Sunday, December 24, 2006

Up, Up and Away!

What perfect timing. Only yesterday I was reading Joseph Pearce debunk the notion that a rising GNP shows that everything is great. "GNP is the total price . . . of all traded goods and services in a country during a year. Any economic activity that does not involve a monetary transaction is not included. On the other hand, any activity that involves the spending of money is included even if it has a detrimental effect in socioeconomic terms."

Today, I saw a column by Kevin McCullough arguing that we must be winning in Iraq -- their economic growth is through the roof!
The nation and economy known as the new Iraq is succeeding, and those who dispute this are simply lying.

Call it whatever you'd like - a quagmire, a country torn by violence, the next Vietnam, etc. - but it is dishonest to say is that this nation is not a success. Government corruption, uncontrolled militias, and (as the drive-by media likes to remind us) daily attacks using improvised exploding devices - but it is not an economy going under.

McCullough doesn't dwell on how much of the economy is devoted to providing security, selling burial plots, or procuring the weapons of war and terror. If somebody in Baghdad sells a stick of dynomite or a blasting cap, that adds to the Iraqi economy but will greatly detract from the wealth and well-being of Iraqis.

There is a class of people in the punditocracy who will never admit that the Iraq war was a failure of the Bush administration, the neocons and the broader political Right. They will attempt to blame the media, antiwar activists and Democrats (too many of whom shamefully went along with the war). I find it encouraging that many Townhall commentors don't buy McCullough's argument -- although Freepers, being willing to swallow any rightwing crap imaginable take a much more positive view of the article.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Small is Beautiful

The good folks at ISI Books sent me an early Christmas present today in the form of Small is Still Beautifulby Joseph Pearce. On January 8, 2007, I will be participating in a group blog, Small is Still Beautiful to discuss the book. Over the next couple of weeks -- in between downing egg nog and unwrapping collectable Malibu Stacy dolls -- I hope to be able to post some comments about the book. Right now, I will include a bit of Crunchy Cons author, Rod Dreher's cover blurb:
E.F. Schumacher shows where liberals and conservatives go wrong, and Joseph Pearce makes Schumacher relevant for a new generation -- one that despaerately needs to hear Schumacher's message. Pearce shows why "small is beautiful" is the only sane and humane response to our insane "supersize me" culture

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Webb Derangement Syndrome . . .

My first reaction when I read something like this (Virginia Sen.-elect Jim Webb said President Bush is a 'failed president'. . ."), is to ask myself, "what will the freepers say?" They rarely dissapoint:
. . .

This Webb punk is way too hot and will make himself look like a major jackass, very soon . . .

"senator made clear his antipathy toward Bush"

Now, right here and now, let me make clear my antipathy of this dimwitted, boorish, immature and impudent demokaRat. . . .

I was at a party last weekend, and Webb's son came home from college. In the hallway, Webb called out, "Hey, son! How was school? Now come over here and let me suck on that d*&%!" He said it was a custom he picked up overseas. Freaky. . .

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

War For Elba

I was pleasantly surprised to see a review of Look Homeward America in the January issue of Reason, where Bill Kauffman was briefly employed in the 1980s. The review was written by John McClaughry, who is the subject of a chapter in Kauffman's America First! The review is mostly positive, but it takes a strange turn towards the end. McClaughry writes that "none of us can flee from the . . . menacing fact that in a cave in Pakistan, a coffeehouse in Cairo, a mosque in Riyadh . . . well armed and inventive villains really, really want to kill the peaceful people of Elba, New York."

I have read and heard much about the aggressive designs of Islam in the last few years and generally believe it to be true; but I have noticed that most of the actual aggressing -- the dispatching of invading armies and ships, planes and missiles have gone in the other direction. Osama bin Laden became a problem for the United States after we established bases in Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration's response to bin Laden's mass murder of Americans was to make a token effort to attack him in Afghanistan and then launch and invasion of Iraq. The crowd that supported that invasion is now calling for war against Iran. There are numerous justifications for our foreign policy -- spreading democracy, access to oil, enhancing the self-esteem of neocons -- protecting Elbans is not among them.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Miller/Dole in '08

This Jonah Goldberg column has to be experienced to be believed. It is the sort of thing I would have enjoyed reading in study hall -- complete with doodles of Goldberg's dream chopper. He mentions Airplane! and makes a War Games reference. He uses a phrase, "gormless popinjays", that should only be deployed by the most skilled of writers. All of this is to help him make the point that voters are tired of politicians with names like Gore, Clinton and Bush.

I especially enjoyed this little factoid:
The Republicans have the higher hurdle because Bush fatigue is more acute than Clinton fatigue these days -- owing to the simple fact that Bush is in office right now (though remember: there's been a Bush or a Dole on every Republican presidential ticket since 1976).

I'm not sure what he gains by including Bob Dole, who has done nothing to add to Bush fatigue. He could have just as easily -- and just as relevantly -- said that there's been a Bush or a Dole or a Nixon or a Miller on every Republican presidential ticket since 1952.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Failure is an Option

Scott McConnell surveys the wreckage of neoconservatism in the December 18 American Conservative and concludes: "The millionaires who fund AEI and the New York Sun will not abandon neoconservatism because Iraq didn't work out. The reports of the movement's demise are thus very much exaggerated. " I think he is right. In the world of politics and punditry, merely being completely wrong doesn't mean that you lose your positions of power and influence.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dining With Bob

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Henley adds:
Just as Bush’s nicknaming hobby is a dominance game, so is his behavior with Webb from the very start. First, he butts in on a man who is trying to avoid him. Then he picks a guaranteed bone of contention as his “pleasantry.” Bush knows where Webb’s son is; Bush knows Webb wishes his son weren’t there. Bush also knows that Webb knows that Bush has total control of whether Webb’s son is in Iraq or not. As “commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” Bush is the younger Webb’s ultimate boss. Bush is taunting Webb here. He’s trumping him. No wonder Webb wanted to slug him.

More fallout from the Bush-Webb flap, this time from R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. of the American Spectator. Tyrrell compares Webb to such personality challenged Democrats as Howard Dean and John Kerry and remembers an unpleasant dinner with Webb some years back.
At any rate, I invited him to dinner for what turned out to be a gruesome evening. Webb is one of those people of whom it is said he is uncomfortable in his skin. At first I thought his discomfort might come from the fear he was going to have to pay his way. It was a classy eatery. I reassured him that he was my guest. I went on to make clear I considered him a fine writer. Nothing I said reassured him, not even my insistence that he have dessert. I left baffled. Most of the military men I have known are gents. Many writers are cads, but I thought a writer who had also served high up in the Reagan Administration might be civilized. After that dinner I never made the mistake of inviting him anywhere again.

There is no surer sign of a social outcast than not enjoying a fancy, expensive, free dinner with the witty and brilliant founding editor of the American Spectator; but then it's remotely possible that Webb got tired of constantly having to say, "why yes Bob, you are another H.L. Mencken."

