Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bozo the CNN Stringer

All Dennis Zaki needs is a red nose and floppy shoes:
Having touted these "multiple sources" in his lede, Zaki neither quotes, paraphrases nor describes them at any later point in the item. Nor is there so much as a "could not be reached for comment" indicating that he had attempted to get the Palins to verify what he heard from these mysterious "multiple sources" (who for all we know are his wife's hairdresser, the shoeshine man at the bus station and a night-shift clerk at the second-largest convenience store in Wasilla.)
Ask any newspaper editor in the country whether he would dare publish a story that alleged so much on the basis of so little. Among the Old School editors for whom I worked was the legendary Wes Pruden of The Washington Times. Wes would have personally fired any reporter who ever turned in such a smelly pile of steaming nonsense, which wouldn't have gotten past any assistant metro-desk editor who valued his paycheck. . . .
Please read the whole thing, Mrs. Palin. Even the jokes have been "confirmed by multiple sources."

Thanks for the earlier linkage from Carol at No Sheeples Here, Wizbang, Darleen Click at Protein Wisdom, Jimmie Bise at Sundries Shack, TigerHawk, Fishersville Mike, and Dan Riehl. And go give a big blog-birthday hug to Pat at And So It Goes In Shreveport.

UPDATE: Thanks to Tim Lindell of Conservatives For Palin, serving as the blogospheric equivalent of the copy desk. If I'm going to rip this clown a new one, I guess it probably helps to spell his name right, huh?

Tim also has the complete roundup, including smackdowns of Politico's Jonathan Martin, who actually blamed Palin for denying Zaki's smear.

So vicious smear artists like Zaki and his buddy Gryphen can post any calumny they want, puff it up with talk about their "sources," get linked all over the left-wing blogsphere, and if Palin bothers to deny it, she's the bad guy?

We are grateful to Jonathan Martin for providing this clarification of the Politico's ethical standards.

URGENT UPDATE 2:14 a.m. 8/2: This just in -- "multiple sources confirm" that Jonathan Martin recently raped a chihuahua.

No criminal charges were filed, because the chihuaua didn't even notice . . .


"Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd? I may be just a renegade hockey mom, but I'm not blind!"

Yes, that is her OFFICIAL reponse, which I got via phone at 5:35 this afternoon. Take that to the bank.

ORIGINAL POST (5:35 P.M.): More at the American Spectator. I expect to update here in a few minutes with a very recent photo of the very happily married couple. The stupid rumor via Memeorandum, and you can also read more at Conservatives For Palin.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl has the same quote. In a phone conversation just now, I was remarking to a friend that I had been in the middle of writing an article about something else when this idiotic rumor went online.

While I can't speak on Dan's behalf, I would personally like to say: "Thank you, demented lying moonbats, for providing this unexpected opportunity to score a worldwide scoop with the governor's quote."

UPDATE 7:51 p.m.: Commenters ask if the quote is legit. Yes, absolutely. Authorized and official.

Really, I understand why people ask, "Why would Sarah Palin give her first official reaction to some blogger dudes, rather than to the Washington Post or the New York Times?"

Simple answer: "Why should she? What kind of treatment has she received from them in the past?"

Meanwhile, another commenter asks if there will be more quotes. Probably not today. Unlike vicious lying left-wing bloggers who have nothing better to do with their weekends but spreading libel, Sarah Palin has a life.

But if you do want to give an exclusive interview to "some blogger dude," Mrs. Palin, just give me a call. I haven't steered you wrong yet, have I?

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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dodd-Gate and IG-Gate: The Connection

OK, Byron York ate my lunch on IG-Gate Friday, so I was calling Hill sources trying to scare up a break. Called one source to ask him about the Justice Department angle York was looking at.
"Have you seen York's column?"
"Sorry, but it's been all Countrywide all day up here."
"Ah, our old friend Senator Dodd!"
"Yeah, it's been crazy."
Michelle Malkin devotes her latest column to Chris Dodd and the Countrywide VIP scandal, and she joins Instapundit in linking to an AP story about House Democrats refusing to investigate:
Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he has other work to do on the causes of and fixes for the financial crisis and will not interfere with other investigations of the VIP loans.
And here we see how the Dodd-bone is connected to the IG-bone, as it were. For weeks, Republican sources on the IG-Gate story have been suggesting that Democrats on the Hill are less interested in finding the truth than in playing P.R. games. The American Spectator July 14:
Investigations of the inspector general firings are "moving forward in a bipartisan fashion," I was told . . . in separate face-to-face meetings with both Democrat and Republican staffers on Capitol Hill. The Democrat said it with apparent sincerity, while the Republican's repeated the same words with transparent irony.
Exactly how "bipartisan" are these investigations? Republicans remain skeptical of Democratic sincerity. Some telephone interviews with key witnesses have been scheduled as bipartisan conference calls. Sometimes Democratic investigators are on the call; other times, they're no-shows.
The same theme was repeated in my July 21 report at the Hot Air Green Room:

Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill last week, I asked a Republican source about the investigative efforts of Democratic staffers for the House Oversight Committee.
"Honestly?" the source said. "They’re useless."
More than three weeks have passed since Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) joined the committee's ranking Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, to launch an investigation into the case of former Amtrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold Jr. . . .
Despite the "grave concerns" expressed by Towns and Issa three weeks ago, however, Republican sources on Capitol Hill have complained that Democratic staffers on the Oversight Committee have not shown much zeal for the investigation.
This is all very delicate business. Democratic chairmen control every committee in Congress now, and nothing is going to happen in terms of hearings and subpoenas until the Democrats say so. Therefore, the Republican minority, both staffers and members, don't want to alienate the majority by making direct, public accusations of mala fides.

