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.