Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thank you, Bush 41!

Oh, sweet mother of ironies:
First Lady Michelle Obama is kicking off a White House push to underscore the importance of volunteerism in San Francisco on Monday -- a move that will have political figures here elbowing each other to get in the frame with her.
But step aside, folks, it's California First Lady Maria Shriver who snags that honor before all. . . .
(Editor's note: Remember how all those celebrities in California strove to "get in the frame with" Laura Bush? . . . Hello? Is this thing on?)
Then, Michelle Obama delivers the keynote at Moscone Center, before the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. That meeting, hosted by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light Institute . . .
Ah, the "thousand points of light" hailed by President George H.W. Bush as he celebrated that "kinder, gentler America" which he handed on a silver platter to Bill Clinton four years later and which his son delivered, gift-wrapped with a festive bow of "compassionate conservatism," to the Obamas. (Read My Lips: No More Bushes!)

Michelle Malkin links this S.F. Chronicle story to point to an angle that interests me very much:
Guess where the First Lady will be on Monday?
Why, she’ll be delivering the keynote address at the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco.
And who is co-sponsoring the conference?
Why, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)!
Yes, that’s the same CNCS that is the parent organization of AmeriCorps.
It’s the same CNCS that last year suspended Sacramento mayor/Obama crony Kevin Johnson from receiving federal funds after then-inspector general Gerald Walpin blew the whistle on massive fraud and abuse of AmeriCorps dollars for personal and political gain. . . .

If you haven't read the whole thing (including The Other Michelle's California itinerary), then most certainly you should read the whole thing. However . . .

When you come back from reading the whole thing, let's talk about something very important: The reason Barack Obama is president is because the people in charge of the Republican Party are stupid. And I'm not talking about SAT scores. I'm talking about the kind of stupid that thinks:

  • Republicans can win by trying to beat liberals at the "compassion"/"social justice" schtick;
  • Republicans can create government programs that won't be taken over and subverted to expand the Democratic Party the next time Democrats win an election; and
  • Republicans who think it's a good idea to nominate a short, bald, grumpy 72-year-old for president.

Perhaps you fall into one of those three categories, in which case, you should never look into a mirror without seeing a face blushed with shame for having elected Obama president. Had the Republican Party stuck to its knitting, The Other Michelle would not be first lady, but because of "compassion" and Crazy Cousin John . . . On Super Tuesday 2008, somebody wrote this:

McCain is not a conservative, he will lose in November . . .
And the same person wrote this:
John McCain lost the election Sept. 24 and Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. Nothing that is likely to happen between now and Nov. 4 can change this outcome.
Really, shouldn't being right count for something?

But it doesn't count for . . . well, it doesn't count for much. Why is this? Because the stupid people who run the GOP (are you listening, John Cornyn?) invariably heed the voices of The Republicans Who Really Matter.

Someone recently called attention to the fact that a certain writer is "enthralled with the leftosphere's 'association with academia,'" like Professor Glenn Reynolds is chopped liver and Professor William Jacobson is a side order of fries. Attention was called to this backhanded insult to conservative academic bloggers by the pickle on the lunch plate, Professor Donald Douglas, observing that the bearer of insults "argues like a lefty." Gee, ya think so?

Some of you might have noticed that there was actual news today, while some of us were distracted by other matters. I'm tired of being distracted. Remind me one of these days to write an essay entitled, "Exhaustion Has Consequences." Think Small.

BTW, I just had to borrow Ed's troll-hammer and delete a couple of comments on a thread. Use your own bandwidth, Anonymous. You've abused my hospitality once too often. Also, sensei Moe Lane points out that he's got some practical tips on blogging to offer.

There is a saying revered among the sensei: Thou shalt not suffer a troll to waste thy bandwidth. Few are the sensei, and many are their sayings.

Anything else? Yes. Little Miss Attila. More sensei wisdom: When in doubt, link Little Miss Attila.

UPDATE: Daley Gator is praying for me. TrogloPundit is moved to pity. Trog, you know who you should pity? The Wisconsinian with whom you partied in Minneapolis last August.

When I was driving down to D.C. on Thursday, I was so furious I was ready to dismantle that boy. Fortunately, I restrained my wrath, and he bought me a cup of coffee. Then I spotted a sign next to an elevator that directed me to the office to which your friend should have taken me immediately upon my arrival.

The most valuable qualities in journalism are aggression and resourcefulness. When other reporters are eating your lunch and your sources aren't answering their phones, you get angry. You are being paid to get the story, and if you aren't getting the story, you're cheating your employer out of a paycheck.

Faced with the alternative of becoming a worthless laughingstock, you get in your car and start driving with one idea in mind: Finding that son of a bitch who stands between you and your story.

Well, Trog, on Thursday, your buddy was that son of a bitch. Ask Mrs. Other McCain what kind of mad Celtic fury had gripped my soul when I left the house that afternoon. Ask Rick Moran what sort of bloody imprecations I was shouting into my cell-phone as I blazed down the freeway at 90 mph en route to what, for all I knew at the time, was going to be a fruitless run-around by the son of a bitch who wasn't returning my calls.

Trust me. I was going to leave Washington with the story, or else I was going to become the story. Maybe the story was going to be my obituary, but . . .

Anyway, when I have to drive 70 miles, pay $9 to park and walk three blocks because you didn't answer your phone, don't expect me to be in a pleasant mood when I arrive. And I'm prepared to make that trip again, if necessary.

Conor: No Turning Left

By Smitty
There has been some back-and-forth with Conor in the comments of another ToM thread. My reply to him was eaten by the browser, and he really merits more complete treatment anyway.

World's briefest bio: Baptist, sailor, engineering undergraduate, a couple of Master's. Geekier than most. That's also about as much as I know of Conor.

Right. Then we have this DoubleThink Online article by Conor. He sets the scene of a blind date with a chick in a coffee shop, having selected someone who is a "whip smart, beautiful woman who loves talking politics" (NTTAWWT).
Escaping this ghetto requires understanding why the media slants left. Contra the least-thoughtful conservative critics, there isn’t any elite liberal conspiracy at work. Bias creeps in largely because the narrative conventions of journalism are poor at capturing basic conservative and libertarian truths.
Conor, I completely disagree with you and what I feel is your naïveté. Spend some time on Stanton Evans. Are we to think that JournoList is either a) unique or b) simply a side-effect of technology? While I won't go full-on tinfoil hat on you, to ignore indications that our domestic socialist nitwits had at least some agenda overlap with the dudes who would have buried us is simply irresponsible:
As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia.
The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the “leading elements” of society through their agents of influence. (See, for example, Stephen Koch’s Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals; summary by Koch here) This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.
So, fine: Go on and bemoan the difficulty of describing the negative effects of rent control in sufficiently simple terms to impress a hypothetical date in DC.
The right, in other words, has a problem with narrative. The stubborn facts of this world contradict pieties left, right, and libertarian, occassionally forcing each group to revise its thinking. But the core critiques of liberalism intrinsically resist the narrative form. Who can foresee the unintended consequences of government intervention in advance? Who can pinpoint the particular threats to liberty posed by an ever-growing public sector?
No, Conor: Your problem is with narrative. Can you try parable? I submit that if you can't break a topic down into buyer/market/seller terms, you may either a) not grasp the topic, or b) simply lack teaching skills. Economics isn't Biochemistry. The contemporary evidence seems to indicate nobody understands economics. However, if the argument doesn't relate fairly cleanly back to gazinta==gazouta, I suspect that the speaker is trying to have me on. Do you look at the speaker's résumé and just naturally assume they know WTF if the proper school is listed?

