Saturday, January 31, 2009

'Jesus with an AK-47'

"The movie itself isn't nearly as interesting as the trailer makes it out to be: Guevara comes across as Jesus with an AK-47, healing the sick, teaching the illiterate to read, and mowing down enemies of the people."


"Nothing catches an editor's eye like a good rape."
-- Hunter S. Thompson

Remember that New York Times piece last week about how "experts" said the rise in teen pregnancy didn't really represent any increase in teen promiscuity? Now, a noted authority on the subject is raising doubts:
Well, that settles it, eh? Despite the blip in teen pregnancy, teenagers actually aren’t screwing around so much. Another "myth" busted by the New York Times!
The skeptical reader raises an eyebrow. Less teen sex, more teen mothers? Skepticism is arguably justified. Social science cannot provide a perfect measurement of how much sex teenagers are actually having. The fundamental problem is the reliability of self-reported survey data about sex. "Sex being an extremely private matter, it is nearly impossible to verify self-reported data about sexual behavior, and some self-reports are certainly false," as one noted authority recently wrote.
In contrast to the necessary ambiguity of self-reported survey results, birth statistics are solid data, and that data confirms that some teenagers are, we might say, living la vida loca.
Perhaps you haven't yet guessed the identity of that "noted authority," so you'll have to read my latest Taki's Magazine column to find out.


Little Miss Attila is worried

"It’s always so disorienting when Stacy and I agree on something: I tend to wonder if I’ve really become the wingnut my friends think I am."

Elitism, in one sentence

"If Culture11 folded because it told conservatives things they didn't want to hear, the real fault lies with those who couldn't handle the discomfort."
-- Jonathan Schwenkler

This he writes in defense of Culture11's repeated attacks on Sarah Palin. If you want to build a political movement based on "the public is always wrong," good luck with that. The GOP nominated a presidential candidate who got only 47% of the primary vote, and yet this fanatical obsession with blaming the "Wasilla hillbillies" -- a rejection of the grassroots Republican voters who adored Sarah Palin -- still consumes the elite mind.

That Palin fared poorly in the Couric interview, that her media rollout was generally botched, that she was perhaps unready as of Aug. 29 to be first in line behind a 73-year-old commander-in-chief -- these are all criticisms that are worth discussing. But viciously undercutting her as an anti-intellectual dimwit in order to make her a scapegoat for the failure of others, when she is yet arguably the best hope for preventing the four years of Obama from becoming eight years of Obama? No.

If somebody genuinely wants to go to hell, they're free to go, but I'm not volunteering for carpool duty on that trip.

Schwenkler seems to argue, as do so many of Palin's critics, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Republican Party seeking the support of voters who don't have college diplomas. The anti-Palinites don't merely reject "populism," they reject the people. We have heard these voices before. From "poor, uneducated and easy to command," to "bitter [people who] cling to guns or religion," for many years we've heard these outrageous liberal slurs of ordinary Americans.

Slurs from liberals we've come to expect, but when people who style themselves "conservative" begin running down red-blooded, Red State, grassroots conservatives . . . Hey, buddy, I'm Merle Haggard and you're on the fightin' side of me. You are badmouthing my family, my friends, my neighbors -- some of the most courageous, generous people anyone could ever hope to meet -- and it is my duty and honor to defend them against the calumny.

Go ahead, look down your nose at the hicks in the sticks, tuned into Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan and Laura Ingraham. For all their faults and failings, those hicks are better people than you are -- and that's why you hate them so much.

Yet another obligatory PJM post

Allahpundit weighs in hilariously:
You'll know we're in dire straits financially when you notice that every last post is comment bait about Palin and atheism, instead of every other post the way it is now.
And Roger Simon takes a mild shot at "people [who] are kicking and screaming now that they are off the dole." Is that too harsh? I dunno. If a commercial enterprise doesn't turn a profit, it goes under. Live by the market, die by the market.

This all goes back to the long-running effort to "monetize" Web content. If everything on the Web is free, how do you create a revenue stream big enough to support a staff of content providers? Tigerhawk makes an excellent point:
I am told that web site banner advertising suffers, in a sense, from too much transparency. Media buyers know what they pay "per click through" and per dollar of directly attributable revenue, and therefore tend to value banner advertising according to these concrete metrics. Ironically, that puts internet banner advertising at a great disadvantage to print and broadcast advertising, the value of both of which are much more difficult to measure.
Indeed. You look at all those glossy ads in Vanity Fair -- clothing ads in which the models aren't wearing any clothes -- and ask yourself about the cost-benefit value, but advertisers are apparently still willing to pay for the (imagined?) prestige of advertising in such venues. Whereas the page-impressions and click-throughs on Web ads can be monitored with ruthless efficiency and no one begins to imagine deriving any "prestige" from having their product featured on a blog. You will never walk into a store and see a product with the label: "As seen on The Other McCain."

The various gloating of liberal bloggers is ignorant and mistaken, but that's why they're liberals, right? That the GOP/conservative axis has been unable to develop an online machinery as politically effective as the Progressive Netroots Community is not exactly news. My feeling is that this is chiefly a function of (a) conceptual failure, and (b) personnel-is-policy.

What do I mean by these terms?

CONCEPTUAL FAILURE -- The problem with conservative online machinery is that no one can seem to get a clear vision of an online product that would be both commercially viable and politically influential. You have a lot of people coming out of a political activism background who want to create a vehicle for that, but who can't figure out how to integrate that into a larger mass-market content package.

The recent failure of Culture11 is one example of this problem. By contrast, Andrew Breitbart's idiosyncratic "Big Hollywood" appears to have quickly found a niche. Whether that niche will be lucrative enough to fund a permanent content stream is yet to be determined, but the point is that Breitbart began by envisioning a market -- an audience, a readership -- and then set about creating a mix of stuff, everything from Steve Mason's box-office scoops to Iowahawk, to serve that market. The general political attitude at Big Hollywood is clear, but you don't have to be a card-carrying Republican to enjoy the film reviews or humor bits.

A big part of the Rightroots problem is that (a) the conservative blogosphere arose in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, (b) media criticism was a major focus of the content, and (c) the early-adopters tended to represent a certain type of attitude/personality. One cannot help notice the geeky affinity for Star Trek/BSG/Star Wars, for example.

PERSONNEL IS POLICY -- The knock that "conservative bloggers don't do reporting" is, I have argued, grossly unfair. Yet it is a fact that (a) most reporters are liberal, (b) conservative bloggers generally have an anti-news-media attitude, (c) very few conservatives online have much experience or interest in straight-news reporting, and (d) the conservative movement in general tends to esteem punditry over reporting.

It is the easiest thing in the world to find conservative writers who want to do a 750-word op-ed about policy, politics or liberal bias in the media/academia/Hollywood. It is a damned difficult thing to find a Republican who's willing to take a job doing just-the-facts-ma'am reporting and who has any genuine aptitude for it.

American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire keeps saying that the conservative movement needs more Bob Novaks and fewer Bill Buckleys. That's not a rap on Buckley; it's a sober analysis of a basic market problem in conservative media. We've got no shortage of pundits (and wannabe pundits) willing to proclaim The One True Way on TV or on the op-ed pages. What we've got is a shortage of reporters willing to do the less glamorous but vital business of reporting news on a day-to-day basis.

The shortage of conservative reporters results in a shortage of conservative editors, and so you have situations like (a) the absurdity of David Kuo being hired to run Culture11, despite a dearth of relevant experience; and (b) the remorseless turnover of staff at the Washington Examiner, where there is clearly a deficiency in the news editorship. Mark Tapscott does a great job with the editorial page, but whoever is in charge of running the news side of the Examiner obviously doesn't have a clue about staff development; Politico eats their lunch five days a week, and the Examiner just sits there, inert and helpless. As I've joked, once a reporter joins the Examiner staff, the next time you see their name is on a milk-carton (Missing: Susan Ferrechio).

