Saturday, February 7, 2009

'At least Henry Ford knew how to make a car'

Thus did John Podhoretz respond last week to what he saw as anti-Semitic neocon-baiting from Andrew Sullivan. The real weirdness, as Donald Douglas points out, is that Sullivan appears to have made alliance with some of the Culture11 refugees.

One can be pro-Israel and anti-neocon. Not every neocon is Jewish, nor is every opponent of America's pro-Israel policy an anti-Semite. One of the worst fruits of the poisoned tree of "compassionate conservatism" is that it has popularized a superficial conception of "neocon" as an anti-Semitic slur meaning "Jewish Republican hawk." The implied "dual loyalty" smear and the notion that the only reason the U.S. invaded Iraq was to serve the interests of Israel -- well, these ideas didn't just materialize out of thin air, but are socially constructed, as the postmodernists would say.

In its original sense, "neo-conservative" meant liberals or leftists who had been "mugged by reality" and reoriented themselves to a conservative position. Irving Kristol wrote a book about it.

The fact that many of Kristol's ideological soulmates were likewise Jewish, and that among the "realities" by which they were "mugged" was leftist support for the Arab powers in the 1967 and '73 wars -- no one denies this. But the cause, character and conduct of neoconservatism as a school of political thought is varied and complex, and it was not until Bush's engagement with radical Islamic terrorism after 9/11 that the term "neocon" was dumbed-down to its current status as the equivalent in political discourse of "kike." (One wonders if Jewish boys today engage in schoolyard brawls after being called "neocon.")

Elitism and neoconservatism
My pet peeve with neoconservatives has nothing to do with foreign policy, as such, and everything to do with the characteristic style and content of their arguments. The contant factor of neoconservatism -- the thread connecting Irving Kristol with, inter alia, Bill Bennett and Peggy Noonan -- has been their preference for a conservatism that speaks to sensibilities considered "respectable" by a certain academically-oriented urban audience.

This is not quite the same as saying that neoconservatism is the conservatism of the elite, for most of the elite are not conservative and, in the person of Sean Hannity, we can see what populist neoconservatism looks like. And one might note, for example, that Bill Kristol -- who can claim the "neoconservative" label as a birthright -- did not jump into the elitist anti-Palin camp with the likes of David Brooks.

In general, however, neoconservatives insist on a Right that they are not ashamed to defend in Manhattan and Hollywood (or at Harvard), and this results in a certain habit of argument: Concede the desirability of liberal goals, but object to the specific policies by which liberals seek to obtain those goals.

Hard-core liberals aren't deceived by this half-a-loaf argument, but it does gain neoconservatism a hearing with bien-pensants who can't understand why such phrases as "social justice" and "world peace" are an invitation to folly. Because neoconservatism so often succeeds at this game, entire organizations (e.g., the Claremont Institute) are devoted to supporting those whose job is to craft arguments convincing the bien-pensant simpletons that they can have their "social justice" and low taxes, too.

Exoteric and esoteric
This is why the term "Straussian" has been applied to neoconservatism. Leo Strauss famously identified the difference between the exoteric meaning of an argument -- that is to say, its direct and superficial meaning, apparent to any reader -- and its esoteric meaning, which is perceived only by the enlightened, the insiders, the elite. Neoconservatives apparently think of political leadership in terms of the Platonic archons, who understand the need for the "noble lie" of popular mythology. This Straussian tendency leads directly to a species of Republican mythmaking that is ultimately self-defeating, especially when the Straussians lose sight of the distance between myth and reality.

American government was founded with the idea, expressed by James Madison in Federalist No. 10, that there is no shame in the political pursuit of self-interest -- i.e., "faction" -- and that the object of government is to reconcile such factions so as to prevent harm to "the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." Modern liberalism undermines this Madisonian conception by asserting that certain interests -- e.g., "children's health" -- are so unquestionably urgent and valuable that no decent person can oppose them.

The error of neoconservatism is that it refuses to engage directly the underlying anti-Madisonian impulse of modern liberalism, opting instead to counter with a "conservative" proposal to achieve whatever it is that liberals aim to achieve. Neoconservatives grant the premise of the liberal argument, but deny the conclusion. This produces arguments that are sometimes successful, without being fully persuasive, because they lack the kind of sturdy, honest truth perceived by "men of untaught feelings," to borrow a phrase.
You see, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess, that [the English] are generally men of untaught feelings; that instead of casting away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree, and to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. . . . Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, skeptical, puzzled and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man's virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.
-- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Now, you may say that I am prejudiced in Israel's favor, much as I am prejudiced against France. So be it. But I am far more prejudiced against liberalism and the Democratic Party, and it is these cherished prejudices -- widespread as they are -- that broadly unite the American Right. Our immediate challenge is to seek out and persuade those I have called "Future Ex-Democrats." Exactly how they will be persuaded, and what sort of agenda they will support in the future, is yet to be discovered. But we know that the Democratic agenda is doomed to failure ("It Won't Work") and we know that many who voted for Obama will be disillusioned by that failure.

Populism and the Palinites
My preference is for a conservatism that is more forthright and "mean-spirited" than John Podhoretz might accept as respectable, and this "libertarian populist" conservatism might appeal to many who don't share my favorable prejudice toward Israel. But foreign-policy arguments among conservatives are moot when conservatives have no influence over foreign policy, which is very nearly the case now.

Podhoretz recently published an article by Yuval Levin about Sarah Palin that expressed truth both exoteric and esoteric:
Many of those (including especially those on the Right) who reacted badly to Palin on intellectual grounds understand themselves to be advancing the interests of lower-middle-class families similar to Palin’s own family and to many of those in attendance at her rallies who greeted her arrival on the scene as a kind of deliverance. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that while these members of the intellectual elite want the government to serve the interests of such people first and foremost, they do not want those people to hold the levers of power. They see lower-middle-class populists like Palin and their supporters as profoundly ill-suited for governance, because they lack the accoutrements required for its employment -- especially in foreign policy, which, even more than domestic affairs, is thought to be an intellectual exercise.
The esoteric significance of this class prejudice -- for it is nothing else -- can be observed in the way David Brooks inveighs against the anti-government rhetoric of populists. The meaning of Brooksian wrath can be summed up in two words: Pat Buchanan.

Because Buchanan is perceived as an anti-Semite, and because Buchanan has among his supporters some few who don't even flinch at the accusation of anti-Semitism, there is the suspicion that everyone who grumbles about big government is a Jew-hating troglodyte. This is "conservatism" as viewed through the paranoid lenses of Theodor Adorno and Richard Hofstadter, the crypto-Freudian belief that we're never more than one election away from that moment when the Republican Party unfurls the swaztika and the GOP brownshirts come goosestepping down Main Street.

