Monday, February 27, 2006

Crunchy, Non-Crunchy


Red State TV
by Mary Katharine Ham

Country Music Television is going through that inevitable adolescent stage in a music station's development in which it gets all rebellious and decides it's not a music station anymore. Instead, CMT now shows videos and original shows.
This is the point in the relationship in which you just have to step back and pray that you've raised your music television station well enough that it makes the right decisions on its own. It just wants to express itself, make its mark on the world, and you can only hope you've given it the values to do so without devolving into programming featuring any combination of whip cream, 7 strangers in one house, and Carson Daly.
I'll admit, I worried about my little CMT, but it's showing promise and maturity. First, it knows the wisdom of sticking with a classic. Hence, the "Dukes of Hazzard" on regular rotation . . .

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mission To Moscow

The war party is constantly lamenting the failure of the media and Hollywood to get on board to support the war in Iraq. Some, like Thomas Sowell, wax nostalgic over conformity disguised as patriotism from the 1940s. I have seen such conformity taken to the extreme in the form of the 1943 Warner Brothers film, Mission to Moscow. It is a movie based on the experiences of Ambassador Joseph Davies. In the film, Davies (played by Walter Huston) comes to the USSR after a brief stay in Germany. During the brief stopover in Berlin, The ambassador talks to numerous Germans practically licking their chops at their coming feast of the European continent. Mrs. Davies remarks on the goose-stepping conformity of the Hitler Youth.

Davies tours the Soviet Union and sees heroic and productive factories and collective farms where workers are allowed to divide up the profits(!) after the state gets its cut. The only problems came from the traitorous saboteurs who were almost heroic in guilt at the trial where most of them eagerly confessed -- so great was their shame.

Only at the very end of his mission does Davies meet a kindly, avuncular Joe Stalin. Uncle Joe tells Davies that "reactionary elements" in France and England wish for a war between Germany and the USSR. Later, on his way back to America, Davies stops in England and tells Winston Churchill -- still a private citizen -- that if the democratic powers "continue to look down their noses" at Russia, they going to force Stalin into Hitler's arms.

The final segment of the movie shows Davies making rousing speeches denouncing "isolationists and defeatists" and calling America to the aid of Russia between shots of unctuous business and political leaders almost drooling at the prospect of profiting off of relations with Hitler's Europe claiming that war is none of our business.

Not surprisingly, the value of such propaganda was short-lived. Howard Koch, who wrote the screenplay (and also co-wrote Casablanca), was later blacklisted for his leftwing views; although at the time he was just doing his part to aid the war effort.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Faith-Based Dictator

Is Jay Nordlinger for real? He feebly attempts to make Saddam into some sort of religious extremist, and thus more likely an ally of al Qaeda:
Incidentally, when Saddam was acting up in court, he was clutching -- and waving -- a Koran. He also keeps raving about the "ummah" (the broad Muslim world).
But the good Bush critics are always telling us that Saddam is a mere secularist annoyance -- what truck could he possibly have with extremist Islam, al Qaeda, our real enemies?
Yeah, yeah: Before he was toppled, Saddam put an inscription from the Koran on the Iraqi flag; he claimed to have had a Koran written out in his own blood; etc., etc.
Dictators use what they can, and we should be spared more talk about how Saddam was just a standard secularist, not to be confused with the cancer now attacking our world.
I'm not even sure what he is trying to say. His last sentence muddles his point. If Saddam is some sort of religious extremist, then he isn't simply "using what he can" to hold power. The evidence is that he is not an extremist. Christians were allowed to sell alcohol when he was in power, something that has become more problematic since he was toppled. I have no idea what his going on in Saddam's head, but I suspect that his religious displays serve his personal and political agenda.

But even if Nordlinger and the neocons were right about Saddam and the threat he posed, the invasion of Iraq has been a disaster and has made us less secure than if the dictator had remained in power.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


As I know from personal experience, this post from is right on the money:
An ex-Marine wrote me with his opinion of the Marine Corps:

"The Marine Corps is like a frat party in between the hard work. For the most part, they are irresponsible, alcoholic, sex addicts. The married Marines that I served with didn't think twice about cheating on their spouses during deployments. And speaking of deployments, if the U.S. military ever gets disbanded, the worldwide brothel industry would shut down overnight. The behavior of my fellow Marines in Thailand I found to be utterly repulsive. What a shame it is to have de facto ambassadors of the United States--i.e., the people whom 'represent' America to foreigners--behaving in such a way. Hedonists with guns. That's the Marine Corps."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

I have been hung up on Mark Steyn lately, but check out this exchange with Hugh Hewitt:
HH: Well, this raises a delicate question. Before there was Mark Steyn, there was and remains George Will. And I think many of us in the business of opinion journalism respect his work over a long period of time. But I'm beginning to worry if he's going Pat Buchanan on us, Mark Steyn. Today he wrote a column blasting the idea that the authorization for the use of military force somehow authorized the president to conduct surveillance on al Qaeda. And Andrew McCarthy answered this at National Review. But it's an absurd column by one of the elder statesmen of conservatism. What's going on?

