Saturday, October 30, 2010

DC TODAY. I'm in one of those goddamn Huffington buses on the way to that Jon Stewart thing. Being broke, I appreciate the free ride, but I gotta tell you, when Ms. Huffington came out to Citifield in the pre-dawn dark, surrounded by camera and lights, and people were yelling "thank you" at her, I felt like telling them, "That's right, dogs, lick your mistress' ass!" I, a true son of liberty, might have been grateful to ride in Arianna's limo, within reach of her knee, but not for being piled onto a stinking bus with a lot of other slobs so she can look good to her rich friends.

Now in Delaware. If you have something you want me to yell at Sheryl Crow, let me know in comments.

UPDATE. A little touch of Ari in the night:

I didn't get anywhere near Sheryl Crow, and this time it wasn't the restraining order, but the size of the crowd that prevented me. I shimmied through the hordes for about an hour before giving up and calling an old friend for lunch.

Attendees seemed cheerful, mostly young, and not too concerned with the paucity of jumbotrons and relatively quiet audio. Many wore costumes, some carried signs ("This Sign Is Making My Arms Hurt"); there were some of those goofy top hats associated with lordly hippie misrule, and why not? The spirit was mostly unserious, which could be taken either as a sign of defiance or of resignation in the face of national madness, depending on how one's mood swings. In either case it was a nice day to walk among them.

UPDATE 2. Rightbloggers, it seems at the stage, mostly saw only Fatwa Stevens. A shame they missed Ozzie!

Friday, October 29, 2010

UNCLEAR ON ANY CONCEPT. National Review Fartmaster General Jonah Goldberg is upset because someone used irony on him. (Short version: Goldberg thinks the CIA is not so tuff because they haven't killed Julian Assange; Gawker's John Cook suggests, then, that liberal fascists aren't so fascist because they haven't punched Goldberg out.)

The bucket-footed Goldberg responds exactly as you would expect: He calls Cook "Brainiac" and "a jerk" and affects to believe Cook actually called for him to be beaten up:
And if he thinks I need to be punched in the face, I invite him to give it a whirl himself. If memory serves, it could lead to a fun few minutes for me.
Don't expect to hear much from Goldberg today; he'll be practicing his Vulcan nerve pinch. Though I expect that, like all his kind, if there's any trouble (real or imaginary), he'd prefer to send the U.S. military to handle it for him.

UPDATE. Of course there's the whole issue of Goldberg's casual endorsement of extralegal execution, but who has time to catalogue, let alone denounce, all the different varieties of Goldberg's awfulness?

UPDATE 2. Alex Pareene provides a very serious, thoughtful, response to Goldberg's post that has never been made in such detail or with such care: "Why hasn't a piano ever fallen on Julian Assange's head? After all, cartoons tell us that this happens all the time!"
ELECTION 2010: THE ENFRAUDENING! You have to admire their discipline. When they're not beating their chests and claiming they'll win 100 seats, they're preparing for a less than optimal result with predictions and/or claims of fraud.

Ole Perfesser Instapundit does his part:
READER KIM SOMMER WRITES: “Poll watching. Ubiquitous cameras. Remind ‘em.” Ok. Done!

Related: Voter Fraud Watch Video Exclusive: Poll Watcher Witnesses Misconduct in Houston...
Video exclusive? They've already got evidence? Someone went into a polling place with a flip-cam and documented fraud?

You go to the site the Perfesser links, and it turns out the video does not show any actual fraud, but an interview with a poll watcher named "Toni" who claims she saw a clerk "taking somebody's hand, putting it on their arm, and actually voting for the person." When asked if the clerk had done that because the voter had asked for help -- a safe bet, since apparently the voter didn't protest -- "Toni" admits she doesn't know, but "maybe she wasn't voting the way she wanted her to." It must have taken all their strength not to go to high-contrast, slow-mo, and sinister music right then and there.

