Saturday, April 29, 2006

Actually, I'm a Radical Reactionary

I received my long awaited copy of Bill Kauffman's latest book, Look Homeward America : In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute will be hosting a blog, starting in a couple of weeks, to discuss the themes presented by Kauffman; and I have been invited by the author to participate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


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Fox News anchor and talk radio host Tony Snow is going to be the new press secretary to President Bush. Apparently, the position of Titanic cruise director is taken.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fill'er Up

A.C. Kleinheider has a good post about the whole gas price business that contains many links to other sites although his own comments are the best:

We now work, live, worship within a much larger radius than we used to. Cheap gas allowed to set up our society like we have. We can complain about gas prices but if push comes to shove we either have to pay them or drastically adapt our lifestyle.

I'm not talking about riding your bike to the grocery store, driving less, not taking road trips change of lifestyle. I'm talking about changing jobs and having to move kinda change of lifestyle.

How many people say out in Franklin are mortgaged to the hilt working their fingers to the bone in Nashville trying to make their house payment? Gas prices continue to rise and those people will have to start making uncomfortable choices. Get a job closer to home or move closer to work.

We can bitch and moan and talk about quick fixes and maybe the market or the government will find an affordable renewable alternative to gas sometime soon -- but what if they don't. Our society is not set up, we are not equipped, to handle $7.00/gallon gas prices.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Almost every night on the news I see some joker complaining about how much it costs to fill up his Explorer or Excursion or Egregious and then bitch and whine about how greedy oil companies are. But none of these people are forced to live the way that they do. They are the perfect suckers for the oil companies, who are no more greedy today than they were back in the early 80s when the price of gas collapsed their profits suffered.

Good News . . .

Crunchy Cons lives!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rough Rider

Andrew Bacevich, the author of The New American Militarism and American Empire and a good article in the current London Review of Books that is not online, so I will post a couple of passages. It is a review of Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism. I should warn you that since he implicitly criticizes the current administration and is a retired military officer, reading his words puts us on a fast track towards military dictatorship:

With Colonel Wood in command and Roosevelt as his deputy, the motley regiment set sail to liberate Cuba. Within days of landing, Wood was promoted to brigade command, handing the Rough Riders over to Roosevelt in time for the celebrated charge up San Juan Hill. The Santiago campaign ended soon after. Through luck more than skill, the Americans had achieved an approximation of victory, the nation thereby acquiring a roster of dashing new heroes, with Brigadier-General Wood (and Roosevelt) chief among them.

. . .Wood was not, as the subtitle of this book suggests, the architect of the first American empire. Rather, for more than two decades, he served as its chief engineer. His job was not to design the empire, but to make it work, first by getting the 'wogs' to behave and then by bringing them to comply with American values. In that regard, despite all his efforts, he failed abysmally. The architects and engineers of the present-day American empire should ask themselves why.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Here's a particularly egregious post by Glenn Reynolds (in support of an egregious column by Charles Krauthammer). According to Reynolds, the "left," who by granting a hearing to the complaints of some retired generals are thereby "pushing the idea that generals should run things." I actually emailed him asking who made that argument, but no response. He then updated his column with a email from a reader:

UPDATE: Reader Rachel Walker emails:

I understand the right to dissent. Heck, it's been my side's rallying cry since it lost to Bush in the Supreme Court in 2000. But the logic of this dissent puts their train of thought far into the (dare I say it) fascist line of behavior, since they are basically calling for the military to control all things.

This is what contrarian arguing can end up doing - leading one into exactly what they did not intend to be. I had to learn the lesson that not every action equals a proper reaction.


How did we get to fascism, and is listening to military complaints the same as giving the military "control" of " all things"?

I humbly submit that it is a huge leap from Anthony Zinni or John Batiste giving an interview to the New York Times airing their complaints about the performance of Rumsfeld . . . to Zinni and Batiste marching into the Pentagon with an army of antiwar hippies and seizing control of the government.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Memos of Mass Destruction

In case you haven't been paying attention; the vaunted WMD, the unmanned aerial vehicles that were supposed to rain death on American cities, the smoking guns that would soon come as mushroom clouds, have now been replaced by an even graver reality: Memos of Mass Destruction.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Insubordinate, Seditious, Revolting

It is getting harder to defend Don Rumsfeld's term in office, so supporters must come up with arguments that don't touch on his fitness for the job. Tony Blankley, in two colums (1, 2) argues in favor of a witch hunt of generals who may be planning to retire and then criticize the war effort:
Because, if The Washington Post thinks -- as I do -- that we are seeing before our eyes a coordinated act of multiple insubordination by a group of generals, then such action should not go unsanctioned. The dangerous precedent must not be permitted to stand -- whether or not one agrees with their substantive criticism of their civilian superiors.

. . .

Politically unpleasant as it may be, they should promptly order a court of inquiry pursuant to Article 135 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to determine if, as is widely suspected, or if not, the current military clamor for Secretary Rumsfeld to be fired involves any acts of insubordination.

