alien & sedition.
Friday, February 09, 2007
  This Week in Conservative Organs: We Can Work It Out

This week finds our organists caught up in a strange mixture of giddiness and dread, as they claim a couple of victories even while they realize that there's a chance that they might fall apart before too long. It seems there's plenty of time for fussing and fighting....

TWICO Feature: Baby You're a Rich Man

We begin with Larry Kudlow of the National Review, who wants to tell us the Good News about "the Goldilocks economy." (I don't know what this means but it calls to mind the Wolf's lines in Sondheim's great musical, Into the Woods: "There's no possible way/To describe how you feel/When you're talking to your meal!") He begins by telling us the story of Dubyalocks's recent triumphant visit to Wall Street:
President George W. Bush became only the second sitting American president to visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. As he moved from trading post to trading post, floor brokers and assistants stopped their work and started to cheer.

Huge cheers. Loud applause.
George Bush has apparently managed to find the last place in New York City that isn't full of people who hate him.

The reason these good hardy Wall Street folk don't hate Bush, Kudlow points out, is that the stock market is doing pretty good. To hear Kudlow tell it, everyone should be equally bullish, considering the jobs picture:
The most accurate employment gauge, called “adjusted households” (which the Bureau of Labor Statistics created in order to combine the non-farm payroll survey with the civilian-employment household survey), shows nearly 3 million new jobs annually over the past three years — all since Mr. Bush’s supply-side tax cuts of 2003.
Or is it all bull? There's no doubt that the economy has been adding jobs. But as the Center for American Progress points out:
Job growth is the weakest for any business cycle. Despite the 2003 tax cut, job growth has averaged only 1.5% since then—the lowest growth of any recovery of at least the same length. Monthly job growth since March 2001 has averaged an annualized 0.6%.
This is what Kudlow calls "carping." Kudlow does not like carping, because it harshes Kudlow's buzz. And nothing seems to harsh that buzz more than carping about inequality:
And the president (or anybody else) shouldn’t fret about so-called wage stagnation, or inequality. Hourly earnings for non-supervisory wage earners averaged $16.76 in 2006, a near 20 percent gain from the last business-cycle peak in 2000 and a 64 percent increase from the $10.20 cycle peak in 1990.

Comparing the first five years of the Bush economic expansion with the first five years of the Papa Bush/Clinton cycle, average hourly earnings are 44 percent higher today in nominal terms and 9 percent higher in inflation-adjusted terms. Washington economist Alan Reynolds has written voluminously on the absence of wage inequality since the tax-reform bill of 1986. This is a faux issue.
Of course, as people like Jonathan Chait have pointed out, Alan Reynolds is what you might call a "faux economist." American Progress, by contrast, observes that "The gap between productivity growth and wage growth is wider today than ever." The Economic Policy Institute further illustrates this "unprecedented income inequality:"
Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis through the third quarter of 2006 show that a historically high share of corporate income is going into profits and interest (i.e., capital income) rather than employee compensation. And a newly released Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of household incomes shows that a greater share of this capital income goes to the richest households than at any time since the CBO began tracking such trends. In other words, our economy is producing more capital income and that type of income is more likely to go to those at the very top of the income scale. Together, these dynamics are contributing to a uniquely skewed recovery.
Indeed: huge cheers. Loud applause.

ALSO at NRO, the Editors get a big kick out of the way Senate Republicans gummed up the Iraq resolution process, suggesting that "under Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republicans have quickly gotten the hang of serving in a minority that can successfully frustrate Harry Reid’s partisan maneuvering on the war in Iraq." No hint of irony here in that what McConnell blocked was Reid's attempt to get a bipartisan majority on the Iraq issue. Meanwhile, Terence P. Jeffrey rejects Steven Malanga's argument in City Journal that Rudy Giuliani is both electable and a true conservative. He is neither, Jeffrey says. Jeffrey quotes America's Mayor himself:
Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes,” Rudy Giuliani once said. “But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other.”
Indeed, says Jeffrey. Likewise, a politician who tolerates gay marriage is more likely to tolerate the destruction of human civilization. Touche!

