Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Good Timing

Another quick note about the Sept. 12 issue of the American Conservative: It's cover could only have been more timely if it had read; "New Orleans: Get Out."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Duncan '08

The Sept. 12 issue of the American Conservative arrived and it is notable for having two Upstate New York Reactionary Radicals. James Howard Kunstler is the author of the anti-suburban jeremiad, Home From Nowhere and other books. His latest book and his TAC article argues for that we facing a bleak future of withdrawal from our oil-dependent economy. I don't yet buy into his bleak vision, but it doesn't sound as crazy as it would have a few years ago.

The issue also contains an article by the estimable Bill Kauffman. Kauffman, the author of Dispatches From the Muckdog Gazette, interviewed my congressman, Jimmy Duncan. Duncan is one of the handful of actual conservatives remaining in the Repulican party. He is one of the six who voted against the invasion of Iraq because, as he notes, Saddam "hadn't attacked us. He hadn't threatened to attack us," and "he wasn't capable of attacking us." Since the war has become a costly quagmire, he reports that some house members privately tell him the wish they had voted with him.

Kauffman prods Duncan to run for president in the next election:

I suggest to Duncan that he would make a fine antiwar candidate for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Surely there are still Republicans who care about limited, decentralized governance within a constitutional republic and who would rally to Duncan's blend of front-porch antiwar patriotism, Scots-Irish Presbyterian rectitude, East Tennessee pride, and taxpayer-watchdog populism.

I would like to think so, and he would have my vote, but I think Duncan is correct to predict that he would get "slaughtered." The loudest voices on the Republican Right want nothing to do with a conservative.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Democracy in Iraq

Democratization advocates, Glenn Reynolds and Michael Ledeen both fear that the U.S. government is going to allow Iraqis to write the Iraq constitution. Ledeen: "I'm also concerned because our current ambassador, Zal Khalilzad, was previously ambassador in Afghanistan and he sat still for a constitution that called the country an 'Islamic Republic,' fulfilling the demands of the Iranians."

What can one say about people like this? It boggles the mind that mature, middle-aged, presumably good-at-what-they-do, people can be so naive.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Absolut Creepy

Ben Stein used to be amusing, now he is just creepy. Stein sees a thin (Yale) blue line between America and the abyss. "There is one great man standing between us and this capitulation to evil: that man is George Bush, and he has two great allies, Tony Blair and John Howard." How did such a man come to power? Was he the choice of Republican activists and fundraisers? No you idiot, it was a higher power: "By a great providence, we were sent George Bush."

Although we have been blessed to have this great leader, all is not well. "The terrifying part is that he will be gone from power in less than three years. Then what? The evil will remain in men's souls, and who will be there to fight it? We have to start thinking right now of who sees and recognizes the difference between good and evil and start energizing ourselves to make that man or woman President. George Bush's shoes will be terrifyingly difficult to fill."

I won't try to argue against Stein. People who think like this are impossible to reason with. They are clearly in the thrall of a religious cult. If you see Stein coming with a glass of Kool Aid, run in the other direction.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Horowitz Predicts the Future.

While watching MSNBC's Connected Coast to Coast, the utterly vile David Horowitz, while spewing his usual bile towards Cindy Sheehan imparted that if the US withdraws from Iraq, there is going to be a bloodbath in that country. Yeah David, there's going to be a blood bath.

P.S. I noted here how poorly Ron Reagan handled a tirade by Christopher Hitchens last month. Today, he was much more effective. He essentially treated Horowitz with the contempt he deserves without being rude.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bomb Iran?

That Iraq thing went so well, perhaps we should dispatch the threat from Iran. What could go wrong? Plenty says Pat Buchanan:

What could Iran do? Plenty. Send Revolutionary Guards into Iraq to make that country a worse hell for the 135,000 U.S. troops. Incite Hezbollah to launch rockets on Israel to widen the war. Attack U.S. allies in the Gulf. Encourage the Shias in Iraq and Saudi Arabia to attack Americans. Mine the Strait of Hormuz. Activate Islamic loyalists to bring terror home to the United States.

In short, a U.S. attack on Iran could lead to war across the region and interruption of the 15 million barrels of oil a day that come from the Gulf, which would drive the world economy into instant cardiac arrest.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Poddy Strikes Again

John "Poddy" Podheretz, who is an embarrassment to NRO's the Corner, whines about a forthcoming film adamption of Anthony Swofford's Jarhead. According to Poddy:
Hollywood has now made its third movie about the Gulf War, following Courage Under Fire and Three Kings. And -- surprise surprise surprise! -- like its two predecessors, it's an attack on the war. You know, the war John Kerry praised in 2004 even though he voted against it in 1990. The movie is called Jarhead, it's based on a highly cynical memoir by a Gulf War veteran. You can see the trailer here. It may win Oscars. What a wonderful gesture of support for our troops, hah?

I don't have a clue as to what he is talking about. The reference to John Kerry makes no sense at all. I watched the trailer and didn't see any indication that the movie is an "attack" on the war. I can only assume that Poddy wants pictures that depict American soldiers saying things like, "gee whillikers, isn't democracy great."

Jason Apuzzo, of the Libertas blog complains that Jarhead "deals with the 'dehumanization' of Marine trainees prior to and during the 1991 Gulf War, and is "based on Andrew Swofford's notorious and questionable memoirs of the same name." Note how he sneers the word dehumanization. According to my American Heritage College Dictionary "dehumanize" means "to deprive of human qualities such as compassion" and “to render mechanical and routine. That is exactly what occurs (along with much more) in military training. Appuzo has made a few references to credibility problems in Swofford's book with out being specific. Perhaps Apuzzo is abit mixed up since he thinks the book is written by somebody call "Andrew Swofford" instead of Anthony Swofford.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Credibility Gap

James Wolcott notices Megan McArdle's credibility problem in attributing credibility to Dick Morris. "On this issue he has a credibility gap as big as his corncob grin, a record of bum predictions that awould be a lingering embarrassment to him were he capable of being embarrassed."