The relative paucity of news experience among conservatives is something I've bumped into head-on several times since I started freelancing last spring. There was one day in May or June when I had a hot story about Bob Barr's Libertarian candidacy -- back when a lot of media were interested in Barr -- and there was a conservative online publication (which shall remain nameless) that had been asking me to write for them. So I'd suggested this story where I saw a chance to get a Drudge-worthy scoop.

I got the story, and rushed to file 450 words, but there was a time-sensitive factor involved where it wouldn't be exclusive for long. So I waited. Thirty minutes. An hour. It's still not online at 4:30 p.m., after I moved heaven and earth to get it filed by 3 p.m., and I'm looking at my watch and thinking to myself, "Fuck them. They don't have a clue." I sent them an e-mail retracting the offer, packed up my laptop and went home. I've never had another word to say to those losers.

Welcome to the Internet Age. If you don't understand the need for speed in this news environment, if you don't grasp the value of timing in attracting readership, you need to find another line of work. If I can file 450 words of exclusive reporting by 3 p.m. and you can't manage to get it online by 4:30 p.m., don't waste my time.

Personnel is policy. And a big part of the failure of conservative online communications is that, in many cases, the operations are gummed up by political people with no judgment and no vision.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl as the Michael Corleone of the blogosphere: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

NYTimes token conservative?

Ron Radosh offers advice to Bill Keller on who should get "the conservative slot on The New York Times op-ed page, now that the paper has not renewed Bill Kristol’s contract." From his list, the only one I really like is Mark Steyn, because (a) Steyn is funny, and (b) Steyn linked me last week. But mainly because he's funny.

Actually, though, I don't want the New York Times to have conservative columnists, period. I don't trust anyone who would accept a check from Pinch Sulzberger. So, if they do hire a "conservative" columnist, it should be someone who is entirely useless. I understand David Kuo is available.

Razib and the Big Stupid Bloggers

The situation with Pajamas Media breaking up their advertising network, which Jeff Goldstein and Ace of Spades write about, is bad news for the participating bloggers. But it gets completely twisted into something else by Razib K. at Culture11:
I got a few links from PM back in 2005-2006, very little traffic. It didn't seem like the aggregation was adding any value to the constituent weblogs. Additionally, a lot of their stuff is 2001-2004 vintage Right-of-Center media commentary, the sell-by date has long passed. Something like The Next Right is what circa 2010 conservative weblogs are going to look like, at least the good ones.
Actually, no. Sorry, Razib. The Next Right is about GOP operatives talking political strategy and tactics. This is a very important discussion, but the core audience is inherently limited. It's inside-baseball for specialists. It is not a mass-market product in the sense that, say, Hot Air is mass-market. Compare: The Next Right monthly traffic (317K visits in October) vs. Hot Air monthly traffic (21 million visits in October).

As to the "2001-2004 vintage Right-of-Center media commentary" remark, Razib utterly misses the point of what Allahpundit does: Aggregation with attitude -- and the reader has a chance to add his own 2 cents.

Look, I follow the news via blogs. I watch very little TV news and I seldom go to the Drudge Report. What I mainly do is go to Memeorandum and to my favorite blogs and follow the links. If a story is important or interesting, it will eventually be linked somewhere in my browsing pattern. Furthermore, lots of blog consumers nowadays get their content via feed readers (please subscribe to my RSS feed) and seldom browse. The big dogs of conservative blogging -- obviously including the biggest of them -- throw more traffic than ever.

So the news-value of blog aggregation is real, and it translates into traffic, and the task for an independent blogger is still (a) to find a niche or two where he can contribute meaningfully, and (b) link, link, link like crazy. (E.g., "I think Pamela at Atlas Shrugs also misunderstands what's going on with PJM.") So Razib's snarking at "2001-2004 vintage" blogging as something obsolete is absurd, and all the more absurd when he's doing it at Culture11.

What I have been told is that the main Pajamas Media page will continue to be open for business. What is being shut down is the blog-advertising network, apparently because it wasn't generating the kind of "synergy" (to use a 2001-2004 vintage word) that had been anticipated. This means a prospective loss of income to the affected bloggers, who will go back to being independent in terms of ad vending. Or . . . something.

Believing in capitalism means believing in change. It appears that the investors bankrolling PJM want to specialize more in online video production. It's their money and they can do what they want with it. (And if Vox Day wants to jeer, it's his blog, so he can do what he wants, too.) PJM bloggers know how to produce interesting online content, and they are obviously going to continue to find work, although they may have to restructure their own private operating models to adapt to the dissolution of the ad network.

BTW, did I mention that I've spent the past few months doing video editing with Final Cut Pro? Just sayin' . . .

UPDATE: You know who is incredibly sexy and also incredibly stupid? Jessica Alba. "Mass-market," see?

UPDATE II: You know who is incredibly smart and also has a sexy wife? Well, yeah, me, but also Glenn Reynolds, who talks about the online ad slump.

UPDATE III: Ann Althouse congratulates herself on her decision to avoid pajamas and keep blogging naked. Althouse points out the same problem I have with online talking-head video:
I just have no patience waiting for people to say something that I could read in
1/10 the time. . . . Why am I looking at these folks? Put it in writing!
Right. If you are a very rapid reader, TV news is much less enjoyable. The Anchoress points out something else:
Sound bites are destroying our ability to hear, converse or think, but we can't get enough of them. Unfortunately, yer girl ain't made for camera lenses. Aside from the fact that I am unable to "smile for the camera" without looking terrified, I’m also dead chubby and I understand the camera adds 10 or 70 lbs.
.Right. TV favors people who are "good on TV," an ability that is not universal. And there is a disturbing variation of the "halo effect": On TV, people with the ability to seem convincing have an advantage over less glib people, regardless of the merit of their ideas. We might say that TV is a medium where the ad hominem argument is deeply embedded.

UPDATE IV: Steve Graham speculates:
The blogger who told me about the end of PJM’s blog network theorizes that the GOP is making PJM its main Internet outlet. That is highly plausible, in view of the unbelievably stupid things the GOP has done over the last few years.
OK, I know for a fact that "the GOP" is not running PJM. They have investors, and are trying to give the investors what the investors want -- which is kind of hard to figure out. I know that during the Democratic convention in Denver, PJTV did a lot of street-protest coverage with Steve Green (VodkaPundit) doing the anchor gig. But then it turned out the investors didn't want that, and it was scrapped.

Apparently what the investors want is talking heads -- online panel shows. Fine, it's their money. If that's not your cup of tea, or you don't see the market demand, so what? It ain't your money.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Good-bye, Culture11

While I was busy on other things this week, Culture11 folded, news that is worth a bit of personal commentary, since I narrowly escaped involvement in that debacle.