A couple of weeks ago one GOP staffer breached that protocol in an interview with The Hill about the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger investigation:
"You would think that the majority would be just as vested as we are at exposing who knew what and when," said Kurt Bardella, spokesman for committee Republicans. "What exactly is the majority afraid we'll find?"
Obviously, the spokesman wouldn't have fired that kind of hard shot without authorization from Issa, which gives you an idea of how intensely frustrated Republicans on the Hill are about this clear pattern of non-cooperation. So now let's go back to Larry Margasak's AP story about Dodd and Countrywide:
The senior Republican on Towns' committee, California Rep. Darrell Issa, has been trying for months to get Towns to subpoena Bank of America for Countrywide's records. He said in an interview with The Associated Press that he asked Towns again this week to issue the subpoena. . . .
Daniel Frahm, a Bank of America spokesman, said the bank is ready to turn over the Countrywide VIP documents if it receives a subpoena. The bank's lawyer sent Issa the same message in a June letter.
"They have it packed and ready to go," Issa said in the interview.
Early into my reporting on IG-Gate, a source told me that it's important to ask the right questions. OK, so back to the Walpin investigation. As I reported last week, Republican investigators on the AmeriCorps firing are curious about what role pressure from Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) played in the events that led to the firing of IG Gerald Walpin.

California blogger Eric Hogue brought attention to a March interview in which Matsui vowed that the St. HOPE Academy scandal involving Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson wouldn't prevent Sacramento from getting its share of "stimulus" money. Gerald Walpin told me Tuesday that he's curious about the Matsui connection, too. (So far, I've been unable to get a response from Matsui's people.)

The questions now being asked on Capitol Hill have taken an interesting turn, as Byron York's column in the Examiner makes clear:
Within days of Matsui's [March] statement, a settlement was reached. Johnson was unsuspended, and in a particularly unusual move, acting U.S. Attorney [Lawrence] Brown issued a press release hailing the arrival of stimulus funds. “The lifting of the suspension against all parties, including Mayor Johnson, removes any cloud whether the City of Sacramento will be prevented form receiving much-needed federal stimulus funds,” Brown wrote.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee want to know why a U.S. attorney was touting his own actions in bringing stimulus money to the city. That's not the normal role of prosecutors. "We need to hear whether the settlement in this case was tainted in any way by political influence or political factors," says the senior Republican aide.
So far, Brown has refused to answer any questions. In June, Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a list of 20 questions to Brown and received no response. A follow-up in July was similarly ignored. "Your unwillingness to be cooperative with our investigation raises further questions about your role in this matter," Issa wrote Brown.
Ah, so here we are back to Issa again, you see? Issa says Brown is not cooperating on the AmeriCorps probe. Issa also says that the committee chairman, Towns, is not cooperating on the Countrywide probe.

So there's a whole lot of non-cooperation going on -- not all of it involving Issa or these two particular investigations -- and the question that intrigues me is whether all this non-cooperation is merely a coincidence. We must resist the urge to slide into connect-the-dots DKos "question-the-timing" mode. But if there's no evidence that there is a cover-up or a conspiracy at work here, it's sure as heck starting to look like a pattern.

Lots of questions, as York says, and you should definitely read his entire column. As Dan Riehl said today, York is "is doing some terrific work for The Examiner. Best hire they've made since I've been looking in." And I agree completely. The healthy competition on this story -- Jake Tapper of ABC and Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post have also done excellent reporting on IG-Gate -- is something that folks on the Hill very much want to encourage. The more media, the merrier, as far as they're concerned.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't give full credit to Michelle Malkin, whose June 17 column on the Walpin case got me paying attention to the IG-Gate "dominoes." And she is, after all, the author of the Best. Book. Evah!

When you're working a competitive story like this and another guy eats your lunch, you can't pretend you just accidentally misplaced your brown bag. So I hope you enjoyed that sandwich, Byron.

However, I don't aim to be missing too many meals in the future. I've recently finished a 3,000-word article about IG-Gate for the September print edition of The American Spectator (subscribe now), and I just outlined to Mrs. Other McCain my plan for The Mother Of All Shoe-Leather Trips to D.C., so I can work the Hill for several days in a row.

Readers, please hit the tip jar, and be sure to see all the updated links at Bob Belvedere's IG-GATE BLOG.

Amen to that!

"The American people have already decided that they generally like Obama the person, and barring a smoking gun, that isn't going to change in the near future, and certainly not by peddling stories based on pure speculation. Focusing on Obama the person rather than on his policies doesn't help stop the march toward socialism, if anything, it accelerates it."
-- Philip Klein, The American Spectator

IG-Gate: York Scores a Scoop

Following up on my scoop about Matsui, the Examiner's man pushes the story forward:
Now, investigators are trying a new route, examining the role of the Justice Department. Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked the committee chairman, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, for a hearing on the AmeriCorps/Walpin affair, focusing specifically on the role of Brown and his bosses at Justice.
According to a senior Republican aide, Sessions’ interest was piqued by a statement made in a late March television interview by Rep. Doris Matsui, the Democratic congresswoman who represents Sacramento. Asked whether Johnson’s problems could prevent the city from receiving stimulus funds, Matsui said that, at Johnson’s request, she had “been in conversation with officials at the White House and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and others to ensure that we don’t lose any money at all." . . .
Read the whole thing. "According to a senior Republican aide," eh? Got to make a call to D.C.

Everybody's in Atlanta, why not me?

First it was Little Miss Attila, and now Moe Lane announces his departure to my hometown for this weekend's big Red State Gathering, where the attendees will celebrate the absence of the conspicuously uninvited Native Son.

