Saturday, August 1, 2009

Things for which there is no time now

A friend just invited me to join a Facebook group called, "Birthers for Intellectual Honesty." This is probably a joke, and he is a friend, and therefore I will not get mad at him.

Please note the previous "Amen" to Philip Klein. Whatever the circumstances of Obama's birth, they cannot now constitute the basis of an effective political attack. So any further attempt to advance along that line is wasted time or, worse, giving fodder to those who delight in portraying conservatives as kooks. Mitchell Blatt writes:
[D]id you know that NBC was planning on asking [Michelle Malkin] if she is a birther conspiracy nut? . .
NBC wanted to ask Michelle what she thought of where Obama was born even after Media Matters themselves noted that Malkin thought the theory was insane.
Malkin said at her book signing [Friday] that NBC producers were actually asking her about it before she went on . . .
It is inarguable -- and I've been watching this steadily develop on Memeorandum for several days without mentioning it -- that the same online minions of the Left who spent months assailing Sarah Palin have now re-directed their efforts toward pushing this "Birther" thing.

Any conservative who thinks that the Left is interested in a rational discussion of facts (whatever the facts may be) needs to wake the hell up.

Please pardon my French, but if they actually cared about facts they wouldn't be the Left, would they? The Left wants propaganda, and they clearly think that this Birther meme serves the propaganda purpose of portraying everyone on the Right as a tinfoil-hatter.


Both National Review's anti-birther editorial and Andrew C. McCarthy's extended discussion of the related issues are but the latest exhibits for the prosecution in the continuing case of Why Rich Lowry Should Have Been Fired No Later Than 2001.

For some reason, Lowry keeps publishing things that never should have been published, stirring up fights that avail nothing for the conservative cause, and otherwise stepping on his . . . Well, pardon my French.

When Lowry permitted Ann Coulter to be banned from NRO on account of her famous 9/12/01 tribute to her recently departed friend Barbara Olson, you knew the man's judgment was flawed. And he has since repeatedly blundered in ways too numerous even to begin listing them here.

Of all the particular kookeries to which National Review might have devoted its efforts in recent weeks -- Waxman-Markey, hello? -- what purpose was served by this engagement with Birtherism?

As Richard Brookhiser reveals (perhaps not altogether intentionally) in his new book, Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age With William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement, the crowd at National Review has always been a peevish clique of snobs and oddballs.

Oh, the stories that D.C. conservative journalists could tell you about their dealings with National Review! Since I cannot breach any confidences, let me just ask you to imagine a D.C. press conference or discussion panel.

Mingling around the danish-and-coffee table in the back of the room, you'll see representatives of all the various Right-side media: Washington Times, Human Events, American Spectator, CNS, etc., etc. Camaraderie and conviviality are the prevailing spirit -- a spirit of which the National Review representative does not partake.

The National Review man is not a mere reporter, you see, but an intellectual! And therefore, he doesn't hang out and chat with the lowly ink-stained drudges, who are so far beneath the NR man as to be mere Sigma Nus to his Skull and Bones.

Oh, they're not all equally bad. But the insufferable snobbery of the NR crowd is notorious, and even the most down-to-earth of them cannot resist succumbing in some degree to this esprit des snobs.

Which might not be so bad, and perhaps even justifiable, if NR was as good as the NR-ites think it is. But the magazine's repeated blunders under the Lowry regime -- remember, it was Lowry's NR which deemed Rod Dreher's "Crunchy Cons" deserving of a cover story and later gave Dreher his own separate blog to promote that ridiculous philosophical cul-de-sac -- have become an embarrassment.

One hesitates to speculate on who the proper replacement for Lowry would be, especially since howls of fury would erupt at the mere mention of Jonah Goldberg. Howling aside, Goldberg is far more intelligent than Lowry, and at least has something of the basic virile pugnacity that Lowry so conspicuously lacks. Goldberg has in the past committed errors of his own, but in the current crisis his ferocity on the attack would certainly be a change in the right direction.

