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7. Defeat of any politician who cannot fend off bear attacks.

[ 0 ] April 2, 2009 |

“A Tea Party Manifesto” reads better if you imagine it being delivered in the voice of Dwight Schrute.

1. A moratorium on bailouts, whether for Wall Street bankers, General Motors, or the irresponsible guy down the street who “bought” too much house. “Failures must be allowed to fail.”

2. Repeal of all “Stimulus” spending for the years 2011 and beyond.

3. Repeal of all “Stimulus” pet projects in 2009-2010 with no stimulative effect.

4. Defeat of the Obama 2010 budget, with a new budget set at 2008 levels plus inflation. We’ve already spent too much money that we don’t have.

5. Defeat of any politician who voted for the February “Stimulus” bill.

6. Complete selloff and shutdown of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and an immediate ban on campaign contributions from both, as well as any other firm in Federal receivership.

The best part is when the poor fellow insists that each of these is a “clear, achievable goal.”

Armageddon and All That…

[ 0 ] April 1, 2009 |

I have some musings on the latest US-Russia spat at the Guardian:CIF. While doing a bit of “research” for the piece, I read the wiki entry on A Taste of Armageddon, the Star Trek episode where two planets have agreed to wage nuclear war without nuclear weapons. Kirk “saves” them from this by essentially breaking the mechanism, and forcing them to talk. I found it interesting that, in the expanded literature, one planet shortly thereafter annihilated the other, losing a third of its population in the process. We have the Prime Directive for a reason, people.

By the way, here’s “Mad” Matt Duss, in yet another of what seems to be an endless string of high profile media appearances:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I Try To Look Amazed, But It’s An Act

[ 0 ] April 1, 2009 |

I regret all the times I called Pajamas Media a trainwreck, because the new model makes it look like Apple. And Atrios generously left out this sober discussion of economics from the Ayn Rand Institute, hosted by some guy who 1)I believe has achieved the highest smugness-to-humor ratio in history, and 2)says “god dang it.” I dunno what other broadcast-cop-show simulated swears he uses — I bailed out after a minute or so — but I look forward to the cutting-edge episode where he says that the Civil Rights Act really “frosts his cookies.”

And, yes, the idea is to get people to start paying for this stuff. Good luck with that!

Always the Gold Standard in Wingnuttery

[ 0 ] April 1, 2009 |

Shorter Erick Erickson: If laws requiring the use of environmentally safe dishwahser detergent aren’t a good reason to contemplate severe violence against government officials, I don’t know what is. In addition, these kinds of state regulations would never be allowed to happen if more power was left to the states.

Slouching Towards Talibanism

[ 0 ] April 1, 2009 |

Karzai seems to be backing a law containing a number of spectactularly egregious violations of women’s rights.

All Hail Good King John!

[ 0 ] April 1, 2009 |

When the confirmation that Calipari had taken the job broke on ESPN, a cheer went up from the restaurant crowd. You can’t really fight it. You can only embrace…

The Wanker Caucus

[ 0 ] March 31, 2009 |

Although given my particular hobbyhorses I might have preferred a little more emphasis on the structural issues with the Senate, in his defense Chait’s article really does a superb job of pointing out just how farcical the Very Serious Centrist Democrats are. Lots of good stuff, including Democratic collaboration with the ridiculous student loan subsidy, but I liked this most:

What’s maddening is not that Obama’s budget is a perfect document–though it does a better job of setting priorities than any presidential budget in at least the last 30 years–but that the deficit-reducing measures Democrats object to are the most sensible parts of the budget.

Take the farm payments Conrad endorses. It is virtually impossible to find an economist on the left, right, or center who defends agriculture subsidies, which are costly, distort the market, and hurt the Third World poor. Obama does not dare phase out crop subsidies. Instead, he modestly asks to save about $1 billion per year by eliminating payments to farmers who gross more than $500, 000 per year–the least justifiable slice of a totally unjustifiable program. Conrad the Deficit Hawk, joined by other farm-state senators (such as Nebraska’s Ben Nelson) and representatives, cannot abide it.

Or consider Obama’s plan to limit tax deductions for the rich. If your goal is to raise revenue without imposing pain on the middle class or unduly harming incentives, this is about the best way one can do it. (Because limiting deductions would not raise marginal tax rates, objections from conservative economists have been generally muted.) Democrats in both chambers have declared this proposal dead on arrival. But, if they want to reduce the deficit and fund health care reform, the money needs to come from somewhere.

And what’s amazing is that to Fred Hiatt et al. these clowns represent the ultimate in High Principle. And, come to think of it, they do reflect Fred Hiatt’s principles very well…

Our Awards Shows Are Just As Crappy As Your Award Shows!