Last weekend, after I described my trip to Richmond for Liberty 101 -- the Virginia Tea Party Patriots are wonderful people -- I got a worried e-mail from Ben Marchi, Virginia state director of Americans For Prosperity, as a result of these paragraphs:
Of course, my feelings were still sore that AFP's Erik Telford insulted me by leaving me out of next month's RightOnline National Conference in Pittsburgh with Michelle Malkin. When I mentioned Erik's name, Ben reminded me that Telford recently made No. 2 on Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" list. As usual, Olbermann gets the facts wrong -- Telford's No. 1.
That surge of registrations for RightOnline the past two days was caused by my friends signing up for a seminar Telford left off the Pittsburgh conference agenda: "I've Got T-Shirts Older Than You, Punk: Stacy McCain Explains Why He Just Beat the Crap Out of Erik Telford in the Sheraton Lobby." But I digress . . .
So I sent an e-mail back to Ben and explained that I wasn't really angry at Telford. He's a nice kid and I was only joking about the beating.

Well, probably joking. It's been years since I've risked an assault charge by giving some ungrateful punk the thrashing he so richly deserved, but just because I've become a top Hayekian public intellectual -- the pinnacle of journalistic respectability -- doesn't mean my enemies should feel they can grossly insult me without fearing the violent consequences.

These kids, they don't know from Gonzo. Back in the day, when Hunter S. Thompson was living the precarious and poverty-stricken freelancer's life, it became his habit to respond to rejection notices and unfruitful job applications with outrageous letters full of hyperbolic denunciations and threats.

People who actually knew Thompson understood that these letters were, for the most part, just writing exercises. A writer improves his craft by constant practice, and if you have just been denied the opportunity to get paid for your craft, why not exercise the rejected skill at the expense of the philistine wretch who failed to recognize your genius?

Long after he became famously successful -- genius must ultimately have its reward -- Thompson never forgot the experience of poverty and obscurity. For example, one reason he took such great delight in becoming a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner in the 1980s was that, 25 years earlier, his application for a reporting job at the rival Chronicle had been rejected. And then there was this 1972 love-note to a good buddy of his:
"Dear John . . .
"You skunk-sucking bastard . . ."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, letter to John Chancellor of NBC News, Sept. 11, 1972, reprinted in Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72
Thompson's unpredictable sense of humor made him a constant source of carnival amusement for his friends. So as Moe and Attila relax and enjoy their cocktails Saturday evening at the Red State Gathering, they should not dismiss the possibility that their conviviality will be disturbed by a sudden Gonzo episode:

"Sweetheart, give me a cold Corona, with lime," I told the redhead behind the bar, loud enough to be heard by Miss Attila, sitting at a table in the corner with Moe Lane. As usual, Attila was zonked on gin and entirely oblivious. But Moe glanced over and froze with the shock of recognition. I nodded at him and smiled, tossed a $10 on the bar -- the redhead was cute and the service was prompt -- grabbed my Corona and strolled casually to their table.
Strolling casually was difficult, considering I was jacked up on no fewer than six cups of truck-stop coffee I'd consumed on my 700-mile drive from Hagerstown. I'd made it in just a shade over 14 hours, although I could have done it in less than 11, if I hadn't been forced to exit I-81 south of Bristol to elude the Tennessee state trooper who blue-lighted me when I flew past him at 110 mph.
With my thorough knowledge of the region's back roads and a half-mile head-start -- the trooper must have been a rookie and was just a tad slow on the jump -- I knew he'd never overtake me. But like the moonshiners used to say, you can't outrun the Motorola, so I'd been forced to park the rented Mustang for half an hour behind a Pentacostal church near Walnut Hill while half the law-enforcement personnel in Sullivan County raced back and forth on the Blountville Highway trying to find me. I sat there on the front steps of the church, reading that morning's New York Times, smoking Camel Lights and enjoying the show until I was sure they'd called off the pursuit.
Given that the trooper had never gotten close enough to see my tags, I was reasonably safe from further harassment, but now there was a BOLO for the Mustang, so I had to wind my way through backroads until I picked up I-26, then cut back over to I-81 and kept it cool all the way through Knoxville before opening it up again once I made it on I-75.
So it was nearly 8 p.m. when I handed the keys to the valet in front of the Grand Hyatt, grabbed my satchel and tried to be inconspicuous as I pushed through the side door and crossed the lobby to the men's room.
Quickly washing, shaving and brushing my teeth, I changed clothes and looked as sharp as a CEO when I re-entered the lobby and approached the concierge, handing him the satchel containing my toiletry kit, washcloth and dirty laundry.
"No problem, sir," he said, handing me a ticket in exchange for a $5 tip.
"You're a gentleman and a scholar, Reginald," I replied, with the manic sincerity of a man who'd had nine hours sleep in the past three days, including a fitful 90-minute nap in the front seat of the Mustang in a truckstop parking lot near Adairsville.
Moe Lane knew none of this, of course, and my stroll across the Hyatt bar was supremely casual.
"Stacy!" he said. "What the . . I mean, what's with the tux?"
Attila stared glassy-eyed, predictably having skipped dinner to start in on the gin at five o'clock. She seemed to be trying to form the words of a greeting, but I just smiled, took a big swig of the Corona and pulled up a chair.
"Oh, my buddy Phil Kent invited me to a state GOP fund-raiser, and I thought I'd swing by over here and see how things were going."
"Stacy!" said Attila at last, putting her hand on my wrist.
"Sweetheart, how are ya?" I said, but she was too far gone to comprehend even this simple pleasantry, much less formulate an answer.
"Stacy!" she repeated, but then was distracted when the waiter walked past our table. She grabbed him and thrust her empty glass at him, demanding more gin. I turned my attention to Moe.
"Hey, good to see ya, man. Where's Mr. Erickson?" I said, taking another long drink from the Corona and trying to be as nonchalant as possible.
"Oh, he's still finishing up at the reception. I'm sure he'll be here in 10 minutes."
Still nonchalant, I shook my head and finished the Corona with another long gulp. "Too bad. Can't stick around. I've got to run back over to Phil's party. But maybe I can drop in and say howdy to Erick on my way out. Where's the reception?"
Moe told me the name of the ballroom and I nodded as he told me which floor it was on.
"Thanks, buddy," I said, then reached inside my jacket and pulled out the souvenir Bowie knife I'd bought for $30 at that Adairsville truck stop. Now my eyes gleamed crazily as I briefly brandished the seven-inch blade. "I've got some old business to settle with Mr. Erickson tonight . . ."
With that, I stood up and, holding the knife down beside my leg as if to conceal it, walked quickly toward the side door, glancing back just once to see Moe frantically typing a text-message into his Blackberry. Perfect.
Ditching the knife in the nearest trash can -- definitely $30 of fun -- I headed up the corridor to the pay phones, dropped in some change and made a quick call. After hanging up, I went around the corner, down the hall and turned left, back into the lobby. The concierge spotted me as I strode cheerfully toward him, holding the ticket for my satchel. He took the ticket and handed me the bag with a smiling "thank you, sir."
When I walked out the door, Phil's car was waiting. I threw the satchel in the back seat, climbed in and closed the door.
"Stace, old buddy, how's it going?" Phil said. "It's been a while."
"Yeah, too long, Phil. But you know how it is -- busy, busy, busy."
He wheeled the car through the driveway, but stopped when he heard the sirens of the Atlanta P.D. cars that came screaming down Peachtree Street toward us.
"Wow? What's that?" Phil said.
"Ah, some drunk woman was getting rowdy in the bar. She started talking a lot of crazy stuff about a knife. I guess somebody finally called the cops."
"Yeah, that happens a lot around here," Phil said, turning onto Peachtree after the cop cars had roared past.
"Yeah, I said. "It happens . . ."

