Monday, October 18, 2010

EMPIRE STATE OF MIND. I'm watching the New York State Gubernatorial Debate, and I must say it's fascinating to see seven candidates with a wide spectrum of viewpoints represented -- hell, I'm even enjoying the Libertarian, and I think libertarians are full of shit.

Of course, the libertarian, Warren Redlich, has competition in the Cut Mah Gummint sweepstakes from the Republican Paladino and the Anti-Prohibition Kristin Davis. (It's fun to hear them defend hydraulic fracking in the teeth of public opposition.) And they also have to countenance something resembling actual leftist positions from Charlie Barron, Green Howie Hawkins, and the man I voted for last time, Jimmy McMillan, bravely demanding "my own cable company." So unlike at the tea party Republican events, there's a wide cross-section of populist ideas here -- not just the screw-the-poor POV, but also the screw-the-rich. It's very refreshing!

By and large, if anyone is watching it, this is going to help Cuomo -- whose MOR viewpoints are at least familiar to voters -- more than Paladino, who appears as usual to be in the middle of an unsuccessful anti-depressant switch. Also Redlich is funny, promising to solve the problems of the state with a couple of guys with "a six pack and a pizza," making him a more attractive Cut Mah Gummint candidate than Paladino. He's even stumping for the Republican candidates whom Paladino's campaign is hurting (bless him, there's one libertarian who's not even pretending there's a difference!) Sorry, Carl, that's show biz.

UPDATE. It sort of delights my cynical old heart that National Review's Brian Bolduc is trying to capitalize on McMillan's sudden popularity by noting his admiration for Ronald Reagan and his antipathy to the "business-as-usual crowd." Look, he's a Tea Party person -- except black! I doubt McMillan's demand for a rent freeze fits with their small-gummint philosophy, but the important thing is that he's angry, and angry is in this season.
MORE LIBERAL FASCISM. Conservatives 4 Palin talking about Joe Miller's goon squad "arrest" of a blogger who committed the crime of asking him questions:
It's no surprise that the left-wing Marshall and the Democrat Party don't comprehend the "citizen's arrest" doctrine given their low level of intelligence.
Translation: Them pointy heads don't understand that you can muscle anyone you like, so long as you can afford your own private security force.

If you're wondering who to believe in this one, here's a clue. C4P:
The blogger concedes that he shoved another individual even though he admits that nobody laid a finger on him prior to his aggressive act.
Here's what the blogger actually said:
The reporter, Tony Hopfinger, said he was trying to ask Miller whether the candidate had ever gotten in trouble for politicking while working for the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2008.

At that point, private security guards hired by the Miller campaign bumped their chests into him and tried to prevent him for asking any more questions, Hopfinger said.

The guards eventually pushed him against a wall and put him in handcuffs, he said...

Hopfinger told CNN he did push the security guard after he said he was pushed.
Since they were bum-rushing him rather than using their hands, it's only true that "nobody laid a finger on him" in a technical sense. It sounds like a dodge a coked-up rogue bouncer might use: "If I just shove him with my body, I can say I never laid a finger on him. If it gets rough I'll head-butt him."

If they weasel like this with easily-checked facts, why wouldn't they lie about anything else?

Meanwhile it's nice to see all the rightbloggers leaping to the defense of a citizen journalist abused by a politician:
Tony Hopfinger, an irrational, out-of-control Left-Wing blogger-activist, was detained by security detail at a Joe Miller town hall meeting. Tony admits he started a shoving match with Miller security.
The "shoving match" link is of a piece with the "never laid a finger" story. (The "Left-Wing" link is just a signal to the comrades that it's okay to make up shit about the guy. UPDATE: And they're picking it up.)

In their defense, there is no evidence that their goons belong to a union or work for Big Gummint*.

*UPDATE. Spoke too soon -- now we have evidence that two of Miller's musclemen were employed by the government as soldiers in the U.S. Army. It doesn't make the situation any better or worse as far as I'm concerned, but it does remind me how badly we take care of our military personnel, which would be a scandal if "patriots" didn't profit from it.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the conservative reaction to the Chile mine rescue. You'll never guess. Oh, you did -- capitalism saved the day and Obama sucks! Well, at least they aren't giving all the credit to Connie Mack.

Daniel Henninger's insane column has already passed into comedy legend, but it does us smart alecks no good to laugh at his gibberish -- in part because it's not aimed at normal people, but at the rest of the relatively small cadre of libertarian nutcakes who believe this sort of thing. It's not meant to influence the 2010 elections, the course of which I think is pretty well set by now, but to keep up the message discipline so the coming Republican gains may be interpreted as a victory for the most extreme rightwing ideas, rather than for a bunch of senior citizens who don't like that black President nohow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

ON TONIGHT'S MAD MEN. "The truth is they're mourning for their childhood rather than anticipating their future. They don't know it yet, but they don't want to die."

Friday, October 15, 2010

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM, CONT. ETC. Let's stick with libertarians as a subject. For example, Tunku Varadarajan. Oh, you didn't know he was a libertarian? Well, he's shown himself to be an entitled asshole, which is pretty much a prerequisite for libertarianism. We also know that when black people complain about the Tea Party, Varadarajan gets mad ("NAACP: Can we all agree that it stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Cynical Politics?") and starts yelling about Robert Byrd, and he sure loves him some Sarah Palin.

But that doesn't mean he's a regular conservative, mind you: Even in the midst of his Palin swoons he can summon the perspective to say, oh, the Right gets her wrong, too!

Maybe we should just flip all the cards and settle on our default position: That there is no meaningful difference between conservatives and libertarians, except for the roles they play in the great pretense that they give a shit about anything except themselves and the rich people they hope to meet at dinner parties or in heaven.

Anyway, Varadarajan professes today
My first instinct as a libertarian is, of course, for Republican victories everywhere...
You don't say. [Pause] OK, ready for the bullshit now:
...particularly for candidates running specifically on a small-government platform. The big-government Bush Republicans have already been punished; now it's time to get rid of the big-government Democrats—i.e., all of them.
For a guy who called Newt Gingrich's Contract With America an "unforgettable, obstructive disaster," Varadarajan has a lot of faith in Republican panaceas.

But things have changed, he says: "The Republicans, this time, have been chastened by the emergence of the Tea Party, which should greatly dampen any residual GOP ardor for big government." This time for sure! Just you watch!

Still, what's the point of being a libertarian if you're just going to rubber-stamp Republican candidates? (I know, I know; humor me.) Varadarajan offers his opinion on the three more contentious Tea Party nuts: Sharron Angle, Carl Paladino, and Christine O'Donnell. He disdains two, accepts one. Can you guess which is which? I'll give you a hint: One is leading in the polls, the other two have no chance in hell.

Congratulations, winners!
Nevada’s Sharron Angle raises similar issues: She, too, is an unconventional Republican candidate, easily typified as “extreme” by the media.
It never hurts to blame the media early in your argument.
There is no doubt that, objectively, some of her positions are, indeed, hard-line. But there are no libertarians, I would wager, who’d like to see her lose to Harry Reid. However distasteful she may be, the political and symbolic importance of defeating Reid is so great that its imperative trumps all distaste...
Call me cynical -- go on! I can take it! -- but does anyone who has attained a Deep South Age of Consent doubt that, were Paladino anywhere near striking distance of the son of the hated liberal Cuomo family, and O'Donnell poised to take Joe Biden's former Senate seat, Varadarajan would swiftly move them into the Support With Misgivings column?

