Archive for June, 2010
27 Jun 2010

No Room on the Fence

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Dave Weigel, the Washington Post’s blogger in charge of covering Conservatism, resigned this week after Matt Drudge and Daily Caller leaked some of his emails from JournoList, a private listserv founded by Ezra Klein on which the left’s punditocracy compared noted and coordinated coverage.

Doctor Zero, at Hot Air, looked on with interest on the comedy following the Weigel resignation. The leftwing commentariat lamented how unfair Weigel’s ouster really was, remarked enviously what a great job he used to have, and its founder closed down Journolist.

There is little room left for neutrality in American politics these days, Doctor Zero reflects.

Weigel has spent the last few months working as an observer of the conservative movement for the Washington Post, whose readers must wonder about the identity of the vast Tea Party crowds occasionally blocking their view of the IRS building. As it turns out, Weigel really hates the people he’s been covering, and sees himself precisely the way conservatives see most dinosaur-media reporters: as a partisan operative of the Democrat Party. He expressed his hatred, and loyalties, in a series of communications posted to JournoList. These emails became an embarrassing burst of digital flatulence when they were made public. Weigel is out of a job at the Washington Post, and JournoList is gone.

Blogger Ace of Spades wonders why the Post couldn’t find a sympathetic correspondent to cover the “conservative beat,” and answers his own question by pointing out the Post has no interest in publishing material that might lead its readers to begin grooving to that conservative beat. The last thing they want is for their right-wing avatar to come back with a horde of angry natives behind him and lead a successful insurrection.

Here we cross the line between editorial decisions and bias. Why would an unbiased newspaper be afraid to honestly report news that makes one side of a political debate look appealing, instead assigning a reporter to highlight fringe material to cast them in the most negative light possible? Of course, they are biased, but it’s even worse than that. They’re subjective. They pretend to be commentators, but they’re actually players in the game… just like everyone else. Our fates are all controlled by the immense central government worshipped by the Post. They have a vested interest in ensuring its sustained growth, so they can make their fortune writing epic tales of its heroic deeds.

Big Government makes for bad journalism. As I like to point out whenever someone like David Frum gushes over “moderates,” there is no meaningful way to be moderate when a carnivorous super-State is chowing down on huge portions of the private sector, while dismissing bedrock Constitutional rights with an irritated wave of its hand. You either resist the onslaught of the State with all your might, or bear passive witness to its expansion.

At this moment in American history, there is no functional difference between a genuine “centrist” and Dave Weigel’s right-wing “ratf**kers.” If you think you should be allowed to keep your own medical insurance, and see your own doctor, you’re taking an extreme partisan stance. If you don’t think the government should be able to revoke the First Amendment or due process rights of private corporations at its convenience, you are a declared enemy of the State.

Read the whole thing.

27 Jun 2010

“A Good Communist”

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José Saramago

Jeff Jacoby, in the Boston Globe, quarrels with the establishment’s indulgence of intellectuals’ and artists’ communist affiliations.

The artist fascist is executed by firing squad, like Robert Brasillach, or hidden away in a madhouse, like Ezra Pound. Communists commonly receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

If José Saramago, the Portuguese writer who died on Friday at 87, had been an unrepentant Nazi for the last four decades, he would never have won international acclaim or received the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature. Leading publishers would never have brought out his books, his works would not have been translated into more than 20 languages, and the head of Portugal’s government would never have said on his death — as Prime Minister José Sócrates did say last week — that he was “one of our great cultural figures and his disappearance has left our culture poorer.’’

But Saramago wasn’t a Nazi, he was a communist. And not just a nominal communist, as his obituaries pointed out, but an “unabashed’’ (Washington Post), “unflinching’’ (AP), “unfaltering’’ (New York Times) true believer. A member since 1969 of Portugal’s hardline Communist Party, Saramago called himself a “hormonal communist’’ who in all the years since had “found nothing better.’’ Yet far from rendering him a pariah, Saramago’s communist loyalties have been treated as little more than a roguish idiosyncrasy. Without a hint of irony, AP’s obituary quoted a comment Saramago made in 1998: “People used to say about me, ‘He’s good but he’s a communist.’ Now they say, ‘He’s a communist but he’s good.’ ’’

But the idea that good people can be devoted communists is grotesque. The two categories are mutually exclusive. There was a time, perhaps, when dedication to communism could be absolved as misplaced idealism or naiveté, but that day is long past. After Auschwitz and Babi Yar, only a moral cripple could be a committed Nazi. By the same token, there are no good and decent communists — not after the Gulag Archipelago and the Cambodian killing fields and Mao’s “Great Leap Forward.’’ Not after the testimonies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Armando Valladares and Dith Pran.

