Friday, March 20, 2009

SPIN CITY. Obviously Obama killed on Leno. Funny, smart, the usual. Let's go see what the blogosphere has to say about it:

Since it was the Tonight Show, let's do a little Karnak the Magnificent: "Over 200 to 1" ("Over 200 to 1." Shoot Ed a look. Open envelope.) "Leno's viewership advantage to Michelle Malkin." Hi-oh!

The Right are very different from you and me; they only watch "Red Eye" and "Medium."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

LEFT OUT. Often the controversies that roil the blogosphere are, to those happy souls who have but casual acquaintance with it, inexplicable. I can only imagine what a stranger to this wild frontier would make of the controversy over the "JournoList" online coffee-talks of lefty inside-media types like Paul Krugman and Matthew Yglesias. Some profess outrage that White House apparatchiks like Peter Orzag have deigned to talk to the Journos, which is just rich considering the access Bush gave to conservative media figures. But other rightbloggers are calling for names to prove that, in Patterico's words, "no purportedly objective journalist is a member of this apparently reliably left-wing group."

Apart from the McCarthyite whiff, this is just silly. What would it mean if, say, John F. Burns talked to these guys? Would that invalidate his reporting? And if so, would that include the stories conservatives have approved as well as the stories they have disapproved?

In recent days I've been reading story after story in the liberal media like "Treasury Learned of AIG Bonuses Earlier Than Claimed" (Time), "Dodd: I Was Responsible for Bonus Loophole" (CNN), "Main Street is Speaking Out. But Will Obama Listen?" (Washington Post), etc. With a minimum of effort, I've also heard stories about Obama's problems with the teleprompter and Gordon Brown's DVDs from other alleged socialist enablers of the President. If they're covering for him, they're doing a piss-poor job.

I've talked before about the conservative rage over institutions which they perceive to be beyond their control and hence call biased. But a listserv of writers from the New Yorker and The Nation is puny pickings beside Hollywood, academe, and all the other monoliths at which they daily shake their fists. They seem to be descending into an ever more paranoid state. Maybe if one of them saw Ezra Klein having a smoke with Eric Alterman he'd be unsettled for the rest of the day.

I notice that at the same time they continue to brag on the mighty power of their tea parties and whatnot. Mark Tapscott calls these gatherings "flash crowds," perhaps afraid that using the actual old-school nomenclature to which he evidently refers might subject him and his movement to ridicule. As he is in chest-beating mode, Tapscott betrays no awareness that by admitting the role of Ole Perfesser Instapundit and his immense reach in publicizing these demonstrations, he is obviating his own complaint that the MSM won't cover them -- as well as the complaints of his fellows that the liberal media plots to freeze them out. They've got their bullhorns, they've got their flash mobs, they've got their talk show radio and internet marching societies. I have it on good authority that they've even got Twitter. What's stopping them from taking over?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The U.S. is going to sign on to a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality. I don't have a problem with decriminalizing homosexuality, at home or abroad, but isn't there a disconnect somewhere in here?
This brought luster to my tired old eyes. When Jonah Goldberg starts out like this, it either means he thinks he has a devastating and unexpected point, or he's using voice recognition software while he tries to get his sweater on right-side out. Alas, Goldberg never gets out of the warm-up phase:
For the last eight years the neo-realist, reality-based, liberal foreign-policy types have been telling us how crazy it is to impose "western values" on foreign or otherwise non-western societies. So why is it ok to impose this very Western value?
I'm not even going to look for a defense of, say, ritual clitorectomy by whatever people Goldberg is talking about, since he obviously hasn't gone to that trouble himself. I will say that, though he seems to have some pipe-chewing namby-pamby dashiki-wearing liberal strawmen in mind, he could just as easily be talking about Samuel Huntington.
Is decriminalizing homosexuality more important than decriminalizing tyranny?
Oh Jesus Christ.
One response, and a fair one, would be that the U.N. wouldn't be imposing anything. It's just a declaration of principles or some such. Okay, but there are a few problems there.
I'll spare you; you can read the rest if you have a fascination for spoiled conundrums. Eventually he gets to, I'm guessing from context, the Bush abstinence program for Africa.

I wonder if Goldberg ever considers that these arguments are about finding the best way to improve or save people's lives, and that even in countries where same-sex relations have been legalized, ancient prejudices against them can still be violent. I wish someone would get him to do so -- not because it might change his mind, but because it might challenge him to escalate his argument into the sort of 3-D laser light show of bullshit I know he's capable of.