UPDATE: Several American Spectator readers take exception to the magazine's recent lame attacks on James Webb. Here's part of a good one:
RET's account of his dining experience with Webb, albeit humorous, appears to be a major factor in his evaluation of the senator to be. But how many who question Webb's ability to handle properly his fork and knife (he is, after all, a graduate of the Naval Academy), or his excessive pugnacity, have ever met the man? Allow me to raise my hand.
. . .
During the luncheon held in the ambassador's residence, Webb spoke of the Soviet naval threat with precision and knowledge; his responses to all questions were carefully thought out and measured; in short he was in his element. If memory serves, he did not drool or talk with his mouth full of food either. But what followed I retain, twenty years after, as an indelibly etched memory: I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with him, and Webb, always a gentleman, allowed your scribe to question him, among other things, about his article, "Why Women Can't Fight," the plight of the military academies, as well as the state of the Cold War. He was nothing short of impressive, and quite comfortable in his own skin.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How's Your Boy?

Rightwingers sure are whiny these days. Their latest complaint is over an exchange between Senator-elect Webb and the President:
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

In a post labeled "Webb of Classlessness," Kathryn Lopez complains "It's bad enough it all happened -- but for Webb to continue it . . . A leader knows getting into a bitchfest with the president isn't the best way to start things off."

I'm not sure I can trust my judgment on this since I detest Bush and actually kind of like Webb, but the President seems to be the classless one here -- he tracks someone down who is avoiding him and then addresses him in an overly familiar manner ("how's your boy?"); and then responds condescendingly ( "That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?") when he doesn't like the first answer.

I would take a different view if Webb had sought out Bush for a confrontation, but he didn't. He told the Post, "I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall." I assume that the number of people who are is rapidly dwindling.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The War Against Peace Signs

This will confuse Bill O'Reilly. (via to Talk Left) A homeowners association in Loma Linda, California is threatening to fine a resident if she doesn't remove her Christmas wreath made in the shape of a peace symbol.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Hillbilly "Christianists" Are Coming!

So was it our racial or religious bigotry? I'm referring to the recent election in Tennessee between Harold Ford, Jr. and Bob Corker. An Andrew Sullivan reader writes:
For those who believe Bob Corker won because of racism, rest assured he won on religious fundamentalism. Proof in point: last night in Chattanooga, TN (Bob Corker's hometown) NBC aired "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" instead of the Madonna concert. Our children and grandchildren learn to cut school, be cool, borrow Dad's Ferrari and tell a few harmless lies. But by the Grace of God, our community protects impressionable youth from that sexual and religious deviant Madonna. Our children will know only the true Virgin Madonna not the "Like-A-Virgin" Madonna.
Maybe I have breathed in too much smoke from cross burnings or have been bitten at too many snake handling services, but I hadn't previously considered how the post-election decision of one Tennessee network affiliate to preempt a Madonna concert for such "Christianist" propaganda as Ferris Bueller's Day off would have on the election in Tennessee two weeks earlier. But Sullivan and his correspondent should consider other possibilities -- Maybe potential Ford Supporters were out marrying their cousins on election day, or were too busy tending their stills -- there are a lot of potential reasons.

Sullivan and his correspondent should consider the nature of politics in the Volunteer State. This is the state that sent Howard Baker to the Senate. In the primary this year, the least favorite candidate of social conservatives was Bob Corker. They preferred Ed Bryant, who has now lost two Republican senate primaries in a row in Tennessee. The other big election in Tennessee was for governor. We reelected Phil Bredesen, the son of a Tennessee dirt farmer who became a Pentecostal preacher. No wait, Bredesen is actually a New Jersey born, Harvard educated health care executive who was overwhelmingly reelected this year -- he carried every county.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The List

Christopher Hitchens says that James Baker is the last person we should listen to about Iraq. Actually, there are a few people who should be on the list ahead of Baker, such as Hitchens himself; Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Don't forget the guys at National Review and the Weekly Standard. The list could go on and on.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Question of the Day

Why would anyone take a cruise? Ever. Under any circumstances:
The Carnival Cruise Lines' Liberty arrived in Fort Lauderdale Sunday with hundreds of passengers and crew still weak from an intestinal virus which swept through the ship.

The cruise company reported 534 passengers and 142 crew were treated in the ship's infirmary with illness symptoms over the course of the 16-day voyage from Rome to South Florida's Port Everglades.

At the end of the cruise, there were 14 passengers and 5 crew still exhibiting symptoms and in isolation.

"It was a horrible cruise," said Eddie Amico of West Palm Beach as he disembarked.

Brief Encounters

Scott McConnell writes of an interesting encounter with Jim Webb in the latest issue of The American Conservative:

My own Webb bandwagon moment occurred in Late September at a fundraiser in Northern Virginia. The Candidate arrived, slightly late, while a suburbanite audience awaited the chance to shake his hand, size him up. He worked the room for a few minutes, our host introduced him to me, and he stopped for several minutes to converse about a Paul Schroeder essay that had appeared in TAC. This was thrilling, of course, and it's impossible to imagine any other major-party candidate (even among the coterie of TAC readers in the House GOP) who would have behaved the same way.

Actually, I had a similar experience with Congressman Duncan, of Tennessee's 2nd district. The big difference being that Duncan wasn't on the ballot at the time, and even if he does he usually wins with about 80% of the vote.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Free Market Baloney

I saw a couple of pieces touching on problems with the "Free Market" today. Michael at 2Blowhards notes the role that mostly hidden subsidies play in the exurban/bigbox/fastfood/ lifestyle. "For one thing, the already-existing real-estate and housing industries have been complicit with the government for decades. Should the New Urbers be kept from the trough that their competitors are pigging out on? Besides, what most feet-on-the-ground New Urbers are spending their time doing is trying to get locales to loosen up already-existing top-down regulations that make it impossible for New Urbanist developments to be created."

Meanwhile, Senator-elect, James Webb (in the Wall Street Journal, of all places) notes the role of corporate boards in escalating executive pay. "Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic's range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year . . ."

Back in the glory days of Reactionary Radicals, I quoted Wendell Berry on the elephant in the room in terms of government intervention in the economy -- limited liability:
You would find that these organizations are organized expressly for the evasion of responsibility. They are structures in which, as my brother says, "the buck never stops." The buck is processed up the hierarchy until finally it is passed to "the shareholders," who characteristically are too widely dispersed, too poorly informed, and too unconcerned to be responsible for anything.

This intervention becomes more important the less it is mentioned. Shareholders are free to sell their stock if they decide that the board is overpaying the CEO, but the diffuse, transitory and anonymous nature stock ownership makes that an unlikely check on the behavior of boards and executives.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh Yeah!

