Archive for ‘American Spectator’

July 28, 2009

IG-Gate Update:Walpin wonders about Matsui’s role

Guess who reads The American Spectator?

In a telephone interview today, Walpin said he noticed last week’s report that Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) had contacted White House officials in March, publicly vowing that sanctions against Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson didn’t prevent the city from getting its share of bailout cash.
Questions about what role Matsui may have played in Walpin’s dismissal are being asked on Capitol Hill, and the ex-IG himself is curious about the Sacramento congresswoman’s intervention, which drew attention after it was highlighted by California blogger Eric Hogue.
On the larger question — whether political pressure over his investigation of Mayor Johnson’s St. HOPE Academy was a factor in the June 10 quit-or-be-fired ultimatum from the White House — Walpin is certain.
“I have no doubt about that,” Walpin said. . . .

Read the whole thing, and expect updates.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Eric Hogue’s all over the involvement of Matsui in IG Gate, with audio and lots, lots more.

July 22, 2009

The Mother of All IG-Gate Updates

On the Internet, stuff gets scattered around so that you never see it all in one place. Today’s IG-Gate Update at the Hot Air Green Room pushes the story forward:

Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill last week, I asked a Republican source about the investigative efforts of Democratic staffers for the House Oversight Committee.
“Honestly?” the source said. “They’re useless.”
More than three weeks have passed since Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) joined the committee’s ranking Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, to launch an investigation into the case of former Amtrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold Jr. . . .
Despite the “grave concerns” expressed by Towns and Issa three weeks ago, however, Republican sources on Capitol Hill have complained that Democratic staffers on the Oversight Committee have not shown much zeal for the investigation. Sources say Democratic staffers have skipped meetings and conference calls to which they were invited by GOP investigators, who are attempting to work with Grassley’s staff in order to prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts. Sharing documents and scheduling interviews with witnesses, allowing Republican and Democratic investigators from both chambers an opportunity to question these witnesses, is a demanding logistical task. And GOP staffers complain that this task seems to be lacking in terms of bipartisanship. . . .

Read the whole thing, because toward the end, I make this point:

This is a huge story, involving multiple investigations, and 1,200 words here don’t even begin to summarize the 1,400 words there [at The American Spectator on Monday], to say nothing of the 400 words I did last night about the SIGTARP report.

Like I said, read the whole thing, and follow the links, because this is one big sprawling mother of a story. The best I can do in any single chunk is to bring in new facts, new quotes, new angles, and link to as much other the other stuff as possible. (That Green Room article includes more than 25 links, including the link to the Spectator article, which has more than a dozen links.)

If you’ll go to Bob Belvedere’s WWU-AM and scroll down, he’s got a huge IG-Gate link dump with my reporting, Byron York’s reporting, columns by Michelle Malkin, reports from ABC News, the Washington Post, etc. There’s a lot of stuff out there, in other words, and you need to see it all if you want to try to understand this thing.

“Try,” I say, because I don’t even claim to understand it all yet. My sources talk about things and sometimes I can tell they’re trying to drop me a hint of something they want me to write about, e.g., “Who Is Eleanor Acheson?” It’s important to ask the right questions, as one of my sources said.

On the one hand, there is the temptation to focus on one aspect of the story — the Washington Times keeps calling this “WalpinGate,” which is too narrow — but on the other hand, you’ve got to be careful not to waste time playing “connect-the-dots” with things that might not really be connected. Yes, there’s a pattern, but that doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy.

Still, as I predicted on June 18 — right after Michelle Malkin’s first column on the Walpin case slapped me upside the head — this story isn’t going away anytime soon. June 18 was the same day IG Fred Wiederhold delivered his report to the Amtrak board and suddenly retired, and also the same day Chuck Grassley made public his letter about the International Trade Commission IG, Judith Gwynne.

So barely a week after Walpin got his June 10 quit-or-be-fired ultimatum from White House lawyer Norm Eisen, there were two other IG cases. Then we have the case of the watchdog who’s still hanging tough, SIGTARP, Neil Barofsky. The bailout watchdog showed yesterday how much trouble he can cause, and it’s therefore no mystery why Treasury’s giving Barofsky a hard time. (My money’s still on Barofsky as the IG most likely to get a Cabinet secretary sent to federal prison.)