Clever fellows that they are, the Brooksians conceal their silly fear with a superficially plausible argument that a more populist conservative rhetoric can't win, an argument that is made to appear all the more plausible because it serves to undermine support -- especially financial support -- for populist candidates in Republican primaries. (Giuliani spent $59 million to get 597,518 primary votes. We are left to wonder where that $59 million might have gone, and what it might have accomplished, had not the Brooksians promoted the absurd notion that a short, bald, pro-choice New Yorker was a serious candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.)

Is Sarah Palin a rabble rouser? Oh, hell, yes. I've seen the rabble, and I've seen her rouse them. Feel free to argue that she wasn't ready for presidential primetime on Aug. 29, 2008, but don't tell me that she can't possibly be ready by Jan. 20, 2013. And don't tell me she can't win. Whatever her deficiencies, she's got more natural political talent in her little finger than Rudy Giuliani's got in his entire body (and she's got a much better body, too).

It may be that a Palin candidacy attracts some Buchananites and Paulistas whose foreign-policy views are not shared by me or John Podhoretz or David Brooks. As it is now, however, the really dangerous Jew-haters (including some self-hating Jews) are in the Obama camp, and they are all the more dangerous because Democrats control both houses of Congress. To take back Congress and the White House from Democrats will require Republicans to assemble a coalition inclusive enough not to demand foreign-policy litmus tests as a condition of admission. We can be grateful that economic issues will be front and center for the foreseeable future, since this unites the Paulistas in common cause with the broad limited-government conservative coalition.

Slagging Sarah Palin and her supporters -- the Ordinary Americans, or "ordinary barbarians," as some of them have dubbed themselves -- because they appear to represent a Buchanan-style populism that inspires fear and loathing among the elite, is to push away the Reagan Democrats without whom Republicans can't win.

It is worth noting that Buchanan was an adviser to both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, which is to say, "At least Pat Buchanan knew how to win an election."

The indulgence of 'analysis'

New York Times correspondent Jackie Calmes is a veteran reporter, but given the latitude to write an "analysis," she forgets how to write a direct declarative sentence:
With the Senate on track to pass its version of the economic stimulus legislation, President Obama is widely expected to win final Congressional approval of the plan soon, and thus make good on an assortment of his campaign promises. But in the process, he is confronting the impediments to his most ambitious pledge: to end the capital's partisan warfare.
Mr. Obama has been frustrated by an array of forces, from an often bitter and personal history of partisanship on Capitol Hill to the near-extinction of Republican moderates in the House to the deep ideological gulf between the parties on economic policy. And as his aspiration of putting aside petty politics has met the necessity of winning legislative votes — no more than two or three Senate Republicans are expected to support him, which is two or three more than did so in the House -- he has gone through a public evolution that has left him showing sharper edges when it comes to the ways of Washington.
That last 66-word sentence earned Calmes a nomination as "Worst sentence ever written in journalism" from Megan McArdle. That might be overkill, but not by much.

Calmes goes off-course with her opening clause: "With the Senate on track to pass its version of the economic stimulus legislation . . ." Sez who? This assertion bears no qualifier like "evidently" or "apparently." The possibility that the stimulus bill might yet be derailed having been dismissed without consideration, Calmes then commences to ponder "partisan" and "petty" politics at her leisure.

"Leisure" is the key word here. Calmes seems to have the idea that the definition of "analysis" requires that she write in the passive voice: Obama "is widely expected," he "has been frustrated," he "has gone through" an evolution. The second sentence's use of "Obama is confronting" avoids the passive, but why not just say "Obama confronts"?

Well, the New York Times guidelines for "analysis" apparently require that reporters never use one word where two will do. And, oh, what labyrinthine sentences these are! Even before she gets to the 66-word monster that caught McArdle's eye, Calmes is averaging 34 words per sentence. Her first sentence is 39 words, her second is a relatively terse 20 words, and then she comes back with 42 words in Sentence Three before her clean-up sentence comes to bat.

Ah, but it's Murderer's Row here, because Calmes next lays on us this mammoth jaw-buster:
Frustrated that debate over the bill was being dominated by Republicans’ criticism, and that his overtures had yielded little in the way of support from across the aisle, the president who began the week hosting Republicans for a Super Bowl party had by Friday switched to publicly pressuring them, and rallying fellow Democrats, with a hard-line message about his unwillingness to compromise his priorities.
Sixty-five words in that one. The reader is forced to wade through two clauses and a remembrance of last week's Super Bowl party until reaching the 45th word, "switched," which is the verb on which the whole sentence hangs.

God knows I love a fancy sentence. More importantly, I know I love a fancy sentence. Anyone wishing to accuse me of being hypocritical toward Calmes will have no trouble finding examples of ponderous sentences in my writing. The parenthetical aside -- set off by em-dashes for a dramatic flair -- is a technique to which I'm so addicted that I must consciously resist it or else I'll overuse it to the point of parody.

However, I flatter myself to think that I have a good ear for rhythm in writing. I was a musician long before I ever became a journalist, and one of my great joys is to bring the reader to the point of what I'm saying with as much surety as P-Funk coming down on The One. Draw the reader in with an anecdote, string him along as you build your argument and then -- when you've got him set up for it just right -- WHAM! Gut-punch him like Rocky Balboa laying into Apollo Creed.

Can this technique be used in news writing? Here's a story from 2001:
There were no nationally televised candlelight vigils for Jesse Dirkhising. No Hollywood celebrities mourned the passing of the 13-year-old Arkansas boy.
The New York Times hasn't reported how Jesse died of asphyxiation in 1999 after prosecutors say he was bound, gagged and sodomized by a homosexual couple. And the seventh-grader's death has not caused powerful Washington activists to lobby for new federal laws to punish such crimes.
While the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming provoked a blizzard of media coverage about the death of the homosexual college student, the Dirkhising case is just "a local crime story," one TV network spokesman explains.
Joshua Macabe Brown, one of two men accused of killing Jesse, was convicted yesterday of rape and first-degree murder in a trial that began March 13.
Through yesterday afternoon, Brown's weeklong trial produced a combined total of zero stories from the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN. . . .
Just the facts, ma'am. Here's another classic Joe Friday job from 2003:
Brian David Mitchell was in many ways typical of the homeless, with a history of substance abuse and symptoms of mental illness.
It was not until his arrest last week in the kidnapping of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart, however, that the self-anointed "prophet" brought attention to another aspect of America's homeless problem: As many as half of the homeless have criminal records, and some have committed serious violent crimes, including rape and murder. . . .
Ah, those were the days! There is nothing more delightful than assembling a mountain of facts, then setting off the controlled landslide of a news story that leaves political correctoids sputtering in impotent outrage. Impotent, that is, because all you've done is to report the facts.

I'd never heard of Jackie Calmes until frequent commenter Smitty (thanks, man) tipped me to McArdle's blog post. She'll bear further watching in weeks ahead, and we'll see if there is truth to her assertion about the stimulus being "on track" for Senate passage. Conventional wisdom has a way of unraveling in a hurry, and you never know when Rocky Balboa's going to unload a punch in your gut.

