Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rule 5 Sunday, Slightly Early Edition

By Smitty
This post is going up just before Sunday. We're not hugely sanctimonious here. Every day is Christmas, every day is Easter, for all I care. Won't detail my actual Easter activities here, lest I sound immodest. Is that sufficient fluff? To the links:
  • Leading off, we have Monique Stewart going for the tasteful retro pose with Kate Perry.
  • Fausta has, for the ladies, an edgy meditation on chest hair. On a purely academic basis, one wonders about her Billy Mays policy.
  • The Physics Geek traces a linear trajectory through a trio of blonds. Physiques Geek?
  • Chris Muir's Day by Day helps us with scientific rationale surely as valid as anything fronted by a former Vice President:

    Day by Day rocks, but you knew that.
  • Pat in Shreveport contributes to the Hugh Jackman thing. An allusion to the Beatallica link here?. Remember: "hybrid children watch the sea" and beware!
  • The Troglopundit has some good clips. Padma remains a vision, Metallica is silly (they're great musicians, how about targeting a post-angst market?), but the jedi catfight makes it worthwhile.
  • Track-a-'Crat offers left-handed complements to a couple of blonds. One of whom triggers a dip into the Kristen Wiig locker:

  • Under the wire is the stalwart left coast American Power Blog, featuring Kristin Cavallari
  • Carol over at No Sheeples Here fancies some Brosnan, which was late, but she flattered me, and there's no doubt about what kind of man I am, though the price was low enough to compare with GM shares...
  • The Political Castaway drags in close to the see-you-next-week line. For some reason, he thinks an interest in Anna Rawson's athletic activities might be spiritually unhealthy. What's wrong with a bit of sport?

Blow up my email box with your Rule 5-age, here, and I'll queue you up.





UPDATE 7:15 P.M. ET: OK, apparently this isn't so much news as it is "news to me," since I've been wrapped up in other stuff and haven't kept up with my celebrity news (via WeSmirch).

Welcome to the Blog Age: You start paying attention to "work" and next thing you know, you're so far out of the loop that Saturday you report as "urgent" news that actually broke on Monday:
She was shunned from the party and locked out of her love nest. Now, Lindsay Lohan exclusively tells E! News that reports of her breakup with Samantha Ronson are true: "We are taking a brief break so I can focus on myself."
The decision was made Monday morning following a rather rough weekend. First, the 22-year-old was barred entry from a Ronson family party on Friday. Then a locksmith was seen paying a house call to Ronson's abode, where Lohan had resided in recent months.
OK, maybe you're like me. You've been so busy with trivial stuff -- piracy in Somalia, gay marriage in Iowa, your job, your family -- that you also missed this earth-shattering development in America's cultural landscape. Don't worry: I'll catch you up on the whole sordid story in subsequent updates. First, however, let us all agree that Samantha Ronson was unworthy:

As they say on "Sesame Street," one of these things just doesn't belong here. OK, sensitive tolerant guys understand that Lindsay's not obligated to enact some Bob Guccione-scripted lipstick-lesbian fantasy in her personal life. However, even a vicious sexist homophobe could have been somewhat understanding if Lindsay had hooked up with a really butch type, like one of those bulked-up pro wrestling chicks from WWE, but . . . Sam Ronson?

Nah, that's just wrong. It's the gay equivalent of Britney's quickie Vegas wedding to that stupid hometown loser. And so naturally, I'm thinking, Cry for help. This Sam Ronson fling was just Lindsay playing the LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) game that dweeby college girls use to avoid the whole ugly date-rape-herpes-and-abortion scene of 21st-century campus heterosexuality.

While we await the oddsmaker's line on the gay/straight scenario, my money says Lindsay will next make headlines as arm-candy for an NBA player. NTTAWWT.

UPDATE 7:58 P.M. ET: Still doing background research on the LiLo/SamRo breakup, but meanwhile Professor Douglas provides linkage and hometown eye-candy, which should keep you sick freaks busy for about 10 minutes.

UPDATE 8:09 ET: Speaking of wasting your life online, I cite this testimonial from loyal reader Bob:
Funny…it all began when I started commenting on a discussion between McCain and Jimmie over the merits of Battlestar Galactica. I only found his site in the first place because I was researching Grace Park for my doctoral thesis on Asian schoolgirl uniforms.
Understand that on his way to coffee-spewing LOL, Bob's online journey through the smear machine took him to the site of a disgruntled former colleague of mine who, when last I heard anything about him, was being evicted by his own sister. It's a crazy world, and it helps to have a sense of humor.


Little Miss Attila got me with "Sea Citizens"

by Smitty (hat tip: LMA)

She's pointing to this a delightful bit of absurdity about the State Department re-classifying "pirates" as "sea citizens". About the only thing TFA got wrong was the spelling of "Meredeth", whose last "e" should be an "i", if Google has the right of things.
As the Google Reader would have it, Information Dissemination, a reputable squid blog, was the next article in the queue. Here is an un-rosy summary of the situation:
Terrorism in Somalia has long driven Navy operations off that coast. On one side, we have a high visibility piracy problem that does not threaten the interests of the United States directly, at all, and our only current national interest regarding the piracy issue is one man with 4 guys in an orange boat 200 yards off the bow of the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96). There is a national economic interest, but the impact to date has not risen to a level that has created a serious concern among global leaders to the point they are willing to commit serious resources toward solving the problem.
On the other side of the Somalia problem, we have the terror problem no one else in the world is interested in doing anything about. And in the middle is the reality that while both the pirates and terrorists are operating in the same black market space, the pirates and terror groups don't like each other.
Then there is another problem. What if we support a government strong enough to remove piracy, but too weak to do anything about the terrorism cells? Piracy is what has the international community involved in the problems of Somalia right now, if that goes away, we are left with the bigger threat to our national interests and no one internationally to help.
Somalia is much to complicated for the comparisons some are making to Pakistan and Iraq. At least in those places, we know who we want to work with. The government of Somalia doesn't even have governing control over the regions involved in piracy, and the areas the government does control are where the terror groups have sanctuary.
I got creamed last year in the comments by my readers for suggesting the pirates could possibly be the most desirable group to work with in Somalia, but we should not quickly dismiss that possibility. I'd rather work with a capitalist criminal whose motivation is money than a religious terrorist who is more interested in ideology, but that is just me.
The Somalia issue will very often come down to making the least bad choice among a list of really bad options available.

I don't care who won the election: this promises to be long and messy.

Pax Americana Fugit?

by Smitty

Philo of over at The View from Alexandria posts a review of the POTUS world tour and summarizes:
it became clear that, as Caroline Glick says in a brilliant article, Obama was announcing that America will no longer act as the world’s policeman. Pax Americana is over.

By all means, pay attention to the lips. But do not ignore the wallet. At the moment, the US still allocates the lion's share of the global defense budget. Past performance is no guarantee of future outlays, however. Badly as some might wish to resurrect the Monroe Doctrine, the rest of the world may not permit it. You can't have tsunami relief without a navy, for example. And how do you fund the chronic boredom while you await the acute crisis?
Philo'a analysis gets more critical:
There are several lessons to take away from all this, I think. First, it’s become clear that the left really is fundamentally hostile to human freedom. Leftists talk as if they are the defenders of civil liberties, human rights around the globe, etc. Yet in every global conflict they take the side of those who quash civil liberties and violate human rights. I can only conclude that the talk is either insincere or based on the foolish fantasy that if the United States were friendly to bullies they would stop being bullies and become like us.
Come on, Philo: the Renaissance and Enlightenment were but fads. We now have the velvet handcuffs of Socialism to give us happiness in slavery. Lighten up and dig the cookbook, man.
Second, the Obama administration is at best naive, operating on the basis of such a fantasy. But it may something much worse than that. Glenn Reynolds famously said about some opponents of the war in Iraq: “they’re not anti-war; they’re just on the other side.” Think about the peace movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Some of those people were naive, thinking that if Britain and the United States disarmed and made enough concessions to Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler, there would be peace. But some were Soviet or Nazi sympathizers. Some were Soviet agents. Is Obama naive enough to think that if America disarms and appeases aggressors they will stop being aggressors? Or does he want the aggressors to win? Is he, in short, on the other side?
If he is Gödel's incompleteness theorem applied to the US Constitution, then we have to calmly admit that we got here over decades. Then we have to rip our eyes away from the inferior distractions like the League of Ordinary Milquetoasts and muster at the Tea Party for some principled, Constitutional opposition. Toughen up for the 2010 elections. This administration is only the Thing That Should Not Let It Be if we do nothing.(Stacy will flog me for that, no doubt)