Monday, March 16, 2009

SHORTER SHELBY STEELE: Don't worry, guys -- you'll always have me.

(May also be filed under "The Conservative Comeback, Part 56,993.")
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, taking off from Frank Rich's premise that the culture wars are through. It strikes me that even if the regular press avoids such stories, the blogs will always be full of them. For one thing, they require less expertise to discuss than most political topics. Also, the blogosphere is more or less a petrie dish of outrage, making it a perfect growing medium for culture war -- even better than the mainstream media, really, because the barrier to entry is low and the use of on-message keywords can spread your sob- or scream-story quickly. Thus we get galloping Galtism in the absence of any actual Galts, and the viral promotion of non- and quasi-stories, and of repulsive comments about the weight and sexual proclivities of a former Presidential candidate's daughter. It's the future of journalism!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

ATLAS FUGUES. The Ole Perfesser sends readers to an essay in Capitalism magazine, which you may have guessed from the title is a full-on Randian joint (present lead story: "Obama's Plans Will 'Work' -- To Breed Servile Dependence"). The Perfesser-approved author Edward Cline writes "On The Left-Wing Reaction to John Galt, Ayn Rand, and Tea Parties." His essay is mostly based on quotations from "opponents and enemies" who have mocked the Go Galt people, which he answers with mockery of his own, of which I cannot disapprove as it is pretty much my own critical method. He also includes in his attack Megan McArdle's vision of Ayn Rand as beach reading and Whittaker Chambers, which is just delightful.

But Cline isn't trying to be funny -- at least I hope he isn't. He considers the mockers of "the collectivist and altruist elite" to have "truncated" minds, and expects to see them all brought low as "the nation -- indeed, the world -- is waking up to the idea that ideas have consequences." There are many lovely, bilious sections, but this is remarkable:
They are deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming train, but sneer that the train does not exist. They are stuffed animals crammed with the excelsior of worn-out bromides, mulched second-hand sociology, and the sawdust of a failed ideology.
A bromide-stuffed, sneering deer obliterated by the unsubsidized Amtrak of the People! I hope this scene is in the movie.

The Perfesser's pages are increasingly given over to such Galt-talk, and to coverage of mostly miniscule Tea Parties, and survivalist prattle. Once given to grand claims that an Army of Davids would transform the political landscape, he seems now to be in retrenchment mode, hunkering down with the fringe -- or, as they say in the entertainment world, niche.

Speaking of niche entertainment, over at the Perfesser's other hobby-horse, Pajamas Media, a bunch of rightbloggers do radio: Steve Green of Vodkapundit notes that Obama is personally approved by Americans though his policies are less popular, and considers how to capitalize on that. He does not consider that Americans who are dubious about the stimulus would be more motivated to abandon Obama for his opposition if it existed in any meaningful form, rather than as a fantasy camp for crackpot ideologues.

Yet Green is convinced that for Republicans "it's time to be bad guys" because "doing the smart thing didn't do us any good." He points to Rush Limbaugh inspiring people to be "angry -- and I don't mean that in a bad way" after the first Bush's "read my lips" flip-flop on taxes. After that, of course, we got lots more Rush-style Republican anger -- and Bill Clinton. For years these phenomena fed on one another. The powerful got more power, and the disenfranchised got ratings and money.

That seems to be the plan now, too. If these Atlases are shrugging, it's not the rest of us "looters" they're trying to shake off, but the responsibility of meaningful opposition. It seems a great relief to many of them, as it has been to us. Having lost the onerous burden of defending the Bush Administration, they have reverted to an entertainment program based on Ayn Rand, science fiction, Guns & Ammo, and wishful thinking. They portray this party mix as the formula that will bring them back to power, but I grow suspicious that they don't mean it, and are content to recreate their native dances for whatever money tourists may throw them.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Oh no. Oh hell no. Not even in the interests of journalism or clinical psychology. It looks like a cross between The Joe Pyne Show and The Brady Bunch. No way.

UPDATE. I couldn't resist: a full review at Runnin' Scared.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

THE DORK KRISTOL. Now that Ross Douthat has the Billy Kristol Chair in Applied Bullshit at NYT, I have supplied my dozens of Voice readers with a primer. Longtime followers of alicublog will already be familiar with his schtick. I noticed in looking back that I haven't written so much about Douthat lately, though I regularly scan him for material; this suggests to me that he has been playing it cool, gibberish-wise, in case the Times people were actually reviewing his work before deciding.

