Reality and Sanity

June 5, 2007

Rachel Lucas, Ranter-For-Hire

Rachel Lucas, returning from a five-year blogging hiatus makes a interesting proposition to those who would like to see her pontificate on Hollywood and DC in the middle of a lengthy blog post:

I am not stupid, and I am a greedy capitalist. So I’ll make you a deal, those of you who really want me to get back to that celeb- and politician-bashing jive: I’ll call it Buy-A-Rant. I’ve put up a Paypal button on the lower right sidebar, and since time is money, I figure for every roughly $35-40 that’s donated with a request for a political rant, I’ll give it my best effort for at least an hour. If that’s too much, that’s too dang bad. I can make that much easy doing my transcription (which doesn’t require me to think, be pissed off, or receive hate mail). The amount doesn’t all have to be from the same person, and it doesn’t have to be for a full hour. You tip me $10 and tell me what you want to hear me bitch about, and I’ll spend 15-20 minutes Googling the subject, forming an opinion, and writing a ranty post with my opinion. I type pretty fast, ya know. I’m just trying to say that I need to maximize my free time, and I can’t justify spending precious minutes or hours investigating a subject I wouldn’t be interested in all on my own, for no payoff other than making someone else happy. I hope that makes sense. I have to get something out of it, too, and if that makes me a greedy jerk, I really don’t care. Would you perform for free? I think not. Hmph.

I just may throw her some cash because her rants are knee-slapping hilarious. Which is why I’ve added her to my blogroll today.

All that’s left is for me to pick the subject (anything that will get the venom going) and ask that she allow me to post her entire rant here also. Heh.

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June 27, 2006

Campaign Finance Reform Follies

The NY Times comes out in favor for campaign contribution limits, applauding the Supreme Courts decison to leave intact Vermont’s tiny thresholds intact: Campaign Finance Reform Survives.

The Supreme Court struck down Vermont’s reform-oriented campaign finance system yesterday. But more important was what it did not do. The court, ruling on the issue for the first time since the arrival of two new justices, declined to overturn 30 years of precedents upholding limits on campaign contributions. That makes the decision a setback for the anti-reform forces who want to open the spigots for corporate and special-interest money to flood into American politics.

Open the spigots for corporate and special-interest money to flood into American politics?

You’d think these guys have never heard of 527s, MoveOn.org or George Soros.

The decision striking down Vermont’s system was not unexpected. Vermont’s limits were the lowest in the nation — an individual could give just $400 to a candidate for governor or $200 to a candidate for state representative. Even some strong supporters of campaign finance laws worry that such low limits stack the deck in favor of well-known incumbents.

Hah. McCain-Feingold does that now, which is why I have long called it The Incumbency Protection Act.

Another part of Vermont’s law restricted how much candidates could spend, an approach that had already been struck down in Buckley.

Big-money interests that are challenging campaign contribution limits may be heartened by the fact that one state’s attempt to reform its campaign finance system has been rejected. But taken as a whole, the ruling is a strong reaffirmation of the principle that the Constitution permits reasonable limits designed to prevent what the court has called “corruption and the appearance of corruption.”

Actually, there is a far simpler way to handle “corruption and the appearance of corruption” in political donations. First, do away with all limits on contributions; anybody can give as much as they want, with this caveat: all donations recieved must be made public. All candidates for any office throughout the land must reveal the identity of the donor and the amount of cash involved. Everyone would know who gave what to whom, and voters could easily see any campaign awash in “corruption and the appearance of corruption.”

June 25, 2006

Why Hugh Hewitt is The Comissioner

Up on the MSNBC/Newsweek website: The Right: The Next Big Thing?Smaller headline: Conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt marries the power of talk radio with the reach of the ‘netroots.’ Watch out, Kos.

On July 4, Salem Communications, one of the country’s largest radio-station owners, will relaunch an old Web war horse called Townhall.com as a hub for its stable of stars (including Bill Bennett, Michael Medved and Hewitt himself). The hope? That “Web 2.0” wherewithal can transform what was once an op-ed clearinghouse into a single nerve center serving the separate conservative communities of talk radio and the Internet. To Hewitt, a valuable White House ally, the math is simple: add 6 million Salem fans to Townhall’s 1.4 million unique monthly visitors and you’ve got an audience six or seven times the size of liberal site Daily Kos, the Web’s biggest political blog. “We will overwhelm them,” he says…

…Should Dems be alarmed? “Absolutely,” says Hewitt. “Unless they don’t mind political exile.” Not everyone is so sure. “Kos can’t be duplicated,” says Salon.com blogwatcher Peter Daou.

