Thursday, July 31, 2014

THE HUSTLER.

OK, so you're a former Bush Administration factotum and now National Review's foremost torture enthusiast. You like to keep abreast of wingnut trends, so when you observe a heavy flow of impeachment gibberish in the movement, you step up with a book called Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, promoted even now at Amazon thus:
In Faithless Execution, McCarthy weighs the political dynamics as he builds a case, assembling a litany of abuses that add up to one overarching offense: the president’s willful violation of his solemn oath to execute the laws faithfully. The “fundamental transformation” he promised involves concentrating power into his own hands by flouting law—statutes, judicial rulings, the Constitution itself—and essentially daring the other branches of government to stop him. McCarthy contends that our elected representative are duty-bound to take up the dare.
Oooh, impeachment goosebumps!  You promote your book at your home base with articles like "It’s Not Crazy to Talk about Impeachment" (August 2013), in which you tell people that Obama "has usurped the lawmaking power of Congress by unilaterally amending some statutes and expressly refusing to enforce others... His Justice Department openly and notoriously flouts the Constitution by enforcing the civil-rights laws in a racially discriminatory manner. His administration has knowingly transferred firearms to murderous Mexican criminal enterprises," etc. and including a whole paragraph on #Benghazi, and then insist that the only reason this master criminal has not been brought before the bar of justice is because "the votes are not there."

But the clear hope you're living on is that there will be votes enough if we keep electing Republicans and telling readers what a high-crime-and-misdemeanory bastard Obama is. Throughout the year you keep the drumbeat up: Just last month you said the Bergdahl trade, guess what, "surely is an impeachable offense... it involves the commander-in-chief’s dereliction of duty..."

Well, times change, and this week the racket is "Impeachment? Who, us? Obama's making it up to make us look bad." And there's you, Andrew C. McCarthy, with a fat impeachment book hanging around his neck. So what do you tell the world?
To be clear, neither Bill, I, nor most Obama critics, nor any elected Republicans that I know of, are calling for the president’s impeachment at this point...
For word games like "at this point" to work, though, you're supposed to plant them before anyone notices you're full of shit, and when the time is right pull them out like trump cards. Now you look like Franz Liebkind in the trial scene of The Producers, singing "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" through a full body cast. You're the guy with the impeachment book, and you have to make it look like the "(no) impeachment (at this point)" book or go into hiding for several months.

Oh, you have help: Your pals at National Review and Fox News back you up with items like "McCarthy: Dems Wrongly Claiming My Book Argues for Obama’s Impeachment," in which Megan Fox or whatever her name is interviews you and sets you up as a Wronged Party as best she can:
The Democrats are already trying to fundraise off of the "I" word, right? And they use books like yours --
(Which, I remind readers, is called  Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.)
-- to say, "Look at the lunatic right wing fringe'" -- which you are not! But they would have them believe -- "They want to impeach President Obama." But, here's a little fact check for you, that's not what your book argues, and they continue to use it to say, "You see?" Explain! 
And you do, but to people who aren't watching your performance with special Fox glasses and earplugs, it just looks like more bullshit:
The reason impeachment is crazy is because his guys will protect him. It's not that he hasn't done anything lawless... The more there's talk about impeachment, the more the focus is gonna be that this isn't a manufactured claim -- impeachment is in the air because the President does a lot of high crimes and misdemeanors.
I've made it sound more pathetic than it is -- McCarthy knows what he's being paid for, and I doubt he feels any more than a slight discomfort at these trimming duties. But until Satan gets him, this is amusement enough.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PUTTING OUT MORE STATIST FIRES.

In 2012 Virginia Postrel wrote an item called "Case Against More Job Security? It’s Academic." In a poll she'd seen, 86 percent of respondents had said that to be middle class, one had to "have 'a secure job,'" noted Postrel. "Not 'steady work' or 'a reliable income' but 'a secure job.'" As a libertarian (or rather a futurist, which basically means a libertarian who gets published in consumer magazines), Postrel found this ridic:
It seems to exclude from the middle class everyone who doesn’t draw a regular paycheck from a single organization -- the self-employed (about 11 percent of the workforce), the retired, housewives, students -- as well as employees on limited-term contracts. As a self-employed writer who doesn’t have “a job,” let alone a secure one, I found the word choice striking.
Don't these littlebrains know this is Freelance Nation, where freedom rules and it's "fire 'em all, let Galt sort 'em out"? Postrel worried that policy makers might "decide to follow the polls and try to guarantee everyone 'a secure job' in order to promote the middle class... regulations, for example, to make it harder to fire long-term employees."