While scrolling through a comment thread at the Contra-Crunchy site, I found several excellent comments from my spiritual leader, "Bubba." Such as, "is it wrong to suspect that Rod thinks Iraq's a disaster because he wants it to be a disaster?" An excellent analyis on Bubba's part explaining why Rod Dreher, and Rod Dreher alone, seems to believe that the Iraq war hasn't gone well. It has nothing to do with the ethnic and religious violence that continues to tear the country apart, just Rod's wishes.

Bubba pegs "truly reactionary paleos" as well. "If they actively desire a failure in American foreign policy because such failure would vindicate their ideology, it can't be said that they're truly patriotic." That would be a real stinger if ideology wasn't antithetical to the tendency called "paleoconservatism."

He also adds, "And am I the only one who finds it funny that both Rod and Stooksbury are invoking children's books and movies to express their truly childish glee?" To which I can only reply, eat my shorts.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

For some reason, my thoughts keep returning to the Wicked Witch of the West:
You cursed brat!
Look what you've done!! I'm melting, melting.
Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world.
Who would have thought that some little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness.

Suspicious TIming

Since the Liberal MSM/Drive-by-Media/Jihad Media won't mention it, I will: this election was suspiciously timed to occur when George W. Bush's credibility was swirling down the drain.

Republicans? We Hardly know those Guys

Expect a lot of commentary along the lines of these from Philip Klein and Michelle Malkin. Conservatism didn't lose, they argue, Republicans did. Klein thinks that the GOP should try "returning to their small government roots and once again becoming the party of ideas." Which would work except for the fact that there is no constituency for their "small government roots."

Malkin argues that,

The GOP lost. Conservatism prevailed. "San Francisco values" may control the gavels in Congress, but they do not control America. Property rights initiatives limiting eminent domain won big. MCRI, the anti-racial preference measure, passed resoundingly. . . Gay marriage bans won approval in 3 states. . .

John Kerry's late-campaign troop smear galvanized bloggers and talk radio hosts, but it was not strong enough to overcome wider bipartisan voter doubts about Iraq. I'll weigh in further on the war and the GOP in the morning.

I wonder if in thirty years she will be arguing that conservatives prevailed because initiatives passed outlawing the "man on dog" sex that Rick Santorum so feared. That most Americans still oppose gay marriage hardly says that conservatives are winning. Note how she attributes the loss to "wider bipartisan voter doubts about Iraq" as if invading Iraq wasn't central the central issue for the Right in the last few years.


Dean Barnett (Hugh Hewitt, Jr.) on Oct. 26:

SO, IT’S PREDICTION TIME. The House is going to be really close. I’m with Barone. Either we’ll hang on by a seat or two or we’ll lose by a seat or two. Either way, the Republicans will have what we once used to call a working majority – there will be enough mainstream Democrats that we won’t have to worry about two years of impeachment and other Conyers-inspired insanity.

But it’s in the Senate where I’m going to go out on a limb. All the close races? The ones in Virginia, Montana, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, and Missouri? We’re going to run the table except for one. I bet Ohio’s where we go down. In Pennsylvania or Michigan, either the brave Santorum or the increasingly impressive Bouchard will pull off the major upset. And in Rhode Island, heads they win, tails we lose. I personally hope the voters return Lincoln Chafee to private life where he’ll no doubt make a profound contribution to society as an eccentric philatelist or something along those lines.

And more recently: "Remember when I said I would let you know when it's time to panic? Consider yourself duly notified."

The Bastards Are Thrown Out . . .

And I approve of this message.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Trail of Tears

Will the Sun ever shine on K-Lo again? "Senator Santorum has graciously conceded. Reminding people of that Gathering Storm we have to face without or without him in the Senate. Says he's proud he didn't run on pork, but the stakes of this war we're in."

Open Thread

Rod Dreher has an open thread up for voting discussion. I supported investigations and gridlock.

You Decide

Mark Rose: "The conservative ideology is inherently optimistic and hopeful. This means conservatives have no reason not to be optimistic and hopeful. Our message, after all, is a winning message: permanent tax cuts, no amnesty for illegals, no same-sex marriage, no abortion-on-demand, and finish the war in Iraq."

Russell Kirk: "Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word 'conservative' as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order."

And wouldn't an "optimist" conclude that anybody can assimilate and become an American, so their is no reason to control immigration?

Monday, November 06, 2006


A somewhat self-involved Andrew Sullivan "welcomes" the American Conservative to the opposition to the Bush administration and the Republican Congress because of their GOP Must Go editorial. Sullivan writes, "Virtually the entire conservative movement is now disowning this administration and this Congress. I welcome every single one."

That is nonsense of course, any number of rightwingers are shilling for a Republican victory. As for TAC, is Sullivan would study that publication's archives he would see that it was attacking the Bush administration and opposing the Iraq war from day one -- back when Sullivan was one of its biggest cheerleaders.


Voters, when you go to the polls tomorrow, don't forget to focus on the real issues:
Osama bin Kerry's insult of the troops

The suspicious timing of the Foley story.

The Liberal Media's failure to report the good news in Iraq.

Keep these in mind and you won't go wrong.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

All in the Timing

Glenn Reynolds: "I QUESTION THE TIMING: 'The unemployment rate dropped to a five-year low of 4.4 percent in October as employers added 92,000 new jobs flashing a picture of a strong labor market as the midterm elections draw near.'"

Glenn Reynolds: "On the other hand, this December Vanity Fair article -- conveniently made available just before the election -- suggests that the issue isn't so much Rumsfeld as President Bush, though the critics, especially Ken Adelman, get in plenty of swipes at Rumsfeld, too." (emphasis added)

mimeographed cliches

Here is my only prediction for this election season: Ten years from now, the desiccated remnant of the Republican-oriented right now congregating at National Review, FreeRepublic and Townhall; will subsist on to quote William F. Buckley, "mimeographed cliches describing The Plot to Destroy America" and will blame everything -- Iraq, the huge debt and the failure of the Bush administration on Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times and Pat Buchanan.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rod Dreher is Bad, Amen!

A couple of weeks ago, Rod Dreher announced that he left the Roman Catholic for the Orthodox Church, in a post about the length of the Old Testament. I didn't have anything to say about it because I don't generally comment on religious matters.

But now I have my own announcement. I have joined the Church of Rod Dreher Is Bad. Let me tell you a little bit about it. Our spiritual leader is Bubba of The Contra-Crunchy Conservative (Jonah Goldberg is a Bishop). Our central tenet is that Rod Dreher is Bad. We don't like him. We don't like his 13 year old Mercedes. We don't like the New Testament length of the subtitle of the hardcover version of his book, yet we don't approve of the shortened version on the paperback. We don't care for that Larison guy either, he thinks that he is so smart. The worst thing that Dreher does is fail to excuse the arrogance and incompetence and stupidity of Republican rule of the last six years. How dare he notice what a disaster the Iraq war has been! How dare he not attempt to scare his readers by screaming "Pelosi!, Pelosi!, Pelosi!"

