Saturday, November 22, 2008

Impotent Netroots deny impotence

Jamie Kirchick in the New York Daily News:
Barack Obama isn't even President yet, and he's already angering some of his most devoted followers on the party's left wing. This is the mark of what could be a very successful presidency.
"With its congressional majority, the Democratic Party has refused to seriously try to end the war, to stop the bailout and to stop the trampling of civil liberties, just to name a few off the top of my head," wrote David Sirota on the popular liberal blog OpenLeft, decrying the serial betrayals of Obama and the congressional Democratic majority. The Democratic Party, he wrote, has "faced no real retribution" for its manifold heresies, something that Sirota believes he and his band of angry bloggers must change. "We better understand why this happened," he fumed.
Allow me to provide an answer. You don't matter.
Kirchick goes on to detail the failure of left-wing bloggers to force Senate Democrats to punish their longtime nemesis, Sen. Joe Lieberman, for his support of Republican John McCain. This is evidence, Kirchick says, "that the leadership of the Democratic Party isn't as petty, vindictive and small as its left-wing supporters."

Naturally, the "petty, vindictive and small" bloggers are angry -- at Kirchick. So what do they do? Gay-baiting:
He'd be a classic Uncle Tom is he was African-American. Instead he's a very unhappy gay wingnut, a sad species indeed, forever obsessed with trying to justify his pitiful existence.
That's from a left-wing blogger whose post is headlined, "Jamie Kirchick Poops His Panties Because He Wants Attention." Exactly how is Kirchick's sexuality related to the topic at hand? Not at all. But this is how the Netroots operate, lashing out venomously at anyone who criticizes or opposes them. Tomorrow, they'll be back to bashing conservatives as "homophobes," without irony.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

Hope and Keynes

OK, everybody try to act impressed by Obama's "new" economic recovery plan:
American workers will rebuild the nation's roads and bridges, modernize its schools and create more sources of alternative energy, creating 2.5 million jobs by 2011, Obama said in the weekly Democratic address, posted on his Web site. . . .
"We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again," he said. More than a million jobs have been lost this year, he said, and "if we don't act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year."
This is nothing but orthodox Keynesianism, and it won't work, because Keynes was wrong. The secret to economic growth is not government "investment," it's increasing the capital supply. And it's not exactly a secret, either.

Obama has fallen for the 20th-century liberal fallacy that government spending or government-directed spending has some magical quality that private economic activity does not. Republicans have claimed credit for "job creation" by cutting taxes, but Obama's suggestion of "creating jobs" via government expenditure overlooks the fact that government doesn't create money out of thin air. There are three ways in which government can get money to spend: (a) by taxing, (b) by borrowing, or (c) by inflation. And all three involve harm to the private sector, thus Jefferson's maxim that the government that governs best is that which governs least. A tight-fisted Coolidge-style parsimony is always better policy in the long run than LBJ-style tax-and-spend liberalism.

Now, if Obama is determined to try to spend his way to prosperity (which won't work), it's at least nice to hear him talk about spending it on concrete-and-steel stuff like roads and bridges and school buildings. Take note, however, that the part of the country most in need of such "investment" are run by Democrats. There is a reason for this.

The social welfare policies of liberalism result in a greater share of revenue being devoted to government giveaways and to hiring more (unionized) bureaucrats. Spiraling costs for entitlements and personnel means less tax money for the concrete-and-steel stuff.

Go to a thriving Southern or Western state (North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, etc.) and you'll find yourself traveling on well-maintained modern roads, occasionally obstructed by construction of improvements -- extra lanes, upgraded exit ramps, repaving, etc. Now travel around the Rust Belt states and note the general dilapidation of the highways. You can't miss the poorly-designed freeway ramps built 40 years ago, or the narrowness of highway shoulders because the state went cheap on right-of-way acquisition.

The classic example of this syndrome is Washington, D.C. For 40 years, the District has poured its money into "programs" -- programs for the elderly, programs for teenagers, programs for drug addicts, programs for the homeless, programs for drug-addicted homeless teenagers, etc. -- and shortchanged its infrastructure. The sewer system is falling apart, and the streets are a lumpy patchwork.

Obama's Keynesian "pump-priming" expenditures will likely be targeted at states and localities that have squandered their own resources and neglected their own infrastructure. It won't result in economic recovery, but at least when it's spent on concrete-and-steel stuff, some of the money will end up in the hands of people who do actually work for a living, rather than worthless social-service bureaucrats.

And I guess Obama's more wild-eyed supporters will be disappointed to discover that the "Change" for which they were so enthusiastic turns out to be a discredited Keynesian agenda that was already obsolete when Hubert Humphrey was pushing it.

I'm with you, Attila

Rampaging Hun that she is, Little Miss Attila has moved her blog to a new domain, and decides to announce her hypocrisy:
I get bent out of shape when people want to knock Palin out of the running prematurely for 2012, but I'd love to do the exact same thing to Huckabee. It isn't about immigration, of course; that ain't a hot-button issue for me. It isn't even about welfare. It's about the fact that he doesn't seem to have a libertarian cell in his entire body. Not even a libertarian molecule.
Today's Holiday Book Sale feature items are just the ticket to cure LCDS (Libertarian Cell Deficiency Syndrome). Have a very Austrian Christmas!

UPDATE: Gary Bauer plays whack-a-mole with the Huckster, criticizing him on . . . foreign policy? To my mind, Huckabee is just "compassionate conservatism," without the conservatism. I'm all about the Spirit of '94 -- abolish the federal Department of Education, defund the National Endowment for the Arts, zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And then once we've done that kind of minor trimming, then the real cutting begins. In my book, you're not really conservative until you've been called "mean-spirited." I like Grover Norquist's idea of steadily shrinking the federal government until it's small enough to drown in a bathtub.

Holiday Books: Mises & Hayek

Only 33 shopping days until Christmas!

The 2008 Holiday Book Sale continues with two free-market classics from two giants of Austrian economics: Socialism by Ludwig von Mises and The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. First published just five years after the Russian Revolution, Socialism prophetically explained why socialism wouldn't work -- a prophecy that the Bolsheviks spent the next 70 years proving true.

It was Mises' pupil, Hayek, who helped spark the free-market revival in the West with his 1944 triumph, The Road to Serfdom. Indisputably one of the most influential books of the 20th century, The Road to Serfdom warned that the social democratic Welfare State was steadily leading the West down the path toward totalitarianism. Chapter 10, "Why the Worst Get On Top," is a famously cogent explanation of why successful socialist movements (and make no mistake, fascism and Nazism were as socialist as Bolshevism) are inevitably led by evil men.

These two books are truly timeless, but for some reason, they seem particularly timely this year. If there's someone on your Christmas list who doesn't yet understand that there can be no freedom without economic freedom -- or just a conservative buddy who needs to deepen his understanding of why socialism doesn't work -- then I strongly recommend you send both Socialism and The Road to Serfdom.

Books make excellent gifts, and with, you get discount pricing with delivery anywhere in the country. Why wait? ORDER NOW, and have a very Austrian Christmas!


Spitzer's hooker speaks!

(Via Hot Air.) Let's face it, at least Spitzer got his money's worth, compared to whatever action "Truckstop Jim" McGreevey was getting . . .

UPDATE: I find myself anonymously accused in the comments of a "sexist and offensive" attitude, because my "cavalier comments" are a "thin disguise for admiration for Spitzer's sexual prowess," an endorsement of the "exploitation of young, beautiful women in the sex trade," etc.