The Perfesser also complains:
Plus, University of Texas at Brownsville asks faculty to end class early and walk students to vote.
Encouraging students to vote on Election Day -- why, that's what Hitler did! No doubt the profs will stand over the kids chanting "Illy-beany chilly-beany" and using their arms to push the kids' hands toward Obamasocialism.

Oh, he's got another one -- "election complaint filed in Nevada." And what a complaint! The complainant, Babette Rutherford (of ResistNet, "home of the patriotic resistance," just so you know where she's coming from; her mouthpiece is a former Republican Congressional aide), says that "union members have gone far beyond merely busing union members to Early Voting polling locations" and are actually using their union brethren as zombie voters! For example:
a. personally escorting members from each bus directly to each polling location's entrance, in order to prevent members from attempting to go somewhere else instead (i.e., a store in a mall that contains an Early Voting polling location)...
Not only is this clearly coerecive, it's also bad for the local economy! Rutherford also says she saw union goons "surrounding the perimeter of polling locations to conspicuously monitor members' activities from a variety of angles and prevent members for leaving..."

You'd think there'd be a kidnapping charge in there, wouldn't you? But I suspect freeing these poor vote-slaves from the clutches of their captors is less important to these guys than piling up a bunch of claims so it looks like they're battling the SS in a cage match for democracy itself -- a tonic for the troops with which they hope to rally the base.

UPDATE. You'll be hearing plenty more about this kind of egregious Democrat criminality as Andrew Breitbart has come aboard ABC's election news team! The liberal media does it again!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THE OCTOBER CLASSIC. I still have loved ones in Texas and am rooting for the Texas Rangers, though the Giants are friggin' murdering them. Politics has nothing to do with it; this is baseball, which is far more important. And only a total moron would.. oh, hello, Aaron Goldstein of the American Spectator:
While the Rangers are very aggressive on the base paths with their propensity towards stealing bases; the Giants are very conservative in their approach to running the bases.

That might well be the only thing that makes San Francisco more conservative than Texas these days. Because perhaps the most fascinating thing about this year's World Series is the political and cultural divide that exists between the two cities.
You can guess the argument: One of the Rangers loudly thanked God, which San Francisco Democrats never do, George W., Nolan Ryan, etc. Also:
After the Giants clinched the NL pennant, Giants General Manager Brian Sabean had a more temporal source of inspiration. Sabean explained his team's success by invoking Hillary Clinton stating "we've gotten to a point where it 'takes a village,' it takes a whole team to win a series." I cannot imagine that would have gone over well deep in the heart of Texas.
Of course, as an AmSpec commenter points out, and even Forbes acknowledges, the Rangers are major mooches off the taxpayers, whereas PacBell Park was built without any public funding. Maybe Goldstein would have done better to identify the Rangers with the Tea Party. (Oh, God, now they've got me doing it...)

At least The Last Tradition doesn't beat around the bush:
Steers Against the Queers...

This year’s Fall Classic is more than a contest to determine who takes home the World Series Championship trophy. Not by along shot. This baseball series will determine the future path of the United States.

It’s a competition between those who like to take up the saddle and ride a horse on the open range against those who like to take it up the ass and yell, “We here, we’re queer and so are some of you!”
Either way I'm content: The Yankees lost.

UPDATE. "I thought Real Americans (TM) had abandoned traditional team sports altogether as part of decadent elitistm and were devoting themselves instead to NASCAR and MMA," says bgn in comments. "Or is Charles Murray wrong again?"
THE ROD DREHER MYSTERY SOLVED? Some of you have actually written to me, asking if I'd noticed that Rod Dreher -- who had been recruited away from Beliefnet to the Templeton Foundation to write longer versions of his crap posts for something called Big Questions Online -- on August 20 suspended comments at the Templeton site "pending the outworking of some technical and editorial issues," and on August 23 announced:
With respect to this blog, we are reconsidering a style and format that will be more in tune with Sir John's forward-looking, positive, constructive ways to engage the Big Questions. We hope to fine-tune things to make BQO better for you, our readers. So, please be patient, and thanks for reading.
Dreher hasn't posted since then. Weirder still, some of his posts were scrubbed from the site. In September Bluegrass Up noticed a quoted email and a comment by Dreher about his "blog hiatus."