Frankly Magesterial Juxtapositions Requiring Answers

By Smitty
Yet another Rule 2, Full Metal Jacket Reach Around Saturday. And the links just keep on comin':
  • Donald Douglas is a powerhouse. His blog fu is prolific, timely, potent, and most of all, links this blog in a classically liberal fashion.
    He had us smiling on:
  • Protein Wisdom continues as another big supporter.
  • The Troglopundit...(sigh)
    • He reveals he wants to be RSM when he grows up. Some think Stacy inspires strange loyalty because he has false teeth...with braces on them. I think it's because he has sideburns...behind his ears*.
    • He comes down rather heavily on Donald Douglas of American Power Blog, then assumes it's a Rule 4 play. I'm voting 'present' on this one.
    • He scores some pleasant Rule 5 on Yuri Fujikawa. Domo arigantoni to you, boss.
    • He is thankful for the Passive Pity-Lanche, as well.
      This post includes a reference to me (with a link) that is at least twice as complimentary as the very last thing a former girlfriend once said to me.
      Lance: your assignment is to digest this page of Lombardi quotes. I don't know what else I can do for you over HTTP.

    • *Paraphrase of a Steven Wright joke.
  • Paco Enterprises continues its staunch support of this blog.
    • Paco expresses some concern over the Paul Ryan profile. We need to get Paco to CPAC. I think this would remove the Ryan doubt, should the man deliver another speech as great as his last.
    • He also enjoyed the 'second-hand expertise' riff in the last Brooks fisking.
    • Finally, Paco linked this blog en route to piling on the vile Kos remarks about the latest mass murder tragedy.
  • There isn't a blogger we like more at ToM than Monique Stewart.
    • She starts off with noting Notre Dame won't hear a note from the TVM dames.
      Notre Dame has finally shut this production down, whether it was by the administration realizing they are a private Catholic institution and putting the smack down, or the students realizing this play is absurd and no one is interested in it, anymore. The shock has worn off.
      She sheaths the suggestion that they await a monologue Perhaps Only The Ultimate Satsifier (POTUS) can bring.
    • She also quoted the homeschooling post at length, not understading the left's commitment to recreational guilt.
    • Don't know who told her I'm a CZJ fan, but she came through in Rule 5 fasion. And she followed up her penchant for glamor with some Katy Perry today.
  • Northern Virginia's own Pundit and Pundette linked a couple of posts.
  • William Teach at The Pirates Cove picked us up twice.
  • The Blog Prof tapped us twice.
    • First, he added one to the new P.U.M.A.With a name like P.U.M.A., they'd better get the Cougar Den to advertise it (not quite SFW):
    • He also linked the POTUS Maximus cold open, without any further comment
  • Here's a new one on the radar: NOLI INSIPIENTIVM INVRIAS PATI ("Don't let the turkeys get you down"). I think the author is a she, and she she takes issue with Stacy on the education post:
    I disagree with RSMcCain that liberals are typically hypocrites. They don't harbor any cognitive dissonance if they don't practice what they preach. They feel that they are entitled to preach & it's the proletariat's job to do what they're told for the good of the commune, or be sent to re-education camps.
    My only response is an old Slashdot sig: VIRINE NON SVMVS DEVO SVMVS ("Are we no men? We are Devo"). Aside: LMAO
  • Ed Driscoll liked Stacy's blogging point of the other day, and includes a link to some mysterious "binky" who's far madder than I.
  • The Rhetorican is a neophyte in these parts, but welcome. There was a nod on the bipartisanship post, as well a healthy exchange on the Sub-Carter business. How weird to be in the position of defending that brace of knaves
  • KURU lounge has revived the link dump format. I subscribed in my Google Reader, based upon the strength of their review box. Going through, I noted that a poster named Chad there had a Slashdot link. On occasional Tuesdays there, I drop a Burma Shave troll.
  • Moe accuses Stacy of modesty. He keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks that it means in Stacy's context.
  • Mark J. Goluskin over on the left coast understands unworkable ideas when he sees them. I miss the left coast. :(
  • Fishersville Mike, slightly geographically to my left, braved fashion doom on this very blog.
  • Over on The Purple Center, we made a link roundup.
  • The Track-a-'Crat also admires alliteration (and assuming assonance).
  • Stephen Gordon expanded on the David Weigel story about gun nuts. Not sure what's nutty about my admiration of the M1911, but, if you say so...
  • Eric Florack wonders aloud, Charles Johnson: Kool-Air Sampler? and quotes at length from the GOP extremeists post. As the Ancient Commenter observed, And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works--Hebr 10:24
  • We got a Rule 5 nod over at the Craig's Fencing Blog. Nice prise de fair, boss.
  • Great line from thePolitical Castaway on the topic of the North Korea response:
    The time has come for my teleprompter to put my foot down. And that foot is me.
    To which I'd add: "After they surgically remove it from my mouth."
  • A lady in Baltimore who's known as "Toaster Lover" (NTTAWWT) comes some agreement on a post concerning John Batchelor:
    the real problem with the GOP is that it never had to form a defining domestic policy.
    I'll opine that among the dangers of political parties is the demolition of Federalism. Sure, the GOP should have domestic policy suggestions, but differentiate between state and national, please. Otherwise, we become The United State, Quod Barack Demonstrat
  • You know you've arrived when Crooks and Liars notices you. At least they may have noticed. The story concerned gun control. I'm not sure this is about the same guy with whom I was at the karaoke bar the other night:
    Now, the dog-pee angle is in fact handy for one thing: It lets neo-Confederates like Robert Stacy McCain simply sneer at reportage pointing out the white-supremacy aspect of the story, in a futile effort to kick some sand to cover the scent.
    One falls short of speculation concerning what they've been drinking over there.
  • Larwyn included us on the Link Kersplosion. Thanks.
  • Grandpa John appreciated 'BTW, does this tinfoil hat make my butt look big?' at length.
  • Hayek Center takes RSM's take on "public intellectual" seriously.
  • Proof Positive liked the P.U.M.A. link. Nice logo. Aside: been there.
  • Rumblepak has a fine rant on Kos in the Rule 2 tradition. And we must boost the gain.
  • The Classic Liberal has begun a Moderate History of the GOP, and wonders if he, too has got a big bottom.
  • One Fine Jay picked up the post on internecine conflict
  • The Ordinary Gentlemen placed this blog alongside Red State for some left handed complementing:
    I can only hope that the conservative movement stays the course, and continues to run this thing into the ground. Total self-destruction is necessary for it to be replaced by any viable, honorable, or intellectual conservatism. Besides that, if I want a really good laugh from time to time, I can just visit a movement conservative blog or two. Nothing like some crazy to brighten your day. Now, if only they weren’t quite so predictable…
    Let's flog their 'about' page just a bit:
    The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is a group blog
    [Bunch of Guys Sitting Around Talking, 'BOGSAT'.]
    that hopes to bring a new style and sensibility to blogging.
    [So lost in nuance that they voted for Barack, one wonders.]
    The contributing writers hail from various points along the political spectrum,
    [Bunch of lefty infiltrators posing as 'moderates' to distract.]
    but all hold a deep and abiding commitment to the exploration of ideas outside the foray of rhetorical and ideological cul de sacs.
    [The foundational principles of conservativism are unshiny. Can't we have freedom on the cheap?]
    The entries are less posts than they are dialogues
    [To make our waffling drivel seem fresh and new, you know.]
    with an aim towards sustained discussion on topics and issues that lay at the foundations of our lives.
    [How can we sell watered-down Socialism?]
    This approach, we hope, will provide readers
    [Snotty rich kids from the Northeast.]
    with a thoughtful and searching alternative analysis.
    Plus, we think the name is pretty cool… and bowler hats never go out of style.
    [My bow tie collection can beat up your bowlers.]
    The big doughnut you get when you search for "Tea Party" on this blog tells the tale.
  • The Poligazette led off a linkmess with this blog. Great place to start.
  • Political Byline enjoyed the Stacy/Jimmy word trade on the tinfoil hats, without getting too cheeky about it.
  • Red State is worried about infiltrators next Wednesday. Me, not so much. A healthy turnout next Wednesday, an order of magnitude more on 04July... Contradictory to the Def Leppard Doctrine, it is not 'better to burn out than fade away'. The oppostion is going to pooh-pooh the Tax Day Tea Party as an idea that tried hard and lost part of itself in an accident. Patience.
  • Riehl World view gives a thumbs up on content, thumbs down on length. Troglopundit liked it. I'll confess to skimming.
  • Seymour Nuts responded to the American Spectator blog post with a mixed review. Gentlemen: 'Republican' is a term as monolithic as 'Christianity' (or 'Judaism' or 'Islam' or 'Buddhism, for that matter). You have to address a spectrum, or you will continue to have these yes-but-no exchanges.