Lighten up, Anonymous. Nearly all my comments are "cavalier," and the destruction of the crusading anti-capitalist Spitzer in a hooker scandal was one of the most richly ironic political stories of the year. He hates capitalism -- those evil, greedy, big corporations! -- yet he's paying thousands per night to shag a high-priced call girl?

I certainly don't "admire" Spitzer for his "prowess." Paying for the companionship of a prostitute is the opposite of "prowess." But at least, as I said, he got his money's worth. If a politician is going to destroy his career with a sex scandal, the means of his destruction ought to be something extravagant and glamorous, rather than McGreevey's sordid truck-stop assignations or Tim Mahoney's tepid affair with a middle-aged Hill staffer. Wilbur Mills and "the Argentine Firecracker" splashing around the Tidal Basin -- that's what I call a sex scandal.

And, please, Anonymous, spare me this crap:

I just feel sad for Dupree; as sad as I felt for Monica Lewinsky. Both were exploited by powerful men and learned a painful lesson about bad choices and narcissistic men.

Dupre was engaged in a fee-for-service transaction. Who was exploiting whom? She goes on TV with Diane Sawyer and does the poor-victim routine, and everybody's supposed to feel sorry for her. Not me. Let's call a money-grubbing whore what she is, OK? The whore and her john are equally contemptible, and if I express my contempt through sarcastic humor, well, that's pretty much how I express everything.

Finally, as to Miss Lewinsky: She was a spoiled-rotten rich girl who grew up in Bel Air, Calif. I try to make a point of never feeling sorry for people like that -- given every advantage and every opportunity in life, petted and pampered and sheltered from harm, and ultimately failing because they lack any strength of character. Oh, I know the type well: Selfish, weak, superficial and filled with self-pity. What act of charity or generosity did Monica Lewinsky ever do that would recommend her as worthy of 1/10th of what was lavished on her? And now, on top of everything else, we are supposed to pity her? It seems to me she's had entirely too much of that.

UPDATE II: Little Miss Attila calls me a whore. I think she means that as a compliment.

Dear Governor Palin . . .

Every freelancer in the English-speaking world is angling to ghost your book and, of course, I'm available. But I noticed a former intern is also volunteering:
[T]he literary types quoted in this piece talk about how her rough introduction to the national stage will be the biggest selling point of the book. I disagree. If Palin wants a future in politics, she can’t dwell on a grudge match with the national media and various sneering feminist types who greeted the idea of a first female conservative VP with outrage. Her memoirs should serve two more forward looking functions. . . .
Governor Palin, if Laura Vanderkam needs any recommendation, I enthusiastically offer it. Her biography describes her as a "New York-based writer," but don't let that scare you off. She's actually a homeschool alumna from Indiana and a working mom with a 2-year-old. The reason I happened to notice her volunteering for this book gig is that I was Googling to make sure I spelled her name correctly in a blog post at The American Spectator:
"Ivy" and "evil" aren't necessarily synonyms. The very best intern who ever passed through The Washington Times in my 10 years there was Laura Vanderkam of Princeton. Her first day, she got an assignment at 11 a.m. and filed 700 words by 2:30 p.m. Joe Curl -- now a White House correspondent but then an assistant national editor -- opened the story in the queue, read through it and said, "Damn. She can write." The story required almost no editing at all. An astonishing thing to any editor who's ever had to deal with journalism interns.
The girl can flat-out write, Governor Palin, and if you don't want to take my word for it, just ask the managing editor at Human Events.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday Books: White Guilt

Only 34 shopping days until Christmas!

We begin our 2008 Holiday Book Sale with Shelby Steele's profound examination of one of the most underexaminef phenomena of our era, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. This book has been praised at length by Rush Limbaugh. Reviewing the book for National Review, Abigail Thernstrom raved, "Steele is America’s racial therapist who attempts to lay bare the crippled emotional state of whites in positions of power who do bad by attempting to do good."

Books make excellent Christmas gifts, and with, you get discount pricing with delivery anywhere in the country. Why wait? ORDER NOW!

Blaming Bush

Daniel Larison, who doesn't much like me, is nevertheless correct in saying that the Bush administration deserves the blame for its failures, including the "calamitous" decision to invade Iraq. It is not "Bush Derangment Syndrome" to say that the Iraq invasion was a very bad idea, or to say that, if it was a good idea, the execution was blundered. And if you don't blame the Commander in Chief for a disastrous military adventure . . . well, whatever happened to, "The Buck Stops Here?"

In the run-up to the war, my opinion was like that of Nicias toward the Sicilian expedition, feeling that the Alcibiades-like arguments offered for the invasion were false and that the policy was unwise. But, like Nicias, I felt that if the U.S. did invade (and by Labor Day 2002, that decision had clearly already been made) victory was the only acceptable outcome. In other words, "Let's win this ill-advised blunder of a war!"

No nation has ever benefitted from military defeat, and I draw a bright line between (a) the I-told-you-so recriminations of those who wisely opposed the invasion before it began, and (b) the dishonorable glee of those who don't even bother to disguise their desire for American defeat.

America is too big, too rich and too powerful to safely disarm. We cannot assume the sort of inert, cowardly pacifism that dominated England in the 1920s and '30s without inviting aggression. The alternative to American strength is not "world peace," but rather the removal of any meaningful constraint on the imperial appetites of America's enemies.

That the Bush administration misused American strength is, I think, inarguable. But let us not obscure the distinction between criticizing bad policy and wishing ill to one's own nation. Hatred of neoconservatism, I fear, has blinded some of my friends to the importance of this distinction. Yes, the disaster in Iraq has discredited neoconservative foreign policy, but the discrediting of bad philosophy is not a sufficient cause to celebrate American military defeat.

I think it unlikely that any U.S. administration will ever again undertake a foreign adventure with as little caution as the Bush administration undertook the invasion of Iraq. But I still want our troops to achieve victory in Iraq.

(Cue outraged demands that I define "victory.")

The Best and the Brightest, redux

Tyranny of the grinds:
The next administration will be a valedictocracy -- rule by those who graduated first in their high school classes. If an enemy attacks the United States during a Harvard-Yale game, we're in trouble.
A couple of days ago, someone asked me why I so disdain Harvard alumni. There are many, many reasons, mostly having to do with the belief that an aptitude for apple-polishing -- i.e., eager participation in the whole "gifted"/honors/NMS/valedictorian rigamarole -- does not represent genuine merit. Being a teacher's pet and being smart are not the same thing.

Perhaps there should be a bumper sticker: "My Angry Populism Beat Up Your Arrogant Meritocracy And Stole Its Lunch Money."

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin detests David Brooks and his "Ivy League ejaculations" over the Obama administration:
Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).
The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law)…
First, I wish to express my appreciation that Malkin (a graduate of selective Oberlin) would take sides with us Jacksonville State slobs against this "meritocratic" snobbery. Second, why do I suspect that Brooks is the father of a teenager whom he hopes to see admitted to Harvard? Excuse my populist cynicism.

UPDATE II: A commenter at TNR:
Not only are such credentials no guarantee of competence or insurance against disaster, they may actually increase the risk. The Harvard and Yale grads and faculty members, from McGeorge Bundy to Donald Rumsfeld, who drove the country into the ditch in Viet Nam and Iraq thought they were so smart that they never considered the possibility that they could be wrong, even after disaster was apparent to everyone else.
Brainiacs tend to disregard common-sense objections on the grounds that common sense is so . . . common. If anyone with a high-school diploma can get the point, your argument will inevitably suffer from a lack of intellectual prestige. A thing can be both simple and true, but simple objections tend to annoy intellectuals who delight in the belief that they possess a degree of enlightenment that no ordinary mortal could ever obtain. When David Brooks sneers at "populists," what he's really saying is, "How dare you refuse to genuflect before your superiors?"

