is definitely one.

2) One of the common arguments by proponents of mandatory religion in public schools is that without religion (by which they mean ONLY Christianity) there is no morality. The idea that ethical behavior can come from an internal source, rather than an external Giant Overseer standing over you with a whip to make you behave, is anathema to them. This idea has wider acceptance than the "War on Christmas" meme, but it's just as inaccurate; most people would not in fact turn into conscienceless sociopaths if they followed a different religion, or none at all. Now go back and read the last few paragraphs of the WSJ article; you'll see the "no morality without Christianity" argument laid out pretty plainly.

The thing to remember is that this is a minority view even in America; the only people pushing it really hard are the same ones who want a religious takeover of our government... and the greedheads who find those people to be useful pawns in their own reach for unlimited power.

#57 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Lee @56--The only argument I have to make with your explanation is that Bill O'Reilly is merely a tool of this movement, and not its originator--he jumped on the bandwagon because he feels it makes him look more stalwart and embattled and all that, and a day when Billo can't feel the rush of righteous indignation and have his sense of persecution fondled is, for him, a wasted day.

The whole "War on Christmas" meme has been one of the arrows in the Christianist/Dominionist quiver that's been employed for over a decade--I recall hearing rumbles of it in the late 1980s. A new favorite with that crowd the the US Mint's placement of "In God We Trust" on edge of the presidential dollar coins, instead of on the face of the coins.

It is all designed to heighten the sense of religious persecution that fuels that segment of believers, and tends to fuel itself--once people are "made aware" they start seeing all sorts of slights, assaults, and attacks where none were intended.

It is this part of the political-religious spectrum in the US that is cheering on the chances of Armageddon in the Middle East so that they can watch everyone who fails their litmus test (because surely they know who's really saved!) suffer in the Tribulations of the End Times and all that, while they arise to heaven in glory.

#58 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 12:40 PM:

#56 ...talking about a nonexistent "War on Christmas"...

The totally classic War On Christmas story is Fafblog's Long Jolly Slog.

#59 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 01:40 PM:

The bogus "War on Christmas" is all part of the playbook for rightwinger talk radio & their fully assimilated television cohorts.

From the Milwaukee Magazine, Nov. 13, 2008, in "Secrets of Talk Radio", by the former news director of WTMJ, who reveals how talk show hosts ... work to get us angry.

To succeed, a talk show host must perpetuate the notion that his or her listeners are victims, and the host is the vehicle by which they can become empowered. The host frames virtually every issue in us-versus-them terms. There has to be a bad guy against whom the host will emphatically defend those loyal listeners.

This enemy can be a politician – either a Democratic officeholder or, in rare cases where no Democrat is convenient to blame, it can be a “RINO” (a “Republican In Name Only,” who is deemed not conservative enough). It can be the cold, cruel government bureaucracy. More often than not, however, the enemy is the “mainstream media” – local or national, print or broadcast. ]


[ In the talk radio business, this concept, which must be mastered to be successful, is called “differentiating” yourself from the rest of the media. It is a brilliant marketing tactic that has also helped Fox News Channel thrive. “We report, you decide” and “Fair and Balanced” are more than just savvy slogans. They are code words signaling that only Fox will report the news in a way conservatives see as objective and truthful.

War on Christmas is perfect.

Love, C.

#60 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 03:13 PM:

Fragano #45:
I think you needed to follow Jim's link in #44 before apologizing. The 419 spam from Niger he pointed at was a political pastiche written by Jim. Something about having a large quantity of Yellowcake Uranium he needed help getting out of the country.

I would expect that real Niger spam would be written is French.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 03:19 PM:

I got a piece of spam yesterday, purporting to be from an oil company in Lagos, Nigeria, offering crude oil contracts.

#62 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 03:41 PM:

@Lee & @fidelio Thanks. I left the US in 1989 so although I hold the passport, I agree that it's come to the point that I'm missing clear cultural issues.

Up until now, the only such references I've seen have been in emails forwarded eight dozen times. Seeing it in the WSJ threw me.

The thing about this is that NO ONE EXCEPT O'REILLY AND HIS CULT actually believes such a thing is happening.

And my father. But he also believes that Cheeze Whiz is food so I've never given his views much credence.

I appreicate your taking the time to put me straight. My outlook has improved once again.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 03:44 PM:

PJ Evans @ 61... crude oil contracts

Jeb Clampett moved to Africa?

