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The Party Left Me

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Is there a more irritating genre of political commentary than that of yoosta-bees? That is, generally ill-informed dilettantes who can’t keep talking about their banal move to the right as they get older and richer (preferably with lots of references to apocryphal cocktail parties) as if it portended some kind of new politics? After 9/11 their ranks grew to an appalling extent (cf. the pathetic Pajamas Media), and the upcoming elections are likely to be their Waterloo, as their once-fashionable bedwetting imperialism is rejected by the electorate. But they haven’t given up yet, alas. Roy Edroso finds quintessential “I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick” Democrat Orson Scott Card yet again making an Instapundit-tabbed claim that he has no choice to abandon the Democratic Party because it hasn’t moved quite far enough to the right to accommodate his extremely reactionary views on most domestic and foreign policy issues. This has caused me to reconsider my longtime Republican loyalty, and I hereby endorse Roy’s equally painful reaction to Card’s declaration of himself as a “Tony Blair Democrat”:

I’d really like to vote for a Republican someday. But how can I, with the current batch of greedy, stupid Republicans? They are not at all like the real Republicans with whom I grew up — men like John Lindsay and “Fightin’ Bob” La Follette.

Today, I consider myself a Nelson Mandela Republican. By which I mean, until the Republican party returns to its roots and embraces abortion rights, national health insurance, legalization of drugs, gay marriage, and doubling the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, I will by God vote for the Democrats, difficult as that is for an old GOP loyalist such as myself.

It was hard for me too, but sometimes you just have to do the courageous thing.

Well, Actually, I Guess Racism Is The First Refuge Of A Scoundrel

[ 0 ] November 6, 2006 |

Kind of depressing that upstate Republicans can’t make it quite as subtle as Republicans in Tennessee…

Failures of Rationality

[ 1 ] November 6, 2006 |

Speaking of local coffee shops, my part of the neighborhood exists at a confluence of large Croatian, Arab, and Greek communities, and a happy consequence of this is the existence of many European-style coffee shops that offer excellent coffee and good food with unusually large amounts of seating by NYC standards in close proximity to my house. One disadvantage, however, is that without exception all of them play shitty Eurodisco at ear-splitting volumes all the time. Why? It seems to me there are two reasons people go to coffee shops:

  • To talk with friends.
  • To work/read.

Both of these, it seems to me, are greatly impeded by the loud music thing. What’s depressing is that will occasionally chase me to the Starbucks–apparently soulless corporate suits at least understand that music in such contexts is for background.

What’s At Stake

[ 0 ] November 6, 2006 |

As if to confirm John’s fears about a potential constitutional crisis, the Vice President has announced that in all likelihood he will simply flout Congressional subpoenas. I’ll say this: better a major constitutional struggle than a Congress that, in the face of an administration that openly and proudly pronounces itself above the law, simply doesn’t give a damn.

Good News in Intellectual Property Law

[ 0 ] November 5, 2006 |

I was pleased to see via Pithlord that the Canadian Supreme Court has held that companies cannot evade time limits on patents by taking out more patents related technology (although the technology was not incorporated into the product.) Much more promising that the doctrinal developments in the United States (although I concede that Eldred was a much tougher case than AstraZeneca.

Misogyny: The First Refuge of A Scoundrel

[ 0 ] November 5, 2006 |

Mona finds that idiot-even-by-neocon-standards Michael Ledeen is now claiming to have opposed the Iraq War despite calling it “desperately-needed and long overdue.” And it gets worse. In his roundup of the various rats bailing from the good ship Bush Doctrine now that it’s firmly lodged at the bottom of the ocean, Roger uncovers Ledeen burbling this:

Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes.

And according to Ann Althouse, they all have breasts! Clearly, Iraq would have worked out fine if it wasn’t for those meddling bitches. If only Dick Cheney had even a fraction of the influence over American foreign policy that Harriet Miers enjoys, Iraq would look like Switzerland right now. (This would seem to be the neocon-blame-avoidance equivalent of the Christianist who explains how Ted Haggart’s wife let herself go and hence turned him over to the Gay, personally arranged a meeting in a seedy hotel to buy meth, and then personally put his penis in a male hooker’s mouth.)