You can see why this would be horrible, and if you can't, Postrel explained, one sector of American life was already doing this with imperfect results. She didn't use the example of unionized jobs -- perhaps because people had already heard enough libertarian rants on unions that it wasn't working anymore -- but chose instead academia, which libertarians (and conservatives who don't bother to call themselves libertarians) had already been trained to hate (she even called it "the professoriate" to make it sound extra Marxy. Ah, those Romney-ready days of '12!). Fewer than a third of professors got tenure and the perks that go with, she reported, while the rest got shit and sometimes had to work other jobs, creating a "two-tiered system that depends heavily on people whose main jobs are doing something else." Not like capitalism at all! And that "is what you get when you guarantee permanent employment but need flexibility as conditions change."

So the moral of the story was: Things suck but whatever you do don't try and make it better with worker protections.

This week Postrel offers another post on a similar subject. Since we are now in the age of conservatarian reform and the brethren are obliged to affect solicitude for the peons, it is not called "Case Against Job Security Part II," but "Why Being a Part-Time Worker Is Miserable." Bosses are apparently scheduling people who don't "draw a regular paycheck from a single organization" -- people like Postrel, except much poorer -- in such a way as to maximize profits but minimize the workers' ability to schedule other jobs, leading to inescapable poverty. (As what I can only imagine is a private joke, Postrel brings in Megan McArdle to help her weep over this.)

Again, this, too, is nothing like capitalism. And guess what Postrel's main concern is:
....employers can’t offer, and workers can’t take, lower wages in exchange for better hours. The minimum wage sets a legal floor.
Goddamn Gummint! Her point of comparison this time is the pharmacy: All those lucky pharmacists making a median wage of $58/hr (many of them women!), while "many clerks and cashiers, by contrast, make minimum wage." (Funny, she didn't see this as a problem when she commended the example of lady pharmacists in 2011.) And get this: those clerks' and cashiers' wages "can’t legally go any lower. Even those who make more than the legal minimum often have wages tied to it." So they're caught in a tap where they can't work for quarters and loose cigarettes, and the boss is caught in a trap where he has to use those cruel flex-time schedules -- the market demands it.

So the moral of the story is: Things suck but whatever you don't try and make it better with a higher minimum wage. Go sell a kidney or something.

Libertarians, conservatives, vampires -- what's the difference again?

Monday, July 28, 2014

PRE-EMPTIVE SHRIEK.

The conservative impeachment crusade is metastasizing thus -- Rich Lowry at National Review:
Does Obama WANT to Get Impeached? 
...The White House may consider the unilateral amnesty a winning move on several different levels: it gets its policy goal; it satisfies an important part of its base; and if there is any serious move toward impeachment, it rallies the entirety of the Democratic base in a way we haven’t seen since 2008 and — assuming the politics of impeachment are bad for Republicans — drives the middle away from the GOP. An administration that is fast entering its dotage could consider this one of the few potential positive game-changers that it has direct control over — the Constitution and the rule of law be damned.
Daily Caller:
Rep. Scalise Calls Out Obama: ‘First White House In History Trying To Start Narrative Of Impeachment’
Glenn Beck:
“Who wants [impeachment]? The president does,” Beck argued. “Because then he’ll be able to say, ‘I demand justice.’ The birther thing is over, the Black thing is over. So now he needs to be able to call for justice.”
Etc. etc. etc.

As I have chronicled, conservatives have been plotting Obama's impeachment since 2009, and it's only getting worse: Try Googling "impeach" and "Benghazi" and see what you get. But now they're peddling the story that it's Obama who's trying to get impeached, based on the fact that Democrats are fundraising off the threat of a new Republican Senate railroading the President.