As I said, however, one hesitates to speculate about these things, and I'm sure that the moment I hit the "publish" button, an online lynch mob will descend into the comments, denouncing me for even suggesting Goldberg for the gig, telling me what ideological heresies and political deviations I have thereby endorsed.

Before I'm strung up, however, let me point out that we are not proposing to elect a beau ideal of conservatism, but merely replacing Rich Lowry. And it would be hard to imagine any replacement actually being worse.

OK, Fred Barnes would definitely be worse, but . . . why quibble?

Whatever the facts about Obama's birth, the most important fact is that Lowry is a clueless son of a bitch.

Pardon my French.

(P.S.: Programming note -- The weekly FMJRA Rule 2 round-up will probably be late this week. I got a frantic e-mail late Friday from Smitty, saying he'd missed a flight at O'Hare, thus derailing his schedule and leaving him off-the-grid before the thing was complete. Will try to get it online at some point this afternoon. We appreciate your patience.)

UPDATE 2 p.m. SATURDAY:Apologizing again for the continued delay in the FMJRA, but without the Porsche Man's key, I can't get his legendary TechnoratiBots to function, and we must await Mr. Smith's return to give our bloggy friends the obligatory courtesy prescribed by everyone's favorite Gunnery Sergeant. (To paraphrase: If you link them, they will come. But better late than never, as they say.)

Meanwhile, in a not-entirely-unrelated development, CIA Director Leon Panetta tries to tell the Left to drop their obsessive crusade to expose the eeeevil deeds of the Langley Spook Shop. Or, as one of Panetta's former bosses once famously said, "Better put some ice on that."

Of course, the Left will not listen to Panetta's wise counsel, any more than some of the Birthers who have infested Free Republic will let go of their own idee fixe.

The point that some obstreporous knuckleheads apparently cannot comprehend, and I must again refer everyone to Philip Klein's argument, is this: Whatever the True Facts may be -- e.g., the intriguing theory that Obama was conceived in Jakarta, sired by Beelzebub and subsequently whelped by a Kenyan jackal -- the quixotic pursuit of those facts is an utterly irrelevant and arguably self-defeating waste of time for conservatives who have any real talent that might be applied to the serious task of halting the advance of the progressive policy agenda.

Any Birthers tempted to denounce me as a pawn or a dupe of the Establishment would be advised to consult my friends -- or even, perhaps, my enemies -- whereby they might discover that, among my many other talents and interests, I am well-known as a Friend Of The Fringe.

A Vow of Vengeance
My long habit of sympathy to the marginal and excluded is probably a result of my having been one of the last of a formerly plentiful breed, the Sam Nunn Democrats.

Man, talk about life on the fringe! To have been a common-sense sort of Democrat in 1988, the year the Democratic Party's nominee decided to campaign not for the presidency of the United States, but for the presidency of the ACLU, is to learn a cruel lesson in the politics of marginalization.

Stubborn then as always, I hung on doggedly as late as 1994 until finally President Clinton -- whose bumper sticker adorned my old Chevy Impala during the '92 campaign -- signed into law that abomination I call The Great Gun Grab of '94. (What part of "From My Cold Dead Hands" is so hard to understand, Bill?)

I have been a professional journalist since 1986 and spent the early years of my newspaper career covering sports, education and many other ordinary matters no more political than a local school-board election. My career as a conservative journalist since the mid-199s, however, can be accurately understood only in light of Clintonian betrayal.

Nothing less than the complete destruction of the Democrats coudl ever sate my desire for revenge on those backstabbing bastards. I will not be satisfied until the Democratic Party exists only in the pages of history books.

Not until we have completed that noble mission shall we take up the business of annihilating whatever vestiges of Voinovichism might still persist.

And you, Dear Birther Kook, are getting between me and my revenge. If you think you're the first, you're wrong. You are the inheritor of a long and sorry legacy of time-wasting triviality, of a sort that I encountered as soon as I swore my oath of vengeance against the Democrats.