Here endeth the browserbuster lesson. And remember the tip jar, or I won't get any leftover pizza. :(

Leisure and Marxism

"The nexus of economic statism and cultural libertarianism is not some odd pairing derived from unique circumstances, but a direct product of the end goal of Marxism. Economic statism is the preferred policy because it offers the false hope of spreading the wealth in a way that liberates the entire population from economic constraints in pursuing their goals. This is particularly appealing to people like artists and intellectuals whose activities are not relatively highly valued by capitalism. Cultural libertarianism removes the societal and cultural boundaries that repress and constrain the intellectuals and artists."

Helpless against the hobo menace!

When Dan Riehl first told me about this, I couldn't believe it:
Many more Marylanders would be eligible for hate crime protections under a bill gaining speed in the General Assembly.
The House of Delegates approved adding extra penalties Friday night for violent crimes against victims singled out because of age, gender, disability or because the person is homeless.
The statute already covers victims attacked because of race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. (Emphasis added.)
Unilateral disarmament against vicious criminal hobos? Madness! Only one man can save us . . .


Little Miss Attila on Latinos

". . . a numerically significant, slavelike underclass in my particular part of the world."
She means that in the nicest possible way, of course. As a matter of policy, my primary concern is whether they are in her particular part of the world legally, and I will leave it to Attila to describe their other attributes by way of explaining her intolerance of "stereotypes."

No, seriously, that was her intention. Stereotyping Canadians, Frenchmen and Jews -- she's OK with that. But not the Latinos. (She's probably also OK with stereotyping hillbillies, so excuse me whilst I guzzle some moonshine, tune up my banjo, and pick a little of that bluegrass classic, "Lonesome Incestuous Ridge-Runner Blues.")

Don't worry, Attila. When the MALDEF protesters show up at your office demanding your immediate termination, Kathy Shaidle and I will be there to defend you against charges of xenophobic hatemongering.
"No, you've got it all wrong, compadre. You've taken her out of context. In her culture, 'slavelike underclass' is intended as high praise. She really loves you little brown people! Look, she sent us down here to give you this case of Corona and $20 so you could buy some enchiladas for your buddies there. Have yourselves a regular fiesta, ya know? Now, y'all boys take your megaphone and your picket signs and get on out of here. Hasta la vista, Jose!"
That ought to fix the problem. "Crisis mediation" is a speciality of mine.

Friday, April 10, 2009

James Wolcott: Cthulhu of Vanity Fair? (Plus: Gisele Bundchen Nude!)

James Wolcott's Vanity Fair blog throws less traffic than Protein Wisdom, but -- alas! -- Jeff Goldstein, Dan Collins & Co. don't have a high-end Conde Nast magazine to pay them a full-time salary to write unfunny "humor" posts:
For a Master of Disguise such as myself . . . majoring in latex masks and the slurring vowels of obscure dialects, infiltrating the Tea Parties will be a piece of pie. It will require little more than a series of message t-shirts tastefully spattered with barbecue sauce, baggy jeans, sneakers that double as orthopedic shoes, and a protest sign with at least one word defiantly misspelled, as if to say to the media, "Fuck you, MSM, only pussies adhere to that 'i' before 'e' bullshit." Please forgive the obscenities and vulgarities--it's all part of "getting into character" and feeling the role.
As much as some may be tempted to compare him to Cthulhu, Wolcott is not really interesting enough to be evil. He might be more usefully compared to Frank Rich, who became bored with writing theater criticism and decided instead to try his hand at political commentary. This seems to have inspired the imitative Wolcott, who had muddled around for decades as a media/pop-culture critic, to decide that this politics scene was the place to be.

How incestuously convenient that he's married to a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and so the fact that Wolcott's political writing is both ill-informed and unenlightening matters not a whit. As I wrote nearly a year ago:
If James Wolcott is being paid by the word, his 3,700-word screed in the June issue of Vanity Fair is the Crime of the Century.The article is presented as describing the "vicious Clinton-versus-Obama rupture at Daily Kos" and thus an analysis of "a party-wide split" among Democrats, but it's really nothing of the kind. In fact, it's nothing at all. There is no reporting and very little that could be called research. Just massive paragraph after paragraph of florid prose.
Observant readers, contemplating the fact that Wolcott's fictitious "party-wide split" failed to prevent the Democrats from carrying 53% of the popular vote in November, cannot help but conclude that Wolcott doesn't know what he's talking about. And yet he continues to collect a paycheck from Graydon Carter.

True to his belle-lettrist roots, Wolcott apparently can't be bothered to pick up a phone and call an actual source, much less trundle his corpulent ass somewhere and do any on-the-scene reporting. He expects to be admired on the basis of his self-imagined eloquence and wit, which explains why he goes to such lengths with his stereotypical portrayal of conservatives as troglodyte hicks who can't spell.

Like his marriage to Laura Jacobs, Wolcott's liberalism is incestuously convenient. Vanity Fair is basically a fashion/celebrity magazine, and the inclusion of ignorant political commentary is therefore not necessary to the magazine's stock-in-trade. Yet New York being New York, and the magazine business being the magazine business, if Vanity Fair is going to feature ignorant political commentary, you can bet that it will be ignorant liberal political commentary.

So they sell a magazine by putting supermodel Giselle Bundchen naked on the cover -- with a multi-page pictorial display inside -- and use part of the resulting revenue to pay Wolcott to provide uninformative (and largely unread) filler between the ads for jewelry, cosmetics and brand-name clothing.

My search for wealthy investors to fund a magazine combining nude supermodels and conservative commentary has been unssuccessful so far. Oh, there are plenty of guys in the blogosphere who'd be happy to write conservative commentary for 20 cents a word, but nude supermodels? They would require the supervision of a trained professional journalist.

UPDATE: Dan Collins is overjoyed to be named by good ol' Wolly. Just don't try to elbow me out of that gig as Editorial Director for Nude Supermodels at the new magazine, Dan.

Do you remember when...

by Smitty

...dealing with the bank didn't make your wonder WTF? Case in point:
Our records indicate that you have made zero (0) transfers/withdrawals month-to-date.
Federal Regulations limit transfers from savings accounts, including Money Market Savings Accounts (MMSA), to a total of six per calendar month by means of preauthorized, automatic, telephonic (FAX, Touch-Tone Teller, or oral) or Internet instruction. Please note: From MMSAs only three of the applicable six transfers can be by means of check. Transfers made in person, by mail, or by ATM are exempt from these regulations.
Thanks a lot, government. First you turn travel into a godforsaken nightmare. Now it seems that some beancounter is going to lean on me if, for some unforeseen reason, I need to make a seventh transfer.
Would such a request mark me a terrorist? Do you have rationale for this? For the tax money spent letting you spineless nitwits think up this nonsense, I should at least enjoy a YouTube link to some pencil neck geek explaining to me WTF this means, including:
  • What metrics demonstrate that this inanity adds to national security.
  • How Madoffs and sub-prime mortgage crises will be averted.
  • Where the limit on the prostate exam is to be found--the tonsils?
This is Cthulhu does finance.

