Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Good Old Days

I got a subscription offer from The American Spectator today. For the low, low price of $39 dollars I can relive the glory days of the 1990s when the Clintons were in the Whitehouse and the Spectator's circulation surged towards half a million. That was before it all blew up. As Byron York described in the Atlantic Monthly a few years back how the magazine was essentially laundering millions of dollars going into a dubious investigation in Arkansas before their backers cut them off, and almost killed the magazine. The offer includes a free gift of a bookmark that has a picture of, the letter helpfully explains, "our famous -- some may say infamous -- 1994 cover of Hillary at the height of the Travelgate scandal."

In light of the scandalous way that the Bush administration conjured up a bogus case for war that they had every intention of fighting anyway, all the while issuing phony terror alerts to further whip up fear, I find it hard to sustain my outrage over "travelgate" and "filegate."

After the administration lied (to fellow Republicans in Congress) about the cost of the new Medicare drug benefit, it puts the whole Monicagate scandal in perspective.

I am in no sense an admirer of either of the Clintons. I reccomend that you read the devastating assessment of the Clinton years by someone who isn't a republican shill. From Waco to Kosovo, Bill Clinton almost always made the wrong choice. But the Spectator crowd, led by their editor, we'll call him Boy Tyrrell, put their collective fingers into the wind before they decide critical issues.

The Conservative Bookshelf

I recently bought a copy of Chilton Williamson's The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works That Impact Today's Conservative Thinkers. It is my favorite kind of book -- the kind you don't have to read all at once, or in order. It is a collection of essays about 50 conservative books that Williamson has selected. Williamson was book editor at National Review until he moved up to Chronicles a while back.

The book includes many titles that you would expect in such a collection including Witness by Whittaker Chambers, The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk and The Road to Serfdom by Friederich A. Hayek. Add to that, what Thomas Fleming calls a "rascally set of novelists and essayists -- Ernest Hemingway, Edward Abbey, William Faulkner, Edmund Wilson and Aldous Huxley -- few of whom ever thought of themselves as conservatives."

A symposium in the February Chronicles includes comments from Fleming and others better qualified than me to determine who should be included in a conservative canon. They were generally critical of the inclusion of Ann Coulter. Coulter and her allies would do well to read Williamson's comments on her brand of conservatism:
A nation of gods, apparently, is entitled by its power to war against anyone it can beat, reconstruct the world politically in accordance with its own beliefs and institutions, admit one-half of the world and support the other half from its largesse -- and be rewarded by the cooperative interference of the God above all gods! This attitude represents liberalism raised to the power of Jacobinism; but Coulter will not see it. Hating liberals as she does, she cannot perceive when a variety of liberal (the anti-imperial kind) is right -- albeit for all the wrong reasons, or even by accident.

Monday, May 30, 2005

House of Cards

Paul Krugman shows how much he hates America by pointing out the damage that the Bush administration is doing to the military. ". . . the Bush administration, which was ready neither to look for a way out of Iraq nor to admit that staying there would require a much bigger army, simply threw out the rulebook. Regular soldiers are spending a lot more than a third of their time overseas, and many reservists are finding their civilian lives destroyed by repeated, long-term call-ups." And so forth.

Krugman also refers to a Baltimore Sun (registration) article that Josh Marshall linked to on Sunday. That article examines the plausible case of a general losing a star and being forced to retire because he contradicted Donald Rumsfeld on a critical issue: "Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops."

The cavalier way that the president embroiled the country in a the Iraq quagmire with a force too small to carry out the mission is only the most obvious problem that the administration faces. The house of cards (war, debt, unpopular medicare expansion, etc.) that the Bushies are constructing must be about a mile high by now. The only question is when will it collapse. They sqeaked by with a historically weak reelection victory in 2004. If John Kerry had Bob Kerrey's wooden leg, he would be president right now. Should the house of cards falls before the 2006 elections and the damage be severe enough that the Democrats win control of one or more houses of congress, look for investigations galore starting in 2007. If they win control of the house, be prepared for the possibility of impeachment.

The administration's acolytes on the web and in talk radio will do their best to stem the tide (forgive the mixed metaphor) of Bush's collapsing house of cards. But it will collapse.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Culture of Life"

An article by Garance Franke-Ruta in the June issue of the American Prospect contains a telling factoid about Tom Delay's trips paid for by Jack Abramoff.