In July, a friend sent me an e-mail wondering if I'd be willing to contribute freelance features/columns to a project called "Liberty Wire." Hey, if it pays money, I'm interested. But I was told to keep it hush-hush, as they were still in the planning stage and had a big roll-out planned, etc. In a subsequent e-mail, my friend explained:
We are a social media network that creates cultural content to develop online and offline community for the mass conservative market...offering irresistibly interesting perspectives on life in America from pop culture to politics, from faith to family. We are asking the question, how do you share and shape the culture? . . .
I was wondering if you'd be interested in contributing in the coming month? I'm trying lots of writers and hope to get regular gigs say, once a month columns perhaps. What do you think?
So I proposed a story and asked, "What's the rate?" My friend didn't know yet, but as soon as things were formalized, I'd hear back, yadda, yadda. Three days later, I saw this in the New Republic:
Have you ever been reading Slate and found yourself thinking, "This is great, but if only if were more conservative..."? Then LibertyWire is for you! The new online publication, being launched in mid-August, is billing itself as "a conservative version of Slate." David Kuo (left), a former Special Assistant to President Bush and author of tell-all Bush indictment Tempting Faith, is going to be the CEO. Bill Bennett (right),
former Secretary of Education and Drug Czar under Bush 41 and host of Morning in America, will be the editor chairman. I spoke with Kuo on the phone a few days ago, and though he would not divulge much on-the-record, he confirmed his and Bennett's involvement.
And that was that. I immediately e-mailed my friend to say that under no circumstance would I ever associate myself with any project run by David Kuo. It wasn't merely that I'd read Tempting Faith and found it emetically obnoxious. It was also that there was nothing -- nothing -- in Kuo's biography that suggested he knew anything about running an online publication (or running anything else, for that matter). The man is an albatross, whose presence in any enterprise is an inerrant harbinger of doom, and I advised my friend to get as far away from Kuo and "Liberty Wire" as possible.

Well, "Liberty Wire" eventually debuted as Culture11, and editor Joe Carter has written a retrospective on the planning process that is ironic beyond words:
[N]o sooner had we put the editorial staff together than we had a crisis of conscience about what we were becoming. We had compiled a list of potential contributors consisting of the top 100 conservative pundits. . . . How would we be different, David asked, if we had the same writers as everyone else?
That was all the permission we needed to become, as David would often say, "Rolling Stone in the '70s." We wanted to be the place that found the next Cameron Crowes and Hunter Thompsons.
Heh. Ponder the yawning chasm between David Kuo and "the next Cameron Crowes and Hunter Thompsons." It's as if one day Kenny G announced he was looking for "the next Ramones."

Personnel is policy. Imagine Hunter S. Thompson walking into the offices of Culture11, wearing his Acapulco shirt and aviator shades, reeking of gin, with a head full of mescaline and a satchel full of felonies. David Kuo would call the cops.

If Culture11 ever published any actual reporting, excuse me for missing it. Maybe they should have put a few bucks for "promotion" into their start-up budget. Speaking of ironic retrospectives, here's Conor Friedersdorf:

Enter Joe Carter, then proprieter of Evangelical Outpost, fresh from the Huckabee campaign, hired by David Kuo, and charged with putting together an editorial team.
I've never met Joe Carter, although he's worked with friends of mine, but there is something odd about that phrase "fresh from the Huckabee campaign." If you are ever introduced to an editor as being "fresh from the Huckabee campaign" run, do not walk, in the opposite direction. Ditto editors "fresh from the Giuliani campaign." (Meeting an editor "fresh from the Ron Paul campaign" -- now, that might be intriguing.)

It has been my habit to twist Conor Friedersdorf's nose from time to time, simply because he is so conspicuously earnest and, being incurably facetious myself, earnestness amuses me. Nevertheless, I feel sorry to see Conor standing beside the smoking crater of another doomed David Kuo project.

Likewise, it's a sad thing for James Poulos, whose prodigious sideburns mark him as one of the great minds of our age (or any other). And some of my other friends, including the amazing Helen Rittelmeyer, have lost a freelance/blogging outlet. Also, there's that anonymous friend who originally solicited my contributions for Culture11 back in the days when it was "LibertyWire" and before I knew of Kuo's involvement.

Doubtless, someone will protest that Kuo is "a nice guy." Exactly. (Cf., Leo Durocher.) By way of explanation, Kuo writes: "The economy racks up more victims." In other words, Kuo claims that the meltdown of the economy caused the failure of his project. I suspect the chain of causality is nearly the opposite. The news that investors were willing to bankroll a commercial enterprise headed by David Kuo should have been a siren on Drudge: FINANCIAL COLLAPSE EMINENT!

Kuo will go back to the non-profit sector where he belongs, hired by some 501(c) tax-dodge that will pay him six figures as a "senior fellow" or "communications director" until about January 2011, when his name will pop up in connection with a Republican presidential candidate. Between now and then, save your money, so you can invest it all in shorting the InTrade stock of whatever candidate hires Kuo. In an economy like this, you can't afford to pass up a sure thing.

UPDATE: Josh Trevino has some thoughts on the failure of Culture11, but since none of his thoughts are along the lines of "David Kuo couldn't make a profit on the snow-cone concession in Hell," can we really take Trevino seriously?

Hey, y'know, now that I think about it, maybe the sudden disappearance of Culture11's funding might have had something to do with their investors noticing that Culture11 was making the "conservative" case for gay marriage. (Wonder who else noticed?) Also, if you're trying to attract a conservative readership, slamming Sarah Palin might not have been the ticket, huh?

UPDATE II: I'm having fun with the intrablogospheric stuff this weekend. Traffic's slow and after the RNC meeting I'm a bit burnt-out on political news, so excuse the self-indulgence. We will return to Gotterdammerung-on-the-Potomac by Monday. Meanwhile, Ericka says in the comments:
David Kuo is an inspiring and dynamic person with a big heart and certainly made an impact on my life in a positive way. . . .
We severely lack in the cultural department and perhaps we didn't get it quite right this time around -- but somebody needs to and I hope I'm a part of it when they do.
OK, we'll take these arguments in reverse order:
  • Yes, agreed, conservatives need to engage the culture. And getting paid to engage the culture is a sweet gig.
  • Ericka, if somebody hired me to engage the culture full-time, that would certainly make "an impact on my life in a positive way." But if I ended up out on the street after six months because that person didn't have a clue how to run the operation, I might be hesitant to call them "inspiring and dynamic."
Consider this post from May about insufficient cynicism among some conservatives:
[A] point I made in reviewing Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons: I write for money. And so far, nobody's offered to pay me to save the world.
Professional writers who present themselves to the world in save-the-world garb are doing a disservice to the profession (and arguably, a disservice to the world, which is already in bad enough shape without more advice from journalists).
I have my beliefs, and I have my principles, but I try to avoid the True Believer trap. If you carefully observe human nature long enough, Ericka, you will learn that there is a certain Newtonian principle by which every sucker eventually finds the hustler who's not going to give him an even break.

The phrases "con man" and "con game" derive from the word "confidence." The con man's trick is to secure the confidence of those who plunk down their money for snake oil or three-card monty. It the hustler's ability to convince you that he is harmless and trustworthy that makes him dangerous.

Ericka, have you ever shot pool with a hustler? Game after game, you come this close to winning, only to have the hustler make a miraculous three-bumper shot on the eight-ball to win the game. Occasionally, he'll let you win a game, just to keep your interest stoked, but the bottom lines is, you're not gonna leave that pool hall with a penny to your name. The True Believer's desire to do good for The Cause can easily make him a sucker for a very similar con, from which the sucker walks away broke and the hustler moves on to the next game.

A straight-up fee-for-service contract -- "I pay you X amount to do Y" -- is the only arrangement a professional journalist should ever accept. The minute somebody starts trying to sell you on a save-the-world vision, pack up your cuestick and leave that pool hall.

Salute to RNC Chairman Michael Steele

Video via Hot Air:

And hey, remember how Dems screamed "fight the smears" anytime anybody mentioned Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers? Well, look who's dumping guilt-by-association attacks on Steele. (H/T: Amanda Carpenter.)

The new chairman gets congratulations from Ed Driscoll, CrankyCon, and Hugh Hewitt. General jubilation at AOSHQ.