The best thing about our Church is that it doesn't have all of those stuffy rules and Commandments. In fact, we are willing to excuse and forgive any failing and swallow any amount of crap -- so long as you are a Republican politician.

You can't believe the peace this gives me. I now have an answer for everything. You say that the Republicans deserve to lose, I say Rod Dreher is Bad. You say that the war in Iraq is actually harming our national security, I say Rod Dreher is Bad. You say that conservatives shouldn't let America become a gigantic WalMacStarMartBucks, I say Rod Dreher is Bad. Life is so simple, yet so meaningful now.


How much self respect will the folks at NRO trade away to keep Dennis Hastert in power and protect the Bush administration from being investigated? Quite a bit it seems. One hopes that some of them will wake up next Wednesday with a political hangover and some regrets.

But at the moment, Jim Geraghty is asking in a rather hysterical fashion, "I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB? He continues:

What? Wait a minute. The entire mantra of the war critics has been "no WMDs, no WMDs, no threat, no threat", for the past three years solid. Now we're being told that the Bush administration erred by making public information that could help any nation build an atomic bomb.


I think the Times editors are counting on this being spun as a "Boy, did Bush screw up" meme; the problem is, to do it, they have to knock down the "there was no threat in Iraq" meme, once and for all. Because obviously, Saddam could have sold this information to anybody, any other state, or any well-funded terrorist group that had publicly pledged to kill millions of Americans and had expressed interest in nuclear arms. You know, like, oh . . . al-Qaeda.

. . .

The antiwar crowd is going to have to argue that the information somehow wasn't dangerous in the hands of Saddam Hussein, but was dangerous posted on the Internet. It doesn't work. It can't be both no threat to America and yet also somehow a threat to America once it's in the hands of Iran. Game, set, and match.

Well, not exactly. It is clear to a relatively sane person that the Times article is refering to the Iraq nuclear program prior to the 1991 Gulf War:

. . .

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
. . .
With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents -- most of them in Arabic -- would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.

. . .
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein's scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
. . .

A senior American intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed "where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures." The documents, he added, could perhaps help Iran or other nations making a serious effort to develop nuclear arms, but probably not terrorists or poorly equipped states. The official, who requested anonymity because of his agency's rules against public comment, called the papers "a road map that helps you get from point A to point B, but only if you already have a car."

. . .
In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called "Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995." That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier. . . (emphasis added)

The fact that Iraq had documents on how to build nuclear weapons from their program that was ended in 1991 doesn't come close to undermining the antiwar case -- a big part of which is that the U.S. would end up in an Iraqi quagmire (or sandstorm, if you prefer). He says that Saddam could have given this stuff to Osama but is oblivious to the fact that he had more than a decade to do so, but didn't and he must have missed the quote saying that it wouldn't have helped terrorists or poorly equipped states.

"Oakleaf" at Polipundit uses the same article to conclude that "in 2002 Saddam Hussein's 'scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.'" Not exactly, "Oakleaf." Even Geraghty noted that it takes actual stuff to make a nuclear weapon, not just paperwork.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds pours some cold water on the hysteria. "udging from some of the delighted emails I'm getting, I need to warn people not to get too carried away -- this doesn't say that Saddam would have had a bomb in 2004."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Raving

More Kerry Raving in NRO's Corner, this time from Andrew McCarthy:
National Democrats, including Kerry as late as two days ago, and the national media, including the White House press corps as late as yesterday, first misconstrued Rush's remarks (and ignored the lengthy, generally unassailable argument from which they were drawn -- to wit, that even those for whom we have sympathy cannot expect immunity from criticism when they enter the public arena); then they demanded an apology to keep the story alive; then they misrepresented the apology that came (when Fox explained that he had OVER-medicated, Rush apologized for suggesting he had under-medicated or been acting, but did not retract any of the original, valid criticism); and then -- once Kerry got himself in hot water -- they switched gears and claimed the apology they had been gleefully chirping about for several days had not actually happened, such that Kerry should now not have to apologize unless Rush apologized.

I have what the heck he is talking about. Who is saying that Kerry shouldn't apologize unless "Rush" does? He doesn't give any specific examples -- much less links -- of who is saying the things he says that they are saying.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Raving Idiots

John Derbyshire, who seems to be the only cornerite who hasn't become a raving idiot over the elections, threw a little cold water on the Kerry "insult" hysteria overcoming the right.
He may regard them with contempt (my personal impression is that JK regards most of the human race with contempt); he may despise them; he may think they're dumb crackers; but T-H-A-T-'-S N-O-T W-H-A-T H-E S-A-I-D.

The best responses are from Ramesh Ponnuru and K.J. Lopez who both seem to be saying that since they can misinterpret Kerry's remarks, that's what they will do.

I have a feeling that one day soon, Derb is going to wake up and wonder why he is associating himself with such boobs, or NR will deem him to be yet another Unpatriotic Conservative. Larison has more.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru takes me to task, and I probably did overinterpret his words. He did note that Republicans would continue to make a stink about what Kerry didn't say and didn't mean:

Kerry may have meant to make an anti-Bush crack--he probably did, even--but the plainest reading of what came out of his mouth was an anti-troops crack. So he should have said that he botched the line and never meant to insult the troops. That wouldn't have ended the story, since it's too good for Republican partisans to let go, but it would have caused it to die down considerably. As for John Derbyshire, he needs to learn to take criticism as well as he dishes it out. (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, the phony controversy continues in the Corner.

GOP Must Go

The American Conservative on the midterm election(via Daniel McCarthy:

The meaning of this election will be interpreted in one of two ways: the American people endorsed the Bush presidency or they did what they could to repudiate it. Such an interpretation will be simplistic, even unfairly so. Nevertheless, the fact that will matter is the raw number of Republicans and Democrats elected to the House and Senate.

It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen--in America and the world at large--as a decisive "No" vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome. We need not dwell on George W. Bush's failed effort to jam a poorly disguised amnesty for illegal aliens through Congress or the assaults on the Constitution carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism or his administration's endorsement of torture. Faced on Sept. 11, 2001 with a great challenge, President Bush made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why--thus ignoring the prerequisite for crafting an effective response. He seemingly did not want to find out, and he had staffed his national-security team with people who either did not want to know or were committed to a prefabricated answer.

Monday, October 30, 2006

From the Ashes

"If a conservative order is indeed to return, we ought to know the tradition which is attached to it, so we may rebuild society; if it is not to be restored, still we ought to understand conservative ideas so that we may rake from the ashes what scorched fragments of civilization escape the conflagration of unchecked will and appetite." --Russell Kirk

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Virginia is for Dullards?

Are Southerners, and more specifically Virginians, stupid? That's what Mark Finkelstein believes that Chris Matthews is saying:

All that was missing was the theme music from Deliverance. Not content to condemn George Allen for raising the issue of Jim Webb's racy writing, Chris Matthews decided on this evening's Hardball to slur the entire Commonwealth of Virginia south of the DC suburbs.

