Archive for October 21st, 2008

October 21, 2008

‘Bailout Ben’ endorses Obama

Oh, this is rich. John McCain lost the election by making himself the No. 1 advocate of the $700 billion bailout cooked up by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Now that Bernanke’s got his bailout, he endorses Obama.

First, it was Cakewalk Ken. Now it’s Bailout Ben.

October 21, 2008

Douthatism, once more

Ross Douthat is laboring mightily to undermine the credibility of mutual friends who swear to me that Douthat is really a good guy. To wit:

[I]s opposition to wealth-spreading in principle really now a litmus test for being a conservative? I thought that being on the right meant that you wanted a welfare state that’s small in size and limited in scope – that’s what I signed up for, at least – and the most just and reasonable way to shrink and/or restrain the American welfare state that I can see is to make it more redistributive, rather than less so.

Over at AmSpecBlog, Phil Klein retorts:

Despite the best efforts of Douthat to turn conservatism into a watered-down form of progressivism, the term “conservative welfare state” is contradictory. Conservatism, at its core, abhors the welfare state . . .

Hear, hear! And I add my own commentary:

A very instructive phrase — “that’s what I signed up for” — naturally leads to the question, when did Douthat sign up? Where? And with whom?
Douthat’s problem is that he feels the need to describe a hypothetical condition, conservative governance as an ideal finished product: Exactly this much of a social welfare state, and no more.
Politics doesn’t work that way. Politics is Newtonian, establishing an equilibrium between competing interests. Vis-a-vis the size-of-goverrnment question, you take your place on either side of the tug-of-war — the federal government is either too big or too small — and you start pulling as hard as you can.
I stand resolutely on the side of those who say the federal government is too big, too powerful, too expensive. It doesn’t matter how small, weak or cheap I think the ideal government would be, since in living memory it has only grown, and grown, and grown. (One notices that progressive Democrats have never specified a final destination of “progress.”)
If ever any meaningful reductions were made in the size, authority and expense of the federal government, then conservatives could argue over whether the next proposed round of reductions might be going too far. Since everything is now going in exactly the opposite direction, Douthat’s hand-wringing over the ideal size of the social welfare state is moot.
It’s too big now, and that’s all that matters in practical political terms — not that Douthat has anything useful to say about practical politics.

Since Burke first denounced the French Revolution, conservatism has always been a philosophy of opposition. and it looks like we’ll be getting back to our roots soon enough. Jacobinism is once more triumphant, and if you listen closely, you can hear the tumbrels beginning to roll.

UPDATE: On reflection, I suppose this rant returns to my idea of how “Libertarian Populism” could appeal to Ordinary Americans. The argument that the federal government is too big and too expensive and too wasteful has the virtue of simplicity.

Since the federal government has been continually expanding since the 1930s, liberals essentially argue that government has not expanded fast enough or far enough. But every adult can remember a time when the government had not taken charge of some function that it now exercises.

Was life really so bad back then? Does the Ordinary American think that this increased federal role has really made an overall improvement in his daily life? Or, rather, does he sense that the federal government has generally made a botch of things?

There is a coherent argument to be made against the overgrown authority of Washington, D.C. This argument is both intellectually respectable and politically potent. When the conservative movement puts forward persuasive spokesmen to articulate this argument, the movement grows and succeeds. However, when the spokesmen are inarticulate or unpersuasive — or when prominent spokesmen describing themselves as “conservative” begin making apologies for big government — the movement weakens and fails.

If big government is “conservative,” then exactly what is the conservative critique of liberalism? Where is the fundamental substance of disagreement? When conservatives abandon their critique of big government, the debate with liberalism becomes complex and confusing. Ordinary Americans are no longer presented with a conservative politics that is simple and coherent, and are easily attracted to another simple and coherent argument: Gimme, gimme, gimme.

The failure of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” is that, in abandoning a critique of big government, Republicans were left with no domestic-policy argument except cultural squabbles (e.g., Terri Schiavo) and, “Hey, isn’t the economy great?” It’s interesting to ponder whether this stance would have failed sooner, had it not been for 9/11, which allowed the GOP to win the 2002 and 2004 elections on the question of which party could best fight Islamic terrorism. But as the public wearied of (or changed its mind about) that issue, and as the economy soured, the GOP discovered it had no domestic argument at all.

If we are going to have big government no matter who wins the election, why not vote for the party that has been advocating big government all along?

Grover Norquist likes to talk about the “Leave Us Alone Coalition” — that solid conservative constituency which stands resolutely against big government. The task of conservative commentators ought to be to persuade more people to join the “Leave Us Alone Coalition.” If Ross Douthat wants to attack the “Leave Us Alone Coalition,” he thereby makes himself an enemy of the only conservatism that can ever hope to exercise influence in American politics.

October 21, 2008

David Frum on ‘terrible’ presidents

The former Bush speechwriter speaks:

“The people who defend [Sarah Palin] have already given up any serious thought of Republicans’ wielding governmental power anytime soon. . . . They have already moved to a position of pure cultural symbolic opposition to a new majority. The people who criticize her do so because we have some hope that we could be in contention in 2012, and there’s some risk that she could be the party’s nominee, and she’d probably lose — and even if by some miracle she won, she’d be a terrible president.”