Merely another hypothetical scenario, you see. No way I would actually do something that crazy. Even if I had time to drive to Atlanta this weekend, the gas alone would chew up the commission check that just came in the mail this morning, and my wife wants to make the overdue car payment with that. On the other hand, if a couple dozen readers were to hit the tip jar today . . .

Well, I probably still wouldn't drive to Atlanta just for the fun of startling Moe and Attila by my unexpected arrival, but isn't it important for them to think I could?

(Erick: No need to pay me for promoting the Red State Gathering. It's entirely my pleasure, you skunk-sucking bastard.)

UPDATE: Thanks to Steve Givler for playing the Grammar Nazi in the comments. "Strode" is just one of those irregular past-tenses that sounds so weird that it doesn't occur to the ear naturally, and I tend to write by ear, having paid only enough attention in freshman comp class to slide through with a B. Nothing against English majors or Advanced Grammar classes, you understand. Some of my best friends were English majors. NTTAWWT.

'Get your clunkers for nothing,
and your cash for free . . .'

In one of those fiendishly stupid examples of liberal logic that will be cited in Econ 201 texts for decades to come -- typing is difficult when I'm laughing so hard -- "Cash for Clunkers" is broke:
The program . . . was supposed to expire at the end of October. But in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it . . .
Lots more at, including a post from the Cato Institute's Chris Moody, reminding us that Cato senior fellow Alan Reynolds figured out six weeks ago how to game the system: Trade clunker for crappy new econobox, collect fed bonus, sell econobox, add that to your bonus -- congratulations, you've got the purchase price for a classic V-8 '67 Impala or a second-hand SUV!

I'm reminded of something P.J. O'Rourke once said, in regard to "affordable housing": Every time the government promises to give you something for nothing, imagine the result if you tried this yourself. You'd quickly find yourself with a severe shortage of something and a whole lot of nothing.

Given that the fundamental flaw in this legislation was so obvious that any clever sixth-grader could spot it, what sort of geniuses dreamed it up?
Sponsors of the [Senate] bill [are] Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) . . . In the House, the same bill was introduced [Jan. 14] by Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Dennis Moore (D-Kansas) . . .
Writing in the Detroit Free Press [Jan. 6], Brookings Institution economist Jason Bordoff laid out both the economic and environmental advantages of such a program . . .
Ah, yes, the "advantages of such a program"! Clever libertarians now hot-rodding around in their '65 Mustangs and '71 Camaros are no doubt very grateful to Bordoff, Congress and the taxpayers who paid the tab.

(Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE: Jimmie Bise wonders if ObamaCare will work better than "Cash for Clunkers."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hanson's gloom can be answered by going back to square one

by Smitty

Victor Davis Hanson remains one of my all-time favorites:
Unless we return to a meritocracy, emphasize science, math, liberal arts, and engineering—rather than the plague of 'studies' courses (as in environmental-, leisure-, gender-, Latino-, black-, Asia-, Chicano-, community-, feminist-studies, etc.)—we simply will not match the Chinese and Indians in this century.

The American people are waiting for a leader bold enough to balance budgets, restore meritocracy, end the therapeutic mushy sentimentality in our educational system, and insist on the rule of law, free markets, and limit government.

Otherwise we know the ultimate end of the present road: a vast bureaucracy of non-taxpaying incompetents, damning the estranged few for not producing ever more to be taxed, convinced that they are geniuses—and only due to some sort of unfairness have been surpassed by others.

The Chinese are rough, competent people and have no such delusions. In about 10 years their enormous financial power will begin to translate into military sophistication, and I don’t think their foreign policy will either have much to do with human rights or care much about what we have to say about them.
I disagree slightly with VDH. If you bring in just one leader who can pack a stadium, say, a Sarah Palin, that's one thing. As you read the Old Testament, the Israelites got their Hezekiah now and then. But the on-again off-again good leadership marked a decaying trend.

If I had a strictly hypothetical beer, it would be with the first POTUS. The genius of Washington was the sincerity of his "It's not about me". Consider the inaugural POTUS inauguration speech (emphasis mine, his humble excellence all his own):
On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
So, if GW was 6'2", how great would our current POTUS seem, juxtaposed?