UPDATE III: Linked by Michelle -- thanks!

Palin lied, turkeys died?

This MSNBC video is being dubbed "Turkeygate" by outraged progressives:

(Via Hot Air.) Why do I suspect a conspiracy involving the TV crew and the turkey-farm employee who can be seen mugging for the camera as he gleefully slaughters the bird behind the governor?

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Nate Silver:
There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.
John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them.
What got Silver on this hobby horse was Ziegler's assertion that Barack Obama "launched his career" at the home of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. But the factual record is unambiguous:
In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. . . .
"I can remember being one of a small group of people who came to Bill Ayers' house to learn that Alice Palmer was stepping down from the senate and running for Congress," said Dr. Quentin Young, a prominent Chicago physician and advocate for single-payer health care, of the informal gathering at the home of Ayers and his wife, Dohrn. "[Palmer] identified [Obama] as her successor." Obama and Palmer "were both there," he said.
Neither Ayers nor Palmer has denied this, and there are multiple other connections -- including Ayers' choice of Obama to lead the Chicago Annenberg Challenge -- that identify Ayers as an early and influential supporter of Obama. These are not "viewpoints," but facts.

Silver seems to expect Ziegler to engage in a "what 'is' is" type of parsing, or else to cite sources as in a bibliography, about the phrase "launched his career" in describing the Obama-Ayers connection. This is a clever method of obfuscation -- interrogating the premises of the syllogism so as to prevent a discussion of the conclusion -- and when Ziegler quite naturally objects, his objection is cited by Silver as evidence of Ziegler's unreasonableness.

Silver does not wish to discuss the potential significance of the Obama-Ayers relationship, and therefore engages in semantics over the meaning of the phrase "launched his career" in order to prevent that discussion. Of course, the actual subject in dispute was whether a Zogby poll about the beliefs of Obama supporters was legitimate opinion research or a "push poll," as Silver asserted. But the term "push poll" -- a campaign tactic of disseminating negative information through a bogus telephone survey -- can hardly be applied to a survey conducted after the election.

Zogby was asked to determine what percentage of Obama supporters were familiar with certain memes of the campaign, to get an idea of how well-informed these voters were. Silver is angered that the results lent support to Ziegler's hilarious video:

Silver's anger over the portrayal of Obama supporters as ignorant informs his rage against Ziegler, and Silver's attack on talk radio as a medium is nothing but scapegoating. What fuels Silver's rage is his guilty knowledge that Obama ran a campaign brilliantly calculated to appeal to "low-information voters," and that this success would not have been possible without the willing cooperation of the mainstream media. Silver fears that, at some point in the future, the media will be compelled to start telling the truth about Obama, and that Obama's subsequent political failure will endanger the "progressive" project.

In a free society, any political effort founded in deception is ultimately doomed to failure. If progressives like Silver have learned nothing else from the Bush administration, they ought to have learned that.

Obama will wait on gays in the military

President-elect Barack Obama will not move for months, and perhaps not until 2010, to ask Congress to end the military's decades-old ban on open homosexuals in the ranks, two people who have advised the Obama transition team on this issue say.
Repealing the ban was an Obama campaign promise. However, Mr. Obama first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress, the advisers said.
"I think 2009 is about foundation building and reaching consensus," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The group supports military personnel targeted under the ban.
Mr. Sarvis told The Washington Times that he has held "informal discussions" with the Obama transition team on how the new president should proceed on the potentially explosive issue.
Lawrence Korb, an analyst at the Center for American Progress and an adviser to the Obama campaign, said the new administration should set up a Pentagon committee to make recommendations to Congress on a host of manpower issues, including the gay ban.
"If it's part of a larger package, it has a better chance of getting passed," he said.
So it will be 2011, at the earliest, before we would see colonels and admirals marching in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. And I'm sure that double-entendre about "a larger package" was unintentional.

'Rachel Getting Married'

James Bowman calls the film a portrait "of what so much of blue-state America likes to imagine itself as being: a land of rich, cool, intellectual people who are relentlessly and joyously multicultural and morally and politically progressive. Above all, they are filled to the brim with compassion for the world's many, many victims -- among whom they contrive to number themselves."

The film is most noteworthy for a cast featuring Anne Hathaway. And her cleavage.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attorney general collapses

UPDATE 8:15 A.M. FRIDAY: The Associated Press reports good news:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey was conscious and alert early Friday -- and took a get-well call from President Bush -- just hours after he collapsed during a speech to a black-tie dinner.
White House press secretary Dana Perino sent out word to reporters that Bush telephoned his attorney general just before 7 a.m. EST Friday and said that Mukasey "sounded well and is getting excellent care." . . .
Justice spokesman Peter Carr said Mukasey did not transfer his power to Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip.
"The attorney general is conscious, conversant and alert," Carr said after Mukasey was hospitalized. "His vital statistics are strong and he is in good spirits." . . .
Mukasey's wife, Susan, was with him at the hospital.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed while giving a speech to the Federalist Society and was rushed to a hospital, Philip Klein reports. Just from a brief description of the symptoms -- slurred words then a sudden collapse -- it sounds like a stroke.

Mukasey is 67, and was described as "trembling" before he collapsed.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a round-up, including the text of Mukasey's prepared remarks.

UPDATE II: Described the symptoms to my wife, who used to work in health care, and she says, "Yeah, sounds like a stroke." Witnesses reportedly shared the same apprehension.

UPDATE III: Reuters:
Spokesman Peter Carr said Mukasey, 67, was rushed to George Washington University Medical Center in Washington. He had no details on Mukasey's condition.
GWU is one of the finest hospitals in the country. Reagan was rushed to GWU after he was shot in 1981.

UPDATE IV: Latest AP confirms Phil's source:
Mukasey was delivering a speech to the Federalist Society at a Washington hotel when "he just started shaking and he collapsed," said Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor. "They're very concerned."
Mukasey was 15 to 20 minutes into his speech about the Bush administration's successes in combatting terrorism when he began slurring his words. He collapsed and lost consciousness, said O'Conner, the department's No. 3 official.
FBI agents on the scene apparently rendered first aid, and one source tells AP Mukasey appeared to be speaking as he was carried out. ABC News seems to have corroborated this:
A lawyer in the room said Mukasey "started struggling with [his] speech, slurring" just before he collapsed. A high-level source who was near Mukasey at the scene told ABC News he appeared "responsive" when he left the hotel on a stretcher.
This encourages hope of recovery.

UPDATE V: More detail from Bloomberg:
Members of the audience at his speech, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, formed a human wall so people could not view Mukasey as he was taken away. A member of the audience offered a prayer for Mukasey from the lectern and told everyone to go home.
Will continue updating as the story develops. Pretty soon, we should get a statement from the hospital, or from Mukasey's staff, about his condition.

UPDATE VI: K-Lo was there:
Midway through [his speech] he seemed rattled by a heckler who called him a "tyrant."

Freaking disruptive scum. But K-Lo also says quick response by those on the scene may have helped save Mukasey.

UPDATE VII: More encouraging news:

Mr. Mukasey appeared to be somewhat alert as he was carried on a stretcher by District of Columbia fire department medics. He was heard to say he thought he had fainted. A medic could be heard to tell the attorney general "just relax."

