alien & sedition.
Friday, January 12, 2007
  This Week in Conservative Organs: Welcome to the Hellmouth

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Democrats drove a stake through their collective heart last November, but Washington is a center of mystical political convergence, and now the conservative undead return to walk the land. And with the "surge" speech and the opening of the 110th Congress, they finally have something to sink their teeth into.

Watch your neck.

TWICO Feature: The Subtext is Rapidly Becoming Text

Do not accuse the National Review of lacking diversity of opinion. In fact, the speech seems to have touched off a real debate between two camps: "Yay, this means we finally get to attack Iran!" vs. "Sadly, I don't think this means we finally get to attack Iran." In one respect they are largely united, though: opposition to the war by the Democratic Congressional majority presents an opportunity for the right to finally start firming up that Dolchstosslegende. As Mackubin Thomas Owens puts it (in this week's NRO Symposium), "The Democrats ... would rather see Bush lose than the United States win."

Yeah, we all know that - it's old news, right? But now, with the Dems invested with power, it becomes much easier for the right to describe them as the hand that holds the knife inches from the fatherland's back. For instance, Peter Brooks: "the Democratic congressional leadership still doesn't have a plan for victory in Iraq other than thwarting the President's efforts."

"Victory" is a neat thing here. It exists, but only hypothetically, and only as long as we keep projecting that hypothetical further and further into the future. You can't prove we won't win - only that we haven't yet. To put an end to this charade is to abandon victory, which means to accept defeat. Because the right will never stop believing, ad infinitum, it will now fall to a Democratic Congress to signal the end of the game. And thus we can blame the Dems for "losing" it.

James S. Robbins, though, has an interesting take on this: seems that the Democrats will actually be aiding the Bush plan by threatening to de-fund the war:
But the situation will not improve until our interests correlate. I think the Democratic Congress will see to that. The Iraqi government must understand that if the situation does not improve the Congress will take the funding situation out of the president's hands. So it’s now or never. If they don’t get their act together by the next continuing resolution, the party will be over.
Nancy Pelosi: Bad Cop.

Oh, what do they think about the strategy itself? Clark Judge just can't wait to start spending all those troops:
The troop surge had been advertised. But disrupting infiltration across the Iranian and Syrian borders, loosening the rules of engagement, going after al Qaeda in Anbar Province, and flooding absolutely every part of Baghdad with troops went beyond where the rumor mills had him and again, to me, sounded right.
Indeed. And all with about the average attendance for an MLS game.

ALSO AT NRO... Another major theme in the organs this week is the Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act. Of all the items in the Democrats' 100 Hours agenda, this one seems to agitate conservatives the most. Benjamin Zycher puts their argument as well as anyone:
[P]rivate companies must balance their customers’ demands for both lower prices and access to a broad array of drugs, while the pharmaceutical producers seek prices sufficient to recover their average $1 billion investment in each new drug while preserving the markets for their products.

The federal government, on the other hand, does not have “customers.” Instead, it has interest groups engaged in a tug-of-war over shares of the federal budget. Accordingly, if the feds were to take over price negotiations, political incentives to achieve budget savings by driving prices down would be powerful. At the same time incentives to satisfy patient preferences for broader access to drugs would be weakened, as the dissatisfaction of patients would be offset by the support of other constituencies enjoying increases in their favored programs.
Setting aside the fact that Zycher is wrong, what's interesting here is how he once again bares the soul of the libertarian philosophy: that, somehow, we are more empowered as consumers than as citizens.

MORE: NRO asks: "Should Republicans fight a minimum-wage increase?" Several conservative economists wail, "think of the children!" - but only one answers the actual question: No. "Wrong fight at the wrong time," says Alan D. Viard. Meanwhile, Deroy Murdock tells us: Rudy might be a "social liberal" in some respects, but he's reassuringly right wing on race, and John Miller updates us on Rick Santorum's new gig: director of the excitingly-named "America's Enemies program."

AND FINALLY: Lisa Schiffren was dragged against her will to Nancy Pelosi's high-dollar party at the Italian embassy. She didn't enjoy it. Sample words and phrases:
"wealthy commies," "very minor demon queen," "limousine liberals," "execrable architecture," "decor," "puzzled by the clothing," "'sportswear,'" "glaringly faux string [of pearls]," "tacky," "red-veined-face-thing that suggests a little too much hootch," "smooth, buffed radiance," "Botoxed?" "hair-smoothing product," "prom queen," "first-rate colorist," "full face done," "eyebrows were pulled up a little too high," "table was filled with Jews from the Upper West Side," "babbled on," "you wouldn't guess that he was particularly bright," "so little substance," "the mediocrity of this woman," "a little more humility and a little less strutting."
I mean, she really didn't enjoy it.

Up-Is-Downism Award: Love Makes You Do the Wacky

For the second week in a row, the Up-Is-Downism Award goes to the "I'll-buy-that-for-a-dollar" American Spectator. This time it's Jeffrey Lord, for his heartfelt contribution, "The President: An Appreciation." I pretty much knew the award was Lord's when I read the epigraph:
Some people see things as they are and say 'why?' I dream things that never were and say 'why not?'"
See what I mean?

