Archive for February 13th, 2009

February 13, 2009

My stimulus!

Thanks to Moe Lane for directing me toward the Personal Stimulus Generator, so that I now find this clause buried in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

wireless and broadband deployment grant programs
(including transfer of funds to Robert Stacy McCain for the Robert Stacy McCain Personal Economic Stimulus Program)

For necessary and unnecessary expenses related to the Wireless and Broadband Deployment Grant Programs established by section 6002 of division B of this Act, $2,825,000,000, of which $1,000,000,000 shall be for Wireless Deployment Grants and $1,825,000,000 shall be for Broadband Deployment Grants: Provided, That an additional $1,000,000 shall be paid directly to Robert Stacy McCain in the form of subsidized loans that do not require repayment. Provided Further, That the funds be used by Robert Stacy McCain to It’s for the children or for whatever. Provided Even Further, That Robert Stacy McCain will receive free University of Alabama Crimson Tide tickets for life. Provided Even Further Still, That Robert Stacy McCain shall be treated as a cabinet-level appointment for the purpose of income tax reporting, and therefore no taxes shall be paid on any of the aformentioned benefits. And one more thing: Rep. Maxine Waters is hereby expelled from Congress, effective immediately upon enactment.

Good thing there’s no time for those suckers to actually read what they’re voting on!

UPDATE: Via Red State, Rep. John Boehner:

February 13, 2009

Valentine’s Day advice

“All seductions begin by flirting. Flirting is the key which turns the engine on. It is as simple as that. Without flirting you cannot seduce, and without seduction the race becomes extinct.”
Taki Theodoracopulos

February 13, 2009

More intellectual warfare

“The Left has won the culture war, and, at least in the near-term, its victory is irreversible. In social relations, the right to choose trumps all other considerations: to fornicate, marry, breed, abort, divorce, and abandon. That a single mother with six kids should opt for another eight because she feels like it captures the distilled essence of the cultural moment that we have entered. Somehow ritual expressions of support for ‘family values’ don’t quite provide an adequate response.”
Andrew Bacevich

“From Joseph de Maistre to T.S. Eliot and beyond, right-wing cultural critics since the French Revolution have made the case for authority, along with what it ultimately requires — namely, the suicide of the critical intellect.”
Damon Linker

“Linker’s response says more about his inability to make arguments without resorting to theocratic or authoritarian bogeymen than it does about Bacevich’s essay.”
James Antle

James is onto something. The hysterical reactions of those who claim to see theocracy lurking around every corner can only be understood as the expression of inner psychodrama. What is it they really fear? What kind of emotional weakness manifests itself in these phobic fantasies of religious authoritarianism?

February 13, 2009

Lou Dobb hates him some pork

Embedded video from CNN Video
February 13, 2009

The luxury of ‘liberaltarianism’

Ross Douthat weighs in with a commentary on “liberaltarianism,” the proposed fusion of liberalism and libertarianism that started getting kicked around a bit on the blogosphere a couple of years ago. (Cf., “Obamatarians,” a more recent expression of the same impulse.)

The problem with this concept was never really on the part of liberals, except insofar as they either (a) misunderstood libertarianism, or (b) simply lied about their openness to libertarian ideas. Confusion and deceit among liberals is a given. But the liberals always knew what they wanted from such a transaction: Elect more Democrats.

What did the libertarians want from the transaction? It is here that the ridiculous folly of the enterprise is found. Most of the Will Wilkinson types are intellectuals who are embarrassed by what Hunter S. Thompson called the “Rotarian” instincts of the Republican Party. That flag-waving God-mom-and-apple-pie stuff just doesn’t light a fire under the American intellectual class, which is not now, nor has it ever been, enamored of religion, patriotism and “family values.”

As a political impulse, the sort of libertarianism that scoffs at creationism and traditional marriage wields limited influence, because it appeals chiefly to a dissenting sect of the intelligentsia. It’s a sort of free-market heresy of progressivism, with no significant popular following nor any real prospect of gaining one, because most Ordinary Americans who strongly believe in economic freedom are deeply traditionalist. And most anti-traditionalists — the feminists, the gay militants, the “world peace” utopians — are deeply committed to the statist economic vision of the Democratic Party.

There is no natural political constituency for the sort of libertarianism that considers marijuana legalization and the flat tax as equally estimable objectives. When it comes to the basic electoral calculus of 5o-percent-plus-one, this theoretical equation has never been shown to add up in terms of real-world coalition politics. (Maybe the stoners just forget to vote?)

