Archive for April, 2009

April 29, 2009

Conservative possibility?

“There have always been many men . . . who sit around Washington observing and commenting on trends, and then there have been those rare men who make trends happen. . . . Whether or not a conservative resurgence is likely, it can only be accomplished by those who begin with the assumption that it is possible, and then work tirelessly to turn possibility into reality.”

April 29, 2009

Caption Contest

Via Politico, where Michael Calderone has the background on this photo of New York Times columnist David Brooks and Obama political strategist David Axelrod:

Note to contestants: Entries suggesting extreme acts of violence or unnatural uses for Brooks’ “Columnist of the Year Award” will be disqualified. I can think up enough of those without your help.

April 29, 2009

All great rock music was recorded by the time John Bonham died

That is all the “rock music criticism” anyone under 40 needs to know. Anything recorded after Sept. 25, 1980, is therefore not great rock music.

As to this silly dispute over ’80s “hair bands” vs. ’90s “grunge,” it’s like debating which was the better painter, de Kooning or Pollock. Neither one had any talent, so who cares?

UPDATE: James Joyner weighs in, prompting his commenter Bernard Finel to say of my argument: “I think this is probably the single dumbest thing ever posted anywhere in the history of the internet.”

Don’t be too sure of that, Bernie. I’ve written more 3,900 posts here. Surely you could find something dumber. If not, there’s always tomorrow . . .

April 29, 2009

OMG, Douthat, too?

If David Brooks is Pinky, Ross Douthat is the Brain, but as to his New York Times debut, Matthew Saroff of TPM sums it up in a blog post title: “Ross Douthat Is a F***ing Moron.”

The money sentence in Douthat’s silly mess:

In the wake of two straight drubbings at the polls, much of the American right has comforted itself with the idea that conservatives lost the country primarily because the Bush-era Republican Party spent too much money on social programs. And John McCain’s defeat has been taken as the vindication of this premise.

First: Conservatives are not interested in “comfort.” Second, the simple lesson of the past two cycles is something that anyone who has been paying attention since Ross was in middle school would tell you: Lie down with Bushes, wake up with Democrats.

Douthat has never been a reporter. His life has been confined to academia and think-tank punditry in elite precincts: New Haven, Cambridge and Washington. He does not have any scope of experience to write about anything except the opinions of the elite, which are already easily available to anyone with access to NPR. Ergo, Douthat is redundant at best, and allowing him to write this kind of Big Picture analysis is to subject the reader to an arrogant, puerile know-it-all-ism.

Marc Ambinder (an actual reporter) shrugs his shoulders in resignation. Obviously, the thinking at 620 Eighth Avenue is: “If we’ve got to hire a ‘conservative’ columnist, make sure we hire one who’ll reaffirm our readers’ belief that conservatives are clueless idiots.”

Kathy Shaidle e-mailed me this column with a two-word subject line, “Lent’s over.” Thank God for small blessings.

April 28, 2009

It’s David Brooks Fisking Day!

“Educated elites have taken over much of the power that used to accrue to sedate old WASPs with dominating chins. . . . The educated elites have even taken over professions that used to be working class. The days of the hard-drinking, blue-collar journalist, for example, are gone forever. Now if you cast your eye down a row at a Washington press conference, it’s: Yale, Yale, Stanford, Emory, Yale, and Harvard.”
David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise (2000)

On behalf of my fellow alumni of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University: Fuck you, David Brooks.

Things have been so busy lately — Jessica Valenti, Amanda Marcotte, Arlen Specter — that I’ve scarcely had time even to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. And so you probably hoped I’d forget our regular rendevous, didn’t you?

No such luck, you arrogant son of a bitch. People pay good money to watch me smack you around every Tuesday, providing a fee-for-service incentive that delightfully enhances my enjoyment. There’s no escaping this weekly engagement, so long as the New York Times can afford to continue paying you $300,000 a year to write your columns — and who knows how much longer that will be?

Shall I flay your latest column about Mexican swine flu? It hardly deserves the effort — a Seinfeldian column “about nothing.” Health officials battling the pandemic aren’t reading the op-ed pages of the Times in search of advice, and what manner of advice would they get from you, anyway? Name-checking a Princeton professor and referencing the World Health Organization (predictably brown-nosing the elite) en route to a buzzword-clogged whiffle-ball conclusion:

The correct response to these dynamic, decentralized, emergent problems is to create dynamic, decentralized, emergent authorities: chains of local officials, state agencies, national governments and international bodies that are as flexible as the problem itself.
Swine flu isn’t only a health emergency. It’s a test for how we’re going to organize the 21st century. Subsidiarity works best.