Dept. of Dumb Headlines

Media Insiders Say
Internet Hurts Journalism
The media insiders were also asked about coverage of President Obama. Of 45 respondents, 71 percent say it has been "about right," 22 percent say it's been "too easy" and 7 percent say it has been "too tough."
So, who counts as a "media insider"?
Respondents to the Atlantic/National Journal Media Insider’s Poll: Peter Beinart, Gloria Borger, David Brooks, Carl Cannon, Tucker Carlson, Jonathan Chait, Roger Cohen, Steve Coll, Sam Donaldson, Bob Edwards, James Fallows, Howard Fineman, Frank Foer, Ron Fournier, Jeffrey Goldberg, Jeff Greenfield, Glenn Greenwald, David Gregory, Mark Halperin, Christopher Hitchens, Al Hunt, Mort Kondracke, Jim Lehrer, Ruth Marcus, Joshua Micah Marshall, Chris Matthews, Jane Mayer, Doyle McManus, John Micklethwait, Dana Milbank, Markos Moulitsas, Katherine McIntire Peters, Todd Purdum, Cokie Roberts, Eugene Robinson, Tom Shoop, Roger Simon, Scott Simon, Ray Suarez, Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer, Leon Wieseltier, Juan Williams, Judy Woodruff, Fareed Zakaria.
Commenters are invited to research that list and tell me how many of those people make their living as news reporters. (Excuse me: Glenn Greenwald? Markos Moulitsas?) Also, dig the special pleading:
The Internet has some plusses: It has widened the circle of those participating in the national debate. But it has mortally wounded the financial structure of the news business so that the cost of doing challenging, independent reporting has become all but prohibitive all over the world. It has blurred the line between opinion and fact and created a dynamic in which extreme thought flourishes while balanced judgment is imperiled.
In other words, any technological development that reduces revenue to "the news business" is a bad development. Why? Because for people in "the news business," reduced revenue means that they have to economize. And since the "media insiders" are being squeezed, this is bad. Yeah, things are tough all over. Just ask Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

'This is great news for everyone . . . '

". . . except Barney Frank, who's always secretly wondered what it would be like to be taken by a Somali pirate."

I've seen England, I've seen France . . .

. . . I've seen Miranda Kerr in her underpants:
"I don’t look at myself as a sex symbol. I see it as a job, and I'm working for a company that I really love and enjoy working for," the brunette beauty told In Touch at the launch of the new Dream Angels Push-up Bra for Victoria’s Secret in New York on April 7.
"Sex symbol?" Where did people get that silly idea?

(Via Conservative Grapevine.)

Yeah, we're crazy!

E.D. Kain asserts that "many neocons and movement conservative types are suffering from a total break with reality." This gets him linked by Andrew Sullivan, naturally, since the Trig Truther loves nothing better than this armchair Adorno trick of treating conservative dissent as a symptom of psychopathology. Kain's implicit syllogism is this:
  • All reasonable men of good will are liberal;
  • This person criticizes liberalism;
  • Ergo, this person is either unreasonable or has malevolent motives.

The syllogism is valid, but the primary premise is flawed. It is a species of ad hominem, with a bit of bandwagon psychology and argumentum ad verecundiam thrown in for good measure. Please notice how cleverly Kain, a liberal Democrat, plays the game of pretending that there is some other conservatism he might be willing to respect:

I can only hope that the conservative movement stays the course, and continues to run this thing into the ground. Total self-destruction is necessary for it to be replaced by any viable, honorable, or intellectual conservatism.
Right. Kain hereby asserts that conservatism, as developed as an American political movement since the 1940s, is neither viable, nor honorable, nor intellectual. Having wielded the stick of abuse (You're nuts!), Kain next dangles the carrot: If you will adopt a "conservatism" that does not fundamentally contradict the liberal agenda, you will be credited with being bien pensants -- just like them!

And such is Kain's arrogance as to imagine that conservatives are too stupid to see the game he's playing.

UPDATE: Notice that Sullivan makes a grand gesture of "researching" the Tea Party movement, proclaiming himself mystified, and denouncing the whole thing as a "tantrum." And this is the man who habitually accuses conservatives of mala fides.

UPDATE II: Linked at Memeorandum along with William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection and Pat of So It Goes In Shreveport., while Donald Douglas of American Power has further thoughts on the April 15 nationwide Tax Day Tea Party.

UPDATE III: Dan Riehl weighs in with a more in-depth fisking. Please note that Dan is sympathetic to Sully's gay-marriage obsession, but still doesn't let Sully off the hook for his sloppiness. And, in point of fact, Dan doesn't ever let me off the hook for sloppiness, either. He's very consistent that way.

Hagerstown Suns lose opener 1-0

A scoreless pitchers' duel went to the 10th inning Thursday night in Eastlake, Ohio, as the Lake County Captains defeated the Hagerstown Suns 1-0 in the South Atlantic League opener for both Class A teams. An RBI single by Lake County shortstop Mark Thompson provided the winning run for the Captains.

My 16-year-old twin sons have been hired to work on the grounds crew for the Suns at Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium. The Suns have their home opener Monday against the Delmarva Shorebirds, (sponsored by Talk 103.7 FM). General admission tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for kids (12 and under) and seniors (60+).
The boys are really excited about their new job, so I'll be trying to follow the team's season here.

Rush Limbaugh on Friedrich Hayek

Weird concidences keep happening. Via Greg Ransom, here's Rush Limbaugh from Thursday:
RUSH: We have a junior from the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Vols. This is Jordan on the phone. Hi, Jordan. It's great to have you here. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. It's an honor to speak with you.
RUSH: Thank you very much, sir.
CALLER: I just have a quick question. I am in a macroeconomics class. My minor is economics, and my professor drones on and on and on about the supply-side economics and how it does not work. And constantly in my test and even an essay, we had to talk about why supply-side economics does not work and why it's not fair to the poor and why it increases income inequality. I just want to know the truth, I guess. I'm just tired of this. . . .
OK, "supply side" is one particular understanding of economic policy -- the Laffer Curve and all that -- a catch-phrase that became popular in the 1980s, and we can discuss that elsewhere. But after some back and forth on the history of the Reagan adminstration, look what Rush says:
RUSH: They never had to work a day in their lives. They just get up. But that's wonderful because they talk about the things your professor talks about, but you don't see Ted Kennedy or any other liberal walking neighborhoods giving money away -- unless he's taken it from somebody else first. I implore you, Jordan, my man, to investigate independently the economist Friedrich Von Hayek (H-a-y-e-k) from the University of Chicago. He's long dead. I urge you to. Does your professor ever talk about Milton Friedman?
CALLER: Uhhh, no, sir.
RUSH: He does?
CALLER: No, he hasn't.
RUSH: Oh, he doesn't. I'm not surprised. Milton Friedman. There's a videotape, DVD series that Milton Friedman did that explains everything you want to know here in a classical economics sense. He's written many books. He was brilliant, Milton Friedman. So is Thomas Sowell, who is at the Hoover Institution on campus at Stanford. But read Friedrich Von Hayek, read The Constitution of Liberty, and read The Road to Serfdom. They're tough reads. These are intellectual treatises, but you will not be disappointed.
As Greg Ransom notes, a link by Instapundit (coincidentally run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds) had already sent The Road to Serfdom to #283 on Amazon, and the mention by Rush was enough to boost it to #179.