Back to VDH. It's come to this, 226 years after GW's speech:
While exploring the Basilica di San Vitale today, I was reminded of the news from America. An entire nation is obsessed with the silly Henry Louis Gates affair. A supposedly premier intellectual, who is a professor of African-American grievance, gets into a spat with a cop, purportedly evokes his "mama" in slurs, warns the cop whom he is "messin'" with, and then gets affirmation from the President—and we are supposed to think this is some sort of cosmic “teachable moment” in between trying to borrow another trillion dollars to socialize medicine in the manner of the Department of Motor Vehicles?

Just as there is no logic in ruining the American medical system, so too there is no longer an elite class when its best and brightest scream slurs like "mama" and "messin'", or condemn an entire police force as acting "stupidly" when it is trying to keep the rule of law.

Yes, parts of the United States are becoming like the collapsing world outside the sanctum of San Vitale.
VDH ends on down note, but all is not yet lost.

As NiceDeb links, the Tea Party Express has a nice, slow burn, leading up to 12Sep09. If the Wicked Witch of the West returns on Monday, 07Sep09 to start the voting engines, that puts the Tea Party Express in the economically bustling vicinity of the Rust Belt, and chugging towards New England, before the Southward swing for DC.

It sure seems to me that the attempt of the Progressives to deconstruct George Washington's good work is heading towards some sort of climax. Surely we all need to offer our "fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe" that these things play out peacefully.

Returning to Hanson's waiting for a leader observation, another crucial point is the need to de-emphasize all the personality politics. Fred Thompson had the closest to Washington's lack of megalomania towards the task. If we do not seek to minimize the moral hazard of the job, seek to de-fang Washington, DC, seek to restore some semblance of Federalism to the single, United State, then whatever happens after 12Sep09 really doesn't matter much. The Federal budget dragon will continue increasingly to consume all. The management-by-crisis style of the Obama Administration will become the status quo. Rule of Law will be exchanged for patronage. The separation between Congress and the Executive will shrink. The increasingly rigged elections will be lauded for their high turnout, and new freedoms will be legislated regularly to paper over the diminished liberty with Orwellian gusto.

Oh, now I'm going down the VDH gloom trail. Antidote:

And then there is always my favorite VDH quote, from an education forum clip somewhere on PJTV:
History tells all of us that nobody gets a pass. Your [country's] perpetual existence is not guaranteed. If you do not believe in yourself, and believe that you're better than the alternative, and have the educational skills to come to that empirical judgment, then there is no reason for you to continue, and often you won't.

Strictly a hypothetical beer

Matt Margolis offers a thought experiment, which I found at Jimmie's Sundries Shack:
If you could have a beer with any politician, living or dead, who would it be?
Easy: Hubert H. Humphrey. So I could punch him in the teeth and say, "That's on behalf of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, you shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack!"

Then I'd smash my Corona bottle on the bar, grab that filthy scumbag by his collar and hold the jagged bottle edge to his fat little throat:
"Oh, it's not just for that shabby little deal with Daley in '68, you vicious pimp. Don't think the American people will ever forgive you for being the first major-party presidential candidate to advocate socialized medicine. I could slice you open like a carp, you miserable twerp, but I'm not gonna do it, and you're probably wondering why. It's this way, Hube: You're not even worth the hassle of pleading insanity, so I could spend every evening for the rest of my life porking second-shift nurses at St. Elizabeths. Now, get out of here and don't come back, punk. If you ever cross my path again, it will be your last day on earth, and the best thing that ever happened to the nursing staff at St. Elizabeths."
Of course, it's only a hypothetical . . . Like a cowardly swine, Hube was shrewd enough to die before I ever got my shot at him.

Update: by Smitty
Great POWIP post with dialogue outtakes from the Suds Summit.

Obi's Sister: Bad to the Bone

by Smitty

Obi's Sister has a roundup: "So How Bad is Bad?"
This is an obvious Thoroughgood call.

On the topic of Delaware, the real reason Vice President Biden was allowed within 50 feet of the Suds Summit was to balance the picture: two black guys and two whites.
When will the country be post-racial? When Affirmative Action moves to History.

Bareback Bailout: Stimulus Interruptus

Michelle Malkin:
Stimulus money for the National Endowment for the Arts is supposed to be "restricted specifically to job preservation."
But a look at the list of NEA stimulus projects reveals that the money is being used instead for sexual titillation.
And not merely the Democrats' usual sadistic delight in screwing taxpayers, Really, who could object to International BikiniFest, when peepshow politicians pay the NEA for this stuff?
Some members of Congress raised alarms as the stimulus bill was being drafted and approved, but President Obama, while admitting there were problems with the $787 billion legislation, stressed the need for immediate action to resuscitate the economy.
"We can't afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary," Obama said at the time.
But he presumably didn't intend to have stimulus money help fund the weekly production of "Perverts Put Out" at San Francisco's CounterPULSE, whose "long-running pansexual performance series" invites guests to "join your fellow pervs for some explicit, twisted fun."
CounterPULSE received a $25,000 grant in the "Dance" category; a staffer there said they were pleased to receive the grant, "which over the next year will be used to preserve jobs at our small non-profit."
Similarly, the director of Frameline, the gay and lesbian film house, told in an e-mail that their $50,000 grant was not to support any program in particular.
"The grant is not intended for a specific program; it's to be used for the preservation of jobs at our media arts nonprofit organization over the next year during the economic downturn," wrote K.C. Price, who listed four other NEA grants his organization has received.
Good news: If ObamaCare passes, there will be free counseling for Republican taxpayers raped by Congress.

Democrats? You were askin' for it . . .

'Of course, you know, this means war'

So says the Sage of Poca, Don Surber, in a comment on a post where I made casual reference to the notorious ugliness of West Virginia women.

Since I was in a hurry last night to comment on the insane assertion that Maxine Waters could be one of the "most beautiful" people in Washington (or anywhere else), I saw no need to add attributions, footnotes, bibliography or other documentation to support my journalistic account of what is, after all, an objective fact.