Religious intolerance at GWU

Press release from the George Washington University chapter of Young America's Foundation:
In a move of blatant disrespect and religious intolerance, a member of the George Washington University College Democrats defaced and destroyed several of the white crosses used for George Washington Young America's Foundation pro-life demonstration in University Yard. The event, which was called a "Cemetery of Innocents," was held in coordination with the March for Life and included placing 1100 crosses in the ground to represent the 1.1 million abortions performed in the United States every year. 
The defamations of the crosses, which were unlawfully taken from another organization's half of the office, were wide and varied. One of the crosses included a large penis with an actual condom pulled over the top, in lieu of the crown of thorns; the College Democrats' version of the crucifixion. Another included an image of Jesus on the cross, with the word "pwned" over the top (slang for owned) and the word "lol" below, as if the death and crucifixion of the Christian prophet were a humorous event. Some other crucifixes included the words "Darwin" and were laid out with a candy bowl prophylactics encouraging all who entered the College Democrat office to "take a condom." The crosses were left up for well over 24 hours, during which time several members of the College Democrat executive board held office hours, implying knowledge and consent of the displays, which were posted in the College Democrats half of the office.
This move is just an example of the University's leftist students' attempts to marginalize opposing viewpoints. Earlier in the semester, College Democrat President Corey Struble outlined these goals when he told campus radio in an interview that "We seek to marginalize them as much as possible. You remember YAF last year put an ad in the paper saying how marginalized they felt [at GW]. Well, this year we want to make sure that GW is an even more uncomfortable environment for Republicans and conservatives." Despite this kind of rhetoric, GW-YAF has remained undeterred. "It is really unfortunate that the College Democrats and other liberal members of George Washington's campus continue to show such blatant disrespect for the right's point of view. Stunts like this detract from GW-YAF's ultimate goal of encouraging open and intellectual discussion of the political issues facing college students today," Travis Korson said.
This is not the first time in recent memory that religious intolerance has burdened The George Washington University. Last year, a girl was reprimanded in serious fashion for drawing swastikas on doors in residence halls. This is an offense of similar nature, and should be treated as such by our University. This was not a misinterpreted joke; rather it was a vicious attack on Christianity and Conservatism. Although the offense was committed by one member of the organization, the failure to promptly remove the crosses from public display shows an inherent approval by the College Democrats E-Board. The failure to immediately remove the defaced crosses illustrates religious insensitivity, and it may be best that the members of the College Democrats who were not appalled to be subject to a religious sensitivity training seminar.
More at Pat Dollard's site.

RNC: The Man of Steele

UPDATE 5:45 p.m. ET: Well, it's over, and now the MSM takes over to distort everything. Michael Steele is predictably misidentified as a "moderate" by the Associated Press. Sigh. And here's Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post seeking the Pulitzer Prize for non sequiturs:
Asked about the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh and his back and forth with President Barack Obama, Steele was careful not to wholly embrace the controversial conservative talk radio host. "Rush will say what Rush has to say, we will do what we have to do as a party," said Steele.
Eh? What does that have to do with anything? When was Howard Dean ever asked about any "controversy surrounding" Keith Olbermann or Randi Rhodes or Dan Rather?

Thanks to Dan Riehl for the linkage. A good roundup at Hot Air.

After the fifth ballot, I went outside to have a smoke and found myself chatting with Sally Atwater, widow of former RNC chairman Lee Atwater. Wow.

UPDATE: Hey, get your DNC talking points via Politico.

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. ET: Sixth ballot:
  • Steele 91
  • Dawson 77

A hard-fought battle. Steele just gave his acceptance speech. Will update later with sundry notes.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m. ET: Fifth ballot:

  • Steele 79
  • Dawson 69
  • Anuzis 20

Anuzis announces his withdrawal but does not endorse. If Steele can get just one-third of the Anuzis vote, Steele wins.


UPDATE 2:50 p.m. ET: Fourth ballot:

  • Dawson 62
  • Steele 60
  • Anuzis 31
  • Blackwell 15
Hmmm. Looks like 28 of Duncan's votes went to Dawson, so my friend who warned earlier to watch out for Katon might have been onto something. If Steele and Anuzis could join forces, that's it. Next vote set to begin at 3 p.m., results probably by 3:20.

BTW, of all people, guess who I just bumped into? Vanderbilt Professor Carol Swain.


FOLLOW-UP 2:31 p.m.: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers. After the 3rd ballot, Blackwell, Steele and Duncan were seen conferring in a corridor. That conference apparently was related to Duncan's subsequent withdrawal. In his withdrawal speech, Duncan said, "Obviously, the winds of change are blowing at the RNC." He got a standing ovation, but did not endorse any of the other candidates. Members voted down a motion to delay the 4th ballot. Will update with the results. If Duncan's people back Steele, that's it. We shall see.

EARLIER: Third ballot:
  • Steele 51
  • Duncan 44
  • Dawson 34
  • Anuzis 24
  • Blackwell 15
Hmmm. Steele takes the lead, but Dawson slightly closes the gap. Somebody pointed out that if Duncan were to drop out now, he could throw his support to another candidate and probably be the kingmaker. But if he keeps losing votes on successive ballots, he won't have that power much longer.

An RNC staffer (and Duncan supporter): "Off the record? I think you've got to watch out for Katon." All manner of crazy speculation among the press corps. We shall see.

Second ballot:
  • Duncan 48
  • Steele 48
  • Dawson 29
  • Anuzis 24
  • Blackwell 19
Duncan held onto most of his first-ballot support, but Steele moves into a tie. Blackwell dropping below 20 is ominous for him. Just talked to John LaBeaume, who points out that Blackwell endorsing Dawson (or vice-versa) would produce a bloc of 48 votes. A combo of Anuzis and Steele would control 72 votes. Too early to tell yet which way this will swing.

First ballot:
  • Duncan 52
  • Steele 46
  • Dawson 28
  • Anuzis 22
  • Blackwell 20
Steele was stronger than expected, and Blackwell weaker than expected. My best source had predicted 55 for Duncan on the first ballot, so he came in lower than predicted. A Blackwell supporter just said it's 1997 all over again, when Nicholson got 23 votes on the first ballot but pulled out to win in six ballots.

Assume: 52 votes is the ceiling for Duncan. As someone in Press Row pointed out, that's 116 votes for change.

They just gave the call for members and proxies to vote for the second ballot. Expect further updates . . .


Obama and the tipping point

A conservative friend e-mails to share his concerns:
I am already quite sick of this prattling adolescent; this man-child who has never produced anything of value in his life but who presumes to tell us how the most productive engine the world has ever seen should be run.
So he is to be the arbiter of who may make a profit, and when? His entire existence is that of a parasite, leaching off those profits. Such arrogance, and without foundation of any sort.
The ascendancy of this slick little (grand)mama's boy is a sign of cultural suicide.
I am truly, truly worried, more than I ever have been, about the future of freedom. We have talked for years about "tipping points," as in, "once [insert leftist agenda item backed by 3/4ths of the GOP caucus here] is enacted, there will be too many people dependent on government for us ever to turn back."
But the "tipping point" talk has always been prospective. According to this form of punditry, we have been on the verge of tipping over for at least 30 years.
Well, buddy, this is what the world looks like on the other side of the tipping point. There is no going back from this (thank you, GWB, for your "compassion" in presiding over the descent into socialism). We now accelerate on our long slide into cultural and economic decrepitude. Welcome to the Eurpoean Union of American States. Look forward to standing in lines just to fill out forms to apply to get on a list to be part of the waiting pool for your gallbladder operation when you are 65 and, if you are lucky, living in your child's basement apartment.
Time to brush up on your Old Testament. Only the sort of faith exhibited by those who wandered deserts and faced anihilation at the swords of very personal, local enemies is of any use in this scenario.
That's my sunny, cheerful, message of the day!
Thanks for cheering me up, buddy!

