Saturday, October 4, 2008

Britney: No sex for 6 months!

Interrupting her ongoing project to sleep with every sleazy lowlife on the planet:
Britney Spears' parents have reportedly slapped a six-month sex ban on their daughter to prevent any bumps in the road on her way back to the top.
Fiercely protective Jamie and Lynne Spears feel that Britney's downfall was linked to the men in her life and want their daughter to refrain from any male contact for a while.
With two failed marriages, a relationship with paparazzo Adnan Ghalib and reports of a supposed sex tape, the troubled star's questionable taste in men has often come back to haunt her.
Scummy guys should take a number and stand in line, because when April rolls around, Britney will be ready to make up for lost time.

Remember: When in doubt, blog about Britney!

UPDATE: Or Lindsey Lohan who, despite being a lesbian, nevertheless wants to be a mom.

NYT & the art of partisan propaganda

One of the pet conceits of liberal journalism is that when Republicans win elections, they win by deceptive campaign tactics. When Democrats win elections, they win on issues, and the election of Democrats is thus always an endorsement of liberal policies. The New York Times:
The turmoil on Wall Street and the weakening economy are changing the contours of the presidential campaign map, giving new force to Senator Barack Obama’s ambitious strategy to make incursions into Republican territory, while leading Senator John McCain to scale back his efforts to capture Democratic states. . . .
[McCain's] decision last week to pull out of Michigan reflected in part the challenge that the declining economy has created for Republicans, given that they have held the White House for the last eight years.
Go back to early September, when John McCain was surging in the polls, and try to find any story in which the New York Times cast the GOP advantage in terms of issues. Good luck trying.

But did campaign tactics have nothing to do with Obama's moving ahead in Michigan? In the second week of September, two polls showed McCain leading in Michigan. On Sept. 17, Obama launched a new ad in Michigan:

"McCain would give $4 billion in new tax breaks to Big Oil" -- effective demagoguery tying the Republican to a ready-made villain. But this tactic had nothing to do with McCain's Michigan meltdown, according to the New York Times. And check out this ad that Obama rolled out in Michigan Sept. 23:

Oooh! The rich man with 17 cars -- including three foreign-made cars! But this Obama campaign tactic of appealing to class envy and economic xenophobia had nothing to do with McCain's debacle in Michigan. No, the election is about the "challenge that the declining economy has created for Republicans," and will be sold by the NY Times and the rest of the MSM as a mandate for liberal economic policies.

Again, go back to 2002 and 2004, years when Republicans were triumphant, and see if you can find where the NY Times interpreted those victories as a mandate to overturn Roe v. Wade or prosecute the Iraq war to victory. Good luck!

NYT on Ayers-Obama connection

UPDATED & BUMPED: Whitewash, says Stanley Kurtz:
The piece serves as a platform for the Obama campaign and Obama’s friends and allies. Obama’s spokesman and supporters’ names are named and their versions of events are presented in detail, with quotes. Yet the article makes no serious attempt to present the views of Obama critics who have worked to uncover the true nature of the relationship. That makes this piece irresponsible journalism, and an obvious effort by the former paper of record to protect Obama from the coming McCain onslaught.
Read the whole thing.

PREVIOUSLY: They dump it on a Saturday, and bury it under a lot of ultra-boring oatmeal, but at least it's there:
The Ayers-Obama connection first came to public attention last spring, when both Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama's Democratic primary rival, and Mr. McCain brought it up. It became the subject of a television advertisement in August by the anti-Obama American Issues Project and drew new attention recently on The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page and elsewhere as the archives of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge at the University of Illinois were opened to researchers.
That project was part of a national school reform effort financed with $500 million from Walter H. Annenberg, the billionaire publisher and philanthropist and President Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Many cities applied for the Annenberg money, and Mr. Ayers joined two other local education activists to lead a broad, citywide effort that won nearly $50 million for Chicago.
The content of the story, and its purpose, can be summed up: "Nothing to see here. Move along."

UPDATE: VodkaPundit and Tom Maguire have more analysis. Based on my own newsroom experiences, I'd say this story got edited and rewritten several times on its way to publication. There is an editor or editors at the New York Times who made sure that anything in this story that might have reflected negatively on Obama was qualified or counterbalanced.

I'm betting that the reporter on the story spent a lot of time arguing with his bosses about this, and is unhappy with the way it was rewritten. Not only that, but I'll bet the story was "held" at least two days in the process. There is nothing time-sensitive in the story, and I'm guessing the reporter had it ready Monday or Tuesday, spent a day or two hassling with his editors over rewrites, and then the story was purposefully delayed so that it would publish on a Saturday -- historically, the lowest circulation day in the newspaper business.

But never mind -- the whole point of the story is to give the NY Times a fig leaf, so they can't be accused of ignoring the Obama-Ayers connection. It's a token gesture of "fairness."

Headline of the week

Sudden outbreak of democracy
baffles US pundits
That's from a column about the bailout by Andrew Orlowski, which includes these insights:

It was the moment that politicians dread the most. This was not merely an outbreak of popular discontent, but a phenomenon which breaks down those convenient labels the political marketing people like to use, to shield their masters from people's true desires and intentions. Not just coarse labels like "Left" and "Right" - but the really dumb, patronizing demographic ones like "Soccer Mom" and the nadir of modern politics, those found in Mark Penn's "Microtrends." Niche marketers will have to start from scratch.
Conservatives, libertarians, and lefties all raised objections to the Bailout for very sound reasons of their own. The idea that the state should bail out feckless private enterprises offended both conservatives and libertarians, who take moral responsibility seriously. The left wanted their traditional adversaries put in jail, not given a gift of new lease of life with the public's money.
(Hat tip to my friend Terry Kane.) This point about the left's class-envy hostility toward the wealthy is important in understanding contemporary political psychology.

Liberal rhetoric -- not just from politicians, but from news media and in popular culture -- demonizes the wealthy, especially corporations and their executives. While our culture celebrates the fabulous lifestyles of athletes, movie stars and pop musicians, it vilifies executives and investors. Why? The conception of executives as "the boss" appeals to the resentment that many employees have for their supervisors.

Back in the mid-'80s, I worked for nearly two years as a forklift driver, and it was difficult for the guys on the loading dock, sweating in their hard hats, to understand why they're paid less than the guys wearing ties sitting in those air-conditioned offices. And when I got into the newspaper business, it was hard for the reporters who were out covering the beats to understand why they were paid less than the editor and publisher.

To many workers, there is sort of a cargo-cult mentality about management, as if managers and executives were born into a separate category and the external accoutrements of management -- the office, the business suit, attending meetings, etc. -- were caste symbols. Many people never seem to comprehend two basic facts:

  • Management involves aptitudes and skills that most people don't have, and requires long hours performing tasks that most people disdain. Filling out paperwork, scheduling tasks, dealing with personnel hassles and preparing budgets -- lower-level managers spend years doing that kind of mind-numbing crap in order to work their way up to mid-level managers from which executive ranks are filled. The guy who emerges atop such a pyramid must be excellent at doing stuff like that that most people can't do, and frankly wouldn't want to do.
  • A good manager is extremely valuable. The guy who's pulling orders on the warehouse floor can be replaced with a call to any temporary labor agency (I got my forklift driver job through a temp agency). Just about anybody can learn to drive a forklift. But the guy in the warehouse manager's office cannot be so easily replaced, and the difference between an effective manager and an ineffective manage has more impact on the profitability of an enterprise than does the difference in skill between two forklift drivers. And because one of a manager's key jobs is to evaluate personnel and productivity, the good manager is the guy who makes sure that the company hires and retains the best forklift drivers.
Class-warfare rhetoric that demonizes corporate executives and "the rich" as agents of injustice, profiting unfairly by immoral schemes, plays upon the common workplace resentment of "bosses" and misunderstanding of what it is that management does. And this is the raison d'etre of the Democratic Party's existence.