Oh, well, at least they give Radley Balko some work. That ought to knock a couple minutes off their time in Purgatory.

UPDATE. Prominent libertarian Perfesser Glenn Harlan Reynolds on how homosexuals are the real authoritarians. While the Republican wing of the conservative party has shrunk its tent, the libertarian wing has expanded theirs to an extraordinary degree. Were Paladino closer to victory, no doubt they'd be celebrating his racist emails as the new Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM CONT. Sometimes I think Katherine Mangu-Ward is a plant, but I can't figure out why anyone would bother -- maybe the intention is to embarrass libertarians, but obviously they're impervious to embarrassment. Maybe she just believes this stuff. What an amazing world we live in!

Gizmodo finds some apparently homeless men using laptops. Their basic take is, huh, that's weird, homeless people with laptops. But Mangu-Ward finds it inspiring!
But if Gizmodo is right that the second guy has WiFi and some speakers, then he has access to more information and entertainment than even the richest, most powerful men could imagine for most of human history—and he can share it with whomever he likes. When he's bored of beans straight from the can, he can research for-the-homeless, by-the-homeless cooking tips. He can read about the latest in funny cardboard signage. He can watch this week's episode of Glee. He can look at porn (or maybe he doesn't need porn because he's keeping an eye on forums like this one.)
Someone ought to tell her that some homeless people have cars, in which they sleep. How awesome is that? Homeless people with cars!

Remember when fundamentalists were the crazy members of this coalition?

UPDATE. Some commenters think Mangu-Ward is kidding. But I've been hearing from libertarians for years that we're all rich now because we have iPods, and other, similar nonsense. In their madhouse, this sort of thing is mainstream thinking.

UPDATE 2. A few commenters remind me of Michelle Malkin's rage over bums with cell-phones. Fish cites Poe's Law, which suggests that he, too, thinks Mangu-Ward has to be joking. That's what they said about Robespierre. These people are accustomed to laugh at the misfortunes of the littlebrains and, in private, Nick Gillespie's hair.
GOLDBERG RETURNS FOR FURTHER SELF-HUMILIATION. You will recall Jonah Goldberg's attempt to -- well, not so much refute Anne Applebaum's column on conservative anti-elitism as to misrepresent it and then attack the misrepresentation. Even on those terms he did a lousy job.

Yesterday Applebaum responded to Goldberg with extraordinary patience (especially considering that she noticed, as I did, that Goldberg "actually attributes arguments to me that I never made"), explaining in simple words that right-wing bitching about elites conflicts with their meritocratic views, and is particularly ridiculous coming from conservatives who are members of elites themselves.

Goldberg re-stumbles onstage with a bucket on his foot and what he thinks is a winning comeback: What Applebaum doesn't understand about him and his fellow wingnuts is that they use "elite" as code! And he's actually mad that she didn't impute to him the bad faith that he admits of himself:
I’m trying not to let my exasperation get the better of me...
...'cause when I do my face turns red and my pits smell really, really bad.
...so let me explain what I think she is missing. Attacking the Ivy League is a very old, very recognizable shorthand in American political discourse. What Applebaum is doing is reading these statements literally, and painfully so.
I mean, really! I'll bet she doesn't even know about the "uppity" connection! Fart.

Goldberg also isn't done attributing things to Applebaum that she didn't say:
She is also asserting that Ivy League simply means the smartest and the best, as if there was no plausible case that the Ivy League’s reputation is any way overblown or underserved.
I wished as hard as I could, so hard I think I pulled a muscle, that Goldberg would try to make that case immediately, using as an example his skill at walking around with a bucket on his foot. But again God was deaf to my pleas.

As to Applebaum busting him for making shit up, Goldberg huffs, "Applebaum is now moving the goalposts," which in this context means she's getting into the weeds and Goldberg has to noodle it and anyway he has to walk Cosmo and farrrarrrt -- that is, nothing:
What I objected to was the bizarre insinuation that what is motivating Tea Partiers and other conservatives these days is a backlash against elite education, academic achievement, or the rise of the meritocracy as personified by the Obamas. That remains what I dismiss.
This is as fine an example of "You were supposed to hear what I meant to say" as you'll find anywhere.

Goldberg also receives non-help from Jay Nordlinger, who says that Bill Buckley wasn't an elitist despite having every attribute of an elitist because Bill Buckley was always talking about how he hated elitists. Unfortunately he began rambling before he would inform us that George W. Bush may have gone to Yale but he by God cleared brush at his ranch which, by the way, is in Texas.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

IT'S NOT TEA IN THAT CUP. Larry Kudlow at National Review:
Obama the Alien
They must be running out of slurs, as this one is recycled from the cauldron of Dorothy Rabinowitz. The main thrust of Rabinowitz' column was that Obama is an alien because he doesn't pander like a white man true American; Kudlow's is that Obama panders plenty, but not the Republican way:
Believe it or not, with jobs falling for four consecutive months and unemployment stubbornly high near 10 percent, President Obama is out on the campaign trail bashing businesses and promoting class warfare. Huh? Oh my gosh is he off message.

He’s slamming the Chamber of Commerce for allegedly using foreign money in campaign ads, even though there’s not one shred of evidence of this.
What Kudlow means, if he means anything, is that the CoC demonstrably gets plenty of foreign money and runs plenty of ads against Democrats but claims it keeps the foreign money in a different cookie-jar from the campaign funds.
Huh (again)? Is the Chamber really a big election-year issue? Is it causing high unemployment?
In that the Chamber helps its constituent members ship jobs overseas, sure.

One of the great things about Kudlow being such a hack is that you can make a decent post just by putting in the relevant facts he leaves out. But in this column the Republican Party's second-most-famous former cokehead goes beyond the usual card tricks to remind us of what the GOP is really about.
Of course, Obama never mentions the unions, including the SEIU and AFL-CIO, and all their foreign money from their big international affiliates. Instead, he extends his own cast of villains, attacking special interests, Wall Street banks, corporations, the oil industry, the insurance industry, credit-card companies, AIG, and ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil? What did they do? Oh, they’re an oil company.

Phew. Kind of anti-business, wouldn’t you say?
I was with him on the "all their foreign money from their big international affiliates" -- oh-yeah-what-about-the-other-guy is a time-honored electioneering gambit. But in this the year of the Tea Party, isn't it a little weird to be defending Wall Street banks, credit-card companies, and big business in general? I thought it was all about the grassroots overthrowing the "ruling class." And then:
Obama then blasts millionaires and billionaires, waging war on capital and investors, too. Next he talks about getting young people, African Americans, and union members to the polls. Even more division. Even more class warfare.
It's divisive for Obama to invite these people to vote? I thought working people were the bedrock of the Tea Party movement, and all the cool kids were wearing tricorner hats. And minorities -- why, Perfesser Glenn Harlan Reynolds has a whole scrapbook of tea-partying black folk photos!
A series of investor-related polls shows how totally detached the president is from the nearly 100 million folks who directly or indirectly own stocks.