If David Brooks is paid $300K/yr. for 2 columns/wk. (104 columns/yr.), simple math tells us that each column earns him $2,884.62. Since this latest outing is 799 words, this means Brooks earned $3.61 each for his first use of “dynamic” (ka-ching!), “decentralized” (ka-ching!), “emergent” (ka-ching!), then cleverly doubled his $10.83 to $21.66 by immediately repeating the same three buzzwords — ka-ching! ka-ching! ka-ching!

My, how the money rolls in. And as to what Their Mister Brooks has added to the reader’s understanding of the Mexican swine flu threat — hey, next time, David, why don’t you rack up a few bucks by quoting some Dire Straits lyrics about “money for nothing”?

It’s the lack of value, you see, that makes you so useless. Suppose, purely as a hypothetical exercise, that I could be persuaded to accept the Walter Duranty-tainted Sulzberger cash and consent to have my byline appear in the credibility-impaired New York Times. Suppose, further, that I accepted this unfathomable $3.61-per-word rate for mere op-ed opining, but under the special condition that I write no more words than the topic deserved. What might that column look like?

How to Avoid Mexican Swine Flu
By Robert Stacy McCain

1. Avoid swine.
2. Avoid Mexicans.
3. Otherwise, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

My count: 14 words, not including the title, byline or numerals. So that’s a $50.54 paycheck for a “top Hayekian public intellectual.” You see, perhaps, why Old Media dinosaurs like yourself are an endangered species, David.

However, exposing the overblown emptiness of your latest column is such a simple task as to be unworthy of my attention on this, the 20th anniversary of my wedding. No, by God, when Jax State sends forth a man into this world, he is expected to acquit himself manfully. Therefore, I’ll direct my readers to the work of a real journalist, Howard Kurtz:

Last Tuesday evening, Rahm Emanuel quietly slipped into an eighth-floor office at the Watergate.
As white-jacketed waiters poured red and white wine and served a three-course salmon and risotto dinner, the White House chief of staff spent two hours chatting with some of Washington’s top journalists — excusing himself to take a call from President Obama and another from Hillary Clinton. . . .
For more than a year, David Bradley, the Atlantic’s soft-spoken owner, has hosted these off-the-record dinners at a specially built table in his glass-enclosed office overlooking the Potomac. . . .
Among those in regular attendance are David Brooks and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Gene Robinson and Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, NBC’s David Gregory, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, PBS’s Gwen Ifill, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, Vanity Fair’s Todd Purdum, former Time managing editor Walter Isaacson and staffers from Bradley’s Atlantic and National Journal, including Ron Brownstein, Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch.

Well, well, well! We see now why dear Dave has such upscale notions about what’s to be seen when you “cast your eye down a row at a Washington press conference.” Dare say you’re nearly the low man on the totem pole at those clubby little elite get-togethers at the Watergate, eh? David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos are both multimillionaires, just for starters.

When a fellow starts hanging around with all those bigwigs, chowing down on salmon and risotto, it’s easy to see how he could imagine himself a Platonic archon, solving the world’s problems one $3.61 word at a time.

Oh, don’t think I begrudge you the risotto, Dave — as a strictly neutral, objective journalist, I’m mighty fond of a free meal myself. The second-rarest sentence in the English language is, “Gee, Stacy, thanks for picking up the tab.” (The rarest sentence is, “Gee, Stacy, why don’t you tell us what you really think?”)

When I went down to Alabama for Tax Day Tea Party a couple weeks ago, I had a free dinner at the Five Points Grill, ate free barbecue the next day at Jim ‘n Nick’s, and then a free dinner with Tito Perdue and his wife at Dusty’s Diner. Then I swung on over to Georgia and stopped by the Village Church in Hapeville for more barbecue before heading to the state Libertarian Party convention, but what happens in Norcross stays in Norcross, as they say. One thing I can guarantee you: I didn’t pay a dime.