The difficulty of critiquing flawed liberal positions and asserting alternatives before it’s too late is exacerbated by the conservative intellectual tradition’s lack of penetration into academia. Colleges and journalism schools rarely teach Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek, or Milton Friedman. How can journalists unversed in such thinkers recognize when facts validate their ideas?
These asymmetries help explain why the right has sought to discredit the mainstream media while funding its own ideologically conceived outlets. It isn't just a matter of "playing the refs." Every political movement has a place for publications where debate among fellow travelers helps refine its most nuanced ideas and where the faithful can be rallied behind them.
Conor: "the conservative intellectual tradition’s lack of penetration into academia". Wow, those blinders of yours . . . I'll infer you haven't seen Indoctrinate-U? You've some homework.

Oh, and your tender sensibilities were ruffled by the original title for Goldberg's book? "even those on the left who regularly engage conservatives would assume bad faith. They did, even after the title changed." Faith? It's not a religious question! Of course they will say they assume bad faith. At the same time you glibly assume good faith on their part, in fact. Hint: they are not purusuing truth. Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." Having begun with bogus premises, how do you expect the title of Jonah's book, like some magic spell, to open their shuttered eyes?

Then you're bemoaning the lack of a Buckley or a dozen Wolfes, and applauding the Douthat/Suderman/Poulos/Klein school.
"Unless colleges and journalism schools start assigning Burke, Hayek, Friedman, and quite a few others, the answer depends upon whether the right is willing to invest in talented young people who understand conservatism and libertarianism, but whose foremost loyalty is to investigating their world and conveying whatever they find."
Two links: Pajamas Media and PTJV. Are they publishing you? Far more credible than the Huffington Post with many people.

Let's go back to your dating premise for the whole article, Conor. You've just dropped precious loot into the relationship. It's gone on a while. You've reached the stage where it "cannot survive on commentary and analysis alone". Then the girl tells you she feels she needs a change of narrative. Are you the kind that understands that relationships are about participation, and if she's not holding up her end, and you try to drag the relationship forward like some corpse, then the whole situation is more about your masochism and narcissim? Such is the case with academia. They don't love you. You're a convenient toy. A foil. Someone to use to offer depth to their utopian visions.

You seem to think that there is some value in trying to reform academia by injecting conservatives back in. I offer a different path. Metaphorically burn academaia down. Form a new school. Pajamas Media, Ivory Tower Edition. Don't use the word "narrative". It makes you sound like, for all the protests of disagreement, you secretly covet membership in the lefty club. Kick that post-modern girl to the curb. She's already off with another someone, doing whatever. She's laughing at you. It happens. It's only shameful if you continue to sniff around sounding like you fell out of a Michael McDonald tune:

Repeat: don't hang around with dumb chicks and academics. The inevitable result is that you'll be Turning Left:

Ow. I think that the formerly proud ship U.S.S. Freidersdorf went from sailing the seas, to a brief career as a minesweeper, before settling to a permanent post as a bottomed submarine. Note to self: do not enrage Donald Douglas.

Brutal neo-con regime in Tehran

These vicious enemies of freedom are brutally murdering unarmed civilians in the streets. They warned you if you voted for John McCain, innocent Iranians would be slaughtered by neocons . . . and they were right!

Dude, where's my $423,500?

NIH Funds $423,500 Study of Why
Men Don't Like to Use Condoms

-- Fox News
Look, I could have told them everything they wanted to know when I was 17.

Remember this $423,500 next time somebody tries to tell you that we should trust something -- e.g., health care, energy, banking -- to the the federal government.

Do I have 'a problem with narrative'?

The video shocked America. In February 2004, grainy footage from a security camera at a Florida car wash showed the image of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia being approached and led away by a man with tattoos on his forearms. It was the last time anyone, except her killer, saw the Sarasota sixth-grader alive. . . .
-- Donkey Cons, p. 109
I don't have one of those "Google alerts" that ping me whenever someone somewhere on the Web mentions my name. It's not like I'm someone important like Professor Glenn Reynolds, who needs that kind of service to protect his professional reputation.

As with Kathy Shaidle, a bad reputation has been quite valuable to me, so bloggers could be talking all kinds of smack about me and, unless it drove traffic to the blog, I wouldn't know about it. But I digress . . .

With suspicious alacrity, Conor Friedersdorf showed up in the comments field of a post in which I talked about reporting. He left two comments, of which I can only be bothered with the first:
I've also worked as a newspaper reporter for four years. And I'd love to be paid to report in depth stories. I applied for -- and did not receive -- two grants for the reporting project I proposed at The American Scene. I've got several reported freelance stories in the works. If RSM would like to pay me to report a story once my Atlantic gig is over, I'll take the money and turn in something exceptional.But as someone else once said, I write for money. Culture11 paid me a hell of a lot more than any reporting gig I know to be an editor. I'd love nothing more than to write reported pieces for The Atlantic -- and I plan to do just that one day. But they've got Jim Fallows and Mark Bowden filling up their well. I aspire to be as good as those guys. I'm not there yet.

Aspiring to be as good as Mark Bowden (he of "Black Hawk Down" fame) must be a painful burden. As for seeking foundation grants -- did Hunter S. Thompson ever fill out a grant application? I think not. I've worked for non-profits on a fee-for-service basis, but never anything that required me to write a grant proposal. That's demeaning, especially to a top Hayekian public intellectual.

If I wanted to fly out to Sacramento to report on the St. HOPE scandal, I'd either (a) call up an editor and pitch the idea, or (b) just book the flight and rely on my reporting ability to pay for the trip.

That's the Gonzo way. The fact that I'm publishing this suggestion on my blog indicates that I'm only half-serious about flying to Sacramento. If I really coveted that assignment, I'd already be filing bylines from Sacramento.

Instead, I'm publishing this suggestion in hope that the hotshot young "investigative" punks in D.C. will beat me to it. But who knows? Maybe somebody will lay a thousand bucks on the tip jar, and I'll be in Sacramento by Monday afternoon.

The clock is ticking, punks. Do you feel lucky?

Real reporters don't fill out 501(c) grant applications. Why spend two days writing a proposal, when you could spend those two days writing something that somebody might actually want to read?

If you want to know why I haven't published another book since Donkey Cons, that's it. Publishers have gotten into the abusive habit of expecting authors to turn in what's called a "book proposal," which includes at least two sample chapters plus a marketing plan.

Nothing against writing a short summary and an outline, but . . . "sample chapters," my ass.

That's an insult, and one of the basic problems in the publishing industry is that too many authors are willing to be insulted this way. I didn't mind the sample-chapters routine too much when I was collaborating with Lynn Vincent, because (a) it was our first political book, and (b) Lynn had a well-connected agent who could practically guarantee acceptance of the proposal. But those were the last "sample chapters" I'll ever write.

You're asking a published author to prove he can write a book chapter? F--- you.

Also, if I come to you with a book idea, don't ask me to write your book idea. F--- you.