A survey conducted by Citigroup Global Markets of 100 mutual-fund, hedge-fund, and pension-fund managers...
Hedge-fund managers! OK, let's flip all the cards: While most of the tea party stuff you see these days focuses on the concerns of yahoos, neo-confederates, and people who think America went downhill when the Negroes cancelled Matlock, Kudlow's column is for the other Republican base -- the disappointed day-traders itching to get back in the game; the guys following Jim Cramer as if he were a Sherpa guiding them back to civilization; the people who think of hard work as something admirably American so long as other people are doing it for them while they measure the angles and make the big plays and otherwise work the system like they were in god mode -- which hasn't been paying off so well lately, true, but will again as soon as they get the right people in there -- that is, people like Larry Kudlow, who can be trusted completely because he wears nice suits and speaks their language and one of these days will dispense that final key of wisdom that unlocks the door to riches for them -- and they better be watching when he does!

In other words, behind the con there's always another con, and a sucker born every minute.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

GOLDBERG SKOOLS APPLEBAUM FARRRRRT! I hate to make it Goldberg Week, but he's in rare form. After a stint gazing through the window at a Times seminar on Woodrow Wilson, slugging Mountain Dew and telling passers-by how he could lick them perfessers even with this bucket stuck on his foot, Goldberg hobbles over to the Washington Post, where he notices a column by Anne Applebaum.

Applebaum looks at the Tea Party types' condemnation of top-college graduates as elitists, and wonders why they're complaining. For one thing, Applebaum says, the elite is less elite than once it was, since "the most elite American universities have in the past two decades made the greatest effort to broaden their student bodies" with children of the lower classes. For another, many of the conservatives yelling about elites are pretty damn elite themselves. Her unremarkable conclusion is that the elitism charge "often means nothing more than 'a person whose politics I don't like' or even 'a person who is snobby,'" and is unlikely to lead to more responsive leadership.

Here's how Goldberg reads it:
Borrowing from Daniel Bell (and I suspect, Hannah Arendt), Applebaum argues that the current tide of resentment at “elites” boils down to envy.
Sigh, now we have to suffer through grafs of Goldberg missing the point. Not that it isn't entertaining in its own way:
Now, I do believe envy plays a serious and under-appreciated role in politics. But Applebaum’s theory of the sources and contours of that envy strike me as not merely wrong but actually silly.
Come on, Goldberg, show this Yale bitch that Goucher College grads know how to argumentate!
For Applebaum, the fact that the elite graduated from top-tier schools is all the proof she needs that these people deserve to be in charge. Indeed, Applebaum — without a moment’s pause to cite any evidence — insists that universities have diversified without dropping standards at all. (But I don’t want to have an argument about quotas and all that, because it’s a distraction from my real objection).
Wow -- even after misrepresenting Applebaum's point, it only takes Goldberg three steps to get his other foot in a bucket. At the Ivies admissions are about as competitive as they've every been, yet they still have high enough minority representation that Goldberg's fellow yahoos, such as Glenn Harlan Reynolds, are forever bitching about it. Simple shame wouldn't keep Goldberg from trying to argue that more black people means worse education, so I have to assume someone warned him he was headed for a trap. (I wonder which of the interns drew this terrible assignment. The one they're trying to get rid of, probably.)
Applebaum doesn’t seem to comprehend that it is not status-class anxiety that is driving the main critique of the elite. It is that this particular elite is hellbent on bossing the country around that will make America less meritocratic.
No one ever taught Goldberg about the folly of argument from italicization.
No one begrudges kids who’ve made good from tough backgrounds. What bothers lots of Americans is when those kids then think they are entitled to cajole, nudge, command and denigrate the rest of America.
Thankfully these patriots have access to thesauruses!
To date, I’ve seen not one instance of Tea Partiers denouncing engineers, physicists, cardiologists, accountants, biologist, archeologists or a thousand other professions who’ve emerged from elite schools. Because those people aren’t bossing anybody around.
Also not mentioned by Goldberg and his TP pals: Investment bankers. Because they never boss anybody around. At least not so's you'd notice. And I hear Carl Paladino is a real sweetheart behind the mask of psychosis he puts on to win votes.

In the inevitable follow-up inspired by "reader mail," I expect to see added in evidence those obnoxious brats from the Yale Drama School who go on to Hollyweird, become stars, and boss around their personal shoppers and assistants. Who will later write to National Review, "That's exactly right, and that's why this lifelong-Democrat personal assistant will vote Republican for the first time in his/her life!"

The rest is all flailing to get the buckets off his feet, in the course of which Goldberg lets slip something real:
Fair or not, to the extent the Ivy League comes up it is as a codeword or symbol for the agenda of progressives.
Which is almost exactly what Applebaum was saying. Well, it's better than when they were using "Jew" and "nigger-lover."

Maybe he drinks in the morning. I know it's a longshot, but as a Christian I'd like to find one thing I can admire about him.

UPDATE. In comments, Whetstone banks one I could kick myself for not seeing:
So when Jonah whines about the smarty-pantses bossing him around while pining for whatever scraps of intellectual approval they'll toss his way (or, barring that, whatever he can misread to make himself feel smart), I consider the possibility that yes, he's been "bossed around," if that means "being edited" or "not getting jobs that writers with a better grasp of language got."

Monday, October 11, 2010

STREAKING. When I saw Jonah Goldberg hoisting a flagon of Pibb Xtra and declaring, "I score that as Anti-Wilsonites 5 defenders 0 (or forfeit)," I was intrigued. As has been proven by several incidents since his famous declaration that, after Juan Cole had handed him his ass, he was "going to take my victory lap now," Goldberg is never more ebullient than when he's pooped his drawers.

Turns out he's scoring an NYT seminar on the conservative fad of bashing Woodrow Wilson starring six historians -- not frauds like Goldberg, but experts in their field who write books rather than book-length cheerleading manuals. All concede negative aspects of Wilson's Presidency, which is probably why Goldberg thinks he's bested the field -- his agenda is that Wilson is a rat, and if other people discuss the subject without insisting Wilson was a saint, that means they're losers in the Jonah Goldberg remote control debate.

Some of the historians explain that the most obnoxious parts of the "progressive" Wilson program -- censorship, opposition to women's rights -- have since been absorbed by the conservative movement. Goldberg gets right to the important part:
A few of the folks use [the Times article] as an excuse to beat up on Glenn Beck, even trying to make him into a mouthpiece for Leo Strauss (no, really).
No, not really. The two guys who mention Beck and Strauss -- the conservative George H. Nash and the liberal Michael Lind -- don't "beat up" Beck; they just don't take him seriously, and who can blame them. But since Goldberg believes that "Beck got on the anti-Wilson train largely because of my book," you can see how he'd consider this an assault of some kind. (Also Goldberg himself is mentioned in the article and even more quickly dismissed. You can see how this became a grudge match!)

