What I learned from The Corner today…

Warning: All links are to Kathryn-Jean’s Bedsit of Solitude.

Maggie Gallagher thinks Ron Paul is an evil supporter of gay incest, but she would quite like to be the fourth Mrs Gingrich when Callista gets cancer or wrinkles or otherwise wears out her welcome.

Rudolph Giuliani quite likes Newt, because Newt has consistently acted like a suppurating arsehole, just like Rudy and the sainted Ronnie.

Christopher Hitchens is going to be royally pissed off when he gets to heaven and finds out just how wrong he was.

The Iowa debate was a sexy conserva-love-in where all the candidates did a naked liturgical dance and rubbed up against each other while shouting “Obama is the suxxors”.

Bono may be an enormous tosser, but conservatives who write about U2 wank so hard they take off several layers of skin:

Still, I submit that the songs of U2 betray a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order that is undeniably conservative.

Santorum and Bachmann would be winning if only people didn’t have to listen to them or see them:

If we were to read transcripts of the debate and not watch or listen to TV, both would be at or near the top.

Christmas Parties

This year I’m breaking down my Christmas hate into bite-sized morsels. Today’s topic: Christmas parties. I don’t mind them, generally, if they’re held at a nice place with good food and drink. I don’t even mind an office potluck if it’s during work hours, since you’re eating and playing hooky, both of which are pleasurable activities. But you’re getting into “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” territory when you have an office party after work hours that’s a potluck, especially when it’s at someone’s house, as a friend is attending tonight.

What the fuck is wrong with people? If you can’t afford a Christmas party and can’t take time off during work to have a potluck, just don’t have a goddam Christmas party. It’s not that complicated. Your company will survive without one more bout of work-related enforced merriment.

Paul and the Evangelicals

There’s a blogfight going on between Kevin Drum and he-who-shall-not-be-named about the kind of press attention Ron Paul ought to be getting. The basic argument Drum makes to support the notion that it’s OK to treat Paul like someone who can’t win is pretty sensible:

Given the fact that Paul has always had a dedicated band of fanatic supporters willing to give him money and organize support for him, but at the same time has never in his life managed to gain even double-digit support nationally, this is actually perfectly rational. Ron Paul isn’t going to win the GOP nomination, and if he manages to pull out some kind of freak victory in a small state with a weird nominating process, well, it’s just a freak victory.

Here’s my question, though: who else is going to take the Evangelical votes now that Newt is crashing? We know that the flock of nervous birds that makes up the Republican primary electorate won’t land on the same candidate twice, and as those Pew numbers show, evangelical Christians don’t consider Mormons one of them. So it’s anyone but Romney for them, but the major God botherers–Perry, Cain and Bachmann–have already been tasted and spat out. They’re not even willing to countenance a mouthful of Santorum, so that leaves Ron Paul, MD, FACOG.

It isn’t mentioned much, but unlike a lot of his libertarian brethren, Paul is as comfortable with Jesus as he is the Gold Standard. He’s also a staunch anti-abortionist, a good solid family man, and he comes off as authentically honest. If the anti-Mormon voters were willing to flirt with a serial philanderer like Newt, shouldn’t Paul at least get a few days of attention before they figure out that he’s unelectable, too?

“The Myth of the Middle”

Via Greg Sargent, Mark Schmitt at Democracy Journal intelligently eviscerates the threadbare whinging of “centrists” in general, and the Fonzi of Freedom’s new book in particular:

The last three years have brought the dysfunction of the political system into sharp relief, and, not surprisingly, the fantasy third parties and independent candidates-to-be-named-later have sprouted like mushrooms after a rainstorm. There’s No Labels, an organization that promises to recast American politics without partisanship. There’s Americans Elect, which seeks to secure a ballot line in as many states as possible and then use the Internet to nominate a presidential candidate to occupy it. The books have just started to appear, with The Declaration of Independents by the libertarians Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie the first of them. But just as in previous years, actual candidates willing to play the role of savior are scarce on the ground…
The refreshing thing about this year’s first entry in the category of books promising political independence is that it breaks the first of the rules: Its authors, both of Reason magazine (Gillespie edited it from 2000-2008; Welch is the current editor), are not successful lobbyists or political consultants. Welch and Gillespie “declare independence not just within politics, but from the politics.” Unlike the careerists of Americans Elect, they don’t much like politics, and it shows. Their purpose is to make politics small enough that we don’t have to give much thought to it, and can return to “the pursuit of happiness” through loose, decentralized activity, which is their real topic. Early on in their book, for example, we’re treated to a well-executed ten pages about the Velvet Underground and its influence on Czech dissidents in the 1980s—a fascinating subject, but one only tangentially related to American politics in 2011. (A later digression about the characters in a 1988 video game called Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf is hilariously even less relevant.)…
Libertarians do have what Americans Elect can only dream of—a ballot line. The Libertarian Party’s presidential ticket generally appears on the ballots of 45 to 50 states. But Welch and Gillespie mention the party only twice, in passing, with no explanation of why they don’t see it as a vehicle for their independence. While the book promises an optimistic alternative vision of politics, in form it adopts the conventional argument for the mystical independent or third-party candidate. That starts with the Friedmanesque litany of “Amazon, iPod, drugstore.com,” but Welch and Gillespie extend that riff into the bulk of the book, with only minimal effort to connect it to politics. These chapters are mostly interesting case studies in various businesses or individuals who broke down established structures through individual initiative—free-agent statistical blogger Nate Silver, Southwest Airlines, microbreweries. These anecdotes have their own shortcomings—very few people have the nerve, genius, and luck to be Nate Silver, and the microbreweries struggle daily against the price-setting power of the two multinationals that control four-fifths of the American beer market. And here’s where the implied analogy to politics shatters: If you start a microbrewery that gains 1 percent of the U.S. beer market, you’ll become fabulously wealthy, but if you start a political party that gets 1 percent of the vote, you are, even in the best-case scenario, Ralph Nader. In 1996.

(Of course, a rude reviewer might wonder if Gillespie & Welch are not “successful lobbyists or political consultants” the same way Willard Romney is not “a professional politician” — it’s not that they’re too pure for the task, just that nobody’s been willing to pay for their talents.)

But do go read the whole thing; because Schmitt’s assembled his assault on flabby centrist thinking so tightly, it’s really hard to do justice by excerpt.

Open Thread: We Had A Good Run, While It Lasted…

Because I’m in a maudlin mood, and two hours is about as long as the general commentariat should be expected to keep our language clean and our shoes on, I share. Charlie Pierce at Esquire, on the Ryan-Wyden “compromise“:

In the rush of holiday preparation, it may have escaped your notice that this is National Sellout Day, when we celebrate the arrival of baby Jesus into this world so that the Magi can show up at the stable, pay him homage, present him with gifts, and then peddle his location to Herod for 25 denarii and a bucket of oats for the camels.
The Democratic party certainly has gone to great lengths to remind us what day it is. They have made great preparation. They have cooked the goose (their own, naturellement, and ours) and placed it on the table in the traditional manner, with a knife stuck in its back. They have rehearsed all the traditional holiday songs, including Ploys to the World, Hark the Deceitful Scumbags Sing, and Angles We Have Played on High. They have filled the wassail bowl to overflowing with the customary holiday libation, Hot Mulled Blood of Constituent. And later, we will all gather around the fire while our party elders read the famous story. I particularly like the part at the end when Scrooge realizes that reformation has its limits and sells the Cratchit children into indentured servitude so that the other men of the Exchange won’t think him weak, or mired in the past.
Oh, they have made a day of it. First, the pillars of Jell-O in the Senate roll over on the itty-bitty surtax they wanted to lay on the plutocrats to pay for a payroll tax cut for the rest of us. Then, the president announces that he’s not going to veto after all the bill in which 400 years of Western jurisprudence is pretty much torn to ribbons and tossed to the wind, albeit slightly less deeply into the wind than the original monstrosity would have liked. And, finally, Ron Wyden of Oregon steps forward to give cover to zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan’s latest attempt to “reform” Medicare in the same way that Arthur (Bomber) Harris “reformed” the building codes in Dresden. It’s a Very Special Holiday Episode of the long-running hit comedy, Ah, Who Gives a Fk Anyway?…

RIP, Christopher Hitchens

This just sucks:

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

The world has one less interesting person. He did it his way.

And I am not going to tolerate your ugly corpse-kicking bullshit in this thread. If you have nothing nice to say, just move along. I’ll delete and ban anyone who can’t follow those simple instructions.

The Whole Fucking Thing is Surreal

I just can’t imagine any one of those clowns on stage becoming President, but I know they have a solid chance if they win the nomination. It’s enough to make me start investing in goats and generators.

Surely this has to be a lowpoint in the American experiment.