State of the Union

Rand’s secret rendezvous

According to Jason Zengerle’s recent GQ profile of Rand Paul, the U.S. Senate candidate had a private meeting on a recent trip to Washington:

“At a private office in Dupont Circle, he talked foreign policy with Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, and Tom Donnelly, three prominent neocons who’d been part of an effort to defeat him during the primary.”

Like Justin Raimondo, I am curious as to why Rand would bother to meet such people. They currently hold no office government. Kristol’s Weekly Standard magazine was worth peanuts on the open media market and all of their views and knowledge of foreign policy should have been utterly discredited after the debacle in Iraq. Why would a man presumably on a victory lap in his election feel the need to meet with people who have no discernible power, have been made to look like fools and who tried to keep him from getting nominated during the primary last spring? What’s next, a meeting with the leadership of the Kentucky chapter of the AFL-CIO in a Louisville parking garage?

Actually it’s not curiosity that’s the feeling, it’s dismay. Running as Tea Party candidate, presumably against politics as usual, Rand has engaged in the usual politics to the point where he’s becoming indistinguishable from his primary opponent Trey Grayson. This isn’t a question of running to the right and then back to the center for a general election, this is running as a populist and becoming an establishment tool in less than a half-year’s time. There’s no reason to meet with Kristol or Senor, especially after beating their efforts to defeat him, or reportedly say things like “I’m more reasonable than my father,” unless Rand is planning on ingratiating himself among the Powers that Be as he prepares for his new career. If that’s the case, it raises this question: If the Republican leadership in Congress or a Republican president really, really wanted something from Rand, would he give in even if it ran counter to his views? Judging by the conduct of his campaign, it’s a question Rand Paul supporters may not want to ask or know the answer to.

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Joseph Sobran, 1946-2010

The 20th century produced many great conservative writers, but none brought together wit, erudition, and humanity on a single page so well as Joseph Sobran. He was a remarkable man: even seeming quite frail at a gathering in his honor last December, he had a mind as accurate as precision clockwork, able to recall Shakespearean verses he had memorized decades earlier. He lived T.S. Eliot’s dictum that there are no lost causes because there are no gained causes, and he hated cant and injustice. News of his death today is a terrible shock, despite his long illness. He will be missed.

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Tea Party vs. War Party

“We’re all on the same page until the polls close Nov. 2,” Richard Viguerie, the longtime conservative strategist who has allied with the Tea Party, told The New York Times. After that, “a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party begins.”

Indeed, such a battle seems unavoidable. Consider.

The great issue uniting and motivating the Republican Party and Tea Party is the deficit-debt crisis, a national debt nearing 100 percent of gross domestic product and a deficit of 10 percent of GDP.

As to the cause of the deficit that could precipitate a run on the dollar, double-digit inflation, even a default, the Tea Party and GOP also agree — federal spending that consumes 25 percent of GDP.

Both are also on the same page in their opposition to closing the deficit with new or higher taxes.

This means spending must be slashed. But to cut the budget to 20 percent of GDP, where it was before George W. Bush and Barack Obama, requires spending cuts of an astronomical $700 billion a year. Even then, the 2011 deficit would be $700 billion.

As interest on the debt must be paid, or we default, there are only two places you can find that kind of money. The first is the major entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — and social spending for education, veterans benefits, earned income tax credits and unemployment compensation.

But a Democratic Party, brutalized and bled on Nov. 2, returning to Capitol Hill with its moderate wing annihilated, is unlikely to collude with a resurgent Republican right and Tea Party caucus in hacking away at social programs that are the Democratic Party’s pride and joy, and the reason that party exists.

Which leaves one place where a bipartisan majority may be found for major spending cuts: defense and the empire, the warfare state.

The “agonizing reappraisal” of commitments abroad that John Foster Dulles predicted half a century ago may be at hand. Read More…

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Katy Perry belongs on Saturday Night Live

Just keep her off of Sesame Street. If a corporation was a television show, SNL would be it. If a corporation was a pop singer, she would be it. They are made for each other.

Moreover, if a corporation were a creepy, diabolical stranger looking to snatch my kid, Katy Perry is the candy confection bait.  If I don’t teach her right, my daughter is eventually going to get lured in, grow up too fast, and become a soulless consumer automaton with the rest of them. So, not yet, I’m not done with her.  My intention is to keep the Katy Perrys away from my kids as long as possible.

Parents know that Sesame Street appeals mainly to the 1- to 4-year-old set. The show was smart to ax her act. Not only because her sunshiny yellow bustier-inspired “dress up” costume is eerily reminiscent of the getup she wore in her breakthrough “I Kissed a Girl” video, but the clunky way Sesame Street attempts to innocently impose the corporate nonsense that is the Katy Perry “package” — perky breasts, phony ingenue act (no, 25 is not the new 15!), and that skull-drilling mass produced ‘music’ that only Henry Ford would love — on its unwitting PBS audience of toddlers. My lord, we’re already victims of this corporate indoctrination everywhere else — one can’t click anywhere on the Internet or set foot in a store — not even a Safeway — without being inundated with the glossy hyper-sexed pop images, the relentless, ulcer-inducing music. Leave Sesame Street alone. It’s ours, at least it’s supposed to be. Times like these, I wish it were funded entirely by taxpayers or go off the air altogether.