IG-Gate is a big mother, you see. Because I’m on deadline for a print magazine article, there’s no time for me to do a complete aggregation now, but here are the major IG-Gate articles I’ve done so far:

Each of those items is chock-full of links to other items. As you can see, just six weeks into this story, there’s a lot of stuff out there — and, no doubt, a lot more to come. Just keep hitting the tip jar.

One of these days, I plan to hit the American Spectator with the mother of all expense reimbursement requests — “$800 for fireworks?” “Promotional activity. Perfectly legitimate, Al.” — but in the meantime, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Just in case you’re wondering why Professor Reynolds loves this story so much, I once again remind you to read the whole thing. The professor’s drooling at the prospect of The Mother of All Chris Dodd Updates.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IG-Gate Rule 3 memo, which offers more tasty watchdog morsels.

July 6, 2009

Sarah Palin’s surprise

UPDATE 7/7: Parable of the Doubting Ace

PREVIOUSLY: From my latest American Spectator column:

“Her national political career is done,” NBC’s David Shuster declared, even before reports of her plans to resign had been confirmed. Other media types joined the rush to write Palin’s political obituary, with a Greek chorus of “conservative” commentators transparently eager to agree that her resignation represented proof that Palin is both unelectable to and unfit for higher office.
Of course, she had just exposed as fraudulent the pretended omniscience of the commentariat. None of them had predicted Palin’s resignation, and yet their latest oracular pronouncements — Ed Rollins told CNN she looked “terribly inept” — were treated as authoritative.
The punditocracy can’t predict Palin because she shares neither their perspective nor their assumptions. Her ascent to political stardom has been treated as a fluke by most of the GOP establishment for the simple reason that she doesn’t slavishly follow the standard script of Republican politicians.
Of course, in recent years this script usually has ended with “…and then the Democrats won,” suggesting the need for a re-write. . . .

Please read the whole thing. Sunday morning, I was driving back from Lake Weiss — where we’d shot our fabulous annual Fourth of July fireworks show — when the editor called asking me to write the column.

Of course, not all the commentators rushing to write finis on Palin’s career were of the Ed Rollins/David Schuster variety. Both Ace and Allahpundit hastened to endorse the pundit consensus.

I’ve got MSNBC on my office TV and the mid-day newsette just referred to Palin’s “baffling” resignation. It’s not baffling. Palin explained her reasons, and her reasons sounded entirely plausible to me. What baffles the pundits is the fact that it was (a) unexpected, and (b) doesn’t fit the established script for presidential hopefuls.

The people who pronounce themselves “baffled,” and who conclude that Palin has made a stupid move by resigning, are leaving a couple of things out of their calculations. First, Palin is a Christian who, in the past, has made straightforward reference to the will of God. What she believes — what she must believe — is that if it is God’s will that she become president, she will. Therefore, the conventional wisdom of the commetariat and all the advice from political “experts” are just so much noise to her.

Second, Palin’s closest adviser is her husband, Todd. He is not stupid. He is also not a man who will show up on TV and blabber his every thought for the sake of creating the impression that he knows everything.

Just because you don’t know what Sarah Palin is doing doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

UPDATE: Karl at the Green Room refers us to Ace’s NSFW thoughts on “magical thinking” in politics:

This is fucking insane and it must stop. I will not be bullied by this ludicrous magical thinking brigade who insists that only Nice and Positive Words must be uttered or else one is contributing one’s Evil Energy to the Wrong Side.
It’s insane. . . .
Stop jumping to claim some one is not just wrong but actively malicious.

Very good, very true and very timely. On the other hand, there is this: In politics, perception has a way of becoming reality, and one way to win — as Obama has recently demonstrated — is to promote the impression that you are unbeatable, and that your victory is inevitable.

First, the winning candidate wishes to create that perception within his own campaign. It does wonders for morale — as also for fund-raising and volunteer recruitment — to believe that your team is the winning team.

Next, the campaign team then works to create that perception of electoral inevitability in the minds of voters. Bandwagon psychology has a powerful effect in politics. Undecided “swing” voters are especially vulnerable to the vote-for-the-winner appeal.

Finally, the campaign team desires to convey the perception of electoral inevitability to its rivals. If the belief that you’re on the winning team has a positive morale factor, the belief that you’re on the losing team obviously has the opposite effect.

You saw this very clearly in the Democratic primary contest last year. Team Hillary had been fostering the perception of inevitability ever since the beginning. However, once she began to stumble — when Tim Russert tripped her up with a debate question about drivers licenses for illegal immigrants — and Obama pulled within range, a fearful defensiveness took hold in the Hillary camp. After Obama won the Iowa caucuses, you couldn’t find a single member of the campaign press corps who really thought Hillary could come back to win. (See Josh Green’s memorable account of what went wrong inside the Hillary campaign.)

