Monday, March 30, 2009

NEW VOICE COLUMN UP. This is a miscellany of some of the week's greatest hits, including the White House Easter Egg Hunt, the Republican alterna-budget, and "Human Achievement Hour," the right's sad and sour we'll-show-those-treehuggers Earth Day counter-demonstration. Nothing says Modern Conservatism like wingnuts running up their electric bills as a protest. I don't recall them rebranding their SUVs as "Freedom Guzzlers," but I can't be everywhere.

I got so carried away that a missed a few things, including the Rush Limbaugh Mud Wrestling Challenge "You're a lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward," writes discourse-raiser Andrew Klavan. "You're terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do." All of us have heard a little Rush -- how can you help it? -- and I am reminded of what Hemingway said about James Jones and not needing to eat a whole bowl of scabs to know that they are scabs.

I'm also sorry to have missed Andrew Breitbart's declaration that all internet trolls are liberal, particularly after finding my first Voice commenter of the morning: "KISS MY RIGHT-WING ASS EDROSO..." Or is he one of our double agents?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

THE GENERAL DONS THE CHICKEN TRACK. Back before the election, MyGodIt'sFullOf-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters told as many white people as he could reach that if elected, Obama was going to capitulate in (among other places) Afghanistan:
Pandering to his extreme base, Obama has projected an image of being soft on terror. Toss in his promise to abandon Iraq, and you can be sure that al Qaeda will pull out all the stops to kill as many Americans as possible -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and, if they can, here at home -- hoping that America will throw away the victories our troops bought with their blood...

The Pakistanis think Obama would lose Afghanistan - and they believe they can reap the subsequent whirlwind...

Even without nukes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would try the new administration's temper in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf...
When Obama became President, Peters flailed a while for a suitable Afghan talking point, settling briefly on the complaint that Obama wasn't getting enough support in Afghanistan from the Europeans.

Now the President is ordering thousands of troops to Afghanistan, and suddenly the General has become Hanoi Ralph, actually advising Obama to pull troops out of Afghanistan:
Barack Obama? I heard Lyndon Johnson. The only LBJ touch that BHO lacked was the word "escalation"...

Do what makes military sense and reduce our forces in Afghanistan to a level that can be supplied by air. And concentrate on destroying al Qaeda, not on "owning" village X. (Obama's approach just stinks of Vietnam.)
Well, that was after all how Richard Nixon won the Vietnam War. I'm not crazy about Obama's plan, either, but I'm a dirty fucking hippie. What's the General's excuse? Also: Do even people on his own side think he has any principles at all except Destroy All Democrats?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WHAT, AND GIVE UP SHOW BUSINESS? Sometimes I just can't believe what I'm reading. At National Review, David Freddoso gives a long intro to the Republican alternative budget. Its breathless, anticipatory tone --
As we await the details, here is a summary... First, they would end a litany of controversial programs of doubtful value to the public... they appear to be pursuing several market-based solutions they have proposed in the past few years...
-- reminded me of something, at first I couldn't think what, and then I realized: it's like Geraldo Rivera's intro to the opening of Al Capone's vault.

And it ends up the same way:
Update: In fact, we don't know anything more. I was not the only reporter in the room during the delayed press conference who had expected to see some numbers, at least ballpark. Today's press conference did not provide further details.

We'll find out what the Republicans' numbers are sometime next week before they receive a vote.
This caught me off guard. Do some of them actually not know in advance that they're peddling bullshit?

The alterna-budge is a bag of magic Reagan beans. No one on God's green earth believes in them or wants them. Adding numbers to it would be like assigning a horsepower rating to Hot Wheels.

Can't they just get another angry, abused millionaire executive and dance around him? I'm beginning to feel embarrassed for them.

UPDATE. Now Freddoso is sounding hurt and confused. I think National Review ought to toughen up its orientation process. But even the longtime habitues seem dispirited today. Nordlinger is reduced to Gee, Wasn't Reagan Great. I hope Derbyshire will come back from lunch with some ravings about wogs and shirt-lifters.
SHORTER MARK NEWGENT: Our Civil War theme song that "spurns the Northern scum" isn't pro-Confederate! Why would anyone think that? It is, rather, a rebuke to the tyrant Abraham Lincoln.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CRY ME A RIVER. Throughout the rotten economy, ordinary people are being asked to take pay cuts. Things are tough all over; no one gives a shit. An executive vice-president at AIG is asked to become a dollar-a-year man and quits instead, and all the usual suspects bawl their beady eyes out.

Maybe this explains why they have such trouble with the arts. Normal people go to drama for tragic pity and catharsis; rightbloggers find it in the diminution of richness among rich people. Maybe it comes from having been raised in Skinner boxes.
SHORTER IAIN MURRAY: I'm not a nerd. You're a nerd!

(You can read Murray's essay for proof that the man is a nerd. It's TV criticism done in terms of Greek and Roman Comedy, and the only reason to write such a thing is to show that you know the classics and watch a bunch of sitcoms. Evelyn Waugh would have given him a wedgie.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

THE POWERLESSNESS OF SUGGESTION. In zipping through the political nonsense last week I noticed a Victor Davis Hanson article asking, "Why are so many Americans so depressed about things these days?" and providing a long list of reasons -- mostly Obama with a little o-tempora-o-mores thrown in for the seniors.

Depressed? I thought. Who says Americans are depressed? Hanson's article offered no citation, and I could find no concordance among the relevant political and medical news.

Hanson also asked, "Why are Americans hesitant, bewildered after the arrival of the Messiah?" without telling us where he heard about that, either.