When John Milton Cooper, Wilson's biographer, says that "the main problem with this current denunciation is that it does not spread the blame far or early enough" and mentions that Theodore Roosevelt also made use of Big Government, Goldberg flies into a sack dance. That's "a game-ending concession," he yells:
So, John Milton Cooper — a great and revered historian — says that the chief problem with the right’s indictment of Woodrow Wilson is not that it is wrong on the merits, but that it’s too selective? In other words, the substance of the attack is fine, it’s just not inclusive enough. I’ll take that any day.
If you read the essay by Cooper -- Goldberg clearly hopes that you won't -- you'll see that the "main problem" passage is a rhetorical gambit used to bring up the immense change in Republican standards of government activism over the years. But Goldberg seems not to have read any further, and goes on for a couple more paragraphs about the tangential TR connection as if it were his Safe Place and he were afraid to leave it; yet even ensconced there, he's never out of danger so long as he keeps yapping:
So while Cooper is right to a limited extent, what he leaves out is that TR wasn’t nearly the progressive Wilson was as president. It is entirely possible that had TR won in 1912 (and all else was held constant) the same conservatives would be beating up on TR more than Wilson. Though even that I doubt, for the simple reason that Wilson’s progressivism was a real ideology. TR’s progressivism was far more instinctual...
Etc, fart, burp. If K-Lo hadn't come along and banged him on the back of the head, he'd probably have started typing IS TOO IS TOO IS TOO over and over again. Once unstuck, Goldberg relies on his old standby arguments. For example, his response to the comments of Harvard's Jill Lepore is "Riiiiiight." When challenged, he explicates:
What I found hilarious was the claim that liberals don’t label things. This from the crowd that has shouted “tea bagger” at everything that moves.
I have not been able to find any writings by Professor Lepore in which she talks about teabaggers, but unlike Goldberg I'm not looking for them through Miss Nancy's Magic Mirror.

Goldberg on what he considers a victory lap is like one of those guys who run out onto the field during a ball game, hear the bellowing crowds, and think, "They love me!"

UPDATE. Thanks John for correx.

UPDATE 2. "I'm a little confused here," says DKF in comments. "Are we modern liberals supposed to venerate Wilson? If we didn't, what would be the point of all this right-wing Wilson-bashing? I don't give a rat's ass about Woodrow Wilson. Why should they?"

I have a couple of theories on it, DKF.

1.) Republicans -- having been for a half-century the Party of Dirty Tricks, Southern Strategy, and the allegedly magical Deregulation that was supposed to make us wealthy forever but has instead doomed us all -- like to shift the conversation to the distant past, especially eras with decent Republicans and problematic Democrats. Hence the "GOP Can't Be Racist, Look at Frederick Douglass" argument (though I believe those National Review readers who actually looked upon Douglass' visage in that post probably wondered what Fred Sanford was all dressed up for.)

2.) Conservatives really despise Franklin Roosevelt, but when they tell people that FDR's crimes include using the federal treasury to employ hobos, they do not get the horrified reaction they seek. They can't even bitch about the Japanese-American relocation camps because that would get Michelle Malkin mad. So they turn to Wilson, who is not associated with such heroic issues as World War II and the Great Depression, and tell people about all the horrible things he did and that Obama would do if he had the chance. (Sometimes he does, unfortunately, but the problem with Obama's conduct is not that it differs radically from that of his Republican predecessor, but that it resembles it too closely.)

3.) Goldberg wrote a book called Liberal Fascism that made millions of rightwing knuckleheads believe a bunch of bullshit.

(Freshly Squeezed Cynic's explanation, also in comments, is shorter and better, which I can mention now that you've just read mine.)
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the recent Obion County, Tennessee case in which a city fire department refused to rescue some guy's house because he hadn't paid the user fees up front. They let his house burn to the ground. The conservative endorsements of this psychopathic course were depressingly expected, as was the ratio of endorsements made on sterile grounds of libertarian ideology versus those made on grounds that some parasite/looter had been made to suffer. Sometimes I wonder if Jack the Ripper wasn't a precocious Randian.

Friday, October 08, 2010

STILL MORE NOBELONEY. Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Even better, the Chinese government is royally pissed about it. I hope the Prize does Liu and his fellow citizens some good, and I think the best way we could show solidarity would be to develop a sane manufacturing and tariff policy, and stop giving so much of our business to Chinese slave labor factories. (I am not assuaged by the recent boom in Chinese imports of American garbage.)

I doubt political prisoners like the current laureate would be among those arguing that we only harm Chinese hopes of liberty by refusing to feed the regime so many Yankee dollars. So I join the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, PEN, Reporters San Frontieres, and others in support of Liu, and leave the Heritage Foundation and such like to support his Red Chinese slavemasters ("What [Obama] is really saying is that he wants Americans to pay more for Chinese goods").

Conservatives can at least be pleased that President Obama is no longer the reigning laureate, which had them shitting their pants last year. Betsy's Page declares that the choice of Liu means "at long last, the Nobel Peace Prize committee gets it right." The Nobel Committees aren't out of the woods with wingnuts yet, though -- they gave the Medicine Prize to Robert Edwards for his role in developing in vitro fertilization, and the Jesus people are up in arms. (Fear and loathing of test tube babies is enjoying a vogue among social cons.) The win goaded National Review's Kathryn J. Lopez to one of her legendary twittergasms:


But that's okay -- as we've noticed before, conservative psychology relies on sudden swings between delusions of grandeur and delusions of persecution. They can rile the troops by telling them that America won big at the Nobel Prizes (which is like the Oscars, except the men have to wear real tuxedos) and, when needed, enrage them with the spectacle of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in bed together.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

SERVICE ADVISORY. I'm sorry I didn't tell you good people this sooner, but last weekend I moved back to New York. Texas didn't work out. I'm pretty blue about it. I was hoping for a new life of love, happiness, and fresh air, and six months later here I am in a sublet in Harlem (and, by the way, I don't know what you've heard, but up where I am it isn't what you would call gentrified). I spend my days wondering if I'd feel better if I took a shower, and contemplating my abject failure at relationships, driving, and other things millions of ordinary people manage to accomplish as easily as I might, oh, compose an aperçu.

Plus they just raised the price of a MetroCard. Welcome home, brother!

If you know of any jobs in the area, please drop me a line. Because I can't bear to hold a Godlstein pledge drive. I have some pride left.

UPDATE. Thanks guys.
SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE. Mario Vargas Llosa has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and good for him. Rightbloggers are ecstatic, but mainly on political grounds. "A consistent voice against repression wherever he finds it and an eloquent champion of freedom in all its manifestations," declares Nick Gillespie. Donald Douglas is happy that the laureate doesn't like Che Guevara. The American Enterprise Institute proudly reproduces part of his Irving Kristol Award acceptance speech. Tyler Cowen seems to have actually read Llosa's fiction, but he's a special case.

Jay Nordlinger at National Review is very happy because while many previous laureates have been "anti-Americans, Communists, and other anti-democrats," and only won because "politics, particularly leftism, has seemed more important than literary quality" to the Committee heretofore, today's winner is "an advocate of a free economy." The judges must have caught freedom fever in the interim. (Nordlinger adds that Llosa is a "fine writer," but seems to consider this the gravy rather than the meat.)

This is the flip side of the pants-shitting rage that conservatives came out with when Harold Pinter won the Prize in 2005. Everything to them is politics, and for the most part they only get interested in literature when it serves their usual tedious yay-boo.

So far coverage from mainstream media outlets and liberal sites has been appropriately respectful and laudatory, as you might expect. It's gotten me interested in Llosa's work, with which I am only glancingly acquainted. Your recommendations for further reading would be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

DEPRAVED ON ACCOUNT OF THEY'RE DEPRAVED. National Review's Daniel Foster, you will be pleased to know, doesn't unreservedly endorse the decision of the Ayn Rand Hook & Ladder Company to let some poor guy's house burn to ground because the man hadn't paid them a fee. But his asshole buddies are asking what his fucking problem is -- as you might expect, Jonah Goldberg is the douchiest of the bunch, giggling dementedly because the loss of someone's home nicely sets up his zinger about compassionate conservatism (I guess Goldberg hasn't learned the difference between fires in real life and fires in cartoons); John Derbyshire is typically savage and Kevin D. Williamson thinks a scorched-cat picture is an appropriate response, perhaps believing that by not adding a LOLcat caption he is exhibiting admirable restraint. (Is failing a psychological test a requirement for employment at National Review?)