As for a "marketing plan," if I can get a million hits on a Blogspot site in under a year, I think I can sell a few books. In fact, maybe you should be paying me to tell your so-called "marketing department" what they're doing wrong. So if you want me to write a book for you, call me. But I'm a journalist, not a masochist, so don't expect me to waste my time putting together a "proposal" just to give you the sadistic pleasure of turning me down.

What part of "F--- you" don't you understand?

Same deal with filling out an application for a grant from some 501(c) outfit. About three months ago, I had a long conversation with a guy from a foundation-supported organization who was intrigued by something I'd written on my blog about how to put together a relatively low-cost online news operation. The guy wanted to "pick my brain," as they say.

OK, I'm a consultant, so hit the tip jar and the meter's running while you pick my brain. Take the advice or don't. It's fee-for-service. You paid for the advice, and what you do with the advice is your own business. So, the brain-picker and I had a pleasant conversation, and maybe something will come of all that. Maybe not. But it's up to the other guy to fill out the grant application. I'm a journalist, and real journalists don't do grant applications.

Now, let me show you a picture:

One of the guys in that photo is head honcho at a major non-profit foundation. When Bill Kristol wants some money from that guy, they have breakfast together. There are basically two kinds of people:
  • People who pitch their ideas by filling out grant applications that get turned down; and
  • People who pitch their ideas at restaurants (on the other guy's tab), score the deal on a handshake basis, then go through the formalities of the application process. Better yet, let your intern write the grant proposal, since approval is guaranteed.
Capisca, il mio giovane amico? Honestly, I'm trying to help you here. And Dan Riehl is trying to help you, too. Dan only moved to the D.C. area a couple of years ago, so let's switch to the Q-and-A format:

Q. How did Dan Riehl become the kind of guy who's got Mark Levin posting at his blog?
A. Dan Riehl is not a punk.

Really, it's that simple. If you were a 100% assclown, Dan would ignore you altogether, except maybe to point out the fact that you're a 100% assclown. The fact that Dan would try to teach you something means that he thinks you're no more than 98% assclown, with the potential for reducing your assclown factor, if only you'd pay attention.

When I came to D.C. in November 1997, I knew a lot about journalism, but almost nothing about D.C. I spent the next decade learning about D.C. the hard way, by accumulating enough knives in my back to fill a deluxe cutlery rack.

Hard-won wisdom: Never trust a punk. Ergo, when you're trying to figure out who to do business with in Washington, your first consideration should be to answer the question, "Is this guy a punk?"

Having acquired such knowledge at tremendous personal expense, I share it with whom I wish. Some people get it free, and some people pay for it. (Trust me, this knowledge is a bargain, compared to the price you'll pay if you ever trust a punk in D.C.)

Dan Riehl is an extraordinarily valuable person. Almost from the first day I began my engagement with the blogosphere, I noticed Dan's skills as a researcher. If it's online, Dan can find it and, in terms of news judgment, he's as good as some of the most experienced editors I know.

Dan can't stand a punk, and he can't stand to see his friends treated like punks, so he'll give a guy a warning. There have been more than a few occasions when Dan felt I was rolling like a punk and called me out. As a friend once said to me, regarding a particular example of integrity, "He'll tell you when your s--- stinks." More words of wisdom:

One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success.
And still more words of wisdom:
If you allow yourself to be a doormat, you can't complain about the footprints on your back, and just because Tucker Carlson doesn't know what I'm doing, he shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that I don't know what I'm doing.

Well, Tucker must know what he's doing, because we had a pleasant phone conversation this past week. What he's doing or, rather, planning to do, isn't what is doing and so there is a (remote) possibility of collaboration between Tucker Carlson and Not Tucker Carlson. At least if it's competition rather than collaboration -- vastly more likely -- it will be a competition on honorable terms. However, to repeat: It had better not suck.

So kudos to Tucker for his sagacity. Kudos are due also to a certain person who invited me to a book-signing event next month -- a classy gesture, all things considered, and perhaps the grounds of rapprochement, or at least a negotiated detente. (Trust, but verify.)

Politics ain't beanbag, as James Carville observed, and it is inevitable that the continual cut-and-thrust will result in hard feelings on the part of those who have been wounded. Such is my addled memory -- more words of wisdom: Never combine psilocybin mushroom tea with Bolivian flake cocaine -- that I find it easy to forget ancient wounds.

Considerations of honor, however, require me to recall the wounds suffered by friends, most of whom are less forgetful. Should I accept an invitation from someone who has unjustly wounded my friends? At stake is whether, by accepting this invitation, I dishonor my friends. Yet it is possible that, by attending the event, I may be able to assist my friends, and defend them against egregious insult. But I digress . . .

Don't roll like a punk. If you're good at what you do and you know it, then just do it. Don't proclaim to the world that you're going to Save The Republican Party From Itself. Just save the party, and then maybe someone will notice you had something to do with it. Or maybe not, to repeat some more timeless wisdom:

"You can accomplish much, if you don't care who gets the credit."
--- Ronald Reagan
Friday, an otherwise intelligent journalist pulled one of those annoying Stupid Pundit Tricks:
How Republicans can crack
the AmeriCorps scandal
The headline alone should tell you what's wrong here. Personally, my hunch is that Chuck Grassley knows how to run an investigation that gets results. (And if he doesn't, I'm thinking maybe The Boss will let him know.) Maybe you think 40 Republican senators and their staffs possess collective wisdom insufficient to this challenge, but if you want to offer them strategic political advice, don't do it on the op-ed pages or in a blog post. Democrats can read, too, y'know. As a general rule, don't try to acquire a reputation for strategic genius by doing things that are strategically stupid.

Over the past several months, as an inevitable consequence of increased blog traffic, I've become a whipping boy for various bloggers who think I don't know what I'm doing. And one of their frequent criticisms, when I do a long post like this, is to say that I am "rambling" or "incoherent." Right. Please keep thinking that.

On the other hand, there are people wise enough to recognize that only an idiot would (or could) publish everything he knows. If you want to offer strategic advice to the GOP, or if you have a brilliant plan for A Brave New Conservatism, the last thing you want to do is to publish it on the Internet.

Wise men may observe that sensei Moe Lane has never published a book called Secrets of the Blog-Fu Temple Cult. Nor will he ever, not even posthumously. Hell's bells, if I had an infallible formula for political success (please note the hypothetical), I'd be afraid even to write it on a cocktail napkin, for fear it might accidentally be published and deprive me of future opportunities for free lunches.

If you want to be regarded as a wise man, you would emulate Jeremiah Denton, who once famously had the presence of mind to blink "T-O-R-T-U-R-E" in Morse code. Until such time as you demonstrate an appreciation of that, don't lecture me about "narrative." Allow me to suggest that there are some truths so sublime that they can only be expressed as poetry.

Have you ever been
Down in the ghetto?

Have you ever felt
That cold wind blow?

If you don't know what I mean,
Brother, stand up and scream,
'Cause there's things going on
That you don't know.

Let all God's children say, "Rock on."

UPDATE: Dan Riehl throws another punch:

The point I was making was that, one could take the conservative notion of a free market to an extreme to where one argued there should be no government intervention at all. I also pointed out how foolish it would be, but said it would be hard to say the position wasn't a "conservative" one in a broad sense, albeit extreme. All much theoretical crap takes is for someone to write the book. It's lost on Conor that that's precisely what Dreher has done.
What's beautiful about that is, Dan's basically daring Dreher to come to Conor's defense, so that Dan has a good excuse to smack Dreher around some more. The sheer joy of fighting such people! It's why everyone envies the luck of Germany to have France as a neighbor.

