Archive for January 16th, 2009

January 16, 2009

A ‘mental event’

“A recession is a mental event, and every recession has its own unique spirit.”
David Brooks

Stupidity is a mental event, and David Brooks has his own unique stupidity.

Is it possible that the American Conservative Union could file a lawsuit to force him to call himself something other than “conservative”? Perhaps, while the suit was making its way through court, an interim restraining order would prevent his abuse for at least a few weeks, which would be a tremendous relief. I understand the New York Times is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, but I’m getting tired of waiting for them to realize they’ve got a surplus of asshole columnists and can’t afford to keep paying Brooks to do as a “conservative” what Paul Krugman does equally well without the phony label. 
It’s as if Pinch Sulzberger feels a civic duty to inflict Brooks on us.
UPDATE: Tom’s comment got me thinking, “What is it about this Brooks column that bugs me so?” — that is to say, not merely because it’s a Brooks column, which is aggravation enough. But look, for example, at this sentence:

The crisis has delivered a blow to classical economics and taken a body of psychological work that was at the edge of public policy thought and brought it front and center.

See? Expert insight of which mere plebians are unaware — something subtle, nuanced, and complex — is the true explanation. If you protest that this is really no explanation at all, that Brooks obscures rather than enlightens, well, this only proves how feeble are your powers to grasp the multilayered reality. 
Brooks is engaged in a pretense of expertise that is, in reality, a sort of make-work project, a WPA for the hypercerebral, digging one intellectual hole in the morning, then filling it up in the afternoon, the entire point of the exercise being to keep him busy with the shovel. Brooks could have saved himself the trouble of writing a 794-world column because the whole of its meaning can be summed up in four words: You don’t understand economics. If he felt compelled to add another five words, he might have added: Leave it to Tim Geithner
In this, as in everything, Brooks is saying: Don’t try to think for yourselves, you stupid plebes! You will never qualify for the mystic initiation into the esoteric truths of the Platonic archons, who alone understand the transcendent gnosis and yet are forbidden to convey this secret knowledge to the xeno
That Brooks has made a career of this kind of scam is one of the great mysteries of our age, right up there with, “Why did anyone ever think Joy Behar was funny?”
January 16, 2009

Tuesday: ‘Call in Conservative’!

The folks who brought you An American Carol have a suggestion for Inauguration Day:

What do you do when you aren’t feeling well? You call in sick to work! Well, what do you do when the political left is taking over the White House? You call in conservative! On January 20, Democrats will say “Yes, we did” to a new President. But today you can say “Oh, no you didn’t!” by calling in “Conservative!”

Beats “calling in gay,” I suppose.

January 16, 2009

‘The passion from which she spews’

Rosie O’Donnell offers psychological insights on Ann Coulter. 

Right. Maybe under the new Obama health-care plan, Ann will be entitled to a second opinion. From Charles Manson, perhaps?

Just buy the book:

January 16, 2009

Meghan McCain dissing Palin?

John McCain’s 24-year-old daughter told a New Hampshire blogger this week: “Sarah Palin is the only part of the campaign that I won’t comment on publicly.”

As Harry at points out (scroll down to his “special feature”), this is a stark contrast to Meghan’s unabashed enthusiasm for Palin during the campaign:

Back on August 30, 2008, Meghan McCain wrote in her own blog, ” … Dad’s choice of Governor Sarah Palin as his nominee for Vice President is a moment on stage I will never forget. She and her family are so down to earth and so much fun. I could not be any luckier to have these wonderful people join us on the road. I had the pleasure of spending the day with kids Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig. Not only do we have a new Vice Presidential nominee, but I have three new awesome girls to share the road with. I am looking forward to spending more time with them hanging out on the Straight Talk Express.” . . .
Then on September 16, during a Larry King TV interview, King asked Meghan what she thought about her father’s selection of Sarah Palin for vice president, and Meghan answered: ” … I’m very, very pleased with it. I love her. I’m really excited about it.” . . .
King asked Meghan what specifically she liked about Sarah, and Meghan said, “First of all, she’s really chill. She’s really nice, really friendly. She’s really up on pop culture, which I always respect. She’s very smart. She doesn’t act entitled, which unfortunately sometimes you get with some politicians. She’s just like your average girl, like just a mom. But she’s very, very shrewd, very smart. I’ve heard her talking about issues.” . . .
Now it’s the middle of January, 2009 and Meghan gushes to a nameless blogger that there’s nothing about the election she would change, that “it was the most liberating experience of my life,” but says she will not respond to any questions about Gov. Palin.

Worth noting. Steadfast loyalty isn’t a prominent trait in Crazy Cousin John’s branch of the family.