I suspect the Times was mainly attracted to Douthat's difference-splitting side -- his Grand New Party and "an intellectually healthy American Right that's influenced by Rod Dreher and the Cato Institute" side -- which gave them confidence that his Times columns would have enough conservative dog-whistles in them to keep that crowd happy, and be so full of fake outreach and fudging that no one reading them for sense would understand them sufficiently to be offended.
SPEED-WALKING WITH CAMILLE. I see Salon is still publishing Camille Paglia. Why, I wonder? It can't be respect for her prose, which reads like yammerings that a cranked-up MFA candidate might read into a digital recorder for her overdue thesis as she speed-walks around the quad. The only sane reason I can imagine they do it is to throw Republican yahoos some pointy-head bait, as the Times does with David Brooks and John Tierney, to get themselves links from rightwing blogs. Don't they realize they could get Ann Althouse to do the same thing for much less money?

This week the first half of Paglia's catecholamine cascade is devoted to current events, mainly "the orchestrated attack on radio host Rush Limbaugh, which has made the White House look like an oafish bunch of drunken frat boys." Don't linger too much over this image of Obama's Ivy League lieutenants pounding brewskis as they sing Coldplay from a speeding Lexus and head to the outskirts to go Rush-tipping, because as she rounds the student union Paglia is onto the "shrill duo of slick geeks (Timothy Geithner and Peter Orszag) as the administration's weirdly adolescent spokesmen on economics." Dekes and geeks! But wait, Paglia's heading for the tennis courts: "the White House is starting to look like Raphael's scathing portrait of a pampered, passive Pope Leo X and his materialistic cardinals... Do those shifty, beady-eyed guys needing a shave remind you of anyone? Yes, it's bare-knuckles Chicago pugilism, transplanted to Washington." So now they're Daley aldermen; turn down Coldplay, turn up "Oh Danny Boy." "The charitably well-meaning but hopelessly extravagant Leo X, by the way," adds Paglia, "managed to mishandle the birth of the Protestant Reformation, which permanently split Christianity." At this point Paglia has trampled the nets and is heading for the open road.

It's certainly an unflattering picture, but what about their policies? "First it was that chaotic pig rut of a stimulus package, which let House Democrats throw a thousand crazy kitchen sinks into what should have been a focused blueprint for economic recovery." Pigs, nerds and frat boys chaotically rutting among kitchen sinks! May we put Ms. Paglia down for a donation to the impeachment fund? No, in Obama "I still have great hope and confidence." One wonders why, but Paglia has left the campus and is headed down to where the townies pound boilermakers and listen to talk radio:
This entire fracas was set off by the president himself, who lowered his office by targeting a private citizen by name. Limbaugh had every right to counterattack, which he did with gusto. Why have so many Democrats abandoned the hallowed principle of free speech? Limbaugh, like our own liberal culture hero Lenny Bruce, is a professional commentator who can be as rude and crude as he wants.
Yes, we can see the resemblances: Rush Limbaugh is addicted to drugs, and Lenny Bruce was pretty chunky toward the end. Also, Bruce played to houses shrunken by his persecutions, and Limbaugh says his ratings are "through the roof," which is just his way of saying that his free speech rights are being trampled. Also, as Paglia said previously, "Lenny Bruce, when he recited all those dirty words, was trying to offend liberals, not conservatives," which is why William F. Buckley defended Pat Buchanan against Bruce and prosecutors tried to put him in prison.

But Limbaugh's closest relationship to free-speech rebels is Paglia's approbation: "As a student of radio and a longtime listener of Rush's show, I have gotten a wealth of pleasure and insight from him over the years." Then -- while charging down Main Street, where townies gawk at her haircut, to which she responds with a quick wave as she mutters into her recorder -- "To attack Rush Limbaugh is to attack his audience -- and to intensify the loyalty of his fan base." Why she thinks this classic triangulation -- whereby a Party that until recently was capable of winning national elections is heat-glued to a radio clown whose devoted following represents a fraction of the electorate -- is a blunder, we can only imagine.

By page two of the offending essay her dictation has turned to Brazilian Carnival. It's okay; this too may be fodder for her thesis, soon to be a thousand-page book. Now, still gibbering, she's headed for the bright line of the horizon. Thank God her publishers put that chip in her neck, so that she may be tracked down the next time her imprint is needed to show conservatives they have a friend in the academy.

