Archive for June 20th, 2009

June 20, 2009

Conor: No Turning Left

By Smitty
There has been some back-and-forth with Conor in the comments of another ToM thread. My reply to him was eaten by the browser, and he really merits more complete treatment anyway.

World’s briefest bio: Baptist, sailor, engineering undergraduate, a couple of Master’s. Geekier than most. That’s also about as much as I know of Conor.

Right. Then we have this DoubleThink Online article by Conor. He sets the scene of a blind date with a chick in a coffee shop, having selected someone who is a “whip smart, beautiful woman who loves talking politics” (NTTAWWT).

Escaping this ghetto requires understanding why the media slants left. Contra the least-thoughtful conservative critics, there isn’t any elite liberal conspiracy at work. Bias creeps in largely because the narrative conventions of journalism are poor at capturing basic conservative and libertarian truths.

Conor, I completely disagree with you and what I feel is your naïveté. Spend some time on Stanton Evans. Are we to think that JournoList is either a) unique or b) simply a side-effect of technology? While I won’t go full-on tinfoil hat on you, to ignore indications that our domestic socialist nitwits had at least some agenda overlap with the dudes who would have buried us is simply irresponsible:

As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia.
The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the “leading elements” of society through their agents of influence. (See, for example, Stephen Koch’s Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals; summary by Koch here) This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.

So, fine: Go on and bemoan the difficulty of describing the negative effects of rent control in sufficiently simple terms to impress a hypothetical date in DC.

The right, in other words, has a problem with narrative. The stubborn facts of this world contradict pieties left, right, and libertarian, occassionally forcing each group to revise its thinking. But the core critiques of liberalism intrinsically resist the narrative form. Who can foresee the unintended consequences of government intervention in advance? Who can pinpoint the particular threats to liberty posed by an ever-growing public sector?

No, Conor: Your problem is with narrative. Can you try parable? I submit that if you can’t break a topic down into buyer/market/seller terms, you may either a) not grasp the topic, or b) simply lack teaching skills. Economics isn’t Biochemistry. The contemporary evidence seems to indicate nobody understands economics. However, if the argument doesn’t relate fairly cleanly back to gazinta==gazouta, I suspect that the speaker is trying to have me on. Do you look at the speaker’s résumé and just naturally assume they know WTF if the proper school is listed?

The difficulty of critiquing flawed liberal positions and asserting alternatives before it’s too late is exacerbated by the conservative intellectual tradition’s lack of penetration into academia. Colleges and journalism schools rarely teach Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek, or Milton Friedman. How can journalists unversed in such thinkers recognize when facts validate their ideas?
These asymmetries help explain why the right has sought to discredit the mainstream media while funding its own ideologically conceived outlets. It isn’t just a matter of “playing the refs.” Every political movement has a place for publications where debate among fellow travelers helps refine its most nuanced ideas and where the faithful can be rallied behind them.

Conor: “the conservative intellectual tradition’s lack of penetration into academia”. Wow, those blinders of yours . . . I’ll infer you haven’t seen Indoctrinate-U? You’ve some homework.

Oh, and your tender sensibilities were ruffled by the original title for Goldberg’s book? “even those on the left who regularly engage conservatives would assume bad faith. They did, even after the title changed.” Faith? It’s not a religious question! Of course they will say they assume bad faith. At the same time you glibly assume good faith on their part, in fact. Hint: they are not purusuing truth. Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Having begun with bogus premises, how do you expect the title of Jonah’s book, like some magic spell, to open their shuttered eyes?

Then you’re bemoaning the lack of a Buckley or a dozen Wolfes, and applauding the Douthat/Suderman/Poulos/Klein school.

“Unless colleges and journalism schools start assigning Burke, Hayek, Friedman, and quite a few others, the answer depends upon whether the right is willing to invest in talented young people who understand conservatism and libertarianism, but whose foremost loyalty is to investigating their world and conveying whatever they find.”