Fleeting Moments of Justice Require Admiration

by Smitty

This week's Full Metal Jacket Reach Around will continue the topical layout, which will serve as a nice aid "just to try and recall the whole year" (Buffet, (the one I quote)).
The Iranian Election triggered a broad spectrum of dicussion on the shiny-nets. Karl Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Rove was one of the stranger tangents. I would have titled that post "If Sarah Palin is a Karl Rove production, does that mean Andrew Sullivan is Trig?" That got picked up by the likes of
  • Instapundit, in fact twice
  • The Trogpiler, which Sully might possibly enjoy. He also offers thoughts on suckology, but, frankly, they blow.
  • The Daily Gator was also sucked in.
  • The Pirate's Cove mentioned it, too.
  • Fausta had an excellent roundup, including the CBS screencap of infamy.
  • Nice Deb saw Fausta's CBS, and raised her a Sully picture thugged from AoSHQ.
  • rightofcourse linked us, alongside Legal Insurrection, which is great company.
  • Jules Crittenden added us to an impressive roundup.
  • The esteemed Daily Pundit noted this humble component of the Blogosphere, as well. He seems to be a member of the appearance-centric crowd who doesn't believe it possible that Governor Palin is the genuine conservative article. More's the pity.
  • Up North Mommy linked us.
  • Grow up Libs, says Scared Monkeys.
  • Western Experience was out west acquiring some, but linked us nonetheless.
  • World o' Crap amended some details on the Potemkin Village remark. "Catherine The Great Was Actually Stalin In A Dress!" is a great title, BTW. Sarcasm bordering on truth.
  • Stop the ACLU was also on the case.

The "Speak Loudly and Carry a Small Victim" (Coulter) Award goes out to those who are just becoming aware that they have been conned by the masters of identity politics. Ultimately, the federal government has no business messing about with our individual medical, sexual, and financial choices. Even if you think that your cause is just, you're laying down precedent for a bazillion other unjust ones. Cut that noise out. Now. Stacy's date request open letter to Angry Gay Democrats was linked by
Quoting Krugman and the economy in general drew the attention of:
The "Let Letterman be a Cautionary Tale to You, or, Why we Endeavor to Abide in Cynthia Yockey's Good Graces" section of the FMJRA:
You know the campaign is over, not because the stump went away, but because of the people being laid across it for dispatch by the headsman.
  • Paco less medieval in his take, trots out Louis Campagna for comment, not once but twice
  • Word even reached Shreveport, where Pat pulled in some great links.
  • Our man Jimmie was among the first to play the Watergate card. Subsequently, he worked in the ACORN reference. ACORN to oak, IG-gate ain't no...frigate.
  • The Classic Liberal chime in, with some Rule 5 relief.
  • Fausta was among the first I saw mentioning other IG firings.
  • Obie's Sister picked up on the "Nixonian evil" line.
  • Monique Stewart answered the call.
  • Velociworld has a neat post. Liked the first comment.
  • No Sheeples Here wondered if Walpin would become the Deep Throat of the Obama Administration. Walpin's cover is as blown as Publius' was a week ago, but the point holds.
  • Instapundit linked the Domino Theory article on Pajamas Media.
  • To which Carol added some actual dominoes.
  • Dan Collins felt he hadn't linke enough. Two to three links per post should be sufficient, though more is always better.
  • The Rhetorican linked both the NTC news and the PJ Media coverage. This is what I am talking about.

The "Least Eagerly Awaited Sex Tape of All Time, with 7/8 of the Ordeal Remaining" portion of the show focuses on ABC's White House pooper-scoop on health care. This may be a winning strategy. With enough effort, health care initiatives could cross the Sun Myung Moon horizon, and suddenly we just all somehow believe it. "Vee can do zhis der easy vay, or der Chicago Vay. Personally, vee're more familiar vis der Chicago Vay..."
  • Carolyn rounds up reactions.
  • Paco was on board, and linked the explanation.
  • Troglopundit links us on the subject of health care rationing, something to do with pencils, which has nothing to do with my neck.
  • Pundit and Pundette note the two minute drill.
  • Our man Jimmie was on the scene, making a rare point on the matter:
    Here is the acid test. Do you remember when President Bush was pushing for Social Security reform a few years back? Imagine what might have happened had Fox News announced it was going to devote every one of its news shows to a ¡°conversation¡± about social security reform and that it would be broadcasting from inside the Whote House all day. Imagine the outrage from the MSM and the left if Fox has shut out the Democrats entirely yet promised to be the very paragons of journalistic virtue.
    The whole administration is an acid test. Traditional, or Wolfe remains to be seen.
  • The Classic Liberal take: Good-bye freedom. Hello tyranny.
  • rightofcourse weighed in, with an opinion that sounded correct, obviously.
  • Caffeinated Thoughts noted the "that's not news, that's publicity" line.
  • The Pink Elephant Pundit links us. "Raisin' Hale", indeed. ;)
  • The Liberty Papers: My wife's response: "If Obama is truly serious about listening to doctors, this one says that he needs to leave my patients and me alone."
  • The Instapundit quoted Stacy, so we'll link back to him to help with the traffic.
  • Related Camp of the Saints

Somebody liked the Gary Kamiya deconstruction:
  • "Visigothic Rasputin (with Victorian overtones), Unite!", says Paco
  • Troglopundit foreign policy seems to follow the two tears in a bucket approach.

The political paradox that the same pack o' jackasses that caused the economic mess are somehow equipped to un-b0rk it:
This week's episode in Dr. Stacy's Osteoporotic Conservative Clinic was noted by the following bloggers:
  • The Daley Gator
  • Jimmie has a lengthy discussion on the topic.
  • And that's why they call it Riehlpolitik: "the rule in D.C. is never to attribute to ideology that which can be adequately explained by ambition." As long as that ambition doesn't end in shooting yourself, literally or literarily. Dr. Stacy says "Put the gun down, you'll burn yourself, it's really for use in lighting off fireworks, punk." But pretentious slut?
  • Half Past Noon waded into the fray, offering an analysis that seems interesting, but also appears to miss a crucial point: the labels are not the concepts. I understand that Hayek/von Mises considered themselves liberals, even though it's the conservatives quoting them today. You have to understand that people playing propaganda games have hijacked the terminology. By the end of this administration, collectivism shall have so established itself as to consider itself 'conservative', and start calling anyone desiring a life beyond the ant colony a 'nihilist liberal'. I'll bet a cup of coffee on the point, D.
  • Chris, at the League of Ordinary Milquetoasts weighed in on the whole terminology flap. "I¡¯m not saying that this form of conservatism-cum-liberalism is a bad thing."

Question to Chris and the rest of the navel-gazers: does the point of this RBS commercial elude you?
  • The South Texian elaborates nicely.
  • The mighty Donald Douglas termed Conor Andrew Sullivan's myrmidon, which is less than flattering. There was also a threat to publish private email traffic at which Douglas laughed, scoffed, and lauged some more.
  • The Camp of the Saintsweighed in on the matter.