AND... Demonstrating once again that there is no creature on earth more persecuted than a conservative college student, Bridget Johnson recounts her days of torment with the hairy legged-feminists and unfeminine-looking professors at the old alma mater. "Every bit the granola-breath nightmare I'd been warned about by fraternity guys," she says it was. And nobody knows from the nuances of feminist theory like fraternity guys. Johnson's point is that we shouldn't be all excited over gender milestones like the first woman Speaker or the first woman President. Teh war on Islamofascism - that's what should revv our engines! We shouldn't view political women differently from political men, as long as they can PWN the bad guys.

The argument would certainly be more convincing if it weren't accompanied by K-Lo's interview with Mary Sheehan Warren, "founder of Elegance in Style," who "offers advice on the right way to dress." Title of the interview: "Pretty Pelosi." Sample line: "Do Republican gals still wear pearls?"

ROUNDING OUT... Peter Kirsanow says Republicans have to stop apologizing for their conservative views when they talk to blacks, Mallory Factor praises South Carolina governor Mark Sanford as an example of how Republican statehouses can avoid raising taxes, Andrew McCarthy demands that the Bush administration release the dossier about all the bad stuff Iran's been up to, so's we can finally get our war on, and Thomas Sowell reveals the New York Times's Great Conspiracy to Destroy Marriage as We Know It. Foiled again!

Up-is-Downism Award: You Say High, I Say Low

This week the Up-is-Downism Award returns to its natural home at the American Spectator, thanks to the efforts of Quin Hillyer, who quite literally asks us to imagine: what if up really was down?
We're talking about the troop surge. Really. What if attacks, bombings, injuries, deaths, all decline precipitously in Iraq in the next two years? [...]

What if, meanwhile, the American public finally starts giving President George W. Bush credit for the economy that has been doing so splendidly for about four years now?

What if, as seems increasingly likely, the jury in the Scooter Libby trial decides that Libby is not guilty? What if, on the other hand, Harry Reid's questionable real estate transactions continue to stink to high heaven, and what if, as expected, Democratic Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson of Louisiana is indicted and then convicted for various financial misdeeds? What if, in short, it is the Democrats and not the Republicans who get blamed for having a "culture of corruption"? [...]

What if somebody of the high caliber and brilliance of the SEC's Chris Cox, or with the combination of communications skills and genuineness of Tony Snow, steps in to the presidential race and unites conservatives around him? [...]

What if Karl Rove re-establishes his reputation as a political genius and designs a stunning political comeback for the president?
Indeed, Quin: what if reality really didn't bite?

ALSO AT THE SPECTATOR, a trio of articles considers the prospects of Rudy, Romney, and Huck. The Spectator's founder, wingnut extraordinaire R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., is moved to rhapsody by the God-like Giuliani, who singlehandedly pulled New York City out of the Great Depression, ended street crime down to the level of hot dog vendors overcharging you during parades, beat the terrorists on 9/11, and stopped the Green Goblin from throwing that tram full of people off the Queensboro Bridge.

Meanwhile, John Tabin takes a somewhat more sober look at Mitt Romney, last seen bombing at the conservative summit (Tabin reports that the summit performance was so bad as to prompt one attendee to refer to him as "our Kerry.") Mitt's cleaned up, found Jesus: he did much better speaking before the right-wing Republican Study Committee last week, and Tobin suggests that "one thing Romney has going for him is that he's made a much more concerted effort to woo conservatives than the frontrunners ... If he can learn to be more consistent on the stump, Romney's efforts to shore up the right may well pay off."