Now, if we count the fine breakfast Stephen Gordon‘s mother fixed me whilst I was in Hartselle, that’s at least six free meals in four days. So I’ve got you beat all to hell in that department, Mr. Brooks — even if I had to drive 1,700 miles and sleep in my car to earn it.

I didn’t notice any white-jacketed waiters offering to pour wine for me, but then again I don’t reckon The Atlantic Monthly gives a damn about folks in Alabama and Georgia. So you just report whatever Rahm Emanuel tells you to report, David Brooks, since that’s all anybody who really matters cares to read about.

Just one question, Mr. Brooks: When you were chowing down with Rahm at the Watergate, did you happen to notice if any of those white-jacketed waiters were Mexican?

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning, Dave.

And the rest of you: Hit the freaking tip jar! This lunatic gibberish may not be worth $3.61 a word, but man cannot live by free food alone.

April 28, 2009

Specter: RINO no more

Good-bye and good riddance:

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning. . . .
“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary,” said Specter in a statement. “I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.”
He added: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

Exit lying. One less member of the Senate Republican “Jellyfish Caucus.” Specter reminds me of the high-school slut trying to sleep her way to popularity — a weak reed, blown by the shifting winds. The fact that the national GOP apparatus lined up behind this venomous crapweasel in 2004 is all you need to know about what a worthless waste of time the national GOP apparatus was during the Bush/Mehlman era.

Even if Specter wins the Democratic primary (which is certainly not a given) and wins the general election (also not a given), no one will ever respect him because he is dishonorable and untrustworthy. A pox upon him and his ilk. (Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE: Via Jules Crittenden and Gateway Pundit, a statement from RNC Chairman Michael Steele:

Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.

At least Steele won’t have to spend more time pandering to the politically irrelevant “Specter wing” of the GOP.

UPDATE II: Philip Klein of The American Spectator:

If Specter had made this party switch right after his vote in favor of the stimulus package, and before he decided to oppose card check, he would have been in a far better position to claim the Democratic nomination.

Klein links Markos at Daily Kos:

Interestingly, he remains a foe of EFCA, which means that labor is free to fund and help a real Democrat in the Democratic primary. Bizarre choice. Had he decided to back EFCA, as he has always done so in the past, he’d have labor’s full support. Now, he gives the opposition an opening to take him out in the Democratic primary.

When you see Kos using the phrase “real Democrat,” it means that the Nutroots will back a Ned Lamont-style challenge to Specter in the Democratic primary, a challenge that every conservative should encourage. The more bitter the Democratic primary, the more obscure and extreme Specter’s primary opposition, the better for conservatives.

BTW, I disagree with Klein when he says this:

This is a huge blow for Republicans hoping to stop Obama’s agenda in the Senate.

Specter is a “huge blow,” in one sense of that term, but he was never a reliable vote for anything. He is one of those vain, unprincipled creatures — like Robert Byrd or John McCain — who revel in their self-created image of being a “public servant,” an image that is merely an excuse for selfishness and dishonesty.

UPDATE III: Notice how the treacherous crapweasel, after describing himself proudly as a member of the “Reagan Big Tent,” then pisses all over the Reagan legacy:

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

If there is one thing that Reagan firmly stood for as firmly than his hatred of Communist tyrrany, it was his opposition to the Keynesian economic hokum that led to Carter-era “stagflation.” If you don’t understand why the bailout-and-stimulus idiocy of Obamanomics is bad policy — It Won’t Work — you need to be reading Hayek and Mises.

UPDATE IV: Matt Welch of Reason:

By choosing to die on the hill of the stimulus package of all things, Specter reinforces whatever notion there is that stimuli and bailouts are Democratic, not Republican, pet toys. Since professional Republicans are currently scattered in the wind, trying desperately to latch onto the anti-stimulus/bailout Tea Party movement, cementing that divide may come back to haunt Democrats when those policies (inevitably, I think) become so derided that even Barack Obama’s impressive popularity can’t rescue them.

Hear! Hear! And the heroic Club For Growth:

Senator Specter has confirmed what we already knew – he’s a liberal devoted to more spending, more bailouts, and less economic freedom.

The Club For Growth is “heroic,” I say, because their support for Republican conservative Pat Toomey was what finally forced Specter to admit that he is a Democrat. As I said at The American Spectator:

Specter will be less useful to the Democrats now than he ever was when he had an “R” beside his name.