Conscious + talking = good

Der Fuehrer und Der Housing Bubble

(Via Laura W. at AOSHQ.)

Slap on the wrist for Jones-Kelley

The Ohio Democrat bureaucrat who violated Joe the Plumber's privacy gets a one-month suspension:
Helen Jones-Kelley of the Job and Family Services Department said Thursday, Nov. 20, she should not have allowed the searches of state databases for information on Samuel Joseph — "Joe the Plumber" — Wurzelbacher, who emerged as a key figure in the Ohio presidential campaign.
Gov. Ted Strickland suspended Director Helen Jones-Kelley of the Job and Family Services Department for one month without pay after a state Inspector General's report found Jones-Kelley improperly authorized the searches of state databases and used her state e-mail account for political fundraising.
Ace is shocked, shocked.

Is babe-blogging a sin?

John Hawkins is accused of un-Christian behavior because he regularly features bikini pictures at Conservative Grapevine. He makes a pro-bikini argument very similar to my own rationale.

A constant diet of politics gets boring. If a politics junkie like me gets bored with politics from time to time, how must normal Americans get bored by it? Throwing in some occasional humor, celebrity news or eye candy helps to prevent the onset of political MEGO syndrome.

Most blog readers are guys, and guys like eye candy. What's weird is that chicks like celebrity eye candy, too. It's true. Go pick up Us Weekly or People and what do you see? Paparazzi shots of starlets in bikinis. And who reads those magazines? Chicks. Same thing with fashion magazines -- lots of shots of barely-dressed models, especially in the ads. For some reason, completely hetero women like looking at beautiful women.

Blogging is (or ought to be) a capitalist enterprise, the object being to draw more visitors and thereby generate more revenue. If there is one thing that conservatives agree on, it's that capitalism is better than socialism, so if you don't want me running to Congress asking for a blogger bailout, then a bit of eye candy is a small price to pay. And as a greedy capitalist blogger, it makes no difference to me whether you come for the Anne Hathaway cleavage shots and stay for the politics, or vice-versa.

I got a cool quarter-million hits in September mostly due to the (utterly false) promise of Sarah Palin bikini pics. It's not my fault that people wanted to Google for photos of Sarah Palin in a bikini. (Glenn Beck even got in on the action.) But if people are going to Google for Palin bikini pictures, would our pietistic friends rather the Googlers be directed to a conservative site -- which actually supports Sarah Palin -- or to some sleazy liberal site?

So relax, ye bikini pic concern trolls. And enjoy some Anne Hathaway cleavage video:

Ain't America great?

UPDATE: Sister Toldjah does some hunk-blogging.

UPDATE II: Instapundit links. Thanks.

UPDATE III: I told Mrs. Other McCain that I got the Instalanche and she said, "About something funny, right? Some sarcastic @$$hole thing?" Uh . . . well, yeah. And she said, "See? You're funny. You ought to capitalize on that."

The missus is quite a babe herself. And if you can stand it: Blogger in a Speedo. (Actually, that should be "sports editor in a Speedo," since I was a 30-year-old small-town sports editor when that photo was taken in 1990.)

Andrew Sullivan, originalist?

Gay marriage as original intent:
Accept civil equality not as a defeat but as an opportunity: to persuade and evangelize for something beyond the civil that still respects the integrity of the civil. That's what America's founders intended. It is part of their genius that today's fundamentalists simply do not understand.
Just to make sure, I thumbed through my copy of the Federalist and saw not a single reference to the sort of "civil equality" asserted by Sullivan. Indeed, as I pointed out earlier this week, homosexual behavior never had any standing in the American legal tradition other than being proscribed as "a crime against nature." The same founders who authored the Declaration and the Constitution -- indeed, the same men who fought the war to win our independence -- also enacted or enforced laws in their states prohibiting sodomy. No once did any of the founders suggest that the prohibition of sodomy was unjust or ought to be repealed. So who is Sullivan -- a damned Brit -- to come over here and try to tell us "what America's founders intended"?

Sullivan was reacting to Rod Dreher's column:
Bigots are by definition people whose prejudices are irrational. Bigots are moral cretins who can’t be talked to, only coerced. One is under no obligation to compromise with a bigot, only to smash him. . . . .
That’s what we’re seeing now in California. How are defenders of traditional marriage supposed to have reasoned discourse with people who insist that there is nothing to talk about except the terms of our surrender?
One problem with conservatives is their insistence on arguing only in terms of universal, abstract values, whereas liberals do not hesitate to assert the politics of self-interest or the politics of identity.

The burden of proof in policy disputes ought always to rest with the advocates of innovation. The Burkean insight is that established law and social custom are presumed legitimate, and that revolutionaries who would overthrow the established order must first demonstrate (a) the necessity of the change to remedy existing evil and (b) some reasonable assurance that the new order would be a genuine improvement on that order which is to be destroyed. (Or, to quote Lord Acton: "Where it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.")

The argument for same-sex marriage can't clear this hurdle, no matter how much its advocates outspend their opposition, no matter how they rewrite ballot questions in an effort to prejudice the electorate. Gay radicals argue their case in terms of direct, narrow self-interest -- "We want this, therefore society must grant it" -- and became enraged when society answers, "We don't want it, and won't grant it."

What I've never understood is the insistence that the 2% gay tail must wag the 98% straight dog. Whatever the grievances of homosexuals, how do they claim authority to dictate law to the rest of society? And why do so many people react instinctively to placate the aggrieved minority? "Yes, of course -- give them whatever they want!"

Why do people react like that? Because the alternative is to be called names. Fine. Call me names. Call me a bigot, a homophobe, an ignorant, right-wing holy-roller. Cowards are common enough without my joining their ranks.

Knocked up on Capitol Hill

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) hasn't married the Baby Daddy, although she says such plans are in the works:
So how might Sanchez's pregnancy play out in her district, which is 61% Latino? The national Latina teenage pregnancy rate is twice the country's average. Could a teenager point to her and say, "If she can do it, why can't I?"
The differences, Sanchez thinks, are substantial, and that's a big teachable moment. She's not a "surprised pregnant teenager," 15 or 16, poor, jobless, a dropout. "I'm established in my life. I have a career. I'm financially stable. I have a loving, committed partner. This is something that was planned, not something that was accidental."
Sanchez is 39 and divorced, and early this year, her doctor told her that "if your intention is to become a mother, I wouldn't put it off." So she and Sullivan didn't. They haven't yet set a wedding date. As he told me, "We have the rest of our lives to get engaged and married -- we don't have the rest of our lives" for Sanchez to become pregnant.
Notice the evaporation of any moral stigma to extramarital sex. Why couldn't the "financially stable" Sanchez and her Baby Daddy, consultant Jim Sullivan, go to courthouse and taken out a marriage license? There is a certain snobbery in the assertion that rich people can do as they damned well please, while stigmatizing poor people who do the same.

And of course, there is the rank hypocrisy of a Democratic feminist actually having a baby. If she were truly living out her "progressive" values, she'd have gotten an abortion. On the other hand, if she were really a feminist, she'd be a lesbian.

Wither conservatism

The title of the National Review Institute's "Whither Conservatism?" conference (co-sponsored by Hillsdalle College) yesterday at the Grand Hyatt easily lends itself to the pun. With Republicans at their lowest ebb since 1974, indeed one could be forgiven the impression that conservatism has withered.