Saipan, part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was a focus Abramoff's concern in the 1990s. As a U.S. territory, it can sell products -- made by foreign workers without protection of of U.S. labor laws -- with a warm and fuzzy "made in the USA" label. When the Clinton Deptartment of Interior produced a report critical of the Commonwealth's labor practices; Delay acting as Abramoff's French Poodle, worked to punish the Interior Department. According to Franke-Ruta, one of the practices of Saipan's garment factories is "forcing women to have abortions so that they could keep sewing."

Tom Delay regularly makes unctuous statements in support of the "culture of life." He opposes federal funding of stem cell research because "an embryo is a person." He spearheaded congressional intervention in the Terry Schiavo case, although at times he has trouble keeping her cause separate from his:
This is exactly the kind of issue that's going on in America, that attacks against the conservative moment, against me and against many others. The point is, the other side has figured out how to win and to defeat the conservative movement, and that is to go after people personally, charge them with frivolous charges, link up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros, and then get the national media on their side. That whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to destroy the conservative movement. It is to destroy conservative leaders, and not just in elected office, but leading. I mean, Ed Feulner, of the Heritage Foundation today was under attack in the National Journal. This is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in. And you need to look at this, and what's going on and participate in fighting back.

The Abramoff/Saipan business shows the Delay -- who passed on an opportunity to stand up for women who didn't want abortions and instead sided with their bosses -- abandons the "culture of life" when it goes against the wishes of powerful interests.

Friday, May 27, 2005

McCain v. Frist

It has been a while since Thomas Sowell produced something other than rehashed RNC memos, and today's column is more of the same. However, he makes one good point:
Those who claim that Senator McCain has forfeited the support of the Republican base by selling out his party must not realize that McCain never had the support of that base in the first place, as shown by their votes in the 2000 Republican primaries. Senator McCain has lost nothing. If Hillary Clinton is the Democrats' candidate in 2008, what alternative would the Republican base have? Vote for Hillary?

I don't think McCain (or Frist, for that matter) will be the nominee in 2008, but he has helped his prospects with the filibuster deal, not hurt them. Sowell loses me when he speculates that Senator Frist is too darned "humane and decent" to succeed in politics. Give me a break.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Brandon Snider at Antiwar.com links to a delightful exchange between White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and Helen Thomas:

Q The other day -- in fact, this week, you said that we, the United States, is in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation. Would you like to correct that incredible distortion of American history --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we are -- that's where we currently --

Q -- in view of your credibility is already mired? How can you say that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I think everyone in this room knows that you're taking that comment out of context. There are two democratically-elected governments in Iraq and --

Q Were we invited into Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are two democratically-elected governments now in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments, and we are there today --

Q You mean if they had asked us out, that we would have left?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, Helen, I'm talking about today. We are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments -- Q I'm talking about today, too.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we are doing all we can to train and equip their security forces so that they can provide for their own security as they move forward on a free and democratic future. Q Did we invade those countries?

A crime against the English Language, Right? By any reasonable, non-bizarro world standard, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq (justifiably in the former, insanely in the latter) and installed in power the "sovereign" governments that "invited" us to stay.

However, it didn't take much effort to find people who think that Helen Thomas is the crazy one, like this guy who described the exchange as a "classic Helen Thomas inanity" without adding any reasoning of his own. This guy, who says that Thomas is " off of her medications again" at least provides a reason for why she is so nuts: "it is obvious to all but the most obtuse that when the Administration says that we are currently in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation, they mean that the current legitimate government in power has extended the invitation, not the previous theocracy or dictatorship."

I still can't understand how we can be invited to invade a country after the fact. Perhaps after I take my meds . . .


To summarize these two posts: Most conservative books these days are crap. Steve Sailer is not blaming the Jews. "<>" means "does not equal."

I should add that contra Ross Douthat, I have read South Park Conservatives and it is one of those not very good books.

Launch Phony Indignation

Wouldn't he violate the Senate's 214 year traditon of not filibustering stem-cell research bills?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Low-Lying Lynndie England Fruit

Here is a good rule of thumb for political matters: when it is too difficult to effectively address a serious problem, do something easy.