Ask any resident of Kentucky or Maryland about the "butterface" women of the Mountaineer State. Sports reporters dread the day they are assigned to cover a game at WVU, where the cheerleaders are known as "The Two-Bagger Squad."

Even among Pennsylvanians -- who have foisted upon an unwilling world a disproportionate number of those heinous women known locally as "Pittsburgh Bridge Trolls" -- there is this common saying: "Just because she's ugly, doesn't necessarily mean she's from West Virginia."

Should Don Surber wish to provide photographic evidence of a West Virginia woman who is not a poster girl for birth control, he is welcome to do so. Otherwise, I can only refer him to the Ohioans, who universally agree that West Virginia women make even the coyote-ugly girls of Toledo look "sexy" by comparison.

No need, of course, to mention the proverbial advice commonly given to desperate and unattractive men in Charlottesville, Staunton and other parts of the Old Dominion: "Either go gay or go to W-V-A." (Which most folks in Richmond consider to be less strictly a comment on the looks of West Virginia women than an allusion to their infamous promiscuity.)

The point is that this is not my opinion, but an objective fact, verifiable by testimony of millions of witnesses. My personal opinion is moot, and not merely because I am a professional journalist.
Like Dr. James Joyner, my judgment of beauty is permanently biased by having attended college in Alabama, where at least two-thirds of Waffle House waitresses are more attractive than whatever tragedy of aesthetics is annually dubbed "Miss West Virginia."

UPDATE: Jimmie Bise is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, a popular vacation destination for women from West Virginia. Jimmie says this is why folks in Ocean City refer to August as the "Dog Days of Summer."

International Rule 5 BikiniFest--Finale

by Smitty

We're going to go ahead and declare the Cosmic Winner for the International Rule 5 BikiniFest: Jeffords, who correctly identified Phoebe Cates (scroll down--I'm no' so daft as to think 'Cates' is spelled 'Page'). The last clue was going to be that she'd been featured on this blog at some point, but Jeffords cut to the chase.

The chief goal of the thing, kicking back just a little bit in the face of an ugly, stressful year, was substantially met.
Minor goals of getting to know some folks better and tidying over some recent challenges were only partially met. Welcome to life.
After this, links will be saved for the usual Rule 5 Sunday tomfoolery. To the task:

  • Fishersville Mike recommends (G) Jennifer Nettles.

  • Health Care Reform is a byotch, which Reboot Congress mistook for a beach. He was so kind as to include (G) Dana Loesch and (G) Michelle, which gets him over the high bar we set (careful, you'll catch your foot on it and trip).

  • Cosmic Winner Jeffords reaches into the cornucopia an emerges with (PG) Anna Kournikova. Come on: I can't be the only one with that word in mind when I see her name.

  • The WyBlog goes for (PG-13) Heidi Klum

Today's winner is Fishersville Mike. After 4 days of sunny beach blogging, we finally got a lady on a surfboard. Woo hoo!

Update: has exactly that.

Update II:
Previous winner Teach at the Pirate's Cove hoists a (G) patriotic post, concurrent with the presidential beer. Thanks, mate!

Update III:
Couple of the usual suspects rolling in.
Bob Belvedere adds (G) Linda Harrison to the mix. Played Wonder Woman in a failed TV pilot, according to Wikipedia.
On a related (unrelated to Smitty) note, Rightofcourse puts in a (PG) Anna Nicole Smith.


by Smitty

This is not a post, directly, about events that may or may not have occurred in Hawaii some decades past. Keep in mind that you have the POTUS sworn in by the Chief Justice, and a unanimous resolution in the House supporting him. That makes three branches of the federal government telling you that's just the way it is.

The left-handed amusement I'm feeling is that, for all a sizable chunk of people are exercised about this point, no one is raising the same level of concern about the Social Security Act that they are about health care and the birther stuff.

While it's 74 years long in the tooth next month, its blatant 10th Amendment violation stands as the hugest, longest lasting political WTF in contemporary US history. This is the best example I can think of conforming to the ancient observation:
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.--Matt 23:24
(For you non Bible-geeks: they would pour wine through a mesh into the cup, just in case it carried any divers.)

Intsy on Reason.TV

by Smitty

Quick highlights:

Admits to three major blogging themes:
  • what's in the news at the moment
  • personal hobby horses, nano-tech, cameras
  • new and different blogs
(No mention of bacon, so it's obvious that he's holding something back...)
Politics today are those of 1968? Born a year later, it's no wonder I shake my head at the current nonsense.
If government-controlled health care succeeds, medical innovation could flatline.
PJTV is Glenn living a geek fantasy. HDTV studio in his basement.
Accusation of mad crush on Sarah Palin: phenomenon more interesting than the lady herself.
Will she do better later? He knows not.
GOP is clearly less bad for libertarians. The percentage of social conservatives who are interested in legislating their beliefs is not large

Side note: Glenn, talk to Reason.TV's sound engineer. Your sound is about twice as good here as on Instavision.

Bulls, Bears and Erin Burnett

Trying to focus on the objective facts:
Sitting here watching CNBC's Erin Burnett raving about today's Wall Street surge -- DJIA up by more than 150 points as of 3 p.m. -- my natural pessimism looks for the cloud behind the silver lining. . . .
Well, good news for those who bought low (in March) and are now in a position to sell high. But does this mean that the market "bottom" is behind us and recovery awaits around the proverbial corner? I'm not persuaded. Today's rally is chiefly being attributed to good news from China, an independent variable. If I were playing the market, I'd be watching bonds very closely. The bond market is the canary in this fiscal coal mine. . . .
Read the whole objective thing.

Anti-ACORN blogger dies

Just in, from investigative reporter Matthew Vadum:
Nancy Armstrong, an ardent researcher of all things ACORN, has died. No cause of death has been reported.
Armstrong ran the MsPlacedDemocrat blog. She lived near Wichita, Kansas, and was only in her mid to late 40s. Her family posted a notice about her passing on her blog.
Our sympathies to Ms. Armstrong's family and friends.