Ready to rumble at the RNC

The American Spectator owes me combat pay for the five hours I spent in the hospitality suites last night to get the report I filed at 3 a.m.:
Just got back from the Capitol Hilton and, after five hours of heavy schmoozing with attendees at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting, I can say with a high degree of certainty that anyone who tells you they know the outcome of the RNC chairman's vote is lying.
As to Chris Cillizza's claim that Katon Dawson's got the mojo -- didn't see it. Maybe the Dawson faction is playing possum, but if the South Carolinian is a "force to be reckoned with," it's a stealth momentum so hush-hush as to be undetectable to an outsider. . . .
Please read the whole thing. My brain's sore from all the hard work of trying to figure this thing out. I'm looking around on the Web this morning, and nobody's got any more idea of how it's going to turn out than I do, which is to say, none at all. The Politico's Alexander Burns:
GOP insiders say Friday's contest to elect the next chairman of the Republican National Committee will be a long and drawn-out affair, with multiple ballots necessary to determine the winner. In part, it's a reflection of a party that, even after a nearly three month-long chairman's race, remains deeply uncertain of which candidate can best lead the GOP back to power.
See? That's Objective Journalese for "I don't have a freaking clue."

UPDATE: The American Spectator's Jim Antle mentions the RNC chairman's contest on the way to a vicious fisking of David Frum's "New Majority."

UPDATE II: American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire was also at the RNC meeting last night, but he apparently went to the meeting, as opposed to the hospitality suites, where all the real deep investigative journalism takes place.

UPDATE III: If you're on Facebook, here's video of an interview I did last night with Saul Anuzis's sister.

UPDATE IV: Video now on YouTube:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saltsman withdraws from RNC race

Nashville Post reports that Chip Saltsman has quit the race for Republican National Committee chairman. As Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times reported today, it's been a rough and nasty race. The vote's tomorrow.

Immigration and the GOP future

(BUMPED; UPDATES BELOW) Today I went to the National Press Club for the release of a new American Cause report, "Immigration and the 2008 Republican Defeat": which was the subject of a press conference and panel discussion:
The study is a detailed analysis of every single Republican seat lost in the 2008 House Race, and shows in virtually every race the Republican supported amnesty or the Democrat supported tough border security.
What's interesting -- and Bay Buchanan touched on this -- is how effectively open-borders politicians in both parties are able to hide their positions when challenged in elections. Candidates with miserably pro-amnesty records suddenly learn to talk tough about border security the minute an opponent raises the issue. The media willingly cooperate in this blurring of the issue, so that voters are seldom presented a clear choice.

Jim Pinkerton said that working-class "Reagan Democrats" still constitute the vital swing constituency, but observed these voters tend to "win the politics, but lose the policy" -- that is to say, these voters (whom I've called "Ordinary Americans") are the decisive factor in elections, yet their interests are routinely ignored by the policy-making elite, who naturally favor policies that advance elite interests.

I'll try to update later this evening.

UPDATE: Oddly enough, while I'm unable to find any conservative coverage of the National Press Club event, liberals seem to be all over it, including "America's Voice," a group whose Web site proclaims their mission as "MOBILIZING IMMIGRANT VOTERS." Gee, ya think?

UPDATE II: And why would they want to "mobilize"? To get a piece of that "stimulus" pie, perhaps?
The $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants, a top Republican congressional official asserted Thursday.
The legislation, which would send tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple, expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens, but it would allow people who don't have Social Security numbers to be eligible for the checks.
Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits.
Carol Platt Liebau at
This has nothing to do with stimulating the economy, and everything to do with paying off Democrat constituencies.
Gee, ya think?

Rush announces stimulus plan

Actually, he announced it Monday on his radio show, but today he spells out the details in the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kazart! Republicans grow a pair!

The stimulus bill (H.R. 1) passes the House 244-188, without a single Republican voting "yes."

"Finally. A party of opposition worth its name."

UPDATE: Man, if all it took to get Republicans to vote conservative was to elect a Democratic president, this is a change I can believe in. Republicans were also able to get a vote on their alternative plan, so they can say they didn't just vote "no." Allahpundit says "for good or ill, this is entirely the Democrats' baby now." Surely it will be for ill.

UPDATE II: Worthy mentioning that 11 Democrats also voted "no," so the opposition is bipartisan. Heh.

On 'stimulus,' taxes and morality

Responding to an argument from Matt Yglesias over tax cuts vs. new spending, Philip Klein of The American Spectator says:
Liberals believe that the best way to stimulate the economy is for the federal government to spend taxpayer money on pet projects, while conservatives believe it's better to allow families and firms to keep more of what they earn and that permanent tax cuts are better because much economic planning is done over the long-term. Furthermore, liberals fail to grasp the moral argument for tax cuts. Liberals see tax cuts as inefficient because people who end up with more money may either save it or spend it on something like new Blu-ray players, which wouldn't be as effective at boosting the economy as government spending, so they argue. But the the fact remains that it's the taxpayers' own money, and they should be able to do whatever the heck they want with it.
The point about the morality of markets is one I've made myself:
Whereas transactions in a market economy are voluntary and peaceful, the actions of government are essentially coercive, backed with the threat of violence to those who disobey. What government does, it does "at the point of the bayonet," so to speak. Therefore, the fearsome power of government ought to be constrained to limited and specific purposes -- defending the life, liberty and property of citizens.
When government begins to meddle in the economy, picking winners and losers, using appropriations and fiscal policy to transfer money from one group of citizens to another, it divides society into two classes, taxpayers and tax consumers, punishing the former in order to reward the latter.
Such a policy is not merely misguided, it is immoral -- indeed, it is sinful . . . and by displaying the spectacle of government engaging daily in legalized theft, the welfare state tends to corrupt the morals of its citizens.
If conservatives are unwilling to defend the market economy on moral grounds, if they are unwilling to denounce coercive expropriation as immoral, all that remains to be settled is the question Lenin bluntly summarized as "Who, whom?"

Media 'on our knees' for Obama

So says Jake Tapper (who insists that he's actually still standing), prompting Quin Hillyer to recall Time magazine White House correspondent Nina Burleigh's famous offer to provide fellatio to Bill Clinton:
The difference is, Burleigh would not have had to wait in line behind about 1,000 other reporters.
An interesting mental image there. I'm sure Chris Matthews would be at the head of the line, so to speak.

Equal opportunity

Lutherans can discriminate against lesbians, a California court declares.

We assume that lesbians are similarly free to discriminate against Lutherans.

Freedom, What a Beautiful Concept!


What we need is a blog that combines the terseness of Instapundit with the hilarity of Ace of Spades. Here's Insty:
THE "STIMULUS" BILL: "A 40-year wish list."
UPDATE: "Not a moment to spare." Because given enough time, people might wise up . . . .?
And here's Ace, with the same two items:
Obama's Spokesman Gibbs: We Just Don't Have the Time to Patrol the Stimulus for Wasteful Spending
We need to act. Now.
Do something, even if it's stupid as fuck. . . .
A Forty-Year Wish-List: Democrats are wasting no time wasting all the money they were prevented from wasting since Reagan.
You see the possibilities here. It could be the great collaboration since George and Ira Gershwin.

'It speaks volumes . . .'

OK, so the National Republican Congressional Committee issues a press release asking whether freshmen Democrats in the House support $335 million in STD prevention programs in the so-called "stimulus" bill. And the Democrats respond:
"It speaks volumes about the overall health of the Republican Party that they are getting their ideas from the Drudge Report and their mouthpiece is Rush Limbaugh."
It speaks volumes about the Democrats that their idea of a response to a legitimate policy question is to make idiotic ad hominem attacks on a Web site operator and a radio personality who have nothing to do with the policy question.

Black tea and white liberals

The book I most often recommend as a guide to understanding liberalism is Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. If you haven't read it, you should, because Sowell hits the nail on the head in identifying the basic psychological instinct of modern liberalism, namely its function as an expression of moral narcissism: "Oh, look at me! How enlightened and tolerant and generous I am!"

