Archive for ‘Pajamas Media’

June 19, 2009

IG Investigation: ‘Dominoes Fall’

From my exclusive report for Pajamas Media:

Describing the probe into the dismissal of the AmeriCorps inspector general, one Capitol Hill source on Thursday compared Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s demand for facts in the case to a row of dominoes ready to tip over.
Grassley is asking questions, a team of Senate investigators is poring over documents in the case, and where the investigation proceeds now “depends on what dominoes fall next,” explained the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. . . .
Beyond the legal and political ramifications, Republicans in Washington acknowledge that the potential scandal could aid their policy battle against the effort by the White House and congressional Democrats to push sweeping new proposals on health care, energy and financial regulation.
In background discussions Thursday, several GOP strategists spoke of the contrast between Democrats’ effort to impose new government “reforms” while, at the same time, the Obama administration appears to be muzzling inspectors generals, who are tasked with providing independent oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies. . . .
Grassley’s team on the IG probe is led by Charles Murphy, a veteran Capitol Hill investigator. Both Grassley and Murphy were unavailable for comment Thursday, but sources with knowledge of the investigation expressed confidence in the meticulous research of Murphy’s team. . . .

There’s lots more, so read the whole thing at Pajamas Media, and watch for updates at

UPDATE: As I said yesterday, a potentially big scandal like this has an innate appeal to journalists:

Every political reporter in Washington is sniffing around this story now, and I just got off the phone with Matthew Vadum, who’s catching the Acela train to New York for a 5 p.m. live appearance on “The Glenn Beck Show.”

Before we got off the phone, the last thing I said to Matthew was, “Drop my name, dude.”

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Updated news and commentary on IG-Gate at Now, if only Vadum can remember to look for an opportunity to tell Beck, “Well, as Stacy McCain reported today . . .”

Probably not, though. Never mind. We’ve got our own cartoon, which ought to be enough . . .

UPDATE III: Verrry interesting! Eric Rasmusen points out how TARP money seems to buy Obama loyalty even from Republicans.

June 14, 2009

Amplifying ‘Zo

by Smitty

Alonzo Rachel has a clip pointing out that Jon Stewart doesn’t mind mentioning the military as an example of the federal government running something well, when it’s useful as a pro-socialized medicine argument. The clip has a hilarious ending when ‘Zo realizes he’s starting to cross the Olbermann Horizon.
Now, set aside the vitriol spewed about the Bush Administration’s handling of Iraq. As a service member, let me elaborate on points Even More Insidious than the ones ‘Zo raises about the military and health care.

  • The military screens out the unfit. This would be like practicing exposure of imperfect infants.
  • The UCMJ makes it perfectly legal to control what you eat, how much you take exercise, take random urinalysis samples in case you had excessive fun last weekend, and so forth.
  • The vast majority of people in military medicine are ousted after 30 years. VA medicine is more a commode than commodious example for Stewart to employ for his argument.

My personal tastes run to the dirt simple. I can tell you that the authoritarian system of the military in general, and military medicine in particular, will suit many people fine. Those 300 pound couch potato dudes are going to have an NCO calmly explain to them to put down the wii controller and fall in for a wee bit of exercise. We’ll all get our American Idol on as we go on a formation run for some jodies. We’ll have a blast. Maybe not Jane Fonda and Joan Baez, but the rest of us. Great team building.
So here is the point: people scale as effectively as politicians deliver on campaign promises. The reason military organizations and military medicine work to the degree they do is that they are grossly authoritarian systems. You may think you will, but you will quickly hate it when Nutrition is not a Private Matter.

June 8, 2009

Two on the POTUS

by Smitty

Bill Whittle takes the Maureen Dowd “Spock” piece out into orbit for a while. Very, very nicely done. The editorial ran about a month ago, which is roughly a decade on the tubey-clouds, but the production values tell you two things:

  • PJTV is as serious as lung cancer about what it’s doing
  • Whittle is an excellent writer/performer/talking head

Now, quite screwing around and put that on YouTube so it can go viral!
In related POTUS news (h/t Insty), Snopes confirms that a letter from a retired CEO expressing dismay about BHO’s opacity is both devastating and genuine.

March 1, 2009

WTF? ‘Red-headed stepchildren’?