'Useful idiots'

"GOP legislators can best be described as 'useful idiots' who make Democratic proposals seem moderate and responsible. . . .
"The Democrats suggest more than $900 billion in pork. So Republican 'centrists' cut a few billion here and there, and everyone can now embrace $800 billion in pork."

-- Doug Bandow

Free the people, eat the chicken

(BUMPED; UPDATE BELOW) What does the humble chicken have to do with economic freedom? Ask Antony Fisher:

(Via the Hostile Opposition.) UPDATE: Frequent commenter Dave C. informs me that Rusty at the Jawa Report has posted video excerpts of Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, which frequently quotes Hayek.

Young Turks and gay marriage

Since last October, at least, I have been using the phrase "Young Turks" to describe the restless young intellectuals of the conservative movement. Most of these young men -- not to slight the ladies, but nearly all of these writers seem to be male -- who would be tomorrow's Weavers and Buckleys and Kirks are not strictly political writers. That is to say, they didn't spend 2007-08 obsessively handicapping the presidential election, but they are "political" and conservative in the sense that they have made clear their general commitments to the Right.

Now, if you talk to these bright young fellows -- and I find excuses to talk to them as often as possible -- one of the things you learn is how many of them are either (a) in favor of gay marriage as a matter of social justice, or (b) defeatist in conceding that the legal recognition of gay marriage is a political inevitability, even though they personally oppose it.

Is it really so? Permit a geezer his doubts. I remember being 15 years old when our teachers at Douglas County High School arranged a teleconference between our classroom and our state's senior senator, Herman Talmadge. And I remember that all of us long-haired hoodlum types -- this was 1974 -- were eager to ask Sen. Talmadge about legalizing marijuana, so that he had to fend off two or three questions on the subject. ("Uh . . . hey, man, like . . . what about weed?")

Thirty-five years ago, it seemed to us teenage weedheads that we were on the cutting edge of social change, but the Jeff Spicoli Nation never came to fruition, did it? Nowadays, America is perhaps more socially tolerant toward the herb -- I confess to having been an adolescent doper without fear that I'll be hounded out of polite society for the revelation -- but the stuff is still illegal. (And thank God for that, as who would want to deprive the stoners of the undeniable frisson of their outlaw status?)

Yet the Young Turks generally view the gay-marriage debate as following in the historic path of Social Progress, an irresistible floodtide, so that such opposition as there is must speak in tones carefully measured, lest offense be given to the eventual winners of the debate.

Measured tones have never been my style. My defiance of the irresistable floodtide has been couched in reference to Roy Moore's concurrence in Ex Parte H.H., and I have defended my position by asserting that men and women are not equal in the sense of being fungible. (Men and women are different; therefore, a union of differences implies a natural complementarity inherently missing from same-sex relationships. Viva le difference!)

While it may have seemed that, in making such a bold assertion, I was merely engaged in my favorite sport of baiting Conor Friedersdorf (guilty, your honor), there is nevertheless a real and politically relevant argument involved, and I would be interested in stirring it up again, if only to gin up some weekend traffic. So, what say you? J.P. Freire? Ross Douthat? Helen Rittelmeyer? Perhaps some old geezers like Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher would also like to weigh in, as well. Linkbacks are guaranteed under the Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around Rule, and anyone else who wants to weigh in is welcome to leave a comment.

ADDENDUM: Comments are moderated, so if you want to call me a "faggot" -- hey, start your own blog.

UPDATE: Helen Rittlemeyer:
Being publicly pro-SSM is the quickest way for a young journalist to signal that he's one of the right-wingers it's okay to like. Haven't they heard that it's better to be feared than loved? Or, to put it less glibly, the real respectability of a solid argument is preferable to the worthless respectability one gets by being on the Harmless Right.
Note to Helen: Please install SiteMeter and Technorati at your blog, so as to keep track of your traffic and help others know when you're linking them. (Gee, you'd think a girl genius could figure these things out for herself!)

The mystery stimulus

The Senate has apparently reached agreement on . . . something:
Senate Democrats emerged Friday night from days of negotiations to declare that they had reached a deal with at least three moderate Republicans and now have the votes to approve their own version of a huge stimulus package that President Obama says is critical to strengthening the nation's flagging economy.
The agreement on what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called "the Obama plan" promised to deliver the new president his most important legislative victory so far. . . .
Those involved in negotiations said the deal on what they billed as a $780 billion package - approximately $40 billion less than the House approved and nearly $160 billion less than an earlier Senate draft - came about after a working group of centrists agreed to reduce both spending programs favored by Democrats and tax cuts pushed by Republicans.
The final Senate bill probably will be around $800 billion, members of both parties said.
Exactly what is in this bill, we don't know, and apparently they're going to vote on it this weekend without bothering to tell us. (More from CNN.) Michelle Malkin says, "Show us the bill!"

Friday, February 6, 2009

'I'm being sarcastic, obviously'

"A clear-eyed, cool-headed, non-ideological pragmatism, untouched by any pre-existing wish lists or biases.
"I'm being sarcastic, obviously. Yet of course there are many, many smart liberals - from Paul Krugman to, well, Barack Obama - who would say that . . . whatever its faults the stimulus bill is ultimately non-ideological: Shoveling vast amounts of money out the door is simply what you do in circumstances like these if you want to avoid utter economic calamity. The money-shovelers are empiricists, in other words, and their opponents are know-nothings."

-- Ross Douthat

I'm liking Douthat a little better nowadays. This is a Change I can believe in.


Tony Perkins disses the GOP:
There is not the strong connection to the Republican Party that there once was. I'm more representative of the younger generation and I don't have as strong allegiance to the Republican Party. And to the degree that they try to avoid the values issues and put them at the back of the bus, I don't have a lot of desire to mess around with that.
Perkins is a pawn of James Dobson, and Dobson in recent years seems to have become so embittered and peevish that his sour attitude has poisoned the well.

Coalition politics is hard work. Zeal is necessary, but so are wisdom and competence. I'm reminded of the Army of the Potomac: Evangelicals have some loyal and courageous foot soldiers, but too often their commanders have been of the caliber of McClellan, Pope, Hooker and Burnside. Until they are led by a Grant or a Sherman, they'll continue suffering senseless defeats.

'Rendezvous With Destiny'

The premiere is tonight at the Kennedy Center.

Citizens United produced the documentary, and my friend Matthew Taylor was director of photography.

Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan!

Video via Young America's Foundation, and here I am at the Reagan Ranch in June 2007, with that exact same fence in the background.

I was in Santa Barbara for the 20th anniversary of the "Tear Down This Wall" speech, and got an A1 exclusive interview with Peter Robinson, who wrote that speech. The story was Drudge-linked.

(That spiteful twerp Birnbaum has removed my byline from the story in the TWT online archive, although anyone with Nexis can discover who wrote it. This is not personal, Jeff -- it's professional, since you also removed my byline from Reagan obituary. Before you set out to deprive a man of credit for his work, you ought to take an estimate of the man whose reputation you've chosen to attack.)