#64 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Constance #59

That's fascinating; the appeal of hero/victimization is obvious but I'd not seen that angle. I'm re-parsing a lot of broadcasts (not just right-wing, to be honest) in that light and seeing a number of scenarios where that's worked.


#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 03:50 PM:

No, they're claiming to be from 'Duke Oil', offering 'Bonny Light'. Not being in that field (in either sense), I don't really know what it's talking about.

#66 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 06:46 PM:

John Houghton #60: True. Or in Foula.

#67 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 09:26 PM:

The first place I saw "War on Christmas" was James Dobson and Focus on the Family.

#68 ::: fractured ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Raph - I meant it as a typical occurrence in our country where a person gets his 15 minutes, rides the rails of celebrity and cashes out. It's probabl a world wide phenomena.

As for the whole Merry Christmas - I wonder how much of it is a result of political correctness gone apeshit - yeah, the right likes to beat its drums around the war on christmas, it makes good television

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2008, 11:22 PM:

fractured, #68: Well, I can tell you this much: it's made me, and a lot of my friends, less likely to wish someone a Merry Christmas, lest we be seen as aligning ourselves with the politically-correct* lunatics. What I can't tell you is how typical a reaction that might be.

* Yes, you read that right. In this instance the label "political correctness" goes with the people who are INSISTING that saying anything else is Offensive and Must Not Be Done.

#70 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2008, 02:20 AM:

I think I probably squandered my "15 minutes" when I helped a local PBS station auction off a Corvette on live TV. This was before that station announced they were canceling Dr. Who (the original series) while the local Dr. Who fan club was volunteering to answer their telethon phones; of course, I wouldn't have offered my help after the station cluelessly backstabbed the local fan base.

#71 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2008, 03:20 AM:

Oh Joe the Plumber, he was there,
He came with Sarah Palin.
But by the time the sun came up,
Old Billo he was nailin'

An its who'll slash ye now...

#72 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2008, 01:46 PM:

Earl #70:

You mean they made the announcement while they were showing the fans? What did the fans do, rise up as a body and start throwing phones at the camera or the announcer?

(Yes, KRLU/N has done many clueless things in my lifetime, but I missed that one entirely; perhaps I was on some coast or other.)

#73 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2008, 02:33 PM:

During the Dr. Who marathon, when the station rep announced live that they were canceling the show, the Dr. Who fan club phone volunteers got up and left. I have not donated a dime to that station since then. It's been a couple of decades or so; perhaps the people responsible have retired by now. Sometimes, a satisfying revenge is to simply outlive your enemies.

#74 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2008, 06:44 PM:

Earl, #73: Heh. Reminds me of the scuttlebutt I heard after the one and only CreationCon I ever attended, back in early 1986. It was in Chattanooga, and they'd gotten all the local fan base to come out and volunteer, promising them all kinds of perks that somehow never quite materialized. By the end of the con, the fen were pretty pissed. But then someone overheard a couple of the corporate types talking about how great it would be to have all these volunteers again when they did their next event... over Labor Day weekend. And the word spread, and there was much evil laughter among the fans.

(For those who don't get the joke, 1986 was the year of Confederation, the Atlanta Worldcon. Atlanta is only 2 hours away from Chattanooga; there wasn't going to be a fan in town when that event was due to happen.)

#75 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:16 AM:

The "War On Christmas" nonsense is also rather poorly concealed anti-Semitism, as Jon Stewart has pointed out more than once. Hmm, who else has a holiday in December and might not be excited to wish Jesus a very special birthday?

Of course, as lots of other people before me have pointed out, "Happy Holidays" for most people is a shorthand for "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" - you know, since "holidays" is plural and all that.

#76 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:01 AM:

The war on Christmas meme, and a lot of the talk radio memes, come out of something more fundamental than just riling up the us-vs-them rhetoric: The world really is changing, constantly, in big and often disturbing ways.

Stuff that everyone thought they could rely on (priests being trusted with children, government not spying on its citizens, manufacturing jobs providing a decent living for people of normal intelligence and diligence, the US being on top of the world by most any measure) have turned out to be false. Social rules and assumptions that were part of what everyone believed and expected have changed, too: Openly gay couples marrying and adopting/raising kids, interracial couples being nothing unusual, the election of a black president, all these are things that, for a lot of people, were pretty much unthinkable even 25 years ago.

