Monday, December 01, 2008

EXIT INTERVIEW. A digest of President Bush's interview with ABC News has been posted. I can't bear to watch the interview itself, but I found the excerpts fascinating.

Bush has been practically invisible lately. His highest public profile since the last State of the Union address came during his senior-week antics at the Olympic Games. There have been reports of him drinking at a recent summit. Who could blame him? He's been in the deep freeze for months. His authority has plunged with his approval ratings. McCain's political kabuki of running against Bush's policies probably didn't upset him -- he knows how the game is played -- but it did remind him why it was necessary.

Think of his position at the APEC summit where he was alleged to be boozing. Another tedious managerial function at which his presence was required and unnecessary; while the attendees plumped for optimism and reform, bankers and regulators were making real decisions back in the States. Drunk or sober, it has to have worn on the guy. Back at Crawford he could just lift some weights or take a nap.

In fact it's a marvel he's stayed focused as long as he has. Most of his Presidency, and most of his executive career, has been like that summit -- a decision is made, a PR program (usually involving lecterns and backdrops with slogans written on them) is executed, then back to the bunker to collect the data. His famous incuriousness about detail ("Alright, you've covered your ass") probably made the job easy, even fun for him most of the time. But now that no one appreciates the spectacular, graceful ease with which he does barely anything at all, maybe his customary senior-management walk-throughs have become a dreary ritual, like taking victory laps when no one is applauding.

We have been encouraged to imagine what the man of action who has been made expendable might feel: Wilson after his stroke, Johnson when the war had spun out of control. What might go through the mind of a MBA/CEO President who had comfortably delegated so much, who stepped up only when political exigencies demanded his cowboy act, when he comes to the end of two terms and finds himself so singularly disowned by the people he had, by proxy, led?

You might say that Clinton had found himself in a similar place -- certainly as irrelevant, his last term a long vamp of compromise. But Clinton had impeachment to keep him sharp. Scandal just invigorated his glad-handing skills -- it was probably the highlight of his second term. Bush is as capable as Clinton of summoning his political gifts to meet a crisis, but after the September 11 attacks, nothing much seemed to excite him. I really believe he failed to effectively lead the charge to reform Social Security, despite his claims of "political capital," because the subject bored him. It was wonk stuff, it was difficult, and at the end what would he have accomplished? No one really knew, and even if it succeeded no one would remember this brave act of... accountancy. Which is what accountants do, not Presidents. September 11, on the other hand, that was already in history books. That was leadership.

That was the beginning of the end for Bush. The Republican Congress stepped up to fill the void, and found the attention unflattering and eventually fatal. Bush now existed only as a red flag with which ambitious Democrats could enrage voters. Bush, no dummy when it comes to his own best interests, stayed out of the public eye.

Now here he is on ABC, wanly wishing the intelligence on WMDs "had been different, I guess," and calling Iraq "a do-over that I can't do," regretting his inability to guide his own party on immigration, regretting also that "the tone in Washington got worse" -- something that, despite the bipartisan advertisement of his Texas tenure, he never, ever attempted in any way to fix -- and weakly defending his Administration's attempts to "safeguard" a financial system that is plummeting toward collapse.

Why does he bother? Because it's done, and he's used to doing the done thing. Here too is a ritual that he knows he can execute. I've never heard of a CEO who really thought he screwed things up -- there are always exigencies, market conditions, and such like that made a mess of a helluva good plan. But I've seldom seen a CEO make a stink at the end of his tenure, either, however ignoble. With his fatalistic l'envoi, Bush is showing what, in his world, is class. He could tell us all what a shit deal he got dealt, but two-term Presidents don't kick. So he just reads the toplines and brasses it out.

He knows we're disappointed, and it's not that he wouldn't have preferred us to be proud but hey, he's not running for anything anymore except the exit. He never needed us to understand, he just needed us to cooperate, and if he has any fondness for the people he led for eight years, it's because we did cooperate, right up until it didn't matter.

Bush also told ABC that he thinks Obama won because people preferred to see him in their living rooms "explaining policy." Bush was probably thinking about all those televised addresses and speeches he'd made himself, and how relieved he was when these were finished and the secondary could take over. I'm not sure he knows that, when Obama finishes a speech, he probably goes back to work; were he informed of the fact, he would probably shrug and say, "worth a try." Or if he were of a more philosophical frame of mind, he might turn to the immortal works of Clint Eastwood: "A man's gotta know his limitations."
RETURN OF THE CULTURE WARS. I had worried that it would come to this. They did it so often when they were in power that I had reason to hope that, once they went into the ditch, they would concentrate on Conservatism 2.0 and other such innocuous hobby-horses. But like a bat out of heck comes Jonah Goldberg talking about how TV showz he likez is really conservative:
But look at ["The Wire"] through the eyes of a conservative. This is a Democratic city, run almost uniformly by liberals... Race relations between the actual characters are remarkably healthy, and nearly every mention of race as a salient issue is in the context of the political nonsense inherent to Baltimore, or rather urban, Democratic politics. To the extent many liberals try to explain all of the problems of poor blacks on racism, the show was a powerful rebuttal.
I forget whether the political parties endorsed by Tom Doniphon, Stoddard, and Cassius Starbuckle are made clear in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but I'm sure these are central to Goldberg's point.