Monday, March 09, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Go Galt advertising campaign. As Hilzoy has pointed out, none of the copywriters on this campaign have retired to Galt's Gulch themselves yet, and for obvious reasons they won't, but as a purist who agrees with David Ogilvy that using the client's product is just elementary good manners, I wish they would at least pretend. Can't the Perfesser and his Dr. Mrs. tell readers they are "off the grid," waiting for der Tag, and that their perfessorial and psychotherapeutic duties are being covered meanwhile by replicants they built in the shed? I would particularly approve Michelle Malkin's removal to a secret location.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

THE FALL OF RAINIER WOLFCASTLE. The Tea Partiers are starting to get the hang of things; a protest in Fullerton, California drew thousands of demonstrators. There are a few factors that should be noted: the McGuffin for the event was Proposition 1A, which goes before the voters in May and is widely unpopular. California is plebiscite-friendly and has a long tradition of anti-tax activism which hasn't done much to keep it from becoming a budgetary basket case, and has been governed since a recall election in 2003 by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Der Arnold was once beloved of conservatives, who were inspired by the imminence of his victory to make excuses for him and swoon over his anti-girly-man rhetoric and his presumed ability to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party. They were even willing to protect him from the consequences of his own actions over the years. But, as Orange Juice Blog's coverage shows, that's all gone to shit:
We did not need to be reminded that we pay the highest sales tax rate in the nation and the other tax increase just approved by our legislators. At one point Ken walked on stage with Arnold’s head on a sword which surely got the crowd’s attention.

We listened to a sound bite/cut familiar to me in which Governor Schwarzenegger, in 2006, stated “I will not raise taxes on the people of California.” This was followed by another chant of “liar, liar, liar.” We were told that our taxes will be increased $50 billion over the next four years.

Before one of the commercial breaks Fullerton City councilman Shawn Nelson was invited to use a sledgehammer and smash a VHS copy of Arnold’s Last Action Hero.

This was followed by Ken and John using a shredder to destroy a DVD of Arnold’s 1987 movie Predator to the enjoyment of the crowd.
California really is a conservative paradise. They offer the voters something for nothing, which said voters will eagerly snap up, and when the consequences become egregious they just stage another tax revolt. No wonder their Tea Party went so well.

(I notice that NewsBusters claims the Tea Parties have been ignored by the mainstream press. Yet I've given them plenty of coverage at the Village Voice. Can't a brother get a little eventheliberalmedia up in here?)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

POOR LITTLE RICH BOY. Tigerhawk's anger at the proposed tax hike on people making more than $250,000 a year results in a remarkable video, in which he complains with frightening, quiet intensity that he and his rich friends "have worked harder and longer in their entire careers than most Americans understand and can even conceive." He himself has spent 100 hours in the office this week; "I wrote the notes for this video at three in the morning on a Sunday night, having been there all weekend."

If you can continue watching through your tears, you will see Tigerhawk explain that the rich "work harder than everyone else doing things that cannot be done by other people who have not earned the same skills because they did not expend the same effort" and "are both more productive with their time and more energetic than average people." And "they will never be romanticized by Hollywood... but they are far more important to the prosperity of the United States and a future worth living for than the people who are put on a pedestal" -- by which he presumably means folks who are not rich but are still admired; I wished he'd taken time to tell us who these wastrels are. Schoolteachers, perhaps.

Yet Tigerhawk claims he would happily pay higher taxes "if I felt that I was being respected for my contribution." Tigerhawk wants Obama to talk nicely to him and others of his superior kind, to say "we need our most productive citizens, as heavily taxed as they are, to pay more taxes," and to admit that they "produce more than most people." Perhaps, to show proper obeisance, Obama should also make some rich guy's birthday a federal holiday. My nominee would be Richard Fuld or John Thain.

Tigerhawk says that Barack Obama knows how deserving the rich are, because he and his wife "come from this class." But "like FDR, Barack Obama sees an enemy, and it is us." Or, to put it the old-fashioned way, he's a traitor to his class.

I miss the old days when, if a rich guy wanted his ass kissed, he'd pay someone to do it instead of haranguing strangers on YouTube.