The audience was smallish, with a good contingent of journalists -- Sean Higgins of Investors Business Daily, Michale Brendan Dougherty of The American Conservative, James Poulos and Conor Friedersdorf of Culture11 and Jamie Kirchick of The New Republic -- but if there were any MSM reporters on hand, I didn't see them. Not even The Washington Times sent a reporter. It seems to be the position of mainstream news editors that events like this are not newsworthy. Sigh.

I missed the early-morning domestic policy panel with Jim Manzi, Yuval Levin, Kim Strassel and Heather MacDonald. The foreign policy panel moderated by Rich Lowry was lively. Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and NR's Andy McCarthy represented the hawks, with Paul Saunders of the Nixon Center the lone voice urging restraint and non-intervention.

Saunders pointed out the policy drift toward a "national commitment to rebuilding" Iraq: "Is this what we signed up for?" As to those advocating regime change in Iran, Saunders said, "I don't understand how these are realistic objectives for U.S. policy." When Lowry sought to steer the discussion toward the question of whether Obama's election will (as liberals claim) improve the U.S. image abroad, the panel continued to hash over Iraq for a while. Kagan observed, "We don't poll much better in France than we do in Egypt. . . . The people who are blowing themselves up . . . don't give a damn whether it's Obama or Bush."

Kagan noted that our European "allies" are almost completely disarmed. This was one thing that struck me as entirely absurd about the debate over "world opinion" in the 2002-03 run-up to the Iraq invasion. If the U.S. was intent on invading Iraq -- and clearly, by fall 2002, the decision had already been made and the mobilization of military resources was well underway -- why were we on our knees begging for help from, inter alia, France? The French can't deploy so much as a single effective army division. So whether France supports or opposes a U.S. military action, it's irrelevant either way. Why disgrace ourselves by groveling and begging these European "allies" for the commitment of token forces to a sham "coalition"?

As we dined on our free lunch, Hillsdale professor Burt Folsom gave an energetic lecture about his new book, New Deal or Raw Deal, a history of the Great Depression and the Roosevelt administration that ought to be read as a companion to Amity Schlaes' The Forgotten Man.

The panel on cultural issues, moderated by Kate O'Beirne, featured Maggie Gallagher, Ed Whelan, and Jeff Bell. Gallagher, who talked extensively about the marriage amendments that passed in Florida, Arizona and California, was the star of this panel. She called attention to the "extraordinary outpouring of threats and intimidation" against supporters of Proposition 8 in California - an atmosphere that Prop 8 opponents stoked with ads like this:

"Ideas have consequences," Gallagher said, noting that the essential argument of gay radicals is that "Christianity is a form of bigotry," so that the result of the gay rights agenda will be the elimination of Christian moral arguments from the public square. Gallagher called attention to the August decision in the Benitez case in California, requiring physicians to provide insemination services to lesbians, as an example of the impact of the gay-rights doctrine.

Then it was time for the big show, "The Future of Conservatism" panel, in which Jonah Goldberg had threatened to beat moderator David Brooks into a coma (an empty threat, alas). A phrenologist would have automatically picked out Goldberg and the Atlantic's Ross Douthat as the intellectual heavyweights on the panel -- both men have impressively large heads. Douthat's receding hairline exposes his massive, broad forehead, truly a thing to behold. If you didn't know who he was, and were forced to guess, you'd figure him for a Russian grand master of chess, named Ivan or Boris. In terms of temperament, however, the melancholy Douthat and the sanguine/choleric Goldberg are quite different. Goldberg livens his remarks with sarcastic wit. Douthat makes a joke or two, but doesn't have Goldberg's smart-aleck zeal for a clever putdown. And Goldberg, of course, is more dedicated to a regular Republican sort of conservatism, while Douthat's all nuance and doubt.

In terms of raw cranial capacity, then, these two stand out, although their fellow panelists are obviously no slouches. Douthat begins the discussion by describing his views as "pessimistic," and then goes into a trend-mongering spiel so as to spread the paralyzing miasma of defeatism throughout the room.

David Bobb of Hillsdale gave a five-point summary of conservative principles, outlining a Madisonian vision of limited government to which he urged the movement to adhere. He warned that conservatism is an "ism" that some say is about to become a "wasm," and argued against a doctrine of "necessitarianism" that leads to abandonment of principles.

Gene Healey of the Cato Institute is the good-natured token libertarian, and begins by recalling his childhood conviction (in 1995) that Phil Gramm was destined to be the next president. (Don't worry, Gene. Lots of us thought so.) Healey name-checked Hayek while noting the fashion cycles of New Conservatism, with compassionate conservatism, national greatness, crunchy cons, South Park conservatism and now "reformist" conservatism. "Its name is Legion" -- a Biblical reference (Mark 5:9) that perhaps went over the heads of some.

Ramesh Ponnuru's high tenor voice causes me to look up from my notebook. This happens every time I see Ramesh on a panel. The other baritone voices will be droning on, and I've got my head down scrawling notes. Then it's Ramesh's turn, suddenly the range jumps an octave, and I look up. Ramesh shares the Douthatian gloom, and talks about the question of whether America is a "center-right nation" -- "center-right" being a term with which I'm getting weary as all hell, by the way.

Goldberg is the scrappiest voice on the panel, whose views most closely mirror my exasperation with the tendency of intellectuals to overthink the election. "Personalities matter," Goldberg says, pointing out this year's obvious charisma mismatch in the presidential candidates, and the crushing political burden of the Bush-damaged GOP brand. Goldberg slams "compassionate conservatism" as an "enormous surrender to liberalism," and says the first challenge for the "reformist" conservatives is to show "why this isn't compassionate conservatism 2.0." Exactly. We don't need conservative arguments for half-a-loaf responses to big-government liberalism, we need conservatives to stand resolutely against big government, period.

Just one incidental gripe: Too many of the NRI panelists were willing to cede ground to global warming, the biggest liberal hoax since the "homeless crisis" of the 1980s. Besides the specific evidence of fraudulent statistical manipulation and the problematic assumptions of climate "modeling," the very fact that liberals passionately believe in global warming is an argument against the theory. When have liberals ever been right about anything?

Finally, I would strongly urge everyone interested in understanding the 2008 election to pick up the Dec. 1 print edition of National Review, especially Rich Lowry's extensively reported article on Page 22, "In the Snake Pit." Having immersed myself in various accounts of What Went Wrong with the McCain campaign, I thought I'd learned about as much as could be gleaned from such analyses, but Lowry manages to find new insights.

UPDATE: Alexander Burns of the Politico was there, and caught David Brooks's quip on the final panel:
Brooks joked cheerfully about conservative criticism of his work. Introducing a panel on the future of conservative thought, he made reference to a controversial comment he reportedly made about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. "When I really love someone, I call them a fatal cancer on the Republican Party," Brooks said. "And sitting to my left are five fatal cancers."

It was funny. Not as funny as dropping Brooks from a C-130 over Jalalabad, but funny.