That's why I get angry any time a Republican utters class-warfare rhetoric. You can't promote conservatism by echoing a liberal message. A rhetoric that educates the public about the nature of free enterprise and celebrates the successes of the market economy -- the sort of thing at which Ronald Reagan excelled -- is necessary to the conservative project.

Markets work, government doesn't -- that is, or should be, the economic message of the Republican Party. The failure of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is a textbook example of what happens when government meddles in the private economy. If there are swindlers and con men in the mortgage and real-estate businesses, their potential harm to the economy would be limited, so long as they only had access to private capital. It was the implicit government guarantee of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that enabled them to engage in unsound practices that threatened a global economic meltdown.

It's hardly surprising that John McCain's poll numbers are in the toilet, given his lashing out against "reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed . . . on Wall Street." Republicans never get elected by espousing the Democratic Party message.

'Progress' as a verb

During Thursday's debate with Joe Biden, Sarah Palin spoke this 68-word run-on sentence:
"There have been times where, as mayor and governor, we have passed budgets that I did not veto and that I think could be considered as something that I quasi-caved in, if you will, but knowing that it was the right thing to do in order to progress the agenda for that year and to work with the legislative body, that body that actually holds the purse strings."
The governor's habit of using "progress" as an active verb annoys Alaska humorist Leinad Moolb. To me, it's no worse than the awful construction "grow the economy" that became commonplace in the '90s.

Alabama 17, Kentucky 14

Glen Coffee ran for 218 yards and a touchdown, and linebacker Rolando McClain turned a fumble recovery into another touchdown as No. 2 Alabama beat the previously undefeated Kentucky Wildcats in Tuscaloosa.

The Crimson Tide (now 5-and-0) simply couldn't get their passing game to click, as Kentucky brought heavy pressure on QB John Parker Wilson, who was sacked twice in the first half and threw an interception on 'Bama's first possession of the second half. Wilson finished the game 7-of-17 for 106 yards.

Perhaps Alabama was let down slightly after last week's big game against Georgia. On the other hand, perhaps Kentucky spent the week watching game film of the second half of the Georgia game, when the Bulldogs outscored the Tide 30-10.

Now that they're nationally ranked, Nick Saban's team will have to take it up a notch or two, as every opponent they face will be fired up and looking to score an upset. Next week, the Tide hosts Ole Miss, which just last week defeated Florida, which had been ranked No. 4.

'An American Carol' mini-review

Last night, I saw An American Carol at the DC American Film Renaissance festival and enjoyed it very much. Kevin Farley is excellent as Michael Malone, a thinly-veiled caricature of Farenheit 9-11 director Michael Moore.

In true Zucker style, there are running jokes about Malone's obesity, his romantic haplessness, and the inferior status of documentary filmmakers. Also, Malone keeps getting his face slapped, a cathartic experience for many views.

The funniest scene in the movie was when a courtroom (with Dennis Hopper as the judge) is overrun by zombie lawyers from the ACLU. Hopper and Gen. George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer) wield pump shotguns as they blast away at the zombies, as Patton shouts: "They're not people, they're the ACLU!"

Robert Davi as the terrorist leader is appropriately sinister, with Serdar Kalsin and Geoffrey Arend as his comic henchmen.

Ideologically, the film leans heavily toward the neocon point of view, glorifying war and derogating the Fourth Amendment ("Enjoy your privacy rights in hell!" Patton shouts at one point). Yet it is very funny, and certainly if it reaches a wide audience, Michael Moore's reputation will be permanently damaged. Here's the trailer one more time:

In the mail . . .

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard. Just started the first chapter, and when I put the book down, Adam had arrived at a homeless shelter in Charleston, S.C., only to find the shelter closed. He's got his own Web site, and the book is self-published, so I'm thinking the story has a happy ending.

CORRECTION: Shepard's book is not self-published -- it's by Harper Collins, which is even a happier ending. Adam, dude -- you should have gotten an advance, then you wouldn't have had to live in a homeless shelter. Oh, wait . . .

What the bailout didn't fix

Reagan administration economic adviser Martin Feldstein:
A successful plan to stabilize the U.S. economy and prevent a deep global recession must do more than buy back impaired debt from financial institutions. It must address the fundamental cause of the crisis: the downward spiral of house prices that devastates household wealth and destroys the capital of financial institutions that hold mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.
The recently enacted financial rescue plan does nothing to stop this spiral. . . .
Because of the 20% fall in the price of homes since the bursting of the house-price bubble, there are now some 10 million homes with mortgages that exceed the value of the house. . . .
More than $700 billion is needed to buy all of the impaired securities. The impaired mortgage-backed securities reflect not only the negative-equity mortgages but also positive-equity mortgages with very high interest rates, adjustable rates, or negative amortization. Even if the government could purchase every troubled mortgage, the prospect of future price declines would contaminate the mortgage portfolios. As house prices fall, the value of mortgage-backed securities would fall further.
Whatever happened to caveat emptor? Can't we just admit that people who bought overpriced homes (or leveraged their home equity) in the bubble market of 2002-2006 made bad decisions? Can't we simply say that mortgage lenders made bad investments and therefore lost money?

Why must this be perceived as a systemic crisis? The people who lost money, lost money, period. That money's gone, and the sooner we accept this reality, the sooner we can move forward. No point crying over spilled milk.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bailout passes, 263-171

The House approves the foot-long double-decker crap sandwich. In a related development, Obama moves to +7 in the Gallup daily tracking poll.

Time to call in the dogs, piss on the fire and go home, boys. This one's over.

Team Maverick has given us a textbook lesson in political incompetence: Take ownership of the unpopular side of a big issue, then hurl accusations of bad faith at all who disagree. Pay attention kids, this will be on your final exam Nov. 4.

UPDATE: For some reason, the Prince of Pessimism doesn't link me in his roundup, although I beat those big shot pundits to the punch. When I was hanging with Michelle at Denver, I asked her why Allahpundit hates me so much. She said I'm just imagining things, but it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

10/3: Campaign Pre-Mortem, Part I
10/2: Team Maverick hoists the white flag

'An American Carol' tonight!

Today is the opening of "An American Carol":

Some very clever casting here: Kelsey Grammar as Gen. George S. Patton -- who would have thought of that? And introducing country singer Trace Adkins as the Angel of Death -- that's edgy, and I could see Adkins getting more work after this auspicious film debut.

Tonight, I'll be attending a showing of "An American Carol" in Arlington, Va., as part of the DC American Film Renaissance festival.

UPDATE: Anita Crane has an interview with "An American Carol" executive producer Myrna Sokoloff in today's American Spectator.

UPDATE II: Smitty, if you'll bring an extra $25, I'll bring an extra copy of the book. I could use the gas money.

UPDATE III: Jeremy, je suis une journaliste. Mai oui.


Just asking. I was thinking of how convincing Joe was with the class-warfare rhetoric Thursday night, and something clicked: "Two Americas!"

The National Enquirer should start staking out Biden immediately, because he's just too good a class warrior not to have a flaky astrology-loving bimbo girlfriend stashed somewhere.

