August 25, 2007
A Righteous Smackdown
Revenge is a dish best served cold or at least sarcastically as Richard Kluger hands the execrable Richard Brookhiser his head here. My favorite part? This:
It was an honor to be so subtly awakened from my self-deception by Mr. Brookhiser, who has honed his own skills by laboring for 30 years on the staff of National Review, a beacon of insightful commentary as well as fair and balanced judgment. Thanks, too, to your staff for selecting him. As we say out here in Berkeley, that iniquitous den of bluest liberalism, have a nice day.
August 18, 2007
Adventures In Wingnuttery
By Randy Paul of Beautiful Horizons
Let me be clear. I really can't stand Charles Krauthammer, but my heart goes out to him for the fact that he is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life due to a diving accident. I couldn't stand Ronald Reagan, but I feel for him and his family for enduring the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. I detested Michael Kelly, but I feel for his survivors for losing someone they loved so young.
That being said, one can only wonder what sort of twisted, demented, scabrous soul would refer to Max Cleland as "Stumpy," simply because they disagreed with his politics.
I wish this person would call Cleland that to his face and perhaps in front of his own (the demented one's) children. One wonders what limits of common decency some people avoid putting on themselves.
March 05, 2007
To Fight For The Right Without Question Or Pause
[litbrit says Good Morning!]
Ah, Monday fun. I can't imagine how Max Blumenthal of The Nation was able to get himself and his cameraman into the CPAC to-do this weekend, but they managed to secure some excellent footage, including a little smackdown of Ann Coulter and a meet-'n-greet with Flipper, the anti-Romney dolphin. The pièce de résistance, though, was Blumenthal approaching Michelle Malkin and asking her to autograph a black-and-white photograph--one showing dozens of Japanese Americans standing behind a tall, barbed-wire fence in an internment camp--along with her notorious book, In Defense of Internment. Malkin bristles, becomes unhinged--saying she was "all for honest, intellectual debate" and had published an errata page afterwards--and then, when asked if she's admitting she'd made mistakes, says Yes, I made a lot of errors, and storms off into the crowd, abandoning her Hot Air booth and ignoring questions about whether she'd learned anything journalistically. It's interesting that her blog post describes the incident somewhat differently:
Two punks from The Nation with a camera stopped by my book signing to ambush me about In Defense of Internment. Have they bothered to read the book? No. I look forward to their butchering of my comments and the predictable unhinged reaction.
Heh heh. Blumenthal clearly introduces himself, but is referred to as a punk who hasn't read her book (I'm uncertain how she'd know what he has and hasn't read). And of course, there's no mention of that heart-wrenching photograph. But the film clearly shows that the only butchering going on is Malkin's time-honored treatment of the, er, facts.
Perhaps she'll issue another erratum.
April 15, 2006
John McCain, Just Another Politician (Part 2 in an Unending Series)
by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math
Sometimes life is just good to you. As if on cue, responding to our discussion of the numerous flip-flops he'll make to win the Republican nomination, John McCain traveled to Iowa and said that ethanol was "worthy of another look" (via The Carpetbagger Report). Over the past two weeks, between the reader comments and idle pondering, here are some new issues that would make life difficult for McCain:
- Arizona has a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. Do you support or oppose this initiative? (Via Neil)
- Should gay men and women be allowed to serve openly in the military?
- Should Donald Rumsfeld resign?
Add new McCain Wedge Issues in the comments.
March 25, 2006
Republicans Are Fun!
Michelle Malkin occasionally plays a triage-surgeon role among right-wing bloggers -- when infamous Republicans are so heavily damaged that it's not worth expending any resources to save their reputations, she publicly declares that it's time to give them up. It happened with Michael Brown and Jack Abramoff, and the latest embarrassment to be left dying on the battlefield is Ben Domenech.