Interviewing senior Webb campaign advisor Steve Jarding [Chris did indicate that he had unsuccessfully tried to get an Allen representative on the show], Matthews had this to say:

"Not to take sides but they've had this material since the day Jim Webb announced, and they've chosen to use it now with the risk that it implies, because everybody in Northern Virginia, in this area of the country, reads books, they think."

Although I wouldn' characterize it as a "slur," Matthews is clearly implying that the transplanted members of the overclass who live in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. read more than the average Virginian. For what its worth, I assume he is wrong. Doubtless, these kind of people read books in college and buy more books today -- doorstop biographies of FDR, Lincoln and Churchill -- but actually read them? Yeah, right.

But it is Allen supporters who are clearly hoping that Virginians are so dumb as to be unable to tell fantasy from reality or fiction from nonfiction or Southeast Asia from the United States. I don't know if this slimy little episode will make a difference, but George Allen is clearly the loser. He has repeatedly made an an ass of himself and has now stooped to digging up dirty passages from his opponents writing. He may win another term in the Senate that he doesn't really want; but he will never, ever be president -- which he really, really wants.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Man of Macaca

James Webb should be feeling pretty good right now. A hamhanded attempt by the Allen campaign to destroy him by publicizing weird and dirty passages from his "fiction novels" seems to have had a positive effect on sales of Lost Soldiers and Fields of Fire.

Webb will either be a U.S. senator next year, or he will be positioned to write a bestselling Roman a clef about a creepy senator who sends his staff to the library to find the dirty passages in novels so he doesn't have to read a whole book all by himself.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lurking . . .

I'm not sure who Mark Rose is referring to here. I don't hear many calls for "negotiate with terrorists." I do know of a president with lots of rightwing supporters who believes that we can plant democracy in the arid soil that produces this kind of rhetoric:

An 8-year-old girl said on Abu Dhabit television, "I hope Bush dies in flames, and I want to go to (then-Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon and kill him with a gun and stab him with a sword."
. . .
A lyric from an Iranian music video carries this line, "America is lurking for you, and will not give up until it destroys you completely. Rise up soon because the world is not safe from the hunter."


I see by Doug Bandow that Rick Santorum -- mild mannered senator by day, superhero by night -- is the only thing standing between America and a new race of Super Nazis:

Likening the times to the late 1930s as Nazi Germany was rising to power, Sen. Rick Santorum said last night that if he loses his re-election bid, it could set the stage for terrorism to become more of a threat than the Nazis ever were.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Art of Knowing

Rod Dreher has a post up about Michael Polanyi: The Art of Knowing by Mark T. Mitchell. I have read a little of it and noticed that Isaiah Berlin with Polanyi: "These Hungarians are strange . . . here is a great scientist giving up the Nobel to write mediocre works of philosophy."

Mark Mitchell also notes that Polanyi allowed his subscription to National Review lapse in 1964. Presumably he anticipated the Goldberg-Lopez-Lowry Axis of Cretins in charge there now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I read about such types in recent articles from The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, and then I was deleted by a Wikishutin. This guy, a Canadian math nerd has removed me from the list of contributing editors for Liberty magazine, although I clearly am. He also removed me as a "selected contributor" from the page for The American Conservative, which I also clearly am. He seems to have a lot of time on his hands.

Got War?

The Bush administration has shown an admirable commitment to developing new slogans to replace "stay the course." A wise move since the current "course" appears to be directly to an iceberg. To help out the cause I came up with a few replacements for the president and his media/blogosphere/talk radio followers to use:
99 & 44/100 per cent pure liberation.

"Shut up!" I explain.

Cut and win!

Show me the victory!

No war left behind.

Vietnam was worse.

Hewitt is still on board.

UPDATE: To answer a question from the comments, 99 & 44/100 refers to the purity of Ivory Soap. It also can refer to a Ronnie Milsap song.

Monday, October 23, 2006


When we last heard from The American Spectator's Jed Babbin he was revealing the Putin, Hu, Pelosi conspiracy. This week his formula for victory in Iraq is to make war on Iraq and Syria and threaten the rest of the world with the same if they "sponsor Islamic fascist terrorism."

I guess for Babbin this qualifies as admirable restraint. I half expected him to advocate bombing Latvia with tubs of margarine and make war against Moon Men as a plan of victory in Iraq.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Day four of a week with Bill Kauffman at 2Blowhards:
Y'know what always got me? Those rankings of the presidents by historians. The Greats, Washington and Jefferson excepted, tend to be the warmakers: Lincoln. Wilson. FDR. Those responsible for the most unnatural deaths. The "near-greats" were those who gave warfare the old college try: Teddy Roosevelt. Even the wretched Truman. Those who sat in the White House while peace raged outside the door were average at best, though often below average or the dreaded "failure."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Stand By Your Man

Jay Nordlinger stands by his man in the face Jonathan Chait's(reg. required) ridicule. Nord still has more faith in Don Rumsfeld than in The New Republic and thinks that saying that war is a "dirty job" shows how direct and "uneuphemistic" the secdef is.

I prefer my take on Nordlinger's worshipful Rummy article in the Dec. 31, 2001 issue of National Review that The American Conservative published three years ago:
The cover was a low point for a once serious magazine, featuring a caricature of a smiling Rumsfeld mimicking a Betty Grable, come-hither pose. The article reported on Rumsfeld in a manner more appropriate to People magazine than to a respected intellectual journal. Nordlinger breathlessly revealed that Rumsfeld was a sex symbol (!) and a pop-culture icon (!!): "Reports have it that people gather round to watch Rumsfeld press conferences the way they do Oprah . . .Women confide that they have . . . well, un-defense-policy-like thoughts about the secretary of defense. . ."


Bryan Appleyard writes about the coming of print on demand technology and the demise of the "bookshop." I share his excitement at the prospect of POD but not his disdain for we in America call bookstores. Amazon, AbeBooks or a POD station in a Starbucks are great when you know what you are looking for; they aren't so good for finding what you aren't looking for, or for discovering what you didn't even know existed. In fact, AbeBooks is a network of stores like Knoxville's Book Eddy.

Along the way he beats a dead horse that should have been buried long ago -- the impending demise of the midlist:
Publishers have been forced to take fewer risks. Their cheap-to-run backlists can survive on small sales, and the mass market will look after itself. But the middle element in the equation -- consisting of the new, the risky, the strange, the difficult, the ambitious, the non-generic, everything, in fact, one values -- has been squeezed out. As publishers repeatedly say, the number of copies of a book that now have to be sold to justify the upfront costs is getting higher and higher. New books that aren't The Wag Diet by Jordan Beckham don't stand a chance.

