Thursday, May 28, 2009

Remember 'transparency'?

Two Kens call on Obama and Pelosi to "come clean". Excerpt:

With both President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, we see the dangers of reckless actions. When the president released those memos, he clearly did not anticipate the widespread outrage that release would generate. Nor did he anticipate the public reemergence of a vice president who is also a former Defense Secretary, and ex-White House chief of staff, a top-notch national security expert and one of the most articulate speakers on the topic.

Likewise, when Speaker Pelosi satisfied her liberal base by vilifying the noble men and women who work to keep America safe at the CIA, she did not anticipate that Leon Panetta, a former fellow Democratic congressman from California and an Obama appointee, would hold a press conference to declare that his officers were telling the truth. Speaker Pelosi hardly expected one of her own colleagues would expose her statements as untrue.

Both Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi promised transparency. We are now only seeing half of the facts on these two important scandals. It’s time for them to provide the whole truth.

The idea that Pelosi was totally against everything which was going on with interrogation is ludicrous. She has overplayed this hand. This truly may be part of Obama's play to get rid of her and replace her with someone as dumb as Joe Biden.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prager's American Trinity

Shticks and Shtones

Oh, well, the bigger the tent, the better the food fights. Rod Dreher attacked Mark Levin for jokingly suggesting a female caller's husband should off himself. He could have just given his opinion that Levin was way out of line and left it at that. But he called him a creep and a cretin and that got all the Levinian's riled up. So far the incident has provided some pretty funny material, which I'll link to in a moment.

But first I have to state my opinion on the original material that started this. Rod's mistake is that he doesn't realize that this is all about taste in humor. Yelling at callers and at the world in general is Levin's shtick. It's hyperbolic, it's vitriolic and it's jarring when you here it for the first time. Granted, it's not always funny, but IMHO Sam Kinison isn't always funny either. Of course someone might disagree and think that Kinison is hilarious 100% of the time, and that would serve to prove my point. There's no accounting for taste. Take, for example, one of Rod's blog entries from last summer. Here's an excerpt:

Later, I said goodnight to Julie and the kids and went downtown to meet and have dinner with my Beliefnet colleague, Beltway man of mystery David Kuo. I've thought about this, and I believe I can say confidently that if our wives ever tired of us, I would gay-marry that David Kuo. He had me at "cassoulet." We started our conversation talking about our shared love of cooking, and I asked him what he liked to cook. He said autumnal dishes, like cassoulet. He didn't know that I'm such a cassoulet fanatic that I once stopped in Paris on a trip back from the Middle East, just to eat good cassoulet. David and I had a great time over dinner, talking about food, travel, conservative politics and Jesus. We also had a fantastic bottle of Italian wine, a 2004 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which was really one of the more memorable bottles I've ever enjoyed.

This is an example of Rod's sense of humor, at least I'm pretty sure it is. If someone suggested that this represented a statement of intention to commit an immoral act, I would tell him to lighten up, he's obviously joking. I've been reading Rod's stuff for years and I know the contextual landscape. I know the pretextual landscape as well, but that's another story.

But if you don't find his hyperbole about marrying David funny then I'm with you. I just don't get his sense of humor. Another case in point. In an earlier paragraph in that piece he muses aloud about how if Erin Manning got her own blog she wouldn't be able to fill in for him. But Manning does have her own blog. The punchline seems to be delivered in an ultra-serious tone; maybe it's just really dry humor—I can't hear the wink, I guess. Or maybe it's an inside joke? Perhaps he means a blog on Beliefnet where they'd force her to generate hits for their media factory farm.

OK, on to the links which my friend J-Carp was good enough to email me. Here's the Robert McCain "letter". Excerpt:

Chief among the choirboys of niceness is Rod Dreher, the former National Review staffer, Dallas Morning News columnist and BeliefNet blogger. In his 2006 book Crunchy Cons, Dreher accused the "conservative mainstream" of believing that "accumulating wealth and power is…the point of life," and further declared, "The tragic flaw of Western economics is that it is based on exploiting and encouraging greed and envy."

Lately, Dreher has endlessly whined about talk-radio personalities he considers uncouth lowbrows. In March, Dreher said that Limbaugh's speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference "made clear that the GOP and the conservative movement are stuck on stupid." In April, Dreher said Glenn Beck was "giving crackpots a bad name." Then Friday, Dreher called Mark Levin a "cretin," a "creep" and a "trashmouth."