A good example of this rule is the response of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) to the problems that the military is currently having meeting its recruiting goals. The Army recently took a day off of recruiting to address ethical problems such as instructing recruits about how to fake diplomas and beat drug tests. The problem must be serious since, as I know from first hand experience, recruiters have been lying and urging recruits to lie for years.

To actually do something about this crisis would be difficult, so Bachus took the easy path of denouncing a Hollywood Liberal, Bill Maher. Maher made some fairly tepid remarks about the Armies difficulties: "More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club, . . . We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

To Bachus, to point out the obvious is treason: "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country." Why are Republicans, who claim to venerate the Constitution so frequently misreading it these days. It says, in article III, section 3 : "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." Why is that so hard to understand? There is nothing there about "undermin[ing] the effort," whatever that means. You pretty much have to go to war against your own country to be a traitor.

If we accept the Bachus standard that any criticism of the war is treason then the gallows will be rather crowded. What he really wants, of course, is to silence the president's and military's critics. In the unlikely event that he is successful, Bachus still won't have solved the military's recruiting problem.


Jonah Goldberg on Robert Byrd of West Virginia: "Now, as they say, the Senate can get back to 'the people’s business.' Which means, as far as Byrd is concerned, getting back to the business of transferring the federal treasury wholesale to the state of West Virginia." Contrast that with the Bush-Goldberg-National Review-neocon axis business of transferring the federal treasury to Iraq.

Of Paleos & Pedicures

Here's hoping that A.C. Kleinheider turns Pat Buchanan's picture to the wall while he has his toes done.

What's the Score?

After a major political occurence such as the filibuster showdown, one of the first things the punditocracy does is try to decide who are the winners and losers. In the all important team sport aspect of politics, the Republicans lost because the failed to accomplish what their base wanted the most -- not a successful vote on all of the Bush judges, but a humiliating defeat for the Democrats.

That is the conclusion that I draw from some of the commentary that I have seen such as the DJ Drummond post at Polipundit labeled, "Treachery!": "That any Republican would sign such an agreement, is betrayal of his party, his state, and his nation."

This exchange from the Rush Limbaugh program has the same tone:
SHEETS(Sen. Robert Byrd): We have kept it. We have kept the republic. We have lifted ourselves above politics --

RUSH: I want to puke.

The Democrats won less than a full victory. They are hampered by their obsession with abortion, the right to which no more appears in the constitution than the phrase "up or down vote." If they would make more of a fuss over other issues, such as Priscilla Owen's alleged ethical problems, they might have some success. Owen took money from Enron and Halliburton and then ruled in their favor:
Two notable past corporate-friendly cases ruled on by Owen involve very publicly known corporations – Halliburton and Enron – both of which had donated to Owen's judicial campaign. In the case of Sanchez v. Halliburton, a Halliburton field worker "won a $2.6 million verdict after the jury found that a company supervisor had framed him to test positive for cocaine." After an appeals court ruling overturned the verdict, Sanchez tried to bring the case to the Texas Supreme Court. In the months during which the case was before the Court, Halliburton made its only campaign donations to Texas Supreme Court justices that year, giving thousands of dollars to three justices: Priscilla Owen, Nathan Hect, and Alberto Gonzales. Result: the court declined to hear the case and the ruling overturning Sanchez's case stood. In Enron Corp. v. Spring Independent School District, Owen "authored the opinion for a unanimous court [decision] that … saved Enron $225,000 and resulted in lost revenue for the school district."

If Owen stays at the appeals level, she will never have the final say on an abortion case, but she often will in more mundane cases involving lawsuits and regulations and the like.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Politics of War

I have been reading The Politics of War, a history of American involvement in the Spanish American War, the Phillipines War and the Great War, by the late Walter Karp. I haven't even got to the second half of the book and I am struck by the similarities of events of the late 19th century to those of the early 21st.

The push for war against Spain began long before the accidental sinking of the Maine in 1898, and President McKinley attributed the war he had planned for to the "Almighty hand of God." A quick victory led to a lengthy war against insurgents in the Phillipines.

I could go on and on. George Santayana famously said "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The companion to that saying should be, "people never remember."

Two Views.