Hot babes all year long

Everybody will want to order a copy of the 2009 Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute calendar, which features the theme, "Pretty in Mink." The Luce Ladies held a soiree in DC last night to debut the calendar, with some of the calendar girls in attendance, including Miss May (Mary Katharine Ham), Miss July (Amanda Carpenter), Miss August (Sandy Liddy Bourne) and Miss October (Kate Obenshain). The photos are shot in classic 1940s glamour style and you'll have a different leading conservative woman to inspire you every month.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Steele blasts RNC 'cocktail party'

Telling it like it is:
Mr. Steele blasted the Republican Party's lackluster effort in recruiting those same new voters, especially minorities.
"The problem is that within the operations of the RNC, they don't give a damn. It's all about outreach ... and outreach means let's throw a cocktail party, find some black folks and Hispanics and women, wrap our arms around them - 'See, look at us,' " he said.
"And then we go back to same old, same old. There's nothing that is driven down to the state party level, where state chairmen across the country, to the extent they don't appreciate it, are helped to appreciate the importance of
African-Americans and women and others coming and being a part of this party, and to the extent that they do appreciate it, are given support and backup to generate their own programs to create this relationship."
And, of course, the RNC will ignore Steele's criticism and pick another middle-aged white guy as chairman. Well, anybody would be improvement on Mel Martinez.

Palin 'a rallying point for women'

Says Dick Morris:
Sarah Palin made a vast difference in McCain’s favor. Compared to 2004, McCain lost 11 points amg white men, according to the Fox News exit poll, but only four points among white women. Obama’s underperformance among white women, evident throughout the fall, may be chalked up, in large part, to the influence of Sarah Palin. She provided a rallying point for women who saw their political agenda in terms larger than abortion. She addressed the question of what it is like to be a working mother in today’s economy and society and resonated with tens of millions of white women who have not responded to the more traditional, and liberal, advocates for their gender.
Look, my support for Sarah Palin has nothing to do with her being a feminist hero or a role model for working women. I like her because (a) she's conservative, and (b) she could be a winner. And (c) she's hot, too.

U.S. solves childhood obesity epidemic

If you believe the federal government:
Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year's sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.
The department's annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than 50 percent above the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998.
Overall, the 36.2 million adults and children who struggled with hunger during the year was up slightly from 35.5 million in 2006. That was 12.2 percent of Americans who didn't have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives. . . .
The findings should increase pressure to meet President-elect Barack Obama's campaign pledge to expand food aid and end childhood hunger by 2015, said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.
Why am I suspicious of this story? Maybe it's because it comes with this map showing widespread hunger in the Deep South:

Which I ask you to compare to this map illustrating childhood obesity:

Eric Bost, under secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), noted that in 2005, 600 Texas children underwent amputations because of complications caused by type 2 diabetes.

So if you believe the government, not only can jet fuel melt steel -- sorry, 9/11 Truthers -- but the Biscuit Belt has gone from feast to famine practically overnight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brace for coffee spew

It's Ace, so you'd better be ready for a colorful simile or two.

Maureen Dowd wannabe

Kathleen Parker:
[T]he evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh. . . .
[T]he GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows.
The familiar litany, up to and including more trashing of Sarah Palin. Hey, Kathleen, see if any of this stuff sounds familiar: No Child Left Behind. Iraq. Medicare Part D. Amnesty '06. Katrina. Amnesty '07. Financial meltdown.

Lots of objective reasons there for GOP woes. And which of these issues do you identify as a sop to the low-brow holy-rollers?

The evidence doesn't match your argument, Ms. Parker. The main problem with the Republican Party is going back to Texas Jan. 20, and then conservatives will get back to rebuilding what's left of the GOP, which is slightly less than what was left of it the last time a Bush left the White House.

Joe on Palin, Jindal, etc.

A student reporter for the Tufts Daily scores an interview with Joe the Plumber:

Q: As a Republican, do you feel that Gov. Sarah Palin was the right vice-presidential selection?
Honestly, I think she shines too much. I think vice president no, president definitely. She has moral values. She has a record of change that ... John McCain had supposedly ... Sarah was actually too big of a personality, too big of a person to be vice president. . . .
Q: The Republican Party was dealt another devastating blow [on Nov. 4]. In your opinion, what do you feel the party needs to do in order to successfully regain control of the government? Also, what should disappointed conservatives like yourself do following the election?
: The party should remember that they are conservative Republicans - that has been forgotten. They no longer hold to their ideals. They blow with the wind on just about every public opinion poll. So they are not right-wing; they are trying to show that they're middle or even left-of-middle sometimes. You have to remember two years ago, the Democrats loved John McCain. That is not what this is about. If you're a party, you have to stick to your ideals. The frontrunners in the Republican Party have definitely seem to forgotten that. Governor [Bobby] Jindal of Louisiana seems to have the right idea. We have got to get back to the grassroots of the Republican Party and not apologize for being conservative ...

More where that came from.

Good-bye, Ted

Thanks for all your help in destroying the Republican Party, sir.

Jonah Goldberg threatens David Brooks

But I think he's just joking:
I too will be at the NRI event tomorrow. I'm on "The Future of Conservatism" panel at the end of the day moderated by (drum roll please) David Brooks. As this is fundraising week, if you pledge $25,000 right now, I will promise to attack Brooks like he was Rifki in Midnight Express the moment he calls Sarah Palin a cancer on the GOP.
Driving home today, I passed a house where previously there had been a "McCain-Palin" sign. The owner had folded it in half and hung it from his mailbox so it read simply, "Palin." And no, the house wasn't a double-wide. It was a mansion on Kirby Road in McLean, Va.

Since Goldberg mentions fundraising that means it's time for you to hit the tip jar, or else I might be forced to post more Anne Hathaway cleavage pics. And you don't want me to do that, do you?

He announces his post-National Review plans:
Starting over Inauguration Weekend, I'll be launching a new website, It will be a group blog, featuring many different voices. Not all of them identify as conservatives or Republicans. But they - and people like them - are the people conservatives and Republicans need.
I hope we will debate policy as well as politics. I hope above all that we can create an online community that will be exciting and appealing to younger readers, a generation often repelled by today's mainstream conservatism. . . . We will be experimenting with video commentaries - and offering a very much expanded "bookshelf" section.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. "Young readers . . . repelled by today's mainstream conservatism" -- they're called Democrats, David. Surely he doesn't plan to allow any "unpatriotic" types to contribute.

He doesn't say who will be bankrolling his project, but another group blog -- will Christopher Buckley, Ken Adelman, Kathleen Parker and Peggy Noonan be among those making it "exciting and appealing to younger readers"? -- isn't exactly the cutting edge of societal evolution. I already contribute to two group blogs (AmSpecBlog and RightWingNews), so I guess I'm ahead of the game here. Also, since he's going for the younger readers, does this mean new competition for the Anne Hathaway cleavage market share?

Dept. of Diminished Self-Awareness

Andrew Sullivan:
The NYT has National Review's traffic at 788,000 unique visitors and The Weekly Standard's at 490,000 last month. What struck me, unless the numbers are off (and in web traffic, it's sometimes murky), is that by the standards of some blogs now, those don't seem like big numbers. I bet Malkin or Reynolds are in the same ball-park, if not more successful. . . .
It may be that the blogosphere will kill off opinion journalism as we have known it. . . . Or maybe the print magazines will hang on as appendages to the online debate, as a way of milking those email addresses for money and offering a luxury product that will still be worth it. But I suspect that model works better for a monthly magazine like the Atlantic, which is more than opinion journalism, than a bi-weekly like NR, let alone a weekly like TWS. Their days may be numbered.
Whose days are numbered? Sullivan went from the New Republic, to blogging, to The Washington Times, to Time, to the Atlantic Monthly. He's like a journneyman utility infielder hovering in the vicinity of the Mendoza Line, and he's always been more about opinion than news. When has he ever done reporting?

Print journalism in general is a declining industry, but political opinion has never been a for-profit enterprise and as much as I enjoy the Atlantic, it's been a long time since they've published anything as important as Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's "Dan Quayle Was Right."