My side clinic on humor had the following responses:
Big Shout Out to Dan Collins at Piece of Work in Progress Department:
Special, uncategoraizable mention category:
I have some additional links in a folder to add, but that will have to wait, as there is some kind of malware attacking my laptop. Please email corrections to smitty.
Update: Crisis resolved, additional material dispersed throughout the post, so you'll simply have to re-read it, paying extra attention, as one does, to . Start flooding my inbox with Rule 5 submissions, too. I'll be on that later.

Update II: The Blog Prof says: do your homework. And I say: "Roger that".
  • He linked us on the Letterman Protests, with handy video clips.
  • We got picked up on the Panetta/Cheney flapette, where the blogprof seemed to enjoy my Jane Curtin riff at the end. It's all about finding humor, even in situations as clearly manufactured to drive traffic as that one.
  • He also links us in passing while mentioning the Eating Is Like Rape Or Something post, courtesy of Donald Doulas. The only time I ever thought of food as rape was while eating an MRE about 15 years ago. They tell me MREs have improved, but they twitch while they say that, so I'm taking them at their word.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hagiography going to farce

by Smitty (h/t The Moderate Voice)

Here at ToM, we do the hard task of watching clips like this that you may or may not want to try at home:The video is funny and well done.
The main criticism I have is its fundamental anti-American spirit. If men and women have fought and died for any concept in the Constitution, it is expressed in Article 1, Section 9 "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States...". Not only are we not keen on anointing anyone king or queen, but the very notion that 300,000,000+ million citizens and 50 states depend on one man, however talented, to hold it all together is something that should induce vomiting.
So enjoy the clip as such, and make a point of denouncing the underlying spinelessness of it all. And attending a Tea Party on 04 July. And hitting the tip jar.

Bootlicking: the habit that kicks you

by Smitty

Monique's title, Sorry, but I'm not sorry brought up a point that came up in the office today: the Senate's unanimous nostra culpa for slavery.
"You wonder why we didn't do it 100 years ago," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), lead sponsor of the resolution, said after the unanimous-consent vote. "It is important to have a collective response to a collective injustice."
The Senate's apology follows a similar apology passed last year by the House. One key difference is that the Senate version explicitly deals with the long-simmering issue of whether slavery descendants are entitled to reparations, saying that the resolution cannot be used in support of claims for restitution. The House is expected to revisit the issue next week to conform its resolution to the Senate version.

No, Senator Harkin, you don't have to wonder. There was a Civil War, three Constitutional amendments, etc., etc. Why don't you and Senator Reid (and my brace of boobs, Warner and Webb) do something useful. Outlaw Affirmative Action (formatting mine):
The terms "affirmative action" and "positive action" refer to policies that take race, ethnicity, or gender into consideration in an attempt to promote "equal" opportunity.

Now, Affirmative Action is by no means the same thing as slavery, in the practical sense of brutally abusing people in every physical way possible. But, at a high enough level of abstraction, both involve discriminating against people on the basis of DNA.
There is no sense arguing against history. Slavery was wrong. Affirmative Action happened historically as an effort to redress aspects of discrimination that were less severe than slavery, but no less insidious. One can buy off on the notion that, historically, two wrongs may have driven the situation in a desirable direction.
At what point does Affirmative Action "jump the shark" and become an exercise in bootlicking? The assertion: "We have not done enough to apologize for slavery" is not falsifiable. As long as the guilt lever remains in place, some Archimedes can move the world. If any good has come of the election of 2008, and this exercise in political silliness on slavery, one hopes that "We the People" can elect some people who have the word "Enough!" in their vocabulary. Throw the lever away, cease the bootlicking.
For the record, my ancestors on my father's side were (apparently) quartermasters in the Union Army, and didn't arrive on mom's side until after 1900.

Reporting is good for the soul

Thursday, I had a splendid time on Capitol Hill, working to hook up with sources for the PJM article about the Grassley IG-Gate investigation. Nothing like expending a bit of shoe leather in quest of a story to restore the spirits.

So as I was having beers with interviewing my old buddies key GOP strategists Thursday evening, I got a call from Dan Riehl, who informed me that the Conor Friedersdorf front had once again erupted. Sigh.

Dan did this and also did this. Then Jimmie Bise did this and Donald Douglas did this. And Cranky Con did this and Jonathan Schwenkler did this.

All of this happened while I was trying to get someone to pick up my bar tab the big scoop at the Capitol Hill Club on IG-Gate.

Pandemic Douthatism
What's going on here? I blame Ross Douthat. This was what was so evil about the New York Times giving an op-ed column to a 29-year-old. Suddenly, every other 29-year-old journalist on the planet is made to feel insignificant.

(By the time you're 49, being insignificant is slightly less humiliating, but if you're a young, single intellectual wannabe in Washington, a think-tank sinecure or a book contract is what a souped-up Mustang is to the non-intellectual young male. Without it, you just don't rate.)

Saving the world and/or defining a "bold new conservative agenda" just seems so freaking glamorous that it sometimes seems like every former College Republican who can compose a paragraph is trying to become the next William F. Buckley. And the temptation to grandiose punditry and intellectualism seems to be irresistible to some people whenever the GOP loses an election or two.

This was why I wrote my Nov. 5 column, "You Did Not Lose," and my Nov. 12 column, "Don't Overthink It." Seeking a complex, abstract, ideological explanation for a lost election is always a bad idea, especially when what you're basically trying to explain is why a loser lost. You nominate a short, bald, grumpy septuagenarian for president and the other guys nominate the King of Cool, and complex abstractions are irrelevant.

Concept, Theory, Reality
Intellectuals, however, feel the need to give their cerebral lobes a workout. Next thing you know, the intellectuals are quoting Plato at you, as if John McCain's shortcomings as a presidential candidate could have been overcome if only he'd spent more time contemplating The Republic.

This is why regular old-fashioned reporting is such a tonic for the soul, and why these young pundits are so morose. It is beneath the dignity of an aspiring intellectual to go out and do mere reporting. Absent any real action like that, the political intelligentsia slide off into the ethereal world of ideology, where everything is either a concept or a theory or -- God help us -- a trend.

There are no clear-cut victories or defeats in the War Of Ideas. And there are damned few flesh-and-blood human beings there.

Reporting news is far more a social enterprise than the solitary cogitations of the intellectuals. So, rather than get into the "substantive issues" childishness, I'm just going to relax in the afterglow of getting a good news story. Not a great story, perhaps -- the Pulitzer Committee has been stubbornly ignoring me for years -- but certainly a good one.

Conor Friedersdorf will have to save the world without me.

Matthew Vadum, Rock Star!

Folks, if you missed the 5:15 p.m. segment of the Glenn Beck Show today, you missed a brilliant seminar on the history of the American Left and its connection to Obama and ACORN.

What tied it all together was the discussion of what's known as the "Piven-Cloward Strategy," named for Columbia University professors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who outlined it in a 1966 article in The Nation. Cloward and Piven were instrumental in founding the National Welfare Rights Organization, which sought to implement their ideas for bankrupting "The System" (i.e., capitalism) by purposefully overwhelming the urban social welfare infrastructure.

In discussing it in his inimitably manic way, Beck made all this sound just a wee bit tinfoil-hat, but it was all real, and has been described in several very reputable books. You can read about Cloward and Piven's ideas and the influence of NWRO in Fred Siegel's fine book on liberal urban policy, The Future Once Happened Here. The militant approach to social programs was also famously described in Tom Wolfe's famous essay, Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers. And if you want some good case-studies of the disastrous results of all this, I would urge you to check out Chapter 8 ("Scene of the Crime") in Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party.