He's actually on the brink of something when he says "most [liberals] no doubt liked it in no small part for the same reasons I did: it was brilliantly written, wonderfully acted and almost perfectly directed." (I'd like to hear what, in his view, prevents the directing from achieving perfection. On second thought, I'd rather not.) If only he could follow that train of thought far enough to consider why people of different political faiths would be moved by the same work of art.

But Goldberg's so addicted to explaining why everything good in life is right-wing that he is moved to make nonsense statements like, "Sure, the makers of the Wire are for ending the drug war, but their vision of drug use is hardly the cheery nonsense you hear from some champions of legalization."

If he were engaging the show rather than trying to protect it from his own preconceptions, he wouldn't wind up in such preposterous rat-holes. Too bad no one can explain to him that the traditional critical approach requires much less grinding effort -- he'd be on it in a second.

He threatens to give "Deadwood" the same treatment. Gack. Expect a lengthy disquisition on how Hearst was the real hero of the show.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the "Conservatism 2.0" plan for world domination, which seems a lot like the old plan. Also took a quick read of rightblogger reactions to the Clinton appointment, which indicate that Obama is actually George Bush. If only we'd known! It would have saved a lot of time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

OFF TO A BAD START. Victor Davis Hanson says Obama's centrist appointments show that "Obama's victory... more so even than perhaps a John McCain's, may do more for Bush's reputation that anyone ever imagined." Previously Hanson wrote that "at least on national and homeland security it is perhaps not the shadow of Bill Clinton, but of George W. Bush, that now begins to loom large" in the Obama Administration.

Two things need to be pointed out; one, just weeks ago Hanson was calling Obama a socialist, and two, Obama isn't even President yet. Apparently Hanson can't accept that so many people -- white people at that! -- voted for the socialist, so he gloats that Obama is going to be George Bush.

Rather than vamp so shamelessly, he should probably just take a vacation.
THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS. I feel I must apologize again for the paucity of posts, and this time admit that it's not all because I'm worked to death (though I am) or sick (better, thanks). I am also suffering from a lack of interest in my usual subjects. Maybe the emotional discharge of the post-election has affected them, or me.

I mean, what could anyone do with this? It's as mawkish and maudlin as any earlier Peggy Noonan joint, of the sort I used to enjoy, but now she provides no burr to catch the imagination. That she believes the economy can't be too bad because she can't see, from her dirigible high above Fifth Avenue, its effects ("Everyone is dressed the same... The mall is still there, and people are still walking into the stores...") is highly provocative; a few minutes' research might have revealed to her, for example, that crops are bad and crop insurers are defaulting, which in the current situation might discomfort any sensible person, and that things aren't so hot in the cities, either. Also, as I've said before, in our first stages of decline Americans naturally try to keep up appearances, not giving up the outward appearance of sociable, solvent life until it's absolutely unavoidable. What do you think was fueling that great credit surge before the bust?

But just as you're getting ready to pounce, Noonan decides she doesn't really mean it, but it doesn't really matter: things "will roughen," but "we've gotten through roughness before." Of course her model for getting through is the hands of Jesus guiding her jet liner to safety ("Lord, thank you for our previous safety, and get us through this turbulence"), and her coda a mention of a book with vodka in the title, which was probably to Noonan a sign from God that she should have another.

It's like that scene in Post Office where Bukowski's finally had enough of that co-worker who's always muttering insults, and wheels on him only to realize that the guy is lost in a private fog and has no awareness of him or anything else around him. It takes a lot of the fight out of you.

Likewise Lileks is moonier than usual and hard to grasp, as here, where he mourns (after some broken-field running to disguise the vapidness of his theme from readers, and possibly himself) the godlessness that has left our Modern Arts shallow and brittle, unlike the works of the Immortal Beethoven etc. All I can think to say is: so where's your cathedral, pal?

Maybe I'll start jabbing my leg with a penknife like Gide's Lafcadio until these guys start giving me more to work with.