Two links: Pajamas Media and PTJV. Are they publishing you? Far more credible than the Huffington Post with many people.

Let’s go back to your dating premise for the whole article, Conor. You’ve just dropped precious loot into the relationship. It’s gone on a while. You’ve reached the stage where it “cannot survive on commentary and analysis alone”. Then the girl tells you she feels she needs a change of narrative. Are you the kind that understands that relationships are about participation, and if she’s not holding up her end, and you try to drag the relationship forward like some corpse, then the whole situation is more about your masochism and narcissim? Such is the case with academia. They don’t love you. You’re a convenient toy. A foil. Someone to use to offer depth to their utopian visions.

You seem to think that there is some value in trying to reform academia by injecting conservatives back in. I offer a different path. Metaphorically burn academaia down. Form a new school. Pajamas Media, Ivory Tower Edition. Don’t use the word “narrative”. It makes you sound like, for all the protests of disagreement, you secretly covet membership in the lefty club. Kick that post-modern girl to the curb. She’s already off with another someone, doing whatever. She’s laughing at you. It happens. It’s only shameful if you continue to sniff around sounding like you fell out of a Michael McDonald tune:

Repeat: don’t hang around with dumb chicks and academics. The inevitable result is that you’ll be Turning Left:

Update:
Ow. I think that the formerly proud ship U.S.S. Freidersdorf went from sailing the seas, to a brief career as a minesweeper, before settling to a permanent post as a bottomed submarine. Note to self: do not enrage Donald Douglas.

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June 20, 2009

Brutal neo-con regime in Tehran

These vicious enemies of freedom are brutally murdering unarmed civilians in the streets. They warned you if you voted for John McCain, innocent Iranians would be slaughtered by neocons . . . and they were right!

June 20, 2009

Dude, where’s my $423,500?

NIH Funds $423,500 Study of Why
Men Don’t Like to Use Condoms

— Fox News

Look, I could have told them everything they wanted to know when I was 17.

Remember this $423,500 next time somebody tries to tell you that we should trust something — e.g., health care, energy, banking — to the the federal government.

June 20, 2009

Do I have ‘a problem with narrative’?

The video shocked America. In February 2004, grainy footage from a security camera at a Florida car wash showed the image of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia being approached and led away by a man with tattoos on his forearms. It was the last time anyone, except her killer, saw the Sarasota sixth-grader alive. . . .
Donkey Cons, p. 109

I don’t have one of those “Google alerts” that ping me whenever someone somewhere on the Web mentions my name. It’s not like I’m someone important like Professor Glenn Reynolds, who needs that kind of service to protect his professional reputation.

As with Kathy Shaidle, a bad reputation has been quite valuable to me, so bloggers could be talking all kinds of smack about me and, unless it drove traffic to the blog, I wouldn’t know about it. But I digress . . .

With suspicious alacrity, Conor Friedersdorf showed up in the comments field of a post in which I talked about reporting. He left two comments, of which I can only be bothered with the first:

I’ve also worked as a newspaper reporter for four years. And I’d love to be paid to report in depth stories. I applied for — and did not receive — two grants for the reporting project I proposed at The American Scene. I’ve got several reported freelance stories in the works. If RSM would like to pay me to report a story once my Atlantic gig is over, I’ll take the money and turn in something exceptional.But as someone else once said, I write for money. Culture11 paid me a hell of a lot more than any reporting gig I know to be an editor. I’d love nothing more than to write reported pieces for The Atlantic — and I plan to do just that one day. But they’ve got Jim Fallows and Mark Bowden filling up their well. I aspire to be as good as those guys. I’m not there yet.

Aspiring to be as good as Mark Bowden (he of “Black Hawk Down” fame) must be a painful burden. As for seeking foundation grants — did Hunter S. Thompson ever fill out a grant application? I think not. I’ve worked for non-profits on a fee-for-service basis, but never anything that required me to write a grant proposal. That’s demeaning, especially to a top Hayekian public intellectual.