UPDATE. Oh good -- rich people still have some ass-kissers on retainer. At The Corner, Lisa Schiffren picks up Tigerhawk's hymn to the moneyed supermen: "Their work ethic is prodigious, and, as Tigerhawk points out, in their spare time they sit on the boards of most of the complex charities and arts institutions that provide aid and pay for culture in America. No group of people contribute more to their community." Yet Obama panders instead to those inferior people who pick rich people's lettuce, build their cars, and wash their floors.

Those familiar with this kind of thing will not be surprised that Schiffren alludes to "going John Galt," and predicts that golf, "a time-intensive sport that the hard-working have eschewed for the past decade or two because it took too long -- will make a comeback." We'll all be sorry when our betters are pleasuring themselves on the links, instead of driving our economy -- with their superior salesmanship, marketing campaigns, and executive abilities -- to the great success it enjoys today.

I am not rich and my opinion is therefore valueless, but I have worked in public relations, and if this campaign is meant to win the approval of non-rich Americans I'd say it was ill-conceived. People liked the rich better when they were in screwball comedies. I would suggest the next time Tigerhawk speaks to the little people, he should try acting like Dudley Moore in Arthur. If he finds the drunkenness difficult to convey, he can just hold a big martini glass, sprinkle his tongue with cocaine, and, to achieve the necessary impression of unsteadiness, shoot the thing on his yacht during a storm.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

THE STORY SO FAR. Let's see if I've got this straight. Rush Limbaugh receives a Caesaresque reception at CPAC, where he says he wants the President's economic recovery plan to fail. The nominal head of the GOP mildly criticizes Limbaugh's comments. Limbaugh beats him up on the radio and Steele is forced to apologize.

Republican reformers find this troubling, but the yahoo wing of the party tells them to shut up, as do some of the suit-and-tie operatives, and their press organs start spreading the word that maybe it's time to get rid of Steele.

The GOP base is not buying Limbaugh as the head of the Republican Party, but some Democrats, mischievously, are. Rightbloggers warn Democrats they better not mess with Rush or they'll be sorry cuz Rush roolz.

In the wake of all this, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama with a 60 percent approval rating and the Republicans widely disliked. Rightbloggers cry treachery, deceit, and media bias.

Have I got that about right? Because if I do, that may explain why I'm in such a good mood.

UPDATE. A commenter points out that the poll of Limbaugh's GOP leadership is rather leading. I agree. While waiting for a cleaner one, we must rely on common sense to tell us how many Republican citizens actually believe their party is commanded by a radio clown.

But I have no doubts about who this cowboy's following: Republican Congressman John Campbell says, "People are starting to feel like were living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged’” and "pulling back from their ambitions because they see how they'll be punished for them." This revives my hope that likeminded citizens will soon set up a Galt's Gulch somewhere in the desert and live off their stock portfolios. As they will on principle eschew water pumped by the government they have forsaken, this will give some of their ex-fellow Americans an opportunity to grow rich selling it to them.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Happy Birthday to You! [John J. Miller]

Today is the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss. (Have you seen Google yet?) He certainly wasn't a conservative. The Lorax is a parable of anti-capitalism and The Butter Battle Book is a peacenik's morally equivalent take on the Cold War. Even so, I've always maintained that his book I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is deeply anti-utopian. Others have extracted a pro-life rallying cry from Horton Hears a Who: "a person's a person no matter how small." And a few have detected anti-socialist themes in Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose...
Later Miller follows up with further deep thoughts on a goddamn children's book from a reader whose sign-off -- "Please withhold my name... untenured professor in the academy, don't you know" -- revives my suspicious that the half of The Corner's email that isn't written by National Review interns is written by undetected pranksters.

The proper response to this sort of gabble would be silence or an offer to hail the gabbler a cab so that he can get home safely. Instead it gets Lisa Schiffren who says The Lorax is "unhappily well-enough written and illustrated to capture the sentiments of children and those who read to them," which single repulsive clause explains the conservative attitude toward the arts better than anything at Big Hollywood.

She then explains the conservative messages in other Dr. Seuss books, which were revealed to her "when my children were very young and I was intellectually underemployed" and, one supposes, doctors were freer with prescriptions for frustrated housewives. Later Schiffren expands her contribution to the arts by reproducing a piece of Randroid doggerel to which she submitted her children -- who, to their great credit, didn't appreciate the attempted indoctrination.

I wonder whether Schiffren noticed her own children's resistance to an attempt to replace literature with propaganda, and whether she would be proud of them if she did.