Friday, November 28, 2008

IF YOU LIKE THEM SO MUCH WHY DON'T YOU GO SHOP WITH THEM? Crunchy Rod Dreher looks at the death of a mall of his acquaintance:
On the occasion that we would go to Bon Marche for something, you could tell that poor mall was on its way out. There would be surprisingly few shoppers milling about, and a growing number of poor black people. White people started to think of Bon Marche as the "black mall," notwithstanding that middle-class black people shopped at Cortana. Over time, the housing development next door, which, according to the Deadmalls.com history of Bon Marche's death, was built for yuppies, turned into a crime-infested ghetto.
You'll never guess where he's going with this.
If a mall gets known among white people as "the black mall" -- or, I suppose, in a regional variation, as "the Mexican mall" -- they just won't go to it. Stuff White People Hate? Right-minded white people will deplore the trend, but the kind of liberal, educated white people who deplore this kind of thing aren't the kind of white people who would be caught dead actually shopping in the black mall. They're embarrassed by other white people who won't shop there, and who don't feel bad about it.
It seems brother Rod doesn't want to come right out and say that black people ruin malls, so he hits an available secondary target, liberals. (Surely he doesn't count himself one of the "liberal, educated white people.") In his view they're worse than the rest of their race, because they're hypocritical. (It's an old gambit of his.)

I marvel that no one told him that we don't go to malls, but to boites and boutiques run by our friends the homosexuals.

He does ask if there has been "academic work on the role of class and ethnicity in driving the success and failure of malls," so there's a chance he may once again find a scholarly reason to keep away from black folks.

UPDATE. Maybe Dreher should solicit the opinions of some of the posters to this police bulletin board, discussing the Black Friday unpleasantness at the Green Acres Mall in Long Island. No guilty white liberals they!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BRINGING A DOG TO A CATFIGHT. Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson had a little punch-up the other day. What normal people see as another exciting episode in the public soap opera of celebrity nitwits, or perhaps proof that catfights aren't really as sexy as advertised, Glenn Sacks sees as evidence of the oppression of men:
The two lesbian lovers are abusing each other and “throwing punches” and the only man involved -- Calum Best -- is the one who breaks it up. Tell me, if Lohan was getting punched by her boyfriend as opposed to her girlfriend, would it be labeled a “fight”? Would it be seen as a cute lover’s “spat”?
Lohan and Ronson are reportedly in couples counseling. I eagerly await a Glenn Sacks column on how this exemplifies the rise of a therapeutic nanny-state designed to keep him from ever getting to know Lindsay Lohan.

Monday, November 24, 2008

TALES FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE. A fellow at Eject! Eject! Eject! doesn't like that he was recently made to take a sexual harrassment class, which many reasonable people could understand. Before he really get into it, he tells us how proud he is that he had "managed to get this far without working in a large corporate office," which is commendable, as is his professed respect for the "creative and terrific people" with whom he works in his new corporate job.

Then he describes the class: "I find it deeply offensive to my personal sense of honor and integrity to be punished or otherwise lectured on something I did not do," he says. The "two hours of second-grade style... lecturing infuriates me on many levels." He doesn't need this stuff: He learned good manners "not from the State of California or a battalion of corporate lawyers, but from my parents, who raised me to be polite, well-mannered," etc.

He pauses to mutter, "I know, I can see the smiles on many faces already. It’s like I’m speaking in Aramaic," yet despite our obvious lack of understanding he presses on. He was subjected to a video with the "same emotional pitch and condescension as the old ABC After-School Specials," "unimaginably cloying and infantile," featuring a "a clueless, insensitive white male... emotionally advanced, sensitive (yet strong!) women and his solemn, understanding (but firm!), black male superior." And he's "getting a little tired of this movie. I see this movie everyday." Doesn't say where, though -- perhaps at the government indoctrination center out where he lives, or on the backs of his eyelids.

Thereafter, for hundreds of words, he tells us more about the idiotic class, and about how he knows all this stuff already, and about how well he was raised. Which is why
I am willing to sit at this desk, as the only one of 24 happy, smart, creative people, and look like some reactionary nut case for being enraged about the fact that we willingly submit ourselves to insults to our personal honor and integrity that our forefathers would never, ever have countenanced. And I am ashamed on behalf of them. But just me. No one else thinks anything of it at all.
You can go there and read the rest of the aria, the pitch of which continues to rise till all glasses within earshot are shattered.