Two views of lost credibility. National Review sees the loss by the "MSM"; This Modern World (must subscribe or view ad) sees it in the Bush Administration.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sinking Flagship

The blog of the National Review, the flagship of intellectual conservatism has consumed much bandwith in the last few days with posts about adorable dancing hamsters. The pace of such scintillating commentary will pick up in a few days because John Podheretz, Jonah Goldberg and the rest will be getting out of school for the summer and they don't report to neocon camp until July.

Say what you will about the Weekly Standard -- Fred Barnes and William Kristol -- realize that adolescence is a phase, not a way of life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Exterminator

I saw a few seconds -- all I could stand -- of the insufferable Senate judical debate. Mark Dayton (D-Minn) was commenting on inflammatory statements ("The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior") that House Majority Leader, Tom Delay made about judges a few weeks ago. Dayton noted darkly that we should be concerned because Delay had previously been an exterminator.

It would have been a lame and tired as a joke; but Dayton seemed to be seriously concerned that Delay wants to actually exterminate liberal judges, in stead of, you know, impeach them. Compare Dayton's comment to the testmony of George Galloway that I previously commented on. Galloway forthrightly denied the charges against him, denounced the commitee for convicting him in advanced, accused the senators of supporting an illegal war. Irrespective one's opinion of Galloway, he openly expressed his views for all to hear.

If Dayton had half a brain he could come up with numerous arguments against Bush's judges and the nuclear option. Instead he must insinuate that his political enemies are latent murderers.

Boortz on Galloway

Neal Boortz needs to hire new people to put words in his mouth. Commenting on the Galloway tesitimony, he said, "he may be an eloquent speaker, but the facts are the facts: documents show Galloway was paid off by Saddam Hussein to the tune of millions of dollars. Galloway's response? The war in Iraq was wrong and was fought based on lies."

Yes, Galloway did say that, but Boortz implies that he did not forthrightly deny the charges against him, which he did. This transcript of his testimony has it in the very first sentence: "Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf."

I have no idea who is telling the truth, but there is not doubt about Galloway's position. Neal Boortz should pay a little attention

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Remedial Senate Education

I don't know who is telling the truth in this oil-for-food business, I always assumed that neocons are pushing the scandal to detract attention from the mess in Iraq. But senators Norm Coleman looked and Carl Levin looked rather foolish after George Galloway finished with testifying on his role (or non-role) in the affair. It is possible that Galloway is acting like Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part II, and is lying to the committee in the false belief that there are no witnesses available to finger him. We may eventually find out.

In the meantime, Galloway looked like a school teacher addressing a class of slow fourth graders. It is refreshing to see someone speak to the Senate that way. Members of Congress tend to bloviate endlessly while trying to say very little. I had no doubt where Galloway stood on the issues:

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

Alternate take here.
BBC video here.
UPDATE: I haven't found much substantive commentary from the War Party on his testimony, however Charles Johnson (who ironically called Daily Kos a "hate hole") of Little Green Footballs unleashed his followers on Galloway. Some highlights:
I can't take more of that trash. Kos is a traitor."

"It's such a disgrace that the Left in this country will admire ANYONE that hates the Right. It doesn't matter to the them (the Left) that Galloway basically licked Saddam's balls! Who cares? He hates the Right - then he is their guy!

I'm giving up hope that this country will survive. There is too much bickering going on internally to recognize the external (and probably now internal) threat.


"The Muslims will take care of George when he's done serving their purpose. The sooner the better."

"oh really, Galloway? I've a Angelsword forged Scimitar and the training to use it. and you're awfully overweight. but gristle can be carved away. Let's play."

The Servile Media

But for the Lunacy of the Hugh Hewitts of the world, I would be far more disturbed by the shoddy journalism of Newsweek. I won't say that Hewitt went off of the deep end, because that is where he lives. He ponders the involvement of the Trial Lawyers in the Newsweek case:

But how about the trial lawyers? While there are proximate cause issues around the reckless negligence of Michael Isikoff and his editors and the loss of life and property in the Muslim world, the plaintiffs' bar has never hesitated to tackle far more remote connections. But I doubt they suits will be descending on Jalalabad as they did in Bhopal or wherever an oil tanker founders.
Hewitt thinks that misreporting a story that stirs up violent thugs to riot and murder innocent people is comparable to a factory leaking poison and killing thousands. I wish he would elaborate on lawsuits with more remote connections than the one he is promoting here.