Vadum tells me via phone that Ms. Armstrong, like our friend Cynthia Yockey, was a Democrat for Hillary until the Apotheosis of Hope finally enlightened her to the true nature of the Evil Coalition Of Liars and Fools. This should remind all our brothers and sisters that even a belated repentance can do good for the cause of Right and Truth.

If Maxine Waters is on the list . . .

. . . then how come it's called "50 Most Beautiful" ? Today, hundreds of staffers on the Hill will be looking at this list and screaming, "RECOUNT!"

UPDATE: Don Surber is shocked. And because he's from West Virginia, Don has extremely low standards.

Q. What do you call a beautiful woman in West Virginia?
A. A tourist.

Headline of the Day

Does this health plan
make me look fat?

Human beings are not numbers

Ten years ago, I interviewed Wendy Shalit, who had just then published A Return to Modesty. Now a married mom who blogs at Modestly Yours, Ms. Shalit was then a recent graduate of Williams University, where her protest against co-ed dorm bathrooms had led to an article in Commentary, and then to her book.

My interview with Ms. Shalit occurred in the lobby of a Washington hotel where, when the interview was concluded, she was to meet her parents for dinner. So it happened that I was introduced to her father, who is an economist.

Although I was not then recognized as a "top Hayekian public intellectual," my devotion to the Austrian School of economics was already passionate, which fact I mentioned to Ms. Shalit's father. This remark prompted Ms. Shalit to declare that she was herself an Austrian because -- as opposed to other approaches to economics -- it required less math.

This was evidently something of a running joke between Ms. Shalit and her father, a devotee of Milton Friedman (i.e., "Chicago School" economics), and her father responded by chiding Wendy about the importance of mathematics to proper understanding of the discipline.

Ms. Shalit's remark about mathematics and Austrian economics recurred to my mind this morning, when I encountered an article by the Acton Institute's Samuel Gregg:
[T]here appears to be little inclination on the part of some contemporary economists to ask some searching questions about their heavy reliance on mathematical logic and argumentation. This may well be because doing so would raise some rather profound questions about the very nature of post-Keynesian economic science.
One who posed precisely these questions was the German economist Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966). Röpke is well-known as an intellectual architect of post-war West Germany’s path from collectivist economic oblivion to market-driven economic miracle in the ten years following its economic liberalization in 1948.
Less attention, however, has been given to Röpke’s fierce critiques of the post-war Keynesian consensus. . . .
In Röpke’s view, [John Maynard] Keynes was "a representative of the geometric spirit of the 20th century" and "an exponent of positivistic scientism," for whom "economics was part of a mathematical-mechanical universe." . . .
According to Röpke, the neo-Keynesian new economics was inclined to reduce economics to mathematical and statistical formulas and analyses. Röpke may have been thinking of Paul Samuelson’s 1947 effort to reconfigure economics on the basis of mathematical language. For Röpke, such efforts conflated the object of economics with one tool of economic analysis. Opening a post-Keynes economic textbook, Röpke suggested, made readers wonder if they had stumbled upon a chemistry curriculum. . . .
Read the rest at the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse site. (Hat-tip: The New Ledger.)

As I noted earlier this month at The American Spectator, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has ignored Friedman's Chicago School monetarist teachings, but it is the Austrian critique -- and Ropke was a disciple of Ludwig von Mises -- that most clearly exposes the misconceptions which now warp public opinion about economics.

Let's start with Wendy Shalit's jest about mathematics. Too many people think that understanding economics requires a genius IQ and mastery of elaborate algebraic formulae. This is false.

Mathematics is certainly necessary to the specialized business of trying to predict the results of various economic inputs: What will be the impact on the price of X if variable Y increases by factor Z? This is the what the economist is trained and paid to do. But the fundamental concepts of economics, the general principles of market operations, are really very simple.

Furthermore, what most people think of when they say "economics" is what is properly called political economy -- that is to say, the study of what impact government policy has on economic life. The specialized training of the economist is useful to this endeavor, in order to measure and analyze the connection between policy and result. Yet no math at all is necessary to study the history of economics and draw conclusions about the wisdom or folly of various policies.

Therefore, I am qualified as a "top Hayekian intellectual" even though (a) I did not major in economics and (b) I suck at math.

This is especially true when it comes down to the most important question now facing us: Should our nation pursue an economic policy that seeks to expand liberty or should we side with Obama, Pelosi, Krugman, et al., in pursuing greater government control of economic matters?

Are we too free? That's really the question, and algebra cannot answer it. A neo-Keynesian like Paul Krugman claims to know how much deficit-funded "stimulus" the American economy needs (in a word, more) and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner claims to know exactly how that "stimulus" should be spent (in two words, Goldman Sachs), and anyone who disputes the claims of Krugman and Geithner is met with a highly nuanced argument: "Shut up."

What the neo-Keynesians wish to do is to centralize and increase economic control, on the basis of their implicit argument that the ordinary American is unfit to exercise economic liberty.

Yet it is a fairly simple matter to demonestrate that this elitist, control-oriented approach to economics -- Expertocracy, as it were -- is the source of the very problems that the experts now propose to solve by further expansion of their own power.

The fundamental question is not whether the experts who run the economy should pursue policy X or Y or Z. Rather, the question is whether experts should be running the economy at all. To be an Austrian is to say that the government experts already exercise too much economic power, and that this power should be reduced, not expanded.

The individual's desire for economic liberty is a moral choice. But the minions of the Expertocracy, who wish to deprive us of our liberty, are also making a moral choice, and they ought to be required to admit it.

Why is our desire for liberty morally inferior to the expert's desire to control us? To summarize the experts' answer: Because they're better than us.

If you believe that, if you think that Timothy Geithner is so much your superior that he is better qualified to run your life than you are, then I will politely agree.