Joe "Silky Hairplugs" Biden!

Campaign Pre-Mortem, Part I

Yesterday, when the news hit that Team Maverick was pulling out of Michigan, I did not hesitate to state the only possible meaning of this news: Game over. Obama wins on Nov. 4.

If you've got any InTrade futures on McCain (now trading at 34%), sell them immediately for whatever you can get, because they're not worth a nickel.

As drastic and premature as that conclusion may seem, it is defensible, if you have carefully followed the course of this campaign. This is not "panic" or "quaking in your panties," as the commenter Nermous said and, contrary to what one Kossack commenter suggested -- yes, I got cited at DKos -- this is not: "When things get tough, they begin to eat their own."

However colorfully vituperative my language might be, I am trying to report an objective fact. When it becomes clearly obvious to me that a candidate has lost an election, and I see the possibility of being the first to report this fact -- a scoop! an exclusive! -- I'm not going to keep my mouth shut just because the guy has an "R" beside his name. (Which, through a fantastic genealogical coincidence, just happens to be my name, too.)

Now, let me run down the basic reasoning:
  • This year's map always favored the Democrats -- Whoever got the nomination for the Democrats had a built-in advantage over whoever got the GOP nomination. "Brand damage" for Republican Party since 2004 is very real, and by late 2007 "brand damage" had put into play several states that Bush carried against Kerry. Count the Electoral College votes. If the Democrats could hold all of Kerry's states and add Iowa (7), Colorado (9), Nevada (5) and New Mexico (5), that's 276-262 in the Electoral College. Obama's overwhelming popularity in Iowa gave the GOP even less room for error. Even if you ignored every other possible Dem pickup this year (e.g., Ohio, Florida, Virginia), it was imperative that the GOP go on offense and try to "flip" some of the Kerry states from 2004 -- New Hampshire (4), Maine (4), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (21) and Michigan (17) being the best prospects.
  • Michigan was McCain's best "flip" prospect -- Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm pushed through an unpopular tax increase last year, and the high-profile corruption case of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (an Obama ally) created a potential "perfect storm" scenario in Michigan. Yet less than a month after Kilpatrick pleaded guilty -- and just three weeks after a one poll showing McCain +1 in Michigan, and two weeks after another poll showed him +3 there -- the McCain campaign's pulling out. Hello? This signals a huge, sudden momentum shift, and it won't be limited to Michigan. You can confidently paint Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin blue, too.
  • Timing of the shift -- The poll swings before Labor Day were relatively inconsequential. Independent voters seldom pay attention to politics before September. This was why the McCain poll surge after the Palin VP pick created such a panic among Democrats. But the subsequent GOP poll collapse (which, in retrospect, began Sept. 12) was more significant. As I wrote Sept. 22, the momentum might shift back to McCain if Obama bombed Sept. 26 in the first debate. But let's face it: McCain sucked in that debate. So now, with barely a month to go in the campaign, the independents have shifted to Obama. Let Sean Hannity spin a fantasy of how McCain is going to reverse that shift this late in the game. I can't see it happening.
  • Media bashing -- I didn't comment on it at the time, but I was shocked when Steve Schmidt lashed out at the New York Times on Sept. 22. Every word Schmidt said about the NYT being in the tank for Obama was true. But you don't do that. Ever. Not in a campaign you have any hope of winning. It is one thing to criticize specific errors by specific reporters, but for a presidential campaign manager to call into question the fundamental integrity of a newspaper that more or less dictates news coverage at the three major broadcast networks? Uh uh. No way. Leave that work to surrogates. Then Wednesday, in an interview with the Associated Press, McCain himself got all hostile with the reporter. That is tantamount to an admission of defeat.
  • The bailout stunt -- John McCain might as well have changed his slogan last week to "Got Desperation?" Suspending his campaign and attempting to cancel the first debate so he could fly to Washington and grandstand in support of a measure that polls showed a majority of voters opposed? That's just crazy.
Look, I consider the bailout to be a travesty, but even if you believe the bailout is The Right Thing To Do, it's just bad politics to jump in on the unpopular side of a controversial issue six weeks before an election, especially in such a flamboyant manner as McCain did last week.

The First Law of Politics is, You Can't Govern, If You Don't Win. Winning elections may not be the only thing that matters in politics, but it's the most important thing in politics -- and it's sure a lot more important than whatever the second most important thing is.

This is why those who've accused me of panic or cannibalism are wrong. I'm watching political incompetence in action, and incompetence infuriates me. Good policy is good politics, and vice-versa. Yet here we see the once-mighty Republican Party en route to its second consecutive electoral embarrassment, with an incumbent GOP president and his would-be GOP successor both on the wrong side (i.e., the losing side) of major issues.

Just as with the shamnesty, so also with the bailout: Republican leaders trying to ram through measures that are opposed by an absolute majority of the voters, and more opposed by Republican voters than by Democrats. And the same rationale to explain failure in both cases: "You benighted know-nothing voters are being misled by demagogues. We know what's best for you, so shut up."

"Leadership," according to the 21st-century Beltway GOP elite, requires the negation of representative government. They believe in a government above the people, against the people, in spite of the people. And then they wonder why they're losing elections!

For me to be silent about the impending disaster and its causes would be an act of bad faith. On Nov. 5, somebody's going to have to explain this botched campaign, and if we leave that job to the liberal media or the Republicans who were personally in charge of the disaster, you can be sure we'll get the wrong explanation.

So I'm now on record with the first installment of what I believe to be the first pre-mortem of the McCain campaign. If my prognosis is mistaken, and somehow Maverick pulls the greatest comeback in modern political history, well, OK. But if I were you, I'd dump those InTrade shares for whatever any fool is willing to pay for them, because they're going to be worthless pretty soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Obligatory VP debate thread

UPDATED & BUMPED: After that debate, I think there can be no doubt which candidate America most wants to see in a bikini.

Yeah, you're darn right I changed the subject! Because America needs some straight talk from a maverick blogger about who's the sexiest candidate for vice president.

Gettin' things done! Main Street! Wasilla! Bikini pictures!

SERIOUS ANALYSIS: Joe Biden did not lose the election tonight. That's the most important thing. He might have lied through his teeth, but he's got very nice teeth, doesn't he?

Sarah Palin did better in her debate than John McCain did in his. She obviously dodged some questions, talking taxes when Biden raised the issue of regulation, and talking energy policy -- darn right! -- whenever she felt like it.

Biden was very sharp and very confident, and very repetitive. If you wanted to hear class-warfare talk about how the middle class is getting screwed over by the super-wealthy, tonight must have been heaven for you, since Palin also jumped onto the let's-bash-greedy-corrupt-Big-Business bandwagon.

Palin would be a much better candidate, I think, if she wasn't chained to Maverick. It was in defending McCain, and repeating the slogans and soundbites McCain's advisors had fed her, that she was least convincing.

Palin's best line was, "How long have I been at this? Like, five weeks?" That was good. I don't know if that was spontaneous, or something she'd practiced, but it was very good.

Biden's worst line was when he talked about a plan to "adjust the principle you owe" on your mortgage. Holy freaking crap! Good-bye, rule of law! Adjusting the principle? You paid $300,000 for a house in 2005, took out a loan for $270,000 and now, because it's not worth what you paid for it, the government is going to force the lender to mark down the principle to $200,000? That's not reform, that's larceny.