Somewhere in the middle of this Jonah Goldberg express his customary incomprehension of Will Wilkinson's "liberaltarianism," and suggests that libertarians should feel more at home with conservatives because they share the same feelings about "culture." In what little bit of their horrible bloggingheads discussion I could bear to watch, Goldberg explains that "political speech is more important than other kinds of speech," especially "quote unquote artistic speech." I expect Wilkinson continues to engage him, and the rest of these people, because they invariably help make his points for him.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the recent tea party protests. One of the things I noticed was that most of the protesters making great claims for attendance at these events also run pictures that suggest a much smaller turnout. It is possible that none of them knows how to take a crowd shot, nor even a series of crowd shots, that would back up their assertions. A commenter at my story exemplified the thought pattern:
Nice cherry picking of numbers for the Nashville Tea Party. Channel 5 may have said 'dozens' but the liberal paper in town called it 'hundreds'. Tennessean on 2/27/09. Add enough dozens together and you get hundreds...maybe even 600. I saw hundreds. I couldn't confirm 600.
You can see her pictures for yourself. She does say she was too short to get good snaps, and maybe this guy is similarly affected. But who knows? They may be right. Dozens may indeed amount to hundreds, and as we learned during Colin Powell's U.N. appearance, you can't really trust their pictures, either.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I went to the New York "tea party" protest in New York today and did coverage for the Voice. As you will see, the crowd was small but the meat on offer was blood-red. The Perfesser's correspondents concentrated on funny signs and inflated crowd estimates (I heard a guy walking around saying "400, 400" -- that's message discipline!), but I actually listened to what they were saying, which was in the main that Obama is a tyrant, a Marxist, a Socialist, the new Hitler, etc., and that he would be taken down by such patriots as appeared today.

It is something to see the conservative movement go totally LCD like this. Jonah Goldberg is talking about showing his patriotic disgust by looking "for every means within the boundaries of the law to minimize what I pay in taxes," which I assumed he did already, though I may have been overestimating his self-maintenance skills. His colleague Steve Hayward invokes the John Galt option, saying "my bigger idea is to go all Randian and literally go on strike... I'm going to start converting income opportunities into more leisure by deliberately reducing my income... I suspect a lot of self-employed people will make similar calculations and adjustments, and the revenue yield will be far below what Obama's people project. " Yeah, that's the word on the streets, alright. I can't wait till Hayward gets out on the hustings and tells the proles to earn less money as a protest. They'll carry him on their shoulders and, in the confusion, go through his pockets. Hail the groovy revolution!

Friday, February 27, 2009

IT TOLLS FOR THEE. The Perfesser tells us that it's "sad" that the Rocky Mountain News is ceasing publication tomorrow. Normally, like most conservatives, he gloats over the death of newspapers, or glibly explains they're only dying because they eschew "hard-news reporting" for "editorializing and 'attitude,' often in support of political positions that many people don’t agree with." So why the sympathy now?

Say Anything explains: the News was "the traditional voice of conservative thought in Colorado." "The Rocky was also one of the main reasons that the more liberal Post didn't become the utterly irresponsible caricature of a newspaper that the Star-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times have turned into," says NewsBusters. " It's a sad loss for Colorado, because it provided a conservative counterpoint to the Denver Post's more liberal bent," says Forget the Health Food.

The Volokh Conspiracy's Dave Kopel is particularly upset -- he wrote a column for the paper. (In a related podcast, he says the editorial page took "more of a free-market bent" than the Denver Post.) The News endorsed Bush in 2000 and 2004, and declined to make a presidential endorsement this year.

Most commenters on conservative websites -- including the ones who turn up on the blogs mentioned above -- are ecstatic, snarling about the death of the liberal media, fishwrap, dinosaurs, etc. They don't know what they're talking about and, their comments show, prefer to keep it that way.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

YOU WANT TO SEND A MESSAGE? CALL WESTERN CIVILIZATION. CPAC is in full swing, and though I picked out some of its random social media moments, it's probably better left to genuine Kremlinologists of the Movement. But I thought this clip of Tucker Carlson giving a speech was interesting. The CPAC crowd took issue to his assertion that the New York Times, though librulmedia, actually gathered news, and that gathering news is expensive and hard. This would seem a self-evident fact. Here and at the Voice I mostly just pull stuff off the web and the wires; it's only hard because I have to do so goddamned much of it, and I certainly don't cost the Voice much money. But the reporters spend days and weeks tracking stories, and that requires plenty of work and money.