I have heard this many times and while it may be true in England, I doubt it is in the U.S. Benjamin Schwarz took a swing at this myth a few years back in the Atlantic when Ann Godoff was fired from Random House. "It is simply untrue that the number of worthwhile titles published has diminished with the consolidation of publishing houses, the popularity of the Oprah and Today Show Book Clubs, and the proliferation of such chain bookstores as Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million." Along the way, Schwarz notes that a lot of prestige titles are crap and still get heaps of undeserved praise and publicity.

I can't judge how the industry compares to thirty or fifty years ago, but I see plenty of excellent non-blockbuster titles such as Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette from Bill Kauffman and The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie (admittedly helped by being an editor at FSG).


Alexander McClure at Whizbang Politics has advice for the president and the Republicans. "The President has to take the initiative on Iraq. Making it seem that we are not stuck in netural and bound to a stay-the-course strategy is necessary." Good idea. The only problem is that we are stuck in neutral and are bound to a stay-the-course strategy.

More deep thoughts in the comments from Nehemiah:

Also, the "teach the Republicans a lesson" crowd need to have their own history lesson.

Did getting a Stalin teach the Russians a lesson? They didn't afterward elect a conservative -- they kept getting more communists.

Stalin, . . . Nancy Pelosi, . . . whatever.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You Said It, K-Lo!

Regular readers of NRO's the Corner know that Katheryn Lopez is right in saying that "the name of Rick Santorum brings out some of the most idiotic reactions in people." And how.

Tony the Disgusting Tiger

Tony Blankley completes a rapid descent from a competent Rightwing hack to a nauseating wierdo:
Apparently, these anticipated conservative non-voters are annoyed with Republican imperfection. They are disheartened, disappointed, disillusioned, distempered, and dismal -- and thus plan to dis the party that better advances conservative principles in government.

They appear to have fallen victim to the false syllogism: 1) Something must be done; 2) not voting is something; therefore, 3) I will not vote. Of course the fallacy of the syllogism is that the second category could be anything. For example, No. 2 could as well read "eating dog excrement is something."

Not only is Blankley unnecessasarily disgusting, his reasoning is faulty. His syllogism should begin with the proposition that undivided Republican rule has been a disaster. From there it is hard to come to any conclusions involving eating dog poop, another Republican congress or any other sickening prospects.

Daniel Larison read Blankley (hopefully not while eating) and responds to his whining at the thought of congressional oversight of the Bush administration:

Egads, the President might be investigated! He might even be held accountable for his violations of the Constitution! Not that! Not the Glorious Leader! Minions, protect your Leader! I command you! Of course, it is hard to “scandalise” an already scandalously bad and abusive administration. It is impossible to overestimate just how disgusted some people on the right are with Mr. Bush, which makes framing the appeal to vote in terms of protecting Mr. Bush all the more hilarious. This is supposed to persuade the disaffected and the angry? Call them stupid and remind them of one of the reasons why they are angry? If this is the best argument the GOP has (and it has been their main argument for the entire year), they not only deserve to lose but deserve to get their heads handed to them for the arrogance and self-importance the argument reveals.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Go Devils!

It's Kauffman week at 2Blowhards, with an interview here and here. Here's a brief sample:
My English forbears came to God's country on neither the Mayflower nor a Mayflower moving van. They were farmers who settled around Churchville in the dim mists of time. (Speaking of Churchville -- I digress the way other men blink -- my wife, the lovely and long-suffering Lucine, was roped into coaching the Batavia High basketball cheerleaders a few years ago. BHS is the Blue Devils, a colorless French-derived militaristic nickname that we and 1,200 other schools ought to drop tootsweet. When BHS played the Churchville-Chili Saints, Lucine's girls chanted "Go Devils! Beat the Saints!" A chill ran down my superstitious Catholic back.)

Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

Jed Babbin looks to be about ready for the lollipop factory. Today's column is a series of random sentences leading up to the final paragraph:
It's a very good thing that Osama bin Laden isn't as smart as he thinks he is. If he were, he'd send one of those European-looking al-Q members to Havana to kill Castro. With Fidel dead and the assassin suitably shot to pieces, the world would be in an instant uproar, and we'd see a media feeding frenzy in Turtle Bay that would make the UN look like the courthouse in the Michael Jackson trial. America would be blamed and Chavez (Fidel's most ardent admirer and greatest supporter since Brezhnev) would go to Havana personally to supervise the restoration of the Castro regime. The Cuban-American community would be up in arms -- literally -- and President Bush would be caught in the middle. And what a fine mess that would be. Like I said, it's a good thing OBL isn't that smart. But both Bad Vlad Putin and his funny-named sidekick, Hu Jintao, are.

So there you have it -- the leaders of Russia and China are going to assassinate Castro in order to tip the House to the Democrats.

Babbin is ready for the nice men in white lab coats.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Barbaric Yawps

Michael, of 2Blowhards on the Sage of Batavia:

None of Kauffman's books are straightforward affairs. You'd be frustrated if you turned to them for clearly-laid-out arguments or encyclopedia-style information. Instead, they're fullblown reading experiences: part history, part personal essay. They're also big, heraldic, all-over-the-place prose poems -- patchwork, Whitmanesque, "barbaric yawps" set to driving rock, country, and blues beats. They're florid and funky, perverse yet open, bristling with deeply-felt exhortations and digressions, and full of comic but heart-busting praise-songs. To the extent that I'd want to categorize his work at all, I'd put it on the same rhapsodic / eccentric, full-of-contradictions-but-that's-the-point-dammit shelf as Edward Abbey, Henry David Thoreau, and H.L. Mencken.


Glenn Reynolds compiles a list of reasons for what appears to be a coming Republican debacle but he neglected to include the quagmire in Iraq until the updates from readers, thus revealing his belief that the Harriet Miers nomination did more damage to the Republicans than to the failed war that has dominated the headlines for more than three years now. He also doesn't mention the Bush administration's weak response to Hurricane Katrina.

Later, he also noted that Diana Irey is making an issue of Pork, one of Reynolds' pet issues, in her campaign against John Murtha. It does not appear to be working.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Investigations and Gridlock

Hugh Hewitt endorses a Democratic victory in the election, or that's what I assume when he says, that a Democratic majority means "endless investigations and gridlock." Doesn't that sound great?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Risky Scheme

The awful Bill Bennett dropped in at NRO's The Corner to exhort Republicans to the polls. He mentions judicial appointments and open borders (as if undivided Republican rule has done anything about that in the last six years) as reasons to keep the GOP in power and also states, "If you want Donald Rumsfeld hauled before Congress every week justifying the war rather than fighting it, stay home."

It occurrs to me that I would like to have Rumsfeld "hauled before Congress every week"(or so) to justify his management of the war. And what does Bennett think will happen -- that Iraq and Afghanistan will dissolved into chaos without Rumsfeld's constant attention? That's a risk I am willing to take.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Crunchy Cons . . .