Jimmie at Sundries Shack links with a debate roundup -- thanks. In comments, Smitty just said he thought Gwen Ifill did an excellent job as moderator and I agree. Before the debate, there were accusations of bias, since Ifill's written (or is writing) a supposedly pro-Obama book. But in terms of her performance as moderator, Ifill seemed to me to be quite fair.

UPDATE: Team Maverick claims victory. Well, not "victory," perhaps, but she's "ready to lead," blahblahblah. I'm telling you, they're just going through the motions over at Maverick HQ these days. Working on their resumes and updating their LinkedIn pages, trying to look busy while watching the clock (is it lunch yet?) and thinking about playing golf Sunday.

UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin is ecstatic:
Sarah Palin is the real deal. Five weeks on the campaign trail, thrust onto the national stage, she rocked tonight’s debate.
She was warm, fresh, funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message. . . .
McCain has not done many things right. But Sarah Palin proved tonight that the VP risk he took was worth it. . . .
She matched -- and trumped several times -- a man who has spent his entire adult life on the political stage, run for president twice, and as he mentioned several times, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And a man who, in fact, is the next vice president, since Maverick's poll numbers are heading south faster than that midnight train to Georgia. (Cue the Pips!) I think Michelle's enthusiastic response to tonight's debate isn't about Nov. 4, it's about . . .
PALIN 2012!
PREVIOUSLY: Not that it matters anymore, but tonight Sarah Palin squares off against Joe Biden and I just watched Karl Rove trying to spin the possibility that this might somehow avert the now-inevitable Obama administration.

While I henceforth refuse to believe that Maverick can win on Nov. 4, if Biden blurts out a confession to computer porn addiction tonight, it might prevent a 47-state sweep for the Democrats, so I'm obligated to pretend I care.

Hot Air has a live debate chat thread. Allah has a separate comment thread. Or you may want to play Biden Bingo.

UPDATE: Ace tries to put the jinx on, suggests that a Biden blurt might yet doom the Democrats, and will have an open debate thread where you can say the f-word as often as you'd like.

Team Maverick hoists the white flag

They're surrendering Michigan. And Allah is right, Pennsylvania's next. It's over. Get used to saying, "President Obama."

Earlier today, I started to do a poll roundup, then got distracted and didn't finish it. Why bother now? Crazy Cousin John has already given up.

That's why he was so bitter and sarcastic in that Associated Press interview. Last week's idiotic gesture -- "Suspend the campaign! Cancel the debate! Pass the bailout!" -- blew up in his face and destroyed all rational hope that he can win on Nov. 4. So now he's looking around for scapegoats, and any reporter (or columnist) who gets within range will do.

Pathetic. Three weeks ago, McCain led by 3 points in the Real Clear Politics average (and one poll showed him +1 in Michigan). A week later, when the polls started to slip, he freaked out and tried to blame the mortgage meltdown on SEC Chairman Chris Cox. When that didn't work, and with his poll numbers slipping even further, he decided to take ownership of the unpopular $700 billion bailout.

Look, I've been following politics since 1968 when I was (believe it or not) a staunch 9-year-old Hubert Humphrey booster. I know a losing campaign when I see one and, having more than a few friends who are political operatives, I know what goes on inside a losing campaign.

The top people inside a losing campaign know the final score long before it becomes apparent to outsiders. Ask anybody who was involved in the Bob Dole '96 campaign. After Labor Day, they were just going through the motions, playing out the season, collecting a paycheck.

The top folks at Maverick HQ -- who in early September were thinking about what their positions might be in the McCain administration's transition team -- are now on Travelocity, booking their Caribbean vacations for the second week in November. They will furiously deny this of course, but the ability to lie through one's teeth with apparent sincerity is a prerequisite to being a professional political operative.

Do not be deceived, then, by "here's-how-we-can-win" talk coming from Maverick HQ or the Republican talking heads you see on Fox News. Do not get your hopes up by letting Hugh Hewitt or Sean Hannity draw you into their miracle-comeback fantasy talk. Ain't gonna happen.

Alas, I am a sucker for miracle-comeback fantasies. So if, at any point in the next 32 days, it should appear that I'm being sucked into an optimism vortex, please remind me of this post, where I append this time-capsule note to my near-future self:
Hey, idiot, get a grip! That latest tiny bump in Maverick's poll numbers in Ohio and Colorado is a glitch, a statistical anomaly, and is insufficient cause to ignore every previous indicator of the impending Obama landslide. And why the heck should you care, anyway, since you swore a blood oath on Feb. 7 that you were going to vote Libertarian this year? Or did you forget that, too, you moron?
I feel better now. There is peace in pessimism.

Video: Union goon to members: OBEY!

AFL-CIO Goon-in-Chief Richard Trumka warns the proletariat that Hope and Change are mandatory:

"There's not a single good reason for any worker -- especially any union member -- to vote against Barack Obama, and there's only one really, really bad reason to vote against Barack Obama, and that's because he's not white."
Gee, maybe Allen West should try this tactic down in Florida: If you vote against a black candidate, you're a racist.

I have argued for years that labor unions are not democratic. Rather, they are extortionist conspiracies that represent the interests of the hired goons rather than the interests of the members. To quote my favorite blogger:
The whole purpose of labor unions is to collect money to pay fat salaries for the lazy goons who do no actual work. Unions exist exclusively to serve the interests of their leadership, and the poor saps in the rank-and-file -- forced to pay dues as a condition of employment -- are merely the prey of the parasitical goons.
If you are a union member who believes otherwise, let me ask you a simple question: Why do you believe otherwise?

Who told you that the union represents your interests? Who told you that your employer is wrongfully exploiting you? Who told you that, without the representation of a labor union, you'd be helpless and impoverished?

The goons taught you that. And if you say, "No, I learned it in school," guess what? The goons of the teachers unions control what's taught in public schools, too. If you're such a chump that you're going to let the goons tell you what to think, I guess you don't mind them telling you how to vote.

Why is Trumka so desperate to make sure that all those dues-paying chumps follow orders and vote for Hope and Change? Two words: "Check card."

Obama has promised to abolish secret ballots in unionization votes, so that the goons will know whose tires to slash and whose windows to smash in their terror campaigns against workers who'd rather keep their own wages rather than being forced to pay union dues to support the goonocracy.

Did I forget to explain that "corrupt union official" is redundant? You'll find a virgin in a bordello before you'll find an honest man running a labor racket. Union goons aren't merely detestable scum. They're the poisonous bacteria that infests the vicious parasites that feed on the rancid slime that encrusts the detestable scum.

The difference between the labor movement and syphilis is that occasionally decent people contract syphilis through no fault of their own. And syphilis is curable, while it seems nothing can eradicate the menace of labor unionism.

Government: Big enough already

Quin Hillyer observes that, despite cries of "crisis," existing institutions are meeting the credit crunch adequately:
Without a greater accretion of power, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stepped in to help stem the panic. So did the Securities and Exchange Commission. So did the Federal Reserve. All of them helped. And more can be done, within existing authority.
The point here is not to celebrate the bureaucratic state, but only to note that the bureaucratic state already is large enough and powerful enough to handle parts of this crisis. It doesn't need to get much bigger.
I would argue that how we got here in the first place is through the blunders of a too-big government that needs to be substantially reduced, but we can have that argument later. Quin's larger point -- that the alleged financial emergency seems not to require extraordinary intervention -- is solid enough.