Sexual harrassment classes are a nuisance, like getting one's car registered, doing the laundry, and having one's teeth cleaned. Some authors belabor these situations to humorous effect, or to reveal some angle on these experiences that is unique and helps us see the universal significance of the mundane. Others only want you to know that they're bigger than all this, and bigger than the littlebrains -- however much they may tell you they respect them -- who don't see the same deathless import they see in their own suffering. In that vast madhouse echoing with anguished howling that is the blogosphere, it doesn't surprise me to find several of these every week, nor to find that they very often are made by privileged white guys who think their story needs no better claim on our attention than that they are telling it.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the slim pickings on which rightbloggers are obliged to feast these days, including Sarah Palin's slaughtered turkeys. It is one of their venerable schticks -- one day I really should assign them all numbers, as Slip Mahoney did for the Bowery Boys' "routines" -- to declare that their own embarrassments are actually victories that have been mendaciously misinterpreted by the media. This can work okay when the subject is some sober issue mostly handled in the print media, but when it's just a funny YouTube like the Palin event, practically any defense is doomed, especially in their ham-hands. There's a lot of bunk written about the effect of "new media" on politics, but I think this episode helps prove one defensible point about it -- that when viewers experience a piece of poli-tainment, the usual media filters can't do much to dispel its impact -- as well as the ancient wisdom that the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

The column touches also on their reactions to Obama's generally down-the-middle Administration picks which, whatever we fellow-travelers may think about them, have the effect of setting rightwing opinion against itself -- that is, forcing the widespread charge that Obama is a socialist dictator to coexist with congratulations that Obama has dispirited the "nutroots" by hiring centrists, which coexistence occurs sometimes side by side at places like RedState. This is of course an insufficient reason for a President to do anything, and I'll wait for actual governance to see how disappointed I'm supposed to be about it. I will say that, while I'm not the biggest Hillary Clinton fan around, I wouldn't be surprised if Obama were thinking that she'd be less damaging to him at State than in the Senate.

Friday, November 21, 2008

SORRY SO QUIET. I've been busy, natch, and also sick -- like my idol Jim Lileks I get colds, but instead of having dozens of them every year like he does, I just get one or two, but they're doozies and sap my essence.

Despite chills and bronchial tumult I have continued to earn my meager living at the Voice. You can always go look at that stuff; just because no one reads it doesn't mean it's not good. And I have a bit about Peggy Noonan today that might gladden your black little hearts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

STILL BITTER, STILL CLINGING, AND STILL BEATEN. Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser has apparently not yet gone John Galt, alas, with the Perfesser in an armed compound. So now she's taking advice from Ted Nugent -- specifically, become a public nuisance. She gives it a spin:
The other day, I was at a drugstore and the clerk was talking to what looked like a Baby Boomer who was discussing how he voted for Obama. They both scoffed that not many in Tennessee voted for him, "what do you expect?" said the older guy, "this is Tennessee we're talking about." They both chuckled in agreement. I looked at the clerk and said in a loud voice, "So what you're saying is those of us here in Tennessee who voted for McCain are rednecks, is that right?!!!!" There were several people milling around in line at this point and the clerk turned red and stammered, "No, ma'am," and went on to give some lame explanation about what he meant. But I knew I had him. He was visibly shaken and I hope the next time he decides to diss Tennesseans while at work, he'll think twice.
He'll certainly think twice about saying it around Dr. Helen (or, as she will swiftly become known around the stores of Knoxville, "The Screamer").

I see also that their new comfort object is a video that alleges everyone who voted for Obama is stupid. And bragging about how many new guns they're bought since, you know, things got a little dark in Washington.

To be fair to these lunatics, I don't think this program of contempt for most of their fellow citizens, expressed in public rages at service employees and gun fetishism, is meant to win the hearts and minds of their fellow countrymen, but to soothe their own. Hell, even liberals have been known to get a little snide with their countrymen right after a defeat. Of course, there are a few differences: for one, liberals don't generally respond to defeat by stockpiling weapons, and for another, conservatives act the same way when they win.

Of course, they're much easier to take when they've lost.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NARRATE THIS. At Pajamas Media, Jon Henke looks to rightwing history for guidance:
However, Reagan did not win this victory in the public consciousness ex nihilo. One of the dominant factors shaping public opinion is the availability heuristic...
I almost left right then, but it looked short, so I pressed on to the English interpretation of the keys to future wingnut victory:
As it turns out, a compelling story is enough to win elections by a large margin...

...the Left did not retake the executive and legislative branches by being more liberal or more moderate, or by clever political jujitsu. Democrats became the majority because they changed the story.
So true. And what a story it was: "The Republican have fucked this country up so badly that you'll even vote for a black guy to get it unfucked."

The Republicans are welcome to top it if they can. I suspect their offer will be some variation of "we hate fags."

UPDATE. Apologies for the trouble with the comments box here. Now sure what's wrong, but Haloscan and its new owners JS-KIT are clearly not rolling out the premium services for discount members.
SHAGIOGRAPHY. Ace of Spades, at the climax of some sarcasm about alleged leftist hero Mark Cuban (yeah, I know):
Trouble is, entrepreneurs are all idiots, like that moron Sarah Palin, who wasted her time starting successful businesses instead of organizing communities.
"Successful businesses"? Only if they were meant to be non-profits.