As I have noted before, Dick Morris has a history of making dubious predictions relating to Hillary Clinton. McArdle says, "yesterday I heard Dick Morris on the radio making a credible case that Pirro can make things uncomfortable for Hillary by demanding that she commit to serving out her term." The obvious solution for Sen. Clinton if that becomes an issue is to promise to fill out her term in 2006, and break that promise in 2008 if she should decide to run for president. I can't imagine that doing so would hurt her that much.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Nick & Nora

Adam Cohen, the New York Times "Editorial Observer," editorially observes that a collection of the Thin Man series has been at or near the top of's DVD best sellers. Cohen suggests that they are popular for the same reason now as they were in the 1930s -- escapism. "We are not in a Great Depression. But with the economy feeling precarious, the war in Iraq going badly and the headlines filled with London subway bombers and North Korean nuclear weapons, it is comforting for many people to imagine that a rich person might want to take care of them - or that they are rich themselves, with little more to worry about than how to get over a martini-induced hangover."

That might be the reason. The economic indicators are reasonably good, but I see too many check cashing businesses, rent-to-own stores, signs offering to buy homes quickly and places where you can borrow money on your car title; to believe that the economy is genuinely healthy.

While building his case, Cohen skips over another potential reason. "Leaving the world's grittiness behind to wallow in a life of luxury is a fantasy that is particularly prevalent right now. On a new television show on VH1, 'Kept,' young men are competing to be the kept man of a wealthy woman. On another, NBC's 'I Want to Be a Hilton,' young people are vying to be part of a family of rich celebrities." So much of what passes for entertainment is awful and insulting to the intelligence of anyone remotely sentient. There is obviously a large market for watching ordinary people make fools of themselves for a bit of wealth and fame. Even already rich people such as Paris Hilton and Donald Trump are eager to debase themselves in public for a sort of third-rate, famous-for-being-famous sort of celebrity.

Fortunately, we have so many options these days. It is a healthy sign that at least a few, after turning on the TV and seeing Paris and Donald, decide to replace them with Nick and Nora Charles.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tragic Irony

FrontPage just published a symposium on Iraq that includes the late Stephen Vincent. Ironically, Jamie Glazov, the host, repeatedly sassed Vincent for giving relatively low grades to the U.S. war effort:

FP: Thanks Mr. Vincent. You are going to give a B- to the Bush administration because the terrorists have wreaked violence and mayhem and made nation building extremely difficult? We are at war. You are judging the Bush administration because there are terrorists trying to destroy Iraq at every turn. You blame America that you can't leave your hotel. But Mr. Vincent, sorry, you can't leave your hotel because the terrorists are a threat to you. Blame the terrorists, not America.

Are you going to blame America for suicide bombings as well? Sorry, in my humble opinion, when a suicide bomber blows himself up and kills innocent people and destroys the "quality" of life, the perpetrator is the suicide bomber -- and the Islamist enemy that has sent him -- not America. When al Zarqawi chops a head off of a hostage, the person who should be blamed for the dead hostage is al Zarqawi, not America. Am I missing something here?
An F to America for the quality of Iraqis' lives? The terrorists are waging war on the country and doing everything in their power to destroy the quality of life. We need to blame the terrorists for that, not the side that is sacrificing its young boys and girls to give Iraq liberty and to nurture and protect its growth. The premise here is the height of the pathology of anti-Americanism -- blaming America for what the terrorists are doing. Isn't it?

At least he doesn't accuse Vincent of being an America hater -- he must have forgot. It takes minimal logical powers to follow what I'm going to say next. Responsibility and blame are two different concepts. When terrorists commit murder, they are to blame. However, when the Bush administration invades a foreign country, topples the ruling regime and installs a new one, they are responsible for the successes and failures that follows. If there is no security, insufficient power and a porous border, then President Bush and Don Rumsfeld bear full responsibility for the failure.

Competition Over

Cliff May is the dumbest, lamest pundit in the world of Neocondom. His response to Robert Novak's televised tantrum is to blame James Carville for being rude:

Evidently, CNN has suspended Novak and Novak is contrite.

I’m surprised. I saw him stand up and walk out -- I was multi-tasking but the TV was on -- and it seemed to me that he was just responding to Carville's abject rudeness. Carville was snarling something about Novak wanting to please far right-wingers.

I didn't blame Novak. I thought, "Good for him, there is some sh** up with which he will not put. Maybe this will teach Carville to keep a civil tongue in his mouth and to learn that all is not permissible in partisan debate."

Oh brother! "Abject rudeness" is the whole point of these televised exchanges. Robert Novak, who is a veteran of the McLaughlin Group, Crossfire and the Capital Gang has been on the giving end more often than the receiving end. With the rare opportunity to watch TV history live yesterday, I was lazily dozing when Novak stormed off stage. After watching it again on the Web, I still don't understand what Carville said that was so bad. It is difficult to spin the episode in such a way that Novak doesn't look foolish. That partisans such as May feel the need to spin on behalf of fellow pundits indicates the sad state of America's current political debate.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. There is always competition in the Corner. Tim Graham: It's Clinton's fault.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Paul Weyrich makes the understatement of the century: "I am not convinced that the best way to defend America from terrorism is to invade and occupy other countries, countries with religions and cultures very different from our own."
Selectively read parts of the rest at your own discretion.