MS: Well, I think George Will is like a lot of conservatives. I like George Will enormously, but, and he's got a very sharp mind. But he doesn't basically accept the premise of the Bush doctrine, which is that you can somehow change the culture of our enemies' states, in other words, the Middle Eastern states, Afghanistan, Pakistan, that you can somehow change them, and make them more like us. And you're right . . . he's right to an extent that you can't give liberty to people. They have to want it. But on the other hand, it's a hard job, but there's actually not much alternative to it. You have to somehow say to these people you have to find a way to reach an accommodation between your religion and the modern world, because just saying it can't be done is no answer to anything. That condemns us all, essentially, to a majority Muslim planet in which American will be isolated and very short of friends. And the Bush doctrine is a long shot, but it's better than just consigning ourselves to hopelessness. And I respectfully disagree with George Will, and I wish he could see that.

He doesn't even address the issue of executive power that was the subject of the Will column. Instead, he launches into a diatribe about Will not believing that the U.S. government can plant liberal democracy in the Fertile Crescent like one plants one of those little packets of Zinnia seeds.

Newt Churchill

Why should anybody listen to Pat Buchanan? He predicted that the Iraq war would be a bloody mess of a quagmire:

My own sense of this astonishing interview is that Newt is trying to get to the right of John McCain on Iran and cast himself -- drum roll, please -- as the Churchill of our generation.

But are the comparisons of Ahmadinejad with Hitler and Iran with the Third Reich, let alone Newt with Churchill, instructive? Or are they ludicrous? Again, a few facts.

In 1942, Hitler's armies dominated Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals. Ahmadinejad is the president of a nation whose air and naval forces would be toasted in hours by the United States. Iran has missiles that can hit Israel, but no nuclear warheads. Israel could put scores of atom bombs on Iran. The United States, without losing a plane, could make the country uninhabitable with one B-2 flyover and a few MX and Trident missiles.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Real Men Pose With A Football!

What is it about rightwing magazines and their he-man presidential contenders? First National Review last year and now Newsmax have Virginia Sen. George Allen (son of the late NFL coach) posing with a football. I guess nobody is going to accuse him of looking French.
NewsMax Magazine

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Clean For Gene

Nobody in the punditry world perplexes me more than Mark Steyn. The ususal rightwing suspects fawn over him as if he were a cross between Aristotle and Jefferson. His writing turns up everywhere, most bizarrely in his obituary column in the Atlantic Monthly. The valuable two pages ought to be used for a column by their excellent book critic, Benjamin Schwarz; or almost anybody else.

The subject of his obit in the March issue is Eugene McCarthy, who died in December. Steyn makes one of the more interesting political figures of the last half century boring by forcing him into his political mold:

There's something to be said for taking the view that, regardless of the merits of this or that foreign war, once you're in it you might as well win it. Alternatively, there's something to be said for the position that, if you're going to cut and run, do it quick and get over it, as the British did when they abandoned Aden, on the Arabian coast, the day before McCarthy launched his presidential campaign. . .

But to cut your losses and then mire yourself in an interminable psychological quagmire of your own has little to recommend it. "Vietnam casts long shadows," we're told, but not so much across the nation at large as over the Democratic Party. Forty years after McCarthy's swift, brutal destruction of the most powerful Democrat in the second half of the twentieth century, it remains unclear whether his party will ever again support a political figure committed to waging serious war, any war: Clinton bombed more countries in a little over six months than the supposed warmonger Bush has hit in six years, but, unless you happened to be in that Sudanese aspirin factory or Belgrade embassy, it was always desultory and uncommitted . . . Gene McCarthy's brief moment in the spotlight redefined the party's relationship with the projection of military force. That's quite an accomplishment. Whether it was in the long-term strategic interests of either the party or American liberalism is another question.

. . . In 1968, he was the indispensable man whose charm was that he didn’t regard himself as such. Having been dispensed with by his party, he spent the next quarter- century insisting on his relevance . . .

