Archive for June 11th, 2009

June 11, 2009

Klavan not keen on "preening self-righteousness"

by Smitty

Andrew Klavan scores again on PJTV. He hammers the nebulous bumper sticker “War is not the answer” in an amusing way for ~3 minutes. It’s sort of the flip side of the larger-diameter coin Mike Judge is serving up as The Good Family, which is well worth a TiVo for casual viewing.
Fight the right fight, people.

June 11, 2009

Chris Matthews worries Palin ‘talkinglanguage of far right . . of paranoia’

Via Newsbusters, which has transcript:

Wonder who gave him this idea? Joan Walsh or David Letterman?

June 11, 2009

Daughter of GOP politician seeks toavoid sexist humor from Letterman

The daughter of the late Rep. Sono Bono announces she’ll become the Republican congressman’s son:

Chastity Bono . . . is in the early stages of changing his gender — transitioning from female to male. . . .
Bono, the child of legendary entertainers Sonny and Cher, began the process earlier this year, shortly after his 40th birthday.
“Yes, it’s true — Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity,” confirmed Bono’s publicist, Howard Bragman.

No more misogyny from Letterman! Rumors that Chaz Bono will declare himself a Democrat could not be confirmed at press time.

June 11, 2009

VRWC Memo to Doctor Zero

Your advice to Sarah Palin is, I’m sure, much appreciated. Consider that her current problem does not appear to be a shortage of advice. Rather, it seems that she has hitherto lacked an experienced communications/strategy operative in whom she has complete trust.

Some months ago — it was in February, to be exact, after the uproar over the governor’s CPAC no-show — it occurred to me that Gov. Palin was getting some bad advice from somewhere. Inquiries were made, and possible sources of bad advice were identified.

Perhaps further investigation is necessary. You should be patient, Doctor Zero. It is only mid-2009.

June 11, 2009

Does Jeff Goldstein hate Bristol Palin?

All is fair in love, war and comedy, He of the Massive Triceps seems to be saying:

Okay then. I justify it this way:
This is what comedians do — particularly those who are charged with topical humor on a nightly basis. . . .
For good or ill, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy long ago became a public event, and it is part and parcel of the “Sarah Palin” construct Letterman was taking aim at.
What is interesting to me is that, ordinarily, teenage pregnancy — and tacit acceptance of same — is tied to the left. Which is to say, the left generally doesn’t snipe at teen pregnancy as a problematic moral condition.

Trust me, Jeff, I’ve been burned on this flame a time or two. At this point, it’s reasonably safe hatin’ on Levi Johnston, but ixnay on the Istolbray. (BTW, I came this close to trying some ironically nuanced OUTLAW humor here, but decided discretion was the better part of valor.)

June 11, 2009

‘Extreme right-wing rhetoric’for Joan Walsh? Two words . . .

. . . and it ain’t “thank you,” ma’am:

I was on “Hardball” today talking about the climate of extreme right-wing rhetoric today, and whether it had anything to do with Wednesday’s tragic shooting at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, or the May 31 murder of Dr. George Tiller by an antiabortion crackpot. . . .
Still, it’s hard not to think about the extreme right-wing rhetoric, especially about Barack Obama, and whether it could conceivably lead to more right-wing violence.

OK, sweetie, that’s two “extremes” and three “right-wings” in two paragraphs, which is laying it on a bit thick, don’t you think? As for the Tiller murder, I’ll let Becky Banks speak for the pro-lifers. Having done a bit of sifting of the facts on James Von Brunn, exactly how does a neocon-hating 9/11 Truther (e.g., Rosie O’Donnell) qualify as “right-wing,” extreme or otherwise?

There’s a definitional problem here, and when you blame Rush Limbaugh, Ms. Walsh, you are trying to have your neocon-hating cake and eat it, too. (Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE: Sorry, had to delete the video, which evidently contained some buggy script that was causing the page to malfunction. Speaking of buggy scripts, the fact that the Weekly Standard apparently was on the shooter’s target list is kind of interesting, eh? I mean, OK, I didn’t like Fred Barnes’ last book too much but . . .

Wait a minute. Bill Kristol is a known associate . . . .

Just like Terry McAuliffe is a known associate . . . .

A conspiracy so immense! These “extremists” will next be gunning for . . . Jeff Goldstein?

June 11, 2009

Bears, Bulls and Squirrels

There’s something squirrelly in the stock market lately, some kind of disconnect between the Dow Jones and the economic indicators. As of 11:30 a.m. EDT, the DJIA was up 80 points, even while we’re seeing clear signals of recovery-killing inflation:

Treasury 10-year note yields reached 4 percent for the first time since October on concern surging budget deficits and a falling dollar will prompt investors to reduce holdings of U.S. debt as issuance climbs to a record.
Treasuries tumbled 6.5 percent so far this year, the worst performance since Merrill Lynch & Co. began tracking returns in 1978, as so-called bond vigilantes drove up yields to punish President Barack Obama for quadrupling the budget shortfall to $1.85 trillion and raising the risk of inflation.
“People are increasingly concerned about supply,” said Jay Mueller, who manages about $3 billion of bonds at Wells Fargo Capital Management in Milwaukee. “The government running a deficit of 12 or 13 percent is not something we’ve seen since World War II. It’s very hard to digest.”