Coincidence or conspiracy? Vainglorious ego makes me wonder if Rush is reading this blog, because he mentioned Hayek on the same day that I -- in discussing "kooks" -- wrote several paragraphs about Hayek and how The Road to Serfdom had influenced Reagan. This certainly isn't the first time Rush has mentioned Hayek or Friedman or Sowell on his program but . . . well, I question the timing!
"You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit."
-- Ronald Reagan
It was Hayek himself who described intellectuals as "secondhand dealers in ideas" and -- even though I've been named a leading Hayekian public intellectual (bwahahaha) -- I'm just driving a forklift in the regional distribution center. And there's a big "Help Wanted" sign out front. The more the merrier.

Let Jane Hamsher whine that she's not getting paid enough to push the Democratic Party agenda. The No. 1 radio show in America is pushing Hayek, Friedman and Sowell -- and making Obscene Profits along the way -- so I don't care whether it's a coincidence or a conspiracy. Megadittos, Rush.

BTW, Hayek's book, The Constitution of Liberty, is now #665 at Amazon. I question the timing!

Chuck Schumer on 'traditional values'

Keep thinking that way, Chuckie.


Instapundit links to some idiot who's talking about the "thin line between peaceful protest and bloodthirsty patriotic fervor."

OK, (a) I remember anti-Israel protests in D.C. where they were chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans and the Left never said word one, and (b) I got ties older than you, kid.

Don't talk about what you don't know.

VIDEO: Rep. Paul Ryan on Obamanomics

Chris Moody at Cato Institute sent this to me, because he knows about my new man-crush on Ryan.


P.S.: Be sure to check out MELTDOWN, Professor Thomas Wood's new bestseller about the financial crash and why Obamanomics won't work.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Rare Pleasure of Defending BHO

by Smitty

I'm going to differ with The Rhetorican* on the "Sub-Carter" call. President Carter was a submariner, but I don't think the pun intentional. Also, like a prosecutor with a case in front of him, can we rip BHO for not commenting? There is nothing substandard about waiting for facts. This is crucial in a military context, where pronouncements may lead to an Operational Security (OPSEC) violation. The NYT already has that ball.
There are plenty of Constitutional rubber chickens with which to flog the POTUS. Piling on over real-world ops looks gratuitous.

On this topic, the Secretary of Chuckling sounds so definite about 'ending' piracy, just like we 'ended' it a couple hundred years ago with Morocco. At what frequencey of 'ending' do we give up the charade? Navies keep piracy down to a managable level for insurers. And that's about it.

(Hat Tip: Malkin)

*While improving literacy over the last attempt at linking this blog.

Lead and Gold and Rick Moran

By Smitty
Craig Henry over at Lead and Gold is an excellent supporter of the cause.
Does anyone read the fiction of Mrs. Craigie or Miss Fowler? Yet without these two fine ladies, we might not have Chapter 15 of Heretics.
I'm beginning to think that Rick Moran is the blogosphere's Miss Fowler. What he writes is of little intrinsic importance and will be forgotten. But every now and then he provokes Robert Stacy McCain into writing something like this
Mr. Moran, it should be noted, has responded:
Stacey has a very sharp mind and clear writing style. And I want to be just like him when I grow up.
He goes on:
Not exactly sure what you’re getting at with the elites vs.populists theme but some of it rings true. If you are trying to make the point that the conservative elite punditocracy places perception above principle, I would reluctantly agree to some extent but defend them by mentioning that even today with a myriad of news and information outlets, the big guns firing in the information wars are still liberal media and therefore, the perception shaped in the public’s mind does indeed matter. Accepting that as a fact of life, and recognizing that electoral success in the GOP depends at least partly on altering this perception of the party as a bunch of angry, southern white males who hate gays and blacks, love guns, and exhibit paranoia about government, it is understandable that some would seek to distance themselves from this perception.
Dude: brevity. A long sentence has the appeal of a masturbatory guitar solo.

Scott's Slant Leans Pleasantly to Starboard

by Smitty

Scott A. Robinson introduced himself and points to some posts worthy of attention.
I'd never seen "A Guide to Getting Through Tough Economic Times". Scott states:
On this fantastic website you can learn what do to if you believe Big Brother's policies are making you feel stressed or even suicidal. Although, as you know, Big Brother has your interests at heart, so clearly if you believe his policies are at fault for your hardship, you are obviously wrong. However, do not be concerned if you think you feel this way. Government counseling is available to help you understand your error at not cost to you!
I'm not sure, reviewing my paystub, that anything the government does is "no cost". I mean, if your friendly civil servants have been auditing you for 12 consecutive years, the toll has got to add up.
Another splendid outing is this Heritage roundup of 12 New Policies that Undermine Civil Society. I'm not sure exactly how new they are, but they all contribute, directly or not, to the erosion of the state government as a shield against a rapacious Fed. So that draws vacuum.
Keep up the fight to protect those increasingly endangered ideals, Scott!

It's never enough, is it?

Michelle Malkin is taking a brief blog hiatus to work on other stuff. That's tough for a blogger to do.

Those who've read "How to Get a Million Hits On Your Blog" know that the greatest challenge for a newbie independent blogger is getting past The Zero Hour: That 3 a.m. moment when you check your SiteMeter and your latest hourly traffic was . . . zero.

I've joked about this with the Blogospheric Neologian, how in The Zero Hour the temptation is to give into bloggernoia, defined as the suspicious belief that other bloggers aren't linking you because of envy, spite or other malevolent motives: "Dan Collins is just jealous of my superior blog-fu! Dan Riehl, too! All these Dans are in on the conspiracy against me! Bwahahahaha!"

No amount of traffic, however, can ever fill that hungry vacuum in the blogger's soul. So even on a day when we've already gotten not just one Instalanche, but two, I find I'm still checking the SiteMeter obsessively, like that lab rat hitting the cocaine-dispenser in the psychology experiment we all remember from our college textbooks. (Hmmm. Why is that one of the few things we actually recall from our college textbooks?)

"I can quit anytime I want!" But of course, you can't. You're a stone traffic junkie, and even if your traffic was so huge that Matt Drudge was begging you for linkage -- hey, you gotta think big -- you still wouldn't be satisfied.

Anyway, just to show that I can do it, I'm going to let Frequent Commenter Smitty take over this evening. Rule 1/Rule 2 blogwhores should e-mail their stuff to Smitty for the next several hours.

I'm going out on a date with Mrs. Other McCain. Readers are invited to contribute to our big romantic date by hitting the tip jar. (Chicks dig a dude with a big tip jar.)

Remember: All UR Links R Belong 2 Us!

The Strange Death of Robert Wone

Dan Collins has a long post about Robert Wone, a young D.C. attorney whose 2006 murder has been strangely underreported. Wone, who was married and lived in Northern Virginia, had to work late and so, rather than drive home, decided to spend the night at the Dupont Circle home of a college buddy -- who was apparently involved in a gay S&M scene.

Shades of Jesse Dirkhising.

One Day I Will Meet This Servant/Hero

By Smitty
Others opposing Adolf in the last century get more publicity. However, on 09 April 1945 someone whom I respect far more than von Stauffenberg was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There is an interesting online exhibit honoring Bonhoeffer, from which I draw the following note:
In October 1944, Bonhoeffer was moved to the dreaded Gestapo prison in Berlin.
It was in this place that he wrote something you can't readily find on the nettywebs in English: his famous poem/hymn, composed as a Christmas greeting (hence 'going into a new year') that I translated with my wife's help. May it inspire you as it did me.
„Von guten Mächten“, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By good might so faithful and supportive,
Wonderfully protected from all fear,
So with you am I this day living,
And with you going into a new year.

Still the Old Flesh our hearts will torment,
Still pressing until the last hard, evil day,
Oh God grant to our tattered souls salvation,
For which you have already laid the way.

And when you give to us the cup so heavy,
Bitter, sorrowful to highest band,
So say we to you "Thanks" without trembling,
Out of your good and well-beloved hand.

However, should you want to bring us joy,
In this world under sun, sparkling,
Then will we remember the past,
Then belongs to you our whole being.

Let warm and steady candles today flame,
That you into our darkness have brought,
Lead, when it's fitting, us again, together.
We know it--your light shines in the night.