This is ridiculous. Blankley clearly doesn't understand the concepts of "insubordination" and "sedition." The former being the refusal to submit to authority and the latter being an incite a rebellion against the government. He also misunderstands that people are speaking metaphorically when the speak of a "revolt" among generals.

High-ranking officers have three choices when they disapprove of the policy set by their political bosses.

1 They can refuse to obey orders and suffer the consequences.
2 They can ignore their feelings and follow orders.
3 They can resign their positions so they no longer have to obey. If they feel strongly enough, they can speak out about it.

The third is becoming more popular; with John Batiste who turned down a third star rather than contiue to take orders from Rummy.

There is no question that the Secdef has a right to have subordinates obey lawful orders. However, he must earn their respect.

Hungry For Oil

This is rich. According to today's Times, the Bush administration plans to scold China for its oil consumption, attempts to "lock up" supplies and its dealings with unsavory regimes:
"They are buying long-term supplies wherever they find them, including in unsavory places like Sudan, Iran and Burma, where we won't buy," said Michael J. Green, a Georgetown University professor who directed policy on China at the National Security Council until late last year. "They say it is benign, because they don't interfere with the internal affairs of other nations. And we say it is anything but benign, because it finances these regimes' bad behavior."
China, with more than a billion people uses 6.5 million barrels of oil a day while the United States with around 300 million uses more than three times as much, but they are causing a problem. And even if we don't buy directly from places like Iran and Burma, our ravenous consumption keeps the prices high and helps fund those regimes.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Error Message

Here is a great bit of unintentional humor from the folks at National Review Online: "As a political matter, Rumsfeld’s leaving at this moment, under this kind of fire, would play as an admission that the critics who say the Iraq war was fundamentally botched have been right all along." We wouldn't want to admit that now would we?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Where Have You Gone, Lord Carrington?

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Lord Carrington

How the mighty have fallen! It seems like only yesterday that Donald Rumsfeld was a media darling. In the Fall of 2001, National Review put Rummy on its cover and called him "The Stud." Inside, Jay Nordlinger effused;
Evidencce of Rumsfeld mania is everywhere, and it's mounting. Consider a few facts:
*Reports have it that people gather round to watch Rumsfeld press conferences the way the do Oprah.
*One Hollywood grande dame, hostess of a prized post-Oscar party, says to another Hollywood grande dame, "I'll call you in the morning." The second dame replies, "Okay, but be careful: Rumsfeld's on at 9:45."

And so forth. Those days have long passed. Today, only true believers, like those who leave comments at Polipundit and of course the Freepers, still support Rummy. Part of the essential narrative in support of Rumsfeld is that his critics among retired generals are all Clintonites. Rush Limbaugh dismisses Anthony Zinni, who was almost fifty when Bill Clinton took office as "an old Clinton guy." Some of the Freepers claim that the generals are upset because of missed promotions, but at least one --John Batiste -- turned down a third star.

By clinging to power at all costs, Donald Rumsfeld only is acting in the proper American Way. His tenure gives me a new appreciation of Lord Carrington, who was Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Acting on the principal of ministerial responsibility, Carrington resigned. That rarely happens in this country. Public officials usually hang around for as long as possible no matter how badly they mess things up.

The time for Rumsfeld to go was nearly three years ago when it became clear that he had been wrong and General Shinseki right, about the size of an occupying force needed for Iraq; and when he was practically the only person in the world unaware that the U.S. military was involved in a guerilla war in Mesopotamia. At this late date, he might as well stay on. I doubt that the Republicans have anyone willing to be this war's Clark Clifford.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Seen in the Times

Several things lept out at me in today's New York Times:
1 Have you noticed how more and more retired generals hate America?
The three-star Marine Corps general who was the military's top operations officer before the invasion of Iraq expressed regret, in an essay published Sunday, that he did not more energetically question those who had ordered the nation to war. He also urged active-duty officers to speak out now if they had doubts about the war.
Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who retired in late 2002, also called for replacing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and "many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach." He is the third retired senior officer in recent weeks to demand that Mr. Rumsfeld step down.

2 Illegal immigrants finally stand up for themselves.
"For years, we never say nothing," said Mr. Martinez, who crossed the Rio Grande illegally 22 years ago and eventually became an American citizen. "We just work hard, follow the rules and pay taxes. And they try to make these laws. It's time people knew how we felt."
They follow the rules except for one about sneaking across international borders.

3 How the 'free market' in executive pay really works:

For Ivan G. Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, 2005 was a very good year. As head of the telecommunications giant, Mr. Seidenberg received $19.4 million in salary, bonus, restricted stock and other compensation, 48 percent more than in the previous year.

Others with a stake in Verizon did not fare so well. Shareholders watched their stock fall 26 percent, bondholders lost value as credit agencies downgraded the company's debt and pensions for 50,000 managers were frozen at year-end. When Verizon closed the books last year, it reported an earnings decline of 5.5 percent.

