Archive for March 2nd, 2009

March 2, 2009

Minor blogging milestone

Just collected my second check from Google Adsense. I got my first check back in November, as I recall. So it took eight months to get the first, and only another three months to get the second.

A small check, obviously — not that giant check they give to Powerball jackpot winners — but it is actual income from mere blogging. This gives me a thin pretext of legitimacy when I tell my wife that blogging constitutes “work.”

Also, my “this is work” argument got a boost from certain readers/tip-jar hitters who haven’t asked to be acknowledged for their contributions to the pre-CPAC fund-raising drive. It’s a subject of debate whether I still owe Little Miss Attila more martinis. I did indeed give her a $20 for lunch Friday.

Plus, I introduced Attila and Melissa Clouthier to a young protege, Josiah Ryan of CNSNews.com, whom I suspect by merely flashing his crooked grin helped them get in touch with their inner cougars. And that’s gotta be worth something, right?

L-R: Melissa Clouthier, Josiah Ryan, Little Miss Attila.

March 2, 2009

Dittos from a cab driver

Having previously noted Rod Dreher’s criticism of Rush Limbaugh’s CPAC speech and Andrew Breitbart’s praise now check this from my column today at The American Spectator:

Wally Onakoya drives Fairway Cab No. 1 and said he had hoped to listen to Rush Limbaugh’s speech on WCSP-FM, but was disappointed that Washington’s C-SPAN radio station was not broadcasting it live.
He came to America from Nigeria in 1983. A quarter-century later, he now drives his cab in the nation’s capital to pay tuition for his daughter, Seun, a freshman biochemistry major at Maryland’s St. Mary’s College, whose school emblem adorned the blue hoodie Onakoya wore Saturday with paternal pride.
Onakoya has been a loyal Dittohead for years. He explained that not all who ride in his cab appreciate his radio habit of listening to Limbaugh from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays.
“Some people say he is the second coming of the devil,” Onakoya said with a deep baritone chuckle. . . .

Please read the whole thing. And I am sure that praise from an immigrant cab driver means more to Rush Limbaugh than anything any pundit or critic has to say.

UPDATE: Linked by But As For Me and a big shout-out to Ken Shepherd of Newsbusters.

March 2, 2009

How to Get Two Million Hits in Your Second Year of Blogging

CPAC face-time with Professor Glenn Reynolds and Dr. Helen probably won’t hurt, but with a face like mine, you never know — this tactic could backfire disastrously.

On the other hand, Ed Morrisey said if I’m ever passing through Minnesota, look him up and he’ll buy me my own brewery.

To be fair to Ed, I should explain that I learned, from studying the online operations of some of my young friends, the Zen of posing the “Classic Facebook Photo”:

  1. Arrange a random group of your buddies, preferably holding beverages;
  2. Have them lean in on each other like a football huddle, to suggest an artificial sense of intimacy; and
  3. Everybody act as if they’re up to mischief and shenanigans.

Bonus points if you can convince either a famous celebrity or the prettiest girl at the party to pose with you and your snowball’s-chance loser buddies. The general idea is for the undergraduate geek with substandard social skills to assemble a series of Facebook photo albums that convey to others the impression that, in fact, he is the all-time mack daddy who hangs with his posse at the coolest venues and gets jiggy with the hotties like an NBA superstar during All-Star break.

At any rate, two photo albums from CPAC 200: The Pink Camera Files and More Delicious Pink Camera Goodness.

March 2, 2009

Dreher bashes Limbaugh

(BUMPED, 2:04 a.m; UPDATE BELOW)

This is a comforting lie. It is Rousseau conservatism: the idea that man is born innocent, but corrupted by society, or government. Remove the chains of government, and man will return to his natural, good state, which is one of limitless possibility. This denies two bedrock truths of philosophical conservatism, which are that 1) human nature is fallen, and 2) man must learn to live within limits. A conservatism that is not founded on a conscious recognition of those two truths is a false conservatism, and has a shaky foundation from which to criticize liberal utopianism.”
Rod Dreher

My dear wife rearranged and cleaned my office while I was at CPAC, so that I can’t lay hands on Thucydides just now. But there was an occasion recounted by that historian in which (I believe) the Athenians(* see 3:30 p.m. update below – rsm) had compelled the surrender of a rebel colony, and it suited the Athenian commander to require of each captured man that he answer the question, what had he done to aid the Athenians and their allies in the ongoing Greek civil war. Obviously, none of the captives could give a satisfactory answer, and so they were all put to the sword. (Classical scholars will excuse whatever major or minor details I’ve misremembered. Blame my dear wife.)