In the decades since 1917, communism has led to more slaughter and suffering than any other cause in human history. Communist regimes on four continents sent an estimated 100 million men, women, and children to their deaths — not out of misplaced zeal in pursuit of a fundamentally beautiful theory, but out of utopian fanaticism and an unquenchable lust for power. …

Saramago may have been a fine writer, but he was no exemplar of goodness. Good people do not embrace communism, and communists are not good.

Read the whole thing.

Saramago is a good communist now.

27 Jun 2010

Chicago Lightning

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Lightning hits the Willis Tower (formerly, the Sears Tower) and the Trump Tower in Chicago.

Chicago is a great city for weather watching and photography.

25 Jun 2010

Slavery Times

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anonymous primitive artist, Slave Wedding Celebration, watercolor, 18th century

One particularly notable manifestation of the post-1960s ascendancy of the left in education that is easily noticed is the fact that younger people emerge from school today firmly persuaded that Antebellum American slavery ranks as one of the preeminent crimes in human history. They do not watch older films or read novels like Gone With the Wind depicting affectionate, familial relations between masters and slaves without indignation. Joel Chandler Harris’s once classic stories of Uncle Remus are universally banned.

Ironically, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a liberal and an African-American writer not notoriously moderate on the subject of the politics of race, discovered the reminiscences, recorded by the Depression era Federal Writers’ Project, of an elderly woman who remembered life under slavery… and said with moving eloquence that she wished she was back there.

Coates (who carefully edited away all the dialect in the version he quoted) assures his readers that he was not surprised to find a first person account offering a positive perspective on life in servitude. He acknowledges that (inevitably) conditions under “slavery differed, as all things differ.”

Coates evidently still intends to reject firmly any and all literary portraits of affectionate relationships between masters and servants and depictions of servant life before emancipation as less than intolerable, but he admits that he found Aunt Clara’s words “beautiful. Not pleasing [but] Beautiful.”

Aunt Clara Davis (Library of Congress, Federal Writers’ Project, July 6, 1937):


I was bawn in de year 1845, white folks,” said Aunt Clara, “on the Mosley Plantation in Bellvy jus’ nawth of Monroeville. Us had a mighty pretty place back dar. Massa Mosley had near ’bout five hundred acres an’ mos’ near to one hundred slaves.

“Was Marse Mosley good to us? Lor, honey, how you talk. Co’se he was! He was de bes’ white man in de lan’. Us had eve’y thing dat we could hope to eat: turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, poke, vegetables, fruits, aigs, butter, milk…we jus’ had eve’ything. Dem was de good ole days. How I longs to be back dar wit’ my ole folks an’ a playin’ wit’ de chilluns down by de creek. ‘Tain’t nothin’ lak it today, nawsuh. An’ when I tell you ’bout it you gwine to wish you was dar too.

White folks, you can have your automobiles, an’ paved streets an’ electric lights. I don’t want ’em. You can have de buses, an’ street cars, and hot pavement and high buildin’ ‘caze I ain’t got no use for ’em no way. But I’ll tell you what I does want–I wants my old cotton bed an’ de moonlight shinin’ through de willow trees, and de cool grass under my feets as I runned aroun’ ketchin’ lightnin’ bugs. I wants to hear the sound of the hounds in de wods arter de ‘possum, an’ de smell of fresh mowed hay. I wants to feel the sway of de ol’ wagon, a-goin’ down de red, dusty road, an’ listen to de wheels groanin’ as they rolls along. I wants to sink my teeth into some of dat good ol’ ash cake, an’ suck de good ol’ sorghum offen my mouth. White folks I wants to see de boats a-passin’ up an’ down de Alabamy ribber an’ hear de slaves a-singin’ at dere work. I wants to see de dawn break over de black ridge an’ de twilight settle over de place spreadin’ a certain orange hue over de place. I wants to walk de paths th’ew de woods an’ watch de birds an’ listen to de frogs at night. But dey tuk me away f’um dat a long time ago. Twern’t long befo’ I ma’ied an’ had chilluns, but don’t none of ’em ‘tribute to my suppote now. One of ’em was killed in the big war wid Germany, an’ the res’ is all scattered out–eight of ’em. Now I jus’ lives f’om han’ to mouth, here one day, somewhere else the nex’. I guess we’s all a-goin to die iffin this dis ‘pression don’t let us alone. Maybe someday I’ll git to go home. They tells me that when a pusson crosses over dat river, de Lord gives him whut he wants. I done tol’ the Lawd I don’t wants nothin’ much—only my home, white folks. I don’t think dat’s much to ax for. I suppose he’ll send me back dar. I been a-waitin’ a long time for him to call.