We know sex sells, but the only thing Elmo &  friends are supposed to be selling are the ABCs and the 123s. I love the people who say criticizing Perry’s Elmo act is “prudish,”  that little ones don’t pay attention to boobies and Americans are just so uptight about their bodies. They have their heads so far up the hive they wouldn’t know corporate creep if it crawled up and kissed them on the mouth. This isn’t about a couple of C-cups bouncing after a furry red monster along a garish cartoon backdrop, it’s about the sexualization of everything — including the innocence of children —  to sell a brand, a lifestyle, a trend. Perry has nothing to offer Sesame Street (this is a woman who sang,  I got so brave, drink in hand/Lost my discretion/I kissed a girl and I liked it/The taste of her cherry chapstick/I kissed a girl just to try it/I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it/It felt so wrong/It felt so right) other than a bump in their viewership. And if you don’t think this was a ploy by Capitol Records to tap into the extremely lucrative sippy cup and stroller market (toddlers and their parents), you underestimate the power of celebrity and fashion on the pod people we call the buying public. Frankly, this is nothing but corporate whoring and cross branding, and I say fine, just take it to The WB or Fox and leave the babies alone. Read More…

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Babies in Incubators Redux?

There is a very odd story making the rounds in the not-so-conventional alternative media circles that I tend to move in these days.  It is somewhat reminiscent of the invented narrative in 1990 about Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators or of German soldiers using their bayonets to skewer Belgian infants back during the Great War.

The story is about that Iranian woman who apparently has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, widely reported in the US and European media.  The only problem is that almost none of the account that has appeared in the western media is true, if one believes the author Thierry Meyssan.  The woman is a murderer, having killed her husband with the aid of her lover and stoning is no longer a punishment in Iran.  I won’t bore the reader with other details, but those who are interested can read the original using the link.

I don’t know anything about Voltairenet, but it appears to be standard European lefty fare.  Thierry Meyssan is a standard terribly earnest French lefty journalist who believes the military industrial complex was behind 9/11 and that the CIA is behind just about everything else.  Nevertheless, Meyssan is a serious and respected investigative journalist on his good days and his story about the Iranian woman is one of those things that is unfortunately all too plausible.  Also it  is either broadly speaking true or not, depending on whether or not the Iranians are lying.  The problem is figuring out some way to determine what actually happened without succumbing to spin coming from the Iranian government and its various apologists.  Or the spin going the other way coming out of the American Enterprise Institute.  It would be interesting to analyze where the story came from originally and who was pushing it.

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The Vision Thing

Tucker Carson’s outfit, the Daily Caller, has been dinging National Review since late last week. First they reported on possible coordination between NR and the Republican establishment. An extremely positive NR editorial on the GOP “Pledge to America” seemed to have been coordinated with a Republican press conference. Carlson backed up the story early this week.

In addition to the two trusted sources who spoke on background to Ward, we have evidence that there was in fact coordination between National Review and Congressman Cantor’s office. We know that GOP leadership aides were aware of, and excited by, National Review’s editorial before it was published. We know that the piece was posted online just minutes prior to the start of the Wednesday evening caucus meeting, yet somehow aides were ready with copies to pass out to members. A coincidence? Please.

…There is an important debate taking place over the direction of conservatism and the future of the Republican Party – one in which Tea Party and other grassroots activists have developed an understandable distrust of the Washington-based Republicans who claim to represent them. In this case, National Review has taken sides, providing ideological cover for the party’s establishment wing at a critical moment. We think it’s worth knowing a lot more about that arrangement.

It would be shameful if House Minority Whip Eric Cantor had requested such an editorial to help get conservative backbenchers on board. But we haven’t heard anything of this kind of coordination yet. Giving a few people an important first look at an editorial is not at all uncommon or necessarily objectionable.

And the so-called “Pledge” is just campaign rhetoric, some of it admirable. But the whole is humdrum stuff signed by men who should have little credibility with movement conservatives.

This morning, Daily Caller reporter Jonathan Strong got to the heart of the matter: Is National Review too close to the GOP? Though we suspect there is a personal issue between these two outfits, Strong’s piece is worth reading.

Obviously we’re inclined to answer Strong’s question with a yes. We’ve been tough on NR for years-especially for their support of a misbegotten war in Iraq. But if you throw a dart at a group of TAC contributors, you’re likely to hit someone who has very dear feelings toward National Review as it existed during the Cold War. That affection makes it frustrating to read NR today. Instead of making the pitch for conservative ideas, they often seem satisfied to make the GOP pitch to conservative readers.