What happened? Someone noticed he'd copped out on a September Religion Newswriters Association forum at which he was supposed to appear. So I went to listen to the audio, and heard the moderator announce this:
Rod Dreher, who has gone to the Templeton Foundation to work on their Big Questions Online magazine, is not going to be able to join us -- the magazine just launched about a month to six weeks ago and he was buried alive there...
My God -- buried alive! Was he ritually murdered? I knew Catholics were weird, but during my time in the Church we never got into the Opus Dei shit.
THEY CALL ME MAD, BUT ONE DAY, WHEN THE HISTORY OF FRANCE IS WRITTEN, THEY WILL MARK MY NAME WELL -- SIDNEY APPLEBAUM! That guy from HillBuzz has decided it's time he made his big Dick Morris move. In an earnest plea to Rush Limbaugh, he announces that he and his fellow Hillary Clinton supporters (who all got together at an Applebees and elected to give HillBuzz Guy the talking stick) will be endorsing Sarah Palin for President, and that the people who crossed him and his buddies are on "a Hillary 'enemies’ list', or just 'The List' as we call it in HRC supporter circles."

With a flashlight under his chin, he promises said traitors woe & tribulation:
If you voted for Obamacare, you are politically dead but may not know it…and it is your own fault. Being intensely stupid is no defense. If you were a YES vote on anything related to Obamacare you are going to be defeated…if not in 2010, then in the primaries in 2012. If you survive those, you will be taken down in the 2012 general election. Your political career is over…dummy.

Hope your time on the Obama Kool-Aid bandwagon was worth ruining your life over.
Strangely, though this bat signal has been up a while, Hillary Clinton herself has not appeared on the ramparts to quit her throne as Secretary of State, denounce the evil pretender Obama, and lead the revolution.

I'm trying to take a charitable view: Maybe this is just an experiment by social scientists to see whether wingnuts are so hot for converts that they'll take one who's clearly out of his goddamned mind.

UPDATE. Jay Tea of Wizbang takes HillBuzz Guy at his word, imagines that the "hardest of the hardcore Hillary! supporters" are being delivered unto the Cause. Then, comparing the Hillary People to the Russians in World War II (but first walking across the room and talking in a whisper, so HillBuzz guy won't hear it and take offense), he counsels caution to his collection of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls representing the American People:
But bosom buddies? Absolutely not. In the long run, the Soviets proved to be a greater existential threat to the US and the world than the Nazis were -- largely aided and abetted by their allies. Some people even took up their cause and gave them highly sensitive military secrets -- especially the keys to developing nuclear weapons. And even during the war, the Soviet espionage efforts in the West were tremendous -- but downplayed, as they were "on our side" anyway.

What we need to do with these PUMA folks is not embrace them, but use them. Give them kind words and gestures of support, but under no circumstances accept them fully into the fold. Common cause does NOT mean common values, and shared enemies are NOT shared ideals.
Cherish the image -- a lunatic offering millions of votes which, when it comes time to produce them, will turn out to be a trunkful of his mother's old Green Stamp books; and another lunatic plotting to get the best price for them. It's like Moliere performed by chimpanzees.

UPDATE 2. Not being a follower of his ravings, I didn't realize HillBuzz Guy is one of those enraged stalker types who track down people who make fun of them. But Mrs. Polly reports in comments that when she sassed him with what he called "libelous claims of RAAACISM!," he called for her personal details, and his followers scurried to look for them. Yeah, he's someone you want to give real power.
SHORTER VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: We white people must rise up against our black, Mexican, and homosexual overlords.