Here's the thing: The '60s theorists of the New Left were such radical freaks, whenever any conservative tries to describe their actual agenda, it tends to make the conservative sound kooky. Youre natural reaction is, "Aw, there could never have been any such wild scheme to bankrupt America in order to lay the groundwork for a socialist revolution."

Except there was such a scheme. It's all true. And the foot-soldiers of that socialist revolution were people like Bill Ayers and the founders of ACORN.

The problem is that so many conservatives have a fearful flinch reaction about sounding like a "kook" in describing this '60s New Left ideology, so you rarely hear it described in a calm, factual way. Kudos to Beck for having the erudite Matthew Vadum help him document all this. Vadum described the ACORN connection last October:
ACORN's overall strategy has a name. It's called the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" of manufactured crisis (named after two anti-capitalist sociologists) and it calls for packing the welfare rolls to encourage dependency on the government and to overload it with financial demands in order to hasten the collapse of American capitalism.
ACORN founder Wade Rathke, who created ACORN in 1970, was previously an organizer for the now-defunct National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) that was founded in 1967 by the two sociologists.
There is no need to be alarmist about the Left. Ronald Reagan, you will recall, actually faced off against Communist Party union activists in Hollywood in the 1940s, and never once sounded kooky when he called them what they were. The Left has been defeated before; we just need calm courage and we will defeat them again.

IG Investigation: 'Dominoes Fall'

From my exclusive report for Pajamas Media:
Describing the probe into the dismissal of the AmeriCorps inspector general, one Capitol Hill source on Thursday compared Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's demand for facts in the case to a row of dominoes ready to tip over.
Grassley is asking questions, a team of Senate investigators is poring over documents in the case, and where the investigation proceeds now "depends on what dominoes fall next," explained the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. . . .
Beyond the legal and political ramifications, Republicans in Washington acknowledge that the potential scandal could aid their policy battle against the effort by the White House and congressional Democrats to push sweeping new proposals on health care, energy and financial regulation.
In background discussions Thursday, several GOP strategists spoke of the contrast between Democrats' effort to impose new government "reforms" while, at the same time, the Obama administration appears to be muzzling inspectors generals, who are tasked with providing independent oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies. . . .
Grassley's team on the IG probe is led by Charles Murphy, a veteran Capitol Hill investigator. Both Grassley and Murphy were unavailable for comment Thursday, but sources with knowledge of the investigation expressed confidence in the meticulous research of Murphy's team. . . .
There's lots more, so read the whole thing at Pajamas Media, and watch for updates at

UPDATE: As I said yesterday, a potentially big scandal like this has an innate appeal to journalists:
Every political reporter in Washington is sniffing around this story now, and I just got off the phone with Matthew Vadum, who's catching the Acela train to New York for a 5 p.m. live appearance on "The Glenn Beck Show."
Before we got off the phone, the last thing I said to Matthew was, "Drop my name, dude."

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Updated news and commentary on IG-Gate at Now, if only Vadum can remember to look for an opportunity to tell Beck, "Well, as Stacy McCain reported today . . ."

Probably not, though. Never mind. We've got our own cartoon, which ought to be enough . . .

UPDATE III: Verrry interesting! Eric Rasmusen points out how TARP money seems to buy Obama loyalty even from Republicans.

Get Down With

Chris Muir's "Day By Day" gets sexy with the no-tie-required down-and-dirty news bloggregator:

Of course, this is just the PG-13 family-friendly version. Bloggers featured in "Day By Day" get the original uncut strip. In this case, although decorum prevents a explicit description, the uncut version is 12 panels. Jan is amazingly limber . . . but she's "Day By Day's" token liberal, so I suppose she's got to be very flexible like that. features a just-the-facts-ma'am Joe Friday way of aggregating news, blogs and commentary. Barely more than two weeks old, the site has already generated about 10,000 visits.

One of the things has done from the start is to provide solid economic and financial coverage. Yesterday, while I was in D.C. to do reporting on the IG-Gate scandal, Jimmie Bise Jr. compiled the "Wall Street P.M." report, a daily aggregation of stock market results and other financial-sector news.

Because includes RSS feeds from numerous news sources and blogs, it is "auto-updating" -- readers can refresh the page periodically and see how the sidebars change to include the latest items. Jimmie, Smitty and I hope to add more bloggers to the team at, building it out to include more original reporting, in addition to the regular "300 Words Or Less" editorials. (Interested bloggers should contact Jimmie or Smitty.)

Meanwhile, speaking of reporting, I'm on deadline for this IG-Gate scandal story, so I'll leave it up to readers to imagine what comes next at Like that "Day By Day" cartoon, the best is yet to come.

Again and again, yet still begging for more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Burge Alert: Iowahawk on Rampage

by Smitty

As if yesterday's Iranian Basketball post wasn't brutal enough, today's [NSFW] superfly post, replete with Instapundit cameo, brought tears to my eyes. In trying to add something to this sublime brilliance, I came across an apropos scene from [NSFW] Stir Crazy:

What's interesting is how, almost thirty years on, Wilder and Pryor in a prison cell form a metaphor for Biden and Obama dealing with Middle Eastern diplomacy.

BREAKING: Grassley Expands IG
Investigation; More Firings Probed; UPDATE: Targeting AIG Bailout?

CHICAGO TRIBUNE has the story and WASHINGTON TIMES breaks more news. Dan Riehl, Quin Hillyer, Ed Morrissey blogging, Memeorandum, plus much more at

Dang, I may not have to go to Sacramento . . .

UPDATE: Greg Pollowitz at NRO:
[L]ooks like A.I.G. could be the target here . . . . it was Democrats who were demanding that Barofsky look into A.I.G.'s bailout.
Breaking faster than hell . . .

WTF happened to 'caveat emptor'?

Poking around the Web, I noticed lots of liberals whining that Obama's massive new financial-industry regulatory scheme -- which analysts worry will suck the profits out of banks -- doesn't go far enough.

Let's face it, liberals won't be happy until there are more regulatory bureaucrats than there are bankers. You'll walk into your bank to cash a check, and three federal regulators will have to sign off on the transaction, with another regulator assigned to decide whether your kid gets a lollipop.

Don't believe me? Liberal blogger Simon Johnson:
But based on what we see so far, there is little reason to be encouraged. The reform process appears to be have been captured at an early stage -- by design the lobbyists were let into the executive branch’s working, so we don’t even get to have a transparent debate or to hear specious arguments about why we really need big banks.
Writing in the New York Times today, Joe Nocera sums up, "If Mr. Obama hopes to create a regulatory environment that stands for another six decades, he is going to have to do what Roosevelt did once upon a time. He is going to have make some bankers mad."
OK, so who exactly is Simon Johnson, and who put him in charge of deciding whether banks are too big? Well, ho, ho, ho:
Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is a co-founder of The Baseline Scenario. Update (April 2009): Johnson has joined the CBO's Panel of Economic Advisers.
Johnson worked for the IMF which certainly gives him credibility to talk about banks being too big, eh? As for experience in the for-profit private sector, we have zero evidence that Simon Johnson could turn a profit on the sno-cone concession in Hell.