Looks as if Palin's worshippers, like worshippers of the saints of old, are attributing achievements to her on the grounds that they seem like things she should have done. Next they'll tell us Palin killed her a moose/when she was only three. And winked at them, personally.
OLD HABITS DIE HARD. Some twit on Fox, talking about the possible nomination of Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State, said such a move might "finally bring the Democratic Party together." Hopefully in time for the alternative universe elections!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the continuing self-examination of conservatives after the election, and by "self-examination" I mean "inquiry into how other people fucked them over and how they'll get theirs." I see that, since I wrote it, Billy Kristol has made the refreshing admission that "I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done" about the situation -- and even appears to intuit that the bailout did not bolster confidence in the conservative cause. He doesn't seem to know why our allegedly miraculous economy was riding for so hard a fall, though, and this is the missing ingredient in their recovery: they still worship the Reagan deregulation that made the market a con game, and their current talk of "fiscal and legal guardrails" will last only until the next political opportunity, when they will promise pie in the sky again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

JESUS, FREAKS. The Anchoress, grinning fiercely as she dishes out the Devoutly Dill, gives the Bible Passage of the Day:
Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense. Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.
— Second letter of John
She doesn't let on as to who the antichrist might be, but I have it on good authority that her preacher pushed in his nose, rolled down his bottom lip and stuck out his tongue after he mentioned it. The godless Perfessariat may prefer to "go John Galt," but I suppose we will one day hear that the Anchoress and whatever homegrown Opus Duh she's able to drum up at bake sales will entertainingly go Tomas de Torquemada, and burn their fingers in a backyard auto da fe before the police arrive.
THE GENERAL PLAYS ALONG. "Negotiations are the heroin of the chattering classes," writes More-Stars-Than-There-Are-In-Heaven General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters, "blinding them to every reality except the next fix they can inject into our foreign policy." The General's disdain for talky-talk is keen as ever, but what's got him fearing an outbreak of negotiations this time? An anti-war march? Impending Democratic rule? No, it's his hero General Petraeus' reported interest in talking to Taliban forces to secure peace in Afghanistan.

The General wants to clear something up: when a fightin' man such as Petraeus talks about talking, he doesn't mean, as do Washington milksops, that he wants to "make talks the centerpiece of the new administration's Afghan policy." He simply means them as a prelude to, or perhaps an entertaining respite from, killing. "The equation is simple," says the General. "We kill them, or we lose... History doesn't reveal a single exception."

As Petraeus is a real general and not one, like Peters, merely promoted by alicublog for his services to humor, Peters takes care not to criticize him. So he carefully differentiates Petraeus' nobly worthless overtures -- which may "peel away" some "disenchanted Taliban supporters," which is okay because it will leave less bodies to clean up after the killing spree -- from Obama's plan, which Peters characterizes as "begging the hardcore Taliban for talks."

This is not based on any quoted statements from Obama or anyone else, but on the General's conviction that such people "live in a lovely bubble (lined with mirrors)," and worship negotiation because they're lawyers who "get rich by talking" and don't understand the implacability of Muslim fanatics because "religious passion is as foreign to Washington as integrity in the budget process." Whereas men of action like himself and his buddy the CentCom Commander know it's a waste of breath; after all,
If Taliban elements agree to talk, most will view the talks as a chance to weaken our resolve -- and to buy time. This is the con for which we always fall. The Iranians, Saddam Hussein, the Palestinians, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Chinese and the Russians all have played "Paralyze the Gringos" with endless talks.

We always wake up alone, with the sheets stained and torn.
I'm not sure whether the General meant for that last bit for the article, or whether he scrawled it in the margin (along with variations on OPE) and some confused editor left it in.

But you get the picture: there's no point in talking to these people, and Petraeus is only going along because... well, Peters never tells us why. He probably never thought about it, or did so only long enough to realize that any reason he could think up -- a deceptive maneuver, perhaps, meant to confuse the Taliban, or Obama? -- would, if revealed, compromise the security of the mission. Ever the good soldier, Peters knows that the decisions of his superiors (excepting the incoming CinC, of course) must be right whether he kens them or not. His not to reason why; his but to hue and cry.

UPDATE. Fixed typos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MY CLASS WAR. As Nancy Pelosi signals that she's sympathetic to an auto industry bailout, Press Clips reminds us of the longstanding symbiosis among that industry, the oil industry, and the U.S. Government -- "Back in the '50s, the British looked at urban congestion and saw too many cars," says Ward Harkavy. "We looked at urban congestion and saw not enough roads." As long as we're giving out corporate welfare for the good of our phoney-baloney economy, the car companies have as fair a claim on a piece of it as any debt-repackager.

