Archive for the ‘Pith’ Category

The Day After

November 5, 2008

On The Day After, Jonah Goldberg’s column, “Now Govern,” is as good as a place as any to begin:

[N]ow the Democratic Party is for all practical purposes America’s super-majority party. It has complete control of the presidency and Congress. It’s time to put away childish things and govern.

If Democrats govern from the center, good for the country. If they govern from their instincts, good for the Republicans.

I strongly suspect we’re going to see Jonah’s Option Number Two out of a unified Democratic government. After effectively fourteen years out of power, I do not think this bunch can stop themselves from indulging their fundamental instincts, i.e., abandoning our allies in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, yanking up taxes, slashing defense spending, regulating anything that moves and subsidizing anything that doesn’t, trying to rig election and media laws to maintain their current majorities, and seizing and/or nationalizing 401(k) accounts.

The latter, should the Democrats actually be dumb enough to try it (it’s already being pushed by leftie academics and out-there Representative George Miller of, you guessed it, San Francisco), would be an instant Waterloo for Hope and Change, at least in Congress. That kind of lunacy would never pass in a million years, even with this congress, but simply trying it would make the 1994 backlash against Hillarycare look like a mild disagreement over restaurant reservations. Given Barack Obama’s history of having a tin ear to leftie radicalism and going along to get along with the Chicago machine, I think we can expect to see plenty of such nuttiness trotted out in the next 18 months.

Here’s another big red flag to watch out for. The price of oil has dropped by more than 50% since peaking on July 14. What happened on July 14? That was the day none other than George W. Bush lifted the federal ban on offshore drilling (what, you mean you never saw that connection noted in the press? Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise). Bush’s action popped the oil price bubble, and it’s been in free-fall ever since. This, of course, will not do in the eyes of the Democratic Party, regardless of the damage expensive energy does to our economy or the benefits expensive oil bestows on the balance sheets of our enemies. Appeasing the “global warming” cultists is far more important, so look for the next Congress to re-instate the ban on Day One, and then watch as gas prices start leaping up towards $4 a gallon again.

Then sit back as The Savior and his media minions try and convince the rest of us it’s all for our own good. I’ll bring the popcorn for that one.

While I suspect Obama will be a disaster for this country, I confess to being rather relieved at not having to even pretend to defend a McCain Administration for four years. After championing “campaign finance reform,” mostly in a huff over being out-raised by George W. Bush in 2000, McCain richly deserved what happened to him, namely being crushed by a wave of private money while priggishly insisting on having the taxpayers foot the bill for his own campaign.

Obama’s fundraising was certainly not all on the up and up, but his campaign’s success should have the salutary effect of ending “public financing” as anything more than a goo-goo slogan in presidential politics. Whether it will also lead to the more realistic ideal of full disclosure, well, I’m not holding my breath. Anybody who thinks Obama’s no-rules credit card fundraising will be investigated by an Obama Justice Department or Obama appointees to the Federal Elections Commission is also welcome to stay up all night waiting for the Tooth Fairy, for all the good it will do them.

Back when McCain was pushing McCain-Feingold, he used to dismiss conservative opponents who brought up pro-Democratic media bias by asking, if the bias of his media friends against the GOP was so severe, how was Ronald Reagan ever elected? As McCain should have learned by now, the reason was that Reagan could buy airtime to go over the press’s heads, most notably in the 1980 election-eve special that ran on every broadcast network (sound familiar?).

McCain’s defeat now serves as an object lesson to future GOP nominees on not one but two fronts. First, 2008 has demonstrated conclusively that Big Media is not just biased, it is part and parcel of the other side. Five of the six networks with news divisions (counting taxpayer-funded PBS), along with virtually every major newspaper and all the news weeklies served as free opposition researchers and unofficial press offices for the Obama campaign. That’s all the next nominee needs to know about how to treat with all of those organizations: as hostile forces.

Secondly, and in no small part because no non-Democrat can count on the legacy media to accurately report on either a non-Democrat’s campaign or on their Democratic opponents, it’s very clear that future Republican nominees cannot afford McCain’s self-righteous posturing on taxpayer funding. As McCain’s campaign aptly demonstrated, if you do, you’re going to be buried by the combination of your opponent’s money and the media’s cheerleading for that opponent. Felicitously, this problem has a solution that appeals to conservatives and libertarians alike: just take responsibility for yourself and raise your own money. You’d better, because otherwise you might as well not bother running at all.