Which brings me back to the original question: WTF ever happened to caveat emptor?

Banks are not in business to minimize your risk, but to maximize their own profits. Ditto mortgage companies, real-estate agencies, stock brokers, mutual funds, et cetera. I don't care whether you're transacting business with Citibank or a pawn shop, the guy on the other side of the counter is there to turn a profit, and it isn't his job to look after your interests -- except insofar as his reputation for trustworthiness helps him attract customers.

Economic Nerf-World
You got scammed by Bernie Madoff? You bought Citi at $54 a share and now it's at $3 a share? You mortgaged yourself to the max for a new Vegas condo in 2005, based on your salary at a development company that got wiped out when the Vegas real-estate boom evaporated in 2007?

Whose fault is all that, huh? Why is it the job of the federal government to cover the economy in foam Nerf padding like a McDonald's Playland so that you never suffer for your own financial stupidity?

Liberals want to make the financial sector so "safe" that I could hand my paycheck to my 10-year-old son, let him invest it in Nintendo games and baseball cards, and still be guaranteed a profit.

Not that I don't empathize with economic losers. I made the clever decision in 1986 to go into the newspaper business, which hasn't exactly been a juggernaut of growth lately, as you might have noticed by the fact that I'm now shaking the tip jar for blog-o-bucks. (Despite their expressions of concern for boosting economic recovery, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke ain't hittin' my tip jar.)

Compared to some other people, though, I've been relatively unscathed by the meltdown. I know retirees who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Big Wipeout of 2008, not to mention all the people I know whose jobs are directly linked to the devastated housing market.

Poverty As Security
I might have lost my butt, too, except for the fact that I had a lot less butt to lose. Couldn't afford a D.C. condo during the bubble, you see, so I'm still renting, 12 years after we sold our little Georgia bungalow and moved to Washington. So boo-hoo-hoo for the idiots who are upside down on their mortgages, and boo-hoo-hoo for the fat cats who thought Bernie Madoff was going to make them rich.

Becoming a journalist was, in retrospect, a stupid career move, but maybe I'm not quite as stupid as some of those guys who got rich doing something else and then pissed it all away on bad investments. Why should the federal government intervene and deprive us of future opportunities for schadenfreude?

If you went to the county fair and let a carnie hustle you out of $100, do we need a Federal Bureau of Ring-Toss to protect you from yourself? Maybe a federally-mandated advisory sticker on every video-poker machine at the Indian casino: "WARNING: Winning Not Guaranteed."

Maybe caveat emptor has gone by the wayside because schools don't teach Latin anymore. So let's go ahead and ditch E Pluribus Unum while we're at it. Try a new slogan in English: "Never Give A Sucker An Even Break."

A sucker is born every minute. You see the suckers every time you walk into a convenience store and have to wait in line behind some fool who requires five minutes to complete his lottery-ticket purchase: "OK, give seven of the Pick Three and five Powerballs . . . yeah, right, now give me six each of Lucky Lady, Pot O' Gold . . ."

The 401(k) Lotto
You're reading a blog post about economics and financial regulation, so when you find yourself in that all-too-familiar convenience-store scenario, you almost certainly look down your college-educated nose at the poor idiot throwing away money on lotto tickets.

So, tell me, how's your 401(K) been performing the past couple of year, Mr. Smart Guy? And how much cash-in-hand would you walk away with, if you had to sell your house tomorrow?

If you're one of those whiny pukes who wants Uncle Sugar to fix the economy so that you don't ever suffer a loss on your investments, so that you're guaranteed permanent employment and health care and retirement security, I despise you far more than you despise that chump buying $37 worth of lotto tickets and a pack of Newports. At least those Newports are worth something, compared to a lot of mortgages brokered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

My idea of "financial reform" is to pull the plug on this bailout/stimulus/regulation/subsidy racket and let some overprivileged Smart Guys get first-hand experience in the virtuous poverty they're always admiring from a safe distance.

Given the record of previous Democratic administrations, I'd say it's an even bet that Tim Geithner goes from Treasury secretary to federal prison inmate, so maybe when he gets out of Leavenworth . . .

Well, he'll sure have a new perspective on the barter value of a pack of Newports, won't he?

* * * * *
(Get daily financial and economic news updates at And hit the tip jar, you swine.)

Riehlism vs. Conorism

Since I'm going to be out and about in D.C. today, trying to see if I can't stir the pot on IG-Gate, you're going to need something to read. The Camp of the Saints has some good stuff on IG-Gate, but once you've read all that, what then?

How about Dan Riehl busting on Conor Friedersdorf? Not enough? How about Dan Riehl busting some more on Conor Friedersdorf? Heck, just go over to Dan's blog and keep refreshing throughout the day, and he's liable to bust Conor two or three times again before lunch.

Conservatism? More like masochism.

Frankly, I'm starting to regret blogging about Conor yesterday. Dan and I were talking on the phone yesterday and I said it was like Godfather III: Everytime you try to get out, Conor pulls you back in. If you didn't more or less force yourself to ignore him, you'd never find time to blog any actual news.

How's the weather in Sacramento?

It rained last night in D.C., where lots of reporters are taking an interest in the AmeriCorps story:
The Obama administration's dismissal of the inspector general for the AmeriCorps federal "volunteer" program has all the makings of a classic Beltway "cover-up" scandal. Not even the sycophantic White House press corps will be able to ignore this story for long.
Washington is a six-newspaper town nowadays -- in addition to The Washington Post and The Washington Times, there's also Roll Call, The Hill, Politico and the Washington Examiner. . . .
You can read the rest. Blogging will be light today, as I plan to be running around Washington, hoping to meet with some friends who work on Capitol Hill. And who knows what else might turn up?
With so many Washington journalists interested in this case, how long before one of them books a flight westward and starts filing stories with a Sacramento dateline? . . . One way or another, this story could take a long, long time to play out. They say the weather in Sacramento is lovely in June.
And you can read the rest of that, too. Anything can happen . . . uh, sources say.

UPDATE: Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking important questions, and the Prowler is on the loose:
It has not gone unnoticed among some Republicans on Capitol Hill that First Lady Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, recently stepped down from her White House position to become head of the Corporation for National and Community Service. According to White House sources, Norris and Obama have already discussed how AmeriCorps could fit into the First Lady's volunteerism projects.
According to White House sources, Norris's shift to the CNCS was discussed not only with the First Lady, but also with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. . . .
"You look at what the CNCS is funding over there: a 'Social Investment Fund,' which over the next five years is going to hand out almost a half a billion dollars to young people who start up community activist organizations," says a Senate Republican aide. "Who the hell is going to be monitoring that kind of underwriting? Michelle Obama's former chief of staff? Emanuel? I don't think so." . . .

Strangely, not Iowahawk or Scrappleface

by Smitty

No, "PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly".
PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.
"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."

Additionally, they recommend the President curtail all overnight excursions from the White House between August and November, so that he doesn't accidentally step on insects of sprouting seeds in the night while, say, taking in a Broadway show[1].

[1] Point of clarification: the joke points out a silly recommendation that PETA might offer, and is not to diminish anyone's pursuit of holiness as such. If a Buddhist reader wishes to engage in a positive discussion about life, the universe, and everything, then bring it on, please.