Ed Morrissey calls attention to the spiking money supply, and gas prices are ticking up — both inflation factors. What to make of the fact that the Dow keeps rising despite all this? The best I can figure, you’re seeing a continual stream of new “buy” orders that are essentially a function of 401K and other accounts pre-set to purchase X-amount of stocks every week, and which are therefore immune to short-term economic signals.

In the event of a sudden bear shift — a sell-off by institutional investors and market-timers — individual investors with these kinds of pre-set retirement accounts will be the big losers, because they are scheduled to keep buying a certain percentage of stock every pay period, whether the market is up or down.

On plus side, these 401K account holders (call them “squirrels”) add stability and a steady upward pressure on stocks. On the negative side, the 401K squirrels already took a big hit in the 2008 market meltdown. With unemployment rising, more and more squirrels are feeling the pinch. If they get burned by another meltdown . . . well, who knows whether they’ll wise up, and what they’ll do once they figure out they’re being played for chumps?

UPDATE: Another possibility? Kudlowism, defined as the bullish influence of Larry Kudlow, who’s never seen a market signal that didn’t say “buy.” I’m sitting here with CNBC on the tube, and Larry’s giving the most rosy possible interpretation to every indicator that comes across his desk.

Classic Kudlowism: Hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims reported, but there are fewer new claims than in the previous reporting period. Therefore, while unemployment continues to rise — as both consumer buying power and productive output decrease — Kudlow spins this as good news!

It’s like trying to have an objective discussion about the relative merits of various automobile models with the salesman at a used car lot. So long as he thinks you’re a potential customer, Kudlow’s advice is always to buy now.

June 11, 2009

Corleone Conservatives

Not long ago, a conservative operative sought to explain the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s decision to make an early endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida primary. The key, he said, was to understand the self-interested motives of top Republican senators:

“All they care about is getting their chairmanships back, and they don’t care how they get there,” said the operative. “They don’t want to spend any money, so they were looking for a self-funder.”

Anyone who has spent much time in Washington — and I’ve been here since November 1997 — can understand this. Influence is everything in Washington, and the GOP is currently at a low ebb of influence, on the wrong end of a power dynamic of Democratic dominance comparable to 1993 or 1977, if not indeed to 1965.

In such a situation, Republicans are like Fredo Corleone getting slapped around by the Democratic Moe Green:

First of all, you’re all done. The Corleone family don’t even have that kind of muscle anymore. The godfather’s sick, right? You’re getting chased out of New York by Barzini and the other families.

The desire of leading Republicans to recover their power — their influence, their prestige in Washington — is perfectly understandable. Like Fredo, however, the Beltway GOP leadership is weak, stupid and cowardly, seeking to curry favor with an implacable enemy by disrespecting their own family.

By picking Crist 15 months ahead of the Florida Republican primary, John Cornyn and the NRSC showed disloyalty and disrespect to the GOP grassroots, effectively declaring to the Moe Green Democrats, “Yeah, Moe, we’ve learned our lesson. We can’t disrespect you. We’re your friends. Look, we’re going to nominate an Obama-loving, stimulus-endorsing sellout.”

In this scenario, the conservative base of the Republican Party is cast in the role of Michael Corleone. And that’s what the Not One Red Cent movement is about.

It’s not about Charlie Crist. It’s about respect.

No more Fredos. No more Arlen Specters. No more “leaders” who try to attain power by selling out the people who elected them to office.

Next time you see some “conservative” pundit telling Republicans to be moderate — to be reasonable, to compromise core conservative principles — think of yourself as Michael Corleone when Tessio approaches him at the Godfather’s funeral to set up the Barzini meeting. And think about the beautiful moment when Michael finally confronts that traitorous punk Carlo:

Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattallgia. Moe Green. Slacci. Cuneo. Today I settled all family business. So don’t tell me that you’re innocent. Admit what you did.

Good-bye, Carlo — and good-bye, Tessio, too.


UPDATE: Matt Lewis is not Fredo.

June 11, 2009

Bears Plague Smoky Mountains– Is Wall Street Next?

Professor Glenn Reynolds, who lives in East Tennessee, observes that hikers in the Smoky Mountains are being bothered by “Bears Gone Wild” (and not the kind Sully* hangs out with in Providence).

Another bear menace may be looming in the stock market. This morning’s market update at notes that concerns about rising oil prices and a bad Treasury auction helped cause a mild downturn on Wall Street yesterday. Jehuda the Rhetorican noticed this item from the Financial Times:

Concerns about the growth of government borrowing forced the US Treasury to give investors in an auction of $19 [billion] in 10-year notes a yield of 3.99 per cent — 4 basis points higher than the yield available before the auction.