Decisions like that can earn you enemies among the friends of the fallen, and now there are no less than three diaries on the RedState recommended list bashing Malkin for giving up on Ben, who was long a beloved figure in the RedState community. As someone who savors internecine warfare on the right, I like the title "Michelle Malkin: Dead to Me", and the diary it links to is pretty nice too. It's not nearly as great as RedState was in the Harriet Miers days (How can you top a comment that says "Bush is a gutless, abortionist liar. I spit on him"?) but you take what you can get.
February 18, 2006
What's the Point of Unparalleled Corruption?
This list of Duke Cunningham's offenses (and it's far from complete) just boggles my mind. It appears that Duke kept on seeing things he wanted, and asking defense contractor buddies to buy them for him. A Chevy Suburban. A used Rolls-Royce. A boat. And then there's the scheme to have millions funneled to him through above- and below-market real estate transactions. He even had a menu for how much you'd have to pay him to get a certain amount in contracts. (Buying the boat got you $16 million in contracts.) But it's the little things that really strike me. I picked a random page and found Cunningham getting a guy to buy something called a Laser Shot Shooting Simulator for his office. It cost a few thousand dollars.
Corruption on this level is sort of beyond me. It can't just be that he wanted to score the most points in the money game -- lots of the things he got don't have that much resale value. Did Cunningham really want all this stuff for its own sake? Did he get off on being powerful enough to make people buy these things for him? Did he have some kind of Bond-villian plan to assemble all this stuff into a gigantic robot and use it to take over the world?
February 17, 2006
The Democrats must not allow a biography gap
Accidents will happen, but as any Freudian will tell you, there are accidents, and then there are self-destructive moments when you unconsciously conspire with Fate, circumstance, a few beers, and a shot gun to reveal the whole of your twisted inner psyche to the world as if seized by a heavenly desire to stand on the Salem scaffold, confess it all, and show the assembled congregation the great big scarlet A on your chest.
A for Asshole.
Dick Cheney appears to have had one of those accidents. Over the last week everything rotten, seamy, dangerous, and threatening in his character seems to have summed itself up in one perfect, symbolic story. The fable of his life has been written and you'd think that from here on out, wherever he goes, he will be held in the universal contempt he's so determinedly earned. But probably not. I think he may get away with it.
The story is just too good a story.
,As I said, everything rotten about Cheney has been on display all week. His arrogance, his hypocrisy, his innate dishonesty, his sense of entitlement, his swaggering certainty that the laws as written do not apply to him, he can obey them to whatever degree he feels like, and the police as his personal flunkeys will bow and scrape and follow his orders. His carelessness about others, his placing of his self-regard and reputation above another man's life. The circumstances that set up the accident show up the material corruption of the man. Canned hunts are the most childish, wasteful, and brutal way for a spoiled rich man to indulge himself. My god, if you can't think of a better method for throwing away your money, then just keep it in the vault and go down and count it in the dark every night, at least that's a form of avarice that pays homage to the virtue of thrift.
It's all perfect, in the way perfect stories are perfect. Chekhov couldn't have written one more revealing, although he came spookily close.
But that's the trouble. People love good stories and they react to the true ones with the same excitement and sympathy with which we react to the made up ones. We love stories for the way they entertain us, but we also love them for the lessons we learn from them, and the best stories all teach the same thing, that human beings are flawed and weak and deserve understanding and pity. They encourage tolerance and foregiveness.
The story of the shooting shows up Dick Cheney as a rotten human being. But it shows him as a human being. He's easier to hate as an abstraction.
We can despise someone and sympathize with him.
I don't know what will come of all this. I think that those of us to whom Cheney is a clear-cut villain might very well wind up as frustrated as the Clinton haters who were sure that Monica would be the end of Bill. The Lewinsky Scandal was another great story---I'm still surprised there's been no good novel written about it yet.---and Monica and Bill turned out to be sympathetic characters. Ken Starr made a convincing villain.
I don't know if Cheney will be saved by the story that should damn him, but this has me thinking about one of the problems Democrats have. Republicans these days seem to make better stories.