Carlson got the crowd back on his side by praising Fox News, which also uses reporters, and they really perked up when he asked why there aren't 25 Fox Newses. But I think he meant it as a challenge and they took it as wish fulfillment -- in a just world there would be 25 Fox Newses, at least. Rupert Murdoch's only paying for one, though, and in the current environment it's hard to see how others would get financing.

I think this is really what all the conservative rage about allegedly liberal institutions comes from. Newspapers, universities, Hollywood -- they all grew more or less organically into what they are, and if they did not develop as conservatives would like, their options (absenting acceptance) are to create alternatives or seize the citadels. Often I have puzzled, or pretended to, over the conservative rage at big schools with their liberal professors; there are plenty of Bible colleges and, with some scratch, they can always make their own, new academies. But that would take time and effort and, even worse, leave Yale and Harvard still standing. The idea of taking them over in a groovy revolution speaks to an apparently constant emotional need which is probably bigger than any notion of reform.

To this point, Patrick Ruffini got on a high horse about Joe the Plumber, and said something about Hollywood:
The left assumes that it is culturally superior and the natural party of government and fights aggressively to frame any conservative incursion on that turf as somehow alien and unnatural. (The "Oh God..." whisper being the perfect illustration.) They dominate Hollywood not by actively branding liberalism in their movies, but by cooly associating liberal policy ideas with sentiments everyone feels, like love (gay marriage) or fairness (the little guy vs. some evil corporate stiff).
He still thinks conservatives should take over Hollywood, of course, but with "an all encompassing argument for conservative cultural and political relevance." At The American Scene, Conor Friedsdorf (of all people! I may have misjudged him) raises a demurrer:
Those professions may be overwhelmingly liberal, but they are also populated mostly by folks whose primary goals aren’t political. Most Hollywood actors, directors and writers set out to do good work and make money, not to advance the cause of the Democrat Party or liberalism generally.
Yeah. You claw your way to the top and then you party with Castro and Che. I thought everyone knew that.

Building the modern conservative movement also took years of painstaking work and heavy financing. But since it was a political movement, it could take a shortcut: access to power attracts rich backers who'll pay to get it, and you every so often you can get the people to vote on it. In this it is much different from the institutions they yearn to take over, which are less easily overturned. The great irony is that, once upon a time, conservatives were supposed to be the ones who "feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life." Now they want culture, cirricula, and the content of newspapers subjected to a plebiscite. No wonder that, now that they're dislodged from political power, they seem so adrift. They're no longer even who they pretended to be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The question, though, is not whether the Sixties (or the Enlightenment) were good or bad, but whether on balance the Sixties (or the Enlightenment) were good or bad. I answer in the negative.
Think about this: the lunatic Dreher has, in the past week or so, been engaged seriously by Andrew Sullivan, Megan McArdle, and Ross Douthat -- three writers for the Atlantic Monthly, a magazine that once represented the summit of American intellectual attainment. And now its authors treat seriously a man who thinks we'd be better off if the Pope could make us say that the sun revolves around the earth.

Wiser men than I have been talking for years about how conservatives have pulled American discourse to the right. But we can't be reminded often enough that they pulled it so far to the right that it left the earth's gravitational field.

WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? WEB EDITION. Governor Bobby Jindal addressed the nation last night, saying that government had tried to drown people during Hurricane Katrina, and would have done so were it not for Jindal and a sheriff who Doesn't Play By The Rules. He also called for tax cuts. Before the speech President Obama delivered a prebuttal.

(I love memeorandum but sometimes, when they play the counterintuitive "The real story is some loudmouth wingnut" routine, they remind me of a robot George Stephanopoulos.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

THE POUTS WILL RISE AGAIN! Why, lookee here -- Human Events done got nullification fever!
State governors -- looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan -- are saying they will refuse to take the money. This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states -- "Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California...Georgia," South Carolina, and Texas -- "have all introduced bills and resolutions" reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limting the power of the federal government.
It's too late and I'm too drunk, but -- California? Where former GOP ubermensch Arnold Schwarzenegger said of the stimulus rejecters, "Fine, give it to me"?