Lord, to his credit, declares that it's time to "put to rest" the notion that Bush was ever a uniter, as opposed to, say, a divider. But this is a good thing. Lincoln was a divider, after all. So were Reagan, Truman, the Roosevelts, Wilson, and Jackson. Heady company indeed! Anyway, especially Lincoln:
As with the Bush-haters of today, those who despised Lincoln for actually daring to make his dream of union and freedom for blacks a reality were relentless in their attacks. With the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq hovering north of 3,000, it is worth recalling the absolute furor whirling around the sixteenth president as he devoted himself to making his vision a reality of American life, a vision that finally cost over 600,000 dead in four years.
Memo to Bush haters: call me when 597,000 more soldiers have died! Till then, STFU, you slavery-defenders. As Lord was saying, Bush can be compared with great historical figures:
The recent trials and tribulations of the suddenly-famous Miss USA, Tara Conner...

MOVING ON... Quin Hillyer urges us to take a lesson from "the stalwart Sen. Joe Lieberman:" We must choose victory! It's only a matter of the triumph of the will. Meanwhile, Paul Chesser frets that migration from blue states to red states might not be so good for Republicans, as hordes of Volvo-driving liberals descend like locusts upon the heartland, bringing their nasty values with them ("They may have set their sights on those of us in sunnier climes, seeking new prey to devour with their nanny-statism"), and Doug Bandow mocks those greedy elderly Americans, who are "the biggest consumers" of pharmaceutical products: "We all like nice cars; shouldn't we be able to purchase luxury models for less?" Well said!

AND, Lawrence A. Hunter, refreshingly, urges Congressional Republicans to stop whining over Democratic strongarming:
Stop acting like a bunch of babies and just accept the fact that you brought it on yourselves because of the way you treated Democrats for more than a decade.
Hunter's advice: accept that the Dems have the majority, and see if you can't stop some of the legislation the old fashioned way: by filibustering. Also, James Bowman salutes the sexual double standard (and seems oddly nostalgic for the "corporal punishment, fagging, [and] excessive chapel attendance" of his English schoolboy youth) - a stance no doubt appreciated by Jacob Laksin, who praises the resigning Harriet Miers, who might not have been very qualified, but at least had the ladylike grace not to make a big deal of herself.


The "Free Minds" over at Reason are celebrating the return of divided government. There's general consensus that, as William Niskanen says, "Under divided government, the rate of increase of real per capita federal spending has been significantly lower, a war is most unlikely, and so is a major increase in entitlements." Also,
A period in the political wilderness may benefit the Republican Party. Republicans are more likely to remember their commitment to fiscal responsibility when Democrats propose most of the spending. And social conservatives are more likely to focus their political activities on state legislatures when they don’t have the option to achieve their preferred policies through federal legislation.
So now you know where to look for the socio-cons this season.

ALSO at reason, Cathy Young considers the strange trajectory of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, from Marxist feminist to Catholic antifeminist, and Ronald Bailey says: Peak oil? There's still some oil down between the sofa cushions - but state owned oil companies have such thick, clumsy hands.

The Murdoch-adelic Weekly Standard features Andrew Ferguson's lunchroom-based comparison of the Gingrich and Pelosi revolutions, which actually made me laugh out loud - in a with-, not an at- sense. Seriously, go read it. Yeah, the guy's a wingnut, but he's a cynic first and foremost, and a funny one to boot. Ferguson describes the long dark night of Democratic one-party rule, all mystery meat in the dining hall - until the Gingrich revolution brought
A Santa Fe Chicken Special from Malibu Wraps, Carolina Brisket from Austin Blues. And the drinks! Starbucks coffee and Melon Smoothies! Endless cups of Diet Sprite--with ice! Freshets of Mr. Pibb!

It is fashionable these days, especially among disaffected conservatives, to say that the Gingrich Revolution amounted to next to nothing and ended in failure. Let those doubters come here. Let them come to the Longworth Food Court.
And then was the day pop culture came to party with the GOP:
It was meant to confirm a cherished belief of the Gingrich Revolutionaries: that the popular culture, from which conservatives had so long been ostracized, and with which they were supposedly so out of touch, was at last turning in a rightward direction. "Hollywood is moving like crazy," the activist David Horowitz announced in the New York Times. "The liberals are all fed up with Clinton. Clinton is over. It's happening." To demonstrate the point, Horowitz said he was soon going to stage a Hollywood extravaganza starring Delta Burke and Gerald McRaney.
I can only begin to express my regret for missing this. But wait, there's more:
![I]n a sudden burst of music and fire, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers appeared! Across a makeshift stage they kicked and leaped and angled their arms in semaphores of their miraculous power. Popular culture was ours.
ALSO AT THE STANDARD, Whitney Blake praises the work of the O.G. of Cabinet Members, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, while the Standard's own gangstas, Kristol & Kagan, urge the Republican hunted to become the hunters in the upcoming Congressional hearings.

AND FINALLY, Reuel Marc Gerecht suggests we consider the consequences of an American withdrawal from Iraq: Doom! Doom! You think we can just up and withdraw, and the world will be a better place?

As Gerecht will tell you, that's the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.

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I think Lisa Schiffren is my soulmate.
Yeah, the funny thing is I'm going to a conference with all these national review people in a couple weeks, and I'll probably be thinking equally nasty thoughts.

But I don't have Schiffren's eye for plastic surgery.
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