Excuse the digression into contemplation of vengeance. On a more appropriate note of Reaganesque optimism, JR at Conservatives4Palin says, "What's that Mr. President? You want us to go out there in 2012 and "win just one more for the Gipper?" . . . You betcha!"

UPDATE: Philip Klein recalls when Robert Kennedy debated Reagan in 1967 -- and got his butt kicked.

The premiere of the new Reagan documentary Rendezvous With Destiny is tonight at the Kennedy Center. It's going to be SRO. They actually had to rescind invitations because they got too many RSVPs.

Racist Republican kills black baby

Oh, did I say "racist Republican"? I mean to say, "choice":
Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.
Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.
Only Renelique didn't arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.
What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.
Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips.
Read the whole thing. The reporter gets one thing wrong: "laminaria" is not a drug. It's not singular. Laminaria are tools used to force open the cervix.

(BTW, I take it everyone gets the point of the headline. If a "racist Republican" had killed Sycloria Williams's baby, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be screaming bloody murder. But because this was done under the rubric of "choice," you can hear the crickets chirping.)

UPDATE: Ericka Anderson at reminds us that the "born-alive" abortion is not unheard of -- and our new president voted against saving such babies.

UPDATE II: Ed Morrisey wonders if Obama is happy that Sycloria Williams wasn't "punished with a baby."

UPDATE III: Via Hot Air: "Jill Stanek notes that the physician’s license to practice has been suspended as a result of the investigation."

The 'Death Star' stimulus

If we really want to jump-start the economy, and build the infrastructure of a 26th-century economy, it will only cost us $15 septillion.

I don't if that estimate includes light sabers . . .

(H/T: Doug Bandow at AmSpecBlog.)

Tyrrell loses Hope

R. Emmett Tyrrell:
Egads, it is going to be a long four years! It is only two weeks since the Prophet Obama's inauguration, and already he has revived memories of Boy Clinton's first 100 days. Political observers with a sense of history might well ask whether the Obama Administration will approximate the adolescent incompetence of Clinton Administration or the Pecksniffian pratfalls of the Carter Administration. Presidential historian that I am, allow me to caution my fellow citizens that here in the vestibule of the Obama Administration it is probably too early to say. Yet with the economy in crisis and American national security in the hands of a starry-eyed novice, one can argue that we are in for a reprise of the Carter years complete with the self-righteous pout.
Read the whole thing. Driving home from Rosslyn Thursday night, I was listening on C-SPAN as Obama gave his speech at the House Democratic Caucus retreat and -- man! -- can he give a great speech. His delivery was first-rate. The content, however, was ridiculous nonsense. Anti-economic gibberish in the first degree.

Mr. President, you cannot repeal the law of supply-and-demand. You might as well try to repeal the law of gravity so you can float to the moon. Bill Clinton considered, and ultimately rejected, the course you are undertaking. Why? Because the fiscal and monetary impact of such a policy will cause capital flight. You keep going down this "stimulus" road, and you will drive private investment out of the economy, guaranteed.

Economic recovery is impossible without private investment and if you think "offshoring" was bad before, you wait and see what investors do if you pursue this Weimar America agenda. Capital loves a sound currency, and we can't have a sound currency if you're going to let Nancy Pelosi double down on the stimulus/bailout boondoggles she's already rammed through the House over the past year.

We've suffered real and serious financial losses. The economy will continue to be bad no matter what you do. But this neo-Keynesian crap won't make it better, it will make it worse. You can order up "green" cars for the federal government all day long, but that's not going to fix the underlying problem, namely a capital shortage. Harvard Law school teaches lots of things. Economics, apparently, is not one of them.

It Won't Work. And the CBO agrees with me.

Rosslyn gets stimulated

"What do you think a stimulus is? It's spending -- that's the whole point! Seriously."
-- Barack Obama
A huge crowd at the Continental Lounge in Rosslyn, Va., Thursday for Stimulus Happy Hour. Young right-wingers were seriously priming the pump with a Keynesian fervor Paul Krugman would admire. At this bleak moment of utter despair, these patriotic Americans did their part to restore Hope by promoting full employment in the hospitality and distilled spirits industries. They're not only economic libertarians (they spend it freely) but they are also extreme social conservatives (they socialize extremely often).

To chronicle this pivotal moment in our nation's economic history -- "the direst financial catastrophe since the Panic of 1857," according to R.J. Lehmann -- they called upon the neutral, objective services of The Man With the Pink Camera.

Jim Antle and Philip Klein of the American Spectator, Moira Bagley of the New Majority, Liz Mair of New Media Strategies, and American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire.

Liz Mair, David Weigel of The Washington Independent, and Republican strategist Sean Hackbarth.

Jessica Cantelon of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and Amanda Carpenter of

Republican strategist Nathan Martin and Liz Mair. (Yeah, I know, she's such a camera hog, isn't she?)

Thankful to have escaped the Hindenburg-at-Lakehurst crash of Culture11 -- "Kuo, the humanities!" -- James Poulos now earns a surprisingly lucrative living as a postmodern pool hustler.

American Spectator advertising director Catherine Ruddy congratulates mom-to-be Courtney Poulos after Mr. Poulos sank the 8-ball on a three-bumper shot to win $20 from . . .

. . . Jillian Bandes, who's wondering how to explain to J.P. that, in addition to losing $20, she also promised Poulos an assignment as Athens bureau chief for the Spectator.

Jeremy Lott (right) in a rare moment of good cheer, shortly before plunging back into his accustomed Stygian gloom.

Nathan Martin, Brooke "The Jefferson 1" Oberwetter and noted economist R.J. "We're SO Doomed" Lehmann.

While Phil Klein and John Tabin discuss the geopolitical significance of Iran's missile launch, David Weigel checks his iPhone for Facebook updates from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Obama's in the White House, the economy's in the toilet and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is about two-thirds of the way to having an ICBM. So why is Scott Hogenson smiling?

Soren Dayton can't figure it out, either.

American Spectator editorial director Wlady Pleszczynski, far right. (Ba-dum-BUM! "I got a million of 'em folks. I tell ya, I just flew in from Cleveland, and man, are my arms tired! I'll be here until Tuesday, folks, but it's OK -- you can start laughing tonight. So, anyway, an Irish guy, a Jewish guy and a Polish guy walk into a bar . . .")

Amanda Carpenter has 'real journalistic standards' and . . .

. . . a regular gig on Fox News, so the fact that she is a dangerous right-wing extremist will be politely overlooked by her relentlessly centrist new employer.

Congratulations, Amanda. Remember: Anything you can do to undermine that arrogant twerp Birnbaum will be dearly appreciated by your newsroom colleagues.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

First, they came for the pythons . . .

(BUMPED; UPDATES BELOW) Democrats in Congress are pushing legislation that would devastate the hobby -- and damage the small businesses -- of a group of American hobbyists: Snake collectors.