If I wanted to fly out to Sacramento to report on the St. HOPE scandal, I’d either (a) call up an editor and pitch the idea, or (b) just book the flight and rely on my reporting ability to pay for the trip.

That’s the Gonzo way. The fact that I’m publishing this suggestion on my blog indicates that I’m only half-serious about flying to Sacramento. If I really coveted that assignment, I’d already be filing bylines from Sacramento.

Instead, I’m publishing this suggestion in hope that the hotshot young “investigative” punks in D.C. will beat me to it. But who knows? Maybe somebody will lay a thousand bucks on the tip jar, and I’ll be in Sacramento by Monday afternoon.

The clock is ticking, punks. Do you feel lucky?

Real reporters don’t fill out 501(c) grant applications. Why spend two days writing a proposal, when you could spend those two days writing something that somebody might actually want to read?

If you want to know why I haven’t published another book since Donkey Cons, that’s it. Publishers have gotten into the abusive habit of expecting authors to turn in what’s called a “book proposal,” which includes at least two sample chapters plus a marketing plan.

Nothing against writing a short summary and an outline, but . . . “sample chapters,” my ass.

That’s an insult, and one of the basic problems in the publishing industry is that too many authors are willing to be insulted this way. I didn’t mind the sample-chapters routine too much when I was collaborating with Lynn Vincent, because (a) it was our first political book, and (b) Lynn had a well-connected agent who could practically guarantee acceptance of the proposal. But those were the last “sample chapters” I’ll ever write.

You’re asking a published author to prove he can write a book chapter? F— you.

Also, if I come to you with a book idea, don’t ask me to write your book idea. F— you.

As for a “marketing plan,” if I can get a million hits on a Blogspot site in under a year, I think I can sell a few books. In fact, maybe you should be paying me to tell your so-called “marketing department” what they’re doing wrong. So if you want me to write a book for you, call me. But I’m a journalist, not a masochist, so don’t expect me to waste my time putting together a “proposal” just to give you the sadistic pleasure of turning me down.

What part of “F— you” don’t you understand?

Same deal with filling out an application for a grant from some 501(c) outfit. About three months ago, I had a long conversation with a guy from a foundation-supported organization who was intrigued by something I’d written on my blog about how to put together a relatively low-cost online news operation. The guy wanted to “pick my brain,” as they say.

OK, I’m a consultant, so hit the tip jar and the meter’s running while you pick my brain. Take the advice or don’t. It’s fee-for-service. You paid for the advice, and what you do with the advice is your own business. So, the brain-picker and I had a pleasant conversation, and maybe something will come of all that. Maybe not. But it’s up to the other guy to fill out the grant application. I’m a journalist, and real journalists don’t do grant applications.

Now, let me show you a picture:

One of the guys in that photo is head honcho at a major non-profit foundation. When Bill Kristol wants some money from that guy, they have breakfast together. There are basically two kinds of people:

  • People who pitch their ideas by filling out grant applications that get turned down; and
  • People who pitch their ideas at restaurants (on the other guy’s tab), score the deal on a handshake basis, then go through the formalities of the application process. Better yet, let your intern write the grant proposal, since approval is guaranteed.

Capisca, il mio giovane amico? Honestly, I’m trying to help you here. And Dan Riehl is trying to help you, too. Dan only moved to the D.C. area a couple of years ago, so let’s switch to the Q-and-A format:

Q. How did Dan Riehl become the kind of guy who’s got Mark Levin posting at his blog?
A. Dan Riehl is not a punk.

Really, it’s that simple. If you were a 100% assclown, Dan would ignore you altogether, except maybe to point out the fact that you’re a 100% assclown. The fact that Dan would try to teach you something means that he thinks you’re no more than 98% assclown, with the potential for reducing your assclown factor, if only you’d pay attention.