Glenn finds a 2002 op-ed in which Ledeen wrote “Saddam Hussein is a terrible evil, and President Bush is entirely right in vowing to end his reign of terror . . . . If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support.” That’s some vociferous opposition! Via Greg Djerejian, who notes some classic Instahackery here.

Hardee-Har-Har

[ 0 ] November 5, 2006 |

The Weekly Standard‘s parody page features the following knee-slapper as a “Kids’ letter to Barak Obama”:

Dear Senator Obama,
I’m a student here at Harvard and my mama tells me there ain’t no way a person of color be treated fair in Amerika even if they go to Harvard and [stuff]. You cool with that?
Franklin
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ha-ha! Via Julian Sanchez, who correctly observes that “my sense is that very few Harvard students of any race speak and write like minstrel-show extras.”

Is Our Administration Literate?

[ 0 ] November 3, 2006 |

OK, it’s one thing for hack bloggers without a shred of expertise in foreign policy (but what does Al Di Meola think about Saddam’s nuclear weapons program? Hopefully Pajamas Media will get right on that!) to mistake Saddam’s well-known potential to acquire nuclear weapons in 1991 with his capacity in 2003. But for the Secretary of State to do it? January 2009 can’t come quickly enough.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

[ 0 ] November 3, 2006 |

Oh my, we are breathlessly informed in the National Post that Mark Steyn’s antiliberal and anti-Western values book is–despite an endorsement by Mona Charen!–being “boycotted” by Canada’s largest book chain. How desperately has Indigo struggled to keep this second-rate theater critic’s new political rant out of the hands of Canadian wingnuts and mouth-breathers?

Mr. Steyn has charged that Indigo and its chief executive officer, Heather Reisman, underestimated demand for his book as a means of “boycotting” it.

His publisher made several attempts to persuade Indigo that its first order of several hundred books was inadequate, he said.

[...]

The company offered America Alone for sale as soon as it came out in September, but it quickly sold out, she said. Ms. Gaulin could not say how many books were originally ordered.

“Upon realizing we had grossly underestimated the demand for this title, Indigo immediately reordered several thousand more books, but Mr. Steyn’s U.S. publisher was unable to fulfill our order because they, too, underestimated demand in the U.S. and Canada,” Ms. Gaulin said.

Worst. “Boycott.” Ever.

Charles Johnson, Genius

[ 0 ] November 3, 2006 |

As a follow-up to Dave’s post, get this from reactionary fusion jazz musician and Trainwreck Media founder Chuck Johnson. The New York Times article says this:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Johnson:

Is the New York Times actually conceding that Saddam was just a year away from having a nuclear weapon in 2002?

No.

This has been easy answers to idiotic questions posed by dead-ender hacks.

…An Army of Morons.

…to his credit, unlike many of his XFL Media colleagues Glenn Reynolds is literate. To his discredit, he claims that the fact that Hussein was close to nuclear weapons in 1991 “undercuts that whole “Bush lied about WMD” thing.” Um, run that by me again–the fact that Hussein could have had nukes in 1992 makes him an immediate security risk in 2003 how exactly? We seem to be back to our old warblogger friend, the conflation of will and capacity: whether or not Hussein had, or could plausibly acquire, nuclear weapons is beside the point because he really wanted to have them. Similarly, if I announced that I really wanted to marry Gretchen Mol, you should send the wedding gifts immediately!

On The Apex of Fake Libertarianism

[ 0 ] November 2, 2006 |

Actual libertarians Julian Sanchez and Dave Weigel have some fun with Jennifer Roback Morse’s…er, contrarian claim that Rick Santorum is a good choice for libertarians based on his fealty to the policy positions of…the Family Research Council. The most obvious question is why NRO would publish it; not only is the article utterly worthless on its own merits, but is directed at 1)a relatively small part of the population that 2)has no chance whatsoever of being persuaded by its idiotic claims. (Most boilerplate at least serves some function of reassurance.) Roy’s speculation that “many National Review articles are written on a bet — you know: Hey, Lowry, two large says you can’t write a thousand words on how a billion-and-a-half dollars for marriage lessons is “conservative”!” seems as good as any.