The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (HR669), sponsored by Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam.) and co-sponsored by several House Democrats including Alcee Hastings and Ron Klein of Florida, has got the "reptile geeks" up in arms:
If passed as written this bill will BAN the import, purchase, sale, trade and breeding of many, many reptiles and amphibians... including Boa, Python and Eunectes [anacondas -ed.]. If this bill passes it will destroy the reptile community and industry overnight!
The U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers says this bill, although promoted as an "environmental" measure, is being pushed in response to an alarmist report, "Broken Screens," published in 2007 by the animal-rights group Defenders of Wildlife. In their petition to stop HR669, USARK says:

-- There is NO evidence to support the premise that the continued import of Boa, Python & Eunectes would negatively impact the economy, environment, or human or animal species health.
-- Broken Screens, the report which is the basis for the writing of H.R. 669, is not a science based document. It is a propaganda piece produced by a radical environmentalist group in league with the Animal Rights Movement.
-- The so called Risk Assessment measures in this bill take a Guilty Until Proven Innocent approach that flies in the face of reason and promotes prejudicial treatment of all animals listed. -- Citizens of the United States are appalled that well funded special interest groups are able to promote fiction as fact and we demand Boa, Python and Eunectes be removed from H.R. 669.

I was alerted to HR669 by a well-informed source -- my 16-year-old son, Jim, whose snake collection includes the ball python pictured above.

As with CPSIA -- which threatens independent American businesses with "National Bankruptcy Day" if it goes into effect -- HR669 looks like another example of the Democratic congressional majority's appetite for unthinking regulation that creates burdens for businesses and individuals.

If the Republican Party's new chairman Michael Steele is looking for an issue to move forward, maybe the "reptile geeks" are a constituency worth cultivating. "Save Our Snakes" might be an unlikely rallying cry, so how about: "Don't Tread On Me!"

UPDATE (SUN. 2/1 PM): Just got off the phone with Andrew Wyatt, president of the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, who says that the H.R. 669 ban isn't just about snakes, but will also affect other species of exotic pets.

"There's all kinds of animals involved in it," said Wyatt. "It's an attempt to ban almost every animal that's not native to the United States."

Wyatt certainly can't be accused of being "anti-environment." A lifetime outdoorsman, he runs Outer Banks Wild, an eco-tourism and education enterprise based in North Carolina's Outer Banks. "I love my environment -- I live in the outdoors," Wyatt says.

However, Wyatt says ordinary pro-environment activists like him are trying to raise public awareness of the "very radical agenda" of the Human Society of the United States, which he calls a "powerful animal-rights extremist" group. HSUS is "hiding behind the facade" of mainstream concerns about "kittens and puppies" while actually pursuing radicalism, Wyatt says. And, he says, HSUS is attempting to ban boas and pythons because that exploits "prejudice against reptiles."

"They are anti-human. . . . It's crazy," Wyatt says.

UPDATE II: Welcome Reptile Geeks!

UPDATE III: Andrew Roth hates snakes, but guess what he hates more?

UPDATE IV (Thurs. 2/5): Linked by the F3 Coalition. Just heard the Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) "just introduced a similar bill in the Senate S373." My source says:
[A]fter squandering untold millions on projects to save the Everglades . . . HSUS has convinced [Nelson] that he can be the Hero of the Everglades and save his legacy by championing this high profile but meritless Bill. There is no credible scientific evidence to support wasting taxpayers money to destroy thousands of families and small businesses with this issue.
Conservative activists have informed Hill staffers about this effort, and we may start seeing action soon.

'Grassroots Woodstock'

Both Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin will speak at CPAC Feb. 26-28. Hmmm. Guess they couldn't get any really big names like David Brooks or Kathleen Parker.

Wait until my Samoan attorney hears about this . . .

Do the Porky!

New dance sensation sweeping the nation!

(Thanks to Aaron S. in the graphics department.)

Smoking babies

Ann Coulter fisks the New York Times:
Thus, the Times writes warmly of single mothers, always including an innocent explanation: "Many of these women followed a similar and familiar pattern in having their first child: They planned to marry, found they hadn't by their 30s, looked some more and then decided to have a child without a husband." At which point, a stork showed up with their babies.
So apparently, single motherhood could happen to anyone!
How about: These smokers followed a similar and familiar pattern, they planned never to start smoking, found themselves working long nights at the law firm and then decided to have a cigarette to stay alert.
(H/T: James Bates.) Pregnancy is not a random accident. The demographic distribution of the phenomenon follows discernible patterns. The key to understanding the NYTimes approach is to think of the Times writer as standing six inches from a Seurat painting, looking at the dabs of paint, afraid to stand back and describe the overall pattern.

CBO: 'It Won't Work'

Great minds think alike:
President Obama's economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.
CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.
Who told you this first, huh?

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

UPDATE: Harry Reid says he has enough GOP Senators to pass the Weimar America Act of 2009. Michelle Malkin is on the case.

You thought you'd heard the last word on the Culture11 Hindenburg?

Richard Spencer of Taki's Magazine lays the knife deep in the bones of the decaying carcass:
In the end, Culture 11 wasn’t just focused on all the boring non-culture I associated with the late-90s, but had itself become a kind of dot-com company, replete with ill-informed funders, an ill-defined product, massive capital expenditures, and a guru-like CEO who’s in fact naïve and buffoonish.
At last night's CEI open house, I talked to a former Culture11 staffer or three, and one of them was keen to inform me that they had a gut feeling something was badly wrong with the project, but were in no position to fix it.

UPDATE: Scott Payne says farewell, and also does a roundup of reaction at The Moderate Voice. Anyone else who feels the need to throw a shovel-full of dirt on the casket, e-mail me the link. I wouldn't want to miss anything.

UPDATE II: Flame war in the comment field? I've done a series of columns for TakiMag, but nobody's asked me to write about 9/11 Trutherism, and . . . well, I write for money.

The Doomsayer-in-Chief

Barack Obama, bidding fair to become the 21st century's Jimmy Carter, lays a heavy downer on us via the the Washington Post op-ed page:
By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression.
(Via Memeorandum.) Read the rest of it if you want, but the key word is "inherited": Blame Republicans First!

Amazing that our new president can find time in his busy schedule to pen a 767-word op-ed column. What further wonders can we expect from the creator of the Department of Unicorns and Rainbows?

UPDATE: "So much for 'rejecting the politics of fear' "

UPDATE II: Michael Goldfarb on "The Audacity of Panic."

Free markets, free beer

The Competitive Enterprise Institute held an open house Wednesday night to show off their new offices at 1899 L Street. Policy wonks, journalists and sundry activists of the free-market right turned out for the wine and cheese and wine, wine, wine. The reception was scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., but when I left at 10, the soiree was still going strong. Photos via the famous BarbieCam(TM):

American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire and Heritage Foundation's David Barnes.

Sean Higgins of Investor's Business Daily and Jeremy Lott of the Capital Research Center.

