Wednesday, June 29

#5 With A (Dum-Dum) Bullet


SO, basically: 1) there's as much of an actual excuse for all the Bachmann chatter (she's been featured on my local fucking news--which can't be bothered with the FSSA story, or the Toll Road bankruptcy, and which last night referred to the long-overdue ban on texting while driving as "controversial"--the last three nights running) as there would be for a brace of Ron Paul stories or Newt Gingrich arrest reports, and considerably less than in-depth examinations of Herman Cain, Your Next Ambassador to Pepperoni. 2) the obvious person to unite the "true" "conservative" base of the party is…the former Half Term Governor of Alaskaha, Sarah Louise Palin, who would then be shot down in a general election so devastating to Idiot America that it might take Paris, Snooki, and Cokie with it. And 3) Fred Thompson must be somewhere thinking to himself, "Dammit, I peaked too early."

And really now: if you are enough of a Sarah Palin die-hard fanboy that you, like another 14.5% of your fellow Republicans, believe that she should be your next President, who else here is really gonna measure up if she lets you down? It might look like 2/3 of the votes are up for grabs for a Romney challenger who breaks out of the pack, but how do you appeal to the disenfranchised Herman Cain voter, exactly? Oh, they'll support the nominee; Republicans supported Bush the First in '92 and Dole in '96, but there wasn't any fire about it. To the casual onlooker and scrupulous observer of the Law of Gravity all Crazy looks the same. But from the inside, on primary day, your Perry aficionado or Santorum intransigent is going to have to decide if he'd rather lose with Crazy-Eyes or Mr. Tiffany or Tundra Snooki than pull the Romney lever and have some sort of sporting chance. Sure, there's plenty of time for the herd to change direction; there's plenty of opportunity for a concerted effort to remove Mitt, derail the Pawlenty Express, or cockblock Sarah, if the situation calls for it. And, yes, whichever of these jokers gets the nomination will automatically collect 180 electoral votes just for being Republican. But for now, please, tell me how any of these guys has a chance.

Tuesday, June 28


• Posting will be light:


• Brave Indiana Blogger Doug Masson brings us word of this L.A. Times piece on the ongoing disaster of Daniels & Henchmen's FSSA privatization, as well as word that the operator of the Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years may be turning belly-up (that's despite tolls having doubled, and being scheduled to increase again July 1).

You can couple that with the fact that Illinois is having an actual debate on the creation of coal gasification plants--which sailed through the Daniels-Statehouse Republican graft trap earlier this year--going so far (at the lobbyists' bidding) as to actually rewrite legislation to protect ratepayers--known to Hoosier Republicans as "Who?", if they're known at all--from astronomical rate increases, and you wind up with Daniels' only positive legacy being the two months people with nothing better to do imagined him running for President.

• Michele Bachmann Is So Smart! Block Captain Dave Weigel defends her getting her John Waynes confused by pulling out some other hack's artificial resuscitation. And in doing so manages to get John Wayne Gacy's hometown wrong.
Bachmann's problem, if we even want to call it that, is that she's been hopelessly defined as a gaffe-machine who flubs silly things.

Well, for one, it sure seemed to be a Problem If We Want To Call It That back when everyone with a Republican media sinecure was trying to debunk it by proclaiming her brilliant by acclamation. So you're not really permitted, ten days later, to pretend you didn't know what was going on. It would also seem to be a bit of a problem if we imagine that a hopeless gaffe-machine shouldn't be identified as such (though it's fine to insist on the opposite against all evidence) simply because she's a Teabagger, and they don't like it. Too fuckin' bad. This is why you shouldn't climb out on a limb that's already been sawn through. Something you learn in a small town, Dave.

Does it matter? Not in the particular, much, except to note that she can't put a campaign staff together capable of keeping her from sounding like an idiot, when that would appear to be Job One. And in a larger sense, yes, because a lot of us ain't gonna buy Michele Bachmann, Intelligent by Fiat. Or Sarah Palin. Or George W. Bush. It's beyond time for one of those declarations to get backed up by some actuality, instead of being shot down within thirty minutes the next time the statesman in question opens his or her mouth. Would this sort of gaffe mean anything if it came from someone who was intellectually qualified to be President? No. And that wouldn't keep Peggy Noonan or David Weigel from making a big fucking deal of it if they chose.

There is no longer a default position of Reasonableness in the national debate. I remind you, in case you've forgotten, that this condition obtains entirely at the whim of the American Right, which has been on the wrong side of rationality for thirty-five years, and richly rewarded for it. If you chose to defend Michele Bachmann's smarts, or Mitch Daniels' effectiveness, or Newt Gingrich's morals you are entirely on your own these days. Be thankful for the twenty minutes when only the knowledgeable realized how full of shit you were, Dave. Y'know, sooner or later a Republican candidate has to stop talking only to Republicans. Y'all've finessed this by limiting yourselves to "swing voters", who are just as gullible but not so ideological. It has not worked. You win elections but accomplish nothing. You keep hoping you can do so, somehow, without dismantling that alternative news universe you've been living in since 1980; this was the attraction of Mitch Daniels' artificial accomplishments. But it doesn't work, and it's never gonna. Bachmann has zero appeal outside of the lunatic fringe that drives your party. Maybe that's enough, God help us. It doesn't mean she's not a lunatic.

Monday, June 27

He'd Lie. I Could Have Saved You 1400 Words.

Gideon Rose, "What Would Nixon Do?" June 25

THE other evening my Poor Wife was watching some piece of historical dreck à la Hollywood--for the uninitiated, "watching", in my wife's parlance, means she had a program on between commercial interruptions, perhaps checking backwards and forwards on a couple other shows she was "watching" as well, instead of full Remote Control Audio Visual Phantasmagoria mode, where she moves methodically up from Channel 1 to Channel 850, and back down again, at roughly the same speed which allows you to light your home using alternating current without noticing any flickering--and I looked in just long enough to remark how prescient 13th century English barbers were to have accurately recapitulated early 21st century men's grooming styles so long before the fact. Probably had something to do with Nostradamus.

Do not get me wrong; I enjoy Hollywood historical dreck. But it belongs on my teevee, or accompanied by an $8 box of Milk Duds and some petrochemical-coated popcorn, not on the pages of the Times.
Administration hawks, largely in the military, are uneasy; they had wanted to go slower, so as to safeguard recent gains made against the Taliban. Administration doves, largely in the White House, are disappointed; they had wanted to pull back faster, seeing the killing of Osama bin Laden as an ideal opportunity to get out.

The president split the difference, suggesting that he was charting a “centered course.” But he has actually once again evaded the fundamental choice between accepting the costs of staying and the risks of leaving.

In other words, he did exactly what the American public wants, in this and everything else: Victory, but no Cost; withdrawal, but control; no taxes, but no cuts in services; hair-trigger diplomacy, but no consequences; no fences, but no rabbits.

Listen, I'm not taking a backseat to anybody in opposing our little Afghanistan adventure; you wanna complain to me, first show me where, in public, you opposed it in 2001, and where you, in public, said we'd be there for a generation, looking for a way to leave. This war is the American public's war. It was so overwhelmingly popular we almost lynched Susan Sontag, in case you and Andrew Sullivan have forgotten.

I don't care for anything the President has done in Afghanistan. But a half-assed draw down which splits the difference and thus serves up neither fish nor fowl? That's precisely the ending this thing deserves.

On the other hand neither it, nor the President, deserve any lessons learned from Richard Fuckhous Nixon:
Although Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger had steeled themselves for the possibility of an eventual South Vietnamese collapse, they hoped it could be avoided and did what they could to prevent it. And had events in Washington played out differently — with Watergate not crippling the administration and with Congress less hell-bent on slamming the door behind the departing ground troops — they might have succeeded.

Good Lord. #1: there is no possible scenario that could be conveyed in English in which the "collapse" of the "South" Vietnamese "government" could have been avoided; that's like suggesting there was some way to reform the pox. "South Vietnam" was just our term of convenience for what was left of the mandarin class after the Vietnamese threw the deserving French out on their collective oreille; "government" was a euphemism for "strong man", whoever it was we figured at the time was corrupt and ruthless enough to run things for us. We had to gun down one of 'em ourselves, you'll recall. The idea that Nixon and Kissinger could possibly have imagined the South would survive absent hundreds of thousands of US troops in perpetuity is ridiculous. The idea that they could have succeeded, absent Watergate and an "anti-war" Congress, is beyond ludicrous.
Mr. Obama does not have a Watergate to contend with, nor does he face a passionately antiwar Congress. And his opponents on the battlefield don’t have the capabilities or support the North Vietnamese did. Without these stumbling blocks, he should be able to pull off a Nixonian strategy in Afghanistan. But this will involve more than simply tinkering with the number of troops being pulled out. It will mean denying what is going on, aggressively covering the retreat and staying after leaving.

Well, one: it seems like it might be easier to effect a withdrawal if you did have an anti-war Congress; Nixon could have, except he had, equally, a pro-war Congress, and his personal desire was for a military victory. I'm not sure what Obama wants, besides a successful domestic solution. And as pathetic as our "ally" in the South was, at least it represented a once-established order in Vietnam; we got nothin' like that in Afghanistan.

But, by all means, he should just lie about what he's doing. I'm sure the Republican party would understand, and fully support him.
The first rule of withdrawal is you do not talk about withdrawal. You may agree with the doves about the value of exiting, but you should respect the hawks’ fears about what will happen once people realize what you are doing.

The Hawks got you into the thing, and all they could foresee was victory. That something unappetizing will happen once you've stopped propping up a corrupt and illegitimate regime and moved on is a given, not a brilliant analysis born of aggressive foreign policy stances.
The second rule of withdrawal is to lay down suppressive fire so the enemy cannot rush into the gap you leave behind. The Nixon administration was brutal and ham-fisted about this, using secret bombing runs along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and expeditions into Cambodia and Laos to buy time and space for its “Vietnamization” programs to work. Thanks to technological advances, the Obama administration can do the same thing while incurring far fewer human, financial, legal and political costs. Drone attacks and raids against enemy targets in Pakistani sanctuaries today are a precision replay of actions in Cambodia and Laos, but more effective and less controversial.