UPDATE: For aesthetic reasons, I left out a few of Hanson's other honkey-oppressors, which include Muslims, of course, and college professors who are not Ann Althouse and Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

Hanson's pumping the bilge extra hard today. In the midst of a typical peroration about how everything Obama does disgusts him, he delivers this classic line:
Obama’s awkward efforts to appear hip have resulted in Jon Stewart calling the president of the United States “dude” and a general diminution in the dignity of the office.
Yeah, imagine if Hanson caught Obama doing something like this:

With white women, yet!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RETROFIT. Theodore Dalrymple claims "The Tea" -- as in Tea Party -- "Started Brewing Under Bush." " The important point," he says, "is this: many who now comprise the Tea Party were not Bush die-hards, but disapproved or largely disapproved of the Bush administration’s big-government tendencies."

If you were expecting videos of men in tricorners yeling about 1773 and taking one's country back circa 2002, you will be disappointed. In evidence Dalrymple offers contemporaneous negative comments about the Big Government tendencies of the Bush Administration made by such notable future Tea Party leaders as... David Brooks, Fred Barnes, and Richard Viguerie. He also notes the pre-Obama activities of FreedomWorks, the "grassroots" organization run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

I guess he figured no one would read further than the headline.

Monday, October 25, 2010

RICH HIPPIES REDUX. Some kid at the Starbucks must have given Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds some attitude, because the simple country lawyer from Yale is on about the "elites." He finds an article by fellow Tennessean Jack Neely who reports:
A Nashville man was convicted of ramming his SUV into a car purely because it had an Obama sticker on the bumper. A colleague of my wife’s endured a barrage of insults from men in a pickup truck on Pellissippi Parkway.
You will be unsurprised to learn Neely follows up by trying to understand the root causes of these gentlemen's anger, and that race is only mentioned, dismissively, about halfway down. More prominent reasons for the Vols' violent Obama rages include this: "He’s the first son of an immigrant to be elected president since 1832; Andrew Jackson was the last one." Yes, I'm sure the boys set around at night, denouncing Obama because he's the son of an immigrant like that bastard Andrew Jackson.

Ridiculous as this is, Perfesser Reynolds goes further with his own particular reading, which is that Obama is one of them no-'count elitists who look down on simple law-perfessin' folk such as himself:
Obama was also the favored candidate of the Gentry Class. Southerners and the Gentry Class don’t get along well, since...
...y'all lost the War? of the key aspects of Gentry Class membership is looking down on Americans from Flyover Country in general, and the South in particular.
Yeah, I thought so. The Perfesser also throws in a link to one of his old baw-haw-Howell-Raines posts, about how Southerners who were liberalized by the civil rights struggle suffer from a "neurosis."

And to think, this guy was only a short time ago trying to convince us that the Tea Parties are racially integrated. The election must be getting close.

The Perfesser's got another, too, in which he asserts that "the main problem with the 'new elite' is that they’re not an elite at all. That is, they aren’t particularly smart, or competent." Though in an earlier, similar rant he mentioned Nancy Pelosi and David Brooks, here he doesn't say who specifically he means by this -- I guess "person who also lives in a big house but disagrees with me politically" probably covers it. (I haven't seen the Perfesser say anything positive about a liberal in years. Remember when he used to be nice to Oliver Willis? No more; the groovy TP revolution is too important.)

Later he adds a reader email which he presumably thinks makes his point:
I am an elite anti-elitist Tea Partier and I made my first protest signs way back in March 2009. I’m a Yale [BA, Philosophy], Columbia [MA, International Affairs] former Wall Street trader and risk manager who is just about done getting another masters...
The salt of the earth, the common clay! This fella explains that though he is flush with cash, degrees, and a string of poloponies, he's still cool because while the bad elitists "think (erroneously) that they know better what we should be doing with our time," he's the right kind of elitist, because he's going Galt, he's "ornery," and he wants to elect Republicans who won't try and tell people what to do, man. Then we'll be free!