He was certainly never useful to Republicans. All things considered, swine flu has never been a greater threat to America than RINO fever.

UPDATE V: Michelle Malkin reminds us of Specter’s habitual dishonesty, when he vowed just six weeks ago that he would not switch parties.

UPDATE VI: Some commenter just suggested that, in celebrating the RINO’s departure, conservatives like myself were “purging” Sphincter. Nonsense. He purged himself. After years of zealously advancing the Democratic agenda with an “R” beside his name, he’s now joined Jumpin’ Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee in the Formerly Useful Idiot Coalition.

April 28, 2009

Ayn Rand’s prophecy fulfilled

Who else ever imagined such a Big Labor/Big Government swindle as Obama is attempting to perpetrate against GM bondholders? This fraudulent scheme is almost guaranteed to cause another economic meltdown. Ed Morrissey explains:

Even though you own $27 billion in GM bonds, you’d get 10% of the company. The UAW, which has a claim on $20 billion for its health-care and pensions obligations, would only have to sacrifice half of that to get 39%. The feds, who will invest another $9 billion to bring their total investment to the same level as your bonds, wants 51%. . . .
Does anyone at the Treasury do math any longer? The total sacrifice of all three parties would be $64 billion, of which the federal government and the bondholders are contributing the same percentage: 42.2%. The UAW will contribute about 15.6%. Why would the Obama administration expect bondholders to contribute 42% of the solution in order to gain 10% of the company?

Looter tactics straight out of Atlas Shrugged. My advice to anyone owning market mutual funds or stock in a publicly-traded corporation can be summed up in three words: Sell, sell, sell!

Weimar America and Dow 3,000, here we come!

UPDATE: Saw a scroll on the bottom of Fox News saying that GM bondholders have rejected the deal — yea, bondholders! — which explains why the Dow is up, for now.

The “Geithner Motors” scheme of handing over the once-mighty industrial giant to the UAW goons whose greed has bankrupted the company has got to be the worst idea for “recovery” I’ve ever heard.

UPDATE II: Bloomberg, at 11:17 a.m.:

General Motors Corp. fell 8.3 percent to $1.87 for the steepest drop in the
Dow. Bondholders find the automaker’s offer to exchange their $27 billion in
debt for equity unreasonable and said they should be treated more equitably with
labor unions.

A share of GM is now cheaper than a gallon of gas.

April 28, 2009

Eric Ulrich, young, hip GOP douchebag

How not to build a coalition:

“You know, Republicans aren’t all religious fundamentalists from Alabama; some of us are just normal, working-class Catholics from Queens.”
Eric Ulrich, New York GOP

And Democrats aren’t all corrupt socialists from Chicago. (H/T: Clever S. Logan.)

Ulrich touches a sore spot with me. This goes back to Ryan Sager and his 2006 book, Elephant in the Room, which went on and on about a putative GOP rift between evangelical Christians and libertarians. It’s a theme that Democrats love, and so Sager got lots of media love, including appearances on Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show and Glenn Beck’s CNN show.

When you actually examined Sager’s book, however, you discovered that his argument was like the Rio Grande, a mile wide and six inches deep. He tended to treat all pro-lifers and social conservatives as if they were evangelicals — i.e., conservative Protestants.

In fact, Catholics have always been the backbone of the pro-life movement, as anyone familiar with the movement could tell you. And this was especially true with the Terry Schiavo case, which Sager (and many others) cited as evidence of the undue influence exercised by “the Religious Right” within the GOP. But it was Father Frank Pavone and Priests for Life who led the Schiavo crusade. Terry Schiavo was Catholic, her family was Catholic, and end-of-life issues are part of an elaborately developed Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of human life.

As with the Schiavo case, as with opposition to abortion, so also with opposition to the gay-rights agenda — the Catholic Church has been firmly on the conservative side, and yet Sager (again, like many others) continue to single out evangelicals when they want to slam “the Religious Right.” Why?

It is an appeal to prejudice. It is very easy to win applause from the urban elite by evoking the stereotypical image of the white Southern evangelical — the bigoted, backwoods Bible-thumping hillbilly holy-roller — as symbolic of conservative Christianity.