Decades ago, American writers loved to record rustic dialects, and the flavorful speech of Southern African Americans in particular. Long stretches of dialect writing slow down the reader, causing him frequently to have to sound out the words in his head to decipher the meaning. Political correctness has eradicated that kind of dialectical prose. It is perceived as condescending rather than affectionate. I have been wondering how troublesome younger people will find reading Aunt Clara and just how offended they will be by all the “de-s,” “dar-s,” and s-form verbs. That sort of prose must read very differently to generations that did not grow up reading it all the time.

25 Jun 2010

“Judas Must Have Been a Republican”

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Deborah B. Sloan, at American Thinker, describes the failure of the Republican congressional leadership to rise to the challenge of educating the public and confronting the left, and their choice of cowardice and conformity to the politics of the left instead.

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Congressman Barton said. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case, a $20 billion shakedown. … I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.”

Amen, Congressman Barton. It is horrifying to witness the constant statist attack on property rights and the rule of law while being essentially powerless to stop it. What a relief it was to hear someone who does have a modicum of power speak out against this assault on our nation.

Of course, the usual suspects on the left — most notably Joe Biden — leaped onto their soap boxes and screamed bloody murder in reaction to Congressman Barton’s statements; they regurgitated worn-out clichés about Republicans being “in the pockets of Big Oil.”

This sort of tantrum always erupts when someone takes a principled stand against the left. It was an opportunity for the Republican leadership’s response to second Mr. Barton’s concern for the enormously important principles involved, to advocate reimbursement via the constitutionally supported mechanism of due process for people who were harmed by the oil leak, and to firmly tell the Obama regime that they will not be receiving any apologies — that it is they who owe apologies to the American people for the fraud, corruption, theft, and full-blown terror they have subjected us to since January 2009.

Instead, the House Republican leadership denounced the stand taken by Mr. Barton and demanded that he apologize. This type of spinelessness on the part of the Republicans has contributed significantly to the erosion of freedom in America over the past century. Ayn Rand observed that

    [t]he uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other — until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.

With the exception of the fight against ObamaCare, the current Republican leadership have demonstrated that they are unwilling to stand up to the left. The solution to this is not a third party. Instead, the Republican establishment must be phased out and replaced with a new school of leaders who will proudly fight for freedom and capitalism with the same endurance and unapologetic fervor that the left has exhibited for collectivism and tyrannical big government.

25 Jun 2010

Beware: Journalists at Work

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David Brooks writes General Stanley McChrystal’s epitaph.

Who could possibly imagine that a military commander’s staff had unkind things to say about members of the president’s staff?

Rolling Stone sold a lot of copies, reporter Michael Hastings made a big splash, and General McChrystal had his career ruined, it was all just a day’s work for the news business.

Most people in government, I find, are there because they sincerely want to do good. But they’re also exhausted and frustrated much of the time. And at these moments they can’t help letting you know that things would be much better if only there weren’t so many morons all around.

So every few weeks I find myself on the receiving end of little burst of off-the-record trash talk. Senators privately moan about other senators. Administration officials gripe about other administration officials. People in the White House complain about the idiots in Congress, and the idiots in Congress complain about the idiots in the White House — especially if they’re in the same party. Washington floats on a river of aspersion.

The system is basically set up to maximize kvetching. Government is filled with superconfident, highly competitive people who are grouped into small bands. These bands usually have one queen bee at the center — a president, senator, cabinet secretary or general — and a squad of advisers all around. These bands are perpetually jostling, elbowing and shoving each other to get control over policy.

Amid all this friction, the members of each band develop their own private language. These people often spend 16 hours a day together, and they bond by moaning and about the idiots on the outside.