Why would we want to duplicate the antics of the Krazy Kos Kidz? As Hugh says,

It’s not about getting people angry, it’s about being effective.

And we haven’t even started yet.

(Hat tip: Scott Johnson at Powerline)

June 17, 2006

Clueless Chicks

Just read this Dixie Chicks fawning puff piece that Drudge linked from the UK Telegraph: How the Chicks survived their scrap with Bush. What I find even more humorous is that the writer is more clueless than the Chicks are.

When Maines made her comment on March 10 2003, 10 days before Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed "shock and awe" over Baghdad, the Dixie Chicks were probably the biggest act in country music. Yet within days, their music vanished from the charts and the airwaves, apoplectic rednecks crushed piles of their CDs with tractors, and the FBI was feverishly monitoring death threats against the trio. It was the most heinous pop-star outrage since Ozzy Osbourne urinated on the Alamo."The reaction was as if Natalie had said 'Death to the President' or something," says violinist and vocalist Maguire.

"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."

Wow. Invoking McCarthy. That's the mark of a mooonbat.

The following paragraphs are submitted without comment, with key statements bolded. You make the call:

The level of debate can be gauged from the way Maines was compared to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, who was photographed manning a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun at the height of the Vietnam war.The Chicks can't hide their disgust at the lack of support they received from other country performers. "A lot of artists cashed in on being against what we said or what we stood for because that was promoting their career, which was a horrible thing to do," says Robison.

"A lot of pandering started going on, and you'd see soldiers and the American flag in every video. It became a sickening display of ultra-patriotism."

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

There can be no rational explanation of how Maines's remark came to drive a red-hot poker into America's divided soul, but it's only now that some of the poison has begun to dissipate.

Update: Others on Blogsville Right weigh in on this nonsense.

The post title at Hillbilly White Trash says it all: How stupid can these people get?
Little Green Footballs:

That may win [Natalie Maines] some fans at Daily Kos, but I doubt it will go over well with the country music audience.

The lovely and articulate Michelle Malkin has links and photos "to turn Natalie Maines stomach."

The Coalition of the Swilling also saw the McCarthy invoke:

Yes, it always comes back to McCarthy and Vietnam, that one-two combination of leftist martyrdom. Oh, I am called to task for a stupid comment! I'm being repressed! McCarthy! How dare people not buy my music because they think I'm an ass…

California Conservative suggests Maines "should hit the books, instead of just glossy magazines."

Layla at Freedom Watch thinks the Chicks should follow Johnny Depp's example.

The Bullwinkle Blog:

I guess if you hate America supporting our soldiers and exhibiting any love for your country at all is sickening. They should try telling Canadians how much their country sucks and see how ticket sales go up there. Then try it in France. They’ll rearrange their rioting schedule to burn your car. You too, if they can work it in.

Blue Crab Boulevard:

My guess is [Maines] just injected a new dose of poison into the whole situation. And this whole interview sums up exactly why, "the company was concerned about their commercial future".

Oh, and you don't have to question her patriotism anymore. She has none.

Below the Beltway, in a post titled "Another Stupid Career Move," makes a point I've made about the Chicks in the past, that they have First Amendment rights and "are entitled to their opinions about President Bush and the war, but they better not start complaining that people don’t like them again" after making their 'patriotic dissent' statements:

Well, Natalie, perhaps people care about patriotism because they love the fact that they live in a country where people are free to make stupid statements like yours without fear of the secret police taking them away in the middle of the night.

QandO says

As one wag described Maines' statement, it displays "all the political cunning of Homer Simpson".

Finally, WISN Early Spin Blog asks the question inquiring minds want to know:

By the way ladies, how’s the tour coming along?

Heh-heh-heh.

Update II: Bryan Preston writes what could be their mainstream popularity epitath:

I can say I knew them when…when the Dixie Chicks were a red-hot bluegrass band that kept their idiot opinions to themselves. Now–they’re dead to me.

Welcome to "All Songs Considered," ladies.

Update III: I should have known the FReepers are all over this. Best reply so far to Maines "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

Arlington National Cemetary

These folks may have the answer to [your] question.