There is no business basis for Sullivan to presume that the Atlantic is a better bet than either National Review or The Weekly Standard or The Nation or any other magazine. All of these magazines (like every other journalistic enterprise) will continue expanding their online footprint, but the prestige and permancy of print continues to offer value.

However, speaking of excellent print journalism, let me remind you that now would be a great time to buy a subscription to The American Spectator. And with the holidays approaching, don't forget to buy a gift subscription for someone you love!

Will NY Times drop Bill Kristol?

George Packer makes the case that the New York Times shouldn't renew Kristol's contract, noting a slew of misguided predictions including "all but predicting a McCain victory [in April], sort of predicting that McCain would oppose the bailout, praising McCain's 'suspension' of his campaign as a smart move," etc.

Despite such errors, I think the Times should keep Kristol and instead drop David Brooks -- from a C-130 over Jalalabad.

Conservatives organizing online

Jon Henke and the Next Right crew got a good write-up today from Walter Alarkon in The Hill, and meanwhile the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee is now online, with coverage by Jonathan Martin of the Politico.

Henke also has a column up today at PajamasMedia, advocating the "Rightroots" as a key for Republican revival.

Speaking of online: You can register online now for CPAC 2009.

'My friends . . .'

That other McCain -- the one who lost the election -- owes Republicans a concession speech, says Pete Parisi:
As is customary on election night, Republican presidential nominee John McCain called his rival, Barack Obama, to concede defeat and graciously wish the Illinois Democrat well as he prepares to move into the White House in January. The Arizona lawmaker then delivered that same message to disappointed supporters gathered in Phoenix and on national television.
Now, two weeks later, it's time for Mr. McCain to make a second concession speech — this one to his fellow Senate Republicans, when they gather Tuesday [Nov. 18] to organize their conference for the 111th Congress — conceding that he ran the most incompetent campaign in memory, apologizing for it and urging that the party's 2012 nominee not to make the same mistakes if the GOP is to have any hope of wresting back the White House four years from now.
(Hat tip: Protein Wisdom.) Pete's actually drafted a text for Crazy Cousin John, so read the whole thing.

Surprising attention

Think Progress noticed yesterday that Sarah Palin has been confirmed as a speaker for CPAC '09, Feb. 28-29, resulting in attention from, Tammy Bruce (thanks, Tammy) and from the CPAC folks themselves, who took notice of my unofficial DIY sidebar ad. I've been asked to replace it with an official CPAC ad, and will do so, just as soon as I get back to my home computer.

In the meantime, REGISTER NOW for CPAC '09.

This is your brain on Hope

Via Hot Air, which links How Obama Got Elected with this info on Obama voters:

  • 57.4 could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)
  • 81.8 could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)
  • 82.6 could NOT correctly say that Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)
  • 88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)
  • 56.1 % could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).

I pointed out weeks ago that 41% of CNN viewers didn't know Democrats controlled Congress. This goes back to my whole point about "low-information" voters. Don't overthink it!

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

Dude mystified about 'racist' label

You might be tempted to think this is an Onion parody. Except it's Paulding County, Ga.:
Pat Lanzo insists he’s not a racist.
"I believe people are equal,” he says, "As long as they earn their keep as well as me."
Nevertheless, the proprietor of The Peach bar and restaurant in Paulding County says that people often mistakenly assume he’s a racist.
The main reason, he says, are the signs he posts outside his restaurant. "Damn Yankees May Have Taken Our N----rs But Not Our Guns," said one. "Obama Gives Us Hope Dreams and Maybe A New Holiday — Thats My N----r" read another.
"The minute someone says the N-word, you're labeled racist," he explains.
I grew up in neighboring Douglas County and used to cover sports in Paulding County, and it's not as bad as you might think from this article. But among some of the good ol' boys there is a certain . . . obstreperous disdain for the niceties of political correctness, shall we say? A kind of rowdy macho thing about going the extra mile to indicate that one is not intimidated. And Lanzo is correct in saying that folks like that are not necessarily more "racist" than people who sulk in silent fear. Lanzo says:
"If I was gonna hate anybody, I'd hate my ex-wife."
Dave Niewert and the SPLC don't understand, of course, but rednecks are the one minority culture whose folkways aren't tolerated under multiculturalism.

UPDATE: Just some demographic background for people who aren't familiar with Georgia. Paulding County is a fast-growing exurb of Atlanta, with a population of more than 120,000 that's increased nearly 50% since 2000. Median household income is more than $58,000.

When I was growing up in Douglas County, Paulding County was overwhelmingly rural. My hometown of Lithia Springs was sophisticated and cosmopolitan compared to Dallas or Hiram. But as neighboring Cobb County became urbanized, the Cobb developers moved westward.

The big thing was when Thorton Road (Ga. 6) was widened and connected to U.S. 278 via Powder Springs and Hiram, so that you now have a virtual freeway all the way from the Atlanta Airport (Camp Creek Parkway) to Rockmart (in Polk County). The area around the intersection of U.S. 278 and Ga. 92 in Hiram is now massively developed. A lot of the residents of Paulding County commute to jobs in Cobb or Douglas counties, especially in the industrial developments around the intersection of I-20 and Thornton Road.

UPDATE II: Lanzo's Peach Bar is being spun as part of a "racist backlash" against Obama, which is silly: Paulding County never forward-lashed, so how can they backlash? Of course, the prosperous blue-collar exurbanites of Paulding County voted 69% Republican, but that doesn't make them evil, does it?

Democrats elect druggie judge

A throw-the-bums out attitude -- and Obama Mania in Houston -- elects a tattooed ex-cokehead as a district court judge:
Fine, a Democrat, campaigned on his life experiences, saying they would make him a better judge than his rival, Republican incumbent Devon Anderson.
"She did a good job, but I'm more qualified in the hopelessness and futility of addiction," Fine said.
Hopelessness and futility as qualifications? Dude, why didn't I think of that?

Dobson empire on hard times?

An interesting development:
Focus on the Family announced Monday that it will cut 202 staff positions at its Colorado Springs headquarters, beginning at month's end.
Of these jobs, 149 are filled and 53 positions are vacant, officials said. About 20 percent of the positions are in management.
Most of the jobs end Nov. 28; however, some will be phased out December through February.
These losses and 46 layoffs announced by the ministry in October will bring its staff size to about 950, down from about 1,200 last year, said Focus chief operating officer Glenn Williams.
Does this indicate weakening of social conservatism? Is it a result of the decliining economy? Or -- and I think this the most likely explanation -- is it the result of an outdated business model?

Focus on the Family made a lot of its money by selling Christian-oriented books, CDs and DVDs through its monthly magazine, but those sales have declined, as the ministry admitted in announcing a first round of layoffs in September:
Over the past few years, Focus has seen a significant decline in its sales of books, CDs and DVDs, which the organization blames on competition from online retailers and large retailers like Wal-Mart. To help save money, Focus partnered with Christian Book Distributors of Peabody, Mass., to take over its product distribution early next year. Each shipment of materials costs Focus about $8, the organization's president and CEO, Jim Daly, said Tuesday. Through CBD, the cost will go down by more than 50 percent.
Whereas FOTF was a dominant player in a niche market, now they're facing competition in their niche. So somebody has to build a better mousetrap.