Crunchy Cons will soon be out in paperback with its new subtitle. In a related matter, look for hysterical pregnancies followed by multiple cow births coming from this crowd.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bush=Higher Taxes

Doesn't Mark Rose know that somebody is going to have to pay for the wars we are fighting, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind and all the other ways that the Republicans have spent money they don't have for the last six years even Nancy Pelosi doesn't get everything on her wish list.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Government of Laws

More Sam: "No one man and no one executive department should have the absolute power to order government spying on how people use their right of free speech. This is what we mean by a government of laws and not of men."

Paleo Pickup Lines

Daniel Larison: "Larison: 'Did I mention that I opposed the bombing of Kosovo and predicted that it would lead to disaster?' Young woman: 'Oh, really? That is interesting! Tell me more!' What? You don’t think that happened?"

That's an excellent line but don't forget these:
"Would you like to come up and see my etchings of Chesterton?"

"You are as pretty as the cover of Chronicles."

"Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough, a flask of wine, I'll Take My Stand -- and thou . . ."

The Wisdom of Sam Ervin

"Ours is not a country in which government can become a tyranny against the will of the people. But tyranny can come just as surely if the people are willing to deliver over their freedom in search for safety." -- Sen. Sam Ervin (D. NC).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fatal Attraction

Bubba, the blogger who has the unhealthy obsession with Crunchy Cons author Rod Dreher, is so determined to insult his archnemesis that he doesn't mind hitting a couple of innocent bystanders -- myself and Daniel Larison -- in the process. He accuses Larison of "idiocy" but doesn't explain why he is wrong. Bubba is upset at the way we all noticed how Rush Limbaugh imputed to Liberalism what is in fact the central tenet of Conservatism -- the fallen nature of man. I learned the Cliff's Notes version of this reading National Review and old William F. Buckley books as an undergraduate two decades ago.

Bubba would do well to seek counseling to help over his Dreher-fixation and then learn what conservatives are supposed to believe before attempting to correct anyone else.

UPDATE: Things get even uglier in the comments. We are bad writers and Dreher is a showoff because he warns readers that the contents of a Time article isn't available on line and I'm not really sure how Caleb Steagall got involved but there is this:
The impression I get of Steagall et al is of a bunch of auto-didacts with inferiority complexes about not having a position in the academy. Considering the awful state of their prose is scary enough but imagining that they might actually speak this way is downright terrifying. The closest I can imagine is the renn-faire types with their "thees and thous."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

People's Pottage

Here is something for all of you Old Right types -- the Americanist Library edition of Garet Garett's The People's Pottage.

Suspicious Minds

NRO's Mark Levin is on top of the real scandal involving Mark Foley -- the "suspicious timing" of the revelations of Foley's perverted emails and instant messages. This post for example:
Brian Ross and ABC News were too busy with Katrina and the anniversary of 9/11 to pursue the emails? Does this make sense to anybody? Maybe the Washington Times will call for Ross’s resignation. The timing of Ross’s story raises serious questions about the politicization of this matter.

Not being a conspiracy-addled rightwing nut, the notion that Brian Ross was working on Katrina and 9/11 anniversary stories during August and early September makes perfect sense. But maybe I am blind to the secret forces pulling the strings.

True Believers . . .

The most important question in American politics at the moment is this -- how many likely Republican voters are like the hard core Freepers and are willing to swallow any load crap from the Republican party and blame the Democrats for everything:

. . .
To: Taggart_D

It's possible Hastert is also a victim. Evidence indicates it is the Democrats who knew and sat on the info. All this hysteria is playing into the Democrats' hands.

6 posted on 10/03/2006 4:17:25 AM PDT by Conservativegreatgrandma
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ] . . .

To: Taggart_D
Why should he resign?

He's got an R in front of his title apparently. All republicans share a common guilt due to the 'vast right wing conspiracy' mentality. Other than that he doesn't seem to be in any way shape or form involved.
8 posted on 10/03/2006 4:17:50 AM PDT by kinoxi (.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies ] . . .

To: Taggart_D

There MUST be an investigation and it MUST be led by Barney Franks. If that would be inappropriate perhaps Gary Studds could be lured out of retirement.

11 posted on 10/03/2006 4:20:03 AM PDT by rhombus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]. . .

To: Homer1

From what I've heard so far.

Hastert had emails that were not suggestive. Democrat operatives had the instant messages that were disgusting. They've had them for a couple YEARS and sat on them.

Democrats should fall on their swords. All of them.

14 posted on 10/03/2006 4:21:29 AM PDT by listenhillary (Islam = Religion of peace. If you say otherwise, we'll kill you!)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Limbaugh . . .

What do you do if your job and self esteem are completely tied up with the notion that conservatives and Republicans are virtuous and liberals and Democrats are evil at a time when the country is reeling from incompetent Republican leadership? If you are Rush Limbaugh, you rant and rave like a loon and make an ass of yourself:

You know, Republicans are said to be racist and sexist and bigoted and homophobic. The liberal policy, liberal philosophy is to assume bad behavior, bad human behavior. They assume it, they have a condescending look toward people in general. It's what makes them liberals. People are incapable of doing the right thing without liberals' guidance, people are incapable of making the right decisions to get ahead in life without liberal guidance, they're incapable of earning a decent living. . . Liberalism assumes bad human behavior and then coddles it as imperfect. After they coddle imperfect, bad human behavior, they are able to say those who judge imperfections in people and come out strong for right and wrong, the simplistic black and white, good versus evil, people who come out for law and order and so forth, they're the sinners, because none of us are perfect. The liberals understand this, they coddle the imperfections, they create victims out of those who are imperfect, turning them into a cause celebre, and blaming the right, these Draconian, intolerant, inflexible people who judge others while ignoring their own foibles.

This explains why the liberals are able to accept genocide in places like Iraq if it furthers their agenda. Because everybody is flawed. Saddam Hussein is flawed and he's just a bad guy, we understand that, we need understand this about people. They expect the worst from people, and they want the worst from people tolerated, and that is a sign of compassion. . . Their view of conservatives and Republicans is that we are intolerant of anybody who is not like us, and so we must be made to pay the price for holding a standard that they do not. I'll give you a quick illustration. When Clinton was elected, during the week leading up to the inaugural -- I told you this story before. They had all these parties and ceremonies and little get-togethers on the mall in Washington, had people like Aretha Franklin in there to sing and other big-time entertainers. The list of songs they were singing were songs like We Shall Overcome, or We Got Out Of Jail Today all because a liberal Democrat had been elected after the 12 years of the judgmentalism of the Reagan and Bush years.

UPDATE: Daniel Larison fills in the blanks.

Everybody Dies

That's the simplified plot summary of this Louis Bromfield novel.

Sweet Fifteen

Back in 2001, David Brooks took a few trips to the wilds of rural Pennsylvania and discovered that "Red Americans" are laconic, hard workin' and modest. I remember it well, because I live in flyover country and Brooks' view of us seemed like a load of crap having more to do with how Madison Avenue views Middle America (Think Marlboro Man and Chevy "like a rock" trucks).