June 10, 2006

The Coulter Phenomenon

La Shawn Barber has the best analysis of Coultershock, updating the original post with the help of some of her commenters:

Ann says one thing liberals and some conservatives don’t like, and suddenly her photo’s plastered on front pages, her name is uttered on cable news shows all day long, and the blogosphere is buzzing off the…“blogometer” or whatever you’d call it.Don’t you people understand that she calculates these things? Ever go fishing? Fish are really stupid. They see the dangling bait and go for it. Then they get hooked and reeled it. You’d think fish would have “evolved” and figured out what’s going on. After all these years, their generational axiom should be, “Don’t go near the scrumptious-looking worm if he has a string coming out of his head.”

You’d think humans would have evolved the same way. Ann Coulter throws out the bait, and just like the silly fish, the haters bite it. It happens every time. She knows exactly how to rile people up, and it’s no coincidence that she said something “controversial” on network TV this close to publication. It’s Coulter-Shtick, and I’m probably in the minority of the conservative and Republican blogosphere when I say this: I like it.

On the "9/11 Widows" comment, after posting the entire exchange with Matt Lauer in context:

It’s important to note that Ann was referring to a “particular” group of 9-11 widows who made commercials for John Kerry and used their husbands’ deaths as a political statement, not women who’ve lost their husbands in war in general.It’s also important to understand this: Liberals denouncing Ann’s remarks don’t care about the widows; they just don’t like Ann. Any reasonable person can see that. While many of us wouldn’t go out of our way to insult widows, they are not untouchables. If we respond critically to something they say publicly, there is nothing indecent or awful about it.

A point of clarification before I go on. I refused to join the conservative “Get Cindy Sheehan” bandwagon because it was boring and because I believe the woman was whacked out with grief and anger. I also believe she used her son’s death for personal gain and to make a political statement. When people cross over into this realm, they’re fair game. [Ed. – Emphasis mine]

Which is why I made this post earlier today; the 9/11 widows who did just that are fair game. If I were to use someone dear that I lost to amass a fortune and change the course of political debate, it would be perfectly within the Left's rights to take shots at my arguments. The beauty of the First Amendment is that each of us has the right to express our views, like the "9/11 Widows for Kerry" did publicly. It also gives everyone else the right to rip those views. Just because someone suffers a personal tragedy does not exclude that person from public criticism if they take a public political high-profile position based on that tragedy, which is Coulter's point.

Update: Dafydd at Big Lizards has an even better defense of Coulter, backed up with examples and great analysis:

"The infallibility of grief" is used to silence opposition by exploiting basic human decency.

Among con artists, there are two kinds: those who exploit human greed by tricking their marks into thinking they can con someone else (like the "dead millionaire Nigerian dicatator" spam) — and those who exploit human pity by pretending to some tragedy that causes the decent to want to help them out (the classic "my rented baby is hungry, can you give me $5 for some baby food?" scam).

The latter are much more repulsive; if a greedy guy thinks he's scamming someone else and gets fleeced himself, who cares? He got what was coming to him. But to rip someone off by attacking his empathy and goodness not only punishes the victim for his goodness, it also makes him cynical — and makes it that much harder for people who really are in trouble to get help. Once bitten, twice shy.

But those who practice the infallibility of grief scam are even worse:

  • They affect the much larger arena of public policy via irrational appeals to emotion;
  • They twist tragedy for their own ends;
  • They pervert the deaths of their own loved ones (recall the funeral of Sen. Paul Wellstone);
  • And they create backlashes against those who really have suffered great tragedy, but have chosen not to use grief as a weapon… a backlash that is itself exploited by the "griefarazzi" as a weapon against the Right.

Coulter argues — and I completely agree — that by using their grief as a club to batter their opponents into silence, they have willfully and irrevocably forfeited the right ever again to use it as a shield.

 Do I need to tell you to read the whole post?

June 9, 2006

Expressions of Realism

Filed under: The First Amendment Applies to Everyone — Paul @ 5:48 pm

Mitch Berg at Shot in the Dark (a daily read), a guy who I respect greatly for his radio show, his conservative and small-l libertarian views and his guitar playing, smacks the unhinged for unpatriotic views while defending their rights to express those views:

Whomever you are, say what you want. And call yourself what you want.

But if you think that America, and its efforts in the Middle East, are worse than a dictatorship that murdered hundreds of thousands of people (in abeyance of all evidence to the contrary), then yes – you are unpatriotic.