McCain—who blogs here, BTW—goes on to list Levin's impressive credentials. But here's the meat of it:

"Turn the other cheek" is an excellent moral principle, but it doesn't work in politics any better than it works in saloon brawls. When Democrats were encouraging their friends at MSNBC to describe conservatives attending Tea Party rallies as "teabaggers" — a term borrowed from gay-porn vernacular — where were Dreher's complaints about incivility? And if Dreher considers "trashmouth" to be a mortal sin, why isn't he throwing stones at Rahm Emanuel, who unloads f-bomb barrages as remorselessly as the RAF pounded Dresden?

I'll explain this one to McCain regarding the Tea Parties. Rod doesn't like this kind of thing because all it pertains to is money and greed in his mind.

Well I hope you don't think Robert S. McCain was rough on ol' Rod because we're about to look at Dan Riehl's stuff. First one.

I've known many brilliant men. Mark is one. Amazingly, he is also gifted with the ability to entertain a large and growing audience, as witnessed by his ratings. And his and other radio talk shows are, after all, infotainment, in a very real sense. Post-Howard Stern, should society determine that anything Mark Levin has ever said on the air should be out of bounds? Really?

But given Mark's long list of significant accomplishments Dreher seems to want to ignore, only some of which are listed above, and Mark's well-known contributions to the conservative movement ... I'm simply left asking myself, who is this fellow Rod Dreher? What is it, really, that he has done, accomplished, or contributed, which gives him license to take some few comments he, or others might not like, and dismiss Levin as just some virulent gasbag the Right should shun?

When Dreher can answer that question to my satisfaction, perhaps I'll consider viewing his grousing as something more than a small fish with an even smaller stickleback up his butt carping up a food chain I doubt he'll ever climb.

Finally, having read at least a bit of Dreher over the years, how his regular readers keep from putting guns to their temples, I'll never know.

It is a good point. Of course, in order for Rod to make a substantive contribution to the conservative movement he'll probably have to recognize that it's bigger than his quirky tastes and preferences. Then he won't pick out the specks in the eyes of the Levin's of the world.

Here's Riehl's next piece, in which he answers Dreher and Conor-with-one-N Dorf. Excerpt:

Moving on to Mark's humorous comment that a woman's husband put a pistol to his head, Conor shows himself as capable of extreme prudishness, as is Dreher.

As I wrote before, “That isn’t merely beneath a gentleman. It is the kind of thing that a decent man doesn’t say to a woman, under any circumstances. Awful as it is on the page, it came across even worse on the air, hearing the hateful, angry inflections. Forget the fact that this isn’t the way forward for the conservative movement — this just isn’t the way any person should behave.”

That Mark is somehow laying out the way forward for the conservative movement in this entertainment-based shtick, or portion of his show Conor references is an absurdity. That's especially so given that Mark has repeatedly offered so much substance and insight to the conservative movement going forward, both in the many substantive portions of his show, as well as in his books and other writings. It appears as though Conor is reduced to looking for a straw-man here to attack by suggesting it.

BTW, read the comments for these posts. Riehl's commenters are among the best in the blogosphere.

As to how a person should behave, especially in the context of entertainment today, I wonder if Conor doesn't need to get out a bit more, out of the salon, anyway. Recently Obama was caught cackling as a D-list comedienne joked about Rush Limbaugh's kidneys shutting down, also finding humor in Limbaugh's previous addiction issue, from which he has since recovered.

That event was hosted by the White House Press Corp. Conor might want to consider an occupation other than journalism given what association with such types of people might do to his reputation.

The standard reply to this is "Oh, so other people do it; that makes it all right?" But that's what journalism is, guys, giving as fair and equal coverage to all sides. Journalistic bias, simply put, is covering the sins and foibles of one side more than the other. If you want to portray someone badly you don't have to lie, just be very selective and take quotes out of context.

Here's the third installment, featuring Levin's reply which is highly readable and funny. Levin is a much better writer than a talker, IMHO, and I'm sorry, but it's too entertaining.

Every now and then I have to lower myself to deal with the undeveloped minds of kooks like Rod Dreher. I don't know Dreher and as best I can tell, most nobody does. He has a column for a Dallas newspaper and created his own blog site, from where he writes love letters to himself and wonders why his brilliance is lost on the multitudes (while, of course, claiming to represent them and speak for them).

Rod learned of me, he says, from his friend Conor Friedersdorf. Honestly, who is Conor Friedersdorf? Well, after about 90 seconds of googling, I found out that Conor is (or was) a journalist and is (or was) a student and he blogs too. So, it appears that Rod and Connor are cyberspace pen pals of a sort.

Love letters to himself, LOL. Next, Levin tackles Rod's famous "Benedict option".