Jamin Guenette of IHS, Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center and Franklin Raff of Radio America.

Center is Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine.

Kevin Mooney of the Washington Examiner and Nicki Kurokawa of the Cato Institute.

At right is CEI Communication Director Christine Hall.

CEI Director of Development Al Canata, Derek Hunter of First Friday, Garrett Murch of, James Dellinger of the Examiner, and David Barnes.

CEI's John Berlau, Brookes Fellow Lene Johansen, and Christa Davis of Corporate Press.

ACORN fighting over the spoils

ACORN is riven by an internal feud, investigative journalist Matthew Vadum reports at The American Spectator:
When the extortion and vote fraud conglomerate ACORN isn't staging sit-ins to pressure banks to lend to high-risk borrowers, busing schoolchildren to the nation's capital to protest proposed tax cuts, campaigning for big government policies, or raising the dead from battleground-state cemeteries and leading them to the voting booth, it is at war with itself.
Months after the radical left-wing group gave the bum's rush to disgraced founder Wade Rathke last summer, leaders of the normally cohesive Association of Community Organizations for Reform's network began aligning themselves with internal factions.
The process accelerated in October when ACORN national board members Karen Inman and Marcel Reid were unceremoniously booted from the board for asking too many questions. They wanted to know more about a nearly $1 million embezzlement that senior ACORN officials covered up for eight years. . . .
Read the whole thing.

NY Times editor mocks Ann Coulter?

Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, gave this mocking answer to a reader's question in an online chat:
Lunch at the Four Seasons is always a high point. Today it's my weekly tête-à-tête with Bill O'Reilly. He's really not the Neanderthal blowhard he plays on TV. He's totally in on the joke. After a couple of cosmopolitans, he does a wicked impression of Ann Coulter. We usually spend the lunch working up outlandish things he can say about The New York Times and making fun of Fox executives. (Once Rupert Murdoch showed up for a lunch date, and O'Reilly had to hide under the table for half an hour.)
(Via Newsbusters.) I'd love to give Ann Coulter a chance to respond to this cheap shot. Unfortunately, Miss Coulter continues to deny my requests for a phone interview, so . . .

UPDATE: Speaking of the New York Times, Tom Kuntz takes notice of my Splice Today essay comparing Miss Coulter to Hunter S. Thompson.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Palin means

Yuval Levin:
[B]y November 4, the day of the election, Sarah Palin had been transformed into one of the most divisive figures in recent American history. There was almost no middle ground between those who had come to adore her and those who believed she
represented just about every dark and dangerous element of contemporary American politics. In choosing Palin, McCain had hoped to shake up the race; but the fault lines exposed by the Palin earthquake were not the ones he had thought they might be. He had wanted to run against the Washington status quo as a reformer with an independent streak. He believed he was picking a fellow reformist politician with a history of taking on the leadership of her own party, and that Palin would prove acceptable to the Republican base because of her social conservatism. Instead, Palin became an instant cultural and political magnet, attracting some and repelling others and dragging a helpless McCain into a culture war for which he had little stomach. Indeed, the overheated response to Palin's presence on the national stage, from both friend and foe, was oddly disconnected from Palin's actual actions, statements, and record. It was a turn of events no one could have anticipated, and one that has much to teach us about American political life in our day. . . .
(Via Conservatives4Palin.)

UPDATE: From Allahpundit's Quote of the Day:
[T]hese members of the intellectual elite . . . see lower-middle-class populists like Palin and their supporters as profoundly ill-suited for governance, because they lack the accoutrements required for its employment -- especially in foreign policy, which, even more than domestic affairs, is thought to be an intellectual exercise.
Exactly. Foreign policy is, and always has been, more of an elite enterprise. Harvard, Yale, Princeton -- the striped-pants crowd, the well-bred wussies at Foggy Bottom, who cannot imagine that the Ordinary American's basic instincts about foreign policy are as valid as the elite's sophisticated, nuanced understanding.

Algier Hiss was part of that elite. Richard Nixon was not. Dean Acheson was part of that elite. Joe McCarthy was not. It isn't just left-right, it's up-down. If a yokel governor from Alaska is as fit to conduct U.S. foreign policy as a graduate of Georgetown School of International Affairs, you see, then the value of the elite's credentials is undermined. Sarah Palin's very existence as a national candidate was a challenge to their prerogative, and they had to counter-attack to validate their authority. "We are in charge, and not you."

And what gets me is their arrogance in thinking that we're too stupid to comprehend all this -- that we don't understand their motives.

Only 135 votes vs. S-CHIP

Wow, that's discouraging. It's "health care expansion funded with a massive tax hike on smokers," says Michelle Malkin, who seems to have temporarily forgotten basic economics. It won't be just smokers, because it can't be. 

Supply and demand: Higher taxes will reduce smoking, so that total federal tobacco tax revenue will fail to meet the "fixed-pie" calculus of the Central Economic Planners, who will in turn act to fund the plan through general revenue. Meanwhile, costs will far exceed projections because of massive over-utilization. (The free-beer principle: If it's an open bar, your estimate of the amount needed to supply a party of X number of people will almost always be too low, and you'll end up making a beer run before midnight.)

You -- yes, you, the wheat-germ and alfalfa-sprouts organic tofu gobblers -- will eventually be taxed to pay for this boondoggle.

In three words: It Won't Work.

UPDATE: New Obama slogan: Smoke up! It's for the children!

Video: Palin for mayor, 1996

Via Conservatives4Palin:

Looking at that video, I submit that anyone who voted against "a more conservative and efficient government" should have been clubbed like a baby harp seal.

UPDATE: BTW, note the rapid growth in C4P's traffic: After 24 days, they're already knocking down 1.7K visits per day average. Smart fellows, and lots of real news on that site.

'Self-referential hipness'

Too terse to be truly gonzo, I think, but Fear and Loathing in Georgetown had this on the Culture11 shutdown:
I hope for two things:
1) The writers at Culture11 all find new employment, especially Poulos.
2) That they recognize the failure was a result, not of the sagging economy, but allowing their self-referential hipness to get out of control. It went to your heads like a nerd who becomes a popstar overnight.
Which sums up something important, I think. Competitive Enterprise Institute is having an open house tonight at their new HQ. Why am I mentioning this? Expect updates . . .

UPDATE: The reason I was mentioning the CEI open house was because it was a news opportunity. How many journalists showed up at the open house? Lots. How many were shrewd enough to see it as a news opportunity? Only one.

Granted, that's just a sort of society-news tidbit -- the stuff that shows up in community newspaper features called "Scene & Heard" or some such. But somebody's got to do that sort of stuff, and the haughty arrogance of those who think such minor-league reporting to be beneath them has always disturbed me. The lean-and-mean journalism operations of the future will require more versatile generalists, and fewer narrow specialists.