And yet, according to the committee of Verizon's board that determines his compensation, Mr. Seidenberg earned his pay last year as the company exceeded "challenging" performance benchmarks. Mr. Seidenberg's package was competitive with that of other companies in Verizon's industry, shareholders were told, and was devised with the help of an "outside consultant" who reports to the committee.

The independence of this "outside consultant" is open to question. Although neither Verizon officials nor its directors identify its compensation consultant, people briefed on the relationship say it is Hewitt Associates of Lincolnshire, Ill., a provider of employee benefits management and consulting services with $2.8 billion in revenue last year.

Hewitt does much more for Verizon than advise it on compensation matters. Verizon is one of Hewitt's biggest customers in the far more profitable businesses of running the company's employee benefit plans, providing actuarial services to its pension plans and advising it on human resources management. According to a former executive of the firm who declined to be identified out of concern about affecting his business, Hewitt has received more than half a billion dollars in revenue from Verizon and its predecessor companies since 1997.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


So, is it anti-semitic? I refer to the Mearsheimer and Walt(M&W) study of the powerful Israel lobby in the U.S. Eliot Cohen says yes and Glenn, as usual agrees without really saying anything. I don't know for sure, but some of Cohen's claims don't hold up. For example, he says "Israeli citizenship rests 'on the principle of blood kinship,' it says, and yet the country has a million non-Jewish citizens who vote." But M & W say:

Some aspects of Israeli democracy are at odds with core American values. Unlike the US, where people are supposed to enjoy equal rights irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship. Given this, it is not surprising that its 1.3 million Arabs are treated as second-class citizens, or that a recent Israeli government commission found that Israel behaves in a ‘neglectful and discriminatory’ manner towards them. Its democratic status is also undermined by its refusal to grant the Palestinians a viable state of their own or full political rights.

They might be wrong, but what they are saying is considerably more nuanced than what Cohen says that they are saying.

Cohen also claims that "Osama bin Laden's grievance with the United States begins with Israel, it says." What M&W actually say is:

More important, saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. Support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits. (emphasis added)

Tapes of Osama bear this out: "We swore that America wouldn't live in security until we live it truly in Palestine. This showed the reality of America, which puts Israel's interest above its own people's interest. America won't get out of this crisis until it gets out of the Arabian Peninsula, and until it stops its support of Israel." -Osama bin Laden, October 2001

I don't know enough about the issue to definitively support or oppose the study by M&W, however I can spot a shoddy hit job when I see one. My first clue was that Cohen led off by mentioning David Duke


A few items I wish to mention before I forget:

1 Congratulations to A.C. Kleinheider for somehow turning blogging into a real job.

2 I waited until the last day, before getting my mention on the Crunchy Cons Blog, plugging Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette.

3 Scott McConnell read Rebel-in-Chief by Fred Barnes so you and I don't have to:

But for readers who might wonder what it is like to be North Korean and required to read formulaic biographies of great helmsman Kim Il Sung and his son, an afternoon spent with Rebel-in-Chief should provide a proximate answer.

In Barnes’s defense, the book is a representative product of a large neo-Republican publishing industry that has sprung up in the past five years to tap the market for conservative books aimed just below the middle of the brow--gifts to give the friend or parent who is an avid Hannity and O'Reilly watcher, to be thumbed through perhaps more than read. This is a large market, previously underserved.

In his acknowledgments, Barnes tells of writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on George W. Bush as an "insurgent" president. Many would find this an unlikely designation for a man who was essentially anointed as heir apparent by Republican elites, a very fortunate son who floated from business partnerships where he did no real work into the Texas governor's mansion, a man who unlike anyone else you've ever known suffered no adverse professional consequences for being an alcoholic with no real accomplishments at age 40. But for Barnes, this experience was the perfect training for the president "as rebel," enabling him to disregard conventional Beltway knowledge, the tiresome stuff of diplomats, science advisors, and other "experts."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Atlas Flipped

My Photo
If they gave out Oscars for non sequiturs, this nutjob would win in a walk:

This story speaks for itself. The mainstream media will paint Israel in the most impossible, almost demonic light while tenderly, gingerly making love to killers and savages. But the following story really says it all;

On Thursday evening, an Israeli couple gave rides to three hitchhikers. One, disguised as a religious Jew, was a suicide bomber, who blew himself up in the car at the entrance to the community of Kedumim. Body parts were hurled dozens of feet. The car burned for an hour.

Unbowed, the International Herald Tribune cites a completely discredited, Jew hating study to prop up its antisemitic ravings here.

What is really at play here? A struggle as old as time. The struggle between good and evil. My dear, brilliant friend and soul mate, Dr. Helen, points to the "involvement in antisemitism involves probably every person through his/her family at one point or another.

The suicide bombing has nothing to do with the study of the powerful Israel lobby by Mearsheimer and Walt. But hey, what does it matter? We might just as well stipulate that anybody who hasn't donated to the Likud party in, say, the last week or so is a Nazi. It sure beats making arguments. You don't need those when you are a Pajamas blogger who knows how to use the color and bold function.

P.S. I almost forgot to throw in the fact that the study has the support of David Duke. Wouldn't want to forget that.