OK, so let’s relate this back to Ace’s defense against “magical thinking” by (some) Palinistas:

I do not mind being called wrong. I do, however, greatly mind being called a traitor, of harboring a secret agenda I hide from you in order to advance the MSM’s interests, etc., and all the rest of this insane bullshit. . . .

Ace is entirely correct in saying that this is bad sportsmanship: X disagrees with me, therefore X is an enemy of All That Is Good And True. On the other hand, the fanaticism of Palin’s supporters, and the fury with which they attack Palin’s critics, constitutes evidence of why Ace is wrong.

Sarah Palin inarguably possesses the kind of charisma that inspires fierce loyalty. This is a valuable political resource and, if could be harnessed and channeled into productive organized activity, could easily carry her to the nomination in 2012. “If” is the key word there.

So there is, then, some rational substance in what Ace calls the “insane bullshit” of (some) Palinistas. Conservatives who derogate Palin’s aptitude for the presidency, or who disparage her in terms of “electability,” may be damaging the prospects of the one candidate most likely to achieve a quick reversal of the GOP’s fortunes, by defeating Obama in 2012.

Further, while Ace is obviously not angling to “get invited to these famous DC dinner parties,” there are people whose career ambitions and political elitism are very much implicated in the anti-Palin agenda. Because of Palin’s populist appeal (something that seems innate, rather than conscious on her part), she attracts followers who are sick and tired of The Republicans Who Really Matter.

As is always true in any engagement between populism and elitism, the elitists always have the most articulate writers on their side, while the populists seem to be full of incoherent rage. But the rage of the populists does not mean — repeat, does not mean — that they have no legitimate grievances, or that they’re all a bunch of lowbrow yahoos.

Instinct counts for something in politics. Having been around the Beltway GOP for nearly 12 years now, I agree with the populist instinct that the national Republican leadership has succumbed to political elitism — a deadly temptation in small-d democratic politics.

Like the Buchanan Brigades of 1992, or like the Tea Party movement, the Palinistas represent an effort to get the GOP establishment to acknowledge the party’s conservative grassroots. If they sometimes commit rhetorical overkill — including demonizing everyone who is not a True Believer — this should be understood in context.

February 22, 2009

More PJTV talk

Saturday, I did a blog post at The American Spectator reacting to recent criticism of PJTV. A couple of guys pinged back: Andrew Dodge and Danny Glover, so you can see what they had to say . . . about what I had to say . . . about what other people had to say.

Well . . . what do you have to say?

BTW, if you’ve done any commenting over the past couple of hours and it hasn’t been approved yet, don’t sweat. My son’s due back from Ohio today and I’m probably on my way back from BWI Airport by now. The past few hours have been autoblogged posts (written in advance and postdated) with the intent to keep burglars thinking I’m actually at home blogging when I’m not. So maybe I’m home now. Or maybe I’m not.

Comment moderation and Rule 2 FMJRA’s will resume shortly.

UPDATE 3 p.m.: OK, now I’m actually home. Alive. On the way back from the airport, we stopped somewhere in Howard County to get McDonald’s, and the 16-year-old boy says, “Hey, Dad, how about letting me drive.” To which I agreed in a grand gesture of paternal magnanimity. And foolishness. But mostly foolishness.

Now, I began teaching the kids to drive when they were 12, and we’ve got those hillbilly NASCAR genes, so even though the boy has only had his learner’s permit a few weeks, I have a fair degree of confidence in his automotive skills. There were, however, two problems with this scenario:

  • My son has never driven on the interstate; and
  • Mrs. McCain was in the car.

Now, I deeply love my wife, but she is not a very good passenger. She thinks I drive like a maniac. And is correct. But I’m a safe maniac; it’s that hillbilly NASCAR thing.

We’ve been married 20 years and I’ve driven a gazillion miles in that time without ever being responsible for an accident. (Years ago, I got rear-ended by a toothless meth-head woman with no license or insurance. Last year, I had my front end scraped by an idiot girl who ran a redlight.) Yet every time she gets in the car with me, my wife relentlessly criticizes my driving and wonders aloud that I haven’t gotten myself killed driving so crazy.