Dan Riehl accuses Jon Henke of "silly, if not sad defeatism." I'm thinking that maybe Henke, who worked for Mitch McConnell in 2007 trying to get the Senate Republicans hooked into the 'sphere, is "defeatist" because . . . well, he got a good, close look at Senate Republicans, which is never an encouraging thing for conservatives.

I agree with Dan that a GOP comeback in 2010 is a real possibility, especially in the House, where the Obama Age seems to have inspired the Republican caucus to grow a pair. Smart money Republican donors should be giving to House candidates (and Club for Growth) and let the senile Senators fend for themselves.

Socialism on trial

"The 2008 campaign was never an honest choice between conservatism and liberalism. Really, it was just a referendum on George Bush . . . What Republicans want to do and need to do is put socialism on trial. Socialism has been a conservative talking point since the late 1880s. . . . As a populist anti-Washington party, we’ve always done best."
-- Craig Shirley, Reagan biographer

Sounds a lot like my idea of "Libertarian Populism."

Silence of the Vagina Warriors

Darline Click noticed that the fembloggers -- who "have no problem with nasty mockery of Michelle Duggar" -- were suspiciously silent about the bizarre case of the woman who got in-vitro fertilization in order to give birth to octuplets, bringing her total to 14.

Then, one of them piped up with some weirdness about "the issue is childbearing by low-income women of color" -- telling me something I didn't know, and offering to take me places I'm not sure I want to go. Ace of Spades on Saturday:
Incidentally, I notice that Feministing hasn't commented on this at all, and I went back through five dreary pages of posts. Their usual joke -- "It's a vagina, not a clown car" -- is MIA. They tend to do this: There is no male villain in the story they can yell at about this, so it's not a story as far as they're concerned. If she'd had a husband, they would have posted about this twenty five times by now.
Well, finally, Little Ms. Presidential Push-Up Bra speaks:
On the whole, I want to caution people against assuming that this case has anything to do with the experiences of most women. . . . [H]er case is not especially good evidence that the law or doctors have a right to start pushing women around and making our reproductive decisions for us. The far more common cases are those when control is yanked away from the woman in question because her judgment is sound, but the control freak doctor or politician is on a sexist or racist high horse.
Ah, all those sexist/racist control-freak doctor/politicians with nothing to do all day but push women around! You see, this is just it: The news qua news is not of interest to Amanda. It's all about the Fierce Fury of Her Vagina, terrorizing those phallocentric oppressors, so as to elicit cheers from the sisterhood for her Intelligence and Courage, because taking on the powerful National Association of Racist/Sexist Doctor/Politicians is not a job for the faint of heart.

Ace is dead on target: In the absence of a husband who can be blamed for the octomom's oppression -- for a mother of 14 is certainly a victim in the eyes of the Sisterhood of the Sacred Abortion -- then the doctor must be blamed, or some unrelated rant about . . . something. There is exactly one narrative Amanda Marcotte is interested in, and because the octomom story doesn't confirm that narrative (indeed, it may be dispositive) then it is ignored as long as possible. When it cannot be ignored, throw some pretzel logic and fulminations about "choice" at it, then move on.

The odd thing is that there is any readership at all for such stuff.

UPDATE: From Aaron S. in our graphic department, behold . . . The Battling Beavers of Planned Parenthood:

UPDATE: Linked at Conservative Grapevine.

Hmmm, who's 'qualified'?

Go down the list of Obama's disastrous nominations, and ask yourself why the media spent nine weeks screaming that Sarah Palin wasn't qualified for high office.

Michelle Malkin smacks David Brooks, but good. I double-dog dare him to show his face at CPAC.

Dead hillbillies. Who cares?

Not the media, not even Fox News:
[N]o news anchors from any of the Big 3 or any cable news channel including Fox News; No Sheperd Smith or Greta or any satellite trucks to document the devastation.
Something about the bitter gun-clingers makes their suffering less newsworthy. If a Republican's in the White House, and Democrats are dying in New Orleans, that's news. If Obama's in the White House, and people are dying in Kentucky, well . . . 65% voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary, and 58% voted for that stupid Republican loser in November. Obviously, every network TV producer in New York figures, "So what? People like that don't deserve to live anyway." I mean, it's not like it's a missing blonde girl in Aruba or some important news like that . . .

Michael Dubriel, R.I.P.

Catholic blogger died yesterday in Alabama after collapsing at the gym, leaving behind two young sons and a widow, blogger Amy Welborn.

Instapundit, Rod Dreher and K-Lo blog about it, but . . . My God, I'm 49 and have been smoking since I was 14. Dubriel turned 50 in November, and died at the gym.

My Samoan attorney . . .

. . . may be coming to CPAC. It's a question of whether he's driving up in the Red Shark, or just hopping a plane. Also, if he flies, does he come via Dulles -- closer to my house -- or does he fly into Reagan, in the heart of downtown?

Either way, I told him to rent a two-room suite at the Omni Shoreham and try to make friends with Jesse the hotel security man. We'll need the suite to interview all the hot Republican women high-ranking dignitaries who show up at the invitation-only VIP reception. And since high-ranking dignitaries at CPAC are inevitably accompanied by swarms of unruly "citizen journalists" trying to mooch the free booze score an exclusive "scoop," Jesse must be warned that important investigative journalism can sometimes be rather noisy.

But don't worry, we're all trained professionals. And as my attorney must explain to Jesse, this kind of work is protected by the First Amendment, and I'm sure that $50 and a quart of single malt devotion to Constitutional principles will persuade Jesse that his duty is to make sure that our sordid bacchanalia deadline-sensitive reporting is not interrupted.

Also: Since it is entirely possible that some dignitaries from Alaska may show up, Jesse must told to keep a keen eye out for dangerous stalkers like Kathleen Parker and David Brooks. If those deranged weirdos are seen anywhere near the Omni Shoreham, they should be tazed immediately, and without mercy.

Not too many Samoans in the Federalist Society, but my man's one of the best.

Liberal economics, by Amy

An oxymoron? No, just a moron:
I'm actually starting to get offended by the rhetoric about how we need private-sector, not public-sector, jobs from whatever stimulus plan we hatch.
First of all, jobs are jobs and we need them, so let's get them all "stimulated" and into action. But secondly, can I just say that the only people I know who are secure in their jobs are people with government jobs? My friends, family, and students working for private companies or for themselves are getting hosed. Those of us working for the county, state, and country are relatively secure.
So why would private sector jobs be, in these uncertain times, preferable to public sector ones?
It's like an Onion parody or something Iowahawk might write, but Amy is apparently sincere. Obviously, she should get a job with the Department of Unicorns and Rainbows.

(Tip from Donald Douglas.)

Daschle gets swiftboated

It's just so darned unfair the way the vicious right-wing attack machine keeps swiftboating honest, upstanding progressive public servants like Tom "What Tax?" Daschle.

UPDATE: Linked by Point of a Gun.

Palin: 'We don't need no stinkin' stimulus!'