Coulter on Biden

Some advice for Sarah Palin:
Shockingly, Sen. Joe Biden was one of only five senators to vote against the first Alaskan pipeline bill in 1973. This is like having been a Nazi sympathizer during World War II. If Sarah Palin does nothing else, she has got to tie that idiotic pipeline vote around Biden's neck.
The Senate passed the 1973 Alaskan pipeline bill by an overwhelming 80-5 vote. Only five senators voted against the pipeline on final passage. Sen. Biden is the only one who is still in the Senate -- the other four having been confined to mental institutions long ago.
The stakes were clear: This was in the midst of the first Arab oil embargo. . . . But Biden cast one of only five votes against the pipeline that has produced more than 15 billion barrels of oil, supplied nearly 20 percent of this nation's oil, created tens of thousands of jobs, added hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and reduced money transfers to the nation's enemies by about the same amount.
The only argument against the pipeline was that it would harm the caribou, an argument that was both trivial and wrong. The caribou population near the pipeline increased from 5,000 in the 1970s to 32,000 by 2002.
It would have been bad enough to vote against the pipeline bill even if it had hurt the caribou. A sane person would still say: Our enemies have us in a vice grip. Sorry, caribou, you've got to take one for the team. But when the pipeline goes through and the caribou population sextuples in the next 20 years, you really look like a moron.
The moron debates Sarah Palin tonight, and everybody's worried about Palin making a gaffe?

Morality and markets

From my latest American Spectator column:
Why, after all, are so many Americans so fiercely opposed to this plan, even though bailout proponents warn that the alternative is a complete meltdown of the economy?
The president has told us that "the government's top economic experts" believe the bailout is necessary to avert an economic collapse. The plan is supported by leaders of both parties in Congress, and endorsed by both John McCain and Barack Obama. One eminent pundit has denounced bailout opponents as "nihilists."
Yet I cannot escape the conclusion that the bailout is wrong. Not just wrong as a matter of politics or policy, but wrong as a matter of morality. And I suspect that the same moral instinct fuels the fervor of many citizens who have been burning up the Capitol Hill switchboard with calls demanding that lawmakers vote against this bill.
Ordinary Americans cannot ignore the "still small voice" telling them that what is being proposed is nothing less than government-sponsored grand theft, and that in a government "of the people, by the people, for the people," this crime is to be carried out in their name.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a list of congressional phone numbers. She writes:
I keep hearing and reading that public opposition to this rushed-through monstrosity has “softened” in the wake of the Senate’s approval last night. I’m not sure why the bailout pimps keep touting that talking point when countless Americans trying to express their vehement disapproval can’t even get through the FUBAR House e-mail system!
The congressional switchboard is also FUBAR, but call it anyway: 202-224-3121.

UPDATE II: My friend and co-author Lynn Vincent comments:
The redistributionist state long championed by Democrats now seems to be operating in reverse, with Main Street Americans expected to subsidize Wall Street, upside-down McMansion buyers, and troubled mortgage lenders.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

UPDATE: Senate OKs bogus bailout bill

UPDATED & BUMPED: The Senate votes 74-25 to approve the "crap sandwich" bailout bill. The lefties at Firedoglake are shocked that Obama voted "yes."

The very worst thing about this bill? I find myself on the same side of an issue as Glenn Greenwald. I feel like a sockpuppet.

PREVIOUSLY: Hot Air has an open thread for those following the debate over the bailout in the Senate, but this is just political theatre since, as Allah notes, there's little chance of the House doing anything and certainly no chance they'll do anything soon.

Public opposition to the plan is simply too fierce for the House to ignore. The bill fell 10 votes short of approval Monday, with 94 Democrats voting no. If Pelosi couldn't buy, beg, borrow or steal another 10 votes out the majority caucus, there's no reason why Republicans should lift a finger to help her.

Justice Alito to headline Spectator gala

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito will be the keynote speaker at the American Spectator's 2008 Robert L. Bartley Gala Dinner, Dec. 3 at the fabulous Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington.

The gala will also honor syndicated columnist Robert Novak with the Barbara Olson Award for Excellence in Journalism. Entertainment will be provided by the Alex Donner Orchestra.

The annual Spectator gala, as anyone who's ever been to one can attest, is a star-studded event attended by all the big shots of media and politics in Washington. If you ever wanted to hang out and have cocktails with some of the most famous faces of conservatism, this is a shindig you don't want to miss. (Hey, if Alito's speaking, I'm betting Scalia and Thomas will be there.)

Tickets are $250, and additional information is available from Patrick Pyles at 703-807-2011, ext. 25, or by e-mailing

Senate bailout vote tonight

Just got off the phone (202-224-3121) trying to call my senators to tell them to oppose the bailout bill, which is scheduled for a vote tonight. Both Obama and McCain support it.

UPDATE: Gut hunch tells me that, at the last minute, Obama will find some reason to vote against this bill, and then denounce it as the "Bush-McCain billionaire bailout."

UPDATE II: God love ya, Ed, but you're soft:
As long as the action taken now does not involve coercion, [economist] King [Banaian] believes that the US government can create a free market that will allow proper valuation of these derivatives.
Earth to Ed: Taxation always involves coercion. Taxes are not voluntary. So if the government appropriates $700 billion in tax dollars as a giveaway to private industry, coercion is necessarily involved. It is a government-imposed transfer of wealth from one group of citizens to another, just like welfare or agriculture subsidies. Which is why they call it "corporate welfare."

Fundamentally, this bailout plan is about centralized economic planning. It's about Sovietizing the financial industry. It's about government picking winners and losers, an attempt to replace the economic decisions of the free market with political decision-making. It is not merely misguided, it is immoral.

I'm amazed at the spectacle presented here: At her own blog, Michelle Malkin is going hammer and tongs against the bailout. Meanwhile, at Hot Air, Ed is blogging for the bailout.


Undeserved profit?

While giving a speech just now, Barack Obama said that drug companies "make billions of dollars of profits they don't deserve."

How does one distinguish between deserved profit and undeserved profit? Somebody needs to ask Obama, because he just promised to get rid of those "undeserved profits."

Meanwhile, he was offering an ironclad promise of a middle-class tax cut. I think his exact words were "cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye middle class tax cuts." Maybe I remembered that part wrong. But anyway, he said he really really really wants to cut taxes on the middle class.

So, once he's separated the deserved and undeserved profits for drug companies, then Obama is going to distinguish those who are "middle class" from those who are "slightly low-class" and "moderately high-class." He'll also divide the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, the saved from the sinners.

Here's something somebody needs to ask Obama: What's going to happen to drug companies after you take away their "billions in profits they don't deserve"? Obviously, their stock will be worth a lot less, and that will hurt pension funds that include stock from Pfizer, Bristol-Myers, etc. Less profit also means less investment in research and development, less advertising and marketing, less of everything that the company does with its profits.

Remember a few months ago, when banks and financial companies were making huge profits? Now they're not. And this is such a "crisis" that the president is demanding that taxpayers fork over $700 billion to fix it.

So why -- and someone should ask Obama this -- won't it be a "crisis" when the government takes away billions of dollars of profits from drug companies? Once Obama has made drug companies less profitable, will he then propose a drug company bailout? Wouldn't it just be easier to leave the drug companies alone? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Now that it looks like Maverick has abandoned any pretense that he's actually trying to win the election, we all need to start studying Obamanomics. Mere months from now, this crazy crap is going to be federal law.

UPDATE: Apparently, no one in the press corps thought this "profits they don't deserve" statement was worth reporting.