Foster seems to have been unnerved by the insight these attacks offer into the character of his workmates, and like a battered child attempts to restore equilibrium by lashing out against a common enemy, Paul Krugman:
I don’t have much more to add, except to note that Paul Krugman, in a brief blog post on the subject, makes a really bad analogy:
This is essentially the same as denying someone essential medical care because he doesn’t have insurance. So the question is, do you want to live in the kind of society in which this happens?
No. Krugman would have been correct if he’d said “This is essentially the same as an insurance company refusing to pay for someone’s essential medical care because that person never bought insurance in the first place.” And I don’t mind living in that kind of society at all.
Actually, since the guy's home burned down, the best analogy -- an exigent situation in response to which public servants refuse to respond because the piper hadn't been paid -- would be a guy bleeding to death in the emergency room of Fred Hayek Memorial Hospital. Which I assume they would also endorse, unless the guy were a fetus.

Do these creatures actually know any human beings?

UPDATE. Interesting, isn't it, that libertarian magazine Reason has yet to comment* on this? If I didn't know better I'd assume they were thinking, "Everyone knows we're assholes -- do we have to prove it to them?"

*UPDATE 2. "You spoke too soon," commenter atheist informs me; the Reasonoids are "already pointing out how this excellent example shows the clear superiority of the libertarian worldview, and mocking hopey-dopey statist Paul Krugman." Yeah. The thrust of the thing is that since a government agency did this, you can't pin this on the libertarians -- even though the agency was clearly operating on the libertarian principles that are allegedly sweeping the country. I'm surprised no one has suggested a fire department voucher system.

Nick Gillespie also asks the Patrick Bateman impersonators who inhabit Reason comments whether they would let the house burn down, and gets the expected results. My favorite so far: "I've never felt so viscerally that people are starting to talk about us [libertarians] like others talk about Jews." Hmm, the more successful they are, the more victim status they claim -- refresh my memory: How are they not conservatives, again?

(There's also supposed to be a Katherine Mangu-Ward video, but I can't see it in my browser; I assume God is trying to protect me.)

UPDATE 3. God abandoned me and allowed me to see that video:

HOST: "Do you think the firefighters did the right thing by just standing by?"

MANGU-WARD: "Y'know, it's actually an interesting story because it's all about the context…"

HOST: "So you have absolutely no mercy for these people?"

MANGU-WARD: "Y'know, I think that it's a question of free riders…"

Jesus Christ, they're just monsters, aren't they?
SHORTER GLENN HARLAN BEAUREGARD CLETUS T. CORNPONE REYNOLDS: You pointy-heads want to make my little girl go to school with black people, but you won't allow ROTC? That's not very "diverse," hyuk hyuk hyuk.

Monday, October 04, 2010

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. I was inspired by the Voice "White People" story to go over some of the ways rightbloggers approach the issue of race in America. There's the sledgehammer, the battering ram, the mace, the giant foam finger gloves covered with poo, etc. A lot of diversity, in other words, but the effect is basically the same.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WE HAVE A WINNER. You heard about Tyler Clementi, the guy who committed suicide after his roommate webcast him making out with another man, right? Vox Day:
It is obvious that Clementi didn't kill himself simply because his actions were made public; as a musician, no doubt he had been filmed before and some of those films may have even been put online. He killed himself because he could not live with the shame of knowing that everyone would be aware of his submission to what he apparently believed to be evil desires...

A normal man being forced to confront his immorality in such a public way might have reacted with anger, irritation, embarrassment, or amusement, but only one who is both psychologically disturbed and appalled by his own actions will destroy himself over it.
The headline is "Gay rights killed Clementi."

Is someone holding a World's Biggest Asshole contest with a huge cash prize? (h/t Evan Hurst)

UPDATE. Commenters point out Sadly, No!'s coverage of Alex Knepper, who brags that "my sympathy runs thin for someone who commits suicide over a sex tape," then giggles about it in comments. That prize must be enormous... wait a minute, given the contenders, it might just be a plastic ring or a kick in the teeth.
SHORTER KATHERINE MANGU-WARD: Telling parents to feed their kids fresh food instead of McDonald's is ObamaHitler.

(Yes, I know it's from Australia. Don't you know ObamaHitler is a world movement?)
DADDY'S LITTLE RAGE-PROP. If you want a rare insight into how the Tea Party people keep the rage flowing, even under circumstances that should embarrass rather than enrage them, take a look at what happened with Carl Paladino, the lunatic TPer now running as the Republican candidate for Governor in New York, and how it was covered by Glenn Beck's web outlet.

As to events, New York's Daily Intel put it beautifully: "Who would have thought that insinuating [opponent Andrew] Cuomo cheated on his ex-wife wouldn’t even be the most insane thing Carl Paladino would do in one day?" Paladino also got into it with Fred Dicker of the New York Post. Dicker demanded evidence for Paladino's charge against Cuomo; Paladino blamed Dicker for the Post's taking photos* of his 10-year-old love child from an actual affair, then told Dicker he was going to "take him out." There was a brief scuffle, and then Paladino's campaign manager stepped up to tell Dicker he was off the campaign because he was biased in favor of Andrew Cuomo.

That's right -- Fred Dicker, of Rupert Murdoch's Post, is working for the Democrats. Even other conservatives know that's rubbish. These guys are real bridge-builders.

The coverage is as you might expect -- except at The Blaze, Glenn Beck's web boondoggle.

Here's their lede:
It has already been clear that New York gubernatorial candidate is no shrinking violet! So he’s not about to walk away from a situation like this:
He's not crazy, he's feisty! The commenters, most of whom seem not to know what's going on specifically or in general, take Paladino's side, and take it on faith that Murdoch reporter Dicker is just another "Lame Stream Media" "plant reporter" out to help Cuomo, Obama, and Hitler.

They also believe that Paladino's rageaholic episode was thoroughly justified because someone took a picture of his illegitimate (and unacknowledged by Paladino until last year) daughter:
I would vote for him just because of his anger towards those targeting his daughter...

Well when you mess with a mans daughter you better expect an explosion of a reaction...

...You decide to run for office and some sleezeball reporter starts violating your families privacy, He hounds and intimidates your daughter that lives on her own... I would have laid the SOB out, right then and there. It would and could be classified as self defense in that context.
The consensus is that, if they had secret second families and someone reported it, they'd act the same way -- righteously indignant that the Press had attacked their widdle girls!

This is out of the same playbook as Sarah Palin's constant whining about her own children, which has proven a reliable way to agitate the troops on her behalf.

Recall the outrage Palin stirred up after David Letterman made a joke clearly meant for Bristol Palin. The incident that inspired the joke, it turned out, involved a younger sister, and Letterman apologized, but Palin and her paladins continued to holler about it for weeks as if Letterman had snuck into their home at night and fondled the children.

Then there's Palin's reliable outrage over jokes about Trig Palin -- not just the actual, direct ones ("Family Guy Takes Shot at Sarah Palin's Mentally Disabled Son, World Awaits Her Facebook Retaliation Rant"), but also the ones she infers out of all reason -- like when Rahm Emanuel called liberals "retarded" and Palin actually demanded, and got, an apology because the common insult was allegedly a crime against "all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities -- and the people who love them" (such as the world's most famous Down Sydrome child and her mother).