When deep stillness spreads itself upon us,
Let us stay attuned to the full sound,
The unseen world around us then widens,
All your children joyfully praise you, Lord.

From good power wonderfully secure,
Await we, trusting, come what may,
God is by us, by evening and morning,
And knows the whole of every new day.
The last verse is usually sung as the chorus when arranged as a hymn. The penultimate verse seems to allude to ideas found in German mysticism, but I'm stretching to guess that. Can't use the fact that I'm probably out of my league as an excuse not to try, though.

If you want to have your Christianity challenged (and you should), The Cost of Discipleship will lovingly take you to the spiritual gym for a workout.

It is to laugh

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake:
"[Liberal groups] come to us, expecting us to give them free publicity, and we do, but it's not a two way street. . . .They won’t do anything in return. They're not advertising with us. They’re not offering fellowships. They’re not doing anything to help financially, and people are growing increasingly resentful."
But, Jane, dear: I thought you were in it for The Cause? You don't mean to tell me that you expected to get paid to promote the progressive agenda? Those liberal groups are non-profits and, I guess, so are you.

Being a greedy capitalist blogger, at least I don't have apologize about telling you people to hit the tip jar. Unlike poor little rich girl Jane Hamsher, I'm a working writer trying to support a wife and six kids here, so you only have to pay me what you think this stuff is worth. And for 99% of you, that's a big fat zero. OK, thank God for the 1%.

What Hamsher and the other progressive bloggers complain about, of course, is true on the Right, too. A conservative 501(c) outfit would much rather hire a 26-year-old dweeb with a master's degree in political science as a policy analyst -- figuring total cost of annual salary and benefits, at say, $80,000 -- than to give $4,000 a year in online grants to 20 right-leaning blogs. Exactly why that's true, I don't know, since $4,000 annually would buy a lot of linky-love, but it is true.

Hamsher & Co. are just squeaky wheels hoping for some grease, and if they succeed with their guilt-trip shakedown operation it will be one of the sweetest scams of all time. Their pretense of altruistic idealism is certainly exposed as a fraud. They're just a bunch of self-interested hustlers. NTTAWWT.

(Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE: Jane says right-wingers don't understand business. Right. She's whining for pity ads from non-profits, and we don't understand business.

'Kooks,' Blue-State Republicans, Rick Moran, and the Messaging Problem

Hot Air headlined Rick Moran's lengthy examination of the "kook" charges against Glenn Beck, which involves a discussion of the general problem that conservatives face in terms of messaging. This passage catches my attention:
I am losing contact with those conservatives who find Beck anything more than a clown - and an irrational one at that. Same goes for those who worship at the altar of Rush, Hannity, Coulter, and the whole cotton candy conservative crowd. I can’t take those people seriously. The fact that they are popular mystifies me. Our heroes 20 years ago were Reagan, Buckley, Fitzpatrick, Kirk, Goldwater, Anderson, and others who didn’t see conservatism as a meal ticket but as something to think about, to write about and contemplate man’s place in the world and his relationship to government and God.
"Fitzpatrick" and "Anderson" obtrude in this list. I've got no clue whom Moran means by "Fitzpatrick," but fear that by "Anderson," he means third-party presidential candidate John Anderson. If Anderson is your idea of a conservative icon, Rick, we need to talk about your definition of "kook." The man was a "Jacob Javitz Republican," which put him to the left of Rockefeller.

One of our basic problems now is that, in defeat, we always want to play the game described by Michael Brendan Dougherty, and thus dubbed "Dougherty's Law," which dictates that every conservative pundit must claim that the Republican Party would win "if it were more like me, and instead it loses because it is more like you."

Thus, pro-lifers blame the GOP's woes on insufficient fealty to the pro-life cause, et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

One of the most egregious examples of Dougherty's Law -- and it sticks in my craw every time I think of it, more than a decade later -- was Christopher Caldwell's "Southern Capitivity of the GOP," published in the June 1998 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Caldwell mixed facts with half-truths with misconceptions in just such a witch's brew as was calculated to appeal to the kind of intellectual snobs in his intended audience. As an expression of ignorance about the realities of Southern politics, and unmitigated prejudice against Southerners, Caldwell's piece is the sort of thing that makes me share Zell Miller's fond nostalgia for the age of "pistols at dawn, sir."

Caldwell's article has to be viewed, along with David Brooks's infamous 1997 "National Greatness" essay, as an attempt at scapegoating on the part of the moderate Northeastern GOP elite who were embarrassed, first, by Bush 41's humiliating defeat in 1992 and, again, by Bob Dole's humiliating defeat in 1996.

This dissatisfaction of the elite was not mollified by the happy fact that these two presidential defeats were bookends to the 1994 "Republican Revolution," which put the GOP in control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, and you have to know a bit about how Washington works to understand why this was so.

Power vs. Prestige
In the federal government, as the Framers intended, Congress represents power. But with growth of the imperial presidency, the White House represents prestige, and there is nothing that the elite covet so much as prestige.

The difference between the GOP elite in Washington and the ordinary grassroots Republican in Tulsa or Tucson or Tacoma can be summed up in a single word: Ambition. And this one word explains the struggle between elite prestige and grassroots power in the GOP.

The Republican activist in Tucson wants to see his party win elections and enact conservative policies. Perhaps the Tucson Republican has personal ambition in politics -- to be named county party chairman, to be a delegate to the national convention, maybe even to run for the state legislature -- but he understands that any small ambition he has is dependent on winning elections, and thus expanding the party's power.

For the Republican elite, however, a far different calculus is involved. Those who have attended the right schools, served the proper internships and made the right connections arrive in Washington at age 22 or 23 looking to scale the ladder of success. Whether they are think-tank analysts or campaign operatives, journalists or lawyers, these young people are almost universally dreaming of reaching the lofty heights of their especial avocations. It's a very competitive environment which favors the shrewd and cunning.

To digress momentarily, it happens that I skipped all that myself. I learned the craft of a newspaperman at little papers in Georgia you never heard of, and was never a Young Republican who harbored the kind of ambitions that fuel the careers of the 20-something go-getters in D.C. I was a loyal but not particularly ideological Democrat until the mid-1990s, when circumstance and experience (including the first two years of the presidency of Bill Clinton, for whom I'd voted) caused me to become an ex-Democrat.

The story of my autodidactic conservative conversion need not be related here, but the point is that I arrived in D.C. in November 1997 as a 38-year-old married father of three, an award-winning professional journalist who knew a lot about newspapers, but very little about the ways of Washington. And one of the things I understood least was why the Republican elite was so intensely interested in presidential politics and foreign policy.

Assistant Deputy Undersecretary
Having won awards as a newspaper columnist in Georgia, I naturally hoped that I might repeat this trick in Washington. I'd been hired as a news editor at The Washington Times, but I occasionally managed to throw a column over the transom to the op-ed or commentary pages. These were mainly about cultural topics -- women's magazines, the decline of marriage, home-schooling, et cetera -- because the business of opining about politics in Washington is a cartel jealously guarded by members of the punditry guild.

If the rise of the blogosphere has made nothing else clear, it has at least made clear that political insight is not monopolized by the likes of George Freaking Will and other elitists who get paid to opinionize on the op-ed pages and TV talking-head shows. How, then, did the commentariat maintain its hegemonic influence for so long?

Part of the answer lies in a phenomenon I call the Former Deputy Assistant Undersecretary Syndrome. During the late 1990s, I noticed that many of the thumbnail biographies under the op-ed page guest commentaries tended to read like this:
Elmo Rumburger Jr. served as deputy assistant undersecretary in the State Department during the Ford administration and was ambassador to Chile from 1981-83. He is vice president of the Coalition for American Unity and author of the new book, "Libya: Threat or Menace?"
In other words, Mr. Rumburger's column was published more on the basis of who he was than what he had to say, let alone how well he said it. The quality of such columns might vary, and it might be that the Former Deputy Assistant Undersecretary made an important argument with clarity and eloquence.