If you actively root for the enemy to win – with full knowledge of what “the enemy”, with his ritual murders and burial alive of enemies and his testing of chemical weapons on civilian villages, represents – then yes, you are unamerican.

If you compare Zarquawi to Christ – as did a caller of Medved’s – then yes, you should leave this country. No, I won’t force you to; won’t even mention it again. But you obviously should be in a country where black is white and evil is good (and, naturally, if you think good is evil and black is white in America, then what are you doing here, anyway? This country has not been favorable to your ilk since we declared slavery immoral)

If you think – and I know many of you do – that the head-sawers who hide among civilians and blow up children in the streets are “freedom fighters” against a US that is no better than the Nazis in any particular, then yes, you should not live in this nation. You should leave. You should not wrap yourself in anything the American flag represents. I don’t care where – or if – you go. But I’ll ask you – why are you here?

Just think: thousands of American soldiers died over the past 230 years so that people can make asinine denouncing comments about the country that gives them that right on air, in print and posted in cyberspace.

I defend Mitch’s right to rip the unhinged denouncers for those views; that’s why the category this post is in is called “The First Amendment Applies to Everyone.” People have free speech rights; others have the right to tune them out or criticize their views if there is no agreement.

May 29, 2006

The Nuge Turns Yet Another Interviewer Inside Out

Betsy Newmark comments on an interview of intense, insanely-talented guitarist and Second Amendment supporter Ted Nugent. The exchanges between Ted and the writer are classic Nuge vs. pacifist, served up like fresh killed-n-grilled meat. Some of the choice cuts:

We sit down to coffee, eggs and grits. Ted is 6ft 3in; to get a sense of his general demeanour you could do worse than imagine the body of John Wayne possessed by the spirit of Ian Paisley in one of his less conciliatory moods. He launches into a fevered monologue about how much safer Britain would be with more guns on its streets.

“Never has there been such an upsurge in crime since they confiscated all your weapons. Why don’t you arm yourselves? You Limeys have a zipper that’s locked in the closed position, because you don’t have a constitution. You’re rewarded for shutting the f**k up.”

[…]

British police who don’t want to carry firearms are, Nugent says, “out of their minds. I say if somebody robs you, shoot ’em. I’d like all thieves killed. And all rapists. And carjackers. No more graffiti. No more…” – this next phrase is a Spoonerism, rather than some Texan term for gross indecency – “snatch-pursing.”

“For an unarmed force,” I suggest, “the British police have shot quite a few people. Did you hear about Jean Charles de Menezes?”

“That was horrible. An American cop would have just beat the s**t out of him.”

[…]

“This would be a far safer country without weapons, and you know it.” “And there’d be fewer drownings if we got rid of lakes. There will be accidents! Leave me alone!”

Oooooh, do we see some temptation here?

He teaches me how to shoot an AK-47, and I have to admit that firing a fully automatic machine gun at a target is fun.

On deer hunting:

“What do these deer think when they see you coming?” I ask him. “Here comes the nice guy who puts out our dinner? Or, there’s the man that shot my brother?”

“I don’t think they’re capable of either of those thoughts, you Limey a**hole. They’re only interested in three things: the best place to eat, having sex and how quickly they can run away. Much like the French.”

Describing a compliment on Ted’s playing after appearing on stage with the Lourdes to support the Supremes at Detroit’s Cobo Hall:

This was the night, Nugent recalls, when he received “the pivotal confirmation of my musical touch and my life overall. The mighty funk brother God of Thunder [Benny Benjamin, drummer for Motown house band The Funk Brothers] told me: ‘Boy, keep playing like that and you’z gonna be a n*****r when ya grows up.'”

This is vintage Nuge. In fact, his website has a collection of interviews and news clips that he displays like trophy kills. Here’s my personal favorite.

Back to the writer, who makes this interesting observation:

I’m not sure that I’ve ever met anybody whose opinions and instincts are more directly opposed to my own. And yet, in some odd way, I find Ted Nugent impossible to dislike: I think because I consider him to be a psychotic – by the classic definition that he does not perceive the world as others do.

This is why I’ve found the Nuge to be so fascinating; especially since I made the switch from liberal to conservative. He has his own worldview built on uncompromising principles that horrify elitist liberals. Such a spectacle is always entertaining for me.

May 27, 2006

Bloggers are “Real” Journalists

Filed under: The First Amendment Applies to Everyone — Paul @ 6:55 pm

According to a California appeals court. Patterico has details and links.

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