Well, Junior takes the wheel and we get out on the road. I instruct him how to set the cruise control, give him helpful tips, etc. His mother is mainly concerned that, if at all possible, he should never change lanes. And under no circumstance is he to obey that Y chromosome’s orders to hop into the left lane, jam the pedal to the floor an cruise 80 mph all the way home. A dynamic tension is present, and it’s his first time driving on the interstate.

We did OK most of the way, until we found ourselves behind a Food Lion truck coming out of Frederick, with two mountains — Braddock and South — over the next 16 miles. If the boy had obeyed his Y chromosome, he’d have been left-laning it with nothing to worry about, but Mom was in the back seat on the verge of a heart attack, so the Y-chromosome was stifled.

As we began the ascent of South Mountain, the Food Lion truck was still ahead of us. We were doing a little over 60 mph in a 65 zone. Cars doing 80 were flying past on our left. Past the Middletown exit, a slow-truck lane opens up on the right, and the Food Lion truck got over. Which is when we saw the Subaru station wagon that had been ahead of the truck.

The Subaru was driven by an elderly man with his wife in the passenger seat and, as we ascended the mountain, the Food Line truck in the right lane actually started pulling ahead of the Subaru. It was a rolling roadblock situation, basically, and now there was a more of less solid line of cars filing past on our left, working their way around this 50-mph vehicular obstruction in the right two lanes.

We approached the crest of the mountain and I see the yellow sign: “Right lane ends 2,500 feet.” That’s roughly half a mile and, judging the comparative progress of the Subaru and the Food Lion truck, I’m saying: “No way.” That truck will have to merge somewhere. He doesn’t have the power to pass the Subaru, and the geezer at the wheel of the Subaru is too freaking clueless to realize he should speed up to get ahead of the truck. Whiich meant, we had about 40 seconds to get to our left, or we were going to be driving into serious trouble.

I’m calculating this and, attempting to remain calm, am explaining this to my son while checking the left-lane traffic for an opening. My wife is not attempting to stay calm. But as we close in on that “lane ends here” point, I spy a gap on our left and yell: “OK, Bob, get it!” and then, “Punch it!”

He accelerates into the gap, but there’s an Aspen SUV bearing down on him, which freaks him out, so he tries merging over to the right a bit sooner than was absolutely safe. Which is to say he cut off the old geezer in the Subaru with about 4 feet to spare. All of which is accomplished with my wife screaming in the back seat and threatening to kill me if we survive the final 5 miles home.

We made it. I live to tell the tale. And the moral of the story is: When you take your son out driving on the freeway, it should be a male-bonding Y-chromosome experience.

And I love my wife.

February 16, 2009

Post-stimulus blues

Quin Hillyer is bummed out:

There are times when it’s just too depressing to write about politics. This is one of those times. The welfare-reform-killing, debt-exploding, generational-thieving, pork-laden, growth-inhibiting, utterly unnecessary and counterproductive monstrosity that the Obamites and Pelosians just shoved down the nation’s throats has left me in a deep numbness akin to one of the stages of grief.

Anybody else feeling the post-stimulus blues?

February 5, 2009

ACORN fighting over the spoils

ACORN is riven by an internal feud, investigative journalist Matthew Vadum reports at The American Spectator:

When the extortion and vote fraud conglomerate ACORN isn’t staging sit-ins to pressure banks to lend to high-risk borrowers, busing schoolchildren to the nation’s capital to protest proposed tax cuts, campaigning for big government policies, or raising the dead from battleground-state cemeteries and leading them to the voting booth, it is at war with itself.
Months after the radical left-wing group gave the bum’s rush to disgraced founder Wade Rathke last summer, leaders of the normally cohesive Association of Community Organizations for Reform’s network began aligning themselves with internal factions.
The process accelerated in October when ACORN national board members Karen Inman and Marcel Reid were unceremoniously booted from the board for asking too many questions. They wanted to know more about a nearly $1 million embezzlement that senior ACORN officials covered up for eight years. . . .

Read the whole thing.

February 3, 2009

Change I can believe in

Philip Klein of the American Spectator announces “The Daschle-Klein Plan“:

Tom Daschle gets confirmed and his universal health-care plan is adopted, but I don’t pay the taxes required to finance the program. I get caught, but simply write a letter apologizing for the oversight and am promptly rewarded with a high-profile government job.

Brilliant. That boy’s going places. Like Leavenworth.