Mr. Rumburger might be an excellent individual committed to the conservative cause, and I might applaud his column, but the point is that people like that get published on the basis of their biographies. They bring to the op-ed page a certain authority and prestige which you -- the grassroots Republican -- will never have, and the main reason you don't have it is because you never wanted it. You drive a truck or you run an insurance agency or whatever, and have no interest in politics as a career.

Ambition and the Elite
This "ambition gap" is what really divides the elite from the grassroots, and it explains why foreign policy and winning the White House are inextricably linked as twin obsessions for the GOP elite. The power exercised by Congress is great, but the most prestigious congressional staff position -- the Chief of Staff, of whom there are 535 on Capitol Hill -- is essentially a behind-the-scenes management gig.

Compare this, then, with the prestige that a president doles out through his appointments. Cabinet secretaries and all their assistants and deputies, heads of agencies and bureaus, ambassadorships, staff positions in the White House -- somewhere, I'm sure, there is a source that can tell you exactly the number of jobs to be had by political appointment.

The relevant point is, it's a freaking crapload of jobs, and there is a huge prestige factor to even a fairly minor presidential appointment. In 2009, there are many middle-aged guys in Washington who earn handsome salaries in large measure because, when they were 24 or 25, they worked in the White House or one of the Cabinet agencies for a few months in some low-level appointment in the final year or two of the Reagan administration.

This is most especially true in the field of defense and foreign policy. If you are an ambitious, well-educated, well-connected Republican operative whose expertise is military and foreign affairs, your career goals will be thwarted unless the GOP regularly wins presidential elections.

There are only so many think-tank gigs and university professorships to be had, if you're a Republican specializing in international policy. The relevant committees in the House and Senate only offer a relative handful of jobs, compared to the hiring bonanza when a newly-elected president starts staffing up the Defense and State departments, and being a Hill staffer carries relatively little prestige compared to all those Assistant Deputy Undersecretary gigs.

Perceptive readers are now starting to understand the tremendous frustration that so many Reaganauts felt during the eight years of the Clinton presidency. It was not merely a matter of policy, but of ambition.

Imagine the bright young Cold War hawk, with a degree in international affairs from a top school, who hired on at age 23 as a political appointee at the Pentagon in 1987 or '88. He worked his way up a notch or two during the Bush years, the Soviet Union was vanquished, the first Iraq war was a triumph but then -- purely because of domestic politics -- this ambitious young fellow found himself dismissed from his job at age 28 as the Clintonistas took over.

"Oh, that damned Ross Perot!" said the gimlet-eyed Cold Warrior. "That Pat Buchanan! Those idiot domestic-policy populists who cost me my shot at becoming a Deputy Assistant Undersecretary before I was 30!"

Blue States and the GOP Elite
"Wait a minute," cries the perceptive reader. "Why are we talking about foreign-policy elites? You've completely jumped the track with this digression -- I thought we were talking about Rick Moran and why Glenn Beck is a kook. Moran isn't a deputy assistant undersecretary wannabe. What kind of wacky non sequitur is this?"

Ah, but the two phenomena are indeed connected. Think about the fact that Rick Moran lives in Democrat-dominated Illinois, a state last won by a GOP presidential candidate when Bush 41 got 50.7% in 1988. Much like the foreign-policy Republican, the Blue-State Republican tends to have a greater interest in presidential politics.

Liberal Chicagoland so dominates Illinois politics, and has for more than seven decades, that electing a Republican governor or U.S. senator is a once-in-a-blue moon fluke -- think of four words, "Senator Carol Moseley Braun" -- that the GOP minority's influence can best be augmented by electing a Republican president.

A real winner like Reagan who clobbers his opposition in a landslide will offer "coattails" for GOP candidates even in a heavily Democratic state, and so the Republican in Illinois (or New Jersey, or Michigan) takes a keen interest in presidential politics. This is why the GOP foreign policy elite and the Blue State Republicans so often sing from the same hymnal: Don't pick fights over difficult domestic issues where a determined conservative stand might hinder prospects in the next presidential campaign.

Furthermore, Blue States are always blue for a reason, usually something to do with economics and demographics. One thing that Chris Caldwell got right is that the "Sunbelt" economy has boomed because of the right-to-work laws in the South and West, which outlaw the closed shop and thus make it very difficult for labor unions to take over entire industries. Labor unions by their very nature are constituencies of the Democratic Party, which is why heavily unionized states in the Midwest and Northeast are such tough terrain for the GOP.

There was a time, at the height of the Great Cold War Consensus (roughly 1948-68), when liberal or moderate Republicans enjoyed success by avoiding fights that would put them at odds with labor-union constituencies. If you go back to the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate -- where everything seemed to boil down to the tiny islands of Kemoy and Matsu in the Formosa Straits off the Chinese coast -- you understand what George Wallace was talking about in his 1968 independent presidential campaign when he complained that there wasn't "a dime's worth of difference between the two major parties."

The Great Cold War Consensus reached its apogee between JFK's narrow 1960 victory and LBJ's 1964 landslide, unraveled largely due to the Vietnam debacle, and the Democrats only staved off disaster after Nixon's '72 landslide because of the subsequent Watergate scandal. Watergate fueled a Democratic congressional landslide in 1974 and enabled the 1976 election of Jimmy "I'll Never Lie To You" Carter, whose utter incompetence led to the Reagan triumph of 1980.

What is key to understanding all that history is the great degree to which the foreign-policy issues of the Cold War predominated in the GOP's ascendancy. It was LBJ's bungling of Vietnam, and Carter's bungling . . . well, everywhere, that mostly explain why Republicans held the White House all but four years from 1969 to 1993.

The Republican Babel
You can see why, then, we now have such a Babel of ideological discord in the Republican Party. The GOP succeeded without ever having to forge a partisan consensus on domestic policy. From Nixon through Bush 41, as long as you agreed that the Democrats were hapless dupes of the Soviets -- and this was obvious at the time to all but the blindest of Democratic partisans, as I then was -- you were a Republican voter by default.

Furthermore, you see why the post-1994 showdown between the Gingrich-led Congress and Clinton over domestic policy was so bitter and fractious. Even with a stuffy snob like Al Gore as the Democratic candidate in 2000, Bush 43 lost the popular vote and only barely won the Florida deadlock that decided the Electoral College. Without any existential foreign policy foe to replace the Soviet menace, Republicans had a very difficult time winning the White House on domestic issues.

Then came 9/11. This was the grand opportunity, the key that would deliver the "permanent Republican majority" of Karl Rove's dreams. The Global War On Terror enabled Bush and the GOP to gain an upset mid-term victory in 2002 and enabled Bush, in 2004, to become the first president elected by a popular-vote majority since his father won the "third Reagan term" in 1988. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket, and here we are with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, in a not entirely unrelated development, we see Rick Moran -- whose native Illinois sent Obama to the Senate along with Dick Durbin -- carping that Glenn Beck is a kook who "lacks the ability to think rationally," that Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are just using conservatism as a "meal ticket," that there is something of the Hoftstadter paranoid tendency being exploited, and that we are guilty of fomenting "fear and frustration" if we don't denounce Beck, et al.

This is not about Glenn Beck. This is about the long failure of the Republican Party (and/or, the conservative movement) to define and enunciate a clear philosophy of domestic policy that differentiates them from Democrats.

RINOs like Arlen Specter have muddied the waters, and advocates of the oxymoronic "Big Government Conservatism" have convinced too many Republicans that there is no hope for electoral success in fighting to limit or shrink the massive entitlements of the liberal Welfare State. I will quote once more something that American Spectator publisher Al Regnery said to me in an interview last year:

"You look back in the earlier times, there were no opportunities, so there were no opportunists. . . . Later on, you have all these people who figure it's probably a pretty good political thing to do. And so they start talking about being conservative when they're running [for office], but they really aren't. So when they get to Congress or wherever they go, they're pretty easily dissuaded."
The success of the GOP has attracted opportunists who call themselves "conservative" because, as Rick says, that's a "meal ticket." But Regnery wasn't talking about Rush Limbaugh, who certainly is not "easily dissuaded." And I'm not guilty of acting in accordance with Dougherty's Law when I say that a lack of common ground on economic issues is a basic problem of the Republican Babel.