There's a part of this cultural change that's regional, a part that differs by social/intellectual class, a part that really is more accepted by the "coastal elites" and big city folk than by everyone else. But only a part, and the main difference is in when it's accepted--the stuff that was an uncomfortable adjustment 20 years ago in Los Angeles is probably uncomfortably introducing changes in Pekin, IL and Rolla, MO now.

This speed and scale of social change is profoundly uncomfortable for a lot of people. That's true even when they have nothing at stake--few people are materially harmed by allowing people in their community to be openly gay, or by having to put up with mixed-race couples in their church or Spanish signs alongside the English ones at the drug store. It's the amount of change, which leads a lot of older people to comment that the US now seems almost like a foreign country, relative to the US in which they grew up.

That discomfort is there, ready to be exploited. Talk radio rabble-rousers exploit it. So do some politicians, some churches, some political movements. The discomfort is more acute in places where the changes have been slower, which means it's easier to rouse the rabble there. A good way to do this is to attribute the change to some outside force, to the coastal elites or the latte liberals or the Jews or the Mexicans or the blacks or the gays or someone else--that lets you get the us-vs-them circuitry in your listeners' brains fired up.

Much of the change we've faced is due to entirely impersonal forces playing themselves out. For example, the sexual revolution probably happened because of good birth control becoming available and increasing mobility. Increasing access to coarser/rauchier media has a lot to do with cable TV, satellite TV, and the internet, along with the logic of various court cases being decided. The erosion of manufacturing jobs as a way of getting solidly into the middle class is a result of market forces, immigration, free trade, and free movement of capital, among other things. And so on. But the stress caused, the discomfort, is much more easily exploited once it's attributed to some group of distant outsiders. Thus, it's media elites making our kids sleep around, activist judges legislating from the bench making us watch softcore porn on TV, scheming Wall-Street types outsourcing our jobs to China. It's hard to love or hate an abstraction, but you can love or hate an abstract group, even if (maybe especially if) you seldom interact with any of them.

#77 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:43 AM:

The clergy of my very liturgically rigid, yet socially liberal church have made it a point to mention that Christmas doesn't technically happen until sundown on 12/24 - up until then, it is Advent. Therefore, the choir will be singing Advent Carols during the lessons and carols service.

I don't wonder if this isn't a backhanded "and let no one whine about a war on christmas" announcement. Never accuse someone of Political Correctness when it is merely actual Correctness they're striving for.

#78 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:06 PM:

nerdycellist: I love that aspect of Midnight Mass, with advent carols from processional to elevation, and christmas carols from elvation to recessional.

And tomorrow I can start playing the lot of them on my whistles (I am enjoined from practice until thanksgiving, though I insist on being allowed to play until Epiphany)

#79 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 05:21 PM:

albatross, #75: I was with you right up until you said: Thus, it's media elites making our kids sleep around, activist judges legislating from the bench making us watch softcore porn on TV, scheming Wall-Street types outsourcing our jobs to China.

Because, y'know, it really is scheming Wall-Street types outsourcing our jobs to China. Who else has the power to do so?

Unless you're drawing a distinction between people who run brokerage houses and the CEOs of manufacturing companies -- in which case, while I still don't agree with the argument, I'll withdraw my objection to the phrasing.

Also, it really pisses me off that I'm probably not young enough to outlive the worst of the reactionaries and rabble-rousers. It feels like being cheated of my revenge.

#80 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 07:08 AM:

Lee @79, Also, it really pisses me off that I'm probably not young enough to outlive the worst of the reactionaries and rabble-rousers. It feels like being cheated of my revenge.

Don't feel too sad about that- unfortunately, there's always enough replacements coming up. You might have had the same complaint if you had lived 50 years earlier.

#81 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:53 PM:

So the two face-covering humility wings get converted into horns when the angel chooses to fight for the bad guys, right?

I'm not sure just what to think about foot wings except in the context of Hermes.

#82 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Drat. How the heck did that get on the wrong thread?

#83 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 06:44 PM:

Terry @ 78 -

I'm finishing up my first liturgical year, and have found advent/christmas distinction to be very helpful. My new rule is no holiday music until advent... except for rehearsing, of course. This year I get to be the only non-paid singer in the quartet portions of Haydn's St. Nicholas Mass, so I've had to practice rather more than usual just so I don't embarass myself. If I don't work on it, the Opera major grad student soprano is going to totally leave me in the dust. It will be interesting seeing the midnight mass from "backstage" this year.

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