Not everyone sees it that way, of course. Megan McArdle starts, as usual, by portraying those who question limiting the bailout to bankers and brokers as making a specious and sentimental moral judgment, and proceeds to paint the auto industry as especially unworthy (as opposed to our blood brothers in the usury business). She and her commenters use the term "legacy costs" repeatedly, mostly in reference to the bad debt of which the carmakers will be freed if we let them go bankrupt -- which would include the pensions to which retired auto workers are entitled and on which many of them rely, though none of the McArdlites at this writing see fit to overtly mention it. (Later she doubles down, declaring that even though UAW workers kicked back part of their health care benefits, the market still failed to reward them and anyway their cars are ugly and have silly names, whereas Lehman Brothers still has a nice ring to it and their Ponzi scheme engages us in a way that a bunch of slobs in Michigan never could.)

I still think the whole stinking bailout should be scrapped. But now that, thanks to George Bush and his predecessors going back to the fixer Reagan, we are in bailout stepp'd in so far that, should we wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er, let's just fucking nationalize this shit. It would be a shame, now that the Republicans have handed us a socialist agenda, not to go whole hog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

EXTRAORDINARY POPULAR DELUSIONS AND THE MADNESS OF CROWDS. In case you were wondering (or simply hadn't completely forgotten) about the tape African Press International claimed they had of Michelle Obama yelling at them -- which fanciful object stirred the hopes of rightbloggers during the late campaign -- be advised that API's editor has held a live discussion with readers, in which he still claims to have the as-yet-unheard tape, which he will release in good time. He also claims to have proof that Obama is a Kenyan citizen, that the tapes were not aired by Fox News (with whom API professed to have a deal) "because I did not know anything about the American way of doing things," and that the Obama campaign tried to buy his silence.

Most of the hundreds of questioners are respectful, even meek ("Thank you Chief Editor for taking the time to answer as many of the questions as you have the freedom to answer"), though the editor's emissaries sometimes bark at them to keep their entreaties from getting out of hand ("did it ever occur to you that he is answering questions IN ORDER and that he has about 50 more to go before getting to your self absorbed self? Grow-up! He is doing this as a courtesy and does not owe anyone here ANYTHING, but since he is a man of his word he WILL make sure his readers hear the tape"). When one of them asks, politely, why she should believe the story when no evidence has been produced, another tells her,
I mean, truly, why would any man make such a claim, in such dangerous times as these, if it were not true? Risk his and his family’s lives for nothing? I sure wouldn’t–well, then again, I’m not a man. But, no one wants the FBI, the CIA, and the NERDS showing up on your doorstep, or on your website for nothing.

There are people who very much do not want you to believe it. Mr. K. and the rest of us (the ones wearing the white hats), we could care less whether you believe it or not. That should tell you something.
And the questions go on: "Have you researched/read into BO being the antichrist in regards to the revelations and nostradomas? If so what are your feelings on this?"

If you, gentle readers, could absorb and internalize this sort of mendacity, you could make a million bucks.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. Title: "After The Fall, Rightbloggers Divided: Are Most Americans Socialists, or Dupes?" I would also recommend James Rainey at the LA Times on more mainstream conservative commentators' post-election prattle, including Rush Limbaugh's announcement that "The Obama recession is in full swing." And they said Obama and his fans had a high opinion of his abilities!

But never fear, the GOP is already busy rebuilding. Mike Pence is excited by the success of the anti-gay-marriage referenda, which tells him "the vitality of the conservative movement around the country is very real." It would be too much to expect that Pence will deliver the Republican Party entirely unto its social conservative wing and the fate of the Know-Nothing and Anti-Masonic Parties, but let us keep hope alive.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? I hadn't thought about Kim du Toit -- celebrated author of "The Pussification of the American Male" and other two-fisted screeds on self-reliance -- for quite some time when pure, blind luck led me to this fascinating essay by his wife, explaining why Mr. du Toit will soon cease blogging, despite an alleged flood of reader protests: "The truth is folks, we can’t afford it."

Astonishingly, blogging has not been the bonanza the du Toits might have wished for, and as Mr. du Toit is unable to "contribute to our financial requirements" with a more traditional job because of his gout, times have grown hard. Mrs. du Toit cashed in her IRA last year, but that money was all spent on a "last hurrah around the world with our kids," lap-band surgery for their daughter, household repairs, and servers for Mr. du Toit's blogging.

"We've staid-off bankruptcy, but just barely," says Mrs. du Toit. "The truth is, we spoke to an attorney about bankruptcy, but we'd be forced into a two year commitment of repayment, not debt forgiveness, and the kid's college would be the expense we'd have to stop under that scenario."

Such are the terms of the Bankruptcy Bill supported and voted for by John McCain, whom Kim du Toit supported against the wealth-redistributionist he calls "The Black Stalin." To his credit, his family's financial situation has not softened him on this, and he asks not for government largesse -- except for the disappointing bankruptcy protection -- but for "gifts" from his readers. These, alas, have been insufficient: "Kim’s recent 'Gold Watch' bleg has yielded about a $1,500 total, over two months. If folks think that blegs yield Andrew-Sullivan like windfalls, they’re mistaken."