The Austrian Insight
Maybe my perspective on all this is different because I am an ex-Democrat who became a conservative by reading Mises and Hayek and Ayn Rand, abandoning my native partisan loyalties in the mid-1990s when foreign policy wasn't a big deal, and with no thought at the time of becoming a "pundit." I was just a Georgia newspaper writer, reading stuff that interested me, and trying to make sense of why Bill Clinton -- whom I had supported because I wanted to believe he was a moderate "Sam Nunn Democrat" -- was pursuing a policy agenda straight out of the Dukakis campaign platform.

When I reviewed Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons, I noted that his book made no mention of the great Austrian economists who, as any Reagan biographer will tell you, had such a powerful influence on the Gipper. Because of its influence on Reagan, Hayek's Road to Serfdom may rank (along with Witness by Whittaker Chambers) as the most consequential book of the 20th century, and yet Dreher doesn't even bother to mention Hayek in Crunchy Cons.

The only economic thinkers Dreher mentions are Adam Smith, Karl Marx and the Buddhist-influenced Keynesian, E.F. Schumacher. This suggests a blinkered and stunted understanding of economics. What an easy trick to juxtapose Smith, the supposed ideologist of "capitalism," against the arch-ideologist of socialism, Marx, and then -- eureka! -- the "Third Way" that delivers the reader from these two supposedly equal economic evils.

In fact, Adam Smith was not trying to create any ideology, but rather was trying to describe the basic facts of economics in order to expose the protectionist fallacies of European colonial mercantilism. It was Marx who is chiefly responsible for our thinking of Smith as advocating an "-ism," and from this "Marx vs. Smith" duality much other mischief has ensued.

Why Socialism Fails
What Mises, Hayek and others of the Austrian school patiently demonstrated was that socialism (Marxian or otherwise) is based on a fundamental fallacy that ultimately makes socialism unworkable in practice. Socialism -- the "planned economy," as Hayek often described it -- neglects the function of prices as information by which individuals make their own economic decisions.

When governments intervene in economic life, through various forms of regulation, subsidies and taxation, they inevitably influence prices in a way that substitutes the decisions of government officials for the decisions of individuals in the market. Because the underlying reality of supply and demand persists, however, and because of the diffuse nature of economic information -- the preferences of individuals, their specialized abilities, the scarcity or surplus of goods and services, etc. -- the actions of government planners cause harmful inefficiencies.

Socialism must therefore always fail. The more a system approaches the socialist ideal, the greater the economic inefficiencies that cause failure. And as socialist policies fail, governments determined to pursue these policies always become more coercive in their attempts to compel individuals to cooperate with the planning regime, to stamp out areas of economic freedom where prosperity remains. Thus the Soviets had to liquidate the kulaks (peasant freeholders) in order to eliminate competition with, and resistance to, the socialist regime.

Because even a minimalist government takes actions that influence economic activity, there has never been, nor will there ever be, such a thing as a pure free-market regime. Yet the policies of governments are either oriented toward economic freedom or against it. What Hayek saw in the policies of England and America in the 1940s were governments that seemed to have made a fateful turn against economic freedom, and were thus on The Road to Serfdom.

'I, Pencil' and Reaganism
Such is one layman's summary of the Austrian insight, and academic specialists are free to tell me exactly how I've misstated the case. But at least I've read Mises and Hayek (and various of their students, such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Mark Skousen), and therefore can claim to have some notion of what it was that revolutionized Ronald Reagan's worldview, turning him from a self-described bleeding-heart liberal into the almost universal hero of conservatives today. Look again at that list of conservative icons whom Rick Moran cited:

Our heroes 20 years ago were Reagan, Buckley, Fitzpatrick, Kirk, Goldwater, Anderson, and others . . .
Hayek and Mises are missing, as are Milton Friedman and other prominent advocates of economic liberty who were certainly influential circa 1989. Perhaps Moran has read these people and just doesn't bother to mention them. Reagan and Buckley both frequently referred to the free-market intellectuals, and Goldwater was an avid defender of the free economy, so that it's possible to have absorbed Mises second-hand, as it were.

Yet Rick Moran doesn't discuss domestic politics like someone who's spent much time with the Austrians and I therefore suspect his exposure to them has been minimal. And if you've never considered their perspective, you have to spend time with the Austrians before you can understand the insight. How many issues of The Freeman did I read before I stopped sputtering in angry protest and began nodding in agreement? I'd be willing to bet, as I said of Dreher, that Moran's never even read Leonard Read's brilliant little essay, "I, Pencil."

The Missing Cornerstone
But just as this is not about Glenn Beck, it's also not about Rick Moran. It's about a Republican Party that ascended to power, and attracted adherents, based in substantial measure on its foreign policy disagreements with liberal Democrats. The party also attracted adherents dissatisfied with liberal positions on other issues -- abortion, education, gay rights, environmentalism, etc. -- and all of these GOP adherents will tell you that they are "Reagan conservatives," but not all of them really are. Because if you haven't read Hayek and Mises and the other economic thinkers who influenced Reagan, you are missing a fundamental cornerstone of Reagan's worldview.

The Austrian insight can lead in many directions, as Lew Rockwell would gladly explain, but the one direction it never leads is toward the kind of Keynesian bailout/"stimulus" insanity we've seen from Washington over the past year -- wrong-headed policies endorsed by Republicans and Democrats alike. These policies will not produce recovery, but will instead result in debt, poverty and misery. It is therefore the duty of every American who does not wish to see this "city on a hill" become a shameful tragedy to speak up in oppositon to these policies. (It Won't Work.)

Rick Moran and some others have criticized the Tea Party movement as an incoherent populist publicity stunt, as if the nationwide rallies planned for April 15 will be about Obama's birth certificate or FEMA camps. No -- there is a specific focus on economic policy.

One also hears the grumbling that, because various Republicans have voted for bailouts or "stimulus" bills, it is hypocritical partisan demagoguery for conservatives to speak out against this economic agenda. OK, fine. Show me where Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, the Cato Institute or Americans for Limited Government -- I'm kind of pulling names out of the hat here -- have ever endorsed any of this stuff, even when George Bush and John McCain were enthusiastically pushing for it.

(Crickets chirping.) The Tea Party movement is not about Glenn Beck, Rick Moran, George Bush or John McCain. It's not about re-electing any Republican in Washington, or electing any current or future Republican candidate for office. It's about advocating a very simple idea of economic liberty as a fundamental principle of a free society.

If you don't get that, fine. Stay home April 15 and grumble all you want about populist demagoguery, but I know where the friends of freedom will be.


UPDATE: Rick Moran says that "Anderson" was a reference to the columnist/author Martin Anderson and "Fitzpatrick" was a typo/brainfart: He meant former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Oh, and Rick says he has read The Road to Serfdom, but not Mises. Yeah, but what about "I, Pencil"?

UPDATE II: Moran responds, and more linky-love is provided by Stephen Gordon at Liberty Papers, Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom, Physics Geek, Fisherville Mike and some blog with a long Latin name. (Dude, I can sling a bit of the Atlinlay when I want to impress people, but . . . seriously?)

Also, this is the place where I say, "Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards." The alternative is the Jane Hamsher whine-a-thon ("I'm blogging for The Cause, so pay up!"), and I've got too much dignity for that. I'm a greedy capitalist blogger, which is why I'm running a 2-for-1 special on nude photos of a certain prominent blogger's wife. Of course, they're just bad Photoshop jobs, but . . .

UPDATE III: Welcome, Instapundit readers! What an amazing coincidence . . . kinda like JournoList, huh?

UPDATE IV: Speaking of messaging and coincidences, guess what happens when an ACORN front group sends out a press release? And we've now got our own Memeorandum thread. (Rule 3!)

UPDATE V: Little Miss Attila links, as do Paco, Craig Henry and Mark Goluskin. Meanwhile, Dan Riehl says, "too long and prone to wander a bit." My wife used to say the same thing, Dan.