All Roads Lead to Mena
Hey, pal, ever heard of Mena Airport in Arkansas? You know, the place where Columbian drug lords imported tons of coke to supply the habits of Gov. Clinton and/or his brother Roger and/or the hordes of nymphomaniac coke whores who flocked to the cocaine-fueled orgies in Hot Springs with Bill, Roger, Vince and Hillary.

Ah, yes, Sodom in the Ozarks! The Hillbilly Gomorrah! A sinister cabal of drugs, sex, payoffs and bribery. Woe unto the Arkansan, however prominent or obscure, who posed a threat to the Mena-Medellin Connection! An army of amateur researchers devoted themselves to demonstrating conclusively -- with True Facts[TM]-- that every suspiciously unexplained death in Arkansas from 1978 to 1992 was attributable to the sinister operations of the murderous Mena Mafia.

Alas, despite accumulating mountains of True Facts[TM], the Mena-obsessed Kook Corps was frustrated in its ambitions. Why? Because the Clintons' personal private army of assassins finally rubbed out Vince Foster, a/k/a, The Man Who Knew Too Much.

As soon as the Park Police found Foster's corpse, the Kooks Corps lost all interest in those tales of two Arkansas boys on bicycles slain in the late '80s because they inadvertantly stumbled onto the scene of Hillary's hot-tub rendezvous with Janet Reno -- excuse me if I don't recall all the details of that well-documented True Fact[TM] -- and set out to prove the falsehood of that transparently bogus "Vince Foster Suicide" cover story. (The media, then as now, was oblivious or perhaps even part of The Conspiracy Of Silence.)

But seriously, folks: Have we learned nothing from all that Mena Airport/Vince Foster idiocy?

The truly sad thing is that, underneath all the hype and hysteria, there was the stuff of genuine scandal. Yes, one could say that when the Clinton gang ruled in Little Rock, there seemed to be a suspicious indifference to certain criminal activity in Arkansas. And yes, though all evidence suggests Vince Foster's death was a suicide, it was a despair produced by the blundering amateurism of the Clinton White House in 1993, and by Hillary Clinton's inability or unwillingness to understand that non-cooperation with federal investigators is both bad policy and bad politics.

However, efforts of serious journalists and legitimate conservative activists to document and publicize the genuine Team Clinton scandals were constantly being obscured by the clouds of chaff scattered everywhere by the Kook Corps.

Team Clinton quickly learned, and eventually developed into a science, a reliable method of de-scandalization. They could scare MSM reporters away from almost any potential scandal, you see, by insinuating that it was just another one of those fact-challenged fringe fodder scams, like the various overblown Clinton "exposés" peddled byKook Corps hucksters circa 1993-96.

You Might Be a Kook If . . .
Let me give you Birther people a clue: You are being scammed by cheapjack flim-flam artists no less repulsive than those maggots who made handsome sums pushing the "fire-can't-melt-steel" 9/11 conspiracy theories. The minute you see somebody promoting themselves as an "expert" on such stuff -- UFOs, ghosts, the JFK assassionation, no-money-down real estate -- you need to apply some good old-fashioned common-sense skepticism: "What's in it for him?"

Next thing you know, your crackpot self-anointed "expert" will be hustling a crudely-made video or badly written self-published book, and you'll find yourself attending a "national conference." In a meeting room at a hotel, you and a few dozen or maybe even a few hundred of your kooky kindred spirits will convene. There will be panel discussions, lectures and debates. There will be tables with books, magazines, pamphlets, T-shirts and bumper stickers for sale. There will be kook organizations eager to sign you up for their newsletters and Action Updates.

God Bless America, where citizens have the right to assemble peaceably, even if their main grievance is the high price of heavy-duty alumimum foil for their hats. Freedom means nothing if it does not include the freedom of fools to waste their time and squander their money listening to idiotic lectures on "The Lost Secrets of Atlantis" or homeopathic herbal miracle cures, and to support such fringe political causes as Dennis Kucinich For President.

Caveat emptor, as the Romans said, the best English translation of which is, "Never give a sucker an even break."