During the “long boom” unleashed by the Reagan revolution, it was possible for libertarian intellectuals to believe that the arguments for economic freedom were now so blindingly vindicated that even their progressive peers must admit the obvious truth. All libertarians needed to do, they fancied, was to shed the unfashionable baggage of the GOP coalition — the Falwells and Buchanans and Dobsons and other such lowbrows — and the progressives would eagerly sign up for this new project: Free-market gay marriage! Free-market abortion! Free-market environmentalism! Free-market transhuman biotechnology!

If that idea ever made sense, it only made sense in a context of Republican political dominance. When the Democrats were putting up losers like Mike Dukakis and John Kerry, when Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay were crushing progressive dreams like so many ants underfoot, free-market intellectuals could attempt to inveigle their progressive friends: “Don’t worry about those hayseed holy rollers, saber-rattling jingos and suburban Rotarians. They make a lot of noise, but they don’t really call the shots. Look at your 401K balance. The market works.”

Well, we passed the sell-by date of that argument somewhere between “Mission Accomplished” and “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” And all the libertarian intellectuals who’ve been sucking on the Koch tit over the past 25 years find that their progressive friends are as unpersuaded about the virtues of economic freedom as they ever were. Lending libertarian support to progressive causes — the driving impetus of the gay-rights movement is egalitarian, not libertarian — has strengthened progressivism, while doing nothing meaningful to advance the free-market cause.

With their Democratic friends now holding supreme power in Washington, progressives now openly celebrate Keynesian pump-priming and redistributionist economic schemes in a way they never would have done when Tom DeLay held the whip. Chuck Schumer can laugh that the American people don’t care what’s in the stimulus, and no one can effectively refute him.

At the apex of Republican power and at the zenith of the “long boom” ignited by Reaganomics, the “liberaltarian” impulse was a luxury that foundation-subsidized intellectuals could afford to indulge. The era of respectable intellectual luxury is now over, and serious people must now ponder the rude realities of coalition politics.

UPDATE: “Like the Higgs Boson, the liberaltarian is a phenomenon that hasn’t yet been directly observed but that everybody hopes to find someday.”

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! (Guess this means I’ll hit the 1-million hits mark a bit early, huh?)
UPDATE III: A slight diversion, to take aim at the false dilemma (either tax cuts OR Keynesian spending) argument as put forward by Newsweek‘s Daniel Gross:

Adherents of the tax-cuts-only strategy are suspicious of free-spending Democrats, old-fashioned Keynesians, and big government. They believe — no, they know –that tax cuts are more efficient than government spending, since people and businesses make better and quicker decisions about spending than government does. . . . The current, somewhat extraordinary circumstances, and the nation’s changing economic geography, should make us wonder how effective tax cuts will be in stimulating new spending and investment.

Now, I addressed this either/or fallacy Monday, with reference to Megan McArdle’s suggestion that marginal rates are now low enough that major Laffer-curve effects are not to be expected from further tax cuts. (Argue amongst yourselves.) What kills me is that Gross is allowed to make an expressly political argument under the guise of an economic expertise that he does not, in fact, possess:

Mr. Gross graduated from Cornell University in 1989, with degrees in government and history, and holds an A.M. in American history from Harvard University (1991). He worked as a reporter at The New Republic and Bloomberg News, and has contributed hundreds of features, news articles, book reviews and opinion pieces to over 60 magazines and newspapers. Areas of expertise include: economic and tax policy, the links between business and politics, the rise of the investor class, the culture of Wall Street, and business history. (Emphasis added.)

The man is a journalist, not an economist, and his echoing of Obama administration talking points ought not be disguised as economic analysis. Nothing wrong with being a journalist, you understand, it’s just that Newsweek is doing a bait-and-switch by presenting Gross as an economic “expert.” But if Paul Krugman can win a Nobel Prize, I suppose we’re all experts now . . .

UPDATE IV: Linked by The American Catholic.

Mark Thompson says I’m “somewhat hyperbolic.” Dude, you’re just now noticing this tendency?


February 13, 2009

Lawrence Henry, R.I.P.

Longtime American Spectator contributor Lawrence Henry will file no more columns from North Andover, Mass. He died at age 61 from complications of kidney disease.