UPDATE: More information:
Donations are down, and Focus relies almost entirely on the charity of others.
That problem is reverberating throughout the nonprofit sector, said Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. president Mike Kazmierski.
"It's probably going to get worse," he said. "When people have to cut back, the only place they have to go is their discretionary income."
Glenn Williams, Focus' chief operating officer, said that more than 95 percent of the organization's income comes from donations, with book sales accounting for the remainder. Donations to Focus set a record high in fiscal 2008, he said. But donations began to decline in October, which starts Focus' new fiscal year, and after polling major donors, Focus expects this holiday season - normally the most lucrative time of the year for nonprofits - to be even more painful to the bottom line.
"Looking at October trends and talking to donors who are not in a position where they can give, we thought we'd be facing a more severe decision in January or February if we waited," Williams said.
The cuts are taking place throughout the organization. The most visible change will be the elimination of the print editions of four of its eight magazines.
The content of the magazines - Plugged In, Breakaway, Brio and Brio & Beyond - will remain online.
Plugged In, for example, has seen its print subscriber base dip to 30,000 while its Web site attracts 1 million unique visitors a month, Williams said.
You know, I'm not all that that impressed by 1 million uniques. Ace of Spade had 3.4 million visitors in October. Maybe they should hire Ace to run their Web division -- family values and Valu-Rite vodka!

Uh, seriously, though, a lot of old brick-and-mortar operations (including newspapers) are run by older guys who really don't know how to evaluate online activity from a business perspective. The Republican Party isn't the only old-school organization that can't get a clue online.

UPDATE II: The gay left is having a schadenfreude fest over this, since FOTF helped push passage of Proposition 8 in California. They apparently think only christofascist godbags are going to be hurt by this recession depression apocalyptic gotterdammerung.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your pathetic life

Dude, lose the goatee!

Attractive Girls Union Refuses To Enter Into Talks With Mike Greenman

Yglesias making sense

When I start nodding in agreement with Matt Yglesias, you know things are getting crazy:
I feel like some of the commentary on the prospect of an auto industry bailout is starting to remind me of some of the stuff I fell for before we invaded Iraq. The kind of thing where someone yes, "yes this sounds like a bad idea, but if we do it like this and like that and like this then it’ll all be okay, therefore we should do it." Which is fine. But we also need to ask ourselves, if we accept the proposition of Detroit’s management, the UAW, and Michigan politicians that what’s good for General Motors is good for America, how likely is any of this stuff to happen.
While Yglesias is pondering the arguments of liberals at the New Republic, conservatives are almost unanimous in opposing the bailout. See John Hinderaker and Michelle Malkin, for example. "Libertarian populism," anyone?

UPDATE: Mark Steyn:
Detroit is "incapable of making a car at a price anyone is prepared to pay for it" - that's to say, the per-unit cost of manufacturing a vehicle at GM is more than the market will bear. See this handy pre-tax-profit-per-vehicle graph from Jim Manzi, which gets to the heart of the matter: It doesn't really matter how many cars GM sell under the present arrangements, because those arrangements are unsustainable.

Strangled by union goons.

Have erudition, will travel

The New York Times says that National Review "may have lost . . . its reputation as the cradle for conservative intellectuals and home for erudite and well-mannered debate."

I could have prevented this tragedy, if only those &%$#ing @$$holes had hired me instead of that %$#&!#$%ing douchebag Rich Lowry . . .

UPDATE: The lowbrow slobs will have a tractor-pull/Jello-wrestling contest Wednesday.

Tim Pawlenty, scumbag

Human Events reports from the RGA in Miami:
After HUMAN EVENTS reported the halting of Palin's press conference, corroboration of our take on what happened came from another media source: "Another Republican governor eyeing a presidential run in 2012 told CNN the event [Palin’s press conference] was 'odd' and 'weird,' and said it "unfortunately sent a message that she was the de facto leader of the party." NBC News, which falsely reported last night that it was Palin who wanted the news conference cut short, has corrected itself this morning on Today. . . .
The "Republican governor eyeing a presidential run in 2012" appears to be Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty used his time at yesterday’s roundtable discussion to cast himself as the "modern" Republican while casting aspersions on the traditional conservative message, calling for outreach to the "new demographics," deriding the GOP for allegedly being 15 years behind in the use of the Internet, and calling for the party not to be led by "a crank." Pawlenty appears to have John McCain's penchant for attacking conservatives rather than those in the other party.
OK, scratch Pawlenty from your 2012 list.

Gay rights, gay rage

My latest American Spectator column:
The late historian Christopher Lasch was the first to identify (and Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon later examined in depth) how "rights talk" insinuated itself into American culture as a dominant mode of political discourse in the decades following World War II. Because Americans are taught to think of "rights" as something sacred in our civic religion, those accused of violating "rights" are easily demonized, while those who advocate "rights" are sanctified.
Seizing on the triumphant narrative of the black civil-rights movement, liberals adopted the habit of framing political debates in terms of minority "rights" versus majority "discrimination." That this tactic involves a species of moral and emotional blackmail should be obvious. To disagree with a liberal, to oppose his latest policy proposal, is to invite comparisons to Bull Connor and Orval Faubus, so long as the liberal can make "rights" the basis of his argument. (Witness, for example, how Keith Olbermann addressed himself to Proposition 8 supporters, casting their position as morally equivalent to segregation and slavery.)
Please read the whole thing. On a related note, Tracey Meehan observes that some Republicans are blaming social conservatives for the 11/4 disaster -- even though Prop 8 got 1.7 million more votes than John McCain in California.

The hyping of Hope

Howard Kurtz notes "a giddy sense of boosterism":
Perhaps it was the announcement that NBC News is coming out with a DVD titled "Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story." Or that ABC and USA Today are rushing out a book on the election. Or that HBO has snapped up a documentary on Obama's campaign.
Perhaps it was the Newsweek commemorative issue -- "Obama's American Dream" -- filled with so many iconic images and such stirring prose that it could have been campaign literature. Or the Time cover depicting Obama as FDR, complete with jaunty cigarette holder.
Are the media capable of merchandizing the moment, packaging a president-elect for profit? Yes, they are.
Meanwhile, publishers say Sarah Palin could get $7 million for a book deal.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Darwinian dating

We old, boring married folks are having all the fun nowadays, while the singles endure misery and wrath:
[The single young man] is putting off traditional markers of adulthood -- one wife, two kids, three bathrooms -- not because he's immature but because he's angry. He's angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He's angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He's angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.
He's also wrong. Marriage is a great deal for men, much better than being single, provided you get the right woman. The whole point of dating is to find that one woman. But young men are so damned superficial and selfish nowadays, and caught in a passive-aggressive loop, alternating between callous womanizing and self-pity.

Good women are much easier to find than good men. Over the years in Washington, I'd meet nice young single women and think, "Wow, I really ought to try to introduce her to a nice guy." And then I'd realize, "Wait a minute -- this is Washington, DC. There are no nice guys here."

Guys, let me give you a clue: Your low self-esteem is poisoning the well. You figure that any girl who actually likes you must be a desperate loser. So you ignore or disparage the women who are actually available, while chasing after women who hate you. You are only interested in super-beautiful women, because having a super-beautiful woman validates your own attractiveness. And yet you become angry at her demand that you bring something to the table to validate her.

Do you see the self-defeating vicious cycle you're setting up for yourself? Try this: Just forget about looks. Hang out with some fat chicks and try to learn to enjoy women as human beings, rather than as status symbols or as a means to an end. Learn to take pleasure in being liked by a woman. And to recycle an old hippie-mystic phrase from 40 years ago: Be in the now.


(Via Ace.)