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September 08, 2008

Political Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Paul Farrell declares that the U.S. has a "war economy," and tries to figure out why we put up with it.

* Charles Whelan explains some of the reasons why GWBush isn't a conservative. Nice line: "We're spending like drunken sailors, but we're not even getting the hookers and booze."

* Libertarian Robert Higgs finds that he can agree with some of leftie Thomas Franks' complaints. It's only after the complaining is over that the differences kick in.

* Paul Craig Roberts offers a different take on Franks' book. A nice bit:

Why does Frank think that conservatives or liberals rule?

Neither rule. America is ruled by organized interest groups with money to elect candidates who serve their interests.

* Karen De Coster wants people to stop conceiving of their houses as "investments" and start thinking of them as "durable consumer goods" instead.

* I enjoyed Justin Raimondo's funny and offbeat piece about HGTV. Raimondo makes the case that the home-and-lifestyle channel is TV's only real conservative outlet. "I’d much rather watch a few episodes of 'My Parents Home' than read, say, National Review," he writes.

* Stephan looks at who's on the panel of the (government-sponsored, of course) National Cholesterol Education Program, and discovers that eight out of nine of them might fairly be described as statin-industry shills.



posted by Michael at September 8, 2008


To me, the whole "Bush is no conservative" meme is fairly useless--about on par with saying the old Soviet Union wasn't really communist. I can appreciate these arguments as intellectual propositions, but where do they really get us? Basically to point where we acknowledge that "true" conservatism or "true" communism are unworkable as real-world concepts (something conservatives are quick to trumpet when it comes to communism, but not so quick to realize when it comes to their own ideology).

Reagan was no conservative either, by the true conservative definition. He massively increased government spending (more than Clinton, incidentally), because he knew that people liked all the programs true conservatives wanted to cut. He also raised taxes after initially cutting them, in a half-baked attempt to pay down his deficit--a project that Clinton briefly completed.

A truer conservative, Newt Gingrich briefly shut down all federal government spending to test the proposition that no one would mind. They minded. Trying a different tack, Bush Jr. kept the shell of government programs intact but staffed them with cronies and incompetents, on the theory that no one would notice. It took a while, but after Katrina and Iraq, folks started to notice and his approval rating sank into the toilet.

So personally, over the last decade or so, I think the Republican party has gone about as far as is politically palatable down the path of testing the "true" conservative principle that people want more government, not less. It failed. Time to rethink that ideology.

Posted by: Steve on September 8, 2008 1:03 PM

Whoops, of course that line at the end should have read "....less government, not more."

Posted by: Steve on September 8, 2008 1:44 PM

I don't know what HGTV is, so I shall assume it's Hippo and Giraffe Television. Please feel under no obligation to disabuse me of this notion. Perhaps it's aired in homage to the half-Kenyan Presidential candidate.

Posted by: dearieme on September 8, 2008 2:08 PM

Yeah, not enough government and taxes! Sure, that's the politicians responding to the people. We all know that its the regular voter that runs the show.

Keen insight there, guy.

Posted by: BIOH on September 8, 2008 4:55 PM

Calling HGTV "conservative" captures the sorry state of American conservatism in a nutshell. HGTV is nothing but a 24/7 infomercial for a braindead, illiterate and perpetually vacuous lifestyle aimed at people whose main concern is which tiles to put on the renovated kitchen in their suburban cardboard house. In other words, the same anti-intellectual crowd that passes for a conservative constituency in this country.

Posted by: GB on September 9, 2008 5:09 AM

HGTV is no conservative outlet.

I've watched quite a bit of HGTV. The major things that stick out to me are how the goal is always to update the design to the same marble-countertop ideal, and how often the show just outright slaps men in the face.

The singular ideal of the designs used on HGTV seems like the bad ideas of starchitecture brought into the home. Does everyone really want this glass-and-metal chic, or is it the particular obsession of these designers? And I say this as someone who enjoys that style.

The anti-male sentiment is the subtext of almost every show. It's always aesthetics over practicality.

My favorite cliche is how the television in the living room is taking up too much space. The designers always want to either get rid of the television, or shove it into an inconvenient place. But how often do you think that is a good decision for people on the show? Very rarely, I'd wager. No one ever steps back and says, "Ok. You turned our living room into a model home. It looks good, but I like to come home from work and lie down on the couch and have a drink and watch the news while I relax. You just made that impossible for me."

This goes double for anyone who has a home office. The ideal workspace for an HGTV designer is a tiny desk with a decorative plant and a bureau with a lot of drawers where you can put all your papers. Having actual work space is not a priority to them, and the inconvenience of digging through twenty drawers does not pass any lips.

Meanwhile, you have women who agitate for a great dining table to "entertain" with. How often do you think this space is really used for that? Once or twice a year, maybe? It's a decorative set-piece in the model-home life women wish they were living, but aren't.

Being shameless promulgators of a consumer fantasy would be fine, if it were indiscriminate. But if a man has a room dedicated to his own interests that he uses once or twice a year the woman will most definitely demand it get turned into something else. HGTV is exclusively about catering to female fantasies like a large yard (that a man maintains for her), an open kitchen (where she can place her take-out), an elegant dining room (which no one uses), and a bedroom with a hundred thousand pillows (that no one can sleep on).

Posted by: Agreed on September 11, 2008 2:12 AM

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