I guess the real reason lying about shit is such good advice is that it'll result in people still believing you forty years later, despite all evidence to the contrary.

C'mon. Nixon campaigned (in '68) on his "secret plan" to end the war. Bombing Cambodia and Laos wasn't it. That was more of the Boy, There's A Big Surprise plan to escalate the war to win it, after it was already hopeless, and to do so with air power, the lazy President's way to appear omnipotent while accomplishing nothing. And this took place long before Watergate, and a while before there was much of a Congressional opposition to the war to speak of. Stronger than opposition to Afghanistan today, for sure, but also an organic development to the entire mission there, not an ad hoc opposition to a particular President featuring many of the same Foreign Affairs types who got us into it in the first place.
Unlike Mr. Nixon, however, Mr. Obama is relatively popular and widely trusted. He has gained credibility on national security thanks to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Congress is obsessed with domestic economic issues rather than foreign policy and deferential rather than hostile to military leaders — who themselves support staying engaged in Afghanistan.

Such a favorable domestic environment is matched by a relatively favorable international one, in which America’s ability to project power remains strong and most of the world shuns radical jihadists. Should Mr. Obama seek to fend off a complete enemy victory in Afghanistan even after most American combat forces leave, he should be able to succeed — at least until, as Mr. Kissinger put it, no one gives a damn.

Having tired of the fight in Afghanistan, the United States now has to perform political triage, deciding what goals are still worth fighting for and how they can be achieved.

And for which maybe we can thank the people who got us stuck there because of 9/11, rather than blame the people who said we had no mission beyond aggrandizing the Bush administration and killing whoever wasn't in a position to duck.

This President--who did get Osama bin Laden, which means he has every right to tell the rest of you adventurists to shut th' fuck up--certainly deserves, at minimum, the right to conduct Afghanistan policy without interference from the party which signed blank checks and extraordinary rendition orders for eight years. And maybe next time we can insist on not being lied to in the first place, so that lying to us later doesn't become a stroke of genius. As for the rest of the world, I don't really know who it's backing. I do know it understands full well that we're willing to lie about anything whatsoever when we think it advances right-wing interests around the globe. And they've known that since…Nixon.

Friday, June 24

A Note About--Of All Things--Coverage Of The Republican Presidential Candidates

Steve Chapman, "Another Texas Republican for President?" June 23

The Republican presidential field looks less like an assemblage of candidates than a collection of fatal mistakes and irreparable flaws, with occasional embodiments of one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Mitt Romney? A flip-flopper who inspired Obamacare. Tim Pawlenty? A too-bashful critic of Romneycare, with a sleepy persona. Newt Gingrich? Serial adultery and terminal hubris.

Herman Cain? A rousing speaker with a future in talk radio. Rick Santorum? Not many politicians warm up for a presidential race by losing a Senate seat in a landslide. Michele Bachmann? Only one House member has ever gone directly to the presidency (James Garfield, in 1880).

Jon Huntsman? Service in the Obama administration is no way to gratify Republican voters. Ron Paul? A libertarian in a conservative party whose 2008 race yielded a paltry handful of convention delegates.

All this explains why a 2012 race is now tempting Rick Perry, the three-term governor of Texas whose liabilities come with some assets: a record of fiscal frugality and economic growth, a flair for channeling anti-Washington sentiment, a proven fundraising capacity and an appealing biography (hardscrabble farm upbringing, Eagle Scout, Air Force pilot).

The name of Indiana's governor--Mitch or Mark or Mike Somebody--came across the local news crawl last night. He was shoehorned into a story about Planned Parenthood shutting operations as a lawsuit proceeds over the bill he signed last month defunding all its services, because the inmates of the Indiana General Assembly had Shorty by the shorties.

Daniels has been invisible in the month since he announced his wife wouldn't let him run for President.

The curious thing about that--national interest in Daniels' persona, that is, in his insistence that he was charismatic by virtue of being charisma-free, was always forced and artificial--is that all those qualities which supposedly made Mitch (and his BFF Haley Barbour) such strong candidates seem, in the space of a fortnight, to've dropped off the radar. In May the Republican party desperately needed someone who was believable on fiscal responsibility but with a low coefficient of Kook; in June Michele Bachmann is a brilliant political monologist.

It's difficult to come up with any possible explanation other than the obvious one: this didn't pan out for the party, so continuing to harp on it just makes the actual candidates look even worse.

The same probably goes for denigrating Bachmann's chances on the grounds that James Garfield was the last House member elected President, as opposed to noting that America elected a certifiably batshit insane, overmatched cipher and religious maniac just seven years ago. I guess that beats stating any of the few thousand real reasons she won't be elected President, or at least dealing with the emails that would come after.

But, look: the contractual obligation to fill column inches is one thing, and taking Rick Fucking Perry even semi-seriously is quite another.

The Republican party, above all else, is desperate not to nominate another George W. Bush. At least it's desperate not to nominate its notion of George W. Bush, which we all remember was not exactly that shared by the average, normal, literate adult human who heard the man talk. To them George W. Bush was not the bumbling, intellectually incurious son of privilege who fucked us over internationally while destroying the national solvency through a combination of cupidity, stupidity, and ideology, no. He's the guy who turned out to be a secret liberal.

The Republican party might just as well decide between Romneyhair and Perryhair; it might as well forget looking for excuses, and start looking for a way to cut everyone else out of the race before the next debate makes "pundits" start taking Herman Cain seriously. The Republican party is so thoroughly dishonest, and has been since Nixon, that it might as well start pinning its real hopes on Justin Timberlake turning conservative in his 50s. Between now and then it's got nothing; it's got two generations lying scoundrels. The Republican party ought to be apologizing to Newt Gingrich. Anybody telling you that Rick Perry is the next great hope of the party should never be believed about anything, ever again. And whoever keeps emailing me hourly updates of Chris Christie's accomplishments should be up on Federal racketeering charges.

Wednesday, June 22

The Proctoscopy Of American Politics

Jennifer Rubin, "Path to the nomination: Michele Bachmann". June 22

FIRST: for someone of my age and irritability, it's always instructive to be reminded--as seldom as possible--that the regular WaPo line-up of rightist hacks, shills, cranks, and monarchists isn't sufficient to overcome the Librul bias of The Media, and so Jennifer Rubin needs a blog. Or maybe it's just that people found Kathleen Parker too highbrow.

And I may be apologizing for this between now and the Republican National Convention, but this race just fascinates me. It's so bad I don't even miss Mitch Daniels.

Reader, in 1988 the Democratic field, minus Gary Hart, was commonly referred to as the Seven Dwarfs. It comprised Al Gore, Joe Biden, Michael Dukakis, Bruce Babbit, Dick Gephardt, Jesse Jackson, and Paul Simon: three Senators, a governor, a Representative, a former governor, and one of Dr. Martin Luther King's lieutenants.

The current Republican field consists of a Senator, a former Senator, two former governors, a Representative, a disgraced former Speaker of the House, and a pizza delivery guy. Maybe the Press is out of nicknames. Maybe they've fallen out of favor, what with George W. Bush off doing whatever th' fuck he's doing. Maybe we're just waiting for someone really accomplished, like a half-term governor or two, to smarten the place up.

And, for me, the unintentional humor of Haley Barbour/Mitch Daniels, Great Rich White Hopes, has been eclipsed by Michele Bachman, Intelligent by Proclamation.
The New Hampshire debate, therefore, was a shock to many who had lumped her in with Sarah Palin or were unaware of her background as a lawyer, legislator and small-business woman. Gaining credibility in the eyes of the chattering class is an important step that will allow more serious coverage, consistent fundraising and expansion of her appeal beyond core Tea Partyers.

Y'know, "Bobby" Jindal answered the call when his party desperately needed an Ethnic to call its own, fumbled the toss, and is going to be living, Bayh-like, off his wife's oil company board memberships for the rest of his life. Michele Bachman, with yet untold millions in a campaign chest buying who knows how many image consultants dedicated to keeping her from looking like a sterno bum come to Jesus, manages to get through a single Republican "debate" without cackling something about Chinese electricity, One World Currency Proof Sets, or how slavery's been unfairly maligned, and she's suddenly declared Not Sarah Palin by people who never actually admitted Sarah Palin is a moron. Or not while they knew anyone could hear. And all I can say is, Jindal had it comin'.
She has at least four tasks ahead of her. First, as many of the candidates must do, she will need to convert her searing criticism of the president into a positive agenda of her own. In the debate she told us she was against the EPA, against raising the debt ceiling and against Obamacare. But what is she for, and will that agenda sound plausible? She will need to spell out what a Bachmann budget would look like and what she would propose in lieu of Obamacare.

Why are you picking on her? The last Republican candidate to spell out anything was George Herbert Walker Publius Bush, Sr., and it had something to do with taxes.
Second, she is up against candidates with executive experience ( Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney); she therefore would do well to highlight her own leadership and management experience. Perhaps that comes from her private-sector business. Maybe her role in helping to build the Tea Party could be used to demonstrate her organizational abilities. In short, why is the congresswoman ready to be president?

And here I thought the routine about Mitch Daniels, Entrepreneurial Hero was a knee-slapper.
Third, she’s going to have to pass muster as a plausible commander in chief. That, once again, means more than criticizing President Obama’s messy Libya policy or his submissiveness to Vladimir Putin. It requires that she show some seriousness about both the vision and the details of a foreign policy that conservatives can embrace. Is she going to toss around troop figures for Afghanistan like Huntsman did, or spell out a thoughtful policy? She’d do well to make some high-profile speeches and trips. In short, if you want to be at the grown-ups’ table in the race you must have the stature of a commander in chief.