It reminds me of what happened in the endgame of the Obama birth certificate fiasco -- remember the afterbirthers, and how they tried to tell the world that Obama had set them up by pretending to be from Kenya? For example, John Hinderaker of Power Line, May 2012:
We know for sure that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, because it was announced in a local newspaper. But we also now know that for sixteen years, his literary agent circulated a bio that said he was born in Kenya. That statement must have come from Obama himself; or, at a bare minimum, it certainly was known to him. So: why? Why would Obama put it out that he was born in Kenya if he was actually born in Hawaii? 
Over at PJ Media, CEO Roger Simon, a mystery writer by trade, put his mind to the puzzle and came up with an intriguing theory...
I'll spare you -- the upshot, in this case as in all of them, was that their extensive birther self-embarrassments weren't really their fault. Something similar's happening here, except it's isn't just salve for their blistered egos this time: They're hoping citizens who are balking at voting in an impeachment tribunal this November may be convinced that Republicans would never do anything like that, it's just something the wily Democrats are making up.

I'd like to think the Republicans' record of running the federal government like a demolition derby would keep people from believing them, but they're champeen hustlers and Americans can be suckers for a hard sell. We'll see.

UPDATE: In comments, Shakezula: "Remember, the Republican battle cry is LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!!"

Also, Neddy Merrill reminds us that less than a year before he started blaming Obama for impeaching himself, Glenn Beck was calling for his impeachment. Rich Lowry was hinting at the same thing just the other day -- for dealing with Obama's "constitutional deformation" of the Presidency, he said, "the Constitution equips [Congress] with its own tools to fight such battles, especially the power of the purse and impeachment." But Lowry took pains to preserve his plausible deniability with slippery language; since Beck's audience is mostly Alzheimer's sufferers and aphasics who don't remember what their Leader said from one day to the other, he didn't need to.

Shameless or shady, it's doesn't matter: Thus have the brethren promoted this bullshit into the mainstream. Probably in the middle of impeachment itself, they'll be sitting in the press box shaking their heads and going, "Wow, Obama's taking this thing further than I thought he would!"

UPDATE 2. Ha ha ha ha.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...and this time it is indeed about Israel and Gaza. Depressing and fraught as the subject is, historically-minded as I am, I felt I had to touch on it. Let the accusations of anti-Semitism commence! (Ah, who am I kidding -- as i've said before, you're nobody in this business until David Horowitz has called you an anti-Semite, and I've already had that, so everything else is gravy.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

WORD GAMES.

Now conservatives are fighting with dictionaries and thesauri.

In June, Betsy Rothstein at The Daily Caller was outraged that a display definition of the word "bigotry" on Google included the sentence "the report reveals racism and right-wing bigotry." Rothstein demanded answers from Google, who told her they got it from Oxford Dictionaries. "We hear Google plans to reach out to Oxford Dictionary to flag the above 'right-wing bigotry' sentence as inappropriate," claimed Rothstein. (When I search the word on Google now, I get no sentence at all; perhaps Google put it on their "Dinesh D'Souza possible nuisance lawsuit/Congressional investigation" list.)

Rothstein's investigation into the liberal lexicographical conspiracy didn't end there: This week she reports, "Well, it seems Merriam-Webster also thinks conservatives are bigots." Webster's listed "liberalism" as an antonym of "bigotry" -- and as if that weren't bad enough (couldn't they have at least made it "classically liberal"?), two of their "related words" were "conservatism" and "illiberalism"! Webster's gave her a perfectly sensible answer, which the publisher tactfully began with "I apologize for the unfortunate juxtaposition," so Rothstein headlined her item "Merriam-Webster Editor Apologizes For Bigotry Association to Conservatism (Sort Of)," since conservatives love a little whiff of victory with their persecution mania.

Now at National Review Andrew Johnson is following Rothstein's lead, attacking Roget's Thesaurus: "Thesaurus Synonyms for ‘Obstructionist’ Include ‘Right-winger,’ ‘Rightist,’ ‘Tory,’" he cries. Imagine! Where'd this slanderous idea that conservatism is about standing athwart history, crying "Stop!" come from?

Next they'll denounce common sense for always making them look bad.

UPDATE.  In comments, Derelict reminds us that when conservatives didn't like Wikipedia making them look bad, they created Conservapedia. So maybe now they'll create their own dictionaries and thesauri. whetstone proposes "The Oxford Gibberish Dictionary or Reagan's Thesaurus," which would include
peace (n.); synonyms: war; ongoing futile occupation
bigot (n.); synonym: persecuted free-thinker
libertarian (n.); antonym: pants-crapping authoritarian NO IT'S TRUE SHUT UP
sharculese gets the big picture: "They get that the internet is powerful, and that they don't control it the way they'd like to, but they also fundamentally have no clue how it works, so they've invented their own personal Fairness Doctrine, enforced not by federal jackboot but by careening a metric dongload of poutrage at anyone they find insufficiently deferential."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE GAY-BASHERS, AND I DID NOT SPEAK OUT, BECAUSE I WAS NOT A GAY-BASHER....