When I came to D.C. in November 1997, I knew a lot about journalism, but almost nothing about D.C. I spent the next decade learning about D.C. the hard way, by accumulating enough knives in my back to fill a deluxe cutlery rack.

Hard-won wisdom: Never trust a punk. Ergo, when you’re trying to figure out who to do business with in Washington, your first consideration should be to answer the question, “Is this guy a punk?”

Having acquired such knowledge at tremendous personal expense, I share it with whom I wish. Some people get it free, and some people pay for it. (Trust me, this knowledge is a bargain, compared to the price you’ll pay if you ever trust a punk in D.C.)

Dan Riehl is an extraordinarily valuable person. Almost from the first day I began my engagement with the blogosphere, I noticed Dan’s skills as a researcher. If it’s online, Dan can find it and, in terms of news judgment, he’s as good as some of the most experienced editors I know.

Dan can’t stand a punk, and he can’t stand to see his friends treated like punks, so he’ll give a guy a warning. There have been more than a few occasions when Dan felt I was rolling like a punk and called me out. As a friend once said to me, regarding a particular example of integrity, “He’ll tell you when your s— stinks.” More words of wisdom:

One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success.

And still more words of wisdom:

If you allow yourself to be a doormat, you can’t complain about the footprints on your back, and just because Tucker Carlson doesn’t know what I’m doing, he shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that I don’t know what I’m doing.

Well, Tucker must know what he’s doing, because we had a pleasant phone conversation this past week. What he’s doing or, rather, planning to do, isn’t what NTCNews.com is doing and so there is a (remote) possibility of collaboration between Tucker Carlson and Not Tucker Carlson. At least if it’s competition rather than collaboration — vastly more likely — it will be a competition on honorable terms. However, to repeat: It had better not suck.

So kudos to Tucker for his sagacity. Kudos are due also to a certain person who invited me to a book-signing event next month — a classy gesture, all things considered, and perhaps the grounds of rapprochement, or at least a negotiated detente. (Trust, but verify.)

Politics ain’t beanbag, as James Carville observed, and it is inevitable that the continual cut-and-thrust will result in hard feelings on the part of those who have been wounded. Such is my addled memory — more words of wisdom: Never combine psilocybin mushroom tea with Bolivian flake cocaine — that I find it easy to forget ancient wounds.

Considerations of honor, however, require me to recall the wounds suffered by friends, most of whom are less forgetful. Should I accept an invitation from someone who has unjustly wounded my friends? At stake is whether, by accepting this invitation, I dishonor my friends. Yet it is possible that, by attending the event, I may be able to assist my friends, and defend them against egregious insult. But I digress . . .

Don’t roll like a punk. If you’re good at what you do and you know it, then just do it. Don’t proclaim to the world that you’re going to Save The Republican Party From Itself. Just save the party, and then maybe someone will notice you had something to do with it. Or maybe not, to repeat some more timeless wisdom:

“You can accomplish much, if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Ronald Reagan

Friday, an otherwise intelligent journalist pulled one of those annoying Stupid Pundit Tricks:

How Republicans can crack
the AmeriCorps scandal

The headline alone should tell you what’s wrong here. Personally, my hunch is that Chuck Grassley knows how to run an investigation that gets results. (And if he doesn’t, I’m thinking maybe The Boss will let him know.) Maybe you think 40 Republican senators and their staffs possess collective wisdom insufficient to this challenge, but if you want to offer them strategic political advice, don’t do it on the op-ed pages or in a blog post. Democrats can read, too, y’know. As a general rule, don’t try to acquire a reputation for strategic genius by doing things that are strategically stupid.

Over the past several months, as an inevitable consequence of increased blog traffic, I’ve become a whipping boy for various bloggers who think I don’t know what I’m doing. And one of their frequent criticisms, when I do a long post like this, is to say that I am “rambling” or “incoherent.” Right. Please keep thinking that.

