Archive for November 20th, 2008

November 20, 2008

Is babe-blogging a sin?

John Hawkins is accused of un-Christian behavior because he regularly features bikini pictures at Conservative Grapevine. He makes a pro-bikini argument very similar to my own rationale.

A constant diet of politics gets boring. If a politics junkie like me gets bored with politics from time to time, how must normal Americans get bored by it? Throwing in some occasional humor, celebrity news or eye candy helps to prevent the onset of political MEGO syndrome.

Most blog readers are guys, and guys like eye candy. What’s weird is that chicks like celebrity eye candy, too. It’s true. Go pick up Us Weekly or People and what do you see? Paparazzi shots of starlets in bikinis. And who reads those magazines? Chicks. Same thing with fashion magazines — lots of shots of barely-dressed models, especially in the ads. For some reason, completely hetero women like looking at beautiful women.

Blogging is (or ought to be) a capitalist enterprise, the object being to draw more visitors and thereby generate more revenue. If there is one thing that conservatives agree on, it’s that capitalism is better than socialism, so if you don’t want me running to Congress asking for a blogger bailout, then a bit of eye candy is a small price to pay. And as a greedy capitalist blogger, it makes no difference to me whether you come for the Anne Hathaway cleavage shots and stay for the politics, or vice-versa.

I got a cool quarter-million hits in September mostly due to the (utterly false) promise of Sarah Palin bikini pics. It’s not my fault that people wanted to Google for photos of Sarah Palin in a bikini. (Glenn Beck even got in on the action.) But if people are going to Google for Palin bikini pictures, would our pietistic friends rather the Googlers be directed to a conservative site — which actually supports Sarah Palin — or to some sleazy liberal site?

So relax, ye bikini pic concern trolls. And enjoy some Anne Hathaway cleavage video:

Ain’t America great?

UPDATE: Sister Toldjah does some hunk-blogging.

UPDATE II: Instapundit links. Thanks.

UPDATE III: I told Mrs. Other McCain that I got the Instalanche and she said, “About something funny, right? Some sarcastic @$$hole thing?” Uh . . . well, yeah. And she said, “See? You’re funny. You ought to capitalize on that.”

The missus is quite a babe herself. And if you can stand it: Blogger in a Speedo. (Actually, that should be “sports editor in a Speedo,” since I was a 30-year-old small-town sports editor when that photo was taken in 1990.)

November 20, 2008

Andrew Sullivan, originalist?

Gay marriage as original intent:

Accept civil equality not as a defeat but as an opportunity: to persuade and evangelize for something beyond the civil that still respects the integrity of the civil. That’s what America’s founders intended. It is part of their genius that today’s fundamentalists simply do not understand.

Just to make sure, I thumbed through my copy of the Federalist and saw not a single reference to the sort of “civil equality” asserted by Sullivan. Indeed, as I pointed out earlier this week, homosexual behavior never had any standing in the American legal tradition other than being proscribed as “a crime against nature.” The same founders who authored the Declaration and the Constitution — indeed, the same men who fought the war to win our independence — also enacted or enforced laws in their states prohibiting sodomy. No once did any of the founders suggest that the prohibition of sodomy was unjust or ought to be repealed. So who is Sullivan — a damned Brit — to come over here and try to tell us “what America’s founders intended”?

Sullivan was reacting to Rod Dreher’s column:

Bigots are by definition people whose prejudices are irrational. Bigots are moral cretins who can’t be talked to, only coerced. One is under no obligation to compromise with a bigot, only to smash him. . . . .
That’s what we’re seeing now in California. How are defenders of traditional marriage supposed to have reasoned discourse with people who insist that there is nothing to talk about except the terms of our surrender?

One problem with conservatives is their insistence on arguing only in terms of universal, abstract values, whereas liberals do not hesitate to assert the politics of self-interest or the politics of identity.

The burden of proof in policy disputes ought always to rest with the advocates of innovation. The Burkean insight is that established law and social custom are presumed legitimate, and that revolutionaries who would overthrow the established order must first demonstrate (a) the necessity of the change to remedy existing evil and (b) some reasonable assurance that the new order would be a genuine improvement on that order which is to be destroyed. (Or, to quote Lord Acton: “Where it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.”)

The argument for same-sex marriage can’t clear this hurdle, no matter how much its advocates outspend their opposition, no matter how they rewrite ballot questions in an effort to prejudice the electorate. Gay radicals argue their case in terms of direct, narrow self-interest — “We want this, therefore society must grant it” — and became enraged when society answers, “We don’t want it, and won’t grant it.”

What I’ve never understood is the insistence that the 2% gay tail must wag the 98% straight dog. Whatever the grievances of homosexuals, how do they claim authority to dictate law to the rest of society? And why do so many people react instinctively to placate the aggrieved minority? “Yes, of course — give them whatever they want!”