Then Power Line's Scott Whatshisname said, "Victor Davis Hanson asks why so many Americans are depressed," and, without questioning the premise, offered reasons why he was depressed ("the fellow in the Oval Office who combines infantile leftism and adolescent grandiosity in roughly equal measures," "the mullahs love the weakness and stupidity that President Obama transmits," etc).

Bruce Kesler of Maggie's Farm also accepted and even confirmed out of his ass the uncorroborated premise ("Both Johnson and Hanson, in effect, point at frustration at both external events and at our own behaviors. They are correct") but insisted he, perhaps alone among men, was not depressed, because "Forty-eight percent did not vote for Obama" and because "Ordinary Americans" -- though depressed -- "are buckling down in their personal affairs and continuing to achieve for themselves, society, and our futures."

Then the shrinks were brought in. Dr. Sanity agreed with someone else's assertion that polls showed Obama's policies are "showing signs of not going over very well" -- one hell of a qualified statement -- and took from this that "it is not only Republicans and conservative Democrats who are utterly aghast, but a large majority of the population." Also, "Those who innocently voted for him are beginning to sicken on the bitterness of their regret and betrayal." Still no numbers, nor even the testimony of an irate cab-driver.

ShrinkWrapped seconded -- "We now see the spread of despair to the Center and Left" -- and finally offered some anecdotal evidence at least: the demurrers of those tribunes of the common man, Paul Krugman and Thomas P.M. Barnett. (Good ol' Moe Lane was convinced -- but he wasn't depressed, no sir! He liked his odds in 2010!)

And so on. I can't be absolutely sure where they got it from. Maybe Fox News is still putting out the Morning Memo. They might have been channeling the March 13 Peggy Noonan WSJ column, in which the Crazy Jesus Lady, as is her wont, saw the face of America in her drinks tray ("People sense something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures...") and even gave credence to the lunatic ravings of an apocalyptic preacher in support of her vision.

But I can guess at the spirit behind it. These people have been dealt out of the conversation. Day after day they smack their lips and predict the impending downfall of the Democrats. But even if Obama were caught sniffing coke off Bin Laden's ass, they'd still have many hard months left before they could do anything with it. Nor do they have a plan to offer voters they expect to convince except their own moral superiority, tax cuts for the rich, and persecution of homosexuals.

Politics is everything to them, but they don't respond to it like politicians -- they respond like spurned lovers. They have been in stark shock since the November election, and even then could not admit that they had been rejected by the country they thought was theirs for the pandering. One day they'll see, they mutter into their tear-stained pillows. And in their exile they comfort one other with stories that America isn't doing so well, she pines, she sighs -- she is depressed.

I had thought there was some kind of strategic meaning to their Tea Parties, but now I suspect they're just pity parties: ways of huddling together to fill their aching void.

Monday, March 23, 2009

JESUSLAND IN EXILE. I've spent some time looking for actual Galt-Goers, and found mostly talkers. But these folks seem to have given the matter some thought:
Russia intrigues me; it's big enough to get lost in and they could use the infusion of population. And at least their government is pro-Russian...

Yes we have been talking about the possibility of emigrating to Australia where my husband immigrated from as a boy. I never thought I would leave the U.S. but I never thought my government would, in a million years, release Guantanamo prisoners within the United States, either...

Myself, I'm looking to Uganda. I've done charity work there; more stable than most, friendly to Westerners, eager for investment, growing infrastructure, speak English in large part. Others I know are looking to Tanzania as well...

For only $1500, you can set up a Costa Rica corp owned by a trust in the Bahamas. Sounds smart to me....

Absolutely, we have talked about moving to Costa Rica... The difference between the democrats saying they were going to leave the Country was because of their hatred of George Bush. Our reason for thinking about it is because Obama and the Congress are ruining this Country before our very eyes. I truly think that if Republicans do not take Congress back in 2010 and Pelosi is forced out, people will start leaving...
Yes, the followers of Crunchy Rod Dreher (who gets the ball rolling with a coincidental trio of people planning the Costa Rican Option, which is probably in the Book of Revelations or a Robert Ludlum novel at least) are getting ready to build New Jerusalems in countries that will be sitting pretty when America collapses. Among my favorites is a catalogue of "conservative/conservativish" promised lands including Ireland, Malta, Australia, and Singapore: "The Philippines is maybe the nation that's most 'conservative', they preferred McCain to Obama, with Thailand being close in a way." So looked at from a certain perspective it's perfect.

There are some brethren there who don't take it seriously ("I'm planning to build an under-water aqua bubble estate in which to retreat until after the dissolution of all things on the face of this besotted and immoral earth"), but no doubt those truly called by the Lord consider them among those destined to be Left Behind.
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP, mostly about the Obama-Leno story and its strategic reduction by rightbloggers to nanoseconds of outrage. The operation is typical, but it's a pleasure just to watch these guys work. I also touch on the Tea Parties, and was delighted to find in my diggings the Tea Party neo-gospel fight song ("Now we're not advocating violence/That's what the so-called peace crowd do/We're talkin' peaceful protest/To defend the red, white and blue"). I'm not sure how it will go over with the usual attendees, but I think it gives The Goldwaters a good run for their money.

UPDATE. Comments shifted (who can blame them) to the impending Althouse nuptials, which delight me. The more happiness we can bring into this horrible world, the better. (I mean the blogosphere, but I guess that goes for planet Earth, too.) And the bride leaves a long trail of broken hearts, which is dramatically satisfying.

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.