On the other hand, there are people wise enough to recognize that only an idiot would (or could) publish everything he knows. If you want to offer strategic advice to the GOP, or if you have a brilliant plan for A Brave New Conservatism, the last thing you want to do is to publish it on the Internet.

Wise men may observe that sensei Moe Lane has never published a book called Secrets of the Blog-Fu Temple Cult. Nor will he ever, not even posthumously. Hell’s bells, if I had an infallible formula for political success (please note the hypothetical), I’d be afraid even to write it on a cocktail napkin, for fear it might accidentally be published and deprive me of future opportunities for free lunches.

If you want to be regarded as a wise man, you would emulate Jeremiah Denton, who once famously had the presence of mind to blink “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” in Morse code. Until such time as you demonstrate an appreciation of that, don’t lecture me about “narrative.” Allow me to suggest that there are some truths so sublime that they can only be expressed as poetry.

Have you ever been
Down in the ghetto?

Have you ever felt
That cold wind blow?

If you don’t know what I mean,
Brother, stand up and scream,
‘Cause there’s things going on
That you don’t know.

Let all God’s children say, “Rock on.”

UPDATE: Dan Riehl throws another punch:

The point I was making was that, one could take the conservative notion of a free market to an extreme to where one argued there should be no government intervention at all. I also pointed out how foolish it would be, but said it would be hard to say the position wasn’t a “conservative” one in a broad sense, albeit extreme. All much theoretical crap takes is for someone to write the book. It’s lost on Conor that that’s precisely what Dreher has done.

What’s beautiful about that is, Dan’s basically daring Dreher to come to Conor’s defense, so that Dan has a good excuse to smack Dreher around some more. The sheer joy of fighting such people! It’s why everyone envies the luck of Germany to have France as a neighbor.

June 20, 2009

Fleeting Moments of Justice Require Admiration

by Smitty

This week’s Full Metal Jacket Reach Around will continue the topical layout, which will serve as a nice aid “just to try and recall the whole year” (Buffet, (the one I quote)).
The Iranian Election triggered a broad spectrum of dicussion on the shiny-nets. Karl Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Rove was one of the stranger tangents. I would have titled that post “If Sarah Palin is a Karl Rove production, does that mean Andrew Sullivan is Trig?” That got picked up by the likes of

  • Instapundit, in fact twice
  • The Trogpiler, which Sully might possibly enjoy. He also offers thoughts on suckology, but, frankly, they blow.
  • The Daily Gator was also sucked in.
  • The Pirate’s Cove mentioned it, too.
  • Fausta had an excellent roundup, including the CBS screencap of infamy.
  • Nice Deb saw Fausta’s CBS, and raised her a Sully picture thugged from AoSHQ.
  • rightofcourse linked us, alongside Legal Insurrection, which is great company.
  • Jules Crittenden added us to an impressive roundup.
  • The esteemed Daily Pundit noted this humble component of the Blogosphere, as well. He seems to be a member of the appearance-centric crowd who doesn’t believe it possible that Governor Palin is the genuine conservative article. More’s the pity.
  • Up North Mommy linked us.
  • Grow up Libs, says Scared Monkeys.
  • Western Experience was out west acquiring some, but linked us nonetheless.
  • World o’ Crap amended some details on the Potemkin Village remark. “Catherine The Great Was Actually Stalin In A Dress!” is a great title, BTW. Sarcasm bordering on truth.
  • Stop the ACLU was also on the case.

The “Speak Loudly and Carry a Small Victim” (Coulter) Award goes out to those who are just becoming aware that they have been conned by the masters of identity politics. Ultimately, the federal government has no business messing about with our individual medical, sexual, and financial choices. Even if you think that your cause is just, you’re laying down precedent for a bazillion other unjust ones. Cut that noise out. Now. Stacy’s date request open letter to Angry Gay Democrats was linked by

Quoting Krugman and the economy in general drew the attention of:

The “Let Letterman be a Cautionary Tale to You, or, Why we Endeavor to Abide in Cynthia Yockey’s Good Graces” section of the FMJRA:

You know the campaign is over, not because the stump went away, but because of the people being laid across it for dispatch by the headsman.