There was plenty wrong with McCain the candidate beyond not having enough money and having to campaign against the press and a financial meltdown (although it didn’t help any that the press obligingly failed to point out said meltdown was caused by deliberate policy actions of the Democratic Party). McCain has always been obsessed with his own biography and reputation, and like many a decorated politician before him, always seems amazed that it isn’t enough to win a national election.

McCain proved again why so few senators (and almost no long-serving senators) win the presidency. Having been in the legislative branch for so long, where he had the ability to pick and choose which issues to focus on and which to ignore, McCain was completely unable to define any kind of platform for his campaign beyond being a “maverick.” As Mark Steyn noted today, “maverick” is an attitude, not a philosophy. That stance won him points with the press when he was poking his own party and its base in the eye, but once electoral push came to shove, that same press corps left McCain out in the cold to mumble about minutiae and process. You almost felt sorry for the guy, but he only had himself to blame for not accepting the political facts of life. In addition, McCain was simply a bad campaigner who could not shake off half a lifetime of Senate “collegiality” reflexes to take a political fight to the other side, and worse, he lacks the personal discipline to stay on message for more than five or ten minutes.

While he almost certainly would have been better for the country than Obama will be, McCain probably would not have been an effective president, and very likely would have signed on to the media definition of “bipartisanship” (i.e., Republicans deferring to Democrats) on most issues, and he would have whined incessantly about being criticized for it. I can’t make myself shed any tears over McCain’s failure. To be blunt, I didn’t want either of these guys to become president, and the real shame is that both of them couldn’t lose.

It’s telling that the legacy media is still rushing to condemn the one big thing McCain did right as a candidate, which was naming Sarah Palin as his running mate. Despite the onslaught of fanatical anti-Palin invective that’s swept the airwaves and internet over the past two months, Palin shored up a conservative base that had little interest in voting for McCain beyond, “Well, he’d be better than the other guy.” Looking at the numbers today, it’s clear that Palin’s presence on the ticket played a major part in denying Obama the landslide-level victory that so many in the media were predicting 24 hours ago.

Which brings us to the Attack Of The Snobs.

Much of the revolt of the allegedly conservative NYDC pundits against Palin can be credited, I’m sorry to say, on little more than snobbery. The leading offenders are David Brooks, who’s spent the better part of the past two decades looking down his nose at the foibles of flyover country for the amusement of the Upper East Side, and George Will, who it ought to be remembered regularly dismissed one Ronald Wilson Reagan as an empty-headed rube as far back as the late ’70’s. Brooks and Will carry a lot of weight in the big media punditocracy, and their sniffy dismissal of Palin quickly became accepted wisdom in the Manhattan/DC media corridor, even while Palin was drawing record audiences both in person and on television.

This tremendous error, I strongly suspect caused by simple fatigue over having to defend an inarticulate Texan president against endless attacks in newsrooms, dinner parties, and various social situations (“Oh, no, I’m not going through that again”), is most likely going to backfire, and badly, on the legacy commentariat. I hesitate to join in declarations of Palin as “the next Reagan” (as Glenn noted, at Palin’s current age, even Reagan wasn’t Reagan yet), but like The Ron, Palin’s popularity and appeal to the country at large trumps any derision from The Better People Who Went To All The Right Schools by a vast margin. Pointing out that Palin in 2008 was not an exceptionally qualified candidate for vice president (even while her qualifications outstripped those of the current president-elect) was a reasonable criticism. Getting on a high horse about her being a hick from the sticks with too many kids and not even a whiff of Ivy League odeur most definitely was not, and the latter is not going to age well among the actual electorate.

Obama supporter Mickey Kaus noted after the veep debate, “Big loser, again, is Hillary. In two years Palin will be so much better she won’t even be in the same league.” I suspect that will also apply to Mitt Romney and probably any other Republican who’s imagining himself mugging for the cameras on a flag-encrusted stage 1460 days from now. The lone exception might be Bobby Jindal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Jindal winds up playing second fiddle to Palin’s star power, just as Hillary got left behind by Obama. We’ll see, but at this remote date, a Palin-Jindal ticket looks like it’d have a hell of a lot of upside.


Calm Down Already

January 4, 2008

Y’know, I’m having a hard time getting worked up over last night’s results, and the reason for that is, I have an extremely hard time taking the Iowa Caucuses seriously.

It’s amazing to me that almost all of the media refuses to point out a couple of salient facts at this point in every election cycle, namely that Iowa is a pretty weird state, and its freaky caucus system only enhances the weirdness. It’s a system that rewards extremes, and one that can be manipulated by small numbers of organized activists.