Hewitt also longs for the "Patriotic" reporting of World War II:

There were also plenty of discussions on whether one or two sources are enough when the issue could affect national security. Can you imagine a similar conversation surrounding any reporting during World War II that had a negative effect on the war effort? The default position of American media after the Pentagon Papers is that all disclosure of potential American wrongdoing is "good." But that premise --not widely shared outside of elite liberal circles-- is certainly not applicable when there is no wrongdoing to begin with.

Is it a good thing that the media didn't examine the Unconditional Surrender policy or expose the Katyn Forest massacre commited by our allie, "Uncle Joe" Stalin? Isn't it at least possible that our national security was harmed by the media's failure to seriously question some of Roosevelt's policys in the 1940s?

Hewitt wants a servile media (until Hillary Clinton gets elected) that parrots the Republican agend -- and he wants Congress to "subpoena some Washington Post (Newsweek's parent company) executives" and bully them into servility. I, on the other hand think the "MSM" has been incompetent--focusing on what Bush did in 1973 istead of 2003, for exaple -- and far too deferential towards the Bush administration and I'm glad we have alternatives.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Down the Drain.

Does Glenn Reynolds actually believe some of the nonsense that he parrots? He repeats a comment From an Austin Bay reader:

The word I receive from Kabuli friends is that Isikoff has singlehandedly turned US triumph in the country to a total disaster. It was thought an anomaly last summer that some wonderful–and tragically forgotten–American DynCorps workers (mostly ex-military and my good friends) were killed in an environment that was pro-American to the core. That could be seen as a terrible tragedy, an unreasonable sad event impinging on an overall positive atmosphere–a last ditch effort by desperate Al Qa’eda remnants from outside Afghanistan to vent anger at the overwhelming success of the Americans. Now thanks to one Bush-hating reporter (google Isikoff if you doubt his intentions,) the recidivist Taliban-Pathans of southeast Afghanistan once again have an issue to de-legitimize the Karzai-US alliance.

Now, it occurs to me that if the "Karzai-US alliance" can be so easily flushed down the toilet, it was probably a sham all along. Had the Newsweek incident not happened, do these people believe that this house of cards would have remained standing?

Of course, like most people commenting on this topic, I am almost totally ignorant, but I am far from convinced that the riots in Afghanistan were solely conerned with Newsweek's Periscope.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum pours some cold water on the fires of outrage and makes a valuable point: "The Taliban stages a resurgence every spring, anti-Americanism has been on the rise for some time, and the rioters in Afghanistan are responsible for the riots in Afghanistan. The Newsweek story is clearly just a pretext, and another story would have done just as well given their obvious animosity toward America."(emphasis added)

Imagine that. The rioters are responsible for the rioting.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Volunteer State to Require Volunteerism

The Nashville Tennessean (via John Norris Brown) reports that some legislators are proposing legislation to require some parents "volunteer" at their schools:
A proposal making its way through the General Assembly would require parents with children in kindergarten through grade 4 to ''volunteer'' at least 12 hours a year. And they couldn't just show up — they'd be expected to get involved in the teaching process by tutoring, chaperoning lesson-related field trips or helping students play educational games.

Forget, for a moment, what a bad idea this is in principle. Think of the type of people this dragnet might pull in -- child molesters, violent abusive types, complete idiots, people who bathe twice a year, etc. As a general principle, people who only show up because they are forced to do so, don't put in much effort; which is probably one of the bigger problems that public schools face these days.

I hope that Gov. Bredesen vetoes this bill, should it make it that far.

Term Limits for Pundits

Paul Jacobs, who is a "senior fellow" at US Term Limits, has a column at Townhall humerously suggesting that the Catholic Church adopt term limits for the papacy in order to draw attention back to his animating issue:

Term limits, after all, make sense for many reasons. (In fact, they make common sense, which is one reason I call my free e-letter Common Sense.) With a career in politics less an option, the republican ideal of citizen involvement could flourish again. And with less time in office, legislators and executives would have less time to consolidate power and accumulate the bad habits of corruption and logrolling and a dozen other features of today's precarious democracy.

. . .

Whether they make sense for the pope, well, that's another matter entirely. And none of my business.

But for public servants in these United States of America? That's every American's business.