  • Paco less medieval in his take, trots out Louis Campagna for comment, not once but twice
  • Word even reached Shreveport, where Pat pulled in some great links.
  • Our man Jimmie was among the first to play the Watergate card. Subsequently, he worked in the ACORN reference. ACORN to oak, IG-gate ain’t no…frigate.
  • The Classic Liberal chime in, with some Rule 5 relief.
  • Fausta was among the first I saw mentioning other IG firings.
  • Obie’s Sister picked up on the “Nixonian evil” line.
  • Monique Stewart answered the call.
  • Velociworld has a neat post. Liked the first comment.
  • No Sheeples Here wondered if Walpin would become the Deep Throat of the Obama Administration. Walpin’s cover is as blown as Publius’ was a week ago, but the point holds.
  • Instapundit linked the Domino Theory article on Pajamas Media.
  • To which Carol added some actual dominoes.
  • Dan Collins felt he hadn’t linke enough. Two to three links per post should be sufficient, though more is always better.
  • The Rhetorican linked both the NTC news and the PJ Media coverage. This is what I am talking about.

The “Least Eagerly Awaited Sex Tape of All Time, with 7/8 of the Ordeal Remaining” portion of the show focuses on ABC’s White House pooper-scoop on health care. This may be a winning strategy. With enough effort, health care initiatives could cross the Sun Myung Moon horizon, and suddenly we just all somehow believe it. “Vee can do zhis der easy vay, or der Chicago Vay. Personally, vee’re more familiar vis der Chicago Vay…”

  • Carolyn rounds up reactions.
  • Paco was on board, and linked the explanation.
  • Troglopundit links us on the subject of health care rationing, something to do with pencils, which has nothing to do with my neck.
  • Pundit and Pundette note the two minute drill.
  • Our man Jimmie was on the scene, making a rare point on the matter:

    Here is the acid test. Do you remember when President Bush was pushing for Social Security reform a few years back? Imagine what might have happened had Fox News announced it was going to devote every one of its news shows to a ¡°conversation¡± about social security reform and that it would be broadcasting from inside the Whote House all day. Imagine the outrage from the MSM and the left if Fox has shut out the Democrats entirely yet promised to be the very paragons of journalistic virtue.

    The whole administration is an acid test. Traditional, or Wolfe remains to be seen.

  • The Classic Liberal take: Good-bye freedom. Hello tyranny.
  • rightofcourse weighed in, with an opinion that sounded correct, obviously.
  • Caffeinated Thoughts noted the “that’s not news, that’s publicity” line.
  • The Pink Elephant Pundit links us. “Raisin’ Hale”, indeed. 😉
  • The Liberty Papers: My wife’s response: “If Obama is truly serious about listening to doctors, this one says that he needs to leave my patients and me alone.”
  • The Instapundit quoted Stacy, so we’ll link back to him to help with the traffic.
  • Related Camp of the Saints

Somebody liked the Gary Kamiya deconstruction:

  • “Visigothic Rasputin (with Victorian overtones), Unite!”, says Paco
  • Troglopundit foreign policy seems to follow the two tears in a bucket approach.

The political paradox that the same pack o’ jackasses that caused the economic mess are somehow equipped to un-b0rk it:

This week’s episode in Dr. Stacy’s Osteoporotic Conservative Clinic was noted by the following bloggers:

  • The Daley Gator
  • Jimmie has a lengthy discussion on the topic.
  • And that’s why they call it Riehlpolitik: “the rule in D.C. is never to attribute to ideology that which can be adequately explained by ambition.” As long as that ambition doesn’t end in shooting yourself, literally or literarily. Dr. Stacy says “Put the gun down, you’ll burn yourself, it’s really for use in lighting off fireworks, punk.” But pretentious slut?
  • Half Past Noon waded into the fray, offering an analysis that seems interesting, but also appears to miss a crucial point: the labels are not the concepts. I understand that Hayek/von Mises considered themselves liberals, even though it’s the conservatives quoting them today. You have to understand that people playing propaganda games have hijacked the terminology. By the end of this administration, collectivism shall have so established itself as to consider itself ‘conservative’, and start calling anyone desiring a life beyond the ant colony a ‘nihilist liberal’. I’ll bet a cup of coffee on the point, D.
  • Chris, at the League of Ordinary Milquetoasts weighed in on the whole terminology flap. “I¡¯m not saying that this form of conservatism-cum-liberalism is a bad thing.”

Question to Chris and the rest of the navel-gazers: does the point of this RBS commercial elude you?

  • The South Texian elaborates nicely.
  • The mighty Donald Douglas termed Conor Andrew Sullivan’s myrmidon, which is less than flattering. There was also a threat to publish private email traffic at which Douglas laughed, scoffed, and lauged some more.
  • The Camp of the Saintsweighed in on the matter.

My side clinic on humor had the following responses:

Big Shout Out to Dan Collins at Piece of Work in Progress Department:

Special, uncategoraizable mention category:

I have some additional links in a folder to add, but that will have to wait, as there is some kind of malware attacking my laptop. Please email corrections to smitty.
Update: Crisis resolved, additional material dispersed throughout the post, so you’ll simply have to re-read it, paying extra attention, as one does, to . Start flooding my inbox with Rule 5 submissions, too. I’ll be on that later.

Update II: The Blog Prof says: do your homework. And I say: “Roger that”.

  • He linked us on the Letterman Protests, with handy video clips.
  • We got picked up on the Panetta/Cheney flapette, where the blogprof seemed to enjoy my Jane Curtin riff at the end. It’s all about finding humor, even in situations as clearly manufactured to drive traffic as that one.
  • He also links us in passing while mentioning the Eating Is Like Rape Or Something post, courtesy of Donald Doulas. The only time I ever thought of food as rape was while eating an MRE about 15 years ago. They tell me MREs have improved, but they twitch while they say that, so I’m taking them at their word.
June 20, 2009

Hagiography going to farce

by Smitty (h/t The Moderate Voice)

Here at ToM, we do the hard task of watching clips like this that you may or may not want to try at home:The video is funny and well done.
The main criticism I have is its fundamental anti-American spirit. If men and women have fought and died for any concept in the Constitution, it is expressed in Article 1, Section 9 “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States…”. Not only are we not keen on anointing anyone king or queen, but the very notion that 300,000,000+ million citizens and 50 states depend on one man, however talented, to hold it all together is something that should induce vomiting.
So enjoy the clip as such, and make a point of denouncing the underlying spinelessness of it all. And attending a Tea Party on 04 July. And hitting the tip jar.

June 20, 2009

Bootlicking: the habit that kicks you

by Smitty

Monique’s title, Sorry, but I’m not sorry brought up a point that came up in the office today: the Senate’s unanimous nostra culpa for slavery.

“You wonder why we didn’t do it 100 years ago,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), lead sponsor of the resolution, said after the unanimous-consent vote. “It is important to have a collective response to a collective injustice.”
The Senate’s apology follows a similar apology passed last year by the House. One key difference is that the Senate version explicitly deals with the long-simmering issue of whether slavery descendants are entitled to reparations, saying that the resolution cannot be used in support of claims for restitution. The House is expected to revisit the issue next week to conform its resolution to the Senate version.

No, Senator Harkin, you don’t have to wonder. There was a Civil War, three Constitutional amendments, etc., etc. Why don’t you and Senator Reid (and my brace of boobs, Warner and Webb) do something useful. Outlaw Affirmative Action (formatting mine):

The terms “affirmative action” and “positive action” refer to policies that take race, ethnicity, or gender into consideration in an attempt to promote “equal” opportunity.