You Birthers think you're so much smarter than everybody else, right? So how come you never ask that basic cynic's question: "What's in it for him?"

The Cynicism Deficit
In the case of the Kucinich For President crusade, the final haul was precisely calculated as $5.5 million and the affections of an astonishingly beautiful redhead. Those low-level idiots who worked at starvation wages -- or worse yet, volunteered -- on the Kucinich campaign were a special kind of stupid, a stupidity that is unfortunately common among some grassroots conservatives who suffer from similar deficits of cynicism.

Before any conservative sheds a tear of pity for the Kucinich moonbat brigades, let us pause to ask ourselves what was the fate of the sincere grassroots Republican who volunteered to work the phone banks, or perhaps even donated $20 of their hard-earned income, to such bogus activities as the 1996 Dole For President juggernaut.

There are McMansions in Loudon County, Virginia, occupied by the overpaid campaign operatives -- no need to name names -- who shrewdly spotted the potential of Dole's doomed venture as a lucrative get-rich-quick scheme. Trust me, there are plenty of Republican political operatives whose motto might as well be, Caveat emptor (or its English equivalent).

Well, there are secrets a reporter learns that he can never publicly divulge, but one secret I must share: You will never accomplish anything useful in politics until you learn to tell the difference between a Cause and a Scam.

"But wait a minute!" you say. "Nobody's selling me anything. I'm doing this because I sincerely believe the True Facts[TM] are of vital political importance."

There is no fool like a volunteer fool.

So you Birthers just keep it up with your political Lamaze classes ("push! push! push!") and intelligent people who are serious about effectively opposing the Obama agenda will do the only sensible thing: Ignore the living shit out of you.


  1. You're right that it always has been, but if NR wasn't a peevish clique of snobs and oddballs, it wouldn't be NR, would it?

    I'm fine with the National Review editorial on Birthism. I don't think the movement ought to be ignored, any more than the Birchers ought to have been ignored in their early days. Both are basically forms of political sedevacantism, which can be extremely seductive and extremely counterproductive. It is also a waste of time and money for anyone involved (although its proponents tend to make a mint off it).

  2. I usually agree with you, but on this point I think you missed the boat. NR was never supposed to be just a news mag for the conservative movement, but also a place for conservative intellectuals to get some exposure. I'm not saying that makes those writers any better than the guys in the trenches at Fox, the Washington Times, and the Boston Herald, but they're playing to a different slice of the market.

  3. Heritic!!!

    kidding aside.
    On one hand, I would like to see real proof of his birth certificate.

    BUT.. on the other hand, aside from the proverial smoking gun of someone stepping up and saying, "Yes, I hid the document and here it is", it's a very moot point.

    And what would happen if that was the case? Riots in most inner cities because it will be another case of The White Man Keeping The Black Man Down. And Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will be given more prime time coverage than ever before. Can the country handle that?

    Also, do you want to hear the words "President Joe Biden"?
    I rest my case.

  4. Hey, came looking for the FMJRA! Plus, that hot young neocon at GSGF is some notice, with trackback to R.S. McCain! See, "'Turning the Tide of Battle': The Surge: A Military History".

  5. "NR was never supposed to be just a news mag for the conservative movement, but also a place for conservative intellectuals to get some exposure."

    It is important to distiguish between the role that NR served in 1955 and the situation since 1981, or since 1994. Conservatism now has many powerful institutions, many media venues, many politicians who espouse its creed which is, unlike in 1955, neither novel nor ill-defined.

    Despite all these changes, the younger generation of NR-ites -- who have no real memory of the world pre-Reagan -- still want to try to play the role that Buckley played 1955-81. Yet there are, on Capitol Hill, perhaps as many as 200 Republican congressional aides under 40, whose names you do not even know, who are as well-versed in conservative principles as Rich Lowry. Therefore, on what basis does Lowry strike the posture of Imperial Arbiter?