It feels good to vent in this way. You demonstrate your own importance by showing your buddies that you are un-awed by the majority leader, the vice president or some other big name. You get to take a break from the formal pressures of the job by playing the blasphemous bad-boy rebel over a beer at night.

Military people are especially prone to these sorts of outbursts. In public, they pay lavish deference to civilian masters who issue orders from the comfort of home. Among themselves, they blow off steam, sometimes in the crudest possible terms. …

McChrystal, like everyone else, kvetched. And having apparently missed the last 50 years of cultural history, he did so on the record, in front of a reporter. And this reporter, being a product of the culture of exposure, made the kvetching the center of his magazine profile.

By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.

The reticent ethos had its flaws. But the exposure ethos, with its relentless emphasis on destroying privacy and exposing impurities, has chased good people from public life, undermined public faith in institutions and elevated the trivial over the important.

Another scalp is on the wall. Government officials will erect even higher walls between themselves and the outside world. The honest and freewheeling will continue to flee public life, and the cautious and calculating will remain.

The culture of exposure has triumphed, with results for all to see.

24 Jun 2010

Topless Valkyrie Advertisement

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Bruce Kesler, at Maggie’s Farm, links a 2:45 highly amusing ad

Just across Germany’s northern-most border with Denmark you’ll find an incredible superstore called Fleggaard. There, you can buy everything you need – tubs of gummi bears, cases of wine, industrial strength dishwashing soap – at prices 30% cheaper than you’ll find in Denmark . It is Denmark’s Costco, packaged as a German loophole. This is their advertisement! The 100+ women do stunts in the air – while free-falling – holding hands to spell out “Half-off on Dishwasher at Fleggaard.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a man in Denmark who hasn’t seen and fallen in love with that commercial.

24 Jun 2010

Refighting the Civil War

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In the aftermath of Appomatox, the process of reunifying the country naturally came to include a chivalrous recognition by victorious Northerners that their Southern adversaries had fought bravely and honorably on behalf of a sectional political perspective which, though defeated in a decisive contest of strength, had been legitimately defended.

The academic left today, of which Christopher Clausen, writing in Wilson Quarterly, is a typical example, is determined to rewrite history and delegitimize the War for Southern Independence by insisting on reducing the Southern cause to a failed battle to preserve Slavery. Any sympathetic view of Southern motivations is dismissed as “Lost Cause-ism,” the Lost Cause being defined as a false post-War romantic narrative constructed to obfuscate Southern guilt for treason and unjustified revolution on behalf of the indefensible crime of slavery.

All this is arrant nonsense and radical agitprop, not history.

Slavery was certainly a cause for secession and the Civil War, but it was what Aristotle would have referred to as the material cause. The efficient cause of secession was States’ Rights and the cause for which most Southerners fought was merely defense of family, home, and fire-side against armed invasion.

Lincoln promised in his First Inaugural Address that he had “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.” He assured Americans that he had “no lawful right to do so” as well as no inclination.

It is important to remember that, at that point, only seven states had seceded. It might be argued that the seven Deep South cotton states seceded on the basis of a determination to preserve a social and economic system including slavery, but Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas seceded only after Lincoln’s April 15 call for troops to invade and subjugate the states which had previously voted to leave the Union.

The most important states of the Confederacy in size of population, including Virginia which became the seat of the Confederate capital, did not secede for slavery at all, but to defend the right of self determination of the citizens of individual states against federal power.


The rather Goreyesque Civil War Monument in front of the courthouse in the nearby county where our fox hunt’s kennels is located says on its base:


There is no mention of slavery.


So demented with self-righteous infatuation with the politics of race have historians become, that the staggering corruption and misgovernment of the Reconstruction Era, in which suddenly-emancipated illiterate primitives in league with looting outsiders and corrupt locals were given control of the governments of conquered states at the point of the bayonet, has become a Golden Age of racial justice sadly ended by the electoral compromise of 1876.

When I was in school, so many decades ago, we still used to be informed of the staggering debt burdens piled up in a few short years by Reconstruction Era black governments, which kept many Southern states impoverished and unable to fund more than the most rudimentary educational systems right up to the time of WWII.

Today, we are advised by scholars like C. Vann Woodward that “the North had fought the war and imposed Reconstruction for three reasons: to save the Union, to abolish slavery, and, more equivocally, to bring about racial equality. The first two aims were achieved and soon accepted, however grudgingly, by the South. The third, seemingly assured by constitutional amendments and supporting legislation, was bargained away for most of another century.”