Separated at birth?

The obvious question: What is it about the experience of being repeatedly beaten up for your lunch money as a child that turns a standard-issue mama's boy into a whiny Republican apologist for big government?

Yesterday, it was Brooks in the NY Times denouncing bailout opponents as "nihilists." Today, it's Gerson's turn in the WaPo:
The consensus included everyone who matters -- except 133 mainly conservative House Republicans, along with 95 Democrats, who combined to destroy it. . . . .
House Republicans once again revealed the souls of backbenchers -- spouting their ideological purity from atop the ruins of the financial system. . . .
House Republicans with ideological objections had nothing better to propose and no intention to try. They chose allegiance to abstract principles over practical reality.
Look, I'll be 49 years old next week. I've seen too many Washington "crises" to be frightened by this latest freakout. I'm having a hard time thinking of the last time the Beltway establishment consensus was right about anything. Hell, people in D.C. can't even drive, and we're supposed to trust them to run the economy?

As I mentioned yesterday, the last time I saw such broad-based bipartisan panic in Washington, it was over the "crisis" of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. How's that working out for you?

Unlike Brooks and Gerson, I am confident that at some point prior to a nationwide re-enactment of "The Grapes of Wrath," our 17% approval-rating Congress and our 26% approval-rating President will cook up another transparent scheme to swindle the taxpayers out of enough cash to allow the usury lobby to go back to their corporate welfare business as usual.

Everything will turn out fine, whatever the damage to the mutual funds and real-estate values of Brooks and Gerson, so let them go back to practicing how to park their bicycles straight and stop trying to frighten the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Liberal idiots

Kind of redundant. TChris of TalkLeft:
The American Conservative sees in Palin what it once saw in George Bush: a regular person with strong traditional values who champions faith, limited government, and pro-life judges.
Uh, no. The American Conservative wasn't even founded until 2002 and it has always -- always -- been anti-Bush. I've written twice for TAC, and my first contribution in July 2004 was a report on how the "Texas Miracle" which Bush had supposedly wrought in public education (and thus, the model for No Child Left Behind) was in fact a mirage.

Das Obamajugend Lied


No, Ed, it's not a Godwin's Law violation.

And I guess the contribution of Jeff Zucker means that NBC is the Volkischer Beobachter of the Fourth Reich?

Most. Biased. Poll. Ever.

Read this Washington Post story reporting the results of their joint poll with ABC News. Note the authoritative manner in which the reporters describe public opinion.

Now, skim down through the actual poll results, until you get to Question 6:
As you may know, Congress today rejected the government's plan, and the stock market lost nearly 800 points. How concerned are you that today's vote in Congress could lead to a more severe economic decline in this country - very concerned, somewhat concerned, not so concerned or not concerned at all?
"Congress ... rejected the government's plan"? Since when is Congress not part of the government? Who is "the government" in this formulation? Ben Bernanke? Henry Paulson? Do you really expect to get meaningful answers when the questions are framed in such haphazard terminology?

And isn't this a pretty damned leading question, to mention the 800-point stock drop, then ask if the voter is "concerned" about "a more severe economic decline"?

Why, no! Not at all! Fiddle-de-dee and tra-la-la! I'm perfectly blissful about the prospects of my 401K being worth less than the change under the sofa cushion!

Note further that it is immediately after the pollster has suggested that you'll soon be living in a shanty, selling apples on street corners and eating in a soup kitchen that he then proceeds to Question 7:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
This isn't a honest inquiry into public opinion, it's Democratic Party propaganda -- practically a push-poll. Anyone who's ever taken an Intro to Psychology course can see how this poll plays on suggestibility. "Hey, did you hear? Congress just rejected The Plan! Guess the economic decline is going to get worse, huh? Oh, and by the way, Bush sucks. Right?"

I was born at night, but it wasn't last night, and I resent like hell the arrogance of the Washington Post editors who think they can get away with a fraudulent "poll" like this. Do they honestly think we're that stupid?

Over 500,000 visitors!

Between 1 and 2 p.m. ET today, the Site Meter rolled over on the 500,000th visitor to The Other McCain. The total traffic for September alone is nearly 290,000 visitors, monthly traffic having increased tenfold since June, mostly due to Palinmania.

Traffic has lately settled down to about 5,000 average daily visitors, which would portend an October "slump" to 150,000 monthly, but I'm hopeful that the stretch run of the presidential campaign will jack things up again.

And did I mention the Britney Spears sex tape?

When in doubt . . .

. . . blog about Britney. Or Scarlett Johansson. Or Natalie Portman. Or Anne Hathaway. Or Lindsay Lohan.

All great bloggers understand that there is no such thing as a bad time to blog about famous hotties. But some times are better than others.

By the way, did you hear about the Britney sex video? Yeah, her ex-boyfriend claims to have one, and even though Britney denies it, no traffic-savvy blogger would ever neglect a legitimate reason to use the phrase "Britney sex video." It's just magic.

UPDATE: Linked by Jules Crittenden, who apparently appreciates my tastes in celebrity babes. Or, at least, the utter shamelessness of my traffic-baiting.

While I'm at it, I might as well point out that Lindsay Lohan is a lesbian. Eventually, some idiot will Google "britney+lesbian+sex+video" and -- ping! -- another hit. Pile up enough random-Google traffic like that, and you're on your way to blogging greatness.

I learned the random-Google factor two years ago, when I was blogging to promote the book I co-authored with Lynn Vincent, Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party. Checking SiteMeter, I noticed we got a small yet consistent amount of traffic from idiots Googling for "donkey sex."

And yes, while that story is true, the reason I mentioned it on this post because I don't want to miss any random traffic from idiots who Google "britney+donkey+sex+video." I am a capitalist blogger.

On Brooksianism

Consider this an expansion on my earlier rant against David Brooks. Over at AmSpecBlog, Wlady Plezscynski writes:
David Brooks lost me when, in starting out his never to be forgotten column, he wildly denounces the current "generation of political leaders," including the pro-bailout George W. Bush ("completely out of juice"), Henry Paulson ("inept"), Barney Frank (a "too busy" "media darling") and Nancy Pelosi ("did she have to act like a Democratic fund-raiser...?") -- yet attacks the 228 "nihilists" who voted against the Bush-Paulson-Frank-Pelosi bailout plan for refusing to follow such leadership.
Which prompted me to this response:
[David Brooks] lost me in March 1997, Wlady. Despite the self-evident and manifold failures of "National Greatness," both as policy and politics, Brooks seems never to have entertained a second thought about his paean to "an affirmative view of the public realm," his sneering dismissal of "populist resentment," and his flat declaration that "American purpose can find its voice only in Washington."
That infamous essay is one of the reasons I so fear the consequences of a Republican defeat on Nov. 4. The GOP has shown in recent years a habit of misreading its defeats. Bob Dole's defeat in 1996 convinced not only Brooks but apparently many other Republicans that opposition to Big Government was a losing proposition. Not only the Brooks/Kristol "National Greatness" theme but also the Olasky/Bush "Compassionate Conservatism" were born from a Republican desire to escape the Spirit of '94.
It seems never to have occurred to anyone that Dole's defeat was largely the fault of Bob Dole himself. Certainly Dole -- "the Senator From Archer Daniels Midland" and "the Tax Collector For the Welfare State" -- was no anti-government firebrand. And yet, though the Gingrich-led insurgents maintained their majority in the 1996 election while Dole lost, the politics of Gingrich got blamed for the failure of of the Dole candidacy.
That counterfactual interpretation of the 1996 election led to "National Greatness," and one heard a lot of talk at that time that the essential problem was that the GOP had become too "mean-spirited" and "partisan." Ergo, the solution was the "compassionate" Bush, who would bring a "new tone" to Washington.
I fear that John McCain's defeat in November will lead to a similarly disastrous misinterpretation, and the fact that Brooks and Kristol now have platforms at the New York Times and Fox News to spread such wrong-headedness only increases my sense of foreboding.
Being that Wlady, myself and other such anti-Brooksians as James Poulos are beneath the notice of Brooks, no response is to be expected from the Olympian heights, but I did want to put on record the root of my grievance with Brooks and "National Greatness."