We trust that if the Obama Administration offers a program intended to provide relief to families like the du Toits, they will bat it away as a poisoned, socialist chalice.

Meanwhile Rachel Lucas -- the winger previously examined here, who spent Election Night "freakin' out" because, under Obama, her boyfriend will have to "earn money for people who don’t work and who breed children they can’t support" -- is moving to the UK, not because of Obama but because her mate is taking a job there. You might think a 100% American like Lucas would hate and despise Britain, and you would be right -- she considers it "socialist country that has Shari’a courts." But she is making the best of it, and looks forward to taking in the culture. Also, she expects of the Brits "Surrender they will…TO ME," and dreams of studying history there and eventually taking "a job with the State Department." More likely what she will get instead is a thirst for Banks's Bitter and an annoying quasi-dialect. In any case, she's their problem now.

This election just keeps getting better and better.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

MEAN FAKE NUN DEMANDS YOU BEHAVE. The Anchoress says the right is being nice to President-elect Obama and his supporters and, in a spirit of Christian charity, demands that Obama supporters return this alleged kindness to her and her kind (while assuming that we won't).

It appears she doesn't read the rightbloggers on her own blogroll. (And those are just from the "A"s.)

During the campaign The Anchoress called Obama a "presumptuous" man who "thinks he’s already been enthroned," "a construct" and "a put-together illusion" about whom "I had my doubts he even wrote [his own] books," who "jeer[s] at his country and countrymen" and suffers from "ambiguity about his own citizenship" and "megalomania." And that's just gleaned from my own coverage of her work; dip into her archives for accounts of Obama's "inconsistency, naivete, relativism... and a tendency toward suppressive and vengeful behavior to those who do not fall in line," and thoughtful analysis like "Obama is a fraud on legs. If he gets elected, and the house increases its left-hold, we’re not going to recognise this country in two years," etc.

Not to speak of what she says about us.

I'll take my lessons in humility from the Dalai Lama. That's 'cuz I'm an elitist!

UPDATE. I see this passive-aggressive routine is getting around. Mark Hemingway refers to From 52 to 48, a site from Obama voters being nice to McCain supporters; his readers howl for blood. Hemingway says, "it's probably necessary that we be the adults here... there's no reason to adopt the left's Alinsky tactics." Who does he think is extending him the olive branch -- Obamacons? Hemingway should really send his message directly to From 52 to 48: "Thanks, guys, we'll be the adults here and refrain from adopting your Alinsky tactics." Then, when he receives a disagreeable response, he can get on with the I-didn't-leave-reconciliation-reconciliation-left-me phase of the program.

Other reactions to From 52 to 48: "Love notes from the winners. You know, the ones who’ve had Bush Derangement Syndrome for eight years and Palin Derangement Syndrome since August... Upchuck warning." "I suppose it would all depend on just how many of these people didn’t spend the past eight years calling people like me racist fascist babykilling warmongers." "Well, this is a nice change from disclaiming the President and half your country to foreigners."

And people wonder why I'm such a sourpuss.

UPDATE II. More rightwing conciliatory gestures here.

UPDATE III. Twisted Spinster (click "it would all depend above) reacts: "Check all the links alicublog uses as examples of the right’s intransigence, and tell yourself this is the way gracious winners behave." Pointing out their intransigence proves that me and my buddies are unwilling to accept their fists of friendship! It's hard to play Gandhi when the other side is playing Attila the Hun.
THE DISASTROUS PRESIDENCY OF BARACK OBAMA, PART ONE. Kenya proclaims a holiday to celebrate the election of Kenyan-rooted Obama. At National Review, Travis Kavulla reacts:
Sad that the first concrete effect of an Obama presidency on Kenya would be to further depress the productivity of a country that could really use a booster shot in that department.
Maybe Gordon Smith and Liddy Dole can start drawing up a bill of impeachment.
THE REBUILDING BEGINS! RedState:
RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

We're tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details.

We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you'll see us go to war against those candidates.

It is our expressed intention to make these few people political lepers.
This election just keeps getting better and better. (And better.)

UPDATE. Thanks, commenters, for all the snappy phrases, including "Pied Palin," "Peak Wingnut," and "Lepers V. Cougar. The catfight for the GOP's soul."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

AFTER-PARTY OBSERVATIONS. That was a particularly pleasant Tuesday night.

Matthew Yglesias observes that the cry of "he must govern from the middle" is already going up. But these people don't know where the middle is. The government owns a majority interest in several heretofore private banks, is embroiled in foreign adventures for which it cannot pay, and, from the looks of the various referenda results, is riven with significant cultural divisions. It looks more like Lord North's Britain than what we usually think of as America. The new President is better advised to seek solutions rather than some mythical center line to toe.