I suppose a codpiece is out of the question.
And finally, she’d do well to show that she can unite the party, not simply shove out of the way all but core conservatives. Can she find a tone and message that will draw in Main Street conservatives, hawks, Tea Partyers, libertarians and the rest? She has shown she can fearlessly hammer the opposition, but can she woo the undecided?

Look, let's just say it: Bachmann's appeal is that she's clinically insane and functionally illiterate. The more she tries to hide it, the less she appeals to her natural constituency.

Bachmann isn't there on the hopes she's going to unite the Republican party. She's there as a placemat for the Teabaggers. Which is why "conservative" punditasters were so theatrically astonished at her accomplished performance last week. If she truly becomes a threat she'll be chopped down in a minute. She's there at the sufferance of a party well-versed in giving the rabble just enough to keep it coming back for more crumbs.
Her most significant challenge (and vice versa) will be Texas Gov. Rick Perry, should he choose to run. He’s got the conservative credentials plus the executive record. His fundraising prowess and appeal to both social conservatives and libertarians (who like his minimalist view of the federal government’s power and role) may be enough to deprive her of votes she will need to beat Romney.

A bag of hair. But really nice hair.
Bachmann may not be the front-runner, but of the current stable of contenders she may have the most plausible route to the nomination — provided Pawlenty doesn’t get his act together and Perry stays in Austin. That, I am certain, still shocks many in the punditocracy and the political establishment.

Assuming you still believe a) they know anything and b) they could remember how to tell the truth long enough to mention it. Bachmann's being set up as a Veep contender to keep the base in line. 2008 already demonstrated that, as certifiable as the entire party may be, outright hallucination accounts for only about a third. If you think Bachmann is being unfairly tarred with the Palin brush now, have her win Iowa, and maybe South Carolina, and see what the money boys in your own party have to say about her then.

Monday, June 20

It's Okay. Fred Thompson Haley Barbour Mitch Daniels Jon Huntsman Rick Perry? Will Save Us.

WE are now into the the third Presidential election cycle in which Republicans have no answer. Which ought to be considered a lot odder than the Mass-Market Media seems to do, seeing as how it's happy to portray the Republican party as the one with Answers readily at hand.

The first of the three involved an incumbent, of course, which managed to obscure the problem somewhat, especially from people who didn't care to look. But leave The Mostest Incompetent Bush of All out of the equation for a moment: what if Dick Cheney hadn't been forced by circumstances, health concerns, and the fact that he'd named himself Vice President to declare at the outset that he wouldn't run in '08? How would setting him up as the next nominee have gone over, when was polling only slightly better than the Still At Large Anthrax Bomber? Republican basement-dwellers had been proposing a "Cheney steps down, Condi Rice steps up" campaign for two years at that point, and chuckling to themselves over the dilemma liberals would face in being forced to vote for a Womyn, and a Black, thereby putting Dubya in the Oval Office, legitimately this time. (Which, by the way, gave me no end of amusement, not so much for the idea of Condimelda Rice, Irresistible Candidate, but for a political analysis predicated on the idea of Dick Cheney giving up power voluntarily.) So even they recognized the man was anathema.

Really, it oughta be enough that 2012 is recapitulating 2008, except with the Republicans supposedly ascendent this time, to shelve the "Republicans are unhappy with their choices (again)" routine like it's just another unlucky roll of the dice. Consider that Bush 2000 was anointed by insiders in 1999, not selected by primary voters, and that above all everyone was desperate to end eight years of Clintonism; imagine Fumbles really running in a competitive race. Consider the two previous elections: nobody much liked Dole, or George Herbert Walker Imperius Panamanius Bush, either. Maybe it's time to admit they have a little problem. Or maybe it's time to acknowledge that the real point where they connect with the rest of American is that, deep down, neither of 'em likes Republicans.

And maybe it's that I've been watching this stuff continually now since early 2009, when the artificial groundswell for Mitch Daniels, the Anti-Charisma Candidate, signaled that the Piratical wing of the party had finally, in Still Governor for a Couple Weeks Yet Palin, found the point at which the Psychopathology Wing disturbed or embarrassed it enough to say something, so long as it thought the mike was off.

It's not like things ain't bad enough when Mitch Daniels, or Haley Fucking Barbour, look like attractive candidates to you; how bad are things when there's a move to run Fred Dumbo Thompson and nobody says, Wait a fucking minute! ? Rick Perry is your savior? Th' hell's he saving you from…Mitt Romney's even-worse hairdo? How does this go on--for years, now--without a general recognition that a) the Republican party is by far the worse of the two majors in choosing image over substance, and/or b) it doesn't actually believe what it says?

And listen: th' hell is so wrong with Michele Bachmann that Rick Perry looks like a good alternative? It ain't ideology. It's not, if Dave Weigel and Peggy Noonan can be believed, that Bachmann is a half-educated microcephalic with a terminal case of religious mania; that's a liberal calumny she refuted by being able to recite some lines last week. She's the triple high point of Teabaggery, which is the great political dynamic of the age. Why isn't she the nominee by acclamation? Why isn't there a Draft Sarah movement at least as persuasive as that Draft Mitch magic lantern show?

For that matter, what's wrong with any of 'em? Or, for the reality-based community, what's wrong with any of 'em that's not wrong with all of 'em? Yes, the front-runner is a smarmy snake-oil peddler and imitation human who's changed most of his major positions to correspond to the Base's wishes; how does that differ from Ronald Reagan, again? As a mere default Democrat, god knows I wish there'd be a Democratic field that included one halfway viable candidate who thought so highly of his own party's constituents as to actually pander to 'em. Yes, most of the Republican field, maybe all of 'em, would seem at a glance to have the national electability quotient of warm piss, but that's certainly not because they're not Republicans.

Clearly Sarah Palin is the heart and soul of the current Republican party, and possibly its brains, too; if she isn't the nominee by acclamation, why not? Fuck "she'd rather rake in reality teevee bucks." This is the party of Patriotism, and it's her patriotic duty to respond. I've heard a few Republicans note her negative numbers, even among Republicans. The thing I haven't heard is any of 'em brave enough to explain why. With the mike on.

Saturday, June 18

A Separate Reality. From The Neck Up.

Peggy Noonan, "Republicans Return to Reality". June 17

MAYBE you've noticed, here or elsewhere, that I put "conservative" in quotes when speaking of modern America; maybe you've seen me give the explanation, or the inspiration: Nabakov's comment that "reality" was the only word which should always appear in quotes.

So now let's add "Peggy Noonan".

Or maybe it's time for someone to do a full-scale examination of the Hypo-"reality" trends in "conservative" thought since Nixon, since the time when Raging Anti-Fluoridationism and Increasingly Unspoken Racism met the Dirty Hippie, and Downward-Spiraling Pathology met Ideological Stagflation.

Because Noonan's piece here cannot be understood as a collection of words designed to mean something, even in her quasi-"reality". It's more like a late-middle-aged pundit seeing if she could pull off those Lisa Loeb glasses, or a nipple ring, or an ironic goatee, or any other trend certified as fifteen years past its prime just by her interest.

And isn't this, if you come to think of it, a pretty decent approximation of the "conservative" party over the past thirty-five years or so? Carter hatred, Reagan worship, Clinton hatred, Bush II worship, Obama. "Conservatism" gets credit for its unwavering dedication to giving the wealthy and powerful more wealth and power, but it has pursued this single-mindedness post-Nixon at the expense of anything resembling consistency in almost anything else, hated of Democratic constituencies and brown people generally--emotional, not political stances--exempted.

The maddening whims of Fashion are at least understandable: combine the bandit's technique of planned obsolescence with the low coefficient of Boredom of your average primate. But what explains this in a political party? What, especially, explains it in the Republican party, which its adepts, acolytes, and hired shills never tire of portraying as the Last Great Bulwark of Western Civilization, Anglo Division? For the last forty years the Republican party has flitted from fad to fad, and from justification to diametrically opposed justification, like some tweener who's just discovered Boys. In itself this is perhaps not shocking, but find me the "conservative" in that time frame who's ever objected. There's a little sniveling at the edges, maybe, when Reagan turns the Interior Department over to a guy who's trying to hurry along Armageddon. There may be a "conservative" somewhere who objected on principle to the Flag Burning Amendment, the School Prayer Amendment, to Christian Dominionism or Automatic Weapons for Everybody! Does one come to mind right off hand? No. Because nobody will dare rock the boat, no matter who or what comes on board. Heard a single Republican mention Ronald Reagan's real economic record? His tax increases? Do you think that's because there ain't a man jack of 'em who knows it? Or because they believe lying is the most powerful form of magic incantation?

This is the party which has alternately trumpeted and hidden its support for Creationism, its opposition to the Just A Theory of Evolution, "Secular Humanism" and The Age of Enlightenment, its concern for the niceties of the War Powers Act. It's the party which has alternately filibustered everything in sight, and demanded an end to the filibuster. It's the party where Money is Speech but Art isn't, where Religion is Free, but where Islam, Wicca, and Paganism aren't religions (though atheism, under certain circumstances, is). It's the party which houses, quite comfortably, a state Republican party which is rewriting history books to make itself appear sane; an unhinged belief in the rights of frozen embryonic cells coupled with an utter contempt for what happens to a child after it's born; and a Presidential candidate who wants to protect our currency from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion Cathay.
But the GOP debate in New Hampshire was a big success in two ways. First, there was no obvious candidate from Crazytown, which was a boon to the party's reputation and brand, and which may help it more easily shake itself out and pick an electable candidate. In a functionally 50-50 nation and in a campaign in which Democrats hope to spend a billion dollars, this could turn into a significant benefit. Second, and more important, the foreign-policy discussion, though limited, was marked by a new sobriety. There was no spirit of adventurism, there were no burly promises of victories around the corner and lights at the ends of tunnels. It was more muted than that, more realistic, different in tone and tenor from four and eight years ago. This signaled a real shift, and a heartening one.