Brooks' contempt for "populists" is obviously a residue of the Buchanan challenge that crippled Bush 41 in 1992, as well as of Ross Perot. Rather than attempting to harness populist resentment as a force to drive limited-government reform movement (which was what Gingrich and the '94 revolution were about), Brooks sees populism as something tainted and unworthy.

Brooksian anti-populism leads to a conservatism that can never claim to speak for Joe Sixpack or stand squarely against the progressive vision of an all-powerful federal government. "National Greatness" is a one-way road leading backward, a retreat from Reaganism, a return to the Laodicean "modern Republicanism" of the Eisenhower era that so disgusted Bill Buckley.

Dana Milbank vs. America

If you want the consensus of the Beltway elite, Page 3 of today's Washington Post is a good place to start:
After the shocking vote of 228 to 205, party leaders did their usual rounds of partisan finger-pointing, but it really wasn't a partisan issue at all. The center had collapsed in favor of a coalition of far-right and far-left zealots. What was once the lunatic fringe was now a majority: 40 percent of House Democrats, going by yesterday's vote, and fully two-thirds of Republicans. . . .
The new majority isn't worried about ephemeral things such as 700-point drops in the Dow. "No, I'm not," Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) declared after the vote. "The market may be down, but the Constitution is up!"

So, Nancy Pelosi can deliver only 60 percent of her caucus, and the problem is . . . Republicans. Be assured that, if the bailout had passed, Dana Milbank would have found a way to use the passage as an occasion to attack . . . Republicans. If the Republicans are going to be blamed either way, I'd prefer them to blamed for doing maximum damage to Milbank's 401K. Congratulations, "lunatic fringe"!

Did Democrats blow the bailout on purpose?

Nancy Pelosi got only 60% of House Democrats to support the plan, and then used her final speech before the vote to lash out at Republicans.

It was as if the whole point of Monday's vote was to embarrass John McCain. The GOP nominee having identified himself so strongly with the bailout, a defeat for the bailout was a defeat for McCain, and the Democrats saw a chance to make him look like an idiot.

UPDATE: The Prowler confirms my hunch:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered her Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn, to essentially not do his job in the runup to the vote on Monday for the negotiated Wall Street bailout plan, according to House Democrat leadership aides.
"Clyburn was not whipping the votes you would have expected him to, in part because he was uncomfortable doing it, in part because we didn't want the push for votes to be successful," says one leadership aide. . . .
During the floor vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democrat Conference chair Rahm Emanuel could be seen monitoring the vote on the floor, and gauging whether or not more Democrat votes were needed. . . .
Emanuel, who served as a board member for Freddie Mac, one of the agencies that precipitated the economic crisis the nation now finds itself in, had no misgivings about taking a leadership role in tanking the bill. "He was cheerleading us along, mothering the votes," says the aide. "We wanted enough to put the pressure on the Republicans and Congressman Emanuel was charged with making it close enough. He did a great job."
And Megan McArdle has a similar read:
Pelosi cut a deal in which, as far as I can tell, every single Republican in a safe seat had to vote yes so that the Democrats could maximize their no votes. Given that the Republican caucus is pretty much in open revolt, this was beyond moronic. She then spent a week openly and repeatedly blaming the Republicans and the Bush administration for the current crisis. The way she set things up, it was "Heads I win, tails you lose": vote for the deal and I'll paint you as heartless reactionaries bailing out your fat cat friends. If you're going to do that, you'd better make sure you have some goddamn margin for error in your own party. She didn't. Then she got up and delivered yet another speech blaming the Republicans for the bailout deal she was about to pass.
Megan actually favored the bailout, FWIW. Opposing the bailout, of course, was Michelle Malkin, who today observes:
Bailout fails. World goes on.
Hoovervilles and apple carts, it ain't.

UPDATE II: Grapevine-worthy!

Worst. Column. Ever.

Forgive me, Andrew Sullivan. Please accept my apologies, Ross Douthat. Mea culpa, Rod Dreher. If ever I thought any of you had offended me, it was as a mere feather stroke, compared to what David Brooks has done:

House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.
Brooks has a problem, but it's not with House Republicans. It's Republican voters Brooks hates. It was Republican voters -- not the gutless weasels in Congress -- who drove the opposition to this bailout.

(Insert vituperative ad hominem rant here. Add colorful threats of physical brutality, suggestions of anatomically impossible acts, etc. Quote Cicero's first oration against Catiline, Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees, Forrest's denunciation of Bragg, etc.)

There, I feel better now.

UPDATE: James Poulos dismantles Brooks with valid logic and temperate language, as behooves a Greek philosopher. My Scots-Irish blood prefers the more direct approach: "You have played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man, I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it. . . . If you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path, it will be at the peril of your life." Such straightforward rhetoric, alas, is unfashionable in contemporary discourse.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Libertarian populism (the column)

Monday's blog post becomes Tuesday's full-length column at The American Spectator:
Nobody seemed to notice when Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr adopted as his campaign slogan "Send Them a Message!" -- the same outsider theme that animated George C. Wallace's populist third-party run in 1968.
Leaving aside the vast political and historical distance between the late Alabama Democrat and the former Georgia Republican, Barr's slogan clearly seeks to tap into an enduring populist conception of the government in Washington as a corrupt insider racket controlled by special interests, in which both Democrats and Republicans are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans.
The defeat of the Wall Street bailout deal in the House yesterday was an amazing convergence between libertarian ideals and a resurgent populist sentiment. . . .
Please read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The column is linked today by Eric Dondero at Libertarian Republican, Tom Knapp (one of the "smelly libertarians" on the famous van ride to the LP convention in Denver) and the fabulously bewhiskered James Poulos.

'Fear is running amok'

The Dow loses nearly 800 points:
"This is panic, and fear is running amok," one trader told CNBC. "We are in a classic financial meltdown, and it's panic-based. We're seeing panic selling."
Allah notes that today's $1.1 trillion in losses exceeds the $700 pricetag of the bailout. Yeah, but at least people are losing their own money, rather than stealing it from the taxpayers.

'Financial affirmative action'

Matthew Vadum explains the role of left-wing activists in fueling the mortgage meltdown:
When the history of the Great Economic Meltdown of 2008 is written, in-your-face shakedown groups like the Greenlining Institute will be held to account.
Greenlining, headquartered in Berkeley, California (where else?), is a left-wing pressure group that threatens nasty public relations campaigns against lenders that refuse to kneel before its radical economic agenda. . . .
Greenlining uses carrot-and-stick tactics to blackmail public agencies, banks, and philanthropists to achieve its objectives. The Institute brags it has threatened banks into making more than $2.4 trillion in loans in low-income communities. Was this a good idea?
Not according to University of Texas economist Stanley Liebowitz. He wrote that the current mortgage market debacle is "a direct result of an intentional loosening of underwriting standards -- done in the name of ending discrimination, despite warnings that it could lead to wide-scale defaults."