“This year’s CPAC was the largest on record. It was encouraging to see the large herds of students moving throughout the hotel. Unfortunately, the constant theme those students heard during this year’s CPAC was that the proper role of the conservative movement is as cheerleader for the GOP. . . .
“What should have been one of the most important events of this year’s CPAC, the appearance by Dutch parliamentarian and anti-jihad activist Geert Wilders, was relegated to the opposite side of the hotel, divorced from all of the other conference proceedings. . . .
“I have no doubt that if Bristol Palin had suddenly come available to address CPAC on the virtues of teen pregnancy, David Keene and the American Conservative Union would no doubt have moved heaven and earth to make room in the schedule for her. But they could not accommodate a man who lives under constant death threats by a long list of Islamic terrorist organizations.”
Patrick Poole, PajamasMedia

(H/T: Dan Collins at PW) The decision-making processes of CPAC are opaque to those not directly involved. Some of my dearest friends are involved in the process, or have been in the past. What has been said of sausages and legislation applies equally to the business of establishing the annual CPAC schedule. Friendships forbid me to elaborate, but if any outsider is naively idealistic, let me merely say that “coalition unity” is at times an ugly and brutal line of work. This is true even in a good year, when conservatives are riding the floodtide of victory, flush with cash and influence; you may let your imagination wander as to how it is in the ebb.

CPAC Director Lisa DePasquale, her boss Mr. Keene, their hard-working staff and a nameless legion of volunteer activists are deserving of the highest commendation for organizing the largest conference in the 35-plus years of this annual gathering. Whatever legitimate disgruntlement, disappointment or dissatisfaction there may be, (a) it is far less than the positive accomplishments of the conference, and (b) it would be better addressed to the conference organizers than to the general public.

Ronald Reagan once said that you can accomplish almost anything, so long as you don’t care who gets the credit. And my art-history professor used to share with us an ancient Persian proverb: The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.

February 23, 2009

Shockingly ‘Guilty’

“When a mainstream critic calls a book or movie outrageous, daring, shocking, or revolutionary, it usually means it’s the same old boring stuff: someone bares his ass or curses out Jesus or attacks some vestige of decency or honor that’s managed to survive the cultural locusts. It’s all so groundbreaking you can hardly keep from snoring. But when someone like Ann comes along . . .”

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 2, 2009

PJM revenue model analyzed

I’m sure it’s all very simple, if you’re an accountant. But I’m not an accountant, and I don’t even know whether those calculations are based on the real contract terms or are just someone’s speculation.

If I had been good at math, I wouldn’t have become a journalist, OK? (It’s a career field occupied almost entirely by the math-deficient.) But the rock star gig didn’t work out, so . . . I was driving a forklift in 1986 before somebody offered me a newspaper job for $4.50 an hour, and a year ago, I walked away from The Washington Times after 10 years as an assistant national editor. People said I was crazy, and I won’t argue with ’em, but it was like God said, “Go,” so I went.

As I keep reminding you people, I write for money. Fee-for-service. An honest proposition:

  • If you can hire somebody else cheaper and get satisfactory results, go for it.
  • If somebody else offers me more money to do the same job, I’ll go for that.
  • If you don’t like what I turn in, I’ll pitch it somewhere else.
  • And if I start feeling I’m not being treated right, I can find my way to the door.

Nobody’s forcing me to write, and nobody’s forcing you to hire me. It’s called “capitalism” and “freedom,” and nobody’s taking advantage of anyone else. To be a capitalist worker — that is to say, a labor entrepreneur — you must be prepared to ask yourself some tough questions:

  • If you let somebody take advantage of you, whose fault is that?
  • If your employer does not treat you with courtesy and respect, whose fault is that?
  • If other employees seem to get favorable treatment, why don’t you?

. . . and perhaps most importantly . . .

  • If you are so damned mistreated and underpaid, why is it you can’t find somebody to pay you more and treat you better?

If you can’t accept responsibility for your own shortcomings and failures, if you want to wallow in self-pity, and sit around whining and grumbling and destroying morale because you think the world owes you a living, well . . . There’s 6 billion people on this planet, pal, and there’s no shortage of losers.

One day, when I was working as a sports editor for the notorious Otis Brumby (ask any journalist in Georgia about Otis’s reputation), I found myself visiting the office of a high school basketball coach, who was called away from our interview to deal with school business. And as I sat there waiting, I started reading a little Xeroxed poster on the wall:

If you work for a man, in heaven’s name, work for him!
If he pays you wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, stand by him and stand by the institution he represents.
I think if I worked for a man I would work for him. I would not work for him a part of the time, and the rest of the time work against him. I would give an undivided service or none. If put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

This I took to heart and from that day forward, as long as I worked for Otis Brumby, I worked for Otis Brumby. About another four months was all I could stand, and then I went back to driving a forklift, playing in rock-and-roll bands and even, for a while, working as a disc jockey in a gentlemen’s club (fired for “fraternization,” but I was a bachelor and a Democrat back then).

Two months later, I got hired to work for Burgett Mooney, who once stood by me when he had every reason to fire me. It wasn’t pity or friendship, but he thought I was a good writer, so he kept me on. And I worked for him as long as I could afford to, then got hired by The Washington Times. There, too, there were occasions when they had every reason to fire me, but they thought I was a good writer, so they kept me on, until finally it was time to go.