I defy any rational person -- which leaves out Steyn -- to make Bill Clinton's 1998 Sudan bombing relevant to the life of Gene McCarthy. Steyn neglected to mention that McCarthy had endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980, or been supported by Russell Kirk in 1976 ("McCarthy was a conservative . . . He read seriously and wrote intelligently In the White Houses -- per impossible -- he might have turned the most imaginatively conservative of presidents."--The Sword of Imagination). McCarthy's opposition to our open-border immigration policy goes unmentioned by Steyn as well. Scott McConnell's far better obit in the American Conservative says twice as much of value about McCarthy in half the words.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crunchy Cons

Dreher's forthcoming book sounds pretty good:
How long do you think we can keep living as we do, destroying the countryside to produce mountains of processed food that makes us less healthy? Care for this trust obliges all of us, but conservatives, because we prefess a particular commitment to upholding tradition, are especially responsible for stewardship of the land and its cultural legacy. If we live as if we have no duty to the land and the agrarian traditions of the people who live there, then we ought to be ashamed to call ourselves conservatives. We are no more than market-mad consumers who vote Republican and whose commmitment to conservative ideals ends the moment it costs something

-- Rod Dreher, from Crunchy Cons, excerpted in the Feb. 27, 2006 issue of the American Conservative.

UPDATE: I assume that Lorie Byrd is more representative of self-styled "conservatives":
What is more representative of the American way of life than a fast food restaurant? That is why, when I saw pictures of a burning KFC, and read about an attack on a Pizza Hut and saw a picture of Ronald McDonald in flames, I couldn't help but think, "Uh oh. They have done it now. Mess with an American's Big Mac or Whopper and you are going to have public opinion firmly behind the most extreme measures of anti-terrorist policy." I wonder if the terrorists realize that.

All Wet

By far the silliest commentary on the Cheney shooting that I have seen so far, comes from Mark Steyn in the Corner:

From an anecdotal survey of my part of the North Country, most guys see the Cheney business as an excuse to tell their own hunting stories, mostly of the been-there-done-(or-nearly-done)-that variety. I'm not saying I'm entirely on board with the line that real men shoot each other all the time without whining like a bunch of ninnies about what's no more than a healthy American male bonding experience. But on balance this is one of those no-scandal scandals where Democrat/media hysteria only underlines their estrangement from the average red-state male.

I have spent most of my life in East Tennessee. I have been in the Marine Corps. I have spent time in gun stores and gun shows. I have never heard of this kind of incident, though I am sure it happens sometimes. It gives me an idea of how the opposition could make political hay out of the shooting. If I were Howard Dean, or somesuch, I would suggest, ever so subtly, that Cheney is a pansy who can't be trusted with a weapon, or the country's national security. I would remind people that even Bill Clinton and the French looking John Kerry went hunting and didn't shoot their friends.

I remember something that A.J. Foyt said many years ago about a wreck that occurred before the first lap of the Indianapolis 500 (this is a paraphrase) -- One wouldn't want to follow [the young driver responsible for the crash] into a men's roon -- one could get wet.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This is interesting. James Webb, a former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, as well as an author; is planning to challenge George Allen for his Senate seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The Usual Suspects have already started on him:

To: SDGOP; rowhey; DM1
He masquaraded as a "conservative" in the Reagan Admin fooling many back then well before being appointed SecNav. Nobody seemed to notice his liberal leanings, a shallowly veiled contempt for the Reaganites, and instead all were treated to his self aggrandizement on how much of a hero he was, echoes of Murtha and Kerry. At the time, how could anyone accuse such a hero of being anything but a conservative? He fooled them and they were well placed and ranking people he took in. He never was "on the reservation", simply a legend in his own mind. When I would see the real Marines, humble heros for sure, I would wince at the sight of this pretender.

But let me be the first to bring up the real issue. How did you get those Purple Hearts, Mr. Webb? When are you going to release your records? Hmmm?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


One could devote one's whole life to pointing out that Poddy is a stupid jerk:


I tell you, there's nothing like the open-mindedness in the debate over immigration. What decorum! What civility! What thoughtful discourse! How proud you restrictionists must be!

Pork Busters

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Glenn Reynolds suggests that leading Porkbusters Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd be retired for their big spending ways. However, this gallant watchdog of the public purse can't be bothered to mention the billions that have gone missing from Iraq reconstruction projects, which would seem to be far more scandalous than a few federal buildings in West Virginia:

The American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority could well prove to be the most corrupt administration in history, almost certainly surpassing the widespread fraud of the much-maligned UN Oil for Food Program. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people has been wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.

Byrd is the only senator to have appeared on Hee Haw; and as far as I can tell, he is the only one to have actually read the constitution. I, for one, hope he sticks around for a while longer even if it means naming the entire state of West Virginia after him and causes Ann Coulter to have several cows.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Presidential Power

How can any self-respecting rightwinger make an arguement like this:
"The President has enhanced responsibility to resist unconstitutional provisions that encroach upon the constitutional powers of the Presidency."