January 16, 2009

The thrill is gone

Wednesday night, I saw Megan McArdle at an America’s Future Foundation Roundtable event in D.C., where she explained that she had voted for Barack Obama, but also warned that we are in for a tsunami of “massive and stupid government spending.” Here she is expressing her disdain for the House Democrat “stimulus” proposal:

The rest of the bill is about what you expected–a lot of probably useless green energy spending that I fairly confidently predict will come to nothing, some stuff we should have done anyway, and a bunch of pandering, porky highway spending. The better the projects are, the less likely they are to be stimulative, because they’re complicated and time consuming, like healthcare IT and high-speed rail. If we do them on a stimulus timeframe, we’ll screw them up, waste an enormous amount of money, and likely make American voters worse off in the long term by locking them in to bad solutions–we won’t get a second bite at high-speed rail between LA and San Francisco. Mostly, Democrats took their wish lists, called them “stimulus”, and look set to inflict them on the American people in badly done drag.

Ah, the yawning gap between Hope and reality! Well, if massively wasteful spending is going to be inflicted on the American people, at least let Democrats do the inflicting, eh?

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

January 16, 2009

From the anthropology desk

One thing you can count on in American journalism: No matter how tight their budgets, no matter how many staff layoffs may come, editors will always find money to send a feature writer out into the sticks to write — in the manner of National Geographic reporting on a neolithic Borneo rain forest tribe — about the hicks in flyover territory:

BRINKLEY, Ark. – Wayne Loewer’s truck reveals a lot about his life. A 12-gauge shotgun for duck hunting rests on the floorboard. A blue thermal lunch bag containing elk meat is shoved under the seat, left in haste that morning by his teenage son rushing to catch the school bus.
Binoculars in the console help Loewer scan his 2,900 acres of rice, soybeans and corn.
The dashboard radio is set to classic rock, playing the same Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes from Loewer’s high school days, when Brinkley was still a thriving small town with stores and a movie theater.
His muddy truck is 900 miles from the kiosks crowding Pennsylvania Avenue selling “Hope Won” T-shirts. But more than miles separate Loewer from the coming celebration in Washington over Barack Obama’s inauguration as president.
The 52-year-old farmer is a conservative Democrat who bet on Republican John McCain and lost, a description that would apply to many in the white South. Now Loewer wonders about his place in Obama’s America.

A shotgun! A truck! Lynyrd Skynyrd! Soybeans! My God, who even suspected such primitive folkways still existed in the 21st century?

UPDATE: A commenter asks why I used the word “anthropology” in the title. The Washington Post reporter treats the natives of rural Arkansas in the same way an anthropologist treats a tribe of aborigines in a distant rain forest, emphasizing the exotic customs in a faux-objective manner. Being from the South, I always resented how the national press would routinely dispatch some reporter to cover a story (often involving a crime with racial overtones) in this way:

STUMPWATER, Miss. — Enos Latimer rocks slowly in the rocking chair on his front porch. White paint peels from the Doric columns in the torrid humidity of a summer afternoon in the Delta.
“Ain’t right what they done to that boy,” says Latimer, pausing to spit tobacco juice over the rail on the azaleas that border his lawn on Church Street, across from the Beauregard County Courthouse where last week 19-year-old Jerome Watson was convicted of murder in a controversial case that has sparked protests from civil rights activists and stirred memories of bygone injustices. . .

And so forth. There will be the obligatory mention of Spanish moss clinging to ancient magnolia trees, “local color” details like the faded linoleum floor of the local diner, some reference to a Klan atrocity from 1907, and so on — all that “Gothic South” scene-setting stuff ripped off from Faulkner, the entire point being to emphasize how odd and exotic the place and its people are.

Heaven have mercy on the people who happen to live in the Southern crossroads town that is the locus of one of those “incidents” which draws the attention of the New York Times, Newsweek magazine and CBS News. They turn on the TV and see network newsmen portray their community as a festering cauldron of hate. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, readers pick up their newspaper to see stories slanted to depict the townspeople as so many stock characters out of To Kill a Mockingbird.

I will never forget a New York Times feature, published a few weeks before the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which did its damnedest to portay my hometown as embroiled in ugly racial antagonism. Ask anybody who is familiar with both New York City and Atlanta which place has the more amicable race relations — or the more amicable anything, for that matter, New Yorkers being notorious worldwide for hostile rudeness. Who the hell is this New York Times reporter to make such insinuations about Atlanta?

Just once, I’d like to see the Atlanta Journal-Constitution send a reporter up to New York City to cover some racially-charged “incident” up there — and do it in the same anthropological style that Yankee reporters use when reporting from the small-town South.

Anyway, so that’s what I’m talking about. It’s one of my pet peeves from way back, and I hadn’t thought about it in a long time. Thanks for asking.

January 16, 2009

Seattle P-I schadenfreude

Genghis at AOSHQ:

Not sure what a death sentence feels like, but I do know that schadenfreude tastes somewhat like Skittles . . . mostly the lime and cherry ones, but not quite as sour.

The pending unemployment of SP-I managing editor David McCumber is the main source of glee, which you should go share.

January 16, 2009

The Wonkette Times

Wonkette blogger Liz Glover has been hired as society reporter for The Washington Times.

Real journalistic standards“!