I think "the Benedict Option" would be good for Rod. Will he be blogging from Drehertown? Will Drehertown segregate itself from the Internet and talk radio, so as not to be polluted by the rest of us? Now, this will have broad appeal with the American people, don't you think? This is the way back for the GOP and conservatism -- "the Benedict Option." Rod is a self-deluded kook. He is also thin-skinned, like so many of the kooks with God-complexes and a keyboard.

As I study the genius that is Rod and the wisdom of his words in his post about me, I am stunned that a leader of our party and our movement such as Rod would lower himself to use such shock-jock language as "shrill crackpot," a "cretin," and a "creep." Come now, Rod, we need to raise the level of debate if we are to take back power.

That's good meat, baby. Throw it into the cassoulet, will ya, honey?

And while Rod represents the future of conservatism (just ask him), he doesn't understand my appeal. I mean, he listened to 15 minutes of my radio show and he just doesn't get it. No, Rod doesn't get it and he never will. He's just not that smart or interesting. Rod says he knows I have a "huge best selling book" but he doesn't know why. Of course, he gives no indication of ever having read it. Rod is supposedly unaware that for many years we posted articles and comments on the same website ( So, a geek who spends most of his days and nights on the Internet doesn't know I am a contributing editor to National Review? Oh the pain of it all.

Now, if I might, on to David Frum. What does Frum have to do with any of this, you ask? David has never recovered from my drubbing him on my radio show, or should I say the drubbing he gave himself. He immediately went crying to Newsweek, MSNBC, various broadcast networks, etc., to complain about the low state of conservatism. If only the rest of us would embrace the "true reformers" (you know, in addition to Frum, David Brooks and Ross Douthat, among others), we would be so much the better. Dare I say if they were intellectually coherent and consistent, not to mention principled, it might be easier to understand them. But they are, with a few exceptions, ineffective lightweights who shoot spitballs at conservatives from the backbenches. This is precisely why the media promote them during their little hissy fits.

Well, David happened upon Rod's post about me and, of course, he was deeply disturbed by my exchange with the caller. Now, this would be the same David Frum who hawks himself and his irrelevant books (yes, another unsuccessful author by another of our leader wanna-bes) on Bill Maher's show and the Daily Show. Somehow David has a high tolerance level for the endless vulgarity and ridicule these hosts viciously and personally unleash against prominent conservatives and Republicans. So, too, do liberals and Democrats. With Maher's and Stewart's "f" bombs falling all around him, David enjoys the attention he so craves but does not get from conservatives. And this character flaw is only part of the reason why David is so contemptible. He is a self-serving hypocrite who seeks not the advancement of conservatism but himself.

Levin chimes in later in the comments along with Conor-with-one-N and basically takes him to the woodshed.

One of my readers, it is worth noting, sent me Levin's take down of Frum on his show in an email. The subject of the email was "Is David Frum a Crunchy Con?" Insightful. It's also worth noting that in that discussion, Levin was calm and collected and Frum sounded hysterical and unable to get his point across.

Here's Riehl's final post, so far, where he brings up that incident which had us shaking our heads awhile back.

Conor. What's worse? A silly joke at the expense of a caller into a radio show, or trading on a friendship that brings serious disappointment from said friend and attempting to exploit the dead? I can hardly wait to read your disposition on Dreher for such repulsive behavior. Clearly we can't have people like that as leaders of some new Conservative way, with or without granola, now can we?

The second consists of Rod Dreher's postings over at Beliefnet. Again, if you're interested and want to read a reasonable response, Alan Jacobs has taken on the burden. My own reaction is much like Alan's: The duties we owe to the dead are different from the duties we owe to the living; if you're going to attack someone with a personal story, you need to do it while they are alive. I made a parallel point about parents last year, in a long essay called "The Judgment of Memory," which may be worth quoting....

Rod and I were friends, I thought, or, at least, we spent some fun days together in Rome once. But then, a while ago, he used me as an occasion for an unpleasant column he wrote attacking Scooter Libby. I guess I should have understood, and, no doubt, he felt it all strongly. But, in truth, that cashing in of a friendship for the sake of scoring a transient political point was as painful an experience as I've had in public life, and Rod Dreher's eagerness to do it weakened my ability to trust the kind of points he now wants to score by cashing in on his acquaintance with Fr. Neuhaus.

This is probably going to on for some time—I just noticed that there's a new Levin Guest post on Riehl Word View pwning Frum again—and I don't claim to be able to judge how healthy it is for conservatism. However I know why they are doing it: it's easy! And pretty funny too. If you have time to kill, go through the comments. There are some real gems in there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's on my mind....

I was just over on barf-net and a pop-up ad popped up at me which stated "What's Susan Sarandon's secret to looking so young?" And I immediately thought, "Oh, I don't know... maybe eating dead babies or something?" But I don't know if that's true; it was just a guess.