Drastic and foolish example though this was, the Athenian commander boiled down to a deadly brevity the nature of loyalty in service: What have you done to aid the cause?

The recruit fresh from boot camp merits very little respect from veteran noncoms and officers, the rookie just called up to the major leagues doesn’t deserve deference from the three-time All-Star, and by an extension of this principle, sensible people should ask: Who is Rod Dreher to judge Rush Limbaugh?

This goes back to 2006, when everyone was rushing to denounce Ann Coulter for calling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a “raghead.” It so happened that Ann was introduced that day at CPAC by Monique Stuart, a former Washington Times intern. Monique described how she had been a liberal Democrat until the day Coulter showed up on her campus to debate a leftist professor whom Monique had previously admired. When Coulter was through with him, the professor looked like the clueless idiot he was, and Monique was a newborn conservative.

This is to say, Coulter has proven her value to the cause in years of effective service, and it will take a heckuva lot more than one unfortunate epithet for me to sign some idiot “open letter” petition demanding that she be purged from the movement. (You’d be more likely to get me to sign an open letter denouncing the petition signatories, though some of them I count as friends.)

More than two decades ago, Rush Limbaugh almost singlehandedly created a new medium of discourse in America. Anyone who knows anything about talk radio will tell you that it was Limbaugh who pioneered two distinct innovations: audio actualities (“sound bites”) and rock-music “bumpers” to intro each new programming segment. Limbaugh is the very best at what he does, so much better that there is no dispute over the title, and a vast gulf separates him from whoever is No. 2 in his profession.

Given all that, and given the tremendous influence he has exerted (so that he was named an honorary member of the congressional freshman class elected during the “Republican Revolution” of 1994), isn’t it the case that Rush ought to deserve some slight deference from those who call themselves “conservatives”? Rush was admired and praised by Buckley and Reagan, and is respected by other conservative leaders still vital and active. Whatever woes have befallen conservatism, these blunders have almost always been the work of those who have ignored or contradicted Limbaugh’s advice. (Recall, for example, that Rush backed Pat Buchanan’s 1992 primary challenge to George H.W. Bush, and did everything in his power to try to persuade Republicans not to nominate John McCain in 2008.)

This is not to say that Limbaugh is above criticism, or that his long duration in useful service has made him free from error. But whatever the philosophical merit of Dreher’s criticisms — and I share his skepticism toward the Whig-history univeralist rah-rah — it is nevertheless true that Limbaugh has accomplished vastly much more for conservatism, and suffered as a consequence the fury of liberal wrath. So enormous is the disparity of their value to conservatism as a political movement that Dreher’s criticism is like a fly perched on an elephant’s ass, complaining that the ride is too bumpy.

Good politics must be rooted in sound philosophy — in asserting this, Dreher is entirely correct. At the same time, a devotion to philosophical purity doesn’t count for anything in the real world of politics if your party is being crushed in every election, as has been true of Republicans in the past two cycles. I’m reminded of a point Bob Barr tried to make to Libertarian Party activists in 2008, namely the distinction between a political party and a political club.

If Rod and his “crunchy” cronies want to sit around and quote Russell Kirk to each other at the organic whole-grain clubhouse, no one is stopping them from indulging their little purity crusade. Rush Limbaugh has no such luxury, and deserves better than to be sniped at in the manner Dreher has chosen.

Boys and girls, please listen to what I’m trying to get across here: Welcome to the camp of the saints. We are at coffin corner here, encircled by a powerful “progressive” army that outnumbers us and is emboldened by fresh victories. To suffer a third consecutive humiliating defeat in 2010 could be all she wrote for the movement born at Sharon, Connecticut, four decades ago.

We are now a mere 18 months from Labor Day 2010, when that climactic political battle will be fully engaged. There a lot of important work to be done — and done now, over the next three to six months — if there is to be any hope of anything but the abomination of desolation. Our utter destruction is at hand unless good men rally to the colors, and we no longer have the luxury of indulging in these petty playground feuds and the children who enjoy them.

To the extent that conservatives need a philosopher now, I’d say we need to be studying Sun-Tzu.

If Rod Dreher wants to join Andrew Sullivan and David Brock (yes, I said “Brock,” not “Brooks”) in the ranks of the vaunting army outside the camp, let him go over and be gone. But don’t sit pouting inside the camp, giving aid and comfort to the adversary by your demoralizing pronouncements. If that stuff is going to be tolerated among conservatives, there won’t be enough left of a constitutional republic after Nov. 3 for anyone to bother trying to “conserve” it, and no hope at all that it might be restored.

WOLVERINES!