Seeing the even-more-insane lengths to which Paladino is taking this aggrieved-parent approach to politics, and the reaction of the true believers to it, is instructive. The long-term strategy is obviously to get their followers trained to the point where they don't even need a real insult against the candidate's children to get them started -- soon they'll just be able to yell "MSM SKREE MY LITTLE GIRL!" and the mob will commence ravening.

In fact, they won't even need real children! Hell, Paladino didn't even own up to this kid until she was nine -- when the going gets tough, a Tea Party candidate can just suddenly announce that he or she has a bastard, and that the media has forced him or her to admit it. (Maybe they can briefly flash a doll, or a stock photo of a cute kid making an awwww face.) They'll be stringing up reporters in no time!

UPDATE. The best video's been pulled, but Tom Robbins' play-by-play of the Dicker incident is a thing of beauty.

*UPDATE 2. Actually I should clarify that Paladino only claimed the Post had tried to take such pictures -- they haven't run in the paper yet. It would be a sucker's bet to take one side or the other in an honesty competition between Paladino and the Post.

UPDATE 3. Left Coast Rebel suggests it's a net plus for Paladino:
But NY is the place John Steinbeck once penned "neither good nor bad but unique." It's the home of mega-radio shock jock Howard Stern. NY is a place where polling shows that a majority of people in the state had no problem with Paladino's distasteful emails. It's a place where sometimes, the bad guy is hero.
As LCR's own link reveals, this finding regarding the "distasteful" Paladino emails (e.g. "Run, niggers, run") comes from an internal Paladino poll which, given the harem-scarem way that campaign is run, may or may not actually exist. Their claim is that "70 percent of Republican men said that they had received or forwarded the same [kind of emails]. And that 55 percent of the general electorate males had done the same thing." That claim's a little spongey -- I can say that I've gotten emails like this from my idiot friends, too, but that doesn't mean I approve of them, let alone that I would ever vote for a psychopath like Paladino -- though it's interesting these people would find it something to brag about, rather than being deeply ashamed, as a normal person would. Maybe Steven Thrasher was right!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SERENDIPITY. My old colleague Steven Thrasher has a story in the Voice about wingnuts gone wild, called "White America Has Lost Its Mind." Today the world has been very graciously corroborating his thesis -- first, with news of ACORN pimp James O'Keefe's planned sexual harassment of a CNN reporter, and then with rightblogger reactions to Thrasher's article.

The best of the lot take the traditional we'll-tell-you-who-the-real-racists-are position. "The author of this RACIST column works at NPR," yells Reliapundit. "If you substitute 'BLACK' for 'white,' you'd be fired for racism." Cripes, these black people are always getting away with shit.

Reliapundit also claims he and his imaginary friends aren't racist because "We'd've voted for Powell in 2000 - and elected him." I don't know why he's bragging on that, because in 2008 this is what he thought about Colin Powell:
ONCE AGAIN, COLIN POWELL PROVES HE'S A BIG FAT JERK

That big fat jerk Powell refused to go after Saddam in 1991. This was the primary mistake which led us to have to complete the job in 2003.

That big fat jerk Powell made an ass of himself with an awful WMD presentation at the UNSC.

That big fat jerk Powell got "played" by de Villepin at the UNSC and failed to get a second UNSCR in 2002...
Maybe Reliapundit means he would have supported Powell because he knew Powell's horrible record of failure would have made it impossible for any other black guy to get elected for years afterward.

At Big Hollywood Dana Loesch includes among her tales of Democratic racism "Obama: Blacks are a ‘Mongrel’ People," which I suppose means that liberal bigotry is so pervasive that even Obama hates black people -- either that, or Loesch has a spreadsheet called DEMS = RACIST and never checks her data before she dumps it. She also says Thrasher "has no clue what he’s talking about" regarding Shirley Sherrod, then goes on to explain that the civil rights worker was not misrepresented by the strangely-edited tape of her speech -- though even Andrew Breitbart admitted it was out of context -- but revealed to be racist against white people. Well, I suppose there are people who still think Dreyfus was guilty, too.

The moral of the story is, you can be fortunate in your enemies as well as in your friends. Congrats Steve!

UPDATE. Reason gives the libertarian response: We're not nuts, you're nuts!

UPDATE 2. Special guest appearance in comments by Reliapundit, who explains that he's a "registered democrat since 1974" who marched with MLK and the Black Panthers. What a long, strange trip it's been! He also claims "70% of the usa hates obama," and rebuffs several requests that he produce a citation for this finding.
SHORTER THEE ANCHORESS: I always disapprove of using kids in political ads, except when it's right-wing and aimed at unseating a Muslin.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THE BARREL HAS NO BOTTOM, PART 2,818,299. Thanks to Pour Me Coffee, whom you should follow, for pointing out this story at Fox Nation:



I understand the original headline was "President of the United States Loves Miles Davis," but not enough of their readers knew about Miles' stated desire to strangle a white man before he died.

UPDATE. They actually pulled the story off the website! If only it were possible to believe that they did so because they were ashamed. My guess is they're working on a version in which the message is conveyed, not with words and videos, but with MIDI files of "Cop Killer" and "Mind of a Lunatic" and animated gifs of Samuel L. Jackson.

Speaking of which:

UPDATE 2. At American Power, in a post timestamped well past Happy Hour, Donald Douglas:



After careful parsing of Douglas' gibberish ("MOFO CRACK PIPE"?), I have determined that he's trying to say, "I'm not a racist asshole, I'm just emulating other racist assholes."

Monday, September 27, 2010

LIFTING THE ROCK. Over at the Galt Gulch outlet store Reason, Steve Chapman says never mind all those protests and Koran-burnings, non-Muslim Americans and Muslim Americans get along great because capitalism. He starts by laying out the controversy thus:
On the one side is widespread opposition to the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in lower Manhattan, which the Republican nominee for governor of New York has promised to forcibly stop...

On the other side, you have the Lebanese-born man arrested for allegedly trying to set off a bomb near Wrigley Field in Chicago and Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
On the one hand, anti-Muslim bigots, and on the other, Muslim mass murderers -- America's toleration of whom is even more of a miracle than advertised! But seriously, folks, Chapman finds that "most American Muslims are about as radical as Jay Leno," and "only a quarter of them say they have ever suffered discrimination," which must be pretty good, because only a tiny minority of these citizens support Al Qaeda. Also, opposition to the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque is "restrained" to screaming about victory mosques and sharia, and the occasional act of violence. Thus,
The tensions and conflicts in evidence in our public debates do exist, but they give a misleading picture of modern American society. The reality is the one proclaimed by the Founders: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
Say, did you know Reason has a comments section? Let's see how their libertarian readers celebrate their Muslim brothers and sisters:
You can have a favorable view of an organization who's sole purpose is violent Jihad but since you haven't acted yet you lack motivation? Is AQ now some sort of Islamic scouting organization?...

Oh good. Only 1 out of every 20 American Muslims have a favorable view of Al-Qaida. Thanks for quelling all my irrational neo-con fear Chapman... Just so I don't jump the gun and prematurely relapse into my former state of hate and fear from which I've purged myself, when does salivating bigotry become rational fear of an existential threat?