    Yet most conservative writers are fearful of pointing this out, as their ambition (i.e., to be published by NR) conflicts with their principles (i.e., to tell the truth). This exacerbates the problem, as NR-ites become ever more arrogant because they start confusing their own individual efforts with the unchallenged superiority of NR, and develop a proprietary sense of the magazine's prestige.

    The baleful effect of all this is like the foolish king surrounding himself with courtiers and sycophants.

  6. You don't want to see his birth records. Fine. But what about his kindergarten records, his Punahou school records, his Occidental College records, his Columbia University records, his Columbia thesis, his Harvard Law School records, his Harvard Law Review articles, his scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, his passport, his medical records, his files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and adoption records. Where, oh where is that honesty and "transparency" Obama is so fond of demanding from everyone else?

  7. The whole birther controversy takes on a different light when one considers that Hillary Clinton had her pack of dogs investigate Obama's birth, and couldn't find anything out of place. What does that tell you?

  8. As for Rich Lowry, the firing offense ought to have been permitting the publication of David Frum's "Unpatriotic Conservatives" article in the spring of 2003.

  9. Lowry was a fresh-faced 28 year old when selected to edit NR, as much a symbol of WJBjr "passing the torch to a younger generation" as anything else.

    The problem is he's now just a fresh-faced 41 year old who hasn't really grown in gravitas over the years.

  10. FROM CAROL HERMAN, if I may.

    "Birfirs" is a Nixonian tag. It's placed on people to make them look extreme. While there's some truth to the fact that at age 4, Barry was adopted by his mom's new husband: LOLO SOETORO. Yes, this would change his original birth certificate.

    So far, you're learning that Obama has had many names. He came back to America, as a FOREIGN STUDENT! ERASED! Just like that!

    Sure, his mom divorced LOLO when Barry was 19. But can you erase an official adoption?

    And, why did Barry come back as a foreign student, using the name BARRY SOETORO. Then, with a lack of good grades he migrates to Harvard.

    Gee, those 'gown people' play by an assorted set of strange rules. We're just continuing to get top politicians with lousy grades: Gore, Dubya, and McCain also come to mind.

    But Barry actually sits, now, in the White House. When will the political parties learn to serve the very people they want to have voting for them?

    No. I'm not a birfer." I came to this party way too late. But I sure suspect there's more to Barry Soetoro's resume than meets the eye.

  11. Outstanding writing Stacy:

    "if they actually cared about facts they wouldn't be the Left, would they?"

  12. First point: I believe Barack Obama is qualified under Article II, not so much because I trust him (heh), but because I trust Hillary be Hillary Clinton. If proof of Barry's non-American birth were there to be found, the Clinton campaign would have found it during opposition research, Hillary would have arranged a come-to-Don-Vito-and-Luca meeting with him, she would have been the nominee last year and most likely the president this year.

    Second point: Your observations on NR go along with my impression that at least some parts of the conservative movement stand as much in need of an enema as does the GOP.

    Third and last point: Speaking of presidential candidates with Article II problems, what about Dennis Kucinich? Never mind whether he was born a U.S. citizen. I'm not entirely sure that guy was born on this planet.

  13. Well, write something about this, dag nabbit, while you're waiting for Smitty!

  14. I was a loyal reader of National Review for 30 years, but once I realized the insipid, moronic Kathryn Lopez was Jonah Goldberg's "boss", and used her bully pulpit at NRO not to discuss the primal issues of the day, but to flog the Catholic League's talking points ad nauseum, I lost interest. Nothing wrong with religion or Catholicism, but she suborned NRO to her own parochial ends.
    I'll never understand why Buckley threw Brookhiser to the curb and gave that nematode Lowry his magazine. Why, I have ziti on my plate that could kick Lowry's ass, and that's just in debate. I'm sure this one piece here could also out-benchpress his pussy ass.

  15. So... what you're saying is... Barry hid his birth certificate...? in Vince Foster's coffin...? before it was filled with cocain and buried at Mena? Have I got that right...?

  16. And just in case Smitty is still goofing off, MY Rule 5 stuff is up...