I don't mean that they are better at telling stories, which they are, as many a blogger and pundit has pointed out.
I mean that their lives make for better stories.
Not because they're better people. Just the opposite. But flawed, weak, sinful, and vice-ridden people are more interesting characters.
I'll have to expand on this idea later.
For now, to put it simply, look at the comparative biographies of George Bush and John Kerry.
George Bush's biography makes a great story---with a terrible moral. It's still a fascinating story, full of chills, thrills, and suspense---How much more harm can the man do?
But after his days leading the Vietnam Vets against the War, when he settled down to his career as a lawyer and politician, John Kerry's biography makes...
A great resume.
Cross-posted at my place.
February 13, 2006
Confused Republicans and Condi Rice
Polls consistently show that you can get double-digit percentages of Republicans to endorse Condi Rice for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. However, she usually does worse than other Republicans in head-to-head matchups against Democrats. It's an interesting phenomenon, not so much for 2008 primary reasons (Condi's chances of getting the nomination would be very low even if she were running) but because it lets you analyze some Republicans' attitudes towards race, gender, and politics.
Suppose you -- like a number of white Republicans today -- think that racism and sexism pretty much ended in the 1960s. Any remaining racism and sexism holding back blacks and women, you think, are outweighed by the benefits of racial/gender solidarity within supposedly oppressed groups and the diversity-babble of white liberals. You'll probably end up thinking that a black female Republican would be the most electable candidate ever. You'll fantasize about how you could win the identity-politics obsessed black vote, and a lot of women, for the next couple decades, by having the first black and female president carry the GOP flag.
As it turns out, there is plenty of racism and sexism out there. I don't think it's quite enough to prevent any possible black candidate from winning a Republican primary. You get examples on lower levels like Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania, Michael Steele in Maryland, and JC Watts a while ago in Oklahoma. In particular, if Republicans see a highly placed black candidate who blames poor black people for their own poverty and has no real interest in helping them, most of them will respond favorably, and the electability crowd will cancel out the most intense racists. But making white Republicans more comfortable in their racism is very important. A black person who is willing to express negative opinions about blacks makes Republicans more comfortable with holding those negative opinions. It's comforting be able to say, "I think blacks are mostly lazy and violent and stupid, but that doesn't make me racist -- a black person thinks so too!" Not being stupid, black people will line up to vote against black candidates who spend their time doing this. But Republican electability theorists don't count on that.
While I'm on the Condi topic, there's another big blind spot here. The major Bush Administration policy initiative that she's most associated with is the Iraq War. If you think that things are eventually going to turn out well in Iraq, and that the only people who deeply oppose it are hippie peaceniks and their media allies, you'll probably imagine Condi the Conqueror parlaying her foreign policy fame into electoral victory. As it turns out, things aren't going well, most Americans (blacks being no exception) are aware of it, and that's why they don't like Condi.
February 07, 2006
Ethics Committees and Unethical Republicans
This came up in comments on Nicholas' post below: if Democrats were to break the "ethics truce" and launch complaints against Republicans in the GOP-controlled House Ethics Committee, would there be any chance of their complaints amounting to anything? Or would Republicans use their power to just dismiss the complaints, launch their own trumped-up complaints against Democrats, and do serious damage? I don't really know anything about how the process works, so somebody please fill me in.
January 07, 2006
It's a Start
Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math
It's nice to know that the Republican Party has finally decided to throw DeLay overboard, but getting rid of DeLay the man does nothing to get rid of DeLay the idea. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Eric Cantor (R-VA), and John Boehner (R-OH) will most likely do nothing to stem the outsourcing of all "policy-making" functions of government to lobbying shops loyal to the Republican Party. At the moment, the only hope for reality-based Republican leadership lies in Zach Wamp's (R-TN) quixotic campaign for Majority Whip, which is not exactly a pleasant situation to be in.