I used to be share Chapman's overly simplistic and naieve view. Then I actually interacted with South-Asians Muslims... I reject the default assumption that all Muslims are basically decent, hard-working, religion-of-peace types. That doesn't mean I think the plurality are the exact opposite. It means, I know enough about what they say when they're in their group, to not buy into this politically correct jargon about how they're patriotic Americans just like you and me...

I am dumbfounded at how many people attempting to claim nice-nice and politically correct about Islam have never considered dishonesty in their game theory...
The tone and preponderance of these comments are about what you'd expect to hear at an Andy McCarthy smoker. But in fairness, I think things may be a little worse at Stormfront.

I think the libertarian view of how tolerant the free market makes us would be more convincing if it weren't for libertarians.
FURTHER ADVENTURES IN THE WAR AGAINST COMMON SENSE. A press release for a Jon Stewart book has made its way to the National Review editorial cages. One passage:
The book ends with a plea to the aliens to reconstruct the human race from DNA in the hope that, with guidance from the visitors, “we could overcome the baser aspects of our nature… and give this planet the kind of caretakers it deserves,” revealing the tears behind Stewart’s clown.
Clumsy copy, but it seems to describe a standard satirical trope about man's misspent time on earth, seen in such disparate works as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and the popular doggerel "Evolution -- The Monkey's Viewpoint."

John J. Miller, the Kulturkampfer who brought you "The 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs," pulls it in through the bars and poops an analysis:
What a perfect embodiment of liberal utopianism: a call for extraterrestrials to make us better by changing who we are.
Within two weeks, expect the rightblogger bottom feeders to spread the word that Jon Stewart has betrayed America and declared his allegiance to alien powers.

Sometimes I think they must have classrooms where the teacher holds up a hard-boiled egg and asks, "Johnny, why is this conservative?" and if Johnny can come up with an answer like "Because it is nature improved by man!" or "Because it is suitable to fuel Jonah Goldberg's farts of wisdom!" he gets promoted.

UPDATE. Further down The Corner, we learn what happened to Jim Manzi, who was a reliably dunderheaded NatRev commenter until the Epistemic Closure fracas last April, when he criticized made man Mark Levin for taking the whole global warning denialism thing a little too far and was denounced for wrongthink by his fellow wingnuts. He writes from Paris:
Living in Europe has created for me a mostly pleasant sense of distance from a lot of the day-to-day of U.S. politics, hence my limited blogging over the past months. Or maybe it’s just that the warm summer breezes and French wines and cheeses have put my ambitions at bay.
Jesus Christ, he had to leave the country! These people take omerta pretty seriously.
ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM, PART 1,929,001. Another culture-war denunciation ("Hollywood Hates Capitalism") of commie movies like Wall Street, Avatar, Aliens, Mission Impossible:2, etc. (No, I'm not kidding.) Followed by an explanation that in real life companies that "break the rules" don't benefit from their crimes -- ask Goldman Sachs! (Which is doing fine, thanks, and advertising itself as the mentor of "10,000 small businesses," which those who are dumb enough to believe the rest of this crap just might also believe).

Newbies may be blinking, astonished, and assuming that this comes from National Review, Forbes, Weekly Standard, StormFront, or something like that. Regular readers will have already guessed it's from libertarian magazine Reason.

Refresh my memory: What's the difference between them and Republicans again?

UPDATE. In comments, some astute answers to my question. Susan of Texas: "Conservatives are authoritarian followers. Libertarians are authoritarian followers who think they are authoritarian leaders." By my life and my love of it, that's good.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, about the Stephen Colbert Congressional appearance and the shitstorm that came with. The reactions of the usual blog dummies were funny enough, peppered as they were with the sort of accusations of ungood unfunniness you would expect from Stalinist goons -- for example, HillBuzz, which militated against laughter at unapproved targets:
Laura Ingraham called [Jon Stewart] a “sad clown”, because Dr. Utopia is failing so badly in the White House, his presidency is crumbling, and he’s leading Democrats to a midterm election that will be the biggest political disaster for a party since 1896.

Yesterday, his cohort in shenanigans, Stephen Coldbear, made an absolute ass of himself at a Congressional hearing and humiliated the Democrats who invited him to testify (as a migrant worker, no less). Stewart and Coldbear will join together the day before Halloween to make further asses of themselves at the Lincoln Memorial, where they will attempt to make fun of the Restoring Honor rally we went to last month.

These guys are ridiculous, but not in the way Comedy Central wants or needs.
Da, da, please to refrain from wronglaugh at so-called comedians, and to laugh instead at funny names made up by Politburo! Victory in culture war is within our grasp. Now, a serving of gruel and performance of four-hour ballet! As Chairman Mao said, that's entertainment!

More interesting to me, though, was the cooperation of several Lamestream Media outlets like Politico and Chuck Todd in denying the official Good Humor certification to Colbert. It seems he stepped a little close to their toes, if not upon them.

You can read the column here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE BARREL HAS NO BOTTOM, PART 1,543,929. I hate to make this Megan McArdle week, but she's been spectacularly awful lately. After her "How to Survive a Layoff" post -- an astonishingly condescending, EST-type exercise clearly meant to be enjoyed by other screw-the-poor types, not by actual jobless people, who probably feel bad enough without McArdle telling them what wasters they are -- she actually composed something called "Why Are The Rich So Rich?" that basically answered the question with Beats me, but it's definitely not because they have some unfair advantage!

Now she's onto school loans. Perhaps to compensate for his frequent logrolling, she quotes Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds to the effect that we just make people soft by letting them take subsidized loans to get into college. As anyone who actually walks this planet knows, people take on these ever-more-expensive loans and the years of debt that come with because they want to get jobs -- increasingly scarce jobs -- and live, if not better (who can expect that anymore?), then perhaps almost as good as their parents. But the Perfesser and McArdle treat this motivation like some kind of ridiculous presumption, as if a beggar had come to their door and asked for his tin cup to be filled with mocha latte.

Nonetheless McArdle does acknowledge that the poor students have been exploited -- by the schools, who have upped their tuitions to capture the increased loan money ("It's hardly surprising that colleges began to claim more and more of the surplus created by their college degree"). And of course by the dad-gum Gummint, which subsidizes the loans, thereby enabling the scam.

Guess who never gets mentioned in her post? The banks. Banks whose profits on college loans have exploded thanks to the recent boom market in private loans. From MSNBC:
Private loans reached a high of 23 percent of the student-loan market in 2008. The number has fallen since the credit markets seized up but will probably go up again. These, not federally guaranteed loans, are the ones implicated in the worst stories of student debt. It's not just undergraduate programs but graduate and especially professional schools where this has become a huge issue. That's why the American Bar Association, worried that excessive private loan debt is keeping students out of public-interest fields, has pushed for an increase in the (professional school) subsidized-loan limits.
Wonder how McArdle missed this piece of the puzzle.

My favorite sentence in the whole thing:
Who but a lunatic would loan money to an eighteen year old with no job and no credit record, in the hopes that they will graduate college and begin speedy repayment?
Too bad she wasn't around to say this when FDR was signing the GI Bill. It would have made history more interesting, and then we'd be slightly less likely to miss its lessons.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MEGAN McARDLE'S ADVICE FOR OLD PEOPLE WHO LOSE THEIR JOBS: Have more money, and get to work.