It would be easy to overpraise NR‘s founders. But in truth, they were human and often got things spectacularly wrong. I once read a James Burnham column that gave the black nationalist movement surprisingly good odds for carving out their own nation-state in North America. And we  know good people at NR today. The problem is not necessarily the candlepower in NR‘s offices – but a shrinking vision.

Buckley famously launched the ship saying, “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop.” This past summer, NR’s subscription ads read “Standing Athwart Democrats, yelling ‘Stop!'”

It’s just an ad, I said to myself, when I saw that depressing bit of copy. The problem is that it is perfectly true.

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Why Japan Kowtowed

Hubris will do it ever time.

The Chinese have just made a serious strategic blunder.

They dropped the mask and showed their scowling face to Asia, exposing how the Middle Kingdom intends to deal with smaller powers, now that she is the largest military and economic force in Asia and second largest on earth.

A fortnight ago, a Chinese trawler rammed a Japanese patrol boat in the Senkaku Islands administered by Japan but also claimed by China. Tokyo released the ship and crew, but held the captain.

His immediate return was demanded by Beijing.

Japan refused. China instantly escalated the minor incident into a major confrontation, threatening a cut off of Japan’s supply of “rare-earth” materials, essential to the production of missiles, batteries and computers.

Through predatory trading, China had killed its U.S. competitor in rare-earth materials, establishing almost a global monopoly.

The world depends on China.

Japan capitulated and released the captain.

Now Beijing has decided to rub Japan’s nose in her humiliation by demanding a full apology and compensation.

Suddenly, the world sees, no longer as through a glass darkly, the China that has emerged from a quarter century of American indulgence, patronage and tutelage since Tiananmen Square.

The Chinese tiger is all grown up, and it’s not cuddly anymore. Read More…

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Colbert Reports

The mark of brilliant parody is an inability to distinguish between the mocker and the people being mocked. And no one blurs the line quite like Stephen Colbert. Anyone familiar with Colbert and his antics know the particular quirks of his satire: bumper-slogan rhetoric mixed in a paradoxical milieu of faux xenophobia, self-belittlement, delusions of grandeur, anti-intellectualism, and patriotism. All this and more was on display during the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Immigration. And only some of it came from Colbert.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) invited Colbert to take part in the hearing on account of the comedian’s participation in the Take Our Jobs campaign sponsored by the United Farm Workers. The Comedy Central host attracted a flock of media and young people unlikely to attend a hearing sans Colbert, requiring an overflow room to house all attendees. (Which is where I watched the event, missing the committee room cutoff by two people.) I imagine reactions in the committee room are much more subdued than in overflow rooms. Laughter followed many of the more inane comments offered up by both witnesses and congressmen.

Rep. Lofgren expected decorum to deteriorate during Colbert’s speech, as evidenced by the warning she gave to the audience. But in the wilderness of the overflow room, free from gavel bangs and looks of disapproval, unfettered reactions became the norm early on. Iowa representative Steve King questioned the national-security impact of food production by comparing U.S. food production to food production by Eskimos. (Cue Studio Laughter.)

But the Helpmann winner for best committee performance goes to Judiciary Committe chairman John Conyers Jr. The congressman from Michigan opened his remarks by asking Colbert to leave, a perplexing display that was met with equally perplexed laughter. Conyers’s mumbling questioning of Dr. Carol Swain seemed equally odd. While I’m not too sure if many in the room were sympathetic to Dr. Swain’s proposal, almost all sympathized with her as she endured a barrage of incoherent babble from Conyers, who resembled a parody of a congressman as much as Colbert resembles an authentic pundit. Read More…

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Created Unequal

If you would understand why America has lost the dynamism she had in the 1950s and 1960s, consider the new Paycheck Fairness Act passed by the House 256 to 162.

The need for such a law, writes Valerie Jarrett, the ranking woman in Barack Obama’s White House, is that “working women are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.”

But why is that a concern of the U.S. government, and where is the empirical evidence that an inequality of pay between the sexes is proof of sexist hostility to women?

On average, Asians earn more than Hispanics; blacks less than whites. Mormons earn more than Muslims; Jews more than Jehovah’s Witnesses. And Polish Americans earn more than Puerto Ricans.

Does that prove America is a racist and religiously bigoted country?

The assumption of the Jarrett-backed law is that the sexes are equal in capacity, aptitude, drive and interest, and if there is a disparity in pay, only bigotry can explain it.

But are there not other, simpler answers for why women earn less?

Perhaps half of American women leave the job market during their lives, sometimes for decades, to raise children, which puts them behind men who never leave the workforce. Women gravitate to teaching, nursing, secretarial and service work, which pay less than jobs where men predominate: mining, manufacturing, construction and the military. Read More…

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Jon Basil Utley on Iraq

Over at, Scott Horton interviews The American Conservative‘s Associate Publisher Jon Basil Utley about Iraq’s Dysfunctional Democracy. Utely’s article spread through the internet, appearing on CNBC, Yahoo, and countless blogs.

Jon Basil Utley Interview (MP3)

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