[ 0 ] March 31, 2009 |

I see that fresh off a richly-deserved win in the coveted Worst Lyrics of 2008 competition (“You look so much cuter/With something in your mouth”) (although, actually, I might vote for the Rivers Cuomo one if I heard him sing it) Alberta’s shame Nickelback won several awards at the Canadian equivalent to the Grammies. I complain about the Oscars a lot, but music awards in both nations really do tend to be a different level of bad. At least the Junos have actually been worse (cf. 1999, 1995…) and usually somewhat better…

Will They Get What They Want?

[ 0 ] March 31, 2009 |

Walt on the Foreign Policy Initiative:

The new group’s modus operandi is likely to be similar to the old Project for a New American Century: bombard Washington with press releases and email alerts, draft open letters to be signed by assorted pundits and former policymakers, and organize conferences intended to advance the group’s interventionist agenda. Other commentators have already greeted the launch with appropriate skepticism, but for me, the big question is whether their efforts gain any traction. If so, it would confirm what many people are beginning to suspect: there is virtually no accountability in American public life.

The point about accountability is well taken, but I’m guessing that FPI is going to be a good deal less successful than PNAC. For one, not many people seem to be buying into the efforts of neocons to distance themselves from the Iraq War. Second, the Iraq War hasn’t become notably more popular; it still seems to be widely regarded as a misstep, with the only serious discussion being on how disastrous the mistake was. Finally, the information infrastructure is different; because of the efforts of “Mad” Matt Duss, Stephen Walt, and others, the launch of FPI has been greeted as much by mockery and derision as fear and respect. Bill Kristol is a 20th century guy lost in a 21st century world…

Russian Conscripts: Still a Disaster

[ 0 ] March 31, 2009 |

Conscription in Russia continues to suck:

The year 1991 also had a particularly low birth rate, which makes a huge peacetime draft even more of a challenge. The young men are also entering employment and working age — and families in the middle of Russia’s economic crisis, which is sharper than the rest of the world’s, may not be so willing to give up their potential breadwinners. (Soldiers are paid a minimal and “symbolic” amount for service to their country, the equivalent of about $10 a month.) Moskovsky Komsomolets, a daily newspaper in the Russian capital, reports that 45,000 Muscovites, out of the 60,000 eligible to be conscripted, are currently trying to avoid military service.

Paying them more than $10 a month might help a lot; the remaining conscript armies in Western Europe offer relatively generous terms, as they understand that the dedicated can avoid military service without too much trouble. In any case, read the whole thing. Along with this, it serves as yet another refutation of the idea that Russia can offer any kind of serious peer competitor threat to the United States in the near or medium term. Russia can do much and is doing some to re-establish its military capabilities, but beyond the ability to effectively pound small neighbors into submission, we are very, very far from the Soviet heyday. The issue, as much as anything else, is political will. Putin and Medvedev are interested in a military establishment that can project prestige globally, but not one that can project power. Thus, we’ll continue to hear a lot about expensive high-tech projects that Russia is planning to engage in, or about to start up, or could pursue if it wanted to; such claims feed both the defense PR industry in the United States and the international prestige of Russia’s leadership.

Calipari!

[ 0 ] March 31, 2009 |

I suspect that a referendum on the hiring of John Calipari, including funding, would win by a substantial margin statewide. UK occupies a remarkably important space in Kentucky’s social and political life (much more so than, in my experience, the University of Oregon or the University of Washington), and basketball is an important, although not exclusive, part of that contribution. That said, there are some agitators:

Then, in 2007, Kentucky was seeking to fill it’s men’s basketball head coaching position. Which only happens to be one of the most high-profile jobs in all of American sports.

In filling this vital public relations-oriented job, UK’s background check failed to identify that it was offering the position to a prickly introvert (Billy Gillispie) prone to extreme mood swings.

Given the past performance, Dr. Todd, you’ll forgive me for being skeptical that the background check UK will run on John Calipari will actually ask the questions that need to be raised.

Much proto-vetting then ensues.

The long march through the institutions

[ 0 ] March 30, 2009 |

It’s hard to imagine anything sillier that Andrew Breitbart’s evidently sincere belief that the conservative movement should commence its war against the Obama administration by defeating liberal trolls and defending Hugh Hewitt from people who would call him a douchebag. But then again, I’ve so far managed to avoid reading Breitbart.com — despite Scott’s occasional work on the subject — so perhaps this is the sort of garden-variety insanity I should expect from someone who thinks meth addicts killed Matthew Shepard for drug money.

…UPDATE [BY SL]: I dunno if that’s the real Breitbart in comments, but if so he’s just re-linking the same self-serving, implausible, uncorroborated after-the-fact retractions he used last time. As touching as Brietbart’s faith in these muderers may be, these very convenient retractions have not, in fact, become any more credible with the passage of time. See the still-definitive response from Roger Ailes.