UPDATE. You don't get the full flavor of these McArdle posts without the spices added by the Patrick Bateman impersonators who populate her comments section. In this case they talk about what a terrible thing it is that unemployment insurance exists, the liberal bias of the New York Times (one gripes that the paper gave a better review to Menace II Society than to The Pursuit of Happyness), and how, on those rare and justified occasions when they were out of work, unlike the wastrels under discussion they lived in a paper bag in a septic tank to economize. (Now, of course, they are all rich arbitrageurs.)

If you want to know what happens when libertarians are in power, try to imagine a boot kicking at a sleeping bum, forever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ANNALS OF LIBERTARIANISM, CONT. On the Bill Maher show, Jon Hamm (Mad Men) said some stuff:
Actor Jon Hamm said that the "Luo tribesman" statement [made about Obama] was racist. "That's what it's all sort of couched in ... that's the secret agenda." He then added this: "When they say [Obama] is a 'Luo tribesman,' it's all sort of code"...

Hamm finished up the "racism" discussion with a jab at conservatives. He said that the Tea Party keeps ta[l]king about "taking back" America. "Well," he said, "who are 'we' taking it back from?" Hamm then concluded with this remark: "I'm pretty sure ... 'we' as Americans still have America. I don't know who 'we' need to take it back from." The crowd applauded when he was done.
This is just good sense. The whole Gingrich-D'Souza Luo thing is clearly racist, and the TP "taking America back" message is clearly populist piffle by which well-funded Republican pressure groups try to position themselves as the Forgotten Man.

As followers of rightbloggers may have already guessed, this was seized upon by the usual idiots with Gol-Durn-Hollyweird rants like "is there something that happens to you when you become a huge star in Hollywood... that makes you unable to understand that Americans are often partial to limited government" etc.

There is a particularly ripe example out now, entitled "Don Draper Thinks You Might Have a Hidden, Racist Agenda" (even though its author says of the "racist" charge, "the actor never actually says it outright"). It's got all the rightwing culture war crap you've learned to expect from such outlets: The author laments that "actors, musicians, and comedians" have "exceptionally dumb political views" (like the Dixie Chicks, amirite? Shut up and sing!). He "wonders how Mad Men star Jon Hamm would react to Maher asking about the 'violent' nature of Islam." He bets Hamm would be all "reasonable" about that, yet he smears good tea party Americans on Bill Maher by almost-sorta saying they're racist. Etc.

This was published on the blog at Reason, where consumers who have some lingering doubts about going full wingnut can get their talking points in the "libertarian" flavor. In advertising, they call this a niche market.

UPDATE. Commenter Bob asks, "Okay, so how long before there's a full blown Mad Men boycott by people who already weren't watching it?" The hardcore cases are way ahead of you, Bob -- they recognized long ago that even such seemingly innocuous entertainments as Paul Blart: Mall Cop are full of liberal propaganda, and have stopped engaging so-called "pop culture" altogether. Bible Reagan puppet shows for the kids on Sunday will suffice. The rest of the week's for Galt-Goin'!

Monday, September 20, 2010

NATIONAL REVIEW COVERS THE ARTS. After yet another series of complaints about how artists say liberal things to which conservatives are forced to listen (presumably at gunpoint), Jay Nordlinger addresses an objection:
“That man and his wife can’t expect to go to folk concerts and not hear leftist politics from the stage! Come on! That’s like going to a Chinese restaurant and objecting to the sight of rice.” Well, maybe: I don’t know. Are there right-leaning folkies? Performers, I mean? I bet there are. And I bet many are closeted (as right-leaners are in the classical-music world).
What richness this adds to our picture of persecuted rightwing artists -- now joining the novelists, filmmakers and actors cowering in the attic, we have cellists and hammered dulcimerists! I would especially like to meet the folksinger who trudges from coffeehouse to coffeehouse, blaming the poor reception he receives for his renditions of "Where Has Spiro Agnew Gone?" and "Masters of ACORN" on liberal bias, and taking heart in the examples of Bob Roberts and The Goldwaters.

You might also enjoy this Nordlinger reader letter:
I was a very prolific jazz reviewer for years — live performances and recordings — but totally quit when Obama got elected. The constant e-mails, liner notes, and remarks at gigs that trashed Bush and the Right, while extolling the coming of The One, enraged me, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Why should I spend one minute of my (volunteered) time helping jazzers when they obviously despise what I stand for?
I like to think this is from Nat Hentoff.

Nordlinger's colleague Benjamin Weinthal catches the bug, and tries an artsy angle on Iran:
Where does the musical film Cabaret, which depicts the rise of German fascism, intersect with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s appearance at the United Nations this week? “It is clear the future belongs to Iran,” said Ahmadinejad in an AP interview on Sunday, which conjures up the eerie beer garden scene in Cabaret in which a young Nazi stirs up jingoism with the song “Tomorrow Belongs to Me"...

The pressing question at the end of the Cabaret scene was posed by the British actor Michael York, who expressed justifiable disbelief about whether Germany’s aristocracy could exercise control over the Hitler movement.
I'm constantly hearing claims that the future belongs to some damn thing or other -- Microsoft, Linux, Matt Meola, walkable communities, et alia. Previously I thought these were just harmless enthusiasms or marketing gimmicks. Now I know they're Hitler! I expect this will be included in the next edition of Liberal Fascism.

Wait a second -- Hitler once said that "the future belongs to color photography." Gasp! His influence lingers to this day! Set the color saturation to zero, for democracy's sake!
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the Christine O'Donnell funsies. It's less of a surprise to me that rightbloggers would do anything to cover for their tea party princess -- we all know what good little soldiers they are -- than it is that the Delaware GOP let her get through. I mean, I don't see how it can be that no one looked at her MTV stuff and thought: Hmm, Jesus freak desperate to get on TV -- 10 to 1 she's spoken some holy-rolling that would make William Jennings Bryan blush.

Anyway, I see some of them like Don Surber are doubling down ("I have news for these liberals, most Americans do have questions about The Won’s true beliefs"), which suggests less real confidence to me than a full-scale retreat into fantasy. I'm not optimistic in general, but you only tout a nag like this when you're desperate to sell your tickets.

I'm also interested to see their big knock on O'Donnell's opponent, Chris Coons, is that he once wrote an article for his school paper called "Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.” "Of course it’s doubtful that Chris Coons’ bearded Marxist paper will get half the scrutiny that O’Donnell’s masturbation video will receive," wrote Right Pundits. "Dems Hope Voters Will Focus on O’Donnell & Not on Chris Coons’ Marxist Past," said Jim Hoft. "O'Donnell's Opponent: A Bearded Marxist," announced TownHall. Etc.

Coons' reference, it turns out, is to friends who joked that Africa, where he had spent a semester, "takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinking Americans and sends back bearded Marxists." (He himself merely became a Democrat.) You don't even have to guess at the context -- it's obvious if you know how to read. But rightblogging doesn't require that skill; in fact, at times it seems like an outright impediment.


UPDATE. The latest refinement of the schtick, as advertised by the Ole Perfesser, seems to be that the judgmental liberals are attacking O'Donnell for actually being a witch, whereas the conservatives are accepting and embracing her for it. This is actually pretty clever, as it may excite evangelicals, who will enjoy both the image of O'Donnell picnicking on Satan's altar (presumably in the traditional state of undress) and the opportunity to embrace her in Christian forgiveness. I suggest they get working on those prayer meetings now, and include full-immersion baptisms at every stop.