Why do people react like that? Because the alternative is to be called names. Fine. Call me names. Call me a bigot, a homophobe, an ignorant, right-wing holy-roller. Cowards are common enough without my joining their ranks.

November 20, 2008

Knocked up on Capitol Hill

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) hasn’t married the Baby Daddy, although she says such plans are in the works:

So how might Sanchez’s pregnancy play out in her district, which is 61% Latino? The national Latina teenage pregnancy rate is twice the country’s average. Could a teenager point to her and say, “If she can do it, why can’t I?”
The differences, Sanchez thinks, are substantial, and that’s a big teachable moment. She’s not a “surprised pregnant teenager,” 15 or 16, poor, jobless, a dropout. “I’m established in my life. I have a career. I’m financially stable. I have a loving, committed partner. This is something that was planned, not something that was accidental.”
Sanchez is 39 and divorced, and early this year, her doctor told her that “if your intention is to become a mother, I wouldn’t put it off.” So she and Sullivan didn’t. They haven’t yet set a wedding date. As he told me, “We have the rest of our lives to get engaged and married — we don’t have the rest of our lives” for Sanchez to become pregnant.

Notice the evaporation of any moral stigma to extramarital sex. Why couldn’t the “financially stable” Sanchez and her Baby Daddy, consultant Jim Sullivan, go to courthouse and taken out a marriage license? There is a certain snobbery in the assertion that rich people can do as they damned well please, while stigmatizing poor people who do the same.

And of course, there is the rank hypocrisy of a Democratic feminist actually having a baby. If she were truly living out her “progressive” values, she’d have gotten an abortion. On the other hand, if she were really a feminist, she’d be a lesbian.

November 20, 2008

Wither conservatism

The title of the National Review Institute’s “Whither Conservatism?” conference (co-sponsored by Hillsdalle College) yesterday at the Grand Hyatt easily lends itself to the pun. With Republicans at their lowest ebb since 1974, indeed one could be forgiven the impression that conservatism has withered.

The audience was smallish, with a good contingent of journalists — Sean Higgins of Investors Business Daily, Michale Brendan Dougherty of The American Conservative, James Poulos and Conor Friedersdorf of Culture11 and Jamie Kirchick of The New Republic — but if there were any MSM reporters on hand, I didn’t see them. Not even The Washington Times sent a reporter. It seems to be the position of mainstream news editors that events like this are not newsworthy. Sigh.

I missed the early-morning domestic policy panel with Jim Manzi, Yuval Levin, Kim Strassel and Heather MacDonald. The foreign policy panel moderated by Rich Lowry was lively. Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and NR’s Andy McCarthy represented the hawks, with Paul Saunders of the Nixon Center the lone voice urging restraint and non-intervention.

Saunders pointed out the policy drift toward a “national commitment to rebuilding” Iraq: “Is this what we signed up for?” As to those advocating regime change in Iran, Saunders said, “I don’t understand how these are realistic objectives for U.S. policy.” When Lowry sought to steer the discussion toward the question of whether Obama’s election will (as liberals claim) improve the U.S. image abroad, the panel continued to hash over Iraq for a while. Kagan observed, “We don’t poll much better in France than we do in Egypt. . . . The people who are blowing themselves up . . . don’t give a damn whether it’s Obama or Bush.”

Kagan noted that our European “allies” are almost completely disarmed. This was one thing that struck me as entirely absurd about the debate over “world opinion” in the 2002-03 run-up to the Iraq invasion. If the U.S. was intent on invading Iraq — and clearly, by fall 2002, the decision had already been made and the mobilization of military resources was well underway — why were we on our knees begging for help from, inter alia, France? The French can’t deploy so much as a single effective army division. So whether France supports or opposes a U.S. military action, it’s irrelevant either way. Why disgrace ourselves by groveling and begging these European “allies” for the commitment of token forces to a sham “coalition”?

As we dined on our free lunch, Hillsdale professor Burt Folsom gave an energetic lecture about his new book, New Deal or Raw Deal, a history of the Great Depression and the Roosevelt administration that ought to be read as a companion to Amity Schlaes’ The Forgotten Man.

The panel on cultural issues, moderated by Kate O’Beirne, featured Maggie Gallagher, Ed Whelan, and Jeff Bell. Gallagher, who talked extensively about the marriage amendments that passed in Florida, Arizona and California, was the star of this panel. She called attention to the “extraordinary outpouring of threats and intimidation” against supporters of Proposition 8 in California – an atmosphere that Prop 8 opponents stoked with ads like this:

“Ideas have consequences,” Gallagher said, noting that the essential argument of gay radicals is that “Christianity is a form of bigotry,” so that the result of the gay rights agenda will be the elimination of Christian moral arguments from the public square. Gallagher called attention to the August decision in the Benitez case in California, requiring physicians to provide insemination services to lesbians, as an example of the impact of the gay-rights doctrine.