This reads more like direct mail advertising copy than a column. I suppose after a while it gets hard to keep flogging such a dead horse of an issue that for a brief time was Really Important. One of the poster boys for term limits, Oklahoma physician, Tom Coburn, who served in the House from 1994 til 2000, when, true to his word, he went back to Oklahoma. Apparantly, the baby doctor tired of delivering new Okies in Muskogee -- he came back to Washington last year as a new U.S. Senator.

Jacobs' column reveals another group that needs to be term limited -- the pundit/foundation hack/Congressional staff/etc. permenant shadow government that has lost touch with America. This is not an original idea, Michael Kinsley suggested it about ten years ago.

Paul Jacob reminds me a bit of Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist, who has spent most of his adult life as a Washington lobbyist, told the New York Times Magazine that Republicans don't put down roots in Washington the way that Democrats do.

These people need to spend some time in the Real America. They need to stand in line at Krogers and have Sunday dinner at Shoneys. It would do them a world of good to call up old high school friends and offer them term life insurance. They could adopt as their literary hero, John Huey Ketcham of Bill Kauffman's Every Man A King. In that novel, the hero is a rising young pundit whose career is destroyed after he used a racial slur during his Big Break on Face the Nation. Ketchum takes a fall and winds up home in Batavia, New York; finding happiness and love amonst the white trash of a Batavia housing project. Jacobs and friends should give it some thought.

Democracy in Afghanistan

Note Michelle Malkin's logic in a post on the riots sparked by a brief item in Newsweek that alleged that interrogators flushed the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. Malkin reprints an editor's note from the current Newsweek that admits that the story is at best, unverifiable.

Naturally, for Malkin and her allies this is another MSM scandal, and let me say shame on Newsweek for reporting the unverified and possibly untrue story in the first place. But then Malkin says, "Newsweek has blood on its hands. Blood on its desks. Isikoff should cough up his source." She believes that Newsweek (and not the people doing the actual killing) is morally culpable for the fact tha Muslims are killing each other over their story.

These people are missing an important story -- the thin veneer of "democracy" in Afghanistan. According to the Times story, "the most violent protests were in Afghanistan, where the death toll in clashes between demonstrators and security forces reached fourteen after a third day of rioting. Three people were killed and twenty-two injured near Faizabad, in Badakhshan province, when a thousand rioters burnt down aid agencies’ offices." But we have been hearing of the wonders of Afgan Democracy -- an idea so silly only a neocon could fall for it -- for months now. That a tiny item in Newsweek could spark (if in fact, it did) this level of violence indicates how close to the edge this country is some three years after the U.S. military liberated it from Taliban rule.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds agree -- Newsweek and not the Muslim rioters are responsible for the recent violence in the Islamic world.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum commit common sense on the topic of public displays of the Ten Commandments and other religious oriented battles in the Culture War. I think they are right, especially since I don't believe that it amounts to an establishment of religion to put up a marble slab with the commandments in the courthouse. Yglesias even goes a bit further:

Now where I'll probably lose your support is when I say that I don't even really
care about the school prayer question, but speaking from experience I was forced
to engage in sectarian Christian prayer in my (non-public) school and it was
I went to a Catholic school (because my teacher/mother had an idea of how bad the public schools are) and I agree with Yglesias on this. Rote classroom recitation of prayers, or of the Pledge of Allegiance tend to lose their meaning, tend to lose their meaning after a while.

Stephen. Green. Ugh.

Stephen Green, who is incredibly smug, even by the standards of the blogosphere attempts to "Fisk" Pat Buchanan for questioning the wisdom of US entry in to the Second World War. In my favorite part, Green writes, "Besides, this country was not going to go to war with an ally, no matter how monstrous, not after having just concluded three years of war and suffering a million casualties. It was Not. Going. To Happen." Geez. Stop. Being. Such. A. Jerk.

Green then describes two alternative scenarios of what might have happened had the US and Great Britain not gone to war against Hitler, followed by this: "These are historical facts. Buchanan knows them. He's hoping you don't." No. These Are. Stephen Green's. Opinions.