Yes, indeed! If you do not love freedom, if you would rather have some bureaucrat in Washington making every important economic decision in your life, then you are certainly a very inferior human being. The lover of liberty is infinitely your superior.

Yesterday, my 16-year-old son walked in to show me the chainsaw he'd just bought second-hand for $175. Why the chainsaw, I asked? He and his buddy Nick had contracted with a lady to do some yard work (trees felled by a storm), my son explained. The job would take them about two days, and would pay them $500 each.

If my 16-year-old son can find such lucrative employment in this economy, let Paul Krugman find the formula which disproves my contention that the amount of "stimulus" we need is exactly zero.

"Experts,"my Hayekian ass.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Will Dems Euthanize ObamaCare?

"The term 'fiscally conservative Democrat' is an oxymoron," says Monique Stuart, who has a point. The Blue Dogs are the Oxymoron Caucus, but they are important enough to Nancy Pelosi that they were able to delay the ObamaCare onslaught:
A group of fiscally conservative House Democrats announced Wednesday they had reached a deal with the chamber’s Democratic leaders on a bill that would revamp the nation's health care system.
Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, speaking for four of the Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Wednesday that the agreement called for the panel to begin debating the bill later in the day, but for the full House not to vote until after the August recess.
Ross and the Blue Dogs had threatened to derail the bill in the committee because of concerns that it costs too much and fails to address systemic problems in the nation's ailing health care industry. It was not immediately clear Wednesday if other Blue Dogs beyond the four represented by Ross would agree to the deal he announced.
More at The Hill, Roll Call and Politico, which scores it a victory Democrats for committee chairman Henry Waxman. True, the compromise allows the bill to move forward, but it is in some sense a small victory for opponents of socialized medicine.

It would have been a big victory if the Blue Dogs had told Waxman to shove the bill up his oversized nostrils. However, delay is delay, and slowing down this monstrosity buys more time to organize opposition, as the American Spectator's Philip Klein notes:
But by delaying the full House vote until September, it means that there will still be time for Blue Dogs to change their mind on the final bill if they take a lot of heat from their constituents during August recess.
In trying to rush this mess through Congress in July, the Democrats were making a very cynical move. Almost nobody pays attention to politics during the summer, so if Obama could ram a bill through before the August recess, it would be a fait accompli before most Americans had a clue what it was all about.

Today in Washington, I talked to a conservative communications strategist who pointed out the Democratic strategy: Forcing opponents to fight health care and card-check and Waxman-Markey all at the same time. It's a tough fight, and the Aug. 22 Recess Rally is a chance for everyone to help.

International Rule 5 Bikini Festival--Round 3

by Smitty

You know how it is when you're throwing a party, and there is a friend in attendance making a smell? You know who you are. Quit being bad fish, knaves:

Bob Belvedere, the Campy one of Saintville, contributes (PG-13) Shirley Eaton of Goldfinger fame. A classy lady (from Wikipedia):
  • "The most important thing for me was being a woman and having a family more than being a very famous glamorous actress."
    The same holds true for men, though my career as an actress consisted of getting booed offstage.

  • Rightofcourse recommends a (PG-13) Melissa Marie Gonzales.

  • Over at the Troglopundit's, misterpterodactyl seems to have been briefed about my taste for ancient Popeye cartoons. This one features (G) Olive Oil thinking aloud about her Presidential platform. A proto-Palin?

  • Three Beers Later has a (PG-13?) YouTube clip of a WWF extreme bikini contest. I only watched the first minute of so. I got a post to write.

  • For today, Jeffords contributes (PG) Elisabetta Canalis.

  • The WyBlog recommends the talented and wonderful (G) Sarah McLachlan.

  • Dave C at Point of a Gun introduces the intense (G) Vanessa Mae, who threatens to inject some culture into this sorry blog-load of knuckle-draggers.

  • Fulminate of Andrew offers a (PG) selection of models from Korea, China, and Malaysia.

  • Teach at the (PG-13) Pirate's Cove stays with the patriotic theme. That female member of Congress was kind of an edgy call, though. Consider yourself warned, mister. ;)

  • The Physics Geek, in a different orbit than the Far East crowd, offers a (PG-13) Scottish/Spanish/Australian roundup.
Today's winner is Point of a Gun. That is the most talented, lovely young lady since Elizabeth Roe.

The Cosmic Winner (whom no one has guessed yet, obviously) Hint Summary:
  1. She made a movie this decade.
  2. She was born during the Kennedy administration.
  3. Her name is that of a heavenly body. Of the solar system variety.
While I was tempted to fade out with Libertango by Anderson and Roe, we are nothing if not slaves to tradition, so get your Ventures on, and keep the links coming to Smitty:

Nine Days in July: Nuclear Diplomacy
in the Conservative Blogosphere

While I was trying to get ready to make a reporting trip to D.C. today, I made the mistake of checking my e-mail, thereby discovering to my horror that Donald Douglas has somehow pushed things to a full-blown DefCon2 alert.

The details are irrelevant, to those unaware and uninvolved. With all the humor I could muster, I've tried to broker peace. Now, however, the pilots have been scrambled, the jets are fueled and fully armed, and if a stand-down order is not issued soon, I cannot be responsible for the thermonuclear consequences. What I wrote in the comments at Cassandra's is, I hope, all that remains to be said:
This entire "Erin Andrews nude" episode is like one of those wacky hypotheticals that a college sophomore proposes in a dorm-room debate, after about the third or fourth bong hit: A bizarre or possibly even nightmarish scenario that is amusing to contemplate simply because it's never going to happen.
Except this time, it actually did.
As I've said offline, this is one of those things that bloggers discuss over beers for years to come. If blogger-over-beer were the Oxford Union, the debate proposition would sometimes have to be: "Resolved: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?"
It appears Erin Andrews was Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Professor Douglas was Gavrilo Princip. There may yet be peace, but we stand on the brink of Armaggedon.