Then it was time for the big show, “The Future of Conservatism” panel, in which Jonah Goldberg had threatened to beat moderator David Brooks into a coma (an empty threat, alas). A phrenologist would have automatically picked out Goldberg and the Atlantic‘s Ross Douthat as the intellectual heavyweights on the panel — both men have impressively large heads. Douthat’s receding hairline exposes his massive, broad forehead, truly a thing to behold. If you didn’t know who he was, and were forced to guess, you’d figure him for a Russian grand master of chess, named Ivan or Boris. In terms of temperament, however, the melancholy Douthat and the sanguine/choleric Goldberg are quite different. Goldberg livens his remarks with sarcastic wit. Douthat makes a joke or two, but doesn’t have Goldberg’s smart-aleck zeal for a clever putdown. And Goldberg, of course, is more dedicated to a regular Republican sort of conservatism, while Douthat’s all nuance and doubt.

In terms of raw cranial capacity, then, these two stand out, although their fellow panelists are obviously no slouches. Douthat begins the discussion by describing his views as “pessimistic,” and then goes into a trend-mongering spiel so as to spread the paralyzing miasma of defeatism throughout the room.

David Bobb of Hillsdale gave a five-point summary of conservative principles, outlining a Madisonian vision of limited government to which he urged the movement to adhere. He warned that conservatism is an “ism” that some say is about to become a “wasm,” and argued against a doctrine of “necessitarianism” that leads to abandonment of principles.

Gene Healey of the Cato Institute is the good-natured token libertarian, and begins by recalling his childhood conviction (in 1995) that Phil Gramm was destined to be the next president. (Don’t worry, Gene. Lots of us thought so.) Healey name-checked Hayek while noting the fashion cycles of New Conservatism, with compassionate conservatism, national greatness, crunchy cons, South Park conservatism and now “reformist” conservatism. “Its name is Legion” — a Biblical reference (Mark 5:9) that perhaps went over the heads of some.

Ramesh Ponnuru’s high tenor voice causes me to look up from my notebook. This happens every time I see Ramesh on a panel. The other baritone voices will be droning on, and I’ve got my head down scrawling notes. Then it’s Ramesh’s turn, suddenly the range jumps an octave, and I look up. Ramesh shares the Douthatian gloom, and talks about the question of whether America is a “center-right nation” — “center-right” being a term with which I’m getting weary as all hell, by the way.

Goldberg is the scrappiest voice on the panel, whose views most closely mirror my exasperation with the tendency of intellectuals to overthink the election. “Personalities matter,” Goldberg says, pointing out this year’s obvious charisma mismatch in the presidential candidates, and the crushing political burden of the Bush-damaged GOP brand. Goldberg slams “compassionate conservatism” as an “enormous surrender to liberalism,” and says the first challenge for the “reformist” conservatives is to show “why this isn’t compassionate conservatism 2.0.” Exactly. We don’t need conservative arguments for half-a-loaf responses to big-government liberalism, we need conservatives to stand resolutely against big government, period.

Just one incidental gripe: Too many of the NRI panelists were willing to cede ground to global warming, the biggest liberal hoax since the “homeless crisis” of the 1980s. Besides the specific evidence of fraudulent statistical manipulation and the problematic assumptions of climate “modeling,” the very fact that liberals passionately believe in global warming is an argument against the theory. When have liberals ever been right about anything?

Finally, I would strongly urge everyone interested in understanding the 2008 election to pick up the Dec. 1 print edition of National Review, especially Rich Lowry’s extensively reported article on Page 22, “In the Snake Pit.” Having immersed myself in various accounts of What Went Wrong with the McCain campaign, I thought I’d learned about as much as could be gleaned from such analyses, but Lowry manages to find new insights.

UPDATE: Alexander Burns of the Politico was there, and caught David Brooks’s quip on the final panel:

Brooks joked cheerfully about conservative criticism of his work. Introducing a panel on the future of conservative thought, he made reference to a controversial comment he reportedly made about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “When I really love someone, I call them a fatal cancer on the Republican Party,” Brooks said. “And sitting to my left are five fatal cancers.”

It was funny. Not as funny as dropping Brooks from a C-130 over Jalalabad, but funny.

November 20, 2008

Hot babes all year long

Everybody will want to order a copy of the 2009 Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute calendar, which features the theme, “Pretty in Mink.” The Luce Ladies held a soiree in DC last night to debut the calendar, with some of the calendar girls in attendance, including Miss May (Mary Katharine Ham), Miss July (Amanda Carpenter), Miss August (Sandy Liddy Bourne) and Miss October (Kate Obenshain). The photos are shot in classic 1940s glamour style and you’ll have a different leading conservative woman to inspire you every month.