February 1, 2009

‘The RNC has been controlled since 1988 by cretinous b******s’

Thus saith Quin Hillyer, in answer to Jim Antle’s remarks about the disconnect between the GOP and the conservative movement, remarks provoked by my own wee-hour musings on that subject.

Nothing like stirring up a bloody good row, just for the hilarious fun of it all. Speaking of which:

That Robert Stacy McCain is a tedious nothing will come as no surprise to those of us with a Web browser and the ability to read.

Freddie, you just earn a spot on my quote wall. If you’re going to cut a man, eviscerate him. Style points!

UPDATE: Sorry it took so long to update, but I was (a) exchanging e-mail with mentors, colleagues and proteges; (b) cross-posting at AmSpecBlog, and meanwhile (c) honing my blade.

Our friend Mr. deBoer has dabbled a bit in the clever art of making “The Conservative Case for [INSERT LIBERAL CAUSE HERE].” Having previously noted Conor Friederdorf’s “Conservative Case for Gay Marriage,” we now behold Freddie deBoer’s “Conservative Case for Global Warning Hysteria”:

Faced with broad scientific consensus, a clear notion of individual responsibility, and clear and present threats to our health and our economy, environmentalism wasn’t just for environmentalists anymore. Happily, the growing public consensus that climate change must be genuinely confronted has translated into bigger implications for environmentalism and public policy. Genuine reflection about the limits of our consumption and the impact of our behavior on the world around us — profoundly conservative concerns — is back on the national political table, in a way that has never been possible before.

The discerning mind comprehends at once what a universe of rhetorical opportunity awaits our rising generation of conservative intellectuals. If the “The Conservative Case for the Trillon-Dollar Stimulus” has not yet been published, it is only because David Kuo had to cease operations while that essay was still being drafted. But fertile minds are now busily inquiring after new venues for publication of:

  • “The Conservative Case for Card Check”
  • “The Conservative Case for Trans-Fat Bans”
  • “The Conservative Case for Abolition of the Electoral College”
  • “The Conservative Case for Labial Piercing, Face Tattooing and Other Extreme Body Modifications”

You get the drift. One supposes that these young geniuses, once they’ve finished writing “the conservative case” for everything on the contemporary scene, will then proceed to write critical histories such as “The Conservative Case for Pol Pot,” “The Conservative Case for the Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand,” “The Conservative Case for a Regicide Peace,” and so forth.

Excuse my amusement. A protege e-mailed Saturday to mention that my name came up when she recently interviewed for a publishing job. If she should get the job, maybe her influence could help an old geezer get a small contract for a pamphlet urging what nowadays would be considered a most startling idea:

The Conservative Case for Conservatism.

UDPATE II: I stand accused of “shameless Palin-worship.” But I’m never gonna pull 250K visits per month with “Daniel Larison bikini pics” . . .

December 15, 2008

Satan’s sleigh bells

My latest American Spectator column:

Mike Huckabee was doing an audience-participation segment on his Fox News Channel program last week when he was asked to name his favorite Christmas carol. “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” he answered. Then he asked his questioner to name her favorite Christmas carol.
“Winter Wonderland!” she answered cheerfully.
Huckabee smiled and said he liked the song, too. But surely the former Baptist minister must have been thinking the same thing I was thinking: “Winter Wonderland” is not a Christmas carol.
There is not a single reference to Christmas in the entire song. Snow, yes. Sleigh bells, yes. Christmas, no. Written in 1934 by Richard Smith and Felix Bernard, “Winter Wonderland” is a typical example of 20th-century “holiday” songs that have nothing to do with Christmas.

Please read the whole thing.

December 5, 2008

Hanging with Alito

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito made headlines with his Joe Biden jokes at Wednesday’s American Spectator gala. The missus and I attended, and here are a few photos:

Josiah Ryan (CNS), Justice Alito, Cool Sexy Blogger Guy.

Cool Sexy Blogger Guy & His Hot Wife.

American Spectator Managing Editor J.P. Freire & the Cool Sexy Blogger Guy’s Hot Wife.

American Spectator Editor-in-Chief R. Emmett Tyrrell & the Cool Sexy Blogger Guy.

American Spectator editorial director Wlady Pleszczynski & the Cool Sexy Blogger Guy.

Cool Sexy Blogger Guy, Kerry Picket (Newsbusters) and Sergio Gor (RNC).

UPDATE: Kerry Picket has a story and video audio:

UPDATE II: R. Emmett Tyrrell’s speech is now online, along with Jay Homnick’s account of the banquet.