Sen. Grassley wants more answers

Grassley's not backing down on IG-Gate, and ABC News has the letter (PDF):
Gregory B. Craig
Counsel to the President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. Craig:
This morning my staff met with Norman Eisen regarding the removal of Gerald Walpin as the Inspector General at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Late on the evening of June 16, 2009, my office received a copy of Mr. Eisen’s letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. I appreciate this effort to address the concerns of Congress that the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 be complied with, and I appreciate Mr. Eisen’s time in coming to my office to discuss these issues more fully in person. His letter set forth the reasons for Mr. Walpin’s dismissal for the first time. Mr. Eisen said he conducted “an extensive review” at the request of the CNCS Board on or about May 20, 2009. Unfortunately, however, Mr. Eisen refused to answer several direct questions posed to him about the representations made in his letter. Since he was unwilling to answer them in person, please provide answers to the following questions in writing:
1) Did the CNCS Board communicate its concerns about Mr. Walpin to the White House in writing?
2) Specifically, which CNCS Board members came forward with concerns about Mr. Walpin’s ability to serve as the Inspector General?
3) Was the communication about the Board’s concerns on or about May 20, 2009 the first instance of any communications with White House personnel regarding the possibility of removing Mr. Walpin?
4) Which witnesses were interviewed in the course of Mr. Eisen’s review?
5) How many witnesses were interviewed?
6) Were any employees of the Office of Inspector General, who may have had more frequent contact with Mr. Walpin than the Board members, interviewed?
7) Was Mr. Walpin asked directly during Mr. Eisen’s review about the events of May 20, 2009?
8) Was Mr. Walpin asked for his response to the allegations submitted to the Integrity Committee by Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown?
9) What efforts were made during Mr. Eisen’s review to obtain both sides of the story or to afford the Office of Inspector General an opportunity to be heard?
10) In addition to the claim that Mr. Walpin was “confused” and “disoriented,” the letter also says he exhibited “other behavior” that led to questions about his capacity. What other behavior was Mr. Eisen referencing?
11) If the initial and primary concern had to do with Mr. Walpin’s capacity to serve for potential health reasons, why was he only given one hour to decide whether to resign or be fired?
12) If Mr. Walpin’s telecommuting arrangements since the beginning of this year were a major concern, then why was Mr. Walpin not simply asked to stop telecommuting?
Thank you in advance for your assistance and I would appreciate receiving a response to this inquiry by June 24, 2009. . . .
Oooh, this is getting interesting . . .

WSJ is edited by Visigoths

by Smitty

...or so claims Gary Kamiya in Salon in a piece entitled "Night of the living neocons". As this is a full-service blog, I've tried to render the first paragraph into a table, so that the reader might locate the nouns.
neoconservativesLike Rasputin, the unhinged "Mad Monk" whom they sometimes seem to have adopted as an intellectual role model, the neoconservatives who brought us the Iraq war refuse to die.
theyAlthough they have been figuratively stabbed, poisoned, shot, garroted and drowned, they somehow keep standing, still insisting that history will vindicate George W. Bush's glorious crusade.
conservativesIn a world governed by the Victorian moral code conservatives claim to uphold, they would be shunned, shamed and forbidden to appear on television or write Op-Ed columns.
disgraced punditsBut because Beltway decorum apparently requires that disgraced pundits be given a permanent platform to bray their discredited theories, the rest of us are condemned to listen to their ravings.

This post's title comes from the second paragraph. I'll highlight it amidst the effluent:
In a piece titled "Obama's Iran Abdication," the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, that bastion of unreconstructed neocon lunacy, attacked Obama for not supporting the Iranian protesters more vigorously and derided his "now-familiar moral equivalence" in citing the 1953 CIA-backed coup that toppled Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh. In an Op-Ed two days earlier, the paper's Visigothic editors, who have been calling for the U.S. to bomb Iran for years, took the opportunity to climb into the Wayback Machine to pay homage to one of George W. Bush's greatest hits. "It turns out that the 'axis of evil' really is evil -- and not, as liberal sages would have it, merely misunderstood," sneered the editors, suggesting that the crackdown should make Obama rethink trying to strike a grand nuclear bargain with Iran.
Recalls that old lawyer saying "if your side has the law, then argue the law; if your side has the facts, argue the facts; and if your side has neither the facts nor the law — pound the table!"
After the pyrotechnics, the article does offer some useful links.
The Senator McCain interview for the Washington Times covers a wide range of topics, in addition to Iran. The next bit is cute, too:
Neocon stalwart Danielle Pletka also made a not-so-subtle attempt to use the turmoil in Iran to justify Bush's invasion of Iraq. In a piece in the New York Times, she and fellow American Enterprise Institute pundit Ali Alfoneh wrote, "Encircled by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, besieged from within by disgruntled citizens, the supreme leader has turned to a bellicose strongman to preserve the system that elevated him." Earth to Pletka: George W. Bush is not president anymore, and even if he still was, the U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not going to attack Iran. It would be more accurate to say that the soon-to-depart U.S. troops in Iraq are encircled by Iranian forces than the other way around.
Mr. Kamiya sir, there is no mention of Bush in the editorial. Stating the fact that US troops are present to the East and West of Iran is by no means an apology for Bush policy. Since you bring up Iraq, you might also care to research the Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder Iran’s Involvement in Iraq. Tidbits such as
[in 2007] President Bush said the United States had evidence of Tehran supplying “material support,” including mortars and elements of sophisticated roadside bombs, to insurgents in Iraq who in turn target and kill U.S. forces. Bush promised to respond firmly if Iran extended its influence in Iraq and vowed to “seek out and destroy” weapons-supply networks used by Iranian agents.
are extremely useful in developing an even-handed view of the situation. Granted, moving beyond the Romero-centric weltanschauung does require effort.
Kagan, who's at least got some credentials to his credit, gets special attention from Kamiya, a "writer at large" for a WaPo editorial that makes the flattering case that BHO is playing a realist foreign policy hand. Kagan's verdict could have been a more overt slap, like Victor Davis Hanson calling the situation shameful, for example.
Of course Kamiya returns to the ritual Beating Around the Bush that you could expect from Salon.

But this paragraph is especially funny:
It should be amply clear by now that America's ability to influence events in the Middle East is severely limited. Indeed, as the Bush years showed, U.S. actions in the region tend to result in the exact opposite of their intended consequences.
Yes, that Bush speech in Cairo that triggered the outburst of peaceful elections was particularly memorable, no?
We are assured that the good POTUS's "foreign policy is still evolving, but it is becoming clear that he is pursuing what Robert Wright has called progressive realism." <cheap shot>Basically a copy of this essay positioned at Foggy Bottom for easy reference.</cheap shot>
Kamiya's penultimate paragraph strikes an optimistic note:
[Obama's] approach has already borne fruit. The success of the March 14 Alliance in Lebanon, a major victory for the U.S., is widely attributed to the "Obama effect." Just one month of U.S. pressure induced Israel's far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to utter the magic words "Palestinian state." And most critically, as David Ignatius noted in an important column in Tuesday's Washington Post, Obama's openness to the Muslim world and more sophisticated presentation of America has empowered the reformers in Iran and throughout the Arab/Muslim world, and diminished the appeal of militant jihadism.

It's about time the region had some peace. Should BHO affect the situation positively, it would be peevish not to acknowledge such. One truly hopes Kamiya is not counting his chickens like Ahmadinejad counts his votes.