Most Union soldiers, certainly Grant (who tried to buy the island of Hispaniola to settle all the freed slaves upon) and Sherman (who was morally indifferent to slavery) and Lincoln himself (who intended to deport the emancipated slaves to Africa) would have been astonished to have ascribed to them the goal of racial equality. In so far as ending slavery was a major motivation to Northern soldiers, it most often took the form a desire to eliminate slavery and with it the presence of a colored population on US soil. One could argue that for a majority of Northern soldiers the Civil War was a war being fought to assure the future existence of a whites-only United States.

Clausen’s article is a disgrace, anachronistically contorting 19th century reality into a useful narrative for post-1960s racial politics.

24 Jun 2010

Enquirer Breaks Gore Sex Crime Scandal

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The National Enquirer discovered, and mainstream media like the New York Times have now picked up the story that Nobel Prize winner, once a hanging chad from the presidency, Albert Gore was accused of sexually attacking a masseuse in Oregon in 2006.

Police did not pursue the case evidently because Gore’s accuser declined to cooperate. References to her attorney handling the matter suggest that a private settlement may have been paid to induce her to withdraw the complaint.

A massage therapist accused former Vice President Al Gore of “unwanted sexual contact” at a hotel in October 2006, but no charges were filed because of lack of evidence, law officials said Wednesday.

The latest on President Obama, his administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.

A lawyer for the woman contacted the police in late 2006, said the Multnomah County district attorney, Michael D. Schrunk. Mr. Schrunk said the woman, who has not been identified, had refused to be interviewed and did not want the investigation to proceed.

But in January 2009, she contacted the police and gave a statement in which she said Mr. Gore had tried to have sex with her during an appointment at the Hotel Lucia. The National Enquirer first reported the accusations on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, Kalee Kreider, said he had no comment. Mr. Gore and his wife announced on June 1 that they were separating.

A police report prepared in 2007 said the alleged incident occurred at 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2006. Mr. Gore was in Portland to deliver a speech on climate change.

The woman, according to the report, canceled appointments with detectives on Dec. 21 and 26. Her lawyer canceled a Jan. 4 meeting and said the matter would be handled civilly.

24 Jun 2010

Federal Government Pays Housing Incentives to Prisoners

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CNBC reports that the homebuyers stimulus program was rife with fraud. How does the administrator approving the payment fail to notice the prison address?

Nearly 1,300 prison inmates wrongly received more than $9 million in tax credits for homebuyers despite being locked up when they claimed they bought a home, a government investigator reported Wednesday.

The investigator said 241 of the inmates were serving life sentences.

In all, more than 14,100 taxpayers wrongly received at least $26.7 million in tax credits that were meant to boost the nation’s slumping housing markets, said the report by J. Russell George, the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.

Some taxpayers received the credit for homes purchased before the tax break was started. In other cases, multiple taxpayers improperly used the same home to claim multiple credits. Investigators found one home that was used by 67 taxpayers to claim credits.

23 Jun 2010

The Cover of the Rolling Stone

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“If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.”

–General William Tecumseh Sherman


We take all kind of pills, that give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we’ve never known,
Is the thrill that’ll getcha
When you get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone,
Wanna see my picture on the cover,
Wanna buy five copies for my mother,
Wanna see my smiling face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

— Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show

2:54 video

General Stanley McChrystal must now wish that he had listened to General Sherman and not Dr. Hook, and never agreed to give access to his command team or be interviewed by reporter Michael Hastings for Rolling Stone.

As Hastings unsympathetically explained to Newsweek, McChrystal should have understood that his interests and career meant nothing to the reporter he admitted into his inner counsels. If somebody cracked a joke or made an unkind remark about a rival government official or a superior, however embarrassing or damaging it might be, a reporter would consider it his own good luck and publish it with delight.

I was walking around with a tape recorder and a notepad in my hand three-quarters of the time. I didn’t have the Matt Drudge press hat on, but everything short of that it was pretty obvious I was a reporter writing a profile of the general for Rolling Stone. It was always very clear.

Career-ending Rolling Stone article


The unfortunate General McChrystal was flown back to Washington to apologize to Barack Obama and to tender his resignation. The predictions are that it will be accepted.

22 Jun 2010

“This Too Shall Pass”

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Excellent Rube Goldberg 3:54 music video by Synn Labs

Hat tip to classmates Fred Karp & David Larkin.

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