Read the whole thing.

Bipartisan bailout blowup!

The bailout is dead! Long live the bailout!
YEAS (207)
  • Democrats -- 141
  • Republicans -- 66
NAYS (226)
  • Democrats -- 94
  • Republicans -- 132
So, Nancy Pelosi could only deliver 60% of the Democratic House caucus in support of the bill. Leadership!

UPDATE: If Pelosi was trying to sweet-talk Republicans into supporting the bill, she sure had a funny way of going about it:

In looking at the House roll call, I was happy to see among the Democrats who voted for the unpopular bailout the name of Rep. Ron Klein, who's facing a challenge in Florida's 22nd District from Lt. Col. Allen West.

How bad a candidate is John McCain?

He's trailing by 8 points against the most liberal and least experienced Democratic nominee in our lifetimes. As much as everyone seems to be sweating Sarah Palin's debate on Thursday, I bet she'll do better against Joe Biden than McCain did against Obama. Look, when Charles Krauthammer says a Republican lost a debate . . .

Old, short, bald and grumpy -- this was why I argued for Mitt Romney. Is Mitt a phony flip-flopper? Sure, but he's a tall, good-looking phony flip-flopper with a great head of hair.

Michelle Malkin, Michael Moore agree?

Michelle Malkin has been an outspoken critic of the proposed bailout from the start. Now Michael Moore adds his considerable weight to the opposition:
The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.
This is probably not the kind of "bipartisan consensus" Nancy Pelosi and John McCain had in mind.

VIDEO: Via Hot Air, Democrats in 2004 insist nothing is wrong at Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, accuse Republicans of "lynching" Franklin Raines, oppose GOP efforts to reform mortgage industry.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

P.J. O'Rourke laughs at cancer

One of my favorite writers:
I have, of all the inglorious things, a malignant hemorrhoid. What color bracelet does one wear for that? And where does one wear it? And what slogan is apropos? . . .
Furthermore, I am a logical, sensible, pragmatic Republican, and my diagnosis came just weeks after Teddy Kennedy's. That he should have cancer of the brain, and I should have cancer of the ass ... well, I'll say a rosary for him and hope he has a laugh at me. After all, what would I do, ask God for a more dignified cancer?
If you can't laugh in the face of certain disaster, you're not a Christian.

Jeb Hensarling: 'I cannot in good conscious support this legislation'

A principled conservative:
[The bailout] could permanently and fundamentally change the role of government in the American free enterprise system. Once the government socializes losses, it will soon socialize profits. If we lose our ability to fail, we will soon lose our ability to succeed. If we bail out risky behavior, we will soon see even riskier behavior.
(Via Michelle Malkin.) Hensarling's position sounds a lot like libertarian populism.

Why am I laughing?

Trenchant commentary on the bailout:
[W]hen estimating the value of your 1997 limited edition Hanson single CD "MMMbop", it's not what you can sell these items for that matters, it's what you think they are worth. The fact that you think they are worth more than anyone will buy them for is what makes them bad assets.
Trenchant, and obscene, too. (Via Michelle Malkin.)

Crisis mongering

Hope or hysteria?
Just as every whispering breeze is now another Hurricane Katrina, now every bounced check is a "financial meltdown."
"Crisis" is a surefire ratings winner.

Biden's beach bridge

(Via Hot Air.) Joe Biden and Barack Obama both voted twice for Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere." Kudos to CNN for doing their due diligence here.

Scarlett Johansson's progressive cleavage

Rather than a mere excuse to post photos of Scarlett Johansson displaying her ample cleavage, the starlet's nuptials -- she reportedly tied the knot over the weekend with her "soul mate," some actor I never heard of -- are an occasion to reflect on how traditional marriage has become countercultural and politically incorrect. (But don't worry, we'll also get in plenty of cleavage.)

Two years ago, Johansson seemed to suggest she was dangerously promiscuous:
"I get tested for HIV twice a year," she declared. "One has to be socially aware. It's part of being a decent human to be tested for STDs. It's just disgusting behaviour when people don't. It's so irresponsible."
Which means that I'm not a "decent human being," because I have never been tested for HIV. Avoiding HIV is not all that difficult, and 20 years of monogamy kind of eases one's worries on that score. Johansson denied being easy, but was rather ambiguous about it:
"There does seem to be a mistaken belief out there that I am sexually available somehow which is not to say that I'm not open-minded about sex. . . .
"Yet I wouldn't say I'm a serial monogamist, either. I mean, I went through periods of time when I was, ah, single. But when I'm in a relationship, I'm in a relationship."
What is important to Johansson image-wise, you see, is that she not be seen as a prude -- only unenlightened troglodytes are judgmental about promiscuity -- yet she is simultaneously careful to convey the idea that she is not a total slut.

Johansson's concern about displaying the appropriate bien pensant tolerance toward sexual promiscuity is essentially political, as she made clear with her remarks to Cosmopolitan in November 2006:
"We are supposed to be liberated in America, but if our President had his way, we wouldn't be educated about sex at all," she told Cosmopolitan.
"Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions."
In other words, because Republicans are in favor of traditional morality, all enlightened people must mock and deride traditional morality. One must be "educated about sex," scoff at people who have large families (my wife and I have six children), and defend abortion as the sine qua non of personal liberty.

However, notice that the enlightened Johansson never says whether she has actually had an abortion. This would not be a fashionable admission, any more so than it would be fashionable for Johansson to go into the details of exactly why she felt so at-risk of HIV infection as to have herself tested twice a year. The personal may be political, as the feminists tell us, but one doesn't get points for progressive enlightenment merely by protecting one's self-interest. It is important that the bien pensant advocate progressive values in a disinterested and selfless manner.

And thus it is altogether fitting that Johansson, having publicly expressed her disdain of traditional morality, should now take the seemingly incongruous step of committing herself to that most traditional of institutions, marriage.

This is not hypocrisy, however. In the eyes of our enlightened progressive elite, only conservatives can ever be accused of hypocrisy. Johansson's marriage only demonstrates her sublimely enlightenend tolerance -- she defends an abstract right to engage in sexual deviance, even though she herself is so blandly bourgeois. What counts to the progressive is that everyone must agree that there is no such thing as "normal," much less any old-fashioned conception of "right" and "wrong."

It is this posture as a Platonic philosopher-king (or queen) that is the essence of progressivism. You can be as rich as you want, so long as you engage in the proper public displays of sympathy for the poor. You can outspokenly disdain violence and appropriately emote about the rights of criminals, but this is not inconsistent with employing armed security guards or living in a gated enclave. And you can get married at age 23, so long as you publicly scorn any suggestion that traditional morality is in any way superior to other modes of behavior.

If you can't quite grasp the underlying principle involved in all this, it is merely further proof of your inferiority. If you were truly enlightened and well-meaning, the apparent contradictions would be as invisible to you as they are to Scarlett Johansson.

By the way, don't dare accuse Scarlett Johansson of failing to uphold feminist ideals because she so frequently displays her abundant cleavage. The failure is entirely yours. How dare you enjoy staring at her cleavage, you sexist swine!

Remember: Equality Is For Ugly Losers.

UPDATE: Dr. Melissa Clouthier shows her cleavage progressive enlightenment by linking me.

UPDATE II: Damned with faint praise by Clark Stooksbury.