Now, Affirmative Action is by no means the same thing as slavery, in the practical sense of brutally abusing people in every physical way possible. But, at a high enough level of abstraction, both involve discriminating against people on the basis of DNA.
There is no sense arguing against history. Slavery was wrong. Affirmative Action happened historically as an effort to redress aspects of discrimination that were less severe than slavery, but no less insidious. One can buy off on the notion that, historically, two wrongs may have driven the situation in a desirable direction.
At what point does Affirmative Action “jump the shark” and become an exercise in bootlicking? The assertion: “We have not done enough to apologize for slavery” is not falsifiable. As long as the guilt lever remains in place, some Archimedes can move the world. If any good has come of the election of 2008, and this exercise in political silliness on slavery, one hopes that “We the People” can elect some people who have the word “Enough!” in their vocabulary. Throw the lever away, cease the bootlicking.
For the record, my ancestors on my father’s side were (apparently) quartermasters in the Union Army, and didn’t arrive on mom’s side until after 1900.

June 20, 2009

Reporting is good for the soul

Thursday, I had a splendid time on Capitol Hill, working to hook up with sources for the PJM article about the Grassley IG-Gate investigation. Nothing like expending a bit of shoe leather in quest of a story to restore the spirits.

So as I was having beers with interviewing my old buddies key GOP strategists Thursday evening, I got a call from Dan Riehl, who informed me that the Conor Friedersdorf front had once again erupted. Sigh.

Dan did this and also did this. Then Jimmie Bise did this and Donald Douglas did this. And Cranky Con did this and Jonathan Schwenkler did this.

All of this happened while I was trying to get someone to pick up my bar tab the big scoop at the Capitol Hill Club on IG-Gate.

Pandemic Douthatism
What’s going on here? I blame Ross Douthat. This was what was so evil about the New York Times giving an op-ed column to a 29-year-old. Suddenly, every other 29-year-old journalist on the planet is made to feel insignificant.

(By the time you’re 49, being insignificant is slightly less humiliating, but if you’re a young, single intellectual wannabe in Washington, a think-tank sinecure or a book contract is what a souped-up Mustang is to the non-intellectual young male. Without it, you just don’t rate.)

Saving the world and/or defining a “bold new conservative agenda” just seems so freaking glamorous that it sometimes seems like every former College Republican who can compose a paragraph is trying to become the next William F. Buckley. And the temptation to grandiose punditry and intellectualism seems to be irresistible to some people whenever the GOP loses an election or two.

This was why I wrote my Nov. 5 column, “You Did Not Lose,” and my Nov. 12 column, “Don’t Overthink It.” Seeking a complex, abstract, ideological explanation for a lost election is always a bad idea, especially when what you’re basically trying to explain is why a loser lost. You nominate a short, bald, grumpy septuagenarian for president and the other guys nominate the King of Cool, and complex abstractions are irrelevant.

Concept, Theory, Reality
Intellectuals, however, feel the need to give their cerebral lobes a workout. Next thing you know, the intellectuals are quoting Plato at you, as if John McCain’s shortcomings as a presidential candidate could have been overcome if only he’d spent more time contemplating The Republic.

This is why regular old-fashioned reporting is such a tonic for the soul, and why these young pundits are so morose. It is beneath the dignity of an aspiring intellectual to go out and do mere reporting. Absent any real action like that, the political intelligentsia slide off into the ethereal world of ideology, where everything is either a concept or a theory or — God help us — a trend.

There are no clear-cut victories or defeats in the War Of Ideas. And there are damned few flesh-and-blood human beings there.

Reporting news is far more a social enterprise than the solitary cogitations of the intellectuals. So, rather than get into the “substantive issues” childishness, I’m just going to relax in the afterglow of getting a good news story. Not a great story, perhaps — the Pulitzer Committee has been stubbornly ignoring me for years — but certainly a good one.

Conor Friedersdorf will have to save the world without me.