The obverse of this self-congratulatory instinct is the liberal's habit of seeking out villains to denounce as benighted, intolerant and mean-spirited. James Taranto observed one such example in the case of a Denver Post columnist who waxes indignant over an allegedly racist incident at her health club:
One of the employees was checking the tea and noted out loud that they were out of black tea. To the other server, she made a joke about ordering some more "Obama tea."
On this day, of all days, I could not turn away, pretend I didn't hear.
My pulse raced a little. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. In the larger scheme of things, calling her on it was a small act.
(Via Instapundit.) Now, there are several questions here. Was the health-club employee's reference to black tea as "Obama tea" self-evidently racist? Better yet (and this is a question seldom asked) what exactly do we mean by "racist" in such a context? And perhaps best of all, in what sense is this kind of "racism" actually harmful to anyone?

Think about it: This "Obama tea" remark was made by an employee of a health-club snack bar, someone who probably makes about $10 an hour. The snack-bar employee is being denounced by a style columnist for the Denver Post who makes at least twice as much, and whose social influence and prestige is infinitely greater. The influential columnist is afflicting the afflicted, so to speak, by picking on a low-wage laborer who almost certainly intended no harm with her stupid joke.

It is, of course, entirely possible that this snack-bar employee is a genuine bigot. But even if she were, if we borrow the Left's formulation that racism equals prejudice plus power, what sort of power is exercised by someone earning $10 an hour serving protein smoothies in a health-club snack bar?

This is not about her. Even if the employee's joke represents real prejudice, the purpose of the columnist's denunciation is not to make a statement about the snack-bar worker. Rather it is the columnist making a statement about herself: "Look at me! I am a courageous crusader for social justice!"

If there is one lesson you should synthesize from this incident, it is this: When someone points the accusing finger at "racism," a reasonable person must examine the motives of the accuser. And this is what Sowell does in The Vision of the Anointed. Sowell shows that when the anointed adopt as "mascots" various oppressed victim groups -- the homeless, the mentally ill, AIDS sufferers -- what they are doing is using those people as symbols. Advocacy on behalf of "mascots" serves to demonstrate the enlightenment of the anointed, and denunciation of allegedly oppressive "targets" serves the same purpose.

Thus, a crusade to distribute free condoms in San Francisco serves the same purpose as a crusade to provide legal protection for illegal immigrants: These crusades function as demonstrations of the moral superiority of the crusaders.

This is why liberals become so furious when you try to draw them into a discussion of the actual merits of their crusades. The simplest question -- "Are gay men in the Castro district so impoverished that they can't afford to buy their own condoms?" -- is enough to spur the liberal into a vehement denunciation of your homophobia. Nothing you can say in your own defense will persuade the liberal to abandon his idee fixe. Opposition to his policy is synonymous with fear and hatred of gay people, and on sober reflection you realize that the liberal isn't really interested in policy qua policy. He is a moral narcissist engaged in displaying his own "tolerance" and "sophistication."

Crusading on behalf of "mascots" allows otherwise privileged people to co-opt the Complete Moral Authority of the victim, to bask in the warm glow of reflected glory of the oppressed. (A point that Ann Coulter makes in Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America.) And so the style columnist for the Denver Post -- a privileged white woman -- stages her own little psychodrama by taking a courageous stand against a $10-an-hour snack-bar worker who lamely jokes about "Obama tea."

The half-Kenyan son of a Harvard-educated economist is thus converted into a proxy for 40 million African-Americans, and an unfunny joke -- the tea is black, Obama is black, LOL -- must be denounced as "blatantly racist" (to quote the columnist) so that we can be piously lectured:

If those of us who are offended by bigotry don't speak up, if we don't examine our own assumptions about race, how will the offenders ever get the message?
As interesting as it might be to learn more about how Kristen Browning-Blas has examined her "own assumptions about race" -- out there in the blindingly Caucasian state of Colorado (90% white, 4% black) -- it is reasonably safe to surmise that she's never even scratched the surface, that her "assumptions" are those of millions of others of privileged white liberals who think their vaunted humanitarian benevolence (dare I call it "pity"?) toward black people is both necessary and courageous.

The Kristen Browning-Blases of the world wear their moral narcissism like a warm sweater, secure in the assumption that their goodwill is beyond interrogation. They are the bien-pensants, smugly condescending with "the courage of their convictions" by lending their moral superiority to assist those whom they patronizingly assume are incapable of acting on their own behalf. And if you call their bogus philanthropy what it really is -- a manifestation of what Shelby Steele identifies as White Guilt -- they will lash out to denounce you as an uncaring bigot.

It's not about you any more than it's about that poor snack-bar worker who made that stupid joke. It's not about you, it's not about Obama, it's not about racism. It's about them, the anointed.

It is never enough for the anointed to congratulate themselves on their moral superiority. Rather, they must strut about on the stage, inviting us all to applaud them for it. You can applaud Kristen Browning-Blas if you wish, but that's not my cup of tea.

Your tax dollars at work

Surfing online porn:
[A] report from the National Science Foundation . . . says NSF employees have been spending significant amounts of company time on smut sites and in other explicit pursuits. [Iowa Republican Sen. Charles] Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, on Tuesday fired off a letter to the NSF's inspector general requesting all documents related to the "numerous reports" and seven investigations into "Abuse of NSF IT Resources" cited in the foundation's 68-page semiannual report. . . .
The report says they were watching, downloading and e-mailing porn, sometimes for significant portions of their workdays, and over periods of months or even years. In one particularly egregious case, the report says one NSF "senior official" was discovered to have spent as much as 20 percent of his working hours over a two-year interval "viewing sexually explicit images and engaging in sexually explicit online ‘chats' with various women." Investigators calculated the value of the time lost at more than $58,000 — for that employee alone.
The "stimulus" will provide more money to hire more "senior officials" to surf porn. Maybe this is the bailout Larry Flynt was looking for . . .

Go, Roscoe!

My congressman is Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who is 82 years old and offered a little history lesson to a young man yesterday:
Said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.: "Mr. President, I probably come at this from a slightly different perspective. I remember when FDR beat Hoover in 1932. So I remember the Great Depression very well. I don't remember any of the many government programs affecting the course of the Depression. Government programs didn't work then, I don't know why we think they would work now. Mr. President, I think our obsessive borrowing has fully mortgaged my kids and my grandkids. Now we're working on mortgaging my two great-grandkids. Mr. President, I think it's more than a little bit selfish to try to solve our economic problems which we created by burdening future generations yet to be born."
This prompted applause.
Via Gateway Pundit, who calls our attention to a new CBO analysis that finds only 21% of the proposed "stimulus" will be spent this year, and suggests a visit to for more information.

Thanks to Smitty for the tip.

'Stimulus' priorities

Peter Ferrara examines the grab bag of goodies in the proposed "stimulus" bill:
For example, the "stimulus" package includes $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts to help "the arts community throughout the United States." Wouldn't want our economy to get behind in the international arts competition. The government is going to borrow $50 million out of the private economy to spend on this, which will result in a net loss of economic output rather than a net gain.
Another $2.1 billion is for Head Start, another program not previously known for stimulating the economy. A further $2 billion is to be spent on Child Care Development Block Grants, which provide day care. We are going to revive economic growth through the federal government spending billions on babysitting, rather than tax cuts for capital investment. A similar initiative involves $120 million to finance part-time work for seniors in community service agencies.
Then there is $500 million to speed the processing of applications for Social Security disability claims. This has already created one net new job in the employment of a person within the Obama Administration assigned to figure out what this has to do with stimulating the economy.
Arts, babysitting, disability claims -- yes, these are the key industry sectors for reviving the economy!