What happened on the Republican side last night is not terribly different from what happened in 1988, when Pat Robertson finished a strong second behind nearly-neighboring-stater Bob Dole (Bush 39 41 finished third). Like Robertson, Huckabee turned out enough of the local Baptists to swamp the tiny caucus turnout, and looked for a brief moment like a serious candidate–at least to people who were willing to ignore political reality.

This time around, Huckabee has the advantage of not being an outright weirdo like Robertson, and I’m sure that helped him… but c’mon. It’s Iowa. Ask President Gephart sometime about how much an Iowa win is actually worth.

Before everybody loses their minds and declares either theocracy or the death of the GOP, let’s see what happens in a few actual elections, m’kay?

P.J. O’Rourke: Father of the Blogosphere

December 28, 2007

There are occasions when I think to myself, “Self, the real father of the Blogosphere, in all it’s snarkful glory, is not Glenn or Lileks or even Bill Quick: the spiritual father of Conservo-Liberterian Blogland is really P.J. O’Rourke.”

And then I read something like this, and I know in my heart that I am right:

Naturally we cannot expect a man with credentials such as Arthur’s to be merely a jerk; he’s an idiot, too. The quickest riffle through Journals is enough to prove it. Said Arthur, after a 10-day visit to the USSR in 1982: “I fear that those who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse are kidding themselves.” It just so happens that I was in the USSR myself for about 10 days in 1982. I was an ignorant, neophyte foreign correspondent on my first overseas assignment. But I did notice that the Soviet Union was on the verge of economic and social collapse.

I mean, really: Read The Whole Thing.

The Airing of Grievances

December 23, 2007

Gah. Remember that outraged Apple-sues-Fake-Steve-Jobs post you just saw here? As Emily Litella would say, “Never mind.”

It’s apparently a hoax–and to give credit where it’s due, a damn good one. Everybody who wants to laugh at Will, click below for the original outrage. As they once said on M*A*S*H, I have been royally had.


Hey, Apple: This Bites

December 20, 2007

Remember the story about the college-age blogger who was sued by Apple for publishing leaked information about future products? Apple Legal has managed to litigate him out of business:

Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published. Nick Ciarelli, Think Secret’s publisher, said “I’m pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits.”

That’s pretty awful if you ask me. Think Secret was a great site, and Nick was (and I assume still is) one hell of a good reporter. How the heck does it server Apple’s customers or shareholders to silence one of the most-read sites about, er, Apple products?

I love a lot of Apple’s products, but Steve Jobs’ ego combined with a hyperactive Apple Legal can add up to an amazing capacity for self-sabotage. Beyond that, this sets a really bad precedent for blogging and reporting in general. It says an organization with hefty enough legal resources can silence a reporter they don’t like.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for MSM condemnation of this outcome, of course. Newspapers and TV networks have legal departments of their own, and they’re just as likely to want the little guys silenced (or “regulated” into submission) as any other corporation that doesn’t like competition.

Good News In Middle-Earth

December 19, 2007

Sorry to disagree with the Blogfaddah, but this is very good news:

New Line and Peter Jackson have resolved their differences and agreed to make The Hobbit (and a sequel).

But before you start searching for your opening-night Gollum outfit … Jackson will executive-produce, not direct or write (which he did with his partner, Fran Walsh).

That’s excellent news. While Jackson is an outstanding producer and production designer, he’s really no great shakes as a director. Compare one of his fight scenes to, say, anything in The Matrix, and c’mon, did we really need that 10,000th closeup of Elijah Woods’ great big eyes? And don’t get me started (again) on his screenwriting.

Hey, Pete: do what Lucas should have done. Hire a top-notch screenwriter, hand him the book, and tell him to listen to Johnathan Demme’s commentary on the Criterian edition of Silence of the Lambs (“what is called for here is slavish devotion to the text”). Then get a great director–you should have your pick–and put your marvelous art and effects departments to work. You run that part; it’s what you do best. Cajole your old cast members to return (as appropriate) and turn everybody loose.

It’ll be marvelous.

Hoist? Check. Petard? Check. Unemployment? Check.

December 11, 2007

Just wait until Kaus sees this:

Oops. The liberal website Daily Kos is reporting that Fabiani & Lehane is starting to lose union clients because it accepted the AMPTP gig fighting the striking Hollywood writers. The site confirmed that F&L was fired this morning by SEIU Local 99 in Los Angeles (made up of education workers who include teacher’s aides, cafeteria workers and crossing guards) and this afternoon by Change to Win (a coalition of seven top unions including SEIU, Teamsters, and the Laborers).