For the record, David Frum spent several months as a “senior policy adviser” to Rudy Giuliani’s GOP primary campaign, which finished with 597,518 votes. — i.e., 4,102,270 votes fewer than Mitt Romney, 3,678,528 votes fewer than Mike Huckabee, and 562,885 fewer votes than Ron Paul.

Frum’s ability to pick winning presidential candidates is not self-evident. As to his ability to determine exactly who would “be a terrible president” . . .

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

October 21, 2008

Peace freaks vs. Palin motorcade

KCCO captured video of Obots attempting to block Sara Palin’s motorcade in Grand Junction, Colo. CNN reports:

Eight to 10 protesters broke away from a larger group of demonstrators and darted into the street in front of Palin’s car just after the first police motorcycles in her motorcade had passed, said Acting Chief Troy Smith of the Grand Junction Police Department.
Wearing bandanas and with faces covered, they blocked the path and held up a large banner. Officers in the motorcade stopped their motorcycles, and grabbed protesters, dragging several out of the path of the oncoming motorcade.
At least two demonstrators were tackled and forced to the ground before being pulled away. One officer fell backwards into the path of an approaching vehicle but he was able to get out of the way in time. . . .
Smith said officers saved the protesters from injury because “the motorcade likely would not have stopped” for them. He said “we don’t know what their intentions were” in trying to block Palin’s motorcade. . . .
The protesters were members of a group called “Red Pill,” Smith said. A Web site that carried an announcement of the group’s planned protest urged supporters to show Palin “that we as a community say no to war, no to corporate cronyism, and no to four more years of Bush-style leadership.” Itencouraged people to bring “drums, noise makers, and your strength.”

There is an ossified belief in the minds of certain people: When the U.S. is in a war, all enlightened people must protest. But “civil disobedience” — i.e., criminal behavior to make a political spectacle — is not First Amendment-protected free speech. Liberals are having paroxyms of indignation about morons at Republican rallies saying stupid things, but those GOP morons aren’t throwing themselves in front of motorcades, are they?

UPDATE: Video via Hot Air:

October 21, 2008

AOSHQ Test, quantified

Scientific basis of the “I’d tap it” factor:

In the current study, facial and body characteristics of Playboy Playmates of the Year from 1960-2000 were identified and investigated to explore their relationships with U.S. social and economic factors. Playmate of the Year age, body feature measures, and facial feature measurements were correlated with a general measure of social and economic hard times. . . . These results suggest that environmental security may influence perceptions and preferences for women with certain body and facial features.

(Via Hot Air.) You’ve got to admire the genius of guys who can get a research grant to look through old Playboys. When I was 13, man, I was doing lots of research . . .
October 21, 2008

The final nail

UPDATE 10/21: McCain campaign denies it is pulling out of Colorado. My apologies for being deceived by CNN.

PREVIOUSLY: On Oct. 2, when Team Maverick pulled out of Michigan, I said it was over — and all I got was a lot of angry denunciations from the True Believers. Now comes this headline from CNN:

McCain camp looking for way to win without Colorado

Do the math, people: Maverick’s down by 5 points in Colorado, a state that Bush won by 5. So, according to CNN, now the brain trust is trying to figure out how to win (wait for it) Pennsylvania, a state Bush lost by 2, and where Maverick now trails by 12.

Pining for the fjords . . .

October 21, 2008

GOP’s ‘Cakewalk Ken’ endorses Obama

A Nixon-era neocon, the guy who predicted a “cakewalk” in Iraq, and now he’s all about Hope.

How’s that knife in the back feeling, GOP? This guy was with Bill Kristol’s PNAC, no less! A real piece of work, this one.

Folks down around Chattanooga have reported hearing strange laughter from Forest Hills Cemetery.

(Hat-tip: Ace.)

October 21, 2008

The media’s anointed One

John McCain aide Mark Salter complains bitterly about how totally in the tank the media is for Obama, and Tom Bevan recalls that Hillary Clinton’s aides had the same complaint.

The longer the Democratic primary campaign lasted, the more the national press corps acted like they were on Obama’s payroll. I’ll never forget that day in Shepherdstown, W.Va., right after the North Carolina primary, when this fat, obnoxious CBS reporter more or less told Hillary to quit:

Does her vow to keep fighting, asked one network TV reporter, mean that Clinton will continue her campaign all the way until the vote on the convention floor in Denver?
“I’m staying in this race until there’s a nominee, and I obviously am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee,” she answered. “So we will continue to contest these elections and move forward.”
The reporter fired back with a follow-up question: “But what do you say to those Democrats who fear that you’re putting the Democratic Party’s chances at risk by…continuing to stay in?”

Honestly, who were “those Democrats” whose fears that jerk from CBS was expressing? Him and his liberal buddies on the press bus, that’s who.

Americans should remember this well. If the Obama presidency goes bad wrong — and does anyone seriously expect it to go well? — it was the media who elected him. Those biased bastards like that guy from CBS will bear a huge responsibility for the result.

October 21, 2008

Happy birthday, Michelle Malkin

She turned “the big three-eight” today, and posts a photo of herself at high school graduation with “Big South Jersey Hair.”

Man, there’s no hair like that ’80s hair. You should have seen my spectacular mullet in 1988 . . .