UPDATE 2:04 A.M.: Andrew Breitbart:

A friend in Los Angeles e-mailed a one-liner: “Best speech I have ever seen.”
My urbane father-in-law, the first person I knew who copped to listening to Mr. Limbaugh and who has been witness to most of the big events of the modern age, called it the “most thrilling thing [he’s] seen on TV.”

What he said.

UPDATE 3:30 P.M.: In the comments, an anonymous homeschooling mom corrects my memory of Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. However, she used her homeschooled teenagers as references, which is unfair. At any rate, the event I remember was the siege and surrender of Plataea (431-427). The merciless commander was not Athenian, but Spartan.

March 2, 2009

Tales from a CPAC reception: The transvaluation of all values

An anonymous 21-year-old blogger left a comment at Hot Air (4th comment down, at 7:47 p.m.) denouncing me as a “JERK OFF,” in all caps. He posts no e-mail address at his blog, so I attempted to reply on his “about” page, a reply that — when last checked — was still awaiting moderation:

Sir, as you have no contact information listed on your blog, this is the only venue in which I may address your assault on my character in the comment field at Hot Air.
I do not recall meeting or seeing you at CPAC. If such an interaction as you describe took place — and I doubt it took place as you describe it — perhaps it was because you failed to notice that I was attempting to pose a photo of Jed Babbin and his colleagues and was surprised at an unexpected intrusion.
Please understand that my professional circumstance requires extreme exertions during CPAC, so that after two or three days I’m running so low on sleep that I occasionally become irritable. Furthermore, you may inquire of many young conservative activists about what an easygoing person I am, and how often I have helped and assisted them.
If I was less than the soul of courtesy during our encounter at Friday’s reception, please accept my most sincere apology. And if you were less than courteous or respectful (then or since), please accept my forgiveness and continue to regard me as your most humble and obedient servant,
Robert Stacy McCain

My late mother always told me to mind my manners and be respectful to my elders, an instruction I have on too many occasions sadly neglected. But as my late father often told me, after I had misbehaving children of my own, “Son, you pay for your raising.” Indeed, and that I should be basely insulted by this impudent young whelp is just another installment on my payment schedule, I suppose.

Perhaps our young friend at The Sheikh Down is attempting to employ Rule 4 (“Make some enemies”) from “How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog in Less Than a Year,” and I’m happy to apply Rule 2 to this situation. Too bad our young friend — though he fancies himself a writer, and has some evident aptitude in that direction — doesn’t have SiteMeter or Technorati on his blog, so as to measure the traffic that will lead to so many encouraging comments (hint, hint, Smitty, Dave, Jimmie, et al.).

I may have more to say about this overnight, so bookmark and check back. Meanwhile, I must upload more photos to Facebook, write an article for the American Spectator, et cetera.

UPDATE: While the photos are uploading (or not) via my much-abused laptop, let me clarify what is meant by the subtitle. Nietzsche once employed a phrase, “the transvaluation of all values,” that expressed the terrifying anti-natural condition of modernity.

It is natural and appropriate that age should command respect of the young, that wealth should be admired by the poor, that weakness should yield way to strength, and that wisdom rule over ignorance. Nietzsche was just crazy-genius enough to perceive, in the helter-skelter tumult of 19th-century Europe, the dawning of an era in which the natural order would be upended. This is a profound and (to use a word that has been worn threadbare) nuanced understanding of what a potentially horrible thing modernity is.

Being raised by perhaps the last generation of non-ironically “old-fashioned” adults, my puerile impudence was relentlessly chastised. My parents, teachers, and coaches had gone through the trial of the Depression and the ordeal of World War II. I was born in the penultimate year of the Eisenhower administration, and the shadow of the Cold War loomed darkly over my youth. It seemed to be the belief of my elders that us young whippersnappers had things entirely too soft and easy, and that we were in danger of absolute effeminacy and dissolution if they did not take it upon themselves to instill some small measure of rigor in our existence.
Hard times make hard men, and my parents’ generation had an adamantine quality that now, in middle age, I appreciate far more than I did when under the lash that they applied to my youth. So excuse me if occasionally I feel the need to give these upstart pups a tiny taste of what it was like, back when youth-league football coaches believed that providing water to their players during summer drills, on afternoons when the temperature was over 100F and we 10-year-olds had been doing Oklahoma drills for an hour.

Bruce Catton, in one of his Civil War histories, recounted the occasion when a rookie Yankee regiment was marched overland in a cold rainstorm, to make their bivouac in a miry field, scarcely able to kindle a fire to boil coffee. A young officer expressed some concern for the health of the troops, a remark that prompted one company’s top sergeant — a grizzled Prussian immigrant — to scoff: “Bah! It is but seasoning for the recruits!”