Sanchez also runs at the significance of Santorum’s support for tax cuts from another angle than mine:

The extent of Santorum’s actual demonstrated commitment to “fiscal conservatism” appears to consist of his support for tax cuts, which in the current political climate ought to count for pretty close to nothing with libertarians. Tax cuts are not smaller government; smaller government is smaller government, and the evidence that tax cuts tend to produce it is quite thin. If anything, there’s good reason to think that tax cuts without commensurate spending reduction just delink the provision of government goodies from the pain of paying from them, making it easier for government to grow. Something that, again, Santorum seems to have no problem with provided the well-intentioned programs it funds are his.

Am I being unfair to Santorum for lumping him in with “Miss America conservatives,” then? I don’t think so. Sanchez is certainly right that “starve the beast” fiscal policies will be a highly ineffective means of getting rid of programs supported by powerful constituencies, and since these–especially middle class entitlements and defense–make up the vast majority of the federal government’s non-interest outlays, they will fail to make government significantly smaller. The Bush era’s fiscal strategies will, however, very likely undermine programs for constituencies that aren’t politically powerful, with the programs for the third world poor on which Santorum’s reputation for compassionate conservatism rests especially vulnerable. Anyway, whether you’re a libertarian or left-liberal, you can agree that Rick Santorum is a very bad Senator and his imminent rejection by the fine citizens of Pennsylvania most welcome.

I am looking forward, however, to NRO giving Glenn Reynolds space to explain how he can simulatenously call himself a “libertarian,” “Whig,” and “Jacksonian.”

The Sniveling Hackitude of Mark Halperin

[ 0 ] November 2, 2006 |

As more than one person has said, my favorite part of Eric Boehlert’s Lapdogs is Chapter 3, his fierce and detailed takedown of The Note. Between its endless pro-Republican spin, vacuous obsession with mind-numbing personality trivia, and smug insularity, it represents everything wrong with political media in concentrated form. Given the sad-but-funny spectacle of Mark Halperin prostrating himself before third-rate Republican shill Hugh Hewitt, it’s worth revisiting one of the Note’s most feeble examples of right-wing hackery, it’s ongoing attempt to create a new pseudo-scandal in the Whitewater vein by pumping up the trial of a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. As Boehlert explains:

Taking the lead in trumpeting the importance of the Rosen trial was ABC’s The Note. An inside-baseball daily tip sheet for a readership it has dubbed the “Gang of 500″ (politicians, lobbyists, consultants, and journalists who help shape the Beltway’s public agenda), The Note is posted online every weekday morning and is widely viewed as the agenda-setter for the political class. On 14 different days between May 2 and 27, The Note posted cumulatively nearly forty links to Rosen-related articles, calling them “must-read.” A typical Note entry came on May 10, highlighting “The opening and closing paragraphs in Dick Morris’ New York Post column–perfectly explaining why the David Rosen story is going to be with us for a while.”

On the day before the Rosen verdict, The Note listed “Waiting for the Rosen verdict” as the number-one priority among the Gang of 500. The next day, a federal jury acquitted Rosen of any wrongdoing. How did The Note handle this news about the trial it had hyped? By ignoring it. The next edition of The Note included a long round-up of must-reads from the Memorial Day weekend. Rosen’s not-guilty verdict was not among them.

The abrupt disappearance of the story shouldn’t have surprised close readers of The Note, which ABC’s website has posted publicly since January 2002. In theory, what drives The Note is anything that’s generating Beltway buzz. “We try to channel what the chattering class is chattering about, and to capture the sensibility, ethos, and rituals of the Gang of 500,” Mark Halperin, ABC’s political director and founder of The Note, once explained. Too often, though, The Note’s definition of buzz has been whatever Beltway Republicans are chattering about. The Note has been nourished on an era of total Republican rule. It shows.

Halperin has always been an embarrassment; his abjection before the shrine of Hewitt is just the latest example.

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