The weirdly-spaced quote marks, misspellings, and conflation of gubernatorial and legislative measures also indicate that this story is not even half-baked. Bottom line, even the most recalcitrant governors will probably go for a Jindal evasion -- that is, reject part of the money with strings attached, take the rest, and declare a victory for the Lost Cause, the better to plausibly tie their fortunes to the upcoming Tea Parties should they turn into something politically viable.

I'll send a shiny silver dollar to whichever of these rebel Gubners takes no money from the Federal Gummint. And I likes me my silver dollars.

I understand the pressing personal need to pretend you're William Wallace online, but when you take even part of the king's shilling, dude, you're just a doofus with paint on his face.

Monday, February 23, 2009

MORAL DEGENERATE. I've been reading around the morality conservatives this evening. I'll spare you the details, but they basically say that everything is rotten and it's up to conservatives to admit that capitalism alone hasn't saved us and we need some sort of public education program to give people values, perhaps out of William J. Bennett books, after which they will behave like Reagan Republicans, only this time with feeling.

A prime example is Matthew Continetti, who started out as a student Republican Iraq War fan, and later became aware that conservative Republicans were not entirely what they said they were. Nonetheless he continued to write for the Weekly Standard in defense of timeless conservative principles such as electing Republicans to prevent liberal weenie judges, electing Republicans so we can invade Iran, and just plain electing Republicans.

Now in the Weekly Standard Continetti writes like man who, finding himself out of other options, must appeal to his readers' tender memories of Bible School. He writes that the American people are weak, depraved by Paris Hilton and A-Rod and, yes, some Wall Street tycoons and yes, yes, even President Bush -- which we must take as a grand concession, though Bush is in Dallas where he can do no one, least of all the Party he lately led, any harm.

Reagan, of course, was an unqualified success; he "instituted public policies that spurred the economy, forced the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and reinstilled national pride among Americans." His economic miracle had nothing to do with the financier-rentier culture that has recently come a-cropper. That was all because of Fannie Mae and steroids and Michael Phelps' bong, which somehow have had a more powerful destabilizing effect on us than Keith Hernandez' cocaine habit, Porky's, and the Savings and Loan scandals of the golden age.

Imagining the crowd may be with him, Continetti makes some soothing noises about Obama before announcing that he must be fought tooth and nail -- but not on partisan grounds; only in defense of America's moral regeneration.

And what will be the agency of our regeneration? Why, "responsibility" -- we must create a new Age of it. Michael Phelps must be responsible not only for swimming fast in quadrennial contests, but also for being a "role model," because "role models have responsibilities." The American people, also, must take responsibility, but not the weak, Democrat sort of responsibility to which Obama alluded in his inaugural address, because that "will encourage the individual to turn to government instead." Where, then, will this new sense of responsibility come from?
Where to begin? Start with some exemplars of decency, professionalism, and ability. US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III riveted the nation with his dramatic crash-landing into the Hudson River. -Sullenberger's experience and stoicism meant that not a single life was lost during the dramatic and dangerous touch-down. It is no surprise that he has been lionized in the days since. When everything else seems to be crashing all around us, Sullenberger is a rock of common sense and soft-spoken modesty. Imagine--just imagine--if the men and women who represent us in Congress shared his character?
You've tumbled to it by now. The Republicans have totally fucked up, but there is some public figure of indeterminate political affiliation who has done something right, and by God that's what the new conservatism is all about. He's like -- let's see -- he's like the 1980 Olympic hockey team! He's like -- give me a minute -- Lee Iacocca! He's like, he's like, he's like -- the crew of the Challenger! They slipped the surly bonds of earth, and so can we!

Perhaps this, rather than Michael Phelps' drug use, outrages you. But come now, we are liberals, and full of understanding. We can no more chastise Continetti for his behavior than we would chastise a chimpanzee for masturbating in his cage. Why wouldn't he try this ancient scam on the public, and why wouldn't other rightwing moral scolds (like Ross Douthat -- who also, hilariously pleads for "an intellectually healthy American Right that's influenced by Rod Dreher and the Cato Institute") aid and abet him? It's not as if they had any real morals.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about those little anti-stimulus protests (previously noted here) that rightbloggers like to portray as the opening volley of a glorious revolution. Their latest big win: 300 protesters in Kansas. That's about as many as turned out to protest that stupid ape cartoon outside News Corp. And its effect will probably be ever bit as devastating.

Declaring victory is one of their indisputable skills, and they have every reason to be proud of it, but they don't seem to have figured out that declaring victory isn't the same thing as winning.