Once upon a time a rich guy had to dress like a dirty hippie and otherwise conceal his wealth in order to insinuate himself with the groovy revolution. Now he can just send the rabble an email of support from his penthouse. Well, if we can't have honesty or consistency, at least we can have a more streamlined hypocrisy.

UPDATE. "I can't wait for the next NRO cruise," says monkey.dave in comments, "when we can listen in while grizzled men of toil Glenn Reynolds and John Derbyshire discuss 'Dale Earnhart Jr vs Jimmie Johnson' over a gruelling round of shuffleboard."
NEW VOICE COLUMN UP about the Juan Williams thing. Imbecilic rightblogger reactions were so plentiful as to constitute an embarrassment of riches as well as a plain embarrassment, so I had no room for, say, Freedom Eden denouncing Saturday Night Live for not making a conservatively-correct joke about it. ("There was absolutely no criticism of the outrageous move by NPR, and Williams' remarks were mischaracterized... I think it would have been more appropriate to approach the subject from the angle of how much Leftists hate FOX News." Thanks for the comedy clinic, FE!)

It'd be more enjoyable if it didn't include so much pernicious, willful misreading of events ("Should the public then assume that NPR's editorial standards demand that journalists ignore Islamic extremists who declare jihad...") and overt racism. But we must take what we can get.

Friday, October 22, 2010

THE WORST DEFENSE OF JUAN WILLIAMS, SO FAR. The prize goes to Eric Scheie of Classical Values -- though he gets a big assist from fellow buffoon Clayton Cramer, whom he quotes:
A friend works for TSA, and tells me that under certain conditions, TSA screeners will be taking actions that ordinarily involve dinner and a movie first--including patdowns to the genital area for explosive devices hidden there. He is not thrilled at this prospect--actually, he is absolutely horrified.

I have several reactions:

1. Please explain why such an intimate search is preferable to ethnic profiling.
First, you've seen Clayton Cramer, right? I totally believe a genital patdown is what he's accustomed to expect after dinner and a movie.

Second, if patdowns vs. profiling is really the choice Cramer sees here, I imagine he's a real treat on flights: "Sit by the wing? I'm not a terrorist! Why don't you make that Arab sit by the wing?"

Thanks CC, Scheie will take it from here. First he quotes himself:
If we're going to talk about giving up some rights for the safety of everybody, doesn't it seem logical that the fewer people who have to give up rights, the better?
That's delicious. I'm going to dress up as a Libertarian for Halloween, and use Scheie's argument to defend antebellum slavery. "Hey, no reason why EVERYONE hadda be slaves!"
Instead, there seems to be growing tacit acceptance of an absurd proposition -- that it is better to let people who want to blow themselves up fly and look up everyone's butthole than look up the buttholes only of people who want to blow themselves up.
Yes, the butthole bit's bolded in the original, perhaps so your mind's ear might hear it in a big, tuff voice, convincing you that, yes, Eric Scheie is that awesome, he can figure out which passengers want to blow themselves up ahead of time so we can just probe them (plus a bunch of other Arabs, but come on -- when did they get rights?)

Or maybe the bold buttholes are just part of an anal obsession:
Is the goal to move toward a world where people who believe in religious suicide have a right to fly, and to better facilitate this we will all bend over to accommodate them?
Why say ye, citizens? Shall we bend over, and open ourselves to the dusky intruders? (You usually don't hear this sort of thing from gay people, even from gay Republicans; it's usually the more excitable straight ones who go all tough-guy-tension-reliever on you. Maybe Scheie's trying to pass.)
The worst aspect of this, is that if you are in any position of responsibility, you're not allowed to say what I just said.
Wait for it...
As a perfect example, Juan Williams was fired by NPR today simply for speaking his mind.
Aaaand scene. Williams is too busy celebrating his cash firing bonus from Fox to be bothered, but this is rather like getting a personal recommendation from a local schizophrenic that begins "Cabbages, knickers, it's not got a beak" and ends "a man after my own heart!"