'Obama Derangement Syndrome'?

Last week, my roundup of reaction to Obama's inauguration speech prompted one commenter to accuse me of coming down with "Obama Derangement Syndrome," to which I replied sarcastically. Now, over at Pajamas Media, I've written a whole article about ODS:
Where are the right-wingers mounting anything remotely like the mass demonstrations organized by International ANSWER? Where is the right-wing equivalent of the Code Pink women who disrupted congressional hearings and State of the Union speeches?
No such analogs exist. For better or worse, Republicans don't much go for the politics of protest. Why? The GOP and the Democrats are different parties representing different coalitions with different traditions. Beginning with George McGovern's doomed 1972 campaign, the Democrats absorbed the self-righteous political passions of the campus left. It was so easy for "progressives" to believe that Dick Cheney was a sinister schemer, that Bush was a corrupt stooge for Big Oil, that the entirety of the past eight years was one vast war crime perpetrated to serve the interests of "corporate America," because such narratives are deeply embedded in the Left's tradition. The same tradition dictates that when the "fascists" are ascendant, the revolutionary vanguard must lead the masses into the streets — aux barricades!
Please read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Instapundit jumps on the crazy train, and links Gay Patriot, who finds more madness:
On Sunday night, while doing my cardio, I caught what appeared to be rebroadcast of an episode of Larry King Live. King asked The View's Joy Behar why comedians . . . found it "hard for the comics to have fun with." The comedienne replied that this prez was just too perfect.
That's the kind of stuff that drives me nuts.

UPDATE II: Lots of interesting comments at PJM, including this one:
Obama is the Segway scooter of politics. Even without all of the hype, he’s a mediocre politician. Add the hype, and it’s a comedy of the absurd.
Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama: "The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stimulus REAL cost: $1.17 TRILLION!

Philip Klein reports that news accounts stating the size of the proposed stimulus at $825 billion fail to include the additional costs of interest to service the additional debt. Rep. Paul Ryan requested and received from the CBO an estimate of the additional interest payments -- $347 billion over the next 10 years -- bringing the total pricetag to $1.17 trillion. That's one-one-seven, followed by 10 zeroes:

A mighty big 'if,' sir

Doing battle with economists Eugene Fama and John Cochrane, who argue that deficit spending by government ultimately discourages private investment, Paul Krugman engages in one of those magic hypotheticals beloved by Keynesians:
Similarly, after a change in desired savings or investment something happens to make the accounting identity hold. And if interest rates are fixed, what happens is that GDP changes to make S and I equal.
If interest rates are fixed! Does Krugman mean to propose fixed interest rates? It's like the joke about the chemist, the engineer and the economist stranded on a desert island, where they discover a castaway cache of canned food. After the chemist and the engineer each suggest their own distinctive proposals for a way to open the cans, the economist says, "Step One: Assume a can opener."

Government borrowing represents demand for credit, and if government responds to a recession by massive borrowing, this increased demand means that the price of credit (i.e., interest) can be expected to rise. The rise in interest rates thereby reduces the credit supply for private investment, and the economy cannot grow without private investment.

Generally, however, a heavily indebted government (as ours is) will attempt to defraud its creditors via inflation, paying back today's dollar with devalued dollars, which in turn will cause creditors to charge the government higher interest to offset the anticipate loss. It was the U.S. government's attempts to play this game -- devaluing the dollar while simultaneously borrowing heavily and also inflicting job-killing taxes -- that led to the "stagflation" spiral of the 1970s.

"Stagflation" was the ultimate disproof of the Keynesian theory of "equilibrium," which saw government manipulation of the economy as a trick of balancing unemployment vs. inflation. The possibility of both unemployment and inflation rising simultaneously was something never contemplated by the Keynesians, nor did they ever envision the result of Reagan's supply-side revolution, which nearly eliminated inflation while simultaneously resulting in full employment.

Neo-Keynesians like Krugman are trying to pretend that we did not learn what we learned, and that we do not know what we know. A Nobel Prize-winning ignoramus!

UPDATE: By God, the more I think about it, the angrier I get. You don't have to have a Ph.D. to understand economic basics: Supply. Demand. Talk amongst yourselves.

For me, this all goes back to the feud between David Stockman and the supply-siders in the Reagan years. Stockman had a very good point, namely that for political reasons, the Reaganites refused to force a showdown with Democrats in Congress over the continued growth of federal spending. But the supply-siders argued that, (a) with tax cuts unleashing economic growth, and (b) the attendant growth in federal revenue, then (c) additional federal spending was affordable, and (d) what really counted, in macroeconomic terms, was the size of federal spending in relation to GDP. So, even though government was growing, in real terms, it was actually shrinking in comparison to the overall economy.

Thus spake the supply-siders, at any rate, but Stockman was still right about the lack of political courage among Republicans. If the federal government in 1980 was too big, too powerful, too expensive, and doing too many things it had no constitutional authorization to do -- which was the fundamental premise of the Reagan campaign, vis-a-vis domestic policy -- then this argument about the relative size of the government vs. overall GDP was just an excuse for not doing what Reagan had pledged to do.

And now, in 2009, we find that the clients of Uncle Sam refuse to give up a nickel of their slice of the taxpayer pie, so that Obama can propose a vast and expensive stimulus, and most so-called "conservatives" don't have any coherent argument to offer in reply. The abandonment of sturdy principle thus results in ever-weakening opposition to the liberal Leviathan.

Palin launches PAC

She's rolling, baby -- 2012, here she comes!

Hot Air, Politico, Fox News and U.S. News have more.

(URL corrected; thanks, Smitty!)

'Tolerance fascists'

John Hawkins at

The whole point of allowing people to immigrate to this country is to benefit the people who are already here. Yet, if you try to have any sort of substantive conversation about how many people we are allowing into the country each year, where they should be coming from, or how we should choose them, the screaming starts again. "Why do you hate immigrants?"
Man, I could write 5,000 words about this. Liberals have taught Americans to view immigration as a form of charity -- indeed as an entitlement theoretically owed to all 6 billion people on the planet -- and even many "conservatives" now embrace this idiotic notion. But if I get started on it, I'll have to write 5,000 words, so I won't start.

UPDATE: Where would we be without our liberal commenter friend, Young4Eyes?

"The whole point of allowing people to immigrate to this country is to benefit the people who are already here."
What does he mean by 'benefit people here'?
I mean, is that an admission that immigrants are desirable for the cheap labor they provide? In that case who do they help, the business owner or the American worker losing out to the immigrant?
OK, two separate issues:

1. It has been my contention for some time that, indeed, many open-borders enthusiasts view immigrants as commodities, like slaves. You hear this every time the immigration debate boils down to economics and some useful idiot (let's not name names) says illegal aliens are "doing jobs Americans won't do." Immigrants are human beings, and all human beings are culture-bearers. Immigrants thus bring with them to some degree their cultures, which inevitably brings you into consideration of Pat Buchanan's infamous "million zulus" hypothetical. To argue immigration on the basis of a simple economic calculus is thus to dehumanize the immigrants, but as Hawkins points out, the whole issue is so surrounded by taboos that opponents of open borders are forbidden even to discuss the cultural issue, no matter how flagrantly it erupts.
2. The purpose of government is to secure peace and prosperity to its citizens. That governments ought to act on behalf of the interests of its citizens is such a self-evident truth that no thinking person would challenge it directly. The government of the United States has an infinitely greater obligation to the citizen of Kansas than to any resident of Scotland, Switzerland or Swaziland. Quod erat demonstrandum. In regard to immigration, then, if the resident of Glasgow, Scotland, propses to resettle in Russell, Kansas, then the interests of the Kansan are infinitely more to be considered than the interests of the Glaswegian. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Now, it may well be that the good folks of Russell, Kansas, will be only too happy to have this fellow from Glasgow come live amongst them. On the other hand, it may be that the Kansans think otherwise. Perhaps they didn't mind it when at first a few families of Scots arrived, but the trickle became a flood and now their elementary schools have become overcrowded with little Presbyterian lads with their brogues and burrs and bad teeth.