That this stereotype is not even valid for Southern Baptists (whose pastors are trained in seminaries that teach Greek, Hebrew, ancient history and moral philosophy) is beside the point. Pandering to disdain for Southern “rednecks” is always a handy way to ingratiate yourself with the elite, and this is what Sager did with his book.

Ulrich panders to the same prejudice by contrasting himself to “fundamentalists from Alabama.” Does he actually know any fundamentalists from Alabama? They’re some of the finest people in the world. Beyond the fact that many of my friends and family are Alabama fundamentalists, I spoke to more than 5,000 Alabamians — fundamentalist and otherwise — at Tax Day Tea Party rallies in Tuscaloosa and Hoover.

If Eric Ulrich and the New York GOP were half as organized and energized as folks down in Alabama, maybe they wouldn’t have lost that NY-20 seat. But if they want to hang their heads shamefully and trash their own party — “I’m a Republican, but we’re really not all bad!” — we can expect no help from them in the conservative resurgence.

April 28, 2009

‘A perfect storm of idiocy’

That’s what the New York Daily News is calling the Obama administration’s stunt Monday, having Air Force One and an F-16 fighter buzz Manhattan for a photo op that terrified New Yorkers:

Louis Caldera, the director of the White House military office who sent Air Force One and the fighter jet on an “aerial photo mission,” got slammed by an angry President Obama.
“I approved a mission over New York,” Caldera said in a hastily prepared statement. “I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.” . . .
Sources said the chief reason for the panic-inducing flight was to create souvenir pictures of Air Force One flying over the Statue of Liberty to be given out – like a presidential tie clip – to family, friends or supporters. . . .

(“Souvenir pictures” — for big-shot Democratic Party contributors, I’m sure.)

Caldera did not state a reason for the “mission” in his apology, but he insisted that “federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey.” . . .
[NYC Mayor Michael] Bloomberg said he found out that his city was being buzzed by planes when his BlackBerry began buzzing with complaints.
“I’m annoyed – furious is a better word – that I wasn’t told,” the mayor said. “If I had known about it, I would have called them right away and asked them not to.” . . .
[T]housands of terrified people evacuated from buildings in the city and across the river in New Jersey.
“I was crying and praying to God to forgive me my sins because I thought I was going to get killed,” said Kathleen Filandro, who fled from 1New York Plaza when she spotted the planes.
“It’s like someone coming up to you, sticking a gun to your head for 15 seconds, walking away and hearing 20 minutes later it was an undercover cop posing for a photo,” said Wall Street worker Bill Privett.
“I am still shaking,” he said.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs appeared taken aback as reporters peppered him with questions about the incident.
“I have no information beyond what I saw” on news reports, Gibbs said at his afternoon press conference.
A short time later, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tracked down Caldera and “relayed the President’s displeasure,” sources said.
“The President was furious,” a White House insider said.

It seems to have been conceded that the stunt was conceived for political P.R. purposes. Happy Hundred Days, morons.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin:

Seems to me that a little thing called “Photoshop” could have saved a ton of fuel, not to mention spared a few nerves.

If the Bush administration had done this to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Shep Smith would have denounced it as torture.

UPDATE II: Linked at RCP Best of the Blogs. Please check out my reaction to the UAW/”Geithner Motors” swindle.

UPDATE III:Hey maybe the Prez will want to do a photo op with a rental truck in OKC next?” Ouch. Also, I’m not the only one who sees the “torture” analogy.

April 28, 2009

Twenty years of happily ever after

Yes, dear reader, it was on this date in 1989 that Mrs. Other McCain and I went to the Gordon County Courthouse in Calhoun, Ga., and became man and wife. Probate Judge Johnny Parker presided at the ceremony, with our friends Jim and Dawn McFadden as witnesses. Here is a photo of my lovely bride I took a couple years later:

And here is a photo of me and my bride, taken by my good friend Matthew Vadum, just three days ago:

Can I pick ’em, or what? The reader will observe that Mrs. Other McCain is still just as sexy as ever. OK, so she doesn’t have that cool ’80s big hair anymore. But I don’t have my cool Patrick Swayze mullet anymore, either.

I’ll never forget when Judge Parker said, “forsaking all others, so long as you both shall live.” Wow. Heavy concept. Six kids and 20 years later, I’m thinking I got the best end of this bargain. Don’t you agree?

Then hit the tip jar, so maybe I can take her out to dinner.