I remind the reader that this is Peggy Fucking Noonan speaking, Magic Dolphin Lady, Fellatrix of Steely-Eyed Rocket Men everywhere, Journal Opinion contributor, fer chrissakes. Crazytown! A stage that included Michele Bachman, Rick Santorum (certifiable just for showing up!), Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain had no obvious candidate from Crazytown

As for foreign policy sobriety--you're disqualified on both counts, Peggy--the last four or eight years? Try sixty-five. Better yet, try naming a Republican in the Reagan era who's promoted a realistic, muted foreign policy free of victory parades and mandatory flag lapel pins.
Every candidate who was asked took issue with U.S. involvement in Libya. Michele Bachmann asserted no "American interests" were at stake: "We were not attacked. We were not threatened with attack." Newt Gingrich spoke of "fundamentally . . . reassessing our entire strategy in the region." Ron Paul said we should get our troops home. Tim Pawlenty nattered on about something, but even he didn't take an opportunity to ask for patience on Afghanistan. John Huntsman, who was not announced and not present at the debate, told CNN he has doubts about the cost of Afghanistan and the likelihood of U.S. success there.

I have a question about this principled Republican opposition to Libya, Peg. Ready? Here it is: Th' fuck? The Republican party has spent forty years trying to resurrect Vietnam. Were we about to be attacked by Grenada. Peg? We're the world's only superpower. We haven't been threatened with attack since your boy Ronnie made the Soviets so nervous they considered starting WWIII just to be on the safe side. Threat of attack justified a nuclear arsenal in the postwar era, and the generalize threat of attack justifies a deterrent force today. But if President Bachmann would like to make this an abiding principle, and a hallmark of the New Republican Sobriety, she's welcome to start now, by voting against every Defense appropriation bill that isn't a response to an attack or threat of attack. How many has she voted against so far Peg? Zero? That's what I thought.

Again: it's not just unbelievable that "conservatives"--for whom "Patriotism" and "Willingness to send the lower classes off to die for US international economic interests" are not just synonymous, but a fucking badge of honor--have suddenly decided on a "muted, realistic" approach to the use of our bristling arsenal; it's fucking unbelievable that you think anyone'll buy it.
All of this had the sound of the Republican Party inching its way back from 10 years of un-Republican behavior, from a kind of bullying dreaminess about the world: "Everyone wants to be like us." Actually, everyone doesn't. There are days when even we, with our political paralysis, financial collapse and coarse culture, don't want to be like us.

Here's an idea: how 'bout a sort of alternate side of the street parking? On even-numbered days Republicans can be the same old bloodthirsty saber-rattlers you've been since 1946, and on odd you can return to your traditional isolationist roots, and quit blowing the corpse of Winston Churchill long enough to give your inner Neville Chamberlain some love. That way we could just look and the calendar and know which side of your mouth the talk would come from that day.
Does this suggest a return of isolationism, as some critics have said? No, and not necessarily by any means. Isolationists think they can be isolated, which is just another form of romanticism and unreality. We live in the world. We will never again be apart from it; trade and technology wouldn't allow us to if we wanted to. We have real alliances and real foes. But there is little taste now for what is fast becoming an old vision that progress can be made and U.S. security enhanced through invasion, pacification and occupation. There is little taste for the idea that we can easily, or even arduously, force the complete cultural change of other hearts and other minds. Terrorism is a threat. There are many ways to fight it.

Well, again, you really know an idea is right when the people who opposed it so vehemently that any disagreement was tantamount to treason now inform you of their new understanding.
But the larger point is that sometimes parties step away from themselves, stop being what they are. The Democrats are doing it now, in their soggy interventionism in Libya.

No. First, even assuming that the isolationist Republican party--and not the one of the lifetime of everyone breathing without assistance today--is the "real" Republican party, characterizing sixty years as a "step away" suggests a party more at home with the geological time scale than yours actually is. Second, "Democrats", that is to say The Obama Administration, is doing in Libya what every administration, Republican or Democrat, at least back to McKinley has done, with the exception of Jimmy Carter's: futz around militarily for some real or imagined purpose.
A flurry of polls this week show the public is on the side of the new sobriety. CNN had 62% now opposing the war in Afghanistan, just 36% in favor.

Oh, good. So the Newly Sober Republican Party is in favor of determining US foreign policy by listening to polls now? I'll believe it as soon as you apologize to everyone who died in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
the killing of Osama bin Laden provided a psychic endpoint to the drama. The day we went into Afghanistan, we were trying to find him and kill him. Six weeks ago, we found him and killed him. All wars run on a great rush of feeling, of fervor. That feeling and fervor have on an essential level been satisfied.

So, is that why you guys kept it going for eight years? The Great Patriotic Rush of Fervor? You were pretty fucking big on it in 2001. I don't recall anyone explaining we'd just be riding it out until you were sick of the game.
We are as a nation, on paper, almost bankrupt. Or bankrupt, depending on how you judge.

Or fucking incredibly wealthy while simultaneously exempting the well-off from any financial responsibility towards the country and the people who preserve their "Freedom". Y'know, depending on how you judge.
Among the Republican candidates for president, there is a growing awareness that America does not have a foreign policy unless we have the money to pay for it.

What a shame you didn't realize it before you conducted a foreign policy more expensive than any outside of the Second World War without asking for the tax money necessary to pay for it (on the grounds this would violate your sacred principle of reelectability). Guess you live and learn, or else you live and find yourself required to say any sort of stupid shit necessary to get back into power.

Depending on how you judge.

Thursday, June 16

The Search For A Substitute For Thought Continues

David Weigel, "Why Did Anyone Underrate Bachmann?" June 15

REVENGE of the bicycle-ridin' Lefty geezer: in "downtown" Carmel this AM one of the hardhats whose ranks double the population of Indianapolis' snooty neighbor to the great white north every morning passed by me on the trail. He was on the wrong side, and paying no attention until I barked at him, otherwise I wouldn't have added "I didn't realize The Village People were playing the Palladium." *

Nostalgia! It got me to remembering those heady twenty-five minutes when Dave Weigel was a First Amendment hero for bravely tweeting Ezra Klein, before the employer who fired him hired him back.
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Neil King has the latest take on Michele Bachmann, Serious Candidate. Why are we seeing so much of this storyline? Back in March, when Bachmann started floating the idea of a presidential bid, there was already beaucoups evidence that she had a unique hold on a powerful constituency, a bid for a few other constituencies, and more charisma than anyone in the race so far.

So this narrative is already getting stale. Not yet stale: The hysterical "catfight" storyline, in which the fates of Bachmann and Palin are tied to one another like those of Vic and Blood.

Four links, including an explanation of the comic book graphic novel allusion--if you have to explain your hip frame of reference, maybe it's not a frame of reference--how much longer is this sort of thing going to justify a career? Not to mention that Ben Smith is suddenly hysterical when he's hyping a Bachmann/Palin feud, as though that doesn't describe his body of work; y'know, I'm not sure this is the spot I want to go to hear how smart Michele Bachmann really is.

Though, luckily, I don't, because that's already old news. Because Bachmann has a unique hold on a powerful constituency, like Snooki, Paris, and Charlie Manson before her, and because she could make a bid for other constituencies, just like Elvis becoming a movie star. With equal effect on Western culture. The new story here is that The Media just naturally assumed an utter loon who can't put a logical syllogism together if you spot her the three sentences was stupid. Biased Media.
We can cut to the chase right now and explain why this storyline's so popular.

Both Palin and Bachmann are attractive women who are great on TV, and people like watching that stuff.

Okay, assuming you mean "good on teevee" and "people enjoy watching" in the sense that a show about a clueless shoplifting malapropster and her invisible pal, the ghost of a talking deer permanently caught in the headlights of the SUV that killed it, could be a ratings winner. Sure. But then, again, so could any fucking piece of shit. Doesn't make Gene Simmons Presidential material.

Beyond that--far, far beyond it--since when is "this would be boffo in the sticks" an argument for anything besides pizza with cheesefood baked into the crust, or "crust"? For cryin' out loud: Newton Minnow called teevee a vast wasteland in the early 60s, and that shit's highbrow compared to what's on today. The fact that Bachmann can get a million idiots to follow her doesn't make her smart; it just means we have to lower our expectations of idiots once again.
There's a lot more to it. The two of them know how to feed the story, hence the joint fundraiser they did in 2010. The disputes between the two camps are real.

I'm not convinced either of 'em can feed paper into a printer, but thanks for verifying the story without being hysterical about it.
But the idea that Bachmann's success is reliant on Palin's, and that she'd collapse if Palin entered, is unfair to Bachmann. The congresswoman has always been more disciplined;

She's More Disciplined Than Sarah Palin! Catchy slogan. Though it also applies to the three-year-old next door.
she has built a national following while keeping her personal story out of it.

She Appears More Stable Than Sarah Palin! See my earlier comment about my neighbor's tyke.
Actually, look at the way Bachmann and Palin handled a specific problem. Bachmann did a tour of New Hampshire in May and said, very incorrectly, that the battle of Lexington and Concord had involved Concord, N.H. It was the gaffe reporters were waiting for, but Bachmann admitted it, and joked that she'd made the mistake because New Hampshire, not Manchester, was where people still remembered the battle. (IE, they're more patriotic.) Compare that to Palin making chorizo out of a statement about Paul Revere's ride -- and then claiming that when she talking about him "warning the British" and ringing bells, she was totally right.

She's Not As Much Of A Fumbler! This was a problem? Christ, Weigel, could you just give up? This crap about not really being a Republican because you're too much of a hipster-libertarian, then apologizing for the worst sort of Teabagger mindlessness, again and again (it's the Media's fault! There's a novel, 21st century take!) is past its sell-by date. You're a Republican, in the face of at least thirty-years' evidence of why you shouldn't be. Pretending that Bachmann--likely your party's VP nominee, at this early date--isn't just Sarah Palin with 3% more smarts and 25% more PR malleability might be fooling somebody out there, but sooner or later it's going to be a question of whether it actually fools you.