It is good that Buchanan continues to bring up subjects that our betters don't want discussed -- Green smarms that World Net Daily, "should have known better than to publish" Buchanan's Column. Buchanan should also raise the topic of how the allies fought the war some time. Thomas Fleming produced a book-length "Fisking" of Roosevelt and his war effort a few years ago, which Green would do well to read. The main object of his ire was Roosevelt's "unconditonal surrender" policy which prolonged the War. Fleming speculates (and unlike Green he knows the difference between his opinions and facts) that Hitler might have been done in by his generals in early 1943 after a stinging defeat on the Eastern Front had Roosevelt not announced that policy.

I think that the good guys won in World War II, and we got a lot of great movies out of it. But the reality of the war; and how the allies entered and fought it became much more complex to me when I ceased getting my history from John Wayne Movies.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Filibuster This

Radio Blogger -- who is a coffee getter, or something -- for Hugh Hewitt, makes the astonishing claim that the "judicial filibuster" did not exist before the year 2000. It is of course, the filibuster, period; and it has existed in differing forms for a couple of centuries now. That it has been used rarely for judicial nominees is of little import, since their have been other ways to keep judicial nominations from getting a vote.

Note that Radio Blogger mocks Robert Byrd, the only U.S. Senator that I don't despise, for quoting from the Bible (King James Version --"I don't read any other version of the Bible"). I can't think of a clearer cut example of religious bigotry.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Neal Boortz: Endless spending to build an empire in the middle east, groovy; small surcharge on traffic tickets to fund driver's ed, terrible.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Marco . . . Polo!

The Loudmouthed radio gasbag, Neal Boortz, complains about a Holiday Inn commercial playing off on the kid's pool game, "Marco Polo."

If you want to completely ruin a nice afternoon relaxing by a swimming pool all
you need is just a few high-pitched voices in the pool yelling "Marco ... Polo"
for literally hours on end. In only takes ten minutes or so of this incessant
chanting for you to start searching the yellow pages for piranha suppliers.

I can think a few sounds, such as a Boortz radio broadcast, that are much worse.

Missing Bloggers

Justin Raimondo wonders why the warbot blogosphere, outside of Michelle Malkin, hasn't paid much attention to the Larry Franklin spy affair. Perhaps it is because their leader has decreed that we are in a slow news period and there is nothing to blog about other than digital cameras and lawn mowers.

The Guys at Power Line, Big Snout and the other guy, create their own reality.

Monday, May 09, 2005

No To Factory Farming!

The issue of the American Conservative now out on newsstands has a lengthy cover article by Matthew Scully on the practice of factory farming, and of conservative indifference towards it. Scully, a former special assistant to President Bush and the author of Dominion: The Power of Man and the Suffering of Animals is disappointed in his allies to say the least.

Many on the right seem to content to reflexively oppose the left on issues such as animal cruelty and organizations such as PETA are easy to mock. Scully makes the case that conservatives should care about factory farming, which he describes as a "preditory enterprise." For those who would attempt to feed him free market baloney, he notes that it is "unaturally propped up by political influence and government subsidies." He says that if "such matters were ever brought to President Bush's attention in a serious way he would find in the details of factory farming many things abhorrent to the Christian heart and to his own kindly instincts." Alas Scully worked for him for several years and didn't seem to get the chance bring it up. Meanwhile the president does the bidding of bigtime factory farm polluters.

The dominant strand of conservatism amounts to little more than low tax militarism with a dash of "moral values" thrown in for seasoning. Fortunately the dominant strand isn't the only strand.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

South Park Cons

I have been reading Brian Anderson's South Park Conservatives for a review. Here are a couple of quick impressions. One is that this crowd has grown extraordinarily arrogant in a very short time. Their house of cards is built on a foundation of sand. (how's that for a mixed metaphor?) The second is that a good sign that there are problems with a book when the author decides to bolster his case with a liberal sampling of the thinking of Dick Morris.


Can we ever trust what the Bush administration tells us? Tex at Antiwar.com links to a Times of London article about last weeks capture of an al Queda operative. It was originally reported as a major capture, but it seems that Abu Faraj al-Libbi is less Heinrich Himmler and more Col. Klink:

THE capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W Bush as “a critical victory in the war on terror”. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists’ third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organisation.

Al-Libbi’s arrest in Pakistan, announced last Wednesday, was described in the United States as “a major breakthrough” in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Bush called him a “top general” and “a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al- Qaeda network”. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was “a very important figure”. Yet the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBI’s most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department “rewards for justice” programme.