As for me, since everybody seems to be asking each other this, no, I wouldn't have fired Juan Williams, because I would never have hired Juan Williams in the first place. He makes Alan Colmes look like Alexander fucking Cockburn.
CROCK THE VOTE. Everyone hates the Democrats. Especially the liberal media! Look:
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is facing what may be the toughest re-election fight of his 30-year career as he holds onto a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Sean Bielat, our exclusive WPRI 12 poll shows.
Apparently in Massachusetts they spot the challenger 10 points, and Barney has to concede if he doesn't cover the spread.

Dont blame 'em -- they're just trying to keep up with opinion leaders like Republican advance man Byron York, who predicts Nancy Pelosi will go down to ignominious victory:
It's a long, long shot -- Pelosi has won her last three re-elections with 72 percent, 80 percent, and 83 percent of the vote -- but it appears [challenger John] Dennis is making progress.
Making progress! The election's in a week and a half. Dennis should have the Big Mo by Christmas. Also:
Dennis cites internal polling from a few months ago showing that roughly 35 percent of independents and Democrats in the district are growing tired of Pelosi's leadership, and the Dennis campaign is conducting a new poll that they hope will show support growing.
Plus he's got funny YouTubes about Pelosi ("wicked witch of the left") that have "got a lot of Internet attention." Did I say Christmas? Make it Thanksgiving!

OK, I admit it: I buried the lede --
Dennis won the endorsement of Sheehan -- who pulled 17 percent of the vote when she ran against Pelosi in 2008 -- because he opposes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq... Dennis wants to see the United States begin pulling out of Afghanistan even earlier than President Obama's July 2011 goal. He's also against the Patriot Act and would like to see a U.S. military drawdown worldwide.
In short, he's the kind of candidate York would be calling an only-in-San-Francisco-(swish-swish) moonbat, were he not part of the Glorious Tea Party Revolution schtick that's been wowwing the punters this season.

I expect the Democrats to do badly this election, but when I see the Republicans laying it on this thick, I wonder if maybe they're overcompensating a little.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

ANTI-ASSIMILATIONISTS. Megan McArdle talks about gentrification, which she is currently performing as a new homeowner in "what is euphemistically known as a 'mixed' neighborhood" in DC. Perhaps to get her cracker fans interested, early in the piece she presents an exciting new variation on that rightwing voice-of-the-people schtick Ideologically Sympathetic Cab driver -- the Id Symp Bus Rider:
Yesterday, I rode the bus for the first time from the stop near my house, and ended up chatting with a lifelong neighborhood resident who has just moved to Arizona, and was back visiting family. We talked about the vagaries of the city bus system, and then after a pause, he said, "You know, you may have heard us talking about you people, how we don't want you here. A lot of people are saying you all are taking the city from us. Way I feel is, you don't own a city." He paused and looked around the admittedly somewhat seedy street corner. "Besides, look what we did with it. We had it for forty years, and look what we did with it!"
In my many years of transitional living, I've never had a conversation like that. But then I probably don't have McArdle's winning ways with the locals.

McArdle says she and her husband "want to live in a place that's affordable, and economically and racially mixed." But, sigh, science says she can't, at least not for long. She quotes Benjamin Schwarz at great length on how gentrifying areas don't hold to that magical transitional stage for long, and that the new people inevitably squeeze out the old. McArdle is resigned and, it would seem, content: "I want the services, but I don't want this to price out all the people who already live there. Unfortunately, it's a package deal." It's natural selection!