By the way, she just jumped up in the polls. To Donald Trump's old numbers. With a bid in for Newt Gingrich's constituency. And maybe Herman Cain's. Best wishes. And welcome to her.



Star photo Frank Espich

The Palladium, Carmel's $200 M performing-arts shrine to thirty years of Republican shenanigans, just announced it will be asking the city for twice as much money next season--$4 M per--so it can present twice as many third-tier acts as last year, and lose money at twice the rate. Carmel owns the Prairie Taj Mahal, but it's operated--on a fifty year deal--by a non-profit which--please sit down--was supposed to absorb all the costs, then was supposed to absorb all the costs after it got a half-million seed money from the city, and now is basically saying, "Whaddya gonna do--put the place up for sale?" The Mayor--whose bright idea this is--has assured everyone that taxes won't be raised to cover the increase. Which, of course, means other services will be robbed, and the citizenry is supposed to be grateful. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: where Muncie, Indiana, was once considered Middletown, USA, Hamilton County is now the template of what happens when Those Tax Averse Republicans get their hands on tax money, and can't spend it on weapons systems. At least not yet.

Wednesday, June 15

Whadda We Want? No Brooks Columns! When Do We Want It? Tuesday and Thursday!

David Brooks, "Pundit Under Protest". June 13

WHEN I started this blog a mere 326 months ago I was a dewy-eyed 51-year-old who imagined that America could just laugh off what she couldn't ignore--though what she can, and does, ignore is considerable--the way She'd always done. Sure, sure, we had our problems: George W. Bush, terrorism, George W. Bush, figuring out how to pin 9/11 and the anthrax attacks on Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush. But this is the country that laughed off Hitler (and routinely ignores the role of the Red Army in his defeat)! We'd managed to laugh off chattel slavery longer than any other "civilized" nation on earth! We invent solutions to problems we never knew existed! We're the Can Do country, so long as Doing doesn't require Thinking Things Through first.

Lately though, well, making fun of America has just lost its savor, somehow. It's like when you're a kid and Uncle Delmar's hacking cough is a source of generation-gapish amusement, but you get a little older and him trying to sneak one last Marlboro under his oxygen tent is more pitiful than anything else.

Back then, David Brooks endorsing Mitch Daniels for their party's Presidential nomination would have literally doubled me over with mirth. But when it actually happened it was more pathos than bathos, somehow. It's one thing to laugh at a couple of depantsed white geeks, however evil their real intent; it's another to notice they've given a sizable portion of the population genital warts.

Then yesterday comes this news: absent the Republican Thinker he preferred, and--more importantly--absent a groundswell of Teabagger fervor or Moneyboy enthusiasm, David Brooks would like to take his ball and just go home where 2012 is concerned. Though he can't, of course, because the Times pays him, and, besides, Mom makes him come right home and practice the trombone. First chairs are made, not born. And you don't expect him to just come out and say that the Republican field is a horrifying puddle of YouTube risibility, do you?
I’ll be writing a lot about the presidential election over the next 16 months, but at the outset I would just like to remark that I’m opining on this whole campaign under protest. I’m registering a protest because for someone of my Hamiltonian/National Greatness perspective, the two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic. Their programs are unusually unimaginative. Their policies are unusually incommensurate to the problem at hand.

Those policies also--unless it's some other David Brooks I've been following up to now--roughly approximate A) the Milton Friedman Meets, and Imagines He Subsumes, Jerry Falwell Republicanism that Brooks has been championing for thirty years now, and B) the tepid Liberal Party capitulation to the Cosmic inevitability of Reaganism Brooks has been urging more of for the same period.

How many times have we gone through this with Brooks? He goes from the guy in 2001 doing the Happy/ Suck that Liberals! Dance over our Victory in Afghanistan, to the solemn, clear-eyed military history expert who takes a VIP tour in 2009, and discovers the scope of the problem, once Bush is safely out of office. He's the enthusiastic war flogger who decides--with the whole project in the crapper--that he needs to "rethink" Iraq, then basically keeps his mouth shut about it. He champions incontinent tax cutting, then jumps on the Republican Elitist How Th' Hell Did George W. Bush Run Up Those Deficits? He Was Just Too Liberal! Express. He found Barack Obama an inspirational speaker when it looked like Hillary would get the nomination, and an empty demagogue after. In the depths of the Republican Despair of 2008-2008.99 he was aghast at the Teabaggers; within a couple months they were waving and nodding when they passed in the hall. At least he was.

Through none of this--none--has Brooks ever acknowledged having been on the wrong side of any of it. Ever. The closest he came was that "okay, perhaps Iraq didn't go exactly as I'd hoped" routine in December of 2005, by which point this was roughly akin to noticing that the Lusitania was overdue. Apparently "pundit" is synonymous with "spieler of Conventional Wisdom", and "moderate Republican" with "guy who denies any and all responsibility for his own apodictic political pronouncements". Hamilton! National Greatness! That's not a philosophical position, it's the secret password for the Perpetual Do-Over Club.

It cannot come as any surprise that Brooks touts the same "solutions" that got us into our current economic mess as our One Way out of it.
The election is happening during a downturn in the economic cycle, but the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed — unsustainable levels of debt, an inability to generate middle-class incomes, a dysfunctional political system, the steady growth of special-interest sinecures and the gradual loss of national vitality.

In other words, a referendum on the Reagan administration. Better late than never, I suppose. But who're we gonna get to play the opposition?
The number of business start-ups per capita has been falling steadily for the past three decades. Workers’ share of national income has been declining since 1983. Male wages have been stagnant for about 40 years. The American working class — those without a college degree — is being decimated, economically and socially. In 1960, for example, 83 percent of those in the working class were married. Now only 48 percent are.

In fairness, Dave, we have a lot more of the gays than we usta.

You just can't ever budge these guys too far from the idea that the masses need to be kept securely under the Church's watchful eye, can you? Even as they sell 'em porn. Meanwhile…"since 1983", "three decades", "about 40 years". Do the fucking math. Perhaps the first step in solving this national crisis is for the people who created it to admit it.
Voters are certainly aware of the scope of the challenges before them. Their pessimism and anxiety does not just reflect the ebb and flow of the business cycle, but is deeper and more pervasive. Trust in institutions is at historic lows. Large majorities think the country is on the wrong track, and have for years. Large pluralities believe their children will have fewer opportunities than they do.

Too bad it took 'em thirty-five years to wise up.
Voters are in the market for new movements and new combinations, yet the two parties have grown more rigid.

Well, that's interesting. Because I could swear that the only difference between the hidebound Republican party of 1981 and the hidebound Republican party of today is that the former had a Living Saint as its titular head, and so could cut a few backroom deals--and raise taxes a dozen times--to keep its ass out of a sling. Seems to me like the problems the Republican party faces now--they're of their own making, Dave--stem from thirty years of failure of its Divinely-inspired solutions, which failures have been met, in each and every instance, by a conviction that doing what it was doing except A LITTLE LOUDER was just the ticket. So that now you can't mention tax reform, you can't mention real Defense cuts, you can't mention putting the culture war on simmer. That's the rigidity of the man recently placed in handcuffs. As for Democratic rigidity, well, I suppose we could reclassify jellyfish as vertebrates, if that makes your column work.
The Republican growth agenda — tax cuts and nothing else — is stupefyingly boring, fiscally irresponsible and politically impossible. Gigantic tax cuts — if they were affordable — might boost overall growth, but they would do nothing to address the structural problems that are causing a working-class crisis.

"Stupefyingly boring", "fiscally irresponsible" and "politically impossible". One of those things does not belong, somehow. Let's see…oh, yeah, it's "fiscally irresponsible", which in fact describes what used to be known as "reality". The other two are campaign consultant speak. Incontinent tax cutting was supposed to be the thing that vitalized the working-class. Instead it's done the exact opposite. For thirty fucking years. Or roughly as long as you've been touting it as a solution, Mr. Brooks.
Republican politicians don’t design policies to meet specific needs, or even to help their own working-class voters. They use policies as signaling devices — as ways to reassure the base that they are 100 percent orthodox and rigidly loyal.

Yeah. Just not rigidly loyal to the working class.
Republicans have taken a pragmatic policy proposal from 1980 and sanctified it as their core purity test for 2012.

You can maintain the fiction that it started out as pragmatism, Dave, if it makes you feel any better, but "canard" is probably more accurate. And since jobs creation in the Reagan administration was the worst of any post-war President to that point--worse than Carter or Ford, despite the economy finally improving--it seems to've been the precise spot where Pragmatism decided to take a thirty-year nap. Y'know, you keep insisting your support for pro-business policies is based on efficaciousness, not metaphysical certainty or congenital venality, but they never do any good, except for the businesses involved. Sooner or later someone's gonna stop believing you.
As for the Democrats, they offer practically nothing. They acknowledge huge problems like wage stagnation and then offer... light rail! Solar panels! It was telling that the Democrats offered no budget this year, even though they are supposedly running the country. That’s because they too are trapped in a bygone era.

This from a guy whose party faithful parade around like dress extras in The Ben Franklin Story.

The President offered a budget. He, unfortunately, qualifies as a Democrat. The House Democrats did not, meaning they missed whatever PR opportunity doing so would have provided the Republicans. The Senate doesn't initiate revenue bills. Otherwise, yes. There are too many prehistoric toads in the Democrats' coal bin, and the sooner they quit trying to solve our trifling energy and healthcare problems and get serious, the better.
If there were a Hamiltonian Party, it would be offering a multifaceted reinvigoration agenda. It would grab growth ideas from all spots on the political spectrum and blend them together. Its program would be based on the essential political logic: If you want to get anything passed, you have to offer an intertwined package that smashes the Big Government vs. Small Government orthodoxies and gives everybody something they want.