There have lately been several ugly eruptions of anti-Glaswegian prejudice (a sentiment unknown in Russell but a few short years ago) and so the Scottish toughs formed street gangs to battle their tormenters. Boys being boys (and Scots being Scots) they soon got into all manner of mischief so that now the town is terrorized by MacGregors and Stewarts and Campbells, who strut around in their gang colors (tartans, of course), blasting bagpipe music from their boomboxes, and wreaking havoc amongst the townfolk.

The situation deteriorates, as one rundown part of town becomes known as "Little Glasgow," the maternity wards overflow with knocked-up teenage Scottish girls (boys being boys, and Scots being Scots), and immigrant activists demand that Gaelic be taught in the local schools. Even though most Scottish adults are here legally and work for a living, residents can't help but notice every time they're in the checkout line at the grocery store and find themselves waiting behind a woman with a Glaswegian accent paying with food stamps.

"Enough is enough!" say the folks in Russell, at long last. "We're tired of being overrun with these damned haggis-gobbling foreigners!"

Now, under these circumstances, is the obligation of the government to respond to the grievances of the Kansans, or to protect the interests of the Scots? In such a conflict, I say, the grievances of the Kansans are quite nearly everything, and the interests of the Scots are quite nearly nothing. And don't sing me any sad songs about the poverty and misery of the Glasgow ghettos, as such misfortunes are exclusively the concern of the Scottish government (and their English overlords) and the folks of Russell cannot be compelled to accept the refugees as a matter of "rights." Besides, what's the good of bringing over Scots if they're only going to recreate here the same rotten conditions that made Glasgow such a pesthole, as they inevitably will if they keep pouring into Russell in such overwhelming numbers?

I am enough of a small-"d" democrat to believe that if 51% of American voters wanted zero immigration, the government would be obliged to institute such a policy -- and the Scots be damned! As it is, I think a solid majority of my fellow citizens would be satisfied if only their government would mount a serious effort to enforce our existing immigration laws and would be exceedingly pleased if the total inflow of legal immigrants could be limited somewhere at or below 500,000 a year.

Such a policy would be neither inhumane nor unworkable, and the major obstacle to its enactment is that politicians are terrified of being labeled "anti-immigrant" -- an accusation made by those who routinely imply that foreigners have some "right" to settle here, a "right" which be infringed by enforcement of sound policy.

To hell with such nonsense, and to hell with any politician who refuses to save us from The Plaid Menace!

UPDATE: Welcome, Conservative Grapevine readers!

Wow. Just wow.

Darlene Click at Protein Wisdom catches this tidbit:
According to an employment advertisement posted on the popular website, the taxpayer-funded National Association of Counties (NACO) is currently seeking an applicant among whose duties will be to "combating anti-government/anti-tax efforts."
Sort of an anti-taxpayer lobbyist. Just wow.

(Thanks to Smitty for the tip.)

'When a presidential campaign calls up and offers you a job you take it'

So says the Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, talking about his six months on the John McCain campaign. I profoundly disagree -- I don't like the Beltway revolving door between politics and media, even ideological media -- but I don't want to argue about that. Some highlights from Goldfarb's interview with Columbia Journalism Review:
I thought from the beginning that we would lose.
Well, duh. I said so after Super Tuesday: "McCain is not a conservative, he will lose in November . . ."
I am not convinced that Sarah Palin hurt the campaign. People think that this decision was made in some kind of vacuum. I'm not convinced that a McCain/Romney ticket would have outperformed a McCain/Palin. Well, maybe if we'd done Lieberman we would have been down fifteen points after the convention instead of up four. I'm not convinced that Palin, even with all her weaknesses, wasn't the most plausible ticket you could have put forward this year.
Well, any ticket headed by John McCain was in deep trouble, no matter who the running mate was. And McCain cut his own throat with his bailout stunt, so any attempt to shift blame to Palin is scapegoating, period. The fact that McCain even considered putting Lieberman on the ticket illustrates how this year's defeat is 100% McCain's fault.

Lots more good stuff in the interview, including Goldfarb's denunciation of the anti-Palin leakers inside the campaign. He ought to denounce them by name, because they deserve to be persona non grata henceforth.

Pro-lifers call for Jed Babbin's scalp

Several Christian conservative activists have signed a letter demanding that Human Events fire editor Jed Babbin, a letter circulated by radio talk-show host Gregg Jackson:
"For years conservatives trusted Human Events as a source of truth about what is happening in American politics," Jackson said. "Babbin's embarrassing and revealing statements in this very revealing interview are only the most recent indication of an ongoing purge of real conservatives and their replacement by social liberals posing as the heirs of the Reagan revolution," Jackson continued.
So "revealing," he said it twice! Part of what angers Jackson is Babbin's argument -- a venerable conservative position -- that the Declaration of Independence does not trump the Constitution. Jackson, who supported Mike Huckabee in the GOP primaries and supported Alan Keyes' independent presidential candidacy in the general election, also denounces Babbin for allegedly "suppressing the truth" about deviations from pro-life positions by Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. Babbin ended the interview by hanging up on Jackson.

I seriously doubt this protest will jeopardize Babbin's position at Human Events, but it is worth noting if only as indicating the depth of discontent among some members of the conservative coalition. I am pro-life, but there is no way on earth I'd ever vote for Mike Huckabee, period. I believe in the Good Book, but it's not the only book worth reading. Besides which, Huckabee worships in the church of St. Al Gore.

Hey, it worked!

Who'd have thunk it? Republicans complain and Obama actually pays attention:
House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation. . . .
Several Democrats said Monday night that Obama had spoken personally with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about removing the provision. Waxman is chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over Medicaid and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Obviously, Obama could see that Pelosi's anti-baby agenda was political poison. It was a shrewd move for him to ask them to ax it. Expect the Left to howl that Obama's given in to the "Republican attack machine," but they don't understand that not everybody hates babies as much as urban yuppies do.

(Outraged comment from Young4Eyes in 3, 2, 1 . . .)

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin calls our attention to Conn Carroll's indictment of contraceptive Keynesianism:
The entire intellectual underpinning of President Barack Obama’s spending plan rests on the belief that certain types of government spending creates a "multiplier effect" which raises national income beyond the size of government’s initial spending increase. . . . So if Obama’s stimulus plan bails out California’s spendthrift government, and Sacramento then spends that money buying condoms for Nancy Pelosi's constituents, [neo-Keynesian economist] Mark Zandi wants us to believe that this entire transaction will increase GDP by $1.36 for every $1 in condoms Sacramento buys. Does anybody really believe this?
Hmmm. Given Pelosi's San Francisco-area district, I'm not sure if buying condoms for her constituents actually qualifies as "birth control." But you see how easy it is to make this measure look ridiculous on economic grounds alone.

Perhaps some clever GOP researcher can find out how much money the latex industry gave the Democrats, so we can accuse Pelosi of being in the pockets of Big Rubber.

UPDATE II: Well, that didn't take long:
"Is the Obama administration caving to the right wing on family planning provision in stimulus bill?"
See? If Republicans don't go along with Obama's agenda, we're divisive haters. But if Obama shrewdly placates conservatives, he's "caving." Hey, tough luck, lefties: If you wanted somebody who was 110% for your anti-baby agenda, you should have nominated Hillary.

Michelle Malkin rounds up the news on the "condoms under the bus" deal.