The Schwarz quote is pretty snotty, but one passage especially leaps screaming from the page -- Schwartz mocks some other researchers who would prefer to see the new people and the old people coexist in harmony (which makes them "sentimental progressives" in his view); he describes their favored enclaves:
Such neighborhoods still contain a sprinkling of light industry and raffish characters, for urban grit, and a dash of what Zukin calls "people of color," for exotic diversity. Added to the mélange are lots and lots of experimental artists (for that boho frisson)...
As a longtime (and recently returned) city-dweller, I often reappraise my own view of city life to make sure I'm not just trying to wrap a Sesame Street bedsheet around reality. But though I have my own sentimental progressive side, I know I've never wished for "people of color" to supply "exotic diversity" to my experience. And if I appreciate "urban grit," it is not because I view people as mere ingredients in a cultural stew -- I guess I should say "ragout," to better conform to Schwarz's stereotype of prissy bohemianism -- but because I find places with some connection to their past healthier than those that have had their past wiped away. If someone wanted to live in proximity to their grandparents, would Schwarz accuse them of seeking "geriatic diversity" as some sort of effete seasoning?

And the changes are neither uniform nor inevitable. McArdle and Schwarz must know that while the East Village has been gentrified beyond recognition, and some waves of gentrification came quickly, there are still sections where old-time Puerto Rican and other settlers are still hanging in, thanks in part to city housing projects, and living in relative harmony with the newer people decades after they started arriving. Up in Harlem, gentrification is widely advertised -- sometimes with ludicrous aggressiveness -- but only really exists in slivers; up where I am, in Sugar Hill, gentrification basically means "some white people observed between subway and apartments." (The people I've talked to are nice, though, even if none of them have said that they foolishly destroyed their own neighborhood and are glad I am here to revitalize it.)

Despite their characterization, this is not Plymouth Rock and the originals aren't Indians. It is not absolutely necessary that, once honkies and money come to a previously disadvantaged neighborhood, all the poor people have to disappear. It has come to seem so, however, because policy and prejudice have conspired to make it so.

Schwarz himself notes the decline of manufacturing in the city; he sneers that the progressives are "wistful for the higgledy-piggledy way manufacturing was scattered throughout New York (diversity! mixed use!)" but are "compelled to make clear that they don’t miss the sweatshops and the exploitative, horrible life that went with them." But after social agitation and progressive legislation chased away much of the sweatshop trade, 20th Century New York developed enough thriving port and factory work to grant a middle-class life to hundreds of thousands of people who had no more than a high school education. In our current enlightened offshore economy, however, that type of person is now more than likely to be working poor -- heads of families laboring long hours at crap jobs with little opportunity for advancement. (Oh, and we still have sweatshops.)

This is not the result of white people liking old buildings, but of social policy. And it's going to get worse. Rent control's a thing of the past, rent stabilization is dying off, and I assume that, as everything gets even more rightwing than it already is, affordable housing schemes will pass into history. Life will get tougher, and the poor will be driven to an even greater extent into what used to be called ghettos. And writers at the Atlantic will tell you it was meant to be.

UPDATE. If McArdle's post doesn't disgust you enough, you might try her commenters; when you weed out the outright racists (a full day's work right there - "I think taller and blonder is generally nicer looking -- and if you watch Univision, you'll see that many 'Hispanics' seem to as well"), you're mostly left with glibertarian sophists ("Wanting to live in a racially mixed neighborhood is as racist as wanting to live in a neighborhood with no racial mix") and other species of asshole.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My family and I have chosen a health savings account (HSA). I have a “catastrophic” plan to go with my HSA. So instead of putting all my money towards an insurance premium each month, I put money aside for out-of-pocket care and pay a lower premium. In other words, I pay for most of my basic healthcare needs from my HSA--that is, instead of shifting the cost of my care onto you.
Hear that, libtards? He didn't take the kind of pussy healthcare plan the rest of you are grateful to get! No, he and his family chose to get the Republican plan! Totally not because that's all he could get! He's hardcore!