Have a look at the prominent conservative thinkers (I know, I know) who are working on a conservative "game plan", trimming like little Clintons in search of the Joe the Plumber vote that brought John McCain all the way to 163 electoral votes. They're looking for the middle because they have nothing else to do. It's a fittingly harmless occupation for people who are not going to be making policy anytime soon.

I still insist, against the tide, that McCain's concession speech was more a disturbing than an inspiring spectacle. I've heard dissension at the traditional call for cooperation with the victor before, but nothing like the ugly response of the Phoenix crowd, and to my eyes the famously irritable McCain was annoyed by it (though of course grim memories of his whole "challenged" campaign were probably uppermost in his mind).

I would contrast that scene with David Dinkins' concession speech when he was ousted by Rudolph Giuliani in 1993. Obviously distraught, wiping his face with a handkerchief, New York's first black mayor briefly but emphatically put the kibosh on the hurt feelings of the crowd. "Elections come and go," he said in part, "mayors come and go, but the life of the city must endure." Dinkins was not always the most eloquent of speakers, but he commanded that moment at least, in part because he was speaking to people with whom it was relatively easy to reason.

Yet McCain's speech prompted Mark Levin to say, "If McCain had won, we were told of possible riots." Nothing in front of their own eyes affects these people like their lurid fantasies of what their opponents might have done.

One of the many happy results of the blessed finish of this election is the end of Megan McArdle's professions of support for Barack Obama. I'm still not sure what she was trying to do with those; sometimes, when she was advising McCain to attack her candidate on Bill Ayers or telling us "I don't believe that Obama is going to change Washington, eliminate lobbying, etc. I wish he wouldn't tell me things that I can't possibly believe... he might even make Washington work a little better, though I kind of doubt it," I thought she might be imagining herself a useful double agent for the Republicans, sowing dissension among Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and whomever else might be taking her seriously.

Now she's saying, "If the country is so progressive, how come Bush won the popular vote four years ago?" and that the high black voter turnout was a "definitionally unrepeatable happening." When Obama fails to denounce the capital gains tax in his Inaugural Address, I expect that will be the last straw. Then McArdle can become the go-to disgruntled Obama supporter. Orson Scott Card must be kicking himself for not thinking of this first.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. How's the Ole Perfesser holding up? Well, unlike some of his brethren, he keeps from getting the blues by tireless cheerleading and riding of hobby-horses. For instance, he points to a Gallup poll that says, essentially, that as McCain tanks Republicans are as worried that ineligible Negroes and ragamuffins are going to cancel out their votes as the Ole Perfesser has advised them to be. That'll lift an operative's spirits even in a down cycle.

But something -- maybe the incipience of a wrinkle, suggesting that the Singularity cannot come fast enough -- did momentarily put the Perfesser in a solemn mood, and he summoned an "Army of John Galts" to talk about how they would go off the grid if the socialist Obama prevailed, depriving the littlebrains of their essential crafts of law perfessin', psychologizing, documentary filmmaking, and the like. One such -- a newspaper columnist and a "private investor"! How will we do without his unique skillset! -- writes:
I want to appease the new administration and not be too productive. So, upon Obama's passing his new redistribution plan, I will slow my work schedule, lay off a few people (Obama's got their back) and let someone else bust his tail since I will now be able to get "redistributed wealth" from those poor fools who are ambitious, energetic, work hard and have made good decisions.
It doesn't occur to them that others will scramble to take their places -- well, it does occur to one, but Kartik Gada believes that even immigrants, formerly besotted of America, will also be disgusted with Obama and follow the Galts to... Red China, or some other such paradise where they know how to treat an investor class. Then we'll all be sorry.

They really believe it. The greed and stupidity of investors far bigger than the Perfesser have done what untold cadres of socialists and communists couldn't manage in a century -- destroyed the good name of American capitalism and put the better part of its assets under government control -- and the would-be Galts are threatening to bugger off to China because America might elect a moderately progressive Democrat.

I'll be disappointed if Obama doesn't make it, but really, on the whole I must declare myself content as it stands: the very threat of something that would mildly discomfit their self-centered world view has excited these folks' ridiculousness to levels that surprise even this jaded observer of human folly. And the beauty part is, no matter who wins tomorrow, they're just going to get more entertaining.
THE NEW VOICE COLUMN IS UP, about the rightbloggers in the last days of the election. It's basically a story of frayed nerves, wild claims, scattershots, and hurt feelings. The most encouraging sign is that a number of them are predicting victory for their candidates, which at least is in the grand tradition of American politics. I'd be very happy if their final hours were devoted to that. Of course afterward, whatever the result, they'll be crazier than ever.