Finally, W. James Antle III (the Spectator has a gift for ingenious writer names) examines Mike Huckabee, who, with fellow social-con candidate Sam Brownback, may be forging a "new religious right." This neo-theo-conism endorses certain "fiscal heterodoxies" (thus exposing itself to broadsides from the Club for Growth) as it seeks to move beyond the old sex-based enthusiasms of the religious right to a prioritization of poverty, health care, and other social needs. Antle III is intrigued, if a bit skeptical:
The new religious right that Republicans like Huckabee and Brownback are trying to build is in many respects admirable and appealing. The moral implications of the Christian faith are obviously broader than single-issue politics and sex, something an older breed of organized religious conservatives sometimes seemed to forget. But four decades of activist government have taught us the pitfalls of effecting social change from Washington; those consequences won't be ameliorated simply by putting more faithful bureaucrats in charge.
AND... Bernard Chapin, who "is currently at work on a book concerning women," interviews Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism, which, like many conservative books, has a subtitle beginning with the word "How". Sommers talks about the distinction between "gender feminists," who hate men, and "equity feminists," who "embrace equality and individual rights." If you're reading this post, you're probably a "gender feminist."

Sommers repeats the common right-wing claim that our universities are run by Hairy Scary Feminists seeking to indoctrinate the youth, and she argues that "gender feminism thrives on the myth that American women are the oppressed 'second sex.'" As in so much conservative cultural criticism, she seems to operate from the assumption that conservatives are actually the oppressed identity group, overrun by the tyranny of the liberal elites. In fact, let's try a little thought experiment. Read the following statement by Sommers:
One of the things I say in my lecture is that American women -- as a group -- are not oppressed. In fact, they are among the most favored, privileged and blessed group of human beings in the world.
Now substitute "conservatives" for "women." Hell, given the way the right has tried to re-frame the culture wars, substitute "white men" for "women."

Now repeat ad nauseum.


The truth rears its ugly head at the Weekly Standard, where Fred Barnes makes the unpopular point that "it wasn't for want of conservatives that the GOP lost in 2006." Actually, Barnes notes, the GOP lost big amongst independents, while conservatives voted Republican in the same numbers as ever. This doesn't mean Republicans should abandon conservatism, he argues - but they should remember that "the Republican party is a center-right party. And the problem in 2006 was that the center did not hold."

Meanwhile, Noemie Emery provides a nice summary of the right's emerging Dolchstosslegende:
If Iraq is stabilized this side of chaos, the congressional Democrats will be remembered as the people who fought to prevent it, who tried to kneecap the commander and demoralize the armed forces, and all in all make the mission more difficult. If, on the other hand, the surge is seen to fail, they will be the ones who made it more difficult, demoralized the armed forces, kneecapped the commander, and telegraphed to the enemy that our will was cracking, and we would shortly be leaving.
Damned if we do, damned if we don't, damned for just existing. And the party that created the greatest foreign-policy disaster in American history gets off scot free! You've got to admire the neocon's mental agility. They're like tiny little mental gymnasts.

Finally, at the paleocon American Conservative, Darryl Hart forecasts a leftward tide in the evangelical movement, as its concerns shift from sex to social justice, and as the Falwells and Dobsons give way to the Wallises and Rick Warrens. Meanwhile, Daniel McCarthy considers the "failure of fusionism," but suggests it's misguided to assume that libertarians will end up joining the left. And, ending this week's TWICO on a note we can all enjoy, Andrew J. Bachevic vitriolically condemns the neocons, arguing that the "surge" that was supposed to save Iraq was really designed to save neoconservatism itself. And he pounds Frederick Kagan to a bloody rhetorical pulp. Referring to him as "a lesser light in the neoconservative constellation," Bachevic thunders:
That in places like AEI and the editorial offices of The Weekly Standard Kagan himself has emerged as the man of the hour testifies to the depth of neoconservative desperation. Kagan’s insistence that his surge will do the trick postpones the neoconservative day of reckoning. Believe Kagan and you can avoid for at least a bit longer having to confront Iraq’s incontrovertible lessons: that preventive war doesn’t work, that American power has limits, that the world is not infinitely malleable, and that grasping for “benign global hegemony” is a self-defeating proposition.
All together now!

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"An obscure but fantastic blog." - Markus Kolic


Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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