. . .or this clear statement of principle, we have the Clinton administration to thank. Specifically, then-Attorney General Janet Reno's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) -- the Justice Department's elite unit of lawyers for the lawyers. It was chiseled into a formal 1994 OLC opinion, aptly entitled "The President's Authority to Decline to Execute Unconstitutional Statutes," by then-Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger, OLC's top gun.

As a general rule, it is not a good idea to spend more than a decade demonizing a man and then set his administration up as an example of good behavior. I used to think of Clinton as a dangerous president with an exapansive view of executive power, but these days I can hardly remember why without the aid of James Bovard.

P.S. On a related matter, Hugh Hewitt suggests and Prof. Reynolds seems to agree (did you ever notice how rarely Reynolds actually says anything, rather than just giving the implied endorsement of a link) the that Sen. Frist schedule a sense of the Senate vote on whether to keep the NSA eavesdropping program or to kill it, even though that would be a false choice. The real choice would be among the following:
1 Keep the program as is.
2 Abolish it.
3 Or keep it subject to the oversight of the FISA Court and/or the Congress.

I think that most reasonable people would be in favor of the third option.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Is this the best that the war party can do after three years of war in Iraq? Being, R. Emmett Tyrrell of the American Spectator it probably isn't. The current Tyrrellian justification for the Iraq Quagmire is that:

America had suffered 3,000 casualties at home, not one of whom had been engaged in warfare against anyone. The tyrant we took down had taunted us, boasted of his danger to us and hosted terrorists in his capital. There was no debate about this. The United States had attacked a modern-day Hitler who was not as clever as the original and was encouraging enemies of our country. The brute Saddam was actually sending rewards to the families of terrorists.

What kind of zanies would join a peace movement against this military effort to do about what Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill did in the early 1940s?
President Roosevelt did what he did despite the Neutrality Acts against military assistance to foreign powers, even foreign powers defending themselves against the Nazis. Very boldly Roosevelt broke the law, and he did so repeatedly.

Ignore for a moment the casual way that Tyrrell conflates the actions of Bush and Blair with those of Churchill and Roosevelt who, no matter what criticisms one might make of them, were fighting against the real Axis. You know, the one that had invaded Poland, bombed London and attacked Pearl Harbor. Missing from Tyrrell's bill of particulars against Saddam is any claim that he attacked and murdered the three thousand Americans that he refers to in the first sentence.

The whole point of this most recent after-the-fact justification for the disasterous Iraq invasion -- I seem to remember a lot of loose talk about "mushroom clouds" before -- is to give Tyrrell a chance to fling poo upon Cindy Sheehan. Now, I don't particulary care for Sheehan. I feel for the loss of her son, but her contribution to the public debate is to make it easier for nitwits like Tyrrell to avoid addressing the arguements of people such as Andrew Bacevich, who manages to make devastating criticisms of the Iraq invasion without cuddling with the thuggish Hugo Chavez.

P.S. Since this is about Emmett Tyrrell, who idolizes the late H.L. Mencken; feel free the to insert the following Menckenisms into the text at random the way that Tyrrell often does: Piffle! Mountebank!, Poltroon!, etc.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crocodile Tears

If you could harness the energy of mock outrage, perhaps by refining crocodile tears into gasoline; the web and especially the blogosphere could put OPEC out of business. A good recent example is the hysteria over a Tom Toles cartoon in the Washington Post. The toon depicts a man in a hospital bed with a bandage on his head and the stumps of his arms and legs in bandages. He clearly represents the Army. Dr. Rumsfeld pronounces the man's condition to be "battle hardened."

No reasonable person could construe the cartoon to be anything other than an attack the arrogant stupidity of Don Rusmfeld, who had recently contradicted two reports, one sponsored by the Pentagon, that said the military is being stretched by the occupation of Iraq.

Pronouncing it to be "disgraceful," professor Reyonolds linked to a contest to recaption the toon at Instapunk. Punk makes it clear that he is outraged on behalf of wounded Republicans, as opposed to wounded soldier, by stating that "You can Bush-bash if you want, but we'll throw your stuff away." That doesn't seem to be much of a problem for the entries, many of which are generic smears of liberals and Democrats and have nothing to do with the issue at hand. I copied a few below (I respect Toles' and the Post's copyright, but these are stolen goods). The one at the top would at least make sense if the patient was labeled "Washington Post" and the chart read "credibility," instead of the other way around. It took me a while to figure out that "P. Snick" on the second entry means "peacenik." Oooh, clever! The next two are cretinously stupid. What do Ted Kennedy or the Alito hearing have to do with the issue at hand?