That doesn't mean that the capture isn't good news, of course, but it is yet another example of how little trust on should place in the pronouncements of the Bush administration.

UPDATE: In a perhaps related matter, the Professor (no, this guy) and the Derb think that nothing worth blogging about is happening in the world.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Laura Who?

Even if I had nothing better to do than watch Gilligan's Island reruns or follow endless coverage of the "runaway bride" story, life would still be too short to care about some silly speech by the First Lady.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Decline and Fall

Neal Boortz attributes the decline of newspapers in part to the low quality of government schools:
You also have to factor in government schools. With every year that passes we have more young adults finishing their education (if that's what you want to call it) and beginning their lives. Why would these people want to subscribe to a newspaper if (a) they have no real understanding of the significance of the stories that might be covered in that paper; and (b) they can't read all that well anyway.

I wonder if Boortz would credit the rise of talk radio programs; you know, like his, to the same phenomenon.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Overheated Times

My favorite line in this overheated editorial from the LA Times is this:

Saying that the armed volunteers who have been patrolling the border with Mexico for the last month have done a "terrific job," [Schwarzenegger] all but invited them to come to California. What's next: Will the governor encourage vigilantes to combat street crime?

You know, I don't as a general rule endorse taking the law into one's own hands, but there are times to consider exeptions to that rule. When the Federal Government is shirking its duty to
defend the border, the Minutemen and their talk radio supporters are at the very least drawing serious national attention to the issue. And if law and order were to break down in my town, I wouldn't mind a few vigilantes taking up the slack.

Enemies of Normal Americans

A.C. Kleinheider just learned the hard way what happens when you show a bit of kindness to the stupid party. A couple of weeks ago he urged readers to support the 06 senate candidacy of Ed Bryant. The Blogging for Bryant people noted his endorsement and added a link to his blog:

I was happy and surprised to see that they had become aware of my support and added me to their links.

A day or two later it occurred to me to drop them a line thanking them. So, I went to their website in search of their email address. I found instead my link had been removed.

. . . I assumed they had done a bit more perusing of my blog and decided that Hard Right was not something a site promoting a mainstream politician should be linking to.

I wouldn't disagree. Where I in their position I don't know that I would link to me. Anyway, one of them emailed me back explaining that they had been playing around with they links and mine was inadvertently deleted.

. . . I had been imagining some conspiracy to keep Blogging for Bryant clean of crazy Rightists and all that happened was an oversight. . .

A few days later, the Hard Right link was then removed as well. My subsquent emails have gone unanswered.

I am aware it seems childish and petty to mention this but I think it is instructive. Let me be clear: I do not think they have any obligation to link to me just because I linked to them -- not at all. . .

All they had to say was, "Yeah, we looked at your blog again and think your site is incompatible with the image of Ed Bryant we are trying to promote". . .

None of this will effect my vote for Ed Bryant. He is excellent on the National Question therefore he is my main-est man in the 2006 US Senate race in Tennessee.

Bloggingforbryant must have had a link to me for a time since I saw it as a referring link on my site meter. I haven't endorsed Bryant, and won't be voting for him without some new information. It is good that he is strong on immigration, but unless he is willing to make enemies with Karl Rove the way that Tom Tancredo did, it isn't enough. Who cares what he is willing to vote for, if it is never going to get to a vote?

The only Republican that I have been able to vote for in the last couple of years has been Tennessee's second district congressman Jimmy Duncan, who defied the President on entering the Iraq quagmire and voted against the Dept. of Homeland Security -- two of the most important votes of career. On top of that, he has written for Chronicles and the American Conservative; and has quoted Bill Kauffman from the House Floor.

The problem with voting for Republicans in the Bush years is that the party has become in Newt Gingrich's phrase (for Democrats, of course) the enemies of normal Americans. George W. Bush, with his plans to ignite the fire of global democracy, has become in many ways the political heir of Woodrow Wilson. He is as bad as the Democrats on immigration. Even the Republican's tax cut fetish is bogus, since at some point somebody is going to have to pay for their spending spree of the last five years.

Unless Bryant indicates that he is going to be at odds with his party and president; almost to the point of being a persona non grata, he will have to win without my vote.