Columnist Josh Barro:

Fundie queen Mollie Hemingway.


Other mooks on the thread agreed: "After reading that, in my mind's eye were jack-booted thugs, enormous rallies, and broken glass." Later more of them ran to Barro's Twitter to yell, "Seig heil!" and tell him "Keep calling for murdering those who don't agree with you... don't be surprised with dissent Douch," " You can't take it? After calling for death to those who have dissenting views? Punk ass bitch. Wake up," "He's doing like other #LGBT leaders and calling for deaths," etc.

Good thing he didn't call for stamping out racism, too. Then he'd be Hitler and Mussolini.

(During the Battle of Chick-Fil-A, by the way, Hemingway was delighted to hear that she might have gotten a reporter fired for saying mean things about the chicken chain on Facebook. That's how devoted to freedom she is!)

UPDATE. Making everything dumber, Erick Erickson at RedState:
Certainly I’d like to think Barro doesn’t have extermination of the religious at mind, but then King Henry never said to kill Thomas a Becket. He just openly pondered about who would rid him of that turbulent priest.
I suppose he imagines Josh Barro openly-pondering this in an MSNBC green room, and Ezra Klein going, "Uh, so you're saying I guess kill the Christians? Because I could totally do that" while Amanda Marcotte stirs a cauldron of latte and cackles. (Oops, I forgot the armbands!)

UPDATE 2. Comments are already a joy. "First they came for the attitudes," intoned Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard, "but I did nothing, for I was not an intangible mental state." But Shakezula counters: "Attitudes are in my head. And so to stamp out an attitude you'd have to stamp on my head." Boo-yah, liberal fascists!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GIBBERISH FOR JESUS.

The University of Chicago has an online guide to "Accessing Abortion in Illinois," and Ian Tuttle, one of National Review's cadre of Jesus freaks (K-Lo's Kids, we might call them), is enraged:
...the abguide is a narrowly tailored resource: Only those determined to counsel women not to seek an alternative to terminating their pregnancy need peruse.
I wonder if women who want an abortion for themselves can peruse it, too?  This convoluted sentence is an early tip-off that Tuttle is too angry to write clearly, at least without yelling "slut" and "whore" at frequent intervals, yet he persists, determined, it would seem, to find an intellectual angle on anti-abortion discourse so it doesn't look so much like "because Jesus said so, in code" (though it is).

Tuttle's willing to work, though; he finds a reference from the guide to a "foundational document," and tears at that a while:
[The ACRJ's] “A New Vision,” with its Port Huron–era complaints (“imperialism,” “cultural hegemony,” “White supremacy”), is a twelve-page repurposing of Marx — albeit less proletariat, more Pretty Woman — except that in lieu of “liberation” and a classless society comes “justice.”
Not only does Tuttle get to make fun of Marx and hippies, he also hits on that bugbear "justice" -- why, Dinesh D'Souza agrees with him that the Left is all about this so-called justice, while conservatives are all about freedom! (That reminds me -- isn't D'Souza due before the bar of so-called justice soon, whereby he may lose his freedom? Must create a Google alert.) So Tuttle digs in:
So successfully has the Left commandeered this ancient ideal that it has become a byword of political southpaws the way “freedom” is a byword of conservatives. That dichotomy is wrong, but it is pervasive, and “justice” is regularly spliced to a variety of niche progressive concerns to give them moral purchase: reproductive justice, environmental justice, social justice.
The problem with all of these, though, is that they are fundamentally contentless.
Foolish leftists! There is no justice without the Lord, as is proven by Tuttle's quotes from Moses and Russell Kirk. And conservatives still have freedom, neener neener.
But reproductive justice does not strive to accord with any order of things outside itself — not even, evidently, biological fact. Nowhere does the ACRJ envision concretely what reproductive justice would look like, any more than Marx dwelt on the specifics of a classless society. Reproductive justice thus means nothing more than reproductive freedom,
BIG GASP. Justice is nothing but freedom! But freedom in the non-D'Souzan sense, therefore bad.

By the way, that paragraph does indeed end with a comma in the original, because why not.

If you were wondering where the Jonah Goldbergs of tomorrow will come from, look to the Bible Camps.