Well, something like that:
Governor Sarah Palin again today expressed her serious concerns with President Obama’s proposed stimulus package. In a joint letter sent to Alaska's congressional delegation, Governor Palin, House Speaker Mike Chenault and Senate President Gary Stevens cautioned that unrestrained spending, initiation of new programs that the states may be asked to continue after the federal stimulus is gone, and the borrowing of hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for it may result in serious economic problems in the future.
Governor Palin recently traveled to the nation's capital to personally express her concerns with the stimulus package with business, economic and political leaders. The trip was not an effort to endorse or lobby for the current stimulus package now before Congress.
"I agree with the decision of Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young to vote NO on the package," Governor Palin said.
Hmmm. "Libertarian Populism"? "It Won't Work"? "The Bible vs. the Bailout"? Nah, she'd have to actually be able to "read and write" to know anything about that stuff. Certainly those "ordinary barbarians" at Conservatives4Palin don't go in for any of that fancy high-falutin' book learnin' crap.

The chutzpah of 'civility'

Peter J. Parisi of the Washington Times:
The day before Barack Obama's inauguration as president, "Purple Nation" columnist Lanny Davis pleaded on this page for a return to civility in our nation's politics.
Mr. Davis, a proudly self-professed liberal Democrat, announced his co-founding of what he is calling the Civility Project in a bid "to change the polarizing, attack-oriented political culture that has become all too common in recent years and, instead, to bring civility back as the staple of American politics and life."
Sorry, Lanny, as worthy as your aims may be, that horse fled the barn long ago. And it was your side that battered down the barn door.
Beginning shortly after President Bush assumed office in January 2001 and running through his departure from the White House eight years later, Democrats directed nonstop invective at Mr. Bush, and his call for a "new tone" in Washington went unheeded on the left. From "selected, not elected" to then-Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri calling Mr. Bush "a miserable failure" in September 2003 to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid calling him a "loser" during a civics discussion with a group of teenagers at a high school in May 2005 to Howard Dean's many rants to the MoveOn crowd likening him to Adolf Hitler, the political incivility of "recent years" Mr. Davis decries has originated almost entirely on his side of the political aisle.
For the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee now to feign outrage (for fundraising purposes) at radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh's saying "I hope he fails," referring to President Obama's socialist economic agenda, takes some serious chutzpah - even for the DCCC.
Chutzpah? Oh, well, you wouldn't want to accuse Democrats of having . . . what's that word, Michelle?

UPDATE: The PW-lanche!

Loyalty to losers

Be a political operative or be a journalist, but when you try to be both, don't think we don't notice:
NYT: Ex-Journalists New Jobs Fuel Debate on Favoritism
To which Jules Crittenden replies: "There's a debate?" (Via Instapundit.) This is a subject dear to the hearts of conservatives and, indeed, is quite nearly the raison d'etre of the conservative blogosphere. As Rush Limbaugh says, the problem with talking about liberal bias in the media is that he could do 15 hours a week and not even begin to scratch the surface.

I complained during the campaign season about certain conservative pundits who worked for various GOP primary contenders, and/or for the McCain campaign, knowing (a) what the benefit was to them for having gone through that revolving door, (b) that they would return to punditry pretending that no transaction had taken place, and (c) that upon their return, most of their readers would discount the possibility that they might make another such transaction.

If you've watched this kind of revolving-door thing as closely as I have for as long as I have, you start keeping handy a supply of salt, since everything that most political journalists and pundits write must be viewed in light of the possibility that they're angling for a campaign job, a speechwriter's gig, or some other career perk from the politicians they cover.

One of the reasons I'm always throwing elbows and raising hell is to make it clear that I have no such ambitions -- although if Bob Barr had won the White House, the Senate confirmation hearings for the ambassador-designate to Argentina would be the wildest thing ever broadcast on C-SPAN. ("Senator, I'm sorry, but I must once again assert my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.") There were only 68.9 million votes and the threat of a bipartisan filibuster standing between me and $145K a year.

Am I objective about Bob Barr? Absolutely. Am I going to tell you everything I know about Bob Barr? Absolutely not. Why? Because nobody will pay me enough to screw Bob over like that. See, that's the thing: The big money in the 30-pieces-of-silver racket is signing up with the winners, then screwing them over by selling to a book publisher the "insider exclusive" about a job the taxpayers already paid you to do once. Public service for private advantage. Nice work if you can get it.

I write for money, and loyalty to losers doesn't pay anything, while betraying a winner can be very lucrative indeed. Betraying a loser -- the vicious stuff that "McCain campaign officials" did to Sarah Palin -- is an act so lowdown and cowardly that the only thing you might get in return is a politcal analyst job at CBS News. The "smart" thing to do as a political journalist is to keep your cards close to your chest until you think you've spotted the winner, then ass-kiss your way into a staff gig. But I'm too stupid to play that game, so the only politicians who ever want to hang out with me are the guaranteed sure-fire losers.

That probably explains why I so underestimated Michael Steele's chances to win the RNC chairmanship, because he never seemed to mind hanging out with me. So if he is not going to say anything about that December 2006 meeting where I explained my brilliant plan for him to win the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, then I am certainly willing to pretend that conversation never happened. And if somebody asks me if I'm just joking, well . . . what's it worth to them

Nobody trusts a guy who kids around like that (ROTFLMAO!) which is just the way I like it. Far be it from me to act all serious and responsible while I talk my way into a White House job, then sign a fat contract with a division of Simon & Schuster to backstab the guy who trusted me with that serious responsibility.

No, I'm very proud to be regarded as an irresponsible clown, a loose cannon on the deck who might start randomly firing off truth at any moment. Just a greedy capitalist who's only in it for the money, but because I'm honest about that -- and there is nothing more honest than pure capitalism -- I don't worry much about silly stuff like "conflicts of interest." I mean, there's no way in hell that anything I ever say is going to be quoted anonymously in the New York Times with an attribution to "a senior administration official," right?

It's kind of funny how two-faced backstabbers get paid big bucks to sell out their patrons, while an honest capitalist has to scrap for every dime. It's easier to be honest, if somewhat less lucrative, when you make it clear up front that you're completely untrustworthy. No "smart" person would play it that way, but when I come home at night, my wife doesn't ask, "So, honey, who did you sell out today?"

Better to be a valuable friend and a dangerous enemy than the other way around.

Indiscreet? Sometimes. But if I slip up and accidentally say the wrong thing to the wrong person, my friends can always say, "Aww, that guy's crazy," and nobody's going to argue otherwise, least of all me. (Who knows when the insanity defense might come in handy? If only G. Gordon Liddy had thought of that possibility . . .) So my friends are guaranteed "plausible deniability" up front. Suppose, hypothetically, I were to say that the Libertarian Party National Convention reminded me of a Cheech & Chong movie, nobody could possibly take that kind of remark seriously, could they?
"Senator, on the advice of counsel, I regret that I must once against assert my Fifth Amendment right . . .".
Damn. Buenos Aires is lovely this time of year.