January 16, 2009

Plane crash in New York

(BUMPED for the updates below about hero pilot “Sully” Sullenberger.)


NEW YORK (AP) – A law enforcement official says authorities aren’t aware of any deaths from today’s plane crash in New York’s Hudson River, and that passengers don’t appear to be seriously injured.

New York Times confirms all on board escaped. Apparently this was a “double bird” incident, with bird strikes taking out two engines. Wall Street Journal reports:

The pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 achieved one of the most technically challenging and seldom attempted feats in commercial aviation: landing on water successfully. . . .
To accomplish such a feat so soon after takeoff, while maneuvering over the skyscrapers of Manhattan and into the crowded Hudson River, will likely be seen as a testament to the crew’s piloting skills.
“It looks like a great bit of flying and great airmanship,” said Bob Mann, an airline consultant based in Port Washington, NY.

Drew at AOSHQ sums up what a stud this pilot is:

I gotta say, damn fine job by the flight crew. Total engine failure, low and heavy and over the most populous city in the country? Yeah, there are some free beers in their future.

Michelle Malkin is also blogging the miracle landing.

Yeah, you could see this coming: Obama’s miracle. To quote Ace: “He’s everywhere. Anywhere a heart open to love and hope exists, so too does Obama.” It’s easy to joke a bit now that everybody’s safe, but . . . well, let’s hope those passengers wore their brown pants today.

Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger: Air Force veteran, 40 years of experience, CEO of a private air safety company, and one stud pilot.

MIDNIGHT UPDATE: Hail to the hero:

Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York — himself an experienced pilot — said that the captain had insisted on being the last to “abandon ship” after the emergency landing.
“It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job in landing the plane in the river and then making sure nobody else was left on board,” Mr Bloomberg said.
“I had a long conversation with the pilot. He walked the plane twice after everyone else got off and tried to verify there was nobody else on board.

Associated Press:

Sullenberger had been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis, said Robert Bea, a civil engineer who co-founded UC Berkeley’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.
Bea said he could think of few pilots as well-situated to bring the plane down safely than Sullenberger.
“When a plane is getting ready to crash with a lot of people who trust you, it is a test.. Sulley proved the end of the road for that test. He had studied it, he had rehearsed it, he had taken it to his heart.”

Michelle Malkin uses the word “providential” to describe this situation, and it’s an apt word. A plane caught in a disastrous situation, an almost unrecoverable malfunction, and it just so happens that the man at the controls is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of crisis piloting. I don’t know if there were any atheists aboard Flight 1549 before the crash, but I doubt any of them are still atheists now.

The Smoking Gun:

Sullenberger, who now must be considered the front runner to replace Hillary Clinton as New York’s junior United States Senator, is also the founder of Safety Reliability Methods. The firm describes itself as providing “technical expertise and strategic vision and direction to improve safety and reliability in a variety of high risk industries.” Business should soon be booming.

Heh. His resume — and you can e-mail him at

PREVIOUSLY: It landed in the Hudson River. There are survivors. Allah has the story, and here’s the CNN video:

UPDATE: WBTV reports the plane was en route to Charlotte N.C.:

A U.S. Airways 320 plane crashed into the Hudson River in New York this afternoon. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Flight #1549 was leaving La Guardia Airport and was enroute to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
The FAA says the plane went down after hitting an obstruction in the air, possibly a bird.
There were more than 135 passengers on the plane.
A passenger on the plane said shortly after the plane departed from the airport, there was a loud noise and smoke entered the cabin. As the plane was returning to the airport, it went down into the water.
An eyewitness on the ground said the plane made a slow, calm descent into the water.
Several ferry boats immediately surrounded the plane and emergency crews responded to the scene. The passengers were able to get off the plane and onto the ferry boats

UPDATE II: Janis Krums posted this photo from the rescue scene via Twitter:


UPDATE III: Associated Press:

It was not immediately clear if there were injuries.
Witness Barbara Sambriski, a researcher at The Associated Press, said, “I just thought, ‘Why is it so low?’ And, splash, it hit the water.”

UPDATE IV: Reports indicate the river landing was a lifesaving feat of aviation after impact with a flock of geese knocked out at least one engine:

Passengers are saying that the pilot kept his cool, steered the plane over the Hudson, gave a quick warning (“Prepare for impact!”) and then landed his plane on the water, keeping it in one piece.By the time TV pictures were being streamed live, viewers were presented with the horror of a plane full of passengers sinking slowly into frigid waters.
But that was an illusion: by the time TV pictures came on, apparently, most or all of the passengers had already been taken off the aircraft. The landing was so well done, passengers were able to keep their wits and make their way to a couple of exits. Plenty of boats – bless ’em! – were quickly on the scene, and took the passengers away.

The Right Stuff!

UPDATE IV: More video via Allah:

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Always pray during takeoff. Read this book, if you want a better appreciation of the miracle of flight:

January 16, 2009

A billion here, a billion there . . .

. . . and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money: Amanda Carpenter has a copy of the Democrats’ plans to spend your money: “frightening.”