Namely, Small Government.
This reinvigoration package would have four baskets. There would be an entitlement reform package designed to redistribute money from health care and the elderly toward innovation and the young.

The "Let 'Em Eat…Well, They Won't Be Eating Anything For Long" campaign.
There would be a targeted working-class basket: early childhood education, technical education, community colleges, an infrastructure bank, asset distribution to help people start businesses, a new wave industrial policy if need be — anything that might give the working class a leg up.

Sounds more like the Bush Grandchildren Cash In On Government Education Programs basket to me.

Y'know, the key to the working-class crisis isn't Future Opportunity; it's Jobs. It isn't Education. It's Jobs. And the key to jobs is making it prohibitively expensive for US companies to ship them overseas, putting US manufacturers on an equal footing internationally, and stopping the flow of lobbying baksheesh. All of which won't happen because of…you're right. We do need a new political party.
There would be a political corruption basket. The Tea Parties are right about the unholy alliance between business and government that is polluting the country. It’s time to drain the swamp by simplifying the tax code and streamlining the regulations businesses use to squash their smaller competitors.

Fer cryin' out loud. Right about the culture of corruption, dead wrong about the solution. And "streamlining the regulations businesses use to squash smaller competitors"? Are you sure Milton Friedman didn't slip you a hit or two of Orange Sunshine, back in the day?
There would also be a pro-business basket: lower corporate rates, a sane visa policy for skilled immigrants, a sane patent and permitting system, more money for research.

Oh, thank god. For a minute there I was afraid there wasn't going to be anything pro-business here.
The Hamiltonian agenda would be pro-market, in its place, and pro-government, in its place. In 2012, on the other hand, we’re going to see another clash of the same old categories. I’ll be covering it, but I protest.

Or you could just slip back into Canada.

Tuesday, June 14

Oh, So That's Why There's A Daily Beast

Michael Medved, "The Democrats' Ridiculous Double Standard on Weiner and Clinton". June 13

FIRST, lemme just say it's nice to see that some on the Right have learned the meaning of "hypocrisy". So maybe "honesty", "integrity", and "equity" won't be far behind.

I'm kiddin'. They already know "equity". Just not in the sense I mean.

Let's just start at the end. Hell, it's like the question about Vivaldi's concertos: did Medved write twelve paragraphs, or one paragraph twelve times?
But the nearly universal liberal position that Clinton—who, ironically, officiated at Weiner’s 2010 wedding—should never have been impeached but that Weiner must go for the good of the country? That awkward straddle makes no sense on any logical level.

I guess we can add "irony" to the list.

Is there really a "nearly universal" "liberal" "position" that Weiner should resign? You'll have to forgive me for not giving a shit. Okay, I (call me a liberal and that porn stache finally comes off) suggested that Weiner should resign, because of Anthony Weiner. Not because of the law. Legally, it's his business. Maybe his district's, if they have a recall procedure. It's also the House's, I suppose, but the odds that the House would actually remove him are microscopic, and if it did it would owe an apology to every other Congress in the history of the Republic. So there's one answer: Clinton should not have resigned because of a concerted partisan effort to remove him, but should--as he did--have stayed and let their bluff play out. Weiner should resign if he feels he owes that as a duty to his constituents. He doesn't. Welcome to the real world, Michael Medved. That's the end of the story, legally.

By the way, voters in Weiner's district--presumably as "liberal" as they come--want him to stay. But maybe Medved means a different universe.
None of the accusations against Weiner so far involve workplace harassment or sexual predation with members of his staff or other government employees. Clinton admitted to a protracted dalliance, including oral sex, with a White House intern.

Including oral sex! Dear me. I wish I'd known that at the time.

Okay, again: I seem to recall an "almost universal" insistence from the Right that the case against Clinton "wasn't about sex"; I don't seem to recall anyone holding Bill Clinton up as a paragon of virtue. An awful lot of people in the mid-90s seem to've run smack into the concepts of oral sex and lying for the first time, and to've required assistance to the nearest fainting couch. It wasn't believable then, and it's not believable now. He got caught in a perjury trap. He should have been smart enough to avoid that on personal and legal grounds. Had he been a private citizen he probably would have, because if he'd been a private citizen the charges never would have been raised. There are a million divorces in the US annually, Mr. Medved. At least one party lies in nearly every one of 'em.

So here's another difference. Weiner, as I said the one time I paid attention to this, as opposed to having it hurled at me, wasn't engaging in sex, so far as we know. He was engaging in juvenilia. What Bill Clinton did something like 40% of married people engage in at some time or other; what Anthony Weiner did no one over 22 should even be capable of.

Tell ya what, though, Mr. Medved. We agree about the Democrats. Fuck 'em for calling for Weiner's resignation. Fuck Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Fuck these people for not just shutting th' fuck up. Don't they pay attention to what makes the Republican party so formidable?

And can I just mention, as a hidebound old fuck, how much I enjoy the Vietnam syndrome at work here? The Right lies about a situation for a decade, gets called, and loses; fifteen years later it's back asking why no one believed it. Jeeze, all Ho Chi Minh had to do was surrender.

Monday, June 13

See, This Is Why I Never Took Poly-Sci 102

George Eff Will, "Government by the 'experts' ". June 10

“The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. . . . The power of the legislative, being derived from the people . . . [is] only to make laws, and not to make legislators.

— John Locke

Second Treatise of Government

Italics and quotation marks, for both the quote and the (short) book-length work it's taken from? And the title placed a couple lines below the emboldened author, which manages to catch on the Comments and Twitterings sidebar and so wind up in an adjacent Congressional district? (Hell, it bothered me so much I checked it on three different browsers.) Does anyone even bother to look anymore? Ladies and Gents, I give you typography by the 'experts'. If you have to quote John Fucking Locke to begin an Op-Ed piece, at least have the courtesy to make it look like someone with a college education did the editing.

Or at least that someone did.

Okay, step two: is there any chance that within a couple more generations, assuming the Republic survives and still has the great-grandchildren of Anti-Fluoridationism running around loose, that "conservatives" will begin to produce intellectual arguments that are intellectual arguments? Which quote someone to make a point they proceed to expound on, and not the way a Southern baptist elder quotes Scripture? If someone'll tell me that, in 2087, David Brooks IV, or, hell, Zombie David Brooks, bedecked in whatever the Flash Gordon version of the Dialectical Bowtie is, quotes Edmund Burke like he's quoting some entertaining 18th century Tory, not like he's resolving every issue ever raised, I might decide to stick around.

Locke, well, Locke's okay, assuming you're the sort of person who enjoys reading the Declaration of Independence over and over again. But Eff Will doesn't quote him because Locke said just the thing to start a column off with--in fact, someone might have pointed out that if you're going to disparage expertise the Argument from Authority is not the way to go about it--but for the cachet. If John Locke said something which can be molded to a partisan political position of mine today, then the entire philosophical foundation of the Republic is on my side.


Is this not American Paleoconservatism in its appropriate container, the nutshell? I've been wondering about this stuff since I was old enough to watch Firing Line. Does it pay too much deference to the Highly Churched to permit them to insist on inerrant scriptural authority for their every utterance, on the grounds that their personal theological assurance suggests they must not know any better? Because they do. George Will doesn't believe the Washington Nationals should be managed by the first twenty-five names in the phone book. William Fuhbuckley didn't denounce the Harvard faculty because of some epistemological problem he had with expertise. He denounced it because it was The Other Side. He denounced it because the vast majority of 20th century academicians and intellectuals were not Catholic fascists with a yearning for the glory days of the British Empire, and considered Marx one of the towering intellects of the 19th century and not Satan's Own Procurer.
Here, however, is a paradox of sovereignty: The sovereign people, possessing the right to be governed as they choose, might find the exercise of that right tiresome and so might choose to be governed in perpetuity by a despot they cannot subsequently remove. Congress did something like that in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

The point of PPACA is cost containment. This supposedly depends on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, which is a perfect expression of the progressive mind, is to be composed of 15 presidential appointees empowered to reduce Medicare spending — which is 13 percent of federal spending — to certain stipulated targets. IPAB is to do this by making “proposals” or “recommendations” to limit costs by limiting reimbursements to doctors. This, inevitably, will limit available treatments — and access to care when physicians leave the Medicare system.

Lemme ask you, Reader: do you remember voting for the CIA? The Air Force? Or any of their 'expert' procurers who brought you the Atomic-powered bomber, F-15 cost overruns precisely equal to the amount McDonnell Douglas lowered its bid in order to get the contract in the first place, techno-gimmicked "Stealth" bombers with no mission beyond NASCAR flyovers, South American Death Squads, Extraordinary Renditions, and a few uncounted billions gone missing in Iraq and elsewhere?

Neither do I.

And don't tell me the whole Defense Scam isn't a convenient tyranny we're stuck with in perpetuity. The difference here being that there's no mandate for cost cutting, now or ever. Your Congressman doesn't know anything about Defense; maybe if he's one of six or seven recognized Congressional experts--which means he was a fighter jock or lost an arm, a definition of expertise equal to turning over the Entertainment business to Metallica's roadies--he doesn't even read this shit. He rubber-stamps what the Pentagon asks for, because that's how We Remain Free, and then he closes his eyes to all those black-budget entries.

Although I'm sure now that I mention it the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute will be filing suit this week.
That principle may cause courts to dismiss the challenge by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute to Congress’s delegation of its powers, because courts may say that Congress can just change its mind. Hence the court may spurn the institute’s argument on behalf of two Arizona congressmen, Jeff Flake and Trent Franks, that the entrenchment of the IPAB seriously burdens the legislators’ First Amendment rights.

This, mind you now, from the party which opposes Judicial Activism.