February 13, 2009

Blame game

“No matter how bad the economy is when the 2010 elections come, Democrats are going to argue that it would have been much worse had we not passed this $789 billion bill. It’s something that’s entirely non-falsifiable, since we don’t get to know what would have happened without the legislation. That’s why Obama keeps warning of double digit unemployment, 5 million job losses, an irreversible economic death spiral, etc. He wants to be able to say that he saved us from a return to the 1930s.”
Philip Klein

February 13, 2009

The plight of the skanks

Hat-tip to Richard Spencer:

In The Know: Are Reality Shows Setting Unrealistic Standards For Skanks?

Now, speaking of Richard Spencer and skanks, here is a podcast of Richard talking libertarianism with Austin Bramwell, and here is a photo of Richard at the Reason magazine 2007 Christmas party with . . .

Yes, it’s her — Michelle Lee Muccio! So now, everybody at is going hubba-hubba over Michelle, but Richard was that close to her, and let her get away. You try to help these young fellows, but there’s only so much you can do.

UPDATE: Dave addresses the decadence of it all.

UPDATE II: Empty threats from Spencer, who claims I’ve “romantically linked” him with Ms. Muccio. No, I stated quite clearly that Spencer missed his chance. When I saw him talking to her at the Christmas party, I thought young Richard was moving in for the kill, but he evidently did the Nice Guy thing and let her escape.

Coffee is for closers, Richard.

February 13, 2009

TARP! What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing! Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke and Co. just whizzed away $78 billion for no good purpose. And now the incompetent clowns are coming back for more.

February 13, 2009

Andrew Sargus Klein is an arrogant elitist douchebag . . .

. . . as is anyone who agrees with him:

The right has developed a visceral knee-jerk reaction to anything involving culture, and their “loyal opposition” stranglehold doesn’t seem to be loosening anytime soon. Bombs make jobs, but renovations and building projects and part-time jobs or anything else within a stones throw of a—gasp—opera house do not. This is government as violent adolescent child.

Listen up, punk: I majored in drama and minored in art and managed to squeeze in two semesters of music theory along the way. Right now, I’ve got a day gig as a documentary film editor. I’ve got more culture in the tip of my pinkie than you’ve got in your entire swinish soul. So don’t you tell me about my “knee-jerk reaction.”

Klein gives us a splendid insight into the central conceit of the liberal mind: Nothing exists — or has existed, or ever will exist — unless it’s funded with federal taxpayer dollars.

Therefore, to oppose federal funding for “the arts” is to be anti-art, just as opposing federal funding for public schools is to be anti-education. Such is the shriveled state of the liberal psyche that it never even occurs to these dimwits to let people keep their own money to spend on whatever they want. You want to renovate a theater? Go renovate a theater. But don’t bring the IRS down on my back to force me to pay for your tastes in architecture.

Is this what Russ Smith is paying you for, punk? To be a commissar for the People’s Ministry of Kultur? And does he know that you’re basically recycling the same kind of lame crap you wrote for your student paper at U of Michigan?

What hasn’t been noticed is a distinct artistic apathy regarding politics, and though this is a more specific approach to a larger issue, in a university with as much opportunity for free expression as ours, it’s just as relevant.
There are plenty of examples of this freedom, from Natural Resources and Environment students putting up installations on the Diag and in The Nichols Arboretum to performances of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” and Moises Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project.”
But with the possibility of a few exceptions, the above examples represent the extent to which our University’s art scene pushes the political envelope. The fact remains that not everyone is (or should be) politically oriented, nor should everyone should be held to a standard of artistic expression. But students in our School of Art and Design and School of Music, Theater & Dance seem to keep a tight lid on any overt political leanings – at least, there’s little to no political expression to be experienced by the campus as a whole.

OK, I wrote some lame crap in college, too. But when I was your age, punk, I was driving a forklift in a warehouse on Atlanta’s Fulton Industrial Boulevard, saving up money to buy a P.A. rig for my rock band. So exactly what right do you have to lecture me about “culture”? I’ve put my own sweat into culture, pal.

(One of my 16-year-old sons just interrupted me, walking in with his — actually, my — acoustic six-string to show me he’s learned the guitar part to some song by Avenged Sevenfold.)

Where was I? Oh, yes: Andrew Sargus Klein, 25-year-old kultur commisar, telling the rest of us what lowbrow philistines we are! Nice work, if you can get it. “The Vagina Monologues,” indeed . . .

UPDATE: Watch out, Klein: I’ve just been nominated for “culture czar,” and you don’t want me to send the cossacks after you!
UPDATE II: Enjoy that beer and chill, Andrew. Some of you people keep mistaking me for a serious intellectual, although I can’t imagine why.