Regrets? Well, it’s unfortunate I missed the opportunity to work for Jeffrey “Real Journalistic Standards” Birnbaum, but you roll the dice and take your chances, eh? How I envy those who’ve had that good fortune . . .

Now, I’m seeing all the fallout and recriminations from the dissolution of the PJM network, just like I watched Culture11 do its Hindenburg-at-Lakehurst thing, and this morning I feel oddly earnest about these phenomena. (Conor Friedersdorf, take note.)

James Wolcott is amused. It is never a good thing when that asshole is amused, especially when so many people seem so eager to give him cause for amusement. By any reasonable estimate, the folks at Culture11 got chumped far worse than any PJM network member could claim to have gotten chumped. And yet I cannot help but notice that the folks who got played by Culture11 all seem eager to sing the praises of their doomed enterprise and their erstwhile employers, while some of the soon-to-be-former PJM networkers appear on the verge of drowning in the quicksand of bitterness.

So, before one of these Young Turks of the intellectual Right again accuses me of being a “tedious nothing,” let me try to find a conclusion. No amount of ability can guarantee success. One of the most talented rock singers I ever knew turned 40 working as a bartender in Roswell, Ga. Loyalty and hard work are not always rewarded, and sometimes good people get screwed over through no fault of their own. Even the most virtuous people can fall victim to the malice or incompetence of others.

Yet as tragic as those sorts of failures might seem, a man can fail in this world and still retain his honor, so long as others can look at his life and say, “He did what he believed was right, and did it as best as he could.”

The real tragedy is the man who was offered a chance at success — the kind of chance many others had worked and prayed for — but gave less than his best, then sought scapegoats to blame for the failure that was entirely his own fault.

Failure may be but a temporary detour on the road to success. Dishonor leaves a permanent stain.

UPDATE: It’s like an omen or something: Byron York — one of the genuinely nice guys in conservative journalism — gets hired away from National Review by the Washington Examiner. I hear they pay well, but the Examiner is notorious as the Bermuda Triangle for Washington journalists. The next time you see Byron’s name in print, it will be on a milk carton: MISSING! DISAPPEARED FEBRUARY 2009. IF YOU KNOW WHERE BYRON IS, PLEASE CALL 1-800……

UPDATE II: The Mystery Freelancer e-mails:

I have been increasingly frustrated by the petulant nature of the fallout from the event. I mean using PJM as your only source of income? Talk of betrayal? Anyway you wrote a piece that echoes my sentiments to a letter (though different experience). The freelance writing game is not exactly for the faint-hearted. It sucks to lose a source of income, but you just got to pick yourself up and get on with it. And two months warning? Hell, I have had freelance gigs where it was less than a week. No doubt you have too.

Heh. Try this: Friday night, I go cover a high-school football game for a weekly that publishes every Tuesday. About 10 o’clock Saturday morning, I get a call telling me not to bother writing up the story. The paper’s going out of business immediately, and could I please come get my final check before they lock up the office at noon?

January 22, 2009

Just asking questions

“Similarly, there is a lot of sludge at the bottom of Obama’s statement that ‘The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.’ Sounds great. But who measures, who decides what is ‘decent,’ who decides what is dignified, and who doles it all out — and how and to whom?”
Claudia Rosett at PJM

September 6, 2008

Palin: No Tom Eagleton

I didn’t actually know Tom Eagleton. Tom Eagleton was no friend of mine, but you, Sarah Palin, are no Tom Eagleton:

Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft seems to have been the first to invoke the Eagleton comparison, within hours of John McCain’s announcement of his running mate, but she had plenty of company after Monday’s news that Palin’s teenage daughter is pregnant. Richard Gizbert of Huffington Post flatly pronounced Palin “the new Thomas Eagleton” and predicted that she would withdraw “within the next week or so.” By Tuesday, Joshua Green of the Atlantic Monthly had an article online examining the comparison in detail.
Yet nothing in the attacks that Democrats or the media have made against Palin compares to the scandal that brought down Eagleton — a hidden history of severe mental illness he hadn’t disclosed to McGovern before his selection as running mate. And judging from the way Republicans have rallied to Palin’s defense, it seems highly unlikely she will be bumped from the ticket.
Indeed, the spectacle of a media feeding frenzy over a working mother and her pregnant teenager seems to have produced a backlash that could have an effect quite the opposite of what Palin’s enemies originally imagined. She may yet turn out to be the anti-Eagleton — that rare choice of a running mate who makes a positive difference in a presidential election.

That’s from my latest article at Pajamas Media — please read the whole thing.