Can't we do anything about this? I don't mean about George Eff Will, whose very career celebrates the resourcefulness of the petty criminal. I mean, is there no expectation whatsoever that someone, anyone, in the "conservative" "movement" will say, out loud and in public, that maybe a flashing rate of cognitive dissonance that would give a barnstorming stunt pilot vertigo is not best for party or country? Lord knows it's not for lack of opportunity.

By the way: in Locke's time there was almost nothing we would recognize as medical training; knowing what phase of the moon various medicinal plants were to be harvested under competed with Which End of the Saw Goes Down for the student's attention. There was no germ theory of disease, and nothing resembling Public Health, to which government meddling in the name of "expertise" uncounted millions of Americans owe their lives today. When Jefferson borrowed the Declaration from Locke he was behaving as an educated man of his time in tune with his time. Suggesting that either they, or the other Framers, were mere peddlers of simple philosophic notions or quibblers over form is pure bunkum. Is it really too much to ask that we be led by modern men, not poseurs in virtual knee breeches?

Friday, June 10

Olio: Shut Up And Buy The Fucking Light Bulbs, Lady Edition

• Newt Gingrich's staff quits en masse over vacation time? What did they think he was running for, again? Forget the Party of Lincoln; these guys can't even live up to being the Party of Reagan.

• Oh, Christ: Virginia Postrel, "Need a Light Bulb? Uncle Sam Gets to Choose: Virginia Postrel. By Virginia Postrel. June 10

Reader, I'm assuming you're an adult, which means you're just as flummoxed as I by the phenomenon of people over 25, with IQs at or above bathwater, openly proclaiming themselves libertarian. I'm assuming you're aware that every man-made object you've touched today involved some degree of regulation by government, and that you probably understand why, and perhaps are even conversant with 19th century fatality rates from railroad and industrial accidents directly attributable to laissez-faire. Or, if you've only been paying attention since the dawn of the 21st century, you might recall how large-scale domestic processors of meat, eggs, spinach or peanuts have behaved when they thought no one was watching, let alone how the Chinese believed a soupçon of automotive solvents added that certain something to pet food.

What I'm saying is there is no way you can believe this shit and claim to've thought anything out. And in a country which has seen armed international conflict over the shooting of a pig, mass panic over a science-fiction radio broadcast, injury to hundreds of its citizens who thought a picture of a lemon on a free sample bottle of dish soap meant it would zest up a glass of iced tea, and the career of Sarah Palin, the Great Light Bulb Rebellion is absolutely the stupidest political movement of all time.

However, we're nothing if not a resourceful race, and there's nothing so dire, misinformed, or risible that mentioning The Ol' Perfesser can't make worse:
One serious technophile, University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, spent much of 2007 flogging compact fluorescents on his popular Instapundit blog, eventually persuading more than 1,900 readers to swap 19,871 incandescent bulbs for CFLs. To this day, the Instapundit group is by far the largest participant at, a bulb-switching campaign organized by the consulting firm Symmetric Technologies. But Reynolds himself has changed his mind.

“I’m deeply, deeply disappointed with CFL bulbs,” he wrote last month on his blog. “I replaced pretty much every regular bulb in the house with CFLs, but they’ve been failing at about the same rate as ordinary long-life bulbs, despite the promises of multiyear service. And I can’t tell any difference in my electric bill. Plus, the Insta-Wife hates the light.”

In my youth I would regularly run into calendar illustrations, magazine fillers, or textbook padders entitled "Can You Spot The Mistakes?", a sort of Ur-Where's Waldo? where some bucolic scene would be rife with pictorial inconsistencies: a rope swing would be suspended from a branch but not tied to it, a passing auto would be missing a wheel or the town clock a hand. Often the publisher would provide an official count, or there'd be a legend on page 125 you could turn to for closure. What do we make of those two paragraphs? "Serious technophile Glenn Reynolds"--how many mistakes is that? Reynolds flogging CFLs; Reynolds disappointed in CFLs, just so soon as the barking right seized upon them. The anecdotal failure rate (I been usin' 'em for three years or more, now, and I've replaced two: the one in the basement I hit with a broom handle, and the early, slow-to-light 15 watter I put in the foyer which proved inadequate), the advanced technophile who wonders why his electric bill hasn't been slashed. Insta-Wife. The clown isn't wearing any pants.

On a scale of 1 to 500,000,000, just how important was "the warm glow of incandescent bulbs" to the Delightful Mrs. Insty before the chilling, Orwellian nightmare that is CFL invaded her life, do you think?

Four million injustices, large and tiny, pass under our noses every waking minute. It's not just telling that the libertoonians in this country choose to focus on how easily one can forget to remove the safety seal before attempting to squeeze some ketchup on his fried okra, or the frustrating thirty seconds required to correct the situation (1. return bottle to upright. 2. put bottle down. 3. unscrew cap. Hey, who decided that had to be counter-clockwise, huh?); they have to choose to defend the free market imperatives of the very people who invented planned obsolesce in the first place. Edison's light bulb still burns. Assholes. Nobody got to vote on that, either.

(This just happens to be the day that Roy writes "I grow more convinced every day that libertarianism only exists to give young Republicans something marginally less repulsive to call themselves when they're trying to get laid." I checked Postrel's c.v. at the Wikithing, and was amused to find, yet again, the handwork of whatever dedicated Wikiaste who seems to follow every mention of someone's libertarian leanings with "or classical liberal". So I'm suggesting that "classical liberal" is what you call a libertarian who can't get it up anymore.)

• By the way, I liked the insta-punditry which claims that Gingrich's staff desertions clear the way for Rick Perry. First, because it's the sort of analysis that only analysts could believe; remember when Haley Barbour's insufficiency of belly-fire was going to benefit Mitch Daniels? Second, because of the "he's a Southerner" routine; there are plenty of reasons to disparage Southern politics without needing to invent any. Has Newt Gingrich ever won an election outside his home district? And, finally, the idea that there's some similarity between them other than Republican scumbaggery and the moral compass of a wharf rat. Perry may run--he may have already decided to run--and he might win--fuck, somebody has to--but if waiting for Newt Gingrich's staff to become available was part of that equation this couldn't have sped up his decision by more than a fortnight anyway.

Thursday, June 9

2011 To John Dickerson: Thanks, Dude, But 2008 Already Told Us.

John Dickerson, "GOP to Palin: It's Over. Why a Sarah Palin presidential campaign is hopeless." June 8

REALLY, now: at this point, isn't it clear to everyone that 25% of the American public will never believe anything it hears via "the news" unless "FOX" is appended to it, that another 25% now has no choice but to see the game for what it is, another quarter doesn't give a shit about anything other than itself, and the remaining 25% just tuned in to get a look at the latest celebrity scandal, or ball gown?

There's no fucking OFF switch. Okay. But th' fuck makes John Dickerson write something like this? It's not like there's going to be a page-sized hole in the internets if he misses a deadline.

And in case you're too young to've experienced this, the reason anyone in the mass-market media takes Sarah Palin seriously is that Richard Nixon was a paranoid scumsucker.

That's it. Because Nixon's hit squad decided to get even with his old enemy, The Press, there's an entire generation of Baby Dickersons who imagine instinctive rightward genuflection is part of their job description. It's curious to consider, for a moment, exactly how these people would react to a concerted White House effort to brand them as commie dupes and leftist sympathizers. But the fact that someone once accused Edward R. Murrow, now, that's something which requires corrective action so it never happens again.
DES MOINES—Sarah Palin says George Washington is her favorite founder because he was reluctant to serve but answered the call of duty. She likes to think of herself this way, answering the needs of a clamoring electorate. That is part of the cinematic beauty of her bus tour: The crowds that greet her can represent that call to take up their standard and head into presidential battle on their behalf.

There's only one problem: The call isn't coming. That's the clear message in a new CBS News poll of the Republican field. Taken after the Palin bus tour started rolling, it asked Republicans whether Palin should run. By a 20-point margin (54 percent to 34 percent), Republicans said she should not run. Among Tea Party supporters, where Palin has her strongest following, she is also waved off against a run. Half say she should not run; 38 percent say she should. That isn't so much a referendum on her bus tour as it is a sign that the entire months-long Palin flirtation with the presidency is not creating an appetite.

And it isn't so much a time-marker as it is a restatement of simple fucking fact that's been clear from the day McCain announced her as his running mate, and Chuck Todd and Nooners announced what they really thought of her when they thought the mics were off. Palin's a goddam embarrassment. She's also has the same favorable rating among Republicans as Mitt Romney. That poll doesn't have anything to do with anything, except what people who tell CBS they're Republicans think the Republican party should do about 2012. And those people see Sarah Palin as a loser. Because she is.

But the curious thing there is, they haven't really admitted it in public, now have they? They don't want the half-term Governor/ half-brain dead Reality Show Grifter representing the party, but they have no problem harvesting the votes of like-minded idiots. And they've never been called on that, have they Mr. Dickerson?

I understand why pollsters would ask the question. I'm less clear as to why CBS would see fit to promote the thing as a referendum on Palin--she's hardly any more unpopular than Newt--though I suspect the urgent burning sensation resulting from seeing their party nominate someone who most resembles it is a big part of the answer. And I have no idea why this should be the basis for "analysis"; if you ask me the real question is how you can have a major political party in a country bristling with wealth and international menace which managed to nominate a brain-damaged Wal*Mart shopper for Vice President. The fact that some people eventually caught on is small beer by comparison. It's just curious how this gets portrayed--now--as Republicans opposing Palin, but doesn't seem to apply to how Republicans embraced the aphasia she stands for, so long as it promised to deliver votes or derail Barack Obama. Much the same way that Donald Trump became the face of Republican embarrassment over Birtherism.

Once it passed its shelf life.

Tuesday, June 7

Recommended Reading

PROFESSOR Stripes notes the difference between the 18th and 21st century for Half-Governor Palin, although the odds of that taking with someone who doesn't understand the difference between modern Israelis and ancient Israelities is probably nil.