Take it away, Mickey…

Hiding In Plain Sight

December 9, 2007

Amidst all the chortling over Hollywood’s apparently unending string of anti-Iraq-war flops, there have been a good many commentors asking rhetorically, “Why aren’t there any movies that present U.S. troops in a positive light?”

But, of course, there is such a movie, released this very year.

It non-ironically shows U.S. servicemen and women putting themselves between innocents and vastly destructive forces, and fighting against the latter with grit and conspicuous valor. It openly celebrates their courage and sacrifice, and also portrays their leadership as, for the most part, decent people trying to do the best they can in a crisis with limited resources and information.

You don’t know which movie I’m talking about? Here’s a hint: It’s one of the biggest hits of 2007.

Does the movie’s success owe anything to its portrayal of American soldiers in action? Probably not nearly as much as it does to the freaking cool giant robots… but I’ll bet you that portrayal didn’t hurt the box office any, either.

More than meets the eye, indeed.

A Good Column, Spoiled

November 27, 2007

In my other blogging “job,” I write about college football, specifically Auburn University and the rest of the Southeastern Conference. In that capacity, I got an email today linking to John Feinstein’s WaPo column regarding Alabama coach Nick “I am not going to be the Alabama coach” Saban and his recent bizarre commentary:

it is impossible not to begin today with one of the worst people in all of sports — and this takes in a lot of territory — Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Saban is the highest paid coach ($4 million a year) in college football, having taken the Alabama job last winter after categorically denying he was leaving the Miami Dolphins.

Okay, coaches do that. They shouldn’t do that but they do. Saban was failing miserably in Miami, he had already proven he could win big in the Southeastern Conference and he was clearly someone who was meant to coach at the college level where tyrants are applauded as long as they win.

Alabama finished the season 6-6, losing its last four games after coming within a play of upsetting LSU (Saban’s old team) when the Crimson Tide was 6-2. At that point, even after the LSU loss, Saban was being treated the way he likes to be treated: as the savior.

Then came losses to Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe. That’s not a typo, Alabama, coached by the savior, lost to Louisiana-Monroe at home, in the stadium named for Bear Bryant.

A few days after the ULM loss Saban, who can’t stand the media, spoke to the media. In talking about the losses to Mississippi State and ULM he brought up 9-11. And Pearl Harbor.

That’s right, in talking about two lost football games he brought up 9-11 and Pearl Harbor. In Saban-world, those were “catastrophes.” So too were the back-to-back losses in football games. Saban went on to say that catastrophes could be turning points in history and this “catastrophe,” would be, he hoped, a turning point in the history of Alabama football.

Okay, let’s just say this: NO ONE should be allowed to mention catastrophes in which thousands of people died when talking about football — or any sport. Not ever. And certainly not someone who is working at what is supposed to be an institution of higher learning. What kind of message is he sending to his players? If he makes a comment like this in public, what in the world is he saying to his players behind closed doors?

So far, so good. Heck, I agree with everything Feinstein’s said up to this point. Saban is a vastly overrated and overpaid jackass, and his “historical” comparison of Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001 to losing a couple of football game was as beyond the pale as… well, this:

A couple of months ago the right wing media become apoplectic when a liberal organization took out an ad criticizing the leader of the American forces in Iraq. How, they screamed, can you be critical of the man who represents the men and women who are putting themselves in danger every day in Iraq?

Where are those people right now? Why aren’t they screaming about a football coach comparing lost football games to thousands of lost LIVES? Where is the perspective?

Speaking for myself, I didn’t even consider blogging about Saban’s dumb remarks in the political sphere, because they weren’t worthy of that level of analysis. Saban is a monomaniacal football coach who can’t see beyond the horizon of his own tiny empire. He and his dumbassery are not worth the time to criticize in the arena of ideas (although I did take the opportunity to note others smacking him around in the arena of sports).

If I had gone out of my way to inject politics into a sports story, to forward my own agenda on a story that actually had nothing to do with military or political reality, why, I’d be just like…

… John Feinstein. And Nick Saban, for that matter.

Feinstein’s linking of the outrageous MoveOn ad attacking General Petraeus (and other vapid political commentary in the same column) to Saban’s idiocy is not one iota less asinine than Saban’s analogy, and in his big-media arrogance, Feinstein is just as oblivious to that fact as Saban was to the utterly inappropriate nature of the “Pearl Harbor” comments.

You want to opine on politics, John, do it in the editorial section. Nobody reads your sports columns because they want to know what you think about Iraq. You work for the Washington Post; we already know what you think about Iraq.

The Last Man

November 13, 2007

Don’t miss this sad and lovely NY Times piece by Richard Rubin on Frank Buckles, the last living American veteran of World War I.