The Knoxville News Sentinel (registration required) provides another view of flyover country in the form of an MTV-inspired "sweet fifteen" party complete with a Hummer Limo, Shirtless hunks with body-glitter and Georgia rapper Bubba Sparxxx:

The fanfare is short and sweet, as Brittany and the court make their way back into the inn. Brittany re-emerges in a neutral empire-waist Bianca Nero gown with silver beading.

The birthday girl dances and chats with friends and well-wishers.

After the dance troupe performs, Brittany is pulled onto the black-and-white dance floor for a little treat, lap dances from the group's male members. Her mother receives one, too.

Big surprises After another costume change, this time a blue silk halter dress, Brittany is ready for the night's entertainment headliner, Georgia rapper Bubba Sparxxx.

"Bubba, Bubba, Bubba," the restless crowd chants.

When he walks onto the stage, the youngsters explode with applause and yells. Digital and phone cameras are raised high, like high-tech lighters.

"Happy birthday, Brittany. We love you," shouts the rapper. "We are thrilled to be here. There is no place we would rather be than here in Knoxville, celebrating Brittany's birthday. It's great to be a part of so much love."

Sparxxx opens his set with "Deliverance," his first single, and closes with his biggest hit to date, "Miss New Booty," which is Brittany's ring tone on her cell phone.

After performing the crowd-pleaser, Sparxxx calls an embarrassed Brittany onto the stage and gives the princess a new title.

"Make some noise for Knoxville's official Miss New Booty," he says.

Rightwing Porn

Ben Stein indulges in rightwing political porn:
On the one hand, we have a poor misguided Republican man who had a romantic thing for young boys. He sent them suggestive e-mail. I agree, that's not great. On the other hand, we have a Democratic party that worships ( not likes, WORSHIPS ) a man named Bill Clinton who did not send suggestive e-mails as far as we know, but who had a barely legal intern give him oral sex kneeling under his desk in the Oval Office while he talked on the phone to a Congressional Committee Chairman . . . and having her fellate him when in the sacred seat of power of the world's leading Republic. And the Democrats cheer themselves hoarse for him. His wife has a great shot at being our next President.

Stein seemed to have spent a lot visualizing while he was writing this creepy paragraph, I feel the need to take a shower after reading it. One thing that has bothered me for eight years now -- when and how did the Whitehouse become "sacred"?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Book Chat

I've yet to be "tagged" for the book quiz making the rounds of the blogosverse, but I've been known to invite myself to the party before and I'll make some changes to the list while I'm at it:
1.) Name a book that has changed your life.
About ten years ago I was assigned a review of The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller for The American Enterprise, thus making me a professional writer.

2.) Name a book that you have read more than once.
I, Claudius, Lolita, and several others.

3.) Name a book that you would take to a desert island, a remote village in the Andes or a layover at O'Hare Airport.
Every book list I make must have Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book at least once.

4.) Name a book that the movie adaption is an improvement on.
The Godfather is a good but doesn't have the line, "It's not personal Sonny, its strictly business."

5.) Name a book that should be made into a movie.
The Second Coming would make a great film.

6.) What are you currently reading?
Conversations With Walker Percy, and Notes From Underground.

7.) Name a book that you plan to read.
Too many to mention.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Last Gentleman

I bought this well worn and well read copy of The Last Gentleman at William James Bookseller in Port Townsend, Washington about ten years ago. The women on the cover holding sheer fabric in front of their nude figures have nothing to do with the book. The current edition is worth reading, but the cover isn't nearly as cool.

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Thin Line

Have you given thanks today for the thin neocon line that stands -- at their keyboards -- between civilization and savagery:

So we really are left with very little in these pivotal times--the will of George Bush, of course, the Old Breed unchanged since Okinawa and the Bulge that still anchors the US military, the courage and skill of a very few brave writers like a Hitchens, Krauthammer, and the tireless and brilliant Mark Steyn, but very, very few others. No, this is an age in which we in the West make smug snuff movies about killing an American President, while the Taliban and the Islamists boast of assassinating the Pope.

Animal Farm

This copy of Animal Farm was printed and bound in Kingsport, Tennessee. I don't think that the Author is from around here.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Stick With It

Via A.C., I see that Mark Rose will be with George Bush until the bitter end on Iraq. I'm glad to see some good ole' fashioned American gumption and sticktoitiveness. Think of the great loss to history if Napoleon had turned back from Moscow, or the Donner Party had stopped at a Holiday Inn.

So stick with it Mark, I'm sure you will be vindicated in the end -- if not on Earth, then on whatever planet you currently inhabit.

Old Books

Here is an idea that I stole, er borrowed from Ann Althouse. She posted pictures of 45rpm records that don't play anymore, but she won't throw out. I don't have many of those, but I do have several old books, some that I read, others that just make me look smart:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

George Allen meet John Huey Ketchum

I have to admit that I am starting to feel a bit sorry for George Allen. This bizarre controversy over whether the Virginia senator ever used the word "nigger" doesn't say much for the state of self-government or of the priorities of the media. I assume that he is guilty, but that on its own is of little significance. I support the reelection of Robert Byrd, who was in the KKK years ago and even used the "n-word" on TV a few years back; so I can't very well denounce Allen for having used racial slurs.

But as usual, the problem isn't the crime -- but the coverup. Allen could have simply admitted guilt and plagiarized Jesse Jackson's "God isn't finished with me yet" apology made after his infamous "Hymietown" gaffe in 1984.

Somebody should get Allen a copy of Bill Kauffman's sadly out of print novel, Every Man a King (hey, BK, get a copy to Picador, and get a new edition out!). In that book, a rising rightwing pundit named John Huey Ketchum has his career yanked out from under him when he opines that "you can lead a nigger to workfare, but you can't . . ." on CBS's Face the Nation and is reduced to scrubbing factory toilets in his hometown of Batavia, New York. After his fall from grace, John Huey finds happiness in housing-project obscurity and white-trash love with a woman willing to overlook his sin if she can figure out what it is:

"It was a mistake, I think," he said haltingly. "I had a newspaper column in quite a few papers around the country. I wasn't famous, but I was on the right track. Then I got invited to go on Face the Nation, the boring talk show about politics that's on Sunday mornings."

She betrayed no recognition of this anti-Sabbath institution.

"Anyways, I was on the show, debating this black guy about welfare. He was doin' this boring recital of bullshit facts and arguments, and I was doin' mine. He'd say blahblahblah. I'd counter with blahblahblah. . . .It was the usual Washington bullshit. Until all of a sudden somethin' came over me. Like a demon or succubus or some evil goddamn sprit invaded my body, and before I knew it I said the word 'nigger' on national TV."

He waited for a gasp, a shocked "John Huey, you didn't" Wanda said nothing. He went on . . .