Hey Tony! How 'Bout Resigning From The House So You Can Spend More Time In Junior High?

Jack Shafer, "Anthony Weiner's Semantic Satiation". June 6

FIRST, The Odd Confluence of Military History and Poor Marksmanship, As Performed By the Inmates of Slate Under the Direction of Jack Shafer: Officialdom has been deflecting criticism of itself by accepting full responsibility at least since the time God owned up that Mistakes Were Made in the Garden of Eden, and went ahead and punished Eve anyway. This was not something Mickey Kaus discovered in the wake of Waco. Mickey Kaus has never discovered anything, except how to make an inexplicable living. You would think that absolving yourself by blaming yourself would seem the most natural thing in the world to someone who writes for Slate.
I'm less judgmental about the "sin" that Weiner confessed to this afternoon, of sexting his junk or his chest shots to six women over three years. If you're as old as Weiner (46) and have never done something naughty but still legal, you're probably immune to the power of human desire, have no sense of fantasy, and have been living in a locked veal cage in a convent basement. You don't have to be a libertine to not care about a politician's kinks, as long as those kinks don't get in the way of his job.

Hey, I'd be the last guy to tell you that utter weirdness can't cold-cock (sorry) a man in his Forties, but look: if we're gonna criticize Weiner's pro-forma behavior, both the denials and the Oh Shit I'm Stuck apology, then let's throw in this reaction for good measure. No, it is not fucking understandable. The moment Representative Anthony Weiner could not say "with certitude" whether a cellphone snapshot of someone's underwear was his or not we were done.

Look: it's beyond time to acknowledge that we in the West couldn't deal with the 19th century, let alone face the 20th, and that over the past thirty years or so we've descended into a bunch of children playing in a mud puddle. We already know about human sexuality, Jack. We have at least since Krafft-Ebing. What David Vitter does in private is between him, his hookers, and his pediatrician. We know that. If David Vitter, or Larry Craig, finds a little sexual joy in this lifetime they're probably in the top 50th percentile, and more power to 'em. They're hypocrites, of course, and worthy of our opprobrium for that, and lots else. But we're got the "human sexuality is weirder than Oprah might allow" bit.

But it is about the act here, or at least the context: Sexting? Really? Twitter sex? At 46? I begrudge no man his Kink, but that doesn't mean I renounce all right to consider it. Sending snapshots of your coyly-concealed junk to anonymous accounts isn't sex. It's digital obscene phone calling, virtual heavy breathing. I'd'a defended him for being discovered with a harem of oiled-up cabaña boys; behaving like a fourteen-year-old girl is something else entirely. Pace Congressman Weiner, Congressman Weiner needs a long vacation. And not on the taxpayer's dime.

Monday, June 6

Wait, You Needed To Study Whether Cell Phones Cause Brain Bubbles?

Fred Barnes, "Will the Real Sarah Palin Please Stand Up?" June 6

I'VE been working, so far unsuccessfully, on a review of Bill James' Popular Crime, which will not be finished until and unless I'm satisfied it will convince Mr. James to never write another book that isn't about baseball.

And, just for the record, this is not the only problem, merely a recurring irritant: James belongs to that subgroup of Boomer-Americans which is frequently mistaken for, and more frequently mistakes itself for, all Boomer-Americans, the one which believes an entire generation, however well-intentioned, somehow managed to come to its senses and turn into Richard Nixon just in the nick of time.

This reminds me that Fred Fucking Barnes once played a moderate on the pages of The New Republic, which was then playing a liberal.

There are three questions here: the eternal one ("Why isn't the work of Fred Barnes less well-known?"); the question of what I was doing reading him; and what this piece is supposed to be about, since the title suggests some sort of fugue state the author wishes the half-term Governor to snap out of, or make up her, you should pardon the expression, mind about, but the two Sarah Palins Barnes seems to imagine are the real one, the populist and popular executive, the notoriously tough negotiator forced to resign mid-term "by a wave of phony ethics charges that made it impossible to govern effectively", and, y'know, one who's entirely made-up.
It’s anybody guess whether Sarah Palin will run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. If she does, she’s likely to benefit from a highly favorable documentary that highlights the part of her career least known to most Americans.

Speaking as a grown man myself, damned if I can figure out what would make one write a sentence like that. I couldn't do it at gunpoint.

Jesus, we've seen the real Sarah Palin. Sometimes it feels like we haven't seen anything but. She's beyond an embarrassment. She's beyond a parody. She's actually beyond the question of just how willing members of your party are to fuck up what's left of the United States of America just so the Koch brothers get all the buggery they paid for. You can't possibly believe she's fit to be President of the United States. Hell, you can't possibly believe she's fit to be Treasurer of the Wasilla branch of the Dale Earnhardt Fan Club. You can't possibly believe that America just got the wrong twist on her story. Not if you've heard her speak two sentences. You sure can't imagine that some hack documentary is going to correct everyone's misimpression.

Th' fuck is it with you guys? How is it possible you didn't learn your lesson with Bush? Is there that much incompetent potty training in the world? Did the story of how you lost your lunch money cause your invalid grandmother to keel over? Jesus, Fred, the money boys were willing to back Mitch Daniels in hopes of preventing a Palin takeover of the party. Good God, man, nobody does anything that drastic without a damn good reason. Do they?

Thursday, June 2

What's The Opposite Of "Epiphany"?

George Eff Will, "Jon Huntsman's thorny path to the GOP nomination". June 1

ROSS Douthat has a job at the New York Times because he spent fourteen months or so giving the Republican party free advice on changes it needed to make post-Bush. This did not exactly catch on, even with Douthat. (There is also the fact that the man knew the HTML for linkage, and could do it fifteen-twenty times per 800-word copy without flagging, which whatever Sulzberger is responsible evidently figured put him right in the middle of the Youth movement.)

Leave us remember: three years ago it was possible for Republicans to try to tell Republicans something. Not successfully, maybe. But possible.

George Eff Will, as any student of pop culture in the Middle Ages knows, has a job at several popular mass-market "journalism" troughs because he wears bowties. And because he remembered enough of his Greek & Latin Derivatives class to confuse the suits at ABC about his role in Briefingate, at least long enough for Reagan to win and the rules of broadcasting and ethical behavior to change.

Now, if you've ever found yourself suddenly plunged into seawater several hundred nautical miles from shore, and noticed a small assortment of straws floating by, you can understand what both Douthat and Will faced in 2009: a supposedly grassroots, supposedly transpartisan supposed political movement which was, obviously, just a cover for the base of their party, a base neither Douthat nor Will really chooses to share a neighborhood with. Or even a section of the country. Sure, both eventually "came around" after the third of fourth gulp of saltwater, but not altogether happily.

So it's interesting, really, to find that as another election season draws nigh they're right back where they started, their party un-transfigured, their Teabaggers returned to the red-meat-stocked fold, and no fucking chance in Hell they're about to change our politics for anything except the Even Worse.

How'd this happen? Sure, Will's just a wizened reprobate, but his schtick has always included sneering condescension at the base. How'd they both get cowed? What fucking difference does it make to establishment Republicans whether John Boehner is the venal, idiotic House Majority Leader, or Minority? Is either of them really afraid his marginal tax rate will be raised by any noticeable amount in either his own lifetime, or that of the Republic, whichever ends first? Was there some danger that, trapped in one two many lies, idiotic predictions, or just pure ennui and relieved of their high-paying gigs they'd find the Hudson Institute wasn't hiring?

Just how th' fuck do you look at 1) the Republican caucus in either or both houses, or 2) the Republican 2012 presidential sweepstakes, and not say to yourself something really needs to change? I don't understand it. Yeah, hope springs fucking eternal, for some reason; I'm not exactly sure why it grows at all, but there it is. But the Republican hope is that Barack Obama will fuck up, be hit by disasters domestic and foreign, and enough average Americans will join their rabid racists to defeat him. This is your hope for America? It ain't worth the cost of a lapel pin.
Donald Trump’s pathological political exhibitionism has ended, Newt Gingrich has incinerated himself with an incoherent retraction tour, Mitt Romney has reaffirmed his enthusiasm for his Massachusetts health-care law, rendering himself incapable of articulating the case against Obamacare and the entitlement state generally, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels, aware of the axiom that anyone who will do what must be done to become president should not be allowed to be president, are out.

First, among the many things Donald Trump is, or was, is "leading candidate for the Republican nomination". Yes, indeed, polls at this point mean nothing in terms of the eventual nominee, but being favored by 20% of the party's stalwarts because you're out there calling the President a foreign-born Affirmative Action hire does mean something, regardless of the calendar. Second, Newt Gingrich has always been an embarrassment; the question is how he managed to be one for a generation. Third, it's interesting how Mitt Romney got 25% of the vote in the 2008 primaries despite having done a Jim Rockford 180 on his record, but now he's toast because he once suggested government-run healthcare. Not only does that say something pretty unflattering about the Republican party, but the fact that you people bring it up anyway says something even worse.

As for Huck, Haley, and Head Injury, forgive me, Mr. Eff Will, but haven't they all actually run for President? Not making it to the point of creating an official campaign doesn't change the fact that Barbour and Daniels were pimping themselves to Republican donors before finding convenient excuses not to test their 2% poll results. The whole Daniels for President thing was based on his enormous ego, unfettered willingness to lie in public, and the fact that there was Money urging him to run. If that's not a collection of the worst traits required to become President I must be missing a page.
So it is difficult to chart Huntsman’s path to the Republicans’ Tampa convention through a nominating electorate that is understandably furious about Obama’s demonstrably imprudent and constitutionally dubious domestic policies.

No more so than to chart the governing success, if not the electoral, of a party so lost down the Rabbit Hole that its leading intellectual mouths this "constitutionally dubious" shit. Somebody somewhere needs to put your party out of our misery.