Don't walk away! He wants you to know what a favor he's doing his employer you:
This helps keep your premiums from going up. Why? Instead of going to the doctor and getting a $100+ prescription of Nexium - the cost of which would be dinged to the insurance pool - I go to Target and by a very similar over-the-counter drug called Prilosec. It costs me $15. It costs you nothing. If I didn’t have the HSA, I’d be passing everything beyond the copay onto the insurance pool--that is to you. And I’d probably get Nexium instead. The copay is $15--same as the Prilosec OTC, after all.
And your share of that savings -- well, we don't have room here for all the zeros after the decimal point, but it's a real number!

Similarly, when he gets a melanoma, he saves you money by eschewing the wasteful doctor visit and treating it himself with Clearasil.
Right now, my incentive is to save us money.
I'm kinda guessing your incentive is that you couldn't get a better plan, Max Powers, or so my experience of real life among real people tells me, but I'll play along.
But guess what? Thanks to Obamacare, saving you and me money ain’t going to be quite so easy:
Blah blah new restrictions on health savings plans, upshot of which is:
HSAs have just become far less attractive and less valuable.
Your $0.0000000...0001 savings goes up in smoke! And Max Frost is forced by Big Gummint thugs to take prescription medicine! God damn black socialist President!
The lobbyists, drug companies and overpaid doctors win. You and I lose (again).

Do these guys actually know any human beings?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NOT JUST PAPERWORK. I only just saw Megan McArdle's post on the foreclosure mess, which easily could have been Shortered, "Won't someone please think of the banksters?" McArdle wonders why everyone's feeling sorry for people who were perhaps improperly foreclosed upon, when bankers and their agents stand to suffer from attempts to redress their grievances. (And some customers, too: Why, McArdle herself has a new home, and may have to delay her renovations until the whole thing blows over.)

She endeavors mightily to keep focus on the relatively benign-sounding "notary fraud" involved, I suspect because it makes the whole thing seem picayune. But the real issue isn't some document-management whoopsie, it's the unseemly haste of banks and their subsidiaries to grab people's houses.

I heard someone on the radio saying that this all could have been avoided if banks had modified loans with generous principal reductions, like they ought to have. I find this remark puzzling. If a loan servicer doesn't have sufficiently clear authority to foreclose, then presumably they also don't have any authority to modify the loan. In fact, shouldn't banks be stopping their modifications, too, until clear lines of ownership are established?
Har de har har. But that's not how criminals think. Back in 2008, Graham Rayman at the Village Voice examined the activities of a mortgage servicer owned by Lehman Brothers called Aurora:
[Aurora's website claimed]: "We routinely work with customers who are having difficulty in making their mortgage payments to explore alternatives to foreclosure that would enable them to stay in the home."

Despite these rosy assertions, an industry survey in 2007 by Moody's found that companies like Aurora were only modifying a tiny percentage of their loans. The Center for Responsible Lending reported in January that foreclosures were outstripping modifications by 7 to 1, and 13 to 1 among subprime loans.
Aurora wasn't reticent to modify loans because they were unsure of their authority. They just preferred to grab property as fast as they could, and they weren't scrupulous about how they did it:
The letter that Aurora sent to Grant said he was behind on his payments, and the company was going to foreclose on his four-family house in Bed-Stuy.

Grant was indeed behind—but only by a few weeks, he says. Moreover, he had already mailed in the payments that would bring him up to date.

He contacted Aurora to plead his case, but, incredibly, the company refused to accept the payments. Instead, company officials moved ahead with the foreclosure. No matter what he did, Grant says, Aurora would not work with him to resolve the debt.

"I had the money, and I sent them the money, but they didn't want it," he says. "It's like they would rather have had the house back."
Rayman has more horror stories; you may read others here. Some of those people are suing; I wouldn't be shocked if Aurora's paperwork were discovered to be faulty. And that's just one servicer, flying under the banner of a major financial services company.

You know me, I don't like to think ill of anyone, but under the circumstances I have to suspect that the people who are crying "Whoa, let's not go overboard" with respect to this crisis are not really trying to protect the innocent.

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. 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?