Given my woeful record as a prognosticator — hey, I suck — I’m hesitant to predict whether the market will go up or down on any given day. Nevertheless, the past few days have seen steady signals of inflation and higher interest rates.

Even if yesterday’s 24-point Dow decline was just episodic profit-taking, the forward-looking nature of financial markets suggests that if investors are convinced credit costs will rise while the dollar declines, we’re due for a big sell-off sometime soon.

*BTW, speaking of Sully, congratulations to Debbie Schlussel on her Malkin Award nomination. About three years ago, Debbie had dinner in D.C. with my wife and I. Debbie’s quite the personality, and I’d advise staying off her enemy’s list.

UPDATE: Also via Instapundit, more bear warnings from Megan McArdle:

How is a $118 billion structural deficit, $35 billion in Medicare Part D, and a theoretical end to the Iraq presence forcing Barack Obama to spend nearly $1 trillion in 2018? How is it forcing him to spend roughly $650 trillion more than he takes in in 2012?
This is not Bush’s fault. And you know what? Even if it were Bush’s fault, who cares?

Sitting around playing politics is all fine and good, but eventually political belief confronts economic reality and it’s hello, Weimar America.

June 11, 2009

‘ReserCons’: Reservation Conservatives

Longtime blog buddy Craig Henry at Lead and Gold uses the term “resercon” for “reservation conservative.” This is evidently a play on the term “reservation Indian,” denoting the harmless, domesticated breed (e.g., David Brooks) as opposed to us buck-wild conservatives who are prone to guzzling constitutional firewater and taking some liberal scalps.

Back in March, when David Frum attacked Rush Limbaugh, Henry quoted Daniel Flynn:

When liberals adopt you as their token conservative, kiss your credibility among conservatives goodbye and say hello to writing gigs at the Atlantic, appearances on Keith Olbermann’s program, and lectures at the Kennedy School of Government.

And Henry added:

Liberals love those kind of “conservatives.” It lets them define both the liberal and conservative position on an issue.

This is exactly right. Such is the dominance of liberals in the MSM, they can exercise influence over who is, and is not, a “respectable” spokesman for conservatism. Thus, liberals are able to control the terms of debate to their advantage.

Referencing Michelle Malkin’s criticism of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, yesterday Henry applied the “reservation conservative” concept to the man who was once every liberal’s favorite RINO:

California’s budget mess casts an interesting light on the debate over the GOP. Ah-nuld was the epitome of the resercon ideal: a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Yet, once in office, he was not eager to battle for smaller government, less spending, or less regulation.
That seems to be true of many FC/SL Republicans. They are happy to bash the Religious Right or NRA; they bask in the MSM praise for their courage. In the end they never fight that hard for conservative economic ideas.

You should read the rest. Henry is dead on target in observing that Republican officials who claim to be fiscal conservatives but liberal (or “libertarian”) on social issues usually end up supporting a big-government agenda in economic terms. This was definitely true of Bush 41, and although Bush 43 cut taxes, his “compassionate” agenda included No Child Left Behind and Medicare prescription drugs, both of which were anathema to limited-government conservatives.

Republican strategists who are trying to figure out how the GOP can recover its mojo need to think hard about this problem. The GOP’s brand is damaged by these “reservation conservative” types — whether elected officials like Schwarzenegger or pundits like David Brooks — who function as Republican echoes for liberal criticism of the core conservative message.

Some of my friends mistake my frequent criticism of “centrists” like Brooks et al. as a call to “purge the RINOs.” I don’t go in for that urge-to-purge stuff, and understand that ideological purity tests are a losing approach to pragmatic coalition politics.

The problem, rather, is when “centrists” (a word whose meaning is sufficiently nebulous as to require the scare-quotes) criticize conservatives in terms that undermine morale on the Right by suggesting that conservatism is not a viable alternative to liberalism.

This was what made Brooks’ “National Greatness” so odious. Brooks took dead aim at the essence of Reaganism — a limited-government domestic agenda, hostility to bureaucratic centralization, Grover Norquist’s “Leave Us Alone Coalition” — and suggested that it was both unpopular and unworkable. What Americans wanted, Brooks argued, was a federal government devoted to grand projects of inspirational uplift. To which I would reply, in the famous words of Rahm Emanuel . . .

Conservatives must regain confidence in the basics of Reaganism, and recover the belief that the core principles of our nation’s founding — individual liberty, individual responsibility and organic local government free from the stifling bureaucratic interventions of centralized authority — are legitimate and honorable, appealing to all Americans of all conditions.

This matter of confidence — conservative morale — is what the Not One Red Cent project is about. Grassroots conservatives don’t need self-anointed “leaders” in Washington to pick candidates in GOP primaries. And the “reservation conservatives” don’t speak for us.